The Check-down Check-up (2020): Week Three

It is officially time for the inaugural edition of the weekly Check-down Check-up column. The rules of the column are as follows. First, each team’s past performances this season will be taken into account, with an emphasis on the last game that each team played. Next, each team’s future schedule, with an emphasis on their next game, will be taken into account. From there, I will decide each team’s verdict rating on the Check-down Check-up Confidence Counter (CCCC) and scale my confidence in each team on a scale from one to ten. Four and under is a check down, seven and over is a check up, and between those fours and sevens is a “check back next week.” No one is safe, and all will be judged. Let’s get started.

AFC North

Cleveland Browns

The Browns had a rough go of it in week one against the Baltimore Ravens, but since then, they’ve recovered quite nicely. This past week, their relatively porous defense collected five turnovers from Washington’s offense. Offensively, their running back group is still second to none, and Baker Mayfield looks to be slowly building his confidence back up. Defensively, they’ve got a tall order against the Cowboys this week, but their offensive group should be able to keep it rolling.

Verdict: 7.5/10, Check Up

Baltimore Ravens

I don’t have much to say here. The Ravens wrought run-heavy havoc on their first two opponents. Their first regular season loss in almost a calendar year just came from the Super Bowl champions and the best player in the league. They have Washington next week. I predict they’ll be okay.

Verdict: 9/10, Check Up

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers are a solid 3-0, with a nice win over Houston this past week. Even if Houston is 0-3 this season, they have the talent to win some games against the best. Nevertheless, Pittsburgh has a tough task this coming Sunday as they take on Tennessee. The Titans are 3-0, no one is talking about them, and that lack of recognition is probably starting to really tick them off. Even so, I’ll probably take the Steelers here.

Verdict: 8/10, Check Up

Cincinnati Bengals

Cincinnati, come on. You should’ve had it in the bag this past week. But, it’s not your fault that Philadelphia decided to play for the tie, at home, when they were already 0-2 and desperately needed a win in a volatile situation. This week, you have the Jaguars. I like the Bengals this week, and I think Burrow will get that first win that has eluded him for nearly a month now.

Verdict: 5.5/10, Check Back Next Week

AFC East

New England Patriots

The first month of the Cam Newton era in New England has gone relatively well. With double-digit wins over both Miami and Las Vegas, the Pats are taking care of business when they’re supposed to. Their lone loss came from Seattle and Russell Wilson, who may very well be the league’s MVP when this season is over. But this week will be telling. It’s time for the Pats to travel to Arrowhead Stadium, and face the gauntlet that is the Super Bowl champion Chiefs.

Verdict: 8/10, Check Up

Miami Dolphins

Nice win this week, Miami. A pretty dominating performance over Gardner Minshew and the Jags wins some points in my book, especially after you started 0-2. I still think Tua should be starting because you should almost always “play the kid” in situations like this, but Ryan Fitzpatrick is doing a good job of holding down the fort for now. That being said, Miami is hosting the Seahawks this week. As long as Russell Wilson is on the field, Seattle should take care of business. This one could get rough.

Verdict: 4/10, Check Down

Buffalo Bills

The Bills almost blew a massive lead this past week against a pretty lackluster Los Angeles Rams team, but they held together for long enough to escape undefeated. Josh Allen looks ready to take that next step, and as long as he keeps cutting back on egregious mistakes, the Bills could win the division this year. I think Buffalo’s matchup with Vegas this week might be a closer game than expected, but I think they could definitely pull off a 4-0 start. Just take care of business, and don’t blow your lead.

Verdict: 7/10, Check Up

New York Jets

What an awful excuse for a football team you are, New York. Adam Gase is (quite easily, by the way) the worst coach in the NFL, the defensive unit is absolutely abysmal and giving up 31.3 points per game, and the offense can’t seem to keep its head above water. Darnold made a nice throw against Indianapolis, and rookie tackle Mekhi Becton is fun to watch, but that’s about it. Jamal Adams got out just in time, and his holdout is undoubtedly part of this mess. Show me you can win a game. Until then, I have no choice.

Verdict: 0/10, Check Down

AFC South

Indianapolis Colts

That opening week loss to the Jaguars is looking worse and worse by the game, as Jacksonville continues to seemingly implode on themselves. Nevertheless, the Colts are still 2-1 and have showed offensive promise over a couple of bad defenses in the forms of Minnesota and the Jets. This match-up against the Bears should prove to be very telling of this team’s true nature.

Verdict: 6/10, Check Back Next Week

Houston Texans

If there were ever a team that drew the season schedule’s short straw, the Houston Texans are that team. They have played, in order, the Super Bowl champions, the league MVP, and a perennial contender in the Steelers. I still believe in Deshaun Watson, and frankly, you should too. The Texans have a perfect opportunity to beat up on a team here as they face the Vikings in week four. Quite honestly, they had better get it done at home.

Verdict: 7/10, Check Up

Jacksonville Jaguars

What happened to this team? Week one, they came out looking clean and promising. Gardner Minshew finished with a 142.3 quarterback rating, and I was hopeful that the black and teal could make some noise this year. They proceeded to lose close to the Titans, and then got walloped by Miami. The Jags get the Bengals this week in a battle of nature’s biggest cats. I want to have faith in them. But right now, I can’t.

Verdict: 4.5/10, Check Back Next Week

Tennessee Titans

Ever since the Titans figured out just what makes Ryan Tannehill click as an NFL quarterback, they have been one of the league’s toughest teams. Mike Vrabel is the perfect coach for this team, and their perfect record through three games shows that. This week, they have the Steelers at home. Keep the ball on the ground and away from Minkah Fitzpatrick, and they might have a chance in this one. A healthy dose of Derrick Henry should be in order.

Verdict: 6.5/10, Check Back Next Week

AFC West

Kansas City Chiefs

The Super Bowl champions are undefeated through three weeks, and they have been dominant in two out of their three performances. Even though they suffered a hiccup against a debuting Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers, they pulled through on the leg of Harrison Butker. A dismantling of the Baltimore Ravens on Monday Night Football in week three wins them some good will with my CCCC, as they take on the Patriots this week.

Verdict: 9/10, Check Up

Denver Broncos

This team looks like it is on the verge of disaster. Von Miller is out for the year. Promising sophomore quarterback Drew Lock is out for the foreseeable future. Receiver Courtland Sutton is also done for the year. The team is 0-3, and teetering on a totally lost season. But, there is a glimmer of hope in Denver, known as the New York Jets coming to town. Denver needs this win, and even with all their injuries, they should get it.

Verdict: 6/10, Check Back Next Week

Los Angeles Chargers

Through two weeks, rookie quarterback Justin Herbert looks promising, even with an 0-2 record. The Bolts may have gotten it right with the sixth pick in this year’s draft, but it’s still far too early to tell. Unfortunately, the Chargers must travel all the way across the country to Tampa Bay this week, where Tom Brady’s new squad looks to be coming to form. Justin Herbert has a tough test, and for a rookie in just his third start on a 1-2 team, it’s hard to be confident.

Verdict: 3.5/10, Check Down

Las Vegas Raiders

I want to believe in the Raiders. I really do. Through the first two games, this team looked like it could really be competitive and win some games this season. Then, they ran into Cam Newton and the Patriots, and looked like the Raiders of the past few years. Whether that says more about the Raiders or the Patriots remains to be seen, and that’s what makes this game against Buffalo so intriguing. The Raiders might be the most “wait and see” team in the league.

Verdict: 5/10, Check Back Next Week

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