Football Outsiders
Innovative Statistics, Intelligent Analysis

Week 9 Open Discussion Thread

Lamar Jackson
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

Wait, how did we reach the halfway point of the season already?! Well, the second half of the year begins with a fun one tonight, as the first overall pick in this year's draft, Kyler Murray, squares off against second overall pick Nick Bosa when San Francisco visits Arizona. Big Sunday games include Houston (5-3) at Jacksonville (4-4), Minnesota (6-2) at Kansas City (5-3), Tennessee (4-4) at Carolina (4-3), and New England (8-0) heading to Baltimore (5-2) on Sunday night. The Giants (2-6) host the Cowboys (4-3) on Monday night. Use this thread to discuss them all. 


160 comments, Last at 04 Nov 2019, 11:53pm

1 picks

49ers 25, cZrdinals 17
Texans 31, Jaguars 23
Jets 34, dolphosn 17
Bills 24, Squirrels 9
Pamnthers 29, Tirtnas 18
Egas 23, Bners 20
Vikings 27, Chiefs 20
steelers 26, cloits 21
Raiders 41, Loins 10
SEahawusk 41, Buccaneers 31
Browns 26, Broncos 23 (Overtime)
Packers 34, Chargers 27
Patriots 24, Ravens 20
Cowbiosy 37, Giants 20

18 Picks

In reply to by Raiderjoe

Raiderjoe once again selling the Raiders short..

2 The 49ers let the clock run…

The 49ers let the clock run down to four seconds at the end of the half before going for it on fourth and goal. I'm not sure it makes sense to run the clock down there. If you get a defensive penalty and a first down, you will only get one more play to get the TD with that amount of time remaining.

3 Time Out

…. Followed by the classic game-changing time-out redo (cards appear to have 4th & goal stopped, apparently they called a TO so the play is redone and the 49ers score - going into half up 21-7 instead of 14-7).

15 I don't think coaches should…

In reply to by sbond101

I don't think coaches should be allowed to call timeouts. It has never made a game better, and it makes plenty of them worse. Head coaches have too much to do as it is. 

21 timeout signal

I have no problem with coaches calling timeouts.   That is their prerogative.   But I do think the mechanism of having to get an official's attention to do so is archaic.

I would prefer to give the coach an actual signalling device, with a button that signals timeout and is even tied into some kind of stadium audio and lighting indicator.

Hmm probably a two button combo or a plastic cover that must be raised so they don't call butt timeouts.

26 Low-hanging fruit, but Andy…

Low-hanging fruit, but Andy Reid?  For someone who's a great coach, his standard timeout management is sometimes questionable.  He would need more than a plastic cover the protect the timeout button.  Him and the defensive coordinator should both have to turn their keys at the same time in order to activate the timeout sequence.

7 Huh. So I thought the Cards…

Huh. So I thought the Cards kicking the FG down 14 about 10 minutes into the 4th was a bad decision. But they stymie the Niners, score a quick strike long TD (nice throw by Murray, horrendous tackling by SF), and make the 2-pt conversion. Now they only need a FG to tie. Honestly, it never really occurred to me that you could do it that way - obviously counting on converting the 2 is a huge gamble - but essentially you can do 2 short and 1 long drive (in terms of yardage) to get the tie, instead of 2 long ones.

Not sure that's the right strategy in general (in fact, I'm fairly certain it's not), but perhaps against a team with a particularly strong defense and a mediocre offense - like the Niners - it's better to minimize the average yardage you need per drive, at the expense of making the conversion much higher leverage. Have to think about this.

12 Of course, the whole thing…

Of course, the whole thing is contingent on having a defense good enough to whisk said mediocre offense off the field instead of giving up easy 15-yard catch-and-runs to the backup TE...

8 Horrendous challenge by…

Horrendous challenge by Kingsbury. First icing his own team and now blowing a timeout with 2 mins to go.

9 53ers

If claifonria gold rush occurred in 1853 instead if 1849, 49ers team name wkuld be San Francisco 53ers. Just sormthing to think about.

14 Yup

In reply to by Raiderjoe

That's sormthing to think about alright. :)

Or if the gold rush happened in 1852 the team would be the two-ers.  Yep, I like that, the San Francisco Two-ers.

No wait, the San Francisco Five-ers.  How about the, that sounds like a Florida team with something stuck in their throat.

16 Yeah, I goofed on the Cards…

Yeah, I goofed on the Cards for it above but really that last play was excellent by Garoppolo. I only saw the second half but he played well throughout I thought, albeit against a crappy defense.

It's weird how it feels like he's been around forever but he only just passed a full season's worth of starts, which were split across four years and two teams, so we still don't really know what he can be (and it's worth noting that he's not young, 28). But whenever I've seen him play, I've never seen anything not to like.

19 49ers O Line play

I find it crazy that the 49ers are starting a a rookie 6 Rd draft pick and a journeyman undrafted player at tackle and Jimmy G was barely touched all night and so many other teams whole season were ruined by horrible line play. Even NE, who has only one bad replacement tackle, has been adversely affected for weeks by a guy who really isn't very good.

20 The running game did appear…

The running game did appear to suffer, there were a number of plays I recall being blown up in the backfield. Kyle Shanahan loves to use multiple TEs/FBs, so I suspect there were many occasions where extra blockers were kept in on pass plays. Garropolo also showed excellent pocket awareness to escape the rush on several occasions.

I'd take this game as a big positive for the 49ers. Their defense was always going to come back down to Earth at some stage (and Arizona's offense is no joke, it is improving every week). To continue winning they are going to need Garropolo to produce, and last night he certainly did, albeit against a weak defense. 

Oh and Kittle is a total beast, I'd like somebody to explain to me how such a physically dominant player could have fallen to the 5th round of the draft.

22 Kittle played for Iowa with…

Kittle played for Iowa with C. J. Beathard as a QB, so everyone thought he was only a blocking tight end.  

SF is just lucky they were scouting Beathard and like blocking tight ends.  Lucky.

I'd take this game as a big positive for the 49ers.

It's the first game this year where it didn't look like the 49ers could simply have their way, however they wanted it, and it came against...the Arizona Cardinals?  A mighty 27th in DVOA?  Yee cats.  If you're pulling for the 49ers to be a good team this year, I guess what you're hanging your hat on is that Thursday night games can be strange, particularly on the road against a divisional opponent. 

25 "It's the first game this…

"It's the first game this year where it didn't look like the 49ers could simply have their way, however they wanted it, and it came against...the Arizona Cardinals?"

I wouldn't ding them too much for that.  They wouldn't be the first dominant team that occasionally struggles to beat an inferior but frisky division-mate on the road (see "pre-tanking Dolphins vs Patriots", and "Jeff Fisher Rams vs peak Seahawks"

As far as the 49ers resume as a "good team", they easily handled a couple of pretty good teams in the Panthers and Rams, so I don't think they have much left to prove.

29 I believe the Cardinals to…

I believe the Cardinals to be better than the 27th best team in the league. Their offense is improving by the week. As was noted in this week's DVOA commentary "(their offense) has improved to 19th overall, and that's split between -15.1% (28) in September and 10.7% (9) in October." They are certain to rise again after last night.  

Perhaps I was going a little overboard with the "big positive" comment. Still, winning with defense + running is all well and good, but if you want sustained success, sooner or later you need quality, high-volume QB play, lest you become last season's Bears, or the Jags of 2017. I had my doubts about Garropolo watching his early games this season, but he sure played well last night. But there are tougher tests to come for him, for sure.

30 I was impressed with…

I was impressed with Garoppolo's pocket awareness.  Arizona has a good D-Line--Chandler Jones et. al.--and SF is trotting out their 4th and 5th tackles, and Garoppolo stood in there and made it work, sometime with plenty of elbows crowding him. 

31 Yeah Garoppolo looked…

Yeah Garoppolo looked excellent last night, and if that's for real, that's the only weak link on this team. They really seem legit, and they responded after being down 7-0 without blinking an eye

32 The did just lose Kwon…

The did just lose Kwon Alexander for the season, and plan to plug in a rookie, so that could be a new weakness.  Alexander was having a heck of a season, particularly in coverage. 

34 Impressive drive by the…

Impressive drive by the Texans. Good playcalling and play design throughout, with a little good luck thrown in.

  • they converted a 4th and 2 on a nice play action where Jax didn't give them much space, but it was apparently enough
  • on one play Watson was in the grasp of a defender, when he improvised an ill-advised backwards pitch to Hyde, who caught it cleanly and ran for a first down
  • on the TD play, the fake handoff was so good I got fooled again on the replay!

35 Somebody on Twitter just…

Somebody on Twitter just made the comment that Deshaun Watson is exactly like Jamies Winston, only his seemingly boneheaded plays result in long gains and TDs, not turnovers.

36 Steelers-Colts, or Bears…

Steelers-Colts, or Bears-Eagles? I'm not exactly enthused about either game, but I'm leaning towards Steelers-Colts.

37 Goddamnit, the resistible…

Goddamnit, the resistible force is already beating the movable object (-40% ooffense vs 33% defense).

38 Darnold looked great on that…

Darnold looked great on that TD drive, one overenthusiastic attempt to thread it downfield into tight double-coverage on 3rd and 2 aside. It's easy to say "well it's just the Dolphins," but his team is just the Jets; Miami is consistently getting pressure, and their corners are one of their few bright (or at least not-dark) spots. As the pre-draft film room piece here pointed out, his accuracy is really special. He needs someone to teach him how to read the field better and make calculated, not desperate, gambles (and play design that gives him a short option on 3rd and 1 on that last play, ye gods). I.e. not Crazy-Eyes Gase. The catch-22 is that the better Darnold plays, the more likely it is that Gase sticks around. Ugh.

44 He comes back with another…

He comes back with another solid drive ending with a TD pass with 0:45 left in the half. So, Hoyer’s thrown 3 TD passes in the second quarter. One of them to the Steelers. 

Could be worse for a backup, I guess. 

40 Gase uses apparently his…

Gase uses apparently his first challenge of the season against an OPI call on a block downfield. The receiver is objectively less than 1 yard from the LOS and this objectively should have been overturned, but it's not. I swear refs call PI (both ways) worse than they did before the challenge, since it can now be challenged, but there is now a de facto policy to never change the PI call on the field, so the net result is the game is worse. Good job, everyone.

Literally the next play, Darnold is called for a pass beyond the LOS. Looked close but Gase won't/shouldn't challenge consecutive plays early in the 2nd quarter. They haven't shown any replays, annoyingly, so I can't say if the call was bad, but it's really annoying to be put in that position by the PI weirdness and challenge system. And I'm not even a Jets fan.

42 Parker drops a wide open…

Parker drops a wide open gimme for a first, then atones with a slick one-handed TD grab, and don't look now but the Dolphins have a lead...

48 The Jets have no prayer…

The Jets have no prayer against FitzMagic, who put them up 21-7, but the Phins have no prayer against the Jets, allowing them to take the ensuing kickoff about 80 yards through some downright hilarious blown tackles. Miami then calls timeout (with the clock stopped) since they had 12 men on the field, then get a penalty for 12 men on the field the next play. The Jets appear to punch it in about 5 seconds later on a really nice fingertip catch, 21-14 now pending review. Stoppable force vs. moveable object, indeed.

UPDATE: Jets TD OVERTURNED (IMO, questionably, but defensibly). Next play Darnold is trying to escape the mighty Dolphins' pass rush, flings a Winstonian sidearm shovel pass...thing... right to the Dolphins. 21-7 Phins.

UPDATE 2: LMAO the INT gave the Phins the ball inside the 1, and they fumble the snap. FitzMagic recovers but it's in the end zone, SAFETY, 21-9 and Jets get the ball. This game kind of rules, honestly.

50 Well, a solid return of the…

Well, a solid return of the free kick and a couple solid Darnold passes later, the Jets get a FG to make it 21-12 at the half. Possibly could've been more, but one of those passes was thrown to Bell near the sideline, and instead of going out he spun inside, got about 3 more yards and used about 30 seconds. Baffling decision, it was almost like he was trying to run out the clock on his own team.

43 I didn't realize Minnesota's…

I didn't realize Minnesota's Bisi Johnson is a Colorado State alum. Just like me! I bet we'd have been friends.

45 Is it too early to nominate…

Is it too early to nominate the "Free phone football" ad for the worst commercials award at the end of the year? It makes me so irrationally bothered. I can't explain why I hate it so much, but nothing gets me reaching for the mute button faster.

46 Steelers pull off an…

Steelers pull off an improbable end-of-half drive with ~0:45 left on the clock after Indy's TD. Four checkdowns and a QB run by Mason Ruldolph, only one of which went out of bounds. Burned three timeouts then on the final play of the half, with 0:00 on the scoreboard a helmet-to-helmet hit put the Steelers in field goal range. Boswell makes a nice kick from 51 yards and it's 16-13 Colts at the half.

47 Pass interference overturn…

Pass interference overturn sighting in Kansas City! It was a booth-initiated review, could that possibly make a difference? Or maybe this call was 100% wrong, as opposed to all the others that were only 99.9999999% probably wrong?

51 Reich is challenging what…

Reich is challenging what looks to be a non-PI that was called DPI on the field (Steelers/Colts).  If it stands as called it's another indication that officials simply will not accept PI challenges.

EDIT:  stands as called.  Officials officially DGAF about challenging PI.

55 While I agree those were bad…

While I agree those were bad calls, I also thought they were bad challenges because it's pretty obvious that (1) the refs never overturn those calls no matter how bad they are, and (2) he was going to need time outs if they needed to get the ball back after a kick.

I think booth review needs to be taken away from the refs on the field, made from a centralized location with no ties to the people who made the original call. Keep each reviewer anonymous, and double-blind - they don't know whose call is being reviewed, and the refs don't know who's reviewing their calls.

58 I agree that, noting that PI…

I agree that, noting that PI never gets overturned, they were bad challenges in the context of the game.  I also think that the more obvious misses don't get overturned, the more fodder there is to make the case this offseason for a better solution.

> I think booth review needs to be taken away from the refs on the field, made from a centralized location with no ties to the people who made the original call.

I thought that was already happening starting 1-2 years ago.  Did it change back to the on-field referee?

62 You're *probably* right…

You're *probably* right because the booth announcers never mention it anymore (and when it was policy they seemingly had to mention it on every challenge), I just missed the memo when it reverted.

56 Both coaches in MIA-NYJ have…

Both coaches in MIA-NYJ have lost a PI challenge they obviously should have won. Especially NYJ's, which wasn't even a "judgement call" because it concerned blocking within a yard of the line of scrimmage. Coaches should probably stop challenging PI, period, because the policy is clearly to never overturn the call on the field under any circumstances, but it's not right to make it reviewable and then essentially penalize them for exercising that ability. It's so frustrating.

57 yes

Tomlin has not gotten the memo about PI - the first PI was dubious because the ball really wasn't catchable. The receiver decided he couldn't reach it so he slowed down and "created contact" like an NBA shooter.

And on the second PI, it was clear that the Colt receiver pushed off.  But the NFL has in effect said that they are not going to reverse PI unless it's completely indisputable.  

59 The first one bugs me more…

In reply to by RickD

The first one bugs me more than the second because it was such an obvious flop from a receiver who knew he couldn't get to the ball, and decided to try and draw a flag instead. I wouldn't mind as much if the play wasn't reviewable - sure, it would have been a bad call, but it'd be an honest mistake real time - but what's the point of review if you're not even going to pretend to look at the replay? 

52 Announcers are openly…

Announcers are openly speculating that the Phins' terrible play-calling is a conscious attempt to lose this game, lol. Sleepy 3rd quarter, the teams just traded FGs. I was about to say Darnold had played pretty well but was undermined by some penalties and playcalling mistakes, then he just tried to throw a 2-ft pass to his offensive lineman (??? I think?) while in the grasp of the defender that he's lucky wasn't picked. Jets then hit the punt returner prematurely and give FitzMagic another short field. Miami has the ball around midfield with a 24-15 lead heading into the 4th. They seriously might win this.

I'm prematurely annoyed that the narrative is blaming Darnold, and alright I'm going there: he really played well aside from the one ugly mistake, and that really only cost them 2 points in the end (he got away with that other stupid short pass attempt, so 2 mistakes I guess). This is mostly on the offensive line, who got about a dozen good passes called back with terrible, stupid penalties. Calling runs on 3rd and 4 behind said offensive line wasn't helping things. Announcers were speculating that Gase doesn't trust the QB, which would imply that he DOES trust this line, which is just insanity. I'm guessing Gase is cuing up a "I need MY QB, not this guy they stuck me with!" defense to keep his job. Which might at least liberate Darnold from this house of horrors.

54 Wow, some sort of…

Wow, some sort of miscommunication between Darnold and the center results in the snap going out the back of the end zone for a safety (Miami really should have recovered for the TD, so it could have been worse). Darnold clearly wasn't expecting it but it looked like he signaled for the snap at least once, maybe even twice, so who knows what was going on there. He also didn't really go after the fumble, which IMVHO is even worse than that lame duck INT - at least on that play, he was trying to win, he just gave up on that fumble there.

60 CBS in the northeast shows a…

CBS in the northeast shows a game that ends with a missed field goal, cutting away after to... a game that ends with a missed field goal. #thisiswhywefootball

63 The one time they need…

The one time they need Darnold to take a gamble to have any shot - it looked like he maybe had someone open in the soft spot between a few defenders - Darnold tosses it out of bounds (intentionally). Jets kick the pointless field goal, fail to recover the onside kick, and Miami wins! 26-18. Although Gase is going to make this as annoying as possible by taking timeouts during the kneeldowns.

Miami falls into a tie with the Jets and 2 other teams for the second pick.

64 It's too bad Bradley is…

It's too bad Bradley is injured, or this game would feature some hot Chubb-on-Chubb action

65 For all the shit we give…

For all the shit we give Elway, the Broncos 2018 draft class is looking fantastic right now. They had 10 picks, and landed 6 players that are starters or major contributors (including the undrafted Philip Lindsay). Three are already playing at or near a pro-bowl level (Chubb, Sutton, and Lindsay)

Edit: make that 7 contributors with undrafted LB Alexander Johnson, though he's currently taking Josey Jewell's spot in the lineup (another 2018 pick)

93 Good point

That's a fair assessment.  Perhaps Elway's issue is in one specific position -- QB (I kidded about that when he signed Flacco).  John was so good at the position that he may have trouble understanding why others can't be as good !

122 I will disagree because: 1)…

I will disagree because:

1) I am not sold on Chubb, and if he was playing at such a high level, its a bit strange he went down and Den D got a lot better (I don't think they are because he was weak, but there is no obvious case he was pro-bowl bound).  Plus there were massive opportunity costs of taking him.

2) Sutton is holy-F good.

3) Freeman and Lindsay were great choices
4) Yiadom was an unfathomably bad choice and has fallen down the cb depth chart from 3rd to now 7th or 8th (Harris, Callahan, Dawson, Bauseby, Harris, Sensabaugh, and at times Parks)
5) Jewell hasn't been good at all
6) not sure if this endures, or if my informal snap count was wrong this game, but it appears that DaeSean Hamilton who is at -41% dvoa, has been benched or is at least losing snaps to Spencer.

So of Elways 2018 there is one homerun, one IR, 1 great job pick, 3 players who are moving down the depth chart.
I heavily discount the finds in Lindsay and Johnson, both of whom are absolutely great because they weren't drafted and could have signed elsewhere.

66 I'd already forgotten the…

I'd already forgotten the Chargers fired their OC this week. The first drive took almost 9 minutes and got a FG, then the Packers go 3 and out after a sack by Bosa the Elder. I thought the Chargers are better than their record, and they look like it in the early going here.

67 I do not Understand

Why DET is even bothering to run the ball. Clearly OAK cannot rush the passer or cover the receivers. DET just converted on two 1st and 20s.

71 Man, the Chargers even…

Man, the Chargers even gifted the Packers a new set of downs on an incredibly stupid personal foul after getting a stop on 3rd and 14, and the Packers offense just can't do anything. Had to punt from about the 45. A lot of that is Bosa, Ingram and the rest of the D-line. Although it looked like Lazard could have caught that 45 yard bomb, he actually overran it a bit and it landed in bounds right next to the pylon.

72 Also, Ekeler is way better…

Also, Ekeler is way better than Gordon. I suppose Gordon is still getting up to speed but still. I totally get players trying to get as much money as they can while they can, but especially with RBs, there's a big risk that you'll end up just proving the team's point.

76 GB Run Defense

The Chargers are opening up some gigantic holes against the Packers' defense. It looks like Alabama versus a I-AA school on some of these runs.

77 I know in my head it's…

I know in my head it's premature to say that TD ices it for the Chargers, but it really feels like it. The Packers haven't been able to do anything at all on offense and the 3rd quarter is winding down.

80 And Anthony Lynn makes the…

And Anthony Lynn makes the correct decision to take back a FG to go for it on 4th down after Packers make a dumb penalty, is rewarded with a TD to go up by 3 scores. I'm liking it.

82 That made me happy.

That made me happy. It wasn't just about going for it on 4th - it was about recognizing that the Chargers have been manhandling the Packers up front on both sides of the ball.

83 Romo's comment made me…

Romo's comment made me realize the Packers haven't really used play action much this game. Some of that is just that they haven't been on the field to run many plays, period, but I'd think against a top-tier pass rush like the Chargers' you'd use it almost every pass attempt.

87 Looks like all 4 NFC North…

Looks like all 4 NFC North teams are going to lose today, to the Chargers, Chiefs, Eagles, and Raiders. Good week for the AFC West, especially if the Broncos hold on.

88 I guess GB@LAC will make a…

I guess GB@LAC will make a good Any Given Sunday column. The Chargers have just dominated the Packers. At least everyone else in the NFC North also lost.

117 ehhhh.....

The defense is bad, not atrociously bad. Wagner, Griffin, Jefferson, Clowney, Flowers are good.  Ken Norton is probably bad, and a defensive coordinator that's bad certainly drags down the defense.

And of course Tyler Lockett is awesome, and Metcalf is already stepping up as a rookie.

I love Wilson, and he's the MVP right now for sure.  But the team is not winning solely because of him.

94 Ok, somebody needs to gif…

Ok, somebody needs to gif Belichick cursing after his player jumped offside on the field goal attempt just there. Gold!

95 The Ravens are by far the…

The Ravens are by far the best team New England has faced this year - 8th in DVOA (and DAVE), next best was Pittsburgh at 20th (!) - and they just shredded that allegedly dominant defense on the opening drive. In part because the Pats' defensive line bailed them out with NZI on a FG attempt after stuffing them on 3rd and goal, it should be noted.

100 Nothing alleged about it,…

Nothing alleged about it, they've been incredible.  And this game has nothing to do with Baltimore being "better" than the other teams, it's all about matchups.

BTW, what should be noted about the offsides is that it was actually a blatant false start.  An intentional blatant false start.  Funny, given that NE was later called for a neutral zone infraction when the defender didn't even go offsides!  :D

103 We've got a lot of football…

We've got a lot of football left to watch tonight, but this seems vaguely reminiscent of the first time they faced Miami's wildcat offense back in... jeez, 2008? Anyway, the Pats were completely unprepared for it and got blown out 38-13. Then the won the rematch 48-28. They also obliterated the Tebow Broncos in 2011, so it's not like Belichick doesn't know how to defend the option.

I think the Pats offensive struggles have been concealed by the weak opponents and Brady being Brady; he's getting swamped in the pocket tonight, there is no schematic answer to just getting out-muscled up front.

104 That makes no sense

The reason the matchups are good is because the Ravens are much better than any of the Patriots previous opponents. 

Sure the Pats defense has been dominant this year. That’s easier to do when you play crappy offenses week in and week out. 

The Pats defense is clearly very good. It’s just been made to look a whole lot better due to the competition. 


107 Not really.  It just happens…

Not really.  It just happens to be that Baltimore's strength aligns very well with NE's weakness.  A "better" offense that wasn't such a perfect mismatch likely wouldn't have as much success.

101 Aaron will say whatever the…

Aaron will say whatever the numbers say.  If Baltimore keeps up this pace, it will probably be that NE is no longer on the top 10 list.  I find it funny that that ranking matters a whole lot more to fans of other teams than it does to Pats fans.  :D

108 And then he spend five…

And then he spends five minutes barking for a penalty flag, which makes it easy to dislike him again. I actually hate the 'punitive' intentional grounding call on that - if you want to penalize Brady, then call unsportsmanlike conduct and not some BS grounding call. That looked to me like an option route that went awry. 

113 Yeah it was weird how they…

Yeah it was weird how they didn't throw the flags until after quite a bit of arguing with the officials. Like you say, call it or don't, or call unsportsmanlike or don't, but calling live-ball penalties punitively after the fact is malarkey.

Probably unpopular opinion, but I do with that in general they called intentional grounding a little more zealously. It would tilt the balance a bit back towards the defense if complex route trees were a little more risky. Like there, no Brady wasn't trying to avoid a negative play by flinging it away, but the ball ended up probably 20 yards from the nearest receiver - in principle I think it's great that that's a penalty! That's what you get for goofing up! But I don't really trust the refs to call it remotely consistently.

133 Brady throws a ton of balls…

Brady throws a ton of balls away. He's always skirting the intentional grounding line, so he's going to get burned by a dumb one like that every once in a while. It's easy to say "but it doesn't match the spirit of the rule," true, but there are a ton of throws that avoid the letter of the rule but violate the spirit the other way, so it really didn't bug me.

114 Collinsworth is going on…

Collinsworth is going on about how Harbaugh goes strictly by analytics, "taking the gut feeling out of it" he says. I do like that this is something that's getting praised, but it's not really true. I saw a quote from Harbaugh (probably here in one of the weekly quotes posts) where he said he still goes with his gut most of the time, and the analytics guys are always pushing him to do that less. It's good that his gut is so closely aligned with the numbers.

124 I also don't think analytics…

I also don't think analytics should be viewed in isolation; "gut" instincts are needed to add context to what the analytics say. Going for it on 4th down in a 35-31 shootout is different than going for it in a 10-7 slugfest. Analytics are really good at helping clear up the possible outcomes, but more subjective instincts on whether or not you're likely to actually convert have an important place in the game.

I think part of what makes a good head coach is having instincts based on what he actually sees on the field, as opposed to what conventional wisdom says. The flip side of that is that I believe a head coach who goes entirely by analytics while ignoring mismatches on the field is going to hurt his team more than help it. 

118 Wow. I was about to post…

Wow. I was about to post about how New England took Baltimore's best shot and survived in pretty good shape, then that fumble return happened. That looks huge since it makes the lift that much harder for the Pats, facing an offense that chews up the clock by its very nature. The good news is that no-huddle offense looked to have really slowed the Ravens' pass rush; they were marching before the turnover and are continuing to do so here. Brady and company probably have the two scores in them, so it's up to the defense to hold up their end. They did much better in the second quarter so we'll see.

120 I don’t see how you can argue that Pace should keep his job

Ryan Pace is now 29-44 as GM of the Bears, and I think it is clear now that he has screwed up 2 head coach hires and the highest drafted QB in Bears history. He has multiple high draft picks that not only failed to succeed but have been flat out busts, and he’s also had a shaky track record with impact free agents.

At this point, the most successful move he’s made has been trading for Khalil Mack, but praising him for that is like praising someone for successfully bending over to pick up a hundred dollar bill he found on the ground: he faced the most obvious decision possible and didn’t screw it up.

Unless the Bears manage to conjure a good QB basically out of thin air (and I do think it would be organizational malpractice not to bring in Kaepernick to compete for the job next season), whatever good players they have on defense will be gone or past their primes by the time they can devote real resources to the next guy after Mitch. And if history is any indication, whoever is picking the next one will screw it up anyway.

125 Not saying this is likely,…

Not saying this is likely, but I think there is some nonzero possibility that Darnold is available this offseason. Gase already won one power struggle, after all - against the GM that drafted him. He's not Aaron Rodgers but he's already loads better than Trubisky, and I think theoretically there's potential for greatness in there. Whether Nagy can unlock it is another matter.

147 Oh lord, yes, he's way…

In reply to by Ambientdonkey

Oh lord, yes, he's way better. Darnold has accuracy you just can't teach, and generally has some clue what he's doing out there. Trubisky just plain misses pocket throws to open receivers all the time, and that's when he actually makes a decisive throw, instead of see guy, think about throwing at him, pump fake at him, throw at him anyway, put ball 5 yards short, get picked. The inaccuracy looks just unfixable, and while you might hope experience and coaching could improve his mental game, the fact is that there's a reason he only started one year at freaking UNC, while Darnold started 2 at USC.

Neither of them handles pressure well. Trubisky panics, but he can run pretty well when he does (which is his main virtue as a QB). With Darnold, at least some of it, like that dumb wobbly INT at the goal line before the half, isn't panic, it's that he won't just eat the sack when his protection fails and his receivers aren't open. That seems like it could be remedied with better coaching. He is prone to panicking at times too, but it seems like that comes after a litany of failures by his teammates (he seriously had 4-5 completions for about 80 yards called back by penalties last game, mostly in the first half), when he feels the game slipping away and gets flustered and loses focus; that too seems like it could be coached away, and/or mitigated by being on a team with an NFL-caliber roster.

Not saying the Bears are the best team to fix him, obviously. But I believe there is at least some parallel universe out there where a McVay-like figure coaxes a Goff-like metamorphosis out of him (maybe even better, since Goff at his best still doesn't quite have the fine accuracy that Darnold does).

150 Yeah, I saw that, but…

Yeah, I saw that, but honestly I don't put a ton of stock into DVOA/DYAR for individual players, at least for assessing their true talent. Like they say, ". . . when we say, 'In 2014, Marshawn Lynch had a DVOA of 23.1%,' what we are really saying is 'In 2014, Marshawn Lynch, playing in Darrell Bevell’s offensive system with the Seattle offensive line blocking for him and Russell Wilson selling the keeper when necessary, had a DVOA of 23.1%.'" Nagy, for all his faults, is an infinitely better coach than Bowles and Gase, and the Bears' line is about a million times better than the Jets', who are easily the worst line I've seen this year (important caveat, I haven't seen the Bengals play yet). The receivers are probably a wash although subjectively I'd probably rate the Bears' better. The Jets' only real talent superiority is Bell, who they have no idea how to use (see also: Gase).

(Also, if you're into DVOA, compare Tannehill's 2018 with Gase to his 2019 with Not Gase. SSS of course.)

Long story short, I'd wager pretty heavily that if they switched teams next week, the Bears' passing DVOA would improve and the Jets' would decline quite a bit.

159 I'm starting to think that a…

I'm starting to think that a quarterback plays worse the more they are coached by Adam Gase.  Darnold went out with mono, and looked great against Dallas his first game back.  He's stunk since then, repeatedly throwing off his back foot.  Luke Falk looked ok when he went in after Sieman got hurt, and then progressively got worse with each week.  Darnold's stats against Miami were better than against New England and Jacksonville, but Miami has the worst defense in a couple of years.  His DYAR against the Dolphins should be an atrocity.

126 Nice game. But what ever…

Nice game.
But what ever happened to this rule?

Article 5
No offensive player may:
lift a runner to his feet or pull him in any direction at any time;

144 I didn't really bother me. I…

I didn't really bother me.

I just wondered why they even have the rule, if they are going to ignore it entirely.

The correct call would probably been stopped forward progress, which is what happened until he got pulled. But it's no big deal.

127 How friggin fun would a…

How friggin fun would a Chiefs-Ravens playoff game be?! Even better if one of them knocks NE out in the Divisional and we get an AFCCG with some fresh blood.

131 Turns out it's a lot harder…

Turns out it's a lot harder to play defense against a good offense, especially when said offense is lead by some sort of transdimensional space alien with wormhole technology.

They had a nice honeymoon but all of a sudden the Pats have to play Jackson, Wentz, Prescott, Watson, and probably Mahomes in consecutive weeks. That's as rough a stretch as they come (and 3 of those, including tonight's, are on the road). By the end of it we should know with relative certainty just how good that defense is - and how much of a problem the offense is, too.

Also, getting way ahead of myself but this jumped out at me: the Bills are only a game back, and look like they have a considerably easier schedule going forward, since they avoid the Texans and Chiefs entirely and get to play the Ravens at home. Don't get me wrong, I think they're a paper tiger at best, but there is some nonzero possibility that they actually win the division. Which would be hilarious so I'm rooting for it hard.

143 What Do we Know?

Matt LaFleur 9 games in just hit that dreaded week where a) you weren't ready and b) neither was your team. If GB isn't a lot better at line of scrimmage-- both sides-- than they were today, their postseason experience will be brief.

AFC baby! Not only do the Ravens stake a clear claim for conference superiority (Yeah, yeah. The rematch will undoubtedly be in Foxboro. We know what Belichick does with those games) but all of a sudden KC, OAK, Chargers, Texans, Steelers all win huge games and suggest they might yet be heard from in the second half.

Poor Adam Vinatieri. With better kicking the Colts would be sitting pretty as a #2 seed right now-- instead, they are fighting for a division crown and Jacoby Brissett had better not be brittle.

Stop the MVP speculation, Russell Wilson is home free assuming he stays healthy. As it now stands Vikings and Seahawks will journey to Lambeau and either Philly/Dallas in WC week in the NFC-- wouldn;t be shocked to see both road teams win.

Poor Trubisky. Poor Lions. Poor Browns. The more things change.....

Bengals with inside track to #1 pick?? But WASH/MIA/ATL/NYJ all such worthy competitors.

Super Bowl SF-BAL rematch.... NO-IND rematch.... KC-GB rematch.... Where will Saints and Niners game be played? Might decide everything