NFL’s Best Teams Separate From The Rest And That May Have Begun Happening Sunday

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We’re a couple of weeks from that point in the season when the NFL’s best teams begin to separate from the pack and travel in the small group that’s going to factor in a big way come the postseason.

And Sunday may have started to show us some of those teams.

Let’s agree this column is not about the Philadelphia Eagles. They’re 8-0 and no matter what happens on Monday Night Football against the Washington Commanders they’re in the conversation that measures the league’s best teams.

But the Eagles didn’t play on Sunday. So let’s consider the teams that did — the ones that showed us something.

The ones apparently building something.

Patrick Mahomes Chiefs quarterback.
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes leads the NFL in TD passes. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

A List Of The NFL’s Best Teams

So let’s examine the Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, and New York Giants.

We start, as many of the last few seasons have, with the Chiefs.

They beat the Jaguars despite losing the turnover battle 3-0, miscommunicating on the coin toss and electing to receive rather than kick, and then losing that opening possession anyway when the Jags recovered an onside kick.

That’s enough stuff going wrong to doom many teams. For the Chiefs it was a hiccup. It was a teaching opportunity for coach Andy Reid.

“Yeah, well, (it’s) a tribute to the guys – the coaches and the players – but we got to get rid of some of that stuff that you’re talking about, make sure we clean it up,” Reid said. “You shoot yourself in the foot, it’s going to come back and bite you, so we got to make sure that we take care of business there.”

The Chiefs take care of business primarily because they have a great coaching staff, the game’s biggest matchup problem in tight end Travis Kelce, a good enough defense, and a great quarterback in Patrick Mahomes.

Mahomes, leading the NFL with 21 TD passes when Sunday dawned, added four more to bring his total to 25.

“He is a generational quarterback,” said Jaguars edge rusher Josh Allen. “He makes plays when he needs to make plays, and he gets the balls and plays to the playmakers and bada-bing, bada-boom.”

The Chiefs are currently the top seed in the AFC.

The Dolphins offense put together a complete game against the Browns on Sunday. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Dolphins Among Best NFL Teams

The Miami Dolphins are the second seed in the AFC and a team that has not lost any of the seven games quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has started and finished.

On Sunday the Dolphins delivered perhaps their most dominant performance of the season in a 39-17 beatdown of the Cleveland Browns.

It was the third consecutive game Miami has scored 30 points or more. The Dolphins didn’t punt and didn’t give up a sack against a front that features Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney.

The Miami defense, meanwhile, allowed only 297 yards — the lowest output by the Browns this season.

And, coupled with Buffalo’s overtime loss against the Minnesota Vikings, the Dolphins now lead the AFC East.

“I think you can do a ton of really cool things in the National Football League if you can somehow get an entire building, an entire roster, to move in one direction,” coach Mike McDaniel said. “And that is way, way easier said than done.

“It doesn’t matter what my messaging would be or what my beliefs were. Doesn’t matter if they were really awesome or really terrible. It doesn’t matter if a bunch of individuals decide to be all in on it. They have to choose that they want to hear it and then they have to choose that they want to listen to it.

“So it goes back to the fact that you have incredible, young, hungry individuals that collectively are getting the taste of the fruits that bear when you sacrifice together and are able to accomplish a common goal.”

Vikings get big win at Buffalo to show they're among best NFL teams.
Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins of the Minnesota Vikings attempts a pass during the first quarter against the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium. (Photo by Isaiah Vazquez/Getty Images)

Vikings Second Best Record In NFL

The Vikings have been enjoying a similar experience even if it hasn’t always been pretty and there have been doubters at times.

But following an impressive overtime victory over the suddenly struggling Bills it’s hard to think the Vikings are paper tigers — at least not this regular season.

The Vikings think they’re among the NFL’s best …

 “It’s a confident locker room in there,” coach Kevin O’Connell said after the 33-30 victory in Buffalo. “And there’s a lot of games out in front of this team where we’re going to rely on these moments to help us. I’m so dang proud of this team, I love this team and the way they battle, the way they come together.

“And it was a really big day for us, kind of confirming who we think we are as a football team.”

The Vikings lead the NFC North with an 8-1 record. They’ve won seven one-possession games this season so they’re not blowing anyone out.

But even that might be making them better.

“Being battle tested is what you can take from it,” quarterback Kirk Cousins said. “Because you know that come January you’re going to need that.”

Giants coach Brian Daboll finds what his team does well and concentrates on that.

Giants Win Any Way They Can

The Giants trail the Eagles in the NFC East. The difference between the teams could be two games if the Eagles avoid the upset Monday night.

But the Giants are a rebuilding program that has found a pragmatic way to win as they go. They know they’re not quite where they want to be and won’t be for a couple of years. But they’re not going to roll over and play dead until then.

So the Giants on Sunday won their fifth game in the last six outings by riding their running game through the heart of the Texans defense.

The Giants rushed 47 times for 191 yards. Running back Saquon Barkley, obviously rested after a bye, gaining 152 yards on 35 carries.

“We try to do what we think we can do, which was run the ball for [47] times,” coach Brian Daboll said. “I think (a previous question) asked me, ‘Is it as simple as just running the ball with Saquon Barkley?’ The answer’s no because they do a good job. They made some runs.

“But each week, we just do what we think we need to do for that particular game. If it’s 60 passes, it’s 60 passes. That’s what we do as a coaching staff. That’s what we’ll always do. I wouldn’t give it a label. I would just say we try to do the best job we can to formulate a plan and make sure the players execute it.”

It’s working so far.

It’s working for all of the NFL’s best teams through Week 10.

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Written by Armando Salguero

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