Detroit Lions Win Football Game

Detroit Lions WR Amon-Ra St. Brown
Detroit Lions WR Amon-Ra St. Brown
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Week 13 - 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 Lions 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.

Los Angeles Chargers 41 at Cincinnati Bengals 22

Scott Spratt: Just as we all expected, the Chargers started their game against the Bengals with an excellent special teams play! I wonder how much a 48-yard Andre Roberts kickoff return will make a dent in the team's 32nd-ranked special teams DVOA.

Aaron Schatz: Sorry, the Chargers missed an extra point. They are still the Chargers. Justin Herbert hit Mike Williams on a 41-yard bomb over Chidobe Awuzie. He overthrew Donald Parham on a fade at the goal line on third-and-goal from the 4, but being the Chargers, they went for it on fourth down and Herbert rifled it in to Keenan Allen between three defenders. Bengals run defense looks good so far but Chargers pass offense was better. 6-0 Chargers.

Derrik Klassen: Third-and-goal play from the Chargers seemed like a bit of a miscommunication from Herbert and Parham. Parham ran a little out-and-up from the slot. Herbert expected him to keep working up the sideline, but with a defender working top-down over the slot, Parham slowed down and looked like he wanted the ball back-shoulder. Ball missed high and over Parham's head.

And then it didn't matter because Herbert threw a rocket between three defenders to Keenan Allen on fourth down for the touchdown.

Scott Spratt: I'll mention too that Branden Staley went for that fourth down 4 yards away from the end zone, and he's first among head coaches in EdjSports' Critical Call Index this season. It fascinates me that Sean McVay is near the bottom of that list while his protege leads it.

Derrik Klassen: Joe Burrow may have thrown the most unfortunate interception I have ever seen. Ja'Marr Chase beat his man with an inside stem on a vertical route and got a clear step ahead of the defender. Burrow placed the ball 6 inches out in front of Chase's chest, in perfect stride, and Chase somehow bobbled it up into the cornerback's hands. Touchdown turned interception through no fault of Burrow. Unlucky.

Aaron Schatz: Bengals just turned the ball over for the second time. First one was a strip-sack by Uchenna Nwosu beating the backup right tackle Isaiah Prince. That turned into a field goal. Then Joe Burrow had Ja'Marr Chase on what looked like a touchdown pass down the right sideline and Chase bobbled it right into the hands of cornerback Mike Davis.

By the way, the Chargers run defense is actually playing well so far: Joe Mixon has four carries for 6 yards and an offensive holding call that took back his one good run. 9-0 Chargers.

Scott Spratt: Here's that Chargers interception:

That's Ja'Marr Chase's eighth drop of the season per Sportradar, tied for third-most among wide receivers. Everyone at the top of that list is good, but it's interesting given Chase's preseason drop concerns.

J.P. Acosta: I remember we mentioned the Bengals being such a high-variance team this season, where they seem to put together dominant games with clunkers. This seems like a clunker early.

Scott Spratt: Derrik, what is your scouting breakdown of this Chargers RPO touchdown?

Does the quarterback throw his best receiver the ball when literally no one covers him?

J.P. Acosta: Once I find the video I'll send it, but Jesus Justin Herbert is insane. Threw a deep over from the other side of the field for a touchdown. 24-0 Chargers.

Vince Verhei: This the video you were looking for J.P.?

Chargers followed that with a Keenan Allen-to-Herbert Philly Special for a two-point conversion and a stunning 24-0 lead midway through the second quarter.

J.P. Acosta: Exactly it. My goodness.

Scott Spratt: Herbert underthrew that pass by several yards, although that's just a free defensive pass interference penalty, so I guess good on him.

Aaron Schatz: Bengals score a touchdown on a bullet from Burrow to Tee Higgins. Who says Burrow doesn't have a strong arm? Maybe not the strongest, but he's made some perfect passes today. Then they go for two. They take a timeout to think about going for two. They line up to go for two. They get a delay of game. So then they go for an extra point from the 20, and Evan McPherson misses that. 24-6 Chargers.

Derrik Klassen: Kinda feel bad for Joe Burrow in this one. He's playing out of his mind and has already thrown about five perfect passes beyond 15 yards, but legitimately every other part of the team is failing. Run game can't move, offensive line can't pass pro, defense is a disaster, had the unlucky Chase interception—I mean just everything outside of Burrow's control has gone wrong. At 24-6, the game is probably too far out of control for the Bengals to come back too, especially considering their defense is sure to allow even more points.

Scott Spratt: Remember a few weeks ago when we were debating whether Patrick Mahomes should be trying to tackle his interceptor? Here was Justin Herbert after an Austin Ekeler fumble.

I just can't not love it.

Aaron Schatz: Bengals-Chargers goes to halftime with the Chargers up 24-13. Chargers just had the ball but Herbert took two sacks, then threw another interception with a deep 50-50 ball to Josh Palmer. Problem with the 50-50 ball is that 50% of the time you won't come down with it. Awuzie did instead. But Bengals' final drive fizzled out with dumpoffs in-bounds and no timeouts.

Here would be my worries going forward as the Bengals. First, something is up with Joe Burrow's finger which was bent backwards at some point. He is clearly annoyed by it, they have retaped it, don't know how that will affect him in the second half. Second, the running game is just not working except for a draw to Samaje Perine near the end of the first half. Mixon has 10 carries for 18 yards. At least it's easier to try to run against that Chargers defense in a 24-13 game rather than a 24-6 game, but the Chargers are doing an excellent job of filling holes and tackling despite not bringing down one of their usual two high safeties. Some of the problem is backup Cincinnati linemen Trey Hill (center) and Isaiah Prince (right tackle). Will have to watch how they do in the second half.

Scott Spratt: Here's a picture of Joe Burrow's pinkie at the start of the second half:

That doesn't look great!

Scott Spratt: Since taking a 24-0 lead, the Chargers have ended their last three drives with a fumble lost, an interception, and another fumble lost. And just like that, the Bengals are a two-point conversion away from tying the game at 24-24.

Aaron Schatz: Burrow's finger doesn't look like a problem so far in the second half and those offensive linemen are playing better especially on two long Mixon runs including one for the touchdown to make it 24-22. The Chargers defense is designed to take away the deep shots, and the Bengals don't have deep shots. They have a ton of mid-level gains on passes of 5 to 15 yards, though.

Aaron Schatz: Bengals had turned this game around with strong defensive line play. The Chargers offense had some deep throws early but since the second quarter Herbert can't get it deep because of the defensive pressure. But everything just turned quickly. Joe Mixon lost the handle on a handoff and TeVaughn Campbell of the Chargers picked it up and ran it all the way for a touchdown. We'll see how the Bengals offense responds. 31-22 Chargers.

Arizona Cardinals 33 at Chicago Bears 22

J.P. Acosta: Fourth-and-2 in Bears territory and Kyler Murray throws a beautiful pass to DeAndre Hopkins for a touchdown. Initially the side judge ruled it incomplete but then the head ref came over and ruled it a touchdown. This came after Andy Dalton threw a pick on the Bears opening drive.

Bryan Knowles: Andy Dalton gets the start with Justin Fields still aching. The savvy veteran's first pass ... is behind his receiver, tipped, and intercepted. Well, that could have started better.

Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins are back for Arizona, and there's a little bit of rust—Murray can't handle the first snap and ends up absorbing a sack. That pins Arizona back, and the Bears hold to a fourth-and-2, but Arizona goes for it, Murray hits Hopkins with a beautiful little rainbow in the corner of the end zone, and after review, it's a 7-0 lead for Arizona. Welcome back, Kyler; the Colt McCoy era was intriguing, but you were missed.

J.P. Acosta: Chicago was putting together a good drive, but then the elements catch up to the Bears being the Bears as Cole Kmet drops a pass and Budda Baker picks it off and returns it deep into Bears territory.

Bryan Knowles: Kyler Murray puts another ball on the ground, on a miscommunication with the exchange. Some of that might be the rainy weather in Chicago, some of that might be rust, but Arizona does put the ball on the ground plenty—something to keep an eye on in the future.

And "the future" is the key word here, because the Bears aren't providing too much resistance. On third down, Murray scrambles out of pressure and races 10 yards for a score to give Arizona a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. I think he's OK.

Vince Verhei: The Cardinals botch snaps in all sorts of conditions—dry, wet, indoors, outdoors, wherever. It's way too frequent a mistake to blame on the weather. About the only thing they have not done well this year is the basic snap exchange.

J.P. Acosta: On the bright side for Chicago, they have run the ball really well. Arizona has had struggles with stopping the run the entire season, and David Montgomery is having his way so far.

Bryan Knowles: Credit where credit is due—Matt Nagy faced a fourth-and-8 from the Arizona 27. He could have easily kicked a field goal and made things a 14-3 game, but no, he kept his offense on the field, they picked it up, and David Montgomery punches it in for a touchdown a few plays later to make it 14-7.

Bryan Knowles: Earlier this year, I kept trying to make James Conner a Loser League thing. I have learned my lesson since then, as the man does nothing but score touchdowns. The Cardinals' response to the Bears' score is a seven-play drive where Conner touched the ball four times, including a 21-yard run into Bears territory, and then a 23-yard touchdown reception on a little screen where the Bears decided tackles are for squares. That's 14 touchdowns for Conner this season; I would have guessed something like four before the season started. 21-7 Cardinals and the Bears are going to have to score, like, every drive to have a chance in this one.

Scott Spratt: James Conner entered the week with seven carries from the 1-yard line, tied for the most among running backs with Derrick Henry. It's not your fault, Bryan!

Bryan Knowles: I was about to flip this game off the main TV for obvious reasons, but the Bears have shown just the slightest amount of life here in the second half. An ill-advised end around caused the Cardinals to have to settle for a field goal, and the Bears marched down the field with entirely sustainable plays, like this trick play which certainly wasn't nearly a massive disaster, and two somewhat ticky-tack penalties on Arizona to get first downs. Definitely a workable strategy going forwards; no question. But it is 24-14 Cardinals, so the Bears are sneaking back into things...

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 30 at Atlanta Falcons 17

Bryan Knowles: The Falcons have Cordarrelle Patterson listed as their third-string safety, and Dean Pees says that they have packages where he plays defense. Considering he is, essentially, their entire offense at this point in time, how crazy is that?

J.P. Acosta: I wanna see defensive specialist Cordarrelle Patterson. I'm sure Pees has something drawn up for him

Aaron Schatz: Don't see Tom Brady make a mistake like this very often.

Vince Verhei: The timing of that play was interesting. Bucs had a 10-point lead with less than a minute to go in the half, and a lot of teams would have gone conservative there, to avoid just that sort of result.

So the lead is cut to 20-17, but what's most interesting is how we got here—the two teams have radically different game plans. Even with that pick-six, the Buccaneers have 217 yards on 28 passing plays, but only 17 yards on five non-kneeldown rushes. They're just throwing the ball all over the place. Meanwhile, Matt Ryan has taken three sacks, and the Falcons have more yards rushing (101) than passing (95). Most of that came on on the first drive, when Cordarrelle Patterson had a 39-yard gain to set up Mike Davis' 17-yard touchdown (both to the left side), but this is already the fifth time in the last seven games the Buccaneers have given up at least 100 yards on the ground. Vita Vea is back, but Tampa Bay's once-dominant run defense has been pretty ordinary for the better part of two months now.

Vince Verhei: Falcons were hanging around in this game for most of the second half, but on a third-and-2 in Tampa Bay territory down by 10 points in the fourth quarter, pressure got to Matt Ryan again, forcing an intentional grounding. The Falcons punted back to Tampa Bay, who have since killed 5:25 and counting. At the two-minute warning, they have a third-and-13 at the Atlanta 22, with the Falcons out of timeouts. They hand off to Leonard Fournette who … runs out of bounds to stop the clock? But it probably won't matter—Ryan Succop hits from 31 yards out and Tampa Bay goes up 30-17.

Dave Bernreuther: Is there a place online to quickly check the hurried/hit/knocked down stats they'll sometimes throw up on the broadcast?

Tom Brady threw 51 passes in this one, and while I might certainly have missed some, I had my eye on most, and I can recall only one single time where they got anywhere near him: a second-quarter incompletion.

If I was trolling for engagement and comments I might say something along the lines of him having the easiest job in football and thus having no business in any MVP discussion. Instead, as a rational fan I'll choose to appreciate that at age 44, nothing whatsoever (including tying shoes) is easy, and that making the right throw 50 out of 51 times is still super valuable, easy job or not. Plenty of other quarterbacks have had it pretty easy and still make two or three times the mistakes.

Indianapolis Colts 31 at Houston Texans 0

Scott Spratt: The Texans threw an interception on the first play of their first drive and now lost a fumble on the fourth play of their second drive. Jonathan Taylor may be back in the MVP discussion in another couple of hours if the Colts keep getting short fields.

Vince Verhei: Tyrod Taylor has only 45 yards passing late in the third quarter while giving up an interception and a pair of sacks. And he looks done for the day—Houston is going to Davis Mills.

This is relevant news for Loser League and, well, that's about it.

Bryan Knowles: Ah, it's ALSO relevant news for the Texans' push for the No. 1 draft pick! And their push to beat the Lions to elimination! It's very much a #sickos moment, but then, who else is watching Texans-Colts at this point?

Dave Bernreuther: I am, Bryan. I'm on a beach just keeping an eye on Carson Wentz and the potential shutout. Shutouts are always interesting. (Sorry, Rivers.) Hard to take too much away from this one, given the opponent, but the Colts handled their business well after a tough loss.

Vince Verhei: Everything in Houston is going great. Good times all around.

Rivers McCown: I can't believe it's December and there's more than a month left of this terrible stuff. Here, read this, enjoy learning about the Texans Rando Culture Benching Lotto that Mike Tanier tells me he has never seen before, and enjoy some hilarious Davis Mills action.

Carolina Panthers 0 at Bye Week 1

Bryan Knowles: The Panthers have just announced that they have parted ways with offensive coordinator Joe Brady. I mean, they picked a time to bury the news, I guess!

Scott Spratt: Oh that's tough for Matt Rhule. It gives Brady a month head start to land a nice preferred job.

Aaron Schatz: I don't understand the Brady firing at all. Remember how much people wanted this guy after LSU's season two years ago? Is offensive play design the problem in Carolina this year? Joe Brady didn't choose to have Sam Darnold as his quarterback. I would have to think he finds a job very quickly, depending on whether he wants to go back to college or wait for February to get an NFL job.

Bryan Knowles: I think it's a decent rule of thumb that if your coordinator interviewed for head coaching jobs the previous year, maybe cut them a little slack if your big free agency acquisitions don't work out.

Aaron Schatz: David Newton from ESPN is reporting that part of the problem was that Matt Rhule felt that Brady wasn't running the ball enough. You know, while losing and with the team's best running back hurt.

New York Giants 9 at Miami Dolphins 20

Vince Verhei: Giants have a second-and-11 with the clock running very late in the first quarter. There's confusion, so they call timeout to get things straight. Doesn't sound like the end of the world, except that it's very late in the first quarter—they could have just let the period end without calling timeout or taking a penalty! With that extra snap, they throw a short completion to bring up third-and-6. Way to go, Joe Judge.

Vince Verhei: Tua Tagovailoa hits Mack Hollins for a short touchdown on the Dolphins' last drive of the second quarter to put Miami up 10-3 at halftime. I have been paying more attention to this game than it probably deserves but I'm still struggling for much to say. Miami has no run to their run/pass option game—the Dolphins have nine carries for only 28 yards—so the Giants defenders are swarming to every completion and eliminating all YAC. Tagovailoa has 21 completions for a whopping 137 yards. That's not even 7 yards per completion. I know we're an analytics site and all, but a good running back (and/or good blockers) would really make a big difference for this offense.

Mind you, Mike Glennon isn't doing much better—13-of-18 for only 97 yards—but he has probably played better than his numbers. His receivers have dropped some balls, and his one interception was basically an arm punt that pinned Miami deep.

Scott Spratt: This game is a matchup of the 30th- (Dolphins, 3.52) and 31st- (Giants, 3.51) ranked teams in adjusted line yards. I'm not sure either side will be running much, options or not.

Vince Verhei: Au contraire mon frère! After Glennon passes the Giants to midfield, New York gets into the red zone on a 23-yard Saquon Barkley off-tackle run to the right, then a 17-yard Devontae Booker off-tackle run to the left. The drive stalls there, but they do get a field goal to cut the lead to 10-6.

Vince Verhei: New York's last series went like this:

  • Jaelan Phillips sack on first down.
  • NYG timeout.
  • Jaelan Phillips sack on second down.
  • Delay of game.
  • Give-up handoff on third-and-33 to set up a punt.

That's three straight drives for New York ending on punts, one of them on fourth-and-2 in Miami territory while trailing 10-6.

But now that lead is 17-6, as the Dolphins march down into the red zone and Tagovailoa hits Isaiah Ford for a 2-yard touchdown. Jaylen Waddle left the game for Miami, though he was able to walk to the locker room. Waddle leads the team with nine catches for 90 yards today, so that could be a big loss.

Vince Verhei: Dolphins miss a 52-yard field goal, then Giants get a 51-yarder, so this game was still at stake on Miami's last drive. But Tagovailoa converts a pair of third downs to set up Jason Sanders from 48, and the kick is good. That makes it 20-9 and this one's done.

Philadelphia Eagles 33 at New York Jets 18

Vince Verhei: As we all expected from Gardner Minshew and Zach Wilson, this has turned into a shootout, with both teams scoring touchdowns on each of their first two drives. The quarterbacks are a combined 15-of-16 for 175 yards and three scores. Dallas Goedert is the star so far for the Eagles—five catches for 98 yards and both touchdowns, and the second quarter just started. Alex Kessman is not the star for the Jets—in his NFL debut, he has missed both extra points, leaving the Jets trailing 14-12.

Both teams are wearing green helmets and black pants, so this looks like a scrimmage more than a game. Maybe the defenders are losing track of who they're supposed to be covering.

Scott Spratt: Woah, the new Jets kicker Alex Kessman has missed his first two extra-point attempts? He may go down as a Loser League white whale; he may end up released before we can make him a lineup option!

Aaron Schatz: I am regretting not adding him to the available players on Saturday!

Vince Verhei: Third-and-goal from the 1, Zach Wilson has Elijah Moore wide open on the right side of the back of the end zone, but throws wide and Moore can't make the catch. So they go for it and fourth-and-goal and get a receiver open in the exact same spot. Wilson is accurate this time and Ryan Griffin makes the catch for the score.

Jets go for two and don't get it, so the lead is 18-14. Not a good sign for Kessman that they passed up both the field goal from the 1 and the PAT, though the score is likely a bigger factor than the two kicks he missed.

Carl Yedor: Wilson has been playing well so far in this one, but he took a sack on third-and-short to bring up the first punt of the game. The Jets tried to go to the quick game to convert, and when it was covered up, Wilson instinctively backed up directly into the path of an onrushing defender. A strong return by Jalen Reagor sets the Eagles up on the other side of midfield just outside the two-minute warning. Regardless, today has been encouraging for the Jets offense, which they will hopefully be able to build on for the remainder of the season and into next year. The defense, on the other hand, needs some serious work.

Bryan Knowles: That was, at least theoretically, the plan for this season. The Jets used the majority of their draft capital and free-agent spending to try to get some talent on offense, and they were counting on Carl Lawson and scheme to keep the defense briefly afloat until they had time to actually get to repairing it. Neither has really worked to this point in the season, but hey, best-laid plans.

Scott Spratt: More fun with new kicker Alex Kessman:

The Jets tried for two and failed after their third touchdown. I'm not sure Kessman will ever try another NFL kick, which means he could finish his career with two missed extra points and that's it.

Vince Verhei: Multiple strange fourth-down occurrences on the Eagles' last drive. Fourth-and-4 at the Jets 48, they line up to go for it, but New York jumps offside and gives them a free first down. Fourth-and-1 at the Jets' 34, Minshew is stuffed on a sneak, but Philly challenges, and we get the very rare ball-spot reversal—indeed, it's ruled a 2-yard gain and a first down. But then after all of that, they end up kicking a field goal on fourth-and-3 from the 25. The 43-yard field goal is good and the Eagles go up 30-18, so the Jets need two touchdowns now, but that's some passive-aggressive (aggressive-passive?) play calling by Philadelphia.

Vince Verhei: Eagles win 33-18 in a game that was never really in doubt in the second half. Only two notes:

  • Jason Kelce left with an injury and his replacement promptly snapped the ball way over Minshew's head, so hopefully Kelce can come back next week.
     
  • The Jets only reached Philly territory twice in the second half. Wilson was intercepted the first time, and they went for it on fourth-and-10 because they were down by 15 points. The play failed, and so Kessman never got another chance to try a kick. He remains 0-for-his brief career.

Minnesota Vikings 27 at Detroit Lions 29

Bryan Knowles: I have this game on the big screen because I am a glutton for punishment connoisseur of elimination scenarios. We have a race going on in the early window to see whether the Lions or Texans will be the first team officially eliminated from the playoffs; the Lions need to lose while the Texans need to lose and see the Chargers win to be eliminated before the late games kick off.

While the Texans are holding up their end of the deal, the Lions … are in the lead! The 32nd-ranked red zone defense has held Minnesota to a pair of field goals,and T.J. Hockenson has a couple of big catches—one in heavy traffic to get the Lions into the red zone, and another to give the Lions a touchdown and a 7-6 lead.

Bryan Knowles: Make it 14-6 for the winless Lions! Kirk Cousins ended up with an odd play—he got his helmet swiped a bit, and he ended up tossing the football away ... sideways. That's a fumble, that's the Lions ball, and that gives Jared Goff the opportunity to make a couple of 25-yard completions. Josh Reynolds, finally active and ready to go, breaks a pair of tackles to get the ball to the red zone, and then Goff threads the needle to someone named Brock Wright (nope, never heard of him), and the Lions have an eight-point lead!

Vince Verhei: Not the best shot of this play, but it bears repeating that every once in a while, Kirk Cousins does something that makes me question if he has ever played football before.

Bryan Knowles: Ten of the Vikings 11 games have been one-score games this season, so anyone putting this one to bed was being way premature, even with Adam Thielen ruled out for the rest of the day. The Vikings' first two drives of the second half have cut this from a 20-6 deficit to a 20-15 one, as it turns out "huck the ball to Justin Jefferson" is a workable strategy against most NFL defenses, and also whatever the Detroit Lions are putting out there. To the Lions' credit, they have managed to do a solid job holding the Vikings; Minnesota keeps getting into Detroit territory but had to settle for three field goals before that latest touchdown, and they managed to sniff out some misdirection to stop the two-point conversion, so they still have a five-point lead. But this was never going to be easy...

Bryan Knowles: The Lions do pick up a field goal on their ensuing drive, but the Vikings have gone into "oh, right, we're playing the 0-10-1 Lions" mode. With Thielen out, K.J. Osborn has been put into a significantly larger role and has responded well—four catches for 47 yards and score, with three of those catches happening on this last drive (surrounded by some great Justin Jefferson plays, natch). But the Lions stiffen up on the two-point conversion, and they cling to a 23-21 lead with 12 minutes left in the game...

Bryan Knowles: Oh, Dan Campbell, no.

On fourth-and-1, deep in their own territory, holding a two-point lead with four minutes left in the game, the Lions decide to go for it. Great! The Vikings are missing most of their starting defensive linemen; line up and push them forward, gain the yard, keep the clock moving!

Instead, they run play-action and Goff staggers backwards and takes a strip-sack. Vikings now have the ball inside the red zone, and are running clock.

Bryan Knowles: The play call. I mean, you tell me.

Aaron Schatz: Jason Cabinda, the fullback, is looking around in that video like he's not sure who he's supposed to block. I wonder if he was supposed to take the untouched rusher who took down Goff?

Bryan Knowles: If there's any good news for the Lions, it's that the Vikings scored too fast—Justin Jefferson gets into the end zone with 1:50 left in the game. The two-point conversion fails again, and the Vikings have a 27-23 lead, so the Lions, with no timeouts, at least have a chance...

Bryan Knowles: They did it! The Lions won a professional football game! The very last play of the game saw Goff hitting Amon-Ra St. Brown and earn the 29-27 win. I am SO happy for Dan Campbell.

Aaron Schatz: Why were the Vikings defensive backs playing so far back on that last play? Were they trying to defend the first row of seats?

Aaron Schatz: The cornerback in question was Cameron Dantzler, No. 27.

Scott Spratt: I love it for Campbell! And honestly, this season has gone perfectly for the Lions, hasn't it? This may be their first win of the year, but they're now 8-4 against the spread, a sign I take that the team continues to play hard for Campbell despite a bottom-two DVOA roster. And they maintain a game lead in the race for the No. 1 pick in the draft.

Dave Bernreuther: I just finished talking about Tom Brady and easy jobs, and the counter-example I didn't say at the end but had in mind was Jared Goff, who still managed to find ways to look terrible in an excellent situation at times in L.A. So it's fitting, then, that the broadcast switched over to the end of the Lions game, just in time for Justin Jefferson to score and put Jared Goff into a two-minute game winning drive situation … which he converts to give Dan Campbell his first victory!

The touchdown pass was well done, but it was actually the incompletion to the end zone earlier in the drive that stood out to me. Goff has always gone from good to awful if there's pressure, with very little in between; on this particular play the Vikings got a bit of strong-side pressure as well as blitzing Harrison Smith from the weak side. It was a difficult play, but Goff seemed unfazed by the pressure and stood in to fire off a pass, which ended up incomplete. I have been as hard on Goff as anyone so it's only fair that I mention that he impressed me on that drive.

Congratulations to Dan Campbell. Pretty good weekend for Michigan football.

Bryan Knowles: The Lions' win, coupled with the Texans loss and the Chargers' win, means the Houston Texans are the first team mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, not the Detroit Lions. Congratulations, Dan Campbell. Sorry, Rivers.

Baltimore Ravens 19 at Pittsburgh Steelers 20

Scott Spratt: What a bizarre opening drive for the Ravens.

  • Steelers defensive tackle Montravius Adams batted a pass down backward—he was facing toward the left sidelines and pulled his arm back to the right sidelines and hit the ball.
     
  • The Ravens snapped a ball off of a motioning Patrick Ricard and would have lost 15 or more yards where Lamar Jackson recovered, but the play was whistled dead (late) for a delay of game.
     
  • Jackson threw an interception in the end zone.

And yes, Jackson did throw four interceptions last week. I'm guessing you heard.

Scott Spratt: Fourth-round rookie left tackle Dan Moore went down injured on the Steelers opening drive. That probably won't be a big deal for the *checks notes* 29th-ranked line in adjusted line yards ... on the next play, several Ravens met Najee Harris in the backfield on a third-and-1. And the Steelers punted.

Scott Spratt: Punter highlight! Check out Pressley Harvin's all-time coffin-corner kick:

Scott Spratt: Devonta Freeman just ran in a touchdown to put the Ravens up 7-0, and the Ravens have had 18:35 of possession to the Steelers' 2:48 so far.

Aaron Schatz: I think the big story from the first half of this game is strong performance from two defenses that have underwhelmed so far this year. Baltimore is controlling the line of scrimmage on defense and they're getting to Ben Roethlisberger with blitzes. But the Steelers defense is also playing well with four sacks so far including two for Chris Wormley. Both teams are around 5 yards per play at this point.

Scott Spratt: Ben Roethlisberger may not have an arm anymore, but he does a remarkable job with some of the moonballs he releases several seconds before his receivers can hit the spots. In the first half, he threw a should-have-been touchdown pass that Diontae Johnson dropped.

And he just completed another moon pass to Ray-Ray McCloud for 32 yards that the Ravens got overturned on a challenge since McCloud had the ball jarred loose as he hit the turf.

Roethlisberger deserves much better than his 8-of-15 for 80 yards line so far.

Scott Spratt: The CBS broadcast just had some great Next Gen stats for today's game. The Steelers have blitzed Lamar Jackson on 46% of his dropbacks so far today. It's their first game over 40% this season and continues the trend the Dolphins started a few weeks ago blitzing Jackson heavily. It doesn't seem obvious to me that blitzing Jackson would be an effective strategy with his mobility, but Mike Tanier was telling me last week that teams have been able to collapse pockets with interior pressure since the Ravens have so many offensive line injuries.

Per the broadcast, Jackson had his interception and was close to 20% completions below expectation today on blitzes. And entering this week, Jackson was bottom-five in EPA per play on blitzes and tied for first in EPA per play without blitzes with Aaron Rodgers.

Aaron Schatz: Steelers just went 79 yards in two plays. First, a short pass to Chase Claypool on third-and-1 and nobody tackled him as he went 40 yards. Then, Diontae Johnson was wide-open when two Ravens defensive backs crashed into each other when two Steelers receivers crossed paths. Touchdown. Steelers miss the extra point so it is 10-9 Ravens. Offense has really come in spurts today, not steady gains.

Next drive, Minkah Fitzpatrick just drew a 41-yard DPI. Like I said, spurts instead of steady gains.

Aaron Schatz: Diontae Johnson just had a great whip route at the goal line, made Marlon Humphrey slide on the grass which left him wide open for the go-ahead touchdown. They get the two-point conversion to Freiermuth and the Steelers are now up 20-13 with 17 points in the fourth quarter. Ravens will have 1:48 with one timeout to come back.

Scott Spratt: Diontae Johnson had the big drop in the first half, but he has scored twice in the fourth quarter, including this touchdown in the final two minutes to get the Steelers a seven-point lead (after a two-point conversion).

That was a disgusting cut.

Scott Spratt: If the Steelers lose, then their Least Valuable Player will be kicker Chris Boswell. He slipped and badly missed an extra-point attempt earlier, and he just kicked a kickoff out of bounds to give the Ravens just a 60-yard field to score a touchdown to tie.

Scott Spratt: The Ravens just scored with 12 seconds left, and they are going for two and the win!

Aaron Schatz: Suddenly on the last drive, the Steelers were not blitzing Jackson but they were still leaving huge holes in the middle of the field for the Ravens to easily move up the field. Then there was an all-out blitz where Jackson had to throw real quick and he missed Mark Andrews. But then he hits Sammy Watkins for 5 yards and then for 6 yards and a touchdown. He had forever to throw the ball on that touchdown. Ravens then line up to go for two and the win! And the ball is thrown slightly away from Andrews, who is wide open, and he has his fingers on it but cannot bring it in! Steelers will win 20-19! The rest of the top of the AFC celebrates as the Ravens drop out of the No. 1 spot.

Scott Spratt: Andrews got his fingertips on what would have been the game-winning two-point conversion.

But T.J. Watt was in Lamar Jackson's face out of frame and forced a more difficult throw. Watt was a huge difference-maker for the Steelers all game today.

Aaron Schatz: The Ravens' decision to go for two there is very interesting. I don't think the numbers favor it. If you are the favored team, you should be favored in overtime. Having Justin Tucker on your team makes you an even bigger favorite in overtime. They must have felt they definitely had a play that would work. And it should have worked, Andrews was wide-open but Jackson missed him.

Aaron Schatz: One last note. John Harbaugh told the press after the game that the Ravens went for two because they were out of cornerbacks due to injuries.

Tom Gower: In the abstract, how much sense you think the two-point conversion makes depends on what you think is likely to happen in overtime. My baseline estimate, based on historical research under the old overtime model, is that games with a relatively even line did tend to be coin flips, while games with lines of a touchdown or more were disproportionately won by the pre-game betting favorite. The NFL's Next Gen Stats has the decision to go as a 7.6% decrease in win probability.

Based on their 2PC and XP rates for the play and assuming 12 seconds isn't enough time to change the game result, that implies Baltimore is roughly a 59% favorite in overtime. I know, Tucker, and Baltimore is better and was favored, but I'm surprised.

Personally, I'd put that call in what I think of as the zone of reasonableness, that there shouldn't be a hard-and-fast analytical suggestion to do X or Y and instead the particular percentages could easily be trumped by a coach's decision on factors not included in general models, like whether you have used up your good goal-to-go plays or, as Harbaugh suggested, all your cornerbacks are hurt.

San Francisco 49ers 23 at Seattle Seahawks 30

Bryan Knowles: The start of this one was delayed with Trenton Cannon needing to be removed from the field by ambulance; he took a shot from his own player on the opening kickoff. He was moving his left hand some as he was carted off the field, so fingers crossed, but this is an ugly, violent game sometimes.

Somehow transitioning from that to football, it looks like the Seahawks are going to start with a three-and-out, but they run a fake punt, the direct snap to Travis Homer. It not only picks up the 6 yards the Seahawks need for the first, it picks up all 72 yards as the 49ers punt unit was completely caught off guard. 7-0 Seahawks early.

Scott Spratt: As West Coast correspondents, either Bryan or Vince is going to have to explain to me how Adrian Peterson is starting this game at running back for the Seahawks.

Bryan Knowles: Time zones, Scott. The west coast is always a little behind the east coast, just because of the earth's rotation. Apparently, they're currently about six years behind the east coast.

Bryan Knowles: Russell Wilson is 4-for-4 ... for 4 yards. And his last completion was fumbled by Gerald Everett, with D.J. Jones punching the ball out; the 49ers fall on top of it. The very next play sees George Kittle running straight through the Seattle defense on a post route, and it's tied at 7.

Hey, the Seahawks haven't punted yet!

Vince Verhei: I'd like to point out that Seattle's non-three-and-out that set up the fake punt included not one but two failed screen passes even though the Seahawks have been terrible at screens for years.

To answer Scott's question, Alex Collins is out today with an abdominal injury, Chris Carson is out for the year with a neck injury, so it's Peterson, Homer, DeeJay Dallas, and Rashaad Penny (until he inevitably gets hurt again) at running back for Seattle today.

Peterson's first carry goes for a 5-yard loss. Russell Wilson's fourth pass is his THIRD screen, and Gerald Everett fumbles the ball away to the 49ers. Every Seattle coach who ever calls a screen again should be fired on the spot. Next snap, Jimmy Garoppolo hits George Kittle for a touchdown.

It's 7-7 and this game is not even five minutes old and I need oxygen.

Carl Yedor: It didn't take long for the 49ers-Seahawks game to be completely chaotic. After Seattle's first drive goes nowhere, Travis Homer pops a massive touchdown run on a fake punt. Seattle's defense gets a stop immediately thereafter, but then Gerald Everett fumbles on the ensuing drive, setting up San Francisco for an easy one-play touchdown drive courtesy of Jimmy Garoppolo and George Kittle. Seattle punts away again, but then Garoppolo throws an interception right to Bobby Wagner. Even if Seattle isn't going to make the playoffs, they can still bring insanity to any opponent they play.

Vince Verhei: So, you know how the Seahawks have literally never played a normal game? This is like watching 19 Seahawks games at the same time.

Between San Francisco's keep-away offense and Seattle's hot-potato defense, we all anticipated the 49ers just eating up clock forever. Instead, their first three drives:

Seattle then takes a holding penalty to go to first-and-20, when Nick Bosa sacks Wilson and forces a fumble. Seahawks recover, but that leaves them at second-and-43. They eventually miss a 56-yard field goal.

This game is still less than 10 minutes old.

Bryan Knowles: With Deebo Samuel out, it's time for George Kittle to start getting carries. Sure. Why not. Shanahan is just getting bored out there.

Kittle also has been, y'know, catching the ball some, too, taking a little flat route 28 yards before Elijah Mitchell punches it in. It's 14-7 in what the announcers have called an "eventful" first quarter. It certainly was full of events.

Vince Verhei: OK, things finally calmed down here. A long-ish San Francisco touchdown drive followed by a Seattle three-and-out. Seahawks will punt on the first play of the second quarter.

In five drives, the Seahawks have one first down, and it came on the fake punt. Their other 14 plays have netted 7 yards of offense and three fumbles. That's not even including yardage lost on fumble recoveries or penalties.

Oh, and to further answer Scott's earlier question: the Seahawks were also starting Adrian Peterson because their head coach is a senile old man who thinks it's still 2012. Although, to be fair, Peterson has not been seen since his second carry, when he lost a yard and put the ball on the ground.

Carl Yedor: Seattle continues to make no sense. Seattle calls timeout on third-and-9 to avoid a delay of game, only to then commit a delay of game penalty coming out of said timeout. Then, on the subsequent third-and-14, Wilson hits DK Metcalf deep down the sideline to convert the third down and set up a scoring chance at the goal line. San Francisco commits pass interference on the first play, and then the legend Adrian Peterson scores to make it 17-14.

Bryan Knowles: Emmanuel Moseley and Jaquiski Tartt are both out now, so the 49ers are running Josh Norman and rookie Deommodore Lenoir against DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, which seems like an area the Seahawks could attack. And indeed, a long DK Metcalf catch moves the Seahawks inside the 5, the Obligatory 49ers Pass Interference call gets it down to the 1, and even the decaying remains of Adrian Peterson can punch it in the extra yard—17-14 49ers with 5:35 left in a very, very weird first half.

Vince Verhei: Two things I want to point out on Seattle's last drive: it fell incomplete, but the double-reverse-pass-flea-flicker was totally sweet and a great call for an offense that has been desperate for yardage for months now. (Lockett was hurt on the play and walked to the medical tent.) And Peterson had a very good conversion on second-and-3, moving the pile for a first down when, again, Seattle has been wretched at moving the chains for several weeks.

That was a nine-play touchdown drive, and without looking it up, that sure feels like Seattle's longest of the year.

Bryan Knowles: The 49ers started slowly moving the ball down the field, in what felt for sure like it was going to be a "49ers run the clock out, kick a field goal" sort of drive.

Instead, George Kittle takes an out route 48 yards to the house, tight-roping along the sideline (helped by a crushing block from Trent Sherfield, I should mention). And it's a good thing, too, as Robbie Gould misses the woulda-been-field goal extra point, so it's just a 23-14 lead for the 49ers with 1:48 left in the half.

Bryan Knowles: The Seahawks had no timeouts after the 49ers' touchdown, so building a long touchdown drive seemed difficult, to say the least. But Russell Wilson has a little bit of experience at this ... and got helped a little bit by not one but two roughing the passer calls to both stop the clock and keep the ball moving forward. Wilson finds Dee Eskridge multiple times, including for the touchdown to move the Seahawks back within two points as we go to the half.

Vince Verhei: 49ers still up 23-21 at halftime, but I think we can safely say the finger is not a significant issue for Wilson anymore. The play calling and pocket presence, yes, those have been issues, but it's not as if he's spraying incompletions all over. The fake punt was a big help, but this is already the first time Seattle has scored 21 points in a game since a 31-10 win over Jacksonville in Week 8. The last time they did it against anything resembling a good team was a in Week 4, a 28-21 win over … San Francisco.

Bryan Knowles: Wilson is 16-4 all-time against the 49ers. One more win will tie him with Johnny Unitas for most wins as a starting quarterback against San Francisco. It's fair to say he's given 49er fans something of a complex.

Vince Verhei: Special teams are killing San Francisco—the fake punt and missed PAT in the first half, and then they open the second half fumbling away the kickoff return. That was Travis Benjamin's first kickoff return this year, filling in for Cannon, who was injured on the opening play.

But Gerald Everett is killing Seattle. He had the fumble in the first half. Then on third down, Wilson hits him for a sure-fire go-ahead touchdown, but he bobbles it into the air and into the arms of K'Waun Williams. Officially, that's Wilson's interception, but it's really Everett's second turnover of the game.

Bryan Knowles: ... but it turns out OK for the Seahawks, as the ball is deep enough in San Francisco territory that they're able to sack Garoppolo for a safety—Tom Compton, the right tackle, got destroyed by Carlos Dunlap. We're tied at 23 in what has to be the strangest game this year.

Bryan Knowles: Something that has been rare this year—a second Obligatory Terrible Garoppolo Interception, as he misreads the defense and lets Quandre Diggs basically field a punt to give the Seahawks the ball back.

And then Josh Norman is burned by Tyler Lockett (back after leaving for a bit in the first half), and the Seahawks have a 30-23 lead. Because of course they do.

Vince Verhei: Rashaad Penny is grinding out multiple first downs (even on a screen pass!) without tearing multiple muscles. That may be the weirdest thing yet in this game.

Fourth-and-1 inside the 5-yard line, they turn down the field goal. Homer takes a shotgun handoff for a first-and-goal at the 1. Peterson runs on first and second down combine to lose 1 yard. Third-and-goal at the 2, it's a shovel pass to Everett … who fumbles. Again. And San Francisco recovers, taking over at their own 1, down 30-23.

Bryan Knowles: Gerald Everett, Keep Choppin' Wood. For the third time today, he turns the ball over—twice now at the end zone when he was about to score, and the third lead to a 49ers score earlier in the game.

So instead of being up two scores, the Seahawks now are up seven points, with the 49ers having the ball with 4:03 left in the game. This game is drunk.

Bryan Knowles: It's not to be. The 49ers get the ball to down to the Seahawks' 3, but Seattle stiffens up there, tipping Garoppolo's pass on fourth down, and the Seahawks come out on top.

Wilson is now 17-4 against San Francisco.

Scott Spratt: The NFC West is rock-paper-scissors. The Seahawks beat the 49ers, the 49ers beat the Rams, and the Rams beat the Seahawks.

Vince Verhei: Crazy that a game with so much scoring is decided by a pair of goal-line drives—San Francisco's at one end to give them a chance, then Seattle's at the other end to win.

If Gerald Everett just hangs on to the ball on his three turnovers, Seattle wins that game 40-16.

The loss drops San Francisco to 6-6, which is still tied with Washington for the second wild-card spot behind the Rams. And I remind you again that some bad teams are going to make the playoffs in the NFC.

Carl Yedor: And in the rock-paper-scissors, Arizona just operates without logic in divisional games because it doesn't fit in neatly with the rest of the crowd. What a wild game; in other words, the quintessential Seahawks-watching experience. San Francisco is still well-positioned for a playoff run, but they have to take their opportunities when they get them. Their finishing schedule is Bengals, Falcons, Titans, Texans, Rams, so they should have plenty of chances to pick up wins on the home stretch.

Jacksonville Jaguars 7 at Los Angeles Rams 37

Vince Verhei: Rams are getting a feisty effort from the Jaguars and go into halftime with a 16-7 lead. They're also a little conservative, kicking field goals on fourth-and-2 and fourth-and-3. Lots of dropped passes and penalties in scoring range. Even their touchdown was a short 27-yard drive after a James Robinson fumble (forced by Aaron Donald and recovered by former Jacksonville corner Jalen Ramsey, naturally). But the Jaguars offense is, as usual, inept—only two plays on that fumble drive and two three-and-outs, though they did have a 13-play, 73-yard touchdown drive, ending with a Carlos Hyde goal-line plunge. Even that drive required a fourth-and-2 conversion, plus a pair of first downs via penalty.

Vince Verhei: OK, Cooper Kupp just single-handedly finished off Jacksonville. Second-and-3, he gets open on a left-to-right deep cross for a gain of 43. Then on second-and-4, he gets open on a crosser from the right side over the middle and runs in for a 29-yard touchdown and a 23-7 lead. Kupp now up to 5-94-1 midway through the third quarter.

Washington Football Team 17 at Las Vegas Raiders 15

Vince Verhei: I have barely been watching this, even though it's theoretically the most important game of the day. But the Raiders just kicked a field goal to go up 15-14 with about two and a half minutes to go. Wild-card berths in both conferences could be decided by what happens next.

Vince Verhei: And Washington gets a go-ahead field goal with little difficulty. Mostly just Taylor Heinicke hitting short completions. Fourth-and-1, they tease going for it in hopes that the Raiders will jump offsides, but when that doesn't work, they call timeout and Brian Johnson hits the 48-yard field goal for the lead.

Raiders still have about 30 seconds to answer. Derek Carr tries a deep shot to Zay Jones, but the ball is knocked away on a play with more than a little contact downfield. A few plays later, Las Vegas' Hail Mary attempt falls incomplete, and Washington wins its fourth straight game.

Aaron Schatz: Defender had Zay Jones' jersey on that deep pass. A lot of officials would have called DPI on that, which is one of the problems with inconsistency between officiating crews.

Denver Broncos 9 at Kansas City Chiefs 22

Bryan Knowles: That seemed too easy. Broncos go three-and-out; Chiefs march down the field 72 yards in 12 plays and score on a Patrick Mahomes scramble. They flexed this into prime time?

Scott Spratt: It always shocks me too, but apparently the broader public prefers dominant teams to likely competitive games between less dominant teams. The Chiefs have been big ratings drivers all season based on The Athletic's Bill Shea's research.

Scott Spratt: Ha, I guess I was playing chicken with the Sunday night broadcast because, as soon as rookie Broncos running back Javonte Williams broke a tackle, they showed a table of how he led FBS in broken tackles at North Carolina in 2020 and is leading the position this season. The stat I had prepped is that Williams has a 16.2% avoided tackle rate based on Sportradar charting, and that's the highest among running backs with 100 or more carries and pretty easily. Christian McCaffrey is second at 13.0% and AJ Dillon is third at 10.9%.

Aaron Schatz: Javonte Williams is (mostly) slicing through the Chiefs run defense that had improved so much over the last few weeks, but on pass plays the coverage has been strong. Teddy Bridgewater has attempted to go deep to covered receivers a few times tonight. Broncos just ran a 20-play drive with two fourth-down conversions and a lot of strong Williams runs but they (and Williams) finally failed when Willie Gay stuffed Williams on fourth-and-2 at the Kansas City 8. Ten minutes off the clock, no points. Still 10-3 Chiefs.

Scott Spratt: Well, felt like a game-ender for the Broncos. They just drove 20 plays for 88 yards and took more than 11 minutes of clock (and most of the second quarter) and came away with nothing. Teddy Bridgewater threw the ball away to avoid pressure on a third-and-2 and the Chiefs' 8-yard line, and then Javonte Williams was stuffed by multiple Chiefs in the backfield on a fourth-down attempt.

If the Broncos can hold the Chiefs scoreless in the final minute, then they could enter halftime within a touchdown. But man that failed drive has to be deflating for the road underdog.

Bryan Knowles: Per Stathead's database, that was the fifth 20-plus-play drive to end without a score in the 21st century. The last one, oddly enough, was also against the Chiefs, though it was the Alex Smith version; in 2016, Cam Newton's Panthers went from first-and-10 on the 20 into loss of 1, sack for -7, and sack for -12, and opted to punt on fourth-and-30 rather than attempt a 57-yard field goal.

Scott Spratt: Man, I thought I was watching this Chiefs game in peace. But no, catching stray Panthers burns from Bryan.

Bryan Knowles: Half my family's from Carolina. I have to have Panthers burns at my fingertips essentially constantly.

(Though it's a welcome change from having to explain to them that, no, 2011-15 Cam Newton was, in fact, a good quarterback)

Vince Verhei: We had a question from a reader a year or two ago about what the DVOA would look like for an offense that gained exactly 4 yards on every single play. I think Denver is modeling their game plan tonight in an attempt to answer that question.

Of course, they're failing to gain 4 yards on *every* play, which is the problem with that game plan. It's very hard to score when you absolutely have to execute a dozen plays in a row to do it.

Scott Spratt: Mahomes has to be leading the league in tipped-pass interceptions this season.

Scott Spratt: The Chiefs haven't lit the world on fire tonight, but the Broncos are piling up mistakes. Teddy Bridgewater threw an interception right to safety Juan Thornhill. And then after forcing a three-and-out, the Broncos fumbled away a punt by way of a collision between returner Diontae Spencer and a Chiefs defender being blocked into him. The Chiefs are taking over in the red zone up 13-3 at the start of the fourth quarter.

Rivers McCown: The Chiefs turned into a Bret Bielema Experiment so quickly I didn't even notice.

Scott Spratt: During the Chiefs slump, everyone talked about how Patrick Mahomes wasn't patient enough to take what defenses were giving him underneath coverages with two high safeties. But I feel like the Broncos fell into that trap tonight. Their turnovers happened when they got bored slowly gashing the Chiefs with 4- and 5-yard carries. And that last Bridgewater pick-six will end this one.

Bryan Knowles: OK, I think we're finally done here. On fourth-and-2, Bridgewater drops back and hits Daniel Sorensen right in the numbers. Sorensen takes it back 77 yards for a score, it's finally a three-score lead, and the Chiefs should have this one in the bag. It seemed like it was leaning there all game, but the Chiefs' offense couldn't put it away. Consider it put away.

Comments

67 comments, Last at 09 Dec 2021, 11:14pm

1 R

Washington FlofBll Teup upcoming schedule

DLallas

Philadelphia 

Dallas

Philadelphia 

62 I think that back-loading…

In reply to by Raiderjoe

I think that back-loading divisional games in the schedule is generally a good idea. They are more likely to be meaningful w.r.t tie-breakers, and  teams that are out of contention are perhaps encouraged to play a little harder against divisional foes.

That said, it is rather silly when this type of scenario is thrown up. In particular, I don't think teams should be playing each other twice in the space of 3 weeks. If one team happens to be suffering a short-term spate of injuries, that's a disproportionate and unearned advantage to the other.  

2 RE: Eagles v Jets

RE: "a game that was never really in doubt in the second half"

Thanks to the refs who pretty much handed the second half to the Eagles on a platter. 

14 not funny

amnd game was terrivbly officiated in favor of Eags.

 

Jets did beat Oil/Tit and bengals- two teams both better than Eags. Game was tight and thne swung on some officiating deciisions. 

18 Game was tight and thne…

In reply to by Raiderjoe

Game was tight and thne swung on some officiating deciisions. 

It really didn't. If Bryce Hall's DPI hadn't been called, it would've just resulted in a longer field goal that still almost certainly would've been made. If the Mosley encroachment or Minshew re-measurement hadn't happened, it would've taken a whole field goal off the board. Whoop-de-doo.

They got past the Mims blindside block literally the next play. The uncalled Slay DPI might've given a touchdown, sure, but at that point they were down 15 with 5 minutes left.

27 game could have gone the…

game could have gone the other way if calls went different. it is all science fiction either way.

my science fiction- game could have swung on any of bad calls

your science fiuction- Eags would have made the kick anyway or stopped jets anyway so officiating does not matter in Jets games  

 

 

17 If he had said "the…

If he had said "the officials tried to hand the game to the Eagles," I'd kindof agree. I mean, there weren't horrible, god-awful calls, but there definitely were iffy ones and it was pretty one-sided. The ones that supposedly "benefited" the Eagles didn't really, though, Philly shot themselves in the foot right after.

19 I didn't get to see the game…

I didn't get to see the game, just highlights.  I agree the interference call on Hall was wrong, but at least two Gang Green Nation articles pointed out that the refs only cost the Jets three points... which is the same amount as their kicker.  The Jets need to target either Devin LLoyd or Nakobe Dean.  As much grief as people want to blame the secondary, the Jets keep leaving running backs free for 15 to 20 yard gains in the passing game.  At least Wilson played well, he even looked good in the second half.

21 Herbig chuckin' the snap…

Herbig chuckin' the snap over Minshew's head definitely wasn't Sirianni's choice, unless he's doin' some next level chess or something.

I blame myself for suggesting that the way the Jets beat the Eagles was to get Kelce injured. They just did it too late.

33 Eagles looked like the…

Eagles looked like the better team, sure. Fact is Jets were winning when a string of bad calls all went against the Jets. I'm not saying Eagles don't win anyway. I’m saying—as someone stuck viewing in the NY market yesterday—that it totally ruined the viewing experience. I had to stop watching, literally.

36 Fact is Jets were winning…

Fact is Jets were winning when a string of bad calls all went against the Jets. I'm not saying Eagles don't win anyway.

Is... is this some different string of bad calls than the ones everyone's talking about? Because the ones everyone's talking about happened when the Jets were already down 24-18.

Jets lost the lead with ~5 minutes to go in the first half.  

49 oh, thank you!  Thank you!…

oh, thank you!  Thank you! That's all! so we are on the same page here. There were bad calls.

 

Wwhether you think a bad team can come back on another bad team from being down six points is open to interpretation. nobody is saying the jets are comign back if the calls are okay. we are just noting that bad calls happened. 

 

used to be good to come here.   

 

 

3 MN/DET

I have to think the defense on the game winning TD was a player breakdown.  Cannot believe coaches called a “stand in the end zone and only react after the catch is made”

 

But then the MN played soft all drive letting Goff walk the team down the field so maybe so.  
 

 

6 One of the beat writers said…

In reply to by big10freak

One of the beat writers said that Goff used his eyes to make Dantzler worry about the seam route (they were killing them with those early in the game), which explains his positioning.  That might be giving too much credit to Goff, but as has been mentioned above, this was an uncharacteristically good performance from him.

7 IIRC Goff struggles under pressure

so going the coverage route likely helps as it would any veteran qb.  You give any guy who is competent time and eventually someone will get open.

 

Separate but related the Vikings have given up a league-worst 72 points inside the two-minute warning this season per the MN Star-Tribune.

43 It looks like Dantzler…

It looks like Dantzler thinks the receiver is going to the corner Plaxico-Burress-Super-Bowl-style. I think he was guessing a little bit and got caught. Although, you would think a DB could cover the receiver without guessing in that situation.

5 "Bryan Knowles: If there's…

"Bryan Knowles: If there's any good news for the Lions, it's that the Vikings scored too fast"

That, right there, is the reason why I think going for the 4th and inches deep in their own territory was the right call (even if the playcall itself was trash...just freakin' QB sneak it!).  Better to give up the ball there, rather than punt it away and let the Vikings chew up the remaining clock while driving down the field for the walk-off GW FG (which I'm positive would have happened, as the Lions showed no ability to stop the Vikings in the entire 2nd half).

12 I think going for it on 4th…

I think going for it on 4th and inches is the right call in virtually every scenario imaginable, but most coaches simply won’t do it when in their own territory. Great decision, but next time just just QB sneak it… that play call cancelled out the great decision. 

25 So you're saying the…

So you're saying the downside is they could have converted? Then they probably punt with less time on the clock and we're back to scenario #1. I mean, my initial reaction was to agree to go for it, but then I thought, and if they make it, then what? Are they really going to march down the field and score a TD? It almost seems like failing to convert was the best possible scenario.

30 So you're assuming they're…

So you're assuming they're going to not get even a single first down after they convert, but you don't know that for sure.  It's possible they could have either run the clock out or added to their lead (while given the ball back to the Vikings with minimal time left).  FWIW they had 23 first downs for the game to the Vikings 26, and had moved the ball fairly well on the previous two drives.   As you pointed out it's also possible they might have punted anyway after not moving out of their own territory, which would be the worst outcome.

Punting would, on the other hand, 100% give the ball back to the Vikings, and increased the chances of them running the clock down to minimal as they advanced to field goal range.

So failing to convert is much better than punting, but I'm not convinced it's better than converting and keeping the ball.  

 

59 On the next possession, the…

On the next possession, the lions marched 75 yards and scored a TD. Had they converted, they would have needed no more than 71 yards to do the same. So yes, maybe they really were going to do exactly that if they converted. It seems a more likely outcome than giving up the touchdown and then doing it, but with the clock being a problem this time. 

But hey, they won. For a winless team this late in the season, it just doesn’t matter how you do it. 

8 Chargers/Bengals

The Chargers were the more prepared team for the game yesterday and definitely more energized.  The Bengals eventually got their sea legs, but with no margin of error.  Closed the game to 2 but then made some mistakes and it was game, set match.  

 

Burrow was handling the ball off with his off hand after the injury.  Definitely was uncomfortable.  JB has played tough so doubt he misses time.

9 Lions Win! Lions Win!

"Bryan Knowles: Oh, Dan Campbell, no."

Apart from the awful play call, they burned a timeout setting it up. Going for it on 4th seems ok, but you absolutely need to keep your timeouts in case you fail.

54 Zimmer

This was absolutely a horrible decision, if he felt like he needed a TO it would have been ok around midfield, but not at that position. Goff also looked awful under pressure, so rushing 3 on the last play? Awful.

Made me happy to see though, Detroit deserved to see an opposing coach screw up as badly as theirs.

10 Having got stuck watching…

Having got stuck watching significant portions of the Texans game, this is a another data point that undermines the FO narrative of Tyrod Taylor getting "run out of town" to the detriment of the teams doing the running. He's been an infuriating mix of ultra-conservative and horrible decision-making since his second season in Buffalo. He'll always hold a place in my heart for being the QB when the Bills broke the playoff drought, but he hasn't been NFL starter-quality for years now.

26 Twitter isn't reality. Beane…

Twitter isn't reality. Beane makes that trade before the "...ck" is out of the other GM's mouth.

Tyrod was...not what Beane/McDermott wanted out of the QB position. He apparently isn't what Cleveland or San Diego wanted, either.

48 I dunno about Josh - from…

I dunno about Josh - from the Vikings game on, I don't *personally* know anyone who didn't have their fingers crossed for Allen to be "the guy" and they weren't afraid to say it.

Tyrod unfortunately got grouped with the Rex/Whaley disaster area. So many dodged bullets there (Lynn, for one.)

15 liosn vs vikings

knew when watching vikes woudl blow it at tnhe end. just totally dopey team at times

35 as someone who usually roots…

In reply to by Raiderjoe

as someone who usually roots for the Vikings as long as they're not playing Dallas and as long as my Packer-fan daughter is not around, that ending yesterday was tough, but it was nice to see Dan Campbell and his Lions get a win. 

16 bills bs Pates tonight. feel…

bills bs Pates tonight. feel Bills will win 31-20. Bills better tema. Raiders will, if do not win division, beat oput Pates for a playoff spot.

22 "Carolina Panthers 0 at Bye…

"Carolina Panthers 0 at Bye Week 1"

The bye week was a 3.5 point favorite, so I was happy to see the Panthers cover.  The losses by NO, ATL, CHI, MIN, NYG, and SF were all beneficial for Carolina's slim playoff hopes.  The only thing that could have realistically helped more would have been if the Raiders had held on to beat Washington.  Hoping that the Jets and/or Jaguars would somehow beat the Eagles and/or Rams was probably asking a bit too much, all other things considered. 

23 Honestly, when I heard the…

Honestly, when I heard the summary of the Seahawks game later, I was like "oh, thank God, Wilson's finally going to have a great late-season game." I mean, 80% completions, that's gotta be a great game, right?

Then I see: 50 yards lost on 4 sacks, 181 net yards on 37 attempts. F'crying out loud... the legend of Wilson's late-season AY/A decline just friggin' continues. The P-value on the correlation's gonna dip below 0.01 by the end of the season at this rate, and the r-squared on the week-by-week average is practically at 0.4.

Jeez, at this rate I'm gonna have to start believing this thing.

24 Wondering

if by bulking up (I presume to make himself better able to handle a NFL season) that somehow Wilson has hurt his ability to play over the course of a season.

 

My only reference point is Favre who bulked up over the years and rejuvenated himself by getting leaner.  Though maybe Brady is similar?

 

Just wondering.  No idea on actual root cause.  I just know that Wilson looks dramatically different over the course of his career.

28 Honestly, after 2019, I was…

In reply to by big10freak

Honestly, after 2019, I was joking about it, after 2020, I was like "check this out, this is neat" and by now I'm more like "okay, seriously, why is no one else talking about it." It's almost a cliche at this point for Wilson to be in an MVP discussion by week 4 and forgotten by the end of the season.

My only reference point is Favre who bulked up over the years and rejuvenated himself by getting leaner.  Though maybe Brady is similar?

Yeah, I dunno. Wilson's weird in that he never misses games for injuries, his rushing attempts/game obviously have declined a little, but not much. You just don't see anything that would say "this guy's getting older" like you did with other rushing QBs.

 

32 This week was gameplan and…

This week was gameplan and game script more than Wilson playing poorly.

- The Seahawks clearly came in with a strategy to throw quick passes. Russ wasn't holding the ball and checking down - he was throwing screen passes.
- With all the turnovers and fumbled returns, Seattle started a bunch of possessions around the SF 30 yard line. So there was a hard cap on how many yards a possession could gain.
- 30 of those 50 yards lost on sacks were a strip sack where the yardage would have been pretty normal, but the ball rolled backwards forever before the Seahawks could jump on it. Not a classic Russ "run backward 25 yards to evade the rush...whoops!" sack.
- Russ actually managed to target the center of the field on some crossers. To convert third downs, even! Achievement unlocked!

 

37  With all the turnovers and…

 With all the turnovers and fumbled returns, Seattle started a bunch of possessions around the SF 30 yard line. So there was a hard cap on how many yards a possession could gain.

The most obvious week-to-week decline's in AY/A, so the yards/possession doesn't matter (just per attempt).

I do wonder if maybe some of it is pure playcalling, as in, as the season goes on Carroll starts rushing more in the red zone or something as the season goes on. AY/A does the whole "add for touchdowns, subtract for ints" thing, so Wilson losing out on touchdowns due to increased rushing attempts over the season could do it. And Wilson's got like, 1 4+ passing TD game from game 10-16 from 2019-2021, as opposed to seven in weeks 1-9 (the cherry-picked endpoint there is just for dramatic emphasis).

edit: well, that idea was short-lived, no real change RB TDs over the season (obviously, since their actual points/game decline). 

39 The most obvious week-to…

The most obvious week-to-week decline's in AY/A, so the yards/possession doesn't matter (just per attempt).

What I mean is that Wilson's AY/A has always been driven by big plays, especially big scoring plays. This season he's only thrown for 14 TDs, and three were for more than 60 yards. Obviously, there's a cap on those plays when Seattle is starting deep in SF's field. And AY/A subtracts 20yds per interception and adds 20yd per touchdown. So that Gerald Everett TD-to-INT costs fifty adjusted yards (it would have been a ten-yard TD) on its own.

I definitely am not disputing that Wilson has tailed off in the latter half of recent seasons. Just saying that this particular game wasn't a case of that.

41  I definitely am not…

I definitely am not disputing that Wilson has tailed off in the latter half of recent seasons. Just saying that this particular game wasn't a case of that.

Well, yeah, but it's not the end of the season. :)

Keep in mind when I say "tail off" that Wilson starts out stupid high. His 3-year average ANY/A on opening day is 12.6. Which is utterly wacko. By this time of the season, he's right around an AY/A of 7. It would've been ~8 if you turn that pick into a TD. Nowhere near high enough to hurt it. So in some sense there's two questions to ask regarding Wilson. First, why has he been tailing off late in the season (and this isn't an example of that because it's not late enough yet). Second, why has he come out of the gate at the beginning of the season so strong? And this is evidence of that because while it's a good game, it's miles and miles from Opening Day Wilson.

The weirdest thing about Wilson's average ANY/A decline is that it's super linear. I mean, really, really linear. Hilariously, next week there's not much he can do to fix it because Game 13 has been Wilson's nemesis thanks to godawful 2016/2018 games.

60 There are three factors at work

Two of them are extremely interrelated.

1: Chris Carson is healthy to start the season, forcing teams to bring their safeties forward which allows Wilson to hit the deep passes. Carson quickly wears down and seldom finishes a season. This results in defenses no longer respecting the run as the season progresses, playing more double high safety looks to take away the deep routes. Wilson is forced to take what the defense gives him.

2: The offensive line is healthy to start the season. This usually lasts at least a game or two then what is a bad unit begins steadily getting worse, giving Wilson less time to hit those deep throws. Pete picks linemen who can run block well but pass pro is an afterthought. This would work great if he had a RB who stayed healthy all year.

3: Wilson's body takes a terrible beating all year and it takes its toll as the season progresses.

66 Honestly, the first 4 games…

Honestly, the first 4 games of the year are so freaking high I can't imagine they're anything other than a fluke. If there's a way for the Seahawks to maintain that performance year round, they'd walk to a Super Bowl. But damnit, it's three straight years now.

I could absolutely buy your reasons for a late-season decline, though. But the thing about that is that if the first few weeks of the season are just a fluke (which I think they are) - then in my opinion, Wilson just isn't as good as some people think he is. Because I think a lot of people form strong opinions based on those first few weeks - we start hearing "Wilson for MVP" and then people only remember "hey Wilson was an MVP candidate" and forget that outside of those weeks he was just "very good."

I should point out Wilson's confused me for a long time. It took a while to realize that the reason he ranks so high in AV (and the HOFm) on PFR was because PFR's scale's broken for rushing QBs because of its historical nature. It's not exactly that I think he's bad, it's just that I don't think he deserves to be in the same discussion as, say, Rodgers/Brady/Manning/Brees/etc.

31 Just last week, I pondered…

Just last week, I pondered in these comments what it would take for a team to have its QB land among the weekly DYAR leaders with a receiver as the week's DYAR goat. I think Russell Wilson, Gerald Everett, and Shane Waldron have just shown us how that can happen. Feed a receiver a high volume of very short passes, and have him drop two fumbles and gift wrap an INT.

Not that Russ is going to be high on the leaderboard despite playing a pretty good game. The INT counts against him, as does losing the strip sack, and the short-pass strategy may have won the game but 30-something attempts for 180 yards doesn't look that impressive on a play-to-play basis.

But the Seattle offense did look good yesterday! It's been a while since that was true. Russ actually threw some passes to the intermediate middle, including a 15-yard slant to DK Metcalf that he should be spamming five times a game. There was a classic over-the-shoulder Lockett TD pass, too. But also a couple of deep sideline balls to Metcalf that Russ sailed out of bounds.

38 Yes, the Seattle offense did…

Yes, the Seattle offense did look better but so did the defense.  And that's seen in the Time-of-Possession.  In the first 11 games the Seahawks lost the ToP every game .  Opponents held the ball an average of 50% more than Seattle.  That's huge!  And several games it was 2 to 1!

Yesterday it was Seattle 33 minutes to SF 27.

40 Harbaugh decisions

Not mentioned was the brilliant intentional offside forcing the Steelers into 1st and goal at the end of the game.  This assured that without a defensive penalty that the Steelers drive would end in no more than 3 plays (4th down FG or go for it will only use a few seconds).  If the Steelers ran 3 plays and kicked a FG, then the Ravens would only need a FG with no timeouts.  If the Steelers scored a TD on 3rd down, the Ravens would still have 1 timeout remaining, which is what happened.  I would love to know the GWC added by having 1st and goal with no time taken off the clock than 2nd and 2, outside of the 10.  Of course, Tomlin should have simply declined the penalty.

I have no problem with Harbaugh going for two, I know that the analytical model does not like this, although your commentary explains why the model may not be precise, but looking at the awful 4th quarter Ravens defense in this game and lack of cornerbacks it was time to make one play, win or lose.  This is true unless you value the tie.  A tie is a reasonable possibility in OT, and it will eliminate all of your tiebreakers for playoff seeding, thus a tie at this point of the season is like a loss if you were going to win a tiebreaker, and a tie is like a win if you were going to lose the tiebreaker.  This is a decision that really must be made pregame if you are in this position, clearly in week 18 you know if you must win or tie, or if you must win.  I must assume that the Ravens chances of winning OR getting a tie are better than the chances of losing in OT despite their poor 4th quarter play and lack of corners.

42 refs wearing WFT shirts Sunday

Aaron Schatz: Defender had Zay Jones' jersey on that deep pass. A lot of officials would have called DPI on that, which is one of the problems with inconsistency between officiating crews.

Yes, exactly. I think as a general matter weak jersey-pulling shouldn't be called holding or DIP. And the extent to which his jersey was grabbed probably made no difference in the outcome of this play, but we've all seen weak jersey-pulling called as a foul. And the Raiders got shafted by the refs in a couple of other plays today, so maybe let them have that one?

47 I usually *hate* ticky-tack…

I usually *hate* ticky-tack pass interference and defensive holding penalties, but if the defender is holding the receivers jersey *from behind* the way the WFT guy was on Jones, I think it has to be an automatic flag.

Like if the the defender and the receiver are hand-fighting or the defender is trying to hold his position then I say let a little shirt grabbing go. But once the receiver has a half step on the defender it shouldn't be allowed, in my opinion.

Although, to be fair, it happened pretty quickly and it's possible ref didn't even see it in really time.

45 Thoughts.

Lamar Jackson is not a Top 10 QB.  What he gives you in the running game is debited from what he lacks in the passing game.  That last fail 2pt conversion pass needed to be a soft lob, not a fastball to the TE.  This is emblematic of his problems as a passer.  Still has problems with touch, the nuances of the game.  I remember when I said that Kyler Murray was worlds beyond Lamar Jackson as a QB and people got miffed.  Well, he is and here we are.

I'm glad the Lions got the W, but I stopped having faith in a Lions win after they blew that game to the Bears on Thanksgiving.  No way I would have bet on them to beat the Vikings.  

Does anyone believe in the Chiefs?  They still have the same problems on offense, but their defense is better.  I can't see them beating the Pats, Bills or Bengals in the AFC.  

 

50 We will probably learn more…

In reply to by DIVISION

We will probably learn more after tonight, but I think any of the top six AFC teams can beat any of the others at this point. I'm pretty sure any of the top four NFC teams can beat the others, too, although Dallas is the most mistake-prone of that group.

56 Agree/Disagree.

I think Buffalo is more complete than all the other AFC contenders.  They have fewer weaknesses, also. 

As far as the NFC, I think it comes down to Arizona or Tampa Bay.  I see Green Bay, Dallas, L.A. as having too many flaws to survive the gauntlet.

 

46 Golf clap, Bryan.

Scott Spratt: As West Coast correspondents, either Bryan or Vince is going to have to explain to me how Adrian Peterson is starting this game at running back for the Seahawks.

Bryan Knowles: Time zones, Scott. The west coast is always a little behind the east coast, just because of the earth's rotation. Apparently, they're currently about six years behind the east coast.

 

I LOLed. Bravo. 

53 Is this really true?

If you are the favored team, you should be favored in overtime.

At the end of regulation, you’ve just spent 60 minutes giving evidence that you are NOT appreciably better than the team you are facing. Maybe you’re tied because some key players are feeling a little under the weather. Or the weather is favoring a certain style of play. Or because your scouting missed some key tendencies. Or your QB had a fight with his girlfriend the day before… whatever.

Have we ever actually studied whether being favored at the start of a game has anything meaningful to say about what will happen once you reach OT?

Also, I wonder if the balance of special teams, offense, and defense DVOA is right for OT. I’d guess there are a higher percentage of special teams plays in OT than in regulation.

All in all, I thought the decision to go for 2 was the right one. And I like that it failed. :-)

57 Favored team in OT & favored before kickoff

I think the reasoning is thus: the phrase (and the article here) Any Given Sunday exists for a reason. There is always some random/fluke play that can heavily influence the score/result, but is not indicative of the teams' quality. Return TDs, blocked kicks, bad/borderline penalty call/non-call that didn't really affect the play, but drastically changes the outcome, Hail Mary or 60+ yd FG, etc. Obviously, some games go to OT b/c the teams are pretty even, and the score at the end of regulation reflects that. Then there are games like the GB/AZ playoff game where Rodgers completes TWO!! Hail Mary's in the last minute to tie it, and the Ravens/Broncos playoff game where Flacco hits Jacoby Jones on basically a Hail Mary at the end. 

In other words, if team A would be a >3 point favorite on a neutral field, they are more likely to win in OT, regardless of how the game played out. Caveat if a major injury to the QB influenced the actual game.

58 I get the reasoning. If two…

I get the reasoning. If two teams tie at the end of regulation, it’s the underdog who is more likely to have been the beneficiary of lucky bounces, etc. And that isn’t necessarily going to happen in OT. If the favorite got all the lucky breaks, it wouldn’t be tied.

I was merely wondering if anyone here had ever looked at the data, instead of just making the assumption that we’re making. How much of that underdog “luck” is injuries, demoralization, game plans, etc, that might persist into OT? And how much is just random from play to play?

61 Yeah I think I lean with you

When a lot of nerds are surprised that's something. Baltimore was getting gashed in the 4th and lost 2 starters.

And then there's the more specific explanation for the surprise like Baltimore losing their only other road OT game this year (W1 @ LV) and...get this....the Ravens were in this specific situation once before...and Tucker missed the XP. 

And even if the Ravens were favored heading into OT, why would they not be favored on the 2pt conversion? Gonna be hard to find another opportunity to win then from the 2 yard line. 

63 The in-game injury part is…

The in-game injury part is key here (as well as observing general fatigue, etc.). That is information coaches have, which fans/armchair-pundits probably don't. 

Baltimore has an experienced and savvy coaching staff. I doubt they make a decision like that in a 'hey, what the heck' manner. 

64 All in all, I thought the…

All in all, I thought the decision to go for 2 was the right one. And I like that it failed. :-)

Except for the injury issue, I don't see how it could possibly be the right one. And even with the injury issue, they could've gone crazy and played for the tie. The Ravens were in front in the playoff race, for both their division and the #1 seed. A loss was way worse than twice a tie.