Audibles at the Line: Week 8

Emmanuel Sanders
Emmanuel Sanders
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.

Arizona Cardinals 9 at New Orleans Saints 31

Scott Spratt: After an overthrow 20 yards down the field on his first attempt, Drew Brees has been on target with four straight passes, all completions to Michael Thomas, Latavius Murray, and twice to Josh Hill. Hasn't really showcased the arm strength, but he's looking comfortable and healthy after missing more than a month with a thumb injury.

Move over Sean Payton, because on the Cardinals' second play on offense, Kliff Kingsbury has Kyler Murray hand off to Chase Edmonds, who then pitches it back to Murray for a flea flicker! Murray easily completes the pass for 47 yards to Charles Clay.

Brees peaked at eight straight completions before missing for the second time on a pass. Yeah, he's back.

Haason Reddick hit Brees as he threw a pass. The ball fluttered into the ground, and refs allowed the Cardinals to recover the ball as a fumble and return it as a touchdown. They ruled it that on the field, too, and are reviewing it. It was pretty clearly a pass, so it'll come back. And I find myself vacillating from my original opinion that refs should always let plays go to prevent killing a game-changing play before it can happen. I feel like the refereeing may have swung too far the other way where refs are now afraid to make calls in some situations, which just adds more annoying delays for replays.

Wow, an offensive hold erases an incredible Drew Brees touchdown pass, rolling away from pressure to his left and with time expiring in the first half. Meanwhile, the Saints were out of timeouts, so the penalty by rule ended the half with the Saints only winning 10-6 and not up 17-6. Could prove big since the Cardinals offense has been able to move the ball effectively against the Saints defense but stalled out twice in the red zone.

Patrick Peterson, back from a six-game suspension, intercepts an overthrown pass from Drew Brees. Peterson hasn't exactly limited Michael Thomas today -- Thomas has nine catches for 100 yards -- but the Cardinals defense that was No. 26 in DVOA against the pass entering today has held Brees out of the end zone today, halfway through the third quarter.

After being held to field goals on a pair of first-half red zone possessions that ended in field goals, the Cardinals throw an incompletion on a third-and-1 and then fail to gain a yard while running on fourth-and-1 from their own 30-yard line. The Saints take over with a very short field.

Vince Verhei: The Cardinals, without Patrick Peterson, had some of the NFL's worst cornerbacks. Well, Peterson returned last week, and just got his first interception of the year, as Brees overthrows a deep ball to a double-covered Zach Line. Everything about that play was weird, but everything about this game is weird. Saints are crushing the Cardinals in yards and first downs, but they can't get points, and the lead is still just 10-6 here in the third.

Last week, Chase Edmonds had three touchdown runs of 20-plus yards. This week, the Saints have held him to a total of 7 yards on six carries. The last of those carries was a stuff on fourth-and-1 in Arizona territory. It was a very non-Air Raid play, just a straight handoff and dive up the middle, with no use of Kyler Murray's athleticism. Saints capitalize on the short field with a 15-yard Latavius Murray touchdown catch for a 17-6 lead.

 

Scott Spratt: Chase Edmonds just limped off the field, and with David Johnson still injured and inactive, Zach Zenner is in for the Cardinals. Zenner played for the Saints last week before he was released. I had just assumed the Cardinals signed him for game-planning purposes.

New York Jets 15 at Jacksonville Jaguars 29

Bryan Knowles: Leonard Fournette can't buy a touchdown this year. Coming into today, he had 918 yards from scrimmage, third-most in the league, yet had only found the end zone once. He opens up the game with a 66-yard run up the middle but is tackled just short yet again. The Jags get the touchdown a couple of plays later, but it goes to Keelan Cole. Fournette fantasy owners continue to steam. A missed extra point makes it 6-0 Jags.

Dave Bernreuther: Continuing with Bryan's "Fournette can't buy a touchdown" theme, first-and-goal from about the 1, and Fournette first runs into a wall and has his momentum negated mere inches shy of the line, then takes a poorly blocked pitch and loses yards. A lot of yards. And is removed from the field on third down, just in time for Gardner Beowulf Moustache Minshew the II to scramble right, look foolish, nearly fall down, then sidearm a laser to the pylon to DJ baby Chark Jr for the clinching (ish) score.

That was fun to watch, but even more fun to type.

Seattle Seahawks 27 at Atlanta Falcons 20

Carl Yedor: Center Justin Britt goes down with what looks like a left knee injury on Seattle's opening drive right as they get into scoring territory, and the drive stalls, leading to a Jason Myers field goal. Britt's no superstar, but they'll be replacing him with Joey Hunt, who is still a step down. If Seattle's offense takes a hit here due to the loss of Britt, that could be a big problem moving forward.

Scott Spratt: I recently heard Kevin Clark of The Ringer suggest, half-jokingly but definitely half-seriously, that Russell Wilson has lived through so much pass pressure in the first seven-plus years of his career that he has 10,000-hour mastered it and simply isn't bothered by it at this point. Anyone have an opinion on that? I feel like he has always done well with it, but there are so few passers who have been able to stay healthy and overcome bad pass blocking for so many years.

Carl Yedor: I think part of the 10,000-hour thing is that Wilson invites some (definitely not all) of it with his tendency to hunt for big plays. There have been some years (like the first half of 2015 and all of 2017) where he has been running for his life on pretty much every snap, but that hasn't always been the case. It's a minor miracle that he has never missed a game, especially given all the injuries he battled through in 2016 while still playing.

Aaron Schatz: I believe this offseason in the article on quarterbacks and pass pressure, we looked at the idea that quarterbacks who face more pressure regularly might be better against pressure, especially those quarterbacks such as Wilson and Deshaun Watson who tend to create pressure with their own styles. So that sort of fits your idea about Wilson and how much experience he has facing heavy pressure.

Scott Spratt: Yeah, I think I pitched the idea that maybe the Texans should let their offensive line stay a weakness since Deshaun Watson is mobile and has experienced Wilson-like stellar numbers against pressure. But then Andrew Luck retired and disabused that idea for me and Bill O'Brien, who traded multiple first-round picks for Laremy Tunsil. Wilson may be the only example of this kind of player in this kind of circumstance we ever get.

Carl Yedor: Agreed. And even then, Seattle started investing more in the offensive line after that 2016 season where Wilson was hurt and played through it. In 2017, they spent a second-round pick on a lineman in Ethan Pocic, signed Luke Joeckel to a decent-sized one-year deal (I want to say it was about $8 million even though he was Luke Joeckel), extended Justin Britt, and traded for Duane Brown at midseason. The 2016 offensive line disaster was partly a function of letting left tackle Russell Okung and right guard J.R. Sweezy walk while replacing them with Bradley Sowell and rookie Germain Ifedi, respectively. Sowell actually went down with an injury at one point, which led us to George Fant, starting left tackle. So after 2016, Seattle stopped making a conscious choice to go cheap at offensive line, even though they haven't necessarily been good since then.

Vince Verhei: Let us not forget that Seattle had a bunch of terrible offensive lines under Tom Cable, and as soon as Cable was fired, the line got a lot better. It's not a coincidence. Seahawks lead 3-0 at the end of the first quarter, though the Falcons have a fourth down in scoring range and will likely tie the game on the first play of the second. Biggest story so far is who's out today -- Justin Britt for the Seahawks, Matt Ryan for the Falcons, and most of the fans in Atlanta. This big giant shiny almost-brand-new stadium (I didn't even know the roof opened until today) is virtually empty, and the few people who are there seem to be cheering for the Seahawks. Interesting finish to Seattle's second drive. They had a third-and-1 just shy of the 50, and Chris Carson was stuffed for no gain. However, Hunt was called for a hold, and Atlanta accepted the penalty rather than give Seattle a chance at a fourth-and-1. It worked -- David Moore failed to get two feet down on a sideline catch, and Seattle punted. And I was wrong -- Matt Bryant misses from 51, and it's still 3-0 Seattle. Seahawks snap the ball on second-and-goal and the Falcons defense just ... stands there. Nobody moves. DK Metcalf saunters into the end zone uncovered and Wilson has one of the easiest touchdowns of his career. The Falcons are very, very bad at football, and I don't see how this coaching staff returns in 2020.

Bryan Knowles: Atlanta's fourth-down decisions. On fourth-and-1 from Seattle's 33, they attempt a field goal. On fourth-and-1 from their own 34, they go for it (and convert). I look forward to hearing the explanation for their fourth-down strategy, and whether or not it involves the phrase "dart board."

Scott Spratt: Or maybe it's "draft board," Bryan?

Carl Yedor: I wouldn't be surprised if Dan Quinn's fourth-down decisions might boil down to him internalizing that punting on fourth-and-1 is bad in general but not being able to resist the allure of points.

Vince Verhei: The Falcons follow that fourth-down conversion with an OPI call on Julio Jones, a timeout to avoid delay-of-game on first-and-20, and an interception thrown right to Mychal Kendricks. Seahawks rumble all over the Atlanta defense and Chris Carson adds a short touchdown to make it 17-0. Seattle has gained 117 yards on 17 rushes; Atlanta has gained 12 on seven. Seahawks lead 24-0 at halftime. Wilson and Tyler Lockett have made some amazing throws and catches to beat tight coverage, but the bigger issue for Atlanta is that they keep losing track of the giant Metcalf. He gets way behind Blidi Wreh-Wilson for what should be a long touchdown, but Wilson's pass hangs in the air forever, and Metcalf is unable to get both feet down in the end zone (he may have also lost the ball as he went to the ground). No matter -- a few Lockett catches and Carson runs later, and Metcalf is all alone in the middle of the field on a play-action pass for the score. With no timeouts, Falcons are able to move into position for a Hail Mary, but Jadeveon Clowney chases Schaub down and knocks the ball out for a sack. They have been creative with Clowney today -- edge rushing, pass coverage, and at least once, lining him up at inside linebacker and letting him freelance his blitz route.

Bryan Knowles: About the only thing that has gone wrong for the Seahawks today is that Britt injury; Rapoport is reporting it looks like a season-ending knee injury. Trade deadline is Tuesday, and the Seahawks might suddenly be in the market.

Vince Verhei: Well, the Falcons dominated that third quarter. The defense forced a pair of three-and-outs. The offense had a nine-play, 75-yard touchdown drive (Brian Hill taking a pitch 23 yards for the score) and a 10-play, 34-yard field goal drive, and they just got a first down near midfield on the last play of the quarter. Most of those yards were gained by Julio Jones, plus some very effective screens. Seahawks lead 24-11, but they're definitely fortunate that Matt Bryant missed both of his 50-plus-yard tries in the first half.

Carl Yedor: Fortunate turn of events for the Seahawks as they recover a Devonta Freeman fumble inside the 5 and drive for a field goal. Still technically a two-score game at 27-11, but Atlanta isn't quite out of it yet.

Vince Verhei: The key to Seattle's last field goal drive was that it lasted 11 plays and killed more than six minutes of clock. The Seahawks then went true prevent on Atlanta's next drive, and though the Falcons converted in the red zone with a Schaub touchdown pass to Austin Hooper, it took them 13 plays and nearly three minutes to do it. When the ensuing two-pointer failed, it left them still down by ten points with just over three minutes remaining, and this one's over barring a catastrophe.

Falcons kick a field goal on second down to save time for the touchdown they will also need, so good on them there, but they fail to recover the onside kick and that's that. Seahawks win 27-20.

I hope you all started the Falcons in your fantasy leagues. Schaub finished with more than 450 yards, Julio more than 150, Hooper 60-plus and a touchdown.

New York Giants 26 at Detroit Lions 31

Scott Spratt: After rookie running back Ty Johnson was named the starter and took one carry for no gain, he has ceded five straight carries to former Packers back Tra Carson. I'm not sure if that was a bait-and-switch kind of plan or if Johnson was hurt, but this could have some big fantasy football implications.

Bryan Knowles: The Lions and Giants have traded awful, no-good, very-bad turnovers in the first quarter of this one. On the Lions' first drive, Stafford threw a lollipop into double-coverage, with Janoris Jenkins coming down with one of the easier interceptions of the season; he was practically playing centerfield there. Not to be outdone, Daniel Jones ended up throwing a backward pass while being tackled three players later, which was scooped up for a touchdown by the Lions' defense. In general, though, Stafford has looked pretty sharp today; he just hit Marvin Hall on a perfectly thrown deep ball for a 50-yard score. Make it 14-0 Lions early.

Scott Spratt: A friend of mine who is a Lions fan pointed out to me that the 50-yard Marvin Hall touchdown put him over 200 yards on the season on just five catches. Amazing. I'm just seeing that the Dolphins' Kenyan Drake didn't travel with the team for their Monday night game against the Steelers. He isn't hurt, so this seems like a clear indication he is going to be traded before Tuesday's deadline. Perhaps he'll end up as the primary Lions back?

Philadelphia Eagles 31 at Buffalo Bills 13

Dave Bernreuther: 50-mph wind gusts have made the passing game something of an adventure today. That might be advantage Buffalo, because they're already used to their passing game being an adventure with Josh Allen behind center. No deep passes for either team through the first quarter; it's just too risky at this point in time.

The short passing game, however, is working, and it feels like Buffalo has done a better job adjusting so far. Allen is 6-for-8 -- just for 42 yards, mind you, but they are moving the ball. Short passes to John Brown, screens to Devin Singletary, and plenty of Frank Gore on the ground so far has been a recipe for success; they take a 7-3 lead as the second quarter begins.

Aaron Schatz: The wind is swirling and heavy in Buffalo today. A lot of running the ball by both teams, and Philadelphia's two biggest plays so far were swing passes to Miles Sanders that gained a combined 40 yards. Buffalo's touchdown was to a wide-open Cole Beasley in a hole in the zone coverage.

If I'm one of the punt returners in Buffalo today, I'm not even touching the ball on a punt return. That thing is bouncing all over the place because of the wind.

Dave Bernreuther: I walk in, look up, and on the first play I see, Josh Allen turns the ball over. Seems about right. That is just the break the struggling Eagles need, now starting a drive in the red zone.

Aaron Schatz: Bills run QB power on third-and-2, center Mitch Morse trips while pulling, and Josh Allen gets the ball punched out by Brandon Graham, his second fumble of the day and the first one recovered by the Eagles. Then it's a couple of runs up the middle by Miles Sanders, a QB sneak (on third-and-1), and an 8-yard scramble by Wentz, and then Dallas Goedert beats Jordan Poyer on a slant for the touchdown. Eagles line up to go for two, so each team takes a timeout, but the Eagles stick by it and Miles Sanders runs it in. 11-7 Eagles as we go to halftime.

Bryan Knowles: We have finally seen a few deep shots in the second quarter, but it's the Eagles' defense that comes up with the biggest play of the game so far. Brandon Graham's strip sack sets up the Eagles just outside the red zone, and five plays later, Wentz finds Goedert in the end zone for the score. 11-7, Eagles after the two-point conversion.

Vince Verhei: Any special reason the Eagles went for two and the four-point lead at the end of the first half? Is it the wind? A kicker injury? Or just playing aggressive?

Aaron Schatz: I think a combination of playing aggressive and the thought that the swirling winds may make field goals and extra points harder to hit.

Bryan Knowles: No injury, so I think it's a combination of the wind and Doug Pederson being itchy on the sideline. The Bills did miss a field goal as the half ended, albeit a 50-plus-yarder, so perhaps the two-point math is even more favorable than usual today.

Aaron Schatz: Miles Sanders started off the second half with a 65-yard touchdown run down the left sideline and then Jake Elliott doinked the extra point off the left upright so turns out the two-point conversion evens things out to 17-7.

Bryan Knowles: And, if there are swirling winds, why not take it out of the equation entirely? Miles Sanders takes a handoff, Micah Hyde takes a terrible angle, and he's off. Sixty-five yards to paydirt, as the Eagles take a ... 17-7 lead.

Elliott missed the PAT, so add in another point to that two-point conversion discussion.

Aaron Schatz: Devin Singletary then took a little swing pass 28 yards to the house, and the Eagles blocked the extra point. Conversions have certainly been an adventure in this game. 17-13 Eagles.

Bryan Knowles: Nice response drive by the Bills, converting a third-and-14, a third-and-8, and a third-and-13 on one drive, each time with a 20-plus-yard reception. One of them was a legit deep shot by Allen to John Brown on the sideline, but the others were just a short curl and flare to a receiver in plenty of space. The Eagles were playing way off, and both Cole Beasley and Devin Singletary made them pay.

And Hauschka misses the extra point, too, so it's 17-13 Bills. Stop kicking extra points! It's too windy!

Aaron Schatz: Singletary had wide open field in front of him on that swing pass because the Eagles blitzed six and nobody covered him at all.

Bryan Knowles: We're marching up and down the field in Buffalo! This time, Boston Scott slams his way into the end zone from 4 yards out.

I don't know if the winds have calmed down per se, but both quarterbacks are now beginning to trust their guys through the air. Wentz hit Alshon Jeffery on a 38-yard sideline route to move the ball into Buffalo territory. Both defenses were playing really well in the first half; we've now had four of the last five drives end up in the end zone, with the one exception running out of time in the first half. 24-13, Eagles.

Aaron Schatz: Wow, the Eagles just called a QB draw on third-and-10, and converted with it.

Bryan Knowles: This game should be just about over. The Eagles just drove 83 yards in 14 plays, basically all just running the ball down the Bills' throat. Plenty of Jordan Howard, a couple of big Wentz draws/scrambles, draining half of the fourth quarter and finishing off with a touchdown to make it 31-13. Three-score game with 6:12 left to play, so I think we can pencil in the second loss for the Bills. Big win for the Eagles, after a week of sniping and bickering through the media. That should keep things a little quieter in Philly this week.

The Bills will be 5-2, with all their wins coming against teams ranked 26th in DVOA or lower. You play who you play, but that's a soft record.

Aaron Schatz: Eagles probably ice the game with a 14-play, 83-yard drive to make it 31-13. Converted three third downs. Really nice pass from Wentz to Zach Ertz got them down to the 3, then Jordan Howard runs it in. Some good running plays although I think that the announcers are slightly overstating how much the Eagles are dominating the Bills at the line of scrimmage. Howard had eight carries for 34 yards on that drive. Yes, there was a 20-yard run, but also three stuffs at the line of scrimmage. Wentz scrambling for 13 yards and the QB draw that converted third-and-10 are not really the usual kind of running plays that demonstrate an offense asserting their will over the front seven.

Cincinnati Bengals 10 "at" Los Angeles Rams (London) 24

Bryan Knowles: Cincinnati's running game is, by far, the worst in the league this season, with a -42.0% DVOA coming into the day. So of course they're up to 81 yards on the ground midway through the second quarter. Andy Dalton can't seem to miss -- though his passes have been dinks and dunks, and he has 11 completions for just 89 yards -- and the Bengals are tied 10-10 with the Rams in London. Looking good for Cover Watch, as the Bengals were, what, 13-point underdogs?

The Rams, man. Heck, Los Angeles football in general.

An actual, factual double-reverse pass for a score for the Rams! Give 'em the old razzle dazzle, Sean McVay.

Cooper Kupp is going off. Five catches, 166 yards and a touchdown, and the first half's not over yet.

Vince Verhei: And now it's 17-10, L.A. Rams run a reverse flea flicker, and for all that chicanery, Cooper Kupp is open for a modest gain, 15 yards or so. But B.W. Webb slips while closing in for the tackle. Just tripped up by the turf monster -- Kupp hadn't even caught the ball yet, let alone made a cut. But with Webb on the grass, Kupp was unobstructed, taking off down the sideline for a long touchdown.

Scott Spratt: Interestingly, the Bengals entered today's game as the No. 28 ranked DVOA defense against No. 1 receivers, No. 30 ranked DVOA defense against No. 2 receivers, and No. 6 DVOA defense against other receivers (subscription required). I know losing Brandin Cooks changes that equation, but it has surprised me to see the Rams having some tunnel vision for Cooper Kupp this year. I guess if it isn't broken, don't fix it.

Bryan Knowles: Bad news for anyone who had Cincinnati -13.5. The Bengals, down 14, opted to go for it on fourth-and-goal from the 6, and threw it short of the end zone. Complete pass, but the Rams swarm and stop Morgan before he can get into the end zone. Absolutely the right decision to go for it late in the fourth quarter, but you gotta throw it into the end zone there. Rams will likely hold on to cover, just.

Dave Bernreuther: Glad I wasn't the only one to notice that, Bryan. That whole "I once had a cup of coffee with McVay" hiring strategy is working out splendidly for the Bengals. Simply marvelous play design/calling on that one for Zac Taylor.

I don't know about the rest of you guys but I'm super psyched about the pending 0-14 Tua Bowl coming up in December.

Bryan Knowles: Backdoor cover! Backdoor cover! Cover Watch lives! Vegas will not burn down tonight!

Aaron Schatz: Actually, the touchdown was apparently reversed by the officials, so the Rams cover. Alas.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23 at Tennessee Titans 27

Bryan Knowles: We may have a new winner for "worst play of the year." Facing a third-and-goal from the four, the Buccaneers run a draw to Dare Ogunbowale. But, after the handoff, the motion man slams into Ogunbowale in the backfield, tackling him. I'm not sure how the man in motion crashes into a running back on a delayed handoff; the timing wouldn't seem to work out at all. But hey, the Buccaneers are innovating on offense.

Vince Verhei: Video of that Bucs play:

Bryan Knowles: Oh no, we have a ref show. The Titans had a fake field goal attempt to make it a seven-point lead, but the Buccaneers sniffed it out and slammed the ball carrier. He fumbled and the Buccaneers scooped it and scored -- but the refs missed the fumble and blew the whistle. They can't overturn it, either; it's an early whistle so the play is just dead. The Buccaneers need to win this game to stay anywhere near the contention, and the referees just blew it.

Aaron Schatz: Devin White absolutely clotheslined punter (and holder) Brett Kern on that play. Jameis Winston scrambles for 9 yards on third-and-10, setting up fourth-and-1 right after the two-minute warning. Handoff to Peyton Barber, and Jurrell Casey and Kenny Vaccaro stuff it for the Titans. They'll win and go to 4-4.

Bryan Knowles: Wrapping up that (fake) field goal, the Buccaneers do move the ball into Titans territory, but are stuffed on a fourth-and-1 at the Titans 32. The Bucs have one more timeout, so it's not quite over, but it looks like the refs did screw the Bucs out of this one, dropping them to 2-5 and out of contention. They have a real beef this week.

Tom Gower: Titans win 27-23. This week's Choose Your Own Adventure game story options include:

1. This and every other year's favorite storyline, the NFL's crisis in officiating, with the Bucs losing a potential go-ahead touchdown when Titans punter/holder Brett Kern was ruled not to have fumbled on a (failed) fake field goal with under 4 minutes to play.
2. Another episode of Strategic Decisions With Mike Vrabel, with that field goal fake coming after Ryan Tannehill bluffed going for it on fourth-and-2 and the Titans holding a 27-23 lead.
3. Another episode of Jameis Winston, Human Turnover Machine costing the Bucs a game. The Titans' first two touchdowns came on drives starting in goal-to-go after bad Winston turnovers, his first lost fumble (of two) when an ill-timed shotgun snap went off his facemask and his first interception (of two) on a pass that was probably intended for Chris Godwin, I guess, because there's nobody else it could have been intended for?

4. "No risk it, no biscuit" Bruce Arians punting twice on fourth-and-1 holding on to a narrow lead in the second half, including from the Titans 43, necessitating the late fourth down go-for-it.
5. Mike Evans beasting against Titans backup cornerback LeShaun Sims, but not just him, with 198 yards and twp touchdowns.
6. A Titans offense that sustained almost nothing (six first downs on their other 10 non-kneeldown possessions) coming up with scoring drives after starting at their own 10 and 8 on consecutive second-half possessions while trailing (the first featuring 37 yards in penalties on Bucs cornerback Carlton Davis on consecutive plays).
7. The Bucs coming away with two field goals in goal-to-go situations.
8. A non-existent Bucs running game, with Peyton Barber, Dare Ogunbowale, and Ronald Jones combining for 53 yards on 22 carries, forcing Jameis to carry the load.
9. The Titans remaining undefeated under Mike Vrabel when scoring more than 21 points.
10. Big games by Titans tight ends Jonnu Smith (six catches for 78 yards) and Anthony Firkser (3-43), making up for a Titans pass game that did not feature big games by Corey Davis and A.J. Brown (notwithstanding his winning touchdown against Davis).
11. One of the finest "LOL Bucs" moments you'll see, with Ogunbowale running into the jet sweep player on third-and-goal.

Los Angeles Chargers 17 at Chicago Bears 16

Bryan Knowles: The Bears are booed off the field, leading 9-7, and the offense deserves every bit of it. They had a first-and-goal from the 4 with 46 seconds left and two timeouts remaining. They ran five plays, including two from the 1-yard line, and couldn't get into the end zone. They ran on second-and-goal from the 1 with 25 seconds left and no timeouts remaining, were stuffed, and were forced to spike the ball to salvage a 19-yard field goal. So they have 19-, 22-, and 25-yard field goals going into halftime. The Bears have run 11 plays inside the Chargers 10-yard line, eight inside their 5. They have no touchdowns. I'd boo, too.

Fire everyone on the Bears. It's windy. The Bears are down 17-16. Their kicker has already missed a field goal today. They have the ball, set up for a 40-yard field goal with 43 seconds left on the clock, and a timeout remaining. Rather than try to get closer and set up a chip-shot, they just kneel it out, and go for the medium-length field goal -- kickers are great nowadays, right? Just settle for the long shot and be happy.

No, of course Eddy Pineiro misses, and the Bears lose. And they deserve to.

Andrew Potter: The Bears kicking game versus the Chargers kicking game deserves its own Queen soundtrack.

In the end, there can be only one.

For once, the Chargers win on a fourth-quarter field goal debacle.

Vince Verhei: BWAHAHAHAHA!!

BWAAAAAAAAHHHHHH-HAHAHAHHAAHAHH!!!!!

Chicago's entire offseason was defined by an overreaction to missed field goals, and yet Matt Nagy still seems completely oblivious to the idea that sometimes kickers just miss.

More Nagy. He's outright saying he doesn't trust his quarterback in clutch situations. This is going shockingly badly.

Denver Broncos 13 at Indianapolis Colts 15

Dave Bernreuther: Not much to love about a game where your team is down a touchdown at home to Joe Flacco while wearing stupid pajama-looking uniforms, but the play design on a third-and-1 play to convert for the Colts just now was really nice. Simple, but effective. Showing a heavy look to gain a yard, Brissett ran a convincing fake to Marlon Mack up the middle before pivoting to toss a quick one to Jack Doyle, who I believe lined up in the backfield, and had nothing but grass in front of him as everyone piled in on the run action. Absolutely nothing fancy or special about it, but it often seems like play-action calls in those cases try to be chunk plays instead of easy conversions. This one was as easy as they come.

Two conversions in a row to Doyle, then a roughing the passer, and one play later Marlon Mack waltzes into the end zone to make this one a lot less upsetting.

Ah, the good old Flacco special...

Courtland Sutton runs right by Rock Ya-Sin, with outside leverage, and Flacco underthrows him by a good 5 yards and to the inside. This is quite a feat when it's only about 10 yards down the field instead of the deeper throws he used to collect on. But because Ya-Sin was looking away, Sutton's attempt to slow down and come back to the ball mean it's interference, and the Broncos get a free first down as a direct result of quarterback incompetence.

They actually just called a DPI after a challenge!

Cody Sensabaugh clearly interfered with T.Y. Hilton on a third down, but that has never been much of an indicator that it was worth the challenge flag. Shockingly, the crew overturns it, and the Colts' drive continues ... from their own 16, which is not exactly high-percentage territory, but when trailing by a point (due to a doinked extra point from Vinatieri, his fourth of the season... must be because the roof is open) with four minutes to play, you can't exactly complain.

Of course, they promptly gain 2 yards in the next three plays, and will now be punting back to the Broncos with 3:51 left. Luckily, they still have three timeouts, Rigoberto Sanchez has a ridiculous leg, and the opposing quarterback is Joe Flacco, who has a knack for throwing 4-yard passes on third-and-16 (this did happen two drives ago, I just didn't mention it). 13-13 would be a far, far better situation than trailing 13-12, but this is not THAT uphill a climb for the Colts. Yet.

Scott Spratt: Haha, from his own 10-yard line, Jacoby Brissett somehow avoids a sack and possible safety from an unblocked Von Miller and finds T.Y. Hilton for a massive gain. Adam Vinatieri may well have to kick a field goal to win this for the Colts.

The Colts got really complacent here as soon as they got in field goal range. The odds Vinatieri makes this can't be good.

In my face. He drains it from 51 yards.

Dave Bernreuther: For all the clever play designs Frank Reich is willing to call, on third down inside a minute, they run Mack up the middle and LOSE yards to make the Vinatieri field goal attempt harder.

He's still Adam Vinatieri, though. So he hits it, and the Colts will win without covering. What an ugly game, but a win is a win.

Vinatieri has always been money from 55-plus in that dome. He used to routinely hit 60 yarders in warmups, though 58 seemed to be his limit for reliable accuracy down the middle. Today, with the roof open, he somehow knuckleballed an extra point, but good with no doubt about it from both 55 and 51, and the Colts will keep their division lead.

Just for good measure, as the clock wound down, Joe Flacco just got eaten alive from behind by rookie Ben Banogu in hilarious fashion. That play may well have been the play of the game.

Bryan Knowles: Joe Flacco was not holding anything back after the game.

Dave Bernreuther: Worth linking to this clip too if we haven't already:

I missed the sack escape in real-time. That's a holy crap/lucky moment in itself, but man, that throw...

There are plays that Jacoby Brissett misses. And there are sacks that he takes that he shouldn't. But the dropoff from Andrew Luck to Jacoby Brissett is not that great at all. That's an Andrew Luck-level throw on the move right there.

Vince Verhei: We now have multiple Broncos players on the record questioning the team's decision-making.

Carolina Panthers 13 at San Francisco 49ers 51

Scott Spratt: It took less than six minutes for Emmanuel Sanders to score his first touchdown as a 49er. Not a ton of resistance from the Panthers' defense on the 49ers' opening touchdown drive.

Bryan Knowles: Emmanuel Sanders makes an instant impact for the 49ers with two receptions, including a score, on the 49ers' opening possession. Sanders may not have been the 49ers' first choice (word is they were battling with the Patriots to get Mohamed Sanu), but did San Francisco ever need a top receiver to help their offense.

Scott Spratt: Luke Kuechly makes a great play to run with George Kittle on a slant and pick off a pass from Jimmy Garoppolo.

Derrik Klassen: Luke Kuechly interception! Looked like George Kittle was trying to run a short crosser and Kuechly undercut it. Pretty careless interception from Jimmy Garoppolo, but also just a ridiculous play by Kuechly in terms of recognition and closing speed. 49ers lead 7-0 with the Panthers offense now set up in 49ers territory.

Well, that's two drives in a row now where San Francisco's defensive line has gotten to Kyle Allen to end a drive. Eventually one of these is going to be a strip-sack, if Allen's priors are any indication.

Scott Spratt: How many touchdowns has George Kittle had called back by a teammate's penalty this year? At least four now, right?

Bryan Knowles: Just three -- two against Tampa Bay, and one today, if I recall correctly. The 49ers have now had five called back in total, but they have spread them around. This one was a legit foul; Deebo Samuel was blocking downfield from pretty much the snap. The 49ers score on the next play with Tevin Coleman, so no harm, no foul, unless you have Kittle in fantasy. Doing him dirty on National Tight End Appreciation Day, and after I've sent out all those cards and watched the parade and everything.

Derrik Klassen: This Panthers offense is not one that wants to play from behind. Unfortunately for them, the 49ers are now up 21-3 via a Tevin Coleman touchdown following an interception of Kyle Allen. It's early, I know, but I don't like Carolina's chances to dig out of an 18-point hole versus anyone, much less this 49ers squad.

Bryan Knowles: Kyle Allen had started his career with 159 pass attempts without an interception, and he was creeping up on Dak Prescott's record to start a career. That's over now; Emmanuel Mosley grabbed one off of him to set up the 49ers deep in Carolina territory. Three plays later, Tevin Coleman is in the end zone to make it a 21-3 game as they're jumping all over the Panthers. They're just running misdirection after misdirection against what is a very, very, VERY good Panthers defense, and Carolina has yet to respond.

Aaron Schatz: Did the 49ers abort an extra point, or did they actually fake an extra point and try a two-point conversion up 27-3?

Scott Spratt: Haha, I don't know, even I stopped watching that one.

Bryan Knowles: It was a bad snap. Notable that the 49ers are on their fourth long snapper of the year, as Kyle Nelson comes back from suspension.

The San Francisco 49ers have sacked Kyle Allen six times ... it's only halftime.

First-half notes: Tevin Coleman has three touchdowns already, so I hope you picked the right back in 49ers Running Back Roulette. Shades of the '90s Broncos, with Kyle being a chip off of Mike Shanahan's old block.

Six first-half sacks for the 49ers defense, including three for Nick Bosa. That's 46 yards lost in sacks alone, and the Panthers are at 55 net passing yards at the half. If the 49ers hold them under 100, they'll be the first team to do that in four straight weeks since the 1978 passing rule changes.

The Panthers have 76 total yards. Christian McCaffrey has 59 of them, including 24 on a play when he was matched up in coverage by Bosa (bad idea). The rest of the team is getting zip, zero, zilch. It's astonishing.

Scott Spratt: Panthers linebacker Bruce Irvin makes a great move to get inside leverage and sacks Jimmy Garoppolo for a safety. Panthers still down 22 points, but they have a little bit of life.

And Christian McCaffrey breaks free for a 40-yard touchdown. After he converts a two-point conversion, the Panthers cut the lead to 27-13.

Dave Bernreuther: SCORIGAMI ALERT:

Bruce Irvin takes Handsome Jimmy down in the end zone to make it 27-5. Everyone join me in rooting for there to be no more points scored in this game.

Oh. Nevermind. Nice jinx, Dave ... McCaffrey takes it in from midfield, and it's 27-11 and a two-point conversion coming. 27-22 is now our only hope.

Bryan Knowles: Punters are people, too. Michael Palardy's beautiful punt, bouncing out of bounds at the 2, set up the Panthers safety, and the ensuing safety kick set up a 40-yard CMC touchdown and two-point conversion. That punt set up 10 points!

Scott Spratt: The Panthers' pre-game split of the No. 3 DVOA pass defense and No. 30 DVOA run defense is definitely holding true in this game. The 49ers have more rushing yards, (171) than passing yards (156) and have three rushing touchdowns. They are back up by three scores, 34-13.

Dave Bernreuther: I get that it's fourth-and-8, but you're down by four scores in the fourth quarter and you're at midfield. Why are you punting?

Bryan Knowles: The Panthers finish with exactly 100 net passing yards, thanks to the 49ers' seven sacks for 58 yards. They were marched backwards over and over again, as the offensive line just collapsed under pressure.

That's now four straight games where the 49ers have held their opponents to 100 net pass yards or fewer. Baker Mayfield, Jared Goff, Case Keenum, and now Kyle Allen have failed to get anything going through the air. This hasn't happened since the passing rules were loosed up in '78; the last teams to do it were the Falcons (Jim Plunkett-Greg Landry-Archie Manning-Randy Hedberg) and the 49ers (Steve Bartkowski-Bobby Douglass-Pat Haden-Archie Manning) over the same four weeks in November 1977. Heck, the first game in each streak were against each other -- the '70s were a very, very different time. But the 49ers are making opposing offenses relive it week in and week out.

The last team to do it in five straight games were the '73 Patriots, so you're up next, Kyler Murray.

Cleveland Browns 13 at New England Patriots 27

Vince Verhei: Just to make things clear, this game pits the defense that has a nigh-unprecedented number of interceptions ... against the quarterback who leads the league in interceptions ... in a monsoon. Oh boy.

Aaron Schatz: Patriots running well early, 38 yards on seven carries for Sony Michel, despite starting a backup at right guard with Shaq Mason out. Brady also dropped it in the bucket on a beautiful 33-yard bomb to Philip Dorsett, and he converted fourth-and-7 to Julian Edelman over the middle. But things stall at the goal line, Brady almost throws a pick (diving drop by Denzel Ward) and they bring on the field goal unit. 3-0 Patriots.

Dave Bernreuther: As always, the Patriots eschew conventional "wisdom" by throwing it all over the place in the bad weather. And unsurprisingly, they march right down the field against the Browns, stalling at the goal line for a field goal following a pass that Tom Brady threw directly to Denzel Ward, who let it bounce off of his chest. Ninety-five percent of the nation groans collectively.

Aaron Schatz: That was off Ward's hands more than his chest. He did have to dive for the ball to try to pick it off.

Dave Bernreuther: True, It almost looked like an attempted throwaway, more so than an attempt to hit his receiver. It was pretty poor either way, though. Naturally, on the next drive, the Patriots defense -- which of course needs all the help it can get -- scores a touchdown on a Nick Chubb fumble that was caused by Joel Bitonio kicking it out of his grasp in the backfield.

Vince Verhei: Cleveland's first four plays are all passes. Fifth play, they hand off to Nick Chubb ... who has the ball kicked out of his hands by his own lineman, and Dont'a Hightower scoops and scores. The Patriots defense has scored more touchdowns than it has allowed this season. It is Week 8.

Bryan Knowles: Someone get Nick Chubb some Stickum! His second carry of the game was much better than the first; a 45-yard gain where he just ran right through the Pats defense ... but he fumbled just before the goal line, and New England recovers.

Vince Verhei: Not just his second fumble in the game, his second fumble in Cleveland's last two snaps. Not ideal.

Dave Bernreuther: Nick Chubb breaks a long run on his very next touch, is inside the 10f ... and fumbles again. And Patriots fall on it again.

The Patriots have been really unlucky so far this year on defense, so this seems fair.

This would annoy me, except that the Browns do sort of deserve it, and also, I took the week off from DFS so I'm not going to get tilted by all the people rewarded for the chalky move of riding the Pats D.

On another note ... remember when the rest of the world conceded the title to the Patriots because they had both Josh Gordon and Antonio Brown, and we all thought we might see Dorsett get cut? Yeah ... no. Suddenly he's looking like a focal point of their offense. The Colts gave up on him because they didn't love his effort. Talk about a maturation ... he might only just be getting started, too. As a Colts fan, I'd still make the trade again, knowing what we know now, but damn. Where was this in Indianapolis?

Bryan Knowles: Three turnovers on three consecutive plays for Cleveland. Oh my god.

Vince Verhei: Make it turnovers on THREE straight plays for Cleveland. They try a SHOVeLL pass, but Mayfield throws it between two targets and into Lawrence Guy's facemask for the pick.

Aaron Schatz: Baker Mayfield just threw an interception on a SHOVeLL pass. (Forgive me for forgetting how we capitalize that acronym) For those who aren't regular readers of FO, that means one of those little tap passes that's actually a running play, a slight forward pass on a jet sweep. And Mayfield flipped it right to Lawrence Guy instead of Jarvis Landry. Patriots score on a pass to Julian Edelman on the second play of their drive, now 17-0.

Vince Verhei: May as well link to the SHOVeLL piece from last year and the clip of the Guy interception.

Dave Bernreuther: Cleveland might as well just pack up and go home at halftime. After three straight plays with turnovers, they punt, then after forcing a Patriots punt, they fumble that too ... for once, though, they recover it themselves, and are over midfield already.

But it's 17-0 in the rain and you're in New England, where they just showed a graphic about Brady being 118-18. You've got a rookie coach, a second-year quarterback who's regressing, and a team that looks to have already packed it in after the second of the three turnovers. The primary goal now might just be "don't get anyone hurt." And if Freddie Kitchens gets his charges to play hard and make this one competitive, well, I will be very impressed with him for the first time this season.

My reverse jinx powers are uncanny. As soon as I type a snarky pessimistic email, Mayfield hits Demetrious Harris for a score, and the Browns have life.

Vince Verhei: Touchdown Browns! Demetrius Harris gets isolated one-one-one against Dont'a Hightower and beats him on a corner route for a score from just outside the red zone. That breaks a 71-0 scoring streak for New England.

Aaron Schatz: Patriots eschew a 42-yard field goal to go for it on fourth-and-4. It looks like they've converted with a 4-yard pass to Mohamed Sanu. I love the way that the Stephen Gostkowski injury has led Bill Belichick to suddenly become much more aggressive on fourth downs.

Dave Bernreuther: Surely the conditions have played a role too. He's not about to make the same mistakes that we saw in Buffalo and Chicago in the early slot.

I'm not sure what the Browns saw there, but the Patriots rushed to the line to help encourage them to waste a challenge on a fairly obvious first down completion to Sanu. I get that there was a change of possession at stake there, but there wasn't even a 2% chance that they were going to overturn that one, even with the excellent tackle.

Aaron Schatz: Halftime, this is the worst the Patriots defense has played all season. The problem is primarily softness in the middle of the defense that's letting Nick Chubb get a lot of solid runs. The Pats have allowed 6.5 yards per play, although that's 4.9 yards per play if you take out the one 44-yard run by Chubb. They also got lucky to recover both Chubb fumbles. The passing game has mostly been controlled by the Patriots. The touchdown to Demetrius Harris was the only pass over 15 yards. On offense, you clearly see the effect of the Patriots now being down to three backup linemen. There have been a number of plays where Brady just doesn't have time to let the play develop and throws the ball away. The Patriots really need to get Isaiah Wynn back. I assume Shaq Mason's injury is a short-term issue since they were working him out and he almost played today. (The third backup is Ted Karras for David Andrews, obviously Andrews isn't coming back this year.)

Vince Verhei: Well, don't look now, but the Browns are making a game of this. They take the second-half kickoff and mix runs and passes to drive into the red zone. A third-down sack limits them to a field goal try, but the kick is good, and they cut the lead to 17-10.

Honestly, you take the turnovers away and they have pretty clearly outplayed New England so far today. Too bad you can't just take turnovers away.

Aaron Schatz: Patriots come back. Joe Thuney, one of the two remaining healthy starting offensive linemen, had the key blocks on both the James White 59-yard screen pass on third-and-10 and then a subsequent 9-yard screen by Rex Burkhead on second-and-10. After a Michel conversion on third-and-1, Tom Brady has all the time in the world with a three-man rush, slides left, finds a crossing Julian Edelman. And now we're at 24-10 Patriots.

Dave Bernreuther: The Jack Doyle conversion I mentioned in the Colts game gets bumped to second place in easy productive passes thrown behind the line of scrimmage, as on third-and-10 the Pats dial up the perfect screen play to James White, who rumbles for what felt like two full minutes before finally being brought down. Tom Brady just got credit for 59 yards passing on a -12-yard ALEX play.

Two plays later, they run more or less the reverse of that, tossing another -12 ALEX to Rex Burkhead that turns second-and-10 to third-and-1, and just like that, Edelman is in the end zone, and the Cleveland threat is quickly snuffed out.

Vince Verhei: It really was a beautiful drive. Offensive tackles getting beat around the edge? Wide receivers failing to come down with catchable balls on the outside? We'll kill both those birds with the stone of running back screens, which is something New England has done as well as anyone over the last two decades. So many offensive coordinators just beat their head against the wall trying to force plays that aren't working. The Patriots diagnose what the defense is doing and adjust their strategy accordingly.

Andrew Potter: Anybody know what possessed the Browns to bring out the punt team on fourth-and-11, take a false start penalty, then bring the offense back out for fourth-and-16?

Vince Verhei: Browns, down 27-10 in the fourth quarter, send the punt team out on the field on fourth-and-11. Then Freddie Kitchens decides to go for it, so he instructs the punt team to take a penalty, so the offense can try a fourth-and-16. This really happened. Baker Mayfield is sacked on the play.

Next snap, Tom Brady is sacked. Why is Tom Brady taking sacks with a 17-point lead and six minutes left in the game?

Aaron Schatz: Apparently, the Browns sideline told CBS that Kitchens told his players to make a false start because he wanted to go for it but didn't want to call a timeout to get his offense back onto the field. That seems sub-optimal if you really want to convert the fourth down.

Odell Beckham just caught a 31-yarder in garbage time but before that, Stephon Gilmore had held him to four catches for 21 yards.

Oakland Raiders 24 at Houston Texans 27

Vince Verhei: Deshaun Watson threw a half-dozen touchdowns to Hunter Renfrow in their one season together at Clemson. He just saw Renfrow score again, but he probably wasn't very happy about it.

Bryan Knowles: We haven't spent much time on this one, despite it being the one competitive game here in the late window. Josh Jacobs is having a darn good first half, up to 51 yards on eight carries. Carr just hit Darren Waller on a nice little flip for a touchdown to make it 14-7 Raiders.

I have a feeling we'll be watching this one a bit closer in the second half, as the defensive flexing happens elsewhere.

I'm pretty sure Jon Gruden thinks that he can win challenges through the sheer force of anger. He just challenged an OPI that wasn't going to be overturned even if the league actually overturned pass interference calls this year, and had some very interesting language for the officials both before and after the review.

Rivers McCown: J.J. Watt is hurt. Lonnie Johnson is hurt. The Raiders are running outside with aplomb. The Texans offense is out of sorts and feels way too safe.

It's a recipe for a halftime lead for Oakland.

Bryan Knowles: Houston's defensive injuries are really putting them behind the eight-ball now. Carr just hit Tyrell Williams for a 46-yarder to stretch the lead to 21-13. The AFC South in general has been on a winning streak, with the Titans, Colts, and Jaguars going 4-0 over the last two weeks. If Houston can't get it together, they'll be 0-2 over that time period, and the AFC South will be a heck of a race.

Watching Deshaun Watson play is fun. I don't know how you defend him when he's running, throwing, and throwing on the run as well as he's doing today.

The Texans score to open up the fourth quarter on one of those plays where Raiders defenders had to choose between covering the flat route or stopping Watson from running, and there's no correct answer there. Interestingly, they do not opt to go for two, instead kicking the extra point to make it a 21-20 deficit. A very conservative play call by O'Brien

Vince Verhei: Trailing 21-13 on the first play of the fourth, Deshaun Watson rolls out and finds Darren Fells for the 4-yard touchdown. And then the Texans ... kick the extra point? What? So they're still down 21-20. I thought there must have been a penalty or something that pushed them back, but no, they just opted to kick. I understand you don't want to chase points early, but it's the fourth quarter! How likely is it that the single point turns out any better than a failed two-point try?

Aaron Schatz: I ran a PFR query to see when was the latest that a team tried an extra point down two in the fourth quarter. It looks like there are three times since 2000 that a team tried an extra point down two later than the Texans just did.

Derrik Klassen: Derek Carr just about threw a pick-six on a speed out. Dylan Cole got it in his hands, but let it slip through and hit the turf. The pick-six would have given Houston a lead, but alas. Oakland kicks the field goal and goes up 24-20 early in the fourth quarter.

Bryan Knowles: Despite both starting tackles being out, the Texans march back down the field. Deshaun Watson is amazing -- he should have been sacked, but escapes and finds Darren Fells in the end zone for six!

He's slow to get up, though -- he might have gotten kicked in the face, and is in quite a bit of pain. Either way, the Texans are taking the lead.

Vince Verhei: Oh, my god, Watson's ability to escape one sack and throw a go-ahead touchdown pass with a defender draped around his ankles. Breathtaking, and really makes you question that in-the-grasp-call he got against Indy the other week. He even adjusted his facemask mid-scramble like classic Michael Vick.

But now he is down after the play. Please, Football Gods, let him be OK.

Green Bay Packers 31 at Kansas City Chiefs 24

Aaron Schatz: Matt Moore is not so bad. Just fought off pressure to connect with a wide-open Travis Kelce for a 29-yard touchdown. Andy Reid has a good history of winning games with his backups. Remember A.J. Feeley?

Scott Spratt: So what you're saying, Aaron, is that Patrick Mahomes is a system quarterback?

Aaron Schatz: Well, Mahomes is special, but he's also playing in a nice system with a lot of really explosive talent around him. Now, Moore gets the benefit of that talent. Just tossed it behind the line of scrimmage to Mecole Hardman and Hardman put on the afterburners and turned it into a 30-yard touchdown to tie the game.

Bryan Knowles: Well, we all know Andy Reid's clock management is terrible, and it reared its head again for Green Bay at the end of the first half. Wait, Reid coaches the Chiefs? Huh. Because the Packers' last minute on offense was Reidian in its clock management. At least 15 seconds were lost to a communication snafu; at least 10 more were wasted when Rodgers scrambled for an extra 3 yards rather than go down and call a time-out. They go into halftime with a timeout and a 14-17 deficit.

Obviously, the Chiefs are not as good without Patrick Mahomes -- this is the kind of hard-hitting analysis you've come to expect from Football Outsiders -- but I think the absolute panic some fans had, and the Vegas line indicated, was an overreaction. As Aaron pointed out, there's still a lot of talent on this offense, and with an actual week to practice with them, Moore has been serviceable. Not much Moore than that, but that seems to be Moore than enough tonight. Full credit to the Chiefs for playing this well despite the injuries on both sides of the ball; that's the hallmark of a well-coached team.

Rodgers has not exactly been on full form tonight. That pass to Bashaud Breeland should have been picked, and Jimmy Graham has been open deep at least twice; Rodgers missed him both times. I'd call him a little bit flustered; nothing that can't be fixed at halftime, but more than you would expect going in. I'd still say advantage Packers, despite the halftime deficit, but I'm glad this game has been more competitive than some feared.

Aaron Schatz: I don't know if the Vegas line is an overreaction at Packers by 5.5. An overreaction would have been, say, Packers by double digits.

Bryan Knowles: "Overreaction" might be harsh, but the line opened as KC -3.5 before Mahomes' injury last Thursday. A nine-point swing is, at the least, fairly dramatic.

You cannot convince me Aaron Rodgers was trying to hit Williams on that pass. No way.

To put a little more context for Monday morning here, the Packers got the ball back on a gift LeSean McCoy fumble, putting the Packers into the red zone within a couple of plays. And then Aaron Rodgers did this.

Chiefs come back to tie it up on a 10-play drive, featuring a lot of the Packers rushing four and dropping back into zone coverages. I don't know why the Packers aren't bringing more pressure to try to make Moore uncomfortable.

On third-and-goal from the 8, Moore lofts a pass into the end zone that is nearly intercepted. It looked like the Chiefs dodged a bullet and would just kick a field goal, but a fairly soft (if correct) illegal use of hands penalty gives them a fresh set of downs, and Damien Williams scores from the 3. Tie ball game, and an entertaining one.

Aaron Jones on a linebacker is a mismatch, and Rodgers is hitting it over and over and over again. Six receptions for Jones for 151 yards and a pair of touchdowns; he's leading the game in every receiving stat there is. Just scampered 67 yards for the go-ahead score as we go back-and-forth here.

Aaron Schatz: The Chiefs are known for their track stars, but I'm impressed tonight -- well, every time he plays -- by Travis Kelce's physical ability to stay upright and make sure he gets past the first-down marker.

In the end, the Chiefs defense just looks exhausted. With all the injuries, they don't have anybody to substitute, and they're getting pushed around as the Packers run out the clock. The Chiefs should have gone for it on fourth-and-3 from their own 40 rather than punting and trusting their exhausted defense.

Bryan Knowles: You hate to see the last offensive play for a team be a punt, especially one near midfield.

Tom Gower: Packers completely wore out the Chiefs with Aaron Jones in man coverage. When Jones was out, they struggled to move the ball. When he came back, they started moving the ball again. Davante Adams will be back to beat man coverage sooner or later, like next week. Andy Reid gave it his best shot with Matt Moore, but his old bete noire of in-game decision-making -- notably punting on fourth-and-3 at the 40 and not getting the ball back -- ensured they would not prevail.

Comments

177 comments, Last at 29 Oct 2019, 2:10pm

1 Kicking down 2 in the 4th

"Aaron Schatz: I ran a PFR query to see when was the latest that a team tried an extra point down two in the fourth quarter. It looks like there are three times since 2000 that a team tried an extra point down two later than the Texans just did."

I agree that it's baffling as to why you kick there. Being down two vs. being down one means that kicking a field goal still takes the lead, and an opponents' field goal means you need a touchdown to take the lead.

All the examples happened in the first few minutes of the fourth quarter, so the fourth quarter is a bit of a selective endpoint. (Though kicking an extra point in the last few minutes of the third is equally bad.) It's kind of crazy how each of them "worked out" for the team kicking, though. The Bengals scored twice more, and did go for two on their subsequent touchdown; they lost on a final-minute Saints touchdown, though. The Packers wound up winning their game with a touchdown later. The Bears scored another touchdown and, like the Bengals, went for two and got it, though they then lost in overtime. And, of course, the Texans won yesterday.

I still think it's a bizarre choice. Even with the "chasing points" maybe-fallacy. Imagine you were coaching a team and were told, before the game started that you had two options:

- start the game down 1-0;
- flip a coin, and you'll start trailing 2-0 if it's heads, but you'll be tied 0-0 if it's tails.

I bet you'd see a lot of coaches take the second, but, more critically, I bet it really wouldn't matter. So, when you zoom ahead to the fourth quarter, the worst case would be "it doesn't really matter if you miss the two pointer", and the best case is "at least we're tied if the scoring dries up". I don't see why you wouldn't go for two.

7 "I agree that it's baffling…

"I agree that it's baffling as to why you kick there. Being down two vs. being down one means that kicking a field goal still takes the lead, and an opponents' field goal means you need a touchdown to take the lead."

It also means that a TD makes it a two score game instead of just one.  With nearly the full quarter remaining, I wasn't that surprised.  Had it happened with two minutes remaining in the 3rd, would it appear on anyone's radar?  Or even if it were a few seconds remaining in the 3rd instead of a few into the 4th?

2 Patriots' Run D seemed…

Patriots' Run D seemed really bad yesterday.

Is Chubb (and the OL) that good?
Was the short week lingering on the defense's bodies?
Just a schematic choice (Odell was erased from the game)?

And the kicking woes were re-surfacing too (one blocked FG due to Nugent taking years to kick, and one shanked in reasonable range).

6 Patriots Run D

With respect to the Pats Run D; I think the conditions had a lot to do with it - the Pats scheme has a lot of moving parts in the middle of the field and that clearly puts your LB's at a disadvantage in conditions where the traction was poor. Having said that I've said all year that by far the best move vs. this Pats D has been to run right at them, and I'm surprised it hasn't been tried more given that the offense hasn't scored opponents out of the option to do so very often.

The Kicking woes are painful to watch and really threaten a team that looks like it's going to have to play low scoring games from time to time due to poor OL/WR play. I don't know if there is anything that can be done at this point, but it's brutal to watch. It is somewhat enjoyable to watch BB adjust strategy as a result - though it's weird to watch a team that lived by high-variance defense and low variance offense for so many years suddenly play this way.

8 No scheme change is going to…

No scheme change is going to generate that many missed tackles, so hopefully the conditions had a lot to do with it.  Bill seemed to think so in his presser, but you can be sure it'll be brought up this week with the Ravens looming.

This was very close to the type of game I mentioned last week that this version of the Patriots could easily lose.  Even if Cleveland only turns it over twice in the first quarter, it's a one score game late with the Patriots offense that can barely get out of its own way.  But the three TOs and their self-destructive tendencies were too much to overcome.  NE is going to need a lot more production from the offense if they are going to beat equally talented teams that know how to not beat themselves.

35 thing is

You can't just ignore the impact of the scoreboard on the choices the defensive coordinator is making.  For the entirety of the second half the Patriots had a large lead.  So the only real way the team is in trouble is if the Browns score quickly.  But Gilmore shut down the Browns' best receiver, OBJ.  

Yes, Chubb looked very strong in the second half - indeed, he looked strong basically after his two fumbles.  And no, the Pats' run defense wasn't good.  But let's not think that, absent the turnovers, the Browns would have had exactly the same kind of success on offense.  

And let's not forget how bad Baker Mayfield looked.

The Browns continue to have a lot of talent, and Chubb is one of the best young RBs in the NFL.  But the Patriots were not in trouble yesterday.  And their playcalling on both offense and defense is often scoreboard-dependent. 

47 Scoreboard dependent play calling

In reply to by RickD

I’m fairly confident that when given a two score lead, Belichick starts thinking about how he’s going to drain clock, and what he’s going to be willing to show to teams on tape. While the offensive line is undoubtedly a factor, I feel like Belichick is being very cautious in how he rations out his plays to scheme people open fast.

For me, it’s telling that when Cleveland scored a TD to close the lead to seven, the Patriots matched up the field to easy FG range (it was blocked, but that’s not on the offence directly). And then, after the half, they marched up the field again for a TD. They were also 2/2 on 4th down. 

The Patriots aren’t the score-at-will Patriots of years past, but I suspect that their ceiling is a lot better than they’ve been willing to show so far. 

58 "You can't just ignore the…

In reply to by RickD

"You can't just ignore the impact of the scoreboard on the choices the defensive coordinator is making."

I didn't.  :)

"Yes, Chubb looked very strong in the second half"

He ran well in the first half, too.  And I think you are too cavalier in dismissing the first drive of the second half as allowing yards for time.  NE was only up by 10 at the time, hadn't scored since the first quarter and there was still 25 minutes remaining.

It was a bad day at the office for the run D.  No need to sugar coat things.

86 Next Week Should Tell

One point in favor of the Pats running D woes being schematic is the fact that teams haven't had much success against them in the red zone. They're giving up an average .5 rushing TDs per game. That's pretty good! I haven't crunched the numbers (I'll try to do it tonight) but if the Pats were so weak against the run it would show up in the red zone.

The Ravens, also coming off a bye (Pats face three bye teams in a row: is that common?), are one of the top rushing teams in the league. It's a little deceptive because Jackson is something like half their rushing yards but by any metric, they're pretty good on the ground. Seems like the ideal strategy for the Ravens with their inaccurate passer is to run right at the Pats early and often. If Jackson & Co. trample the Pats that way, we'll be closer to an answer. If I had to bet, I'd say that Belichick comes in with a scheme to limit the run and force Jackson to wing it.

I think the Pats offense will improve but not until after their own bye. Yesterday, Brady had Edelman, White, a paper-bag pocket, and not much else. More of the same next week, although Sanu should be incorporated a bit more and they'll have Harry back. (BTW, it looked like the Pats ran the same screen two plays in a row for big gains. Bamboozled the Browns both times). It's a game the Pats certainly lose. Harbaugh generally plays them pretty well and they're in Baltimore.

12 The Patriots have been…

The Patriots have been quietly hemorrhaging rushing yards all season. The Buffalo and Cleveland rush offenses are the only top-half units they've played all season (all opposing pass offenses have been uniformly garbage) -- Pittsburgh at 19 is the only +DVOA pass offense they've faced. And even that undersells it -- they got to play the shittier versions of the already-awful Miami, New Jersey, and Washington offenses. And both gashed NE, yardage-wise.

But even Washington ran over NE, relatively to Washington. And they are starting an 83 year-old running back!

It will be interesting to see how the Baltimore game plays out. Maybe NWE has been Berleing it so far on rush-D, trying not to show anything to Harbaugh or Pederson. Or maybe they just aren't that good and Jackson will shatter Vick's QB rushing record.

21 "But even Washington ran…

"But even Washington ran over NE, relatively to Washington. And they are starting an 83 year-old running back!"

An 83 year old RB who had 18 yards on 7 carries.  :)  In all seriousness, Washington had one long run and was meh the rest of the day.  Not that your larger point is invalid, NE's run D has shown plenty of cracks and, given that Chubbs, Gore and Sims Jr all broke long runs, you could probably make the case that this is becoming a trend.

26 It's also important to…

It's also important to remember that a significant percentage of Chubbs yards came at a point where the Patriots would gladly give you 5 yards in exchange for 45 seconds. 

 

 

Their offensive line is abysmal, and there's significant value at this point to shortening the game once you have a lead to prevent more injuries. 

28 Mostly I'm making the case…

Mostly I'm making the case that the first half of the season told us almost nothing about the Pats. Their opponents are 14-42 on the season -- and six of those wins are against each other and two more come against the Bengals. So you're looking at 6-36 against varsity opponents. Their non-Bills opponents are 9-40.

So the baseline NFL team would be expected to be 6-2 against that schedule. It's just hard to tell.

38 think about what you say

Mostly I'm making the case that the first half of the season told us almost nothing about the Pats. 

Nothing?  They've beaten 8 NFL teams (well 7, if you don't want to count the Jets twice which, given their effort on that Monday night an entirely reasonable position).  They've only allowed 40 points on defense in a half-season.  

If you think that "tells you almost nothing", I think that tells us about your biases.  

In any case, their next five games are @Baltimore, @Philly, Dallas, @Houston, and KC.  Those should clear up the matter to everyone's satisfaction.  (Well, except for the people who are still making excuses for the Chiefs losing the AFCCG last year.) 

 

43 "Mostly I'm making the case…

"Mostly I'm making the case that the first half of the season told us almost nothing about the Pats."

WHOA WHOA WHOA HOLD UP. Let me get this straight. Are you seriously telling me that the Patriots have had a weak schedule so far this year??????

Mind = blown.

51 Oh, sorry for…

Oh, sorry for misrepresenting, I'm just blown away by the insight. I hadn't seen anyone, especially around here, comment on the Pats schedule all year, so I had no idea it was so bad.

I really think you just blew this whole thing wide open.

57 I know it's beating a dead…

In reply to by rex manning day

I know it's beating a dead horse, but I still think that people aren't noting exactly how fortunate the Patriots schedule has been for their defense, specifically. There was a stat that was shown during the Browns/Patriots game yesterday that made me go "holy crap" - it showed the Patriots defense versus the 2018 QB draft class. And then I realized that it's basically their entire schedule.

This means that the best deceptive defensive scheme designer in the entire NFL has basically only been facing second year quarterbacks all year.

61 The issue is, they've also…

The issue is, they've also dominated their competition w numbers that would seem impossible given the offensive environment. 

 

Again, dominating teams tells us something. How far you want to reach with it is a fair and worthy debate. To pretend it's completely meaningless makes no sense.

78 "they've also dominated…

"they've also dominated their competition w numbers that would seem impossible given the offensive environment."

Which is why I'm confused as to why the simpler explanation - that this is coming from a brilliant, extremely experienced coach facing inexperienced quarterbacks - isn't the correct one.

"To pretend it's completely meaningless makes no sense."

I'm not pretending it's completely meaningless. But to me, it's just telling me something I already knew, over and over and over: that until quarterbacks get a bunch of experience versus the Patriots, it's like they start with a huge built-in advantage. Once they do get a bunch of experience, though, it seems like that advantage goes away or at least decreases. It's just a story that's played out over and over, and not even just with Belichick: you see the same thing with Nick Saban and Alabama too.

The problem is that all the stats are saying this is Belichick's greatest defense ever, and if that's true, then it's the greatest tragedy in football history that we're seeing it utterly wasted. I want to see it versus Rodgers, Wilson, or Brees, but at best, we'll get one of those. Even Stafford, Ryan, or Rivers would be great to see, but it's unlikely we'll get any of those. It's easy to say "well, you did get it versus Roethlisberger" but I don't know if Roethlisberger will ever play again, or if he should have even played that game.

To me it's just like last year's Super Bowl. A drive or two into the game and you know the deal: young QB has never seen this front develop into that coverage, either throws a pick or panics and gets sacked. Lather, rinse, repeat. Boring. What I want to see is the 2003 New England/Indianapolis games. Those games were awesome. There you could practically see Manning figure out what Belichick was doing, and adapt: and then just phenomenal individual performances on New England's defense just wreck everything.

I'm hoping we get it versus Kansas City and Houston, but KC's defense worries me, so pretty much all my hopes rest on Houston.

82 I think it tells us…

I think it tells us something that it takes a veteran qb to be able to decipher this defense. We never put that caveat with the 2013 Seahawks or the 2002 Bucs or the 2000 Ravens... etc etc. I also don't completely buy this belief that you need experience to defeat BB. I think you need to be a good qb(who are often people with experience) and even then, it doesn't always work out. 

The undercurrent in all of this seems to be - the talent here isn't overwhelming, its just being papered over with hall of fame coaching. You and I agree here, though I don't know how much agreement we'll receive with others reading this. 

Chandler Jones is a really good pass rusher. He was good in NE, he was good out of NE. The only other player I am convinced could replicate what he's doing in NE is Gilmore. I can kind of buy Hightower. The rest, I don't really believe could. I don't believe for instance that either McCourty would do this if they were poached in free agency. 

The view seems to suggest - Belichick has finally found a set of players who are thoroughly in lockstep with his coaching and that implies a kind of talent, maybe not the traditional one. I agree there, though that talent is wasted on 31 other teams. That to me is more about Belichick than the players. ANd once a savvy coach/qb comes to town, that high iq talent will be mitigated by the difference in physical capabilities. THat's possible, but I'm skeptical.  But fair enough, it remains to be seen. 

 

 

 

115 "I also don't completely buy…

"I also don't completely buy this belief that you need experience to defeat BB."

'Experience' is the wrong word - 'wisdom' is probably the right word. Experience usually produces wisdom, although sometimes people have it earlier than others.

"The undercurrent in all of this seems to be - the talent here isn't overwhelming, its just being papered over with hall of fame coaching."

And this is actually the thing that's bugging me, because people seem to think I'm dismissing the Patriots somehow because of this, and I'm not. I do not care about "ranking" teams, because that's a stupid idea anyway. I want to know which it is, because if it's coaching, that means that Belichick's discovered a way to shut down offenses in the modern era, and this is a Big Deal, because it can be studied and copied. And if it's great athleticism, it's less about figuring it out and more about enjoying it by focusing on those players.

117 I think it tells us…

I think it tells us something that it takes a veteran qb to be able to decipher this defense. We never put that caveat with the 2013 Seahawks or the 2002 Bucs or the 2000 Ravens... etc etc.

------

By week 8, the 2002 Bucs had faced Warner, Vick, McNabb, and Culpepper, and would get Favre and Gannon.

By week 8, the 2000 Ravens had faced Brunell, McNair, and Brad Johnson (it was a back-loaded schedule).

By week 8, the 2013 Seahawks had faced Newton, Kaepernick, Luck, and Palmer.

By week 8, the 1985 Bears had faced Eason, Theismann, and Montana. (They did get three games against the Bays)

By week 8, the 2019 Pats had faced Ben Roethlisberger's corpse. (Mayfield might be the best QB they've played)

 

The Pats game was actually the Steeler's highwater mark for passing this year.

137 To be clear in 2013, only…

To be clear in 2013, only Carson Palmer was actually an experienced QB. But by the end of the year they had faced Matt Ryan, Brees twice, and both Mannings.

Things do pick up for the Patriots later this year, facing Mahomes, Wentz, Prescott, and Watson, except only Mahomes and Watson have faced Belichick before, and unfortunately Kansas City's defense worries me. I'm really looking forward to Houston/New England. Not dismissing any of the other games, I just worry they'll have an easy explanation. A 13-3 win vs Kansas City is still going to make me say "WTF happened" but if Kansas City's playing from down 21 by the half I'll be super-sad.

Of course the thing I'm most worried about is getting a Patriots-49ers Super Bowl and finding out years later that Belichick broke down all of Jimmy G's tendencies and they knew everything he was going to do or something (see Tampa Bay 2002).

87 "Which is why I'm confused…

"Which is why I'm confused as to why the simpler explanation - that this is coming from a brilliant, extremely experienced coach facing inexperienced quarterbacks - isn't the correct one."

Because it isn't the simpler explanation.  This advantage, if it were the primary one at play - would be expected to extend back into prior seasons.  Instead, NE's defense has often been a unit that makes that makes youngsters and journeymen look like potential probowlers.  I know the W/L record is impressive, but that is not because of results that resemble what we've seen so far. 

The competition is undoubtedly a factor, but there is something else afoot driving their dominance.

105 This is not a point in your…

This is not a point in your favor.  First, the Superbowl would be bundled into the 2019 data set.  Second, even if you feel otherwise, the times NE made mediocre and young opponents look competent dwarfs your single game sample.

94 The question is how much of…

The question is how much of an effect the inexperience of those opposing quarterbacks has had on the Patriots' performance. At face value, they've been historically dominant, but in reality, by the end of the year, they will almost certainly have declined to merely excellent, or even less than that. They may not even be the best defense of the 2019 season; the 49ers defense looks every bit as good, with the exception of some fairly volatile turnover numbers.

100 This is literally my point…

This is literally my point. I know Belichick can make young/rookie QBs look worse than normal, especially when he's got film on them. What I'd like to know is how much is coaching, and how much are the players, and I can't tell that right now because we've never seen anything else.

106 And, again, the assumption…

And, again, the assumption that this is SOP for Belichick defenses against younger QBs is just not what we see for the past decade.  At least we found what appears to be the root of the disagreement, though.

112 But they don't. The Pats…

But they don't.

The Pats have played three teams in common with the Eagles and 49ers.

Head-to-head, the Eagles and 49ers have done better in terms of raw yardage than the Pats did in 4 of the 6 matchups.The Eagles do not have a good defense (although the 49ers probably do).

I'm fine with the idea that the Pats have a good defense. I'm not persuaded by arguments this is the best defense of the DVOA era.

130 I think this is the…

I think this is the consensus view even among Pats fans (albeit with a "yet" qualifier).  The schedule gets a lot tougher from here, so we'll get more clarity soon enough.

156 Exactly. The Patriots tend…

Exactly. The Patriots tend to make any unit of any opponent look worse than they do against the rest of the league because the Patriots are better than the rest of the league. 

It is no surprise, then, that a brilliant teacher and a team with a decided advantage in scheming and planning and finding every little edge while also being a bit of a chameleon in game planning (which is, for whatever reason, still super rare in this league despite 2 decades now of evidence that that's the smart way to approach game planning... obviously the teaching and discipline and versatility come in to play here, and I know this; I don't want this to sound like I'm bemoaning this fact or just automatically assuming all other coaches are stupid. (Even though a lot of other coaches are stupid.)) has figured out a way to really clamp down on and frustrate a series of young, inexperienced, overrated, washed up (Ben), etc quarterbacks.

It's sort of a guts and stomps thing. They're the better team, even against quality opponents, for a variety of reasons. Give them a series of non-quality opponents, and they remain incredibly disciplined, almost robotic in their attention to detail, and are thus able to deploy all sorts of 0 coverage and weird (and not that weird, but still effective) ways of getting pressure to confuse inexperienced quarterbacks and just steamroll them. Other teams might get a little complacent against bad teams. The Patriots just stomp them out, because they know that they need to maintain that high level of play so that when the opponent is actually good, they'll still be capable of doing it.

Like you, I don't buy that they're one of the best defenses of my lifetime. I think when they face a good team and QB - and that may very well start this week with the Ravens - they'll give up yards and points.

They're still really really good, though, so they're still probably going to win. But until I see them make a great QB look mediocre or a good QB look bad, the way they did at the start of this generation-long dynasty, rather than making bad QBs look terrible, like we've seen lately, consider me part of the educated skeptics camp.

Which isn't to say it's not still a championship-caliber defense. Last year proves quite definitively that it is. But I'll be more surprised if they shut down the Chiefs offense* (pending Mahomes' health) than I will if they give up 40, even if they're still sitting atop the historical DVOA board at that point in the season. They're playing extremely well and doing absolutely everything you could ever possibly ask them to do. But I believe they can also still be scored on. And both can be true. The offense still has two months to round into form so that they can win even if the D gets lit up, and there's very little reason to think McDaniels, Brady et al won't get to that point.

37 timing

The  Pats actually played a healthy Steelers' team.  Isn't really fair to rate that Week 1 effort by an average taken over the entire season.

Oh, and the Redskins didn't "gash" the Pats' run defense.  There was one play where, inexplicably, the Pats' defense was too polite to Steven Sims, who ran for a 65-yard TD.  Over the rest of the game, the Skins ran for 80 yards on 19 rushes.  

The Patriots are only allowing 85.2 yards rushing per game, which is 4th best in the NFL.  A lot of that is because teams stop rushing against them when they have a big lead.  But that fact also affects average stats: when the Pats have a big lead, they will gear the defense to stopping the passing game, and won't really care if the run D gives up even a handful of longer runs.  Because a "long run" of 15-20 yards is far less damaging than a long pass of 50-60 yards.  

Yes, the  rush defense could be better on a per-play average.  But I'd like to look at the personnel groupings on the field when they are giving up run yardage.  If it's happening when they have 5 or 6 guys in the secondary, that's a sign that they don't really care about the run defense at that stage.  

 

53 Washington's games prior to…

In reply to by RickD

Washington's games prior to the Patriots: 2.15, 2.76, 3.28, 3.23 ypc. So even taking out the 65 yard run, the remaining 4.21 ypc was the best result they had so far that year. Since then, they've had 4.39 (Miami!!), 3.51 (49ers), and 5.31 (Vikings).

So I mean, you're basically saying "if you take out the biggest run, the Patriots held Washington to their 3rd highest YPC of the season."

3 Colts-Broncos

This was an ugly ugly game to watch. After Brissett had what I thought was his best game last week, he was jumpy most of today. Broncos D definitely part of this, but it seemed he looked to scramble anytime his initial option was covered. Luckily Flacco was even worse and Fangio seemed to have no interest in actually scoring points.

On the reversed no-PI call it was pretty blatant which is the level it takes to reverse it I guess. The DB was holding Hilton's left arm behind his body for the entirety of the play. How this flag happy crew missed that I'll never know.

The game was ugly enough on its own, but the officials throwing flags every other play made it more of a slog. Somehow they missed multiple obvious calls, yet always seemed to have some ticky tack foul at least 2-3 times a drive. I didn't rewind and watch them all, but one of the worst was calling holding on Jack Doyle away from the play as he pushed him man down straight in front of him. NFL officiating is bad. At least it wasn't one sided and both teams got called for ridiculous penalties so...progress?

4 Bright spot on the Bengals

Was half watching this game and Auden Tate looks to be legit. Dude is huge and was catching within 9 feet. What is the background on this guy?

5 Is the only guy who can beat Andy Reid, Andy Reid?

You scheme a really effective offense with your backup and your defense hung tough but was clearly gassed but you punt at midfield at the end of the game on a 4th and 3? Really Andy?? REALLY???

Such a great coach. But his few flaws must be so infuriating for fans of his team.

14 Reid vs Reid

I made a similar point on the open thread. Playcallng and clock management account for maybe 5% of a head coach's responsibilities, but they are the 5% that we get to witness every Sunday. Reid is an excellent head coach with a proven track record of both identifying QB talent, and developing it to get the most out of his players. His playcalling is actually pretty excellent most of the time; his only real deficiencies are clock management, and understanding how the time remaining changes the calculus of his playcalling. 

41 I'm sorry, but this just…

In reply to by Independent George

I'm sorry, but this just doesn't make sense to me. I get that people want to look at the fact that the Packers won and say "look, it didn't work, analytics said you totally should've gone for it".

But look at what actually happened: the Chiefs punted and pinned the Packers at the two yard line. They went from 4th-and-3 at their 40, which is not a plus situation for the offense, to the other team having the ball 1st and 10 at their 2, which is a plus situation on defense. The punt was a positive EPA play. Like, a pretty big one. It's over a full 1-point swing in expected points, and this was not unexpected, since Colquitt's a very good punter. If the Chiefs hold them to a 3 and out there, they almost certainly get the ball back in better field position, with all 3 timeouts.

I just don't get it. Let's suppose they go for it, and score the touchdown. Which is already a pretty unlikely situation. But they're not going to take a full 5 minutes to do it, which means you're going to be kicking back to Green Bay with the score tied. The Packers gained 39 yards when the Chiefs defense had to stop them in order to tie the game. If Kansas City kicks off, and Green Bay gets it at the 25 and they gain 39 yards when the Chiefs defense had to stop them in order to keep the game tied, Green Bay's in field goal position to win the game.

I've been defending Reid on this for a bunch of years, because it's always the same thing. His team's trailing, and they're in a low-percentage situation to win the game, and he makes a low-risk decision which puts them in a better (but still low) chance to win, and they don't win, and people criticize him because he should've taken the high-risk one. But here's the thing: they always would have had to stop the Packers offense again. Choosing to do that first instead of second doesn't change the fact that you had to do it: and in fact, doing it first is better strategically because it gives you more flexible choices on offense, and restricts the Packers choices on offense. 

The choice to punt was not the problem. It wasn't the best result, but it was still a good result. Giving up 39 yards to Green Bay on that final drive pretty much always would've lost them the game.

edit: I mean, I should also point out that if you use the same logic (always choose the better result, regardless of risk) then people should be criticizing LeFleur, because the results of their punts were so bad that just going for it on all of them would've probably been better.

62 FWIW

Mine and I believe the poster above were statements made before how things played out. I posted on Twitter as did a kajillion other people on how this was not going to end well. Watching the Chiefs defense at that point there was no confidence by any observer that the Packers would not move the ball successfully. 

And also just to clarify an element of the scenario is that punt ending up at the 2 was the result of the GB returner making a horrendous decision resulting in 15 odd yards of roll. 

I understand the perspective you are sharing. Short version is the strength of the Chiefs last night was their offense. And Reid was masterful in his playcalling. I think in that situation you go with your strength.

92 You think that the Chiefs…

In reply to by big10freak

You think that the Chiefs could've gone for it, gotten it, and burned enough time with a touchdown that the game goes to overtime, they win the coin toss, and go down and score a touchdown right away?

Of course it was obvious that the Packers would be able to move the ball, but that just tells you that it was obvious that (barring something crazy) the Packers were going to win. The Chiefs getting that ball downed at the 2 (and yes of course it was luck, but at that point you're hoping for luck anyway) increased the chance of "crazy."

95 As I outline below

If you need two scores to win then you have to have the ball twice. The Packers do not turn the ball over. So you need to score, get the stop that you have said is possible and then score again. 

If a stop is feasible then I hold to keeping the ball as this improves the chances of winning the game in regulation.  The approach outlined of scoring while leaving no time on the clock is very hard to generate as an outcome.

I am not a 'play for the tie in regulation' guy. That is likely the basis for our different viewpoints. 

 

125 Yeah, I'm not a big fan of…

Yeah, I'm not a big fan of relying on constrained situations for the win. The problem is that constrained situations really only work if you've got a great QB: the surgical 2-minute drill to score type. Moore isn't one of those - Kansas City needed situations manufactured by play calling to succeed - take what the defense gives you - which means you want as much of the playbook open as you can, and you want the ability to abandon the play.

Reid has a looong history of playcalling like that, and that's where I think most of his decision-making comes from. I also partly think this is a problem of people not realizing that "great playcalling" and "poor decision-making/time management" might not be 2 separate things. I think if you put Reid into 4th and 3, the plays won't work as often as, say, 2nd and 3 or 3rd and 3. Similarly if you ask him "just come up with an awesome play in 2 seconds," it's not going to be as good as a play that takes 10-20 seconds to figure out.

124 The fallacy you're making…

The fallacy you're making here is that a "stop" isn't the same thing in all situations. When they punted the ball, the "stop" the defense needed to get was stopping Rodgers and that offense from getting just two first downs. Had they gone for it on fourth down, then got the touchdown, the "stop" the defense would have needed would just be any drive that doesn't end in points for GB. In fact, any drive that did end in points but with enough time left on the clock would have also given KC a chance at a victory. And on top of all that, a KC defense that has been depleted through injury would have been better rested when they finally trotted out onto the field.

So no, I agree with the other posters that going for it on fourth and three was the correct decision. If you knew for 100% certainty that the punter would make a very low percentage punt getting GB trapped inside the three yard line, then sure, maybe punt. In reality a great punt does not justify a poor decision.

131 Three first downs needed…

Three first downs needed. Packers got the ball with 5:04, Chiefs had 3 timeouts and the 2 minute warning. That's 3 first downs needed, minimum (the Packers actually got 4). I'm not sure I would agree that preventing Rodgers from getting 3 first downs in a constrained environment (very near the goal line) is different than preventing Rodgers from getting into field goal range.

To be clear even a "typical" punt there for Colquitt - inside the 20 - is still a good play. The punt to the 2 was a great play. I just don't see why it makes sense to focus on a choice between "chance at good situation versus lose game" and "good situation" when the clear reason that they lost was that they couldn't stop Rodgers. They were down 7, late in the 4th quarter, at 4th and 3. There were no "make this decision and you likely win the game" choices here, and if you're already unlikely to win the game, why does it matter if you hinge it on your defense or offense? I mean, they were in 4th and 3 because the offense couldn't get it done.

69 I liked Andy Reid's chances…

I liked Andy Reid's chances of calling plays, and his offense executing them, in a fashion that scored a t.d., while consuming most of the clock, better than I did the Chiefs defense getting the ball back quickly enough. 

150 It's not 4 minutes or more -…

It's not 4 minutes or more - the Packers had multiple timeouts, the 2-minute warning, and 4th quarter timing rules. If they had scored a TD with no time remaining it would've basically been Kansas City's longest drive going to the latter half of the 4th quarter since Reid's been there (and 3rd longest overall).  Kansas City's touchdown drives that have started with 6-8 minutes left in the 4th have all ended before/at the 2-minute warning.

For reference, in the entire NFL since 2013, the latest any touchdown drive of 60 or less yards has ended, when starting at around 6-7 minutes left, is 1:50 remaining.

 

71 This was not a case of "you…

This was not a case of "you should always go for it regardless of context", or "The Packers won, therefore it was the wrong call", though. It was a case of (1) the Chiefs defense struggled mightily in the 2nd half, and (2) the offense was gaining yards pretty consistently all game. I don't know why you think it's unreasonable to assume they couldn't eat 5 minutes of clock to go 60 yards if they made the conversion. Assuming you could hold the Packers to a 3-and-out when you hadn't done so on the previous three drives seems optimistic at best - the Packers 2nd half possessions went:

FG: 15 plays, 77 yards, 8:33

TD: 5 plays, 27 yards, 2:22

TD: 2 plays, 75 yards, 0:59

The Chiefs had also just gone on a 10 play, 70 yard TD drive. They were averaging 6 yards per play for the game. The chance of stopping the Packers was lower than that of gaining 3 yards on 2 plays. 

79 "I don't know why you think…

"I don't know why you think it's unreasonable to assume they couldn't eat 5 minutes of clock to go 60 yards if they made the conversion."

Because the Chiefs couldn't sacrifice play efficiency for time. They needed the touchdown, and Packers had 2 timeouts anyway. No way they would've used even to the 2 minute warning.

If the Chiefs defense couldn't hold the Packers offense, they were going to lose. Period. You're right that assuming you could hold the Packers offense was optimistic, but it was the only choice they had left.

84 If I've got to stop the…

If I've got to stop the Packers offense, I'd rather try it when I am either leading or tied, when there is less time remaining, and when the Packers playbook is thinner. Weird stuff happens, which means not trailing in points is always inherently valuable.

 

173 I don't understand this,…

I don't understand this, because it's literally the same logic I'm using. Pinning the Packers deep does thin their playbook. A lot. And it showed - they ran the ball three times straight away. Aaron Rodgers didn't beat them. Aaron Jones did.

I've never understood the "weird stuff happens" argument. You're aiming for a rare event - the common event would be holding the Packers to a 3 and out - which already happened that game - or even 6-and-out - and receiving the ball back in good field position with a fresh set of downs. 

From 1999-2019 before this week, there have been 11 drives which started with between 4-6 minutes remaining, with the team up 7, and the ball inside the 5 yard line. The results of those drives were 2 end-of-games, 7 punts and an interception. The record of the trailing team in those games was 1-8-1, which is a ~15% game winning chance. 

Punting put the Chiefs in a good situation. The Packers just beat them.

175 They ran it three straight…

They ran it three straight times because they correctly deduced that the Chiefs defensive front had all the fight of wet tissue paper at that time. 10 minutes more rest for them wouldn't have hurt.

If you differ with the proposition that at any given point that it is preferable to not be trailing, we'll agree to disagree.0

 

 

176 "10 minutes more rest for…

"10 minutes more rest for them wouldn't have hurt."

It didn't help when they got it before! If we're literally going to say "the Chiefs defense had no chance to stop them" then this whole thing is moot. Whatever happened they were almost certain to lose, and instead we're arguing about flying pink elephant events that happen once a decade.

If you look at the full game, they stopped them several times in the first half. It's no different risking the game on their ability to recapture some of that performance in a very favorable situation than risking it on the offense performing in a very unfavorable situation.

"If you differ with the proposition that at any given point that it is preferable to not be trailing,"

Jaguars-Jets, 2009. Tell that to Maurice Jones-Drew, who willingly kept his team trailing in order to get rid of all time remaining and go for a guaranteed field goal. Absolutes are always a killer!

In a broader sense you always need to condition your choices on what you expect will happen the rest of the game. Which is partly what's happening here. 5 minutes remaining with all 3 timeouts isn't a do-or-die situation for the Chiefs. It was a completely reasonable belief that they had a good shot at geting the ball back. They just didn't.

Of course going for it and scoring is preferable here, but you don't have that choice. You just have the choice of asking your offense to convert in a bad situation, or asking your defense to hold in a good situation. I don't see the downside in choosing the latter. You're 90%+ screwed anyway, it makes more sense to put your players in a position to succeed.

177 You now seem to be saying…

You now seem to be saying that because 10 minutes rest didn't help earlier in the game, it is impossible for it to have helped later in the game. I disagree.

Anyways, it's not that big a deal to me. Given a bad situation no matter the decision, my preference is to roll the dice with my more talented, less exhausted players, and to keep my less talented, more exhausted players off the field as long as possible. 

85 Agreed.  At the time I…

Agreed.  At the time I thought the punt was a mistake, but looking at in hindsight, despite it not working out, I think Reid made the right call.

If KC converts 4th down and goes on to score a TD to tie it up, then based on what we saw, they still lose, because their D was unable to stop the Pack and Rodgers was going to have plenty of time to drive for the winning score.

KC's only chance of forcing overtime is to both (a) score a TD and (b) get a stop out of their defence.  The order in which (a) and (b) happen is irrelevant.  

Percentage wise, I'd say the chance of getting a stop is higher while still behind and the Pack are playing conservatively.  

91 The disconnect for me

is that I don't know how you can score if you do not have the football. And the Chiefs needed to score to even tie. To win the Chiefs needed the ball twice. 

The Packers have flaws but turnovers on offense is not one of those flaws. GB has has only seven turnovers on offense this season which is fourth in the league tied with Baltimore and Indy. 

So KC needed to generate not one but two stops by giving the ball back. How about scoring and then generating one stop to get the ball back and attempt to score again?

 

118 Honestly, if I were coaching…

Honestly, if I were coaching with the Chiefs' O and the Chiefs' D, I'd kick for the tie, and hope to drag it to overtime by baiting the other team into conservation.

 

I've got a better shot of winning a coin toss than of my defense holding on to a 1-pt lead with 90 seconds left.

152 "To win the Chiefs needed…

"To win the Chiefs needed the ball twice."

Winning in regulation wasn't a likely option at that point. Of all of the situations in which they win, I'd guess the significant majority would happen in overtime. You don't optimize for unlikely situations, you optimize for likely situations.

Just to be clear, again, the Chiefs were already over 98% screwed. Win probability at 4th and 3 in that situation was 2.6%. And guess what? With the punt, their win probability went up : to 4.7% (basically the same anywhere inside the 20, which is likely given Colquitt's punting). GWC if they convert the 4th and 3 is 9.4%, and if they fail, it's 0.7%. So you're basically talking about needing a play that's got a 50% chance on 4th and 3, and I would not be confident of that.

Honestly I really don't get the "Chiefs were never going to stop Green Bay" idea anyway. They sacked him 5 times and forced a number of short drives. If you had to guess from game results, you'd guess that the Chiefs had a 50% chance of getting the ball back, which is probably better than their chances of converting that 4th down!

174 Yes, but if the defense…

Yes, but if the defense could only play like they did in the second half, they were going to lose, period. They put Green Bay in a horrible situation, and Green Bay just beat them. That's why they lost, not because of a decision not to go for some pipe dream crazy situation.

9 Re Rodgers TD throw to J. Williams in the corner

He said after the game he saw Graham, and he saw someone else (seemed like he didn't know it was Williams) behind him, and he threw it with the idea of letting Graham go up and get it, and if he overthrows him, maybe the guy running to the corner can catch it.

So it appears the throw was intended for Graham, but Rodgers was intentionally trying to throw a ball Graham would have to go up for, hoping the other green jersey could get it if the throw was off.

10 Why is Tom Brady taking…

Why is Tom Brady taking sacks with a 17-point lead and six minutes left in the game?

Brady has never come out of blowouts. He's long gotten away with it because he plays in a trash conference and has had a historically-good offensive line pretty much since grade school.

42 I don't know about yesterday

But Brady doesn't take many sacks.  And he was in vs. the Jets even when they had a big lead because the offense still needs a lot of work.  

"Historically good offensive line" certainly doesn't apply this year.  "Trash conference" is hilarious.  

120 The AFC, for 20 years, has…

The AFC, for 20 years, has been: Brady, Roethlisberger, or Manning, with the distant prospect of a Luck or Mahomes, or of a McNair, Gannon, or Flacco getting paired with a world-conquering defense.

McNair is dead. Gannon retired. Roethlisberger, Manning, and Luck all sustained career-ending injuries. Mahomes is hoping he did not. Flacco's Faustian deal expired.

There's nothing left. Your next-best team is... Houston?

161 With Watson as QB, he's a…

With Watson as QB, he's a reasonable possible entry into the pantheon of AFC championship QBs.

Terrible shame about Watt getting injured (again).

Also a shame (of a much different sort) about O'Brien being the coach.  I'm not liking that matchup for Houston if they're taking on NE in the AFC Championship.

Indy's a better bet on that front, as I like Reich as a coach and don't think he's as likely to be bamboozled by Belichick.  As much as I like Brissett, though, he's not scary like Watson and Mahomes.  If he was QB'ing the better team, I'd be happy having Brissett under centre.  QB'ing an underdog, he's no where near as likely to win the game himself.

74 Six minutes and 17 points is…

Six minutes and 17 points is not so insurmountable that I think it's worth pulling him. The Pats also have a history of practicing injury/substitution drills when they do have an insurmountable lead (which I think is a great idea).

11 All right, Bears fans, as…

All right, Bears fans, as painful as it may be, we need Nagy analysis! With a dash of Trubisky lamentations!

15 On the one hand, Bears fans…

On the one hand, Bears fans are apoplectic at having whiffed on Watson & Mahomes for Trubiski. My rejoinder is and always has been that the Bears would have found a way to ruin Watson & Mahomes, because they're the Bears. 

32 Not that I think Trubisky would be great

I think the Bears have pretty much ruined Trubisky with every thing they've done. They traded up to draft him when they could have stayed right where they were. They should have picked Watson based on performance in college. Beyond that they insisted on making Glennon the starter no matter what when he was a rookie, despite Trubisky being clearly better in every pre-season game. They would give him no 1st team reps, because it's Glennon's year. Glennon fails and John Fox just drills into Trubisky to not turn the ball over, be scared of mistakes. Trubisky's play deteriorated as the year year went on, but he didn't throw many picks. Just took a ton of sacks. This year they are back to that same shit, be scared of mistakes, don't just play. He's pretty much scared to throw the ball so he's late on everything. While he isn't goo he is the guy that got them into field goal range yesterday and also in the playoff game, how about giving him another play to try to get closer. 

 

Also that play calling by the goal line is terrible. A no other options fade on third down? Wide receiver runs? Run the ball into a pile with 25 seconds and no timeouts so the defense can just pile up and waste the clock in the scrum? I like what Nagy has done for their culture, but his play calling and end of game management need a lot of damn work.I think he can improve but that press conference yesterday was dis-heartening. Hopefully he looks back on that over the week and realizes how dumb intentionally kicking longer than needed field goals to win a game is.

24 Nagy's post-game press…

Nagy's post-game press conference was not a good look.  He all but came out and stated that he can't trust his quarterback to not take a sack or turn the ball over in field goal range.

33 May have fumbled...

They would have known they were running, may have lost 3 yards. The guy is relentlessly positive, except at the the end of a game. 

Speaking of which I really think a team could get a big play lining up in victory formation and throwing a quick pass.

36 If you can't trust your…

If you can't trust your offense to even try to get 5 to 7 more yards, with that much time on the clock, you really are saying that 8-8 is your mode, under the best of circumstances. That team has way too much talent to be making that concession, which really is what that post game presser was; Nagy belligerently informing the public that he can't be faulted for his roster being mediocre under the most favorable assumptions.

I've not had much of an opinion on Nagy, either positive or negative, up until now, but that is really, really, weak.

50 nbgy

yesm, not good comemns t from M. Nagy yesterday. Came across as tooo sensitive and kind of jerky. 

66 From a leadership perspective

guys who lose their cool when being asked questions do not generate much confidence. If a person cannot handle having their thought process challenged the rank and file notice.

Will not be surprised if chatter begins to emerge that Nagy is losing the clubhouse

80 One thing I've appreciated…

One thing I've appreciated about Zimmer is that when somebody asks him about a decision that turned out badly, there are instances when he's been as brutally critical of his own decisions as he is when a player or assistant coach screws up. That's what purchases him equity with his players, and why he has no problem hiring assistants who have options.

109 Is RJ going to apologize to…

Is RJ going to apologize to me for ridiculing my (cowardly weasel-worded and not actually serious) suggestion that Nagy was fireable last week? 

 

I actually don't *want* Nagy fired, but if he's not actually trying to get fired, he's doing a remarkable imitation of someone who is.

 

And Trubisky. I really do feel bad for the guy (despite the fact that he has a whole lot of not-particularly-well-earned money). There is some real ability buried down there, but I'm not sure it's ever coming out. He needs a year or two in a stress-free situation with a great QB coach who can fix his mechanics and his head. Ain't happening in Chicago, probably not anywhere in the NFL. 

132 naby

Do not feel this is terminable type stuff from naby yet althoguh if losing continues and semi-jerky ior outright definitely jherky comments are made, then seat will get hot. to make plauyoffs in first yr with team and then get fired means the 2ns year had to be total dumpster fire.

151 Agreed. It is not a dumpster…

In reply to by Raiderjoe

Agreed. It is not a dumpster fire yet, but he has the wastebasket with the smoldering cigarette butts in his hands, and he's carrying it out to the alley...

110 Bears: I'll just copy/paste what I wrote on the DVOA thread:

"Subjectively, as a Bears fan who thinks the team would be wise to move on from Trubisky as quickly as possible, this team feels close to completely cratering. The defense isn't the same without Akiem Hicks, and the secondary, apart from Eddie Jackson, is beatable. I don't see more than two or three winnable games left on the schedule (LAC, NYG, DET). It's going to take a complete 180 in offensive approach--a low-yield, run-centric, field-position-focused offense that utilizes Mitch's one strength, running, to insulate their defensive and special teams advantages, per DVOA--to get this team to even 8-8. I'm not optimistic, if you couldn't tell..."

Props to Nagy for doing the obvious this week (27 carries for Montgomery). There are not enough derogating terms to describe the already-alluded to final drive decision making, or the team's inability to do anything of value close to the end zone. My sense is that Trubisky's overriding inaccuracy makes throws into tight quarters a losing proposition, so throwing over the top into the corner of the end zone is a bad look for this team. Just take your chances in heavy personnel and run as much as possible in those situations. The good news is that I can stop caring about this hideous team for the rest of 2019.

 

16 Watt

I really hope this isn't the end of JJ Watt, but that's 3 out of the last 4 seasons ending on IR, and it doesn't get any easier as you get older. Once is bad luck, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action.

18 What injuries have done to…

In reply to by Independent George

What injuries have done to the Texans the last 4 or 5 years has really cheated football fans.

46 Watt

In reply to by Independent George

he's at a point where he has "damaged back" syndrome.  Not that this is a back injury, but it just seems like he cannot stay healthy for an entire season any longer.  Huge shame given his dominance five years ago.

Gronk should reserve a seat for him on the Party Bus.  

76 On the one hand, speed…

In reply to by RickD

On the one hand, speed rushers seem to lose a step more than power rushers lose strength. On the other hand, I can't help but wonder if these injuries are the result of him pushing his body past what it's capable of doing anymore. Maybe he needs dial it back a notch in order to stay on the field? A broken leg, a back injury, and then a torn pec don't seem related, but the regularity of the injuries makes me wonder if it's just cumulative wear & tear from a very physical style of play.

77 I think its just...some…

I think its just...some players are injury prone. Watt is in that category now. If he comes back, the Texans need to consider using him as a rotational piece at this point, which is a total total shame.

 

At his peak, Watt was either the best defensive player I ever saw or sharing the mantle with the destroyer of worlds. Prior to him, it was unthinkable for a 3-4 end to rack up so many sacks. He practically made batted balls a stat worth counting. 

Against the colts, he could wreck an entire offensive drive by himself. One of the brightest stars in the NFL and a clear hall of famer.

19 1977 Falcons

I took a closer look at the 1977 Falcons and 49ers streaks of allowing 100 passing yards or less. When these two juggernauts faced off against each other in the first game of the streak, the Falcons had 29 net passing yards, and the 49ers had 25. Steve Bartkowski was 12 of 26 for 105 yards for Atlanta, but lost 76 yards on sacks. Jim Plunkett was 5 of 12 for 50 yards for San Francisco. The 49ers won, 10-3, despite gaining 97 yards (!) in total offense.

Those Falcons actually went eight straight games without reaching 100 passing yards on offense. But the defense was good enough that they still managed to go 3-5 over that stretch.

20 I have a 1-0 live record,…

I have a 1-0 live record, even if it is a bit flimsy (didn't see Kern fumbling at the stadium, thought he was down). Nice to see the refs give one back after all they've taken, but I should remember this the next time the Titans get screwed.

I was surprised no one mentioned Bruce Arians's awful challenge of a Bucs player getting called for essentially a defensive push off penalty.

I really hope Vrabel doesn't get pressured into being uberconservative, my only criticism is a fake FG instead of running an offensive player. No need putting Brett Kern at risk like that, and you'd be better served with the regular offense.

Also, I've noticed they've been calling more stuff they never called with Mariota. More spread formations, more slants and fades. I wish Arthur Smith set up more quick throws for Tannehill. The long developing stuff can't be a bread and butter.

23 The Bud Goode killer stat,…

The Bud Goode killer stat, Net yards per pass attempt, but adjusted for opponent. Wow SF is way ahead. There seems to be a notion that SF hasn't played anyone good, but the Rams and Car are pretty good teams and they stomped them.

1 San Francisco 49ers 2.79
2 Kansas City Chiefs 2.09
3 Minnesota Vikings 1.83
4 New Orleans Saints 1.30
5 New England Patriots 1.23
6 Green Bay Packers 1.16
7 Los Angeles Rams 1.00
8 Dallas Cowboys 0.89
9 Detroit Lions 0.59
10 Carolina Panthers 0.59
11 Jacksonville Jaguars 0.50
12 Pittsburgh Steelers 0.47
13 Cleveland Browns 0.44
14 Houston Texans 0.41
15 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 0.21
16 Seattle Seahawks 0.11
17 Oakland Raiders 0.07
18 Denver Broncos -0.04
19 Indianapolis Colts -0.31
20 Tennessee Titans -0.32
21 Philadelphia Eagles -0.36
22 Chicago Bears -0.47
23 Buffalo Bills -0.84
24 Atlanta Falcons -0.88
25 Los Angeles Chargers -0.90
26 Washington Redskins -0.98
27 Baltimore Ravens -1.13
28 New York Jets -1.40
29 New York Giants -1.51
30 Arizona Cardinals -1.91
31 Cincinnati Bengals -2.16
32 Miami Dolphins -3.42

31 They've been pretty…

They've been pretty consistently winning the that stat most weeks. To my eye they don't look as good a team as this stat suggests. Here's the net yards per pass attempt vs each oppenent...Chic was the only game they lost this stat

 

Vikings    Opp         Diff

Atl    8.82   5.44      3.38

GB   6.76   5.31      1.45

Oak  8.29   5.63      2.65

Chic  4.33   5.79    -1.46

NYG  9.30   3.50     5.80

Phil   10.83   6.79    4.04

Det     9.91   7.49     2.42

Wash  9.41   5.24    4.17

 

 

39 One more handoff to Dalvin…

One more handoff to Dalvin Cook at Lambeau, as opposed to The Kirkster throwing a moron ball on the 5 yard line, might have put them in a substantially  better position. The game at Soldier, a place where the horned heads very rarely play well, for whatever reason, is the one game where they were decidedly outplayed.

160 Even though they haven't…

Even though they haven't faced a very difficult of a slate of secondaries the last few weeks, the Vikings have been smart to embrace the bombs away, play action deep shots. Those plays fit perfectly with their zone running game, they prioritize getting the ball to their two elite wide receivers down the field (which was their problem early in the season), and leaving in extra blockers/slowing the rush for a beat is helpful in reducing Cousins' tendency to not look to throw downfield when he's worried about pressure.

It can be easy to think of big plays as fluky, but I also think they've found something in embracing this aggressiveness.

49 Pass blocking

Since when did it become legal to basically hug the defensive player rushing the QB. Offensive linemen literally rap their arms around the rushers. Often a guy is breaking through and has an arm completely wrapped around his neck and upper body but it's not holding.

59 From an article on…

In reply to by jmaron

From an article on officiating:

"One other important item on holding. Officials realize that offensive linemen hold defenders, but it's the defenders responsibility to show the hold. In other words, it's not enough for the defender to stand there being held. The defender must make an attempt to move away from his blocker, to go after the ball, fight off the block, and demonstrate that the offensive player is getting an advantage. "

67 KC-GB game officiating

In reply to by jmaron

After one early holding call the crew gave everything a pass the rest of the night.  And you know, I was ok with it. There was still a pass rush by both teams most of the time. And nothing really egregious was done by either offensive line. I think if a guy had been pulled to the ground or equivalent a flag would have been thrown. As it was linemen bear hugged linemen who had to cope. 

 

If that is the tradeoff for games without umpteen penalties I am ok with it

73 From time to time I've…

From time to time I've wondered if it might be viable to have the 5 ineligible receivers wear some kind of handwear that prevented them from gripping, and then tell them any wrapping with arms above the waist and below the neck is ok, and tell the pass rusher it was their job to prevent any wrapping above the waist and below the neck.

54 Colts Broncos taught me a…

Colts Broncos taught me a few things. When the Colts o line isn't dominating, you get games like yesterday. They weren't Terrible, but they overall lost their matchup vs the Broncos. Brissett isn't the kind of qb who helps his line and he's not good enough to be special when things breakdown. I said as much last week when he threw for 4 TDS. Colts have a real qb conundrum on their hands.

 

As for the Broncos...their offense depressed me. They seem to come in with the game plan that best case, Lindsey runs for 200 yards. If not, they would be on the positive end of a 13 pt outing. Flacco wasn't even that bad this game. The offensive approach was shocking and smelled of conservative, big boy football from a woebegone era.

Vic Fangio might be a good coach, but he needs to hand over the offense to someone more modern in approach. I'm just at a loss to understand how a Hall of Fame quarterback like John Elway thinks this is the way to design your offense.

60 Brissett

Brissett's play to escape Von Miller and riffle it to Hilton was pretty special. I agree that he's probably never going to take over a game though. That being said, he is only 26 and this is just his second season starting. With his size and arm strength, I think he could end up at a Rothlisberger level, which is certainly a QB you can win with.

63 That play was awesome and…

In reply to by Ben

That play was awesome and very Luck/Mahomes like. But it's one play.

 

Yeah, he could improve. But most don't and I tend to be on the pessimistic side. Hope I'm wrong.

83 Well noone is more…

Well noone is more pessimistic about QB play than I am, and I think that he's good enough to win with.

 

But yeah, not so great that they're ever likely to win because of him, which is a massive difference.

 

But with quality coaching and planning, which we're seeing, plus a complete roster, which we're starting to see, you have a team that can hang with anyone. They're not likely to walk into Foxboro and win a game. But they're capable of it on the right day. Which is more than can be said of most.

97 He's better than 2007 Eli,…

He's better than 2007 Eli, 2012 Flacco, and a corpse. I'd say he's about on par with Foles. That's four of the past 12 champs, 5 if you want the 2011 Eli in the mix. Brissett's fine as the starting qb, as long you get him at the right price.

99 I think he's about as good…

I think he's about as good as prime Flacco, but I concede your overall point.

And yet...you can also see the opportunity cost  that comes with a good team having a solid qb. Its a bit like watching the chiefs with Alex Smith vs Mahomes. If only they could get a good qb....they could be turbo charged. And then they realized that dream. 

I hope Colts fans are not blind to the fact that every single one of their games has been a nail biter. They could be 7-0. but they could also be 1-6 in an alternative universe and the narrative would be totally different.

The colts, to me, are a solid team. They have a good offensive line, solid depth and goodish defense. They lack the kind of gamebreaking player at pass rusher or receiver(though I like Hilton a lot). 

157 I'd take him over Foles and…

I'd take him over Foles and even prime Flacco. Prime Flacco was still not really ever very good. He just got lucky a lot and then strung together 4 good games in a row (and even then, it took an all-time horrible play by Rahim Moore for him to get past that 2nd game). Similarly, Brissett is not leaving stuff on the field the way that Smith did either, so I'd take him there too.

But yeah... I mean, there's a reason that we were all really optimistic about this year when Luck was on the roster. Anything was possible with him, even with a terrible roster. And now it's not that. They weren't a Super Bowl favorite, but they were certainly just as capable of getting there as any non-New England team, especially coming out of that division.

There's a historical comparison, style and capability-wise, for Brissett, and it's on the tip of my tongue, but I haven't quite gotten my head around who just yet. It has been bothering me for a while.

His ceiling isn't so high that I think he'll ever be a stud or worthy of, say, a first round pick. But what a blessing it has been to have him there instead of a Tolzien or Curtis Painter this time around.

101 He still isn't great at…

He still isn't great at quickly going through his progressions and seems like he gets flustered a bit if the top options are available. That seems to me to be something that could improve with experience/reps.

That being said, he could end up being the type of QB who can get you to the playoffs most years, but will struggle once there and the team ends up stuck in the NFL "upper-middle class" forever.

I think Dave and Will have it right. You can win with him, but probably not because of him. As long as he doesn't demand a ridiculous salary, you can hopefully put enough talent around him to win.

72 I think flacco was a huge…

I think flacco was a huge problem.  WR catches should terrify defenses, but flacco generally wants to throw to the line of scrimmage.  Sutton is obscenely good, and has gotten some major action deep, but the broncos having essentially no intermediate passing game, a massive liability at left tackle, and a QB who takes too many sacks and throws it way too short.

55 That wasn't a QB draw

Aaron: "Wow, the Eagles just called a QB draw on third-and-10, and converted with it."

That wasn't a called QB draw - according to Pederson it was a screen that Wentz looked at, said "hell no that ain't gonna work" and he just improvised the run. And damn, I wish that would happen more often - I see way too many screens thrown when it should be obvious as soon as the QB turns that almost anything else would be better.

96 The Bears have descended to Trestman levels

I wasn’t even angry watching the game yesterday. It’s comical. The Bears did everything possible to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. The futility of just about every goal to go play they ran, two missed kicks from a kicker who appeared to be pretty good before the game, and all of Matt Nagy’s head-scratching decisions that he angrily defended at the press conference because he thinks he’s the smartest guy in the room.

I have lost all hope for the current regime. Maybe Trubisky is capable of being a league-average QB, but now that the defense has come back to earth and the team isn’t incredibly lucky with injuries, even that probably wouldn’t be enough to win a championship. Nagy seems Trestmanesque in how far over his head he is, and I seem to remember that the 2014 season started with a lot of optimism before it deteriorated to the point of everyone getting fired. Also, the reigning executive of the year is now 29-42 as a GM (not counting the playoff loss) and apparently can not evaluate the most important position in sports to save his life.

108 Supposedly the biggest…

Supposedly the biggest reason Pace/Fox wanted him gone was that he was too vocal in the locker room for a kicker. He did have two bad games at the end of the season, and 2015 was a down year for him in general but it wasn't like he was awful. Of course, after having a great 2017 and 2018 he has been pretty bad this year, so who knows what would have happened if he'd stayed with the Bears, but the only defensible reason for letting him go is not wanting to spend millions of dollars on a kicker during a rebuild.

162 Robbie Gould

Had three things going against him:

(1) performance- really down year in 2015

(2) cost - was a top 5 K (maybe 3rd most expensive)

(3) age - was 31 on a rebuilding team 

The move made sense at the time given the facts at hand.   Robbie Gould later admitted that getting cut was the fuel to motivate him to a late career renewal  

Gould isn’t the difference between a SB appearance or not.   

Drafting a QB with 1 yr of CFB starting experience, a 24 yr WR with 1 yr of performance in a spread offense, or hiring an arrogant, emotional coach who isn’t consistent with his logic nor learns from his mistakes nor incorporates others ideas... this is difference between SB appearances and pretenders.

 

111 I'm with you...

When I watch, which is now infrequent and halfway distracted, the primary motive is schadenfreude. Come to think of it, that's a pretty common attitude in Chicago as a whole. That's how we survive winter and driving on our woebegone roads!

113 I am annoyed at the…

I am annoyed at the revisionist history that's been played out with regards to Trubisky and Watson and Mahomes. Its all one big post hoc fallacy.

Mahomes was considered a fringe first round pick. Kind of like JP Losman. Most people had him in the 2nd round and he was drawing comparisons to Colin Kaepernick(Who was no longer setting the world on fire)

Watson was considered a good college player, but had limited upside as an NFL starting qb. There were real questions about his arm and accuracy.

Trubisky may have been a reach without hindsight, but it wasn't panned as a terrible pick by most people. It just happened not to work out.

119 I hadn't watched enough…

I hadn't watched enough Mahomes to have an opinion, but I saw a lot of Watson, and said, right after he eviscerated Alabama yet again, that any team in the top 10,  which needed a qb, and didn't draft Watson, was making a giant mistake. After the draft, I said it was inconceivable to me that someone would take Trubisky over Watson.

I can't believe there weren't plenty of professionals working for NFL teams which did not see it the same way.