We’re about a quarter of the way through the NFL season, and with the first Bye Weeks about to begin, we figured it would be a good time to check in with Michael Lombardi, the Super Bowl-winning former executive who now hosts The Lombardi Line on VSiN. Lombardi was gracious enough to share his thoughts on a number of topics, from early favorites for Rookie of the Year to his biggest surprises and disappointments. Check out our interview below, along with the full Week 6 NFL schedule. For more of his analysis and betting insights, watch The Lombardi Line weekdays from noon-2pm ET and weekends from 10am-12pm on VSiN.
Week 6 - Oct. 14-18
|Thur. Oct. 14|
|8:20pm||Buccaneers 28, Eagles 22||NFLN/ FOX*||Sling Blue/ Select Markets/ Locals*|
|Sun. Oct. 17|
|9:30am||Dolphins at Jaguars (in London)||CBS*||Locals*|
|1:00pm||Packers at Bears||FOX*||Select Markets/ Locals*|
|1:00pm||Bengals at Lions||FOX*||Select Markets/ Locals*|
|1:00pm||Texans at Colts||CBS*||Locals*|
|1:00pm||Chiefs at Washington||CBS*||Locals*|
|1:00pm||Rams at Giants||FOX*||Select Markets/ Locals*|
|1:00pm||Vikings at Panthers||FOX*||Select Markets/ Locals*|
|1:00pm||Chargers at Ravens||CBS*||Locals*|
|4:05pm||Cardinals at Browns||FOX*||Select Markets/ Locals*|
|4:25pm||Raiders at Broncos||CBS*||Locals*|
|4:25pm||Cowboys at Patriots||CBS*||Locals*|
|8:20pm||Seahawks at Steelers||NBC*||Select Markets/ Locals*|
|Mon. Oct. 18|
|8:15pm||Bills at Titans||ESPN||Sling Orange|
Bye Week: Falcons, Saints, Jets, 49ers
Sling: About a quarter of the way through the season, who is the biggest surprise in terms of overperforming?
Michael Lombardi: You have to think [it’s] the Chargers. Being 4-1, the way they’ve played, how they’ve improved defensively. Brandon Staley certainly could be a Coach of the Year candidate. I think they’ve been really impressive, how they’ve been able to win some tough games [on the road in] Kansas City, beat[ing] the Browns at home. I think they’re a great success story.
[And] the Cowboys. We know they’re the most talented team on paper in the [NFC] East, but that hasn’t always worked out for them in the past. Particularly when they do Hard Knocks. Usually when they do Hard Knocks, they go [9-7] or they go 5-11. This year, they look like they’re a really good team and we’re not even talking about Hard Knocks.
Who is the biggest disappointment?
ML: Well, there’s a lot of those. I think Kansas City turning the ball over and being below .500 has to be a huge disappointment. Everybody went all Dicky Vitale on how great the Washington defense is and they can’t stop anybody. I think that’s gotta be a huge, huge disappointment. And obviously as we look at some of these young quarterbacks, the disappointment in terms of ‘are they not quite ready to play yet?’ San Francisco, what people don’t realize is that without [quarterback Jimmy] Garoppolo, San Francisco is 7-28. They haven’t been a good team, Garoppolo helps them become a good team. And I think that’s been a real disappointment.
The top 5 MVP candidates (based on betting odds) are currently Josh Allen, Kyler Murray, Justin Herbert, Dak Prescott, and Tom Brady. Among those 5 players, who is most likely to hold on to win it?
ML: I think you need to throw Lamar Jackson in there. He’s really been dynamic. Even though they’ve stumbled a little bit—they won a game against Detroit, won this [Colts] overtime game—his playing and throwing the football has been really impressive.
But [Josh] Allen is the frontrunner. I don’t know that [Kyler] Murray can hold up for 17 games. I think he’s been sensational for the first four; last week against San Francisco, he didn’t play nearly as [well]. Brady’s remarkable. I mean, the guy is getting older and getting better, it’s just phenomenal. Last week against Miami, a disappointing team but a team that won 10 games last year, he shredded them completely.
So I think those are the candidates. But Allen seems to be the leader in the clubhouse at this point, because he’s got Buffalo in such a good position and his play—along with the Buffalo defense—seems to be resonating.
There are four 4-1 teams in the NFC: Dallas, Tampa Bay, LA Rams, and Green Bay. Which one is the best?
ML: I think Dallas has played the best. I think that the Rams’ deficiency on defense is concerning. I think you can move the ball on the Rams. Green Bay, bad opening day but the last four weeks have been really good, and of course they’ve got Aaron Rogers. So it’s hard to beat them.
Dallas, their defense is much improved, better than I expected. I think Dan Quinn deserves a lot of credit for changing what he’s done defensively and modifying the scheme to fit the talent level on that team. So of those teams, there’s no doubt. The Bucs, 4-1, they’ve got to prove themselves healthy on defense. They’ve had to change what they want to do, playing more zone than they’d typically like to do, but they have to because of their corner situation.
I think each one of those teams has a liability, but each one of those teams is so good offensively that they can overcome any defensive liability.
At 5-0, Arizona has the best record, but are they really the best team in the NFL?
ML: They’ve played the best, there’s no doubt. Last week, they were not on their A-game offensively and they were able to beat San Francisco 17-10. You are what your record says you are. They’re undefeated. They’ll have a tough time this week as they go back into Cleveland to play against the Browns. Chandler Jones went on the COVID list yesterday, so is he gonna play or not? I think that’s always a concern. Health is gonna be a factor. Is Murray healthy? He didn’t look like the old Kyler Murray—I call him “Beep Beep” because he’s like the Roadrunner, he’s just flying around back there. And so they need to get that back going offensively. [But] when you win five in a row in any league, it’s hard. In the NFL, it’s really hard.
Who is your early favorite for Offensive Rookie of the Year?
ML: I think Jamar Chase has been great. I still think he’s been outstanding, but for me as a personnel guy and a general manager in the league, Joe Burrow is getting hit way too much. They needed to help the offensive line. Chase is a great player but I’m afraid that Burrow is gonna get hit too often this year.
Mac Jones I think has proven that of all the rookie quarterbacks, he’s played really well. Trevor Lawrence is coming along, he’s starting to play better. But Mac Jones has played really well, considering he’s still a rookie, for five games. He had a chance to win the Bucs game, gets a ball tipped right there at the end that might have really won the game for them. Those two to me jump out as really high-quality rookies.
NOTE: Quotes have been lightly edited for clarity.