It looked like the Titans were going to make things difficult for themselves with careless blunders once again. They scored a quick touchdown, but gave the Jaguars some life when punt returner Cameron Batson muffed a punt and then ran into his own end zone for a safety. There used to be an old adage about not catching punts inside your own 5-yard line, but the Titans apparently do not teach such things to their players. Batson did this, and his safety set up good field position for the Jaguars, who drove down to the goal line. Tennessee, however, had a tremendous goal-line stand with three run stuffs to take over on their 1-yard line. They handed the ball to Derrick Henry, and the rest was history. Henry ran 99 yards for a touchdown, putting the game out of reach for the offensively challenged Jaguars.
That score was Henry's second of the night, and it featured a fierce stiff-arm on A.J. Bouye. The 99-yarder was the second such run in NFL history, with Tony Dorsett having the other 35 years ago. The Jaguars showed no interest in tackling Henry after that. He ended up scoring on four occasions, tallying a franchise single-game record 238 rushing yards on just 17 carries. This output came out of nowhere, as Henry hadn't eclipsed 60 rushing yards in a single game all year prior to this contest. It would be inexplicable, save for the fact that the Jaguars were flat off their big win over the Colts and just didn't want to be involved in a physical game on a short work week.
Marcus Mariota began the game well with some accurate throws, but he heaved an ugly interception on an overthrow in Jacksonville territory. This game as a mixed bag for Mariota. The good news was that he completed most of his passes, going 18-of-24 for 162 yards. His yardage count should've been higher, as Taywan Taylor dropped a deep ball. However, Mariota heaved the interception and later missed a receiver in the end zone for a touchdown.
Taylor ended up leading the Titans in receiving with six catches for 59 yards, while Corey Davis was locked up by Jalen Ramsey, snatching just two balls for 21 yards. Davis drew a deep pass interference flag on rookie safety Ronnie Harrison.
Elsewhere as far as Mariota's receiving weapons are concerned, Dion Lewis was second on the team in receiving, hauling in all five targets for 39 yards. His PPR owners needed this, as Lewis didn't nearly have the same success as Henry on the ground, as he was restricted to just 13 yards on 10 carries. He had a chance at a touchdown, but was stuffed at the goal line twice.
The Titans suffered some injuries in this game. Promising young tight end Jonnu Smith left early with what looked like a serious injury. Left tackle Taylor Lewan appeared to be checked for a concussion, but he seemed OK on NFL Network's post-game show. Edge rusher Brian Orakpo walked off the field late with an upper-body injury.
There's not much to say about the Jaguars, who didn't even eclipse 100 net yards until the third quarter. It looked like they checked out once they failed at the goal line, which featured three stuffed Leonard Fournette runs. The other play was an errant throw by Cody Kessler on third down.
Kessler was not very good. He was accurate early, but floated too many passes out of bounds. He was also very fortunate to escape this game with just one turnover (lost fumble.) He had multiple potential interceptions that were dropped. Kessler finished 25-of-43 for 240 yards and a touchdown in garbage time.
Fournette, meanwhile, was bottled up by Tennessee's great run defense. He was limited to 36 yards on 14 carries. Fournette had two quality runs negated by holding calls by his injury-ravaged offensive line.
Dede Westbrook caught a touchdown in garbage time. It came with some controversy, as he didn't appear to have both feet inbounds, but the officials ruled it a score anyway. Westbrook led the team 88 receiving yards, hauling in seven of his 10 targets.
Meanwhile, there were two other receivers of note. Keelan Cole (3-55) was right behind Westbrook in the box score, while Donte Moncrief (5-47) was once again brutally inefficient. Moncrief snatched just half of his targets and dropped a couple of passes. One drop was on fourth down.
Jets 27, Bills 23
Sam Darnold and Josh Allen were supposed to clash several weeks ago, but we had a matchup between Josh McCown and Sam Barkley instead, as both rookie quarterbacks were injured. The Bills utterly embarrassed the Jets, 41-10, but New York was able to avenge that loss, as Darnold won the first of many battles between the two young gun-slingers.
Both quarterbacks made egregious errors in this game, but also showed signs of brilliance. Allen began with a 31-yard scramble, aided by a missed tackle by Leonard Williams, and he then broke away from another potential tackle to score the first touchdown of the game. He was strip-sacked on an ensuing drive, however, setting up the Jets with a field goal. Allen later heaved an interception late across his body over the middle of the field, but as he did that, he kept picking up chunks of rushing yards. He also converted several third-and-long attempts, including a third-and-13 with a laser prior to halftime. However, he had a potential interception dropped on the very same drive.
Darnold, meanwhile, was the next quarterback to make a big mistake. He apparently watched tape of Allen during halftime because he had a very similar interception after intermission. Darnold, however, was able to throw a game-tying touchdown by buying time in the pocket and finding Robby Anderson for a touchdown. He earlier converted on a moderately sized gain to Anderson with nice touch on a corner route. Like Allen, however, Darnold would have a potential pick that was dropped.
In his victorious effort, Darnold went 16-of-24 for 170 yards, one touchdown and the interception. Darnold limped into the locker room in the opening quarter, and Josh McCown had to take the field and even attempt a pass, which fell incomplete. Darnold returned on the next possession, so it was nice that he was able to stay in the game after missing several weeks. Darnold played well overall, but made some mistakes that I detailed earlier. That said, he's not getting much help, and that'll need to change this offseason.
Allen, meanwhile, didn't have the prettiest passing numbers, going 18-of-36 for 206 yards and a pair of interceptions. However, he had a pass of about 25 yards dropped by Charlies Clay, and he continued his dynamic rushing, picking up 101 yards on the ground, plus a touchdown. It's hilarious that Lamar Jackson was widely considered the prototypical scrambling quarterback, yet Allen is the one breaking all of the rushing records.
Neither team has significant fantasy players, save for LeSean McCoy. Unfortunately for McCoy owners, he barely played because he injured his hamstring in the opening quarter. McCoy had just one yard on two carries as a result. He also dropped a pass. With McCoy gone, Chris Ivory (12-42) led the Bills in rushing, save for Allen.
McCoy wasn't the only running back who suffered an injury. Isaiah Crowell also went down early, which would explain why he managed to run for just five yards on two carries. With Crowell gone, Elijah McGuire handled most of the workload, picking up 60 yards on 17 tries. He and Trenton Cannon both scored touchdowns.
Of the two receiving corps, Robert Foster led all players in yardage. He caught seven of his eight targets for 104 yards. Zay Jones (3-22) didn't post the same type of numbers, but he saw one more target, and he also drew a deep pass interference flag. He was guilty of a drop as well. It's not a surprise to see both of their usage increase with Kelvin Benjamin gone.
As for the Jets' receivers, only one player eclipsed 23 yards through the air. That would be Robby Anderson, who snatched four of the seven balls gone his way for 76 yards and a touchdown. McGuire (3 catches, 23 receiving yards) was next in the box score.
Despite this blowout victory for the Packers, these teams played evenly. The Falcons even outgained Green Bay in the opening half. The difference turned out to be the many mistakes Atlanta committed prior to halftime, even though it looked like Green Bay would be the team to make the blunders, as Joe Philbin went 0-for-2 on challenges on Atlanta's opening drive.
The trouble for the Falcons began when Matt Ryan took a big loss to move out of field goal range when he fumbled despite no defender being near him; he simply just lost the ball, which dribbled backward. Rather than take a 10-7 lead, the Falcons tried a 53-yarder, and Matt Bryant was short on his attempt. Ryan, on his next possession, threw a pick-six, as Baushad Breeland jumped the route. Ryan appeared to bounce back by launching a 32-yard bomb to Julio Jones, but that was negated by a hands-to-the-face infraction. This was one of eight penalties Atlanta committed in the first 32 minutes of the afternoon. The Packers, in that span, had just one penalty. Meanwhile, the defense dropped what seemed like an easy Aaron Rodgers pick-six just prior to halftime, which would've made the score 17-14 Green Bay. The fact that the Falcons dropped their potential interception returned for a touchdown, while the Packers secured theirs, was the difference-maker in this contest.
The Packers put this game out of reach beginning in the third quarter. Thanks to several Atlanta defensive penalties, Aaron Rodgers dropped a dime into Randall Cobb's arms on a third-and-10. That marked the 27th-consecutive point the Packers scored after the Falcons opened the game with a quick touchdown.
Playing in his first game without Mike McCarthy calling the plays, Rodgers went 21-of-32 for 196 yards and two touchdowns. Rodgers still wasn't his usual self, as he wasn't all that great - his stat line would look far worse if that pick-six weren't dropped - but perhaps that's because Green Bay was missing three starting offensive linemen. Rodgers, however, killed the Packers on third down, converting 7-of-13 tries.
Rodgers, who scrambled thrice for 44 yards, took a shot to the head on a second-half run. It wasn't a dirty play, but the Packer offensive linemen didn't take too kindly to this. That started a fight between the two teams, but no one was ejected.
It's no surprise that Davante Adams was Rodgers' primary receiver. Adams caught seven of his 11 targets for 81 yards and a touchdown. That score was set up by a Marquez Valdes-Scantling drawn interference flag in the red zone. Valdes-Scantling did very little statistically, however, catching both of his targets for just 19 yards.
Elsewhere in the Green Bay receiving corps, Cobb caught five of his six targets for 43 yards and a touchdown, which was a beautiful throw by Rodgers. Jimmy Graham, conversely, didn't do much, logging only two receptions for 13 yards. Graham had a chance at a deep reception, but an Atlanta defender knocked the ball out at the last second.
The Packers didn't run the ball as well as they had hoped to. The Falcons are better versus the rush with Deion Jones back on the field. That would explain why Aaron Jones was limited to 78 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. Keep in mind that 29 of those 78 yards came on one carry when the game was out of hand. Jones was at least able to be a factor in the passing attack, catching three passes for 28 yards. Oddly enough, Jamaal Williams started over Jones, but Jones saw far more work.
Back to the Falcons, Ryan was able to put together some garbage-time drives to draw the margin from 34-7 to 34-20. It could've been 34-28, but center Alex Mack botched a snap, while Bryant whiffed on an extra point. Mack's botched snap occurred on a second-and-goal at the 8-yard line, so that nullified a potential scoring opportunity.
Thanks to garbage time, Ryan finished with a respectable stat line, going 28-of-42 for 262 yards, three touchdowns and the pick-six. Ryan had several big plays wiped out by penalties, so his stat line should've been much better.
Julio Jones had a deep reception that was negated, but he still posted monster numbers, catching eight of his 11 targets for 106 yards and two touchdowns. Justin Hardy (3-30) caught the other score.
As for Atlanta's other receivers, Mohamed Sanu (6-54) had a middling stat line despite seeing eight targets. He had a long play that was overturned by penalty. Austin Hooper (4-37) was the intended target on the pick-six. Calvin Ridley (1-10) barely did anything. He dropped a deep pass, then wasn't heard from for a while.
The Falcons looked like they would run the ball well at one point when the Packers' best defensive player, nose tackle Kenny Clark, was knocked out with an injury. He was able to return to the lineup after a while, however. Tevin Coleman (10-45) didn't get much of an opportunity to do much anyway, thanks to the large deficit. In fact, Ito Smith (11-60) led the team in rushing.
Chiefs 27, Ravens 24
The Chiefs were touchdown favorites entering this game, but make no mistake about it: This was never going to be an easy victory for the Chiefs. Not only did Kansas City have to battle the top defense in the AFC; it had to play this tough opponent while preparing for the Chargers in four days.
Patrick Mahomes saw an obscene amount of pressure in this contest. This prevented the Chiefs from staying on the field very often, as they were 6-of-16 on third down. It also forced Mahomes into some mistakes. He was nearly picked early by Terrell Suggs, and he was later intercepted while under heavy pressure, forcing an awkward throw that Mahomes made while getting tackled. Mahomes also dropped the ball late in the game, and he was very fortunate not to turn the ball over, as left tackle Eric Fisher was alert enough to pounce on the loose ball.
Despite the errors, Mahomes made some clutch, special plays as well. He drilled Tyreek Hill with a third-and-19 conversion in the opening half, setting up a touchdown throw to Travis Kelce. Mahomes later converted two fourth downs on the same drive to send the game to overtime. He bought time and hurled the ball deep downfield while evading pressure for 48 yards to Hill to reach the red zone. Mahomes then floated a ball to Damien Williams on the next fourth down to score the tying touchdown. Mahomes was able to lead his team on a field goal drive in the extra session, which won the game after the defense stopped Baltimore on the following possession.
Mahomes finished 35-of-53 for 377 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. This was a very difficult matchup for Mahomes, but he came through when it mattered most. This game may have won him the MVP award.
The Ravens just put the clamps on Julio Jones a week ago, yet Tyreek Hill was able to catch eight of his 14 targets for 139 yards. Hill was also heroic, as he was limping around throughout the second half. He appeared to hurt his wrist early, but it seemed like he was playing on one leg late in the game.
Kelce also had a huge performance. He snatched seven of his nine targets for 77 yards and a touchdown. Not shown in the box score is that he drew a pass interference flag in the end zone, setting up a touchdown rush on the next play. His only mistake was a drop in the red zone, though Mahomes' pass was a touch high.
Spencer Ware appeared to suffer an injury in the second quarter, but he was able to play following intermission. He ran well, picking up 75 yards on 15 carries. Unfortunately, he had a touchdown vultured by Damien Williams (8-14).
As for the Ravens, they were determined to keep things on the ground in the early going. Lamar Jackson threw just seven passes in the opening half, after all. He had nearly as many carries (5) as pass attempts prior to intermission!
Baltimore opened things up for Jackson in the second half and was rewarded. Jackson went 13-of-24 for 147 yards and two touchdowns to go along with his 13 scrambles for 71 rushing yards. Jackson nearly threw a third score, but Chris Moore dropped the ball. He also had a significant completion negated by a ticky-tack offensive pass interference by Michael Crabtree.
Jackson took the Chiefs to overtime, albeit very luckily. Jackson was strip-sacked by Justin Houston on the final offensive drive of regulation. The Chiefs had a chance to kick the game-winning field goal, but Harrison Butker whiffed from 43 yards.
Following the Chiefs' field goal in overtime, a promising drive of Jackson's was ruined. Jackson completed a laser to Willie Snead to convert a third down, but he was then injured on a vicious sack. Robert Griffin had to enter the game. He threw two incompletions to ice the victory for the Chiefs.
Snead led the Ravens in receiving with five catches for 61 yards. Crabtree (3-31) disappointed, while John Brown (2-23) caught a touchdown, but was able to haul in just a third of his six targets.
Gus Edwards didn't have a great game against the Chiefs' weak defense. He mustered 67 yards on 16 carries. He was stuffed on a fourth-and-1 try in the third quarter.
Dolphins 34, Patriots 33
This Dolphins team may not make the playoffs, and they may not even be very good, but their fans will remember this game for a long time. That's because they witnessed the Miami Miracle.
It was one of the most inexplicable plays you'll ever see. The Dolphins were down 33-28 with seven seconds remaining. Rather than try a Hail Mary from his own 31-yard line, Ryan Tannehill threw an intermediate pass to Kenny Stills for 14 yards. Stills latered to DeVante Parker, who then did the same to Kenyan Drake. The quick running back moved downfield and dodged several defenders. He eventually had one man to beat, and it was Rob Gronkowski - yes, Rob Gronkowski - who stumbled around like an old man, and Drake was able to burst into the end zone for the game-winning touchdown.
We've seen crazy plays like that before with the Stanford Band and the River City Relay, but this was especially ridiculous because of the personnel that happened to be on the field. It's odd that Bill Belichick would make an egregious mistake like he did, yet it happened. Belichick thought the Dolphins were going to try a 69-yard Hail Mary, so he had some liabilities in play like Gronkowski. The Dolphins were able to take advantage of this with a miraculous play to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Of course, you could say that the Patriots shouldn't have been in that position in the first place. The Patriots should've been up 11 points. They weren't however, because Tom Brady inexplicably took a sack right before halftime in the red zone with no time remaining, allowing the half to expire without a field goal try. Stephen Gostkowski then whiffed from 42-yard field goal, setting up a Miami touchdown. The Patriots also had the ball inside the 5-yard line with a minute remaining, thanks to a Josh Gordon deep pass interference flag, but were ultra conservatives with some useless runs.
The Dolphins were in position to win, aside from the Patriots' gaffes, because they were able to ram the ball down the Patriots' throat. This was shocking, as New England entered the game with the 14th-ranked run DVOA. That didn't matter at all, as Frank Gore was able to gash the Patriots for 92 yards on 12 carries. Drake (6-24) didn't do much on the ground, despite the late-game heroics. The Dolphins even trolled the Patriots successfully, using former New England back Brandon Bolden against them. Bolden scored twice, one of which was a 54-yard scamper.
Tannehill was able to feed off the great rushing attack to have an efficient afternoon. He misfired just five times, though really four because one of the incompletions was a drop. Tannehill finished 14-of-19 for 265 yards and three touchdowns. He didn't throw an interception, but had a pick dropped in the second quarter by Stephon Gilmore. Tannehill appeared to be injured in the second quarter when he went into the locker room right before halftime, but he was able to re-take the field in the third quarter.
Tannehill's three touchdowns went to Drake, Brice Butler and Kenny Stills. Remarkably, Stills was the only Dolphin with multiple catches. I'd find that difficult to believe if I hadn't seen it myself. Stills had a mostly great game, catching eight of his nine targets for 135 yards and a touchdown. However, he made two huge mistakes. One was a drop on third down. Another was a catch on a second-and-16, which he had a good chance to convert for a first down. However, he slid feet-first, and as a result, the Dolphins had a third-and-1. Tannehill took a sack on the very next play to end the drive. Speaking of mistakes, Parker dropped a ball.
The Dolphins made some mistakes themselves, as they had two punts that were blocked. The Patriots were only able to capitalize on one of these, however, as Brady took the horrible sack that was mentioned earlier after one of the blocks.
Brady, by the way, posted a great stat line, going 27-of-43 for 358 yards and three touchdowns. He hurt his team with the mistake, however, and it was surprising that Belichick didn't let him throw near the goal line to put the Dolphins away.
Brady's touchdowns were thrown to Gronkowski (8-107), Julian Edelman (9-86) and Cordarrelle Patterson (2-51). Gronkowski snatched all eight of his targets, while Edelman saw 12 balls go his way, but dropped one of them. Meanwhile, Gordon didn't find the end zone, but he drew a deep interference flag and nearly hit the century receiving mark, snatching five of his eight targets.
Unlike the Dolphins, the Patriots struggled to establish the run. Sony Michel was limited to 57 yards on 20 carries, while James White didn't do much at all; he caught two passes for 15 yards.
Saints 28, Buccaneers 14
For a while, it looked like the Saints were headed for quite the tailspin. They were expected to rebound after last week's inexplicable loss to the Cowboys, but that didn't look like it would be the case. The Saints trailed 14-3 at halftime, as nothing was going right for them. They had just 104 net yards by intermission, while Drew Brees tossed an ugly interception. Things weren't even much promising after halftime, as Brees was strip-sacked, putting the Buccaneers in field goal range.
As odd as it seems, special teams gave New Orleans the victory. The Buccaneers missed two field goals from 46 and 40, and then the Saints blocked a Tampa punt. This set up a Brees touchdown pass to Zach Line, giving New Orleans some much-needed life. The Saints scored the final 25 points of this game to come away with a two-touchdown victory.
Brees had a slow start, but misfired on just seven passes. He finished 24-of-31 for 201 yards, one touchdown and an interception. Though he got the win, Brees still disappointed his fantasy owners, as he had an extremely favorable matchup that he should've taken advantage of.
Brees threw the ball most to Michael Thomas, predictably. Thomas saw 13 targets, and he snatched 11 of them for 98 yards. Tre'Quan Smith dropped his only target, a potential 40-yard reception. To no one's surprise, Alvin Kamara was next on the receiving list, catching five balls for 36 yards.
Kamara, however, didn't lead the Saints in rushing, though he was close. He picked up 51 rushing yards on 12 carries, while Mark Ingram (13-52) scored a late touchdown.
Moving on to the Buccaneers, things looked great for them in the early going, but things started falling apart when Jameis Winston and center Ryan Jensen began yelling at each other on the sideline. This occurred just before halftime, so perhaps it's not a coincidence that Winston was an atrocious 6-of-17 for 83 yards and an interception following intermission.
Winston finished 18-of-38 for 213 yards for two touchdowns and a pick. He was moving the chains well in the opening half, picking up 198 net yards (104 for the Saints) while averaging 5.2 yards per play. However, Winston took some bad sacks and showed horrible accuracy down the stretch. That said, his interception wasn't really his fault, as it occurred on a late, desperation heave into the end zone.
Both of Winston's touchdowns were thrown to Cameron Brate (2-12), who dropped a pass. Winston's struggles in the second half ruined fantasy days for owners of Mike Evans (4-86), Adam Humphries (4-42) and Chris Godwin (1-13). Godwin, in particular, was extremely disappointing, as he saw 10 targets in DeSean Jackson's absence. He dropped several passes and looked awful trying to get open against the atrocious Eli Apple.
Winston led the Buccaneers in rushing, scrambling five times, picking up 47 rushing yards. Peyton Barber (14-42) didn't have any running room.
Giants 40, Redskins 16
I'm not going to spend much time on this game because only one team showed up. That wasn't the Redskins, who dropped three passes in the first couple of drives. The Giants had some miscues as well, but everything changed when New York pinned Washington at the 2-yard line. Mark Sanchez threw a pick-six, as Giants safety Curtis Riley snatched the ball with no Redskin in the vicinity. The Redskins went from 10-percent effort to 0-percent effort in a hurry after that, as the Giants hit numerous big plays against a defense that showed no willingness to tackle. They were up 34-0 at the break as a result.
Saquon Barkley had a huge afternoon, though a regrettable one as well. Barkley rushed for 170 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries to go along with four catches for 27 receiving yards, one of which was a great one-handed reception. His one blemish was a drop.
So, why was this regrettable? Because Barkley didn't even play three full quarters! Because of the score, Barkley was removed from the game prior to the final frame, which negated his chances of breaking the single-game rushing record, which he may have eclipsed if he were able to play the full 60 minutes.
Despite not having Odell Beckham Jr. at his disposal, Eli Manning was able to throw for three touchdowns with no interceptions. He was 14-of-22 for 197 yards. He made one poor mistake, which was taking a 16-yard sack when he had a second-and-goal from the 3-yard line.
With Beckham out, Evan Engram, making his return from injury, led the way with three catches for 77 yards. Manning's touchdowns went to the two Shepards, Sterling (2-17) and Russell (1-11).
Like Barkley - as well as Manning - Mark Sanchez was removed in the third quarter, although for an entirely different reason. He was utterly atrocious, failing to complete half of his passes and generate even 50 passing yards. Sanchez was 6-of-14 for 38 yards and two interceptions, one of which was a pick-six. Sanchez took five sacks, so his offensive line deserves a major part of the blame, but he really should not be in the NFL right now. Sanchez was benched in favor of Josh Johnson, who could draw the start next week.
The Giants didn't show Sanchez any respect, opting to stack the line of scrimmage against Adrian Peterson. The veteran was restricted to just 16 yards on 10 carries. Chris Thompson, meanwhile, had 38 total yards, but dropped a pass.
Speaking of drops, Jamison Crowder was guilty of a couple of those. He was a big disappointment prior to garbage time, catching just one of his six targets for eight yards. However, he had a 79-yard touchdown reception when the Giants stopped trying, giving him two catches for 87 yards and a score. Jordan Reed, meanwhile, was blanked on the stat sheet because he left early with an injury.
Colts 24, Texans 21
The Colts couldn't get out of their own way to begin the game. Eric Ebron dropped a pass on third down of the opening drive. Erik Swoope dropped a third-down ball later in the opening quarter. Andrew Luck had an interception that went through the hands of Zach Pascal, who certainly did not make a C++ effort on the play. Malik Hooker was also flagged for a hit on Deshaun Watson when the Houston quarterback threw an interception to eventually set up Houston with a touchdown, though the flag was a bit of a joke.
Fortunately for Indianapolis, the team was able to stop hurting itself with mistakes. The Colts got a spark when Andrew Luck hit T.Y. Hilton with a 60-yard bomb to set up a Marlon Mack touchdown. They were efficient offensively after that, while the Texans struggled to move the chains for the most part.
Luck finished 27-of-41 for 399 yards, two touchdowns and the interception. He would've eclipsed 400 yards had his receivers and tight ends not dropped so many passes. Still, Luck was able to overcome the early blunders and get his team back on track following last week's inexplicable loss at Jacksonville.
Hilton had a huge performance despite being a game-time decision entering the afternoon. He snared nine of his 12 targets for 199 yards. He didn't find the end zone, but set up some scores with his deep catches.
Meanwhile, Luck's touchdowns went to Pascal (5-68) and Ebron (4-65). Luck's second receiver, Dontrelle Inman, was not available for this game. Ebron dropped two passes.
Mack scored the aforementioned touchdown, and his fantasy owners needed it. He struggled to do anything otherwise, mustering just 33 yards on 14 carries.
As for the Texans, their poor offensive line finally caught up to them. I questioned how they could keep winning despite not being able to block well. Their offensive line was certainly their downfall in this contest.
Deshaun Watson took five sacks in this game, and the Indianapolis pressure affected some of his throws, like when he overthrew Demaryius Thomas for a potential touchdown. Watson's numbers weren't bad - 27-of-38, 267 yards, one touchdown - but some of that came in garbage time when the Colts went into a prevent, up double digits in the fourth quarter.
Houston's offensive line also prevented the team from establishing a consistent ground attack. Both Lamar Miller (14-33) and Alfred Blue (6-21) were stymied, though both scored touchdowns. Watson actually led the team in rushing, scrambling five times for 35 yards.
The Colts did a great job of limiting DeAndre Hopkins' yardage after the catch. He hauled in just four of his 10 targets for 36 yards, though he managed to score a late touchdown to help his fantasy owners.
Elsewhere in the Houston receiving corps, tight end Ryan Griffin paced the team in yardage, catching all five of his targets for 80 yards. Thomas (4-48) once again didn't really do much.
EDITOR'S NOTE: I talked about it on the NFL Picks page and also the WF Podcast. Cam Newton is injured. He was horrible after he landed awkwardly on his shoulder at Tampa, and his passes didn't have the same zip on them in this game. The Panthers are a team to keep fading going forward.
After suffering their fifth straight loss and falling to 6-7, the Panthers' playoff hopes took a big hit. Carolina's once-great defense was shredded once again, and Cam Newton missed big plays, displaying inaccurate passing in the fourth quarter. After starting the year 6-2, this was a bitter loss for Carolina.
Conversely, Baker Mayfield was phenomenal in leading Cleveland to a win over the reeling Panthers. With the way Mayfield is playing, the most important objective for the Browns organization in the offseason is retaining offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens. Mayfield and Kitchens carved up the Carolina defense, moving the ball at will through the air. It would be a big mistake for the Browns to have Mayfield deal with a change in system with a new offensive coordinator. Mayfield needs continuity, and Kitchens has done a phenomenal job. Even if it requires making Kitchens the head coach, the Browns should do whatever it takes to maintain the positive direction they have going with Mayfield and Kitchens.
The Panthers pounced on the Browns' defense right away with a 25-yard completion to Curtis Samuel (4-80) and a 20-yard checkdown to Christian McCaffrey before finishing the drive with McCaffrey scoring from a few yards out.
Mayfield answered immediately, airing out a bomb to Rashard Perriman (2-81) for a 66-yard gain to the Cleveland 10-yard line. A few plays later, Jarvis Landry took a carry around the right side and darted into the end zone from three yards out on a jet sweep. After a long cold streak, the Panthers' defense finally came up with a turnover when Luke Kuechly forced a fumble from Rashard Higgins, which Thomas Davis recovered at the Browns' 17. McCaffrey then added another short rushing touchdown a few plays later. Cleveland quickly responded when Mayfield scrambled and made an incredible throw between two defenders to Landry for a 51-yard touchdown.
The shootout continued when D.J. Moore (6-67) had a phenomenal run after his catch, breaking five tackles on a 40-yard run to set up a short field goal for Chandler Catanzaro. Mayfield came right back, lofting in a beauty to David Njoku (3-35) for 28 yards, then tossing a leaping pass to Higgins for 16, Higgins dropped a 42-yard would-be touchdown, so the Browns tied the score at 17 just before halftime.
Less than 10 seconds into the third quarter, Kuechly stripped Landry, and once again Davis recovered the loose ball. With good field position to start, Newton used Ian Thomas for a few receptions, including a fourth-down conversion. A 25-yard run by McCaffrey set up a short field goal.
Landry took off on a 51-yard run to start the fourth quarter, which was a great design and call by Kitchens. Nick Chubb scored a short rushing touchdown on the next play, but the Browns missed the extra point to take a 23-20 lead. Chubb later took off on a 29-yard run to set up a 41-yard field goal that put Cleveland up 26-20.
The Panthers got moving with Newton running for a dozen yards on a third-down and a pass of more than 20 yards to Jarius Wright (3-36). Samuel, however, dropped a touchdown, and then on a fourth-and-goal, Newton fired incomplete. Carolina got the ball back with a minute left, but Newton promptly threw an interception to Damarious Randall after Devin Funchess (zero catches) ran the wrong route to let ball sail incomplete.
Mayfield was 18-of-22 for 238 yards with a touchdown. He was deadly accurate, and most of his incompletions were drops. Chubb ran for 66 yards on 13 carries with a score.
Aside from his fumble from poor ball security, Landry was excellent, running for 54 yards and a touchdown on two carries and catching three balls for 57 yards and a score.
Newton was 26-of-42 for 265 yards with an interception. McCaffrey ran for 63 yards on 16 carries with two touchdowns. He had six receptions for 38 yards.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Has there been a more disappointing public team this year than the Chargers, outside of perhaps the Rams and Panthers of late? The Chargers struggled to beat both C.J. Beathard and Jeff Driskel at home, which does not bode well for them going forward.
This almost was a trap game for Los Angeles with the Chiefs coming up on Thursday night, but Philip Rivers was able to do enough to lead the Chargers to their 10th win of the season. If the Chargers were in any other division in the AFC other than the West, they would be the No. 2 seed and be on pace for a first-round bye. General manager Tom Telesco and head coach Anthony Lynn have build up an excellent team that could be better in the weeks to come once Melvin Gordon returns to the field.
The Chargers moved the ball down the field with ease on the opening drive of the game, as Keenan Allen beat Darqueze Dennard for a 14-yard touchdown. Cincinnati answered with a field goal. Los Angeles kept moving the ball on the Bengals, with Rivers using Austin Ekeler to get into Cincinnati territory before Ekeler ran the ball into the end zone for a 5-yard score. The Bengals set up another field goal with a 19-yard strike to Tyler Boyd. Just before halftime, Cincinnati used Joe Mixon to run the ball inside the 10-yard line and then John Ross (2-11-1) got wide open for a 6-yard touchdown. Rivers moved the ball close to midfield before a sack that should have closed out the half, but an offsides penalty on Jordan Willis gave the Chargers an untimed down with five additional yards. That let Los Angeles kicker Michael Badgley nail a 59-yard field goal to put the Chargers up 17-12 at halftime.
The Bengals went for a fourth-and-inches near midfield in the third quarter, but the Chargers stopped Mixon for a loss on a poor play call by Cincinnati. That set up a short field goal for Los Angeles, and the Bengals were able to match it with a Randy Bullock field goal. A 37-yard pass to Keenan Allen soon set up another field goal for the Chargers, giving them a 23-15 lead that lasted for a good portion of the second half.
Midway through and extending late into the fourth quarter, Cincinnati put a drive together with completions to Tyler Boyd (3-52) and Gio Bernard, runs by Mixon, and a key pass interference on Casey Hayward. Near the end zone, Chargers defensive back Jaleel Addae was called for a holding, so that gave the Bengals a first-and-goal from the one, setting up Mixon to dive into the end zone. Darius Philon sacked Driskel on the two-point conversion, and the Chargers were able to recover an onside kick for the win.
Rivers completed 19-of-29 passes for 220 yards with a touchdown. Allen led the Chargers in receiving with five receptions for 78 yards.
Filling in for the injured Gordon, Ekeler had 66 yards on 15 carries.
Driskel was 18-of-27 for 170 yards with a touchdown. Mixon played well with 111 yards on 26 carries with a touchdown on the ground and five receptions for 27 yards.
Defensively, Derwin James was phenomenal, working all over the field for the Chargers. Over the weekend, I spoke with a team source who is a pro scouting director for a NFC team, and he said the Defensive Rookie of the Year should come down to James, the Broncos' Bradley Chubb and the Panthers' Donte Jackson.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The Raiders take a dump like this on the road as large favorites two or three times per year. This is nothing new. That said, Ben Roethlisberger's rib injury has to be a legitimate concern.
The Steelers came into this game having lost two heart-breakers in a row, but still clinging to a small lead in the AFC North. They also knew the Patriots and Ravens had both lost and that there was a great chance to lengthen their miniscule half-game lead on the Ravens and to gain ground on the Patriots in the playoff seeding, but they would need to win in Oakland. That was the rub and a feat they could not accomplish, as the Raiders came out on top.
The Raiders had given the Chiefs a run for their money last week, just falling short, but Derek Carr put together a strong game, one of his best of the season. That Carr drove right into this game and continued his strong play, completing 25-of-34 passes for 322 yards and two touchdowns, while once again not throwing an interception. After throwing eight picks through his first five games, he has now thrown zero in his last eight. He also has been too conservative at times as he tries not to throw interceptions, and has had eight games in which he has thrown one or fewer touchdowns this season, but he has been sharp these last couple games.
On the other side of the field was Ben Roethlisberger. If you just look at his final stats, you might wonder why Pittsburgh lost, as he completed 25-of-29 passes for 282 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. The trouble was, Roethlisberger was forced from the game with a rib injury. That injury pushed Joshua Dobbs into a big role, which he wasn't ready for. Dobbs missed an open JuJu Smith-Schuster and threw a wobbler to Antonio Brown that was deflected and intercepted. Dobbs made a couple of good runs, but he could not get the offense moving, especially without James Conner there to take some of the heat of him.
Neither team could get much of anything going on the ground, as the Raiders gave up just 40 rushing yards for 2.1 yards per attempt and the Steelers allowed 55 rushing yards on 2.2 yards per attempts. But unlike the Raiders, the Steelers didn't have their starting back, as Conner was out with an ankle injury, pushing rookie Jaylen Samuels into the starting position. Samuels didn't look good as a runner. He couldn't hit the holes quickly and was indecisive. Samuels made up for it as a receiver by catching all seven of his targets for 64 yards, with a couple nice catch-and-runs coming in crunch time.
Somehow, the Raiders overcame 13 penalties for 130 yards, while the Steelers only had two for 14 yards. It would be easy to say there was a double standard there, but for the most part, it was hard arguing with the calls. Three blatant facemask penalties set Oakland back 45 yards before halftime.
The Raiders were able to clamp down on Antonio Brown, as he caught just five passes on seven targets for 35 yards, but that helped free up Smith-Schuster, who caught eight of 12 targets for 130 yards and two touchdowns. He also made one of the best grabs I've seen, as he was able to bat a pass that was thrown too high in the back of the end zone and then somehow get his toes in for the score. The Steelers have two No. 1 receivers.
Roethlisberger returned from the locker room and stood on the sidelines while Dobbs floundered,and it appeared Pittsburgh was just hoping Dobbs could hold a 14-10 lead, but that was not happening. Once Carr hit tight end Lee Smith for a 3-yard touchdown to take a 17-14 lead with five minutes left, Roethlisberger made his triumphant return. And it was pretty triumphant, as he easily led his team down the field, hitting Smith-Schuster for his second 1-yard touchdown pass of the day, taking the lead back with 2:55 left in the game. But Carr had his own heroics in mind, as he then led his team down the field. His 39-yard completion to Seth Roberts was a thing of beauty and shows just how good of an arm he has. That completion set up a 6-yard touchdown pass to Derek Carrier to take a three-point lead with 21 seconds left on the clock.
Before we get to the last bit of drama in this game, I wonder if a quarterback has ever thrown a touchdown or even a completion, to someone with their same name? Derek Carr to Derek Carrier might be as close as we get!
So, with 14 ticks on the clock, Roethlisberger hit James Washington on a short pass, and then Washington lateraled to Smith-Schuster, who ran 43 yards to Oakland's 22-yard-line, setting up a game-tying field goal for Chris Boswell, who had already missed a field goal. Boswell ended up slipping on the kick, which was then blocked, allowing the Raiders to pull off the upset.
The big question is, why didn't Roethlisberger come back earlier in the game? I'm assuming the Steelers didn't want him to get hit again in the ribs and be him out for a longer period of time, but in the season-long scheme of things, this game was huge, especially since they play the Patriots and Saints in their next two games and could easily end up out of the playoffs all together.
The Raiders also did themselves no favors by winning, as a loss would have put them on track for the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft after the 49ers beat the Broncos. Next week, the Raiders get an easy matchup against the Bengals, so there's a chance they hurt their draft status even more.
49ers 20, Broncos 14
The Broncos were ranked very high metrically entering this game, but it's fair to wonder if they've suffered too many injuries to be competitive down the stretch. They couldn't even beat the 49ers, who were dumpster fired against the Seahawks last week.
Denver suffered lots of significant injuries in the past eight days, including one to Chris Harris. The dynamic corner was sorely missed in this game, as Nick Mullens was able to shred Denver's defense quite easily in the opening half. Mullens found various receivers for some significant gains, some of whom Harris would've smothered. However, it was George Kittle who absolutely abused Denver's defense prior to intermission. Kittle nearly set the single-game receiving yards record for tight ends, almost breaking Shannon Sharpe's mark of 214 with 210 yards - and he did this entirely in the opening half! Kittle went into the break with seven receptions for 210 yards and a touchdown, which was an 85-yard reception.
The Broncos finally got things under control following intermission. They didn't surrender a single point. They didn't even allow Kittle to catch a pass, negating the former Iowa product's ability to eclipse Sharpe. Denver restricted San Francisco to just 76 net yards after halftime, giving its offense a chance to win the game.
The problem, however, was the other major injury. Emmanuel Sanders was greatly missed as well, as Case Keenum didn't have many viable options to throw to. Sanders was his favorite target, so Keenum's lone potent downfield threat was Courtland Sutton, who got banged up in this game, hobbling on the sideline at various points in the second half. Sutton caught just two passes for 14 yards as a result. Receivers named Tim Patrick (7-85) and DaeSean Hamilton (7-47) were Keenum's primary targets.
Keenum struggled mightily as a result. He completed 24-of-42 passes, but for only 186 yards and a touchdown. Keenum was constantly harassed in the pocket, as the 49ers didn't have to respect his downfield threats. He was a miserable 2-of-15 on third down.
The 49ers were able to stack the line of scrimmage to prevent Phillip Lindsay from going off as well. This was Lindsay's worst performance as a pro, as he was limited to just 30 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries. He also caught four passes for 21 receiving yards, but was guilty of a drop. Lindsay was tackled behind the line to gain twice on fourth down in the second half. One was a fourth-down stuff on a run to the right edge. The second was when he was tackled on a catch.
Going back to the 49ers, Mullens was 20-of-33 for 332 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. The numbers look great, but keep in mind that Mullens was just 4-of-9 for 62 yards and a pick in the second half. The Broncos swarmed him, taking him down three times. Speaking of, Bradley Chubb broke Von Miller's record for most sacks for a Broncos rookie with 12.
That said, Mullens wasn't completely at fault for the second-half struggles. Mullens' pick went off the hands of Trent Taylor. He also had a pass dropped by Dante Pettis on third down. At the same time, however, Mullens easily could've had a second pick, as the Broncos nearly hauled in an interception on a pass that left Mullens' hand as he was getting hit. Mullens made up for it late, hitting Pettis with a clutch conversion on third-and-7 to keep the clock going. Mullens made one other third-down throw to ice the game.
Aside from Kittle, Pettis (3-49) led the 49ers in receiving. He also scored a touchdown. Marquise Goodwin (2-20) was a disappointment coming back from his hiatus. Goodwin appeared to lose a fumble in the opening half, but Kittle drew a defensive holding penalty to negate it.
I have a very interesting story about San Francisco running back Julian Wilson, which I'll share with you on the NFL Picks page this week. In this game, Wilson was effective, but not dominant, as he gained 90 yards on 23 carries.
Cowboys 29, Eagles 23
This grudge match between these two hated NFC East rivals was an extremely odd one. It was a defensive struggle for the longest time. The Eagles couldn't sustain any drives at all, accumulating just 70 net yards of offense in the opening half. The Cowboys, conversely, constantly shot themselves in the foot with mistakes, whether it was via Dak Prescott turnovers or a missed field goal. Dallas was up 6-0 at halftime, and the game was tied at nine in the third quarter. For the longest time, it seemed as though this would end up being a 12-9 result.
However, the game completely changed in the fourth quarter. Both Dak Prescott and Carson Wentz caught fire, torching the opposing defense with deep passes. Both threw multiple touchdowns in the fourth quarter, and this contest would eventually go to overtime. It seemed as though the victor would be the team to win the coin toss. Sure enough, the Cowboys received possession first, and Wentz never saw the field. The Cowboys converted a fourth-and-1 with an Ezekiel Elliott run, and then Prescott threw a very fortunate touchdown on a ball that deflected right into Amari Cooper's hands for the win.
Cooper was a monster in this game. He had just one reception in the opening half, but went nuts following intermission. He caught multiple deep passes, including a 75-yard bomb and the game-winning touchdown. He finished with 10 receptions for 217 yards and three touchdowns. Cooper has a history of committing too many drops and quitting on routes, but he has yet to do that in Dallas. I imagine Cooper's lethargy will resurface when the going gets tough, but he's playing up to his great ability for now.
Prescott, meanwhile, needs to avoid making killer mistakes if the Cowboys want to be a serious threat in the playoffs. He was guilty of three turnovers in this game, as he single-handedly kept the Eagles around. Prescott started with an ugly floater into the end zone that was intercepted. He later was picked on a horrible overthrow, which set up Philadelphia's first touchdown of the afternoon. Prescott was eventually strip-sacked as well.
Prescott made some big plays late, but despite his great fantasy numbers - 42-of-54, 455 yards, three touchdowns, two interceptions - he didn't play a very good game. He was battling one of the worst defenses in the NFL, yet was guilty of three turnovers.
Ezekiel Elliott handled a whopping 40 touches in this game. He rushed 28 times for 113 yards and caught 12 of his 13 targets for 79 yards. Elliott appeared to be banged up at one point, but remained in the game. Still, you have to wonder if this sort of a workload will come back to hurt the Cowboys, should Elliott wear down.
Before I move on to the Eagles, I should say that this was a Pyrrhic victory for the Cowboys, as their top remaining offensive lineman, Zack Martin, left the game with a knee injury. Losing Martin down the stretch would be extremely harmful.
While Philadelphia struggled mightily to move the chains for nearly three quarters, Wentz caught fire in the final frame. He had just 48 passing yards by halftime, as Dallas' defensive front was winning the battle in the trenches by a wide margin. This changed in the fourth quarter, however, as Wentz took advantage of some tired defenders. He completed multiple deep passes, including one long touchdown that didn't count because of a bogus offensive pass interference call.
Still, Wentz was able to force the game to overtime by scoring 17 points in the final quarter. He finished 22-of-32 for 228 yards and three touchdowns. Wentz still doesn't appear to be himself, as he's not fully recovered from his knee injury.
Wentz's touchdowns went to Alshon Jeffery (6-50), Dallas Goedert (4-44) and Darren Sproles (3-34). Goedert should've had two scores, but he was flagged for one of the worst offensive pass interferences you'll ever see.
Elsewhere in the receiving corps, Zach Ertz (5-38) was a big disappointment, but the Cowboys paid extra attention to him. Nelson Agholor (2-49) caught a 42-yard bomb down to the 2-yard line. Golden Tate (1-7) did nothing on the stat sheet, but made a great block to open up a long run for Josh Adams.
Speaking of Adams, he had a 24-yard gain early on, but did nothing otherwise. He finished with 36 yards on seven attempts.
The Eagles recovered a fumble by Dallas on the opening kickoff. The officials ruled the player down. The Eagles challenged, and it was evident that the play would be overturned, but that didn't happen. It sounds like the replay review system didn't work in Dallas for some reason, so the Eagles were royally screwed on that play, as they should've had a first-and-10 just outside of the red zone to begin the afternoon. This was one of three instances in which the Cowboys were extremely lucky in this game, with the others being the Goedert offensive pass interference and the deflection touchdown at the end.
Lions 17, Cardinals 3
This game was utterly worthless, as the winner would be the true loser because they would hurt their draft positioning. That would be the Lions, who lost more than draft positioning in this contest.
Detroit suffered countless injuries. Ezekiel Ansah was carted off into the locker room in the second quarter. Da'Shawn Hand was hurt on the same drive. Right tackle Ricky Wagner and wide receiver Bruce Ellington also left with injuries. It was a blood bath for Detroit, though the Lions still somehow won by two touchdowns. That's how awful Arizona is.
Matthew Stafford, hampered with a troubled back, dinked and dunked to his heart's content in this game. His three leading receivers were running backs or tight ends, as Stafford seldom took a shot downfield. There were three exceptions to this, by my count, and he was 0-for-3 on those attempts. Stafford finished 15-of-23 for only 101 yards.
Theo Riddick led the Lions in receiving with four grabs for 30 yards, while Levine Toilolo (2-26) was next. Kenny Golladay did nothing because of Patrick Peterson's elite coverage, hauling in two passes for five yards.
With Kerryon Johnson out, LeGarrette Blount handled most of the workload in the opening half. He looked good on a couple of early runs, but ruined the opening drive with a lost fumble. He then wasted some downs, mustering just 33 yards on 12 carries. Zach Zenner (12-54) led the team in rushing, as he picked up work in the fourth quarter. He also scored near the end of regulation to push the margin to 14.
As for the Cardinals, they had trouble blocking the Lions, as their offensive line is in shambles. It also hurts that Josh Rosen is now missing his favorite deep threat, as Christian Kirk is out for the year. The Lions took away Larry Fitzgerald (5-55), forcing Rosen to throw to someone named Trent Sherfield, who caught five passes for 77 yards. Sherfield was guilty of a drop.
Speaking of Rosen, he went 26-of-41 for 240 yards and an interception. He struggled despite playing a poor defense. His turnover was a pick-six, as he telegraphed a throw in Darius Slay's direction. Rosen fired behind his receiver on his first attempt, and some of his sacks occurred because he held on to the ball too long.
David Johnson barely did anything, mustering only 49 yards on 15 carries. He fumbled at one point, but Ricky Seals-Jones pounced on the loose ball. Johnson was part of a confusing sequence prior to halftime. The Cardinals had some time left on the clock, as well as two timeouts. They gave Johnson a carry, which turned out to be a 1-yarder. They called timeout. Johnson got the carry on the next play, which was a 10-yard spurt. You'd think Arizona would've called a timeout after a nice gain, but head coach Steve Wilks allowed time to expire prior to halftime.
Bears 15, Rams 6
The adage that football games are won in the trenches was very apparent Sunday night. The Bears did just that when the Rams had the ball. Their defensive front shut down Todd Gurley, forcing Jared Goff to throw more often than he wanted to into a tough defense. Chicago put tons of heat on him, disrupting the usual rhythm Goff has. As a result, the Rams were limited to just 3.5 yards per play, which was far worse than their previous season-low figure of 5.4.
Thanks to all of the pressure, the Bears forced Goff into four interceptions, a fumble and a safety. The trouble for Goff started when he missed an open Robert Woods for a big gain on third down. He was then intercepted to set up the Bears with a field goal, as Goff's foot was stepped on by usually reliable left tackle Andrew Whitworth, who couldn't handle Khalil Mack. Goff had a couple of dropped interceptions after that, which sort of offset his second real interception, which occurred on a Hail Mary prior to halftime.
Goff continued to struggle in the third quarter. Following a big loss by Todd Gurley, Goff was brought down in the end zone for a safety. He was then strip-sacked, but was lucky that a teammate of his recovered. Goff followed that up with an interception where he stared down his receiver. There was one more pick after that, as Goff heaved the ball in desperation.
Goff had his worst performance since he began collaborating with Sean McVay, going 20-of-44 for 180 yards and four interceptions. Goff has had the luxury of playing behind an elite offensive line since the McVay hire, but his blocking wasn't there against Chicago's stellar front seven.
As mentioned, the Bears shut down the run. Gurley was limited to just 28 yards on 11 carries. He also caught three passes for 30 receiving yards.
Only one Rams receiver topped 36 receiving yards. That was Robert Woods, who hauled in seven balls for 61 yards. Brandin Cooks (3-22) didn't do much.
Based on what Chicago's defense did to Goff and Gurley, the Bears should've won in a blowout. However, they let the Rams hang around because of Mitchell Trubisky's incompetence. Trubisky was atrocious in this game, as he threw three interceptions. His first pick was an overthrow, as he released the ball off his back foot. He then mixed in some inaccurate balls and more overthrows before his second interception, which was telegraphed. The third pick was also the result of an overshot.
Trubisky barely completed half of his passes, going 16-of-30 for only 110 yards, one touchdown and the three interceptions. He managed to scramble for 23 yards, but he had a horrible night. Trubisky is the one weak link on the Bears, and I fear that he will be the team's downfall. His mechanics are so inconsistent, and when they're this bad, he has utterly awful games.
Luckily for the Bears, they didn't need Trubisky to throw very much, as Jordan Howard eclipsed the century mark. He rushed for 101 yards on 19 carries, while Tarik Cohen picked up 69 yards on nine attempts. Cohen also caught four passes for 20 receiving yards.
Allen Robinson led Chicago with five catches for 42 yards. He was the only Bear who registered more than 22 receiving yards. Trubisky's lone touchdown went to offensive lineman Bradley Sowell, who caught a pass on a trick play when nose tackle Akiem Hicks sold a play-action run.
Seahawks 21, Vikings 7
The Seahawks absolutely dominated this game on both sides of the ball. Their offense outgained the Vikings by a wide margin prior to garbage time. They moved the chains effectively for most of the evening. Their defense, meanwhile, limited the Vikings to 3.1 yards per play and had them shut out until there were 70 second remaining in regulation. The Vikings didn't even cross midfield until there was 4:15 remaining in the third quarter!
Despite this, there was worry that the Seahawks would lose this game for most of the evening. That's because they blew so many opportunities. For instance, Russell Wilson had David Moore open for a touchdown, but underthrew him. Wilson then appeared to hit Moore for a score, but the receiver had just one foot inbounds. The Seahawks had a scoring chance right before halftime at the 1-yard line, but with time ticking down, Wilson panicked under pressure and tried to heave a pass out of bounds. The pass was picked instead.
All of these mishaps kept the Vikings alive. Minnesota struggled to move the chains for most of the evening, but the team finally had two scoring chances. One concluded with a broken-up pass by safety Bradley McDougald on a fourth-down throw from Kirk Cousins to Kyle Rudolph into the end zone. The second was a blocked field goal by Bobby Wagner as the Vikings tried to trim the margin to 6-3. Replay showed that Wagner should've been called for leverage, but the officiating crew missed the penalty.
This blocked kick was the straw that broke the camel's back. The Seahawks took over and scored a touchdown right away, thanks to a long Wilson scramble. Chris Carson ran into the end zone to create a two-touchdown advantage, icing the victory for Seattle.
Wilson had a poor fantasy game, going 10-of-20 for only 72 yards and an interception, and his rushing yardage - seven scrambles, 61 yards - didn't provide much assistance for his owners. That said, Wilson was so close to having a big game, as he missed some big plays by inches. It was just bad luck for those who had Wilson in their lineup. The Seahawks were so close to blowing out the Vikings, and they certainly would have if Wilson connected on those aforementioned deep shots.
Given the poor passing numbers, only one Seattle receiver caught multiple passes. Doug Baldwin missed this game, so the favorite for that feat was Tyler Lockett, who logged five catches for 42 yards. Moore saw five targets, but couldn't reel in a single reception. He had two drops.
The Seahawks ran the ball well, as Carson rumbled for 90 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. Rashaad Penny (8-44) had a nice run of 17 yards where he reversed field and surprisingly wasn't punished for it.
As for the Vikings, the moans and groans about Kirk Cousins will continue to grow louder. Cousins struggled mightily in this contest. The numbers don't tell the whole story, as Cousins was 20-of-33 for 208 yards and a touchdown, but those stats are completely misleading, so anyone just looking at the box score won't realize how horrible Cousins was Monday night.
Cousins was 4-of-8 for only 27 yards by halftime, so as you can see, a chunk of his yardage came in garbage time. Cousins had an early interception that was dropped. He struggled to keep the chains moving, consistently struggling on third down. He also lost a fumble that was scooped and scored in the fourth quarter. He's been a big disappointment considering his salary.
That said, it wasn't completely Cousins' fault. The offensive line struggled to protect Cousins, who was constantly under duress all evening. Cousins deserves another shot next year with better offensive line play, but there's a reason Washington let go of him. Redskins general manager Bruce Allen is a very successful NFL personnel man, so it should've been telling that he was so unwilling to re-sign Cousins to a big deal.
Cousins didn't attempt to throw the ball to Adam Thielen in the opening half. Thielen didn't see a target until the third quarter, so fantasy owners should be thankful that Thielen was able to accumulate five catches for 70 yards in garbage time. Stefon Diggs led Minnesota in receiving with four grabs for 76 yards. Most of his production came on a 48-yard bomb in the fourth quarter.
Dalvin Cook caught Cousins' lone touchdown, albeit in garbage time. Cook was utilized heavily as a receiver with five catches for 28 yards. He also rushed for 55 yards on 13 carries. Latavius Murray (3-4) was stuffed on a fourth-and-1 in the third quarter.
For more thoughts, check out my updated NFL Power Rankings, which will be posted Tuesday morning.