The Packers came into this game with numerous injury concerns. Both of their tackles were out, and they were also missing their best defensive lineman, Mike Daniels. The absences were a huge concern, as the Bears have a strong front seven and would surely be able to take advantage of the absences of David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga.
In the end, Chicago never had a chance. Mike Glennon imploded, so despite the Packers generating just 260 yards, being outgained by the Bears in the process, they still posted 35 points in an easy blowout victory.
Aaron Rodgers simply didn't have to do much, outside of making a few clutch throws to keep possessions alive. The Packers had just two lengthy drives that resulted in touchdowns, and one came via some impressive Ty Montgomery runs. Yet, Rodgers still was able to fire four scores thanks to a trio of Glennon turnovers. Rodgers' final numbers were 18-of-26 for 179 yards and the four touchdowns. The tackles impacted a couple of drives in the first half, but Chicago's pass rush as a whole was very underwhelming.
Montgomery, meanwhile, looked like he was going to have a huge game. He rushed for 28 yards on just five carries, as he was given the ball on five of Green Bay's initial seven plays. Unfortunately, Montgomery was knocked out of the contest with a rib injury.
Montgomery was one of several Packer players who left the game. Jamaal Williams and Blake Martinez were also knocked out in the opening half, so a rookie named Aaron Jones had to handle the workload. Jones looked good, tallying 49 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. He's a big-time waiver-wire addition in fantasy this week if Montgomery and Williams miss time.
Meanwhile, the most devastating injury occurred to Davante Adams, who took a violent hit to the helmet from Danny Trevathan. Adams had to be carted into the locker room on a stretcher. He caught two passes for 13 yards and a touchdown, though he would've scored a second time had a holding penalty not occurred. That hold actually contributed to his nasty hit, as it happened a couple of plays later.
Elsewhere in the receiving corps, Jordy Nelson caught two of Rodgers' touchdowns, logging four grabs for 75 yards. Randall Cobb (4-44) had the other. Martellus Bennett snatched six balls for 39 yards, but didn't reach the end zone.
Going back to the Bears, Glennon had some bright moments in this game, but he crushed his team with some abysmal mistakes. On his first drop-back, Glennon held the ball for an eternity, giving Clay Matthews enough time to strip-sack him, setting up Cobb's touchdown. Following a lengthy thunderstorm delay, Glennon fired a terrible pass, overshooting Markus Wheaton by a mile. Two plays later, Jones found the end zone. The exact same pass happened in the second half. A Glennon overthrow set up another Packer touchdown. Green Bay scored 21 points off Glennon's turnovers, which was exactly the margin of victory.
Glennon gave this game away. Any other coach would've turned to Mitchell Trubisky. Most would've done so before this game. John Fox, however, is completely incompetent and is incapable of making logical decisions. He's coaching like it's 1995, and he believes he can win with just a running game. Trubisky would give the Bears some hope, despite the poor receiving corps, while Glennon isn't even a good fit for the offense, as Tony Romo repeatedly pointed out.
Glennon finished 21-of-32 for 218 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions and a lost fumble. The Bears have extra time until their Monday Night Football affair, so they can prepare Trubisky to start. If Fox decides to keep Glennon as his quarterback, the Bears should part ways with him.
You'd think the Bears would've tried to establish the dynamic Tarik Cohen, as he's their best play-maker. For some reason, they didn't, as Cohen was given only four touches by the time the score was 35-7. It's like Chicago forgot he was on the roster. A smarter coaching staff would've designed plays for Cohen to get him into space, but Fox is completely overmatched.
Cohen ended up with 24 rushing yards on six carries to go along with four catches for just as many receiving yards. Much of this came in garbage time; Cohen was barely a part of the offense when this game was still in doubt, which is inexcusable. Jordan Howard, meanwhile, managed 53 yards and a touchdown on 18 attempts.
The Bears didn't get much out of their receivers once again. Kendall Wright was the leader with 51 receiving yards and a touchdown on four catches. Deonte Thompson (5-44) and Josh Bellamy (3-36) were next on the list, while tight end Zach Miller snatched two balls for 45 yards.
Saints 20, Dolphins 0
If the NFL wants to generate more international interest, they need to put forth a better product than this. That means not starting games at 9:30 a.m. where half-asleep players make numerous mistakes. That would also involve not having officials throw penalty flags on every single play.
It's absurd how sloppy this game was. Both teams made horrible mistakes, while Ed Hochuli's crew tossed so many flags that they completely disrupted the flow of the game. Hochuli absolutely ruined the rhythm, resulting in one of the most boring football matchups I've ever seen. The NFL competition committee needs to really ease up the rules of football to improve the overall quality. Does it really matter if two men are in motion? Doesn't holding occur on every single snap? If a pick play occurs two yards downfield rather than a yard downfield, should there really be a penalty? The officials should not be the primary focus of any football game, and that happened in this horrible affair.
The NFL needs to clean up its officiating, and it really needs to end this utterly awful 9:30 a.m. experiment. All of these morning games have been awful. No wonder the ratings are down.
The players, meanwhile, weren't any better, as they just aren't used to playing so early. Jay Cutler opened by firing some impressive strikes on the opening drive, moving the Dolphins inside the Saints' 5-yard line. However, the possession concluded with an interception thrown toward Julius Thomas, who didn't fight for the ball. Ken Crawley, starting for the disciplined P.J. Williams, snatched the pick. The Saints followed that up by moving into the red zone themselves, but they also screwed up. Zach Strief's hold forced a field goal, which was missed from 41 yards.
Many mistakes were made throughout the opening half. Aside from all the penalties - there were 16 total prior to intermission - the Saints were guilty of a botched snap on third down. The Dolphins, meanwhile, were whistled for offensive pass interference, negating a first down. They also fumbled deep in their own territory, but were lucky to recover.
The Saints cleaned up their act following intermission. By the time the game was 20-0, New Orleans outgained Miami in the second half, 217-25! The Dolphins couldn't sustain drives because of poor blocking and mistakes, while their defense whiffed on numerous tackles, allowing the Saints to convert several key third-and-longs.
Drew Brees was very sharp in the second half, going 16-of-20 for 171 yards and two touchdowns following intermission. His overall numbers were 29-of-41, 268 yards and the two scores. His touchdowns went to Michael Thomas (8-89) and Alvin Kamara (10-71), who happened to be the Saints' leading receivers. No other New Orleans player logged more than 31 receiving yards.
Kamara is very interesting; he also rushed for 25 yards on five carries. Every time Mark Ingram or Adrian Peterson handled the ball, I wondered, "Why isn't that Alvin Kamara?" The rookie is such a special talent, and he's the best fit for what the Saints want to do offensively. New Orleans has a bye coming up, so I expect Kamara to be an even bigger part of the offense in Week 6 and beyond. Ingram (14-45) will still be in the mix), but Peterson (4-4) should be completely phased out, or even cut.
The dark cloud over the Saints' victories was a pair of injuries they suffered. Impressive rookie linebacker Alex Anzalone hurt his arm in the first quarter. More importantly, right tackle Zach Strief, who returned from injury this week, hurt his knee.
As for the Dolphins, Cutler was extremely impressive on the opening possession, as referenced earlier. However, he did absolutely nothing afterward. Cutler finished 20-of-28 for 164 yards and the aforementioned pick against one of the worst defenses in football that lost a starting linebacker in the early going. Cutler didn't play well, but this wasn't nearly all his fault. The line couldn't block, Julius Thomas didn't try, and Adam Gase came up with a horrible game plan, which includes a failed Wildcat play that Cutler hilariously didn't participate in, opting to stand still as the action was going on.
Only DeVante Parker (6-59) and Jarvis Landry (6-40) exceeded 30 receiving yards for the Dolphins. Both players disappointed, considering the matchup. The same could be said for Jay Ajayi, who gained 46 yards on 12 carries. Ajayi had some nice runs called back for holding penalties. He was also stuffed on a key third-and-1. When Gase opted to punt after that, the game was over. Gase did a poor job in this contest.
The Dolphins, now 1-2, look absolutely dreadful. They could really use a bye week to get Cutler in better rhythm with his teammates, but that's not possible because of Hurricane Irma, and all of the travel isn't helping either. You have to wonder about Miami's decision not to take a bye following London.
Jets 23, Jaguars 20
The Jaguars were 2-1 entering this game, but no one really thought they had a realistic chance of making the playoffs. They'd have to win more games, after all, and that is exactly what Blake Bortles hasn't been able to do throughout his career. As it turns out, he couldn't even beat one of the worst teams in the NFL.
Bortles was absolutely atrocious throughout the entire afternoon. He had numerous passes batted down at the line of scrimmage, including three by Kony Ealy alone! Speaking of Ealy, he caught Bortles' sole interception when Bortles inexplicably threw it right at Ealy's raised hands. Bortles, who tossed wobbly ducks when his passes weren't getting batted down, also made some poor decisions, including a sack that he took for no reason in the first half. He easily could've thrown the ball away, but he froze still, almost as if he was trying to figure out which club he partied at the night before. This allowed the Jets to bring him down.
Bortles finished with a ghastly stat line, going 15-of-35 for 140 yards, one touchdown and an interception. Keep in mind that he did this against a poor defense. It's unbelievable that the Jaguars are still starting him. They had an opportunity to go with a superior quarterback in Brandon Allen, who was the top performer at the position in the preseason. Instead, they're stuck with Bortles now, and they'll be in the same situation in 2018 if he suffers an injury, which would guarantee his contract. Jacksonville would be best served benching Bortles now and trading back for Allen.
The only reason Jacksonville's offense mustered anything was Leonard Fournette. The rookie runner gained 86 yards on 24 carries, and he also led the team receiving, snatching four balls for 59 yards and a touchdown. Fournette appeared to score a second time toward the end of regulation, but the play was negated by a holding penalty.
Aside from Fournette, Allen Hurns was the only Jaguar with more than 20 receiving yards, catching four of 10 targets for 42 yards. Marqise Lee (2-18) and Marcedes Lewis (no catches) took big steps back from impressive London performances. Perhaps the Jaguars should've left them there. Lee had a big drop late in the game that could've help Jacksonville prevail.
The Jets, meanwhile, had a couple of big runs that accounted for 14 of their 23 points. The first occurred when Bilal Powell looked like he was down. The Jaguars froze, and Powell ran for 75 yards to score. The officials reviewed it and upheld the call, which was inexplicable because there seemed to be no way he could've fallen down without being touched by a defender. Eli McGuire, playing for an injured Matt Forte, had a 69-yard rushing touchdown of his own. Powell had a ridiculous performance, gaining 163 yards and the touchdown on 21 carries. And to think, Todd Bowles was using Forte over him when the veteran was healthy. McGuire (10-93) didn't do much outside of his long run.
Josh McCown did enough not to lose. He actually had two turnovers late in the game, but I wouldn't really blame him for either. The first was a backward pass that Myles Jack scooped up and ran the other way for a touchdown. The officials reviewed the call, but didn't overturn it. The play was close, and it could've gone either way. McCown then had an interception, but that occurred because Powell slipped. McCown finished 22-of-31 for 224 yards and the two turnovers.
Robby Anderson led the Jets in receiving with three grabs for 59 yards. Austin Seferian-Jenkins (4-46) was next.
Lions 14, Vikings 7
Non-contact injuries tend to be the worst sort, and Dalvin Cook suffered one on a third-quarter carry. The Vikings were nursing a lead, but Cook dropped the ball when he felt something wrong with the back of his knee. The Lions picked up the ball in Minnesota territory and transformed the turnover into a tough Ameer Abdullah touchdown run. Detroit took the lead on the play, and the team didn't relinquish the seven-point advantage, thanks to some key plays down the stretch.
As for Cook, it doesn't look good. Following the game, he had a brace on his knee and was on crutches. It's unclear what the injury is exactly, but the Vikings fear that it's a torn ACL. That's terrible news for the offense, which was so reliant on him. Without Cook, who gained 66 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries, the Vikings couldn't run the ball. Latavius Murray mustered only 21 yards on seven attempts. Murray was mediocre behind Oakland's elite offensive line last year, so he's not going to be able to accomplish much in Minnesota.
The Lions, meanwhile, came through in the end. Anthony Zettel had a big sack on third down, and then a fumble was forced from Adam Thielen to win the game at the very end. The defense was very impressive in this contest. I know they were going against Case Keenum, but the unit was missing Jarrad Davis (concussion).
Matthew Stafford finished 19-of-31 for 209 yards. He refrained from throwing an interception, but with some luck, as a couple of Minnesota defenders dropped the ball. Stafford didn't have much time in the pocket, as he often had to use his mobility to escape sacks. On one occasion, he did this and found a receiver to convert a third down. He then hit Marvin Jones for 38 yards on a third-and-17 to set up a field goal.
With the Detroit receivers dealing with a tough secondary, the Lions focused on involving Abdullah as much as possible, and it paid off. Abdullah gained 94 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries, with a big chunk of his output coming on a 20-yard burst in the first half.
Marvin Jones (2-42) and Golden Tate (3-29) both posted lackluster figures. Jones had to deal with Xavier Rhodes, so this lackluster showing was predictable.
As for the Vikings, Keenum took a major step backward from last week's performance. Keenum wasn't playing a skeleton-crew defense this time, and it showed. He went 16-of-30 for 219 yards. He began the game with a terrific back-shoulder throw to Thielen for 24 yards, but he had a meltdown following intermission. Keenum was just 8-of-17 for 100 yards after halftime despite Kyle Rudolph bailing him out with two ridiculous catches inside of five minutes. Keenum had an open Thielen in the end zone for a potential touchdown, but simply didn't see him.
Speaking of Rudolph, he only had those two receptions for 34 yards. It's mind-boggling that the Vikings aren't using him more in the passing game. I understand that they have Stefon Diggs (5-98) and Thielen (5-59), but Rudolph is such a talented tight end that he needs more targets. Perhaps this will change if Cook is indeed lost for the year with a torn ACL.
Rams 35, Cowboys 30
This was a big test for the Rams. They were 2-1 entering this contest, and with the help of extra rest, they looked like they could perhaps spring the upset over the Cowboys, who have looked sluggish in two of their three games entering this week. The sharp bettors agreed with this, as the spread dropped from +8.5 to +5 prior to kickoff. This all meant nothing, however, as the Rams showed that they're not ready for prime time, while Dallas absolutely dominated this matchup.
The Cowboys opened the afternoon with Dak Prescott airing out a bomb to Dez Bryant for a 36-yard gain on the initial play of the afternoon. That set up a field goal, but the Cowboys found the end zone on the following possession. Dallas scored a touchdown on the longest drive of the season, with the possession lasting 16 plays, featuring several third-down conversions. Trumaine Johnson dropped an interception, and that ended up costing the Rams because Dallas found the end zone shortly later. On the next possession, Alfred Morris burst for a 70-yard gain, setting up an Ezekiel Elliott touchdown run. This put the Cowboys up 17-6, and the game was effectively over.
This was the mindset everyone had when Dallas established an 11-point lead in the early going. On Twitter, I saw that one Cowboy beat writer said that the game was over, and it certainly appeared that way. It seemed like this would be a blowout. Instead, the Rams made some adjustments and were able to dominate on the defensive side of the ball in the second half. They were so much better on first down, as the Cowboys had to constantly operate in long-yardage situations. Meanwhile, Jared Goff continued to show major growth. He had some instances where he back-peddled and threw some bad passes as a result, but he was mostly on point, leading the Rams to a comeback and a surprise upset victory.
Goff was mostly excellent, going 21-of-36 for 255 yards and two touchdowns. He converted a huge third-and-11 deep in his own territory. He didn't face much resistance, as Dallas was missing Pro Bowl linebacker Sean Lee, but this was still a monumental improvement over how he looked last year. Sean McVay and Greg Olson have worked wonders with him.
As good as Goff was, Todd Gurley was the star of the show. Gurley not only rushed for 121 yards on 23 carries - which included a trademark hurdle of his - but he also led the team in receiving, catching seven balls for 94 receiving yards and a touchdown. Gurley is a monster and happens to be rejuvenated by the upgrades the Rams have made to their offensive line.
Following Gurley, Cooper Kupp was next on the receiving chart with five rabs for 60 yards and a touchdown. Interestingly, Sammy Watkins didn't do much, securing one of his two targets for only 17 yards. Perhaps Watkins being banged up throughout the week had something to do with this, but it's worth noting that he didn't go for a catch on a third down because he sensed a hit from the safety.
Meanwhile, this was another game in which Elliott failed to reach 100 rushing yards, as he gained 85 yards and a touchdown on 21 attempts. He helped his fantasy owners with four catches for 54 receiving yards and another score, but his inability to dominate on the ground is not a surprise. The Cowboys' offensive line isn't nearly as good as it was last year because Ronald Leary departed for Denver. The mainstays aren't performing up to their abilities either.
Prescott finished 20-of-36 for 252 yards, three touchdowns and an interception that occurred because his elbow was hit as he released the ball. However, Prescott's stat line could've been far worse. The Rams dropped two possible picks of his, as Kayvon Webster repeated Johnson's earlier mistake. Prescott also had Bryant open for a potential reception in the second half, but missed him.
Speaking of Bryant, he caught just five of his 13 targets for 98 yards, as Trumaine Johnson did a good job in coverage. Aside from Bryant and Elliott, no Cowboy accumulated more than 34 receiving yards. James Hanna (1-28) and Brice Butler (2-12) caught Prescott's other touchdowns.
Bills 23, Falcons 17
Matt Ryan might be the reigning MVP, but he discovered that it's difficult to play to that level with several missing key players. Already without talented right tackle Ryan Schraeder, the Falcons lost Julio Jones in the second quarter and then watched Mohamed Sanu leave the game after that. With a skeleton-crew offense, Ryan couldn't muster much by himself and transformed into a turnover machine in the second half. The end result was an upset victory by the upstart Bills, who have improved to a very surprising 3-1 record.
Ryan had a chance to take the lead at the very end, but no one could get open on the final drive. This forced Ryan to throw the ball away twice, and on fourth down, he tried to get the ball to Taylor Gabriel, who couldn't separate from the cornerback. It was very evident how much Ryan missed Jones and Sanu in that sequence, and their absences ended up costing the Falcons the game.
Ryan finished 24-of-42 for 242 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. He had three give-aways in the second half. He was strip-sixed and then forced a bad interception, which Micah Hyde snatched. His second pick bounced off the hands of someone named Nick Williams, who wouldn't have been on the field had Jones and Sanu been available.
With Jones (3-30) and Sanu (1-3) barely seeing any playing time, Tevin Coleman led the Falcons in receiving with four grabs for 65 receiving yards, followed by Austin Hooper (5-50). Hooper paced the Falcons with seven targets.
Coleman also led the Falcons in rushing with 79 yards on just nine carries. Devonta Freeman had double the attempts, but mustered only 58 yards. He did find the end zone, however.
As for the Bills, I don't want to take credit away from them just because the Falcons lost after Jones and Sanu left the game. They should be praised for the victory, as they had a terrific game plan prepared for an Atlanta defense that had absolutely no answer for Charles Clay. The Bills made sure to get the ball to Clay early and often, as he had a huge mismatch versus the mediocre Atlanta linebackers. Clay had a monstrous stat line, catching five balls for 112 yards. His numbers would've been even better had he not dropped a pass in the first quarter.
Clay accounted for more than half of Tyrod Taylor's passing yardage. Taylor went 12-of-20 for 182 yards and a touchdown to Jordan Matthews (2-10). Taylor didn't get much going on the ground, scrambling seven times for 12 rushing yards.
LeSean McCoy eclipsed 100 total yards from scrimmage in this contest. He struggled to find running room - 20 carries, 76 rushing yards - but he also caught three balls for 32 yards. McCoy and Clay were the only Buffalo players to generate more than 18 receiving yards, and this includes Zay Jones, who had one grab for that exact amount.
Bills edge rusher Eddie Yarbrough needs to be highlighted. Shaq Lawson missed this game, but it didn't matter because Yarbrough was so dominant. He didn't log a sack, but he had tons of pressures. Micah Hyde secured two interceptions.
Bengals 31, Browns 7
The Bengals needed to save their season by winning a game to avoid an 0-4 start. Luckily, they were playing the Browns, who weren't even competitive against the Colts. Anyone - save for myself - could've guessed that Cincinnati would have prevailed easily in this contest, and that's exactly what happened.
Things didn't look good early when Andy Dalton was strip-sacked, setting up a short field for Cleveland. The Browns predictably did nothing with the possession, as Kenny Britt slipped on his route on third down, setting up a missed 48-yard field goal, which sailed wide left. The mistakes continued for the Browns after that. DeShone Kizer took a 15-yard sack when the ball was snapped over his head, and he didn't think quickly enough to throw it out of bounds after collecting it. Pacman Jones then had a 40-yard punt return to set up a touchdown.
The Browns proceeded to move the chains after that, but a pair of drops ended the drive. Britt's drop turned into an interception because the ball popped into the air, and that set up another Cincinnati score. Giovani Bernard followed that up with a long touchdown on a busted coverage, and just like that, the game was over with the Bengals going up by three touchdowns.
Dalton was extremely sharp, going 25-of-30 for 286 yards and four touchdowns. It helped that he was battling a defense missing its two best linemen, Myles Garrett and Danny Shelton, so his putrid blocking unit wasn't tested at all. Dalton was able to torch Cleveland's abysmal secondary with ease.
Cincinnati's poor blocking was apparent in the ground game. Many fantasy prognosticators expected a big game from Joe Mixon, but he let them down despite getting 17 carries. He turned those attempts into 29 yards, tying Dalton for the team's rushing lead. He also caught four balls for 19 receiving yards. Meanwhile, Jeremy Hill mustered only 16 yards on six tries, fumbling once in the process.
Two of Dalton's touchdowns were thrown to Tyler Kroft, who exposed Cleveland's Jamie Collins-less linebacking corps. Kroft caught six balls for 68 yards and the two scores, with his longest gain, a 21-yarder, coming on a busted coverage. Bernard (3-67) and A.J. Green (5-63) also found the end zone.
As for the Browns, Kizer was eventually benched in the second half, and for good reason. He finished 16-of-34 for only 118 yards and the interception, which wasn't his fault. That said, Kizer played terribly. So many of his passes were off the mark, and it took him forever to process information. He also wasn't a factor as a runner - five scrambles, 10 rushing yards - so he didn't have any positive moments outside of a 26-yard completion on a third-and-13. The Browns really need to consider sitting Kizer for a while until things slow down for him. Kevin Hogan stepped in at the end and went 5-of-8 for 65 yards.
The Browns once again struggled to run the ball, with Isaiah Crowell mustering only 20 yards on seven carries. Duke Johnson (4-13) didn't get much on the ground, but scored a garbage-time touchdown. He also caught nine of 10 targets for 47 receiving yards. I have Cleveland selecting Saquon Barkley in my 2018 NFL Mock Draft.
Ricardo Louis led the Browns in receiving with five grabs for 64 yards. Britt (3-52) needs to be discussed because he drew plenty of boos from the crowd when he dropped a pass, slipped on a key play and was responsible for an interception. Cleveland needs to cut Britt now if it wants to salvage Kizer because Britt and his horrible lethargy are hurting Kizer's development.
EDITOR'S NOTE: I don't know what sort of witchcraft or sorcery the Texans used to magically improve their offensive line to allow very little pressure on Deshaun Watson, but the Seahawks really need to consider paying for this service.
A week after outplaying the defending Super Bowl champions on the road, Deshaun Watson and the Texans fired a shot across the bow of the AFC as they completely dominated the Titans. Late last week, I texted a league source that I thought the Texans were going to give the Titans a whipping this week, and that turned out to be spot on, as it was Houston domination from start to finish.
In the first half, the Texans' offense had six possessions with five scores, including four touchdowns. Deshaun Watson was awesome. It looked like Watson was back at Clemson and playing Kent State. Texan wideouts DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller destroyed the Tennessee secondary. Marcus Mariota left the game at halftime with a hamstring injury, and there was no chance of Matt Cassel leading a comeback for the Titans as the blowout was on. Houston's defense created five turnovers with a sack-fumble and four interceptions, returning one of the picks for a touchdown.
On the first third down of the game, Mariota was pressured and overthrew Delanie Walker with Texans safety Andre Hal making an acrobatic catch for an interception near the Tennessee 40. Watson then threaded a rope to Bruce Ellington (3-44) for 35 yards to the Titans' 5-yard line. From there, Lamar Miller finished the drive with a short touchdown run. On the next drive, Watson found Miller wide open in the flat, and Miller took off down the field for a gain of 27 yards to set up a first-and-goal. Watson threw a frozen rope to Hopkins a couple plays later for a short touchdown run and a 14-0 lead. Houston quickly got the ball back with Watson making clutch first-down completions. On the first play of the second quarter, he threw a bullet to Fuller for a 15-yard touchdown.
The Titans' offense finally got moving with completions to Rishard Matthews and Delanie Walker, and some runs by DeMarco Murray. Mariota took off on a read-option run for a 34-yard touchdown run. Watson responded with a drive that produced a 50-yard field goal from Ka'imi Fairbairn. Mariota answered with a touchdown drive that was keyed by hitting Matthews for a 28-yard pass to set up a first-and-goal, and Mariota finished it with a short touchdown run. Chris Thompson returned the kickoff to midfield to set up Houston. Fuller had Adoree' Jackson burned for a touchdown, but a pass interference caused an incompletion. It did, however, set up a first-and-goal, leaving Watson to run in a read-option for a touchdown. Mariota then stared down a receiver, letting Hal make his second interception of the half. However, Watson had his one mistake of the of the game, throwing an interception to Kevin Byard to lose a scoring opportunity, but Houston was up 30-14 at the half.
After the intermission, Watson continued to move the ball, using Hopkins for a few completions, including a fourth-and-1 and a pass interference. The drive ended with Watson lofting in a 10-yard touchdown to Fuller to complete a drive that drained the game clock of eight minutes. Shortly later, Watson threw his fourth touchdown pass, via a short toss to Miller. Marcus Gilchrist then picked off Cassel to get into Tennessee territory for another field goal from Fairbairn. Afterward. Cassel promptly threw a pick-six to linebacker Dylan Cole. Jadeveon Clowney soon beat Taylor Lewan for a strip-sack to get the Texans three more points and complete the blowout for Houston.
Watson completed 25-of-34 for 283 yards with four touchdowns and one interception. He ran for 24 yards and a touchdown as well. Hopkins caught 10 passes for 107 yards and a touchdown while also drawing more pass interference penalties. Fuller (4-35-2) was impressive in his season debut, and his speed really adds a different element to the Texans' offense.
Miller ran for 75 yards on 19 carries with a touchdown to go with four receptions for 56 yards and another score.
Mariota was 6-of-10 for 96 yards with two interceptions. He ran for two rushing touchdowns with 39 yards on the ground in his one half of action.
Murray (7-31) and Derrick Henry (6-7) were non-factors, as Houston dominated the time of possession.
Delanie Walker (3-51) and Rishard Matthews (3-49) played well prior to the Mariota injury.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Marshal Yanda needs to be considered NFL MVP. Seriously. The Ravens have had absolutely zero offense without him. It's amazing how much of an impact his injury has had.
The Steelers came into Baltimore having lost their previous four there and 11 of their last 14. They also hadn't put up over 23 points in Baltimore since 2002. But the Ravens also came into this game coming off an embarrassing defeat in London against the Jacksonville Jaguars, 44-7. In the end, the Baltimore offense that could only muster 186 total yards last week, showed up once again, while Pittsburgh's ground game got back on track on its way to a fairly easy 26-9 win and sole lead in the AFC North.
Le'Veon Bell has started the season slowly, especially for his high statistical standards. Through three games, he had rushed 52 times for 180 yards and a touchdown, while catching 13 passes for 56 yards. But, on Sunday, against the Ravens' usually stout run defense, he rushed 35 times for 144 yards and two touchdowns, while catching four passes for an additional 42 yards. In this one game, he doubled his touchdowns and came close to reaching his total rushing yards and receiving yards.
The Steelers got their offense rolling early by focusing on Bell as the engine, giving him the ball five straight times to start the afternoon, and they never went away from him on his way to a huge game. This wasn't surprising for a player like Bell, but to go into Baltimore and run on the Ravens like the Steelers did is a little surprising. The Steelers very much needed the run game to take off, as Ben Roethlisberger has been slumping to start the season as well.
Joe Flacco, on the other hand, would probably enjoy the term "slumping," rather than what he's been doing lately, which is rotting. Flacco completed 31-of-49 passes for 235 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, while being sacked four times. His 235 yards were the most he's thrown in one game, but at 3.9 yards per pass, that's nothing to hang your hat on.
Flacco went the checkdown route in this game, with his longest completion going 16 yards to Mike Wallace for the team's lone touchdown. Flacco was again ineffective, and now on the season, he has completed 73-of-118 passes for 601 yards, four touchdowns and six interceptions. The hope is that Flacco started slow due to his back problems in training camp, but four games in, he has yet to show that he's up to the task.
Roethlisberger hasn't been as bad as Flacco, but he hasn't been great by any stretch of the imagination. Roethlisberger's road woes have continued this season, and if Bell hadn't been on Sunday, Roethlisberger's numbers would not have you assuming the Steelers won this game. He finished by completing 18-of-30 passes for 216 yards with one touchdown and one interception. The pick wasn't on Roethlisberger, and he did make a nice touchdown pass to rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster, but overall, it was a "game manager" type of showing, which will do, as the Steelers took an important game from their division rival inside that rival's home stadium.
The Ravens did get a spark from running back Alex Collins, who rushed for 82 yards on nine carries, but also fumbled, which led to Steeler points. Collins started ahead of Terrance West and Buck Allen, but Allen did handle the majority of the passing-game work. We'll see if Collins can retain the slight edge as the "starter" after being benched for a while after his fumble. Thankfully for him, he made a nice 50-yard run after the fumble, which could keep him from a true demotion, especially since Terrance West lost yardage on his four carries.
Antonio Brown had his worst statistical game, as he caught just 4-of-9 targets for 34 yards. The Ravens weren't going to let Brown beat them, so it all turned to Bell as the offense took the easier road. Brown has had trouble in Baltimore just like the whole team, so this isn't a shocking result. He'll continue to pace the league in yards and receptions.
Baltimore's top receiver was Mike Wallace, who led the team in targets, receptions and yards to go along with his touchdown. He also dropped what would have been a long touchdown pass. Not much went right for Baltimore this week.
Next week, the Ravens will head to Oakland, where they should have a bit more luck offensively, but we can't count on that with the way Flacco has played of late.
The Steelers will take on another tough defense as they host the Jacksonville Jaguars, but they will be home, where they usually play much better.
Panthers 33, Patriots 30 By Jacob Camenker - Riggo's Rag
EDITOR'S NOTE: I wish the Panthers wouldn't have won so I could criticize them for not getting Christian McCaffrey involved enough. Why did McCaffrey have just 10 touches? Don't they know that I picked him in FanDuel? Why is Fozzy Whittaker catching touchdowns?
The result of this game may be surprising on the surface, but it's abundantly clear that the Panthers were the better team. They dominated the Patriots for most of the day and solidified themselves as a potential playoff team.
On the offensive side of the ball, Cam Newton had one of the best performances since his MVP season in 2015. Newton was the leader of the Panthers' offense, and focused on utilizing both his arm strength and mobility to take down the Patriots. Newton went 22-of-29 for 316 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. He was every bit as good as those numbers indicate.
Throughout the contest, Newton was able to find massive gaps in the Patriots' defense thanks to coverage busts and good routes by his receivers. Newton displayed excellent accuracy and field vision, and rarely had a regrettable throw. His only bad plays came on a couple of overthrows. The first was on his interception, where he launched a pass into double coverage. The second came on the game-winning drive, where Newton overshot Devin Funchess, who had to break up the pass to prevent a second pick. Still, for the most part, Newton was sharp and accurate, and had some really nice throws throughout the day.
On the ground, Newton's performance was equally as impressive. Ron Rivera called many quarterback runs throughout the day to keep New England's defense off balance. Newton took advantage and was able to total 44 yards on eight carries. He also notched a touchdown. Newton looked as strong as ever and was able to bounce off defenders and find open space. He needs to continue to do that to succeed.
In the run game, Jonathan Stewart led the way for the Panthers. He saw 14 carries and was able to turn them into 68 yards. Stewart found holes in the defense, and his offensive line did a good job of blocking the Patriots' weak defensive line. Rookie Christian McCaffrey only got 16 yards on six carries. He struggled to fight through stronger defenders close to the line of scrimmage, but showed promise in the passing game (4 catches, 33 yards).
Newton's top receiver in this contest was Funchess. The former second-round pick saw a team-high nine targets and turned them into seven catches for 70 yards and two touchdowns. Funchess displayed much better route-running skills than he has demonstrated in the past and was able to make catches over the Patriots' defensive backs thanks to his size. Funchess is a player who should be added in fantasy, as he will be the team's No. 2 receiver and receive a lot of targets. He could end up being a WR3 if he continues to improve.
Kelvin Benjamin (4-104) led Carolina in yardage despite not being on the field for the whole game. He was dealing with an injury, but he should continue to perform well when he is completely healthy. Fozzy Whittaker (3-35) caught Newton's other touchdown on a screen play.
Meanwhile, this is a bad loss for the Patriots. There's no doubt about it. Their defense is a mess, and the offense isn't quite good enough to lead the team to victory. It may not be time to panic yet, but the team needs to do something to improve quickly.
Tom Brady had a solid game, and it's clear that he wasn't the problem. On the first drive of the contest, Brady was able to march the Patriots down the field by methodically spreading the ball around and throwing accurate passes. It looked like he was going to have a great day, but things went downhill from there.
The Patriots' offensive line was unable to consistently protect Brady. Julius Peppers and the rest of the Panthers' defensive line was able to put pressure on Brady to force passes out earlier than he wanted. Also, he suffered numerous hits because of this. The Patriots have to ensure that Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon get better. Otherwise, Brady will get rattled each week, and that could cause the offense to get out of rhythm.
Brady finished the day 32-of-45 for 307 yards and two touchdowns. He had some very nice throws when he had enough time in the pocket. His accuracy is still there, but if he's not protected, he is going to have to continue to check the ball down to avoid getting hit.
Brady's top receivers on Sunday were James White (10-47) and Rob Gronkowski (4-80). White saw a majority of Brady's checkdown passes and was able to do a bit after the catch each time. He will continue to play the role as the receiving back in the team's offense. As for Gronkowski, he had a terrific catch that saw him get wide open off the line, make the catch, and run downfield. He dragged a defender with him on the play, and he looks as strong as ever.
Chris Hogan (5-60) and Danny Amendola (6-42, 1 TD) were the other receivers of note for Brady. He continues to like to spread the ball around to all his receivers.
On the ground, the Patriots mainly utilized Mike Gillislee as their lead back, and the results were good. Gillislee saw 12 carries for 49 yards, but he had a couple of nice bursts that saw him beat players at the line of scrimmage and push ahead for gains of 7-10 yards. However, Gillislee ceded some work in the red zone to Dion Lewis, who saw four carries for 18 yards and got a touchdown. Bill Belichick is known for mixing up his backs, so perhaps Lewis will be his new goal-line back in certain personnel packages.
Final Note: The return of Dont'a Hightower to the Patriots' defense was supposed to help fix the problems they endured in September. However, the performance of the defense didn't improve as expected. Matt Patricia and company are going to have to figure out a way to fix the defense and get some sort of pass rush to take pressure off their secondary.
EDITOR'S NOTE: As I said on the podcast, bad team is favored by seven over bad team, so I'm going to take bad team to cover the seven against bad team. Well, bad team and bad team went to overtime, with bad team taking the lead, but bad team marched down the field to get the win, so bad team improved to 2-2 and bad team dropped to 0-4. However, bad team is the winner in the long run because it'll get a better draft pick than bad team.
With the Rams getting off to a surprising 3-1 start, the Cardinals couldn't afford to dig themselves a big hole with a 1-3 beginning to the season with a loss to the 49ers. Arizona rallied in overtime as the game's only touchdown proved to be a walk-off winner for Arizona. Once again, San Francisco fought hard but came up with a loss. That isn't bad for the 49ers, as they are clearly improving as a team but still maintain their high draft-pick status to hopefully land their future franchise quarterback.
On the first drive of the game, Palmer moved the ball down the field using John Brown, but then had a deflected pass intercepted in the end zone by Ray Ray Armstrong. The 49ers struck first with a field goal drive, as Brian Hoyer moved the ball with some short passing. Early in the second quarter, Palmer hit Jaron Brown (8-105) for a 32-yard gain to set up a first-and-goal. Palmer finished the drive by hitting Andre Ellington for a short touchdown pass, but the officials screwed up the call saying it was incomplete, so Arizona settled for a field goal. Even Mike Pereira disagreed with what the officials decided. The 49ers got moving with Hoyer hitting Aldrick Robinson (3-52) for 24 yards and Carlos Hyde getting a few gains to set up a field goal. Late in the first half, Hoyer threw a pass up for grabs like a punt, and Antoine Bethea picked it off to set up the Cardinals at the 49ers' 30-yard line. Arizona tied it at 6-6 entering halftime.
Early in the third quarter, the 49ers put up another field goal drive. Arizona drove into San Francisco territory before DeForest Buckner had a clutch sack to force the Cardinals into settling for a field goal. The 49ers answered again with a Robbie Gould field goal. Arizona repeated the trend, tying the game at 12 midway through the fourth quarter. Palmer used Ellington and Chris Johnson as receivers before the 49ers' pass rush stepped up to keep the Cardinals to three points. Arizona's defense was able to get a stop with the 49ers backed up deep in their own territory, so that set up the Cardinals with good field position at their own 45-yard line with just under four minutes remaining. However, Ray Ray Armstrong notched a sack and Elvis Dumervil recorded the 100th sack of his career to get the ball for the 49ers' offense. Hoyer couldn't do anything with it, forcing the 49ers to punt again. Dumervil added another sack, and that basically forced overtime.
A pass interference on Patrick Peterson in overtime helped get San Francisco on the move. The 49ers advanced the ball with an 11-yard pass to Pierre Garcon (4-36), a third-down conversion with an eight-yard run by Kyle Juszcyk, and a pass to Hyde for nine yards to get inside the 10-yard line. The drive stalled, and Robbie Gould kicked a 23-yard field goal. Because it was the opening possession of overtime, Arizona got a chance to score. Palmer hit Jaron Brown for receptions of 17 and 25 yards. A holding on Jimmie Ward gave Arizona some more life, and Palmer took advantage. The Cardinals got a walk-off winer with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Larry Fitzgerald as the future Hall of Famer got open to sky above the defender for a tremendous game-winning catch with only 38 seconds left in overtime.
Palmer completed 33-of-51 passes for 357 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Fitzgerald had four catches for 32 yards to go with the only touchdown in the game.
Chris Johnson (13-32) and Ellington (5-18) didn't do much on the ground. But Johnson had three catches for 31 yards while Ellington had nine receptions for 86 yards.
Hoyer was 24-of-49 for 234 yards with an interception. Hyde ran for 68 yards on 16 carries with five receptions for 27 yards.
Defensively, both teams played well on that side of the ball. The 49ers took advantage of the Cardinals' weak offensive line to record six sacks. Buckner was superb with four tackles and a sack. He looks like a Pro Bowler this year. 49ers rookie Solomon Thomas got his first NFL sack, but it wasn't all that impressive. It was a coverage sack as Thomas was blocked well, but when Palmer moved forward to the line of scrimmage, Thomas chased him down from behind. Arizona enjoyed a good performance from Tyrann Mathieu, who had 11 tackles with a sack.
EDITOR'S NOTE: It was insane how much the Charger fans were outnumbered by Eagle supporters in this game. It must have been 10:1 or 12:1. That's what it sounded like, at least. There's no reason for the Chargers to remain in Los Angeles, and San Diego sucks as an NFL city, too. They should be in Portland, San Antonio or Oklahoma City.
The Eagles ran an old-fashioned looking offense against the Chargers to notch their third win of the young NFL season. Though one would think that the Eagles' passing attack would have been the strength they wanted to use against the Chargers, they Eagles chose to use their run offense with great success.
The Eagles ran for 214 yards as they were able to gash the Chargers on multiple occasions. LeGarrette Blount was unsurprisingly the lead option for the Eagles, and he had the best performance since he signed in the offseason.
Blount ran for a whopping 136 yards on just 16 carries. He ripped off many 10-plus-yard bursts and was able to run through a good deal of the Chargers' defenders. On one terrific play, Blount ran through the line and got into the open field, shaking off a couple of would-be tacklers and throwing rookie Desmond King to the ground on a 68-yard gain. Blount looked like Marshawn Lynch in that moment. It's feasible that Blount could be a high-end RB2 if he keeps producing at that level, but it will be hard to trust the team's backfield, which is by committee.
The Eagles also saw a nice performance from Wendell Smallwood. The second-year man took over in the role that had previously belonged to Darren Sproles. Smallwood saw 10 carries for 34 yards and dove for a touchdown on the goal line. He also was active in the passing game, catching four passes for 45 yards. He looks like a capable replacement and has FLEX potential moving forward.
Corey Clement was the final cog of the running attack. He, too, saw 10 carries and had 30 yards. The undrafted rookie looked pretty good and should continue to play a role on the offense. He had a couple of key conversion on third-and-shorts, and that was huge for the team.
In the passing game, the Eagles did well enough to complement their run offense. Carson Wentz had an efficient performance that saw him go 17-of-31 for 242 yards and a touchdown. Wentz was solid, but he was under pressure for a good amount of the contest. Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa proved to be a very good pass-rushing tandem, and they forced Wentz to throw the ball away a few times. Wentz did well to escape, and looked very elusive.
Wentz's top receivers during the contest were Zach Ertz (5-83), Nelson Agholor (3-58) and Alshon Jeffery (3-29, 1 TD). Ertz was the most consistent threat, and he was able to make a nice catch on a 38-yard pass. The Eagles were backed up deep in their own territory when Wentz threw a perfect touch pass Ertz's way just over the defender. Ertz will continue to be a TE1 each week.
As for Agholor and Jeffery, they were a bit less consistent. Much of Agholor's damage came on a 36-yard catch at the beginning of the contest. Jeffery had to deal with Casey Hayward, but was still able to catch a touchdown. Agholor will be a bench play in fantasy most weeks, while Jeffery has WR1 potential, but will more likely be a consistent WR2.
The one negative for the Eagles was their poor cornerback play. Rookie Rasul Douglas got burned on numerous occasions, and the Eagles need to get him some help. The team can't afford to wait for Ronald Darby and Sidney Jones to get healthy, and Philadelphia may need to consider dealing for a top corner. Perhaps the organization could get Malcolm Butler for the right price.
This was an embarrassing game for the Chargers. Despite being the home team, they had absolutely no homefield advantage. Most of the crowd was full of Philadelphia fans, and they were cheering loudly for the visitors for the whole contest. The move to Los Angeles is looking more and more suspect, and the Chargers have to feel regretful about their decision.
As for their actual on field product, their offense actually fared pretty well. Their passing game was clicking very well and Philip Rivers was able to have a very strong performance.
Rivers hit a number of his receivers on plays downfield in which they were wide open. The Eagles had trouble covering the Chargers' receivers as their weakness is at the cornerback position. Rivers' ball placement was particularly good on one of his touchdowns, a 75-yard strike to Tyrell Williams. He launched the ball downfield and hit Williams perfectly in stride as he ran his route. It was a perfect ball, and one that gave the Chargers some momentum.
Overall, Rivers ended up going 22-of-38 for 347 yards and two touchdowns. Rivers was accurate and demonstrated that he still has the arm strength necessary to be a quality quarterback at the NFL level.
Rivers' top receivers on Sunday were Keenan Allen (5-138) and the aforementioned Tyrell Williams (5-115, 1 TD). Allen was the top target for Rivers and saw a team-leading 11 targets. Allen was able to find plenty of space against Philadelphia's cornerbacks and should build on this performance. He is a low-end WR1 most weeks. Williams notched most of his yardage on the one touchdown, but he had some nice catches as well. Williams is worthy of a bench spot in standard leagues.
Elsewhere in the passing game, Hunter Henry (2-16, 1 TD) and Antonio Gates (3-18) were mostly disappointing. Henry did make a nice, one-handed touchdown grab late to keep the contest close, but he and Gates mostly just cancel each other out. Henry has more fantasy upside, but he can't be trusted as long as Gates is still around.
While the Chargers got a strong performance out of their pass offense, their running attack left a lot to be desired. Melvin Gordon had a poor performance, notching 22 yards on 10 carries despite facing a Philadelphia defense that was missing Fletcher Cox. Gordon was dealing with a minor injury, so perhaps that had an effect on him. He should bounce back, but this performance was concerning.
The best run of the contest for the Chargers came from rookie Austin Ekeler. The Northwestern product had a 35-yard burst that saw him cut back on a play into wide-open space and accelerate for 35 yards into the end zone. Ekeler also impressed in the passing game, so perhaps he will earn a bigger role moving forward.
Buccaneers 25, Giants 23
The Buccaneers certainly made what should've been a substantial victory into a very close call. They led for most of the afternoon, but couldn't put the Giants away because of mistakes. New York finally took the lead late in the third quarter and held an advantage with a couple of minutes remaining. However, Jameis Winston was able to lead his team down the field on a last-minute drive, setting up a Nick Folk field goal as time expired.
That said, it shouldn't have come down to that. Folk missed seven points' worth of kicks, though the FOX announcing crew, which featured both Tiki and Ronde Barber, blamed Folk's poor performance on the sloppy field surface, which was messed up because of a heavy downpour at kickoff. Why the NFL scheduled a 4 p.m. start time in the lightning capital of the world, I have no idea. At any rate, Mike Evans missed out on some opportunities as well. He appeared to have a touchdown in the second quarter, but the play was overturned by replay review. Evans also had several drops, including a potential 18-yard reception and another possible touchdown. Despite this, the Buccaneers prevailed, as Folk overcame his earlier troubles to nail the decisive 34-yard kick.
Winston went 22-of-38 for 332 yards and three touchdowns. As mentioned, Winston should've had a fourth score to Evans. He had a strong performance, considering the mistakes his teammates made. He had some odd misfires, but his game-winning drive at the end more than made up for it. He keeps improving, as it seems as though he's making the next step in his career to becoming an elite quarterback.
Evans, meanwhile, really needs to clean up his drops. He caught five balls for 67 yards and a touchdown, but he easily could've found the end zone thrice in this game. He converted fewer than half of his 11 targets, as he was extremely inefficient.
Tampa's leader in receiving yards was Cameron Brate, who snatched four balls for 80 yards and a touchdown. O.J. Howard also had a nice stat line - two catches, 63 yards, one touchdown - though his 58-yard score was the result of a busted coverage. Howard was wide open, as the Giants' incompetence in defending tight ends continued.
The Buccaneers play Thursday night versus New England, but they'll have Doug Martin back from suspension. In his final start, Jacquizz Rodgers gained 83 yards on 16 carries, with most of his production coming on a 36-yard burst.
As for the Giants, it appeared as though they were getting blown out in the early going when they trailed 13-0 right away. Like the Buccaneers, they made several mistakes, with Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall dropping passes. The Giants also whiffed on a field goal, with the kick being no good from 43 yards. Beckham had an adventurous game, dropping a potential big gain, getting his finger dislocated, suffering some sort of an ankle injury in the fourth quarter, and catching seven passes for 90 yards.
It's unclear if Beckham will be able to play next week. If not, Evan Engram will have to continue to step up. The rookie tight end was second on the receiving list with six grabs for 62 yards. This includes a great, diving reception he made on a late third down. Meanwhile, Sterling Shepard (5-54) and Marshall (6-46) both posted middling numbers.
Eli Manning finished 30-of-49 for 288 yards and two passing touchdowns. He also rushed in a third score. Despite some pedestrian blocking once again - made worse by center Weston Richburg's injury - Manning had a terrific performance, especially considering some of the drops he endured.
It appears as though Paul Perkins' days as a starter are over. Perkins mustered only 13 yards on nine carries. He left the game with an injury, and that allowed rookie Wayne Gallman to take over. Gallman was way more impressive. He gained 42 yards on 11 attempts, and he also caught a touchdown. Gallman's one mistake was an apparent fumble in the fourth quarter. All three announcers thought the ball was out, but the Buccaneers inexplicably didn't challenge the call.
Broncos 16, Raiders 10
The Raiders could overcome a defeat in this game to eventually make the playoffs, but they can't overcome a loss to Derek Carr. Their franchise quarterback suffered an injury in this contest when he was twisted awkwardly. It looked like he took a helmet ot the neck or side, and he was on the ground for several minutes. He walked off gingerly afterward, but didn't see the field again. E.J. Manuel entered the field and didn't seem like he'd give the Raiders much of a chance. Carr struggled against Denver's "No Fly Zone," outside of one inexplicable 99-yard drive, so how was Manuel going to do anything?
Well, to almost quote Chris Berman, that's why they play the entire game. The Raiders couldn't do anything with Manuel at first, but the former first-round pick caught fire and led two impressive drives. The first nearly concluded with a touchdown, but Amari Cooper and Jared Cook both dropped passes, with the latter mishandling a ball in the end zone, which ultimately may have won the game. Manuel had another chance following a field goal, but he floated a pass toward Cooper. Athletic safety Justin Simmons skied over Cooper to snatch the clinching interception.
It's unclear what Carr's injury is, but the Raiders need him to give themselves a chance at the playoffs; they won't win many games with Manuel, despite what we saw late in this contest. Carr went 10-of-18 for 143 yards and a touchdown. His offensive line struggled to block Denver's pass rush, and it didn't help that Michael Crabtree was out of the lineup. However, given how Manuel performed, it's conceivable that Carr could've led the Raiders to a victory at the very end. Manuel, by the way, went 11-of-17 for 106 yards and the pick.
Cooper was a major disappointment. He saw eight targets, but came up with just two catches for nine yards. He also had his seventh drop of the year. He needed to step up with Crabtree out, and he was a big-time bust, despite the tough matchup. Jared Cook had three receptions for 46 yards.
Speaking of struggling fantasy stars, Marshawn Lynch struggled versus Denver's top-ranked run defense. Lynch was bottled up to just 12 yards on nine carries. He was stuffed on a crucial fourth-down play in the opening half. It said something that Lynch and the highest-paid line in the NFL couldn't get a single yard versus the Broncos.
As for the victors, Trevor Siemian finished 16-of-26 for 179 yards and a touchdown, which was an amazing catch by A.J. Derby. The tight end, who caught four balls for 75 yards, snatched a pass with one hand and ran into the end zone. Ironically, Derby dropped a much easier pass on third down later in the game.
Excluding Derby, Bennie Fowler led the Broncos in receiving with two grabs for 35 yards. It was very surprising to see Denver's wideouts struggle, as neither Emmanuel Sanders (4-27) nor Demaryius Thomas (1-11) couldn't get anything against a secondary that lost two starters - David Amerson and rookie Gareon Conley - to injury in this contest. Siemian didn't have much time with Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin breathing down his neck.
C.J. Anderson bounced back from a disappointing Week 3 to generate 112 yards from scrimmage. He gained 95 rushing yards on 20 carries. Meanwhile, Jamaal Charles dashed for 33 yards on five attempts. Charles looked very explosive on some impressive cuts, so it was surprising that he didn't have more touches. Perhaps the Broncos are just trying to preserve him.
Seahawks 46, Colts 18
When someone writes or says a game was a "tale of two halves," it's usually a cliche, but that was certainly the case in this Sunday night affair. The Seahawks sputtered offensively and couldn't do anything in the early going. Outside of a pick-six, they posted just three points against Indianapolis' lackluster defense. The Colts led at halftime, 15-10, and it appeared as though they would pull the upset. At the very least, it seemed as though they would take the game down to the wire and give themselves a chance to pull the upset.
And then, the second half happened. The Seahawks outscored the Colts following intermission, 36-3. Seattle once again scored defensively - this time on a Jacoby Brissett strip-six - but it was the offense that proved to be unstoppable. The Seahawks were limited to just 140 net yards in the opening half, and they generated 337 yards following intermission. Russell Wilson caught fire, while the offensive line blasted open big running lanes for the running backs. Tony Dungy described it as an "avalanche," and that's exactly what it felt like.
Wilson misfired on just five occasions, going 21-of-26 for 295 yards, two passing touchdowns and a pair of interceptions to go along with four scrambles for 38 rushing yards and a score on the ground. Wilson had major issues with pressure in the opening half, and this resulted in an early safety. This wasn't as much of an issue in the second half, as the Colts' front seven seemingly ran out of gas. Neither of the interceptions were really fully Wilson's fault, by the way. The first was just an amazing play by safety Matthias Farley, who tipped the ball into the air to himself. The second occurred because the ball bounced off Jimmy Graham's hands. Malik Hooker snatched the ball and returned it deep into Seattle territory. All the Colts could do was kick a field goal to tie the game at 18. Their inability to do more with that really felt like that was when the game turned.
Graham didn't post the best numbers, catching only four balls for 61 yards. The same could be said for Doug Baldwin (3-35). Tyler Lockett (4-67) and Paul Richardson (3-65) sat atop the box score.
Wilson's scores went to Luke Willson and J.D. McKissic. The latter, a former receiver, scored twice, though he handled the ball just five times. Playing for C.J. Prosise, McKissic rushed for 38 yards on four carries and caught a 27-yard touchdown, scoring twice in the process. He vultured the touchdown from Chris Carson (12-42), who suffered a nasty injury in the fourth quarter. Carson was carted into the locker room. By the way his teammates were acting, it looked pretty brutal.
Carson was one of several Seahawks who suffered injuries. Jeremy Lane and Cliff Avril got hurt in the first quarter with hip and neck maladies.
The Colts lost a key player themselves, seeing second-string center Deyshawn Bond suffer an injury that knocked him out of the game in the opening quarter. The third-string center had his issues, committing multiple false starts. He also didn't know when to snap the ball, so the left guard had to tell him when to do so. It was a mess, though Brissett played well otherwise. Brissett went 16-of-29 for 157 yards, one touchdown and the two turnovers. Brissett moved the chains well in the first half, but the two turnovers were killers. I wouldn't blame him for the fumble, but he stared down his receiver on the pick-six. Brissett was also guilty of holding the ball too long in the pocket on numerous occasions. His protection didn't hold up, preventing him from hitting open receivers.
Frank Gore did what he could, rushing for 46 yards on 12 carries. He also led the team in receiving, catching three balls for 34 yards. T.Y. Hilton (3-30) wasn't too far behind. Jack Doyle (5-27) dropped an important pass on third down.
Chiefs 29, Redskins 20
The Chiefs effectively won this game 23-20, but because Andy Reid's an idiot and cannot kick a field goal with the time expiring, the Redskins had an opportunity for one more play. It was a Stanford Band-type attempt that failed miserably. The ball hit the ground, and Justin Houston scooped it and senselessly ran the ball into the end zone even though he was nearly stripped. The Chiefs won 29-20 as a result, ruining what seemed like a perfect pick on the Redskins +6.5/+7/+7.5/whatever everyone had. Picking games is difficult enough, so it's ridiculous when bulls**t like this happens. It makes me wonder what the hell the point of handicapping is when random nonsense can decide a game. Whether it's this, or the crap that happened at the end of Falcons-Lions last week, or all of the careless mistakes the Eagles made to ruin a cover in Kansas City in Week 2, it's all so ridiculous.
The thing is, I knew it was going to happen, too. I knew it. I swear. When Reid called for a field goal with eight seconds remaining, I had a horrible feeling. Why Reid would leave time for the Redskins when he had a timeout to center the ball is beyond me. It made absolutely no sense. The Chiefs could have lost. Stanford Band was a thing once. The Saints had a similar-type play in 2003. Granted, a miracle almost certainly wasn't going to happen, but it could have. And Reid is a moron for giving the Redskins a sliver of a chance. Instead, he was rewarded with a defensive touchdown that turned the tide for everyone who bet this game. It's just stupid.
Let's make this quick because I don't really feel like writing about this game. As a Redskin bettor, I already felt behind the eight ball because the team lost several players to injury. Robert Kelley (7-23) left in the first half. Josh Norman was knocked out in the second quarter, and he'll miss a couple of games. Zach Brown, Mason Foster, Monte Nicholson and Quinton Dunbar were other players who got banged up. It was absurd how many Redskins went down, and Jon Gruden even joked that they were running out of bodies.
The Kelley injury was big because the Redskins had to use Samaje Perine, who was underwhelming. Perine had a couple of nice runs. He gained 27 yards on six carries. However, he nearly cost his team with a horrible fumble that put the team in a long-yardage situation. It's unclear why the Redskins didn't use Chris Thompson more. At that point, Thompson had just five touches. He finished with 23 yards on six attempts. Like Reid, Jay Gruden did something moronic by not giving Thompson more touches.
Kirk Cousins had some very clutch scrambles on the team's final drive (not counting the last play of the game). Cousins finished 14-of-24 for 220 yards and two touchdowns. He also led the team in rushing with seven scrambles for 38 yards on the ground. Cousins should've thrown a third score, but Josh Doctson dropped the ball. This forced the Redskins to tie the game with 40 seconds remaining, rather than take the lead.
Cousins' touchdowns went to Terrelle Pryor (3-70) and Ryan Grant (2-16). Pryor could've had a better stat line, but he dropped a ball on a key third down. Vernon Davis led the team in receiving (2-89) because of a 69-yard grab, while Jordan Reed (3-21) didn't look good on the stat sheet, but tied Pryor for the team lead in targets. Reed appeared to fumble inside the red zone in the first quarter, but replay review overturned it.
Like Cousins, Alex Smith was very clutch as well. With 33 seconds remaining, Smith escaped pressure, rolled out and found Albert Wilson for a 37-yard gain to help set up Harrison Butker's game-winning 43-yard field goal. Smith finished 27-of-37 for 293 yards and a passing touchdown, and his completion percentage would've been better had backup tight end Demetrius Harris not dropped a couple of passes. Smith also scrambled seven times for 56 rushing yards and a score on the ground. He struggled in the early going, but was nearly unstoppable once Norman and several other Redskins got hurt.
Travis Kelce caught Smith's sole aerial score. He snatched seven of his eight targets for 111 yards. Tyreek Hill (5-35) didn't post a good stat line, but was second on the team in targets.
Kareem Hunt had a terrific game, gaining 101 yards on 21 carries to go along with four catches for 20 receiving yards. Hunt had some punishing runs in the fourth quarter, as he wore down the Washington defense. Reid, who is often guilty of passing too much, dating back to his days in Philadelphia, should've called more runs for Hunt.
For more thoughts, check out my updated NFL Power Rankings, which will be posted Tuesday morning.