Football Outsiders
Innovative Statistics, Intelligent Analysis

Week 6 Open Discussion

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cleveland Browns
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

It has been a long time since the Browns and Steelers played an important game, but with a combined record of 8-1, they might be playing the most important game on Sunday. It's also Myles Garrett’s first game against Pittsburgh since he was suspended for swinging a helmet at Mason Rudolph last season. Other notable contests include Chicago (4-1) at Carolina (3-2) and Green Bay (5-0) at Tampa Bay (3-2). The Sunday night games pits the Rams (4-1) against San Francisco (2-3), while the Monday night doubleheader pits Kansas City (4-1) against Buffalo (4-1) and Arizona (3-2) against Dallas (2-3). Use this thread to discuss them all.


114 comments, Last at 20 Oct 2020, 8:19am

1 Garrett v Rudolph

It is not their first game since the assault. It's the first since the end of Garrett's suspension.

And "swinging a helmet at" is generous of you, implying that perhaps he missed. He hit Rudolph's bare head with Rudolph's own helmet.


21 Myles didn't want that to…

Myles didn't want that to come out, and has been very clear as have most Browns fans that that doesn't "justify" it per se.  We can't know either way with every play not being miked up.


What Myles did was terrible, but I think we would all hate to be judged by the worst thing we've done, and he did his penance.  Rudolph missed a grand total of zero snaps after being hit by the padding; it's not like he got hit by Earl Thomas.

4 Eagles have done nothing on…

Eagles have done nothing on their first two drives against Bal, going 3 and out. Meanwhile Bal scores on their first drive. 

5 Nine games in the early…

Nine games in the early afternoon slot versus just two in the last afternoon time window. I know I should be used to it by now, but what a frustrating scheduling decision by the NFL.

7 Detroit has a double digit…

Detroit has a double digit lead again, which is when the trouble usually starts.  Can they make it 7 losses in a row in that situation?

13 At least ATL is under new…

At least ATL is under new management.  I have somewhat greater confidence in them to hold their lead than DET.

If I'm wrong about that and MIN comes back to win on 4 Q4 TDs, Quinn would be fully justified to tweet out, "See, it wasn't me!".

8 Bengals up 21-0 on the Colts…

Bengals up 21-0 on the Colts.  Haven’t been paying much attention to this game, so wonder how this happened.  I have no idea what to make of this Colts team.

42 Defense sleeping in

This is two weeks in a row where the defense let the opposing team march up and down the field to start the game. Both weeks the defense only gave up 3 points after half though. It just happened that the offense didn’t give up 9 points on its own (a pick-6 and a safety last week) in the second half, so the Colts were able to come back this time. 

Though, I really didn’t that this offense had 31 points in it in any week. 

10 The right side of Cleveland…

The right side of Cleveland's o-line just has no prayer against Watt and company in pass blocking. And then on 4th and 4 the left side apparently didn't get the memo about the hard count and got a moderately hilarious false start, forcing the punt. The one time Mayfield had time to throw in the pocket he threw a pick six. The game isn't quite out of hand yet thanks to a decent defensive performance so far - and as I write that, Claypool makes a great grab with just an inch of separation from the receiver, setting up a score from the 2. Mayfield follows that up with another terrible pick. The Steelers have roundly demonstrated the unclothedness of the emperor in northeastern Ohio.


14 So where does punting from…

So where does punting from mid-field with 9 seconds left in the half on 4th and 1, with a timeout remaining, down 21, rank on the Coward-o-Meter?

In (slight) fairness to Cleveland, Mayfield appeared to get hurt on the previous play. In fairness to sense and logic, however, they do have other QBs on the roster.

16 In their defense, the…

In their defense, the chances of Cleveland scoring even if they converted.  Not in their defense, Pittsburgh’s chances of scoring if they failed were equally a slim, and you have to take some chances of you have any hope of mounting a comeback against a superior team on the road.

18 In 6 Pittsburgh drives in…

In 6 Pittsburgh drives in the 1st half (not counting the kneel), the defense was able to force 3 punts and a FG. That's not the stuff of legend but it's a competent performance - I'd certainly be happy to "risk" having to run those guys out for one more play, to give the offense that had scored as many points for the other team as they had for themselves about as low-risk a shot at some more points as they're liable to get.

19 Patriots

Patriots look like a team that hasn't practiced in two weeks.

Cam has two INTs off tipped passes.  

20 The tip drill INTs are bad…

In reply to by RickD

The tip drill INTs are bad luck, but the Patriots offense looks like they all just met each other yesterday.  

23 lihe is problem

They're missing David Andrews, their starting center.

They're missing Ferentz, their backup center.

Joe Thuney, who is a very good guard, is playing center and has already botched a snap, badly.

Shaq Mason, their other guard, is on the COVID list.

They've been playing a bunch of inexperienced guys at RT since Marcus Cannon opted out for the season.  One of those guys went down in the first quarter.

Add that to their general lack of depth at WR and TE and it's a mess.  

25 Wasn’t aware of all those…

In reply to by RickD

Wasn’t aware of all those missing players, but that makes sense.  

Of course Lock just threw a head scratching pick, and the Pats have a chance to drive for a TD and the win.

53 During which Cam looks like…

During which Cam looks like he hasn't had many reps these past three weeks, missing an open receiver on 4th down (admittedly under pressure when he threw, but it's a pass any NFL QB should have been able to make).  Earlier that same drive he underthrew an open receiver down the sidelines who would have either scored or taken the ball close to the end zone, but he had to stop and try to come back to the ball, letting the DB catch up to him and break the pass up.  Newton had some good runs, but otherwise didn't look good in H2 (didn't see H1).

110 First tip was sure not bad…

First tip was sure not bad luck, but a bad play by Cam. He saw the player coming in his face and tried to throw it anyway. Bad decision and bad result. Cam has terrible pocket awareness (not as bad as Hoyer, but who does?), and doesn't move into space to extend plays unless he can see the rusher coming right at him, and even then is prone to bad decisions under pressure. The good news is the Pats line looks amazing when it doesn't have 2+ starters out at a time.

83 The Patriots..

In reply to by RickD

...are who I thought they were in the beginning of the season.

Borderline .500 team who won't sniff the NFC East crown this year.

I never thought Cam Newton was a game-changer for them because they lost so much talent in the off-season on both sides of the ball.

Belichick can only scheme so many wins out of nothing...

They're a 7-9 team, despite the hype.

99 Pats in NFC (L)east

In reply to by DIVISION

The Pats are probably a .500 team--but if they played in the NFC East, instead of the AFC East, they would be a shoo-in for the division crown (after the Prescott injury).

22 Baker being put out of his…

Baker being put out of his misery for the day.

Prepare for the Keenum hot takes, since Pit probably didn't do much film study on him and he isn't playing on a bum rib.

Mixed back on the first two passes, with a loss of 6 on a dumpoff, then a big 1st down to Landry.

24 Broncos not a good team

They should be up by 20 points.  Instead, they have 6 FGs and Lock has just thrown picks on consecutive passes to keep Pats in the game.   

84 Offensively...

... the Broncos are hamstrung by Fangio's conservative play-calling and Lock's lack of experience. 

As it is, their defense shut down NE in the end, but that game was way closer than it should have been.

Denver dominated for over 3 quarters and had to escape with a win because Lock was determined to throw the game away.

26 Switched over to the Bengals…

Switched over to the Bengals game. Reports of AJ Green's demise have been greatly - well, at least somewhat - exaggerated.

29 The Texans, up 1, scored a…

The Texans, up 1, scored a TD to go up 7.  They went for two and failed, but IMO it was the right call.  Chance to ice the game right there.

39 is it the right choice?

I might prefer forcing the opponent to make the TD + 2 point conversion to tie the game.  

It comes down to whether you think the 2-point conversion is likely or not.  



30 After a Kyle Allen fumble…

After a Kyle Allen fumble with three minutes left is run back for a TD, Football Team drives down for a TD with 36 seconds left. Thankfully, Riverboat Ron opts to go for two, which should result in Fox switching to a better game shortly. The two-point conversion failed, BTW. I'm not opposed to going for the win with a two-point conversion, but the Giants would still have had 36 seconds and two timeouts to drive for a winning FG. I don't think it was a good call.

33 Agreed, that’s the call you…

Agreed, that’s the call you make when you score with like 10 seconds left.  You don’t want to make the other team desperate when they can score for a win. It’s like kicking a field goal to go up 6.

43 It's the NFL in 2020…

It's the NFL in 2020... Every team has a significant chance of moving down the field with that amount of time left. You have to believe that your chances of getting the two-point conversion are well above 50% to make that a good call. Football Team was bad on offense all day so I don't think there was reason to believe that.

85 Romeo Crennel...

...makes the type of decision that typified his HC career.  Going for 2 when there's no need thereby allowing the Titans an opportunity to tie.

Still impressed by the Titans coming back to win in OT.

They're tough to deal with.


37 This is exactly why the…

This is exactly why the Texans going for 2 after their last TD made sense.  They were right to not count on their defense to stop a 2 point attempt to preserve a win.  Your offense is clearly the best part of your team.

41 part of the calculation

What do you do when you think your probability of stopping a 2 point conversion try is very low - even if your own probability of success is low, you might want to do it.  



38 Baltimore is still probably…

Baltimore is still probably going to win this game, but this has to be a worrying game for them. Philadelphia has been terrible this season. No way the Ravens should be struggling against them.

EDIT: In their first six drives the Eagles had -7 yards on offense while punting five times and losing a fumble. Astonishing they ever made this game close.

44 Rodgers appeared to run for…

Rodgers appeared to run for a TD, diving head-first across the line, but they inexplicably called that he "gave himself up" as a runner, as though he would opt to be down 1 inch in front of the line instead of scoring. It doesn't really matter as they punch it in the next play (although the refs also inexplicably took a minute to decide that the guy flying over the pile into the end zone had, in fact, entered the end zone), but I am perplexed and irritated that everyone involved seems to think this "giving himself up as a runner instead of scoring the TD like he was indisputably actually intending to do" thing is an acceptable ruling. Use your dang heads.

54 Obviously! Seriously, as far…


Seriously, as far as I can tell, the applied the rule that the QB is down when he starts the dive (like a slide). But in that case, 1) it didn't matter where his knee was down, 2) the ball probably should have been placed farther back, and 3) the hit by Winfield should probably have been a penalty after all, because IIRC Rodgers started the dive way before Winfield did.

If the rule is that all dives by QBs are marked down where he began to dive, then QB sneaks are by definition impossible.

But if intent matters, they can't call anyone down in that circumstance.

This rule is extremely dumb, regardless of team/fame of the QB.

67 You would think, but based…

You would think, but based on how they explained that call the NFL has decided to make the rule significantly more complicated and make the referee's judgment of the QB's intent to give himself up part of the equation.

68 That's what I thought, but…

That's what I thought, but then he should have been awarded the score. Aikman said it was a rule change from a couple of years ago to treat forward dives by a QB like slides.

I've been going through the official published rules and I can't actually find anything about the ball being placed at the start of a slide like announcers often say - the rule pretty clearly says the ball is dead when the player hits the ground, that's all - but it's possible I'm missing it and/or these aren't the full rules.

46 I’m counting on the Bucs…

I’m counting on the Bucs playing better to make the late games more interesting, because I certainly can’t count on the Joe Flacco-led Jets doing that.

47 Rodgers pick six! I can't…

Rodgers pick six! I can't even remember the last time he threw one. First INT he's thrown all year, and the Bucs' defense pulls them back into the game.

51 Uh, and on the next drive…

Uh, and on the next drive the ball is tipped and picked again, Bucs take it down to the 2. That one was less his fault than the previous but was still an awfully tight window he was trying to fit it in. They run it in on the next play and the Bucs have the lead, despite the offense managing all of 2 first downs and no points so far.

I believe this is Rodgers' first multi-INT game since 2017 against Carolina, when he rushed back from the injury to try to rescue a playoff appearance.

52 It has to be Belichick’s…

It has to be Belichick’s first season in New England, when the 2000 Patriots started 1-4.  Their first victory, ironically, was an upset against a pretty good (and superior to them) Denver team.

59 In fairness to Flacco, I…

In fairness to Flacco, I expect he signed up for a cushy backup QB contract.  I doubt he expected to have to take the field.  When he had to come in against DEN a couple of weeks ago he looked p***ed about it.  Can't imagine he's any happier having to play today.

79 At one time Flacco OWNED Miami

Today he had a weird "OK, I'm going to get through this with my dignity intact" look on his face the whole time. The Jets are a truly sad-sack sorry mess right now. Miami hadn't shut out the Jests in 38 years (1982 AFC Championship game) until today.

86 Looking at Flacco...

...I'm reminded of how good he was in Baltimore during his run, only to be let go and be a backup in Denver.

I'm sure he's probably just doing it for the paycheck now because there's no light at the end of the tunnel in New York.

Jets are getting the #1 pick.


91 I guess you need to have…

I guess you need to have your memory cache cleared, because here Flacco is mostly remembered as a mediocre QB who managed to string together one memorable four-game string toward a Super Bowl win, never to be repeated.

60 Nuclear meltdown for Rodgers…

Nuclear meltdown for Rodgers and the Packers in the 2nd quarter. With the Packers having to come out passing in the 2nd half, probably the most interesting thing to watch will be to see if Suh decides he wants to get himself thrown out of the game.

Hard to tell from the broadcast angle, but the Packers must be keeping the coverage way back to try to help the backup CBs. Spot Brady a lead, and he'll be happy to hit the underneath stuff all day. Gronk looks washed in the open field but he's definitely still a formidable jump ball target.

61 Interesting how even though…

Interesting how even though TB gave up two long drives for 10 points to GB early in the game, I thought their defense looked great. It's hard/impossible to stop Rogers when he's making a bunch of plays avoiding the rush and then throwing sharp passes 4+ seconds after the snap. 

Well, I sort of wished I had written that down somewhere, because just after that the Bucs get two picks, and three quick outs, looking utterly dominant the whole time.

Touchdown Tom Brady is looking excellent, and not at all like a 43 year old man trying to manage the decline that we all think he should be undergoing.

62 I didn't think Brady looked…

I didn't think Brady looked especially great in the first half, but that seam throw to Gronk at the beginning of the 3rd quarter was pretty nice. Given the matchup of TB's WRs vs. GB's CBs (with King out), the Packers are probably going to make sure they don't get beat deep or outside - seems it will falls pretty well into what Brady still does best underneath and up the seam. Virtually no pass rush from GB so far either...

87 When TB gets it together...

...and plays with consistency, they'll run away with the NFC South.  I predicted them winning that division, but I never thought they'd be such a sloppy team this far in to the season.

Call it the Arians effect.

If they play clean, I don't see many teams in the NFC who can overcome that defense.  I wish my Cards would have tried to get Todd Bowles back as DC.



65 The Jets had a third and…

The Jets had a third and four at the Miami 29... Two plays later Miami was fair catching a punt at their own 22. The play in between was Flacco taking a sack that lost 28 yards.

70 This is a bad Jets team even by bad Jets team standards

Miami was sputtering and wheezing when they had the ball (I don't think they converted a 3rd down) and they shut them out 24-0. They couldn't even punch in a garbage time score when the Dolphins D was looking gassed. I think they're almost a lock for the #1 pick and Trevor Lawrence has to be terrified right now.

66 Brady to Gronkowski is…

Brady to Gronkowski is looking pretty spot on today. I guess Brady really wants to get the Belichick monkey off his back.

82 Yeah they were absolutely…

Yeah they were absolutely dominant tonight. They'd been good in the prior games this season but this was next level. Some of that was Rodgers getting frustrated/rattled and some of it was Bakhtiari getting injured - whoever replaced him, I think Ricky Wagner, was just hopeless - but even taking that into account, if they play like that they'll beat everybody.

On the other side, at the risk of sounding contrarian, I thought the Packers' defense actually had one of their better games of this season. They essentially only gave up 24 points, and I thought the Jackson DPI that set up one of those scores was questionable. Certainly some of that was TB taking their foot off the gas when the score got totally out of hand, but not all. A positive sign for them - and/or, not a great one for TB. This is the same defense that Cousins just completely eviscerated, pre-Jefferson breakout no less, and that Brees hung 30 on without his best receiver. It'll be interesting to see what DVOA thinks of that performance. Regardless, though, they've got some things to work on if they don't want to go the way of last year's Ravens or Niners (unless the defense just keeps squishing everyone into paste, which is possible).

73 Maybe the Jets haven't fired…

Maybe the Jets haven't fired Adam Gase because they want him to make him go through all of this on purpose. But - does Gase even care?

74  Blaine Gabbert in now, and…

 Blaine Gabbert in now, and makes a dangerous pass on his second play. Guess Arians likes it to be more competitive.

76 Joe Buck, in his inimicable…

Joe Buck, in his inimicable idiotic form, closes out by describing Brady's smile as the 'smile on the face of the goat'.

77 These late games were pretty…

These late games were pretty lame. Dolphins Jets was a snoozefest, and the bucs-packers turned into a blowout quickly.  Here's hoping rams 49ers is more fun.

80 Just noticed Tua got on the…

Just noticed Tua got on the field in the Dolphins' blowout. 2/2 in his young career so far. A good day for the Florida teams... in the late games at any rate.

90 Best part of that was…

Best part of that was watching Fitzpatrick cheerleading Tua's 3rd down completion pass.  Jumping up and down on the sidelines, waving his arms, while chewing on something I assume was a squirrel.


81 This game by Rodgers…

This game by Rodgers reminded me of that time he threw for only 77 yards against the eventual SB champ Broncos in 2015. Just constant pressure in his face, couldn't get anything going after the first two drives.

89 Actually... reminded me of both games against San Fran last year when the Packers got demolished.

Last year, the Niners had a great defense.

This year, the Bucs do.


98 I don't think I've seen a…

I don't think I've seen a 1st/2nd quarter split as extreme as in this game.

1st quarter drives


TB: 3&out, punt

2nd quarter drives

GB: pick-6, int (near pick-6), 3&out, 3&out, near-int and end of half


106 What I've learned... that logic has very little to do with what goes on in these games.  Each game is independent of all the others and stats, especially early in the season don't factor that in.

Who saw the Broncos manhandling the Patriots?

Who saw the Niners beating the Rams?

It's good that I don't bet on these games.  



94 Well that was a painful game…

Well that was a painful game to watch for the Rams. Dropped touchdown pass on the 2 followed by an interception really summed it up. And it's not like the 9ers played well either, with both teams combining for what felt like well in excess of 10 dropped passes. Two good teams playing bad football, and my team lost.

Also, WTF was Al Michaels going on about at the end there? McVay makes the terrible decision to not go for the two points at the end, and then Al Michaels defends that decision with the idiotic "yeah but at least you know you only have to go down and get the two, whereas if you miss you would need two scores." A complete and utter non-sequitur, since that is precisely the reason that you go for two immediately, so as to move the knowledge forwards. Credit to Collinsworth for politely calling him out on his idiocy.

107 The Rams...

...feel like the team in the NFC West with the highest ceiling but lowest floor.  Fluky in many ways with very little depth at the skill positions. 

Goff is good at one thing, but can't improvise or run when the play breaks down.  Donald is a marvel, but was neutralized by double teams and quick throws.  I don't see them winning the division unless everything goes their way and it already hasn't with losses to Buffalo and the Niners.  

I look forward to division battles against my baby Cards.

I'll be highly disappointed if they don't blow out those wounded Cowpokes tonight in Primetime.  Cards have a top 10 defense and are much better than what Dallas offers.  I don't see it being close, but I've been humbled already this year.



108 Well, So Far

In reply to by DIVISION

So far the Cardinal offense is making the Cowboy defense look competent, which I would not have believed possible.

97 Not gonna lie..

Seeing Fitz on the sideline cheering for Tua was just a great example of why that dude is good for this game.

Only to be topped by Tua going back out after the game to where his drive ended and soak in the moment.



111 It appears......

...that my baby Cardinals are making my prediction come true.


21-0 so far.....


Heading to bed.

112 This has been an amusing…

This has been an amusing season if, like me, you like to cheer against the Cowboys. They have managed to fall short of expectations in almost every game. This team looks much worse under Mike McCarthy than they did under Jason Garrett. I didn't anticipate a 21-3 deficit at halftime, though.

113 The Cardinals haven’t played…

The Cardinals haven’t played particularly well, but this Cowboys team is so bad and injury-riddled that they’re getting run out of the building.  Of course, they’ll probably still be alive to win this putrid division going into week 17.

114 I liken the Card's offense... big risk/big reward.  Kyler missed a couple of long bombs early on.  Not sure if Isabella was running the wrong route or Kyler was off.  The miss to Hopkins was on Hopkins not knowing the route.

The Cards D balled out, though.  Two punchouts leading to two TD's and 2 INT of lame duck Dalton with a possible third dropped by the DB.  

Seriously, I don't know why the pundits thought this game would be close.  The Cards have a defense, a decent one.  The Cowboys don't.  Add to that, they could never stop Kyler Murray at all.

Andy Dalton is who we thought he was.  When you lose your starting job in Cinci, that's basically a sign that you're done.

I actually think Philly has a better shot at the NFC East because they have a defense and they can get healthy.

Living in Texas, but being an Arizona fan means I have plenty of opportunities to troll these folks...

At least they know Brisket...