Buffalo Bills DB Micah Hyde

Week 5: Bills Blow Out Chiefs on Sunday Night

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 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.

New York Jets 20 "at" Atlanta Falcons 27 (London)

Carl Yedor: Today might be Kyle Pitts' welcome-to-the-NFL game for people not following the Falcons particularly closely. With Calvin Ridley out, Pitts has been Matt Ryan's most-targeted receiver through three drives and has been quite productive already, catching five passes for 58 yards, one touchdown, and three other first downs. There have been some big chunk plays, and it's clear that Ryan already trusts him. Sure, it is against the Jets and taking place in London, but Pitts could be in line for a monster game here.

Tom Gower: Falcons up 20-3 at the half, and the score accurately reflects the relative effectiveness of the two teams. Zach Wilson is 5-of-13 for 42 yards. His throws seem maybe a bit late, and his ball placement hasn't been great. His interception probably fit both of those categories. Even against Atlanta, the Jets run game isn't close to sustaining enough to make up for that.

The Pitts statline is part of an Atlanta plan that has revolved around using the tight ends to attack the Jets defense rather than a significant role change for Pitts that I have noticed. The other fantasy note is that Cordarrelle Patterson is playing a higher percentage of the running back snaps after last week's three-touchdown performance. I took a look at about a game and a half of the Falcons offense this week and got really frustrated watching Mike Davis (fun fact: between Davis and Michael Carter, this game featured the two worst backs in the league by Next Gen Stats' Rush Yards Over Expectation/attempt this season), so I'm not surprised by that.

Jets got their first touchdown of the game after a long kickoff return by Tevin Coleman to start the third quarter, though, so a Falconsing is definitely still in play.

Scott Spratt: In defense of my guys Mike Davis and Michael Carter, this game also features the seventh- and ninth-worst teams in adjusted line yards. There's blame to go around!

Rivers McCown: My only reaction to this game is: The Titans defense must be really, really bad.

Scott Spratt: I'm going to test that theory, Rivers with, an ill-advised Jaguars passing game DFS stack!

Denver Broncos 19 at Pittsburgh Steelers 27

Scott Spratt: Was Ben Roethlisberger playing possum this whole time??

The 50-yard bomb to Diontae Johnson gets the Steelers an early 7-0 lead.

Scott Spratt: Lest we get carried away, that 59-yard Chase Claypool reception only went about 6 yards in the air. Roethlisberger may have to dine out on that 50-yard Johnson bomb for a while.

Bryan Knowles: Getting late early for the Broncos, here. Roethlisberger is finding open receivers on Denver blitzes, and the Broncos' defensive line is just getting destroyed, surprisingly.

Denver finally got a stop, holding Pittsburgh to a field goal—but they got called for leverage, giving Pittsburgh new life. Roethlisberger then hits an absolute laser to Chase Claypool in the end zone, it's 24-6 Pittsburgh after their first drive of the second half, and this one is pretty much in the books.

New Orleans Saints 33 at Washington Football Team 22

Bryan Knowles: Saints fans are getting the classic Jameis Winston performance today! The Saints have had two drives so far. On the first, Winston forced a ball over the middle, and Holcomb got a pretty easy interception to set up Washington for an early field goal. On the second, Winston took a deep shot to Harris, who had gotten past everyone for a 72-yard score. Never boring when Jameis Classic shows up. 7-3 New Orleans early.

Vince Verhei: Winston gives the ball back to Washington on a sack-fumble. So…

  • Bad interception
  • Long touchdown
  • Sack-fumble

It's the Jameis hat trick!

Aaron Schatz: Jameis Winston just ended the first half with a 49-yard Hail Mary to Marquez Callaway.

He's having the most Jameis Winston game of all time. An interception, a strip sack, and two deep touchdowns. Meanwhile, the Washington secondary continues to struggle. (Call back to this week's Derrik Klassen Film Room.)

Dave Bernreuther: Did I read that Taysom Hill was carted off the field in this one? So that means that we still have a full half of good/bad/interesting Jameis on tap, uninterrupted.

Vince Verhei: Kind of crazy that Washington is losing here, as they have mostly looked very good when they're not, you know, giving up mile-long touchdowns. But they have had two possessions in scoring range that ended with no points: a bad Taylor Heinicke interception in the red zone, and a curious decision to go for it on fourth-and-10 (again, with Heinicke at quarterback) rather than try a 52-yard field goal. I suspect they'd have a hefty lead in success rate today, but most of the critical plays have gone New Orleans' way.

Vince Verhei: You could argue the Saints were lucky to be ahead going into the fourth quarter, but they were pretty clearly the superior team in the final 15 minutes. They intercepted Heinicke to set up Winston's third touchdown pass, and though Heinicke rebounded to lead a touchdown drive, Winston responded with perhaps his best drive of the day as New Orleans goes 75 yards in eight plays and Winston finishes it with his fourth scoring pass. That's a 33-22 lead, and that proved to be the final margin.

Tennessee Titans 37 at Jacksonville Jaguars 19

J.P. Acosta: The Jaguars were helped by a huge 63-yard James Robinson run to set up a touchdown, then missed the extra point, making it 7-6 Titans. Can I go try out to be the kicker?

Scott Spratt: The Jaguars did enter the week with 7.9 points under average on their field goal and extra point attempts. That's nearly three fewer points than the next-worst team.

J.P. Acosta: The Titans are driving looking to extend their lead before halftime after Jaguars kicker Matthew Wright was short on a 53-yard field goal. The Jaguars haven't made a field goal since last year.

Vince Verhei: Derrick Henry takes a sweep to the right and it's such an easy 13-yard gain that he's got an offensive lineman desperately searching for someone to block. Next play he just goes right up the gut, barely touched, for a 9-yard touchdown run. Titans now up 31-13 early in the third as the Jaguars defenders are racking up the business decisions.

J.P. Acosta: Myles Jack going down with a back injury was a signal to just run at this Jaguars defense.

Tom Gower: This felt like a vintage 2020 Titans game, with a really good offense doing more than enough to make up for a defense that wasn't very good. That was definitely the feeling I got when the Titans built a 24-13 halftime lead.

Their first touchdown was a bit fortunate, a close catch/fumble vs. incompletion that stayed a fumble and a defensive touchdown. After the Jaguars tied the game (or would have if they weren't part of the league-wide informal ban on extra points today) on a long James Robinson run—which was a change up from last week's Titans defense getting gashed on pass plays—and an exchange of punts, we were off to the races. Big completions on crossers to Jeremy McNichols and A.J. Brown set up Derrick Henry's first score. A big pass to Marvin Jones and a Tavon Austin broken tackle-and-run set up a touchdown on fourth-and-goal from the 1 to Jacob Hollister. MyCole Pruitt touchdown catch when the Jaguars defense completely busted on covering him. A couple of good Robinson runs set up a long field goal attempt, just short. Deep pass to Chester Rogers sets up a shorter field goal attempt, made.

And then the Titans did what they didn't do last week, taking the second-half kickoff and finishing off a bad team that they should have beaten. Key to that drive were three third-down conversions: one to Marcus Johnson, just activated off injured reserve; one to A.J. Brown; and the third Tannehill with his legs. It drew the headlines last week because it led to kicking field goals, but the Titans had been a poor third-down team for the rest of the season. It wasn't quite over at that point; the Jaguars would cut it to 31-19 and very briefly to 31-25 before Trevor Lawrence's touchdown was overturned by replay and their second fourth-and-goal from a yard away failed to reach the end zone.

I feel like I should have some sort of grand pronouncement to make, either a Titans update after last week's missive or a declaration about The State of Urban Meyer or How Good Trevor Lawrence Is Destined To Be, but I really don't. Meyer's press conferences really really REALLY sound like a coach who's not used to losing and not sure how to handle it. Lawrence is a talented player on a bad team, and that's fine for now and as far as it makes sense for me to go here.

J.P. Acosta: If you thought Jets-Falcons in London was bad football, I present to you: the 0-5 Jacksonville Jaguars vs. the 1-4 Miami Dolphins in London next week.

Dave Bernreuther: I have been a morning person for a few years now, but that matchup makes me want to go back to my "sleeps til noon" days.

Green Bay Packers 25 at Cincinnati Bengals 22 (OT)

Derrik Klassen: I'm not sure why Green Bay is so dead-set on throwing the ball right now. I mean, sure, they have Aaron Rodgers, but this Cincinnati defense has probably been overrated all season and the Packers were running the ball down their throats on the first drive. The Bengals' pass rush doesn't look too shabby right now, either. Think the Packers would be best served to lean on the run game and get some screens/play-action going off that—they are typically quite good at that.

Dave Bernreuther: The Bengals are getting after it so far today, limiting Aaron Rodgers to a 2-of-7 start and making him uncomfortable. The most recent of those throws deserves recognition for being fantastic but incomplete, I think, just because of how freakishly difficult it was. On third down, a strong-side rush flushed him out to his left, and near full speed and under duress, he squared his shoulders perfectly and threw just a dart without setting his feet, deep down the sideline, placed where only the tightly covered Robert Tonyan could possibly have caught it.

Tonyan didn't catch it, of course, missing by mere inches, but that was a jaw-droppingly good throw on the move. I'm not sure I have ever rewound an incomplete pass as much as I have that one.

Bryan Knowles: After, shall we say, a sluggish start to this one (four punts and a Chidobe Awuzie interception make up the first five drives), Cincinnati gets on the board first. The Packers' red zone defense is, shall we say, somewhat soft, as Samaje Perine found massive room on back-to-back plays to get the Bengals into the red zone. I'm not sure 5-yard cushions make a lot of sense from the 5-yard line, but then I'm not an NFL defensive coordinator.

Cincinnati 7-0 at the end of the first quarter.

Bryan Knowles: We questioned on the podcast on Thursday just how real the Cincinnati defense is, and especially how real their cornerbacks are. Well, they had done a good job against Aaron Rodgers through a quarter and change, with the returning Awuzie making a great interception earlier to squelch a Packers threat. But on that last drive, there was a massive brainfart in coverage. I would suggest, on third-and-12, that you should have at least someone within 10 yards of Davante Adams. Possibly several somebodies! But I suppose that's why I'm not an NFL defensive coordinator. That goes for 34, and sets up AJ Dillon for a touchdown a few plays later...

... but the Packers miss an extra point. What is in the water today? 7-6, Bengals, early in the second quarter.

Scott Spratt: After Mason Crosby pulled another extra point after the Packers' first touchdown, I had to look it up. I believe the record for the most missed (and blocked) extra points in one week is 12 in Week 11, 2016. At least that's the most in my database going back to 2009, which covers the full era of longer extra point distances. We are big-time on pace for a new record so far today.

Dave Bernreuther: Maybe a great incompletion is all a quarterback needs to get rolling; on the next drive, after a Bengals score that I missed, Rodgers is a perfect 6-for-6 passing.

Then again, as Bryan points out, they left Davante Adams completely uncovered over the center of the field. That's also the kind of thing that can get a quarterback rolling.

Derrik Klassen: Bengals facing a decent pass-rush unit and all of a sudden they can't protect ... weird! Passing game looks mostly useless so far whenever they have tried to do anything other than quick game, which is in part because Joe Burrow underthrew a deep ball that Ja'Marr Chase got open on. Still, two sacks through the first half when their game plan has largely avoided holding onto the ball in the pocket is concerning.

Dave Bernreuther: Adams being wide-open on that one play aside, the biggest reason that the Packers started to move the ball seems to be that they recognized the way the game was going and started moving Rodgers around more intentionally; I counted at least three designed bootlegs on the touchdown drive, and they're in Bengals territory again after a completion to (a covered, this time) Adams with the entire play moving left to right. Still seems kind of foreign to me to see a Packers offense that adapts, even with the simplest of tactics. The drive stalled on the next series after a run that went nowhere and a failed completion, but Crosby makes a kick this time, which gives the Packers the lead.

Scott Spratt: Phew. I saw Joe Burrow was down after taking a shot as a runner—slide, Joe!—but he looks like he's walking OK on the sideline. We won't know for sure if he's concussed for a series since the Bengals are punting, but hopefully crisis averted.

Scott Spratt: Davante Adams has 112 receiving yards so far in the first half. That's his most yards in a first half since ... Week 7 last year. He's so so good.

Scott Spratt: Update on Joe Burrow: he's fine.

Bryan Knowles: Davante Adams is up to six catches, 117 yards, and a score. That's a pretty nice day! ... there's still a minute left in the first half.

Adams has nine targets. No other Packers receiver has more than one; the only Packers player with more than one aside from Adams is AJ Dillon. Might I suggest, gently, that the Bengals focus their defense on Adams, especially when he's near the end zone.

But as I'm typing this, the Bengals fire back. Crisis indeed averted, as Joe Burrow is back in, and he just uncorked one to Ja'Marr Chase; a 70-yard score to get things back to 16-14 Packers as we head to the half. After both teams stalled out in the first quarter, things have gotten pretty exciting here.

Vince Verhei: To be fair, Bryan, even when they have covered Adams, he has caught the ball anyway. Take his scoring grab. The play-by-play just says 5-yard touchdown on second-and-2, ho-hum. But look at this catch:

That's very good coverage, but Adams makes a superhuman play to elevate, catch the ball over the defender, and hit the ground. Just a great play in a half that has been full of great plays. I know Adams has found some holes in zone, but I have been impressed by the plays Cincinnati's defenders have made in coverage and in pass rush when they have had the chance. Same for the Packers—their pass rush has really come alive today. But both teams also have excellent quarterbacks and wideouts, so the scoring totals are still fairly high. One of the best-played games I have seen this season, and I can't wait to see what they do in the second half.

Vince Verhei: This game rules. The Bengals' coverage is not terrible here, but Adams gets a step behind them, and Rodgers' pass is inch-perfect for a big gain.

But the Bengals hold there and Green Bay kicks a field goal for a 22-14 lead. Adams is up to 186 yards early in the fourth; his career-high is 196.

Bryan Knowles: I'm not sure using Joe Burrow as Cam Newton and having him run draws on fourth-and-2 is necessarily the best use of him, especially when he has already been banged up today, but don't knock success. After holding the Packers to a field goal in the red zone, Burrow marches Cincinnati down the field, with what are becoming routinely great passes to Ja'Marr Chase. Some great moves to avoid pressure, too. The touchdown, however, was just a great play by Joe Mixon, juking Shemar Jean-Charles out of his boots. The two-point conversion is good, and we have a 22-all ballgame with 3:27 left!

Vince Verhei: Joe Burrow has no fear. Tore up his leg last season, took a massive hit on a scramble in the first half, but when the Bengals have a fourth-and-2 just across midfield, he keeps the ball on a quarterback draw and dives forward, just getting enough to move the chains.

Ja'Marr Chase converts a third-and-6 with a nice catch on a back-shoulder fade. Joe Mixon takes a handoff up the gut for what looks like no gain, but he bounces outside, jukes Shemar Jean-Charles out of his shoes, and gets into the end zone for a 9-yard score.

Scott Spratt: Aaron Jones showed off the full running back skill set on this 57-yard run. Be sure to watch to the end of the clip for a lethal stiff arm.

Vince Verhei: But Cincy's pass rush shuts Green Bay down after Jones' "Super Mario with the star" run. Fourth-and-10, Mason Crosby comes on for the 36-yard field goal try … but he pulls it right! This after he missed the XP earlier. Bengals take over with a little more than two minutes to go, needing just a field goal to win.

Dave Bernreuther: Not that a field goal with 2:12 left was any type of guarantee in a 22-22 game, but Mason Crosby honked it, having already missed an extra point earlier, and now a possession that could/should require a touchdown for Burrow to get the game-winning drive will require only a field goal.

Dave Bernreuther: It's also worth pointing out that this is one of TWO (2) 22-22 games right now, along with New England-Houston. That, to me, is funner than a Scorigami.

Bryan Knowles: The Bengals get stopped, and opt to try a 57-yard field goal (?!). It's doinked off the uprights, and now Aaron Rodgers has the ball in a tie game with 21 seconds left, needing just 20 yards to get into field goal range. With that much time left on the clock, you CAN'T try a 57-yarder there...

Dave Bernreuther: I have no idea what to even think about the decision-making process by Zac Taylor there. I get why he did what he did, but boy was it a risk to be willing to run on third down and then attempt a 57-yarder, which if (when) missed, gives the ball to Aaron Rodgers at the 47 with time to make a play or two.

And make a play he does, straight over the middle to (who else) Davante Adams, just as the announcers talk about guarding the sidelines.

No matter, though, because Mason Crosby misses again. That's now three missed field goals in the last 2:12 of game time.

Bryan Knowles: And Rodgers gets those 20 yards, and Mason Crosby gets a chance to redeem himself ... and he misses AGAIN. We're going to overtime.

Vince Verhei: What are you doing, Zac Taylor? Third-and-5 at the Green Bay 42, the Bengals … hand off to Samaje Perine? That gains 3 and sets up a fourth-and-2, and the Packers call their last timeout with 26 seconds to go. Evan McPherson then misses from 57 yards because IT'S FIFTY-SEVEN YARDS, and his kick hits the upright. That gives Rodgers time for one play to get into field goal range, and he does … but Crosby misses again, this time from 51, and we're going to overtime.

Dave Bernreuther: Joe Burrow and Tyler Boyd had a miscommunication that led Burrow to throw it straight to a defender to open overtime. Bringing back memories of Mike McCarthy, the Packers appear perfectly content to run it into the line three times and kick, as if it's some sure thing ... and the first two runs BOTH go backwards.

When your kicker has three misses already, maybe actually try to score before you kick again, gentlemen. Ugh.

Vince Verhei: It's a real shame that this game that was so great for the first 55 minutes but is going to be decided by a series of mistakes. All the missed kicks and questionable play calling that got us to overtime, and then on his first pass of the extra frame, Burrow delivers a "who was he throwing to?" interception right into the arms of De'Vondre Campbell. Packers get stuffed on first and second down, then send Crosby out to kick a 40-yarder on third down … AND HE MISSES AGAIN.

Bryan Knowles: So, Mason Crosby's third miss sets up Cincinnati, who has to settle for a 40-plus-yard field goal … which is doinked off the OTHER upright. What the hell is happening in this football game?

Dave Bernreuther: Well, gee, nobody could have seen THAT one coming. Crosby misses again, and the Bengals have a short field now.

Matt LaFleur deserves that outcome; Aaron Rodgers, on the other hand, most definitely does not.

And OK, now this is just ridiculous ... ANOTHER doink on the other end of the field. That's FIVE missed field goals since several of the other 1 p.m. games ended!

Vince Verhei: STOP TRYING LONG FIELD GOALS. Fourth-and-inches, and Taylor calls for the 49-yard field goal instead of going for it. MacPherson pulls it left and just over the crossbar. Amusingly, he thought the kick was good and started to celebrate before learning the harsh truth. So now Green Bay has life for, like, the ninth time.

Dave Bernreuther: Like Bryan, I always root for ties. In this case, this would be especially true, because neither coach deserves to win ... but Aaron Rodgers doesn't deserve this.

They're reviewing the spot on the unlikely 16-yard gain on third-and-16, which seems to be correctly spotted just shy. So this nice long delay is SURE to ease Mason Crosby's mind, right?

Regardless of the ruling, the thought of a field goal shouldn't even be entering LaFleur's mind right now.

OK good, looks like the offense is coming out. I wouldn't be surprised to see the hard count fake here though...

Vince Verhei: Third-and-16, Randall Cobb takes a touch catch over the middle and hangs on. It's very close, but after a long replay review it's ruled short of the line to gain, bringing up fourth-and-inches. Green Bay tries to get the Bengals to jump, but we hit the two-minute warning, and Crosby is apparently going to try a 49-yarder … and it's finally good, and the Packers win.

Well that turned out to be a completely insane game.

Bryan Knowles: No one stops Mason Crosby on four consecutive kicks! Packers win one of the stupidest endings in NFL history. Not the stupidest, mind you, but in the conversation.

Aaron Schatz: I know Crosby hit the field goal. I still think they should have just run an Aaron Rodgers sneak on fourth-and-inches. The odds of that working were better.

Carl Yedor: That overtime period made my brain hurt. Just confusing decision after confusing decision. Why did Cincinnati effectively turtle up on offense when they felt they were "in range" for the potential game-winner (that they missed)? Why did Green Bay still trust Crosby after his terrible, horrible, no-good, very-bad stretch? Nothing makes sense, but Green Bay wins to move to 4-1.

Vince Verhei: There are few things in football I hate more than coaches who call plays like 50-ish-yard field goals are automatic. That game was FULL of that kind of thing.

Philadelphia Eagles 21 at Carolina Panthers 18

Vince Verhei: This is the Sam Darnold I was thinking of when I picked the Panthers to get the first overall draft pick.

Eagles had a fourth-and-goal touchdown nullified by a penalty and settled for a field goal and a 3-3 tie.

It's clear the Panthers are better than I thought they were going go to be, but Darnold may not be. Curious to see if they end up sticking with him after the year.

Scott Spratt: Sam Darnold threw a bad interception deep in his own territory, which gave Jalen Hurts the ball in the red zone. But after throwing short twice, Hurts just missed out on touchdowns to DeVonta Smith on consecutive plays—first a completion just short of the end zone and then a would-be touchdown wiped out by an offensive pass interference penalty for an illegal pick.

It's easy to latch onto the 44 penalties the Eagles had through four weeks, 11 more than any other team. But I'll also point out that Jalen Hurts has completed just 38.1% of his red zone passes in his career, easily the lowest among current quarterbacks with 50 or more such attempts. The low-average depth of target passing game works between the 20s but not so far near the end zone.

Bryan Knowles: Just for the record, I believe the lowest yards per completion mark in NFL history (with at least 10 completions) belongs to Dan Pastorini, at 4.0 in 1972.

Jalen Hurts is currently 12-for-20 for 35 yards, or 2.9 yards per completion.

Scott Spratt: I'm pretty sure Panthers defensive coordinator Phil Snow was ready for the Eagles screen game, Bryan.

Vince Verhei: The Eagles offense, everyone:

Scott Spratt: There's a streaker on the field in Carolina. That's the most exciting thing so far in this game.

Vince Verhei: Even the streaker was boring—he had jeans on! If you're going to streak at NFL game, go all the way with it!

Scott Spratt: That's weak. My bad. I was judging the excitement by announcer Greg Olsen's tone of voice.

Dave Bernreuther: Maybe Olsen was excited because he's one of them. There are dozens, you know. Dozens!

Vince Verhei: A lot of kickers have been having bad days, but Jake Elliott hits a 58-yard field goal at the first-half gun to cut the Carolina lead to 15-6 at halftime. He may win special teams player of the week by default.

That was a five-play, 44-yard drive that was by far Philadelphia's best of the day, which makes the half-time situation … interesting? As bad as the Eagles have looked on offense so far, they actually have more passing yards than Carolina if you include sacks, even though it has taken them many more plays to get there. It feels like the Panthers should have put the nail in the coffin here several times over, but it's still only a nine-point game with 30 minutes to go. I certainly don't think that Philadelphia will come back, but the door has been left open for it to happen.

Scott Spratt: The Eagles finally had an opportunity to score a few minutes into the third quarter after a punt return to midfield and third-and-5 conversion to DeVonta Smith. But on the run after that catch, Smith fumbled on a Donte Jackson Peanut Punch. The Panthers didn't do anything with that next possession, but the field position has reset with the Eagles still down 15-6.

Scott Spratt: That's two turnovers on as many plays for the Eagles. Donte Jackson looked like an uncovered receiver tapping toes to stay inbounds on an interception on the left sideline. Clearly Jackson is upset the Panthers keep trading for new cornerbacks.

Scott Spratt: And there's another terrible Sam Darnold pick. This game is not pretty.

Vince Verhei: I have this game on one screen right next to Packers-Bengals and the contrast between the two is jarring. It's hard to believe they're playing the same sport.

Bryan Knowles: Hey, Jalen Hurts finally hit a pass more than 3 inches downfield! A play after Carolina nearly returned a fumble for a touchdown (Hurts' arm was going forward, although it was close), Hurts finds a wide-open Quez Watkins for 53 yards, setting up a score a couple plays later. That one play is a third of Hurts' passing yards today, but he's well clear of historical disaster at this point.

Carolina still leads 15-13, but you have to feel they should have put the Eagles away long ago. They have let Philly hang around, and we have a contest.

Vince Verhei: The Panthers have spent all day fooling around and are now in serious risk of finding out. Third-and-10, Quez Watkins gets all alone downfield for a gain of 53. (Watkins is now up to three catches for 48 yards with a long of 53, which, huh.) That sets up Jalen Hurts' touchdown on a quarterback sneak and the Carolina lead has been cut to 15-13. The margin right now is the safety when the Panthers just watched the Eagles snap the ball into the end zone.

Scott Spratt: The Eagles were back in business down 18-13 in Panthers territory with 5:35 left. But going for a fourth-and-4, Jalen Hurts made an inaccurate pass that Zach Ertz got a hand on but couldn't corral. It's a turnover on downs.

Scott Spratt: Well that was quick. The Panthers went three-and-out immediately with a would-be conversion drop on third down. And then the Eagles blocked the punt. The Eagles are right back in Panthers territory with 3:53 left.

Scott Spratt: Jalen Hurts eventually ran in a touchdown after the blocked punt, and he did the Cam Newton Superman move with his shirt. He maybe should save that for one of his defenders because they have completely carried his team today.

The Panthers have two and a half minutes to answer with a field goal to tie or touchdown to win. But they haven't moved the ball at all in the second half.

Scott Spratt: Darnold threw his third bad interception to give the Eagles the ball back just past the two-minute warning. The Panthers have three timeouts, but they can't move the ball on offense so it doesn't seem likely to matter.

New England Patriots 25 at Houston Texans 22

Aaron Schatz: This was supposed to be a defensive battle, but both teams score on their first drives. Houston's opening drive was more than 10 minutes long, only 4.4 yards per play, but they converted three third downs and a fourth down to keep it going for a long time. Some good screens, rookie hand-holding type stuff, although credit to Davis Mills for a good pass on the touchdown to Anthony Auclair. Patriots opening drive also looked strong; their makeshift offensive line looked pretty good against this below-average Houston defensive front. James Ferentz appears to be the weak link so far; got beat on a Damien Harris stuff at the line. Lots of runs, a couple of good, accurate Mac Jones passes. Went Wildcat on the last play and Damien Harris went in on power for the touchdown. Both kickers missed extra points so we're at 6-6.

Aaron Schatz: This pass by Davis Mills really should have been picked off, and the Patriots defender misjudged it, and then the other defender took a poor angle and somehow Chris Moore goes all the way for a 67-yard touchdown. And then Kai'mi Fairbairn misses his second extra point, so it is 12-6 Texans.

Dave Bernreuther: That play made me think I was watching a college football game, Aaron. Underthrown, a receiver just going up and winning it while the defenders whiff, and then a long run after the catch for what, apparently, is Moore's first touchdown in three years. That was not a good look for the Patriots defense.

Cale Clinton: The Patriots running backs' fumble woes continue. Damien Harris looked like he had a touchdown, but a perfectly timed Peanut Punch just before the goal line freed the ball loose before Harris could break the plane. Houston recovered the ball in the end zone. It was ruled a touchdown on the field, and to be honest I wasn't sure that call would get overturned. The one goal-line camera angle was obstructed by some Texans players. I didn't think there was enough to overturn, but a tie game turns into a touchback.

Aaron Schatz: Texans offensive line is dominating the Patriots defense in screen blocking today. Just got 15 yards on a third-and-16 screen to David Johnson, then went for it on fourth down and converted with a slant to Brandin Cooks.

Cale Clinton: The Texans have converted two fourth downs on this drive, the second of which was a 40-yard pickup by Chris Conley. I can't make sense of this. How is the same defense that kept Tom Brady in check a week ago now facilitating the Davis Mills coming-out party?

Aaron Schatz: Lack of pressure is one of the problems for the Patriots defense today, but they did finally get some in the red zone, sacking Davis Mills twice and leading to a field goal. Still, allowing Davis Mills to complete this many passes is an embarrassment.

Cale Clinton: Things you wouldn't think would be said in the year 2021: the Houston Texans are putting on an absolute clinic.

Mac Jones throws a back-breaking interception on the opening drive of the half. First play of Houston's drive, the Texans run the ol' flea flicker for a touchdown.

Cale Clinton: I understand the Patriots are essentially missing their entire offensive line, but this is the worst Mac Jones has looked as a starter. Jones has one interception so far, but he has gotten lucky on a handful of other potential interception opportunities. On the throws he has made, Jones has failed to hit a single receiver in stride.

That being said, New England just caught a MASSIVE break. The Texans punter lined up under center on fourth-and-2, then dropped back to quick-punt. He booted the ball into his own offensive lineman's head, sending it horizontal and out of bounds inside the Texans' own 40.

Aaron Schatz: The Patriots' makeshift offensive line is actually protecting Mac Jones pretty well today. That was supposed to be their weakness, and it isn't close to being the reason they are losing. The blocking on screens leaves something to be desired though. They just had two straight screens on second-and-9 (loss of 3) and then third-and-12 (gain of 4). Kicked a field goal, now 22-15 Texans. But can the Patriots—and I can't believe I'm writing this—hold down Davis Mills for the rest of the game?

Aaron Schatz: Patriots come back to tie it at 22-22. Thank you to the Texans for the field position. On fourth-and-4, instead of going for it, they brought out Kai'mi Fairbairn for a 56-yard field goal. What made them think Fairbairn, who has missed two extra points today, was going to hit from 56? That was a clear opportunity to go on fourth down. It's hard to criticize David Culley too much given how aggressive he has been before this, but I think that was a mistake. Anyway, Pats get the ball on their own 46 and get a couple of nice runs up the middle from Damien Harris (behind blocks by David Andrews, the one regular starting lineman left) and a couple of passes to an open Hunter Henry, including the touchdown on the left side of the end zone.

Aaron Schatz: Patriots escape with a 25-22 win. The last drive was powered by a long 24-yard run by Brandon Bolden and a roughing the passer penalty on a head-to-head hit on Mac Jones. Some people say there is no such thing as a moral victory. I do believe in moral victories, and last week's loss to Tampa Bay was a moral victory. This game was a moral loss. The Patriots defense was lousy. They should have gone out there and dominated Davis Mills, and instead he carved them up—mostly with scheme, to be honest, a lot of screen passes and the flea flicker and then also great catches on not-so-smart passes like the Chris Moore play. But also some good throws, and they didn't bring enough pressure against Mills. They did stop the Houston running game, I'll give them that. Between the Stephon Gilmore trade and this week's performance, I no longer believe that the Patriots defense can lead this team to a wild-card slot. I think they're stuck with a mediocre year that's based around building Mac Jones' career. Oh well.

Rivers McCown: I wrote about this game, as is my curse.

The depressing thing about this is that for 2.5 quarters that was probably a 95% outcome for the roster that the Texans had. They killed it on fourth downs, they got plays from Mills that they hadn't before, they got big turnovers. They did just about everything but actually run the ball well. But they have so little margin for error that they can't even absorb a single bad decision.

Miami Dolphins 17 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 45

Bryan Knowles: Jacoby Brissett is questionable to return with a hamstring, and Tua Tagovailoa is not active. The depleted Tampa Bay secondary may find themselves dealing with Reid Sinnett, who I believe is a player Madden randomly generates in Year 10 of a franchise.

Dave Bernreuther: I love Jason Pierre-Paul, and sometimes it amazes me that he's still in the league, playing at a high level. Big fan.

But coverage, even as an unusual wrinkle, isn't something you should be asking him to do; Myles Gaskin ran a route out of the Dolphins backfield that was perfectly suited for the Bucs' pass rush, leaving him one-on-one with JPP. That's an easy touchdown, even for a backup quarterback.

But now even that quarterback is hurt, so ... the Bucs are probably going to get away with that one.

Detroit Lions 17 at Minnesota Vikings 19

Bryan Knowles: Bite those kneecaps! Minnesota was in run-out-the-clock mode, but the Lions forced an Alexander Mattison fumble inside the Vikings 20 and just scored a touchdown with less than 40 seconds left. Down seven, that should tie the game...

... but Dan Campbell keeps his offense out there, goes for two, and the Lions take the lead 17-16! Love, love, LOVE the call for a team that's not going anywhere this season.

Bryan Knowles: Choke on those kneecaps! With less than 30 seconds left, the Vikings drive down the field and kick a 54-yard field goal to win the game. The Good Bad Team goes down yet again.

Vince Verhei: While none of us were watching, D'Andre Swift scored what appeared to be a game-tying touchdown … but trailing 16-15 with 37 seconds to go, they go for two and the win. And Goff hits KhaDarel Hodge for the conversion and the 17-16 lead!

But 37 seconds is all the Vikings need. Adam Thielen gets catches for 21 and 19 yards and Gregory Joseph hits the 54-yarder for the 19-17 win. Quite a battle of Good Bad Teams here.

Aaron Schatz: The Lions made a bad decision to try for two and the win. When the clock has run down to zeroes, you can try for two and have a 50-50 shot at winning the game. When there's time left on the clock, the other team is going to get the ball and you are encouraging them to be aggressive if you score the two points. It's not a 50-50 shot at winning the game. If you miss the two, you lose. If you make it, you still might lose if the other team can get the ball into field goal range. Which is what the Vikings did, and they win the game.

Aaron Schatz: Just want to add this tweet to the end of our Detroit-Minnesota discussion, because poor Lions.

Cleveland Browns 42 at Los Angeles Chargers 47

Bryan Knowles: Nifty little tight end screen to Donald Parham gets the Chargers on the board. We slam screens all the time here—and for good reason—but this was a well-designed one, with Keenan Allen and Stephen Anderson providing Parham a convoy as he rumbles 22 yards for the score. Nice little play design there, and the Chargers take a 7-3 lead late in the first.

Bryan Knowles: The Browns just forgot all about Mike Williams. The cornerback passed him off to the safety, the safety moved up, and Williams was wide open for a 72-yard touchdown pass. Tristan Vizcaino missed the extra point (another one!), so it's just a 13-10 Chargers lead, but oofdah, that was not a good look for Cleveland's defense.

Scott Spratt: I'm not sure which play is more Chargers. First there was the deep 72-yard Justin Herbert touchdown pass to Mike Williams. Then there was the Tristan Vizcaino pulled extra-point attempt. In net, the Chargers are up 13-10 early in the second quarter.

Has anyone been keeping track of the total missed extra points? I got confused by all the missed field goals in the Bengals-Packers game.

Vince Verhei: Browns take a 10-7 lead after a pair of long, 70-plus-yard drives. Lots of rushing by both Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, with David Njoku doing most of the receiving damage. Baker Mayfield has only had to throw five passes, but he completed all five of them.

But then the Browns blow coverage on Mike Williams, who gets loose for a 72-yard touchdown on third-and-10. And then, on a day when every kicker in the league sucks, of course Chargers Special Teams are going to Chargers Special Teams—they honk the PAT, so they only lead 13-10. That's four lead changes already early in the second quarter.

Bryan Knowles: Cleveland hasn't punted yet, failing on a fourth-and-2 inside the red zone earlier in the second quarter. But the advantage of going for fourth deep is that you can get the ball back in good field position if your defense holds up and, indeed, the Chargers go nowhere but backwards, and the Browns get the ball back at midfield. Again, the Chargers force a fourth down, this time inside the five, and again the Browns go for it—and this time, it pays off, with Kareem Hunt bowling in to give the Browns a 17-13 lead with a minute left in the half.

Vince Verhei: The Browns are quickly becoming my favorite team to watch. Down 10-13, they have a fourth-and-2 at the LAC 17, but they turn down the field goal and go for it. Mayfield's pass is accurate, but Odell Beckham drops it. Their defense forces a three-and-out on a sack by Malik McDowell (who injures himself on the play, because he is Malik McDowell) and Cleveland soon finds themselves with a fourth-and-1 at the LAC 3. First, they try to get the Chargers to jump, which serves two purposes: it might get them a free first down, and if not, it's burning clock inside the two-minute warning. The Chargers don't jump, so Cleveland calls timeout. Then they still go for it, and Hunt scores from 3 yards out. Browns now up 17-13, up to 112 yards and seven first downs on the ground.

Vince Verhei: And then Austin Ekeler fumbles and McDowell recovers, and the Browns get a field goal at the gun for a 20-13 lead. They're getting the ball first in the second half too.

Vince Verhei: On their first drive of the second half, Cleveland quickly gets to a third-and-3, but uses my favorite underused NFL play call, the rollout, to convert with a completion to Donovan Peoples-Jones. That keeps the drive alive and sets up Nick Chubb's "magnificent" (per Kevin Harlan, the best play-by-play man on TV) 52-yard touchdown run and a 27-13 lead.

Aaron Schatz: The Chargers' bad special teams are about more than just punting or missed field goals. They have returned three kickoffs so far today and got to the 15, 15, and 16 with them. The first one was returned from the 1 and they probably could have let it bounce into the end zone. The other two they definitely did not need to return. Stop taking kickoffs out of the end zone unless your name is Cordarrelle Patterson.

Aaron Schatz: Brandon Staley burnishing his analytics bona fides even further by going for it on fourth-and-7 from the Browns 22 (converted with a pass to Keenan Allen) and then going for two down eight after Justin Herbert ran in the touchdown on his own. So it's 27-21 Cleveland. Browns missing Denzel Ward on that drive, I believe he's out the rest of the game.

Vince Verhei: The Chargers meet aggression with aggression. Fourth-and-2 at their own 24, they hand off to Ekeler for a gain of 9. Fourth-and-7 at the Cleveland 22, Herbert hits Keenan Allen for a 12-yard gain. Herbert finishes the drive by scrambling for a 9-yard touchdown. And then L.A. goes for two, with Herbert hitting Parham for the conversion. That's three plays on one third-quarter drive that each would have been unthinkable so early just a few years ago.

Vince Verhei: Offenses quieted down late in the third. Browns punted after a first-down holding penalty put them behind the sticks. Cleveland's pass rush then started beating Herbert up, as Myles Garrett smashed him for a sack and Takk McKinley leveled him (cleanly) on an incompletion. That sets up a fourth-and-17 for L.A. with Chargers (presumably) about to punt on the first play of the fourth quarter.

Dave Bernreuther: If you thought "I bet after leaving Mike Williams uncovered for a long score, the Browns will remember to put someone on him" earlier, well, bad news: the Browns just let Mike Williams run uncovered through their defense for the easiest 47-yard touchdown you'll ever see.

Kevin Harlan called that one "spectacular" too, which sort of cheapens the Chubb run earlier, I think.

Aaron Schatz: This is wide, wide open.

Bryan Knowles: But, of course, the game is no longer tied, as Mayfield hits Njoku for a 71-yard catch-and-rumble, and it's back to a 35-28 Cleveland lead.

Hell of a game so far.

Vince Verhei: More fourth-down aggression from L.A. Fourth-and-4, Herbert chucks it deep to Williams and draws a 33-yard DPI on A.J. Green. Fourth-and-8, Herbert hits Allen for a gain of 20. Ekeler runs in the score on first-and-goal from the 4, the extra point is good, and we're tied 35-35 with half the fourth quarter to go still.

Dave Bernreuther: What a treat to get to watch these front offices/coaching staffs in this fun close game after the un-fun close game in Cincinnati earlier. In a range much closer to the field goal than any of the bad kicks in that one, Staley leaves the Charger offense out on the field for a fourth-and-EIGHT. Now, we all know that's still a good call, but having the balls to do that at that distance is still a bit of an eyebrow raiser.

Despite a holding flag that would have given them the first down anyway, Herbert fires one in there to Keenan Allen for a 20-yard gain. And the football gods smile on the Chargers. 35-35 in another game where I don't really want to have to watch either team lose.

Bryan Knowles: Oh no, the missed extra point theme of the day comes back at the worst time! The Chargers punch right back, but now they're down 42-41 with 3:15 left against a team who knows how to drain some clock. What a terrible time for some Chargering.

Dave Bernreuther: OH COME ON.

Vizcaino just missed what I believe is the NINTH extra point of the day, and his own second.

That's not how this game should end!

Aaron Schatz: Another long drive, Austin Ekeler scores. I tweeted that the way these offenses are playing, the Chargers should just consider going for two. They probably have a much better than 50-50 shot of making it. This is different from the situation at the end of the Lions-Vikings game, because the Browns need to be aggressive on the next drive no matter what since there are more than three minutes left. Instead, Tristan Vizcaino honks the extra point. So it's 42-41 Browns.

Dave Bernreuther: Is Harlan right? There were actually nine in just the early window, making that the 11th of today and 12th of the week including Thursday night? Ugh.

Vince Verhei: Oh, my goodness. On a day when the offenses have dominated, how do you run a give-up draw on third-and-10? I know running the ball is what Cleveland does best, but they're not THAT good. So the Browns go three-and-out and the Chargers take over near midfield before the two-minute warning.

Aaron Schatz: Shocked. Given their analytically oriented coaching staff, I would have expected the Browns to go for the kill on offense. I'm really shocked at the draw.

Dave Bernreuther: I'm with Vince—after taking the shot downfield (never thought I'd see the day where Mayfield showed impeccable pocket presence but then miss the throw), why run that? Come on.

The Chargers start at midfield and in their first play before the two-minute warning pick up a chunk play and are at the 19. The Browns still have all three timeouts, so the Chargers can't just burn the clock. This game can only end one way: Chargers score, two-point conversion, and the Browns still somehow tie. That would set us up nicely for a FG-FG-touchdown overtime to give us the highest-scoring game ever.

Make it so, football gods!

Aaron Schatz: Ekeler just tried to stop himself at the 1 on a run and the Browns grabbed him and pushed him into the end zone on purpose so that the Chargers would have to give the ball back to the Browns offense! Chargers go for two and fail, so we're at 47-42 Chargers. 1:31 left for Baker Mayfield and the Browns to come back.

Bryan Knowles: Hah! Austin Ekeler was trying his hardest not to score, and the Browns defense was trying their hardest to push him in. I love it. Football is crazy.

Dave Bernreuther: This is amazing. It's the exact opposite of the Bengals game with the coaching (ignoring that draw). First Ekeler slides short of the end zone when he could have scored. At first-and-goal on the 2, he gets it again, runs into traffic, and ... the Browns carry him into the end zone!

But a review overturns the two-point conversion, and my highest-scoring game ever dream is dead.

Vince Verhei: Video of the Browns pulling Ekeler into the end zone against his will.

Vince Verhei: If that wasn't pass interference on the Chargers on Cleveland's Hail Mary try, then we can say for sure that refs will never call pass interference on a Hail Mary. Mark Webb Jr. was just wiping dudes out like a bowling ball.

Dave Bernreuther: One of these days they're going to actually decide that they will make that call, Vince, and it's going to end up deciding a game by creating an untimed down on the 1.

(Cynic/jerk prediction: it'll happen against the Bucs.)

Tom Gower: Hey, there was that Lions-Browns game in 2009 where the Browns were called for pushing Calvin Johnson, if I recall correctly, out of the end zone on a Hail Mary. That was only from 32 yards out, but that's roughly what you need to do: have a receiver with a reasonable chance at making the catch (normally not true) and prevent him from even possibly doing so legally.

Dave Bernreuther: We have been talking about DPI on Hail Mary passes here but one thing I think warrants some questioning: Did Mayfield and/or the Browns screw up by being too methodical earlier in that drive?

Vince already pointed out that the Harlan/Green booth is criminally underrated, and they were on top of this as it was happening. Without any timeouts, they were dinking and dunking to start that drive. They even got bailed out a little bit by an injury and L.A. timeout.

As a result, they were at the 46 with 27 seconds left. After the spike, they went straight into chuck-it-deep mode. And that seemed maybe a bit early to me too; I thought there was time to run another play to get closer so you could run a normal play and still conceivably score.

Were the early-drive decisions a mistake?

Vince Verhei: You're definitely right about that Dave. Cleveland's play calling on their last two drives was bizarre.

San Francisco 49ers 10 at Arizona Cardinals 17

Bryan Knowles: Trey Lance's first drive ends with a pretty bad interception—an overthrow, when he had an open running lane in front of him and an open (...ish) receiver to hit. Adrenaline, or poor accuracy? Call it 50/50 there. The Cardinals have not needed good field position to score this year, but hey, they're not going to look a gift horse in the mouth. It's not Kyler Murray, though—it's running all over the place, with Chase Edmonds, James Conner and Rondale Moore crossing up the 49ers left, right, and center. Bad tackling, bad angles, and just too much speed. Cardinals take an early 7-0 lead.

Bryan Knowles: We just had a 96-yard drive followed by a 93-yard drive. Total points? Three, as Trey Lance was stuffed on fourth-and-inches, and the Cardinals had to settle for a field goal inside the 5-yard line. Don't see THAT very often.

Vince Verhei: Last week I noted that a lot of Lance's success came on fourth downs, and that would not be sustainable game after game. So far today, Lance and the 49ers are 0-for-2 on fourth downs.

Bryan Knowles: The 49ers have done a better job moving the ball on offense than Arizona—they're averaging 5.8 yards per play to Arizona's 5.1—but fourth-down failures and some key holding penalties have kept them off the scoreboard.

Until now, that is. The 49ers have begun attacking the edges with their running game, and Arizona is backpedaling some. Deebo Samuel just lined up in the backfield, took a pitch, and scored, and it's a 10-7 Cardinals lead late in the third quarter. We'll see if the Cardinals can actually kick that offense into the gears we have seen over the first quarter of the season.

Bryan Knowles: One thing that's going to be true of the Trey Lance 49ers: fourth-down attempts. We have criticized Kyle Shanahan, repeatedly, for punting or kicking field goals on makeable fourth downs during the Jimmy Garropolo era. With Lance under center, Shanahan just called his fourth fourth-and-short play call.

... three of them have failed, and Arizona has the ball back now, but I appreciate the thought, at least.

Vince Verhei: So Deebo Samuel got a rushing touchdown when he lined up at tailback and took a straight pitch, no trickery involved. Meanwhile, Trey Sermon is healthy and has zero carries. Do I have that right?

Bryan Knowles: You're right, Vince; it has been the Elijah Mitchell show. Count one for BackCast, zero for the 49ers' front office.

Scott Spratt: I don't agree with that, Bryan. Getting a really good running back out of a third- and a sixth-round draft pick is good value. Who cares what the order was? Other teams were going to take Sermon before the sixth round, and the 49ers still landed Mitchell by waiting.

Bryan Knowles: Well, we'll agree to disagree on Sermon's value at this point, and the fact that the 49ers didn't grab a corner with their Day 2 picks remains a problem,

Case in point: DeAndre Hopkins has been doing really well against Josh Norman today! After the 49ers fail on another fourth-down attempt, Arizona finally capitalized, hitting Hopkins twice to get into the red zone and then into the end zone, giving Arizona a 17-7 lead with 5:13 left.

New York Giants 20 at Dallas Cowboys 44

Vince Verhei: Dak Prescott is a stud and Daniel Jones has been playing very well lately, so I thought this one might turn into a fun shootout. That is very much not what has happened. At the end of the first, Jones has thrown incomplete on all four of his passes. Prescott has had hardly any more success (3-of-8 for only 20 yards) and more disasters (an interception and a fumbled snap inside the 10 that was recovered by New York). The good news for Dallas is that they have Ezekiel Elliott, whose 57 rushing yards are the biggest reason Dallas has been in scoring range twice. The bad news for New York is that they don't have Saquon Barkley, who was carted to the locker room with an ankle injury after only two carries.

Aaron Schatz: Cowboys dominating this game on the ground so far. Sixteen carries for 98 yards so far, not counting a Dak Prescott scramble. Huge blocking on the right side from Zack Martin and Terrance Steele. But they bogged down in the red zone twice, and the second time they turned it over with a blown snap, so it is still only 3-0. Saquon Barkley rolled his ankle; it's terribly swollen and he's done for the game for the Giants.

Aaron Schatz: Prescott finally made the big pass play. CeeDee Lamb ran past James Bradberry down the right sideline on third-and-8 and Prescott hit him in stride for a 49-yard touchdown. Dallas offensive line is really pushing around the Giants defensive front here. 10-0 Cowboys.

Aaron Schatz: Daniel Jones starts 1-for-9. The only completion was a 43-yarder where he just chucked it up to Kadarius Toney and Anthony Brown from the Cowboys slipped and fell, allowing Toney to catch it right on the sideline. Other than that pass, Cowboys defense is dominating. But that pass was enough to get the Giants into field goal range so 10-3 Cowboys.

Aaron Schatz: Giants offense finally gets going with not just passes to Toney but runs and an 18-yard gain to Evan Engram. They get down to the goal line and Devontae Booker gets stuffed twice. Third down, they naked boot with Daniel Jones and he ends up colliding with Jabril Cox helmet-to-helmet. (Jones initiated the contact as a runner, so no penalty.) Jones is apparently very shaken up to the point where he was carted off, not your normal concussion. Giants run fourth-and-goal from the 1 and Booker goes over the top so this game is 10-10 but the Giants are still getting outplayed overall and they need to do the rest of this with Mike Glennon and Booker instead of Jones and Barkley.

Scott Spratt: The Giants had already lost Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones to an ankle injury and concussion, and now the Cowboys saw Ezekiel Elliott and Amari Cooper hurt on consecutive plays in the red zone. Elliott looked like he hurt his hip, perhaps landing funny as he fell on a first down marker laying on the ground. For Cooper it may have been a hamstring. Elliott came back in two plays later is clearly fine since he just high-stepped his way into the end zone to put the Cowboys up 24-13.

Scott Spratt: On the very next play, Trevon Diggs expanded his league-leading interception total to six, picking off a deep Mike Glennon attempt. There are still a few minutes left in this third quarter, but with Jones sidelined, this game feels finished.

Scott Spratt: The silver lining of the Giants' myriad injuries has been extra opportunities for rookie receiver Kadarius Toney. And while Toney has a reputation as a gadget player and was ostensibly a slot receiver fill-in for Sterling Shepard at the start of the day, he has 160 yards on eight catches through a bit more than three quarters and added that production on a variety of routes and showing a diverse skill set. My favorite was this sideline grab.

Toney also just took a Wildcat snap at quarterback and nearly punched in a touchdown. Instead, the Giants turned the ball over on downs when Glennon threw incomplete on a fourth-and-goal from the 2-yard line.

Aaron Schatz: Good no-call on that fourth down, as Toney's feet got tangled with the defender and he fell down but not because of DPI.

Scott Spratt: Toney got up to 176 receiving yards, but he just ended his night by throwing a punch.

All told, today's game went really poorly for the Giants.

Chicago Bears 20 at Las Vegas Raiders 9

Scott Spratt: Justin Fields has taken multiple shots to the ribs and now just had his leg stuck as Yannick Ngakoue pulled him down for a sack from behind. He just went to the sideline for a least a play, so it's Andy Dalton time, at least for now.

Scott Spratt: Fields is back three plays later, but this demands a close eye. He's taking a lot of abuse behind that undermanned Bears offensive line.

Scott Spratt: The Bears have run all over the Raiders to build their 14-3 lead. The former team has 87 rushing yards on 5.1 yards per carry with their running backs. It's a bit of a surprise because of how bad we consider their offensive line, which is also down starter Germain Ifedi after an injury today. But they have been much worse in pass protection with a 12.9% adjusted sack rate (32nd) than while run-blocking (4.05 adjusted line yards, 20th). Perhaps the rushing will be enough for the Bears to pull an upset in Las Vegas.

Tom Gower: On the other hand, at least the Chargers didn't return a punt out of their own end zone like new Chicago Bears returner Jakeem Grant did! He made it to the 18, but returning a punt from 3 yards deep feels like about the dumbest decision you can make.

Vince Verhei: Derek Carr has terrible rushing DYAR every year. Joey Bosa publicly questioned his toughness after the Monday night game. Now he runs a sneak to convert a third-and-1 early in the fourth quarter, but he's hurt. It looks very scary, with players surrounding him in a circle, taking a knee. He eventually walks off, meaning it's Nathan Peterman time. Peterman gets them to fourth-and-inches and Carr tries to return to the field to run the sneak before Jon Gruden pulls him back. Peterman runs the sneak instead and converts. Then Carr takes the field to take the snap on first down, but the Bears are challenging the spot on the Peterman sneak. Those calls are almost never reversed, but this late in the game and with a 14-3 lead, I can't be too mad at Nagy for trying that here.

Anyway, that was all a very weird sequence of events.

Vince Verhei: That weird Carr exit-and-entrance was part of a 16-play touchdown drive that ended with Josh Jacobs running it in on first-and-goal from the 1. Raiders go for two, but Carr is sacked, so Bears still lead 14-9.

Buffalo Bills 38 at Kansas City Chiefs 20

Scott Spratt: The Bills are winning the 50/50 breaks early in this game. They held the Chiefs to a field goal on a 17-play opening drive, and then they scored a touchdown themselves on their first drive. Meanwhile, on the ensuing kickoff, the Bills forced a Byron Pringle fumble and recovered it. The Bills have a chance to open a 14-3 lead late in the first quarter. I just don't know if it pays to build a big lead on the Chiefs and force Patrick Mahomes to air it out to catch up.

Aaron Schatz: Instead, Josh Allen takes forever to get rid of the ball on third down and picks up intentional grounding trying to avoid the sack, and the Bills don't even get a field goal out of the deal.

Scott Spratt: In hindsight, that definitely seems worse, Aaron.

Vince Verhei: Through four-plus games, Allen certainly has regressed to ... well, not nearly as bad as he was in his first two seasons, but not nearly as good as he was in 2020 either. He has really been pretty mediocre this year, but not many have noticed because the Bills are blowing teams out every week. I certainly wouldn't say that they're winning in spite of him, but he hasn't been the driving force behind their success either.

J.P. Acosta: I would love to see his numbers on deep passes this year, because it feels like he hasn't connected as often. I also think the offense not having a true running game outside of him is hurting the offense

Aaron Schatz: Josh Allen on passes of 20-plus air yards:

2020: 86.9% DVOA, 43% completion
2021 through Week 4: 49.5% DVOA, 39% completion

Not as much difference as you might expect.

Scott Spratt: Aaron and Bryan are too fast for me, but I'll plug that FO+ offers a passing efficiency tool that lets you run various advanced passing splits, including on deep attempts.

Vince Verhei: Chiefs get a touchdown after Travis Kelce, then Tyreek Hill, then finally Mahomes motion under center.

I wonder if anyone has ever suggested a red zone play to Andy Reid and been told "no?" How goofy would something have to be that he would refuse to try it?

Bryan Knowles: Well, they could suggest giving Clyde Edwards-Helaire the ball in the red zone occasionally. Seems like Reid has said "no" to that!

Aaron Schatz: You were asking about deep passes, J.P.? Allen just completed one to Emmanuel Sanders for a 35-yard touchdown, right over his shoulder.

Vince Verhei: OK, that was 2020 Allen on the long touchdown to Sanders. Great throw.

J.P. Acosta: He obviously reads the threads.

Aaron Schatz: The mystery for me is what the Kansas City defense is doing differently that has made them so much worse than last year. I understand that Chris Jones is out tonight, and Daniel Sorensen has declined. Frank Clark has missed a couple games. But it's mostly the same players with the same strategies as the defense that finished 22nd in DVOA last season.

J.P. Acosta: I think it's also a decline in in their play at the second level. Their linebackers haven't been good at all this season.

Aaron Schatz: I mean, were their linebackers any good last season? That was already the weakness of the defense, I think. I guess it is just more of a weakness this year.

Rivers McCown: They spent all the money on the offensive line and only one draft pick from 2021 is on the roster—linebacker Nick Bolton. I think it's generally a case of just expecting improvement from youth and not finding any, but I'm open to the idea that Steve Spagnuolo has a tell now.

J.P. Acosta: I think it's especially a glaring weakness when you can't get pass rush like they could last year. This year they have been especially bad, but the defensive line play has also taken a step back.

Vince Verhei: I think that's the key. Defense in football really is symbiotic, and everything relates to everything else. So even a tiny drop in pass rush can make bad pass coverage much, much worse than it looked the year before.

Vince Verhei: Meanwhile, as much as we joke about players or teams being figured out after several years of success, it really does feel like Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs have been figured out. You play deep zone coverage, you encourage as many short completions and runs as you can, and you hope they make enough mistakes to keep them out of the end zone. It's not perfect—they still have 13 points at the half, nothing to sneeze at—but it limits their capacity to just run you off the field, and you can tell they're frustrated. It's halftime and they have already run for 100 yards, almost 6 yards per carry, and it's like ... so what? Mahomes is completing barely half his passes with about a 5-yard average. You'll take that any day.

On the other side, Josh Allen's statline is kind of insane. He's only 7-of-14 passing ... but those seven completions have gained 219 yards! And he's got 41 yards on four rushes on top of that! In fact, both quarterbacks are leading their teams in rushing right now. Don't see that often, though I'm sure it's more common these days than it has been before.

J.P. Acosta: It's pretty insane how the Chiefs have played offensively tonight. It's like, it hasn't been bad, but it's been a lot less explosive. The Bills have forced them to be patient and take the underneath stuff.

Scott Spratt: Pretty bold to claim a Chiefs offense that was easily leading football through four weeks with a 41.1% DVOA has been figured out, Vince. Are you saying that teams understand what the Chiefs are trying to do offensively even if most if not all of them can't stop it?

Vince Verhei: I'm saying that teams know which tactic works best against Kansas City. I am not saying that every team will have the same success with that tactic that Buffalo has tonight, but I do think pretty much every team will be better off playing as conservatively as possible on defense, with little man coverage and even less blitzing, and I think they all know that. We talked about this a little bit at the end of the Audibles Super Bowl thread, but Tampa Bay completely switched up their defensive scheme against Kansas City, going from very aggressive to very conservative, and that (along with Kansas City's skeleton crew offensive line, and the ability of Tampa Bay's defensive line to dominate those backups) is the biggest reason they shut down an offense that has looked otherwise unstoppable ever since Mahomes took over.

But no, not every defense can just say "we're running Cover-2 all night" and hope to succeed like Buffalo has. Based on what the Bills have done tonight, and the plays we saw Ben Roethlisberger and Davis Mills make today when they were NOT playing Buffalo, it's becoming clear to me that this Bills defense really is something special.

J.P. Acosta: I think Mitchell Schwartz put it the best way:

Aaron Schatz: Mahomes is clearly off his game tonight—Seth Walder says he currently has a -11% CPOE according to Next Gen Stats—and he has short-hopped a number of throws. He was right on target to Tyreek Hill though just now. Too bad Hill let it go right off his hands and into the hands of Micah Hyde for a pick-six, and now it is 31-13 Bills. Bills' defensive DVOA is going to be pretty crazy considering the opponent adjustments for holding down the Chiefs combined with what they did to the Texans and the fact that the Texans now look like a better offense than they did a week ago because of what they did to the Patriots today.

Tom Gower: It has been a very bad night for Chiefs right tackle Lucas Niang, with the latest lowlight that Gregory Rousseau red zone interception.

Rivers McCown: I think the Chiefs will be fine in the long term, and there have been plenty of bad defenses that got hot after a bad start and scooted closer to average.

I think the Bills are scary.

Tom Gower: At some point, we'll have to start being seriously concerned about the Kansas City Chiefs. I'll probably start if they lose and/or give up 30 to Washington next week, because, while it's a long season, you need to sometimes win games to make the postseason and beating teams that aren't very good is a good way to get wins, and we saw with the Buccaneers last year it's possible to lose almost every game you play against good teams in the regular season and still win the Super Bowl.

Aaron Schatz: I'm going to guess that the Chiefs are going to be No. 1 in offense still, even after this performance. The losses to the Ravens and Chargers were close. This was the first ass-whipping. And we know that offense is more predictive and consistent than defense. I think the Chiefs will make the playoffs, and I don't think their defense will be this bad all year long. But they certainly are no longer the favorites. The Bills have the clear lead for the No. 1 seed, playing the best football in the conference with the easiest remaining schedule.

Comments

95 comments, Last at 13 Oct 2021, 6:21pm

1 Staley is correctly getting…

Staley is correctly getting love for some of his aggressive strategy, but why didn't he just call kneeldowns after Ekeler slid at the 2? Or if he doesn't trust his kicker (understandable after just missing an XP), then why the hesitancy from Ekeler? Handing the ball off to the RB and asking him not to charge ahead is a weird fudge in that situation (and also carries the risk of a fumble).

14 I assume they were hoping…

I assume they were hoping Ekeler could dance around and run more clock than a kneeldown would accomplish. But they completely missed the possibility of him being carried into the end zone by the other team. I doubt it ever crossed their minds. They won't do it again.

51 But they completely missed…

But they completely missed the possibility of him being carried into the end zone by the other team. 

Staley said afterwards he didn't think that it was legal, and I'd imagine that many NFL coaches would've guessed that the play would've been blown dead there, too. Just don't think it's a situation they've seen before.

Sometimes when you're planning on burning clock and just kicking a field goal, you'll waste a down running to re-center the ball between the hashes (or wherever the kicker wants it). And the ball was on a far hash there that play - but it doesn't look like that's what was happening. It's even weirder because Ekeler actually like, dances around before even making contact. He could've gone down himself, no problem. If I had to guess, the problem was likely that the coaches told him "go down at the 1" and so that's what he was thinking.

 

16 I was thinking the same…

I was thinking the same thing watching it. Why not just go score the TD the way kicking is going? Probably the outcome they got was the best possible. Stop at the one on the first Ekeler run to make Cleveland burn their last time out. Then score and take it out of the kicker’s hands. That last TO would have definitely helped the Browns.

60 Overthinking it.

I don't think it mattered.

I wouldn't trust Baker Mayfield to drive the length of the field with a minute left anyway.

I knew that game was done after the Chargers scored there. 

 

75 Mayfield

In reply to by DIVISION

I know he’s hurt and therefore shouldn’t be slammed for the entirety of how he’s played the last two or three weeks, but as a Bills fan, I can’t wait for the Browns to extend Mayfield with a huge contract. 

2 The Lions made a bad decision to try for two

The Lions made a bad decision to try for two

I was thinking exactly that.  Given how conservative Zimmer had the Vikings offense playing, if the score were tied there is zero chance the Vikings don't hand off or kneel even and play for over time.   So at that point its 50% of XP make chance more or less.

As for the browns give up draw, they did convert a 3rd and long the previous week on such a call, so maybe that is what they were thinking?  Dunno....

 

7 "Given how conservative…

"Given how conservative Zimmer had the Vikings offense playing.."

Yea, the Vikings game plan on offense was befuddling.  They were acting like they A)didn't have one of the best skill position groups in the league, and B)were playing the 2000 Ravens instead of one of the worst defenses in the league, paired with an offense quarterbacked by Careless Alex Smith.

10 I am unconvinced of the "go for a tie" recommendation

I know there is a lot of support for going for the tie, but I thing going for 2 is the best move. Before looking at the analytics, consider the real message it sends, It tells your club you are in it to win it. Not the only consideration, but not to be ignored.

Let's play out the alternatives.

If you go for 2, you could miss. If you get it you have the risk of the opponent driving the field and getting a field goal to win. Or your defense could hold and you get a stop and you win.

If you go for 1, you could miss, (hey it happens!). If you get it you have the risk of the opponent of driving the field and getting a field goal to win. (One could argue that your opponent will be less likely to try to try for the win, but that is not under your control so you have to assume they will go for it.) Or your defense could hold and you get a stop. And you go to OT. In OT, you lose the toss and then your  defense could hold and you get a stop and you have to drive and get a FG or TD. If you receive, you need a TD or a FG and a stop.

 

In all cases, except for the result of getting the kickoff in OT and getting a TD on the first passion, a stop by your defense is a part of the story. There is no time pressure in the first OT possession, so I think the odds of giving up a score in OT is higher than in the last seconds of regulation. At best, the probabilities of going for 1 are a wash. You need a stop. Playing for a tie tells your team you are playing to your fears and don't have confidence. Sooner or later that will cost you. 
 

Go for it!

48 Same

It seems to me, from the opposition's side, it makes as much sense to be aggressive afterwards whether you are down 1 or tied. Maybe there's some reasoning that in a tie game, you are justified in being conservative? But it feels unlikely--I think that, if you kick the PAT, the rational strategy from the Vikings side is still to push the ball with 37 seconds left.

So, then, when you say that you shouldn't go for 2, what you are saying is, the optimal strategy is to assume that your opponent is not smart. That...may be true. But I hate a strategy that says "first, assume our opponent will do the WRONG thing", even when that assumption is pretty safe.

I mean, at some point, NFL coaches are gonna BE that smart, right?

So I say, go for 2

52 “If you go for 1, you could…

“If you go for 1, you could miss, (hey it happens!). If you get it you have the risk of the opponent of driving the field and getting a field goal to win. (One could argue that your opponent will be less likely to try to try for the win, but that is not under your control so you have to assume they will go for it.)”

You really don’t. Needing a score fundamentally changes the calculus. If the Vikings were facing 4th and 18 from their 3 yard line with 15 seconds to go they would punt if the score was tied, and go for it if down by 1. That’s an extreme example, but a completely rational actor will score far more often down by 1 than tied, due to aggressive play calling and aggressive fourth down decisions. In fact, we saw exactly that in this game. No way Zimmer calls those deep passes to Thielen with the game tied.

That their decisions are not under your control does not follow that they are not under your influence.

I do still support the call though, just because I thought the Lions kind of suck, and were likely to lose in overtime anyway.

3 GB special teams

Again allowed a good sized return.  But until today the focus was on the lack of returns and coverage.  The punter and field goal kicker were solid to very good. 
 

Today the punter shanked a punt and Crosby (and Packer fans) experience the seven circles of Hades until the very end.  Team said the unit blocking issues had been “fixed”.  Sure didn’t seem like it as there were seemingly 5 guys in Crosby’s lap each kick.  Have to wonder if this constant near block action has caused Crosby to alter his approach even a bit.  
 

many people questioned the elevation of Drayton to ST coach given that he was part of a staff that had been pretty abysmal in terms of results.  How long can Matt and Gute give the guy if the situation continues its current ugly downward trend?

31 Couple ideas here: (i) The…

In reply to by big10freak

Couple ideas here:

(i) The Packers cap situation means they have very little flexibility to roster guys for their special teams value. They can't afford to pay specialist-types like Jarrett Bush of recent memory, and the need to find cheap guys to plug into important roles and depth spots on offense and defense means they're not able to prioritize special teams skills during cutdowns.

(ii) When LaFleur was hired, he supposedly wasn't allowed to bring in his first choice special teams coordinator because the guy he wanted to hire was deemed too expensive by the front office. Rumors have also leaked out at various times that the Packers have a pretty strict internal cap on coaching salaries. Even though it's a self-imposed constraint, if resources are limited, I'm not surprised special teams ends up getting the shaft here.

41 The latter about salary cap to my knowledge

Is accurate 

 

My point is that if this is a “Last Dance” scenario is management going to have an organizational standard get in the way of fixing an issue that could easily sabotage a season?

 

Since when does HR policy overrule winning games?

 

//sarcasm intended 

85 Responding to all of this…

Responding to all of this thread not just your last post.

I agree about Drayton I'm one of the questioning voices on that. I fully believe the sources on the self-imposed caoching salary caps too, which explains several things. But it cost them a better ST coordinator and may have cost them Leonhard as DC (though he may not have left WI even for a higher salary offer). Those are both major.

As to will they let process or rules get in the way, yes all evidence is they absolutely will. The Murphy/Gutekunst combo definitely seems to have their plan and seem to be hardline about it. They are going to drive the organization in the manner they want to where they think they are going and nothing is going to stop that method, not even the bridge being washed out, they will drive off it and trust their process is still going to get them across the river, evidence be damned. At least that's what it feels like from the information I can gather.

 

I also don't think they have fixed the blocking issues that have been there on the punt and placekicking teams since the middle of last year really. Though to be fair some of this year is injuries to preferred blockers. Back-up lineman have been out or questionable a lot too, it's not just the starters, and that can make a difference. I haven't been charting who all is doing the blocking but some of those spots are likely being taken by the 3rd or 4th choice when looking at injuries. So that all ties back into some of the contract decisions that have helped create the salary cap issues. I don't think they are ignoring it, there are players that are brought in with ST being the primary focus of their roster spot but suspect coaching doesn't help the bottom end of the roster either.

4 I'm becoming obssessed with…

I'm becoming obssessed with the effect of kicking performance on outcomes, and it's not just long field goals. The athletic analogue to place kicking seems to be golf, but pk seems to have more variance within individuals, and the distance between the best and 32nd best placekicker seems longer than between the best and 32nd best golfer.

17 I like the analogy. How much…

I like the analogy. How much consistency (week to week, year to year) is there in, say, the driving accuracy stats on the PGA Tour? Do the same guys lead all the time? (Not expecting an answer, just thinking out loud.) That feels comparable, but even then a golfer is on the tee more often than a kicker lines up during a game, so has more opportunity to get in ‘groove’. I’ve no idea, but I’d expect more variation amongst kickers. It does feel especially random. 

22 It emphasizes how incredibly…

It emphasizes how incredibly disciplined a NFL gambler needs to be to consistently make money. It seems like you'd need to avoid those contests where the randomness of placekicking is more likely to flip the covers, over/unders& money lines. 

I really can see how placekickers drive coaches and teammates nuts.

38 Variance among kickers

You are noticing the normal statistical variance of a distribution when noting kicker variance.  At the elite level, there is little variance, Justin Tucker is the best kicker, Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus were the best golfers in their prime and Djokovic, Sampras and Chris Evert were the best tennis players in their time.

In a distribution, the least variance is at the top (Tucker makes over 90%) and more variance as we move toward the 50% mark which has the most variance.  The easiest proof of this is in a circumstance where something happens 100% of the time or 0% of the time, the distribution has zero variance.  The most variance with a binary event (make or miss FG) will always occur on the 50-50 kick.  

Getting back to other sports, when Tiger Woods in his prime had a bad day and did not win a tournament, he was still the number 1 golfer, when the number 32 golfer has a bad day he may become the number 60 ranked golfer.

This is important to note, because, you are not watching the top 32 kickers when watching an NFL game. 

When the number 26 kicker misses 3 kicks he probably is the number 60 kicker, it is just a question of when he gets the boot from his team.

I used to go to the US Open every year when living in NY as a teenager.  Chris Evert never lost early in the tournament, but their were always upsets of seeds ranked 8 or below in the first round.  This is again the lack of variance among the elite.

42 My impression is that the…

My impression is that the lower ranked golfer, sometimes much lower ranked golfer, beating the the higher ranked golfer, either in match play, or in stroke play, when in the same group, happens much more frequently than it does in tennis. Is this incorrect?

The kicking thing is driving me nuts this season, and I'm not sure why. 

56 I agree on golf vs tennis and comment on FG

The reason is that in golf you are actually playing the course and not the person.  In tennis you are not beating Djokovic, but with a 5 handicap you might beat any pro golfer on a given day.

I have often wondered about the value of FG kickers, where do they stand as far as positional value? At least two games per week are decided when after a virtual tie after 59 minutes 57 seconds the game is decided by this play.

The Ravens start tonights game as 7 point favorites against the Colts.  However, their chances of winning are dramatically better, having played below expectations, if with 3 seconds left, they trail by 2 and are lining up for a 50 yard FG.

The parity this year is mind boggling (don’t tell this to the Bills) and so many games come down to this one play.  

The Lions should not be 0-5, AZ should not be 5-0, is this one play that decides what I am guessing to be 6 percent of games driving you crazy?

My 6 percent estimate is not even counting all of the kicks made or missed prior to the very last play so that kicker must decide a larger percent of NFL games than 6 percent.

57 Think of the missed extra…

Think of the missed extra points! I think what also bugs me is how difficult it is to identify which college kickers will do well in the  NFL, and  how frequently a guy in his physical prime will go from good to horrible. For so many teams, kicking is just a black box which generates random outcomes, which have huge impact.

67 Point well taken

Tucker was an undrafted free agent.  With regards to extra points, I am wondering what fans think of moving the kick back to where it used to be, with line of scrimmage at the two.  Adding "excitement" to the extra point, had the unintended consequence of making kickers more valuable and therefore deciding more games.  

72 I'll keep sayin' it until…

In reply to by jheidelberg

I'll keep sayin' it until something's done: I completely understand why they wish to discourage kick returns due to iinjuries/concussions, but instead of having all the boring touchbacks, they should get rid of kickoffs. Have the PAT determine field position of the next possession, with a kick giving the opponent the ball back at the 35, and a two point attempt the 20, all field goal attempts the 35 or more. No chance of getting possession back after a field goal 

Down with kickers!

86 Do a variation on splitting the pizza

If the conversion is spotted at the two, the opposition starts their next possession at their own 25.  For every two yards farther back you take the conversion, the opposition's next possession starts one yard closer to their end zone.  If you're willing to take the conversion from the 50, you can make the opposition start their next possession from their own 1...

92 Was thinking of our conversation at the Ravens game last night

When Rodrigo Shankenship missed the extra point for the Colts.  This gave the Colts a 13 pt lead at 16-3.   Then, wanting the point back, the Colts go for two and fail, 22-3, now have lost 2 points.   Ravens down 19, score TD want two and fail 22-9, lost 1 pt Colts.  Colts kick FG 25-9.  Down 16, Ravens score 2 TD’s get two 2 pt conversions.  Shakenship kick to win at end of regulation from 47 goes wide. Now go to OT with Colts having 3 TD ‘s and 2 FG (on 4 tries, one was blocked) for 25 points while Ravens have 3 TD’s and only 1 FG (on 1 try).  Ravens win because Shankenship left 7 points out there, which turned to 9 due to the series of two point conversion attempts because of the missed extra point.

I always wonder how much a FG kicker is worth.

Tucker was irrelevant in this game, but his opponent cost his team 9 points in an OT game.  Simply making the extra point in the 3rd quarter would have been good enough for a Colts victory.

Jackson was great as was Wentz and the Colts run game, the tiebreaker was the kicker.

69 Amidst the current kicker…

Amidst the current kicker carnage there stands the strange case of Cairo Santos. An average to below average kicker for most of his career, he is now automatic. Not only is every kick good, every kick bisects the uprights with machine precision. There's no stress about Bears FGs right now, which is a very odd feeling for Bears fans.

Santos claims he had an epiphany after missing a kick in the third game of 2020, basically realizing that eh, whatever, if I miss this and get canned, life goes on. He has since hit 33 straight FG (and 36 out of 37 XP, one got blocked). Is having a clean mind possibly the most important ingredient in NFL kicking? It does fit with the golf analogy.

And now watch him miss his next 5 tries.

5 Oh, and my other penetrating…

Oh, and my other penetrating insight is that the Chiefs will have a hard time winning when they only score 20 points.

29 No

They peaked last year in December, at the supposed "right time." It didn't help them beat KC in the playoffs.

The Bills remind me a lot of the Bucs. They are one of the most talented teams in the league. They're also one of the deepest teams in the league. And they're very, very good on both sides of the ball. Teams like that don't "peak" so much as they're almost always "on."

37 The defense may be "peaking"…

In reply to by Tutenkharnage

The defense may be "peaking", but it doesn't seem that Josh Allen is.  I agree that depth plays a role in this, since they just held Mahommes and co. to 20 points without Matt Milano.  The Bills have at least 8 good defensive linemen to rotate in and out, which makes this Jets fan very concerned about the two games coming up where a rookie quarterback and his mediocre offensive line have to face them.

45 The Bills had an incredible…

The Bills had an incredible run with D-Lineman this year - literally everyone they brought it panned out, and both early draft picks hit (and Groot had a ridiculous INT last night.)

I also think you'll see teams with the personnel play KC the same way from now on. During his fellation of the Chefs last night, one thing he absolutely got right is that they're not good at being patient. Blitzing Mahomes is death, so you contain and make them run 15 plays to score, and odds are they'll mess up at some point.

53 Kind of makes me wonder if …

In reply to by Tutenkharnage

Kind of makes me wonder if “peaking,” should be divided into two categories. The first is just teams that are unsustainably successful on high leverage situations (third/fourth down), or who beat bad teams and thus have a winning streak. The second is teams that are legitimately playing better, such as more accurate QB throwing, better blocking, etcetera.

I wonder if even the latter matters or if there’s just too much randomness even in play quality.

6 Interesting tidbit from Packers/Bengals

is that on the 70 yard play to Chase at the end of the first half the Packer d-line did a 'mush rush' which at the time seemed like an odd approach.  Turns out that Burrow called out a check using the same term that calls the defense to contain versus a hard rush.  That is either the best cover story for a dumb choice or the truth.  I have to think it's the latter given that for most of the game the Packers were generating solid to good pressure on the Cincy qb.

 

Tee Higgins will want to forget this game.  He had 2 (maybe 3) drops on passes where he had abused the Packers db and was wide open.  

 

 

8 Highest scoring game?

Dave B's dream for Browns-Chargers was an impossible one.  Best they could do after going into OT 49-49 was 110 total, though the 52 in a loss might be a record.  Fifty-some year back during one of the Giants' awful-awful periods they hung 41 on Washington yet lost by 31.  With the score 69-41 the winners went into 2-minute drill to get the FG that put them into the 70s.

9 DPI on a last-second Hail Mary

You folks are talking as if this game hadn’t already been played 33 years ago.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.barstoolsports.com/blog/1159153/on-this-date-in-sports-november-29-1998-just-give-it-to-them

And yeah, everyone here in Western New York knows “just give it to ‘em” as shorthand for a ridiculous call. 

18 Dave Bernreuther: One of…

Dave Bernreuther: One of these days they're going to actually decide that they will make that call, Vince, and it's going to end up deciding a game by creating an untimed down on the 1.

Even if it happened earlier, I would think the next time NFL refs decide to call it would be against the Lions, given their history with game-losing hail marys.

11 Miami meltdown in full progress

I'm not convinced the Dolphins can beat the Jags in London. The Jags after all do some things well like run the ball whereas Miami doesn't do anything well at the moment, but possibly pay wide receivers to sit out games with questionable injuries. There's a ton of pressure on Tua right now and the last time he played it was with the support of a top 15 defense. Right now that same defense is horrible, just horrible particularly on 3rd down. The worst part of it all is the fact they don't own their top pick if things don't pick up. It's unknown why Miami is so out of sorts with preseason projections; loss of Fitz's upbeat energy, the never ending Watson rumors, the rumors Flores wanted Herbert, loses on the coaching staff . . . the point is, the team is terrible right now and everything is a distraction. London might come as a welcome relief at least until gameday. Then they're going to have to beat a team as desperate for a win as they are. The loser of the game will be crowned the worst team in Florida and possibly also the worst team in the NFL. Not exactly what the Dolphins were expecting to play for this season. You get a lot of time to think about next weeks game when this weeks game is 45-17.   

25 It's Fugly

Miami are a disaster at present. Waddle flashes potential, and that's about it for good news. The O-line is possibly the worst in the NFL (Yes, I've seen the Bears this year), we have zero evidence that Tua can transcend that, and Brissett certainly can't. The defensive drop is a suprise. I expected them to be worse than last year, but not this bad. At least there were fewer penalties this week...

If Jacksonville can't beat this team next week then they have footballing reasons to fire Meyer for cause

 

61 There's more good news

In reply to by James-London

They had decent online play this week. It could be long term 4/5 positions are settled. Williams was healthy and looked like his old self. They figured out how to get Gaskins the ball. The other 2021 first round pick looks really good and both 2nd rounders look like starters. It's the 2020 draft that's killing them. Tua isn't playing, Austin might just be a guard and their corner is so raw he might not start until 2023. Add that to how old those corners and safeties are looking and this might be a long rebuild. Which frankly I'm not sure why everyone is surprised about. They had to dump salary due to the Covid salary cap issue they weren't expecting and it appears their 2021 camp youth movement is also another mini-rebuild movement. The thing is, Flores careers is getting long in the tooth for a Ross head coach and I don't think he survives without wins. They don't look like a team that wins many games. 

30 I think we know the answer, actually

It comes in two parts:

  1. Last year's defense was overrated because it produced a lot of turnovers. That wasn't sustainable. The Dolphins have great cornerbacks, but they're not great enough to put on islands every game without getting beat if they don't get those turnovers.
  2. Tua isn't good. They won despite him last year. I would have been optimistic for him if we'd heard any rumblings that his college injuries were still holding him back last year. Instead, we heard crickets, which tells me he was the player we saw last year on merit. And that player was bad, even for a rookie: no flash, no games where they won because of him rather than despite him.

They're out of sorts with preseason projections because those projections weren't an accurate measure of who they were as a team. Like, at all.

39 Short Selling

“Miami doesn't do anything well at the moment, but possibly pay wide receivers to sit out games with questionable injuries. ”

I think you are selling them short.  They also pay their CBs a lot to enable Brady to do something he had never done before.

15 This was my first time…

This was my first time watching a full Bengals game in 2 years. So this is probably unfair to say but I'm going to say it anyways. Zach Taylor's entire playcalling decisions leading the 4th quarter and extending into overtime were beyond terrible. After the Packers special teams kept gifting them chances to win, Taylor continued to call plays with assumption that his kicker was Justin Tucker. It's the kind of coaching malfeasance that lets you lose too bad teams you shouldn't and lose to good teams that have off days.

 

55 The Packers decisions were…

The Packers decisions were almost as bad, which is odd because LaFleur is usually pretty good about that stuff.

Punted from the Bengals 42 yard line early.

End of first half, Packers got sacked for a small loss on 1st down and elected to let the clock run out in a situation where they had enough time to try and get into FG range, with almost no chance of the Bengals getting the ball back themselves with any time to work with.

Got really conservative in the Red Zone, even with a struggling kicker. Late in regulation and in OT had drives with a 50+ yard catch, a 50+ yard run, and a INT returned into the red zone, and settled for three FG attempts. I think there were a total of two passes into the end zone in all of those drives.

With a struggling kicker, ran the ball twice in FG range for a net of -5 yards, then kicked on 3rd and 15 rather than trusting your MVP QB and league leading WR having a monster day to try to pick up some yardage to help the kicker out.

Finally kicked a 49 yard game winner on 4th and inches. This one worked, but I hated the call.

At least Taylor went for it on a couple of 4th downs. I think the Bengals only got 7 points (the TD bomb to Chase) on drives where they didn't convert a 4th down.

84 LeFleur has been making…

LeFleur has been making questionable calls all year. It doesn't feel like 2019/2020. He made mistakes in the past sure, but they didn't feel as egregious. I'm not sure I fully buy the EdjSports rankings but he did well in that the last 2 years and other ratings liked him too. But every game this year he's done something that had me scratching my head. It's not the same thing each time either. He's also done some great stuff still. The way he's calling plays and protections with the patchwork o-line has been refreshing.

Then like they mentioned in the article I'm still not used to the Packers adjusting to pressure in game even though they've been doing it fairly well the whole time under LeFleur it's just so many years of McCarthy where they generally did have the correct plan but that was it. If the game plan didn't work they weren't changing, it was the plan coming in or nothing. So there is still lots of good.

But the head scrathers are increasing too and I don't know why.

91 No it is very fair to criticize Zac Taylor's coaching decision

It is very fair to criticize Zac Taylor's coaching decisions, because Sunday was hardly a one time thing for Taylor.  Dead last in EDJ Sports coaching decisions in both 2019 and 2020.  

https://twitter.com/edjsports/status/1210343037806817280 

https://vikingsterritory.com/2020/general-news/where-does-zimmer-rank-in-edjsports-nfl-coach-of-the-year-ranking

 

19 The parting thought I left…

Two parting thoughts I left with in SF ARI:

Shanny is decidedly unafraid to use Lance as a power rusher. By that I mean, several third and longs were deliberate QB keepers where Lance was taking on linebackers to gain yardage. I know he's a big kid and a tough dude, but I wouldn't want my quarterback making a habit of doing this. He's way too important to be risking a concussion for a new set of downs.

Josh Norman has become a punching bag. But I completely disagree with Brian's characterization of his coverage. Yes he had one bad pi penalty, but overall I thought he was in position for most of the plays and had perfect coverage on that game sealing TD( perfect throw and perfect catch are going to negate perfect coverage). In fact, I would say the 49ers defense overall did very well.

23 Yeah, I reallly, really,…

Yeah, I reallly, really, dislike subjecting a qb, that so much has been invested in, to such violence. Now, maybe Lance is like Newton, who had, as one of his greatest failings, an unwillingness/inability to avoid contact on his runs, but if that's the case, Shanny the Younger better factor that.

36 Kilmer

tooo mcuh runnign by T. Lance whether by design roi nnto. Also had some shaky throws. One was a wobbler liek Billy Kilmer would throw. Kilmer also quality runner at least early in career when eh was  a tailback. Did saee Lance as like Daunte Culpepper whn viewd his colllege stuff. Culpepper big body like Lance. lot of area to get hit. Comapre to l. Jackson QB Balti and K. Murray QB Arizona, those guys don't tkae as bad hits. Lance cannot keep this up. willl have problems later in career. 

44 And Culpepper wrecked his…

In reply to by Raiderjoe

And Culpepper wrecked his career when he decided to take on defensive backs head-on. Ugh, it's bad for all fans to get qbs blasted.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=FsFI3Esnhj4

71 As a non-regular Bengals…

As a non-regular Bengals watcher I can’t speak to Burrow’s usual level of protection, but the nasty blow to the head he took whilst scrambling yesterday was entirely his fault (the type of hit - and subsequent re-entry - that makes me skeptical of the concussion protocol).

It’s a fine balance, because there is undoubtedly a precocious fearlessness and playmaking capacity to his game that you would not want to lose, but he simply has to do a better job (or be coached to a better job) of protecting himself than that or else he is not going to have a long career.

63 To be fair, I was watching the Chargers game.

...even though I'm an Arizona fan.  Never felt that San Fran was a threat to win with all the combined factors involved.  Arizona even covered.

From the highlight, what I do know is that Shanahan is overrated as a play-caller/OC based on his use of a limited mobile rookie QB.  Having him dive at the goaline right there is a way to get him killed.  He got crushed by three Zona defenders and the crunch was audible.

Going for all those forth downs was foolish as well.  Way too much talent on the other side of the field to be risking short fields all day long.  

Kyler was efficient and missed a couple throws he should make.  Turned a 28-10 game in to 17-10.  

I was impressed with how Arizona's defense killed San Fran's offensive line for most of the game.  JJ Watt was causing all kind of havoc.  

This game, combined with how poor Cleveland looked against the Chargers bodes well for next week.

65 "Going for all those forth…

"Going for all those forth downs was foolish as well.  Way too much talent on the other side of the field to be risking short fields all day long. "

 

This argument sounds logical but doesn't really work when you think about it. Let's assume the offense is at a severe talent mismatch with the defense. Doesn't that make going for it at tactically advantages times ( ie 4th and short) better than hoping to drive the length of the field again and again? If they're unlikely to pick up fourth and short how likely are they to score pinned back at their 20 or 30? If anything the talent mismatch suggests they're better off going for it

87 My interpretation of this…

My interpretation of this commentary is that the 49ers would have won if Garoppolo had started, and that Murray is not as great as some would make him out to be. A close win against a team starting a rookie QB with minimal college experience is far from a good performance.

94 Is your real name Homer by chance?

Cards are a good team and generally playing well.  Yet, thinking this was "supposed" to be a 28-10 game continues to show your hometown hubris.   Lance was inches away from scoring that TD.  The refs missed an obvious holding call in the end zone that should have been called a safety.  So while I expect the Cards to beat the Niner in terms of overall record this year, I wouldn't brag about beating a team with rookie QB making his FIRST NFL start by only 7 points. 

20 I think defenses experience…

I think defenses experience year to year variance and even game to game variance EVEN when the players are all roughly the same.

One reason why I think it's becoming magnified this season is KCs offense, while still number 1, has had enough hiccups with turnovers that they haven't warped the game script from jump. This has let teams follow through on their gameplan.

27 KC

This can even be extended to the last six or seven games of the 2020 regular season, plus the playoff game against Cleveland. This team has been playing with fire for a long time now, and if you keep doing that, you inevitably get burned.

21 Josh Allen

I realize Vince's comment about Allen being "pretty mediocre" was early in the game but it still seems a bit off the mark. Here's some other stats comparing 2020/2021 Josh Allen.

2020: Y/A: 7.9, AY/A: 8.5, NY/A: 7.3, ANY/A: 7.8, TD: 37, INT: 10

2021: Y/A: 7.5, AY/A: 8.3, NY/A: 7.1, ANY/A: 7.9, TD: 12, INT: 2

https://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/A/AlleJo02.htm

Doesn't look that far off from 2020 and is even better in some ways. Allen even has 188 rushing yards already compared to 421 on the year last year. 

Great site, great column guys!

26 The performance of the…

The performance of the Bengals offense was an interesting peak into the decision to draft Chase vs Sewell. I have no idea how Sewell is playing right now, but let's assume he's already a solid lt.

On the one hand, Chase seems good for at least one explosive play a game and maybe two. That was on display this week. On the other hand, Burrow's pass blocking sucked and Burrow took way too many hits ( and Burrow is not the kind of quarterback that makes his offensive line look worse than it is, so it's probably understating the extent of the problem).

I admit I am on team receiver over team LT since a solid LT was not going to fix the entire line, but as someone on the FO discord channel reminded me, you have to start somewhere. But then again, how much does one explosive play per a dozen bad pass pro plays tilt the math in it's favor? On net I suspect Chase is a better value ( though this is ignoring the long term aging benefits of Lts vs WR).

28 Ultimately the Bengals…

Ultimately the Bengals needed upgrades in both areas. Chase had a large, obvious impact on the game yesterday, but the Bengals really didn't have that successful of a day on offense - Burrow effectively finished with 0 EPA despite the 70 yard touchdown to Chase, which frankly should have been intercepted. Like you said, one player probably wouldn't fix the entire line, but the Bengals are only 18th in scoring this season and it sure seems like the line is putting a cap on their offensive productivity right now. And as explosive as Chase is, Burrow had several underthrows downfield (including on that long touchdown) - they're going to need to give him clean pockets to step up into to get the ball downfield more consistently.

95 Really?

You think trading Chases 1.09 EPA for 1/5th of an OL (that can't play RT, so he or Jonah is gotta move,which as Sewell shows, isnt always as smooth as you'd think) is the right move?

Seems like quite a leap to suggest the 15th/113 WR < 55th/74 OT. And it's not like Sewell is the only one on that OL. Ragnow is the highest paid C and is 2nd among them in grades this year! Not a bad running mate!

Ultimately listen to your franchise QB. And don't forget to look at the Lions scoring offense (25th fwiw)!

32 Sewell has been very uneven,…

Sewell has been very uneven, started out well, but has struggled the last couple of games (Everson Griffen ate his lunch yesterday).  He's still young (just turned 21), and could get better if his technique matches his athleticism.  But so far, it seems the Bengals made the right choice, and Slater looks to be the best tackle in this draft so far.

33 Vikings Special Teams

I didn’t hear anything about this on the broadcast or elsewhere, but I think Ameer Abdullah’s decision to field a kickoff at 2:30 of the fourth quarter was a really big blunder. He had to tiptoe along the sideline to catch the ball, which would have likely gone out of bounds for a penalty. 
 

it was basically the exact opposite of the Ty Montgomery play from 2016. 

35 I am genuinely curious to…

I am genuinely curious to know how Jared Goff has faired in Detroit thus far. I realize a winless squad is probably not gettin good QB play, but as JoeyHarrington wrote above, the roster is so barren and bereft of talent that honestly who would you expect to succeed on it? 

Its probably easy to write off Goff at this point as a bad QB, but a smart organization should take an honest assessment and ask, "If we give him a proper supporting cast, is there value here?" I think for the Rams, the answer was yes but not at the price he was charging. At a discounted price, is he worth a shot in say Pittsburgh or Washington? 

40 That's a complicated…

That's a complicated question.

Goff may not be getting much help, but he's also definitely contributing to the team's struggles.  He's turned the ball over 9 times in 5 games, which, for a quarterback as conservative as him, is unacceptable (if it weren't for an interception and a strip sack both deep in Vikings territory, the Lions win that game easily....they lost the Bears game for similar reasons).   In a post above, I called him Careless Alex Smith.

Stafford had a higher INT total than you would like for someone as talented as him, but he would make up for it by making a lot of big plays.  Goff, on the other hand, is seemingly incapable for completing long pass plays (I think he's either 2nd to last or dead last in average completed air yards).   Their offense can actually move the ball okay (had 22 first downs yesterday), but they can't score consistently because Goff is giving them almost zero explosive plays in the passing game.  It's hard to dink and dunk the length of the field in the NFL.  

Lack of skill players is part of it (a tight end and the two running backs are his best pass-catchers), but on film, you can see that he has receivers getting open downfield...it's just that he's not getting them the ball.  He's either unwilling to take risks (even reasonable risks), takes a short gain before going through his progressions, or simply doesn't see a receiver about to come open.  I'm not sure if any of that is fixable or not.  5 games of this season, combined with his last two Rams seasons suggests that this is simply who he is.

"Its probably easy to write off Goff at this point as a bad QB"

Despite what I wrote above, he's not horrible per se (coming into week 5 ranked in the low 20's by DYAR, DVOA, PFF grade, and EPA+CPOE), just solidly below average.  In a way, that's kind of worse.  Watching him is giving me flashbacks of Joey Harrington: not quite bad enough to bench outright, but also not adding any positive value.

Overall, my opinion is that it was a reasonable gamble to take on Goff and his cap hit (especially with the draft capital coming with him), hoping that his 2017-2018 seasons were due to some innate talent, and not just being propped up by McVay.  But early returns are not encouraging.  And of course in a year that the Lions will be picking in the top 5, there doesn't appear to be a college QB worth taking that high.  

58 The main problem with Goff…

The main problem with Goff is his attitude. Guy is just not a hard worker, and lots of subtle remarks from various people in the Rams organization over the years were made to that effect. The guy got to LA, got an enormous contract, and decided to kick back and enjoy the weather and enjoy being rich.

His problems are the exact same since he came into the league. He has 3/10 pocket presence and mobility. When moved off his spot, his accuracy gets terrible. His arm is strong, but not strong enough to make those off platform throws like Rodgers, Mahomes, or even Stafford. He adds little as a scrambler. He doesn’t see the field well at all, which is why he checks the ball down so often. Teams confuse him easily and he decides to play it safe. Except he also has these absurd brain fart moments where he just gives the other team the ball. It was fine as a second year player. Not fine as a sixth year player.

I think he realized that he could work just hard enough to keep himself in game shape, where his natural 8.5/10 arm talent would always allow him to make a certain amount of plays, and entice some teams into giving him a big contract. Again, it’s not that he’s so utterly terrible, it’s just that Rams fans eventually accepted that he wasn’t a young QB improving and sneaking into the top 10, he was about the 22nd best QB, and always would be.

62 I should add that he…

I should add that he actually got worse. His natural talent includes an accurate deep ball. Or rather it used to. Once defences figured out, after the Bears/Vic Fangio game, that Goff struggled enormously with a bit of post snap disguise, he started seeing it more and more often. When planting his feet, reading maybe one player or even throwing to his pre-snap read, Goff had a top 5 deep ball. Once teams started taking away his pre-snap reads, he stopped taking even open deep/intermediate passes.

This fits with his generally lazy attitude. He didn’t want to do the massive work to figure out how to play against what defences were now showing him, which would have caused him to throw lots of picks/incompletions. So instead he just doesn’t bother reading those routes and throws the check downs. Saw a great video on this from some YouTuber, and if he can see it, and random rams fans can suspect this without seeing the All-22, I’m sure McVay can see it plain as day. I’ll bet this pissed McVay off to no end that it basically didn’t matter what he did, his QB was going to throw some shitty little check down most of the time because he had no idea how to read defences in year 5. 

73 Interesting stuff. I’d never…

Interesting stuff. I’d never heard the stuff about Goff’s attitude before, but it fits with his lack of development, and McVay eventually running out of patience. 

Saying that, it makes you wonder how he became the number one overall pick. Not every young player can be expected to have the psychotic work-ethic of a Peyton Manning, but when making that level of investment I would want reassurance that he isn’t going to show up and coast. Of course you can’t ever be sure, and I guess there are plenty of examples (many worse than Goff) that go to show how difficult that step up in the demands of the job can be.

77 I wonder how much hard work…

I wonder how much hard work in of itself is a big predictor of success.

Michael Vick by his own admission didn't work very hard but still survived a lot on natural talent. With a better scheme design and the same amount of effort I suspect he could have been even better. 

Ben roethlisberger has admitted in the past he didn't work very hard, essentially blaming his 2006 injury plagued horror show on that fact. But that didn't stop him from being very good as a rookie and damn good as a second year player.

Then there's also the stories of quarterbacks who worked very very hard and it amounted to nothing. Joey Harrington would wow Ron jaworski with his ability to analyze plays and the amount of effort he put into that side of things. And just about every coach whoever had Brady Quinn would marvel at his dedication in the film room and in the weight room and on the practice field.

I have no idea whether Goff is a hard worker or not, but I wonder if his malaise has more to do with the fact that teams are better equipped to exploit his weaknesses and he just hasn't been able to get better at those areas.

Which also brings me to the idea that reading the game like Peyton Manning isn't something you can pick up with hard work. It's a requisite condition to being able to do it but it's not enough by itself. I remember Greg costell doing a highlight of Manning's where he basically said I watched this play a hundred times and I still can't figure out exactly what he saw in the defense that made him know they were going to blitz and from what area.

I've mentioned this elsewhere but reading the game like that to me is an innate talent and not something you can really teach. Or at least there's no evidence that it seems to be a learnable trait as the number of people who can do it well is extremely limited.

80 I've mentioned this…

I've mentioned this elsewhere but reading the game like that to me is an innate talent and not something you can really teach. Or at least there's no evidence that it seems to be a learnable trait as the number of people who can do it well is extremely limited.

I think it can be *learned*, as Manning certainly got better at it over time and Brady is another great example of improving in that area, but I don't know you can teach it. It's that 10,000-hour virtuoso experience level thing.

89 He became the number one…

He became the number one overall pick because he turned out to be the 22nd best QB in the NFL, or thereabouts. Prescott should have been 1, and maybe Wentz, but the QB position is the QB position. It’s not all about character.

If you’re a good enough QB to lead the best offence by DVOA, you’re probably worth the no 1 overall pick. That doesn’t mean the team shouldn’t aggressively try to upgrade at the QB position.

64 High Risk/Medium Reward.

Goff is like taking a chance on a knock-off brand from an Amazon third-party seller.  The odds of it being low quality are great, but even if it works well, will it work as well as the name brand product?   Likely not.

He has crazy TO-worthy plays which have nothing to do with the opposition.  For those of you who watched the debacle against the Packers, you will remember that he lost a couple of fumbles without being touched.  

Goff is valuable as a bridge for a rebuilding team, but that's about it.  He's where he should be.

 

49 Lemme start talk about Bears-Raiders, then

Fields was only okay. He made a few plays that were necessary, and that was enough for them to win; and you can still see the potential for more. But this offense didn't really get him to do amazing things, and they didn't need it, so he didn't. Still very optimistic on his future. But it wasn't really a good game by him.

Bigger question to me is what happened when the Raiders were on offense. Mack, Quinn, and others were harassing Carr all day, and the Raiders run game wasn't sustaining them. But the coverage, and especially the downfield tackling, were not good. Hunter Renfrow, in particular, seemed to be able to get easy YAC every time he touched the ball. There was one very deep shot from Carr to some WR I never heard of, who dropped the ball despite being wide open and having turned to face the ball as it came in; a clear TD that became a punt, IIRC. So I think the defense is able to hurt an offense through the line, but if you can handle the pressure, the back 7 can't hold up (as expected coming into this year). It was surprising to see Gruden not try to challenge them more with a quicker passing game, but they didn't seem to be able to do that. We'll see if Rodgers solves it.

68 Carr missed a bunch of…

Carr missed a bunch of throws, and his receivers had some awful drops (at least two by Waller and the killer one by Edwards). Mix in all the dumb penalties, and you can make the argument that the Raiders lost that game much more than the Bears won it. I will be very surprised if they are within a TD of Green Bay next week.

50 Last one was a good idea

With 2 minutes left in overtime, the 49-yard field goal is a better idea than going for it on 4th and inches. (in good weather, that is) The defense will of course be selling out on the play, and being stopped that way is almost as bad as a missed field goal. Even with a 4th down conversion you'll likely be winding up with a field goal attempt anyway, given the time left.

You don't play for the 49-yard field goal. But if that's where you wind up on 4th down, it'll go through more often than not.

(now your turn to throw some bogus math at me which includes low leverage 4th-and-inches outcomes)

66 All these people...

....coming out of the woodwork to say "we never saw this coming" in respect to the regression of the Chiefs.

YES.  Many people saw it coming.  I said this during the off-season.  To me, it was plain as day.

They lost all that depth and became a top-heavy team.  Beyond Hill and Kelce, who do you trust to make plays?   Mahomes has regressed individually as a passer and those crazy TO-worthy plays are now actual TO's. 

While everyone is focusing on the defense, there became a tipping point whereas in the past they could survive a mediocre defense because the offense was so dominant.  Now, the defense is trash and the offense is inconsistent.  They don't have the talent on defense to scheme their way out of it, either.  

They will likely get a WC, and then flame out in the first round.  They are looking like the AFC version of the Seahawks.

 

78 A rare case where I agree…

A rare case where I agree with you: There's nothing on the roster after their top guy at each position that scares you. Watkins did more for this team than people think.

Having continual WR/RB draft/free agent quality is hard.

88 I remember saying this last…

I remember saying this last offseason when people were talking about QB quality. Alex Smith lead the league in QB Rating when with the Chiefs. That offence wasn’t just Mahomes, or even Mahomes, Kelce, and Hill. It was basically Tompa Bay type stacked, except the offensive line was even better. Mahomes might win the award for best situation for a young QB to step into in league history.

And that’s not sustainable when you pay Mahomes $50 million per year. Some talent has to go away, offensively or defensively. Now I don’t think their defence is really historically bad, and they will regress back to the mean, and I do think they still have a top 5 offence that just had a rough night. But they certainly have the feel more of a 9-7 team than a true elite Super Bowl contender.

*or 10-7 whatever

70 Here to eat my crow

Does anyone think that KC will score fewer than 28 points this Sunday?

(And, in case it's not obvious from that question, I think the 2021 Bills D fails the eye test. Reminds me of the 2012 Bears, who also beat up on awful teams and ran up ridiculous turnover numbers but---at least in this Bear fan's opinion---weren't really that good.)

That was me in last week's DVOA thread. I was wrong. The Bills' D looked consistently excellent last night against the best offense in the league.

79 The results were better than…

The results were better than I expected, but that was because of Milano's absence, not because I didn't think the unit was legit. Frazier came up with an excellent game plan for that and the team executed it very well, and the report of the corners deciding they would just hold as much as KC does and see if they call it was legit.

O-Line holding? They missed at least half a dozen on each team.

74 Uncommon honesty

"I was wrong."  Far too few people are capable of typing that sentence.  Good for you, sir.

93 Ivan Fears?

"Damien Harris looked like he had a touchdown, but a perfectly timed Peanut Punch just before the goal line freed the ball loose before Harris could break the plane. "

One of the hallmarks of Patriots running the ball over the last two decades has been guys giving up additional yardage to make sure they've got 2 arms on the ball before they hit traffic. This hasn't been happening this year - Harris and Stephenson have both been running through traffic with the ball in one hand, and often away from the body. It's just awful form. 

Which makes me think its a coaching issue - and either Fears isn't doing his job, or he's being tuned out and isn't effective at his job.