Nick Saban, Steve Spurrier, Bobby Petrino, Urban Meyer, and now add Matt Rhule to an ever-growing list. And this list is all about NFL owners becoming enamored with a college coach and backing up the truck for them. Thinking back on the Panthers' pursuit of Rhule, it's almost comical. Carolina flying to Texas, meeting with Rhule, and handing him an excessive contract that Sean Payton wouldn't even deserve this offseason.
Many will point to the lack of a franchise quarterback for Rhule's pro demise, and it's partially true. But whose fault is that? He received more than enough time to collaborate with the Panthers' front office on scouting and moving up in the draft for a top prospect. And, teams are in fact allowed to compete and play well without great quarterback play. Rhule got the most out of nothing at Temple and Baylor -- the NFL job was cleary too hard for him to do the same.
Now, the Panthers are as irrelevant as any franchise in football. The stadium is full of road fans, and their tank for the No. 1 overall pick in 2023 is officially on. They'll have Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, or Will Levis next season. Rhule will be well-established at another university before Carolina is in the playoffs again.
No. 1: Aaron Rodgers isn't a leader -- he's a blubbering mess with arm talent. Heading into the London trip, he admitted that the development of his young Packers receivers may play a factor in his NFL future? What an awful signal to send to the locker room, that you might not be as committed to them as you led on with your new contract.
No. 2: Brian Daboll is the NFL Coach of the Year. The Giants have beaten both top seeds from last year's postseason. This past Sunday in London, New York closed out a game against Green Bay without their best defensive player, best pass rusher, top-three outside corners, and top-four receivers. 4-1 is no fluke, and with Daboll now in command, the playoff expectations should be there.
No. 3: The defending champion Rams can't compete with their offensive line, and I'm officially worried that they miss the playoffs entirely. The 49ers are the better team in the NFC West, and the Rams' lack of available resources in draft picks will hurt their ability to rebuild a line that misses Andrew Whitworth more than any other team misses someone who left this past offseason.
No. 4: Zach Wilson is playing the best football of any quarterback selected in the 2021 draft. Trevor Lawrence has had his moments. Trey Lance is an injury question mark. Justin Fields isn't saying the right things. Mac Jones is a total zero. These Jets are quietly navigating a schedule that some believed would lead to a 1-7 start through eight games.
No. 5: It's weird watching the Steelers be this bad. Kenny Pickett had inflated stats as Pittsburgh allowed him to throw his way back into a game against the Bills that was lost in the first quarter. The Steelers' defense looked like it didn't belong on the same field with Buffalo, and Dionte Johnson is a drop machine. Mike Tomlin having to handle this locker room and keep it from imploding as losses stack may be the most difficult task he's ever had in the NFL.
No. 6: Ron Rivera clearly doesn't like Carson Wentz. He could back-pedal out of his recent comments all he wants -- he mentioned his starting quarterback as what separates the Commanders from the rest of the NFC East. That was a major red flag. Washington was better off with Taylor Heinicke under center -- now they may be better off without Rivera on the sideline.
No. 7: Kyler Murray deserves no defenders to his case as a potentially great NFL quarterback. And the clause on extra study time in his contract could've literally gone away, but the public perception won't. It would've taken Murray half a second to look at the huge scoreboard inside State Farm Stadium and see that you didn't get a first down. His awareness is garbage, and the talent isn't outweighing his lack of preparation for critical situations at the position.
No. 8: Brandon Staley isn't the right head coach for Justin Herbert and the title-deprived Chargers. Keenen Allen sees it, which means a lot of guys on the team must see it, too. There are analytical approaches, and then there's abandoning reality -- which Staley does far too often on huge fourth downs and two-point conversion attempts.
No. 9: It's mid-October, which means it's time for the NFL to overemphasize a certain penalty. It's not pass interference this year, it's roughing the passer. This is a reaction to the Tua Tagovailoa concussion dilemma, and a rough one. At some point, football needs to be football. Protecting quarterbacks is smart until it makes no sense. Tom Brady also acting as if he didn't beg for a penalty against the Falcons postgame was another disgrace to his career.
No. 10: Isn't the point of flex-scheduling to avoid total dud games on Sunday nights? Week 7 still features Steelers-Dolphins. I understand the Sunday slate of games aren't great. But there's at least five games better than the Steelers being trounced by a Dolphins team with no quarterback.
Five Games to Chew On
Cardinals at Seahawks: A pair of NFC West rivals at 2-3 with opposite feels to them. Seattle is a subtle surprise, but all of the Geno Smith love may be for nothing if they drop to 2-4 this weekend. Arizona, though, can't afford to lose a divisional game and fall to 2-4 after Murray's choke-job against the Eagles.
Jets at Packers: The Packers come back home to play New York's other red-hot team. Bailey Zappe nearly beat Green Bay, and Daniel Jones actually beat them. If Zach Wilson does as well, Aaron Rodgers and that locker room will need a vacuum-sealed bag to keep everyone together. A road win for the Jets, and the AFC playoffs start to feel real. Remember when most believed they were the worst team in their division?
Ravens at Giants: The Giants are the flavor of the month, after upsetting Green Bay across the pond. And their reward? Dealing with Lamar Jackson. What makes this matchup pretty interesting is Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale, scheming a plan for a quarterback and offense he battled against in practice for the entirety of Jackson's career thus far. Yes, this has potential to be the Martindale revenge game.
Cowboys at Eagles: A mammoth Sunday night game for NBC, with maybe the two best teams in the NFC playing for a division lead. And this is a game where you find out, for good or bad, how big of a leap Jalen Hurts has made. Can he navigate the relentless Dallas rush? Also, whoever plays quarterback for the Cowboys will have to deal with the league's best cornerback duo.
Bills at Chiefs: This may be the most-anticipated matchup of the season. We get a rematch of the wildest playoff bout from 2021 and the wildest final minutes of a fourth quarter we've ever seen. The Bills haven't been flawless, but they sure looked it against the Steelers. This would be a big mental relief for Buffalo, to get a sliver of revenge with a victory in Kansas City. But betting against Patrick Mahomes can be a big mistake.
Yet another 2-1 week has us back up to 7-8 overall for the year. For this week:
Bucs (-8.5) at Steelers: This is a big number, and the Buccaneers showed as recently as last week against the Falcons that they can blow leads and fail to cover against inferior opponents. But, rock bottom hasn't hit yet for these Steelers. Brady should toy with this weak defense, and I fully expect Tampa's pass rush to make things a nightmare for Kenny Pickett. Pittsburgh will have trouble reaching 17 points in this game.
Patriots (+3) at Browns: This feels like two teams going in the opposite direction. The Browns suffered a sucker-punch at the hands of the Chargers last week -- they're also 2-6 ATS in their last eight home games. The Patriots won last week and their confidence is back up, for now. Oh, throw in a former Bill Belichick backup quarterback, in Jacoby Brissett, facing a Belichick week of scheming. New England may just win this game outright.
Rams (-10.5) vs. Panthers: This is a big number, the biggest on the board for the week. I'm not buying into a brief injection of energy for Carolina with a new coach. Instead, players are probably thinking of not getting hurt ahead of the trade deadline, as the Panthers will inevitably sell off their talented pieces. This is a get-right spot for the struggling Rams. They can win 27-10 and cover.
Football Food of the Week
Beer Brats. Let's get the arteries clogged up here in October with a Midwest special. You may have some rank gas by the time Dallas and Philadelphia start their bout, but that's what summer is for. Get yourself some Brats, throw them in a pot or Dutch oven with some butter, onions, and of course, beer. Let the Brats cook with the goods to a boil and them simmer. Slap them on a bun and chow the freak down. This is the perfect October football feel. A good recipe here: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/bobby-flay/beer-brats-recipe-2012167
Thanks for reading as always, and enjoy Week 6. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @MrazCBS.