Packers Clinch NFC's Top Seed

Green Bay Packers ER Preston Smith
Green Bay Packers ER Preston Smith
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Week 17 - 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.

Philadelphia Eagles 20 at Washington Football Team 16

Bryan Knowles: The Football Team is still somewhat depleted from COVID, but at least they have their quarterback of choice back, with Taylor Heinicke under center. In the first five minutes of the game, he already hit big shots to Cam Sims and John Bates before Jaret Patterson punches in the touchdown to make things 7-0. If there's anything we have learned from the last couple of weeks, it's the difference between a No. 2 quarterback like Heinicke and a No. 4 or No. 5 passer.

Vince Verhei: Washington leads 10-0 at the end of the first. Two long scoring drives, though the field goal came after a Taylor Heinicke interception was wiped out by a penalty. Eagles haven't scored yet, but they have also been moving the ball. Their first drive ended on a failed fourth-and-1 run at the Washington 24, and they just crossed midfield again on the last play of the quarter.

And that drive ends in a touchdown. Fourth-and-goal from the 2, the Eagles go for it again, and Boston Scott plunges in for the score. That cuts the lead to 10-7.

The quarterbacks are sharp today. Jalen Hurts and Taylor Heinicke are a combined 14-of-15 for 200 yards on the nose.

Bryan Knowles: Both Eagles drives so far has ended on fourth-down plays. On their first drive, Jordan Howard was stuffed, setting up an eventual Washington field goal. Not to be deterred, Philadelphia tried again on their second drive, and this time, Boston Scott found enough room to punch the ball into the end zone from the two. Who needs kicking teams? 10-7 Football Team, early in the second.

Vince Verhei: Washington gets a 55-yard field goal from Joey Slye to take a 16-7 lead into halftime. Eagles also struggled to score in the first half last week, but were tied at the half because they were playing Jake Fromm. Taylor Heinicke is no Jake Fromm—he's up to 14-of-17 for 169 yards. But some red zone struggles (Slye's other two field goals were both within 40 yards) are letting the Eagles hang around.

Bryan Knowles: Boston Scott is having a pretty nice day. He only has 24 yards on 10 rushing attempts, though two of those have been short-yardage touchdowns on fourth down, so there's more value there than the raw yards would indicate. But he also had four receptions for 39 yards, including a big one to take the Eagles over midfield on their last drive. They have been sluggish most of the day, but they're still in this one, down just 16-14 midway through the third quarter.

Carl Yedor: Fast-moving game but not a lot of points here, as both teams have taken a very balanced approach between running and passing to this point in the game. Philly was moving the ball well to start the fourth quarter before bogging down at about the 30. A 42-yard field goal from the Eagles gives them a 17-16 lead with 12 minutes to go, and it's shaping up to be a tight contest with some old-school flavor here in the nation's capital—er, Landover, Maryland.

Bryan Knowles: Washington, down four, gets a huge play to get inside the red zone. But with 30 seconds left, Heinicke overthrows his man and throws an interception in the end zone, and the Eagles hold on for a huge win.

Carl Yedor: After an Eagles field goal to extend the lead to 20-16, Washington had a chance to drive down for the winning score, but it was not to be. Heinicke was looking for tight end John Bates down the middle of the field, but he overthrew him into the waiting arms of Rodney McLeod for the game-ending interception. Philly takes a knee, and this one is over.

Vince Verhei: In the same game where Ricky Seals-Jones was injured after colliding with a cameraman, Jalen Hurts could have been injured after fans fell on him when a guardrail collapsed. Looks like Hurts and the fans are all OK, but nice stadium you have there, Washington.

Atlanta Falcons 15 at Buffalo Bills 29

Bryan Knowles: We have our first weather effect of the day! The Falcons opt to punt on fourth-and-6 from midfield, but the Bills returner (I think it was Marquez Stevenson) muffs it—likely because of the cold and snow, I would wager. The ball bounces back into the end zone, and while the Bills fall on top of it, that's a safety. See, who said punting from midfield was a bad strategy?

2-0, Falcons.

Aaron Schatz: Here's a video on that Buffalo fumble. Looks like a forced fumble rather than a muff. Love that January football.

Bryan Knowles: The Bills just ran nine plays inside the 10-yard line: stuff, Stefon Diggs reception, ineligible receiver, Isaiah McKenzie reception, incomplete, incomplete, DPI, incomplete, Allen rush for a touchdown. The DPI was on fourth down, which is a pity; the Falcons had actually done some solid goal-line work, but there's only so much you can do when someone gets nearly double-digit cracks at the end zone. 7-2 Bills, late in the first.

Cale Clinton: That stretch in the red zone looked a little worrisome for Buffalo. Four straight incompletions targeting the end zone. One gets the benefit of the A.J. Terrell DPI call, but none of the passes were very good. Two were well overthrown, one was thrown too hard and bounced off Stefon Diggs' facemask, and one was properly broken up in a tight window by the Falcons secondary.

I'll chalk it up to this wintery mix falling in Buffalo, though. Josh Allen's taking care of things on his own with his legs. Only completing 7-of-15 passes thus far, Allen has now capped off both Bills drives with rushing touchdowns. I suppose if one strategy isn't working, improvise until you find the right solution.

Bryan Knowles: I have been watching this one because it has significant NFC playoff implications, and I can say, with a fair degree of certainty, that the Bills are a better football team than the Falcons. On Atlanta's second play after the touchdown, Gregory Rousseau bursts through the line, sacks Matt Ryan, and forces a fumble, giving Buffalo the ball inside the 20. Josh Allen rushes in his second touchdown of the day, and it's 14-2 in the first quarter.

I, uh, may flip this one off soon.

Cale Clinton: Buffalo manages to drive all the way down to Atlanta's 10-yard line, but Josh Allen throws a bad interception in the end zone to Duron Harmon. Allen was flushed out of the pocket and did a great job of extending the play, but he just threw a bad ball into traffic. There were three white jerseys in the vicinity of Cole Beasley, and Duron Harmon just got all the way up to pluck it out of the air.

Cale Clinton: First play off the interception is a massive 61-yard reception by Kyle Pitts. That puts him ahead of Julio Jones for most receiving yards by a Falcons rookie. That also pushes his over 1,000 receiving yards on the season, within striking distance of Mike Ditka's 1,076 receiving yards as a rookie tight end.

Bryan Knowles: The first play after the interception is a 61-yard catch-and-run from Kyle Pitts as he breaks Julio Jones' record for most receiving yards by a Falcons rookie. From there, the Falcons are deliberate, pounding Mike Davis four times until he finally gets into the end zone, getting things past the two-minute warning and burning some Buffalo timeouts. So it's still 14-12 Bills, but the Falcons, as they have done all year, have found a way to stay in a game against a significantly better opponent.

Bryan Knowles: Buffalo opened the second half with another Josh Allen interception, but Atlanta goes backwards from there and has to punt. Buffalo follows that up with their best drive of the game, one very much on the shoulders of Devin Singletary: seven rushes, 41 yards, and a touchdown, with Allen adding 21 more yards with his legs. If you can't pass, run the ball, right? That's not Buffalo's normal modus operandi, but hey, you gotta adapt from time to time. Buffalo retakes the lead, 22-15.

Cale Clinton: Buffalo finally rights the ship. After Allen throws his third interception of the day, the Bills decide to stick almost exclusively to the ground game and put together an 11-play touchdown drive with just one pass thrown. Allen is now opting for scrambles instead of forcing passes, rushing for 30 yards on three attempts.

Bryan Knowles: We should be done here in Buffalo as the Bills top 200 rushing yards for the first time since 2019. The passing game, especially in the red zone, needs plenty of work, but if Buffalo can add a rushing game to their passing attack, that's going to make them that much more dangerous in the postseason. It's 29-15 with 10:46 left, and I'm calling it.

Kansas City Chiefs 31 at Cincinnati Bengals 34

Aaron Schatz: The Chiefs are down to their third left tackle, five minutes into the game. Orlando Brown went out in pregame warmups and Lucas Niang just went off on the cart.

Bryan Knowles: I have to imagine the number of scenarios where you would not snap the ball to Patrick Mahomes can be counted on one hand, with fingers left over. But with the Chiefs facing fourth-and-1 from the 31-yard line, former quarterback Blake Bell takes the direct snap and plows forward for the extra yard and a first down. And, given new life, Mahomes then immediately hits DeMarcus Robinson for a 30-yard touchdown, and the Chiefs jump out to a 7-0 lead.

Aaron Schatz: The Chiefs do that a lot now. They're afraid to use Mahomes on sneaks since he got injured on one a couple years ago, so they use Bell on sneaks instead.

Bryan Knowles: Apparently, the fourth time this year they have done it, per the Twits. First time I have seen it, but I stand corrected!

Scott Spratt: That wasn't snow you saw on the Chiefs sideline. Someone on the bench sat a little too close to the heater and caught their jacket on fire. There's cotton or something flying everywhere!

Bryan Knowles: It may be too early to say Bad Cincinnati has shown up today, but their first two drives have produced 25 combined yards. The Chiefs, meanwhile, look to be in full form—Mahomes hitting huge shots to his stars (Tyreek Hill for a 17-yard gain, Travis Kelce for the touchdown), and with contributions by the second-tier guys (Blake Bell with a 24-yard catch-and-run, Derrick Gore with a 23-yard run to the goal line). They are looking very, very good. 14-0 Chiefs, late in the first ...

Bryan Knowles: Breaking news: Ja'Marr Chase is good.

THAT will help. 14-7 Chiefs.

Scott Spratt: To Bryan's point, Ja'Marr Chase has produced an explosive play of 15 or more yards on 31 of his 68 catches this season. That 45.6% rate is the highest among receivers with 40 or more catches.

Bryan Knowles: Mahomes' interception luck has reverted—Cincinnati just dropped one. It would have been a highlight-reel catch, I admit, but it was in the defensive back's hands. That might be the only way Cincinnati can stop Kansas City today, because Mahomes hits Hardman the very next play for 53 yards, setting up a Darrel Williams touchdown (who needs Clyde Edwards-Helaire, anyway?). 21-7 Kansas City, and we're not even 20 minutes into the game yet.

Bryan Knowles: I reiterate, Ja'Marr Chase is very good.

Offense so far: Chiefs 197 yards, Chase 111 yards, all other Bengals 64 yards.

Bryan Knowles: Three of the first four drives in this one ended in punts. Since then, we have had five straight touchdown drives, all of them at least 64 yards (and four of them over 70). This time, it's Byron Pringle with the big play, a 27-yard conversion on third-and-4 to set up another Darrel Williams touchdown. The scoreboard operator is going to point out at this rate; it's 28-14 Chiefs, and if you like offense, there's only one game you should be watching today.

Scott Spratt: While being knocked down on a pass play, Joe Burrow got rolled into his starting left guard Quinton Spain, and Spain had to be carted to the locker room. The Bengals really couldn't afford that loss. They were already third worst with a 49% pass block win rate, and Burrow is leading all quarterbacks with 49 (!) sacks this season.

Bryan Knowles: Ja'Marr Chase is now up to 180 yards and three touchdowns today. We're sure he's not the offensive rookie of the year?

We're up to 292 yards for the Chiefs, 180 for Chase, and 103 for the rest of the Bengals combined as the Bengals cut things to a 28-24 lead.

Aaron Schatz: I don't know, man, the Kansas City fans keep trying to convince me that OROY is Creed Humphrey.

Bryan Knowles: Humphrey has been very, very good, no doubt about it, but yowza.

Bryan Knowles: Who IS that masked man? Chris Jones ripped the nameplate off of the back of the Bengals' quarterback's jersey, and the mysterious No. 9 has been playing unidentified. Whoever he is has been looking very sharp—a 39-yard pass to Tee Higgins to bring things over midfield, and then a touchdown pass to a toe-dragging Tyler Boyd. The Bengals take their first lead of the day, 31-28.

Scott Spratt: What's your play call on a third-and-27? Throw it up for Chase? Yep, that works, new Bengals first down.

Scott Spratt: As the Bengals keep inching forward with carries near the goal line, I'm surprised the Chiefs don't just let them score. It's 31-31, and each failed score is another timeout lost.

Aaron Schatz: Holy crap, the Bengals called two pass plays on fourth-and-goal from the 1 and they got penalties on the Chiefs both times. First offsetting penalties, then illegal use of hands on L'Jarius Sneed, which will give the Bengals a new set of downs. The Chiefs will not have time for the comeback. Just take a knee, take a field goal, game should be over.

Aaron Schatz: Note that the EdjSports model was 10% in favor of kicking the field goal, not the Bengals going for it on fourth down.

Rob Weintraub: Worst to first, just like we had it in the preseason ...

I'm in my feelings, as the kids say, so not much to add other than that was probably one of, if not the, most significant games in Paul Brown Stadium history, given the circumstances and the feeling of a Great Leap Forward at last taken by the home team. They fell behind by two touchdowns three separate times to the consensus best team in football and came back to win in dramatic fashion. It's hard to convey the sense of confidence this longtime Bengals fan has with Joe Burrow under center compared with previous quarterbacks, even very good ones. Almost as much confidence as Burrow has in Ja'Marr Chase. If the Chiefs play Cincy again in the postseason, I'm guessing they won't play quite so much press man coverage.

Still have the postseason dragon to slay, but all faith in Joey B. to make that goddamn gorilla on our collective backs go away at last.

Jacksonville Jaguars 10 at New England Patriots 50

Aaron Schatz: Slow, methodical first drive for the Patriots included two third-down conversions and their offensive line and tight ends bullying the Jacksonville defense. Jaguars followed that up with a drive that highlighted Trevor Lawrence's talent. He scrambled for a conversion on third-and-6 then launched it 40 yards to Laquon Treadwell with a defender right in his face. But he overthrew Marvin Jones in the end zone on the next third down so we have a field goal and a 7-3 Patriots lead.

J.P. Acosta: It's clear that the Jaguars are going to be outmatched in the run game today. Big runs on early downs set up another Damien Harris touchdoown and it's 14-3 New England.

J.P. Acosta: Patriots go up 21-3 after a Mac Jones touchdown pass to a Kristian Wilkerson. This came after another Jaguars dropped-pass interception:

Aaron Schatz: Total domination in the first half, 28-3 Patriots. Are there any positives for the Jaguars? I guess their receivers have made a couple of really good catches, although one of Trevor Lawrence's two picks can be blamed on the ball going off running back Ryquell Armstead's hands. The second pick was a bad decision with Tavon Austin covered closely by J.C. Jackson. Maybe it's nice that the pressure on Lawrence hasn't been *too* bad with the Jaguars playing a couple of backup linemen? Otherwise, this is a disaster. The two teams are clearly mismatched; in particular the Patriots' offensive line is bullying the Jaguars up front. Just steady rushing gains mixed with midrange passes open against zones, no big plays for the Pats. Hard to see Jacksonville making the big comeback in the second half of this one.

J.P. Acosta: I don't drink, but the Jaguars make me want to. That is my only observation from this game.

Aaron Schatz: Patriots got the Jaguars' cornerback (the rookie Tyson Campbell, I believe) to jump on a fake wide receiver screen, leaving Kristian Wilkerson wide open in the end zone. That's five touchdowns on five drives for the Patriots, although Nick Folk's extra point got blocked so it is 34-3 and I think I can switch to another game now.

Los Angeles Rams 20 at Baltimore Ravens 19

Scott Spratt: The Ravens may not have any of their original starting defensive backs anymore, but that apparently won't stop Matthew Stafford from throwing more interceptions.

Stafford clearly didn't see Chuck Clark underneath Tyler Higbee. And Clark only had to run about 15 yards to take that pick to the house and put the Ravens up 7-0.

Vince Verhei: Matthew Stafford, over his last five quarters, has honestly been one of the worst quarterbacks in the league.

Derrik Klassen: It feels like at least half of Matthew Stafford's interceptions are inside his own 20. Today he adds another. On a third-and-2, the Rams ran a stick concept. Safety Chuck Clark, who was playing over the No. 2 receiver to the trips side, jumped the route from outside in for the pick-six. Looked like he was communicating something with the other safety behind him just before the snap; have to imagine Clark really felt that one coming.

Scott Spratt: By my count, Derrik, that is Stafford's ninth interception thrown inside his own 30-yard line out of 14 total interceptions this season.

Vince Verhei: Matthew Stafford's second interception isn't nearly as bad his first, but he forced a deep ball to a triple-covered Odell Beckham with multiple receivers open underneath. At least this one pins the Ravens inside their own 5.

Vince Verhei: Here's Stafford's second pick, which is also Chuck Clark's second pick. Beckham, for some reason, comes up and punches Clark's ass while he's still on the ground. By rule, that should be an ejection, right? I think the refs let it go because it's just so silly. What are you going to do, knock him out with bad glute?

Vince Verhei: Ravens take over after that interception and drive 91 yards for a field goal—and it likely would have been a touchdown had Aaron Donald not pressured Tyler Huntley and forced an incomplete pass on third down. So it's 10-0 Baltimore as Huntley is badly outplaying Stafford so far—he's 10-of-12 for 115 yards and also ran for a 15-yard gain on a fourth-down conversion.

Vince Verhei: Huntley finally made a big mistake, throwing an out route while his receiver ran a go. That was an easy interception for the Rams in Baltimore territory, and Cooper Kupp scored an 18-yard touchdown from there.

But Huntley rallied on the next drive, leading the Ravens to a field goal, and it might have been more if it had not been the end of the half. (With no timeouts, they kicked the field goal on third-and-10.) Huntley continues to impress—he has been the better passer in this game, and he also leads all players with 43 rushing yards. Ravens lead 13-7 at the half.

Vince Verhei: Cooper Kupp trying to save the Rams' day. Second-and-7, nobody's open, so Stafford checks down to Kupp behind the line of scrimmage. It's not a screen, mind you, no blockers in sight. But Kupp charges ahead and breaks a bevy of tackles to gain 21 yards and set up a first-and-goal. Sony Michel gets a 1-yard touchdown shortly thereafter to cut Baltimore's lead to 16-14, 12:09 left to play in the game.

Vince Verhei: Oh, Ravens. They quickly get to a first-and-goal, needing just one third-down conversion (a third-and-1 at that) to get there. But on third-and-goal, they take a delay of game, and then Huntley is sacked. It's fourth-and-goal from the 16, so they really have no choice, but they kick the field goal that turns a one-score lead into a one-score lead. The lead is 19-14 with 4:30 left, and L.A. will get at least one chance to win with a touchdown.

Vince Verhei: And suddenly the September Rams have arrived. Four straight completions gain a combined 58 yards, then Michel runs for 8 to set up a second-and-2 at the Baltimore 9 at the two-minute warning.

Vince Verhei: After the two-minute warning, Michel is stuffed on back-to-back plays to set up a fourth-and-5. But then Odell Beckham saves the day, catching a 5-yard pass to keep the drive alive and then a 7-yard touchdown for the lead. You'll recall that Beckham threw a punch at a player earlier in this game but was not ejected.

The hook-and-lateral two-point conversion fails. Ravens trail 20-19. Huntley has 57 seconds and one timeout to get a winning field goal.

Vince Verhei: Well that was anticlimactic. Ravens need four plays and their last timeout just to get one first down, and then on the next play Von Miller blows up the right tackle for an instant sack. Baltimore's Stanford band play goes nowhere and the Rams win.

Pass rush won this game for L.A. They sacked Huntley five times, with five different players getting at least half a sack. Kupp is still Kupp and Michel had some good runs today. The only reason they don't look like a Super Bowl-caliber team right now is Stafford, and if he can just stop throwing the ball to the other team, they look scary.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 28 at New York Jets 24

Scott Spratt: The Jets are missing Elijah Moore, Corey Davis, Jamison Crowder, Tevin Coleman, Ryan Griffin, and maybe more skill players for injuries, COVID, etc. But I guess they just need Braxton Berrios? The 190-pound slot receiver ran in his second red zone touchdown in the last three weeks, which is super weird. But now he has also caught a touchdown and has the Jets up 14-7 over the defending champions early in the second quarter.

Aaron Schatz: I don't know who this guy is wearing Zach Wilson's uniform but he doesn't look much like the Wilson I have seen earlier in the year. Dealing with strikes to covered receivers, not to mention the pocket presence to throw a screen pass with a little lob over an untouched Vita Vea, who was bearing down on him. Now I need to watch to see why the Buccaneers offense has been slowed down so substantially today. 24-10 Jets.

Bryan Knowles: So, Antonio Brown is Antonio Browning? He took off his jersey and undershirt, threw them into the crowd, and ran back into the locker room. Zwuh?

Aaron Schatz: Antonio Brown had some kind of hissy fit on the sideline and stripped off his pads and his jersey and threw stuff into the crowd and then marched his way to the locker room. More of the usual stable sanity from Brown, apparently.

The Jets have a strong front four but they do not have a strong secondary. When the offensive line is giving him time to throw—and not earning silly unsportsmanlike penalties for jawing at the Jets—Tom Brady can connect with his lesser receivers. Plus he still has Mike Evans and Rob Gronkowski out there. But Brady sails it at the goal line two straight times, overthrowing Breshad Perriman on first down and Gronk on third. They go for it on fourth-and-goal from the 4, Cameron Brate in motion then he angles out and then in, and the Bucs get the touchdown. 24-17 Jets, end of the third quarter.

Cale Clinton: Full video from the stands of Antonio Brown's exit.

Still doesn't show what caused it, but looked like Mike Evans tried to be a voice of reason before Brown ripped his shoulder pads and jersey off.

Bryan Knowles: Buccaneers radio is saying that Brown was benched, and that triggered the sideline meltdown. I haven't been watching this one, so I have no idea why Brown was benched, but that's the current story.

Aaron Schatz: Feels like Brady could get whatever he wanted with shorter passes, but he just launched two passes deep right sideline that didn't connect and the Bucs punted on fourth-and-6 from the Jets 39. I know their offense hasn't been as good as usual today, but really, the Jets 39?

Dave Bernreuther: The surrender index marked that one as a 102.75, which I believe is the highest I have ever seen. Does anyone know if that measure also takes into account the quality of the teams? Because that'd be even worse, I assume.

This photo might make a lovely banner/headline image for this week:

Aaron Schatz: Tampa Bay blitzes get to Zach Wilson and force a punt from the Jets backed up on their own goal line; that gives Tampa Bay the ball in the Jets territory. Brady uses the players he does have to get it down to the goal line, but then the ball is a little too low on third-and-goal and a diving Tyler Johnson coming across the middle at the goal line can't hold onto it. Tampa Bay kicks a field goal, now down 24-20. Since I turned this game on it feels like Tampa Bay has had a number of plays that were just this close (hold thumb and forefinger close together) to working.

Aaron Schatz: Jets rushing game is slicing through Tampa Bay's strong run defense today, but mostly by going outside. So on fourth-and-2 at the Tampa Bay 7 ... note the 2 here, not 1 ... the Jets went with a quarterback sneak right up into the strength of the Tampa Bay defensive line. Wilson didn't even get 1 yard, let alone 2. Tom Brady now has two minutes with no timeouts and needs to go 85 yards.

Vince Verhei: I love the Jets' decision to go for it on fourth-and-2 in the red zone. I HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE the call of a quarterback sneak against Tampa Bay, of all teams. And it was fourth-and-2, not 1! Bucs take over down 24-20.

Aaron Schatz: Brady does it. Jets secondary breaks down after a few plays where they forced the Bucs to throw it short and in the middle of the field. They let Tyler Johnson get open for 27 yards. Then Cyril Grayson gets 10 yards but can't get out of bounds. No problem. Next play, the cornerback jumps up and lets Grayson get past him and the safety takes a while to get over for some reason ... did they not realize that the Bucs would throw it along the sidelines? ... and Grayson makes it into the end zone. Bucs go for two and get it, so it is 28-24 and the Jets have 15 seconds. This one looks over, another Brady comeback.

Aaron Schatz: Here's the winning touchdown for the Bucs:

Dave Bernreuther: Those last two plays felt an awful lot like the old TMQ schtick—"… and no timeouts, where oh where might the ball go? MAYBE UP THE FIELD!"

I have to think that the extra-hard shoulder/pump fake—which Brady really doesn't use often enough to be used to it—might have been what allowed Grayson to get behind the safety on the final pass. Otherwise I can't imagine how they let that happen.

Vince Verhei: Brady's three touchdowns give him 40 this season and 80 in a Tampa Bay uniform. That ties him with Josh Freeman for second-most in franchise history behind the 121 of Jameis Winston.

Obviously Brady is the best quarterback in New England Patriots history, but it's not silly to say that he is already the best quarterback in Tampa Bay Buccaneers history too.

Scott Spratt: The Bucs released Antonio Brown.

New York Giants 3 at Chicago Bears 29

Cale Clinton: One quarter into this one, and it's not looking pretty for the Giants. New York opened the game with two straight turnovers on their first two offensive drives. Trevis Gipson strip-sacked Mike Glennon on his first dropback of the day, which Bilal Nichols returned to the 2-yard line to set up a David Montgomery score. Tashaun Gipson followed suit on the very next drive, picking off Glennon on a wayward pass. Glennon has had little go well for him all afternoon. Through one quarter's he's 1-for-2 for 4 yards and an interception with two sacks for 20 yards. Three quarters of football left to play, but you can't find many more disastrous starts than this one.

Scott Spratt: The Giants switched back from Jake Fromm to Mike Glennon as their quarterback starter this week. And after the veteran threw an interception and lost a fumble on his first four dropbacks, the Giants have handed off on 21 of their 23 non-sack offensive plays so far. The Bears just kicked a field goal to go up 17-3 in the final two minutes of the first half, so it will be interesting to see how many passes the Giants will even try to throw in the second half.

Bryan Knowles: That might be a Loser League nightmare, Scott! Glennon has to get going in the second half, or a lot of teams are going to be very sad.

Vince Verhei: Not watching, but I feel the need to point out that at the end of the third quarter, Mike Glennon has gained 16 yards on two completions, while losing 27 yards on three sacks.

Bryan Knowles: Mike Glennon has finally reached 10 pass attempts. Loser Leaguers sigh in massive relief.

Scott Spratt: Wow, this one really snuck up on me, but a Bears pass-rusher just set the franchise record for most sacks in a season, and it wasn't Khalil Mack. Robert Quinn got his 18th sack today and has at least one sack in eight straight games.

Miami Dolphins 3 at Tennessee Titans 34

Vince Verhei: Neither quarterback is playing well in the rain today, but Tua Tagovailoa has definitely been worse than Ryan Tannehill. He has only completed four passes so far while taking two sacks and giving up two untouched fumbles, one on a botched snap, one on a botched handoff. One of those fumbles was recovered by Tennessee to set up a field goal without the benefit of a first down. Titans also have a touchdown (Tannehill ran for a first down on fourth-and-1 in the red zone, then hit Geoff Swaim for a 1-yard touchdown), but Dolphins just got a field goal to cut the lead to 10-3.

Vince Verhei: Good news for Tennessee: D'Onta Foreman just took an off tackle run 21 yards for a touchdown and a 17-3 lead.

Bad news for Tennessee: MyCole Pruitt was carted off with a "so gruesome we're not going to show a replay" ankle injury. Clearly done for the day, and outlook for returning for the postseason looks bleak.

Vince Verhei: Down 17-3, Tua Tagovialoa's fourth-and-11 pass to DeVante Parker is incomplete, and I can finally turn this lousy game off. I have found Miami's offense to be a guilty pleasure this year. When they can stay on schedule and let Tagovailoa play point guard in their RPO scheme, it's fun to watch, kinda like the pre-Mahomes, Alex Smith Chiefs offense. But man, when they're in obvious passing downs and he has to play quarterback, Tagovailoa has been terrible today. There was a second down in his own end zone where he held the ball forever, risking a holding penalty and a safety, before finally rolling out, then missing a wide-open crosser for what would have been a first down. Later, they tried a trick play with Myles Gaskin taking the snap and giving the ball to Tagovailoa, who got rattled by the pass rush and nearly intentionally threw the ball backwards. The Titans kept giving Miami first downs via penalty, but now that they have possession, up two scores with about 10 minutes to go, I am considering this one done and putting on the Jets game. (Now there's something I did not anticipate coming into the day…)

Tom Gower: The quiet part of last Monday's Ian Book Experience was that the Dolphins could barely move the ball at all—they only had more than two first downs on two of something like a dozen competitive possessions. Given the lovely January weather of temperature in the 30s (officially 36, per the Gamebook) and rain, this meant it was shaping up for "first team to 20 wins."

First downs were a riveting 9-7 at the half. But Tennessee was up 17-3 because they did a better job of stacking theirs (four and five on two touchdown drives, to go with three three-and-kicks), and Tua had his first "oops" moment, dropping the ball to make that Titans three-and-kick a three-and-field goal.

That stasis lasted a quarter-plus of empty yards, with both quarterbacks taking sacks on third downs on the edge of field goal range (Tennessee punted, Miami missed from 53). The Dolphins got the game's first play to officially go more than 25 yards (the Titans had a 52-yard run, truncated into a 28-yard run by a penalty for a net of 13 yards) when Tua finally attacked downfield and hit Jaylen Waddle, who had a quiet game, for 45 yards. But they couldn't move the ball from the Tennessee 27, then Devante Parker got a personal foul for whining there should have been pass interference on fourth down (I'm intentionally withholding all officiating-related commentary), D'Onta Foreman ripped off a 35-yard run, and the Dolphins neglected to cover Anthony Firkser in the end zone, and at 24-3 this game was finally beyond what I like to think of as "five dumb minutes" territory.

The taek from this game might be as a sort of referendum on the Dolphins offense. On the one hand, there's what I think of as the Greg Cosell perspective, that Miami's RPO-heavy plan of attack is a reasonable approach to how to play offense given Miami's personnel and strengths and weaknesses. On the other hand, there's what I think of as Derrik Klassen's perspective, that Miami's RPO-heavy plan of attack is ... nonsense? An abomination against the game of football? Awful to watch? Something along those lines? Tua completed fewer than half his passes, with Parker's four catches for 46 yards on 13 targets probably putting him toward the bottom of Quick Reads. The receivers weren't strong at the catch point. The run game, it wasn't much there. It was rough, with a fourth-and-2 pass to nobody in the area late in the game a particular low point. Seriously, it was rough. We'll see what DVOA says about Tennessee's offense—on reflection, it was good enough to win today, but maybe not that great. But the W in the scorebook is what matters in the end.

Las Vegas Raiders 23 at Indianapolis Colts 20

Aaron Schatz: Colts went for it on third-and-goal from the 1 with four seconds left in the half, rather than kicking a field goal. Touchdown, Jonathan Taylor behind a block from Quenton Nelson.

Vince Verhei: Wentz nearly missed this game due to COVID protocols, and for a long time, it looked like the Colts would have been better off if he had stayed at home. On Indianapolis' first four drives, he went 1-of-7 for 8 yards. His highlight in that time was when he avoided a third-down sack by throwing a pass to Quenton Nelson. The guard. Who was not an eligible receiver on the play. It was incomplete and brought up fourth down anyway, so the Raiders declined the penalty. But as badly as he tried to give away the game, the Raiders couldn't take full advantage. Then Wentz played much better on that touchdown drive, taking what the defense gave him for good gains, leading to the score. Raiders still up 13-10 at the half.

Dave Bernreuther: Taylor actually went off right tackle, following blocks from Braden Smith and Mo Alie-Cox. (Hey that rhymes!) That gives Taylor his 20th touchdown of the season, which is a lot.

The Colts hadn't had much going at all before that last drive; Wentz looked a lot like a guy who hadn't practiced all week, with some timing issues and near-misses, and had completed only a single pass before the drive started. They leaned on the run game and it was OK, but the Raiders were decent enough in run defense to halt some drives.

I believe it's Colts ball to start the second half, so if Wentz gets a bit more comfortable we could see a two-for-one after that ballsy call before the half. I know that the numbers on that change significantly at the end of a half but I loved it anyway.

Denver Broncos 13 at Los Angeles Chargers 34

Vince Verhei: Drew Lock has left the game with a shoulder injury. The Broncos' playoff hopes now lie in the hands of Brett Rypien.

Vince Verhei: The good news for Denver is that Lock has returned to the game. The bad news is that on fourth-and-goal, they try a trick play. Pressure gets to Kendall Hinton (he of the "what happens if you take all the quarterbacks away from an NFL team?" game) and his pass back to Lock is underthrown, and though it's complete, the Chargers rally to tackle Lock short of the end zone. Chargers still lead 10-0.

Scott Spratt: The Broncos just tried a Philly Special on a fourth-and-goal from the 2-yard line. It didn't go well. I get that you want to get creative to help your backup quarterback, but maybe just ride Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams against a Chargers run defense that ranks 32nd in DVOA and that Rex Burkhead and the Texans just lit up last week.

Vince Verhei: Brandon McManus gets a 61-yard field goal at the gun (in Los Angeles, not Denver, though the dome helps) to get the Broncos on the board, but they still trail 17-3 at halftime. It sounds fairly dominant for L.A., but really it has been a pretty even defensive slog. Broncos actually lead in yards per play, 5.1 to 4.4. Chargers are winning almost exclusively because of fourth downs. Broncos have turned it over on fourth down twice, once in easy field goal range. (They also converted a fourth-and-1 near midfield on their first drive, but ended up turning it over on downs anyway.) The Chargers have converted their only official fourth-down attempt, and basically got another one when Denver muffed a punt and L.A. recovered. Those two fourth-down "conversions" set up a late touchdown from Justin Herbert to Keenan Allen. Switch two or three of those plays and this score could easily be tied.

Scott Spratt: Andre Roberts is going to single-handedly keep the Chargers out of the special teams DVOA basement!

This game was already over, but now it's more over at 27-6 Chargers.

Vince Verhei: Broncos open the second half with a long scoring drive, which is kind of a mixed bag when you're down by three scores. They didn't have a single 10-plus-yard play on the drive—their longest gain came on third-and-12 from the Chargers' 19, when Lock threw incomplete but picked up a first down on a roughing the passer call. Then fourth-down problems bite them again as a fourth-and-goal touchdown is wiped out by an unforced error, an illegal formation penalty. They settle for a field goal, cutting the lead to 20-6.

And then Chargers special teams go all ANTI-CHARGERS SPECIAL TEAMS. Andre Roberts returns the ensuing kickoff 101 yard for a touchdown. Broncos go up 27-6 and this one feels over early.

Vince Verhei: Another fourth-down failure for Denver as Lock throws incomplete to Noah Fant on fourth-and-3 just across midfield. A few plays later, Mike Williams gets behind the Broncos defense for a 45-yard touchdown, Chargers are up 34-6, and I'm done paying attention to this one.

Arizona Cardinals 25 at Dallas Cowboys 22

Aaron Schatz: A.J. Green beat Trevon Diggs down the sideline for 42 yards. I mean, he was wide open ... the ball hung in the air and he still was ahead of Diggs on it. Cardinals stall down at the goal line, with a false start and a couple of incompletes. 3-0 Cardinals.

Vince Verhei: Cardinals go with the fake punt, and Jonathan Ward makes one of the best catches of the year for the conversion.

Aaron Schatz: Again, the Cowboys let the Cardinals get down the field, thanks in part to that fake punt. Once again, they got stopped on third-and-goal, with Micah Parsons tackling Chase Edmonds on the 1-yard line. This time they go for it on fourth down and it's beautiful. Murray fake, bootleg left, looks like Murray can run it in but Malik Hooker has that blocked ... but Antoine Wesley is open! Anthony Brown came off him and Murray finds him for the touchdown, 10-0 Cardinals.

Aaron Schatz: Dak Prescott has been off a bit in this game, and the Cardinals are batting down a few of his passes, but the penalties just switched over ... the Cowboys had a number of penalties early but the Cardinals had three to extend the last drive and Prescott finally found Michael Gallup in the front left corner of the end zone, one-on-one with Kevin Peterson, one of those outmatched UDFA veteran types that had us wondering if the Cardinals secondary was going to be any good before the season. Now 10-7 Cardinals.

Bryan Knowles: Dallas responds to Arizona's long touchdown drive with one of their own, with Michael Gallup making a great leaping catch to come down with the ball in the end zone to get things to 10-6 (pending the PAT). But Gallup is hurt on the play, clutching his knee, and that may end up mattering more than the touchdown does.

Tom Gower: Cardinals up 13-7 at the half. Are penalties on Cowboys third downs the story of the game? Dallas had the ball four times in the first half. On both drives ending in punts, they were flagged for holding on third down, and would go on to kick. On the drive where Greg Zuerlein missed a field goal, they were flagged for false start on third-and-4 and then didn't convert. On the touchdown drive, Budda Baker was called for offside on a third-down stop, and the ensuing third-and-4 was a touchdown pass to Michael Gallup (who, alas, suffered a non-contact knee injury and was quickly declared out for the game).

Watching this game after the Dolphins earlier, it's striking how much more quick-twitch of an athlete Kyler is compared to Tua, especially when extending plays.

Bryan Knowles: Woah, Antoine Wesley! Wesley made a spectacular catch over Anthony Brown for a touchdown. Is it hyperbole to call it DeAndre Hopkins-esque? Yes. But they need playmakers with Hopkins out, and Wesley has risen to the challenge.

19-7 Cardinals.

Aaron Schatz: Antoine Wesley just climbed the ladder to get up over Anthony Brown and high-pointed the ball to come down with a spectacular touchdown catch. Wesley is a UDFA who has been injured for a couple of years, but played for Kliff Kingsbury at Texas Tech. He has basically replaced DeAndre Hopkins as the left outside receiver and obviously that's a downgrade, but damn if Wesley hasn't played very well this afternoon. Cardinals failed on the two-point conversion so we're at 19-7 Cardinals.

Vince Verhei: Two weeks ago, Wesley was our bottom-ranked receiver in Quick Reads. Good for him for playing better today!

Aaron Schatz: Cardinals coverage has mostly been very good today on the top Cowboys receivers. Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb have combined for two catches and only six targets. Dak Prescott's accuracy hasn't been outstanding, but that has been a lot of how the Cardinals continued Prescott's "slump." He just scrambled for the first down only to have it called back on holding, so another punt for Dallas.

Aaron Schatz: Cowboys finally get a touchdown after Prescott bootlegs for a conversion on fourth-and-1 near the goal line. Touchdown to Cedrick Wilson. Cowboys smartly go for two down by nine, 22-13, but they somehow get a delay of game. They kick the extra point from 5 extra yards back instead. 22-14 Cardinals.

Bryan Knowles: Well, maybe the Cowboys aren't out of this one just yet. Kyler Murray took a nasty sack, which caused Arizona to punt from their own 5-yard line. Dallas started on the Arizona 31 and was able to eventually find the end zone, though doing it in eight plays isn't exactly the pinnacle of efficiency. It's 22-14 Arizona now, so things are still in play.

Vince Verhei: Heh. Cedric Wilson was our bottom-ranked receiver last week. Things change!

Aaron Schatz: Isaiah Simmons knocked the ball away from Dak Prescott as he was scrambling for positive yardage on second-and-11, and Simmons came up with the ball as well. After a 15-yard facemask penalty, the Cowboys stop the Cardinals on the next series but Matt Prater puts through a 38-yard field goal so we're now at 25-14 Cardinals.

Aaron Schatz: The Cardinals secondary played well early but as the game has gone on, they have let guys get open. This game is partly a battle between Dak Prescott being indecisive and inaccurate on one hand and the Cardinals secondary not being very deep on the other. Cowboys just got a 75-yard drive where the latter won out over the former. A trick play double-pass with Cedrick Wilson throwing a rainbow to a wide-open Tony Pollard certainly helped. Cowboys go for two and get it, so we're at 25-22 Cardinals.

Aaron Schatz: Another issue for the Cowboys is that their defense has been highly dependent on turnovers. Cowboys lead the NFL with 33 takeaways coming into today's games and with 3:12 left in this game they have none.

Aaron Schatz: Kyler Murray's mobility kills the last attempt the Cowboys had at stopping the Cardinals. Draw for 15 yards, option pitch to Chase Edmonds for 11 yards, then he salts things with a keeper of 9 yards on second-and-4 right before the two-minute warning. Cardinals will win.

Vince Verhei: Loved watching that last drive. Kliff Kingsbury's offense isn't perfect, but his option schemes are so fun and effective.

Aaron Schatz: I should mention that before the Murray run, Chase Edmonds had a 6-yard carry that included a fumble ... but after he was down. Except that a replay showed that maybe the fumble started before he was down. But because it was before the two-minute warning and the Cowboys had no timeouts, the Cowboys could not challenge.

Carolina Panthers 10 at New Orleans Saints 18

Scott Spratt: The Saints couldn't score their first opening-drive touchdown of the season or score the first opening-drive touchdown against the Panthers this season. But Taysom Hill did complete three passes to Alvin Kamara for 50 yards on the drive, which helped the Saints even the game at 3-3 late in the first quarter. That Hill-Kamara connection has strangely been missing in Hill's two most recent starts. Kamara had just four catches in each of Weeks 14 and 15.

Scott Spratt: Is it still a Wildcat carry if the direct snap is to Cam Newton for a designed run?

Bryan Knowles: Chuba Hubbard, who has been near the bottom of our DVOA tables all year long, just ripped off a 21-yard run where Jeff Heath slid off of him like butter. Hey, even a broken clock, right? 10-3 Panthers.

Scott Spratt: Taysom Hill is close to 100 yards passing late in the first half thanks to a deep completion to Marquez Callaway and a big Alvin Kamara catch-and-run, but Hill has just two carries for 6 yards, I think both on scrambles. I think I'm less pessimistic for Hill's NFL prospects than most, but that approach just doesn't make sense. Hill's only chance to be a long-term starter is to lean on his plus skills as a runner. Otherwise, he's just an inexperienced and weak-armed passer.

Vince Verhei: To be fair, Scott, he's also an AGING, inexperienced, weak-armed passer.

Scott Spratt: FOX just ran a package on how Matt Rhule saw his rebuilds at Temple and Baylor become winning seasons in his third years with the programs. I think the implication is that Rhule should turn the Panthers into a 10-game winner next season? Sure, I guess by then he'll have mostly his own recruits. Are there any more Temple players in the pros he could sign?

Scott Spratt: Well in my face. Hill just beautifully executed a two-minute offense. Starting with a third-and-11 on his own 3-yard line, Hill went 70 yards in a little over a minute, all with passes. A field goal at the end cut the Saints' deficit to 10-9 at the half.

Vince Verhei: Earlier today, the Giants finished the game against the Bears with negative passing yardage. The Saints are apparently the yin to their yang (or, more accurately, the yuk to their yak), because they have negative rushing yardage in the first half against Carolina. And there's not one big loss skewing that total, either—Alvin Kamara, Ty Montgomery, and Tony Jones all have negative yardage. Only Taysom Hill (three carries for 6 yards) is going the right direction.

Bryan Knowles: The Saints look to ice this one entirely, with Alvin Kamara scoring the Saints' first offensive touchdown in 11 quarters. But the extra point hits the upright, and so the Saints just have an 18-10 lead—still a one-score game!

Detroit Lions 29 at Seattle Seahawks 51

Carl Yedor: Rashaad Penny opened the scoring here with a 15-yard touchdown after a methodical drive that took Seattle down the field on its second possession. The Seattle defense forced a stop on fourth-and-1 at their own 30, and they were able to capitalize with the score. Up to that point, Detroit had moved the ball down the field pretty easily on their opening drive. Detroit's second drive netted them one first down before needing to punt. It has been raining off and on in Seattle today, which is a welcome change for many of the locals after the snowstorms of the past week.

Seattle put together another decent drive, but it stalled out on the edge of field goal range, forcing a 51-yard try from Jason Myers. The kick is good (which has been anything but a given from Myers this year), and Seattle takes a 10-0 lead as the first quarter comes to a close.

Vince Verhei: Penny finishes the first quarter with seven carries for 74 yards and a touchdown. They declined his fifth-year option, which means he's going to turn a few big games against horrible defenses into a fat new contract with Seattle, then get hurt again in September.

Russell Wilson is 6-of-10, which is OK, for only 35 yards, which is GAHHHHH!

The Lions passing attack with Tim Boyle sucks, but their rushing attack is even worse.

Bobby Wagner left the game with an apparent groin injury and that may be it for his Seahawks career.

That's all I got.

Vince Verhei: First-and-10, Lions try an end around to Amon-Ra St. Brown. He ends up in space against Carlos Dunlap, which sounds like a terrible mismatch, but Dunlap makes a great play (he has been excellent in the last third of the year) to force a loss of yardage. No matter—on third-and-long, Detroit just puts St. Brown at tailback and gives it to him up the gut, and he busts out a 26-yard touchdown run. Announcers say the Lions have been using St. Brown at tailback regularly, which is news to me, but it sure worked there.

Carl Yedor: Russell Wilson hits DK Metcalf for a touchdown on third-and-long in the red zone against a Cover-0 pressure to give Seattle a 24-7 lead. Metcalf looked like he was headed across the field before cutting straight to the goal post, which let him run under a lofted ball from Wilson that narrowly beat the pressure. It was reminiscent of several Wilson highlights of years gone by, when running Cover-0 against Wilson was just an invitation for Doug Baldwin to beat someone one-on-one from the slot and hit a big play. Seattle forces a punt on Detroit's ensuing drive, getting the ball back with about five minutes remaining in the first half.

Vince Verhei: The Seahawks have had a very frustrating year, and they are taking it all out on these poor overmatched Lions. It's 31-7 at halftime. Penny is up to 16-144-2. Wilson has touchdown passes to both Metcalf and Tyler Lockett (the latter a SHOVeLL pass that was more like a sweep). Seattle went three-and-out on their first drive but scored on every possession after that. The Lions have gotten some pop on the ground (In addition to that St. Brown touchdown run, D'Andre Swift got a 31-yard run somewhere in there), but that's about the only thing that has gone right for them today.

Vince Verhei: First play of the second half: Tim Boyle commits a fumble and an interception on the same play.

Third play of the second half: Wilson-to-Metcalf, touchdown. That's a season-high 38 points for Seattle with 29 minutes to go.

Vince Verhei: Khadarel Hodge with a diving fingertip grab gets Detroit down to the 1-yard line, and St. Brown with the octopus (touchdown and two-pointer) cuts the lead to 38-15.

And then—Herm Edwards alert, Scramblers!—Lions go with the onside kick attempt. They recover the ball, but then the entire wet, freezing stadium must sit through the longest replay review ever, here in this meaningless game between two eliminated teams, as it apparently takes five minutes to determine that yes, it's Detroit's football.

Vince Verhei: Well, the Lions are definitely emptying the playbook and going down swinging. Fourth-and-3 after the onside kick, St. Brown gets free for a 31-yard catch-and-run. First-and-goal, the Lions go tackle-eligible, but D.J. Reed knocks the ball out and incomplete. But when a Seattle penalty gives the Lions a new set of downs, they go tackle-eligible AGAIN, with an off-balance formation to boot, and it results in a touchdown pass to Taylor Decker that cuts the lead to 38-22. They kick deep after that, but this one's not over yet.

Anyway. Going tackle-eligible twice in one goal-to-go sequence feels like the most Dan Campbell thing ever.

Vince Verhei: Seahawks respond with a 16-play, 80-yard drive that eats up more than seven minutes off the clock and man, the Lions suck. Metcalf gets his third touchdown of the day, first hat trick of his career. Seahawks now up 45-22 and somehow there are still 12 minutes left.

Houston Texans 7 at San Francisco 49ers 23

Bryan Knowles: Trey Lance still has "hold on to the ball too long"-itis; he has taken some sacks that Jimmy Garoppolo wouldn't have. That means he's 5-for-6, but that sixth throw was an interception, which the Texans were able to cash into points. It's 7-0 as the 49ers enter a two-minute drill.

Bryan Knowles: Trey Lance is showing the kind of rust you would expect from a player who hasn't really played in two years—he failed on a fourth-down conversion on a tough throw to Aiyuk when he had room to run and George Kittle open shorter, and has had a couple near-picks to go with his one pick. But his defense picks him up after that failed fourth-down conversion, with Mac Harris (... no, I have not heard of him either) picking Davis Mills off. Lance then finds Elijah Mitchell in the flat and the 49ers take a 10-7 lead.

Bryan Knowles: The Texans pull out the best offensive play in the game—the underthrown DPI ball—on back-to-back plays against the 49ers. 60 yards in penalties! The 49ers now lead the league with 19 DPI calls this season. It's ridiculous.

The Texans' offensive line then parts like the Red Sea, they're pushed back to a long field goal, and they miss, so it's still 10-7, but ye gods.

Bryan Knowles: The 49ers have been setting boot action for Lance up all day long, and it finally paid off. The Texans bite on play-action, Lance has all day to scan the field, and Deebo Samuel runs a drag route through the Texans' secondary. Easy throw, easy catch, safety misses, 45-yard touchdown. 49ers take a 17-7 lead and while it's not over yet, that's some much-needed breathing room against a feisty Texans team.

Rivers McCown: Didn't really think Lance looked all that great, definitely didn't seem like Kyle Shanahan trusted him, but the Texans conserva-balled their way to just seven points so it didn't matter anyway. Sorry, Bryan.

Bryan Knowles: He certainly wasn't great, but if you want a reason why the 49ers traded three first-round picks for Lance, you just have to compare his passing chart to Garoppolo's.

Minnesota Vikings 10 at Green Bay Packers 37

Scott Spratt: Is this bizarro special teams day? The Chargers already defied expectations with a kickoff return touchdown. And a Packers team that ranks 32nd in special teams DVOA just converted on an impressive 35-yard field goal. Punter/holder Corey Bojorquez couldn't secure the snap on his first effort, but kicker Mason Crosby slow-played it so Bojorquez had time to reset the ball. The eventual conversion gives the Packers a 3-0 lead after one drive, and we'll see how the Vikings manage on offense with Sean Mannion at quarterback.

Aaron Schatz: Mannion can move around a little bit but he's overall not great. Fourth-and-2 he finds a guy on the sideline who's covered. Packers get the ball back and move downfield but they go for it too on fourth down, fourth-and-3 on the 11, and Davante Adams can't bring it in with Mackenzie Alexander getting a bit of a grip on Adams' right arm. No flag, though.

Scott Spratt: The Packers have dominated this game through seven total drives. They have outgained the Vikings 169 yards to 37 and 6.8 yards per play to 3.4. But the Packers have settled for two field goals and turned the ball over on downs, so it's just 6-0 Packers midway through the second quarter.

Aaron Schatz: Finally, Green Bay touchdown, Allan Lazard. The yards per play difference is now 7.6 to 2.4 and that's not going to change because Mannion just isn't even trying to throw the ball downfield.

Bryan Knowles: The Vikings do not look like a team alive in the playoff race, and the Packers do not look like a team about to sew up the No. 1 seed with a week to go.

Scott Spratt: Aaron Rodgers has made a handful of perfect "drop it in the bucket" throws tonight. And perusing the teams' respective depth charts, I think that may have been part of the Packers game plan. The 6-foot-5 Allen Lazard had a 6-inch height advantage over the cornerback Kris Boyd trying to defend him on that touchdown pass.

Scott Spratt: Could this game do anything for the public perception of Kirk Cousins? Cousins went for 341 passing yards and three touchdowns in the Vikings' Week 11 win over the Packers. Mannion looks unlikely to get to 141 passing yards tonight.

J.P. Acosta: I don't think so. We know Kirk Cousins is a lot better than Sean Mannion, but the public perception of Kirk will probably change when he plays well against other good quarterbak.

Bryan Knowles: Right, well, that was fun guys, but I think we're done here, with Davante Adams scoring with a minute left to go in the second half. The Packers are outgaining the Vikings 299 yards to 28, and the Vikings simply cannot cover Davante Adams. Packers will win, clinch the bye week, and take next week off if'n they so desire.

Scott Spratt: I have no idea why I'm watching this game late in the third quarter, but offensive lineman Garrett Bradbury just had an immaculate reception.

Congrats to the Vikings for having a highlight while down 30-3.

Bryan Knowles: Garrett Bradbury had 21 yards receiving on that play.

The entire New York Giants football team had 24 yards receiving all day.

compiled by Andrew Potter

Comments

57 comments, Last at 04 Jan 2022, 8:50pm

1 Beckham

Come on, Odell Beckham didn’t “throw a punch” - he was obviously trying to punch the ball out of the defender’s hands. It was still a frustrated and somewhat reckless act that should probably have drawn a flag, but let’s not make it out to be worse than it was.

More notable was Jalen Ramsey throwing a punch at his own teammate at one stage in the first half. The Rams feel like a team that is never too far away from a meltdown with some of the superstar names/egos on their team, and the frustration was evident as events began to go against them. Stafford’s brainfarts have become a huge concern. It was a lucky escape yesterday, and they still have to beat the 49ers next week to seal the division: a team that has been a bete noir for them in recent seasons. I’m not confident in them winning on the road in the playoffs (although the Suer Bowl would be at home if they got there).

49 Just emphatic downing by contact

In reply to by BJR

My take, watching the game live and reviewing the clip again several times:
OBJ is just tagging him down so Clark can't get up and return it. Maybe a little more forceful than it had to be, but I don't think it's close to being unnecessary roughness. I actually thought it was an open-hand "spank", but I could believe a closed fist. Doesn't change my opinion wrt a potential penalty.

During the in-game replays of the int I think OBJ may have made a glancing contact so Clark was already down, but I wasn't sure and I think OBJ was smart to make it clear by tagging him on the ground.

2 Giants

Did anybody watch Bears/Giants? We’ve all seen plenty of games featuring backup QBs implementing ridiculously conservative gameplans which offer little chance of success. But this looks like the Giants made no attempt to win the game whatsoever.

And then there was Joe Judge’s unhinged and incoherent rant after the game. They’ve already agreed to bring him back next year?? What a mess.

6 Unfortunately I did.

In reply to by BJR

The Giants line was collapsing on nearly every pass attempt. If they started throwing more they probably would have lost 50-3, and Quinn might have the league record for sacks instead of just the Bears.

48 This is exactly right…

This is exactly right. Glennon doesn't have enough mobility and/or processing speed to deal with getting pressure as soon as he hit the top of his dropback on every play. Judge/Kitchens knew this and wisely decided that every dropback was a disaster waiting to happen. I'm not sure I've ever seen a game before where a team simply wasn't good enough to try to run pass plays but that's where the Giants are at this point. 

13 Mike Glennon --was it the worst game ever?

In reply to by BJR

I think that Glennon was even worse than Joe Namath against Buffalo on September 29, 1974.   In massive winds Namath was 2-18 for 33 yards with 3 INT's with 1 rush for zero yards and no sacks.  Namath did fumble twice but had no lost fumbles.  This game was recently brought up because Mac Jones threw 3 passes in a game in Buffalo, which were the fewest passes thrown since Namath's opponent in that game Joe Ferguson.  The Bills won despite Ferguson going 0-2, yes Buffalo won without completing a pass.

https://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/197409290buf.htm

Glennon's quarterback rating yesterday was 5.4, his QBR was zero, they did not have QBR back in the day, I have been unable to find it retroactively.

Namath's quarterback rating was zero, Ferguson was 39.6, because throwing two incomplete passes without an interception is much better than Namath and Glennon.

Quarterback rating will not take into account Glennon's 4 sacks, his 13 yard run, and his 4 fumbles, two lost.

Glennon 4-11 for 24 yards, 4 sacks for -34 yards net -10 yards with 4 turnovers.  I'll put Namath in the neighborhood, but when I adjust for era I must assume that Glennon's DVOA would be worse.  It may even be worse without era adjustment, conditions adjustment (subjective, but Namath's weather condition had to be worse) or opponent adjustment.  Opponent adjustment will further ding Glennon as the Bears are 24th in pass DVOA. 

I know that we can not get DVOA and DYAR for Namath as FO has yet to go back to 1974.  I know that we will get Glennon's DYAR soon, he may be saved from worst game ever by DYAR due to the fact that DYAR is cumulative and Glennon's volume was low.  Looking forward to Vince's article in Quick Reads. 

Anyone have a worse game that they can think of looking back?

 

14 GB/Lynn Dickey

Put up a 5-20 for 45 yards but five sacks for 67(!!) yards and 2 interceptions in 1976

 

And in 1974 Jerry Tagge 2-9 for 17 yards, an interception and 3 sacks for 18 yards.  So -1 net on the day.

 

Those were the two I remembered and found in pro football reference.  Grisly memories

29 You missed...

...the most notable thing about that 1974 Jets/Bills game, or at least didn't fully highlight it:

*Catches by the Bills defense: 3

*Catches by the Jets offense: 2

*Catches by the Bills offense: 0

30 That is a great point, I love those numbers

In reply to by CHIP72

It was certainly one of the worst QB games ever played and in awful conditions.  The stats that you listed I must assume will never be broken for futility.  I still think that Glennon was worse yesterday, so he deserves a tip of the cap if not a tip of a pass for an INT.  I am hoping to get an article from FO of worst games ever by a QB.

I watched the entire game in 1974 having grown up in NY as a Jets fan.  I was 15 years old at the time.  Having seen many thousands of sporting events this is one that I will remember forever.

So glad that other fan contributors have come up with other great clunker games.  Keep them coming! 

33 Interesting one

Scott Hunter went 1-5 for 9 yards but was sacked once for 9 yards for a net zero passing total in 1971 against the Lions.  But this was when GB was super focused on running the ball as evidenced by over 200 yards rushing.  But still, zero yards.  Yikes

 

Hunter had multiple games with less than 100 yards passing as he completed 46% of his passes that season with 7 TDs and 17 int.  The real surprise is that next season GB won the division at 10-4 with Hunter completing only 43% of his passes with 6 TDs.  Thank you John Brockington and MacArthur Lane

35 One more

In reply to by big10freak

1991.  Have to honor Lindy's final season as head coach.

 

Majkowski 3-16 for 32 yards and 2 sacks for 9 yards.  His replacement was 4-9 for 36 yards a pick and a sack.  Not really on par with the other train wrecks, but it was miserable to watch

31 The Jets defense also…

In reply to by CHIP72

The Jets defense also caught 2 passes that day, but committed pass interference on one of the interceptions and defensive holding on the other.

36 I see all your Glennons,…

I see all your Glennons, Namaths, Fergusons, Dickeys, etc, and raise you Kim McQuilken and Fran Tarkenton in week 8 of 1975 (ATL and MIN).

McQuilken went 5/26 for 43 yards, 0 TD, 5 INT, and 3 sacks.

Tarkenton was much better at 11/22 for 47 yarsd, 1 TD, 0 INT, and 0 sacks.

Vikings won 38-0 (because they ran for 220 yards).

You would see these statlines in a 1970s game at Metropolitan Stadium and think it must have been really windy, or in a driving snowstorm, but nope: 46 degrees and 11mph wind.

Kim McQuilkens career stats are amazing.  I know he played in the dead ball era, but having a career 39% cmp, and a negative ANY/A, yet still hanging around for 5 years is pretty impressive.

44 Bobby Douglass

You missed Bobby Douglass. In 1972, he started all 14 games yet only completed 75 passes (less than 5.5 per game). His line for the year 75/198 for 1246 yds with 9 TDs and 12 INTS. He did rush for 968 yds, only 280 yds less than his total passing yards. Among his weekly stat lines are these gems from the 1972 season.

  • Week 2 Rams - 3/15, 52 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT, 4 sacks/26 yds
  • Week 8 Lions - 4/12, 55 yds, 0 TD, 0 INT, 4 sacks/31 yds
  • Week 12 Vikings - 2/13, 8 yds, 1 TD! 1 INT, 3 sacks/7 yds
  • Week 13 Eagles - 1/9, 44 yds, 0 TD, 1 INT, 1 sack/8 yds

McQuilken at least had the excuses of playing for a team that was still struggling from being an expansion team and no coach ever started him for more than a few games each year. Douglass was a starter for the entire season. 

46 In 1979, Jim Zorn had a game…

In reply to by justanothersteve

In 1979, Jim Zorn had a game against the Rams where he went 2-for-17 for 25 yards, while getting sacked six times for 55 yards. That's a net passing yardage of minus 30. But hey, at least he didn't throw an interception.

51 I watched it. I watched the…

In reply to by BJR

I watched it. I watched the whole damned thing. The most interesting thing about this game was the fact that the Giants have the Bears first round pick this year, so they were going to benefit from this whether they won or lost. Except... our cap situation kind of sucks. 

Next year should be about unloading as many contracts as possible and taking the dead money hit while pretending Daniel Jones and Joe Judge are salvageable, pick up the best players available in the draft, then clean house and enter 2023 with a favorable cap and (hopefully) a lot of young talent in 2023. Send Saquon somewhere like Buffalo, where he'd talent around him to be productive. 

3 RE: Chase

Refs were letting defenders be very aggressive in the KC/Cincy game.  Chase was not fazed.  He repeatedly made outrageous catches with a defender obviously grabbing whatever was available.  The last 30 yard catch I have no idea how Chase gets single coverage at that point

 

Just an amazing effort.  

8 You just surround him with…

In reply to by big10freak

You just surround him with three guys at this point. It's gonna be a travesty when they give Jones OROY over him, and I'm not any sort of Cincy fan.

10 RE: Chase

He now leads the NLF in yards per catch at 18.1.  Has 13 receiving touchdowns. 

 

Burrows now leads the NFL in yards per attempt. 

 

Not a genius to believe that if the Bengals can improve the offensive line this offense will be a legit powerhouse assuming health. 

57 It would be ridiculous

In reply to by RickD

A handoff king whose coach does not trust him to win a big game, and who failed badly in consecutive weeks with the #1 seed and a division title on the line, does not deserve to win the award over a player who is having one of the best rookie WR seasons ever, if not the best. Yes, playing quarterback in the NFL is harder than playing wide receiver, but Jones doesn’t deserve to be graded on such a curve that he should win the award over Chase. 

4 Dallas/AZ

The Dallas games I have seen boy is that team aggressive in committing penalties. Meaning they don’t make it hard on officials.  Holding?  Oh yeah that’s a wrestling move by the guard.  DPI?  Ok he grabbed Jersey then pulled down the arm.  
 

But good grief the complaining.  Yes all players complain about penalties.  But the Cowboys just look so dumb griping when the penalty was so overt the official would be embarrassed to not throw a flag. 
 

Every time I see the Cards defense I come away really impressed with the effort.  Repeatedly multiple guys crowd the LOS and then right before or at the snap guys fly to their actual area.  Teams do “some” of that but the Cards do this a LOT.  A fair amount of defense is “try”.  And man there is a whole bunch of “try” in Arizona. 

50 The problem isn't so much…

The problem isn't so much that they're not actually committing those penalties, it's that the majority of them appear to be tacky tack calls that teams commit every play, and that the strict interpretation never goes against the other team's o-line.   The Cowboys players are being more vocal about it, because it's been a pattern in numerous games, and because McCarthy is finding out what it's like to be the coach of a team that doesn't get all the calls. In the post game conference, Cowboys LB Vander Esch even makes it pretty clear that McCarthy feels the Cowboys played "two teams".

In the six close games the Cowboys have played this year, they've been heavily penalized, and have lost half of them. You can literally predict which games will be close and have a good chance to be lost based on who the reffing crew is. Both Shawn Hochuli reffed games (Bucs and Raiders) were close losses with a heavy dose of ref ball, with especially bizarre rule interpretation in the Raiders game. Both Scott Novak games (Vikings and Cards) were close with flags galore, and the only reason the Vikings game was even close was an entire Vikings drive that was sustained by questionable penalties on the Cowboys D-line. The other two close games were narrow wins, with some typically awful Tony Corrente reffing in the Chargers game that actually favored Dallas, and then typical Foxborough-Patriot shenanigans led by Brad Allen's crew that the Cowboys miraculously overcame.

I had made my peace with the Cowboys dropping a winnable game against the Cardinals despite the weird calls, because they honestly didn't play very good. That was until the final Cardinals drive, when the refs were willfully blind to the clock hitting double zeros and decided not to throw a delay of game flag, and when New York decided not to review what was obviously a fumble on the field by the Cardinals. It's easy to accept your team losing when they get outclassed and out-coached, like the Broncos and Chiefs games. When rule application is slanted and arbitrary, it's impossible not to be suspicious and  frustrated, which is what's happening to the Cowboys.

 

 

5 GB special teams

We’re not terrible for a second straight week.  Stunner!

 

And the new punt returner actually made positive yardage on multiple returns.  Wow!

 

Baby steps

 

7 Otherwise I can't imagine…

Otherwise I can't imagine how they let that happen.

They're the Jets?

Also, if you guys missed out on the Matt Ryan taunting after his oh-crap-on-review-it-isn't-a-touchdown, well, it was hilarious.

17 "taunting"

That rule needs to disappear.  Ryan was yelling at somebody he thought hit him after he'd scored a TD.  

I don't know what problem the NFL thinks it's solving with that rule, but the application is so inconsistent, it's ridiculous.  Players yap at each other all the time.  And, by some contorted logic, the NFL still allows sack dances and TD celebrations - which are ... not taunting?  

But Matt Ryan yelling at the guy who just tackled him in the end zone is taunting?  

It was ridiculous last week when the officials in Foxboro claimed that David Andrews yelling at the guy who hit Mac Jones late was "taunting."  There is no rhyme nor reason to the rule.  And it certainly isn't making the game better.  

23 I completely agree, that…

In reply to by RickD

I completely agree, that rule needs to be gone. That said, the hilarity of it is that we've seen it cost several teams games this year and people are still doing it. Shut up and walk away.

52 They also need to change the…

In reply to by RickD

They also need to change the rule about a QB being down without touched on a head first dive, at least close to the goal line. Multiple TDs have been lost since that rule was added on QB runs who had no intention of going down to avoid a hit.

The simplest adjustment without scrapping the rule altogether would be to eliminate the head first dive protection within the 5 yard line. That would still allow for bad spots away from the end zone but near a first down, but would be a major improvement nonetheless.

56 Ryan turned and spiked the ball at Poyer

In reply to by RickD

That’s why he got flagged. Players celebrating after sacks are directing their stuff toward the crowd; that’s the difference. (Regular players who gesture toward the opponent’s sideline are supposed to be flag; Tom Brady can apparently swear at an opposing coach and not get flagged, but membership, as they say, has its privileges.)

That sequence was still hilarious. As someone who spent more than fifteen years watching a bad Bills team beat itself whenever an opponent was giving it a chance to win, I appreciated the Falcons’ effort (and follies), if only for nostalgic reasons. 

20 not becauss rhey are the…

not becauss rhey are the Jets. Because they are Jets, Browns gonna Browns, Broncos going Bronco, Falcs Falconing, Giants will Giant- all dopey nonse.

 

E. Riley did nto climb to get track guy runnnign 9 route. tema in cover 2 shell. bad play yb youngster is all. tema on upswing. Jets of 2021 reminf of 2020n Bengals.

24 Yeah I agree Raiderjoe, and…

Yeah I agree Raiderjoe, and Elijah Riley is basically Rudy, forced into starting because the Jets have lost their starting safeties to injuries months ago, plus several other guys.  Would like the 2022 Jets to be just like the 2021 Bengals, but we'll see.

11 Consensus?

“consensus best team in football”

well, at least someone—Football Outsiders— disagrees.  You should visit the site, it is really good.

18 "best team in AFC"

In reply to by Raiderfan

would have been more accurate (even though DVOA disagrees).  I hadn't seen anybody argue that the 4-loss Chiefs were playing better than the 3-loss Packers.  

15 And thus ends another Miami Dolphins season

Miami ends the season having played what is likely the easiest schedule they will see for a decade. They didn't make the playoffs with an extra playoff team slot and an extra home game. They're the 3d best team in their division by a healthy lot. They have the 4th best QB, the 5th best OC, they have 2 offensive linemen that should be starting (maybe 3). They have one running back and he's 28, their CBs are also long in the tooth. This isn't a team that looks like it will suddenly leap the Bills or the Pats in 2022. It looks like an 8-8 +/- 1 team that will be 8-8 +/- 1 again next year. Flores has a replacement level coaching record. He is probably a replacement level coach about to enter his I'm going to get fired fourth season. The thing is, if they fire him they're likely to land another replacement level coach. I don't know what the team does from here. Watson is likely a huge risk to not play in 2022 if they give up the farm for him. They're not finding a wizard that can out coach Bill and finish ahead of the Pats. They're not going to out draft the Bills, and they aren't likely to develop Tua with a 2 man OC and no oline. Tua might be as good as he gets unless Sean Payton gets ahold of him. Miami is watching a good coach get Tannehill with all his faults into the playoffs three seasons in a row. I know, Tannehill no longer has to leap over the Pats, but it does prove you can win consistently with an iffy QB.    

28 The other thing I have to…

The other thing I have to say is Belichick's time is numbered; he's 69, there's no way he's still that good at 75.  Plus, Kraft is losing it too, I would not expect him to make the right decisions going forward.

37 I was looking at ages just last night

I think Andy Reid at 63 will coach as long as his health will allow, but it seems likely he won't catch Shula or coach past 70. Belichick wants Shula's record. He needs probably 4 seasons to do it. Given that Shula himself lived into his 90s, I think it's not unreasonable to think Belichick will coach at least 4 more seasons. The most interesting is Mike Tomlin. At 49 he's already has 150+ wins. He will need to find a new QB, but it's not unreasonable to think he might push 300 wins career. The Steelers are not known for a short hook. He will coach there as long as he wants to. Pete Carroll is 70 and you wonder how many years he was left. It does feel like there are more "old" coaches now than ever and they're all obviously highly regarded. I remember when Shula at 65 was considered ancient. These days, being 70 plus seems to be much more accepted.    

55 That's really part of a…

That's really part of a wider trend - in general, people above a certain social class live longer, stay healthier, and are mentally & physically more capable than they have been in ages past. It's a combination of compounding incremental improvements in diet, medicine, and less physically demanding labor. Just look at photos from the 60s and see what people at different ages looked like back then. Heck, compare what Belichick looks like today to what Shula did at the same age - it's not even close. It's not just the hair, either - look at their skin. their posture, and their general body language on the sidelines. Belichick doesn't exactly look young, but he looks nothing like what a 70 year-old man did in the 90s, let alone the 60s. 

21 One of the things I find…

One of the things I find most interesting about the clip of AB imploding on the sideline is how little time Mike Evans spends trying to calm him down.  I mean, they've played together the last two years and spent loads of time together, and Evans by all accounts is a really likeable, calm guy, but he spends just a few seconds trying to get AB back to sanity before realizing he's completely gone and just walks away.

 

22 Mond not ciming in

while Vikes getting smoked is tellling . Guy clearly nto showing much when running scout team in practice and/or nto shwoing grasp of enough stuff in classroom in order to even get his uniform sweaty on gameday when tema losing big. after game M. Zimmer said Mond did not play at all because he sees enoguh in practkice. This commentary translated from coach to regular person speak means Mond is showing absolutely nothing beihnd the scenbes . K. Mond going in 2nd round was surprising. raw player at temas A & M. Thougt he was a day 3, what the hell, throw him at wall, maybe he will stick pick. 2nd round, though? you want that type of guy to be able to be competent to hand off and have a half dozen plays he could be confident in if inserted inton  a blowout. 

 

ahh, maybe Mond will blossom in offseason btu that selection is nto looking food right now  

25 RE: Zimmer

Mike Zimmer has his positives, but his periodic 'punching down' at bit players on the squad is one of his less flattering qualities.  If it's not struggling kickers it's a kid qb who didn't ask to go to a team with Captain Grumpypants as the head coach.

39 "maybe Mond will blossom in…

In reply to by Raiderjoe

"maybe Mond will blossom in offseason"

Maybe, but he might also have the Christian Hackenberg career path: inspiring so little confidence in practice that his coaches don't even let him play a single snap.  

The pro athlete version of: "better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt."

40 RE: Mond

This is a guy who improved his accuracy during college and had 19 TDs and 3 interceptions in a major conference his senior season.

 

Against Alabama he threw for 318 yards and 3 Tds.  That Tide team finished the season 13-0.  All of his draft profiles were positive.  

 

Look, Mike Zimmer has been a coach in the pros a long time.  But I think it's more likely that Mond is active in the pros in 2 years than Zimmer.  FWIW

41   "All of his draft profiles…

In reply to by big10freak

  "All of his draft profiles were positive"

So was Hackenberg's  The Jets way overdrafted him, but a quick search from 2016 suggests most people had a 3rd or 4th round grade on him.  

Anyway, I barely follow college FB, so maybe you're right. My comment was more about agreeing with RJ about how telling it is that Mond didn't get a single pass attempt in a blowout.  But like you imply, this might be more about Zimmer, than Mond.  I have no idea.

43 Regarding Zimmer

I have been consistent in my criticism of Zimmer for his propensity to verbally beat up 'the little guy' in public.  

 

And I too have no certainty on whether Mond will make it in the pros.  Being a qb is super hard.  But he has something Zimmer doesn't, the promise of the unknown.  Hence my projection of who will and will not be in the pros in the years ahead.

 

The Vikes are a .500 team since that blowout loss to the Eagles in the NFC Championship game.  Pretty much wasted the core of a fine defensive group.  I would be stunned if Zimmer is retained.  And since the league has moved toward hiring younger people for the head coach job I will be doubly surprised if Zimmer ever gets another head coaching job.  D Coordinator, absolutely.  

54 Interesting convo

In reply to by big10freak

I see what you mean by watching this. Dude seems like a real curmudgeon. 

In my view it boils back down to known mediocre quality vet vs less known, younger player. Oh, he wanted the guy that gave him the best shot to win? Ok why not throw out the guy with no NFL tape to hopefully surprise the defense because what actually transpired...well does it REALLY matter if Mond was worse? You got blown out either way. I guess 27 looks better than...30? The unknown promise sure can be enticing when the other side is year SEVEN of SEAN MANNION. 

With respects to Mond, he is unvaccinated and that seems like something Zimmer wouldn't tolerate. Understandable. But then why is he on the team? And in regards to his playing ability, he had some Dak qualities but Dak was also a anomaly. Putting him in and then taking him out is just silly though. Zimmers gotta know he's headed out.

Then again they extended him last year...I still struggle to see why teams do things like this so early. Good on the Cardinals for not falling for Kilffs leak of potentially being poached by OU. Kliff has been back to being questionable since (although nice road win yesterday). 

53 Well he did get 3 attempts…

Well he did get 3 attempts. He played the 2nd to last series for MN.

  • 1st & 10 at MIN 19
    (8:37 - 4th) (Shotgun) K.Mond pass short left to A.Mattison to MIN 25 for 6 yards (A.Amos).

  • 2nd & 4 at MIN 25
    (8:04 - 4th) (No Huddle) K.Mond pass short right to A.Mattison to MIN 24 for -1 yards (C.Sullivan) [R.Gary].

  • 3rd & 5 at MIN 24
    (7:30 - 4th) (Shotgun) K.Mond pass incomplete short right to K.Osborn (K.Barnes).

  • 4th & 5 at MIN 24
    (7:26 - 4th) J.Berry punts 64 yards to GB 12, Center-A.DePaola. D.Moore to GB 14 for 2 yards (H.Hand).

 

The point still stands though because they put Mannion back in for the last series and it wasn't because Mond got hurt. I found it pretty weird that they didn't give him the next series since it started with 1:23 left, he had already been in, and why not give him the actual 2 minute drill game experience. That made it pretty clear that Zimmer didn't like what he saw in practice and that he felt what he didn't like in practice had translated to the one series. I wasn't watching closely enough to see what that might have been though. It wasn't the 3 and out. MN had done that 5 times prior to Mond doing it.  Of the 11 drives MN had. 3 plays for 5 yards, was their 8th best drive of the game (yes they had 3 worse than 3 plays for 5 yards).

So yeah it clearly says Zimmer doesn't like him. But I too can't tell if that is Zimmer or Mond as there are precedents both ways.

47 WYSIATI

This is an example of one of the most annoying  tendencies of the media (albeit just a commenter here). Just because the games are all you see, it doesn't mean the games are all there is. Practice matters. What coaches see matters. Maybe, unlikely though it is, someone told the truth in a press conference and the coaching staff know what they need to know from practice and that inserting the rookie wouldn't help him (er, the rookie, that is).

 

32 While I was happy the…

While I was happy the Packers won last night, the single best moment of last night's game was Garrett Bradbury doing his best Franco Harris imitation on that catch-and-run. It's always fun to watch, as Swagu calls it, "big man balling." 

38 Packers Finally Got Over DVOA Hump

Now 3rd in weighted DVOA-- though virtually tied with KC who is 4th,  YET-- still only 21.9% to win Super Bowl, which means basically that DVOA believes Dallas will be a clear favorite at Lambeau whichever of the two rounds the teams play. (Div round if there are no WC upsets; NFC title game (Ice Bowl 2.0??) if there is/are...  And that the Pats would be clear favorites in a SB.

I worry more about the Rams and Bills, to be honest--- but we shall see  We are into Billy Beane "crapshoot" land.

42 21.9% to win the Super Bowl…

21.9% to win the Super Bowl implies ~60% to win each of 3 playoff games (2 at home, one at a neutral field). That suggests DVOA thinks they are slightly stronger than the average opponent they will be facing. Are you contending that is not strong enough? Because it sounds reasonable to me - perhaps too strong if anything, given this teams recent history of playoff let-downs. 

It's time to stop griping on here each and every week. Perhaps DVOA was not capturing the Packers true strength earlier in the season - for whatever reason - but it is clearly in line with most reasonable expectations of the team now. 

45 My bad

You are absolutely right   was thinking two games, not three...    Things are aligining correctly, which means the Lambeau upset loss is just weeks away.  :)