Week 7: Big Wins for Bengals, Titans, Cardinals as Blowouts Abound

Arizona Cardinals RB James Conner
Arizona Cardinals RB James Conner
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

compiled by Andrew Potter

Each Sunday, the FO staff sends around emails about the games that each of us are watching. We share information about the games that the rest of the group might not be watching, ask questions, and keep everyone else informed about which games they might want to tune into (if they can).

On Monday, we compile a digest of those emails and produce this feature. By its nature, it can be disjointed and dissimilar to the other articles on the site.

While these emails are generally written with Audibles in mind, they do not represent a standard review of all the games each week. That means we aren't going to cover every game, or every important play. We watch the games that we, as fans, are interested in watching, so your favorite team's game might not be covered to your fullest desires or even at all. (If you are a Seahawks or Patriots fan, you are probably in luck; if you are a 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.

Cincinnati Bengals 41 at Baltimore Ravens 17

Scott Spratt: The maybe only intriguing early game started with intrigue: the Ravens lost a coin toss for the first time in 11 games. The Bengals will start on offense.

Scott Spratt: Ravens center-turned-right tackle Patrick Mekari just limped slowly off the field. They have had an amazing run of overcoming injuries, but the Ravens have to be close to the point of no return with offensive line injuries. Alejandro Villanueva couldn't even crack the Steelers offensive line, and he's playing left tackle for the Ravens now.

Vince Verhei: Bengals offense was dormant early with three punts and a field goal drive that only covered 23 yards. But on their fourth drive C.J. Uzomah got open for a 55-yard touchdown catch on a play-action bomb, and their fifth drive was a two-minute drill that covered 63 yards before ending in a field goal, good for a 13-10 lead at halftime. They're picking on Anthony Averett, a fourth-year corner in his first season as a starter, and he's already up to four tackles—not good for a cornerback. But he's also making some plays, with three pass breakups. Tee Higgins has 11 of Cincinnati's 22 targets but has only caught four balls for 33 yards.

Baltimore's offensive line woes are definitely on display. Ravens running backs have seven carries for exactly zero yards, and Lamar Jackson has been sacked three times. But we also need to give credit to a much-improved Cincinnati defense. Those three sacks give them 17 sacks before Halloween—that's as many sacks as they had all season in 2020. Jackson, as usual, is carrying the team with 63 yards rushing. He has had an up-and-down day passing and is only completing half of his passes, but he has hit enough big plays (117 yards on only seven completions) to put those 10 points on the board.

Bryan Knowles: The Ravens open the second half with a near-disaster, with Mark Andrews fumbling and fortunate to get back on top of it. They continue with a slightly better sequence, with Jackson bombing one to Rashod Bateman for 35 yards, and then one to Marquise Brown for a 39-yard touchdown, with Brown just hauling it in at the end of his reach. The deep shot to Brown has been hit-and-miss this year; this one was a hit and the Ravens re-take a 17-13 lead.

Vince Verhei: That Brown touchdown was a thing of beauty.

Vince Verhei: Ja'Marr Chase's weekly home run has entered the chat, though this was a quick slant with a bevy of broken tackles instead of a deep ball.

The Bengals now have 169 yards on their three touchdowns, 195 yards on their other 36 plays.

Bryan Knowles: We can probably put this one to bed now too. It looked, for a moment, like the Ravens had new life—Joe Burrow threw an interception in the end zone with this as a 10-point game, and the Ravens were driving for a while. But a holding penalty backed them up to first-and-20 and they couldn't bounce back from that, ending up turning the ball over on downs. Cincinnati then pounded Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine, with Mixon scoring from just outside the red zone to make this 34-17, Bengals. This will be the Bengals' biggest win since ... what, beating the Steelers in November 2015?

Rob Weintraub: Just recovering from my delirium to check in here after the Bengals rout the Ravens in Balmer.

Cincy, as has been noted, had never beaten Lamar Jackson. For one thing, the stating quarterbacks for the Bengals in those games were Andy Dalton in his decaying orbit, Ryan Finley, Joe Burrow's fifth-ever game, and Brandon Allen. But another key reason was that Cincy didn't have to horses up front defensively to do anything to stop Jackson. Now they do, and had a qualitative mismatch against the banged-up Ravens line. Lamar still made some amazing plays, but the pressure forced him to make some bad throws too, and the coverage was mostly tight, even when Jackson's running opened up the intermediate game. And—a rare occurrence—the defense actually put some licks on LJ. He will need the cold tub tomorrow for one of the few times in his NFL career.

As for Ja'Marr Chase—yeah, but let's see him do it in the preseason...

I figured he would be good, and his explosive element would open things up for the offense, but sheesh. The touchdowns were great, but man, late in the half he made a play were he blasted right through Marlon Humphrey's press, caught a quick in route at the left numbers, and sped all the way across the field for about 20 yards and got out of bounds, with Cincy out of timeouts. That set up a field goal to give the Bengals the halftime lead. What a complete play by Chase.

The national vibe about these two teams is that the Ravens dominate, but that has only been the case the last few seasons, when the Bengals had no breakaway receivers. Otherwise, Cincy has always done well against the Ravens—Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh had many big days, and Baltimore could never cover A.J. Green before all the injuries. And now the purple are probably thinking, "Oh man, that window is closed with Chase in Cincinnati."

Those of you who watched the AMA livestream Wednesday saw me talk up C.J. Uzomah, and you saw why today. He was just starting to find some groove with Joey B before they both went down last year, and they have picked it back up this season.

I'll let everyone else butter up Burrow—I'm sure he'll get plenty of love this week—but I will say this: the first bomb touchdown to C.J. featured pocket movement that was so efficient and precise it did remind of (dare I even utter these words?) ... Touchdown Tommy Brady. And Zac Taylor is still learning the sideline, but he's now 7-8-1 in his first 16 games with an actual quarterback running the show. Makes a tiny bit of difference.

One thing I secretly thought to myself before the season when considering the range of results for the campaign, it was equally as likely that the Bengals took a big thrust forward and won 10 or 11 that it was they took a smaller positive step and won seven or eight. A primary component of that was health, and so far (SLAMMING WOOD OVER AND OVER) they have trotted out the varsity this season.

Hey, Cincy is 5-2, with the Jets up next and then a bye, so I'm enjoying this crest before the wave inevitably crashes.

Dave Bernreuther: I thought this at the time too, but they just showed it again on NBC: The tackling on Ja'Marr Chase's catch-and-run touchdown earlier might be the worst tackling I can remember seeing in an NFL game. Never thought that'd be something I'd say about that Baltimore defense.

Kansas City Chiefs 3 at Tennessee Titans 27

Aaron Schatz: Within five minutes, both Kendrick Bourne of the Patriots and Derrick Henry of the Titans threw touchdown passes! I love non-quarterback touchdown passes.

Bryan Knowles: The other intriguing early game, Scott, is the Kansas City-Tennessee No-Defense All-Offense Bowl. I have two daily fantasy entries with near-identical rosters, just going with Derrick Henry in one and Patrick Mahomes in the other, and I'm counting on fireworks.

I was not counting on getting a passing touchdown from Derrick Henry, but that's how the scoring book opens in this one. I guess Henry really does want to push for that MVP—passing game more efficient? We can do that.

Bryan Knowles: This just in: the Titans have a non-Derrick Henry playmaker on offense. A.J. Brown—and I hope I'm pronouncing that correctly—was the star on a drive that just went 97 yards to give the Titans a 14-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. First, he snags a Ryan Tannehill bomb down the sideline with a great jumping, falling-down catch that was at first ruled incomplete basically just on incredulity ("No way anyone could have caught that."). A few plays later—including a shovel-end around for Brown to give Henry a bit of a rest, running-game wise—and Brown made another great grab in the end zone. Two notes: Tannehill threw a couple of dimes there, and MIke Hughes-on-Brown may not be the winning matchup Kansas City is hoping for.

Bryan Knowles: Patrick Mahomes just threw another interception, bouncing off of Josh Gordon. Some regression on bounced balls for Mahomes, but the statistical note here is that this is Mahomes' sixth straight game with an interception. That's the longest active streak, breaking the tie with the injured Zach Wilson. Mahomes has just 21 passing yards 23 minutes into this game, and the Chiefs are down 17-0. For the record, Mahomes has just one comeback from a 17-plus-point deficit, in the playoffs against the Texans a few years ago. Obviously, Mahomes is rarely down 17-plus points to have a chance at a comeback, but still...

Bryan Knowles: And the Titans convert the Mahomes interception into a touchdown, thanks to some questionable tackling by the Chiefs defense on Julio Jones (what should have been a 5-yard catch became a 20-yard gain, eventually leading to a Ryan Tannehill bootleg for a touchdown). The Chiefs are down 24-0, and while it's not over (I mean, look at who's under center for Kansas City), Bill O'Brien isn't walking through that door. Chiefs gotta get up and go in a hurry, or this one is getting booted from the TV.

Vince Verhei: Mahomes this year looks like Russell Wilson in the middle of last year, where his defense is so terrible he feels like he needs a touchdown on every drive, and so he's forcing balls to receivers who aren't open. To make matters worse, he probably DOES need to score a touchdown on every drive, because the Titans go 46 yards in eight plays with Ryan Tannehill running in a touchdown for a 24-0 lead. That's three touchdowns and a field goal in four drives for the Titans. They have racked up 259 yards and 17 first downs already, they're 5-for-6 on third downs, and they're averaging more than 7 yards per play. Kansas City's defense is almost helpless out there.

Aaron Schatz: Kansas City trying to prove singlehandedly that defense is in fact as predictive as offense and that turnovers are as predictable as yards.

Bryan Knowles: Barring a massive comeback, this game is getting flipped off. Patrick Mahomes' fumble sets up a long field goal for the Titans, and it's a 27-0 Tennessee lead at the half. I have no doubts Mahomes and the Chiefs could score 27 points in a half—hell, 37, 47, whatever, pick a number. But the Titans are just having their way with the Kansas City defense; the size of the lead is due to the turnovers, but I'm not sure the Chiefs could stop the Titans if they started from their own 1-inch line every drive.

The Titans lost to the Jets in Week 4, and we were talking about an NFC East-style division and losing record for the eventual champ. Now, they may have beaten the Bills and Chiefs in back-to-back weeks. Football, man.

Scott Spratt: It's a testament to the theory that if you can't be really good at least be really weird. It's hard to stop the Titans when you build a roster that's designed to stop the type of football that 30 or so of the other 31 teams in football play.

Tom Gower: It's 27-0. I have no idea how to process this. The Titans had the ball five times. They scored on all five possessions. Their worst drive was the two-minute drill, on a short field after the Mahomes fumble, and because they were out of timeouts and went leisurely (understandable up 24-0) they ended up kicking after a first-down sack. But for most of the first half they moved the ball easily and well. They have been converting on first and second down frequently, and the only actual stop by Kansas City on third down was before the other field goal drive (6-of-7 overall, but it's hard for me to begrudge that as exceptional with Tannehill 16-of-20 overall and hitting some excellent throws).

The real story is the other side of the ball, and Kansas City's near-complete inability to run the ball against a Titans defense that's playing the bottom of their cornerback depth chart. The comp I want to make now is to a team like the 2007 Patriots, where the biggest problem ultimately might have been the lack of a third key player in the pass game. It's really hard to cover the top two guys, but if you can concentrate your efforts there, the other guys won't beat you. And after the deflected ball interception thrown to Josh Gordon's frame, having that as a point of emphasis for one of the things going on with Kansas City's offense today makes sense to me.

Vince Verhei: Chiefs just missed a field goal down 27-3. I give up on this one.

Bryan Knowles: To add injury to insult, Patrick Mahomes just took a thigh to the face and has gotten up shakily. I don't know if he has a concussion or not, but there's no reason for him to come back into this game down 27-3.

Tom Gower: The Titans didn't score in the second half. The Chiefs ran 51 plays in the final 30 minutes, including 35 in the fourth quarter. Tennessee's attempt to force-feed Derrick Henry to get to 100 yards ended up with him falling short of that mark and also a tick under 3 yards per carry. None of it mattered. Those final two Chiefs possessions ended with zero points, meaning all those snaps resulted in two field goal attempts, one made and a 57-yarder sent well wide. This wasn't quite the first half, where the longest Kansas City gain featured a Travis Kelce lateral to get a total of 14 yards. Their longest play for the game was a 25-yarder on a fourth-and-8 to keep the first of the fourth-quarter drives going, but that was it. This was the second week in a row a Titans defense that in their losses had given up yards in huge chunks, particularly on passes outside the pocket, faced a young quarterback known for burning teams on precisely that kind of play, and didn't give up any of them. Buffalo still moved the ball reasonably well last week (even if not great down-to-down, as their lower-than-expected DVOA for the game suggested), so I'm not ready to say they're a good defense. But they had a really good game this week.

Atlanta Falcons 30 at Miami Dolphins 28

Scott Spratt: I'm thinking that whichever of the Dolphins' co-offensive coordinators scripts their opening drives is really good at it. The Dolphins just went 14 plays for 75 yards with a Tua Tagovailoa touchdown pass to Isaiah Ford. And last week in London, they started with a 13-play, 75-yard touchdown drive, and that was definitely the highlight of an eventual loss to the Jaguars.

Vince Verhei: Bad sequence for Miami in the second quarter. Jaylen Waddle suffers an ankle injury and is down for a while, but he did eventually walk off the field. But three plays later, Jason Sanders' 49-yard field goal try is blocked. Dolphins still lead 7-3.

Bryan Knowles: The Falcons cash in on the blocked kick with Calvin Ridley eventually getting into the end zone and giving the Falcons a 10-7 lead. Now, I'm not quite up on the new scheduling rules—it's a new clause that if you lose to both the Jaguars and the Falcons in back-to-back weeks, you're automatically relegated, right?

Vince Verhei: Waddle returned with catches for 7 and 19 yards after that Ridley touchdown. A facemask penalty on Atlanta put Miami in field goal range at the two-minute warning. But on second down, Tua Tagovailoa's pass to Durham Smythe in the end zone is intercepted. Nice play by the defender to jump the route but also a bad decision by Tagovailoa to throw into double-coverage.

Kyle Pitts then makes an absurd one-handed grab down the left sideline for a 36-yard gain.

That sets up a Younghoe Koo field goal and Atlanta leads 13-7 at halftime.

Vince Verhei: Russell Gage opens the second half with a long touchdown pass, and now the Dolphins will have to rally from behind, something they have failed to do this year despite plenty of practice.

Bryan Knowles: Gotta start somewhere, Vince. A bad punt from the Falcons gives the Dolphins the ball on their own 40, and Miami takes advantage of the short field, with Tagovailoa hitting Mike Gesicki in the end zone to cut the lead to 20-14. I haven't been watching this one much; has Tua attempted anything more than 3 yards down the field?

Vince Verhei: A little, Bryan, but the RPO slant is for sure the primary weapon in Miami's aerial attack.

Scott Spratt: It's probably tough to throw downfield with Will Fuller and DeVante Parker out. Oh, what ever happened with that Jaylen Waddle injury? Is he back playing?

Vince Verhei: Yeah, Waddle was back right away.

Bryan Knowles: Xavien Howard makes a great play, stealing the ball out of the receiver's hands for a much-needed turnover for the Dolphins! Sadly, on the very next play, Tua Tagovailoa throws one of the worst interceptions of the week, right to Foyesade Oluokun, who returns it into red zone. An ugly, ugly throw by Tua, and he's not looking like even the same guy he was as a rookie. A few plays later, Cordarrelle Patterson runs it into the end zone for the 27-14 lead. Not over yet, but Tagovailoa and the Dolphins need to get going, down 13 points with 12:51 left in the game.

Vince Verhei: I don't have a lot of faith in Miami winning this game, but I have lots of faith in Atlanta losing it. Last play of the third quarter, Miami is punting. Olamide Zaccheaus Is back to return, but he lets the bouncing ball go between his legs like a shortstop making an error on a ground ball. Somehow, he never touched the ball, so it's not a fumble. But that's OK, because three plays later Matt Ryan is intercepted and Miami takes over in field goal range.

But then THAT doesn't matter, because the very next play Foyesade Oluokon intercepts a pass over the middle intended for Waddle and returns it into the opposite red zone. That sets up Cordarrelle Patterson's 3-yard touchdown run and Atlanta goes up 27-14.

By the way, that's 10 carries for Patterson, including the goal-line tote, compared to two for Mike Davis and only one for Wayne Gallman. If there was any doubt, he's definitely Atlanta's top runner now.

Vince Verhei: That Tua pick was, in fact, cover-your-eyes awful.

Aaron Schatz: I have been a Tua defender. His numbers really are very average for a quarterback who still hasn't even started a full season's worth of NFL games. But yikes, that interception is horrendous.

Bryan Knowles: Credit where credit is due; Tagovailoa bounced back nicely on the ensuing drive to keep this game a contest. Some actual deep throws (shock!) to Durham Smythe and Mike Gesicki get things going, and that's enough to get the Falcons to play a little deeper, opening up more room for the short passing game. Gaskin goes into the end zone, and it's just a 27-21 Falcons lead...

Aaron Schatz: Just to rewind, Arthur Smith kicked an extra point in this game to go up 27-14 after a touchdown instead of trying for two to go up 28-14. He'll regret that if the Dolphins can come back and win 28-27.

Dave Bernreuther: That would be a very Falcony way to blow this, so I expect it to happen.

I expect it even more now that Matt Ryan just decided to tuck and run—with no shot whatsoever of success—on third-and-8 and fumbling the ball straight to the Dolphins.

Bryan Knowles: And, indeed, that extra-point decision comes back to haunt the Falcons! The Matt Ryan fumble gives the Dolphins the ball on Atlanta's side of the field, though they commit a couple of penalties to back themselves up immediately. But now, the screens and RPOs and dinks and dunks start to really gash the Falcons apart, with Jaylen Waddle and Salvon Ahmed gashing the Falcons on little passes. Tagovailoa is more impressive on passes to Gesicki and Mack Hollins to get into the red zone and the end zone, and it's 28-27 Dolphins with 2:27 left. Falcons are Falconing!

Bryan Knowles: The Falcons ~tried~ to Falcon, committing a false start as they lined up for the game-winning field goal, but with a stopped clock, it doesn't matter, and going from a 31- to a 36-yard field goal isn't going to change much. The kick is good, the Falcons win 30-28, and if the Dolphins' goose isn't cooked, it's at least roasting.

New York Jets 13 at New England Patriots 54

Aaron Schatz: Holes have been massive early for the Patriots' running game. Hard to tell how much of that is having four-fifths of the starting line healthy and how much is the Jets being the Jets, although run defense is something the Jets had been good at the last couple of years. (They're average this year.) Damien Harris with 59 yards in his first four carries, then a 1-yard touchdown to make it 14-0 Patriots and we're not even through eight minutes yet.

Aaron Schatz: Patriots have Zach Wilson on the run today. With the exception of a corner blitz that took Wilson down for a sack early, I think this is mostly coverage. Wilson seems to be constantly leaving the pocket and looking for receivers downfield. He has found them a couple of times, but had to throw it away even more times. Although now that I write this, he just drew a long pass interference penalty on Kyle Dugger and the Jets have the ball right up at the goal line down 17-0.

Bryan Knowles: They also have Zach Wilson on the ground; the trainers are looking at his left leg. Mike White is the backup; he has never played an NFL snap.

Aaron Schatz: Oh boy. Wilson was hurt on that deep DPI throw and Mike White is now in at quarterback for the Jets.

Bryan Knowles: And so Mike White's first career NFL pass? A touchdown. Might have been a wee bit of offensive pass interference on Corey Davis there, but there also may have been a wee bit of a late hit on Zach Wilson, so I suppose this crew is trying to keep the flags in their pockets. 17-7 Patriots in a game where the Jets have a lot more worries than a 10-point deficit.

Aaron Schatz: Patriots just took a 24-7 lead but I think you're seeing the weaknesses of this offense inside what has been a very successful day. They still don't really have receivers who can get separation downfield, not even Nelson Agholor. They're getting huge run lanes, the screens look good, the trick play was outstanding, and they scheme some guys open in the middle of the field on crosses. But when they try to throw downfield on the sidelines with a receiver just plain beating his defender down the field, it just isn't happening. But 24-7 with Mike White likely to be playing in his first regular-season NFL game for the next 35 minutes is a pretty nice place to be.

Aaron Schatz: 31-7 going to halftime and what is there to say, this is an ass-whipping and a much less surprising one than Tennessee's 27-0 lead over Kansas City. The Jets are a bad football team with a bad roster, period. The Patriots needed a nice dominating victory like this to improve morale after the close losses to Tampa Bay and Dallas, not to mention nearly losing to Houston. Mike White looks better than Zach Wilson so far, to be honest, but it's not a lot of plays to judge him on.

Carolina Panthers 3 at New York Giants 25

Scott Spratt: The Giants are missing Saquon Barkley, Kadarius Toney, Kenny Golladay, and Sterling Shepard today, but offensive coordinator Jason Garrett has accepted the challenge! He just ran play-action waggle three straight pass plays and hit tight ends Kyle Rudolph and Evan Engram for 18, 3, and 2 yards, the final of which went in for a maybe touchdown. Referees are checking to see if Rudolph stepped out there, but the Giants are either up 7-3 or will likely be after a quarterback sneak on the next couple of plays.

Scott Spratt: Just kidding! The Panthers stopped the Giants on second-and-1, third-and-1, and fourth-and-1 and took over on downs.

Vince Verhei: I have had a long week and weekend. I went to sleep this morning about seven hours before kickoff. I get my TVs on about midway through the first quarter. I see that Sam Darnold has completed five passes for a total of 19 yards. And then the Giants fail to score after getting first-and-goal at the 2, with Booker stuffed for a loss on fourth down, and I am strongly considering going back to bed.

Scott Spratt: Turn to a different game, Vince. It isn't worth it.

Scott Spratt: Sam Darnold just double-clutched and then hit an offensive lineman in the back throwing away from pressure while standing in his own end zone. Yep, that's a safety. It's 3-2 Panthers, and this game is exactly what you'd expect it to be.

Vince Verhei: It's not just that Darnold threw a pass to an ineligible lineman—he threw a pass to an ineligible offensive lineman who had already been knocked down at the line of scrimmage. Oh, it was third-and-9 too.

With all the bye weeks, Scott, if I turn this game off, there's nothing to replace it.

I might turn it off anyway.

Scott Spratt: Let's check in on Sam Darnold on a second-and-24 in field goal range when every quarterback has to know to safeguard a chance at a field goal.

Bryan, rank these Jets-related quarterbacks: Darnold, Zach Wilson, and Mike White.

Bryan Knowles: Oh, that's easy. Wilson, White, Darnold.

... oh, you mean in terms of football ability? Uh ... I'll take the cyanide pill, please, thank you.

Vince Verhei: Serious question: when do they go to P.J. Walker? This is a playoff-caliber defense going to waste.

Scott Spratt: I regret to inform you that the Panthers picked up Sam Darnold's fifth-year option after they traded for him, so they have him with an $18.8-million cap hit next season.

But I wouldn't know what to do anyway. Darnold's good is very good and his bad is very bad. I guess that's how he made it to a second team in the first place. When you watch him do something like lead last week's 96-yard touchdown drive in a minute and a half to force overtime, it makes you question whether he's as bad as his statistics suggest.

Scott Spratt: If you like non-quarterback touchdown passes, can I interest you in a quarterback reception? The Giants ran a Philly Special!

I enjoy the creativity on a day when the Giants are missing all of their normal receiver starters. I don't love setting Jones up for a massive hit after the awful concussion he suffered two weeks ago.

Vince Verhei: Thanks for sharing that, Scott. Between the one-handed grab and surviving the big hit, that may be the best catch we see all day.

Scott Spratt: The Panthers pulled Sam Darnold with 12:37 left in the fourth quarter. So question answered, Vince!

Scott Spratt: P.J. Walker is 0-for-5 passing in relief of Sam Darnold. So there may be bigger problems for the Panthers.

Devontae Booker just ran in a touchdown on a short field coming off a failed fourth-down conversion. The Giants are up 25-3, and this one is over.

Vince Verhei: To be fair to Walker, not ALL of his plays have been incomplete passes. He has also been sacked twice.

Yeah, they're stuck. Trading away Teddy Bridgewater and bringing in Darnold torpedoed their season.

Scott Spratt: Well I doubt Bridgewater would have helped. But he wouldn't have cost the Panthers $19 million and a second-round draft pick next season!

Vince Verhei: Bridgewater came into the week 12th in DVOA, 13th in DYAR. Obviously he'll drop after the Thursday game, but he has basically been an average starter this year, more or less what he has been most of his career. Darnold has been an unmitigated disaster, just like he was in 2020 and 2019 and 2018. I wouldn't want Bridgewater as my franchise quarterback, but this Panthers team would be a lock for a wild-card berth if they still had him.

Bryan Knowles: Plus, if they hadn't gone to get Darnold, they may have decided to draft Fields or Jones to replace Bridgewater, too.

Scott Spratt: Not taking Fields was the major mistake. There's no point in lowering your ceiling to a double-digit loss in the wild-card round. But the Panthers look to be set back a few years by not taking Fields. There's just no path to an upgrade in 2022 with the poor projected rookie class of quarterbacks.

Washington Football Team 10 at Green Bay Packers 24

Bryan Knowles: We haven't talked about this game much yet, so let me be the first to say the Packers' 1950s throwbacks are a thing of beauty.

We probably won't be talking about this game much more, as Rodgers finds Robert Tonyan to expand the Packers' lead to 21-7—not quite in the same bracket as some of the other blowouts going on, but kind of sliding in that direction. But those uniforms are great, and I had to mention it before things got out of hand.

Dave Bernreuther: I'll talk a bit about it, Bryan, and I'll start by disagreeing with you: these throwbacks are weird, inaccurate (though that's the fault of the single-helmet rule, not the Packers), and most importantly they don't make any sense. From what I can tell, the Packers wore all-green three times in a 3-9 1950 season, including losses of 51-7 and 45-7, and four times in a 2-9-1 1953 season, which also included a blowout loss.

It's not as bad as it would be if the 2070 Detroit Lions were to wear 2008 throwbacks, I guess, but when you're a team that doesn't need throwbacks to begin with, but you've had a rich history of success in the past that you can throw back to, what on earth are you doing wearing throwbacks to two- and three-win seasons?

Also, the Packers finally have their first red zone stop(s) of the season! It took a dumb call, ruling that Taylor Heinecke gave himself up by diving head-first, and a dropped pass, but the Football Team failed twice on fourth-and-goal and so we're into the fourth quarter now in a game that I have spent more time watching than I should, given the interesting one in Baltimore.

Bryan Knowles: Dave, if teams could only wear throwbacks to times they were good, the Cardinals would never be able to wear throwbacks ever! This is not the kind of world I want to live in.

Detroit Lions 19 at Los Angeles Rams 28

Scott Spratt: There's just a still screen of the Rams and Lions logos showing on my Sunday Ticket, so I thought maybe there was a delay or something. But, nope, Jared Goff just had a revenge game touchdown to D'Andre Swift to build a 7-0 lead. Maybe they didn't bother to bring cameras? I wouldn't blame them.

Bryan Knowles: And after the long Swift touchdown, the Lions go for the surprise onside kick, and recover it! Dan Campbell, playing some David-Goliath ball early.

Scott Spratt: My feed fixed just in time to see the Lions on-side kick and recover after a Rams player botched it. God I love Dan Campbell.

Dave Bernreuther: Surprise onside kick alert!

Dan Campbell correctly deploys the David strategy on the road after going ahead on a brilliant catch-and-run by D'Andre Swift (on what looked like a pretty bad pass from Goff) and the Lions are in Rams territory again already with a lead.

Vince Verhei: KNEECAPS.

The long Swift touchdown (which was also a long, swift touchdown):

Bryan Knowles: And now a fake punt! Empty the playbook, Dan!

Dave Bernreuther: David Strategy, part two: after a penalty and some more bad Goff, the Lions are back on their own side of the field, forced to punt, and … I'm not about to say that Jack Fox is the best quarterback on the Lions so far today or anything, but that was a heck of a throw for a punter.

Vince Verhei: That field goal drive after the onside kick was the first time this year that the Lions offense has taken the field with a lead.

Vince Verhei: Jared Goff just became the second quarterback of the day to throw a pass right to an ineligible lineman. At least this lineman was open and could have gained some YAC if he had caught it. And if that was legal.

Bryan Knowles: Well, that was fun while it lasted. The Rams have taken the lead on a bubble screen to Cooper Kupp. Since their dice-rolling start, the Lions have reverted into a lot of runs on second-and-long. You gotta keep up the David strategy all the way through the game, Dan!

Aaron Schatz: Lions just ran their second fake punt of the day, direct snap to personal protector C.J. Moore who ran a left sweep for a first down. Dan Campbell pulling out all the tricks to try to win this game.

Aaron Schatz: Lions get D'Andre Swift stuffed at the line on third-and-1, hurry back to the line, and run the exact same play, which gets Swift stuffed on fourth-and-1. Suboptimal play calling there.

Tom Gower: The Lions using D'Andre Swift there confuses me. They also have Jamaal Williams, who's a better runner overall and a better inside runner in particular unless I have missed something. You have multiple running backs; use them in the role where they're best.

Aaron Schatz: It's OK, the Lions got the Rams back by Julian Okwara deflecting a fourth-and-1 pass to Tyler Higbee so now the Lions have the ball at their own 46. First fourth-down stop for the Lions all season.

Bryan Knowles: The last competitive game of the afternoon window just saw the Rams re-take the lead as Cooper Kupp has seemed to single-handedly decide that no, the Lions will not be pulling off this upset. That last drive saw him with catches of 14, 59, and 5 yards, plus the touchdown at the end. He's up to 156 yards, and we still have 14 minutes left in this game.

Aaron Schatz: Lions were 2-for-10 on third downs until this drive. They're 4-for-4 on this drive now, trying to come back from a 25-19 deficit. Goff is throwing all kinds of short passes, nothing deep, but they're moving the ball. Now down at the Rams 12.

Aaron Schatz: And, as soon as I send that email, Jared Goff throws a pick to Jalen Ramsey covering T.J. Hockenson at the goal line. Rams ball.

Vince Verhei: Lions had eight carries for 44 yards on that drive. Rams have 12 carries for 26 yards in this game.

Aaron Schatz: Rams can't convert a third-and-1 to ice it but they do kick a long field goal to go up by nine and that should be the ballgame. Odds were that one of the big underdogs would at least cover today, and the winner is Detroit!

Dave Bernreuther: The Rams are a better team than the Lions either way, but even on what didn't seem like Stafford's best day to me, the difference in quarterback play in this game was obvious. Even with the three successful trick plays, the Lions will still fall to 0-7, barring a miracle, but I will say that they're a pretty impressive bad team from what I have seen. I thought both backs, particularly D'Andre Swift, looked really good, and the defense is definitely playing hard.

As critical as I have always been of Goff, the worst quarterback in this broadcast was actually in the booth: Mark Sanchez. He seemed really unprepared, often couldn't find words, and made excuse after excuse for both quarterbacks, including the late Ramsey pick that he repeatedly blamed on Aaron Donald's pressure (which didn't hurt, of course) when it was clear that Goff was going to make that throw either way, and that it was a bad decision. I caught a bit of Sanchez's work earlier in the season and wrote it off to inexperience, but he hasn't gotten any better with another month of work.

Philadelphia Eagles 22 at Las Vegas Raiders 33

Vince Verhei: Thinking about Derrik Klassen's Film Room piece on the new, aggressive Derek Carr. Third-and-15 on the Raiders' first drive. Zay Jones runs a fly route down the right sideline. He's not open, there's a corner running with him step-for-step, but Carr takes a shot anyway, and Jones wins the jump ball for a 43-yard gain.

Unfortunately the timid version of Carr showed up in the red zone. Third-and-5, he throws a little dumpoff to Jalen Richard that has little chance of a conversion. Worse, the ball skips off of Richard's hands and into Avonte Maddox's for an interception. Eagles lead 7-0 on a Kenneth Gainwell catch-and-run touchdown on the game's opening drive.

Bryan Knowles: Foster Moreau got a surprise start with Darren Waller out. Fortunately, Moreau is a pretty darn good player, and just made a great back-shoulder catch for a touchdown to tie things at seven apiece.

Vince Verhei: As Mike Tanier noted, the Eagles have been extremely pass-wacky this year. Now Miles Sanders has left this game, carted off with an ankle injury. They may not hand off again.

So of course, their first play after the Moreau touchdown is a handoff to Gainwell for a gain of 1.

Scott Spratt: Moreau's receiving DVOA by season: 29.6% on 25 targets in 2019, 78.5% on nine targets in 2020, and 39.4% on six targets entering this week. I think he's good, too, Bryan. Makes you wonder why the Raiders brought Jason Witten in last year. Or it would if the Raiders didn't do that sort of thing all the time.

Vince Verhei: Raiders lead 17-7 at halftime and the story has been Carr's near-perfect precision. He has completed 21 of 23 passes, and of the two he "missed," one hit a receiver in the hands before being intercepted, and the other he was hit as he threw. Eagles haven't done much since their opening touchdown drive: two punts, one lost Gainwell fumble, 52 total yards.

Scott Spratt: Jalen Hurts is doing his usual fourth-quarter garbage time act. After falling behind 30-7, Hurts had led back-to-back extended drives for 59 and 75 yards and touchdowns. The only upset is he didn't run either of the touchdowns in himself. Boston Scott ran in the first one with Miles Sanders out injured. And Hurts threw the other one to Jalen Reagor.

The game remains out of reach at 33-22 Raiders with less than three minutes left.

Chicago Bears 3 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 38

Bryan Knowles: I had to pick a game to be the main one in this lackluster late game schedule, and I'm going with the local team. The complete Bears experience, to this point:

  • Khalil Herbert stuffed.
  • Justin Fields sacked and fumbles, but the Bears fall on top of it.
  • 6-yard pass on third-and-16!
  • A decent punt, but the Bucs return it to just outside the red zone.
  • Pass interference, moving the ball just inside the red zone.
  • 15-yard run by Leonard Fournette, as the seas part.
  • 2-yard touchdown from Fournette. 7-0 Buccaneers lead.

This might be a long day.

Bryan Knowles: The Buccaneers' secondary has been decimated by injuries this year, but playing rookies is a good way to ride out those kinds of issues. Justin Fields is intercepted by a "D. Delaney." I had to go look up his first name, and, well, Justin Fields was intercepted by Dee Delaney. Fair enough.

With Antonio Brown out, Chris Godwin has been getting more work—and how many teams would love to go "oh no, we don't have Brown, I guess we'll have to run with Chris Godwin." Godwin picks up the 599th touchdown pass of Tom Brady's career, it's 14-0 Tampa Bay, and if the Bears can't get some offense going posthaste, I think I can stop paying attention to this one and look at the brewing issues in the NFC West.

Aaron Schatz: It looks like Justin Fields has trouble identifying blitzers but his strip-sack near the end of the first quarter wasn't a problem with blitzers. Backup right tackle Lachavious Simmons just got beat easily around the corner by Shaq Barrett. Tampa Bay has had three of its four drives today start on the Chicago 32, Chicago 40, and now the Chicago 35.

Dave Bernreuther: A Shaq Barrett sack of Justin Fields gives the Bucs offense their third start inside the Bears 40 of the first quarter. They had a tall order in front of them in this game already; the turnovers and long punt return sure aren't helping matters.

Aaron Schatz: And Mike Evans catches a slant for Tom Brady's 600th touchdown, this is now 21-0 Buccaneers.

Bryan Knowles: And there's touchdown pass No. 600, Brady-to -vans. I'm flipping off of this one now for obvious reasons, but it's good to step back and remember occasionally just how amazing Brady's career has been to this point.

Right, on to competitive football games elsewhere.

Scott Spratt: It's 21-0 Bucs with six seconds left in the first quarter. They might have whiffed on making this the FOX game of the week. Even the Texans-Cardinals and Lions-Rams games look interesting with the early underdog scores.

Carl Yedor: Chicago looks totally overmatched here. They have moved the ball a bit, but when they get to third down, the Bucs' pressure packages are making it really hard on Fields. In an ideal world, the Bears would be able to run the ball to shorten the game a bit and play to Fields' strengths moving him around, but now that they're down 21, it is going to be difficult for them to convince the Bucs that something other than a pass is coming. That said, running against Tampa Bay isn't exactly an easy task, so they're really stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Aaron Schatz: Justin Fields gets stripped again, and it was another blown block by Simmons, the backup right tackle. This time on Jason Pierre-Paul.

J.P. Acosta: Nothing going right for the Bears offense. Justin Fields is strip-sacked by Jason Pierre-Paul and it's recovered by Shaq Barrett, who then fumbled and Devin White picks it up. Yeesh.

Scott Spratt: The update on this game is that Justin Fields has now taken the most sacks of all quarterbacks this year even though he didn't start the first two weeks.

Scott Spratt: The broadcast just pointed out that Tom Brady has thrown six straight incompletions, tied for the longest streak of his career. That 600th touchdown pass may not be the only record set today.

Aaron Schatz: Fourth-and-4 at midfield, Bears go for it. Bucs bring five, Fields again can't find an open man, tries to scramble, sacked. Bears offense looks terrible. I think it's time to switch games.

J.P. Acosta: Tom Brady has four passing touchdowns in the first half, three to Mike Evans, and they go into halftime up 35-3. Do they have mercy rules in the NFL? Because we might need it.

Carl Yedor: In recent years there has been some discussion about whether one of Brady's favorite targets in New England (Julian Edelman) deserved Hall of Fame consideration. I'm not trying to restart that very tired debate, but I was chatting with one of my Bears fan friends who I am watching this game with about whether Mike Evans may end up having a case at the Hall of Fame when all is said and done. Pro Football Reference has him as not close looking at the HOF monitor, and I ended up falling on the side of him having a lot of work to do. His biggest problem has been that while he has been very productive throughout his career, racking up at least 1,000 receiving yards in every season (he's on pace to do that again this year), he has never had a single season in which he was one of the clear two or three best receivers in football. He has a number of seasons where he was in the five-to eight range, but that likely won't get it done if we're talking about gold jackets.

Dave Bernreuther: I feel bad for the Bears defense. They showed a ton of heart on a goal-line stand when the score was 35-3 and the final score of this game will not be indicative of their level of play at all. While they didn't really ever get anything resembling a pass rush, they also faced *six* short fields because of the offense (and one long return). Five of the six scores allowed came on drives starting on those short fields. That's not at all a recipe for success. Not just against the Bucs, but against anybody.

Houston Texans 5 at Arizona Cardinals 31

Vince Verhei: It's very, very early, but Arizona's offense has gone backwards way too often on their first two drives. Their first possession was killed by a second-and-10 sack that set up a third-and-forever. Second possession started with an aborted snap (do a shot!) on first down and then another sack on second down. That's two possessions, two punts, 14 total yards of offense.

Vince Verhei: Cardinals go backwards again, and this time it shows up on the scoreboard. A Texans punt pins them at the 2, and on first down Kyler Murray fakes a handoff and tried to get out around left end. Texans are not fooled and Murray is tackled in the end zone for a safety. Houston, an 18-point underdog, is now up 2-0. Worse, Murray was slow to get up, though he's still on the sideline and will get a chance to recover after a free kick.

Vince Verhei: Ka'imi Fairbairn hit a 53-yard field goal to put Houston up 5-0, then Murray took the field for Arizona after the ensuing kickoff.

Vince Verhei: Murray has DeAndre Hopkins wide open for a score on a corner route but throws the ball a mile over his head. That sets up a fourth-and-2, and Murray converts that with a short completion to Christian Kirk. Second-and-goal from the 5, they get way too cute with an end-around to Zach Ertz, who has been on the roster for like an hour. Ertz fumbles and Houston recovers, but replay reverses the call and gives the ball back to Arizona at the 1. And finally, 20-plus minutes into the game, the Cardinals get on the scoreboard with a Hopkins touchdown grab. Cards go up 7-5.

Bryan Knowles: For a minute there, it looked like the Texans had pulled off a goal-line stand, as a running play to Zach Ertz (?) resulted in a fumble at the goal line. But, no, Ertz was well down by contact, the Cardinals keep the ball, score on the next play, and it's 7-5, Arizona, as the weird scores continue.

Scott Spratt: A jumbo jet sweep?? It's the best play, Bryan. Although apparently not that time if Ertz fumbled.

Vince Verhei: Cardinals go backwards again, but since they are the Cardinals (and they're playing the Texans), it barely matters. Penalties push them back to a third-and-23, so Murray just goes deep to A.J. Green for a 41-yard gain. That sets up a Murray-to-Kirk touchdown pass and a 14-5 lead for Arizona.

Bryan Knowles: The Texans gave up a third-and-23, with A.J. Green going for 41 yards. When you can't stop your opponent on third-and-23, it's going to be a long day. Cardinals up 14-5.

Vince Verhei: The Texans are doing one thing well today, and that is harassing Kyler Murray. They held him to 4 rushing yards in the first half and sacked him, officially, three times. They had another sack wiped out by a roughing the passer foul. Arizona still reached the red zone on their last drive, but with no timeouts and possibly fearing another sack, they made the curious decision to kick a field goal on third down with nine seconds left. A very conservative decision, but it put them up 17-5.

And it's hard to fault them for being conservative, because it's hard to envision a scenario where Houston gets 12 points in the second half. Davis Mills is having a very useless 10-of-12 passing day—only four of those completions have moved the sticks, and the Texans have yet to convert a third down. Their longest drive of the half gained only 25 yards. At this point, the only drama left is whether the Cardinals can make enough mistakes to save those of us who took the Texans and 18 points.

Tom Gower: 17-5 at the half. As noted, Houston's defensive line has had some success. Arizona has made some mistakes of their own on offense. But Houston has looked incapable of stringing more than three good plays together on offense, and most of the time they don't even get that far. That makes it awfully hard to score. One-score games are definitionally not over until one team is kneeling it out, but this one felt over when Arizona went up 14-5 in the second quarter.

Bryan Knowles: Probably took a little bit longer than expected for Arizona to put this one in the bag, but I'm not sure the Texans could close an 18-point gap if they had a full 60 minutes. And always had the football. And were playing against backups.

Zach Ertz's 47-yard touchdown now makes him Arizona's leading receiver on the day; not bad for someone who showed up last week.

Vince Verhei: The Texans just punted on fourth-and-2 down 24-5 in the third quarter.

Vince Verhei: The Texans intercept Murray and take over in Arizona territory. Two short completions set up a third-and-1. Mills is then flagged for illegal motion (?) and is penalized 4 yards (?????????). So it's third-and-5, they try a wide receiver screen, it loses 4 yards, and they punt on fourth-and-9 down 19 points on the Cardinals half of the field.

Contract this team.

Vince Verhei: Texans get another sack and a good punt return and start in Arizona territory again. They go run for 2, completion for 1, run for 2 to bring up fourth-and-5. They finally go for it, and Mills had Brandin Cooks wide open for the first down … and Cooks drops it. Mills is now 18-of-23 for exactly 100 yards. Ugh.

Colt McCoy has been warming up, but Murray's still in the game for Arizona.

Rivers McCown: Thanks, I hated it.

Indianapolis Colts 30 at San Francisco 49ers 18

Bryan Knowles: Wondering what the weather conditions will be like tonight? Wonder no more.

Dave Bernreuther: I have been excited all week to see this matchup of smartly coached West Coast offenses that love tight ends, and the miserable weather out there initially put a damper on that enthusiasm ... but as a Colts fan, I have decided that this is actually a good thing, because it likely helps their defense, which I don't think would've had all that easy a time stopping the 49ers, given the way they have been playing lately. They'll still have the slippery surface to contend with, of course, but I think it might limit the Jimmy Garoppolo-Trey Lance combination a bit more than it could limit Carson Wentz.

Safe to assume that this is the first NFL meeting between two North Dakota State quarterbacks? Or does the preseason Lance-Easton Stick matchup count?

Bryan Knowles: If you were counting on seeing Trey Lance or George Kittle, Dave, then I hate to rain on your parade, but both are hurt!

Dave Bernreuther: I feel like I should have known that about Lance ... but I did not.

Bryan Knowles: If you listen to 49ers fans, the sky is falling and everyone is doomed—never mind they were still in the top dozen in DVOA, and will be tied for a wild-card spot if they win this game. A drive like the one the 49ers had to open the game will help calm a lot of nerves, as Elijah Mitchell (healthy once again) just ran all over the Colts, despite both Kittle and Trent Williams being out tonight.

Of course, the extra point is missed because San Francisco fans need something to worry about, so it's just a 6-0 lead.

Scott Spratt: I'll give Kyle Shanahan the early edge against the Colts' No. 1 DVOA run defense. The 49ers absolutely gashed that defense on an eight-play opening drive. Running back Elijah Mitchell contributed 57 of the 78 yards and scored the touchdown.

Bryan Knowles: Coming into today, the 49ers had only recovered three of 14 fumbles (offense and defense combined). That wasn't going to stay that bad, and indeed, Jonathan Taylor fumbles on the Colts' first play from scrimmage, and the 49ers fall on top.

Scott Spratt: Also apologies in advance, Bryan, for Joey Slye. That was his ninth missed extra point in 81 career attempts. That's more than 10%! At least he can blame the weather tonight. These teams should go for two exclusively tonight.

Dave Bernreuther: And just as I expected, the weather has helped the Colts … just shy of 10 yards a play allowed on defense, a lost fumble on the first play on offense. Brilliant! (Now where's that bottle of wine…)

Scott Spratt: Heavy rain increases rushing fumble rate by 132% per attempt. That may not be the only fumble we see tonight.

Scott Spratt: After that fumble recovery and another 12-yard Elijah Mitchell carry, the 49ers threw three straight passes and did not gain a yard. Thanks for keeping the game close early, I guess? It's 9-0 49ers.

Bryan Knowles: Also keep things close: Josh Norman, who is washed. Michael Pittman burned him for a 50-yard reception, on a play where Norman committed pass interference and still failed to slow him down in any meaningful way!

Dave Bernreuther: Carson Wentz—who I too think has looked more than capable in the last two weeks—stepped up in the pocket to evade a pretty fierce rush and unleashed a great-looking deep ball to Michael Pittman, who was briefly held on his break back to the middle of the field but caught the ball anyway. Not that I'm complaining about the result, but on replay I'd have been more willing to call pass interference on Pittman himself than on Norman, as he pretty clearly extended his arm and held Norman off in order to create the space for the catch.

Two plays later and Mo Alie-Cox goes in. Excellent recovery from the first-play disaster for the Colts.

Scott Spratt: What do you think Carson Wentz's plan was on this shovel pass?

Bryan Knowles: I think the ball was clearly slipping out of his hand, so I can only assume it's "flip the ball to the ground to avoid taking the sack from Nick Bosa wrapped around my ankle."

Sometimes, you just have to accept the negative play and not try to do something crazy, and that was something crazy.

Scott Spratt: I can't tell whether the rain is saving Wentz from six interceptions tonight or contributing to his bad throws. But after not seeing much of Wentz during the recent groundswell of opinion that maybe he has turned a corner in recent weeks in Indianapolis, I'll say he looks like the exact same player he was in Philadelphia last year to me tonight. He just can't help himself from trying too much on broken plays.

Dave Bernreuther: He had previously limited that, Scott. But man did that play undo a lot of that. That was terrible.

Nyheim Hines just dropped a perfect dime of a pass from Wentz on third-and-7, though ... can't fault the quarterback for that.

Aaron Schatz: I'm not sure what to say about Brandon Aiyuk's muffed punt that he kicked into the end zone for a touchback. It's a strange rule, but I understand it. Aiyuk had to recover, it's not enough to just kick it into the end zone or the Colts could recover it in the end zone and I think that would be a touchdown. (You can't advance a muffed punt if you recover it as the punting team, but you can recover it in the end zone.)

Bryan Knowles: The sheer number of dropped balls, muffed balls, fumbles, etc. is getting crazy. This game is going to come down to who can hold hold onto a slippery ball the best during this downpour.

The Colts get one back from the 49ers as Darius Leonard punches the ball free from Deebo Samuel to give the Colts the ball on the 49ers' side of the field. Yet Another Pass Interference moves the ball to the 1, and eventually Wentz run it in for the touchdown. The two-point conversion fails, but the Colts now take the lead, 13-12.

Vince Verhei: The Colts got a first-and-goal at the 1 via penalty with 1:54 to go. It was nigh-inevitable they would score, but with three timeouts, San Francisco could at least guarantee their own offense a chance to answer before halftime.

The Colts did indeed score, on third down. Their two-point attempt failed, leaving them up 13-12. The 49ers still had three timeouts and a minute left on the clock, plenty of time to move into field goal range.

The 49ers got the ball after the kickoff and called three runs and ran out the clock. They still have all three timeouts. Does Kyle Shanahan think they carry over into the second half? Or next week?

Bryan Knowles: It should be noted that all 20 points the Colts have scored tonight have come off of pass interference penalties. The "underthrow the ball and trust the 49ers' secondary to screw up" play is undefeated!

Carl Yedor: To Vince's point on the 49ers' clock management, San Francisco probably thinks there is a larger chance of a turnover going the other direction than actually mounting a fast-scoring drive in the horrendous weather. Which, based on how the first half went, may not be quite as cowardly as it usually is.

Vince Verhei: Yes, and nothing we have seen in the second half has indicated that Shanahan SHOULD have trusted his offense. But man, you're out here playing the game anyway, just TRY to win.

Bryan Knowles: I don't think we've heard the 49ers' offense booed since Shanahan came on. I know it's a rainstorm, I know all the extenuating circumstances, but if you consider yourself an offensive expert, you can't settle for this level of performance. It's not like the game is over or anything, and I'm certainly not calling for Nate Sudfeld to come into the game, but ... this can't stand, right?

Bryan Knowles: And, as I start venting my Garoppolo frustration, the 49ers have their best drive in ... three weeks? Depending on how you consider the opening drive in this one, I suppose. It's all schemed-up plays, with Garoppolo finding open receivers, but he found them, and they gained yards, and they scored, so I guess that shuts me up for a few minutes at least. Two-point conversion fails, so the Colts still lead, but it's now 20-18.

Aaron Schatz: Niners now 1-for-11 on third downs tonight.

Bryan Knowles: That last x-for-1 came on Garoppolo's signature play: the interception that gets you tearing your hair out. The Colts turn that into a touchdown, with Michael Pittman outjumping Dre Kirkpatrick (in because of yet another secondary injury).

If Trey Lance is healthy, he has to start next week in Chicago. Something has to change.

Dave Bernreuther: Pretty sure Carson Wentz just threw Michael Pittman closed—that end zone camera angle that showed the defensive backs cheat up on the fake wide receiver screen made it clear that a throw to the pylon would have been uncontested—but Pittman high-pointed the ball and caught it anyway.

At least they didn't interfere with him, I guess ... so a small victory there, Bryan?

Turns out that outside of that first drive, maybe I wasn't too far off with that comment about the weather helping the Colts more than it helps the 49ers.

Comments

80 comments, Last at 27 Oct 2021, 11:38am

1 Muffed

That punt never would have reached the end zone without Aiyuk kicking it. The ball clearly sped up after that kick, which seems like the definition of new impetus.

2 I don’t disagree with you,…

In reply to by PackerPete

I don’t disagree with you, but I was also wondering why it wasn’t a safety under this reasoning: the 49er returner eventually picked up the ball and tried to come out of the end zone and was tackled. If you pick up the ball in the Endzone and try to bring it out, isn’t that a safety on a punt or a kickoff?

6 My best guess after looking…

My best guess after looking at the rule book is that the kick should have counted as “impetus”. However, there is another rule that if the returner gets possession of the ball on the field of play, but his momentum takes him into the end zone, it’s a touchback. 
 

I don’t think it was a “muff” because he never was close to possession. Since he touched it, the Colts could have recovered it. If he hadn’t grabbed it outside the end zone, it would have been a safety. 
 

It doesn’t “feel” like it should have been a touchback, but I’ll just add it to the list of things that shouldn’t be a touchback along with the offense fumbling the ball out through the back of the opponents end zone. 

13 Touchbacks require the…

Touchbacks require the impetus to come from the opposing team - it's in the definition of touchback. 

But the NFL's definition of impetus is... well, complete bullcrap. They use physics-y terms but interpret them super-weird because otherwise it leads to really problematic things, and instead of special-casing the bizarre parts, they... twist things. Here Aiyuk clearly caused the impetus, so you'd have to twist things in new and interesting ways.

Like, for instance, a blocked punt that goes backwards out of the end zone when a team's backed up on their own goal line. That's a safety. The problem is that if you believe the definitions the NFL gives ("impetus is the action of a player that gives momentum to the ball" along with "a touchback is the  situation  in  which  a  ball  is  dead  on  or  behind  a  team’s  own  goal  line,  provided  the  impetus came  from  an  opponent") - it should be a touchback where the team who punted gets the ball back. Because the opposing team acted (blocked) to give momentum to the ball.

The NFL handwaves around this saying "oh, they didn't give momentum to the ball, they just changed its direction" (causing every physicist's head to explode). Which, of course, also means that if the ball's heading out of bounds on a punt, the returner can just swat it freely inbounds into the end zone and grab it there. Hence the stupidity - they should just special-case kick blocks and let momentum mean momentum.

I don't know how you would handwave your way around this situation, though. Maybe they'd handwave again and say "oh he didn't give momentum to the ball, he just added it" (causing every linguist's head to explode).

15 Ah, crap, the NFL rules do…

Ah, crap, the NFL rules do have a "get out of jail free" card here: the "momentum" from an offensive impulse doesn't end until the ball comes to rest or nearly to rest.

Which, I mean, is utter freaking nonsense (punt returners can run into the ball to move it so long as they don't intentionally swat at the ball), but hey, there you go.

8 yes

In reply to by PackerPete

Yes, that should have been a safety.  Aiyuk kicked the ball.  Without that kick, the football would not have reached the end zone.

Worse was the explanation by the commentators that just pretended Aiyuk didn't kick the ball, and that it reached the end zone solely from the momentum of the punt.

The rule cited clearly states that an illegal kick counts as impetus.  Now without parsing whether a penalty should have been called since the kick was not "intentional", I just don't see any way to call that a touchback.

14 Yes, that should have been a…

In reply to by RickD

Yes, that should have been a safety. 

By any sane viewing, sure. But sadly the NFL rules have wacko definitions.

Aiyuk kicked the ball. 

Illegal kicks require intent ("No  player  may  deliberately  kick"). There's no clear intent there.

just pretended Aiyuk didn't kick the ball, and that it reached the end zone solely from the momentum of the punt.

NFL "momentum" isn't the same thing as physics "momentum." Otherwise blocked punts out of an end zone wouldn't be safeties. Frustratingly, you also have the wacko definition:

The  Impetus  is  attributed  to  the  offense  except  when  the  ball  is  sent  in  touch  through  a  new  momentum  when the  defense  muffs  a  ball  which  is  at  rest,  or  nearly  at  rest,

in other words, since the ball was still moving when it hit Aiyuk, it was carried into the end zone solely due to momentum, caused by the impetus of the offense. Because it's not clear that Aiyuk intentionally kicked the ballit's functionally the same thing as a punt bouncing off his helmet.

68 Holy Roller?

So a Ken Stabler/Dave Casper quality holy roller play where a punt returner bobbles and bumbles and "accidentally" bats the ball out of the EZ from the rewards him with a touchback?  Sounds like that's wat the rules say, which is wrong.

71 Yup. Can't advance it, but…

In reply to by Bobman

Yup. Can't advance it, but so long as you just kinda corral and move it backwards, all good. Can't let it stop, though, that would Be Bad.

This isn't that obvious an issue because it's *very* rare that a returner can be running backwards towards a punt with no one from the kicking team around.

3 "The "underthrow the ball…

"The "underthrow the ball and trust the 49ers' secondary to screw up" play is undefeated!"

I find it unlikely that it was drawn up that way. However, it strikes me that chucking it deep and hoping is a very good option in those conditions, rather than persistently small-balling it and waiting for the inevitable fumbles/handling errors.  

The 49ers didn't push the ball downfield at all, and achieved nothing on offence after the first drive (which was before conditions deteriorated). Maybe the Colts just got lucky a few times and this is results bias, but it's a good example (I think) of how, in extreme conditions, some lateral thinking with play-calling is required. 

26 Colts have been chucking it…

Colts have been chucking it deep quite a bit since TY came back and SF had a bazillion PI penalties even before this game, so I'd bet everything (except intentionally underthrowing) was already in the game plan even before the rain.

30 Oh yes, I'm not doubting the…

Oh yes, I'm not doubting the initial gameplan involved some deep-passing. The skepticism was aimed towards specifically targeting PI as a strategy.

My observation was that, traditionally, such conditions might dictate not slinging the ball down the field. Completing deep passes is obviously made more difficult in a rainstorm. But once you factor in the possibility of PI, and - crucially - the increased likelihood of incompletion/fumbling on regular, more conservative plays, passing deep can become attractive once again.

There were other factors, but a key difference in the game last night came down to the Colts attempting some deep balls, whilst the 49ers didn't. 

4 Window is closed

Cincy has always done well against the Ravens — Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh had many big days, and Baltimore could never cover A.J. Green before all the injuries. And now the purple are probably thinking, "Oh man, that window is closed with Chase in Cincinnati."

Speaking as a Ravens fan: Yep, that's exactly what I've been thinking about, with Chase.  Dammit.
 

Those of you who watched the AMA livestream Wednesday saw me talk up C.J. Uzomah, and you saw why today.

The game announcers said that when they asked Harbaugh about the Cincy skill players, Uzomah was the first one he mentioned.

 

 

 

5 By Jove, between the Jets…

By Jove, between the Jets and the Bears I witnessed some bad offensive football yesterday (or in the Jets case just straight bad football).

I fully expected Justin Fields to struggle, but that was cover-your-eyes awful. I imagine the FO staff are busy firing up their 'worst ever games' databases for Quick Reads as I type.

It's easy to blame the surroundings, and there were a couple egregious drops by Bears receivers no doubt. But the lack of awareness was really alarming. And the Bears actually ran the ball quite well, so it wasn't like they were putting him in horrendous down and distance situations. Interested to hear what Bears fans think, but it feels like he needs to be sat down for his own good. 

16 Yeah, I agree, Fields isn't…

Yeah, I agree, Fields isn't really improving on his weak points. He's still just really slow in recognizing what's going on. Either Nagy's a seriously bad coach (there are 2 other veteran QBs on the team, they should be able to help him speed up his learning curve) or Fields's ceiling is dropping really fast.

22 Sit Fields down? Bite your…

Sit Fields down? Bite your tongue! This Giants fan wants as high a draft pick as possible ;)

Seriously, though, I agree. It's been really ugly. Five starts, two of them historically bad. 12 INTs/fumbles in five starts, < 150 yards/game, takes a sack one out of every 7 dropbacks...his ANY/A is two full yards behind 30th-place Jacoby Brissett, for crying out loud. If the Bears want to try to make the playoffs, they need to bench him asap.

24 Yes. Prior to this week the…

Yes. Prior to this week the Bears were 9th in rushing DVOA, 7th in defense, and 7th in special teams. Given just an average passing attack this is a playoff caliber team. Now inserting Andy Dalton or Nick Foles is a long way from guaranteeing average passing efficiency, but you can't really justify persisting with historically awful QB play in this context. 

7 Bengals defense

I have been admiring this defense since game 2 and it continues to impress.  They rebuilt this unit in amazing fashion 

 

Mike Brown is in early 80’s and by all accounts runs the team like one wound handle a family owned hardware store.  But whoever called the personnel shots during the off-season nailed it coupled with good coaching.  The defense is aggressive but not often blowing contain.  It tackles and with a punch.  The secondary doesn’t let short passes rupture into long gains.  Pass rush is not explosive but persistent.  
 

really impressive 

27 Bengals defense being…

Bengals defense being suddenly good was one of the most surprising stories of this season. It's like the redskins and the bengals switched units, at least from what I expected.

33 That's because they bought…

That's because they bought/traded for the defense. They added a lot in free agency: of their top 4 sack leaders only Hubbard was with the team last year. Plus with Reader returning from injury, it's effectively like they added $25+M in talent at the defensive line. 

9 National Jump to Conclusions Day

" And now the purple are probably thinking, "Oh man, that window is closed with Chase in Cincinnati."   I think National Jump to Conclusions Day was last month.  It was one game.  The Bengals clearly outplayed the Ravens, Burrow seems to be living up to his first draft pick status, and Chase is remarkable...but it was one game.  Some of the Ravens' offensive problems stemmed from injuries to running backs and linemen, and one would think that, in future games, the Ravens' defensive backs wouldn't respectfully decline to tackle, as they seemed to yesterday.  Cincinnati got a good break on the fumble that was touched by an out-of-bounds player.  The Bengals were the superior team yesterday and I agree that they are better positioned to enjoy future success, but to throw up one's hands in dismay is an overreaction to one game.  (Note: As a Steelers fan, I had no rooting interest in this game--a loss by either team helps the Steelers, but a win by the other team hurts them.  Now, if my fellow Steelers fans were to talk about windows being closed--and probably boarded up--that would be a different matter.)

32 I think National Jump to Conclusions week has become every week.

So much changes every week.  Buffalo has historic defensive DVOA, Buffalo loses to TN, Baltimore destroys LAC, the gets destroyed by CIN.  CIN crushes DET and BALT, but has lost to CHI and barely beat JAC and MN.  Cleveland allows 47 points in a game, yet still has above average defensive DVOA for the season.

Someone will come out of the AFC.  Yes, always take the field over one team, but if you must pick one team, who do you pick?  By DVOA 4 of the 5 top teams are in the NFC and 9 of the top 12.

Here are some reasons to pick each team, and not pick them, in order of DVOA rank coming in to this week.  

1. Buffalo--Number 1 in DVOA, so play for play they are the best. Destroyed a pair of bad teams 35-0 and 40-0 and destroyed the Chiefs.

              Lost to Pittsburgh and Tennessee, and are massively inconsistent.  Is Josh Allen a great QB?  Defense will surely regress even more toward the mean, starting with TN game.

2. Baltimore:  Lamar looks ready to put the team on his back if he must, as Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson often have done.  It took 7 days to forget the Chargers game, in which this team was great.  John Harbaugh and Justin Tucker serve as a nice tie breaker for close games.

Ronnie Stanley makes $20M for a reason, he is a lot better than a minimum NFL salary tackle.  The offensive line play is erratic, as is the defense.  Carr, Wentz and Burrow all have thrown for over 400 yards, that is 3 of 7 games, Lamar's back may break if he must carry this team on it all season.

3. Cleveland:  Maybe the best team in the AFC except the QB.  No Chubb, no Hunt, no problem, a 3rd stringer can gash a defense with this line.  As with the Ravens, the prior week, in which the team allowed 47 points is forgotten as Denver is stifled. 

Baker Mayfield, although no star, is better than Case Keenam, and no one knows if and when he will return.  

4.  Cincinnati-- Destroyed Baltimore in the second half, Burrow has enough mobility to avoid the rush when his questionable offensive line breaks down.  The defense looks solid and La'Marr Chase looks great.  They have other receivers too.

Also quickly forgotten is a loss to the Bears, a 14-0 deficit to Jacksonville, and two eek out wins over Jacksonville and Minnesota.  Zac Taylor has more losses than just settle for long FG's in a close game in him like he did against GB.  That is of course, if they do not destroy their opponent like they did this week in Baltimore.

5.  Kansas City--Fading rapidly as the offense is regressing toward the mean.  I do not think that most want to write off Patrick Mahomes

Everyone wants to write off this defense, but can it be so bad that a league average QB is better than a Mahomes run offense?  So far it is a tie.

Honorable mention:

Las Vegas:  Just win baby, DVOA has not been kind to this team but a 5-2 record and Derrick Carr will keep then hanging around

LAC:   Herbert looks good, coach will be analytics darling, on the other hand they got destroyed in Baltimore, and their special teams is the negative tiebreaker in close games that Justin Tucker is the other way.

TN:  DVOA still dislikes them, although Chiefs win will help.  Maybe the rule of 370 gets rewritten to become the rule of 470.  Beat Buffalo, lose to Jets, how?

NE:  A Dallas or TB win and the narrative is different  Beat them both and Bill Belichick is still a genius.  

INDY:  Will be a thorn in the side of many that they play, before last night you could throw your running game in the trash against them, Wentz is showing signs of life. How did he make the INT disappear?

PITT:  No one in the AFC North is saying that they are thankful that they play this team twice.  

Bottom line:  If you are not playing Jacksonville, Miami, NYJ, Houston, you can expect a battle every week in this conference.

I will take Buffalo to come out of this mess of a conference, with runner up Baltimore, then KC.

40 Out on Baltimore.

They are thin on talent on both sides of the ball.  It showed up in the Colts game and was evident against the Bengals as well.

When you can stop the run, you can essentially make Lamar Jackson one-dimensional.  He's not a Kyler Murray and he's not making those off-platform throws that Murray does weekly.  Lamar needs a run game.  

Baltimore is a dark horse, not an elite team.

Pre-season, I picked Buffalo, Cleveland or Baltimore.

It's pretty much Buffalo at this point because the gap is so wide there.  I don't trust Baker Mayfield, even if he was healthy.  I don't think Lamar Jackson is capable of carrying the Ravens over Buffalo.  Maybe the Titans figure out their secondary and make a run?

Kansas City's window is likely closed.  I was watching PFF's Week 7 review and they made a great point that the Chiefs have essentially been good to great for three years now and that their current regression is expected.  I guess if you get one SB win out of that, it's worth it.  Does that mean KC goes back to being 2018-era Chiefs who were exciting but non-contender status?

10 Packers alternates

I'm too lazy to track any of them down now, but there were multiple articles indicating the alternates were specifically chosen because those years are typically overlooked, but there's still interesting history from that period even though the team was not good. 

11 Coaches

I would say that 90% of the supposedly "smart" people on this site and others would, before this season began, have rated Coach A over Coach B...

Coach A's career W/L mark is 31-39

Coach B's career W/L mark is 32-7  (3rd best in NFL history at this point in career)

Really??   

This is, of course, Shanahan v LaFleur....  And yes the Niners won two blowout games in 2019.... But the Packers have beaten them twice since-- all 4 games in Santa Clara, BTW.... So what do we now think?

17 Is there some weird,…

In reply to by oaktoon

Is there some weird, irrational Shanahan-vs-LaFleur debate going on-line that I've missed?   And if so, what could have caused such a phenomenon?

Anyway, I'm not sure you'll put that debate to rest - wherever it might happen to be raging - by reference exclusively to W-L record.  Someone who cares about the other side of that debate (definitely not me) is liable to suggest that LaFleur's record is build on having Aaron Rodgers as his starting QB while Shanahan's is not.

18 No, not a debate

But definitely a thing... Of all the respected young coaches-- McVay, Shanahan, McDermott, Stefanski-- am I missing someone? LaFleur is routinely rated the lowest.. In part because he came after the first two, and I'm not sure why the two AFC guys are rated higher.  But are you telling me that a coach that had a QB good enough to get to the SB-- but has won fewer than 45% of his games-- mainly with that same QB-- is really better than one who has gotten to NFC title games in both of his seasons and has won over 80% of his games?  REALLY?  And if you want to counter with injuries, look at the current injury list for GB-- now maybe they'll tank now that they have hit the tougher part of the schedule...

20 Here's an Exercise

Take the veteran coaches who have won-- Belichick, Reid, Harbaugh, Payton, Tomlin, Carroll, Arians and McCarthy

How would we rank them NOW-- not their career worth, but right at this moment?? Reid topped most lists before this year-- do we still feel that way/ Is it actually still Belichick? How far has Tomlin fallen (Steelers won 12 games last year)? Is McCarthy for sure the worst of this bunch given how good his current team looks, regardless of the game management issues and how things ended in GB? Neither Payton, Tomlin or McCarthy has been to a SB since 2010-- what does that mean? Does Arians deserve some of the credit despite Brady and all that talent? More than we think?

I personally would throw up my hands and say: Belichick, Reid, Harbaugh, Arians, Tomlin, Payton, MCCarthy, Carroll--- but after the first two, it could really be almost any order... Thoughts??

19 I think it's a reasonable…

I think it's a reasonable observation as yes, most would probably have considered Shanahan the superior coach prior to this season. 

Saying that, the seat must now be getting a little warm for this 49ers regime sitting at 2-4, with the QB for whom they have mortgaged their future unable to get on the field. 

29 That's because the LaFleur…

In reply to by oaktoon

That's because the LaFleur Packers have felt like a worse team than their record, and he's got the fucking 3x league MVP at QB. 2019 they went 13-3 with a DVOA of 7.7%. Their estimated wins were 9.9. 2020 they again went 13-3 and were much better, with a DVOA of 25% and an estimated wins of 11.5. In other words, this has really been more like a 10-6, 11-5 team, with Rodgers at QB. 

Shanahan on the other hand you can see the playcall genius. I'm not sure there has ever been a more creative run game coordinator than Shanahan. His QB, Garopollo, is typically rated around 25th best in the NFL, lacks a strong arm, has questionable accuracy, and is constantly injured. His backups have been trash. Despite that, when they weren't horribly mutilated by injuries, they were a 13-3 team that actually felt like a 13-3 team in 2019, and he almost dragged Garoppolo to a SB victory. 

So one coach has 3x MVP QB, the other a replaceable one. One coach has probably ~ +5 more wins above expectation through luck, the other does not. One coach has at least some visible signs of creative coaching, the other does not.

Look, I'm a rams fan, I really don't like the 9ers, but I'd be happy if the 9ers and packers traded coaches. If they traded QB's on the other hand, not so much.

35 OK-- Now We're Talking

You have taken the bait. Not a knock-- but you have expressed the consensus "smart person" view. so here's the counter.

I follow GB closely. Rodgers was not a whole lot better in 2019 than he had been for most of 2015-18 (the winning streak that got them to the NFC title game in 2016 excepted)-- a good, not great QB by any metric. And yet... they won 13 games. Yeah-- DVOA says they weren't that good-- proof the blowout losses to SF. And they caught a couple of schedule breaks (Mahomes didn;t play in the KC game). But the truth is-- luck ALWAYS plays a role in very good seasons. And can't a coach-- however "uncreative" he seems to be-- take some credit for winning close games? After two and a half seasons, doesn't LaFleur get some credit for it??

As for 2020, the Packers were a legit 13-3 and Rodgers was MVP, his best season since 2014-- that happened to face the GOAT and a slightly more talented roster in the biggest game of the year. MLF did not coach particularly well, but his QB let him down too (as did his defensive coordinator) with a missed connection with Adams for a first -half easy TD and a killer INT near the end of the first half. And then Jones fumbled to start the second half. So that defeat is surely no horrible mark against him.

And the current 6-1, after the requisite LaFleur warm weather blowout loss, features two very close road wins-- over Shanahan and over a CIN team which is, as of this writing, the #1 seed in the AFC. Without his best OL, his only deep threat, and, now, his two best defensive starters. (Alexander played in the Bengal game)

All I am saying is: is sub 450 v 800-- a humongous difference-- a wide enough gap to be explained by something more than luck, injuries and the starting QB? Have we fallen in love with the narrative re: the young coaches?

43 Your “counter to the…

Your “counter to the consensus smart persons view,” appears to be:

1) For no reason, LaFleur deserves credit for the team being lucky, and winning far more games than they actually deserve.

1.5) You’re making that argument on an analytics site, where everyone here understands that teams that win close games tend to start losing close games. 

2) You’re just going to hand waive terrible decision making in important games.

3) The 9ers with Shanahan utterly crushed the Packers in their 13-3 season, a result nobody was all that surprised about, because everyone understood that the 9ers were a legitimately elite team versus a good but lucky team. But apparently LaFleur should still be getting credit for an overinflated win total.

4) You keep trying to downplay Rodgers being a 3x league MVP, with Garoppolo being borderline replacement level. I’m sorry but the difference between those two alone is probably worth 4 games a year.

5) Shanahan started with an awful roster devoid of talent, LaFleur arguably had the greatest talent to begin a coaching career. Even skipping Rodgers, that roster had a great OLine, Adams, and a mediocre defense. Shanahan had nothing.

6) Shanahan has had injury crippled seasons. The equivalent would be if Rodgers and Adams both got injured for LaFleur.

7) Shanahan made Matt Ryan look like the league MVP. What did LaFleur do in Tennessee? Oh right, nothing. -5.3% offense. They were -2.1% the year before.

I mean the list goes on.

44 In fact, if we assume that…

In fact, if we assume that Rodgers is worth 4 wins per year over Garoppolo, both coaches records look like this:

Shanahan: 10-6, 8-8, 17-1 (technically impossible), 10-6. (43-19)

LaFleur: 9-7, 9-7.  (18-14)

Hell, even if Rodgers is worth only 3 wins over Garoppolo the records are:

Shanahan: (39-22)

LaFleur: (20-12)

Which would still be slightly better for Shanahan, despite him facing massive injury issues that LaFleur has not had, and GB getting way luckier in terms of wins than their team deserves. 

48 OK here goes...

This is fun. 2019-- Shanahan-- outcoached LaFleur twice. I can't unring that bell-- except to say: 1) it is one season out of 4.5 for KS; and 1 season out of 2.5 for MLF-- and that was then and this is now...

 

49 And oh BTW, Shanahan is 24…

In reply to by oaktoon

And oh BTW, Shanahan is 24-11 with Garoppolo anyway. A QB everyone recognizes as not even being in the top 20, let alone a 3x MVP. It’s just his other QB’s are utter trash.

What’s LaFleur’s record without Rodgers?

65 Yeah that’s kind of my point…

In reply to by oaktoon

Yeah that’s kind of my point now isn’t it? Throw Jordan Love in there and then let’s talk about how great of a coach Matt LaFleur is.

50 The List Goes On

well, I'll take just the 7 items you decided to include-- all those others will float out in the ether somewhere...

1) "for no reason LaFleur deserves credit"  Hmmm-- so instead of giving some credit to the person who directs the team, we ascribe it all to luck? That is nonsensical-- obviously there were a bunch of close games where the coach had to make in-game decisions, scheme decisions, or even player activation decisions that impacted the result. That is not "no reason"

2) Hand waive (sic) "terrible decision-making"-- presumably by the opposition coach, i guess? So if that is true, then see above. You can't claim one without the other;

3) True. And that is frankly the only reason this entire question is debatable-- otherwise, it would be LaFleur in a walk. His record includes 19 W against 4 L since 2019, just as Shanahan's record before and after 2019 is 18-36. 18-36-- hmm, has to be a misprint-- that's .333,  OOPS-- it is correct;

4) I did not downplay Rodgers ability. Two of those MVPs came under McCarthy-- in 2011 and 2014. As I noted, 2019 Rodgers was not discernibly different from 2015-2018 Rodgers. The improvement has all come post-Jordan Love draft choice, which may or may not be a coincidence. As for Jimmy G-- all i will say is that Shanahan has had 4 plus years to work with him. Belichick did not believe he was "borderline replacement level"-- at some point the coach, partic. one with an offensive pedigree, has to take some ownership for the performance of his QB. And  that works in LaFleur's favor for Rodgers in the 22 regular season games since the first season the two worked together;

5) "Arguable the greatest talent"-- check out Switzer 1994...Seifert 1989..if you want to see a talented roster. And then maybe reconsider that statement. the packers won 6 games in 2018, the year before LaFleur took over. Rodgers was healthy that season (he had been hurt in 2017 and missed more than half the year) If that was the "greatest talent", then Mccarthy was a much worse coach than anyone believed then or now...   GB pre-LaFleur Not as bad as SF's 2 wins under Kelly in 2016, but this is hardly night and day. 

6) Rodgers and Adams both hurt would be the equivalent of SF 2020 injuries?  So now Jimmy G is a little better than "borderline replacement", i guess??  OK, i get that it was more than him. But excuses are old news. The 2010 Packers suffered, i believe, something like 15 key injuries to starters or nickel/dime types-- caused them to miss games. they still won the SB. It may all go up in smoke over next month, but the current Packers (6-1) are missing an All-Pro left tackle, just got a Pro Bowl quality OL back who missed the first month, their 2nd/3rd best WR and only deep threat, an All-Pro CB, another starting CB, a Pro Bowl OLB Pass Rusher, etc, etc.---  do you get the picture?  

7) And your final blow is to compare them as OCs... Please---that's like saying Tua was better than Burrow in college one year.... I could take on the playcalling from 3rd quarter on in that SB, but I won't.

I am not saying it is unequivocal that LaFleur is better-- I AM saying it is hardly unequivocal the other way, as all the smart people have thought up until now. And 800 W/L v 450 W/L does mean something--an enormous gap--  every other metric be damned. It has to mean something. And this site is the perfect place to have this discussion, actually-- because at least it is open to thought. In another time, and another world, it would be laughable to even claim Shanahan was the better coach. In this one, we can actually debate it. 

 

56 Adams COVID

Ha-- well half of your scenario has come true. Adams will miss ARIZ game unless it was a false positive... I think GB under LaFleur is something like 5-1 when Adams doesn't play, but of course he can't coach.... :)  Thursday may be too big of a hill to climb now.  Line opened last night at 3.5-- is now at 6 with this news

64 “But excuses are old news…

“But excuses are old news. The 2010 Packers suffered, i believe, something like 15 key injuries to starters or nickel/dime types-- caused them to miss games. they still won the SB.”

Yeah, it’s almost like… having a 3x MVP at QB lets you win the SB with 15 key injuries. Oh and also make Matt LaFleur go 26-6 in his first two years.

Weird.

38 I'm not worried about the…

I'm not worried about the question of who's better than who, but I think LaFleur needs to get some credit for turning around Rodgers' fading production. It's hard to say exactly how much credit should go to the coach, because at the end of the day Rodgers is the one making the plays, and he credits a mechanical change that he made in summer 2020 to improving his accuracy. LaFleur also didn't come in and immediately "fix" him, as Rodgers did not have one of his better seasons in 2019, especially as the year went on.

But I think it's still important to note that Rodgers has appreciably changed his playing style over the course of LaFleur's tenure - he's getting rid of the ball significantly more quickly, taking fewer adventures out of the pocket, and taking many fewer sacks. Those are all categories where coaching and scheme play a big role. (The sacks are back this season, but I think the backup O linemen have been the biggest factor there. We'll have to see if they can get their sack rate back down as they hopefully get healthier.)

LaFleur also deserves credit IMO for rebuilding the passing game without any significant investment in the skill position groups since he got there. The work they've done to find roles and squeeze production out of late-round and UDFA prospects like MVS, Lazard and Tonyan - all guys who were in Green Bay before LaFleur even got there - has been great.

36 Oakster.

In reply to by oaktoon

As an NFC west fan, I never bought in to Shanahan and I don't understand why San Fran jumped to hire him.  He's now responsible for two blown leads in SB's that are mostly attributed to him (OC/HC).  28-3 alone would have had me against his hiring.   He has a losing record in 5 years as HC of the Niners and this supposed genius hasn't been able to craft any gameplans to take advantage of his limited QB's.  I called it in pre-season that they would not be in contention this year.  Basement.  Neither of their QB's are good.

The reason I took the Colts in last night's game is because I knew Reich could put together a game-plan to work with Wentz's strengths while trying limit his weaknesses.  Shanahan has not shown he can do that with Jimmy G.  Or maybe, Jimmy G is worse than people thought.  

57 I would go along with this…

In reply to by DIVISION

I would go along with this. Shanahan took them to the Super Bowl, and deserves credit for that - but that season is looking more and more like a fluke. The 49ers have lost double-digit games every single other season under Shanahan, and look to be headed there again this year. Maybe there's only so far that being super-creative in the running game can take you.

58 DC

Wasn't it Robert Saleh, super-genius, that was the real reason for getting the 49ers to the Super Bowl?

12 Mike Evans

The other issue is before Brady, Evans played on some really bad teams with bad QB’s so maybe his stats may have been better.  If Brady plays 2 or 3 more years and Evans has really good numbers, then would that change his HOF outlook?

21 I would distinguish been…

In reply to by amin purshottam

I would distinguish been types of bad QBs: there are ones who are WR-friendly (effective at throwing the ball down the field but consistently make awful mistakes) and ones who are non-WR-friendly (just can't throw down the field effectively and send a lot of balls to the TEs and RBs). In the former category you have the likes of Jake Plummer, Aaron Brooks, and the category's Platonic Ideal: Jameis Winston. In the latter you have...many, many bad QBs. 

The point is that I don't think Evans was hurt by having Winston as his QB (unless he actually wanted to...you know...win consistently). I mean, take 2019: 5000+ yds and 33 TDs is a hell of pool to draw your stats from; the 30 INTs are almost beside the point in this context.

23 It's a strange rule, but I…

It's a strange rule, but I understand it. Aiyuk had to recover, it's not enough to just kick it into the end zone or the Colts could recover it in the end zone and I think that would be a touchdown.

No, not quite. It's a consequence of how the NFL defines "momentum" and "impetus." Once the ball's given an impetus by the offense, until the ball comes to rest, that impetus belongs to the offense. Bouncing off of a defensive player doesn't change this. That's how you get around the whole "blocked punt" or even weirder situations (deflected backwards passes in the end zone, fumble out of bounds when a defender last touched it) - the impetus was from the kick/backwards pass/fumble., and the offense "owns" it until it comes to rest.

It wasn't an illegal kick or bat, because those require intent (and there's definitely no evidence for intent) - just bouncing off a body part isn't enough to do it.

But if the ball had been at rest on the ground, and Aiyuk had just run into it (or dove for it and it squirts forward into the end zone), then if he recovered it again in the end zone, that's a safety. Functionally the whole play was the same thing as if it bounced off of his helmet.

(And obviously had the Colts recovered it in the end zone it would've been a touchdown, since that's specifically called out in the scrimmage kick rules.)

28 GB/WFT

The kickoff coverage teams were solid to good.  Hooray!

 

Scrabbleboard aka GB’s punter was against excellent.   Just wow 

 

Rashan Gary was in the backfield all day.  Goodness

 

WFT qb did a lot to try and drag that team to the win. Left it all on the field.  Granted he made some mistakes but he compensated by being one tough SOB

 

 

34 "Not taking Fields was the…

"Not taking Fields was the major mistake. There's no point in lowering your ceiling to a double-digit loss in the wild-card round. But the Panthers look to be set back a few years by not taking Fields. There's just no path to an upgrade in 2022 with the poor projected rookie class of quarterbacks."

I'm really struggling to understand this sentiment at all. Fields right now looks like a complete bust. He has almost no positives to his game, and a great deal of negatives. If the Panthers had traded the 8th overall pick to the Bears for Fields they would have a great shot at getting a top 5 pick in next years draft as well. 

Fields held the ball way too long in college, didn't make great decisions, and didn't need to. Those Ohio State teams massively out-talented their opposition. I watched his predecessor, Haskins, and thought he was so bad that he was undraftable, and was telling everyone here that long before he "turned into" a bust. I only watched two Fields games, and thought he was outplayed by the opposition QBs in both of them, and frankly did not look like a first round pick.

On the other hand, the Panthers did have a guy who looks like a future franchise QB available when they were picking, and his name is Mac Jones. I also only saw two of his games, one against Fields, but my god did he ever outplay him. At the time I simply assumed everyone who was opening their mouths watched a ton more college football than I did and had great reasons to downplay Jones. I will not make that mistake again.

39 This is a ridiculous comment

Along with the other ones.

A complete bust 7 weeks into his rookie year. Geez people.

The stuff about him at OSU not making good decisions is blatantly false. 

And saying Haskins was undraftable...well it's clear you're big into revionist history. For crying out loud, Fields not a 1st rounder. That's just a straight awful opinion. 

Propping up Mac Jones? But Fields had better talent? Why am I even discussing this, this is just confirmation/recency bias at it's finest.

Two games watched, geez. This board and college players/prospects.

47 Definitely too early to…

Definitely too early to label him a bust, but at this point you can definitely say that he wouldn't have been a good choice to help a team hoping to improve now. Which, of course, rookie quarterbacks never are, but after the recent spate of rookie QB "success" (Roethlisberger, Wilson, Herbert) people just think it's super common.

He's going to need a scheme that helps him, an O-line that protects him and some game reps.

I really don't know. I think he needs receivers nearly as much as a line. I've said before I don't know if Pace just decided he didn't need running backs that could catch the ball and make people miss or if he thought Cohen would be able to come back, but either of those choices was dumb.

I also have a really low opinion of "game reps" to help a player when the game reps are essentially "all your options are terrible, try not to die."

74 They did sign Damien…

They did sign Damien Williams, who has always graded out quite well as a receiver, even before he played with the Chiefs.

Overall I don't think the Bears receivers are that bad. Although Robinson has been banged up this year which can't have helped. 

Pass protection is clearly an issue. But the Bears are running the ball well, and their defense and special teams are both top 10. Fields hasn't been consistently saddled with dreadful field position, down and distance, or negative game script. As rookie QB situations go, it's far from horrendous. Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson are looking on in envy. 

(I won't delve into play-calling because I don't feel qualified to do so). 

All of which is to agree: it is too early to label 'bust', but not too early to simply wave away the bad play as 'typical rookie struggles on a bad team'.   

 

80 They did sign Damien…

They did sign Damien Williams, who has always graded out quite well as a receiver, even before he played with the Chiefs.

Yeah, Williams isn't a receiving back. Guy averages under 2 receptions/game - he barely makes the first-table cutoff. Tarik Cohen has like, 3x that.

Overall I don't think the Bears receivers are that bad.

Robinson would be a fantastic #2 receiver. He's not a top receiver, regardless of the stats - you can cover him 1-on-1 and you're fine, because even though he'll catch the ball (assuming the QB's accurate - ha), he's not going to go anywhere with it. If you watch his highlights, he's got tons of great contested catches, but he's basically never wide open in space and avoiding people. He's got a career YAC/r of something like 3 yards, which would normally be like... 120th in the league or something.

Overall it's the same problem as not having a receiving back, and not having a serious tight end either (Kmet is... just not a receiver): there's no serious penalty for the safeties being cautious, because none of their receivers can avoid tackles. Their YAC/r for the team's just horrible, and has been since 2018. 

42 I was saying Haskins was…

I was saying Haskins was terrible before he played a single snap in the NFL, but sure, apparently this is “revisionist history,” now. And I said that back when I actually watched all the games that were available on YouTube as a hobbyist scout. Haskins just straight up sucked.

People need to really understand what it means for half or more of first round QBs being busts. There are a lot of teams who really desperately want to believe that they’ve got their guy, and overdraft these players. Haskins in college had absurdly awful accuracy, zero scrambling ability, and barely above average arm strength. He also did not appear to make good decisions with the football, or quick decisions. His signature play was “dump off to HB, who runs for 40 YAC.” I could barely even tell you what he did well, let alone why he was potentially the No 1 overall pick.

Fields was no question a better prospect than the non-prospect that was Dwayne Haskins. It’s possible his playing style could turn him into Russell Wilson. But it’s also possible he could turn into every other QB who holds onto the ball forever. So far, it seems like the latter.

46 You're simply have bad takes here then

If you think Haskins was undraftable you simply don't know how football works. Straight up sucked? There is no nuance or truth to your comments. " I could barely even tell you what he did well" then you should probably stop talking.

There is nothing people need to understand about half of 1st rounders being bust. Youre solution to let them go later or undrafted is simply showing, again, that you dont know how football works.

All the others that hold the ball like Lamar, Rodgers, Watson, etc. Glad you didn't double down on that awful bad decision maker at OSU. Watch only 2 games but one of them wasn't the thrashing of Clemson. Not surprising.

Also avoided the callout hypocrisy of team talent with Jones, that's a good point to drop.

All that say no Bears fan would rather be the Panthers but quite a few Panther fans wish they could just fire their HC/GM and have some hope. That wouldn't solve their lack of QB in a weak upcoming QB class without their likely high 2nd to boot. Purgatory. Bears shouldn't care whether they make the playoffs or not but the Panthers have to.

52 “There is nothing people…

“There is nothing people need to understand about half of 1st rounders being bust. Youre solution to let them go later or undrafted is simply showing, again, that you dont know how football works.”

LMAO.

No actually it shows that I perfectly understand how drafting works. GM’s love to draft those QB’s, because they love to pretend that they’ve hit on the next Aaron Rodgers. After all, if they don’t get a franchise QB, they’re probably fired anyway, so why not pretend that EJ Manuel is worthy of a first round pick. Or that Mitch Trubisky will somehow, someway, be worth trading up to get third overall. Despite being just barely above average for college QB’s in the first place.

What really blew me away when I was in my amateur scouting phase, was that despite not having access to the All-22 film, and not even being able to watch typically more than about 5 or 6 games, my impressions of the QBs appeared to be more accurate than the NFL’s. Wilson held the ball too long, sure, but his college tape jumps off the screen with how good he was. Mahomes might have had some turnovers, but oh my god did he ever have an arm and playmaking ability. Jameis Winston was almost as baffling as Haskins. What leapt out when watching Winston was how much he loved throwing the ball to the other team. Oh and how inaccurate he was. And what has he been in the NFL? Oh right, exactly that. 

I’m sorry you don’t like me telling you this, but either Haskins was injured, or his accuracy was quite literally the worst I have ever seen in a college prospect, number 1 overall talk or no. And he had no scrambling ability. And his decision making was slow and bad. And his arm strength was nice, but 7/10 nice, not 10/10 Mahomes nice. His stats were a product of his environment. 

And there is a world of difference between Mac Jones throwing absolute dimes downfield to his talented receivers and Haskins throwing dump off screen passes that Ezekiel Elliot takes for 40 YAC. 

55 You said Haskins was undraftable.

Just flat out wrong. Even for the worst of Haskins haters.

"my impressions of the QBs appeared to be more accurate than the NFL’s"

Lol the hubris

If you thought Haskins had the worst accuracy...you clearly need to stop to lying.

Literally no one compared Haskins to Jones either. You compared him to Fields but only mentioned team talent for Fields despite Bama CLEARLY having more than Fields.

Terrible revionist history and analysis. No believes you, especially with such lack of proof. 

63 “If you thought Haskins had…

“If you thought Haskins had the worst accuracy...you clearly need to stop to lying.”

Worst accuracy amongst what, the QB prospects I looked at? I have no idea why you don’t believe Haskins was the worst QB prospect I looked at, considering I only ever looked at first round prospects, but whatever, you do you.

For the rest of you, I present literally the first game I saw on YouTube after typing in “Dwayne Haskins vs” in this case Michigan. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U0fX0opeG8Y

- 30 seconds in and he’s already missed his HB 20 feet from him. LOL

- 1:14 horrible overthrow

- 2:07 overthrows wide open receiver 20 yards downfield by at least a full yard.

- 3:05. Terrible throw way inside, bailed out by receiver.

- 3:28. WTF was that?

- 4:31. Overthrows by at least 5 yards a receiver just 10 yards down the field. LOL

- 4:38. Literally the next play overthrows by 2 yards receiver 10 yards downfield. LOLOL

- 4:51. Next play. Ball 3 yards too far outside forcing incompletion.

- 5:36. Overthrows receiver middle of the field 15 yards deep by a yard.

- 6:13. Skips in ball to receiver 9 yards deep in middle of the field.

Beyond the terrible plays, this game reinforced what I knew at the time from the Dwayne Haskins experience. 

1) Throw a ton of short passes that are successful due to scheme, along with talent mismatches.

2) Occasionally throw to some schemed wide open receivers down the field.

3) Throw terrible downfield passes then get bailed out by receivers out competing the defense.

Ohio State clearly had a huge talent advantage against the competition, and this is Michigan we’re talking about. Going from Kyler Murray’s tape, or Baker Mayfield, or a whole host of other actual QB prospects to Dwayne Haskins it was almost comical how shitty he was.

And I might even say that was his best game that I saw. I remember far worse games where he had so many bad throws it almost was like he was throwing it away constantly for no reason. Except it didn’t make any sense to throw it away, he just sucked.

73 Stick to one tedious reply.

You haven't watched many prospects (why am I surprised). Still doesn't marking him as "undraftable" correct process.

It doesn't matter what biases you have, if Haskins was the worst, you clearly didn't watch other 1st rounders. At least you dropped another strawman in the Mac v Haskin thing you randomly brought up.

You continue to be a master of revisionist history and hubris galore. This is getting more tiring than the going for 2 thread. 

 

75 It certainly is tedious to…

It certainly is tedious to go through the effort of once again watching a freely available game by Haskins, marking the terrible plays, only for this to be strategically ignored. Considering my point was quite specifically that Haskins numbers were deceiving due to his massive talent advantage, you bringing up the numbers of Daniel Jones is entirely irrelevant. It’s a team game after all. That’s sort of why we don’t just draft QBs based on stats.

You also continue to personally attack me, while whining about being attacked. 

76 It's almost like you don't like to listen to data.

On Haskins or 2pt conversions when down. Quite specifically it was well known Haskins didn't throw deep often but you like to think you have some special insider knowledge. Along with saying you "only ever looked at first round prospects" but not Daniel Jones apparently, who was less accurate. But go off on how it's irrelevant.

Pot calling other black, amazing. Lol you said I was stupid. The irony.

53 It is Way Too Early

But the success rate over time of 1st round QBs is barely 50%... Which means at least two of the five, and possibly three, will be busts-- either soon or clear within a few years. Let's go back in time a bit: Tua (?), Darnold (?), Wentz (?), Winston (maybe)/Mariota (nope), Danny Dimes (?), Goff (?), Trubisky (Nope)....It is possible we have seen the best of all of them already, though Wentz may have a lifeline now... The sure fire hits have been DAK (not 1st round), Watson (??? for other reasons), Lamar (late 1st round), Mahomes, Allen (took 3 years) and, it appears, Herbert....  Baker is on the fence... Burrow appears to be a hit...It's around 50-50  (I'm not going back as far as Cam, Teddy B, Cousins, etc....)

So the premature verdict would be Incomplete but getting more promising on Lawrence, incomplete and now injured but not good for Wilson, a clear plus for Jones, and big question marks for both Lance and Fields. At least one of the latter two will probably bust out altogether...

60 And like I said at the end of preseason:

Yall should've (hopefully) seen why they were all selected in the first (top half to be exact). Doesn't guarantee they all succeed (obvi) but you can see the process behind why they were selected so high (and therefore don't come to silly conclusions like Fields not being a 1st rounder or Haskins being undrafted).

The phrase doesn't conjure any discussion other than suggesting to not draft QBs after...the 1st one? Obviously not, so the 2nd? Well it's still only 50%. That's not how things work though. It's post facto and frankly...pointless. Like I'm not seeing the point of discussing it now other than trying to make guesses and thinking it's so set in stone, so teams...should just give up? 

Either way, Fields is doing pretty well in a clean pocket, the more stable metric, it's just he's not getting as much as others. And a rookie under pressure (a lot like that) not doing well shouldn't surprise people nor should it be the main focus. Need to focus on who the new CEO/GM/HC should be. That's not something so easily fixed in Carolina. What's their hope in? Unstable defense? Darnold randomly getting cupcake teams more often and playing well again? Probably why I and others didn't like the Darnold trade. This is what happens and it's not too surprising. They aren't gonna be good enough to actually contend but not bad enough to pick a QB (if there were any in this class...which, good luck, sifting through that class trying to determine which one is the best). That just delays them another year. If that's what they want, so be it. I would much rather have "rolled the dice hoping one of the QBs would fall to 8" then trade multiple picks non 7th round picks, for a guy that had 3 below average years under his belt, including what very likely could've been a top 55 pick (premium imo).

Call me crazy but Darnold certainly took them off the board for a QB at 8. Don't like that process. Whether Fields is part of another 50% failed or successful (Chicago still has time to change that) is irrelevant. We are more sure Darnold is though at this point. Don't know what Carolina thought they could change him that much at this point in his career. Process over results and the process in Carolina was funky. 

Sorry for the wall of text.

66 “For crying out loud, Fields…

“For crying out loud, Fields not a 1st rounder. That's just a straight awful opinion. Propping up Mac Jones? But Fields had better talent?”

ImNewAroundHere,

You seem to have this really annoying habit of putting words in my mouth. Along with incorrectly using punctuation. It makes your poorly thought out opinions even more confusing to understand than they should be.

I never once said that Fields wasn’t a first round talent. What I said was:

“I only watched two Fields games, and thought he was outplayed by the opposition QBs in both of them, and frankly did not look like a first round pick.”

Did not look like a first round pick in the two games I saw != Isn’t worth a first round pick. 

Beyond that, why are you just randomly adding and subtracting question marks from your sentences? Here, this is what it should be:

”For crying out loud, Fields not a first rounder? That’s an awful opinion. Now you’re propping up Mac Jones, despite Fields having better talent.”

I do not come to an analytics website to deal with this section of humanity. I can deal with the stupidity, or the aggression, but not the stupidity and aggression all at the same time. 

72 You're the same dude that was using multiple ad homs

in the go for 2pt conversion. You're at it again. Now being a grammar nazi on top of it.

If you're gonna watch only two games (again, apparently not the thrashing of Clemson, of course) then just stop talking and giving opinions based on a biased set of games watch and making awful generalized statements as such. Chirping in that you're correct based on those two games is simply terrible. 

And you're still wrong to prop up Jones and tear Fields down based on team talent. And you continue to double and ignore your own hypocrisy. Talking about Fields talent when Mac had FIVE offensive teammates alone, go in the same draft before even one of Fields (and that first one was a LB!)

78 Man.

You used quotations wrong and changed the sentence structure to an entirely different tone and message.

Stick to one reply and this might not happen! (and you wont be called out, again, for completely avoiding the point of a very valid message!)

59 I didn't understand the…

I didn't understand the Fields comment either. He looks lost for all the reasons you listed. The Panthers made the trade for Darnold before the draft and didn't take a shot at Mac Jones for that reason.

67 They should probably have…

They should probably have still taken the shot at Mac Jones, but hindsight is 20/20. What they most definitely should not have done was draft Fields. I do think they should have traded those picks to the Bears, especially considering the Bears could well give them a top 10 pick this year as well. 

There were tons of players who succeeding away from Adam Gase. It was a very reasonable move to spend a second rounder on Sam Darnold, and see what the former No 3 overall could do. And if he hasn’t been good enough after 7 games, well with hindsight, you shouldn’t have drafted Fields either, at least not over Jones.

37 Cards/Texans.

It's hard to get up to play the Texans.  I didn't even watch the game until the fourth quarter.

The Rams/Lions game was more interesting.

That safety on Murray was a missed face mask call that was obvious on replay.  Should have never been a safety.

I expect the Cards to be sharper against a good opponent in Green Bay on Thursday.  

The only concerns are that Murray took too many hits, but that's going to happen when he scrambles so much.  We need to get Rodney Hudson back.

Defense looked great.  I expect Vance Joseph to blanket Adams and force Rodgers to go elsewhere on Thursday.  The Cards have the secondary to do that.  With all the injuries that Packers have on both sides of the ball, I don't expect a close game.

Unlike the Rams, the Cards will cover...

61 Mahomes

I’m interested in the thoughts of better football minds than mine. Mahomes has had crazy numbers over his career until this year. I always say that you need to evaluate players after they’ve been around a while because we constantly see quarterbacks that we gush over after 2-3 seasons, but who don’t stand the test of time. Mahomes obviously had a crazy good start to his career by any standard. However, I do recognize that he has an impressive number of throws to guys who are wide open. That’s no longer true this year. He’s throwing into tight coverage and he’s still making some great plays, but he’s also combined that with a lot of boneheaded decisions. So, do you think he’s as good as advertised? Why or why not? 

62 Somewhere in the middle. I…

In reply to by Wifan6562

Somewhere in the middle. I’ve pointed out before that Alex Smith lead the league in QB rating the year Mahomes was drafted for the KC team. It was an absurdly stacked offense, with Andy Reid getting the most out of it. I think the QB rating difference between Alex Smith and Pat Mahomes was 104 -> 115. 

Don’t get me wrong, Mahomes threw more and was to the eye clearly a huge step forwards from Smith. However, that KC team was good enough to make people think Alex Smith deserved a pro bowl. It was also good enough to make people think that Pat Mahomes was this unreal godlike talent who should be playing in a league beyond the NFL.

Except that while Mahomes is an elite QB, a lot of the times he was throwing to wide open players. It happened, but I can’t really recall many times he made some absolute perfect 10/10 throw down the field to hit the barely open outstretched hands of a wide receiver. It was a lot of chucking it to the best TE in the league, or throwing to the “how TF do the chiefs always get guys that wide open,” receiver down the field. Now that’s not happening nearly as much, and with a far worse offensive line, he looks exactly like what he is. He’s an elite QB who’s human, and is having a bit of a down year.

69 Wentz to Pittman TD play

That one was all on the play designer, IMO.  Reich?  They had been using those crappy WR bubble screens all night (and not getting very good blocking out of the WRs), so lining up with trips right and two WRs staying back at the snap, and Pittman zigging as if to block before taking off downfield was brilliant. The cover guys come up for the play they have seen all night, and Pittman is open behind them.  A beautiful design.  Also, they were milking the clock with a late lead in FG range, so the WR screen is a safe conservative play MOST coaches would consider prudent. 

And now that it's on film, maybe it opens them up for a bit more success on those WR screens because the deep man stays a little deeper a few times. Until he doesn't and gets burned.  That's the plan, anyway....