The Pittsburgh Steelers have emerged as the team the Kansas City Chiefs are going to have to beat if they’re going to become the first team since the 2003-2004 Patriots to repeat.
The Steelers, the league’s only unbeaten team, tied their best start ever by boosting their record to 7-0 with a 28-24 shootout win over the Ravens.
The last time they started out 7-0 was in 1978, when they were on their way to their third Super Bowl victory in five years.
The Chiefs, meanwhile boosted their record to 7-1 with their rout of the winless Jets.
Nobody will be surprised if the Chiefs and Steelers wind up meeting in the AFC title game.
—Lamar Jackson was in position to throw the game-winning pass on the final play but it went incomplete. Still, even though he almost pulled it out, the Ravens have to be worried about the fact his stats have declined from his MVP season last year and he was guilty of four turnovers. At 5-2 and facing the rematch against the Steelers in Pittsburgh, they will probably wind up being a wild-card team.
—Only one team in the NFC – the 6-1 Seahawks – has fewer than two losses. They cruised to a 37-27 victory over the 49ers. Russell Wilson threw for four touchdowns to boost his total to 26 in just seven games. He is on track to win MVP honors.
—The 49ers lost both quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and tight end George Kittle and with a 4-4 record at the halfway point the odds are against them making a playoff run in the second half of the season.
—The Rams fell to 5-3 with a stunning 28-17 loss to the Dolphins, who won with Tua Tagavailoa making his first start and having little impact. He threw for only 93 yards but Jared Goff threw two picks and fumbled twice. The Dolphins have to wonder if they benched Ryan Fitzpatrick too soon and the Rams have to wonder about Goff’s future.
—Joe Burrow showed he is for real as the rookie threw for two fourth period touchdown passes to lead the Bengals to a 31-20 victory over the Titans, who dropped to 5-2 and may not be headed to the AFC title game again.
—And last but not least, the Patriots’ two-decade, six Super Bowl dynasty appeared to end with a 24-21 loss to the Bills as Cam Newton ended their bid to pull it out with a fourth period fumble in the red zone. The Patriots are 2-5, obviously miss Tom Brady and have been hurt by poor personnel decisions by Bill Belichick, who made two questionable coaching decisions, kicking a field goal on third down at the end of the first half and trying an onside kick with the score tied 14-14 in the second half. Belichick is now blaming the salary cap for the team’s demise when he said the team sold out to win their last three two-decade Super Bowls. But the Patriots have never been big spenders in the salary cap era. Strange to hear Belichick making excuses. Belichick should look in the mirror. His mantra is Do Your Job. Belichick hasn’t done his very well as GM and coach the last couple of years.