We're right around the point in the season where "it's still early" stops holding up as a reason not to panic. It is still early in the NFL season, but it's not THAT early, and some early-season impressions are starting to congeal into realities. The Chiefs might well be unstoppable. The Eagles might well be in trouble. The Titans might well need to mix in a touchdown every now and then.
The Browns might be legit?
Yeah, we're getting to the point where the overreactions carry a little more weight, because they might turn out to be for real.
With that in mind, we present a mildly frightening Week 5 edition of Overreaction Monday.
Hue Jackson will return to coach the Browns in 2019
The Browns won Sunday, in overtime, to improve to 2-2-1 and have now won more games this season than they won the past two seasons combined. They are 1-1-1 in overtime games and might well be the most exhausting (or exhausted?) team in the league. But they have the same record as the Steelers (whom they tied) and are a half-game worse than the Ravens (whom they beat). Doubtful that they're the team first-place Cincinnati is most worried about, but objects in the mirror are sometimes closer than they appear.
Graziano's verdict: NOT AN OVERREACTION. Hey, they didn't fire Jackson after a 1-15 2016 season, or an 0-16 2017 season. They're going to fire him after a 2018 season now guaranteed to be no worse than 2-13-1? I don't know if Jackson has magically turned into a better coach than he was his first two seasons in Cleveland, but the vibe there is pretty cool right now. And teams don't usually like to change coaches on a young quarterback after just one year.
With Julian Edelman back, the Patriots are the best team in the AFCRemember two weeks ago, after the loss to the Lions, when the sky was falling in New England? Pretty sure the Pats showed up in Overreaction Monday back then and we told you not to worry. They're 2-0 since then, 3-2 overall and back in first place after thumping the Colts on Thursday night with Tom Brady's security blanket back from suspension.
Graziano's verdict: OVERREACTION. Did you see what the Chiefs did to the best defense in football Sunday? And yeah, yeah, yeah, I know we can't buy into Andy Reid in the playoffs, but if Charlie Brown was ever going to kick that football, it sure looks as if Reid finally has the team to do it. The defense is awfully leaky, but at some point it'll get Eric Berry back, and what does it matter if you can't outscore them?
The Eagles' Super Bowl hangover is real
You want to experience Overreaction Monday at Ground Zero? Go listen to Philadelphia talk radio after Sunday's loss to Minnesota. The Eagles are 2-3 and absolutely do not look right on offense, even as they're getting healthier on that side of the ball.
Graziano's verdict: NOT AN OVERREACTION. You guys know I've hammered this point before, about how no one's won the NFC East two seasons in a row since the Eagles did it in 2003-04. That's not a coincidence. As beautiful as the Eagles' 2017 season was, it's hard to repeat, and especially in a wild-and-woolly division where everyone (except, at this point, the Giants) is always so tightly bunched together. The Eagles will recover, and might well reclaim the division title. But they've been injured and super-wobbly so far this season, and the way it's going now is a reminder of how many things need to break your way for you to win the Super Bowl.
The Steelers don't need Le'Veon Bell and should trade himJames Conner had 110 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries and caught four passes for 75 yards in Pittsburgh's victory Sunday over the Falcons. Those are Le'Veon numbers, make no mistake, and the Steelers offense looked as good as it's supposed to look in a game they needed to win.
Graziano's verdict: OVERREACTION. The Falcons have allowed 121 points in their past three games. They are playing without their middle linebacker, two starting safeties and their best defensive tackle. They are BY NO MEANS a gauge of how good the opposing offense is. The Steelers are going to need to be at their best, consistently, in order to run down a Bengals team that's having a charmed season so far, and Bell is their best way to ensure they can elevate their ceiling. Conner has been very good, but opposing teams would much rather defend him than Bell, who has explosive play ability from anywhere on the field.
The Rams are going 16-0That was a close one! The first-place Rams got everything they could handle from a Seattle team that didn't look ready to hand them the NFC West mantle for the second season in a row, and had to go for it on fourth-and-1 in unfavorable field position to clinch the game late.
Graziano's verdict: OVERREACTION. The Rams are a wonderful team and the clear favorites at this point to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. Sean McVay is some kind of genius coach, and the move to go for it and seal the game was a gutsy, winning call. But 16-0 is just about impossible. Tom Brady's the only one to pull it off, and he did it in Year 7. Jared Goff's going to do it in Year 3? At some point, everyone stumbles, and the Rams were fortunate to come out of Sunday's game 5-0 instead of 4-1. They still have to go to New Orleans and Chicago, and they play the Chiefs in Mexico City on Nov. 19, which means it's impossible for BOTH of those teams to go 16-0.
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