The NFL has transitioned to the second half of its season, and we are no closer to figuring out the contenders from the pretenders.
Any number of teams have looked like world-beaters one week only to face-plant the next.
It’s made for an interesting first 11 weeks of the season and sets up a fascinating final seven weeks, including this weekend.
Here are four storylines:
Rams get a test
When we last saw Rams coach Sean McVay, his club had lost a second straight game in humbling fashion. The Rams were limping into the bye week needing to fix a suddenly vulnerable defense that was getting pushed around and a star quarterback in Matthew Stafford, who had thrown four interceptions in two games, including two that were returned for touchdowns.
Two weeks later, the Rams will showcase whatever new approaches McVay and his staff cooked up when they visit the Packers.
The game has meaning with the Rams still trying to hunt down a division crown and the top seed in the NFC.
Beware the Vikings
The Vikings have been left for done plenty of times this season, losing five of their first eight games. But a closer look reveals four of those losses were by four or fewer points in games in which they held a lead. More than anything, their early demise was the result of self-inflicted wounds.
The 5-5 Vikings have cleaned up their act the last two weeks with quality wins over the Chargers and Packers.
The Vikings’ offensive weaponry is as potent as any in the NFL. If they can stay on track, they have a chance of being a nightmare postseason matchup. Their journey continues on Sunday against the 5-5 49ers.
What’s up in Indy?
The Colts crossed over the .500 threshold last week. They did it with a spectacular 41-15 victory over the Bills that reverberated throughout the NFL.
All of a sudden the Colts are peaking at the right time behind a winning formula built around a punishing run game and a defense that is 13th in points allowed.
In the process, running back Jonathan Taylor has vaulted to the top of the NFL heap in rushing yards (1,122). Taylor was unstoppable against the Bills, slashing them for 185 yards and five touchdowns.
The 6-5 Colts have a chance to make a big statement when they welcome the 7-3 Buccaneers to Indianapolis.
The 6-4 Chargers came up with some answers during the bye week as demonstrated by their thrilling victory over the Steelers last Sunday. It ended a skid in which they had lost three of four games.
Justin Herbert got back on track. throwing for 382 yards on 30 of 41 passing to push the Chargers within a half-game of first place in the AFC West behind the Chiefs.
Los Angeles can take tighter control of their wild card fate while potentially keeping pace with the Chiefs in Denver on Sunday when they play the 5-5 Broncos. It is a sneaky big game for the Chargers, who have a tendency to fumble away such opportunities.