Audibles at the Line
Unfiltered in-game observations by Football Outsiders staff

Audibles at the Line: Week 6

compiled by Andrew Potter

Each Sunday, the FO staff sends around emails 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 tune into (if they can).

On Monday, we compile a digest of those emails 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 solely 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.

Chicago Bears 28 at Miami Dolphins 31 (OT)

Bryan Knowles: Bit of a surprise here -- Ryan Tannehill can't go, meaning Khalil Mack and the Bears, coming off a bye, get ... Brock Osweiler.

We may not have to worry about DVOA overrating Miami for that much longer.

Brock Osweiler just threw a terrible, terrible interception, staring down Kyle Fuller and just tossing him the ball. Then again, what else is new? Very next play, Mitchell Trubisky hits Allen Robinson for a score, making it 14-7 as Chicago has finally woken up.

Zach Binney: Chicago just got hit with MAYBE the worst roughing the passer flag of the season, and that's saying something. Six minutes left in the third, Leonard Floyd comes in with his hand up high trying to block an Osweiler pass. He's a second late and swipes Osweiler's arm, but his hand is up high enough that I *guess* the official thought he hit Osweiler in the head? Or was trying to? Either way 15 yards and a Dolphins first down.

Aaron Schatz: Twitter link on the Floyd play.

Vince Verhei: I've had an eye on this one as Brock Osweiler was threatening to post another Osweiler (40 or more passes, 200 or fewer yards), but his receivers just took that off the table. On the game-tying drive, they had three catches of 25 yards or more, most of those yards coming after the catch. The last was a 43-yard touchdown on a wide receiver screen to Albert Wilson where he broke a ton of tackles on his way to the end zone.

Taylor Gabriel's wide open for a 29-yard touchdown to put Chicago back on top, but then on the next play from scrimmage Albert Wilson takes a shallow cross, slips some tackles, and finishes with a 75-yard touchdown to tie the game. Osweiler, who has done nothing today but watch as his receivers have broken tackles to make big plays, just shrugs as he runs down the field. I LOL'd.

Bryan Knowles: Miami punts rather than trying a 58-yard game winning field goal, and we're going to have overtime. Yes, Osweiler has made some Osweiler-esque bad throws, and his stats have been padded by some insane YAC, but credit where credit is due; for an unexpected backup quarterback against a defense that has been as good as Chicago's this year, he has done alright. Dolphins have a chance to pull off the upset, as DVOA's Darlings continue to perform well.

Andrew Potter: If you're wondering where all of Andrew Luck's tipped ball luck went, Brock Osweiler is cackling with glee in Miami today.

The third-and-11 conversion on the opening drive of overtime was simply ridiculous good fortune.

Aaron Schatz: And then Frank Gore gets a 32-yard run to put the Dolphins near the goal line. And it looks like DVOA's Darlings are going to pull this one out despite having to start Brock Osweiler ... until on third-and-goal from the 1, Kenyan Drake loses the handle on the handoff and fumbles the ball right before he gets to the goal line. It looks like it will be Chicago's ball. They get it on the 20 after recovering the fumble in the end zone.

Bryan Knowles: Oh my! Kenyan Drake fumbles the ball as he heads into the end zone. Chicago picks it up, and we are still. Tied.

Second time today that a team has fumbled going across the goal line; Chicago did that earlier. Amazing. After Frank Gore got you all the way down here, I'm not sure why you hand the ball to Drake there, but maybe that's second-guessing it.

Vince Verhei: Dolphins get the ball first in overtime and have a third-and-inches at the goal line. Touchdown wins the game. I'm letting my 6-foot-7 quarterback sneak for the score and calling it a day. Instead the Dolphins line up in shotgun and run read-option. Kenyan Drake gets the ball and bounces off the pile and falls across the goal line ... but in the process he drops the ball and the Bears recover. They're reviewing to see if it's a touchback or Chicago's ball at the 1, but either way the Bears are getting the ball needing a field goal to win.

Aaron Schatz: Dolphins totally shut down Jordan Howard for most of the game. He was at 11 carries for 35 yards through regulation. Overtime, after the Drake fumble, all of a sudden, they are getting completely blasted off the ball by the Chicago offensive line. Howard gets runs of 19 and 15 yards. Then other Chicago running backs get 6 yards. On third-and-four, Bears get conservative, hand off again to Howard, he gets no yards. It's going to be a field goal try for 53 yards from the Miami 35 after the two-minute warning.

And Cody Parkey misses the field goal. So we've got about two minutes for the Dolphins to come back and keep us from TIE NUMBER THREE.

Andrew Potter: Stop. Settling. For Long. Field Goals.

Bryan Knowles: I blame the Bears' orange jerseys. OK, yes, the holder had a hard time getting the ball down, but I'm still blaming the pumpkin patch look.

Vince Verhei: Bears reach the edge of field goal range but then John Fox gets predictably conservative, running three times and settling for the long field goal.

Wait. Matt who now? Well, whatever, Cody Parkey pushes it wide right, and the Dolphins take over at their own 47. Time is limited, but they only need a field goal to win.

Aaron Schatz: If we want to give Matt Nagy the benefit of the doubt, like I said, the Bears were blowing the Dolphins defensive line off the ball for much of that overtime drive. Maybe he didn't think of a third-and-4 handoff as conservative, he thought of it as a good way to try to convert for a new set of downs.

Dave Bernreuther: The Fins have gotten all sorts of lucky in this one -- which has turned out to be fabulously entertaining, even for a person stuck in a Miami sports bar -- with their backup quarterback and a throwback game from a 384-year-old Frank Gore ... only to fumble on the goal line when calling a play other than "let your 8-foot tall quarterback just stand there and reach the ball over the line."

The Bears might've gotten a bit lucky on the touchback call, but doesn't matter, as the drive ends in a long missed field goal. And once again, because I'm a jerk, I'm furiously and gleefully rooting for a tie.

Which, just by typing about it, I'm sure I just doomed not to happen.

Aaron Schatz: It's good. Jason Sanders from 47. Miami wins.

Bryan Knowles: DVOA can't account for BROCKTOBER.

Vince Verhei: Final note on this game: Chicago's defense has of course been great this season, but their tackling was awful today. That's the biggest reason they blew that lead and lost.

Bryan Knowles: Brock Osweiler is now 3-0 as a starting quarterback against Chicago, and 11-12 against the rest of the NFL.

Seattle Seahawks 27 'at' Oakland Raiders 3 (London)

Bryan Knowles: In news out of London, it turns out the Raiders are shopping Amari Cooper. I don't think an entire tear-down and re-build was in the plans when the Raiders hired Jon Gruden, but he needs his Grinders and ThatGuys, I suppose.

Seattle takes the opening drive 14 plays for 82 yards, punching the ball into the end zone. The Seahawks' offensive line actually looked ... well, pretty darn good, keeping Russell Wilson upright and opening holes. That's what happens, I suppose, when you trade your top pass-rusher days before the season starts.

Vince Verhei: Seahawks go up 14-0 when Russell Wilson drops the snap, recovers the fumble, and finds David Moore in the back of the end zone for the score. (The fumbled touchdown pass has a long history in Seattle -- I think Dave Krieg did it a lot back in the day.) That was set up by a Frank Clark sack-fumble when Kolton Miller was beaten badly for the sack, then failed to recover the ball even though he seemed to have an easy recovery, but he somehow let the ball slip under his body.

Seattle's first score was also a Wilson touchdown pass, that one to Jaron Brown, but it has been a run-heavy Seattle attack today -- 14 runs and seven passes to start the game. That includes runs on each of their first seven plays, then a nifty screen on the eighth. Two receivers lined up in a slot formation to the left, then both ran slants to the right. Wilson play-faked and rolled right, but then threw the screen back to the left. Unusual, but nice to see the Seahawks using intent in play design to manipulate the defense and get guys out of position or in bad matchups. They've been run-heavy even with the injuries at tight end -- no Nick Vannett today, which means a lot of six-lineman sets with George Fant and a start for Tyrone Swoopes, just signed this week. He even got a target on the first drive.

Raiders offense has done nothing so far. First drive was a three-and-out on three straight runs, including a run on third-and-6. Second possession gained 12 yards and ended in the fumble on third-and-5. Now on their third drive, Amari Cooper is trying to catch a pass off his shoes when Bradley McDougald hits him helmet-to-helmet and knocks him out. He eventually recovers and walks off the field. No penalty on the play -- Cooper took about four steps after the ball first arrived, so I don't think he counts as a defenseless receiver. A better pass there and Cooper is probably still in the game.

That looks to end the drive, but Derek Carr finds Rishard Matthews on a catch-and-run to convert a third-and-20, and the drive continues. The Raiders end up holding the ball for 15 plays but gain less than 50 yards in the process, and Matt McCrane ends up missing a 48-yard field goal to leave the score at 14-0.

The other story of the game is penalties -- midway through the second quarter, we're at five for 44 yards on Seattle, three for 20 yards on Oakland, one of which wiped out a long Jared Cook completion.

Bryan Knowles: Both teams in this game may end up ruing travel plans in the first third of the season. Seattle Analytics Twitter (led by Ben Baldwin in a Tweet I can't find right now to save my life) ripped Seattle for not travelling to Denver early in Week 1, adapting to the high climate and negating some of the Broncos' innate home field advantage. They may be getting their travel-plan win back today, as they scheduled their trip to London to arrive a full day before the Raiders, who only showed up on Friday afternoon. That means that the Seahawks had 24 hours more time to acclimate to the massive time difference. It usually takes me 24 to 30 hours to get back on my feet when flying over the Atlantic, and while I'm not a Professional Football Player, there's only so fast the human body can acclimate. Most teams arrive in London WELL before the Friday before their games, but the Raiders are bucking that trend! Gruden swore that they were "here in plenty of time to acclimate ourselves," and that they'll be ready to "play their best football."

Vince Verhei: Sebastian Janikowski hits a 44-yard field goal on the last play of the half to put Seattle up 17-0. Not much else to report here. Wilson almost had another long touchdown but overthrew Doug Baldwin by a yard. The Raiders' last drive ended on a fourth-and-1 in Seattle territory where they tried to hurry a sneak and catch Seattle sleeping, but this week Seattle stuffs the sneak to end the drive.

It has been a bit of the Tom Cable revenge game -- or rather the Seahawks' revenge on Tom Cable game. Carr has been sacked twice and hit a few other times; the Raiders have hardly sniffed Wilson. The Seahawks have 66 yards on 17 carries, which is nothing special, but the Raiders have only 25 yards on 11 runs -- and if you take away Carr scrambles, it's 15 yards on nine carries. Seattle just crushing in the trenches today. It took a few games to get going, but Seattle's offensive line in recent weeks has looked better than it has in years. The additions of D.J. Fluker and J.R. Sweezy have been huge.

One other big-picture note: last week was the first time in his career that Russell Wilson had no official rushing attempts in a game. He has no attempts again here at halftime. He was averaging 8.4 yards per game rushing coming into the day, compared to a career average of more than 30. He has been listed with a hamstring injury every week, and it doesn't seem to have affected his passing, but at this point we have to assume it's going to be something to worry about all year.

Raiders' first possession: Marshawn Lynch run for 1, sack on second down, and then sack-fumble and Seahawks recovery on third down. Seahawks only used a three-man rush on third-and-long, but Clark knocked Miller flat on his back, and Miller's helmet actually knocked the ball out of Carr's hand. Seattle fails to get a first down after that but kicks a short field goal to go up 20-0.

One thing to watch for: feels like Seattle has a lot more delay of game penalties and early timeouts this year than they have in the past. They lost a timeout on that field goal drive, their first possession of the second half. The offense has frequently struggled to get plays in on time.

Carl Yedor: They seriously need to extend Clark. He's making himself a lot of money this season.

One odd thing I've been paying attention to since the pick-six against Chicago is what the offense does when it sends a running back out wide as the outside wide receiver. Prince Amukamara was able to jump a hitch route for that pick a few weeks back, and it seems like, more often than not, Seattle backs either stand still as an outlet or run a short hitch slightly further down the field. This could be a schematic necessity based on where the other receivers in the play are headed, but it does seem pretty predictable. Something I'm going to keep watching while I grumble about Schotty.

Vince Verhei: Score is still 20-0 at the end of the third quarter, but the first play of the fourth is going to be a third down for Seattle in the red zone. They had another red zone drive in the third, but Wilson had a very bad interception at the goal line, forcing the ball into double coverage from a clean pocket on first down.

Wilson makes that third down pay off, as he scrambles up in the pocket and finds Tyler Lockett for the score. It's 27-0 and hasn't felt that close.

There are 84,922 people in Wembley today, a London record, and most of them are cheering for Seattle. This trip to the U.K. could become an annual thing.

Carl Yedor: Not a whole lot interesting going in this one, but Oakland got on the board with a field goal in the fourth quarter. The Seahawks, who have not done the greatest job getting after the quarterback this season, have had Carr under siege the whole game thanks to the Raiders' injuries up front. Carr went off injured after the most recent sack, but hopefully it isn't serious. If I'm Gruden, I don't let Carr back out there given the time and score.

Vince Verhei: We'll never know whether Carr would have returned -- Seattle got the ball back with 6:30 to go and never gave it back.

Weird how things have turned around for this team -- they're not catching the Rams in the division, but at .500 they're right in the heart of a wild-card race in an NFC that doesn't look as deep as we thought it would be.

The Raiders are simply awful. They have some backs and receivers who can break some tackles, but otherwise it's hard to think of anything they do well.

Scott Kacsmar: Did we even bother to point out that Jon Gruden kicked a field goal down 27-0 in the fourth quarter to avoid a shutout? I remember cursing him up for doing that with the Buccaneers in 2006 against Pittsburgh. That one was actually worse, because it was a 27-yard field goal on third down as the last play of the game (lost 20-3). I mean if the Raiders were even close to being in the playoff race, he might get away with a tie-breaker justification (points), but that's just shameless shutout avoidance, and it's not like we won't still make fun of the Raiders for losing 27-3 there. I'm just glad that was a London game with a rare 1 p.m. EST start time. It would be a shame if people got up that early to watch something so one-sided.

Bryan Knowles: We present Derek Carr's pass chart.

Only one pass attempt more than 10 yards downfield. Only two completions more than 5 yards downfield. London, we're sorry we export some of our worst games to you.

Vince Verhei: We should just remove the Raiders from our statistics entirely. That is not an NFL offense.

Pittsburgh Steelers 28 at Cincinnati Bengals 21

Scott Kacsmar: There are nine games going on right now and they all have at least one touchdown except this game, which is scoreless. Good receivers are dropping balls in the rain, though I think hearing footsteps had more to do with most of these plays. Joe Haden just dropped an easy interception, which might cost the Steelers dearly after a high grab by A.J. Green sets up first-and-goal. About the most interesting thing so far is that Ben Roethlisberger tried a quarterback sneak on third-and-2 and got it with his length, but the play didn't even count because the Steelers called timeout.

Bryan Knowles: That dropped Haden interception did end up leading to a Cincinnati touchdown. Forget Joe Haden (though that was a bad dropped INT), what is Pittsburgh doing having Vince Williams covering A.J. Green on a third-and-long? Or Anthony Chickillo covering Tyler Boyd, like, at all?

Pittsburgh finally gets on the board on the next series, with James Conner plunging into the end zone. Conner had a 25-yard run on the drive, meaning he has as many 20-yard runs this season (3) as Le'Veon Bell had all last year. Bell's absence is kind of proving the "running backs are fungible" concept.

Scott Kacsmar: This is the second time in six weeks the Steelers are playing a road divisional game where the rain is bothering both teams. Cody Core just had a horrible drop on third down that would have been a big gain for the Bengals. I guess that's why he doesn't have a catch this season. But the ball is bouncing around a lot too for both quarterbacks. Someone's dying to throw a pick here and that could be the difference in what has been a low-scoring contest so far.

What a wild play before halftime. It looked like Darqueze Dennard had an interception, but JuJu Smith-Schuster gained simultaneous possession and actually ripped the ball away from Dennard as he flipped over him. But his helmet was down on the ground with the ball short of the goal line, so they marked it at the 1-yard line. Conner added another short rushing touchdown and the Steelers lead 14-7.

Bryan Knowles: I take back my criticism of Pittsburgh's odd coverage choices. Having Vince Williams on A.J. Green is probably a better situation than having absolutely no one at all on Tyler Boyd. It looked like -- I think it was Artie Burns -- was expecting a post route, while Boyd just went to the outside and had a good four yards of empty space in the end zone. and a very simple pitch-and-catch score. 14-14 as we go into the half.

Aaron Schatz: Oh boy did Artie Burns just get burned right before halftime. Almost like it's in his name. Clearly thought Tyler Boyd was going inside so he gave home plenty of space right on the goal line. Boyd went outside instead. I don't think Burns was even in the picture when Boyd caught the touchdown.

Scott Kacsmar: The kick return is rarely a weapon anymore for teams given all the rule changes this decade. But the Bengals had a big one with an extra 5 yards tacked on from a penalty to start at the Pittsburgh 44 in the final minute. That led to an all-too-easy touchdown drive to tie this one. Tyler Boyd came into this game with just as many targets as A.J. Green this season, but only 16 fewer yards. He has been good, and he might be great if he could play against Artie Burns every week.

I'll let out all my Mike Tomlin frustration on one drive. He challenged a spot earlier even though there was no evidence whatsoever that Ryan Switzer had a first down. So now Conner gets a run to the 1-yard line that may have been a touchdown. That definitely could have been worth a challenge if he had not already wasted one earlier. That makes you want to save one for the final quarter and a half, not to mention you still feel OK if you have first down inches away from the goal line. But the Steelers didn't get it. They tried to run on third down and Conner was stuffed in the backfield. Should have just let the 6-foot-5 quarterback knife it in there, but again, they don't really do that in Pittsburgh. So now it's 17-14 and neither coach is showing anything on fourth-and-1 this half. Marvin Lewis punted on a situation to start the half after another great kick return gave the Bengals nice field position.

Aaron Schatz: CBS just showed a graphic that they've tracked no hurries, pass disruptions, or quarterback hits for the Cincinnati defense today. Yikes.

And the Steelers kick a field goal to go up by six, 20-14, instead of going for it on fourth-and-2 from the 6. Total Tomlin move. I hate it. Forces your opponent to play aggressive and they can now beat you with a touchdown.

Bryan Knowles: A six-point deficit, rather than a three-point deficit, means Cincinnati has to open up the offense to get down the field in a hurry. Aided by a defensive pass interference call, they march down the field 75 yards in just over two minutes to take the lead. The Steelers defense is turrible. Pittsburgh does have 1:18 left to try to get a score, so this one isn't over, but man, I'd rather have that shot on fourth down.

Aaron Schatz: Dammit, Steelers, what did I tell you about going for it on that fourth-and-2? Bengals march up the field, 75 yards in 2:14, take a 21-20 lead. Steelers have had problems covering all day. Artie Burns was reasonable in 2017. He has seriously taken a step back this year.

Dave Bernreuther: I didn't watch the drive, so I don't know how much was a result of forced aggressiveness, but Aaron was exactly right, and the Joe Mixon touchdown gives the Steelers what they deserve after those last two field goal sequences. Which I find especially egregious given that Tomlin is coaching against Marvin Lewis, who never met a 40-plus-yard field goal attempt he wasn't thrilled to settle for.

There's still plenty of time here, though, and if the no-pressure thing is to believed, the Steelers will be decent bets to get into field-goal range.

Where, if there's any justice in the world, Tomlin will play for a long uncertain one (outdoors in the wet) and they'll miss and lose.

I don't know how you do it, Scott. I really don't.

Aaron Schatz: Well, it turns out my gnashing of teeth and rending of garments has been rendered moot as the Steelers get into field goal range with 15 seconds left ... and then score a touchdown to win. Cincinnati blitzed and the Steelers threw a quick pick route to Antonio Brown and with the blitz, there weren't defenders behind his guy to stop him from going all the way to the end zone. It looked like they could have maybe called OPI on Justin Hunter, but they didn't, I guess they decided that was within the 1-yard boundary where you're allowed to set a pick. Steelers pick up the two-point conversion after a hold on Cincinnati nullifies the first attempt. 28-21 Pittsburgh.

Vince Verhei: Not just the blitz for Cincinnati, but the safeties were split wide to guard the sideline routes. Which ... the Steelers had two timeouts left. In a spot where even a 10-yard gain would have been a big deal, making a winning field goal almost a sure thing. That's quite the odd situational play-call. It was the defensive equivalent of settling for the long field goal, a desperate call to get a sack and prevent a long field goal. And they gave up a touchdown instead.

Dave Bernreuther: For all that the Bengals did wrong on that final play, I'm still going to stick to my guns and say that the Steelers were playing for the uncertain long field goal, even in victory. That was a quick slant. There was no aggression involved. Good results, but bad process.

Rob Weintraub: Everything sucks.

That is all.

Tom Gower (After the Titans are shut out at home by the Ravens): Yeah, what Rob said.

Indianapolis Colts 34 at New York Jets 42

Dave Bernreuther: The Colts have taken the ball away from the Jets twice in fivrmmintes but come away with only two field goal attempts because nobody on the team can catch a football. Luck has looked great despite being victimized by a pick-six on the first pass of the game, but two short fields leading to only a three-point lead is how you let teams hang around and beat you. Even when Sam Darnold is making your defense look like a good team.

They also tried to get a bit too cute on the first field-goal drive on second down, for some reason putting Eric Ebron in the backfield and passing it to him there. I'm not entirely sure what that was meant to accomplish, but it didn't have a prayer of working.

Derrik Klassen: Would anyone care to explain the voodoo that must have been cast on Andrew Luck today? These interceptions are so, so unfortunate.

Vince Verhei: Somehow, "fivrmmintes" perfectly summarizes both of these teams this season.

Dave Bernreuther: The hands I used to type that comment are more reliable than the hands of the Colts receivers so far this year.

I'm far less attached to this team than I once was, and I'm still furious at how bad they are. Luck has looked pretty close to perfect and it doesn't matter. Great throws end up batted, picked, or dropped. And they're down two scores in a game where I wouldn't even say the Jets have actually done anything well yet.

In other news, Frank Reich legitimately looks to have aged twenty years in the last three weeks.

Andrew Luck's third pick today is not one we can blame on bad luck. Looking for Chester Rogers on a crosser (I'm sure he'd have dropped it anyway), Luck failed to see linebacker Darron Lee dropping into the zone behind the blitz (which completely ate up the blocker; I didn't notice if it was Anthony Castonzo or No. 6 overall pick spent on a guard Quentin Nelson, but either way, yeesh) and threw it right to him.

Awesome hands for a linebacker, for what it's worth, as that was a dart ... but now it's a two-score game and the Jets have the ball, and absent a miracle I'm about to jump behind Bill Barnwell's crazy "trade Vinatieri to Telesco and the Chargers" idea from his ESPN column the other day.

Los Angeles Chargers 38 at Cleveland Browns 14

Derrik Klassen: The Chargers disastrously botched a trick pass play. Philip Rivers pitched the ball out wide, then trotted back the other way to receive the backwards pass from the back, but the pass was well behind Rivers and ended in a massive loss. The Chargers are lucky they even recovered. Very easily could have given up the ball in their own red zone.

Following the drive, Cleveland returned Los Angeles' punt out to the Los Angeles 39-yard line. Baker Mayfield and the Browns offense are in striking distance already.

Los Angeles Chargers offense is operating in chunk plays right now. Game is boom-or-bust for them, but they are showing they have enough boom to overcome a talented, yet young and developing Cleveland defense. Tyrell Williams just Moss'd three Cleveland defenders on a deep pass from Rivers in the end zone, extending Los Angeles' lead to 14-3.

Dave Bernreuther: I made Baker Mayfield a semi-contrarian play today in hopes of bathing in money later, while a friend of mine predicted a big fat goose egg for him. We made a side bet. Thus far, on the board... well, he was very very right. I won't be winning that one.

Still, there really is a lot to like about Baker. His bad plays still show a good thought process. He hasn't really forced anything, and that earned them a field goal at half when they ran a play with eight seconds left that a LOT of quarterbacks, and not just rookies, might've botched. It was an incomplete pass, but a smart one. I see him trying to throw guys open rather than throwing into tiny windows or racing away from pockets for no reason and into sacks. When he tries to throw into tight windows, he's accurate. Basically, he's the opposite of Josh Allen. And the Browns really are looking good. They're just not *quite* there yet.

Carolina Panthers 17 at Washington Redskins 20

Andrew Potter: At halftime in Washington, the hosts have been rather poor ... but still lead by 11 because the visitors have been awful. Rookie receiver and returner D.J. Moore has lost two fumbles already – one on a punt return, and the other on what would otherwise have been the first play the Panthers finished in Washington territory. Cam Newton threw an interception to Josh Norman on a deep pass that never had a chance of being completed. Christian McCaffrey had some success running basic dive plays in the first half, but the more creative stuff since has gone nowhere. The game can be summarized by the sequence right before the half: Carolina took possession at their own 3 and went three-and-out, so Washington got possession at the Panthers 33. One 10-yard intentional grounding, one 4-yard scramble, and one incomplete pass under pressure later, Washington somehow ended up punting from the Panthers 39. Alex Smith has only completed 50 percent of his passes for under 100 yards, but ten points off turnovers and a Graham Gano missed extra point are the difference.

Dave Bernreuther: The Panthers look terrible today. Whether that statement applies more to their play or the horrible layer cake look (teal, black, white, silver stacked on top of each other) is a matter of opinion.

I suppose none of us should be surprised that always-interesting Josh Norman has managed to make a name for himself against his former team.

Buffalo Bills 13 at Houston Texans 20

Dave Bernreuther: In the last seven quarters, the Bills have thrown fewer passes than Andrew Luck threw in a half a week ago, and at roughly 4 yards per attempt. It is the perfect strategy for hiding your terrible quarterback...

(On whom they spent a high draft pick and several other valuable assets.)

Bryan Knowles: Ah, but which terrible quarterback? Josh Allen is out (with an elbow injury), Nathan Peterman is in, and Peterman immediately throws a touchdown to give Buffalo the lead!

Dave Bernreuther: Wow, really? Please tell me it's a concussion protocol from the one play where he rolled right on third down and took one of the hardest legal hits I've seen this week for no good reason whatsoever.

Aaron Schatz: Looked like a post-corner by Zay Jones on Shareece Wright and Wright got lost on the cut. Houston secondary has been an issue this year. Good for Zay Jones to do an actual good thing which we don't get to see much.

Bryan Knowles: The Texans do not deserve to win this football game. Facing first-and-goal from the one, we get:

  • Run by Alfred Blue into a huge pile, for a loss of 1.
  • An attempted SHOVeLL screen, end around … thing, that ends with another 1-yard loss.
  • A false start on both tackles simultaneously.
  • A near instant-sack of Deshaun Watson, who scrambles out of trouble, sees daylight between him and the end zone ... and throws an incomplete pass.

Field goal, 13-13 game, good lord.

The Bills do not deserve to win this football game. After getting the ball back after the Texans field goal, Nathan Peterman's second pass goes right to Jonathan Joseph for the pick-six.

Rivers McCown: It was not a pretty game, but the Texans prevailed by inserting Nathan Peterman in to provide a spark to their beleaguered offense.

Neither team should feel good about this one. Deshaun Watson looked completely out of sync in the offense after the first ~20 minutes of the game. Two long missed touchdowns, and the offensive line was dominated by Buffalo's front seven. They couldn't go three plays in the second half without Watson getting off his first read, getting sacked, or both.

The Bills offense is a spectacle. Pure and simple.

Arizona Cardinals 17 at Minnesota Vikings 27

Dave Bernreuther: Every time I look up at this one, the Cardinals are getting pressure. The Vikings' tackles are just getting abused, and one pressure led to Budda Baker fielding a loose ball like a third baseman charging a weak grounder and scoring the easiest touchdown of his life.

Still, the Cardinals aren't good, and even a rookie quarterback with many encouraging signs is still a rookie, so the Vikings have this one pretty well in hand after Josh Rosen throws one directly into the gut of a Vikings lineman. 27-10 as we near the close of the third.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 29 at Atlanta Falcons 34

Dave Bernreuther: Oh my god what if Atlanta now scores 34 at home and loses this one too?

Bryan Knowles: I don't think we've said a darn thing about this game, but I've kept an eye on it, as it was a must-must-MUST win game for Atlanta if they were going to salvage anything of their season. It looked like they were going to roll to an easy victory in the first half, taking a 21-6 lead into the locker room, but the second half proved more of an uphill climb. Atlanta was bailed out a bit by Tampa Bay throwing two interceptions inside the 10-yard line, and hung on for a 34-29 victory. 2-4 isn't exactly where Atlanta wanted to be at this point, but you can recover from 2-4. 1-5 would have been the final nail in the coffin.

Vince Verhei: I didn't watch a snap of this game, but I do want to note that Matt Ryan finished 31-of-41 for 354 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions ... and as a result of this, the passer rating allowed by the Tampa Bay defense this year is going to go DOWN.

Aaron Schatz: We'll need to find video of the play that Tampa tried to run at the end of the game. With one play left, on the Atlanta 21, the Bucs didn't run a pass play. Instead, Jameis Winston ran a quarterback draw and then LATERALLED when he was going to get tackled. Unfortunately, the ball bounced along the ground, Mike Evans picked it up, tried to lateral to DeSean Jackson ... which was a terrible lateral attempt but honestly, if it had been right in Jackson's stomach, he might have been able to run it in for the touchdown, he had about 6 or 7 yards left to go. What an interesting play design and would have been one of the more memorable finishes of recent years if it had worked.

Bryan Knowles: Here's the video for those who missed it:

I still think I just throw a fade to Mike Evans, but that would have been an all-timer had it made.

Tom Gower: The last play of this game is a great excuse to bring up my favorite play nobody remembers -- an amazing end-of-game multi-lateral play by the Panthers against the Eagles in 2003. It's completely forgotten because (1) it didn't count, as one of the laterals was slightly forward, and (2) the game was 25-16, so it wouldn't have changed the game outcome even if it had counted.

Los Angeles Rams 23 at Denver Broncos 20

Bryan Knowles: Denver scores a touchdown to tie the game at six, but Emmanuel Sanders gets called for taunting. That's a 15-yard penalty on the ensuing kickoff, which is annoying...

...but wait! Replay shows that no, Sanders was stopped just before the goal line. But the taunting penalty still counts. So rather than first-and-goal from the one, they get moved all the way back to the 16. The Rams defense stiffens up, and it's 6-3, instead.

Vince Verhei: Rams are up 6-3 early in the second, with a fourth-and-inches at the Denver 10. Because they are good, smart team, they go for it, and Todd Gurley goes into the end zone virtually untouched for a 13-3 lead that feels like 30-3.

Does anyone out there think Sean McVay is anything other than the best coach in the league? Not looking to start an argument. Just wondering if it's unanimous.

Cooper Kupp gains 12 yards on an end-around, and Denver is called for a horsecollar tackle and 15 more yards to boot. But there's a reason the horsecollar tackle is illegal -- Kupp's down after the play after his legs folded underneath him. Forgive me for speculating, and I'm no doctor, but there was a definite snap at his ankle as he went down. He's carted off and it does not look good.

Dave Bernreuther: I'll still put Belichick in that [best coach] conversation, just because his organization top-to-bottom thinks of everything and is ruthless in their quest for an edge, and that's just miles ahead of so many other teams that are still acting like it's the '70s and information doesn't matter.

But then again, you could say the same about McVay and his offense. As opposed to the jumbo set "hat on a hat grrrrr football!" mentality that still prevails and is every bit as '70s if not more ...

As I type this, the Rams are punting. And I'm surprised. Even against a good defense and without even thinking that highly of Jared Goff. Because that offense and the wide-open opportunities it creates is a thing of beauty.

Vince Verhei: Rams punt with 18 seconds left in the half. Broncos kneel to end the half, which would not be news, but it's Chad Kelly taking the knee, not Case Keenum. I have to assume Keenum is injured, because if you don't trust a guy to TAKE A KNEE, then how could you possibly trust him to do anything else ever again?

Bryan Knowles: Keenum is being checked for a concussion, though it looks like he's cleared those tests and will come back for the second half.

Vince Verhei: Indeed, it's Keenum taking snaps in the second half -- and on his first possession, he's backed up inside his own 5, but gets the ball out to midfield on one deep pass to Demaryius Thomas. But the drive stalls there, Keenum takes a sack on third down, and the Broncos will punt.

Bryan Knowles: Cooper Kupp is back in. That injury looked so scary, I'm shocked he's able to come back at all, much less just after halftime.

Vince Verhei: What's this? Competition? Intrigue? Tramaine Brock tips a pass and it bounces off Josh Reynolds' facemask into Darian Stewart's hands, and it's Denver's ball inside the 20. A penalty moves them back, but then Keenum finds Emmanuel Sanders wide open on the seam route for the 22-yard touchdown, and L.A.'s lead is cut to 20-10.

The Rams had been backed up deep because Keenum had thrown a tip-drill interception of his own. That's Keenum's eighth interception of the year -- or, one more than he threw in all of 2017 -- and he is the only player to throw an interception every week this season.

Scott Kacsmar: The 2018 Rams are making me wonder if we should be including kickers in adjusted games lost. Greg Zuerlein's injury is about the only flaw with this team so far. Cairo Santos missed another field goal in the fourth quarter, but at least he made the last one to put the Rams up 23-13. But have to think the Rams are even better with more range for scoring when Zuerlein returns.

Vince Verhei: Broncos actually made this a one-score game after a deep catch by Courtland Sutton set up a field goal, but the Rams responded with a 13-play, 72-yard field goal drive to take a 23-13 lead that probably makes this a done deal. What's notable is that Todd Gurley has set a career-high with 200-plus rushing yards, but Jared Goff is only completing half his passes with the interception and five sacks. It looks like the Rams are going to be held below 30 points for the first time this season. Maybe this is the blueprint for slowing down the Rams -- let Gurley have whatever he wants, but do whatever it takes to shut down Goff. Easier said than done, of course.

Scott Kacsmar: Didn't we look into something with Denver's defense after 2016 about the run defense falling off? They were incredible to start 2017, then that Orleans Darkwa game happened. Now the Broncos have allowed 593 rushing yards in the last two weeks, the most since 1960 in any two-game stretch by my calculations.

Aaron Schatz: I don't remember something specific with Denver's defense, but we get this weird effect where run defense is a better predictor of defense in Y+1 than pass defense, yet run defense DVOA itself is fairly difficult to predict. The Broncos were 21st in run defense DVOA in 2016, despite being No. 1 against the pass. Then last year, they were up to third in run defense DVOA (second in the first half of the season, eighth in the second half). This year, 26th in run defense DVOA before today, and probably lower after today.

Baltimore Ravens 21 at Tennessee Titans 0

Dave Bernreuther: I'm having a hard time telling who is who in this one, as the Ravens' purple pants look navy in this weather/TV screen, and the Titans are going monochrome in navy as well. In fact, five of the six uniforms in the late games are hideous (with Jacksonville taking the cake), as the NFL seems determined, between the bad penalties, bad coaching, and bad uniforms, to make me go home and take up gardening instead.

Anyway, I'll stop short of calling Joe Flacco new and improved, but he did fire a safe one to Michael Crabtree (who kind of looked like the turned the wrong way on a back-shoulder throw) for the score near the end of the first to put the Ravens on the board first in an ugly game thus far. Down 7-0, these Titans already look to be in trouble, given the difficulty they've had with touchdowns on offense of late.

Vince Verhei: I had the same thought about the uniforms in the Ravens-Titans game. It's on the worst TV in this bar and it very much looks like an intrasquad scrimmage. (I actually kind of like Jacksonville's black jerseys with the teal pants. It's definitely a unique look.)

Dave Bernreuther: It's worth noting that I'm considering going home in order to type out a proper response about Jacksonville's attire with my computer instead of my phone.

I'll keep it brief though: it's not the worst thing I've seen this weekend. It makes more logical (according to my unwritten rules) sense than Carolina's and Baltimore's looks today. And yet ... still awful.

(In football news, the Cowboys, who aren't good, are kicking the crap out of the Jaguars.)

Bryan Knowles: Tennessee just saved this game from being essentially over the half, as Kevin Byard intercepts a tip-drill pass from Flacco as the Titans were threatening to score yet again before halftime. Baltimore hadn't scored a touchdown in 25 drives coming into this one, so of course their first two drives ended up in the end zone. That includes a crazy 17-play, 94-yard, 9:22 drive to start the first quarter, as Tennessee just couldn't do a dang thing to stop the methodical march. 14-0 at the half.

The Ravens already have six sacks. The Titans have only called 17 passing plays (and 24 total offensive plays), so that's an insane rate. The Titans look ... terrible. On both sides of the ball. This is the same Titans team that just lost to the Bills, and it looks less and less like that was a fluke.

Vince Verhei: Justin Tucker is out to try a 60-yard field goal at the end of the first half, but there's a penalty on Baltimore that moves them 5 yards back. So the offense comes back on and Joe Flacco throws a worm-burner incompletion to Michael Crabtree, and that's it. 14-0 Baltimore. The Ravens have just looked OK -- they had a chance for one more score, but Flacco threw a tip-drill interception.

Anyway, here's why Baltimore is winning: the Titans offense has produced seven completions for 81 yards -- but surrendered six sacks for 37 yards. Tennessee had only given up nine sacks coming into the game. It's a team effort -- nobody has more than two sacks -- but when you get six sacks in 16 dropbacks, you win. That should be a rule.

Bryan Knowles: 21-0, as the Ravens score again. Lamar Jackson's 22-yard scramble set it up, but it was just another gashing and bleeding. The Ravens had 78 yards on that drive. The Titans have 69 yards all day long.

All three of these games are over. I'm going to spend most of the last hour of these games looking up the last time the afternoon slate was this bad. Because, wow, it's been a while.

Vince Verhei: Ravens open the second half with a 12-play, 78-yard drive that eats up more than seven minutes. Lamar Jackson takes a quarterback sweep 22 yards down to the 2, and Alex Collins plunges in from there. Baltimore converted a pair of third downs on the drive and is now 10-of-11 on third-down conversions today.

Ravens now lead 21-0, as the Rams are up 20-3 and the Cowboys lead 24-0. That's a combined margin of 65-3 and I'm wondering if there's anything else I could be doing today.

Bryan Knowles: A quick search through PFR's database suggests the last time we had this boring of an afternoon slate was Week 3 of 2015.

  • The Cardinals beat the 49ers 47-7 with Colin Kaepernick throwing four interceptions.
  • The Seahawks beat the Bears 26-0, highlighted by Tyler Lockett's 106-yard kickoff return
  • The Bills beat the Dolphins 41-14, with Tyrod Taylor throwing a trio of touchdowns in his first road start.

That week at least had more scoring.

Dave Bernreuther: Someday maybe they'll figure out that it'd make for better TV to divide it a bit more evenly than leaving only three games in the late slot.

Bryan Knowles: Even just four, which they do most weeks, is generally enough to make sure at least *one* game is competitive. About 48 percent of games last season were one-score games -- not an ideal metric of excitement or closeness, but hey, good enough for a quick check. That means there's about a 14 percent chance that none of your three games will be one-score affairs, and a 7 percent chance that none of four games would end up out of that range. Add in the odds of a game that becomes two-scores late, and a four-game slate should essentially never go 0-for-4 for exciting games. Statistically speaking, at least.

Vince Verhei: Scary scene as Ravens guard Alex Lewis looks to be engaged in a routine block, then steps away, lowers himself to the ground, and stops moving. A long delay as he is tended to, strapped to a board, and put onto a cart. They're taking him straight to an ambulance. I'm seeing reports that he grabbed at his shoulder, where he has had an existing injury, but I don't think they cart you to the ambulance for shoulder injuries.

Bryan Knowles: Marcus Mariota has completed ten forward passes.

He has been sacked 11 times. That's a franchise record for the Ravens.

Vince Verhei: Just the third time this century a team has given up 11 sacks in a game. The other two were quarterbacked by Donovan McNabb and Greg McElroy.

As a group, the AFC South offenses today completed 57 percent of their passes with six touchdowns, six interceptions, 21 sacks, and 4.8 yards per dropback. They went 1-3, and might well have gone 0-4 if Josh Allen had stayed healthy (think about THAT).

Tom Gower: The way the Titans lost to the Bills was a sign they might not be a very good team and might, in fact, be a very not good offense. Today was further evidence in favor of them being a very not good offense. Marcus Mariota looked like he didn't understand what defense he was getting, and consequently refused to throw the ball, which is how you take 11 sacks on 28 dropbacks. No, the offensive line wasn't great, but quarterbacks do a lot to control how much they're sacked, and Marcus didn't do much to not get sacked today. Coverage was undoubtedly part of that, and no, the offensive line did not seem to have a great day, but an imperfect block is not in my mind an excuse to take a sack.

Defensively, eh. The Ravens were 12-for 17 on third down, and all three of their touchdown drives featured multiple third-down conversions, including at least one third-and-long. Baltimore was 4-for-16 against Cleveland last week. Putting teams in third-and-medium/-long repeatedly will normally work out a lot better than that. But it don't matter unless Tennessee finds something they can do on offense, preferably something they can do repeatedly. Right now, they don't know what it is, and they're not committed enough to anything to keep trying to make it work even if they're failing at it. This sort of transition cost to the new scheme wasn't unexpected, nor the trouble this cast of receivers sans Delanie Walker has making plays on its own, but that doesn't make it any more enjoyable to watch. I hope everybody's excited to get them against the Chargers in the early London game next week!

Jacksonville Jaguars 7 at Dallas Cowboys 40

Bryan Knowles: Hey, this week, the Cowboys decide to go for it on fourth-and-1. Better late than never, I suppose.

Ezekiel Elliott easily converts, because yes, that's what happens when you have a star running back and need to gain 1 yard. They should remember that for more critical situations.

Andrew Potter: The Cowboys are dominating the Jaguars up and down the field today. Having their way with them. With a minute to go in the first half, the Cowboys are in the red zone, and Dak Prescott has more yards rushing than the Jaguars have total yards. The only time the Cowboys punted, the Jaguars had too many men on the field and the penalty was enough for the first. That fourth-and-1, on the edge of field-goal range, was a true no-brainer.

The drive ends with another touchdown to Cole Beasley. 24 points on four drives for Dallas. This is a mauling.

Vince Verhei: Halftime here. As Andrew said, Dallas has 24 point (and 251 total yards) on four drives. Meanwhile, Jacksonville's five possessions have resulted in three three-and-outs, one 35-yard drive that also ended in a punt, and a 12-yard "drive" to end the half. Blake Bortles hasn't had the horrible turnovers he had last week, because they're not letting him do anything -- he only threw eight passes in the half, and three of them were at the end there.

Scott Kacsmar: I'm surprised Jacksonville kicked an extra point after finally getting a touchdown. Sure, I just want to see 8+8+8 happen one day, but when your team is getting destroyed on both sides, I think maximizing each possession would definitely be worth it.

Just putting this one out there: the Jaguars have allowed 40 points three times since Week 16 last year (including playoffs). That's the most in the NFL in that span, and tied for the most since the start of 2017. Maybe the league just isn't constructed for a consistently great defense anymore. But I am pretty shocked that Dak Prescott and Dallas had this kind of game against them. A lot of the second-half scoring has been boosted by field position, but it was 24-0 at halftime and that was a legitimate shredding. Prescott has 82 yards rushing, a career high. It's one thing for Bortles to struggle on the road, but you don't expect to see the defense do this too.

Kansas City Chiefs 40 at New England Patriots 43

Aaron Schatz: Patriots get aggressive on their first drive, go for it on fourth-and-3 at the Kansas City 40. Don't get it because of miscommunication between Tom Brady and Josh Gordon. Gordon is playing almost every snap tonight, clearly a big part of the offense, but weird to go with the new guy on a fourth down. Patriots keep the Chiefs to a field goal on the ensuing drive, then get a field goal of their own. And then on Kansas City's second offensive drive, Patrick Mahomes throws only his third pick of the season. The Chiefs look like they want to pick on Donta' Hightower in coverage, he has slowed down a bit this year since coming back from last year's injury. But on this play, he goes like he's going to blitz, then immediately drops back in coverage. Mahomes never saw him, threw the ball right to him. The return gave the Patriots the ball on the Kansas City 4 and Sony Michel ran it in on the first play. Man, the Chiefs' run defense is awful. Michel seven carries, 47 yards so far.

Dave Bernreuther: I'm not a football coach, and I am sick of hearing announcers throw around the term RPO every play in an attempt to sound smart ...

But it looked to me like on that interception, Mahomes had the option, was reading Dont'a Hightower, pulled it because Hightower sold the man coverage on the back ... and then threw it straight to him because the read was wrong.

Which actually makes me empathize with the announcers a bit, because with the newer college style of handoffs from the front, it's a lot harder to know if a play such as that one is just a run of the mill play-action or an option. And thus I'm not sure if that was a great play by Hightower to trick Mahomes into making the wrong read, or just a hell of a reaction to the fact that it wasn't a run play and good hands when the ball was thrown straight into his zone.

Either way ... great play by the guy who's supposed to be a liability in pass defense.

Aaron Schatz: Patriots go into the half 24-9 after another interception at the end of the half, this time in the red zone. Pats had two guys on Travis Kelce and so Mahomes, rolling right, went to his wide receivers in the right corner of the end zone. Tip drill, and Duron Harmon comes down with it. Aaron Nagler on Twitter called this Mahomes' "first bad Favre game" and I think that's accurate. He's hyped up, overthrowing balls early, and he's also throwing into coverage more than we're used to, trying to make things happen that aren't necessarily available.

Bryan Knowles: The Chiefs come out of halftime on fire, hitting a 67-yard touchdown to Kareem Hunt on third-and-short, after Hunt slips behind the defense. That's the other part of even the Bad Favre games -- no matter how bad things got, no matter how many interceptions he threw, Brett Favre would always be right back out there slinging it, without any loss of confidence. That's an important part of the Favre formula, and one Mahomes seems to have.

Aaron Schatz: Looked like a really nice Chiefs play design. It was Cover-2, and they ran a route that drew that right-side safety away from the sideline, which then allowed Hunt to speed up the sideline on the wheel route, speed past Jason McCourty, and that was all she wrote.

And in fact, here's one of those neat Next Gen Stats diagrams. The Tyreek Hill route took Devin McCourty out of the play, which meant there was nobody behind Jason McCourty when Hunt sped past him.

Scott Kacsmar: Down 11, I think the Chiefs should have gone for it on fourth-and-2 at the Patriots' 12 late third quarter. The defense just hasn't been good enough to trust a stop. Even then, you're talking about having to get a touchdown and two-point conversion just to tie. I'd take my chances with 2 yards to go and hope to get a touchdown now and build some confidence from that. Field goal just feels like another battle lost tonight.

Aaron Schatz: Andy Reid historically one of the most conservative coaches in the league according to Aggressiveness Index. I know, you wouldn't think so, given that he's fairly open to analytics, but he's almost always below 1.0 and even below 0.9.

Reid's career AI is 0.82. Last year he was at 0.83.

Tom Gower: I think the Chiefs going for it in that situation would definitely win a staff vote of what to do. But we don't get a vote, and Andy Reid does.

Bryan Knowles: I'd love to see one of those Next Gen play diagrams on that sack-fumble. Brady had all day to throw the ball, but the coverage was so good that there was just nowhere to go. That was one of the longest coverage sacks I've seen in a while -- and I'd expect a quarterback of Brady's caliber to have thrown the ball away a good two or three seconds before the Chiefs finally got to him. Could be a huge turning point here.

Dave Bernreuther: Yeah. When you haven't stopped them all night, getting three to pull within eight, especially on fourth-and-2 after easily converting a fourth down earlier in the drive, doesn't do you any good.

And so naturally, on a play where the Chiefs rush three guys and Brady has time to do his taxes in the pocket, the Chiefs do eventually get to him and recover a fumble at the 30 a few plays later.

Four more field goals and they'll have the lead!

Aaron Schatz: I realize that there are more points left to be scored in this game, but do we all agree it was really strange for Andy Reid not to go for two-point conversion when the Chiefs made it 27-25?

Tom Gower: Yes, that was very strange. And do we believe it would have made a difference if K.C. had scored the touchdown a minute later, when it was the fourth quarter?

Bryan Knowles: Yeah, that should be an automatic go-for-two, no ifs, and or buts. I get that, yeah, if you go for it and fail, and New England scores a touchdown, now you're suddenly down nine ... but, no. Gotta tie it up there.

Dave Bernreuther: I get that the "chart" makes little sense with a quarter left to play, and that playing for a tie is pointless this early...

… but if you can move the ball that well AND it's a two-point game, why the hell wouldn't you try to tally an extra point that you're highly likely to get?

Aaron Schatz:

Dave Bernreuther: What if the real reason he took the single was that he's playing chess, thinking several moves ahead...

  • Patriots kick the field goal to go up four.
  • Chiefs score a touchdown to go up three.
  • With time running low, Patriots can then only tie with a field goal.

In this scenario, if he goes for two and misses, a Patriots field goal wins, and if he goes for two and makes it, the Pats are forced to play from down four instead of down three, which we all agreed earlier in the Steelers game is an advantage.

What Andy Reid thought of all of that and just out-thought us all?

(Typed as he gets a kick return inside the ten and accelerates that timeline by approximately 5 minutes, which more or less chucks that hare-brained theory right out the window and brings us back to: just score more points whenever you have the chance.)

Aaron Schatz: Dave Toub and the No. 1 DVOA special teams really came through there. Chiefs have now made up a 24-9 lead. Big collapse by the Patriots, between the Brady sack-fumble and the huge kick return they just gave up.

Patriots go down the field, score. Chiefs stall out and kick the first punt of the game. Patriots go down the field again, mostly on one big throw to Gronk (finally!), but have to settle for a field goal. 40-33.

Dave Bernreuther: Brilliant footage from NBC capturing Breeland Speaks' dejected reaction after Brady ran that one in. Collinsworth is right. He 100 percent let him go because he thought Brady had thrown the ball and he didn't want to be penalized.

Collinsworth is unlikable, but he's right a lot. Such as when he expertly showed us what happened when Mahomes made a tremendously reckless throw off of his back foot and was lucky not to be intercepted; The Patriots needed to be 100 percent sure that blitz was going to hit home, because if it hadn't, Tyreek Hill was behind the entire defense. By a lot. That was a pretty big gamble by Belichick against a quarterback with a penchant for slipping out of collapsing pockets.

Aaron Schatz: Hill just got behind the entire defense without actually getting behind the entire defense. Duron Harmon was supposed to be back there deep and he got weirdly turned around and took a bad angle to get Hill and Hill was gone for a 75-yard touchdown. 40-40.

Bryan Knowles: I keep trying to set up a "here's the final drive" thing, but this game is just too dang explosive.

This has been a fantastic second half. The first half not so much, but this second half is why I watch football. Let's play two.

Dave Bernreuther: So just as I'm about to type something snarky about the odds of winning in overtime in New England after a tying touchdown vs. the odds of converting a two-point conversion when you had them on their heels...

Mahomes rifles one deep downfield to a wide open (but decidedly NOT behind the defense this time) Tyreek Hill, who hit the nitrous button or something and just blew by everyone on his way to the end zone to complete a scoring drive that took all of 12 seconds, which at this rate leaves us plenty of time for each team to score three more times. Which is exactly the reason why there's at least some logic to not following a chart about conversions when there's plenty of game to be played. (Note: I'd still have gone for two.)

Bryan Knowles: What a game. Do it again in January?

Tom Gower: Kansas City got one defensive play, the sack-fumble, and it wasn't enough with the four field goals.

Aaron Schatz: I still like Kansas City's chances to get the rematch back in their building in January. Losing by three points in Foxborough is nothing to feel ashamed of.

Dave Bernreuther: I'm not entirely sure how you leave Gronk free to beat a guy one-on-one in a situation like that. But I'm not surprised.

For as exciting and explosive as the Chiefs offense (and special teams) can be ... let us never forget that they're also the 28th ranked defense.

Patriots penalties: zero, for zero yards.

There wasn't a single play I can think of that made me think this stat is BS, which makes it all the more impressive.

Aaron Schatz: They did have one declined and one offsetting penalty.


150 comments, Last at 17 Oct 2018, 7:37am

59 Re: Holy Roller

Here's the thing -- a fumble is technically distinct from a backward pass. Because Winston was intentionally throwing the ball behind him, it was a backward pass and not a fumble. That means the last-two-minute fumble rule doesn't actually apply here.

However, it looks to me like Adam Humphries (#10)'s attempt was not, in fact, a pass, but a fumble. If the referees agreed with that ruling, then THAT would be the spot beyond which the ball could not be advanced. So then it would be moot if Jackson scored or not.

38 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

Obviously he lost them the game in the end, but Peterman was also probably why the Bills were ahead in the first place. The Bills had only 6 points and no TDs when Allen went out. Peterman got them there only TD and later picked up a 3rd and 15 on what could've been a game winning drive (it stalled after that). He's not very good but was probably better than Allen yesterday.

61 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

I did a PFR search for the all time leaderboard for INT%, minimum 50 attempts. You probably wouldn't be surprised to learn the list is dominated by players from the 1930s and 40s, but Peterman is amazingly one of only two players to play after 1980 to even appear in the top 100. Peterman is 78th at 11.38%, trailing only Rich Campbell in 45th (13.2%). You have to get to 102nd to get a player that played in the 1990s (Brad Goebel?) and 112th to get a player from the 2000s (Henry Burris!).

112 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

Burris went back to the CFL and had a long successful career there. He still threw his share of interceptions, but he threw a lot more TDs. His decision making got a lot better as he got older, and his legs and arm strength stayed with him for a long time.

The craziest thing is that he got his NFL shot after one of his worst seasons in the CFL, one where he threw a boatload of interceptions and had a pretty bad QB rating. Obviously someone got caught up in his physical skills at that time. Had he stayed in the CFL another couple of years, until his decision making had improved and his INT rate dropped, he might have done a lot better with his NFL opportunity.

Wrong place, wrong time for Smiling Hank.

49 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

I am really, really unimpressed with Matt Nagy as a head coach through 5 games. At least when he turtled and allowed the Packers to come back and win the opening game, I could shrug and say "that's Aaron Rodgers for you." Yesterday, though...I don't understand how any coach can think that settling for a 53-yard field goal attempt to win the game in overtime is acceptable. If a conservative guy like John Fox had done it, I'd have been furious. But the whole selling point about Nagy was that he might be totally inexperienced, but he'd at least be smart and innovative.

And it's a little thing, but I'm annoyed that he fell back on the tired old "well if I had called a pass and we'd gotten sacked or turned the ball over, you'd blame me for that" to defend the decision to run up the middle three times once they were barely in field goal range. If he honestly thought that his play call gave them the best chance to win, then he should defend it rather than dismissing the criticism of it.

I hope I'm wrong, but I've having visions of Marc Trestman already. Hailed as an offensive genius, completely overmatched as a head coach, and run out of town in less than two years. (And the overtime yesterday reminded me of nothing more than the Bears-Vikings game in which Trestman opted to try a long field goal on 2nd down only to miss it and have the other team eventually win).

53 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

Agree 100% that the decision to play for a 53-yard FG was inexcusable. There had been exactly one defensive stop without a turnover in the entire 2nd half and OT, and both defenses were obviously tired. Fine, Howard ripped off two great runs in a row, but when the Dolphins knew they had to sell out to prevent the next first down, they keyed 100% on the inside run, and at that point you absolutely have to do something else. A really disappointing way to end such a crazy game, especially when the defense had just given their last bit of life to create a ridiculous, game-saving turnover.

But he's not Trestman until he loses the locker room and his OC leaks rumors about his QB to the press.

92 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

I didn't hear his press conference. That is a pretty weak excuse. And I think you can at least say that running the ball on 3rd and 4, especially given how well they were running at that point, isn't giving up. Especially if you were willing to go for it on 4th down, but anyway...

There's clearly many parts to being smart and innovative. I like the offensive design and play calls. This is the most wide open I've seen Bears players in...well, maybe ever? But knowing how to scheme a guy open doesn't necessarily mean you understand how to analyze a late game situation. It seems like if you're forward thinking in one area, you should be forward-thinking in all areas, but it doesn't necessarily have to be so.

I'm still cautiously optimistic. But whatever happens, I much prefer a hire like Nagy. But then, I really liked the Trestman years, especially compared to the John Fox years, because at least the Bears pretended that offense was something worth trying in those years.

57 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

I watched that Seahawks Raiders game... The offense from the Raiders was an insult to football. In some ways when the bills put up historically awful numbers, I can understand it because the quarterbacks stink and the talent around them is poor. That should not be an excuse for the Raiders. The fact that their offense is this moribund is entirely the fault of Jon Gruden. I thought he was an overrated coach well before he arrived in Oakland and an even worse commentator. his offenses in Tampa topped out at mediocre

Given that the owner is Mark Davis, my long-term projection for Oakland is pretty grim.

64 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

Mark Davis does not want to win football games. Mark Davis wants to win profit/loss.
How to do that:
* Get Las Vegas to build a new stadium where half the seats will be sold at inflated prices to visiting team fans.
* Field a minimum payroll team by
** building a roster of mostly draft picks and UDFAs on first contracts
** trading expensive stars and those about to become expensive for more draft picks

84 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

Not to mention the massive contract for Derek Carr.

I think the real issue here is, Mark Davis saw that he wasn't earning as much as he could given how old the Colosseum was. When he tried to strong-arm the city for a new stadium, for once they refused, not falling for the seductive (but clearly erroneous) argument that new stadiums are great financial bonanzas. Unfortunately it was still seductive enough to dupe the city of Las Vegas.

Unlike most owners, all of his wealth is derived from owning the team. Without the taxpayer handout he would have had to front the money himself.

85 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

Now that the voting public has (mostly) caught on to the stadium scam, team owners seem to be deliberately fighting against that (correct) perception by building in areas that are already on the upswing regardless of whether there's a stadium there or not, then claiming credit for the upswing. Coors field in LoDo in Denver is a good example.

104 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

Well its not the fault of Gruden that he's having to play 2 rookie OTs (1, yes but not 2) and a 3rd string LG instead of (one-of) the best OGs in the league, but yes, its been terrible the last two weeks. Only two weeks though... (he says with no confidence whatsoever)

55 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

"it seems like, more often than not, Seattle backs either stand still as an outlet or run a short hitch"

This also might be a function of the fact that the Seahawks two good receiving running backs -- CJ Prosise and JD McKissic -- are hurt. It seems as if Prosise won't ever be healthy enough to be a meaningful contributor in the NFL (a shame, since he's looked good in his brief playing time), but it's possible McKissic is a factor in the passing game the second half of the season.

60 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

I, for one, thought the Panthers looked sharped in their "layer cake" uniforms. Out of the expansion teams that formed the "teal explosion" twenty five years ago (Panthers, Jags, Marlins, Hornets, Sharks, etc.), they are the only ones whose uniforms I think look good.

63 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

I think Trubisky is on his way to a poor man's Matt Stafford-type career. Cannon for an arm, just sometimes doesn't know how to harness that talent into efficient results. That's certainly not a bad result, but unless the defense is very good to excellent every year, the Bears won't be true contenders.

This game and the Packers game make we wonder exactly how good the Bears D really is. They brought Fitzmagic back to earth when everyone knew that was coming soon, feasted on Deshone Kizer for a quarter but otherwise didn't look great against GB, beat up on a very bad Cardinals offense, and played the Seahawks well. Then yesterday against Brocktoberfest they did not look like a dominant defense at all.

The DL/pash rush is good but if a QB has time the DBs aren't that great and openings are there for the taking.

65 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

Matt Stafford has been quite good, usually surrounded by the mediocre to awful. If somebody is not quite as good as Matt Stafford, that is still easily good enough to win 10 plus games a season, given any competence in personnel management and coaching.

I have no idea what Trubisky will be.

67 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

I wasn't meaning it as a slight. I think Stafford's offensive supporting cast has been decent to good, RBs have been mediocre but that isn't a huge detriment in today's NFL. Defense hasn't really ever been something to write home about, and that's what's dragged him down. If Trubisky is a little worse than Stafford but the defense is really good, they can make some noise.

Not convinced the D is really good though.

74 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

Maybe it’s the trauma of having watched Rodgers carve them up so many times, but I really don’t hold the Packers game against the defense. Yesterday, though...that was rough. And worrisome.

If Trubisky turns out to be Staffordesque, the Bears had better win a Super Bowl while he’s still on his rookie contract, because I think it’s so hard to win when you’re paying guys like Stafford. And the Bears already have Mack on a QB level contract.

71 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

During the first 2 weeks it seemed like the Bears D had great talent but poor conditioning. They started out great, but struggled later in the game, especially in hurry-up, with Mack & the pass rush slowing down. Also Kwiatkoski was outmatched in coverage.

They were more consistently good during their next 2 games.

It was around 90 degrees in Miami, and their biggest struggles came late in the game, so this might have been a reemergence of their conditioning issues.

68 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

Marcus Mariota is broken. Eight different Baltimore defenders registered a sack yesterday, so it wasn't a case of beating up on one or two mismatches along the O-line (as is often the case when in crazy high sack games) - just a total lack of awareness of what the defense was throwing at him, or where to go with the football. He just looked frozen. I fear for his future in the NFL.

72 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

I'll be curious to see if KC remains as vulnerable defensively with Justin Houston and Eric Berry playing (they still strike me as the heavy favorites in the AFC). Also shocked and pleased to hear Cooper Kupp returned to the Rams game (I saw the injury, but hadn't heard he made it back in the game)

81 Andrew Luck and the Colts dropped passes

I am really curious if the high number of dropped passes in the last three weeks that the Colts have endured is the fault of bad receivers or if Luck is throwing a ball close but not on target or in stride. From the side camera we get on TV I can see only part of the picture. I hope someone like FO looks at the Endzone camera and gets it clearly. If I’m not mistaken, the count is somewhere around 15 dropped passes in 3 games.

83 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

As a Ravens fan, I have to admit some small amount of schadenfreude for being at the other side of a Dean Pees defensive collapse. Throughout his tenure with us, I felt safer on third-and-short than third-and-long, as the coverage he called for the later was so soft that it seemed like it guaranteed a catch and conversion any time it came up. I don't think 12/17 on third down is a mistake; the Ravens knew that he wouldn't change his stripes and game-planned to attack those coverages. Obviously the Titans offense was the bigger problem, and their defense probably would have held up better if the offense could stay on the field for any length of time. But I'm glad that after five years it's become someone else's problem.

109 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

Last 5 years of Ravens defensive DVOA rank:
2013: 7
2014: 8
2015: 20
2016: 6
2017: 3

That's only one year outside the top 10. I would guess that only Wade Phillips outperformed Pees over that period. I know every fan has issues with certain schematic elements for their team, but I don't think Pees was a problem in Baltimore.

97 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

I'm not willing to anoint Sean McVay as the best coach in the league until ...

1) he's shown that he can win some championships and Super Bowls.
2) Deal with having his current/best players leave for better contracts and having to replace them and then still winning.
3) Having Goff on a market-rate contract eating up a chunk of the salary cap (or choosing to ditch Goff to go with another cheap rookie QB).
4) Being in the job for ten years or so and had everybody listen to his motivating speeches and stories a couple of times over already.

100 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

Purely subjective, but I struggle to think of any offences in my time watching the NFL closely (~15 years) as 'explosive' as these Chiefs. There have been overall better, more efficient offences I'm sure (various Patriots or Manning Colts vintages, or even this year's Rams), but in terms of an offense that is capable of scoring on any given play, whatever the field position, down or distance, this must take some beating.

I guess the GSOT Rams would be up there, or perhaps the mid 90s Packers with Favre? (Again, both a little before my time). Any others?

Edit: I suppose the 2007 Patriots must be heavily in the conversation here. I just never automatically associate the Patriots with 'explosive' offense, but that one certainly was.

115 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

Hill and Hunt look as fast and explosive as any WR/RB combo. Kelce's not "explosive", but he sure helps the other two get open. But other teams have had that type of combination.

What makes the Chiefs stand out is that Mahomes looks equally dangerous. He's not as good a QB (yet) as those other teams you mentioned had, so I wouldn't say this year's Chiefs are anywhere close to matching the best offensive teams of all time. But having a quy with his arm and scrambling ability throwing to guys that fast and shifty, you get the sense that their chance of scoring a TD on this play - regardless of where they are on the field - is as high as any team ever.

121 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

The mid-90s Packers are when I can just remember starting to really watch football (after Sterling Sharpe was forced to retire, unfortunately). I do also sometimes go back and re-watch parts of games or highlights on youtube. Favre could make anything happen on any given play—good or bad—but the funny thing is that they really did run a pure west coast offense under Holmgren. RB and FB on almost every play, tons of slants and passes into the flats, TE heavily involved, no shotgun (Holmgren despised shotgun!), and they were also really good at heavily-choreographed RB screens. Favre would definitely go vertical and he would do some stuff off-script, but some of the most exciting plays within the system were actually when he would let a mid-to-deep slant or crosser rip at 120 mph that would seemingly travel through a defender or two over the middle, catching the receiver in stride and suddenly behind the defense. It's a lot of stuff you don't see in the NFL anymore, even the GSoT Rams a few years later seemed to be far more vertical/sideline-oriented.

132 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

I've really enjoyed seeing how Andy Reid's teams have changed over the years—from how he started in the west coast system in Green Bay, adapting that to McNabb and later Vick's unique talents, then bringing in all types of motions and concepts to stretch the defense horizontally at the beginning of the Alex Smith era and now layering the bombs away downfield stuff on top of that, which kind of began with Smith last year but really seems perfectly suited for Mahomes. Impressive how his scheme has evolved and adapted over time.

136 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

In terms of just sheer number of big plays - The steelers in 2014 sort of come to mind with the way Brown and Bryant could just out athlete their way to the end zone.

GSOT was definitely the one I remember as having the most explosive firepower. In terms of just raw talent, that might have been the best offense of all time. Both Bruce and Holt were A- level receivers. Hakeem did well in his role. Faulk might be the most dangerous running back of all time given his skillset. If that offense played in today's era...good god.

But it was a fundamentally flawed offense. The rams didn't make use of their tight ends and they stuck to that aggressive philosophy when some tradeoff of big plays for short pass game efficiency would have made a world of difference.

The best overall top to bottom offense I've ever seen in terms of how well it could adapt to any setting might be the 2011 Saints. Yes, the packer offense in 2011 was better at passing, but that saints offense could run, throw, and hit every level of the defense. I regard SF's defensive performance against them as one of the real unsold defensive games I've ever seen, despite how many points they gave up on the official box score.

139 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

Look, any offense with a prime motivated Randy Moss, and a nonelderly and sober Cris Carter, and a healthy Robert Smith, and the Vikings o-line of the late 90s, is going to be explosive. The Vikings of that era however, never received great qb play, no matter the MVP award wrongly given to Cunningham in 1998. It wasn't horrid, but those offenses dragged their qbs to great numbers. Who knows what the result would have been if the quaterbacking had been at a HOF level?

143 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

Yes. Thoigjt v. Testaverde Should havs bewn 1998 MVP rhat year. Team sputterijg with G. Foley. Then Teaatevred tpok over and team went 11-1 i rhink to end season wirh record of 12-4. Brad johnson started season for Vikes. Cunningham took over and twam won. But had been winning before cunningham. Also could say T. Davis had shot at MVP but sometimes didnt play in 4th quarters of games bexause twam waa so dominant. Also chris chandler good MVP xhoise. Bekieve Falcs were 14-1 im regulat season when Chandler syarted