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

Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Lamar Jackson
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

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 emails 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 Seahawks 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.

Detroit Lions 13 at Chicago Bears 20

Bryan Knowles: The Lions, in a must-win game against the Bears, will be without Matthew Stafford for the first time in 136 games. This had been rumored starting yesterday, with a mystery back injury putting his status in question. I don't think anyone expected him to actually miss the game, though.

Scott Spratt: Mitchell Trubisky is back! Beautiful touch pass to Ben Braunecker for an 18-yard touchdown.

Vince Verhei: I am not watching this game, but some halftime numbers here are, uh, eye-opening.

Mitchell Trubisky: 10-of-14 for 81 yards.
Jeff Driskel: 12-of-17 for for 84 yards.

Scott Spratt: The Bears try a reverse, but Mitchell Trubisky completely whiffs on a block and Trey Flowers destroys Taylor Gabriel. But two plays later, Gabriel has his revenge on another nice Trubisky touchdown pass. His third of the day.

Kansas City Chiefs 32 at Tennessee Titans 35

Bryan Knowles: Good news, Chiefs fans! Patrick Mahomes is back. That's an incredible recovery from a dislocated kneecap; that could have been a season-ender.

Bad news, Chiefs fans! Mahomes' first pass is thrown into coverage and nearly picked off by the Titans. It was one of Mahomes' trademark roll-one-way, throw-back-across-the-field-the-other way kind of plays. It was ruled an interception on the field, but I'm not sure it'll stand on replay. Still, uh, Pat, shake off some of that rust.

Bryan Knowles: For the record, it takes Mahomes one play to shake off rust. Mahomes passes after the overturned interception: 10 yards to Watkins, incomplete, 19 yards to Hill, 12 yards to Kelce, 16 yards to Kelce, 7 yards to Hill, 2 yards to Hill, 3 yards to Kelce for a touchdown. Chiefs fans breathe a sigh of relief.

Fun fact: Because of their various injuries, Mahomes and Hill had only played 56 snaps together coming into this game. It's our first chance since Week 1 to see the Chiefs passing attack at full power.

Aaron Schatz: Kansas City is 28th against the run, Tennessee is third, but after one quarter it looks like it should be the other way around.

Vince Verhei: Fluke play in Tennessee. Titans wide receiver Kalif Raymond beats Charvarius Ward and makes a diving catch deep down the middle of the field. But both Ward and Morris Claiborne go running by Raymond without touching him, and he pops up and scampers into the end zone.

But on replay it's ruled Raymond was touched down, giving the Titans a first down just outside the red zone. As a Derrick Henry fantasy owner, I endorse this reversal.

Aaron Schatz: Sorry, Vince. Diving touchdown catch by MyCole Pruitt makes it 10-7 Kansas City.

Vince Verhei: But no -- play-fake to Henry, and Ryan Tannehill finds Anthony Firkser on a seam route for the score. Chiefs still lead 10-7, but Tannehill has now completed all five of his passes for 87 yards and that score.

Aaron Schatz: Jim Nantz gave the wrong name on the touchdown receiver. Vince had it right.

Scott Spratt: Jim Nantz, so unprofessional.

Scott Spratt: Kevin Byard punched the ball out on a Damien Williams carry and Rashaan Evans returns it for a touchdown. Missed extra point, but the Titans are still up 13-10 on the Chiefs.

Bryan Knowles: Huge play for the Titans defense! It looks like David Long punched the ball out of Damien Williams' hands, and Rashaan Evans scoops and scores. The extra point is missed, but that's still a 13-10 lead for the Titans. This is pretty much a must-win game for Tennessee to say alive in the AFC South, so full credit to them for not sort of curling up into a ball after that initial Chiefs drive.

Aaron Schatz: Since the last time I sent a message about the Titans run defense not looking good, the Chiefs have had runs for -1, 0, 6, 1, and then -1 and a fumble that was scooped and scored to give the Titans a 13-10 lead after a missed Ryan Succop extra point.

Vince Verhei: The Chiefs just lost offensive linemen on back-to-back snaps. Mitchell Schwartz had played nearly 8,000 consecutive snaps, but had to leave when somebody fell into his leg. At least he was able to walk to the sideline. Right tackle Martinas Rankin's knee buckled while he was pass-blocking, and he had to be carted off. This line was already missing Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff and Erik Fisher coming into the day.

Aaron Schatz: The Chiefs are not only down to their last backup lineman, they also lost tight end Blake Bell earlier in the day. So I believe if they lose another offensive lineman, they may have to use third tight end Deon Yelder as a tackle.

Bryan Knowles: 13-13 at the half, as the Chiefs offensive line now looks, from right to left, like this: Andrew Wylie, Nick Allegretti, Austin Reiter, Stefen Wisniewski, Cam Erving. That's one starter at his original position, blocking for the Franchise coming back from a dislocated knee. That seems to be somewhat suboptimal. Geoff Schwartz, on Twitter, indicates that brother Mitch might be able to come back, though I don't know what he's basing that on (other than, uh, years of experience). He'd better; the Chiefs are desperate there.

Less bad, perhaps, but also concerning: the Chiefs have seven penalties for 65 yards, the Titans just one. The Chiefs are, in large part, beating themselves at this point. It should be noted that the Titans have just 114 yards at the half, so it's not like the Chiefs aren't moving the ball. It was just a second quarter that they'd like to forget as soon as possible.

Bryan Knowles: After forcing a quick three- (well, four- with a penalty) and-out, the Chiefs march down the field on their opening drive of the second half to retake the lead. They got bailed out by a defensive holding penalty by Tennessee on a pass that probably should have been intercepted, but then Mahomes threw an absolute rainbow to Tyreek Hill for the score. Butker misses the extra point, however, so it's still a 19-13 game for the Chiefs.

Bryan Knowles: THERE you go, Vince. Derrick Henry breaks a long one, going 68 yards for a score. And, because of that missed extra point, it's a go-ahead score, with the Titans taking a 20-19 lead. Back and forth in Nashville.

Vince Verhei: There's my Derrick Henry play. The Titans block the snot out of the Chiefs on inside zone to the left, opening a massive cutback lane off right tackle. Juan Thornhill completely whiffs on a tackle, and Henry jets 68 yards for a touchdown. Titans up 20-19.

Bryan Knowles: The Chiefs are just so, so fast. A Chiefs receiver just raced 63 yards for a touchdown, outrunning everyone. I assumed it was Tyreek Hill at first glance but no, it's Mecole Hardman. The Chiefs probably win an all-NFL track meet; they've just got so many guys who can turn on the afterburners. And that's not mentioning Mahomes' jumping, side-armed pass to hit Hardman in stride. Phew. 29-20 Chiefs -- not over yet, but the Titans might need to score on this drive to stay alive.

Scott Spratt: Patrick Mahomes throws a jump pass, which he somehow still beats to Mecole Hardman 15 yards down the field in front of a defender. Hardman could handle it from there, a 63-yard touchdown. He's nearly as fast as Tyreek Hill. And now the Chiefs are up 29-20.

Vince Verhei: Confession: When Aaron incorrectly said MyCole Pruitt had scored for Tennessee, I almost doubled-up on the error and said that he played for Kansas City. I got MyCole and Mecole confused.

Bryan Knowles: Derrick Henry is up to 172 yards rushing, second to only his game against Jacksonville last year where he had the 99-yard rush. The Titans are just slamming the ball down the Chiefs' throats. Henry's second touchdown of the day makes it a 29-27 game. and boy, did the Titans ever need that drive.

Bryan Knowles: Tannehill takes a back-breaking seven-yard sack on third-and-10. They pretty much are forced to go for it on fourth-and-17 -- can't give the ball back to Pat Mahomes with less than two minutes remaining! -- but the pass is incomplete. They have all three timeouts, so it's not game over quite yet, and a Chiefs field goal would make it "only" an eight-point lead, but man. That sack was incredibly costly.

Scott Spratt: The Titans tried to convert a fourth-and-17 with less than two minutes to go. Ryan Tannehill delivers a dime before getting crushed, but A.J. Brown couldn't catch it as it hit his hands on the ground. The Titans still have timeouts to stop the clock, but things looking dire for the upset bid.

Bryan and I are oddly in sync today.

Vince Verhei: Bad snap on the field goal! Britton Colquitt gets up and throws the ball to nobody, which is intentional grounding. TItans trail 32-27, 1:21 to go, no timeouts, ball at their own 39.

Bryan Knowles: Not just a bad snap, but one that the holder just was not ready for at all! Terrible special teams disaster for Kansas City, and Tennessee's marching...

Aaron Schatz: Colossal breakdown by the Kansas City defense, which just let Tennessee go 61 yards in four plays with no timeouts and 1:21 left for the go-ahead score.

Bryan Knowles: And not just marching but scoring! Tannehill finds a wide-open Adam Humphries! The Titans take a two-point lead with 23 seconds left! Ryan Tannehill with a HELL of a drive! The Titans were starting the wrong dang quarterback for the first half of the year!

Scott Spratt: And scoring! Tannehill to Humphries!

Carl Yedor: Oh no Kansas City. After two Damien Williams runs to force Tennessee to use timeouts, the Chiefs try to run a tight end screen on third down. It isn't open, so Mahomes eats it and takes a sack. Harrison Butker lines up for a 47-yard field goal that would push the lead to eight, but the ball is snapped before the holder is ready, resulting in Colquitt chucking it away for an intentional grounding penalty.

Tennessee then immediately takes the ball down the field and scores the go-ahead touchdown with 23 seconds to go.

Bryan Knowles: Mahomes bombs the ball down into field goal range, setting up Butker for a chance to tie the game...

... and it's blocked! Titans win, keeping their season alive!

Scott Spratt: Were the Titans offsides on that blocked field goal attempt?

Bryan Knowles: Close, but I think he timed it perfectly.

Aaron Schatz: Apparently, there may have been an offsides, but it is not reviewable.

Aaron Schatz: My biggest takeaway from this game is that Ryan Tannehill is playing better than he has in years, and much better than Mariota was playing. In particular, he looks accurate. Next Gen Stats has him second in completion percentage over expectation today behind only Lamar Jackson.

Tom Gower: Weird to see a Titans game getting broad coverage, both in the map posted on 506Sports and also in Audibles. Patrick Mahomes played fine, well, like he's good, but not otherworldly. Tyreek Hill had a huge day, but it could've been bigger had he not dropped a couple of passes and Mahomes hit him for a touchdown that would have made it 17-0 early in the second quarter. But he didn't, and then a Titans offense that struggled their way through the first quarter got going. The defensive touchdown they'd get later and the big plays combined by alternating big chunks and inefficiency would keep the total play count down, but overall Tennessee's offensive performance in the last three quarters was consistently strong. They threw the ball very well in standard situations -- Tannehill was 9-of-10 for 122 yards on first and second downs outside the last two minutes of either half -- while Derrick Henry obviously ended up with a huge day after that slower start. I actually laughed when the Titans came out run, run, running down nine after that ludicrous Mahomes jump pass to Hardman for the touchdown, but they did it efficiently and quickly enough, even going to no-huddle, that they had plenty of game to give us another edition of Andy Reid-coached teams vs. game management and not making costly mistakes in critical situations that let you close out a win.

Atlanta Falcons 26 at New Orleans Saints 9

Andrew Potter: The Falcons come out running all over the Saints on the opening drive in the Superdome, but consecutive false starts in the red zone push them back to first-and-20 from the 23. That forces Atlanta away from their run game, and three plays later Younghoe Koo puts through a field goal. An encouraging opening though; four of their first six carries went for a first down, and the only one to gain less than 4 yards still got a first via penalty.

Saints respond with a field goal of their own: after driving to the 5-yard-line, a rare Falcons sack brings up fourth-and-goal from the 11.

Bryan Knowles: The Falcons taking a 10-3 lead early in the second quarter is the most eye-opening score of the early window so far. No defense really wants to play today, at least outside the red zone. We've now had an 11-play Falcons drive (ending in a field goal), a 10-play Saints drive (ending in a field goal) and now a 17-play Falcons drive, capped with Matt Ryan finding Austin Hooper in the end zone for a touchdown. That's the third-most plays on any drive this year. No big plays, a couple of third-downs salvaged by Saints penalties, and just death by a thousand papercuts.

Andrew Potter: That fourth-down conversion leads, eventually, to a touchdown strike to Austin Hooper. This time, the penalties helped rather than hindered the Falcons: the Saints have already been called three times for hands to the face, two of them on that touchdown drive, and a Marshon Lattimore hold against Julio Jones turned a third-and-5 into first-and-goal. At 10-3, the Falcons' ball-control game plan is working so far.

Vince Verhei: Marshon Lattimore is out of the game, and Julio Jones just had his first catch of the day, a 50-plus-yard gain. The drive stalls in the red zone when Matt Ryan takes a third-down sack, but Younghoe Koo kicks a field goal and the Falcons lead 13-3 inside the two-minute warning.

Andrew Potter: A Wil Lutz field goal gives us a 13-6 halftime score, shockingly in favor of the Falcons. The story of the first quarter was running and penalties, but in the second it was the Falcons defense. Dan Quinn moved Raheem Morris to defensive backs coach during the bye week, and the result appears to be significantly improved coverage that has forced Brees to hold the ball too long. That has allowed a poor Falcons pass rush to get home a couple of times, leading once to a field goal and a second time to a punt. Ten points from four drives is a much lower scoring rate than most people would have expected; we'll see if that picks up in the second half.

Also, Marshon Lattimore is questionable to return, with no specifics yet about the injury. Lattimore went off just before the 54-yard catch-and-run for Julio Jones, who is now being covered by Eli Apple.

Vince Verhei: Michael Thomas is putting up some highlights today. He showed some amazing toe-drag swag earlier, dragging his feet at the sideline for a catch. Now in the third quarter, he takes a shoulder-to-shoulder hit that was so hard it knocked his helmet off but hangs on to the ball. That sets up a Saints field goal that cuts Atlanta's lead to 13-9.

Andrew Potter: The helmet hit reception was actually Tre'Quan Smith.

Aaron Schatz: Saints were sixth in lowest adjusted sack rate on offense this year. Atlanta dead-last in adjusted sack rate on defense. They had only seven sacks all year. Somehow the Falcons have sacked Drew Brees four times with 11 minutes left.

Andrew Potter: Yet another coverage sack ends yet another Saints drive. This is exactly the type of game where the Saints' lack of receiver depth shows up. Michael Thomas is 8-of-8 for 87 yards; Ted Ginn and Tre'Quan Smith are 1-for-4 for 13 yards, with the Smith highlight Vince mentioned offset by one bad Ginn drop. The only non-Thomas target with any production at all is tight end Jared Cook. Hopefully this is a one-off, otherwise it's a deeply worrying performance off the bye.

Andrew Potter: The Saints just threw up another penalty implosion. Roughing the kicker on a fourth-and-11 punt gives the Falcons yet another first down on a third- or fourth-down stop. Worse, it puts the Falcons in scoring range, already up 20-9.

Aaron Schatz: Falcons are now up to six sacks. Again, they had seven coming into today.

Andrew Potter: Koo's fourth successful field goal means this one is over. The only remaining intrigue is whether the Falcons will get the one sack they need to double their season-long total in one game.

Update: they did not, but they did finally force an incompletion to Michael Thomas with five seconds left. Thomas was 12-for-12 prior to that.

New York Giants 27 'at' New York Jets 34

Vince Verhei: Fun moment on radio on the Jets' opening drive. The color commentator (I did not catch their name, but it was the national broadcast) was noting that Sam Darnold had room to run if he kept the ball on an option play. So the Jets reach the red zone, and Darnold indeed keeps the ball. The play-by-play guy is completely fooled, as are the Giants, as they're all focused on Le'Veon Bell being hit behind the line. By the time they figured out what was going on, Darnold was in the end zone. That's the Jets' third rushing touchdown of the year, and their third straight game with an opening-drive touchdown.

Scott Spratt: Is Daniel Jones the Giants' kick holder? Because he couldn't handle the snap and rolled out on an extra point attempt. The pass was shockingly close to being converted through about four Jets defenders, so I'm assuming it was Jones making the throw.

Bryan Knowles: It's Riley Dixon, actually. Not a bad little pass, honestly.

Scott Spratt: Then major props to Riley Dixon!

Vince Verhei: Giants go for it on fourth-and-4 at the 39. Darius Slayton scorches Nate Hairston on a slant route for an easy first down. Worse, safety Matthias Farley takes a horrible angle from the middle of the field, and never even gets in position to attempt a tackle. Slayton scoots into the end zone for his second touchdown of the day. They blow the extra point, so the Jets still lead 14-13.

Bryan Knowles: The Giants have turned the ball over in 16 straight games, the longest active streak in the NFL (pending the Steelers game).

Jamal Adams just ripped the ball out of Daniel Jones' hands and brought it right into the end zone to make it a 21-13 Jets lead. Jones has a massive fumbling problem.

Scott Spratt: Haha, Jamal Adams just pulled a Danny Bateman from The Replacements. I guess it's a strip sack, but he just took the ball out of Daniel Jones' hands. Also, he returned it for a touchdown.

Bryan Knowles: Seriously, Adams just decided no, you're going to hand the ball to me now, Daniel. Just look at this.

Vince Verhei: We've talked about Daniel Jones' poor pocket presence before, right? Jamal Adams just ran up right into his face, pulled the ball away, and ran into the end zone. Technically it's a sack and fumble recovery for Adams, but it looked more like a handoff.

Vince Verhei: And the Giants answer right away. Bubble screen to Golden Tate goes for a 61-yard touchdown. Giants' YAC numbers are going to look good today.

Vince Verhei: Giants go for two to tie the game, but the conversion is wiped out by a penalty. After moving back, they decide to kick for 1, but the kick is no good. So the Jets still lead 21-19, which sounds like a prime scorigami candidate.

Bryan Knowles: It's worth noting, with how much we pointed and laughed at the Jamal Adams fumble-takeaway, that Daniel Jones is the third rookie in the modern era (since 1950) to throw at least one touchdown in his first eight starts. Before Giants fans get too happy about that, note that the other two are Mike Glennon and Baker Mayfield, so no promise of future superstardom there, but it's certainly better than nothing.

Bryan Knowles: Anyone else have the Giants-Jets being the most entertaining game of the (admittedly weak) early window? It is, by record, likely to be the worst Battle of New York ever (beating out the 1996 match between Rich Kotite's 1-15 Jets and Dan Reeves' 6-10 Giants), and yet, it has been really fun and back-and-forth and all that. This time, a 33-yard pass interference call sets up Le'Veon Bell for the 1-yard touchdown plunge, and the Jets take the lead back, 31-27. Almost entirely meaningless, but hey -- bragging rights on the line, right?

Vince Verhei: Actually, considering how weak the schedule looked in the early slate today, most of the games have been close and dramatic, Ravens-Bengals aside. Even newsworthy, considering the Saints and Chiefs are both in serious danger of being upset.

Buffalo Bills 16 at Cleveland Browns 19

Aaron Schatz: The Browns just had eight plays inside the 2 and couldn't get the ball into the end zone. Two defensive penalties gave them new first downs, but they ended up getting stuffed on fourth-and-1. In total, Nick Chubb had five carries for -2 yards.

Vince Verhei: The Browns just had a first-and-goal, again (from the 3 this time), and failed to score a touchdown, again, in part because Chubb lost yards at the goal line, again. They do at least get a field goal this time for a 9-7 lead. Can't fault Freddie Kitchens for kicking that one considering how ineffective they've been in that scenario already today.

Vince Verhei: It turns out Cleveland's offense is terrible at both ends of the field. A Bills punt sticks them at the 8, and on first down Baker Mayfield is sacked for a game-tying safety.

Scott Spratt: Play of the day. Josh Allen fumbles near the goal line and right guard Jon Feliciano picks it up and ballet dives into the end zone. He is Houdini!

Devastatingly, the refs ruled him down on the one, and the Bills had to settle for a boring Frank Gore touchdown.

Vince Verhei: Maybe the weirdest game of the day just got even weirder. On third-and-10 in the red zone, Josh Allen scrambles, but has the ball knocked out of his hands after just a 4-yard gain. However, the ball is swatted FORWARD, so when Jon Feliciano falls on it for Buffalo, it's a first-and-goal at the 1. Frank Gore dives in from there and the Bills are up -- but the play is reversed on replay. So Allen sneaks it in on second-and-goal, and NOW the BIlls lead 16-12 with about five and a half minutes to go.

Vince Verhei: Mayfield and Browns suck at SHOVeLL passes. He threw an interception on one a few weeks ago, which is almost impossible. Now, he throws one behind his receiver, which also seems impossible, and the ball hits the turf. The Bills scoop it up and run it back, but the play is correctly reversed to an incomplete pass, not a fumble, on replay. But man, these passes travel like 24 inches through the air -- completing them should not be that hard!

Bryan Knowles: And while we're all gaping at the Chiefs-Titans game, the Browns march back down the field. That ShoVELL does in fact get overturned, and the Browns march 82 yards for the go-ahead touchdown. Great pass to Jarvis Landry sets it up; touchdown to Rashard Higgins. Browns take a 19-16 lead as they try to keep their season alive!

Vince Verhei: With the way this game has gone, I figured that Jarvis Landry's big catch that gave Cleveland a first-and-goal was the worst thing that could have happened to the Browns, but no -- on second down, Mayfield hits Rashad Higgins, who is still on the team, for the go-ahead score. It's not over yet though -- the Bills will have 1:44 to tie or take the lead.

Bryan Knowles: Buffalo drives it back into field goal range to tie the game, but Stephen Hauschka misses his second kick of the day! Browns pull off the upset, and THEY'RE still alive! Big, big happenings in the AFC playoff race in the past five minutes.

Baltimore Ravens 49 at Cincinnati Bengals 13

Bryan Knowles: I guess against a winless team, you can bust out some fun stuff from the bottom of your playbook. The Ravens just ran an option play where Lamar Jackson flipped it to Robert Griffin III. Because that's what the Ravens' offense needs -- more mobile quarterbacks in the backfield. I'm waiting for the Ravens to pitch it to RGIII and then throw it back to Jackson -- he'd probably make a good receiver, don't you know.

Scott Spratt: I've been surprised by how elusive Ryan Finley has been for the Bengals. He didn't run much at either Boise State or North Carolina State, but he has had a 16-yard first-down carry and eluded a sack to extend a play.

Of course as I type this, Finley throws a brutal pick-six to Marcus Peters. 28-3 Ravens.

Scott Spratt: Oh my god, Lamar Jackson just had the best run of his career. It was a Barry Sanders stutter step plus a nasty spin move. We need to find the clip of this. 47-yard touchdown.

Bryan Knowles: "He is Houdini" is going to get replayed a couple of times over Jackson's career.

Scott Spratt: The Ravens haven't actually pulled their starters, but fullback Patrick Ricard was still playing defense and strip-sacked Ryan Finley. Tyus Bowser took that to the house for the Ravens' second defensive touchdown of the day.

Scott Spratt: The Bengals kick a field goal to cut their deficit to 49-13. I'll have to check with the Edj guys to see if that was a good decision hehe.

Bryan Knowles: The Bengals' loss means they cannot win the AFC North. Well, I mean, their total lack of talent means they cannot win the AFC North, but they're the first team this year to be mathematically eliminated from divisional contention. I really would have thought the Dolphins would have beat them to that, but nope!

Vince Verhei: The Ravens said after the game that the personnel group with Lamar Jackson, Robert Griffin, and Mark Ingram on the field at the same time is ... the Heisman package.

Arizona Cardinals 27 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 30

Scott Spratt: Wow, classic Larry Fitzgerald catch there. While being held, he stretched out to tip the ball to himself with one hand down the left sideline. Frankly, I'm still stunned Fitz has one drop this season according to Sports Info Solutions.

Bryan Knowles: Jameis Winston, living dangerously on the one-minute drill. Already with a pick today, Winston toss a dangerous, dangerous pass to O.J. Howard, who managed to haul it in over triple-coverage to get the ball inside the 10 with 12 seconds left. Just time for one more play before kicking the field goal, and Winston takes advantage of some Arizona confusion in the secondary to hit Howard for a much easier catch in the end zone. 17-13 Buccaneers as we go into the half.

Howard already has four receptions for 47 yards and a touchdown. That ties his season high for receptions, and almost beats his season high for yards. Maybe the Buccaneers should look for him a little more often?

Scott Spratt: Arizona has the No. 32 DVOA against tight ends, and in related news, O.J. Howard just scored a touchdown. Still, I can't believe that was his first touchdown of the season. Do you guys think this has been a Bruce Arians thing? He never had a productive tight end in Arizona, but I don't think he ever had that kind of player on his roster, either.

Andrew Potter: It's definitely an Arians thing. Howard is playing a ton, just not as a pass target.

Bryan Knowles: I'll see Scott's play of the day, and raise you this reverse flea-flicker fake punt.

Bryan Knowles: While we're all distracted by Chiefs-Titans and Bills-Browns, the BUCCANEERS march back down the field and score a go-ahead touchdown. For a lame early slate of games on paper, we've had some phenomenal football over the past half-hour.

Vince Verhei: So much drama going on right now! The Bucs just drove 92 yards in six plays with Peyton Barber scoring from 1 yard out to put Tampa Bay ahead. Biggest play may have been an incompletion to Mike Evans that was reversed to DPI by the replay official to set the Bucs up at the 1. From there, I don't know why you don't sneak it with your 6-foot-4 quarterback, but you can't argue with the results.

But DPI is a double-edged sword -- the Cardinals get a fourth-down conversion when Vernon Hargreaves interferes with Christian Kirk (who is having a massive game with three touchdowns).

Bryan Knowles: Speaking of pass interference, was that last chuck-and-pray play NOT pass interference? Kyler Murray threw it into a crowd, and it sure looked like Tampa Bay got there too early, but no flag, and the game's over. Buccaneers snap their losing streak.

Scott Spratt: Jamel Dean definitely interfered with Pharoh Cooper on that last Cardinals throw. Refs didn't call it, and the Bucs win 30-27.

Vince Verhei: That looked to me like the refs deciding they were not going to bail out a quarterback making a desperate throw under pressure to a receiver who was not open.

Los Angeles Rams 12 at Pittsburgh Steelers 17

Bryan Knowles: I mentioned earlier that the Giants had the longest streak of games with a turnover, pending the Steelers game. Well, now we have the Steelers game, and on the second play of the game, the snap goes way over Mason Rudolph's head. Dante Fowler scoops (or, rather, the ball bounces right into his hands) and scores. 7-0 Rams in the first 20 seconds of the game.

Vince Verhei: It's not quite Peyton Manning opening the Super Bowl against the Seahawks, but early in Pittsburgh's first drive, the snap goes flying over Mason Rudolph's head, and Dante Fowler returns the fumble for a touchdown. Rams up 7-0 and the game's not even 30 seconds old.

Vince Verhei: More sloppiness in this game. Jared Goff is under pressure and lobs a pass to his receiver in the flat, way over his head and out of bounds. But Mike Tomlin challenges the play, and the pass is overturned into a fumble and a loss of 9. Was the difference between second-and-10 and second-and-19 in L.A. territory really worth a challenge? Regardless, it works, and the Rams punt.

Vince Verhei: This game may have already topped Bills-Browns on the weirdness scale. Rudolph is intercepted, but the Rams are called for holding and DPI on the play. Sean McVay throws the challenge flag, claiming the ball was tipped and so there cannot be DPI. It's a first-and-10 for Pittsburgh either way, the only difference is field position. However, because it's a turnover, the play is automatically reviewed, and you can't challenge those -- so McVay is charged with a timeout. And then the review determines the ball was not tipped, so the DPI stands. Rudolph hits James Washington for a 3-yard touchdown to tie the game at 7 shortly thereafter.

Bryan Knowles: Excellent foot control by James Washington, catching the ball over Marcus Peters and somehow bending his right leg to scrape his foot inbounds before his knee hit out of bounds for a touchdown.

Interesting drive to get there. Play was stopped for quite some time as the officials tried to untangle a pass interference call that negated an interception. Sean McVay threw a challenge flag on that one -- not to directly challenge the pass interference, mind you, but to challenge that the ball was tipped beforehand, which would negate the pass interference. That seems like it would have a higher chance of working than your general pass interference challenge. Confusingly, though, they rule that the Rams can't challenge, because it was a turnover. But, because of the penalties, shouldn't it have NOT been a turnover? And thus the Rams would have had to challenge? The rule isn't entirely clear to me, nor did it seem entirely clear to anyone on the field.

Bryan Knowles: We're halfway through the second quarter. The Rams just completed their third pass of the day.

Derrik Klassen: Jared Goff with a few errant passes on the last drive. Missed a deep over to Cooper Kupp (a tough throw, but it was there) and a shorter one to Todd Gurley. Being thoroughly out-dueled by Mason Rudolph right now, which is not to say anything of Rudolph.

Vince Verhei: This game is drunk. James Washington has a big catch-and-run into Rams territory, but Nickell Robey-Coleman knocks the ball free and the Rams recover. Then Jared Goff is hit as he's trying to pass, and though the ball travels a dozen yards beyond the line of scrimmage, it's ruled a fumble, and Minkah Fitzpatrick recovers and returns for a Pittsburgh touchdown and a 14-7 lead.

Bryan Knowles: Some weird fumbles going on in this one. Pittsburgh is carving the Rams up with dig route after dig route, but James Washington has the ball punched out as he's streaking deep into Rams territory, picked up and recovered by the Rams. Three plays later, Jared Goff is sacked, and flings the ball downfield as it's happening. The refs rule that his arm was not going forward -- empty hand, so it's a loose ball, which Minkah Fitzpatrick (again!) scoops up and returns into the end zone. 14-7 Steelers.

Vince Verhei: Rams miss a 56-yard field goal try as the first half ends. Their eight drives: that missed kick, a lost fumble, and six punts. They haven't been inside the Pittsburgh 30 yet. They've given up three sacks. This may end up being their worst offensive game since they moved back to L.A.

Aaron Schatz: At halftime, the Rams offense looks discombobulated. Goff has only one official pass to Cooper Kupp, which he dropped on the final drive of the half. The only other throw to Kupp was the pass Derrik mentioned which ended up getting called as DPI. Goff is only 9-for-19 at the half with 111 yards, and 38 yards came on the final drive of the half which ended in a missed 56-yard field goal attempt by Greg Zuerlein. The offensive line is not playing well today, center Brian Allen got injured and went out and so they are rotating his backups, and there are three penalties so far on various offensive linemen.

Bryan Knowles: We're going into halftime at 14-7 in a game where neither team has really looked good. Jared Goff is 9-for-19 for 111 yards, and he's just looking nothing at all like the player who helped lead the Rams to the Super Bowl just last year. I have to think it has to do with a lack of confidence in his offensive line, but I'm not sure that's enough to explain all of his step back this year. They're 0-for-7 on third downs today; they just can't stay on the field. Meanwhile, their defense is having a really hard time stopping anybody; Diontae Johnson, James Washington, and JuJu Smith-Schuster all have 20-plus-yard receptions already today. When you can't move the ball on offense, and you can't stop the ball on defense, you're going to have a bad time. They should feel fortunate they're just down a touchdown at this point.

Bryan Knowles: Jared Goff takes a big hit and limps off the field, so we have a Blake Bortles sighting for Los Angeles.

Vince Verhei: No, Goff was not benched. He got hit and fell on his hip, and Blake Bortles came in to run the ensuing third-and-2. He kept the ball on an ugly read-option play and did not convert.

Rams then try a fake punt, but Johnny Hekker is hit as he throws and Terrell Edmunds intercepts the ball. Steelers take over at the L.A. 31.

Bryan Knowles: But Bortles is not the next player to attempt a pass for the Rams! It's Johnny Hekker, punt-passer extraordinaire, as the Rams attempt a fake punt!

... and it's intercepted by Trey Edmunds. Edmunds is a running back, so I assume that's his first career interception on any level. This game is very, very strange.

The Steelers have two "T.Edmunds" on their team, which is annoying for quickly checking these things!

Derrik Klassen: Rams love to go empty between the opposing 10- and 30-yard lines. Something to look for every time they're on. Just turned to it on their last third down. Goff completed a pass just short of the sticks, but the defense caught a penalty anyway and the Rams converted.

Bryan Knowles: You've pointed that out before, Derrik, and now I can't NOT see it.

In fact, it feels like the Rams are doing mostly the same things they've been doing for three years at this point. I mean, it's been working up until this year, but it feels like they haven't really added new wrinkles since 2017.

Vince Verhei: Aaron Donald sacks Rudolph for a safety. The defenses have now scored 16 points in this game; the offenses have scored 10.

Vince Verhei: Heh. Clinging to a two-point lead, the Steelers go for it on fourth-and-1 from their end of the field. Rudolph converts with a play-action completion to Samuels ... and the Pittsburgh fans in this bar are STILL mad at Tomlin, even when he succeeds.

I will say this, given the way the offenses have played today, I probably would have punted there.

Vince Verhei: OK, this is now the weirdest game of the year. Chris Boswell was just flagged for a false start. Chris Boswell. The kicker.

Fortunately for him, even after the penalty, he nails the field goal, and Pittsburgh goes up 17-12 with 2:46 to go.

Bryan Knowles: One of the strangest football games I can remember ends with the Steelers pulling it out, 17-12.

We had an interception thrown by a punter and caught by a running back. We had a false start on a kicker. We had an empty-hand fumble deep downfield. We had a snap go over a quarterback's head. We had a Blake Bortles sighting, which is always a weird thing. We had a safety. We had Cooper Kupp getting shut out. Just ... like, what the hell was this football game?

Carolina Panthers 16 at Green Bay Packers 24

Scott Spratt: The Panthers score first in Green Bay. Key play of the drive was a blown-coverage completion to D.J. Moore, and his receiver teammate Curtis Samuel punched in the touchdown near the goal line. 7-0 Panthers.

Bryan Knowles: The first game of the post-Newton era (maybe?) is a tough one for the Panthers, but they're not just giving in. D.J. Moore finds himself wide open, all alone as the Packers just completely lose him in their zone. That completion moves the ball into the red zone, and a few plays later, Kyle Allen finds Curtis Samuel in the front corner of the end zone to open the scoring. 7-0 Panthers, midway through the first.

Bryan Knowles: Seems like the more opportunity Curtis Samuel gets, the better he looks. Samuel just slipped by across the corner of the end zone to get free in the flat for a quick touchdown pass from Kyle Allen. It has taken Samuel time to come around, but he's growing into a complete, dangerous receiver as capable of stressing down the field as he is in the short area.

Scott Spratt: It's snowing in Green Bay at this point.

Aaron Jones runs in a touchdown against the No. 32 DVOA defense against the run, and this game is tied.

Scott Spratt: Kyle Allen had done a better job of holding onto the ball since the Texans game, but he mishandles a snap to lose a fumble at midfield. Packers ball down 10-7.

Bryan Knowles: Great drive by the Packers here to end the first half, but it's fair to wonder if they should have had the chance at all. Facing third-and-13 pinned deep in their own territory, Rodgers was knocked to the ground by Gerald McCoy. McCoy basically hit Rodgers in a textbook fashion, the way the NFL has been telling players to hit the quarterback ... but he still gets flagged for the bodyweight rule. The fresh set of downs re-sparks the Packers offense, who basically drives out the last 4:30 of the half on their way to a score to make it 20-10. Several great plays by Jimmy Graham on that drive, burning Luke Kuechly for a 48-yard gain and coming back with the touchdown to cap it off. Full credit for the drive POST-penalty, but I don't know about that flag at all.

Bryan Knowles: Whoop, take that Graham touchdown off the board; it was ruled incomplete. And then Carolina holds on the ensuing play, which should set up a Packers field goal ... but the refs throw ANOTHER couple of flags on Carolina in the end zone. These flags were better -- a little ticky-tack, but well within the normal range of flags you'll see in a game. Anyway, all that drains the clock down to two seconds, so Green Bay has one play from the goal line ... and the Carolina defense holds, getting great penetration and stuffing Williams 3 yards in the backfield.

So it's 14-10 at the half. Weird, weird way for the half to end.

Andrew Potter: The roughing flag was hot garbage. There was no foul of any description on Rodgers. McCoy even specifically landed to the side away from Rodgers, and still got called for something that literally didn't happen.

Fortunately, the Panthers stiffen in the red zone, and a stunning goal-line play by Gerald McCoy and others with two seconds remaining means Green Bay gets no points from the drive.

Vince Verhei: Graham's touchdown is wiped out on review -- he never got two feet down in bounds. So the drive continues, and Rodgers throws incomplete on third-and-goal. Panthers are called for DPI, so Green Bay gets a first-and-goal, but with only 2 seconds left. They still sent the offense out there, and Jamal Williams is stuffed for a loss. A 12-play, 89-yard drive ends in no points.

Carl Yedor: What a crazy end of the half in this one. Green Bay has the ball pinned back inside its 10 with a third-and-13 when Gerald McCoy gets questionably called for roughing the passer via the bodyweight rule. With a freshly extended drive, the Packers drive all the way down the field and get stopped on third down, setting up a potential field goal from the goal line with two seconds left. However, Carolina is flagged for pass interference in the end zone, giving the Packers a first down and one play to either kick or go for it. After some dithering about that forces Green Bay to use its final timeout, Green Bay chooses to go for the touchdown, but McCoy makes a FANTASTIC play to shoot into the backfield, stuff a run for a loss, and end the half without Green Bay scoring.

Bryan Knowles: Green Bay makes up for their end-of-half failures with a series of quick strikes -- a 38-yard pass to Adams and a 28-yard run by Jones, setting up Jones' third touchdown of the day. Carolina looks to answer back immediately, but Kyle Allen's pass into the end zone is intercepted by Tramon Williams. Packers have a 21-10 lead and the ball.

Vince Verhei: Packers miss a field goal, but the Panthers are called for illegal formation for covering the center. Looked like Luke Kuechly was signaling for them to shift right as the ball was snapped, and he was too early. Given a second chance, Packers hit the kick, and lead 24-10 at the end of the third.

Vince Verhei: Christian McCaffrey has 80 yards on 14 carries, but it's a quiet 80. Feels like about half that.

Vince Verhei: McCaffrey runs in a touchdown, leaving the Panthers down by eight ... and they do the smart thing and go for two! Unfortunately, after hanging in the pocket forever, Kyle Allen throws an incompletion. But someday we'll see a team win by going for two down eight, and that will be a great day.

Bryan Knowles: The Panthers score a touchdown down 14 and go for two! And it's correctly called the right analytics call by RedZone! Huzzah!

They don't GET the two, mind you, so it's 24-16 Packers, but it's nice to see The Math trickling down.

Bryan Knowles: Mmmm. Facing fourth-and-3 on the Carolina 38, with 2:32 left in the game ... the Packers ran the "try to get them to jump" play. You're up eight! You have two chances for your defense not to blow it -- don't give up the touchdown, don't give up the conversion. A first down allows you to drain another minute at least! Any score probably wins the game! Go for it, already!

Instead, Carolina has a chance...

Carl Yedor: Carolina forces a stop to get the ball back with just over two minutes to go. Allen has a chance to lead a game-tying drive here, but he nearly gets picked off on the second play of the drive after scrambling to his right. Jaire Alexander really should have had a pick-six to end the game, but instead, Carolina still has the ball at the two-minute warning.

Bryan Knowles: Great drive by Kyle Allen in the snow, and it all comes down to one play ... I love the call to run McCaffrey at the end of the game, but the left guard whiffed his block. McCaffrey is stopped short, and the Packers hold on to win. What a finish.

Vince Verhei: I know there are no moral victories in the NFL, but at the same time there is no shame into going into Green Bay against a division leader with your backup quarterback and coming within two plays from the 2-yard line of victory. That Ron Rivera can coach, man.

Seattle Sounders 3-1 Toronto FC

Vince Verhei: The Sounders just went up 2-0 in the second half of the MLS Cup and this bar is going BONKERS.

Aaron Schatz: Sure, Vince can provide MLS Cup updates, but none of us are watching the CFL semifinals.

Vince Verhei: The Sounders get a third goal in the 86th minute to pretty much ice this one. There were some nervous fans around me when Toronto scored in extra time, but it was too little, too late, and Seattle wins the MLS Cup with a 3-1 final.

Tom Gower: I'm watching the Big East women's soccer tournament final. Does that count?

Miami Dolphins 16 at Indianapolis Colts 12

Scott Spratt: Brian Hoyer way overthrows his intended target, and the Dolphins' second pick set them up in the red zone. They're already up 3-0. Looking like back-to-back Dolphins wins!

Andrew Potter: Breaking news: Brian Hoyer is still not a guy you want starting games for a playoff contender. Admittedly, his first pick should have been a touchdown reception, but Steven Parker ripped the ball out of the hands of Eric Ebron. The second is all on Hoyer though: he badly misses the open Ebron and drops the ball right into the hands of Bobby McCain.

Scott Spratt: Ryan FitzMagic runs in the touchdown. He is Houdini. Dolphins up 10-0.

Bryan Knowles: I'm not sure Hoyer has started a game for a playoff contender since 2015. Those 2016 Bears and 2017 49ers certainly don't count. But yeah, in terms of Brady's Backups, Hoyer's not even the best one on Indianapolis.

Vince Verhei: With Miami leading 10-0 at halftime, it occurs to me that the real winners of yesterday's LSU-Alabama game may be ... the Dolphins. Joe Burrow's emergence as, at worst, the second-best quarterback prospect in the class gives the Dolphins twice the shot of getting the franchise passer they seek, even if they don't get the first overall pick. There's also at least a reasonable chance that the Bengals would take hometown kid Chase Young first overall if they end up with the pick, though they of course will need a quarterback too. Regardless, the scenarios in which Miami somehow fails to get their guy next year have been significantly cut.

Vince Verhei: Darius Leonard intercepts Ryan Fitzpatrick on the first play of the fourth quarter, and it appears he has scored a go-ahead pick-six, but it's ruled that his forward progress was stopped. They just showed a replay, and ... man, that was a fast whistle for that call. Colts still take over just outside the red zone. Colts overcome it though -- Hoyer hits Nyheim Hines for a third-down conversion, then Jack Doyle for a go-ahead touchdown. Colts go ahead in the Journeyman Bowl -- but only 12-10, because Adam Vinatieri's weekly missed kick costs the Colts an extra point.

Dave Bernreuther: Hoyer-to-Doyle puts the sluggish Colts ahead, finally, in the fourth quarter.

I've been watching this one from the start, and that's the first thing other than "I keep thinking the Colts have sent out the punter when I see the number 2" that I have thought of to say. This is not the most compelling of games to be forced to watch.

Bryan Knowles: The Colts just made a massive, massive mistake. Situation: fourth-and-10. Clock is stopped because of an incomplete pass. 45 seconds left in the game. The Colts ... take their first time out to discuss the call. That means the Dolphins can run out the clock if they fail; with all three timeouts, Indy could have at least forced a punt. And, indeed, Indy is stopped short, the Dolphins get the ball back, and it's victory formation for the Dolphins. Two wins in a row for Miami!

The Dolphins have the longest win streak in the AFC East.

Dave Bernreuther: Several plays (and two changes of possession, thanks to a horrid pick thrown by Hoyer) after an unflagged hit to Fitzpatrick's head, the officials announce that he needs a concussion evaluation. This had to have been a full ten minutes after the hit. So the Fins had to run a drive with Josh Rosen, which may as well have been three kneeldowns.

This game is coming to an exciting conclusion, with the Colts now in the red zone with under a minute left, but it's still a snoozer. It reminds me a lot of a Jim Sorgi-Cleo Lemon QB bowl in the final week of the 2007 (?) season when the Dolphins had given up on their year -- after the Saban affair, if I'm not mistaken -- and Sorgi rallied at the end to win a game in which both teams were completely listless, but nobody cared.

In this one, Hoyer misses on first, second, and third down before hitting Ebron for the worst possible failed completion on fourth-and-ballgame, and now a Colts team that could and maybe should have won this division, even after Luck's retirement, has lost to the tanking Dolphins.

Minnesota Vikings 28 at Dallas Cowboys 24

Bryan Knowles: Fun fact: This is only the second time the Vikings have worn white against the Cowboys; they did back in Week 2 of 1961, and have worn purple in 29 straight games since then, until tonight.

Another fun fact: Kirk Cousins is 1-7 on the road in prime-time games and 4-17-1 against teams with winning records. That one might be slightly less fun.

So far, though, so good for Cousins and the Vikings. The touchdown pass to Kyle Rudolph was pretty astonishing; I had no idea Rudolph could make that sort of athletic play. Meanwhile, the Cowboys have settled for a 57-yard field goal (missed) and a punt. Can't ask for a much better start for Minnesota.

Aaron Schatz: Cowboys have clearly decided that they're targeting Mike Hughes but guys, Xavier Rhodes has been awful this year. Go ahead and throw at him too.

Bryan Knowles: I blame Dallas' slow start on the blue uniforms. They used to think these things were cursed, and they're 3-6 in them since 2017. Gotta respect the uni lore, Cowboys.

Scott Spratt: Ugh, how did I end up seeing Coach K during the SNF broadcast?

Bryan Knowles: Dallas, as is rapidly becoming their thing, has fired back well to get to 14-14. One of these weeks, Dallas will have to try building to a lead and then holding it!

Dallas is now 7-for-10 on third downs. Minnesota just can't get off the field, and it's killing them.

Dave Bernreuther: I blame Dallas's 14-point comeback on the blue uniforms, Bryan. Because they are great.

They look stupid with those white pants, though. Not really sure what's going on there.

Aaron Schatz: I noted in the Upset Watch column that Dak Prescott leads the league in ESPN's QBR on blitzes. And the Vikings are blitzing a lot.

Bryan Knowles: The blue uniforms (which are terrible) do look worse with the white pants. They've gone to that combo once a year since 2017, and it doesn't really work. It was alright with their star-shouldered throwbacks they wore from 2009 to 2012, but they look kinda wrong with the standard blues.

Bryan Knowles: Amari Cooper is having one hell of a game. Two toe-tapping receptions on one drive, including the go-ahead touchdown.

Aaron Schatz: Good job by the Vikings, going for it on fourth-and-goal from the 2. 13-play, 75-yard drive that was mostly runs. Then they pass for the two-point conversion to make it 28-21. Kyle Rudolph has two touchdowns and now the two-point conversion. Dallas was 31st in DVOA against tight ends before this week.

Aaron Schatz: Prescott has been just out of his gourd on third downs tonight.

Tom Gower: And he has needed to be, because the Cowboys keep donating first downs with ineffective running.

Aaron Schatz: Hell, it's not just first downs. Driving for a game-winning touchdown, Dallas just ran Elliott twice with 1:33 left on second-and-2 (no gain) and third-and-2 (loss of 3). So now they'll have fourth-and-5 for the game.

Bryan Knowles: Speaking of ineffective running, gotta love taking the ball out of your quarterback's hands, as he's killing the defense, to let Zeke smash the ball for no yards two plays in a row.

Bryan Knowles: I know he was probably told to do the fair catch on the sidelines, but it sure looked like Tavon Austin had a lane for maybe a touchdown on that punt.

Tom Gower: I'm bummed for Dak Prescott.

Bryan Knowles: It really does feel like Jason Garrett cost Dallas that football game. Kicked a field goal from the Minnesota 5; punted twice between the Minnesota 40 and 48; attempted an insanely long field goal. The Dallas offense is good; Dak Prescott could be in the MVP conversation if his team was winning more. Garrett's play calling really held them back tonight.


147 comments, Last at 15 Nov 2019, 4:31pm

1 There are four first round…

There are four first round quarterbacks next year: Oregon's Herbert, Washington's Eason, Alabama's Tua and LSU's Burrow. While Burrow looks good, he's only been this good for a year. Herbert, Eason and Tua have played like very good pro prospects for at least 2 years apiece. I know Kiper has Tua ranked first, with Herbert second, but I wouldn't be sure of the order right now. The best one may not go first overall; I think Herbert is the most likely to work out in the pros, but he does have injury issues.

2 Fansided has Tua, Herbert…

Fansided has Tua, Herbert and Burrow in their top twenty, and Jacob Eason at 59 in their list of prospects.  I really doubt Herbert or Tua fall outside the top five unless they get a serious injury, but I was being optimistic putting Eason in the first round.


The Coach of The Year Award is Shanahan Jr. to lose, but Tomlin, for all the complaints he get, he is doing a fine job in a year with no more BBB's available.

Alternatively, how many wins Flores would need to get it?

Dolphins still have vs. Bengals (favourites now), plus winnable games vs. Bills and @NY teams (plus a possible @Browns brownsesque collaps).

5 LaFleur Could Also Win It

In reply to by Yu Narukami

I think Shanahan is less of a lock than you think.  The 49ers seem loaded with talent, especially on the Defensive side where they overwhelm teams with 1st Round Pick after 1st Round Pick.  Also, what is their best Win so far? Winning at Home against a OK CAR team? What is their Best Road win so far? By contrast, GB is somehow 8-2 against a pretty strong schedule despite a Questionable Defense, Really Bad Special Teams, and an Offense with an Extreme Lack of Talent.  Besides Rodgers and Jones there is Adams who has missed large parts of the year, a bunch of 4th String Caliber Wrs, Blah TE's, and an Up and Down OL.  

Harbaugh is also making a really strong case with the way he has completely developed an Offensive System around Lamar.  Strong consideration also could go to Payton who went undefeated with Bridgewater, which should almost mean automatic induction in to the HOF.

7 I agree with your reasoning…

I agree with your reasoning and options, but COTY has became some sort of "New face that has made a no-playoff team into a playoff team with a quick turnaround and >10 wins, but if there is nobody, then give it to the best record". 

Harbaugh Sr. (surprisingly) still hasn't get one, so he could be the 2nd choice after Shanny.

Alert: this matchup is scheduled on Week13, in the 1:00 PM slot.

12 I know I'm pulling for the…

In reply to by Yu Narukami

I know I'm pulling for the Steelers to get to the tournament and win games, if only to see the raving reaction from the Tomlin haters. An NFL fan who hates his favorite team's coach, and has the misery of watching his favorite team win, is always a humorous thing to observe!

34 I will admit, lesser coaches…

I will admit, lesser coaches would have guided this team into the toilet. I certainly expected to see that given what I thought of Tomlin before the year.


I still wonder about how much he lifts his team schematically against the tougher competition. His teams always seem out classes by NE, something his division rival is not afflicted with.

38 I think people very often…

I think people very often wrongly assume that anybody can coach talented rosters to 10 or 12 wins a year. This just in: coaching Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown is somewhat dissimilar from coaching Drew Brees and Michael Thomas.

40 To be fair, I saw Jim…

To be fair, I saw Jim Caldwell coach a team that could have gone undefeated in the regular season if it wanted to. I also saw him coach a team that nearly went winless. Both teams had most of the same players on it.

58 Its to (kind of) rebut Will…

Its to (kind of) rebut Will's point that not everyone can coach talented teams to 10 + wins. That the same coach could have two extremes shows talent matters a heck of a lot and how much managing Caldwell did is an open question. I don't mean to pick on Caldwell exactly - I think he was a better coach in Detroit than he was in Indy and he does deserve some credit for not messing up a good thing.

4 9 Point Touchdown???

"I know there are no moral victories in the NFL, but at the same time there is no shame into going into Green Bay against a division leader with your backup quarterback and coming within two plays from the 2-yard line of victory. "

Not sure how Carolina was within 2 plays from the 2 yard-line of victory? They were down by 8. Unless they would a way to score a 9 Point Touchdown, they best they could have hoped for with a TD and 2 PT was OT

26 guessing

One of the two plays was the failed 2-point conversion.  The other would be the missed TD at the end.

And then a PAT after the TD.  

28 3 Plays

In reply to by RickD

That Sequence though would be 3 Plays Not 2 since the PAT is a Play

69 I suspect

In reply to by Q

he was referring specifically to the  two plays that actually happened.  

This is a weird nitpick.

122 Nitpick

In reply to by RickD

I don't even think it is a Nitpick since his comment was a combination of confusing and wrong.

It also seems to imply that CAR came close to winning which is kind of a stretch.

If we can change 2 plays then GB was 2 plays from blowing out CAR yesterday if they score a TD on the last play of the 1st Half and if Alexander doesn't drop an almost guaranteed Pick 6 on the Final Drive.

132 In a game that clearly could…

In reply to by Q

In a game that clearly could have gone either way, and came down to the very last play, saying “2 plays” seems quite conservative rather than deserving this weirdly excessive defensiveness. Implying that Carolina came close to winning is the fair implication. 

6 Keep Choppin' Wood

Garrett reverted to vintage Garrett form last night. He had seemed to make progress the past couple of years but last night was so mistake filled from a coaching standpoint you almost can't believe it.

19 I thought the strategy of…

I thought the strategy of running there made sense, the Vikings just made some good plays. Dallas was trying to kill the clock so if they scored they didn't leave too much time on the clock. It wasn't like Dallas was having much luck stopping the Vikings. If they make the 4th down pass, the strategy would have worked perfectly. 

Personally thought Zimmer was screwing up not calling timeouts so that if Dall scored they would have plenty of clock to tie or win the game. 




87 " Personally thought Zimmer…

" Personally thought Zimmer was screwing up not calling timeouts so that if Dall scored they would have plenty of clock to tie or win the game.  "

On the other hand, because Minnesota only called one timeout, Dallas had almost no time at the end to mount a drive. I bet they would've used a timeout either on fourth down (which is what they did) or when Dallas got a first down on that series.

120 Zimmer's timeout use worked…

Zimmer's timeout use worked in his favour because the Cowboys failed to score with 1:50 to go on a 2nd and 2 at the Vikings 10 yd line. Dallas had a 61% win probability at that point (according to Football Reference calculator) so it made sense to save time by calling timeouts as they were more likely to score than not. 


21 Garrett is not the OC...

“Dak Prescott could be in the MVP conversation if his team was winning more. Garrett's play calling really held them back tonight.”

Has everyone forgotten that Jason Garrett is no longer calling offensive plays?? It’s the “Wunderkind” Kellen Moore. Not so much of a Wunderkind anymore after this game...

33 When the game is on the line…

When the game is on the line, and the playcalling suddenly reverts to the style of the head coach, one gets a strong suspicion that the teenage OC has been forced from the driver's seat. 

8 "Browns pull off the upset,"…

"Browns pull off the upset,"

Well, actually, by both DVOA and by Vegas odds...

Although yes, I see what you're saying.

Overcame some disastrous playcalling!

66 The Bills are not a good a…

The Bills are not a good a team. They are on net a decent team, DVOA be damned. They are basically the same team as last year with a better offense(an incredibly low bar) and a good defense(worse than it was a year ago). The difference is schedule and wins in close games. 


I didn't see Josh Allen play, but low scoring affairs are the norm in Buffalo. Not only that, it seems a lot of Allen's juice on offense is coming from his rushing value. He's not Lamar Jackson nor Wilson and I doubt he has the build to run that kind of style anyways. I mentioned below that Goff's play this season is downright worrisome. Well, Allen's play has to be nightmarish for Bill's fans, to the point that if they miss the playoffs(or even if they make it), they need to seriously consider cutting bait. 

126 Wilson takes less hits than…

Wilson takes less hits than Allen and probably Jackson (I haven't watched full games of the Ravens, so I'm not completely sure).  That said, Allen is much bigger than either of them: 6 ft 5, 237pounds.  I doubt he can take the pounding on a regular basis, but he is a big guy.  I still think Buffalo is better with Matt Barkley starting, but what do I know.  I just have no trust in the Potato Cannon.

9 "Three plays later, Jared…

"Three plays later, Jared Goff is sacked, and flings the ball downfield as it's happening. The refs rule that his arm was not going forward -- empty hand, so it's a loose ball,"

That call was giant amounts of horse crap. Basically the defender hit his arm so it basically stopped, and the ball kept going forward, like someone without a seatbelt. Except that only happens if the arm and ball were already moving forward together, which means it was a forward pass.

I must've watched that play a hundred times, and I have no idea how it was called that, and even less how it was reviewed and not overturned.

13 That is LITERALLY what I…

That is LITERALLY what I said right afterwards, and I mean word-for-word.

You might be able to claim that it was the wrist that moved, making the ball go forward, but it's still a forward pass if you flip it with your wrist.

The "empty hand" thing is supposed to cover cases where a QB gets hit from behind and because of *that* hit, the arm and the ball move forward, but the ball's not under control. That's not remotely what happened here.

14 In contrast, the ref in the…

In contrast, the ref in the Packers game was a much better student of physics. He was/is an obvious proponent of String Theory, and was watching a Packers/Panthers matchup in a parallel universe, wherein Gerald McCoy pushed Rodgers to the ground in the end zone, then climbed up on the cross bar of the goal post, and lept off to perform a Jimmy Superfly Snuka flying suplex on the face Rodgers! Then the heel McCoy grabbed a metal folding chair and whacked the crowd favorite! 

I'm hoping to get the Red Zone channel from that universe; it sounds entertaining!

20 That's the body weight thing…

That's the body weight thing again. It sucks, but the common thread of "there was nothing he could do!" is a bit much: McCoy needs to adjust his aiming point to the side or down a bit or learn to push with one arm to roll himself to the side when he hits the ground. Problem is that with a guy like Rodgers his instinct is to wrap, and that's just too close to a penalty now.

I hate those calls too, because it's more about appearance than risk.

24 It's an absurd ask of a…

It's an absurd ask of a defensive lineman, who is often off balance himself, especially, as you note, against a qb with mobility. The game has injury risks. They just need to accept it, in regards to this sort of contact.

27 but...

McCoy did exactly what he was supposed to do: not put his entire weight on the QB.

But because the QB is Aaron Rodgers and the game was in Green Bay, somebody threw a flag.  (My initial thought the flag was for grounding and the Panthers had gotten a safety.)

Really one of the worst "Roughing the QB" calls I've seen.  Guess the refs are trying to make up for the calls against Clay Matthews?  

So much bad officiating these days.  

Anybody else see how the Giants got two extra yards after the tackle?

So embarrassing.  2/3 of the yardage gained on that play was Galloday simply placing the ball two yards upfield.  


32 That was awesome. I wonder…

In reply to by RickD

That Golladay spot was awesome. I wonder how often players try that when the refs are trying to be quick. Seems like a good strategy - though it could backfire a bit if the ref realizes and has the teams shuffle back to the correct spot wasting a few more seconds.

42 Rodgers/roughing penalties

In reply to by RickD

Does GB receive a higher than league average amount of roughing the QB calls? I see this type of comment made online regularly, but have not seen any data to support the contention. And by observation Rodgers takes plenty of hits not called.


Just asking. 

60 The play that always annoyed…

The play that always annoyed me is when a mobile QB does a read-option jog towards the sideline: if the nearest defender slows down to avoid a hit, the QB sprints past him. If he doesn't, the QB he steps out of bounds at the very last second and (usually) draws a flag. Vick was the most notorious practitioner of that.

82 Rougher the passer by QB

Ten years of data '09-'19.  Sack data also. 

There seems a lot of takeaways one could make from the data (X really hangs in there to get it downfield! Y gets all/none of the calls!, etc), but in terms of raw numbers, roughing penalties per 100 passes, some examples:

Fitzpatrick 1.1; Cam .71; Wilson .71; Rodgers .53; Stafford .50; Luck .47; Dalton .43; Brees .43; Brady .40; Big Ben .39; Flacco .37; Rivers .32; Eli .28; PM .13.


90 So a general positive…

So a general positive correlation between roughing penalty rates and sack rates, as expected. Though it might be more useful to compare roughing penalty rates and QB hit rates.

110 Thank you!

Given the names involved I think the Rivers, Eli and Peyton numbers are most reflective of guys who are going to get the ball out and not take the sack which reduces the chance of having a roughing scenario.


Newton, Wilson and Rodgers are all guys who want to extend plays and thus create situations where a roughing call is more likely.


Brees, Brady, Ben and Flacco are pocket guys who have had better lines more often than not so that likely reduces chances of a roughing scenario. Ben is the outlier here in that he also likes to extend plays so will work to shed tacklers while in the pocket.


Lots of assumptions in the above obviously.  But I think this does to some extent undermine the contention that Rodgers gets preferential treatment.  And I certainly think Cam 'earns' his penalties.  That guy has been clobbered so many times without a flag there is no way I am going to suggest he has been 'coddled' by the refs.  

51 "McCoy did exactly what he…

In reply to by RickD

"McCoy did exactly what he was supposed to do: not put his entire weight on the QB."

You've got to sell it to the refs. They're literally only going by appearances (to be fair, it's happening really fast) so you really need to sell it. McCoy actually was twisting his body, but then at the ground he stopped and laid down on top of Rodgers. Needed to be rolling off of him.

It's a crap rule and McCoy was definitely going by the spirit of it, but you've got to make it look good, sigh.

76 Is the rule that a tackler…

Is the rule that a tackler must go out of his way to not force the QB into the ground?  Or is it that a tackler cannot go out of their way *to* force the QB into the ground?  You are correct if it's the former, but not if it's the latter.  Each has a different null and a different burden.

140 It's the former. The burden…

It's the former. The burden's on the defensive player to avoid landing on the quarterback.

"Instead, the defensive player must strive to wrap up the passer with the defensive player’s arms and not land on the passer with all or most of his body weight."

43 That OPI

is the type that a coach would typically challenge, but MLF specifically said post game he is aware that the league doesn't overturn interference penalties so he didn't bother.


I presume he was stating what among coaches is now common knowledge?  If so what is the point of having PI reviewable?  To make the Saints feel better?  That's it??

135 It's not uncommon in sports,…

In reply to by big10freak

It's not uncommon in sports, including the NFL, to avoid second-guessing referees in judgement calls. That seems to be the road taken with this rule: If the refs see the situation, then it's not overturned even if the judgement was wrong. However, if they completely miss something, I expect the challenge to be successful every time.

There's a reason the NFL avoided judgement calls being subject to replay for years. 

75 The ruling on the field is a fumble recovered by the defense, TD

I know the refs need to let these plays play out, but this play with Goff that you reference happens almost every week.  I don't understand why the refs cant let the play finish and then call an incomplete.  To overturn this poor decision you need conclusive evidence. It was close and since the ruling on the field was a TD it stood.  However, Goff's arm was moving forward, thus, the pass was incomplete.  Unlike you Pat who watched the play 100 times, for every 100 people that watched the play once, there was one that thought it was a fumble (not me!).  Thus, it is inconclusive.  Absurd!  The same play happened in Dallas last night and was overturned because it was conclusive that it was a forward pass.  In reading this column it also happened in Green Bay.

96 "I don't understand why the…

"I don't understand why the refs cant let the play finish and then call an incomplete."

They do. They'll let the play finish out, then huddle and talk among themselves to see what the ruling should be, and then they announce it. So sometimes you'll have them huddle, and then hear "the ruling on the field is an incomplete pass." That's not what happened here. They huddled, and ruled that it was a fumble, which then got reviewed and upheld.

This wasn't a case of "it wasn't conclusive" - you had a clear, visible shot of what happened. I think the only answer is that by the specific wording of the rules, it was a fumble, even though by the intent or spirit of the rules it was clearly a forward pass.

The intent of the rule is that you don't want to count it as a pass if the ball moves forward because a defender hits the quarterback from behind while his arm's back, shoving both him and the ball forward. Because obviously the quarterback didn't intend to throw the ball forward there - it's just basic physics that if you're holding a ball, and someone hits you from behind, the ball ends up going forward right along with you.

Here Goff gets hit from the front. The ball can't go forward due to the defender. It can only go forward due to him throwing the ball. There are goofy people on Twitter saying "he wasn't holding onto the ball" which is total nonsense - if he wasn't holding onto the ball there's no chance whatsoever it could've gone that far. It would've just dropped down. 

93 The Goff play was too close…

The Goff play was too close to call -- it's possible the ball came loose a millisecond before his arm was going forward and he pushed it forward with an "empty" hand.

I wouldn't have called it a fumble, but I don't think it's a terrible call by any means.

My feeling is that if you watch a play is super-slow motion and still can't tell definitively, then neither team has a right to grouse about it.

Frequently there is no such thing as an objectively correct call -- a play can be both a fumble and an incomplete pass depending on who is observing it, the same way a dress can be black-and-blue and white-and-gold.  It's a perception coin flip, which one team has to lose.

107 "it's possible the ball came…

"it's possible the ball came loose a millisecond before his arm was going forward"

No, it isn't, because Road Runner physics isn't real. Balls don't just hang in midair if they come off his hand, waiting to be pushed. If you push a football in mid-air like that it tumbles really fast. And it didn't.

"Frequently there is no such thing as an objectively correct call"

I don't think the call's the problem, I think it's the rule. It was reviewed and confirmed, which means multiple people looked at it, and it's not like you couldn't tell what was going on. You had a clear, slow motion HD shot of what happened. The wording of the rule probably uses some crap about the arm coming forward and because he got hit in the elbow and threw it mostly with his wrist, it ends up being a fumble or something dumb like that.

114 "No, it isn't, because Road…

"No, it isn't, because Road Runner physics isn't real. Balls don't just hang in midair if they come off his hand, waiting to be pushed. If you push a football in mid-air like that it tumbles really fast."

This isn't a physics issue.  You aren't running a controlled experiment with precise measuring equipment.  You are watching a replay and trying to eyeball it and seeing something slightly different than others because that's how human perception works.

"and it's not like you couldn't tell what was going on"

You couldn't!  That's the whole point.  The ball kinda rolls off Goff's fingers and goes forward.  Did the ball come loose before this?  Did it come loose before his arm starts going forward at all?  I don't know for sure.  I don't think anybody knows for sure.  I don't think it's even possible to know for sure.  It's just too close.

One team has to come out on the wrong of end of these types of calls.  In this case it was the Rams.


139 I'm not trying to eyeball…

I'm not trying to eyeball anything. The ball never dips or rotates while his hand's touching it. That's not disputable, it's straight in the video, from every angle. You can measure it if you want to - it's really handy that the ball's not symmetric and has laces. Then, when it releases, it comes out basically straight, with very little rotation. The only way that can happen is if it's thrown from his wrist. If you wanted to, you could happily perform controlled experiments to prove that to yourself. I don't need to, because I do understand physics. It's really simple - you can't swat at a football in midair and get it to go forward without tumbling.

I mean, go try it. Hold something irregular in your hand, lose your grip on it and shove forward. It'll tumble like crazy.

"The ball kinda rolls off Goff's fingers and goes forward.  Did the ball come loose before this?  Did it come loose before his arm starts going forward at all?  I don't know for sure.  I don't think anybody knows for sure."

Let me be clear here:

1) The ball never came loose before Goff threw it. It couldn't have, because the ball came out with basically no tumble, and Goff wasn't hit from behind so the only way that ball goes forward is if it's fully supported and stable in his hand, his hand goes forward, and he releases it. There are plenty of looks at this on Twitter, YouTube - go take a look. The ball never moves in a way to indicate that it's not fully controlled, and because of the way that he gets hit, it would have to.

2) But the refs only look at a few key things on a review and live, so they didn't look at it like this. They saw his arm stop and the ball pop out going forward, and almost certainly by the officiating points they have, that's a fumble, even though from a physical perspective, that's utter nonsense.

To be clear, Dean Blandino said on Twitter "the (still from the) angle from behind looks like a fumble, the (still from the) angle from the front looks like a pass" and when the two angles conflict, you let the call on the field stand. The problem here is just looking at a still shot - in motion, neither of them look like a fumble because the motion of the ball is completely controlled the entire way.

This isn't a close call, it's just a screwup in the way that the officials are looking at the play and the officiating points for this type of play. Officials aren't lawyers in a room debating things or scientists testing different ideas. They've got a fixed list of things that they look at for each play, and the list of things they look at for plays like this are wrong.


141 "I'm not trying to eyeball…

"I'm not trying to eyeball anything."

That is literally what you and I and everybody watching a replay is doing -- we are making judgments about what happened using only our eyes.  If you're not willing to acknowledge this, then we might as well drop this thread and both just move on with our lives.

143 "we are making judgments…

"we are making judgments about what happened using only our eyes"

No, I'm not. I'm making judgments based on math and estimation. I don't need to be specific because I know the rough order-of-magnitude just from experience.

But I can be more specific. It's a video, and I can measure the tumble of the ball as it comes off of his hand. I can measure angles, I know the frame timing is ~30 frames/sec, and I've got nice convenient markers for distance. It's tumbling less than 20 degrees/sec after it comes off of his hand, and moving forward at around 15-20 mph. The ball was moving forward with Goff's arm for ~1/5 sec, which means a force of around 30-35 N. In order for this to have caused less than 20 degrees/sec in rotation with 30-35 N against it for 1/5 sec, the force would've had to have been aligned to less than 3 degrees with the axis of rotation (aligned force = no torque), however there is at least a 30-45 degree angle difference between the long axis of the football and its direction of motion.

Note that all of these are conservative measures because I'm ignoring the vertical motion of the ball which just increases the force (and torque), and I was really generous assuming the camera angle. Also note that all of those measures (imparted force, speed, time-to-throw) are all consistent with biomechanical measurements of throwing a football. Obviously these numbers aren't exact and there's room for error on all of them, but the motion of the football is so completely inconsistent with having been set into motion without having its rotation controlled that it totally doesn't matter.

It's also important to note that it doesn't matter if Goff loses control during the throw - because that's still a forward pass. The only way it's not a forward pass is if he didn't have control of the ball and struck the (loose) ball to drive it forward, and it's impossible for that to be true based on the motion of the ball.

Edit: if you want a counterexample, look at from the preseason. Here the ball's rotating 900 deg/s as it comes off of Haskins's hand, which is completely consistent with Haskins not having control of the ball as the arm is moving forward - as in, he didn't have control of the ball (so it was loose in his hands), he flings the ball forward and that causes the rotation.

10 A question to anybody who…

A question to anybody who has seen all of K.C.'s games; are they just the variety of mediocre defense that can't play a lick on the road, while being decent at home, or are they just generally mediocre anywhere?

79 Generally mediocre...

Chiefs fan - I thought they'd improved, but they can't finish a game without big plays in the 4th quarter. At first, I thought it was because the offense kept scoring so fast that they ended up back on the field too much, but that had about 40 minutes of possession time yesterday. Just so damn puzzling that with some talented players they can't get this sorted out to be better consistently. 

15 Dalvin Cook's 100 yards or not

During the Vikings minute drive where they punted from midfield late, Al and Cris mentioned that Dalvin Cook now had 100 yards (on 23 carries).

Then, after Dallas turned it over on downs, on first down the Vikings pitched it to him for a near disaster as he didn't secure the pitch and then recovered for a loss of 3, taking him down to 98 yards. On 2nd down he gained 3 to get it back to 101. Then, just looking to eat some more clock and timeouts, the last run he lost 4 while eating 6 more seconds, taking him back down to 97 (on 26 carries).

Later in the night, ESPN had a ticker crawl which listed him as having 25 carries for 100 yards. On #fo discord we speculated that maybe the pitch was called a fumble on Cousins, which would then have been a recovery for 0 yards. lists him at 97, and the play by play still shows him with a run for -3 on that first down.

There is DVOA at stake here, who the fumble is attributed to makes an impact. That does lead me to wonder though, we take things like whose fault it was into account on passes right? So should we on fumbles? could we have a case where a fumble is split between a QB and RB when it is the exchange? Is Mason Rudolph dinged for a fumble when the snap goes over his head?

128 " Is Mason Rudolph dinged…

" Is Mason Rudolph dinged for a fumble when the snap goes over his head? "

No, since that play went down as an aborted snap in the play-by-play. I wonder if it's considered a negative play for Pittsburgh's overall offense, but not rushing or passing offense.

Still, I think fumbles are something that DVOA has issues with, because the play-by-play often doesn't record fumbles when the fumbling player recovers it himself immediately after.

18 If Jared Freakin' Goff…

If Jared Freakin' Goff received 110 million in guarantees, what the hell is Prescott worth? 120 million?

22 I heard some radio guy after…

I heard some radio guy after the game saying Dallas has the best talent in football but they have a horrible coach and an average QB. How on earth someone comes to that conclusion is mind boggling. They guy is about as accurate as any QB, he has a good pocket presence, he can run - like what more do you want in a QB?



25 There is something about the…

There is something about the Cowboys that attracts lunatic opinion mongering. I remember when Romo was holding that team's head above water, before they started drafting good o-linemen, and so many were saying the Cowboys roster was loaded with talent. It was ridiculous.

This Cowboys group is pretty talented, especially on offense, and Prescott is central to it. They are a lot less talented on defense, however, and Garrett is not good. I don't think the owner will allow the team to be well-coached.



36 Dak is up and down as a qb…

Dak is up and down as a qb. Yesterday he was sublime, but against GB he was awful for nearly 3 quarters. And pre Cooper the whole offense was a stagnant mess.


I like Dak alot as a QB and he reminds me a lot of Russell Wilson.

54 I think people under…

I think people under estimate just how huge a top flight receiver is to an offence. I remember seeing a stat in which QBs who played with Moss in their career averaged something like 1 net yard per attempt more with him than without him. 

57 Moss was an extreme example…

Moss was an extreme example. And yes, I agree Cooper changes everything, but the question at hand is trying to assess Dak in vacuum(something that's pretty damn hard to do). One hallmark of the really really great qbs is their ability to be great even when they are missing a player of Cooper's caliber. 

Assessing Dak's qb hierarchy is hard. I personally have him somewhere in the back of the top 10.

61 Wilson certainly did that. I…

Wilson certainly did that. I think Wilson has had a pretty interesting career arc so far. I know people thought he was amazing as a rookie, but he really grew as a player over that period of time. Imagine if he didn't have the defenses he started with. I could see some other coach throwing him into a bad situation, not liking his style immediately and relegating him to permanent bench duty. Timing and location isn't just for real estate.

63 I can see most coaches…

I can see most coaches keeping him on the bench because they just paid a lot of freaking money for Matt Flynn (remember him?), and there's no way they're going to start a rookie 3rd rounder.

125 This might be a "what-if"…

This might be a "what-if" that five people on earth care about, but I wonder what might have happened if Flynn didn't develop elbow tendonitis in his one training camp in Seattle. It didn't get reported until after the fact, but that was apparently a pretty big factor in Wilson beating him out. Maybe Russ ultimately would have proved irrepressible, (he's Russell Wilson, after all), but he did start out pretty slow in his first few games. I thought Flynn was a decent QB and can't help but wonder if he could have played well enough with a rising legion of boom to hold onto that job for awhile.

105 Dak's weakness, which goes…

Dak's weakness, which goes back to college, is ball placement, not accuracy.  He has problems throwing guys open.  If he has a receiver like Cooper that can get open, he's great.  If he doesn't, or if teams don't have to respect the run (that time Elliott was injured), he can have problems.  With all that said, he's still a top ten quarterback.  

The problem isn't Dak, it's who gets paid in Dallas.  That they wanted to trade for Jamal Adams when he's already making a ton on his rookie deal for a safety tells me the Cowboys don't know what they're doing with the cap.

108 Paying Zeke was an enormous…

Paying Zeke was an enormous blunder on so many levels. Firstly, you pay and draft offensive linemen precisely because they can make average rushes look better. 


I feel bad for today's running back, but the fact remains running the ball as an offensive approach is at its lowest point. Unless you are committing yourself to Baltimore style offense, study after study shows the enormous disparity, no matter what stat you like(dvoa, anya, etc etc). Yes there's complicating factors so its not exactly open and shut, but it sure feels that way. In addition, running back ages horribly and so you can't even expect to get great play from the life of the contract. In brutal terms, the best bet is to be Pittsburgh and keep franchising till it becomes too prohibitive to continue and then move on.


The rams are living through this right now. 

136 Meant to reply to this…

Meant to reply to this yesterday. The mistake the Rams and Cowboys made was not grasping that Elliot and Gurley lack the element that can make a running back as valuable as a great player in the passing game, which is being a legitimate threat to score everytime he takes a handoff, anywhere on the field, along with being a tough runner after contact. Absent that td threat on every handoff, the opposing defense just isn't forced to make enough compromises, to make a huge contract worthwhile. To put it in terms from 25 years ago, I'd be willing to pay Barry Sanders, but I'd pass on Emmitt Smith.

144 Looking over both careers in…

Looking over both careers in pfr, what I am struck by how many carries these rbs took per year and yet their season totals were mostly stable during their primes. 


Looking at Zeke and Gurley, they average nearly 100 carries less and yet have far more volatility in their rush totals.


Something has definitely changed in 20 years. Either the dlinemen are hitting much harder in today's nfl or running backs are much weaker, or ( my personal belief) - offensive linemen are worse at run blocking in today's nfl. 

145 Yes, I also think run…

Yes, I also think run blocking has siginificantly degraded. Huge swaths of the college game avoid run blocking, so lots of guys never really start working on it until they are 22 or 23, and restrictions on practice time in the NFL really inhibits unit cohesion.

It might be intetesting to get some commentary from Ben Muth on whether there is much difference, in terms of speed of unit development, in zone blocking schemes vs. man blocking schemes.

106 When things aren't going…

When things aren't going well, his decision making and accuracy go haywire. But I remember watching the cowboys a year ago without Cooper. They tried to run, it didn't work and that put Dak in terrible down and distances. They adjusted by going more pass heavy, but he didn't show enough down to down accuracy to move the chains and since they had no special talent on the outside, it was a lot of wide throws.

He's basically like poor man's Aaron Rodgers when things are going poorly. 

127 Dak had a great rookie year…

Dak had a great rookie year in an almost perfect situation that any QB should be able to do very well in. Then he was mediocre the next two years. I think he was 22nd in DVOA last season. Now he's playing well this year but it's only been 9 games.

29 A nul week for Miami

They entered the week number 4 in the draft and left number 4 in the draft. If they Tank the Giants game and the Redskins find a second win, they should be all right. (This was the post game talk. Note your team is really bad when your upset win sparks sports talk of if you're blowing your draft chances). Miami continues to use Ballage with 20 attempts in the game. Ballage is averaging 2.1 ypc. Which is really not good. He's currently Miami's leading rusher in attempts. The question for the remainder of the season is if he can go below 2 YPC? I'm not sure that's ever been done by a featured back.

88 I don't know if Miami went…

I don't know if Miami went in thinking Tua was the guy they wanted. And now that there seem to be quite a number of really good prospects, they are ok with a few wins.

But, I do believe once they made the Tunsil and Fitzpatrick trade, the front office absolutely was set on tanking and that was way before the emergence of all of these qbs. That means these wins are counterproductive and from a championship equity point of view, really bad. 

I think Cincinnati is in line for the worst record in football. The skins are a hot mess and might finish 2nd and even the Giants are pretty bad and they've already exhausted the easy part of their schedule. There is decent chance that for all of Miami's intentions, they end up with the 5th pick in the draft. Which is insane!

31 Two KC/TEN questions... 1)…

Two KC/TEN questions...
1) Was there any reason (besides "because Andy Reid") for KC to take a timeout before TEN's 2pt attempt at the end of the game?
2) Was the TEN squib really the right thing to do there? If KC had no TOs I'd agree with it. But when KC had 1 or 2 TOs left? Not so sure.

37 1) it was somewhat…

1) it was somewhat defensible because a stop there wins the game and if a timeout raises your chance of doing so by a decent amount, then sure


2) it was dumb and indefensible for the reasons you mentioned.

46 But a stop on the 2pt does…

But a stop on the 2pt does NOT win the game. The TD put TEN up by 1. The 2-pointer would put them up by 3 so a FG could only tie, but even without the 2, KC was still trailing and had to score something to win.

112 1) Here's the defense:…

1) Here's the defense: Stopping the 2-point conversion is important (a touchdown by KC is extremely unlikely, so the 2-point conversion could mean the difference between a win and OT), and with only 23 seconds left there's a decent chance you won't have time to take all three timeouts anyway (in fact, that was the case).

2) If Succop can kick it for a touchback with regularity, I prefer that to the squib kick.

39 Man KCs special teams was…

Man KCs special teams was the stuff from old Chargers nightmares. Absolutely brutal and cost them the game twice. At this point, Mahomes should have 0 faith in any unit but his offense.

Also, Im strangely satisfied that the chiefs defense is still not good despite scapegoating Bob Sutton for last year's meltdown vs NE. Historically, Bob Sutton has done well as a coordinator. Who knew once the talent declined, so too do the rankings.

41 Dallas Decisions

I'd love to know what the GWC impact of the Cowboys settling for that field goal in the fourth quarter was, but it became extra interesting to me when they went for it on fourth down later in the quarter down 4. With three timeouts left, would it have made sense to kick the field goal there knowing you need a stop anyway, and hoping to get back into field goal range?

44 Ravens have three Heisman…

Ravens have three Heisman winners on their roster- have there been any other teams historically that have as many or more winners?

67 There was a graphic during…

There was a graphic during the Ravens game. The Raiders had a few more teams in the early 90's featuring Brown, Marcus Allen, and Bo Jackson. There may have been more, but that's all I remember. 

45 Ryan Tannehill looked like…

Ryan Tannehill looked like an honest to God really good QB yesterday. Now some of that is from a weirdo Chiefs defense, but still. I think it's a pretty serious indictment of Mariota as a QB and probably a sign that he's headed for career backup. The whole AFC South is like a watered down version of the NFC West. Everyone's floor is solid, but 3 out of the four have serious hard capped ceilings. Watson provides hope for a miracle, but the Texans aren't that good once you peel past 2 or 3 players. Watts loss is huge.

68 Tannehill was generally good with a running game

He is easy to sack. Eventually his sack rate (which hasn't changes since Miami) will kill his chances. His interception rate is also in line with his Miami days. Tannehill has a good arm, and good legs for surprise runs. His negatives are the sacks he takes and the resulting fumbles and INT.  His negatives have kept him in the bottom tier of starters since joining the NFL.  His traditional stats have always looked good, though.

138 The sacks he took in Miami…

The sacks he took in Miami were heavily skewed by hits from untouched defenders and desperation plays while down by a ton. Haven't seen any of his play in Tennessee, so I no idea how the sacks have looked there.

JJ Cooper did some work for Football Outsiders some years ago on "quick sacks" / "short sacks" vs "long sacks". There was an attempt elsewhere to update the stats, but it fizzled. Until it finally died (during Tannehill's third year or so), the stat showed that Tannehill had a very low "long" sack rate and a very high "short" sack rate.

Although I have absolutely no numbers to back it up, I would expect the fumble rate to be significantly higher from sacks where the defenders go through basically untouched.

50 Reallly surprised at the number of online fans

who think the backup Carolina guy makes Newton expendable.

It's early, but I saw a guy who at the least hint of pressure panicked and had 2-4 passes that by a more competent secondary would have been intercepted.

GB's defense is not good. That it make Allen look pretty good should be alarming for the Packer fan base and one would hope GB management

92 Allen nor Newton the answer

I agree big10freak that Allen is not the answer in Carolina.  However, Carolina has lost 8 straight games in which Newton was the QB.  I challenge you or any one reading this, to name any QB that is good or great, that has 8 straight losses in the Super Bowl era and did not do it in his rookie year.  You have over 50 years from which to choose.  Bottom line, Cam Newton is no longer a good QB in my opinion.

115 8 straight losses, make it 9

That is amazing.  Rivers certainly qualifies as a good QB.  And then I see the 2017 Chargers finish 9-3 to go 9-7 and not make the playoffs due to losing a tiebreaker.  

62 Jared Goff was bad yesterday…

Jared Goff was very bad yesterday. I watched him very carefully and his decision making and accuracy were both horrendous. The blocking was not good either, but that's now become a de facto excuse. Bad blocking makes  every qb  look worse, but at some point, it cannot wash away awful qb play. 

This has been a nightmare season for the Rams but particularly their qb and that leaves us in a very weird spot when it comes to assessing how good he is/ can be. I have to admit, I am a bit biased in Goff's favor in a lot of ways. He looks the part, throws a pretty ball and certainly displays the kind of traits you want in a top flight qb. But then games like yesterday happen(which are becoming all too common) and you just stop and wonder what it all means. T

he player Goff is starting to remind me of is Eli Manning. I don't know if thats a good or bad thing.


As an aside, that punter interception had me laughing for a good 5 minutes. 

65 Hard to be an effective QB

when your pocket is collapsing as you backpedal. The Steelers have a good rush against a standard o-line, and the Rams were missing multiple starters. 


I know Packer fans don't want to hear about it any further but TJ Watt is really, really good. Like REALLY good.


But as a Badger fan I am immediately dismissed as a homer so of course the Kevin King pick remains the better decision.  To quote the X-files, sure, fine, whatever

146 The TJ Watt dialogue is…

The TJ Watt dialogue is annoying because King is still a good player, albeit an oft-injured one. Watt would have been a better pick, sure, but it's not like they picked a total bust either. 

97 "As an aside, that punter…

"As an aside, that punter interception had me laughing for a good 5 minutes."

As a Seahawks fan who's seen Fisher repeatedly victimize Seattle's special teams in the past with trick plays, that play (and the fake fake-punt from earlier) felt like McVay understood the concept of a trick play but decided to execute it in the worst way possible. Yes, let's show a fake punt look to the opponent to make them aware that you might try it, and come up with a good counter to it later in the game, without gaining any information for yourself.

And then Hekker literally throws it into Edmunds' hands with no Rams nearby.

64 Sounders!

Thanks, Vince, for getting a Sounders shoutout in Audibles. What a game!

73 I've been watching a lot of…

In reply to by LyleNM

I've been watching a lot of European soccer this year, and I was disappointed by the level of play in the MLS cup. I felt like I was watching 3rd division soccer :( 

117 But it's still fun.I liken…

In reply to by DGL

But it's still fun.

I liken it to college football.  Not the top of the line product on the field, but the fan involvement and rivalries make MLS a very enjoyable fan experience nevertheless. 

119 True...

I didn't mean to imply that the quality of play was spectacular but that it was a tense, close game until late.  However, don't also delude yourself into thinking that championship games mean championship level play, either. The UCL Final between Liverpool and Spurs was equally dreadful (which probably makes it worse because you should have been expecting more).

70 Barkley

Vince, your comment about D. Jones' pocket presence is a legitimate one--it's probably the biggest concern about him going forward. But on the play in question, he has a blocker (Barkley) facing up against Adams, but Barkley just got absolutely blown up about five feet from Jones, leaving him little time to react. I bring this up mostly to point out that Barkley is clearly hurt. He can't plant well enough to pass protect; he's gotten blown up like that a bunch of times since coming back from injury. He also made a total of one man miss (on ~15 total touches) yesterday. Pre-injury, the rare occurrences when he wouldn't make someone miss (i.e. the first guy at the scene would bring him down by himself) were always cause for comment among us Giants fans watching. It was really obvious yesterday that he's a liability at present. He needs to sit.

72 I didn’t get to watch the Bears game yesterday...

And I only caught the first half on the radio, so I completely missed the part of the game where the Bears sort of resembled a functioning offense, of in reading the drive stats right. But that win would feel like a meaningless damaging of draft position, if only the Bears possessed a first round pick next year.

When you nearly get shut out in the first half against the Lions defense, and you eke out a 7 point win at home against a sub-.500 team that had to switch to their backup QB at the last second, your offense is still broken, your 2nd overall pick QB is still a bust, and your head coach is still Marc Trestman 2.0.

134 Nagy is a bigger problem than Mitch

At this point, I’d wager that Mitch is more likely to have a late career renaissance than Nagy is of having a 0.500 career win percentage.  

Watch the Lions OFF in the 1H.  Exactly what you should be doing with a young QB.  Rollouts, half field reads, balanced running attack, encouraging the fast QB to tuck and run when available.   

All things that Nagy should have been doing for the last 18 games rather than rigidly sticking to his horizontal OFF.  

And I’m not even getting into the poor in game mngt, short yardage, RZ, use of TOs, lack of adjustments, etc.  

74 I'm pretty sure that David…

I'm pretty sure that David Newton, the ESPN reporter for the NFC South, is the one behind the entire get rid of Cam Newton thing. He also keeps insinuating that the Panthers would be better off firing Rivera.
I have a better idea. ESPN should make David Newton the Patriots reporter. I would love to see him pull these shenanigans with Bill Belichick. I would pay per view those press conferences.

78 Been there, done that.  Most…

Been there, done that.  Most NE reporters have the odd conception that the best way to drum up ratings is to be antagonistic toward the most successful team the area has seen since the 60's Celtics.  It's such a prevailing approach that we regularly see media members transition over their careers from thoughtful analyst to belligerent hack.  Sadly, it seems to be a viable career development track, but it's still frustrating for anyone interested in intelligent discussion.  

86 Exhibit A

Exhibit A - Press Conference following Sept 29, 2014 Loss 41-14 @ KC. "Do you think it's time for a change at QB?"

It's unfair to tar all sports media with the same brush - there are a lot of them and in any large group of people there are bound to be representatives of the stupid, the ill-judged, and the trolling - but the sports media is pretty bad in this regard everywhere. NE is no exception.

109 Some of this goes to access…

In reply to by sbond101

Some of this goes to access.  Belichick often gives off the vibe of Sergeant Dignam from the Departed: reporters "are like mushrooms, feed them ------ and keep . them in the dark".  A reporter isn't going to get better access by being nice, so there's no point in it.  In New York, the media is defending Adam Gase from the fans, griping that the banner the fans paid for was too much, and that the Jets shouldn't give up on him.  The reason they're defending him is to keep access; they've talked to Chris Johnson and realize Gase isn't getting canned, so they're playing nice to keep sources within the organization.  You can figure out who Manish Mehta's sources are by who he disses, and who he doesn't.  Gase doesn't like him, so he's the only NY media guy to defend the fans buying that banner.

83 Again, getting rid of Newton…

Again, getting rid of Newton is not some ridiculous, dark part of the internet wild crackpot idea. I'm not saying they should do it, but there's enough there to warrant a serious consideration. The facts:

1) Newton was already coming off an injury mired season and now may need surgery. Even if he's 100 percent healthy, there's no guarantee he will be continue to be healthy throughout next year and beyond

2) Newton's style of quarterbacking is much more prone to injury. Translation - he takes a ton of hits, has a history of taking a ton of hits, and has shown no ability to play a style that mitigates that kind of damage

3) Newton carries an enormous cap figure, which the Panthers can get out from. They ought to consider it a blessing in disguise, especially since...

4) Newton himself has not been very good the last few years. Look over his career and you see an above average passer to start, one MVP year that looks like a giant outlier, and 3 seasons beyond which have all been mediocre to bad. 


The argument on the other side is basically this: Allen is at best a good backup and Cam when healthy should be a top 10 qb which is incredibly valuable. But the downside risks are there and they are very real.  

89 Agree

Agree with this,

"3) Newton carries an enormous cap figure, which the Panthers can get out from. They ought to consider it a blessing in disguise, especially since...

4) Newton himself has not been very good the last few years. Look over his career and you see an above average passer to start, one MVP year that looks like a giant outlier, and 3 seasons beyond which have all been mediocre to bad."

These two point bear repeating; It's not that Carolina has some great alternative in Allen, but this period has definitely proven the thesis that Cam does not pull the weight on the team that his cap hit would require in order to make his contract a net positive for Carolina.

102 > Even if he's 100 percent…

> Even if he's 100 percent healthy, there's no guarantee he will be continue to be healthy throughout next year and beyond

Why is this always phrased as a knock on Cam, instead of a true statement about literally every player in all of NFL history? Why does Allen get a Health Pass but not Newton?

104 It stems from the view,…

It stems from the view, which makes sense anecdotally though I haven't seen the numbers, that once a player starts stringing together multiple games and multiple seasons of injuries, they are now injury prone(which we know is a real thing).


This happened with all time tough guys like Favre to men made of glass like Pennington. Dovetailed with the fact that Cam is now the wrong side of 30 makes the statement seem reasonable. 

113 1) Newton does not require…

1) Newton does not require surgery; I'll take Dr. Andrew's opinion on this.
2) Newton is a big, strong, tough quarterback who did not suffer injuries for the first 7 years of his career. The Lisfranc injury is not an injury caused by his running. It was caused by him being sacked. 
3) In what world is $19 million an 'enormous' cap figure? Seriously. What are you talking about? How much do you think quarterbacks get paid in the NFL? Right now, he is scheduled to have the 14nth highest salary in 2020, below people like Nick Foles, Alex Smith, Joe Flacco and Jacoby Brissett. 
4) Newton was very good last year until he hurt his shoulder.

His shoulder is long since healed. His foot will be 100% healed by next training camp.He is only 30 years old. 
There are at least 24 teams that would take him in a heartbeat if he came available.
Don't even get me started on Ron Rivera. He would be unemployed less than a day.

118 "Newton does not require…

"Newton does not require surgery; I'll take Dr. Andrew's opinion on this."


And yet he is reportedly considering it.

"Newton is a big, strong, tough quarterback who did not suffer injuries for the first 7 years of his career. The Lisfranc injury is not an injury caused by his running. It was caused by him being sacked. " 

How it happened is irrelevant. Last year was spent battling injuries. Yes it helps Cam is a big guy, but being big still didn't stop him from getting injured. And now he's 30. Neither you nor I can guarantee he will be healthy all year and forward throughout his career. 

"In what world is $19 million an 'enormous' cap figure? Seriously. What are you talking about? How much do you think quarterbacks get paid in the NFL? Right now, he is scheduled to have the 14nth highest salary in 2020, below people like Nick Foles, Alex Smith, Joe Flacco and Jacoby Brissett."

Enormous becomes a relative term given the level of play and availability. the people you have named above are all overpays and two of them had serious buyers remorse(Washington and Baltimore/Denver). Maybe Cam isn't an albatross, but it sure doesn't look like much value.


"Newton was very good last year until he hurt his shoulder."


Sure, but he's had shoulder issues for seasons. Why would we assume that's going to go away in the future. Furthermore, while half a season worth of games were good, we have a larger body of work showing he's been slightly above average. Its entirely possible those 6 games were an aberration, much like his MVP season. 






121 Yeah, I don't know why…

Yeah, I don't know why everyone is flipping out over Cam's cap hit. Adjusting for cap inflation, he's in line to make slightly more than Mike Glennon did with the Bears in 2017. Kyle Allen will be a restricted free agent after this season, too, so Carolina might have to actually guarantee him some real money to keep him around!

80 It was funny to see Carolina…

It was funny to see Carolina's last attempt thwarted by the offensive lineman, and not in the usual way, either. He didn't whiff on a block or anything, he was just standing right in the way of what would have definitely been a successful lunge by McCaffrey.

And Dalvin Cook is amazing. He is so fun to watch, seems to be able to change speeds at a moment's notice with incredible balance. I wanted him badly out of FL State and nothing he's done since changes my mind.

99 i knew d. cook and e…

i knew d. cook and e. Elliott would be top notch rbs in nfl. I have pretyy  much give n up on all other positoons and just watch draft for fun. i still like predicting which runners will work out well in nfl though

98 I know nobody cares because…

I know nobody cares because it was a game between two terrible teams, but what happened at the end of the game? On the play-by-play it says the Giants had a timeout, but still let the clock tick down to 0:29 seconds before the Jets punted -- is this right? Why didn't they call timeout?

And if they didn't have a timeout left, why'd they punt in the first place? Under either scenario it seems as if they horribly botched the clock and didn't even give themselves a realistic chance for an likely game-tying touchdown.

101 Giants-Jets Endgame

The Giants didn't have a timeout left - they used them all on the previous Jets drive.

An explanation of why the Giants punted, from Pat Shurmur's postgame press conference:

Q: Is there an idea on the fourth and 19, after you already burned all of your timeouts on the Jets drive, that you were kind of committed to that drive and you maybe had to go for it on fourth and 19?

A: Yeah, well certainly we felt like we could get the ball back again. Certainly, we were way behind in the game in terms of the clock management part of it because we would only get the ball with 30 or something seconds. When you punt the ball, they could always fumble it, then they are going to run a few plays where we’ve seen something happen there. We felt like because we were so far backed up and it was such a long fourth down that was the right thing to do.

The really dumb thing the Giants did was to let the clock run down to 2:51 before punting, meaning that the Jets would only have to run one play on the front side of the two-minute warning.  Taking a meaningless half-the-distance penalty to temporarily stop the clock before the punt would have been brilliant.

111 Ah, I see -- in the play-by…

Ah, I see -- in the play-by-play it says the Giants took timeout #2 twice, so it's just an error.

It's not what I would have done, but I guess Shurmur's explanation does make some sense.  The probability of the Jets making some sort of boneheaded mistake is likely not much lower than the Giants converting a 4th-and-19 from their own 3.  (I mean, the punt returner actually returned it and risked a fumble.  It seems like this is the time to do an automatic fair catch or just don't field it at all.)

How would taking a penalty work?  You have your team run up to the line and have somebody false start?  That would be pretty smart, but it seems tough to coordinate quickly.  Going for it, I think, was the best of the bad options.  

124 "I know he was probably told…

"I know he was probably told to do the fair catch on the sidelines, but it sure looked like Tavon Austin had a lane for maybe a touchdown on that punt."

Indeed it did. Why would you instruct a guy like Austin to fair catch? Why not give him a chance to rip off a decent return? Did you really need those seconds to run three straight out routes to Blake Jarwin?

Pretty decent Hail Mary ball from Dak though. Gave somebody a chance to catch it -- unfortunately it wasn't his guy.

142 I had that in mind too.  But…

I had that in mind too.  But even if it's not a touchdown, let's say he runs 10 yards and burns four seconds, that's a plus given the circumstances.  A return seems like a good way to pick up yards relatively quickly, and you always have the chance you take it to the house.