compiled by Andrew Potter
Each Sunday, the FO staff sends around e-mails about the games that each of us are watching. We share information about the games that the rest of the group might not be watching, ask questions, and keep everyone else informed about which games they might want to turn into (if they can).
On Monday, we compile a digest of those e-mails and produce this feature. By its nature, it can be disjointed and dissimilar to the other articles on the site.
While these e-mails are generally written with Audibles in mind, they do not represent a standard review of all the games each week. That means we aren't going to cover every game, or every important play. We watch the games that we, as fans, are interested in watching, so your favorite team's game might not be covered to your fullest desires or even at all. (If you are a Steelers or Patriots fan, you are probably in luck; if you are a Bills fan, not so much.) We have no intention of adding new authors to cover every game on a given Sunday, nor will we watch a different game from the ones that we're personally interested in watching, just to ensure that Audibles covers every game.
Detroit Lions 22 "at" Atlanta Falcons 21 (London)
Andrew Potter: Two very impressive drives from Atlanta to start this game. For all the concern about their line, they've given Matt Ryan enough time to find his receivers and Ryan has duly obliged. Seven different receivers on the first two drives, including touchdowns to Devonta Freeman on a screen and Bear Pascoe on goal-line play action.
For Detroit, the defense has struggled but the offense has been worse. Punts on every drive so far, and their line has struggled as much as we expected Atlanta's to.
Nick Fairley is now out with a knee injury, and by the sounds of it won't be back. Backup C.J. Mosley was sent home during the week, so they're down to their No. 4 defensive tackle.
Then, just as I hit send, Matt Ryan throws an apparent pick-six to Rashean Mathis, featuring an impressive 103-yard runback. The pick, however, is overturned for defensive pass interference against Mathis -- but that penalty is offset with a penalty against Matt Ryan for a "low block" during the return, so ultimately the down is replayed. (Ryan was valiantly/foolishly attempting to tackle Mathis through the legs of Cassius Vaughn.)
The penalty on Ryan makes no difference to the outcome of the drive, as Steven Jackson punches in on third down to put the Falcons up 21. Hard to see any way back into this for Detroit, whose offense is currently missing Calvin Johnson, Reggie Bush, their top three tight ends, and now Golden Tate is also playing hurt.
Tom Gower: Matt Ryan has looked phenomenal through the first 27-plus minutes. As Andrew mentioned, Detroit hasn't gotten much pressure. When they have, though, he's done a great job of adjusting to it, resetting, and still putting balls on the money.
Detroit looks dysfunctional on offense against a Falcons defense I don't rate highly, but they've spent a lot of time looking dysfunctional on offense against other teams lately as well. The injuries are really taking their toll, and Matt Stafford's not a quarterback who raises the level of play of those around him.
Andrew Potter: Halftime now. Detroit's final drive of the first half epitomised their dysfunction, with the one completion to Tate followed by a bad drop by Theo Riddick, an inaccurate pass from Stafford toward Corey Fuller, then culminating in an interception on which the receiver (Fuller again) fell down. Disappointed that Atlanta then sat on the ball with more than a minute left and two timeouts, but Detroit don't look any kind of threat to turn this around.
Third quarter, there's that Falcons defense you were talking about, Tom. Third-and-25, Tate goes over the top and the safety doesn't. Stafford scrambles right away from pressure, buys loads of time to wind up the throw, and hits Tate in the end zone to make it 21-10.
Everything's changed in the third quarter. Detroit has a sack-fumble of Ryan, fortunately recovered by one of Atlanta's linemen, and Matt Bosher's punt on that drive went out at Atlanta's 45-yard line. The Lions have scored on both of their drives, and Matt Ryan just threw a horrible, horrible interception straight to a wide-open Cassius Vaughn. Vaughn returned the pick to the 7-yard line, meaning the Lions start in Atlanta's half for the second time in the third quarter and, barring any crazy mistakes, will make this a one-score game here.
Scott Kacsmar: If the Butt Fumble had an interception equivalent, Matt Ryan just made it happen.
Andrew Potter: And on the next drive, another sack-fumble recovered by a Falcons offensive lineman. In addition to the interception, the awfulness of which I can't overstate, Atlanta has fumbled the ball three times in the second half and recovered every one. This second half bears no resemblance to the first.
Tom Gower: At least in the Giants game when the offensive line collapsed in the second half the Falcons could trace it to injury. This is the same five guys they had most of the first half (Gabe Carimi went out early) getting whipped by basically the same group of guys against whom they held their own in the first half.
But Matt Ryan converts a key third down late, and a Julio Jones screen pass gives them another first down. Kudos to Mike Smith and Dirk Koetter for going to the air rather than trying to seal the game by running Steven Jackson ineffectively into the line.
Andrew Potter: Strategically sound, but an inexcusable hold followed by a Julio Jones drop cost them the chance to seal it.
The Lions field goal unit: never a dull moment.
Tom Gower: We may have to give the Mike Martz Award for Mike Smith and Jim Caldwell for how they handled that contest, ugly in many respects and particularly some of the decisions late in the game.
Cian Fahey: At least Hard Knocks taught us that the Falcons are tough enough to handle these losses.
Aaron Schatz: Half the reporters in the room here at Gillette were just muttering to themselves, "I've never seen a hold on a running play." I went back and looked. The only other defensive holding call all year on a running play (not scramble) was Roy Miller of Jacksonville, declined, on a 1-yard touchdown run by Alfred Morris in Week 2.
There are going to be calls for Mike Smith's head after this game, with this season going poorly. I was talking to a national reporter after the Falcons loss about what's going on with that team. He felt like the culture was just really stagnant. Smith doesn't excite anyone and also really doesn't fit the city of Atlanta or the fan base. We came up with the perfect next head coach for the Falcons: Kevin Sumlin. SEC pedigree, hits the college fan base, creative college offensive mind to use the Falcons' quality skill players (#playtone), and unlike Gus Malzahn -- who was my first suggestion -- he also excites the league's biggest African-American fanbase.
Rob Weintraub: Talking Falcons and a possible coaching change -- a lot of run being given down here to Brian Kelly, in addition to Sumlin and Malzahn. Things may have changed, but the sense I got in some off-the-record chit chat with folks inside the organization was that Arthur Blank is leery of the hot college coach route, unless he can find a Chip Kelly who can institute a complete culture change. Apparently the Bobby Petrino scars still run deep. Just something to think about.
Buffalo Bills 43 at New York Jets 23
Cian Fahey: Whether Percy Harvin works out in New York I don't know, but his presence atop the wide receiver depth chart makes the offense as a whole look so much better. Jeremy Kerley, Jeff Cumberland, and Jace Amaro all become complementary role players while Eric Decker doesn't look like a lonely starter.
Aaron Schatz: The Lonely Starter was my favorite Dan Fogelberg album.
Cian Fahey: Sammy Watkins is going to be highlighted for that really dumb celebration that cost him a touchdown in the second quarter, but he has been a major thorn for the Jets secondary so far. He drew an important DPI early on to extend the drive and on the play before his big reception, Watkins ran exactly the same route and was open but Kyle Orton missed him.
Michael Vick is doing just enough to make this game somewhat competitive, but he's also doing more than enough to remind you that he offers the franchise no future moving forward. Jets stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Andrew Healy: My insightful analysis: Geno Smith is really bad. We didn't need Percy Harvin to evaluate him. There was already enough evidence to close the book. Terrible decision on pick one. Bad decision and terrible throw on pick two. Terrible throw on pick three.
Chicago Bears 23 at New England Patriots 51
Aaron Schatz: OK, I often talk about how I'm not a psychologist and I don't understand locker room chemistry, but you think about these reports of trouble in the Bears locker room, and then you see what Jay Cutler just did on the end of the Bears' first drive... Bears go three-wide with a flex tight end on third-and-19, the guys are all in their routes, there's a nice pocket around Cutler, nobody is open yet but he's not in any danger of being sacked... and he throws the ball into the ground to give up on the play. No scrambling. No trying to make something happen. No waiting patiently for someone to get open while he sits in the pocket. No waiting for Matt Forte to get open to dump the ball off for a few yards of field position. He just gave up on the play. That was... what was that?
And to follow up, @ChiBearsAD pointed out correctly on Twitter that there was nothing else Cutler really could do. It was actually a screen to Forte and a pass to any other receiver probably draws an illegal man downfield penalty. My mistake. Still looked terrible though.
Andrew Healy: Yes, they've had no hope covering Gronkowski. Eight catches on 8 targets for 103 yards in the first half. But Brady has also been fantastic so far (and not just to Gronkowski). At least four of those throws to Gronkowski have been into small windows, including one down the right seam, one to the goal line with Brady on the move and both touchdowns.
Aaron Schatz: The Bears are just brutal today. Absolutely brutal. The secondary is completely cooked, especially with Kyle Fuller on the sidelines with a hip injury. They are mostly staying away from Tim Jennings and it is easy pickings with Ryan Mundy, Demontre Hurst, and poor unfortunate totally overmatched UDFA local boy Al Louis-Jean (Brockton High, Boston College). On top of that, the Patriots offensive line has the Bears' d-line handled. And the Bears now have to pretty much give up on the running game, which means the lack of Jerod Mayo is less of a big deal for the Patriots defense.
And as I type this, Pats sack Jay Cutler, strip, touchdown on fumble recovery. May be called back for down by contact on the recovery though.
Nope, it wasn't. 38-7. Yikes.
Cian Fahey: Only seeing bits of this game on Red Zone, but it appears that the Bears are playing like they have for long stretches this year. There's a legitimate question about whether Marc Trestman has done the worst coaching job in the NFL for just this season. Team never looks ready.
Aaron Schatz: I thought highly of Trestman's first season as a head coach, so I'm a bit surprised. I really do think that it is more of a personnel issue when it comes to the secondary. Just a ton of injuries there. But a big surprise is that Marshall and Jeffrey can't seem to get open on offense. Are they still being hobbled by their early-season injuries?
Andrew Healy: Agreed on how amazing the Bears' badness has been. Cutler even got a pick back on a Brandon Browner illegal contact. The Patriots defense has been flying around, too, and the Pats have the right five on the offensive line, so not a surprise that they're doing well, although not this well. With that snow game four years ago, the last two Patriots-Bears games in the two first halves: Patriots 71, Bears 7.
I'd also point more towards the personnel issues than Trestman given the good things he did last year.
Seattle Seahawks 13 at Carolina Panthers 9
Scott Kacsmar: Panthers seem to be controlling this game so far. Are there any injuries we can point to for Seattle after the bye week? Byron Maxwell and Bobby Wagner? Their defensive DVOA since Week 5 can't be pretty. Of course as soon as I type this Cam Newton coughs up a fumble in the red zone and the Seahawks recover. Very fortunate to not be down 21-3 again this week. Instead it's 6-3 thanks to bad red-zone play from the Panthers and a 58-yard field goal by Steven Hauschka.
Vince Verhei: Injuries to Wagner and especially Maxwell have hurt. They don't have nearly the depth in the secondary they had last year.
Richard Sherman has been shadowing Kelvin Benjamin and has limited him to a couple of catches. (Kelvin Benjamin, by the way, makes Kam Chancellor look small. He's a damn giant.) Short, quick-moving first half with on seven real drives between the two teams. As noted, Carolina should probably be ahead by a lot more. Seattle actually had a chance to take the lead right before halftime, but Russell Wilson's pass went through Marshawn Lynch's hands for an interception. So Panthers are still up 6-3.
Follow-up thought: Carolina's three first half drives all went at least nine plays, 48 yards, and six-plus minutes, and they produced a total of six points.
Lousy quarterbacking here by two allegedly franchise guys. Newton, under heavy pressure, tries to shot-put a pass while falling down, and it's an easy interception for the Seahawks. Then the Seahawks get a receiver wide-open for a touchdown on read-option play-action, but Wilson underthrows him by 5 yards for an incompletion. Seahawks kick a tying field goal to make it 6-6. James Carpenter is out with a back injury, and it turns out J.R. Sweezy and Alvin Bailey can't block Kawann Short and Star Lotulelei at all. Lynch has done nothing. Meanwhile, Seattle still seems to be using the Percy Harvin offense, with way too many screens going nowhere and barely even trying deep balls.
Andrew Healy: Russell Wilson made one of the most inexplicably bad throws you will ever see with a wide-open Cooper Helfet running down the left side all alone and maybe unimpeded for a touchdown, mid-third quarter. He almost shanked it coming out of his hand, sort of shades of Garo Yepremian (yes, that is hyperbole). And we know Russell Wilson has crazy giant hands, too, so that's no excuse.
Vince Verhei: More injury woes for Seattle. Backup center Stephen Schilling botched a snap and Wilson never touched the ball, leading to a Panthers recovery. Carpenter has returned, but at one point in this game Seattle was out all three starting interior linemen.
So Wagner is out, Malcolm Smith has been in and out all day, and now Kevin Pierre-Louis is hurt too. So Brock Coyle is now playing at linebacker.
Cian Fahey: On Kelvin Benjamin's huge reception down the middle of the field in the fourth quarter, Richard Sherman had great coverage but went for the interception instead of punching the ball away. It was third down and the field position gain would have been minimal at best. That's a really dumb, uncharacteristic play from the cornerback.
Another sign of the Seahawks' lack of discipline this season.
Vince Verhei: Kelvin Benjamin lines up against Seattle's all-pro cornerback, runs a deep post right at their all-pro safety, and outjumps them both to reel in the ball for a 50-plus-yard gain. I think he's looked better than any receiver has against Seattle this year, including Dez Bryant or anyone in Green Bay. Drive stalls after a sack and Carolina kicks a field goal to go up 9-6 midway through the fourth.
Aaron Schatz: Carolina blocking just completely breaks down on Panthers' last drive here. Two straight sacks. Newton bounces a screen attempt on fourth-and-25. Game over.
Vince Verhei: So in the end, this year's Seattle-Carolina game was a rerun of last year's Seattle-Carolina game, a low-scoring, clunky, defensive affair with a late Russell Wilson touchdown pass (to Luke Willson today) the difference. The pass rush came to life at the end, with Bruce Irvin getting sacks on back-to-back plays, though that probably says more about Carolina than it does about Seattle. Ugly wins sure are more fun than ugly losses.
Scott Kacsmar: Well, two years ago Newton had a chance to throw a go-ahead touchdown against Seattle and short-hopped it. I'd still take that result over bouncing a screen pass on fourth-and-25.
Miami Dolphins 27 at Jacksonville Jaguars 13
Scott Kacsmar: Dolphins had just nine offensive plays in the first 25 minutes. They had 11 on a field-goal drive to take a 10-3 lead. Jacksonville has put together long drives with Denard Robinson impressing again at running back, but Blake Bortles threw another terrible pass for a pick-six. At some point the "he's a rookie on a bad team" excuse wears thin when you're continuously making bad decisions.
Baltimore Ravens 24 at Cincinnati Bengals 27
Andrew Healy: Andy Dalton has been good today, but he has made two big mistakes that have killed the Bengals. First, he missed a wide-open throw in the right corner of the end zone (I think to Jermaine Gresham) that forced the Bengals to settle for a field goal. Then he tried to switch the ball to his left hand after a jailbreak on play action and Haloti Ngata forced a fumble around midfield. That leads to a Ravens touchdown the next play that puts Baltimore up 21-20 with about six minutes left.
Aaron Schatz: And in the spirit of Carolina's blocking, Baltimore's blocking also disintegrates on its attempt at a game-winning drive. Definitely noticed Marshal Yanda get whipped on second down. The only time Flacco really had time to throw, Steve Smith got caught on an OPI grabbing George Iloka's jersey and pushing him to the ground so he could catch a not-touchdown.
Andrew Potter: George Iloka did a masterful job of *ahem* bringing the official's attention to the contact.
Andrew Healy: Interesting strategic situation at the end here. On third-and-goal, Baltimore used their last timeout to stop the clock with about a minute left. It ended up working out with the Bengals scoring on fourth down. But the Bengals had all three timeouts and would have gotten the ball back on a likely conservative three-and-out with around 45 seconds left and near midfield. Not clear what the right call is, but I like what Harbaugh did since Cincy had it on the 1 and so was pretty likely to score. Unusual decision but probably a good one.
Rob Weintraub: Was with the family so I couldn't comment as the Bengals-Ravens game unfolded, but I will say without the slightest hint of bias that it was a blatant case of offensive pass interference on Smith, Sr...
Everyone complains every Sunday how the game has totally swung over to the offense, and now we don't like it when the wide receiver pushes the defensive back down to make the catch?
Houston Texans 30 at Tennessee Titans 16
Tom Gower 13-3 Texans at the half, as Zach Mettenberger's insertion into the starting lineup has failed to solve all the problems the Titans have. Drives keep getting scuppered by offensive line penalties (Taylor Lewan! Michael Oher!), receivers are winning on contested catches, and the run game is not producing enough yards to sustain drives or even get them to third-and-short. The only Tennessee points came after Dexter McCluster's first good punt return of the season.
The highlight of the first half was probably Arian Foster's 34-yard touchdown. Great jump cut, and the Titans completely lost backside contain. Derrick Morgan was supposed to have it at the line of scrimmage, I think, while Michael Griffin might have been the guy deep. Mostly, it has been a pretty Ryan Fitzpatrick-like performance, with one of the field goals coming on another possession (like the touchdown) that began in Titans territory and the other featuring three straight incompletions once they got to the red zone. The one surprise has been Fitzpatrick taking a bunch of sacks; he has done well in this area in the past, but the Titans are bringing heavy pressure and getting to him. Negative mention here to rookie left guard Xavier Su'a-Filo, who has had trouble locating and reacting to second-level rushers. He has been rotating with Ben Jones a lot, in past games as well as this year, but I'm suspecting we might see a lot of Jones in the second half.
Arian Foster continued to run well in the second half. The Titans offense continued to sputter, with J.J. Watt showing up again and again. Michael Oher and Chance Warmack are not solutions to him on the right side of that offensive line. Mettenberger did get a pair of touchdowns, one after his first Random Deep Ball completion, the other down three scores in the final minute.
St. Louis Rams 7 at Kansas City Chiefs 34
Cian Fahey: Via Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston is on pace for 20.5 sacks. Have rarely heard him mentioned this season.
J.J. Cooper: Justin Houston's sack against D.J. Fluker and the Chargers last week was a thing of beauty. I GIF'd it for Under Pressure. He actually knocked Fluker on his butt on his way to the quarterback.
Philadelphia Eagles 20 at Arizona Cardinals 24
Aaron Schatz: Watching Philadelphia is just such a different experience than any other NFL offense. It seems like there's a read-option or fake read-option on every play. Just over and over.
[ad placeholder 3]
Vince Verhei: Larry Fitzgerald catches a quick slant, gets one block, breaks one tackle, and he's gone for an 80-yard touchdown. I get so happy when this guy succeeds. Their Super Bowl year, I thought he was maybe the best overall player in the league. Then he spent the next half-decade playing with some of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL. He has been overshadowed a bit by his teammates now (I'm not even sure he's still the top receiver on the team), but I hope not too many people have forgotten how good he used to be.
Cian Fahey: Nick Foles with his second interception of the game and his ninth of the year. Both were unimpressive throws. I don't think anyone of a rational mind expected him to repeat what he did last season, but he's definitely pushing too far in the other direction now.
Andrew Healy: Agreed on that Foles pick to Cromartie in the third quarter. Like the first pick to Cromartie in the first half, a very poor throw. This one might have been a miscommunication, but also could have been an even worse throw.
Far from me to question Chip Kelly, but a shotgun draw to LeSean McCoy on third-and-6 inches? A sneak with the requisite presnap motion would have been so much better. A poor mark on the previous play where Chris Polk should have had the first down.
I wonder what the win probability calculator says on the decision to kick on fourth-and-goal from the two? 20-17 Philly. With a 50 percent chance of converting, I get:
- Going for it: .50*.88 + .50*.50 = .65 (.88 is chance of winning after TD, .50 is chance of winning from own 2 after a failure).
- Kicking: .84
So the calculator likes kicking. That .84 chance of winning after kicking sure sounds wrong to me, though.
Todd Bowles has consistently been big blitzing while ahead late in games. He did it in the Chargers game again and again, did it today. It has mostly been very effective. Philly took a long time getting down the field against it. The only really successful throw they got towards the end was one of the only times Bowles didn't blitz. He brought seven (at least) on the last play of the game. You'd think teams would be very prepared for this stuff now, but it just keeps working. Philip Rivers was totally flummoxed by it, too.
Cian Fahey: The final play of this game was a great example of why height is so overrated at the wide receiver position. Jordan Matthews is huge, but he's not a natural receiver. He sacrifices his ability to keep his feet in bounds to allow a body catch. Body catching drags him out of bounds with his momentum. A more talented shorter receiver would catch that ball with his hands away from his body, allowing him to drag his feet as he goes out of bounds.
Vince Verhei: Yeah, Arizona's defense was just ridiculously aggressive at the end of that game. I think I'm writing the Arizona chapter in FOA 2015; that might turn into a dissertation on late-game blitzing strategy.
Scott Kacsmar: Arizona has been aggressive in that situation all year. Hard to fault it when it keeps working this well. I'm surprised Foles threw 62 times in this game. Doesn't sound very Kelly-like.
Indianapolis Colts 34 at Pittsburgh Steelers 51
Aaron Schatz: Somehow Pittsburgh is ahead 21-3 near the start of the second quarter. Colts are having trouble covering. Meanwhile, Andrew Luck just had a weird completely awful read and threw a pick-six. It looked like typical Steelers Cover-3 with William Gay just sitting on Hakeem Nicks. Luck should read that right, usually.
Scott Kacsmar: Both of these teams should have tried getting big rookie wide receivers (Donte Moncrief and Martavis Bryant) more involved this season. They don't have another guy like that on the roster. The Steelers wasted time with Justin Brown when Lance Moore was out. The Colts have not been able to get Hakeem Nicks going all year and throwing to him today -- remember, Reggie Wayne is out -- has just been disastrous.
But you know a 21-3 lead isn't safe when it's the Colts, even if the Steelers have only blown two 11-plus-point leads since 1988 (technically three if you count the 2002 tie with Atlanta). Luck once again made up for a pick with a big touchdown drive.
Aaron Schatz: Colts were somehow fifth in the league in offensive ASR going into today's game, but it sure looks like last year's offensive line is back for the afternoon. Andrew Luck is getting killed by blitzes and stunts.
Scott Kacsmar: Luck has already thrown away a couple of passes to avoid sacks today. That was much more common his first two years, which was part of the reason for his lower completion percentage. Cincinnati pressured him well last week too, so it has been a bit of a problem lately.
Cian Fahey: I wonder if my Steelers Film Room piece from two weeks ago is hanging in the Steelers locker room somewhere. It's as realistic an expectation as any other for their recent results (they're currently beating Indianapolis).
Scott Kacsmar: I expected a competitive, high-scoring game. Definitely not a Pittsburgh blowout, but there is still plenty of time left. Unfortunately the Colts just don't have any answers on defense to make me think Pittsburgh won't run away with this one.
So in a half where Roethlisberger is 23-of-27 for 320 yards and four touchdowns, the Steelers don't let him go for it on fourth-and-4 at the Indy 34-yard line? I was happy to not see the 52-yard field goal attempt, but the fake punt is the only thing as annoying as those times when Roethlisberger tries to make the defense jump offsides when you know he's never going to run a play. A brilliant throw from Luck nearly cost the Steelers a touchdown before the half, but they held them to a field goal. Still, an interesting half to come from the looks of this one. Both offenses look fantastic, but it's going to come down to the turnovers.
Andrew Healy: Anyone know the most points given up in a game after a shutout? Five minutes left in the third quarter, Steelers have 42 a week after the Bengals had zero (and didn't get into Colts territory until the fourth quarter). After Dalton threw for less than 4 yards per attempt last week, Roethlisberger if 30-of-36 for 398 yards (11.1 yards per attempt) and five touchdowns.
In what I've seen of this game, Andrew Luck has been unbelievably good. Even with spotty protection. The throw at the end of the first half to T.Y. Hilton down the deep middle and now just a gorgeous throw deep down the right sideline for the touchdown that brings the Colts to within eight at 42-34. When you throw in his running (beautifully illustrated on the run that got the Colts inside the ten just before halftime), what is the over/under on when he's the best quarterback in football? He's getting close.
Scott Kacsmar: There's the record. Ben Roethlisberger is the first quarterback to ever have multiple 500-yard passing games. He has been even sharper today than he was on that day against Green Bay in 2009.
Andrew Healy: Indeed, and against a good defense (No. 9 by DVOA coming in).
By the way, the Colts did not come even close to the most points given up in the next game after a shutout. In 1985, the 0-9 Tampa Bay Buccaneers shut out the St. Louis Cardinals 16-0. The next week they went from no points allowed to 62, losing to Ken O'Brien and the New York Jets 62-28.
Oakland Raiders 13 at Cleveland Browns 23
Cian Fahey: After watching Jacksonville-Cleveland last week, I'm glad I'm only seeing this game when it is on Red Zone.
Vince Verhei: They showed a picture during the game of Mike Pettine and Tony Sparano as assistants with the Jets in 2012. When two branches of the Rex Ryan coaching tree collide, is anyone surprised that they score one touchdown combined through three-plus quarters?
Green Bay Packers 23 at New Orleans Saints 44
Tom Gower: No punts in the first half. That's not much of a surprise from the Green Bay offense against the New Orleans defense, but this seems like one of the few times we've seen a decent version of the Saints offense this year. The success on the ground is not much of a surprise, but the Packers are sixth in pass defense DVOA coming in. Sure, some of that is injury, but still.
[ad placeholder 4]
Aaron Schatz: I know this shocks people, but until the last couple seasons, New Orleans' home-field advantage (the difference between their DVOA at home and on the road) really was no different than the average NFL team. But the last two years, egads.
Cian Fahey: Isn't the perceived home advantage linked to the prime time slot too though?
Scott Kacsmar: I wrote something detailed about this in the comments section to one of our articles last year, but nights like this are why the Saints home/road thing exists. They're looking to go 18-3 in prime time at home in the Payton/Brees era and we know those are the most-watched games that people are more likely to remember. Their performances have been nothing short of amazing and fairly consistent. So when they lay an egg in Seattle or St. Louis or to the Jets last year, that stands out. They also blew leads late in epic fashion against the Patriots and Panthers on the road last year. Despite having one of the best road records in recent years, this current losing streak has soured things and further created the gap with their home splits, but overall it's really just selective memory at work.
Aaron Schatz: So are they great in prime time on the road and at home, or just at home?
You really wonder... could one team really get THAT much more jacked up for national prime time games compared to the rest of the league, or is it just random chance that the Saints are so good in prime time at home, like flipping heads 18 of 21 times?
Tom Gower: Down 37-16 with 9 minutes to play, does it make sense for Green Bay to keep playing a hobbled Aaron Rodgers? His mobility seems to clearly be affected, as he isn't moving in the pocket the same way and has taken a couple sacks I'm not sure he would have when healthy. Given the deficit, the situation, and the (lack of) defense, I'd give him a rest.
Scott Kacsmar: Assuming PFR has all the times right, the Saints are 6-7 on the road in prime time since 2006. Allowed a bunch of points in the losses.
I guess if there was something "special" about it, the first game in the sample was in 2006 against Atlanta when they re-opened the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina. It would be hard to watch that game and not admit there was some huge home-field advantage at work. So maybe they're able to recreate that environment at night in a way that just doesn't happen early in the afternoon. The crazies come out at night in New Orleans, right?
Aaron Schatz: I agree about that game and that environment, but... I mean, I can't think of a harder-to-duplicate environment than "our first home game after the city was almost destroyed by a hurricane."
Scott Kacsmar: Brees is up to 40 touchdowns versus three interceptions in his last 11 prime time games at home. That's insane.
Andrew Healy: Random chance is a better explanation, I think. If I run the math, I'm guessing this is more like getting heads 14 or 15 times out of 21 once you correct for the Saints being better and having home field. As Chase Stuart would say, splits happen.