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

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? Which team am I locking in with total confidence this week? Let’s find out.

AFC North

Cleveland Browns

The Browns may have won this game by much more than the final score would indicate, but I think this one is more an indictment on how bad the Eagles have become. Even without Myles Garrett, Carson Wentz was under attack the entire game. The Browns pummeled him to the tune of five sacks, as well as two interceptions, including a pick six. I like the Browns against the Jags this week, even if Jacksonville has a history of finding a way to beat them.

Verdict: 8/10, Check Up

Baltimore Ravens

Uh…are the Ravens okay? This isn’t like you guys at all. Not that this Browns fan is complaining, but Baltimore has fallen to third place in the AFC North and look like they don’t really care. The Ravens let Derrick Henry run all over them, and now seemingly half their team has the coronavirus going to face the undefeated Steelers on a short week. Yikes.

Verdict: 7.25/10, Check Up

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers finally took care of business against an inferior team, and didn’t let the Jags hang around much after the first quarter. The Steelers intercepted Jake Luton four times, sending the Jags to 1-9 and themselves to 10-0. I like their chances against this weirdly apathetic Ravens team, but at the same time, it’s Steelers/Ravens. You never know what could happen.

Verdict: 10/10, Check Up

Cincinnati Bengals

Prayers up for Joe Burrow. Get well soon, young man, because the NFL is better with you in it. As for the rest of the Bengals? This season is now officially over. All the hope that Burrow gave you will be back in 2021, but right now, this team might not win another game. This team is in prime position to take Micah Parsons in the draft, and I think it would be a great fit for Cincy’s biggest need.

Verdict: 3.5/10, Check Down

AFC East

New England Patriots

Bill Belichick might be able to control the weather like we saw last week, but even he can’t control Deshaun Watson. The Patriots are a bad team this year, after selling their souls for the past two decades. Belichick might have one last rabbit to pull out of his hoodie, but the Pats just lost to a two-win team who has only beaten Jacksonville. Not ideal if you’re trying to get your act together for the final stretch.

Verdict: 3.75/10, Check Down

Miami Dolphins

“They haven’t lost in over a month,” he said. “I don’t expect them to start now,” he said. Fortunately, I didn’t make this team my lock and make myself look like even more of a fool. Tua Tagovailoa got benched for performance in this one, and even though I don’t believe getting sacked six times was his fault, losing to Denver is a vote of no confidence for me. Miami needed this one to keep up in the AFC, and they fumbled it away.

Verdict: 6.5/10, Check Back Next Week

Buffalo Bills

Are Bills fans okay? I haven’t heard but a peep from them since they got Thanos-snapped by Kyler Murray and Deandre Hopkins a couple weeks ago. Hopefully they aren’t feeling too sorry for themselves, since I like them to beat Justin Herbert and the Chargers this week. Still, though, that was a back-breaker that might affect them for the rest of the season.

Verdict: 8/10, Check Up

New York Jets

I had a friend this week nearly exactly predict how this Jets game would go, and even though I promised not to fill out this part of the column until New York won, I had to mention this because that would have been hilarious.

Verdict: 0/10, Check Down

AFC South

Indianapolis Colts

I don’t care that they won the game. If I’m Frank Reich, I’m putting the fear of God into my offensive unit this week. Seven flags in thirty seconds. That sequence very nearly cost Indianapolis that game. If not for the Marques Valdez-Scantling fumble in overtime, I am positive that the Packers would’ve gone down and scored. You’re lucky, Indy. You’re very lucky. But hey, sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.

Verdict: 7.25/10, Check Up

Houston Texans

The Texans are not a good team. The fact that a bad team can manhandle the New England Patriots this year is nothing short of astonishing. Deshaun Watson, as I said last week, is truly special, and the Texans would do well to actually put a team around him and not waste him, like they did with Andre Johnson, Deandre Hopkins, JJ Watt, and probably some others who I’m missing.

Verdict: 5.25/10, Check Back Next Week

Jacksonville Jaguars

Another week, another step closer to Justin Fields. However, I can’t give you style points this week. This was a destruction by the Steelers, and Jake Luton looked downright awful.

Verdict: 1.25/10, Check Down

Tennessee Titans

The Titans took care of business this week, but got no true reward because of Indianapolis’s miraculous win to keep themselves from imploding. Derrick Henry is, of course, a stud, and he ate the soul of the Baltimore Ravens this week. He’ll need to do the same against Indy’s stout defense in week eleven to give the Titans a cushion in the AFC South.

Verdict: 7.75/10, Check Back Next Week

AFC West

Kansas City Chiefs

This was close. For a second there, I thought the Raiders were going to do it again, and they just had the Chiefs’ number. Even so, the Raiders are a legit team in the AFC West, but the Chiefs are just that little bit better. A week eleven meeting between Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes could be one of the season’s most exciting matchups.

Verdict: 9.75/10, Check Up

Denver Broncos

The Broncos may have beaten Miami, but they have two extremely tough games coming up before they get any kind of reprieve. This is not a good team, and I expect them to start sliding. I don’t see any kind of “sure thing” win for the rest of the season. Maybe the Panthers? Outside of that, Denver should be prepared for the worst.

Verdict: 3.5/10, Check Down

Los Angeles Chargers

I locked in the Chargers this week, and they allowed the Jets to keep it far too close. A six point win over the worst team in the league isn’t exactly a vote of confidence, but it moves one more into the win column for my lock this week. I don’t know if Justin Herbert will be able to handle the Bills this week, especially not coming out of their bye week.

Verdict: 6/10, Check Back Next Week

Las Vegas Raiders

This was a heartbreaker, plain and simple. For my own selfish desires, I needed the Raiders to lose this game so the Browns could move up in the playoff standings. But not like this. Never like this. I still like the Raiders to beat the Falcons this week, and I think they’re going to be very angry after what just happened. I believe in these Raiders, and I’m locking them in this week.

Verdict: 10/10, Check Up (LOCK)

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