As the first third of the 2018-19 NFL season comes to a close, let’s take a look at some of the hottest takes surrounding the league.
Patrick Mahomes is a top 3 quarterback already
Through his first six starts of his NFL career, Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes has been brilliant. Mahomes and his Chiefs squad have gotten off to a blistering 5-0 start.
The Texas Tech product has done it all for Kansas City. His ability to take a top off a defense with his bazooka of a right arm has forced defenses to play on their heels.
This allows easy completions underneath, which lets the Chiefs march down the field. Mahomes and Andy Reid are telling defenses to pick their poison.
It’s not just Mahomes’ natural ability, but also his poise when his team needs him most. In front of a national audience on Monday Night Football, Mahomes and the Chiefs entered the fourth quarter down 10 to the rival Broncos.
Mahomes calmly led the Chiefs on two methodical touchdown drives en route to a come from behind victory, and thus “Showtime Mahomes” was born.
Perhaps it is too early to put Mahomes in the class of Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady. However, if he keeps up his play, Mahomes may be in a class all by himself.
Khalil Mack is the NFL MVP thus far
In a league that is quarterback driven, it is a defensive player that has stepped into the spotlight. The former Raider turned Bear, Khalil Mack has been a wrecking ball for NFL offenses to start the season.
Let’s take a look at the outside linebacker’s numbers: five sacks, four forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, one interception and one touchdown.
These numbers match totals of entire teams. Opposing offenses are forced to account for Mack every play. Whether it’s a double team or quick passes, offenses must scheme to avoid Mack’s disruptiveness.
This takes pressure off the rest of the Bears defense and makes the team better as a whole. Mack has been the best player on a Bears team that sits alone atop the NFC North.
There have been only two defensive players to ever win the MVP award (Hall of Famers Alan Page and Lawrence Taylor), and Mack is the best bet to be the third.
The New York Giants goofed the No. 2 pick
With the second pick in the 2018 NFL draft, the Giants selected running back Saquon Barkley from Penn State. Barkley was a consensus top-five pick and had been called the best RB prospect to come out since future Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson.
Barkley has been the focal point of the Giants’ offense so far, racking up 582 total yards and five touchdowns. However, it’s becoming clear that the Giants will live to regret their pick.
An NFL team is nothing without competent QB play, which is something the Giants simply have not gotten from Eli Manning. The 37-year-old appears to have lost the arm talent that twice led the Giants to Super Bowl titles.
With the second overall pick, the Giants had their pick of top QB prospects. Sam Darnold, Josh Allen and Josh Rosen were all there for the taking. The Giants still went with Barkley.
Now five weeks in, all three of those quarterbacks have shown they have what it takes to be a cornerstone of an NFL team. Eli’s lack of mobility and arm strength is hindering the Giants, who are staring at a second straight top-five pick dead in the face after a 1-4 start.
Franchise quarterbacks are hard to find, and although Barkley appears to be the real deal, the Giants may be second-guessing that pick for years.
Adam Thielen is the best receiver in the NFC
Adam Thielen’s journey to the NFL has been well documented. A kid who grew up in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, went to a Division II football program, signed to the Vikings practice squad, made a name for himself on special teams and was finally given an opportunity to start at receiver in 2016.
Thielen turned that opportunity into a Pro Bowl appearance in 2017 and an NFL record to start the 2018 season. Thielen became the first player since the NFL merger in 1970 to record five straight games with 100 yards receiving.
Thielen’s elite route running and trustworthy set of hands have allowed him to slice through defenses. When looking at the scope of NFC receivers, he still has competition. Perennial All-Pros Julio Jones and Odell Beckham Jr. make plays week in and week out.
Saints receiver Michael Thomas is on pace to set the NFL record for catches in a year. Even fellow teammate Stefon Diggs has shown his ability to score from anywhere on the field.
However, not one player has shown the consistent excellence Thielen has through the first five weeks. Theilen has finally started garnering some national recognition, but it’s time to start talking about him as one of the best in the NFL.