"Three & Out" is a weekly feature where we highlight three teams that dropped as well as three teams that moved on up in the ScouTurf team rankings formula based on their performance from their previous game.
We watch every NFL game from the previous weekend before making an assessment, and these are this week's big winners and losers:
The Lions are an extremely tough team to get pulse on and difficult to justify putting money on. This is commonplace for teams with a new coaching regime, and it takes some time for the players to get on the same page and earn some fluency in the playbook and new expectations. After some early reported grumblings, it seems like the Lions are starting to buy what Matt Patricia is selling and their emphasis on being a tough, physical, running offense is beginning to manifest behind impressive rookie runner Kerryon Johnson. The Lions need to get Ezekiel Ansah back from injury (he hasn't played since week one and is in a contract year), but they've done fine considering the lack of a bona fide pass rush. The Lions are 3-3 in a tough NFC North division and should make some exciting moves this offseason in the draft and free agency.
After starting 0-3 and Bill O'Brien riding the coat tails of unemployment, the Texans have now rallied to win four in a row and have a one game lead atop the AFC South. They are far from an elite team, as their offensive line is going to seriously hinder them from making any noise in the playoffs, but the exceptional play of their defense is carrying them to a winning record. J.J. Watt has been playing at a Pro Bowl level, Jadeveon Clowney is somehow mysteriously healthy now that he is playing for a second contract, and the they look like they found a really good starting safety in rookie Justin Reid. Even with the offensive line's poor performance, Deshaun Watson's mobility affords them to keep plays alive and his starting trio of receivers in Deandre Hopkins, Will Fuller V, and Keke Coutee is one of the better units in the NFL.
While everyone is anointed the Saints as NFC South champions (let's be real though, they probably will be), the Carolina Panthers are saying not so fast. The team showed some outstanding mental fortitude to rally and come back from a 17-point fourth quarter deficit in Philadelphia and the offense has a good thing going in finally using Christian McCaffrey in a creative manner. The defense has been playing at a high level and getting back veteran leader Thomas Davis is a nice boost to them. They need to improve their level of play at the safety position, but the stock is up on the 4-2 Panthers and they could very well sneak in as a wild card this season.
No team has nose-dived more this season and been more disappointing than the Jacksonville Jaguars, dropping from the 29th pick in the draft to 10th in just three weeks. Now in the middle of a three-game loss streak, they go to London this week to try and stop the bleeding and right the ship, er, boat. Doug Marrone has announced Blake Bortles as the starter for another week, and the fact that he had to address the team before making the announcement public suggests that this probably wasn't a popular decision among the locker room. The team is not only in danger of seeing their season slip away with another loss, but risk the potential fracturing of a locker room that could spill over into future seasons. Their solution to save the season? Carlos Hyde. Not great, Bob.
The move to go from Mike McCoy to Byron Leftwich was a great one, and since they played on Thursday Night Football, they have the benefit of a few extra days to adjust the philosophy going forward for the rest of the season. Leftwich will be terrific for Josh Rosen, and hopefully Rosen's foot injury that he unnecessarily suffered in garbage time of a 35-point drubbing. Steve Wilks better hope that Leftwich helps, otherwise he might be one and done as a head coach in the desert, and Steve Keim might be going with them. We'll see how they handle the Patrick Peterson release request, but unless they get a king's ransom, giving away perennial Pro Bowlers is generally not good business.
Hue gotta go. The Browns have gone to overtime in four games this year and only managed to win one of those contests. It is understandable that there will be some growing pains with a rookie quarterback, but Baker Mayfield has really elevated his team despite the Browns having the second most dropped passes in the league and two turnstiles at the tackle spots. Get Hue Jackson out of there, let Haley audition for the job and if he earns a playoff spot, he can keep the job. If not, I'm throwing everything I got to pry Lincoln Riley from Oklahoma to re-unite him with Baker Mayfield and give him a chance to be the next Sean McVay.
Here are the ScouTurf roster rankings following Week Seven: