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

Another week of NFL football in the books, another edition of the Check-down Check-up to grade teams with. As a reminder, anything under four is a check down, anything above seven is a check up, and anything between those fours and sevens is a “check back next week.” So, who’s coming up? Who’s on their way down? Let’s find out.

AFC North

Cleveland Browns

Oh, man. As a Browns fan, this one was hard to watch. That being said, with the amount of injuries this team had going in, especially to Baker Mayfield, I can’t say I wasn’t expecting this outcome. The Browns, more than anything, need time to heal up. This game just proved that they aren’t ready to be among the class of the AFC just yet, and that’s okay. They just have to get back on track, and do it quickly. Now go heal up before this happens again.

Verdict: 6.5/10, Check Back Next Week

Baltimore Ravens

The Eagles were a two-point conversion away from trying that game, and Matthew Judon completely blows up the play. Good job, Baltimore. You narrowly avoided collapse, and somehow still managed to look pretty good doing it. The Ravens don’t really lose to teams not named the Kansas City Chiefs, and now they have a week to rest up before hosting the currently unbeaten Steelers. It’s hard not to have confidence in this team.

Verdict: 9.75/10, Check Up

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers defense looked incredible on Sunday, completely bottling up the league’s best rushing attack for sixty minutes. Whether they can replicate that against a back as nasty as Derrick Henry and the Tennessee Titans will have a large impact on the confidence gauge. Let’s see what happens as two of the league’s undefeateds face off in week seven.

Verdict: 9.5/10, Check Up

Cincinnati Bengals

How in the world did the Bengals not win this game? For three quarters, Cincinnati completely wrecked the Colts’ stout defensive unit, and then fell apart in the last fifteen minutes. Other takeaways? Zac Taylor is trying to get Joe Burrow killed back there. He has to be. This offensive line is…not great. Now, the Bengals get their rematch against the Browns, whose defensive injuries showed in a major way against Pittsburgh.

Verdict: 5/10, Check Back Next Week

AFC East

New England Patriots

The Patriots are under the .500 mark through five games for the first time since 2002. Let that sink in for just a moment. Now that we’ve all gawked at how good the Pats have been for 20 years, they just let the Broncos kill them via one thousand papercuts. Or, more accurately, six field goals. Now, the Pats will get to host the 49ers in week seven, which is a game that I hesitate to pick, considering how weird San Francisco has been this year.

Verdict: 7.5/10, Check Up

Miami Dolphins

It was Tua Time in Miami this Sunday, for all of two minutes. The Dolphins won in convincing fashion yet again, although this win did come at the hands of the comically inept New York Jets. The Dolphins will host the Rams in week eight following a bye. Could it be Tua Time for all four quarters next time we see football in South Beach? Either way, the ‘Phins are starting to turn some heads as a lovable underdog.

Verdict: 6.5/10, Check Back Next Week

Buffalo Bills

Much like what I said about the Browns, I can’t say that I wasn’t expecting this to happen. Coming off their first loss, a truly dreadful display against the unbeaten Titans, the Bills had to go face a downright angry Chiefs team. Although the Bills put up a good fight, they now sit just one game ahead of Miami in the AFC East. Fortunately for Bills fans, they get a game against the Jets this week. This should be a destruction.

Verdict: 7/10, Check Up

New York Jets

I can’t say anything else about this team. I don’t want to say that they aren’t even trying, but it certainly doesn’t seem like they are. Good luck against the Bills this week, I guess.

Verdict: 0/10, Check Down

AFC South

Indianapolis Colts

The Colts narrowly avoided their second loss in a row this week, coming all the way back against the Bengals to move to 4-2. This game showed a lot of resolve for the Colts, and I commend them for it. If they could harness that fourth-quarter firepower for an entire game, they might actually be something. For now, though, I can’t consider them a true contender going into the bye week.

Verdict: 6/10, Check Back Next Week

Houston Texans

The Texans became the next victim of the NFL’s overtime rules being absolutely awful. Well, that, and they got outcoached by Mike Vrabel. The offensive numbers have shown improvement since firing Bill O’Brien, but the damage to their record might have already been done. Not to mention, Houston has to come back and host the Packers on Sunday. This could be a great quarterback duel, but I think Green Bay comes out on top.

Verdict: 5.5/10, Check Back Next Week

Jacksonville Jaguars

I was right about what I said last week, you know. The Jaguars are dead in the water, and no help is on the way. This team could not cover the spread against a one-win Lions squad who, might I add, are coached by Matt Patricia. The Jags need an identity. The Jags need to add one of these top quarterbacks in the draft in the worst way. Well, at least they’re not the Jets.

Verdict: 1/10, Check Down

Tennessee Titans

The Titans are actually really, really good. Despite all the coronavirus complications, this team just keeps rolling through it all. That being said, they have a huge test this week against the Steelers in a battle of unbeaten teams. Tennessee avoided major punishment for their COVID-19 violations, and now they can squarely focus on the season. I have a ton of confidence in this team right now.

Verdict: 9/10, Check Down

AFC West

Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs got right back on track following their shocking loss to Vegas last week, win a two-score victory over the 4-1 Bills this week. They’ve got the Broncos next week, which could give them some cushion in the division, before hosting the Jets in week eight. Oh, and they just added Le’Veon Bell. The defending champs are going to be okay.

Verdict: 9.25/10

Denver Broncos

The Broncos surgically picked apart the Patriots with six field goals from Brandon McManus. Despite not finding the endzone one time, Denver sent the Pats to below the .500 mark, which personally I think is hilarious. Three out of their next four games are within the division, which worries me, but they also get to face Atlanta during that span. Honestly, I don’t know how to make heads or tails of this team.

Verdict: 5.75/10, Check Back Next Week

Los Angeles Chargers

Coming off a bye, the Chargers will see the floundering Jaguars at home in week seven. If they somehow choke away Justin Herbert’s first win against this team, then he just might not ever get one. The Chargers better win this game. In fact, in a Check-down Check-up first, I’m locking it in. For this week only, the Chargers have my full and complete confidence.

Verdict: 10/10, Check Up (LOCK)

Las Vegas Raiders

The Raiders had a bye this week to focus on the Buccaneers in week seven, but I fear they may not be ready, even with an extra week to prepare. The Bucs are hot on the heels of a signature win over the Packers, and I don’t know if the Raiders can keep up. That being said, this would be a huge win if they can overcome the odds against an old demon in Tom Brady.

Verdict: 6/10, Check Back Next Week

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