Audibles at the Line: Week 9

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.

Houston Texans 26 "at" Jacksonville Jaguars 3 (London)

Scott Spratt: Why would the Jaguars bite on the play fake on second-and-14? If Deshaun Watson and receiver Steven Mitchell had been on the same page there, Mitchell could have caught that 15-yard pass and practically walked the last 30 yards into the end zone.

Andrew Potter: Having closely observed last season's Panthers, I find it incredible that Chris Clark is still starting NFL games -- injury replacement or no injury replacement.

Scott Spratt: I threw out a poll for the staff before the game started. Update before Gardner Minshew takes the field for the first time. Four of four responses believe Minshew should start when Foles returns.

Bryan Knowles: I think you have to start Minshew until he really flounders. It's not like they have a superstar on the bench behind him; Foles hasn't had a positive DVOA since 2014. It's a matter of not messing with a good thing while it's going on.

Scott Spratt: But what does Foles' contract do to the equation? If your options are:

1. Start Minshew, keep Foles and his $22 million cap hit on the bench in 2020.
2. Start Foles, trade Minshew for a first-round pick, sign or draft a new backup QB.

Would you start Foles at that point? Or do you think Minshew might be good enough that you simply wouldn't trade him?

Andrew Potter: I think if you're hoping for a first-round pick for Minshew, you're setting yourself up for serious disappointment.

I also think if you're hoping for Foles to be fully healthy and justify that contract, you're in for serious disappointment. He has been hurt in five of eight seasons, and never started more than 11 games, and his season with the most starts is also the least effective season of his career -- albeit with the Jeff Fisher asterisk.

For me, by far the most sensible decision is to keep both, start whomever you think is the better player, and keep the other as a strong insurance policy. The 2020 cap hit is a sunk cost at this point.

Scott Spratt: Really? What is Minshew worth? Josh Rosen got a 2019 (late) second- and 2020 fifth-round pick coming off one of the worst rookie seasons in quarterback history, and everyone thought it was a great trade for the Dolphins. Minshew has been good. Draft stock can't mean more than seeing eight-plus games of NFL play, right?

I feel like Minshew should at least be more valuable than Jimmy Garoppolo was when he was traded. He fetched the No. 43 pick. So early/mid-second rounder.

Bryan Knowles: Sample-size issues, but Garoppolo had a 44.4% DVOA in his two starts in New England before he was traded. Coming into today, Minshew had an 11.9% DVOA. You can argue that Minshew has more experience, but then, Garoppolo was a higher-regarded quarterback coming out of the draft than Minshew was, as well. I don't think he approaches Garoppolo's value in a trade.

Scott Spratt: It's not about success to date as much as (1) projected future success and (2) team control. Garoppolo was in, what, his third NFL season and had to be re-signed to big money after half a season? Minshew has three more seasons of rookie contract, and a sixth-round rookie contract at that. His base salary never hits $800,000 in a season. I think he's way more valuable than Garoppolo was.

Bryan Knowles: Here are all the quarterbacks under the current CBA who have been traded for first-round picks:

  • Sam Bradford (to Minnesota for a first and a fourth)
  • Carson Palmer (to Oakland for a first and a second)

That's it. That's the list. If a quarterback is worth a first-round pick, you generally don't trade them away.

Scott Spratt: I don't believe that reflects the current market, Bryan. The list of defensive ends traded for two first-round picks is Khalil Mack. The list of cornerbacks traded for two first-round picks is Jalen Ramsey. Quality NFL players have gotten more expensive in terms of draft capital in recent seasons.

Andrew Potter: Who's your buyer? The teams that are desperate have premium draft picks. Everybody else either has a veteran they believe in or a high pick of their own.

The only exceptions are potential retirements -- the likes of the Patriots, Chargers, or Steelers. I doubt any of those is throwing a first-round pick for Minshew.

Scott Spratt: Also, I probably shouldn't ignore the game that's happening to this degree. That last Texans drive featured an iconic Deshaun Watson play where he lateraled a ball to Carlos Hyde while being pulled to the ground for a near-sack; DeAndre Hopkins' second career rushing attempt (on which he nearly scored); and a blocked extra point try that was nearly returned for two points. This game has been exciting considering the score is just 9-0 with less than four minutes left in the half.

Dave Bernreuther: Just as I was about to make a comment about the Jags' offense being an overly simple one-read quick-release kid-gloves type of design for Minshew, to its own detriment, Minshew dodged, dipped, ducked, dived, and dodged around in the pocket -- showing more desire to stay in the pocket in that one play than some players (cough, Josh Allen) have in their entire careers -- and then hit an off-balance throw just past the sticks to a mostly uncovered Ryquell Armstrong (whom I have never heard of until now), who then ran away from everyone for a 38-yard pickup.

A few plays later, handcuffs off, Beowulf hits Chris Conley on a well-placed throw into the red zone. If they can convert here, a very boring half will be almost redeemed.

Dave Bernreuther: As for the poll, I think the answer is clearly Minshew. Foles is a known quantity, and despite a few great games, that known quantity amounts to roughly "meh." Minshew might not have a high superstar-level ceiling either, but he's doing well at the start, is cheap, and could very easily end up better than Foles. He might already be. There's no reason to keep Foles when you have someone young, cheap, healthy, and possibly more talented.

Then again, maybe I'm not the right person to answer that question, given that I laughed at the idea that they were signing Foles to begin with.

Houston's defense holds in the red zone -- and it should be noted that Minshew is most certainly missing open guys at times, such as on that third down where he evaded a sack but had to throw it away, so I'm not pretending he's Watson here or anything -- so we're back to boring. 9-3. Yawn.

Andrew Potter: Deshaun Watson is clearly the difference between these teams right now. The Texans' touchdown goal-line sequence was well-designed and well-called, but the rest of the game has been Watson making things happen with the occasional decent run from Hyde mixed in.

Dave Bernreuther: And yet he's still not playing perfect football. He just threw behind Darren Fells on a short misdirection play where Fells had nothing but wide open field in front of him.

On that play Myles Jack was spying Watson and did a great job not reacting too hard to a play fake; on the very next play, he ended up split out wide to cover Duke Johnson out of the backfield. You'd think that was a mismatch, but for as long as the camera was on them... Johnson didn't beat him. Didn't matter, though, because Watson snuck out over the middle (where Jack had been on the previous play) and took off for a very easy first down.

Scott Spratt: I wouldn't sweat the difference between, say, the No. 25 and No. 35 picks.

I could see any team without a franchise quarterback (or one with a franchise quarterback who might retire soon) wanting to secure a cost- and team-controlled young quarterback who played well for the first eight starts of his career. Whichever of the Dolphins or Bengals fails to land Tua Tagovailoa, the Steelers, Titans, Raiders, Chargers, Broncos, Bears, Saints, Bucs, and Patriots all seem like possible matches.

Didn't Nick Foles -- a quarterback the poll suggests we all think is worse than Minshew -- just land a $50-million guaranteed contract to start? A first-round pick isn't worth $50 million, is it?

Bryan Knowles: You were right to laugh at the Foles signing to begin with, Dave. Even when adjusting for the salary cap, only Peyton Manning (twice), Drew Brees, and Kirk Cousins have signed larger deals in free agency under the current CBA than Foles did. They're stuck with him until at least 2021. At least they'll have their backup quarterback situation sorted.

It's not as big a deal with the Foles contract as it is for some others (see Flacco, Joe), but it's notable that there are no Post-June 1 cut designations for the upcoming season. The CBA runs out after 2020, and in the final year of this CBA deal, you can't push money into future seasons. That doesn't matter much for the Jaguars specifically (a post-June 1 cut would have saved them a whopping $750,000 in 2020, at which point you're obviously better off just keeping Foles), but it's a big deal for some other big contracts out there -- a post-June 1 cut would have saved the Broncos $20 million against the cap in 2020; as it is, cutting Flacco would just save them $10 million, with more dead money than that hitting their cap.

Scott Spratt: Wow, that's the second amazing play Watson has made today while being pulled to the ground for a sack. This one ended up as a 17-yard completion to Duke Johnson, assuming it stands after a review.

Bryan Knowles: Yeah, Watson's looking amazing. Maybe the Texans should try to trade him for a first-round pick! ;)

Scott Spratt: If only the Texans had a Nick Foles coming back from IR, haha.

Bryan Knowles: Some pretty poor coaching to end the first half. The Texans opt for a 59-yard field goal with 11 seconds on the clock. If you do that, and miss, the Jaguars get the ball back with time for a Hail Mary! With all three time-outs remaining! And, in fact, that's exactly what happens... p>

… except the ensuing play takes forever to get off, Minshew completes a pass up the middle, and rather than falling down and setting up a field goal attempt, Seth DeValve fights for 2 or 3 extra yards, wasting the final seconds of the half, and we go into the locker room 9-3. Two equally matched coaching minds, here.

Rivers McCown: One does not simply expect a Jaguars-Texans game with no weird coaching.

Tom Gower: That was some ... unsurprisingly curious game management by both teams at the end of the first half. Ka'imi Fairbairn's career long make is 55 yards, so of course Bill O'Brien sends him out for the 59-yard attempt, followed by Jacksonville with three timeouts using up just enough clock to not be able to get off a field goal attempt. As a Minshew fantasy owner, I appreciate the points, but I don't get any purpose other than that. Waiting that long to throw seemed like a bad decision by Minshew.

On the broader point of Minshew's value, I think one of the things where draft status can be extremely useful and long-lasting is as a marker of a player's long-term potential. One of the (several) reasons Minshew fell as far as he did was because he doesn't have great size at a shade under 6-foot-1, and he doesn't have a power arm. This isn't a player with great physical gifts who showed great and immediate progress with areas that troubled him in college (hypothetical Zach Mettenberger, for instance), but a guy whose physical profile is an immediate turnoff for a number of teams.

On the Foles contract point, I'll point to the report (if I recall correctly) from one of NFL Network's people immediately after Foles signed that the Jaguars paid him more money than they had to (given the state of the quarterback market this offseason, they probably could have gotten him for a Mike Glennon-like $15 million per year) to give him more credibility in the locker room.

Aaron Schatz: A brief comment about the game: according to the Jaguars radio guys, Minshew has been throwing high a lot this game, both on completions and incomplete passes.

Dave Bernreuther: How on earth would paying a mediocre player more give him more credibility with his teammates? That's ridiculous.

(Plus, it's not as if Foles has ever had issues gaining the respect of those with whom he shares a locker room...)

Scott, did you say the Steelers would be a good fit for Minshew? Are we even sure he's more promising than Mason Rudolph? And if so, is he so much more so than Rudolph that he'd be worth a high pick?

I like Minshew a lot, but I can't imagine any team would give up a one for him.

Beautiful back-shoulder throw to D.J. Chark that's going to come back for OPI because Chark gave Gareon Conley a tiny bit of help to overrun him. I get why they had to call that (and of course Michael Irvin, who really just needs to shut up, disagrees), but I don't like it. I've seen a lot worse go uncalled.

Bryan Knowles: The Jags just got flagged for leading with the helmet on a player who missed the tackle. Make everything reviewable!

Scott Spratt: To Dave's point, so much of this depends on teams' evaluations of Minshew and other guys around the league like Mason Rudolph and possibly Ryan Finley, Drew Lock, etc.

I should probably do another poll, but I'm now wondering if you all think I'm crazy more because (1) I think Minshew is better than you do or (2) I see market value differently than you do.

Andrew Potter: I simply think Minshew, given his existing skill set, is much more valuable to the Jaguars than he would be to any other team.

Bryan Knowles: For me, I think it comes down to this: if Minshew's worth a first-round pick, then the Jaguars should not trade him because you want that kind of player to play quarterback for your team, not someone else's team. If Minshew is not worth a first-round pick, then the Jaguars should not trade him because he's a decent player under team control for very cheap for the next three years.

That does leave the possibility of the Jaguars not thinking Minshew's worth a first-round pick and someone else thinking he is, which would spark a trade, but I'm not sure a front office, as risk-adverse as they generally happen to be, would risk being wrong in that move. If Minshew moves on and plays any better than he currently is, the Jaguars would likely get slammed for the move.

Scott Spratt: As we review this fourth-and-10 Chris Conley drop -- which the broadcast listed as the Jaguars' fifth drop of the day -- I'll point out that the Jags entered this week with 15 dropped passes this season according to Sports Info Solutions (subscription required). That's tied for fourth-most in football. Only the Cowboys (19), Texans (17), and Bengals (16) have more.

Dave Bernreuther: Conley-on-Conley action. That's always fun.

Foolish challenge by Doug Marrone there. I understand that it could've been first-and-goal, but there was absolutely nothing there to indicate that that call could be overturned. Nothing. It was purely based on hope.

Scott Spratt: The poll ended up with five votes for Minshew and zero for Foles. Minshew had an inaccurate passing day today, which just culminated in a bad overthrow and interception to Jahleel Addae. Anyone's mind changed?

Also haha, totally irrelevant fumble forced just before Carlos Hyde punched in a long touchdown. Irrelevant except for fantasy football! That's a touchback.

Aaron Schatz: And now another interception by Minshew, and what did I say earlier about throwing high? These interceptions were both thrown too high.

Scott Spratt: And then Minshew makes a carbon copy overthrow interception on his first play after the Hyde fumble! What a crazy end to this game considering the result is in no way in doubt.

Dave Bernreuther: Mine's not, Scott. Foles may be better now ... but it's a slight difference.

One thing I've decided is that Minshew isn't a big fan of getting hit. I'm still trying to decide who he reminds me of, but his decision-making when it comes to ducking and evading the rush is different from a lot of quarterbacks with terrible pocket presence ... but it also costs him at times. He is definitely missing open guys at times, but he doesn't do so in order to go do something amazing like Russell Wilson can, or even to keep his eyes up and find another guy the way Watson can. He's definitely a limited quarterback. But again, he's a rookie.

Just overthrew another one and it was picked by Justin Reid. That wasn't because of pressure either. He just missed his guy. Not even by that much, either, but just as was mentioned earlier -- he's missing high. That one was only slight, but in the NFL that's enough.

Tom Gower: I didn't vote in the poll, but after this performance against a Texans defense minus J.J. Watt, Tashaun Gipson, Hyde, and Lonnie Johnson, it wouldn't surprise me one bit to see Nick Foles under center at first available moment. The crew calling this game hasn't pointed them out, but there have been throws available today that reminded me of why the Titans benched Marcus Mariota.

Scott Spratt: Interestingly, Tom, Minshew entered this game with a 67.3% accuracy rate (based on Sport Radar data) that is tied with Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston. Probably not a great look. But he has also played really well at times before this week, so it would be a bummer if the most recent performance made up Doug Marrone's mind rather than the full body of his work.

Andrew Potter: My mind isn't changed by a difficult day against a very good defensive coordinator. Another couple of days like this though, and it'll be a question. The Jaguars schedule opens up a lot in the second half, and they're already a game better than I thought they'd be (Denver, specifically, where they won when I expected them to lose). 9-7 isn't off the table, but they'll need to be much better than they have been here. They have shown that they can be, so I'd give that the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise.

The run defense was a real worry today. The Hyde fumble was amusing, but he had averaged 10.0 yards per carry at that point. (Down to 8.4 now, which is still horrifying.)

Bryan Knowles: My final thought on this one was boy, that wasn't worth getting up early to watch. That's the real nasty thing about these early-window London games: I'd rather have the couple of extra hours of sleep if it's going to end 26-3.

Rivers McCown: Just to put on some more thoughts: I'm surprised the Deshaun Watson for MVP case is not getting more traction. He's not just a candidate, to me. Without him, the entire offense would cease to fire.

Tennessee Titans 20 at Carolina Panthers 30

Scott Spratt: The football gods just punished Mike Vrabel for not running Derrick Henry on a fourth-and-1 from the Panthers' 25-yard line against the No. 32 DVOA run defense. Instead, he chose a field goal, which Ryan Succop missed wide left.

Scott Spratt: Big break for the Panthers. Christian McCaffrey lost a fumble, but an illegal hands to the face penalty nullified it and gave the Panthers a first down at the Titans' 35-yard line. Turns out that didn't matter. A pass hits Jairus Wright in the hands but bounces out and into the hands of Titans' linebacker Harold Landry.

Vince Verhei: No score at the end of one. Titans have some big plays, the biggest a 42-yard DPI on James Bradberry in coverage against Tajae Sharpe, but have missed a field goal in their one drive that reached scoring range. Panthers had the ball for most of the quarter, grinding out yards, but they wasted a drive when Jairus Wright tipped an interception to Harold Landry. Late in the first Christian McCaffrey had maybe the best 6-yard run of the year, cutting back to his right and juking FOUR Titans defenders. But that drive stalls early in the second, and the Panthers get a field goal to go up 3-0.

Scott Spratt: In contrast with Vrabel earlier, Ron Rivera goes for it on fourth-and-2 in the red zone. Kyle Allen hits a wide-open Christian McCaffrey for a walk-in touchdown. Panthers are up 10-0.

Vince Verhei: Defenses continue to dominate here. Dion Lewis fumbles the ball away to Carolina in Tennessee territory, but the Panthers go backwards and end up punting. No matter, because now the Titans have an interception-that-should-have-been-a-catch as A.J. Brown tips a ball to Donte Jackson. Panthers then decide to go for it on fourth-and-2 from the 7. They go three-wide and fake it to McCaffrey, then throw it to him in the flat, and he's somehow wide open even though they had just faked it to him, and he walks in for the touchdown and a. 10-0 lead.

Scott Spratt: The Titans start the second half with four straight carries for 30 yards. Why wasn't this the first-half game plan? The Panthers are the No. 32 DVOA run defense.

Scott Spratt: Riverboat Ron is back! Fake punt from their own 35, which Colin Jones somehow drives past the sticks after being hit by multiple Titans 2 yards shy.

Scott Spratt: The Panthers crowd is doing MVP chants after Christian McCaffrey's 58-yard touchdown run. It's his third touchdown of the game. He's on pace for 26 for the season.

Vince Verhei: I missed a good chunk of the second half of the early games due to personal obligations. Got back just in time to see McCaffrey go right up the middle like a cannon for a 58-yard touchdown run. He actually got ran down from behind and it would not have been a score from 59, but that's OK. Panthers are now up 30-14, and McCaffrey is up to 146 yards and a pair of scores.

Scott Spratt: Apparently McCaffrey is the third running back ever with 150-plus yards from scrimmage in six of his first eight games in a season. Jim Brown is one of the others. Major props if anyone on staff can guess the third player.

Bryan Knowles: The Panthers' win means Washington is officially eliminated from the top seed in the NFC, which I mean, yes, obviously, but it's notable that they're the only team at the halfway point of the season to be eliminated from any playoff seed whatsoever. We're 128 games in, and 31 teams can still finish anywhere in the standings. That'll change if New England wins tonight, but at least for now, Washington's the first team to tumble.

Oh, and to wrap back around to Scott's McCaffrey question: No idea. Bits of trivia really aren't my ... Forte.

Scott Spratt: Haha, crushed it Bryan.

Tom Gower: Panthers won 30-20. The Titans at halftime realized they were playing DVOA's worst run defense, and started to run the ball. Derrick Henry had 11 carries in the third quarter, most of them successful (plus a couple of the inevitable 2-yarders that were probably losses in past games), and finished with 13 for the game after they'd ignored him in the first half and ended up passing in a fourth quarter they trailed by 16-plus points when they had the ball. Kyle Allen didn't have a terrific day overall, but he had a couple of significant third-down conversions, sometimes after buying time, and when the Titans blew a gap and McCaffrey blew through for a 58-yard touchdown, whatever small doubt remained was gone. At least this week we don't have any late-game "adventures in strategic decision-making with Mike Vrabel," just the early decision to attempt a 43-yard field goal on fourth-and-1 that a just-back-from-IR Ryan Succop naturally missed as part of an 0-for-3 day.

Washington Redskins 9 at Buffalo Bills 24

Bryan Knowles: The Bills might have the deepest throwback rotation in the game, so I'm baffled why they keep going mono-red and mono-blue. They've never thrown back to the '90s Super Bowl era red helmets, which is currently impossible thanks to the one shell rule. They do, however, throwback to the Standing Buffalo helmet quite often, including today. I'm going to credit that for their opening touchdown, rather than just playing a terrible Washington team.

Buffalo hasn't worn a normal uniform combo since Week 5!

Scott Spratt: The Devin Singletary breakout is happening. He's up to 99 yards on nine touches. Just three touches for Gore so far.

Bryan Knowles: Good lord, this game is already over at 3:43 Eastern time. You can say one thing about interim head coach Bill Callahan's Washington: you get in and get out on time. You may lose, but at least they won't prolong your misery.

Bryan Knowles: One final note on Washington's offense. They have now gone without a touchdown of any kind in three consecutive games, the first team to pull off that feat since the 2008 Cleveland Browns.

The Jets and Dolphins might have matched up the two worst offenses in the league, but Washington's coming up fast on the outside.

Minnesota Vikings 23 at Kansas City Chiefs 26

Aaron Schatz: Chiefs just went deep to Tyreek Hill on consecutive plays. Harrison Smith made it over to knock it away on the first play but he couldn't make it over in time on the second play, with Hill beating Trae Waynes down the right sideline, Hill reaches out and just snags the pass for a touchdown. 7-0 Chiefs. Once again, Matt Moore doesn't look half bad. Is anybody better than Andy Reid at scheming to make their backup quarterbacks look good?

Bryan Knowles: Patrick Mahomes is out for one Moore week -- he was walking well, and throwing in pregame, but he's sitting out another game.

After three straight three-and-outs to open the game, Kansas City's second possession is slightly more successful, with Moore hitting Tyreek Hill deep for a 40-yard touchdown on a nicely placed pass on which he had roughly all day to throw the ball. If Kansas City's offensive line gives him time, Moore can sling it a bit. 7-0 Chiefs, early.

Dave Bernreuther: I get that Tyreek Hill is fast, so if you haven't worked with him much it's easy to underthrow him. Which is what Matt Moore did when he was open on one play, which let the white Bob Sanders (that'd be Harrison Smith) get over to break up a pass that was in Hill's hands.

Lesson learned, though. On the very next play, on the opposite side of the field, Moore puts his whole body into the throw and Hill catches up to it. Touchdown, Chiefs. So the Chiefs' passing offense takes a 7-0 lead on the running team that gets to face the Chiefs' rush defense. Not a bad start when your MVP is on the sideline.

Bryan Knowles: The Vikings respond with their first real drive of the game, bolstered by a couple of passes to Laquon Treadwell. Treadwell entered the game with two receptions for 16 yards on the year; he caught 26- and 13-yard passes, both on third down, on this most recent drive. Kirk Cousins caps it off by finding Olabisi Johnson for a touchdown in a sort of "we do too have other receivers!" drive for Minnesota.

Dave Bernreuther: I've always been high on Matt Moore. In fact, I'm probably on the record here in the comments somewhere nearly a decade ago with a hot take comparing him favorably to Eli Manning. So it's no surprise to me that Andy Reid is making him look good. That's a decentckquarterbak in an offense so good it makes you sort of question Mahomes' actual value (note: I love Patrick Mahomes; please don't kill me).

So with that said ... Moore just cost them four points. On goal to go, he threw behind three straight receivers, each of which should have been a touchdown. The Kelce throw on third down was the worst, by far. None of the three plays had pressure. The Chiefs just drove nearly the entire length of the field for about nine minutes and came away with a chip-shot field goal. That's a huge letdown. And a huge win for the Vikings.

(Who are already punting it back ... of course.)

Aaron Schatz: Hey, we had an OPI overturned in Minnesota-Kansas City. Not a challenge by a coach because it was inside two minutes of the first half. Also, it was a horrible call where Bashaud Breeland jammed Laquon Treadwell off the line, totally legal, and for some reason they called OPI on Treadwell. But it's definitely notable to have an overturned pass interference.

Scott Spratt: Aaron, I saw a stat on a broadcast last week that coach-challenged pass interference penalties never get overturned but referee-instigated interference reviews are way more likely to be overturned. Did anyone see that and remember the numbers? Whatever the specifics, it's a super-weird policy.

Aaron Schatz: Vikings went for it on fourth-and-1 from Kansas City 15 despite only 29 seconds left in the half -- you don't get the benefit of starting the opponent in bad field position if you fail. But they converted it with a pass to Irv Smith. However, Chiefs coverage was airtight on the next three plays so the Vikings had to bring in the kicker on fourth-and-10 to make it 10-10 going into halftime.

Bryan Knowles: I've been impressed by the backup Chiefs linemen in general; they're giving Moore plenty of time more often than not. Moore is responding by playing well -- he's obviously no Mahomes, but he's honestly throwing the ball better than Kirk Cousins at the moment. I don't know why the Vikings are throwing so much against Kansas City's porous rush defense, especially with Adam Thielen out. Twenty-one pass attempts, 13 rushes for Minnesota in a tie game seems sub-optimal for the situation.

Bryan Knowles: Terrible start to the second half for the Chiefs, as Mecole Hardman fumbles the opening kickoff and sets the Vikings up in great field position. And it's Ameer Abdullah, scoring his first touchdown since 2017, who ends up getting into the end zone on a wide-open reception. Roll back the clocks indeed. The extra point is missed, so it's just 16-10 Vikings.

Aaron Schatz: Damien Williams, former Speed Score champion, just took it 91 yards for a go-ahead touchdown for the Chiefs. The center and both guards pushed everyone from the Vikings out of the way left and Williams cut right, then he cut around Harrison Smith, who usually doesn't get juked like that, and nobody was behind Smith so at that point it was just a race to the end zone.

Bryan Knowles: A Vikings punt pins the Chiefs inside their own 5-yard line, so it's going to take a pretty long drive for them to get into scoring position. Or, of course, you could just hand it to Damien Williams, who scoots the length of the field for a touchdown. Shoutout to Anthony Harris, who was set up for the touchdown-saving tackle but ended up going to the turf without even attempting a tackle -- I think it was a case of being juked out of his shoes rather than just a slippery field -- and Williams was gone. Chiefs take the lead, 17-16, midway through the third.

Bryan Knowles: With Aaron and I identifying different safeties at fault, I went back to look at the video -- and we were both right. Smith just gets lost in the middle of the field and gets all turned around by Williams; Harris was the deep guy who ends up just going to the turf. Great safety play there by Minnesota.

Scott Spratt: Haha, this is why we need Next Gen Stats. Tyreek Hill reached 22.6 mph while running to celebrate after Damien Williams on his 91-yard touchdown.

Bryan Knowles: After holding the Chiefs to a field goal on the next drive after the touchdown, the Vikings march down the field, with Cousins hitting both Irv Smith and Dalvin Cook for big gains. Kyle Rudolph comes down with the score, and we bounce back to a 23-20 Vikings lead in what has been a very entertaining game so far.

Aaron Schatz: I know the Chiefs have a lot of fast players but man, they sure do love going horizontal in an attempt to gain more yards.

Aaron Schatz: Kansas City's line has done a good job all game, but they just got overwhelmed by what was I think a seven-man blitz on third-and-13. Harrison Smith came untouched. Turned a short field goal into a very long field goal after a 14-yard loss, but Harrison Butker knocks it through from 54 to tie things up 23-23.

Bryan Knowles: Oh, Matt Moore. On second-and-13, Moore had Kelce open for a touchdown, and overthrew him. On third-and-13, Minnesota brings the house and overwhelms the line, and Moore takes a sack, turning a 40-yard field goal into a 54-yarder. Harrison Butker bails him out, and we're tied at 23.

Bryan Knowles: A horrible, horrible punt sets up the Chiefs inside the 50-yard line in a tie game. Minnesota sends pressure to move the Chiefs back BEHIND midfield with a sack, but then it's a 17-yard pass to Kelce and a 13-yard pass to Hill. The Chiefs, sitting on a time-out ... rush to the line to spike it with three seconds left, as Andy Reid continues to be terrible at time management. It won't matter, though. That sets up a 44-yard field goal, which Butker nails. Chiefs win!

Aaron Schatz: One other note on this game. The Chiefs run defense played a lot better today. Some of that is having Chris Jones back, but also guys like Derrick Nnadi just looked better. They held the Vikings running backs to 79 yards on 25 carries, which isn't spectacular but is a lot better than the Chiefs run defense had been doing before this.

Indianapolis Colts 24 at Pittsburgh Steelers 26

Andrew Potter: Took the Steelers only one drive to extend their league-leading streak of consecutive games with a turnover. Mason Rudolph's pass over the middle hits Juju Smith-Schuster in the hands, but JSS tips it straight to Kenny Moore. Moore's big return leads to an Adam Vinatieri field goal and a 3-0 Colts lead.

Second drive ties it up at 3-3 following a Colts goal-line stand. Both Steelers drives have made it into Colts territory, but the drop-turned-interception is the key play.

Vince Verhei: Biggest play of that Steelers drive was a 45-yard run by Trey Edmunds, who only had ten carries in parts of three NFL seasons coming into today. Pittsburgh's other five carries have gained a total of 1 yard.

Dave Bernreuther: Parris Campbell had already put one ball on the turf, recovered by Zach Pascal. So on a third-and-6, Jacoby Brissett finds him for a first down with plenty of room to run ... and Pascal gets tripped up by the turf monster and loses the ball when he hits the ground, and by the grace of the football gods it goes out of bounds just before the pylon and the Colts retain possession.

Campbell has not exactly covered himself in glory on this possession.

Andrew Potter: Except that Jacoby Brissett goes down two plays later holding his knee, so Campbell's fumble when he would have scored looms even larger now.

Bryan Knowles: Jacoby Brissett is down, clutching his knee. Brian Hoyer is loosening up and coming in, at least for now.

Dave Bernreuther: And crap. That WAS Brissett down on the field, grabbing his leg. Without sound, the cut to commercial was too quick to see for sure. Brian Hoyer is in the game in second-and-(a long)-goal for the Colts, which almost guarantees another Vinatieri field goal attempt.

Scott Spratt: Brian Hoyer the Destroyer! Touchdown pass to Jack Doyle!

Dave Bernreuther: Ha. Of course Hoyer's first pass hits a wide-open-with-room-to-run Jack Doyle. Frank Reich is the journeyman backup quarterback whisperer, apparently.

Vince Verhei: Faced with a fourth-and-2 in No Man's Land, the Steelers make the wise decision to go for it. The play call is a strange one though. Rudolph takes the snap and rolls out, which buys him time in the pocket, but also buys the defense time to diagnose the play. So when Rudolph eventually hits Smith-Schuster with the shovel pass -- which appeared to be the designed play, not a dumpoff -- Jabaal Sheard was all over him to make the tackle for no gain and a turnover on downs.

Bryan Knowles: Hoyer just threw another touchdown pass! Unfortunately for him, it was to Minkah Fitzpatrick. I know he has switched teams this season, but none of those teams have been the Colts.

Vince Verhei: They just showed a replay of the Brissett injury. Cameron Heyward overwhelmed Quenton Nelson, who first stepped on Brissett's ankle, then fell back into his knee. Brissett has been pacing the sideline and in and out of the blue tent, but is currently on the sideline wearing his helmet watching Hoyer lead the Colts into the red zone.

And then Hoyer throws his second touchdown pass of the day. Unfortunately it's caught by Minkah Fitzpatrick, who cuts underneath a seam route to Doyle and takes it 90-some yards for a pick-six to tie the game at 10.

Dave Bernreuther: Hoyer just canceled out his good play. Looking for Doyle again on more or less the same throw as the last score, throws it straight to the waiting safety for an absolutely crippling 96-yard TAINT. Oh lord was that just an ugly, game-changing, possibly season-changing play. Ouch.

Fitzpatrick was a pretty good get for the Steelers.

Vince Verhei: Another touchdown for Hoyer! The good kind! To his own team! This time he hits the seam route to Zach Pascal for the score. It was actually the exact route Doyle ran on the pick-six, just to the left instead of the right. Vinatieri's extra point attempt is blocked, so the Colts are still up 16-10 just before halftime.

Dave Bernreuther: Can anyone remember another play where the defense only rushed ONE?

Near-final play in Pittsburgh and the Colts did just that. They didn't even throw a Hail Mary, but a semi-questionable personal foul (on the tackle of a not-yet-down-but-probably-about-to-be-down runner) handed the Steelers a free play, and Chris Boswell hit a 51-yarder about as well as you could possibly hit a long outdoor field goal off of grass. It's a 16-13 game at the half, and the Colts have to be kicking themselves, because they could be in total control and coasting for the second half right now.

Then again, they're using Brian Hoyer at quarterback on the road right now. So it's just as easy to make the case that they should be counting their blessings.

Dave Bernreuther: I love Frank Reich. I will admit to not having a ton of confidence in Brian Hoyer there, but Reich properly goes for a fourth-and-2 inside the 5, down 23-18 after a safety, and a dart to Chester Rogers gives the Colts the lead with about 9 minutes left.

Any doubt that (Hall of Fame coach) Tony Dungy sends the field goal unit out there, even when he had (Hall of Fame quarterback) Peyton Manning?

The two-point conversion is broken up, but the Colts are playing to win, even with their backup quarterback's backup. Man is that refreshing.

Dave Bernreuther: Frank Reich correctly but stupidly throws a challenge flag on a DPI call that gave the Steelers the ball at the 7.

That sounds like a contradiction, of course, but it's not. We all know full well this call isn't getting overturned ... but it's pretty clear from the replays that the receiver, Diontae Johnson, wasn't impeded at all in his attempt to come back to a ball that was underthrown and low.

I disagree rather strongly with that call, but with less than half a quarter left in a close game, I value that timeout far more than I rate the chances of an overturn.

Dave Bernreuther: I have no idea what the officials are seeing or doing in this game, but that's now the third questionable personal foul for unnecessary roughness that they've called against the Colts, all of which have impacted the game. This one was just a clean hit against Switzer after he caught a punt, and it took a good 15 seconds before a flag came out.

Hoyer's badness is catching up to them -- he took consecutive bad sacks before throwing a -23 ALEX pass on the last drive -- so they're in trouble anyway, but between those three unnecessary roughness calls and the bad DPI that Reich foolishly challenged, the refs sure aren't helping. Looks like the Colts will get the ball back with over 2 minutes to play, at least, although there's hardly reason for optimism now.

Vince Verhei: Weird moment here as Steven Nelson's shoe splits in half. He's sitting on the ground asking for an injury/equipment timeout, but he doesn't get it, so he jumps up and tosses the shoe away, covering the next snap in one sock. Rudolph throws the other way for a first down, then Nelson has a chance to leave. Steelers then recover with back-to-back sacks on first and second down to force a third-and-long and then a punt. On the punt, the Colts are flagged for a very iffy roughing call -- the returner never called for a fair catch, and though he dropped a knee to catch the ball, he looked to be getting up to getting up to run. Regardless, Steelers have the ball and the lead with about four minutes to go.

But that drive doesn't last long. On third down Rudolph is hit while he's throwing. It appears the Colts might have scored a touchdown on a fumble recovery, but after a huddle and discussion the refs correctly rule it an incompletion. Still, that's a punt, and the Colts are getting the ball back with two and a half to go, needing a field goal to win.

Dave Bernreuther: "Pascal's got a big smile on his face" say the announcers ... and with good reason. Hoyer threw that ball a mile over Zach Pascal's head and Nelson didn't make contact with him until the ball was already about to hit the ground, but the official threw a late flag anyway.

Tomlin, who is properly appalled, throws the challenge flag. True to form, they let the call stand. And just like that, the refs make up for the calls I previously mentioned, and now the Colts have it at midfield down by two. That's a game-changing call. It benefits my team, but come on. That's terrible.

Bryan Knowles: Mike Tomlin has either not heard or does not care about the evidence that pass interference challenges don't work. He has now made two in 35 seconds of game time.

Andrew Potter: The second one of those challenges was so laughable, it was frankly unprofessional. There was nothing that even looked like interference on it. He was just irate at the previous call and the fact Pascal made an outstanding catch.

Dave Bernreuther: Tomlin's second challenge in three plays is also overturned -- which was easy to see coming -- but what nobody noticed or mentioned was that Zach Pascal might never have gotten both feet down when he caught that pass from Hoyer.

Aaron Schatz: I think Pascal had both feet down. By the way, that Tomlin challenge was horrible for so many reasons, starting with that if the Colts hit the go-ahead field goal, he would need that timeout with Pittsburgh trying to come back with its own go-ahead field goal drive.

Nevermind! Pittsburgh won't need the timeout. Vinatieri shanks the go-ahead field goal, with the holder putting the laces in instead of out. Pittsburgh wins!

Scott Spratt: I've never seen a field goal missed as badly as Adam Vinatieri's game-winning attempt just now. It was a good 30 yards wide left.

Vince Verhei: Second down in field goal range, clock running, Steelers save their last timeout for third down. So Colts line up on third-and-1, and snap the ball with seven seconds left on the play clock! You just made Pittsburgh's comeback easier for no reason! Worse, the play is stuffed for a big loss. Even worse, Vinatieri pulls the field goal WAY left, and the Steelers are kneeling out the win.

Dave Bernreuther: He might have, but I want to say that one replay angle showed that the ball moved after that first point of impact, and he didn't get that first foot down again before going out of bounds. At the very least, someone should have mentioned it or looked at it or frozen it.

In any event, this is just a train wreck of an endgame. Even with the wasted timeouts, we're seeing the Colts kick with 1:14 to go... and Rigoberto Sanchez's hold sucks so Vinatieri honks the kick, so that doesn't even matter. Looks like the Steelers are going to win an UGLY one. Frankly, neither one of these teams deserved to win.

Andrew Potter: If you absolutely had to challenge something, there's more chance of that being overturned than the imaginary pass interference at least.

Rivers McCown: The only kick I can remember getting shanked as bad as Vinatieri's was when Kris Brown missed wide wide wide right in the Bush Bowl against the 49ers in 2005.

Tom Gower: I think the CHI-SF 2005 wind game where Devin Hester had a crazy-long return also had a badly missed field goal.

Scott Spratt: The wind-aided field goal miss rabbit hole is dangerous. I've been down here for a while now. Here's my favorite so far.

Tom Gower: Here are the NFL Primetime highlights of that Bears-49ers game, including Nathan Vasher's long return (Hester was a 2006 draft pick, silly me) and the earlier missed field goal that is like that Buffalo kick, only maybe even more extreme.

Chicago Bears 14 at Philadelphia Eagles 22

Aaron Schatz: The Bears just punted it back to the Eagles with 4:39 left in the second quarter. At this point the Bears have 1 net yard for the game.

Bryan Knowles: The Bears are currently averaging negative yards per play. If they lose today, the competitive portion of their season is basically over. They're certainly playing like it.

Carl Yedor: This game has been a fairly ho-hum affair to this point. The Bears can't do anything on offense at all (no first downs to this point). Mitchell Trubisky looks bad, which should surprise no one. There's obviously plenty of concern about Trubisky already, but the fact that he hasn't been able to do anything against the Philadelphia secondary makes matters worse. Philadelphia is moving the ball well, as the only stop the Bears defense made came after a holding penalty that made it second-and-20. Eagles ball again inside of two minutes.

Dave Bernreuther: Not to pile on (OK maybe I am) but Trubisky is just airmailing every throw off of his back foot. His mechanics are abysmal, and he's missing open guys on short throws by 10 feet. I'd rather have Josh Allen than him right now, and it's not even close. And I'm probably the most anti-Allen person here.

Watching him today, it's kinda hard to argue with Matt Nagy's end-game decision making last week. It's that bad.

Bryan Knowles: This is Mitchell Trubisky's first-half passing chart. Turn away if you're squeamish or are with small children.

In more positive news, they DID get back to positive yards by halftime. Nine of them, to be precise. The fewest in the past 40 years, per Elias Sports Bureau. For the record, the last team to have less than 50 yards in a game were the 2004 Browns, who had 26 against the No. 1 Bills defense. Just something to stick in the back of your mind here.

Tom Gower: I'll write more on this game after I get home, but I've seen some bad offense this year, like the Titans in the first half and against Denver, and the Bears are worse than anything else I've seen. Trubisky finally completed something past the line of scrimmage in the final minute of the half, which put Chicago into positive net yardage for the game. It is 12-0, and that feels like 120-0 with the Bears offense.

Tom Gower: Trubisky's first half in tweet form:

Bryan Knowles: Don't look now, but the Bears are clawing their way back into things, thanks to some, uh, interesting coverage decisions from Philadelphia.

It takes David Montgomery a couple of cracks from the 1 to get in, but get in he does, and it's a 19-14 Eagles lead early in the fourth quarter. Trubisky is up to 125 yards passing, albeit a bunch of it coming on plays like the one linked.

New York Jets 18 at Miami Dolphins 26

Bryan Knowles: Don't look now, but the Fish Tank is running into an obstacle that is the New York Jets. They've scored 21 unanswered points, Ryan Fitzpatrick has thrown three touchdowns, and this is entering rout territory. We're used to Fitzpatrick playing poorly, getting benched for someone, coming off the bench and then playing well -- we're just not used to all that happening in half of one season. 21-7 Dolphins as we're about to enter the half.

Scott Spratt: The Fish Tank is not in as dire a spot as it seems. Since the Fins play the Jets again this season as well as the Bengals, they can win this game, lose out, and still control their destiny for the top pick.

Bryan Knowles: The Dolphins special teams try to keep the tank going, allowing a 70-yard kickoff return to get the ball into the red zone for the Jets. It looks like Sam Darnold hit a touchdown pass to Ryan Griffin to get the Jets within one score, but it was overturned on replay -- Griffin got both feet in bounds, but the ball slid around a little bit as he was tumbling to the ground. I don't think it was conclusive evidence, but hey, I don't work for the NFL. On the next play, Darnold throws an interception, and we SHOULD be at 21-7 at halftime...

... except the Dolphins, trying to run out the half, can't just kneel; they're on the goal line. They try to sneak it forward, but the Jets get penetration, and it's a safety! 21-9, and the Jets have some time left to do more damage at midfield.

Postscript: the Jets get into range for a field goal and make it. So instead of 21-14 at the half after the Jets touchdown, or 21-7 at the half after the Jets interception, it's 21-12 at the half after a stupid, stupid last 45 seconds.

Zach Binney: I'm at the stadium in Miami and just ... what did I just see at the end of the first half? Darnold throws a touchdown to Ryan Griffin on first-and-goal from the 4, and Griffin makes a nice-looking catch in the back of the end zone. Looked to have control and about 3 feet down. Then just before the PAT they go to review.

After a five-minute review where everyone in the stadium is confused. Then they overturn the call, saying he didn't maintain possession. I'm guessing the ground helped him? But they didn't show us a single angle to merit overturning it in my opinion.

Next play, Miami intercepts it on the quarter-yard line!

Then Miami runs a failed QB sneak and the Jets get a safety. From the Dolphins' perspective I guess two is better than seven, but that might be one of the most absurd sequences of football I've seen this season. Of course it's the Jets and Dolphins so I guess that sounds about right.

The Jets were only at the goal line because of a great kickoff return, too, which is also all-too-rare these days. Everything is so weird.

Zach Binney: It's the fourth quarter, and both teams have now exchanged safeties in this game.

That honestly feels about right. Dolphins lead by 11 with six minutes left. If they hold on today it's, ironically, on to Cincinnati in a few weeks, where they'll need a loss to keep a grip on the No. 1 pick.

I should specify, the two safeties came on a failed QB sneak from the quarter-yard line (Miami) and a bad/unexpected snap into the end zone (Jets). So, yeah.

Bryan Knowles: The 0-7 Dolphins were an adventure we could all follow along with as they approached history. The 1-7 Dolphins are just sad.

Dave Bernreuther: What on earth is Adam Gase doing?

Bryan Knowles: What he was paid to do: find victories for the Miami Dolphins!

... I may be one contract behind.

Vince Verhei: I assume this is about the Jets reaching field goal range, then running three more plays before kicking the field goal? They failed to recover the onside kick so it wouldn't have mattered anyway, but yes, that was dumb.

One of the worst Jets losses ever, and think of the ground that covers. You'd have to go back to the Kotite era for this level of shame.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 34 at Seattle Seahawks 40

Vince Verhei: Bucs get a touchdown on their first drive thanks to a bonehead play by Bobby Wagner. On third down in the red zone, Jameis Winston throws incomplete, but Wagner hits him very late for a first down. Next play, Ronald Jones runs in a touchdown.

So the Seahawks, who love to run, take the field against the league's best run defense. Indeed, they run just one time on the drive, for 2 yards. But Russell WIlson throws five times, completing all five for 73 yards, the last a touchdown to Tyler Lockett. Lockett lined up as the inside man on trips to the right and ran an out, and the man covering him got caught up in traffic.

Bryan Knowles: Just like you draw it up! Jameis Winston fires the ball into triple coverage -- to Mike Evans, at least, but still. A Seahawk deflects it, it flies up in the air, and Breshad Perriman comes down with it. 14-7 Tampa Bay late in the 1st quarter.

Vince Verhei: Yes, we've got a shootout brewing here. Seahawks can't cover Mike Evans. He's up to four catches for 56 yards, plus a 16-yard DPI, and the first quarter's not quite over yet.

Bryan Knowles: Pass interference should really be a spot foul, but full credit to Russell Wilson for seeing linebacker Devin White lost trying to cover Jacob Hollister deep and chucking it for a 38-yard pass interference call. Seattle scores on the next play, but Jason Myers misses the extra point. He already missed a field goal today, and is having a terrible game. The special teams in general have been poor for Seattle; Tampa Bay nearly managed to score again just before halftime thanks to a 39-yard kickoff return, but the 50-yard field goal squeaked left. 21-13 Buccaneers at halftime.

Vince Verhei: Bucs lead 21-13 at the half as Jason Myers has missed a field goal and an extra point, and Matt Gay missed a 50-yard try for the Bucs at the gun. The quarterbacks both have good numbers, but it's really the wideouts who are stealing the show. Evans is up to seven catches for 88 yards and a score, plus a pair of DPIs; Lockett is at 6-81-1. The other big weapon for Seattle has been Jacob Hollister, of all people. With Will Dissly out for the year, Ed DIckson not yet healthy, and Luke Willson leaving this game with an injury, Hollister is Seattle's only real tight end left standing. But late in the half he scorched the Bucs in a Tampa-2 scheme, getting wiped out in the end zone by a desperate middle linebacker for a 38-yard DPI. He followed that with a touchdown catch on play-action.

Fun trivia note: With Shaquem Griffin on one side and Jason Pierre-Paul on the other, the 106 active players in this game have a total of only 1,053 fingers, which I assume is a record.

Carl Yedor: When Bruce Arians was still in Arizona, his team always seemed to do well against the Seahawks in Seattle, winning at CenturyLink Field in 2013, 2015, 2016, and 2017. His only loss came in 2014 with Drew Stanton under center. In fairness, all of those games were close, but the Seahawks had a talent advantage throughout that time. Today, that talent advantage doesn't really exist when Tampa Bay has the ball. They're moving the ball seemingly whenever they want, doing particularly well on third downs in the first half at five for seven.

Vince Verhei: Here's Chris Carson's entire season summarized in one play: the Bucs are only giving up 69 rushing yards per game coming into today, but Carson breaks four tackles and rumbles for 59 yards, nearly matching that total on one carry. At the end of that play, however, Devin White runs him down from behind and punches the ball free. Fortunately for Seattle the ball bounces out of bounds. Next play, Wilson hits Hollister on a seam route for a 22-yard gain to the 1. Lockett gets a touchdown shortly thereafter, and DK Metcalf catches the two-pointer to tie the game at 21-all.

Vince Verhei: Bucs lead 24-21 at the end of three, but Seattle is driving with a first down at the Tampa Bay 24 to start the fourth. Winston had a pair of third-quarter touchdowns with his legs, but both were wiped out by penalty. First he scrambled and found Scotty Miller for the score, but Miller had stepped out of bounds, so no catch. Next snap, Winston scrambles and runs for a touchdown, but Santana Dotson is called for holding. The Bucs settled for the go-ahead field goal

Locket is now up to 9-118-2; Evans is at 9-115-1.

Bryan Knowles: Two fumbles in four plays have caused some massive win probability swings in this one, leaving us roughly where we started. Chris Carson fumbles yet again -- he's had problems with that, mostly in September -- and Tampa Bay scoops and starts running, but yet again the refs blow the play dead, and the Bucs have to challenge just to get possession. Three plays later Jameis Winston drops back to pass, and it just flies backwards out of his hand and right to Rasheem Green. Tampa Bay's defense holds on the ensuing possession, so it's just 27-24 Seahawks, but that was a crazy sequence of plays there.

Vince Verhei: And there's Seattle's other receiver, DK Metcalf, taking a deep crosser for a 53-yard touchdown to put Seattle up 34-27. Just straight man coverage and Metcalf beat his man and outran him for the score.

Aaron Schatz: That's third-round rookie Jamel Dean who got beat by Metcalf, but it looks like he had a reasonable day before this, he has three passes defensed.

Carl Yedor: Dean has had a lot of opportunities to deflect passes because Wilson has been going after him in man coverage constantly. He has held up well though.

Bryan Knowles: Poll time! The Buccaneers just drove down the field and scored a game-tying touchdown with 46 seconds left in the game. You're Bruce Arians -- do you go for two and the win right here? Or do you do what they actually did, kicking the extra point and playing for overtime?

I think I go for the win right there, even if that gives Russell Wilson 46 seconds and a timeout to get back into field goal range.

Vince Verhei: And there's Winston scrambling for a fourth-down conversion. And there's Evans again with a big catch down to the 1. Dare Ogunbowale scores from there to tie the game at 31. Seahawks have 46 seconds and one timeout to win.

Vince Verhei: I think 46 seconds is way too much time to force Russell Wilson into four-down football, needing only a field goal to beat you.

Bryan Knowles: Oh, I have full faith in Russell Wilson to get into field goal range. It's Jason Myers who I doubt.

And, as I say that...

Aaron Schatz: I tend to agree with Vince about the issue of going for two to win the game at the end. If you've got time left on the clock, you have to think about what happens if the other team's offense gets on the field in a tie game and doesn't move the ball on the first couple of plays. At that point they probably turtle up and go for overtime. Whereas if you're up 1, the other team has to be aggressive to get into field goal range.

Then again, if you're up 1, the other team could miss the field goal. Which they did in this case. Jason Myers misses a 40-yard field goal and we're going to overtime.

Vince Verhei: Indeed: the Seahawks have a second down at the 25 with 22 seconds left, and they opt to run for a gain of 3 and let the clock run down and call their last timeout. And with zeroes on the clock, Jason Myers ... pushes the 40-yard kick wide right.


Carl Yedor: I had a bad feeling about the field goal as soon as they handed off to Carson to line up the spot of the kick. Rather than trying to get closer they decided that 40 yards was fine with a kicker who has been shaky all season. They would have had a better opportunity to get closer had they not spent one timeout challenging for OPI and then used another on defense because they were unable to get lined up correctly coming out of a Tampa Bay timeout. In Arians' last trip to Seattle, Arizona won thanks to a missed Blair Walsh 48-yard field goal with minimal time remaining. We'll see if another missed field goal gets him another win soon.

Bryan Knowles: My counter-argument to the "too much time left" thing here is I don't know if Tampa Bay ever touches the ball again. I think if you're a bad team in a lost season, and you have the chance to go ahead late in a football game, you have to take it, and trust your defense to make one stop instead of possibly two or more.

Bryan Knowles: And, indeed, Tampa Bay never touches the ball again. Seattle marches right down the field in overtime and just goes in to score the touchdown -- no need to trust your shaky kicker!

Tampa Bay's last stop of Seattle came with 11:42 left in the fourth quarter; their last forced punt came with 13:40 in the third.

Carl Yedor: The missed kick doesn't end up mattering. Seattle drives down on the first possession of overtime and scores a touchdown, preventing its defense from needing to take the field. Seattle escapes against a bad team again by one possession. I'm very confident that they're going to pop up on the "teams most likely to decline" list that Bill Barnwell puts out every year in 2020. But for 2019, they're 7-2, which keeps them in the No. 5 slot ahead of a primetime matchup with the 49ers.

Vince Verhei: With five more touchdown passes today, Wilson extends his league lead to 22. He has still thrown just the one interception all year. He is about to add Josh Gordon to his arsenal. The defense is mediocre at best, special teams worse than that, and he's dragging them kicking and screaming into the playoff hunt.

That said: boy howdy did Seattle need this win. Their next game is Monday night in San Francisco in what will be the biggest NFL game of the season so far. Then they get a bye before three more prime-time games against the Eagles, Vikings, and Rams. This is the brutal part of Seattle's schedule, and it's going to ultimately determine their fate.

Bryan Knowles: Pete Carroll, after the game:

He threw a challenge flag to prove a point? In a one-score game?

Vince Verhei: He also said he only had 20 seconds left to use the challenge and didn't want it to go to waste. When they asked him about losing the timeout, he just said "we didn't need it." Which, I mean, he's not wrong.

Cleveland Browns 19 at Denver Broncos 24

Bryan Knowles: Mmm. While I'm usually all for color-vs.-color matchups on the field, the Browns (in brown) and the Broncos (in orange) are not a matchup you'd really want to go for here; it's a bit confusing trying to figure out who is who. At least this isn't the one week the Broncos go mono-orange (that's not until Week 16), but eef.

Andrew Potter: Hopefully the play on the field is good, because that is one ugly, ugly uniform clash.

Aaron Schatz: Charles McDonald got a good shot of it.

Andrew Potter: Courtland Sutton's touchdown reception is definitely a point in favor of the play being prettier than the uniforms. Spectacular leaping grab over Denzel Ward, who appeared to have very good coverage.

Bryan Knowles: The Browns' defense leaves plenty to be desired. Noah Fant just scored a 75-yard touchdown in which at least three Browns whiffed tackles, one of which blocked another Brown from making a play. Brandon Allen, who has never thrown an NFL pass coming into today, is 6-for-9 for 125 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Even Joe Flacco would probably have one, the way things are going today. It's 14-3 early in the second quarter.

Derrik Klassen: Many things about this Cleveland season are disappointing. Perhaps giving up a 75-yard touchdown to Noah Fant, who has struggled all season, is among their most damning blunders.

Bryan Knowles: Wait, wait, wait. The Browns face fourth-and-1 inside the 5, and they take Nick Chubb out? The ruling on the field is that Baker Mayfield was short on the sneak; I don't know if that's right or not (massive pile, and the Browns are challenging), but you gotta at least have Chubb in the game as a possibility, right?

Vince Verhei: That looked clear to me like Mayfield had the first down, then got pushed backwards. No idea how that was not overturned.

Green Bay Packers 11 at Los Angeles Chargers 26

Scott Spratt: The Chargers have to be relieved to have kicker Michael Badgley back after he missed the first half of the season with a groin injury. He's striped a pair of field goals so far. His backups Ty Long and Chase McLaughlin missed five of 18 attempts in his absence. Badgley has now missed just one of his 18 career attempts.

Derrik Klassen: The worst part about this NFL week is I can't make fun of Matt LaFleur for having a great script and then flailing the rest of the game. Looks like the Packers need the complete opposite to beat the Chargers here.

Tom Gower: OK, who's going to LaDainian Tomlinson's Arby's Steakhouse the one day it's available to review it for us?

Bryan Knowles: Apologies for those of you who want to hear us talk a lot about the Packers game but, well, that would require things to happen in the Packers game to talk about. I can report that the interior of the Green Bay offensive line is not having a day to remember and, partially as a result, the Packers have just 50 net offensive yards at the half. And that's with Davante Adams coming off of the injured list. He leads all Packers in receiving ... with two catches for 16 yards. The Chargers have moved the ball well between the 20s, but have yet to find the end zone. Three Badgley field goals are all the scoring we've had, so the Chargers take a 9-0 lead that feels like it should be a lot bigger. The Packers should be very happy the lead is so small; there's plenty of time left for their offense to find its way to Los Angeles.

Aaron Schatz: The two big stories of this game so far are the Chargers pass rush pressuring Aaron Rodgers and the Packers coverage clamping down once the Chargers offense gets into the red zone. The Chargers have 250 yards to just 50 for the Packers and yet the score is just 9-0 at halftime, all field goals. Rodgers can hardly ever take a shot downfield, even the one reception over 10 yards was a screen behind the line to Geronimo Allison. Rodgers' only pass over 15 air yards was a 45-yard bomb that just overthrew Allen Lazard in the end zone.

Tom Gower: Packers only had three possessions in the first half, which makes it tempting to read a ton into how every single third down was created and failed to get executed, like penalties pushing the Packers 5 yards further back and a legit Chargers pass rush with both Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa getting more pressure on a line that had looked like it was playing extremely well. The herky-jerky progress of the Los Angeles offense, with three drawn-out field goal drives, made for a nice variance strategy.

Bryan Knowles: Why are Jim Nantz and Tony Romo calling the game from the sidelines? What does this gimmick add to the broadcast?

Aaron Schatz: Chargers finally get a touchdown with a 27-yard drive after a blocked punt. Their running game is finally going after averaging something like 2 yards per carry during the month of October. Runs on that drive of 5, 9, 0, 5, and then the 1-yard touchdown by Melvin Gordon. Some nice-looking holes opening up against the Packers defense.

Bryan Knowles: Someone found the end zone! Alert the newspapers!

The Packers, who are 1-for-7 on third downs, get stopped deep in Chargers territory and are forced to punt -- but the punt is tipped at the line, and dribbles out of bounds at the Green Bay 27. Even the Chargers can't botch that field position. It's 19-0 Chargers, and the Packers better get something going right now, or they're going to rack up their second loss.

Scott Spratt: Did you hear Nantz say Michael Badgely trademarked the nickname "Money Badger?" I couldn't love it anymore.

Aaron Schatz: Chargers got bogged down in the red zone again, finishing up with a 1-yard run on third-and-goal from the 2. So they bring out the field goal unit, and Michael Badgley hits his fifth, but there's an offsides penalty. With the ball now moved half the distance to the goal, making it fourth-and-2 feet instead of about fourth-and-4 feet, the Chargers send the offense back on the field! And Melvin Gordon runs it through all the traffic for a touchdown. At 26-3 this game is pretty much over.

Aaron Schatz: The best response to the Chargers decision is from the folks at EdjSports: "They're making a big deal about a decision that has 0% impact on win probability because it's already at 99%."

Detroit Lions 24 at Oakland Raiders 31

Bryan Knowles: If you like defenses, please turn away from this game before it's too late. Marvin Jones and Kenny Gollady each have 87 yards receiving and a touchdown; the Raiders are marching behind Josh Jacobs. There has yet to be a punt midway through the second quarter, though the Lions did fumble on their opening possession. It's 14-10 Lions, with no signs of the points letting up anytime soon.

Bryan Knowles: Oakland lined up for the first punt of the day, but decided you know what? We're not going to be the first to give up.

Of course, they go on to biff the field goal at the end of the drive, but I appreciate the attempt, anyway.

Derrik Klassen: Derek Carr stuck two stellar throws over the middle of the field to put Oakland in scoring position. One was a little late in the down on an in-breaking route, the other was a vertical ball straight down the middle between a handful of defenders. That's the kind of confident, high-difficulty passing Carr needs to show to elevate this offense.

Vince Verhei: I haven't paid a ton of attention to this, but Derek Carr just hit Hunter Renfrow on third-and-goal, and Renfrow tapped both toes down in bounds for a 31-24 Raiders lead. The kickoff return eats up the two-minute warning, but the Lions still have two timeouts to drive 70-some yards for the tie.

Bryan Knowles: No timeouts left, the Lions throw short of the end zone. It's complete, but time's ticking, and it's fourth down! They have to just make up a play on the spot … but the RAIDERS call time out with eight seconds left in the game, bailing the Lions out of their confusion.

Bryan Knowles: Granted the extra time out, the Lions draw up ... a bootleg pass to their third-string tight end. OK, bold move. It doesn't work, and the Raiders hold on to win, continuing the NFC North's terrible day.

Aaron Schatz: I don't get the Detroit play call on fourth-and-goal at all. I normally like the idea of going three-tight end play-action, but your best tight end is on the sideline with a possible concussion, and you take Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay off the field, and the play is designed to go to third-string tight end Logan Thomas? Or maybe it was meant for Jesse James in front of him, but still ... I don't like that play call.

Vince Verhei: Could there be a more classic Oakland Raiders play than committing roughing the passer, but having that declined because you also committed DPI to set up a first-and-goal? Well, that's what happened. On second-and-goal, though, Matthew Stafford trips over his own feet and gets sacked. Third-and-goal, Stafford finds Logan Thomas, who is tackled at the 1-yard line. With no timeouts, Lions are scrambling to run a play, but Raiders call a timeout to bail them out. Fourth-and-ballgame from the 1, the Lions go I-formation and play-action, but Stafford's pass to Thomas is broken up by Karl Joseph, and that's a Raiders win.

New England Patriots 20 at Baltimore Ravens 37

Derrik Klassen: Getting bailed out by the neutral zone call is nice, but Baltimore deserved a touchdown on that drive. Positive yardage on every play until that final third down before the penalty.

Showed a little bit of option, some designed quarterback run, some quick game, some reverse sweeps ... just a little bit of everything. Impressive drive.

Bryan Knowles: Well, the Patriots have now played somebody. That might have been the most impressive drive against the Patriots defense so far this season.

Lamar Jackson high-stepping into the end zone is a ballsy move against an undefeated team, I will say.

Vince Verhei: I'm gonna need someone to do a deep dive on Baltimore's opening drive. So many creative ways to use different formations and motions to get the ball to so many different players, and using your quarterback's best weapon as a primary focus instead of a Plan B. Boo for kicking the field goal on fourth-and-2, but congrats for taking advantage of New England's mistake, jumping offsides on a field goal attempt, and getting a Lamar Jackson touchdown run.

Aaron Schatz: Jackson's fake on that final option run for the touchdown was just outstanding. He really had the ball in Edwards' chest before he pulled it back.

Bryan Knowles: I wonder if the center's little head bob was intentional, coached up by old special teams coach John Harbaugh. You get called for false start? Oh no, now it's a 29-yard field goal.

Bryan Knowles: This reminds me a lot of the Patriots-49ers game from 2012, where Greg Roman's offense, based around a running quarterback and a strong rushing game, jumped out to a 31-3 lead and then weathered the inevitable Patriots comeback to win 41-34. Others on Twitter are pointing to the 2008 Wildcat night. Whatever your point of comparison, it has been a while since we've seen a Bill Belichick defense this flustered.

Aaron Schatz: Except that the Patriots offense is not as good now as it was in 2012. The 31-point comeback isn't coming.

Vince Verhei: The offense is also flustered. The Ravens are up 17-0 in the second and Tom Brady just completed his first pass. But then he threw incomplete on third-and-1 and they're going to punt anyway.

But the Ravens muff the punt and Justin Bethel recovers. Oh well, it's not like the Patriots have ever rallied to a win or anything.

Rivers McCown: The Ravens had some early-season defensive problems, but they're looking loaded for bear -- or in this case Patriot -- with the reload of Marcus Peters and more success on their blitzes. Even as the Pats score to get back within 10, this is a team that puts a ton of pressure on a passing game when they're firing. Looks good so far.

Bryan Knowles: It shows you just how big the Patriots mystique is that the muff, and the subsequent Mohamed Sanu touchdown, has Ravens fans flustered. They scored after a lucky bounce, so clearly, the Patriots are going to win this one...

Sarcasm aside, a little bit of success has to calm any New England nerves that were beginning to fray early in the second quarter.

Carl Yedor: Game script has a good amount to do with this, but New England has been very pass-heavy so far. Fifteen dropbacks for Brady compared to five total carries for the running backs.

Scott Spratt: And that probably wasn't the original game plan for the Patriots, Carl. The Ravens have the No. 13 ranked pass defense but the No. 21 ranked run defense. With a better game script, the Patriots likely would have wanted to attack that weakness.

Vince Verhei: What a bizarre sequence in the second quarter. With New England on the edge of scoring range, Brady's receiver runs the wrong route, so his pass sails over everyone's head and falls incomplete. He wants a DPI call, but doesn't get it. They're about to run a play, when the refs huddle over the ball and throw the latest flag I've ever seen, calling Brady for intentional grounding. I'm of the opinion that a pass that goes over somebody's head, even 20 yards over their head, should not be grounding. But OK, he was under pressure and there was nobody there, fine. Then a hold pushes them back to third-and-25, but Rex Burkhead fumbles and the Ravens recover -- but he's ruled down by contact, and after all that, the Patriots just punt.

Aaron Schatz: Patriots really winning the fumble luck battle tonight. Not just in recovery, but in whether the player is down before fumbling. There was very little difference between the Burkhead play and the Mark Ingram play. But it was just enough difference to make one a fumble and the other one not a fumble.

Bryan Knowles: Boo to the Patriots for settling for a 19-yard field goal at the end of the second quarter. Boo, I say!

We do in fact have a ballgame here though, at 17-13 with the Patriots getting the ball to start the second half. Much better than the Ravens running away with things.

Aaron Schatz: Patriots march the ball downfield with a really nice leaping grab by Julian Edelman across the middle and then James White outleaping Earl Thomas down the right sideline. Pats come close to getting it into the end zone but James White ends up crawling and getting touched just short of the goal line. Then the 19-yard field goal.

Derrik Klassen: Really want to see Baltimore do a better job with their pass game in the second half. Often felt telegraphed via formation as to when Baltimore wanted to pass -- think that makes it unnecessarily difficult on Lamar Jackson. At least they can say they haven't thrown an interception to the Patriots (yet).

Tom Gower: Yup, Baltimore run game wasn't nearly as productive after the initial flurry that seemed to be ended by Double Agent Cyrus Jones' fumble. The next step in what they're doing is using that movement to open up passing lanes and turn consistent running into chunk plays there. That hasn't happened yet, which may be part of why Belichick felt comfortable taking the field goal.

Vince Verhei: Remember when I noted that Brady had thrown his first completion? Well, he threw 14 more in the second quarter after that. That's the thing about great athletes in all sports: it's not just that they rarely struggle, but when they do, they can flip a switch and turn things around.

Aaron Schatz: Good tweet here from Evan Lazar showing what the Patriots are doing to try to stop Lamar Jackson -- man on the outside, zone on the inside so that they still have defenders who are facing Jackson in case he runs.

Vince Verhei: Well, there's the fumble luck swinging the other way. Opening drive of the second half, Patrick Onwuasor knocks the ball out of Edelman's hands, and Marlon Humphrey gets the scoop and score to extend Baltimore's lead to 24-13.

Bryan Knowles: Well well well. Fumble luck evening itself out here in the second half. The Patriots were driving well, and looked all set to punch in a go-ahead score, but Edelman gets suplexed and drops the ball, letting Marlon Humphrey scoop and score from 70 yards out. 24-13 Ravens.

Aaron Schatz: And the Pats respond by just marching right back in their no huddle and scoring another touchdown. 24-20.

First quarter net yards: Ravens 133, Patriots 4

Since then: Patriots 302, Ravens 93

Rivers McCown: This game is really cool.

Adjustments on both sides of the ball. Pats hurry-up to blunt the force of Baltimore's blitzing. Big plays all over the place. If this is where the NFL is headed, I'm cool with that.

Bryan Knowles: The downside to scoring off of that fumble is that the Ravens defense is GASSED. The hurry-up offense of New England on basically 19 plays in a row, kickoff and extra point excluded, had Baltimore gasping for air. They need a nice long drive from their offense, just to get some oxygen back.

Vince Verhei: It's the curse of the defensive score against New England. It lets them get their offense back out there and wear your defense down even more.

Bryan Knowles: Justin Tucker missing an extra point might be the most shocking thing of this game so far.

Vince Verhei: Belichick jinxed him with all that "best in history" talk.

But it might not matter as Brady overthrows the entire roster and Earl Thomas reels in the interception like he's fielding a punt. Ravens with the ball up 10 with 13 minutes to go. One good touchdown drive should put this away. Mind you, the Pats have given up, like, three good touchdown drives all year (though two of them were in this game).

Vince Verhei: 14 plays, 68 yards, nine and a half minutes off the clock certainly qualifies as a good touchdown drive.

I look forward to writing Quick Reads tomorrow explaining why Kyler Murray and Lamar Jackson had the best games of the year this week.

Bryan Knowles: That was, in fact, one good touchdown drive. 14 plays, 68 yards, and most importantly, 9:35 off the clock. The Ravens now have a three-score lead with 3:12 left, and that should be enough to put the Patriots away.

It's a clear blueprint to beat New England, of course. Run plenty of crossing routes, return a defensive score, and have an all-Universe athlete at quarterback. Easy as pie.

Tom Gower: Remember what I wrote at halftime about how Baltimore needed to transform their gap attack into chunk passing plays to win the game? Yeah, never mind. They got back to hyper-efficient running and ground out long touchdown drives on their only non-kneeldown second-half offensive possessions. Overall a terrific performance.

I don't think this does much of anything with regards to the Patriots for me. The terrific defensive performances were still terrific defensive performances, the Ravens blueprint looks pretty sui generis to their particular team characteristics, and I still trust Belichick and Brady to win elimination games given the gap between them and the rest of the league in terms of overall performances to date. I expected this team to lose at some point, since they haven't been overwhelming on offense enough to pull games out (like they almost did against San Francisco in that game) if the defense stumbles. But I still had fun watching that game.


126 comments, Last at 07 Nov 2019, 1:26am

1 Grounding penalties always…

Grounding penalties always take forever. I think it's just because you need a bunch of different officials.

And the "there was *supposed* to be someone there" groundings crack me up. To me though, they (partly) even out the "chuck the ball at a receiver's feet when he's facing the other way" plays.

2 Kudos to Baltimore. They…

Kudos to Baltimore. They put their bye week to good use because that was miles better than anything they had shown so far this year. They exploited NE's weaknesses and even some of their strengths. Outstanding drive to take back control after NE scored in the 3rd quarter.

Watching the game, I kept coming back to the Halloween Massacre against Pitt in 2004. In both games, the opponent came in with an intensity level that NE just wasn't ready for. I think NE taking Baltimore's best shot and being within an accidental trip of being tied at halftime bodes well for a rematch, but the Ravens were clearly the better team last night.

29 Uh, Ravens were the #1…

Uh, Ravens were the #1 offensive team in dvoa for the first month, and they just blew out the Seahawks in Seattle.  That Pats run defense is 'fine', not 'historically great', and it was really the Cleveland game, not this one, that exposed that.  Unfortunately the Pats probably won't be able to get Cowher out of retirement for the rematch, if there is one.  AFC still probably goes through Gillette, but they probably aren't on those 'historic' lists anymore, and it doesn't look like those 35% Super Bowl odds accounted enough for them playing hot garbage for 2 months straight

35 I'm not sure why you think…

I'm not sure why you think any of the above is lost on me.  Baltimore playing well before isn't mutually exclusive with this being their best performance.  Which it was, by far.

As for Seattle, putting up points there is an expectation, not a feat.  The defensive performance looks better in retrospect, though.

44 or the Pats just aren't as…

or the Pats just aren't as good as you think they are.  this was their first test, and it didn't go well.  This is only Baltimore's best performance "by far" if you discount their earlier performances where they, you know, actually scored more.  The Pats' defensive reputation was built on beating up on the kind of teams you're discounting Baltimore's performances against (except they've actually also played several good teams already).  Without more data points it's going to be hard to know, but we'll certainly have a better idea six weeks from now

47 You realize that Baltimore…

You realize that Baltimore only topped 30 points one other time, right?  And that was against Miami?  NE could be substantially worse than I think they are (whatever that is, you certainly have no idea), and this would still be Baltimore's best offensive showing.  By far.  I'm not sure why you insist on having a pissing match about something that is a) indisputable and b) a compliment of the Ravens.

Edit: One of the reasons I was skeptical of Baltimore is because they *hadn't* faced any good defenses.  Pitt at #9 in DVOA is the only top half defense they faced.  And yet they still didn't top 23 regulation offensive points other than on the season opener against Miami.  

So, really, there are only two possible choices for their best offensive performance, last night or against Miami.  I know they put up 59 points that game, but NE would have to be pretty damn overrated for last night to not take the top spot.

115 Let's wait on annointing Baltimore

NE had just played 8 games in a row, Baltimore was coming off a bye, playing at Baltimore, yet if Edelman hadn't fumbled, NE most likely would have come back. By the end of the season, I expect teams to have a better idea how to play against Baltimore, it's just a college offense.

116 And the way to defend such…

And the way to defend such offenses is to punish the quarterback -- within the scope of the rules, of course.  I was surprised how many times the edge player on defense tried to play the option both ways...while taking away neither.  Every high school defensive end knows that when a QB runs an option at you, you bury him. 

It's easier said than done, because Jackson is part Slinky, but I would expect the Ravens to adjust their offense after their QB starts taking massive shots.

124 Not sure why you think NE…

Not sure why you think NE would have won if Edelman hadn't fumbled. 

"It's just a college offense"

How many times have we heard that when NFL teams start using concepts that worked in college? The spread? Just a college offense, right?


Edit: bias disclosure: I'm Ravens fan. I'm not completely sold on this team so far, but the flippant dismissal was, well, flippant.

3 The Chiefs, sitting on a…

The Chiefs, sitting on a time-out ... rush to the line to spike it with three seconds left, as Andy Reid continues to be terrible at time management.

I wonder. If you have a TO left, you can flub the snap, dive on the ball and call TO and maybe still have time for another chance.

6 Came here to say that...

The way it looked to me (I was at the game) was the Chiefs' intention was to not leave time on the clock. The score was tied, so they either win right there or go to OT. I was okay with not using the TO, it would give the Vikings a chance to get their sh*t together a little more to try and block the kick. I wondered why the Vikes didn't call timeout to try and ice the kicker, or save a few seconds to do something after the Chiefs kicked. I'll have to go back and watch it tonight. 

11 Given that, in the first…

Given that, in the first half alone the Patriots were erroneously flagged for neutral zone infractions twice and an intentional grounding that was clearly a miscommunication, it's probably not a great week to imply favoritism for them.  :)

16 Bad calls happen to everyone…

Bad calls happen to everyone. There are more than enough bad calls to go around.

But it's hard to dispute that some teams have a long-term trend towards friendly officiating and some have a long-term trend towards antagonistic officiating.

It's frustrating how many times the Lions have been the first to encounter some weirdly punitive rule, only to have it de-emphasized immediately after once the NFL realized how skewed the rule was, so when beloved team ran across the same thing later in the season, it wasn't enforced on them. Looking at you, McCarthy Packers.

36 The Pats did not get as much…

The Pats did not get as much obsequiousness from the refs as they are used to.  It seemed to disorient them.  Best was when Brady lobbied HARD to get a flag thrown and after an incomplete, and after a couple mins the refs did throw one -- on him!  For grounding!  That was a sweet, sweet moment.

Pats still got the ball after both of the questionable fumble reviews.  Those plays both looked the same to me on review: ball *maybe* loosened a little before the runner was down, only came out after he was down.  To their credit, the refs called both plays the same way: to benefit the Pats.  Consistency in officiating is vital.


37 The Pats did not get as much…

The Pats did not get as much obsequiousness from the refs as they are used to.  It seemed to disorient them.  Best was when Brady lobbied HARD to get a flag thrown and after an incomplete, and after a couple mins the refs did throw one -- on him!  For grounding!  That was a sweet, sweet moment.

Pats still got the ball after both of the questionable fumble reviews.  Those plays both looked the same to me on review: ball *maybe* loosened a little before the runner was down, only came out after he was down.  To their credit, the refs called both plays the same way: to benefit the Pats.  Consistency in officiating is vital.


31 If Reid had called timeout…

If Reid had called timeout right away, so they would've had like, 20 seconds left and no timeouts, would it really have been smart to try to run a play there? You're basically at the point where teams have frequently not run a play at all in the same situation - as in, they kneel or just run the ball into the line to put it on the hash where the kicker wants it. I could give huge numbers of examples of that.

Looking around, there have been a number of extremely similar situations where coaches have done basically the same thing: 2015 Panthers-Giants, 2018 Texans-Colts. Plus there've been a number of situations where even after spiking the ball with timeouts remaining, the team will kneel and call timeout to totally kill the clock away.

The only team that I see run a "real" play (not just a short run/kneel/etc. or a botched hold or something) while in field goal range with less than 20 seconds left and no timeouts is Green Bay with Aaron Rodgers.

5 Ok, I'll be the one

I know it's been a staple topic with too few data points to say anything really bright about, and there still are too few, but that's the NFL: Jets-Fins/Pats-Ravens sure makes it look like DVOA can't cope with the AFC East...

8 The Fitzgerald Fins aren't…

The Fitzgerald Fins aren't anywhere near as bad as the Rosen Fins. The Rosen Fins are legit 10-pt dogs to the Jets.


\weird stat of the day: The Browns have a win over the Ravens the Pats don't have
\\And the Falcons have their win over the Eagles

9 this is about right

I picked the Dolphins to  beat the Jets because they'd been playing a good deal better with Fitz under center, while the Jets continue to flounder under Gase.  How did this team soundly beat the Cowboys?  

10 I was traveling all day…

I was traveling all day yesterday so didn't see much, but just looking at the play by play, the Vikings o-line had the chance to ice the game, and didn't do anything. The real test of good o-line play is being able to get two or three 1st downs late in the 4th, on the road, leading by a few, against a good team. They are a lot better than they have been for most of the past decade, but they aren't there yet, or at least were not this week.

18 What I found frustrating in…

What I found frustrating in the last two drives was they didn't give the line a chance to win the game running. 

Up 3 with 5min to go, they went play action (incomplete), a draw (loss of 3) and a run 3rd and 13, punt

tied with 2 min to go, pass, pass, pass, punt.

The previous drive that put them ahead had 4 consecutive runs for 32 yards. 

The other aspect that drove me a little batty is that they were far more effective running right, and that was almost all in the 2nd half (8 of 9), but they didn't give that a try in the last two drives. 

Runs right netted 50 yards on 10 runs,

runs middle 3 for -2 and 

runs left 15 for 41 (that involved a reverse of 12 yards to diggs from Cook running right to start).


The Vikings also brain farted away early drives. Cousins missed easy short passes, he slid inexplicably on a 3rd down short of the sticks, and they didn't quick snap after a favorable spot on 3rd down. 

Having said all that, I think KC was probably the better team even with their backup and so many key injuries. 



21 Little surprised, then, that…

Little surprised, then, that Zimmer didn't mandate a run to start the next to last possession, but like I said, I didn't see it, so have no feel for it, and I really don't know the playcalling dynamic between Stefanski, Kubiak, and Zimmer.

Woulda' been a nice game for the final 3 minutes go better, given everybody else in the NFC North was thumped pretty good, but they weren't likely at all to go 14-2 anyways, and the interconference losses are preferable, I guess. Better win in Dallas next Sunday night, however.

73 Special Teams Were Key

And not the Butker FGs. 

Missed EP by Bailey loomed large in the end game, especially in MIN having to play for the win and throw on their last possession, although I know we can't assume all the other scoring/decisions would have made it a 24-23 game for the final FG.

But huge decision by Toub/Reid to put Hill in as punt returner for last two Vikings punts.  Colquitt the Viking successfully punted out of bounds for distance on the first one, but shanked the 2nd one while (presumably) again trying to put it OOB further downfield, giving Chiefs a short field to  navigate for the game-winning FG.  The fear of Hill taking it to the house was key.

The Audibles commentary noted a couple of bad decisions by Cousins, but one other:  on the Vikes' final 3rd down, Chris Jones was in the process of bringing him down when Cousins ground/not grounded the ball short of his RB.  A hard decision to make in the moment, but taking the sack to keep the clock moving would have been a better choice.  The incomplete pass saved the Chiefs a timeout (that they ended up not using).

14 well

If Haskins were on the 'fins, you'd have a strong case.  Do you mean the Dwayne Haskins 'Skins? 

I see Cincy, Miami, Jets, and Bengals as the bottom four, with Miami showing signs of life to escape that pit.  

122 It's kind of scary that the…

In reply to by RickD

It's kind of scary that the Dolphins can dump almost every player with any ability and still manage to NOT be clearly the worst team in the league. The first few weeks was the kind of performance I expected from Miami this year. Since then, they had managed periods of pretty decent (NFL-like) performances before the win against the Jets.

96 I don't think Washington are…

I don't know if Washington are objectively the very worst team in the NFL, but they may be the least likely to win games given the absurdly conservative, run-heavy gameplan they are employing. Yesterday they ran only 49 plays, including only 22 passes, in a game they were losing throughout. And their 9 points felt like one of the better possible outcomes given Adrian Peterson actually somehow achieved 6 yards per carry. 

For sure, forcing Haskins to throw 40 times a game is unlikely to be a winning strategy either. But at least we might see an entertaining play here or there, and find out about him as a player, rather than the futile dirge currently being served up. 

15 that was weird:

" With New England on the edge of scoring range, Brady's receiver runs the wrong route, so his pass sails over everyone's head and falls incomplete. He wants a DPI call, but doesn't get it. They're about to run a play, when the refs huddle over the ball and throw the latest flag I've ever seen, calling Brady for intentional grounding."

Felt like the officials didn't like Brady yelling at him so they retaliated by accusing him of grounding. I don't know what Brady was arguing, but there was a receiver in the area when he threw the ball. It's just that said receiver cut to the right and ran in a different direction before the ball arrive.

"Darnold throws a touchdown to Ryan Griffin on first-and-goal from the 4, and Griffin makes a nice-looking catch in the back of the end zone. Looked to have control and about 3 feet down. Then just before the PAT they go to review.

"After a five-minute review where everyone in the stadium is confused. Then they overturn the call, saying he didn't maintain possession. I'm guessing the ground helped him? But they didn't show us a single angle to merit overturning it in my opinion."

Well, Ryan Griffin made the catch, got two feet in bounds, slid out of bounds, bought a house, made timely mortgage payments for 17 months, and then may have slightly juggled the ball. So clearly he didn't "complete the catch".

I hate the "complete the catch" about as much as I hate the "fumble out of the end zone is a touchback rule", though at least with the latter rule I understand thing thinking - I just dislike the conclusion. The "complete the catch" rule is nonsense, and likely an unintended result of the NFL trying to prevent fumbles. They prevent fumbles by requiring a lot more control of the ball after the actual catch. In this case, Griffin had control, got both feet in bounds, and all of that was plain and obvious. And then, later, after the TD, the ball might have moved. But not because he didn't have control for a reasonably long time before he started sliding past the back of the end zone.

The NFL should really go back to the old rule, where a completion is determined at the moment of control + feet down, as opposed to requiring control to extend forward for some arbitrary and unspecified amount of time.

48 I like seeing Brady whine…

In reply to by RickD

I like seeing Brady whine and get punished more than just about anyone... and you know this.

But yeah. That call was egregiously bad. Not only was it plain as day that there was just a missed connection on the option route based on coverage, but the receiver got hit/held more than 5 yards downfield. He may very well have still chosen the out-facing route that Brady threw vaguely towards if he had not been held. Brady was right to complain about that non-call.

The fact that they took forever and then ultimately flagged Brady was as bad a process as any we've seen this season. And we have seen some REALLY bad processes and adventures in officiating this year. Hell, not even this year, but just this week. The crew in Pittsburgh was offensively bad. But the grounding flag on Brady, given the time it took to throw, was rivaled only by the roughness call on the Switzer punt catch this week. 

62 There's a looong history of…

There's a looong history of crap intentional grounding calls, but of course there's an equal number of crap non-calls as well. And it always seems to take forever - you see the officials huddle, the announcers say "I wonder if they're thinking of calling intentional grounding," then the head official throws the flag late, and they call it with the quarterback going "whaaa?"

That's a rule that I would love to see changed.

112 IG Rules

The IG rules as current constituted are egregiously difficult to properly enforce on any ball thrown more than 10 yards downfield. Equally I think it's appalling that QB's are routinely allowed to get away with throwing a ball at a blocking RB or TE's feet when about to be sacked - it is a correct enforcement of the current rule but it makes the game much worse (sacks, INT's, desperation heaves, & good pass blocking are all fun). This is something the NFL should look at. When I was watching the game and saw the flag thrown I was sure it was an unsportsmanlike on Brady - that would have been a fair penalty for over-whining - the flag they did throw was nonsense, and there's a pattern of these calls made on Brady this year on option routes.


117 The thing is that Brady (and…

In reply to by sbond101

The thing is that Brady (and Rodgers) abuse the hell out of the short pass grounding loophole, so it's poetic to me when they get burned by the other bad part of the grounding rule. Can't complain about one part while benefitting from the other.

126 What was nonsense about it?…

In reply to by sbond101

What was nonsense about it? He was in the pocket. He was pressured. He threw to where no receiver was. That's grounding. It doesn't matter why there was no player there. Unless you want officials legislating what players were intending, this is the best we can do. (Was that a legitimate attempt to complete a pass that was a 10 foot overthrow, or did he intentionally throw it out of bounds?)

125 Uh, the officials don't know…

Uh, the officials don't know what the routes are, nor do they know what people are thinking, and I don't think we want them to guess. We allow passes that seem obviously not intended to be completed go, so long is there is a player in the area (throwing at a RBs feet when they're covered on a screen, anyone?) This is the same idea. It may have been a legit attempt to complete a pass, but that's not the rule.

The contact down field was definitely questionable, but I can't tell who initiated it, it kinda looks like they both did. I'd like to see a double foul on a play like that, but that's not something we get.

I very much agree that the process for the flag was horrible, and it seems to happen frequently with grounding. With throw aways being allowed out of the pocket, and only needing to be within shouting distance on passes in the pocket, it seems like the umpire or whoever is responsible for grounding calls just doesn't check for them until a player brings it up.

22 "One of the worst Jets…

"One of the worst Jets losses ever, and think of the ground that covers. You'd have to go back to the Kotite era for this level of shame."

A lot of people will bring up the Buttfumble game, but that was mainly 3 straight plays that were an embarrassment, surrounded by some competence. They gained 400 yards after all in that game.

Everyone is comparing how bad the Bengals, Dolphins and Jets are, but the main thing to take from all this is how BAD the Jets offense is. They were playing the worst defense in the league, and still struggled to score 18 points.

24 Rex Ryan roasted Adam Gase,…

Rex Ryan roasted Adam Gase, claiming that his teams always put up a fight. He may be right in his criticisms of Gase, but hes willfully engaging in blissful amnesia about his own tenure, which included a number of high profile stinkers. 

27 They blew a 14-0 lead when…

They blew a 14-0 lead when Baker Mayfield came in.  Who had a pretty good rookie year.  In fact, I would love it if Darnold had a year like that sometime.  

Rex Ryan did have some terrible losses while he was with the Jets, but it was usually the offense that stank.  The gripe is that he paid no attention to the offense and ruined quarterbacks, yet he discovered Tyrod Taylor, who was competent for a couple of years.  None of his offenses were this bad, and Adam Gase is pulling it off with a heralded young quarterback picked in the top five.  Adam Gase is supposed to be an offensive coach, and right now the Jets offense is on pace to have the worst DVOA in recorded history.  As far as I'm concerned, the coach of the Washington Generals can criticize Gase at this point.

33 "Ran a good offense with…

"Ran a good offense with Peyton Manning"  seems like the shittiest of qualifications for getting a head coaching job.  Pains me they chose this guy over McCarthy (and Tanier's preseason observation that 'when he tries to run off Jamal Adams that's the canary in the coalmine for a disastrous tenure' sure seems prophetic now)

76 It was more than a good…

It was more than a good offense, though. It was one of the best of all time. That doesn't necessarily make him a good head coach, but he was probably doing a lot right as a coordinator that year.

78 Since I had a huge rooting…

Since I had a huge rooting interest, I followed the Gase Manning relationship closely. Basically, where Mike McCoy essentially deferred the entire offense to Manning, Gase would dream up ways to enhance Manning's offense. Basically, do the same plays but mix up the formations. Manning loved that and really respected Gase's enthusiasm and intelligence. It probably resembled McDaniels and Brady. 

Gase also did some fine work with Cutler as well. In the end, Gase isn't a qb whisperer as much as he is a good offensive designer provided you give him a smart quarterback. He might do well in Atlanta for example. 

Gase the head coach for some reason has brought out a curmudgeon with a taste for organizational politics. I wonder if not designing cool plays as a central part of his job has sapped his overall enthusiasm for coaching and player management. 

26 Packers got their asses…

Packers got their asses handed to them yesterday. I'm more concerned about the defense than the offense. The defense was failing at pretty much everything yesterday, the offense was too but most of it could be sourced to poor play by the two tackles. The Packers leave them on an island often and, just like under McCarthy, they were slow to adjust when that strategy failed them.

The Packers D failed at all levels: corners roasted, linebackers roasted and doing a poor job of run support, and the defensive line got pushed around by an OL that came in ranked in the bottom third in ALY. Just an abject failure of a day all around. The one thing that gives me heart is that the Chargers are much better than they have appeared so far and I think the rest of the season will bear that out.

38 Lamar Jackson is an alien

I've only watched two Ravens' games so far (Seattle and Pats), but I'm beginning to believe that Lamar Jackson is an alien. He seems to have the ability to open worm holes in space. Two or three defenders converge to tackle him and he pops through a worm hole and past them and everyone is scratching their head. How did he do that?!

The really scary thing is that the Ravens are obviously "Men In Black" so the aliens must have infiltrated that super-secret organization we trust to save us from aliens. Has Jackson ever put on dark glasses in a post game presser and brought out a funny pen thing? Never mind, you wouldn't remember.

40 I think lamar jackson…

I think lamar jackson landing in Baltimore was incredibly valuable. Most other head coaches probably misuse him or miscast him in a way that doesn't play to his strengths. Greg Roman has built a very smart scheme around him. That said, I am a firm believer than no qb can survive this style of offense over a long period of time. I guess Wilson has, but he is an incredible exception. See Cam Newton, Rg3, or Michael Vick. 

43 I'm with you on that one

I have a hard time believing that this style offense can lead to long term success. Mostly because it never has before. It's damn entertaining to watch though.

I think the Ravens have to hope they can develop Jackson's passing game to DeShaun Watson/Russell Wilson level for the team to have long term success, otherwise I can certainly see his career taking a Newton/RG3/Vick arc like you mentioned.

51 Steve Young's second-most…

Steve Young's second-most rushing yards came in his age-37 season. Elway was pretty consistent in his career, too.

The '57 Lions had a two-headed system of surprisingly run-heavy QBs with Rote and Layne.

55 Tarkenton and Wilson are two…

Tarkenton and Wilson are two guys that come to mind as the guys who were/are able to maintain acceptable health as qbs who kept the ball in their hands a very long time, but designed runs were/are not a huge part of their repetoire, either. Outliers are a thing, so it's not impossible for Jackson to maintain his health, but that isn't the way to bet


49 Vick never had as many…

Vick never had as many designed runs as Jackson has. Vick probably was about a decade early in terms of offenses best able to use his skill set, but to be realistic, his self-admittedly lazy and unprofessional approach to his job was always likely to limit his career.

77 Having listened to Vick…

Having listened to Vick since then, I have a hard time completely blaming him. He was a kid from a tough neighborhood who was handed a ton of money and a ton of praise very early on. It sounds like he wasn't mature enough to handle the moment and he has spoken with so much introspection on that period of his life. 

Contrast this with someone like Peyton manning who was groomed to understand from day 1 what life in the nfl was all about. 

This also reminded me of the Antonio Cromartie story where his agent put him in touch with a lawyer friend or the Michael Oher story.  To touch on politics very briefly - this is something I wish most of the inequality brigade would recognize. Inequality isn't as simple as people have money and others don't. Its about nurturing children and fostering good habits that last into adulthood. And I don't think you solve that part of the problem by mostly showering people with money. In Vick's case, it made things worse. 


84 There is no doubt that some…

There is no doubt that some people, growing up materially deprived or materially comfortable, have whatever drive for quality they have developed, by the time adulthoood looms, destroyed or in good measure destroyed, by a flood of cash. Not everybody, though, and not everybody with a tough childhood, either. I always think of Le Bron James having the maturity he displayed upon earning 100 million plus on his 18th birthday.

52 The design of the Seattle…

The design of the Seattle offense with Wilson is nothing like those others, though. They're not intentionally putting him at risk. If anything, given his talents (and those of the team around him), they should be putting him MORE at risk than they are, at least by play design.

Much of the exposure/risk that Wilson takes is by his own decision. Which he of course bails out by having a FAR greater accuracy and knack for finding the right guy than any of the others you cite ever did.

56 Wilson's comp is more…

Wilson's comp is more Tarkenton than it is Vick.

Now college Jackson and college Vick had a lot in common. The real question is whether Jackson can advance his skill set and avoid becoming a Kaepernick.

64 Comparing Tarkenton to…

Comparing Tarkenton to Wilson is so interesting. They both are/were crazy good at extending plays and locating receivers, obviously. Tarkenton was as accurate short to medium but Wilson has better velocity for small windows and better deep accuracy. Tarkenton was crazy good at play action; he must have huge hands for a guy of his stature; because he could casually hold the ball behind his hip after a playfake, and defenses would delay in locating the ball, and his fumble rate stayed quite low for the era.

Where comparisons really break down is how the game has changed. It seems hard to believe, but radios in helmets have only been around 25 years, and prior to that, very few qbs were calling all of their only plays after 1980. A guy like Tarkenton really was a coach on the field, and he was really good at it, to the point of designing new route combinations in the huddle, based on what he was seeing in that game. At the line of scrimmage, pre-snap, he was the forerunner of a P. Manning or Brady, using the playclock to get his team into the right play, except without any input at all from coaches. Really was a different game.

69 I've said it here many times…

I've said it here many times, but I'll repeat it, especially since I think the video has been available from time to time. Dr. Z said the greatest game he ever saw from any football player was Tarkenton dragging an absolute carcass of a Giants roster into the Cotton Bowl against a championship Cowboys team, loaded with HOFers, in 1971, on what was then a still novel Monday night game. Tarkenton single-handedly fought them to a near-draw, and damned near won it outright. I was a little kid, and it was one of the earliest games I have memory of, and certainly the earliest non-Viking game I remember. 

Tarkenton was unbelievably good, especially considering he was well into his 30s before playing on a competently coached roster with talent.

80 Yeah

Tarkenton was really great. Guy had eyes in the back of his head, and had ridiculous completion percentage numbers for his time, though they did have a short-passing offense. Wonderful player, horrible opponent.

41 They don't get that many…

They don't get that many headlines, likely because they've never had many great skill positional players, but the Ravens deserve a lot of kudos for their organizational competence. Despite competing in a difficult conference and not having an elite qb, they've been as successful as anyone and are the model of how a team achieves terrific success without going down the qb route.

Prior to this season, the Ravens have largely been the same team over several decades, two different head coaches, a slew of different coordinators and players. Yet the results remain largely the same. And they seem to be the only team that consistently gives Ne a hard time, even during their weak periods.  I've asked Baltimore fans on this post how they do it and no one seems to have an answer.

My completely speculative answer: The position coaches know how to teach football better than most do and their stability gives them a lot of credibility. 

104 The Ravens played 6 or…

The Ravens played 6 or sometimes even 7 DBs a lot.  Basically the same strategy the Chargers tried against the Pats in the playoffs last year, to far different results.  In the Chargers' case, they were almost forced to do so by injuries.  The Ravens did it because they didn't respect the Pats' ability to run the ball.  No FB, no non-senior TEs, and a depleted OL, Harbaugh decided correctly to let NE beat them on the ground.  He put a DB on White and tripled Edelman as you mentioned. 

That said, the key to last night's win was BL's offense and that long Q4 drive.  After Q1, it seemed NE was scoring every drive (other than when they were turning it over).  That Q4 drive by BAL was a thing of beauty, winning a game I was sure NE was going to find a way to pull out.

113 Fair-Point

This is interesting, though I don't think it's correct. NE lost that game because the defense laid an egg in the first quarter and didn't play well enough to. The got blown off the ball against the run game in a tough game on the road, they had a couple of chances to grab a pick against Jackson in the first half and didn't make the plays, they then committed a very high leverage turnover in the Edelman fumble.

I'm not yet sure what this game means for the Pats because there is some evidence from other games that there defense has periods where it can be blown off the ball and that is deeply concerning - on the other hand I was actually pleasantly surprised with how the Pats offense responded after being in a big hole early. This is an offense that is definitely still a work in progress both on the OL and at WR - a recipe for total collapse when forced to throw the ball, and yet they clawed back into the game and even recovered and went down the field after the Edelman fumble - by DYAR posting a league-average day throwing the ball against a pass-focused defense that got to sell out because of game-script. That's a lot better than I expected from the Pats in that circumstance. The key issue for the Pats is hold serve on their crappy opponents so they don't have to go on the road in the playoffs, to clean up the OL, and to rally the level of front-7 play to look more like it did against Pittsburg opening night rather than how it's looked the last few weeks. If they can do that they have every shot at another super bowl - we'll see. 

87 The only season Flacco…

The only season Flacco resembled a good qb was 2014. Pre sb victory, he was pretty up and down, though I guess you can talk me into saying he was a solid, maybe a little above average player. He was also pretty flaky, a bit like Kirk Cousins except the highs were less high. If he didn't have the Ravens Defense and Special teams, he would be under a lot more fire than he was. 



92 When it comes to assessing…

When it comes to assessing qb play via statistics, its hard but I tend to pick QBR because it tries to account for the most qb centeric things - like depth of pass, pass pressure, drops, dropped ints , etc etc.


Looking over QBR, a typical solid qb will have around a score of 60, Tom Brady this year. Qbs having a good year will be around 65 and above( everyone from Derrek Carr and upward).  A middling season is something between 55 and 50 and anything south of that is terrible and populated by backups, rookies, and qbs having awful years.

Not counting his rookie year, Joe Flacco has a mean of 60 in terms of qbr, once a bit higher, a bunch slightly lower, except ironically for his sb year when he was at 51. His post sb years, aside from one 2014 season, which we all agree and I said as much above was his best, have been awful. Like among the worst starters in football awful. A similar story emerges when you look at ANYA. 

All of that jives with what I said above, a solid qb and maybe a bit better during that stretch. So I am curious which part you find ridiculous?

50 "I'm very confident that …

"I'm very confident that [the Seahawks are] going to pop up on the "teams most likely to decline" list that Bill Barnwell puts out every year in 2020." I'm more worried about a massive second-half collapse. They have literally the hardest schedule in the NFL the rest of the way. It's not hard to envision them getting leap-frogged by any two of Minnesota/Green Bay, Carolina, LA Rams, Philly/Dallas.

The flip-side is that Russell Wilson might be good enough to put up a winning record against just about any schedule. He basically had three game-winning drives yesterday -- after the first the Seahawks D couldn't keep the Bucs out of the end zone; after the second Myers missed the kick; third time was the charm.

Also, Pete Carroll for the all the (deserved) flack he gets for running too much, making dumb challenges, and playing for the long field goal or (worse) the short punt, it's tough to argue with the overall results. The team is almost always in the game even against superior opponents. He's a bad tactician, but he gets guys to play hard every week, which is probably more important.

59 I think Pete Carrol is good…

I think Pete Carrol is good at all of the things we don't see and terrible at the things we can objectively measure(which you listed above).


The seahawks are a paper tiger with a really really good qb. This isn't a very talented team and probably is a bottom third roster if you really think about it. I might even say if you handed this defense to an average coach, you'd be talking about a bottom 5 defense.  

66 Holy Hell. I just saw the…

Holy Hell. I just saw the Sam Darnold int on the goal line. That is now added to my special list of funny qb plays which I will now list in no particular order.

Brandon Weeden flip pass int.

Josh McCown fumble int.

Aaron Brooks backward pass to an offensive linemen -

Sage Rosenfels helicopter -

And now... Sam Darnold - So funny



**** EDIT ***


I just saw the full highlights of this game and that Darnold play wasn't even the most egregious play of the game. The safety where the offense barely even bothered to try and recover  the football was simply breathtaking. If you don't know the play I am referring to, you have to see it for yourself. Its incredible.

67 Let's give some credit to…

Let's give some credit to Dan Orvlosky, running terrified from Jared Allen, like a rabbit with a wolf in pursuit, right out of the end zone for a safety!

72 Man, I enjoyed the NE/Balt…

Man, I enjoyed the NE/Balt game. Just a tremendous display of power and beautiful play design by the Baltimore offense. The league is so passing friendly, it's just a joy to watch that level of execution in the running game.

Interesting question. There was a little attention paid in the broadcast to when Jackson dried his hands on the towel. It didn't amount to anything. But suppose, hypothetically, the booth (or, more likely, a producer) really does pick up on a clear "tell." Should they talk about it during the broadcast, potentially giving the other side very helpful information? I don't think they should. It's leveraging the resources (technical and otherwise) that the TV crew is permitted but the teams are not in a way that benefits one team over the other. But I can see the contrary argument.

105 I had the same thought.  …

I had the same thought.  "What's the ethics of this?"  Pointing it out after the game is one thing, during the game's another.

Maybe Collingsworth should have gone full Romo "They're going to run here", "This is going to be a pass", and then revealed afterwards LOL

109 I don't think that the teams…

I don't think that the teams playing (legally) have access to the broadcast feed, and I think they have the same prohibitions on sideline communications to the outside world that MLB has.  That being said, if so, it's probably been violated many times.

I did think the same thing though.  It seems that one would have to weigh potentially nullifying a team's advantage with enlightening and entertaining the broadcast audience.  I think I come down on the side of the latter.

111 Yeah, though soon after…

Yeah, though soon after Collinsworth said that, Jackson wiped his hands and then it was a straight handoff. Harbaugh was asked about a possible tell yesterday and dismissed it out of hand, saying something like "We're pretty much on top of all that stuff."

74 Packers/Chargers

The GB offensive line and d-line were whipped. Everything else was just an offshoot of these line failures. Your qb cannot get the ball down the field if he has someone coming at him unblocked immediately after the ball is snapped. Your corners cannot be expected to hold up in coverage if the pass rush is mostly nonexistent, and the opposing qb is an experienced vet with decent to good receivers.

That GB's two best o-linemen, the tackles, were the root cause of the line failures is particularly stunning. Both players are very good at pass blocking. That each was more than once not just beat but humiliated is pretty incredible. But each of the o-line had multiple whiffs today. And no LA was not blitzing. The Chargers just changed up who was rushing with great effectivness while Bosa was in top form. He had guys lunging repeatedly.

Rodgers pointedly stated after the game that the '48 hours leading up to the game needs to be re-examined'. Rumor is that with the team flying in Friday instead of Saturday the coaching staff allowed guys with too much free time which was spent poorly. But who knows?

82 Game plan was terrible too

Inside, delay runs, quick passes? Nope. Just assume your tackles will win. That's some McCarthy-level planning.

Rodgers didn't help by taking long shots whenever he did have some time.

99 Don't think that's fair

If you go through the playcalls the Packers did run the ball a fair amount early. But thanks to penalties were put in long distance situations. And through 8 games the Packers tackles had handled multiple quality pass rushers. Was it unreasonable to think that the duo would at least be adequate versus a complete catastrophe?

79 After seeing CLE run over NE…

After seeing CLE run over NE quite a bit last week I was concerned about last night, but I didn't think the NE defense would collapse that completely.

Props to Jackson for his amazing ballhandling. Very impressive fakes.

NE offense was again discouraging, this time forced to play an 11 formation for literally every single offensive snap. At least Sanu looks like he'll be able to be a player for NE.

Now if the OL could just regain some competency.

89 Being a passing team is…

Being a passing team is clearly NE's best shot at taking the prize this year, which means that, besides the OL stepping up, they need production from at least two more guys than they got last night.  Whether that is Dorsett making a few players and Harry looking like a first rounders, or Meyers/Lacrosse, Edelman/Sanu/White just isn't going to cut it.

106 What surprised me most about…

What surprised me most about the NE D was their inability to cover the Raven TEs.  Other than Q1, they were about as disciplined containing Jackson as could be expected given his athleticism.  And other than one pass to Hollywood Brown that I can recall, the Ravens WRs weren't getting open.  What seemed to allow Jackson to keep drives going was his accuracy in identifying TE mismatches and getting the ball to them. 

I wonder if that was another side effect of trying to contain Jackson, with NE fielding more guys than normal who are run specialists and poorly suited to cover the TEs?


110 I imagine that was by design…

I imagine that was by design.  If you're devoting resources to spy Jackson and keep him from breaking contain, the trade off is usually going to be, barring a TE of Gonzalez/Gronkowski ability, giving up the late-developing TE stuff underneath.  If I was going to design a defense to encourage the Ravens offense to go in a certain direction, that's what I would do, and hope for some combination of bad short accuracy, stone hands, and fast pursuit by linebackers and safeties to limit damage and cause turnovers.

The Ravens TEs played well, and had some backbreaking receptions.

83 Never mind Bruce Arians not…

Never mind Bruce Arians not going for 2 at the end of the game, he screwed up by scoring too quickly beforehand. The Bucs reached 1st & goal, down 7, at the Seahawks 1 yard line with ~60 seconds remaining, plus a timeout. They hustled straight up to the line and slammed the ball in the end zone, thereby leaving Wilson 48 seconds (plus timeouts) to drive into field goal range against a weary, over-matched defense, which he duly managed with ease. Of course actually scoring the TD must be the first consideration there, and you could argue that by hurrying-up the Bucs caught the Seahawks off balance and aided their chances of scoring. But not even attempting to work the clock in that scenario was bad management, I couldn't possibly imagine e.g. the Patriots leaving Wilson that much time for a game-winning drive.

88 Patriots clearly are not…

Patriots clearly are not nearly as good as their record against horrible teams would seem to indicate. Despite two 'lucky' fumble interpretations, they were still blown out. It appears as if mobile quarterbacks are going to be too much for this defense to handle. The offense is middling, at best.
But with their schedule, probably makes no difference.

93 Who’s a comp for Lamar as pocket passer?

The Vick comparisons don't make a lot of sense. As a 22-year-old, Lamar has a career completion percentage of 62% after 15 starts, and is completing 64% this year. Vick's career percentage was 56%. Vick's career QB rating was 80.4. Lamar's is 90.9, and 95.4 this year. He's already a better passing QB than Vick was, despite not having nearly as strong an arm.

Putting running aside for a minute, who's a QB that's similar to Lamar as a throwing QB? Decent accuracy, not the strongest arm in the world, does a pretty good job of limiting bad decisions.

I'm thinking he might be Chad Pennington. If Chad Pennington could also have happened to run like Gale Sayers. A middle of the pack QB like Pennington who also rushes for 1,300 yards is not the worst thing to be.

If not Pennington, who's another passer Lamar reminds you of?

94 I think its firstly a…

I think its firstly a mistake to compare two qbs' statistics when they played in different eras(yes, a lot has changed even 10 years ago). I would also say that the Ravens have built a smart offense around him. The falcons tried to make Vick into Steve Young. 

Also, a healthy Pennington was better than a middle of the pack QB. Its just, a popgun qb who suffers even a mild decline in arm strength can be disastrous, which is what happened. 

I have seen Lamar Jackson play only twice this year. The Chiefs game, I thought his downfield accuracy was pretty spotty. This game he played pretty well, but I still don't trust him as a down to down thrower and as others have pointed out, everything operates on his usage as a option running threat qb, which there's isnt another qb like that. I think that's why people have chosen Vick as the stylistic comparison. 

107 Fair enough- I didn’t…

Fair enough- I didn’t realize Pennington’s completion % was so high. So then who would be a better comp? I just think as a passer Lamar doesn’t seem to have much in common with Vick from a style or skill POV

108 I am curious why you say…

I am curious why you say that? Once you era adjust the numbers, I think he does a pretty decent facsimile of Vick. Albeit(and this will sound like sacrilege), Vick was somehow even scarier.  

95 If the Ravens are the Men in…

If the Ravens are the Men in Black, can John Harbaugh zap me with that thing and erase yesterday's Bears-Eagles game (and, while we're at it, most of the Bears season)? After the fourth offside/neutral zone infraction of the 1st half and a colossally stupid RTP penalty that negated a 4th down stop, I may have possibly nailed my TV screen with an empty beer can when they showed the replay of Ertz punching Kyle Fuller in the face to get separation on the first TD.

114 Let's wait on annointing Baltimore

The Pats had just played 8 games in a row, Bal was off a bye, it was in Baltimore...yet if Edelman hadn't fumbled the game would probably have gone the Pats way anyway.

119 Mirror of Vanderjagt miss

On badly missed game winning FGs, my first thought was Vanderjagt in the 2005 playoffs also against the Steelers, but to the opposite side.