The Vikings prevailed to improve their record to 6-2, but they're very fortunate that their former quarterback, Case Keenum, suffered a concussion just prior to halftime. Keenum didn't play at all in the second half, and the Redskins couldn't move the chains whatsoever with the inept Dwayne Haskins. While Keenum put some drives together and accumulated 147 net yards of offense, the Redskins were a three-and-out machine under Haskins, logging only 58 net yards of offense.
The Redskins would've had a chance to pull the huge upset because the Minnesota offense constantly killed itself with penalties, scoring fewer than 20 points as a result despite battling a defense that lost a couple of starters in the secondary to injury (Quinton Dunbar, Montae Nicholson). It seemed as though every time the Vikings had a big play, it was being called back by a penalty. They had seven infractions for 74 yards compared to 4-46 for Washington.
Meanwhile, Kirk Cousins made some mistakes as well. He had a nice completion percentage - 23-of-26 for 285 yards - but he took several poor sacks because he held on to the ball too long. Cousins looked lost at times without Adam Thielen. He torched the Lions last week, but wasn't nearly as sharp in this contest.
Still, Cousins made enough big plays to give the Vikings the victory. He hit deep passes to Stefon Diggs on several occasions, and the talented wideout rewarded him with seven receptions for 143 yards, including a great, toe-tapping grab along the sideline. Diggs' lone blemish was a lost fumble at the end of a long gain on the opening drive. It didn't end up mattering because the Redskins lost a fumble on the ensuing possession.
A big chunk of Cousins' yardage came on screens to Dalvin Cook. The talented back was a monster for the Vikings in this contest. He didn't hit the century mark on the ground, but nearly got there with 98 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries. He nearly reached that benchmark as a receiver as well, catching five passes for 73 yards. Meanwhile, Alexander Mattison (13-61) had some nice runs. Remmeber that some NFL Draft analysts criticized the Vikings for selecting Mattison over Hakeem Butler.
Save for Cook and Cousins, barely any other Minnesota players did anything. Olabisi Johnson and Irv Smith Jr. were popularly streamed in the wake of the Thielen injury, but both disappointed. Johnson caught both of his targets for 27 yards, while Smith logged three receptions for 21 yards. No other Minnesota player registered more than 20 receiving yards.
Former Vikings running back Adrian Peterson moved into sixth in the all-time career rushing leader list. He showed some burst in this game, as he looked determine to get revenge. Peterson rushed for 76 yards on 14 carries. He was third on Washington's receiving list, catching both of his targets for 27 yards.
Keenum, meanwhile, ended up going 12-of-16 for 130 yards in a half of action. He fumbled twice, losing one, but he was terrific otherwise. Minnesota's secondary looked like it had no answer for him or Terry McLaurin, so the Vikings should consider themselves lucky that their former quarterback suffered a concussion and couldn't embarrass them on national TV.
It's a shame for Terry McLaurin that Keenum suffered his concussion. McLaurin caught four passes for 39 yards in the first half, but didn't log a single reception with Haskins at the helm. Haskins, by the way, went 3-of-5 for 33 yards and an interception on a high throw.
Colts 15, Broncos 13
It's almost a miracle that the Colts beat the Broncos. Denver controlled time of possession for large chunks of the first three quarters. The Broncos had a 17-play drive in the second frame and then put together another long series. They were just sucking the life out of the game, but they allowed Indianapolis to hang around because of some red zone ineptitude. Joe Flacco's horrible passes deep in Indianapolis territory forced the team to settle for threes instead of sevens. As a result, they led 13-3 in the third quarter instead of 21-3.
The two-score margin gave the Colts the hope they needed to mount a comeback. Still, this game appeared to be over when the Broncos had Jacoby Brissett wrapped up in his own end zone for a safety in the final frame, but Brissett found a way out of a sack to hit T.Y. Hilton for a 35-yard gain. Hilton somehow tapped both feet inbounds, and this allowed the Colts to prevail with an Adam Vinatieri field goal, with the future Hall of Famer redeeming himself for a missed extra point earlier in the afternoon.
Brissett's volume was down because the Broncos maintained possession for so long. He went 15-of-25 for 202 yards, while scrambling six times for 34 rushing yards. The stats look poor, but Brissett was largely responsible for this victory with his heroic play to somehow avoid a game-losing safety. That said, Brissett made a couple of mistakes. He overshot Hilton on a third down in the third quarter and then lost a fumble in the middle of the final frame while trying to make too much happen.
With Brissett not throwing very much, only two Indianapolis players logged more than 35 receiving yards: Jack Doyle (4-61) and Hilton (2-54). Hilton, however, made the catch that counted the most.
Marlon Mack scored Indianapolis' sole touchdown. He made a great cut to get into the end zone. He ended up with 76 yards on 19 carries.
Denver's runners found their way into the end zone as well, as Royce Freeman (12-40) scored the Broncos' lone touchdown. This was a shame for Phillip Lindsay owners, as Lindsay was once again the more-impressive runner, picking up 59 yards on 14 carries, while catching all five of his targets for 17 receiving yards. Freeman, conversely, dropped a pass on a third down.
Flacco was just 20-of-32 for 174 yards. He did a good job of completing short passes in between the 20s, but he was abysmal in the red zone. His poor passes deep in Colts territory were responsible for Denver's latest loss, yet Flacco complained about the coaching staff in the post-game press conference. Flacco had a point about not being aggressive enough, but his awful passes put the coaching staff in a position for the game to be close in the first place.
Courtland Sutton dropped a pass, but bounced back to catch three passes for 72 yards. He also drew two interference flags, one of which was in the end zone. Sutton was the only Denver player with more than 26 receiving yards.
Eagles 31, Bills 13
The team that could establish the run would win this game, as the Eagles and Bills were battling in winds that ranged from 30 to 50 mph. Kicking was impossible - two extra points were missed; one by each team - and throwing deep wasn't an option either. Thus, the superior rushing attack would prevail.
That appeared to be Buffalo at first. While Frank Gore couldn't find any running room with Fletcher Cox dominating the line of scrimmage, it was Josh Allen who was killing the Eagles on the ground. Allen had some timely scrambles, and there was one play where Allen rolled out right to avoid pressure and found Cole Beasley for a touchdown.
The Eagles seemed to make the appropriate adjustments on Allen, who lost a fumble to give Philadelphia momentum. The Eagles also established a stronger rushing attack themselves. Jordan Howard picked up chunks of yardage at a time, as he helped the Eagles win the time-of-possession battle by about 12 minutes. Carson Wentz also picked up some yards on the ground, while Miles Sanders broke free for a 65-yard touchdown, showcasing his blazing speed. With Philadelphia running so well, the Bills were blown out quite easily following a slow start by Philadelphia.
Howard nearly hit the century mark, gaining 96 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries. Sanders didn't have as many opportunities, yet still tallied 74 yards and a score because of his long gain. Sanders also caught three passes for 44 receiving yards.
Wentz had pedestrian passing numbers because of the heavy winds, which is why he went just 17-of-24 for 172 yards and a touchdown. However, he still helped his team get the victory with eight scrambles for 35 rushing yards.
Wentz's lone touchdown was a short toss to Dallas Goedert (3-22), who once again outgained Zach Ertz (2-20). That said, Ertz drew an interference flag. The only Eagles receiver with more yardage than Sandes was Alshon Jeffery (4-64).
As for the Bills, Allen was the team's leading rusher; he scrambled eight times for 45 yards. However, he really struggled as a passer, as he was forced to throw because of the constant second-half deficit. He was just 16-of-34 for 169 yards, two touchdowns and two lost fumbles. Allen fumbled three times in total, but a teammate recovered one of the loose balls.
The Buffalo runners didn't have as much success, as Frank Gore was limited to 34 yards on nine carries, while Devin Singletary was given just three attempts, which he turned into 19 yards. Though Singletary had a fumble, which trickled out of bounds, he was the more-explosive player, as he also caught four passes for 30 receiving yards and an impressive touchdown on a broken tackle. The Bills would be foolish to continue limiting Singletary's workload in favor of a decrepit veteran.
Just three Buffalo players accumulated more receiving yardage than Singletary: John Brown (5-54), Tyler Kroft (2-32) and Beasley (3-41), who reeled in Allen's first touchdown.
Chargers 17, Bears 16
The FOX announcers in this game said that the Bears were the first team in NFL history to be booed off the field heading into halftime with a lead. I don't know if that's entirely accurate, but the fans were very frustrated with what they saw from their offense. Chicago had three trips inside the Chargers' 10-yard line in the opening half, yet had to settle for three field goals, and that doesn't even include a drive that concluded with a missed 33-yard Eddy Pineiro field goal that doinked off the upright.
Both the play-calling and Mitchell Trubisky's passing were dreadful in the red zone. There were weird runs and throws designed for Cordarrelle Patterson, for some reason, and the rushes were telegraphed. Trubisky, meanwhile, missed Allen Robinson for a touchdown when he threw behind him. Trubisky was also nearly intercepted when he heaved a pass into heavy traffic. There was one sequence in which the Chargers gave the Bears a pair of free first downs in the red zone, yet Chicago couldn't get a touchdown. One of the frustrated FOX announcers said, "This offense is just painful to watch."
The Bears led just 9-7 in the third quarter despite outgaining the Chargers at that point, 263-119. It looked like a game Chicago would throw away, but the team came out hot in the third quarter. Thanks to a converted fourth-and-1 on a Trubisky throw to Anthony Miller, the Bears moved into the red zone once again. They were finally able to convert on a David Montgomery run, where the Charger defenders, looking exhausted, didn't seem to put forth much effort into tackling him.
It appeared as though Chicago would establish control of this contest, but Philip Rivers finally caught fire. Rivers played much better in the second half, as he went 12-of-16 for 111 yards following intermission, compared to 7-of-13 for 90 yards and an interception before half. Rivers' improved play meant that the Bears once again had to be productive offensively, and that didn't happen. Instead, Trubisky tossed an interception because he didn't see the safety, overthrew Taylor Gabriel for an easy touchdown, then lost a fumble on the next play. This set up the go-ahead touchdown for the Chargers. Chicago then had one more chance, but Pineiro whiffed on a 41-yard try to end the game. The Bears lost once again, thanks to offensive ineptitude and kicking woes.
Trubisky finished 23-of-35 for 253 yards, one interception and a lost fumble. The stats don't look that bad, but Trubisky was atrocious most of the time. It was yet another reminder of how good the Bears would be had they chosen Deshaun Watson or Patrick Mahomes over Trubisky.
Thanks to Trubisky's incompetence, no Chicago receiver was overly productive. Miller (3-67) was the leader in receiving, while Robinson (5-62) should've caught the aforementioned touchdown; the same goes with Gabriel (4-53).
If there's a silver lining to this loss, it's that Montgomery looked terrific. Montgomery gashed the Chargers' porous run defense for 132 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries. He also caught four of his five targets for 12 yards.
I mentioned Rivers' first- and second-half splits. His final numbers were 19-of-29 for 201 yards, one touchdown and an interception. Rivers' stats should've been better, but his receivers dropped five passes, one of which was by Keenan Allen in the end zone.
Speaking of Allen, he had some issues beyond the dropped touchdown. He repeatedly slipped on the grass, which the announcers speculated could have been the result of his balky hamstring. Allen ended up catching seven balls for 53 receiving yards.
Elsewhere in the receiving corps, Mike Williams (3-69) had two drops, as did Hunter Henry (4-47). Henry was also whistled for offensive pass interference. This was a very rough game for him.
The Chargers spent too much time early in the afternoon trying to establish Melvin Gordon on the ground. Gordon was a poor rusher for the most part, but he scored on a 19-yard touchdown, showcasing some nice moves. Still, this was the only success he had, as Gordon mustered just 31 yards on eight attempts. Austin Ekeler didn't do much as a runner, as he had just five touches on the afternoon for some reason. However, he caught a touchdown to salvage his fantasy game.
Lions 31, Giants 26
Don't be fooled by this final score. The Lions had three separate double-digit leads in this game, but the Giants were able to score a back-door touchdown to reward those who bet on them. Detroit, otherwise, dominated this contest, as the horrible New York defense could get the Lions' offense off the field; Detroit was 8-of-14 on third down.
Save for an early mistake on an interception thrown into double coverage, Matthew Stafford was prolific. He misfired on just seven occasions in this affair, going 25-of-32 for 342 yards, three touchdowns and the pick. The Giants had no answer for him or his weapons in what turned out to be a very easy and important victory for Detroit.
Two of Stafford's touchdowns went to Kenny Golladay, who had a monstrous afternoon. Golladay caught six of his eight targets for 123 yards and two touchdowns. Golladay tied Danny Amendola for the targets lead with eight, as Amendola hauled in all of those balls for 95 yards. Meanwhile, Marvin Jones didn't have anything close to the Al Bundy game he enjoyed last week. Jones was held scoreless, catching four passes for 22 yards.
Elsewhere in the receiving corps, deep specialist Marvin Hall secured Stafford's third touchdown on what was a 49-yard bomb. That was Hall's only catch - and target - on the afternoon. T.J. Hockenson also saw one ball go his way for 21 yards. This was a very disappointing afternoon for him in what seemed like a great matchup.
The biggest fantasy football news concerning this game was that Tra Carson started over Ty Johnson. This was a huge shocker, as Johnson was the presumed starting running back in the wake of Kerryon Johnson's injury. Instead, it was Carson, who mustered 34 yards on 12 carries, while Ty Johnson gained 25 yards on seven tries.
Carson had some nice runs to begin the game. He made a decent cutback to pick up eight yards on his first attempt, then pummeled his way past the first-down marker with a strong run on the next attempt. Johnson, meanwhile, broke some tackles on an 11-yard run, but dropped a pass.
As for other fantasy elements, Daniel Jones made his owners very happy with some great garbage-time yardage and scores. Jones went 28-of-41 for 322 yards and four touchdowns. The numbers look very pretty, but Jones was responsible for some poor pocket awareness in meaningful action, taking some poor sacks and throwing a backward pass that was returned for a score by Devon Kennard. This was one of two "fumbles" Jones was guilty of, and he would have been intercepted had a defender gotten both feet inbounds while making the catch.
Two of Jones' touchdowns were thrown to Darius Slayton, who caught two of his five targets for 50 yards, but dropped a pass. Jones' other scores went to Saquon Barkley and Evan Engram (4-40), who was able to rebound from last week's shockingly poor performance. Meanwhile, Golden Tate led the team in receiving, securing eight of his 10 targets for 85 yards.
Speaking of Barkley, he didn't have a big rushing performance - 19 carries, 64 yards - but he was a big-time producer as a receiver, catching eight of his 10 targets for 79 yards and a touchdown. Barkley may have scored on another possession, but stumbled on a long reception. Had he not lost his footing, he likely would've gone the distance.
Titans 27, Buccaneers 23
The Titans maintained a pair of eight-point leads over the Buccaneers in the opening half, yet they had barely done anything offensively. As proof, I'll direct you to Ryan Tannehill's stat line at halftime (5-1, 46 yards) and the yardage difference between the two teams (215 Buccaneers, 71 Titans).
Tennessee, quite simply, was able to parlay all of Tampa Bay's mistakes into scores. Jameis Winston wasn't ready for a snap, which set up a Tannehill touchdown to Jonnu Smith. Winston then tossed an interception toward no one on what I can assume was a miscommunication. This set up a Tannehill touchdown to Tajae Sharpe.
Tennessee didn't even take advantage of all of Winston's early blunders. Winston appeared to fire another interception on a horrible throw, but the Titans dropped the pass. This missed opportunity prevented the Buccaneers from quickly imploding, and they were able to rebound to eventually take a lead, thanks to a Derrick Henry fumble around midfield. However, Tennessee's defense held up and restricted the Buccaneers from doing anything else in the second half. Tannehill, conversely, finally began producing after a poor start, leading his team on a game-winning drive in the fourth quarter. The Titans ended up prevailing, although there was some controversy.
The play that could have changed the game occurred on what seemed to be a Tennessee attempted field goal in the fourth quarter. The Titans ran a fake, which ended up being a fumble. The Buccaneers appeared to scoop and score to take the lead, but the officials blew the play dead for some reason. It's unclear if the Buccaneers would have prevailed - there was still enough time remaining for Tennessee to produce a touchdown drive - but this blown call really hurt Tampa Bay's chances of winning.
Then again, Winston can only blame himself for the loss, given how poorly he played at times. Winston failed to complete half of his passes, going 21-of-43 for 301 yards, two touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. As mentioned, he should have thrown three picks despite playing a defense missing its top cornerback, Adoree Jackson. He also lost a fumble on a strip-sack.
Mike Evans had a terrific performance, catching 11 of his 12 targets for 198 yards and two touchdowns. Evans hobbled off the field in the 2-minute drill at the end of the opening half. However, he missed just one play and came back to make a terrific catch along the sideline. He eventually capped off that drive with a score.
Evans was the only Buccaneer receiver with more than 43 yards. Both Chris Godwin (4-43) and Cameron Brate (3-32) entered this game with great matchups, but were huge disappointments. Brate dropped a pass in the fourth quarter.
The Buccaneers failed to run the ball effectively. In fact, Winston was the leading rusher with eight scrambles for 53 yards on the ground. Ronald Jones (11-35) and Peyton Barber (10-20) both struggled. Jones was stuffed on a key fourth-down rush, thanks to a great play by Jurrell Casey.
Tennessee had more success establishing the run, which was mildly surprising, given how potent the Buccaneers have been against ground attacks all year. Still, Henry didn't have a great game, as he mustered just 75 yards on 16 carries with the aforementioned fumble. Henry barely did anything in the receiving game.
Tannehill wasn't great either, going 21-of-33 for 193 yards and three touchdowns. He didn't make any mistakes for most of the afternoon, which is what the Titans are looking for. However, he had a sequence where he had two interceptions negated by penalties, as he released passes off his back foot.
Tannehill's touchdowns went to Smith (6-78), Sharpe (3-18) and A.J. Brown (2-11). Smith had a very strong outing and made the case to be the starting tight end going forward, even when Delanie Walker returns from injury. Corey Davis, conversely, struggled, hauling in just two of his six targets for only nine yards.
Rams 24, Bengals 10
The Rams prevailed to win their second-consecutive game, but this was a Pyrrhic victory of sorts. Brandin Cooks was lost in the opening quarter when he suffered a concussion. Fortunately for Cooks and his team, there will be an impending bye week for the talented receiver to recover.
Of course, there was no way that one lost receiver would impact the Rams' ability to beat the dreadful Bengals. Cincinnati's defense is an abomination and looked pitiful while trying to stop Cooper Kupp. The Rams' slot receiver had a tremendous performance, catching five passes for 165 yards and a touchdown in the opening half alone. Had the Bengals been more competitive and forced the Rams to throw more in the second half - Jared Goff passed just 12 times after intermission - Kupp could've put together a record-breaking performance.
Kupp ended up snatching seven of his 10 targets for 220 yards and a touchdown. The score occurred on a double-reverse pass in which cornerback B.W. Webb fell down. Kupp has emerged as a legitimate WR1 in both real life and fantasy.
Goff, meanwhile, went 17-of-31 for 372 yards and two touchdowns. He was unstoppable in the opening half, but struggled a bit following the break despite not throwing the ball very much. Goff was just 4-of-12 for 99 yards in the second half, and he was nearly intercepted by three separate Bengals on the same play.
Todd Gurley didn't have to do very much because the Bengals weren't competitive. Gurley was given just 10 carries, which he turned into 44 yards and a touchdown. Darrell Henderson was given a slightly greater workload, tallying 49 yards on 11 totes. he also caught two passes for 20 receiving yards. Henderson saw most of the work in the second half as Gurley was getting his knee checked out on the sidelines.
Excluding Kupp, the only Ram to accumulate more than 36 receiving yards was Josh Reynolds (3-73), who saw eight targets because of Cooks' concussion. Reynolds also caught a touchdown. Conversely, Robert Woods (2-36) barely did anything.
The Bengals had four productive receivers, as Andy Dalton did lots of throwing in second-half garbage time. Alex Erickson led the way with six grabs on his seven targets for 97 yards. Tyler Eifert (6-74) was next, followed by Tyler Boyd (6-65) and Auden Tate (5-65).
Dalton, who had just 141 yards at the half, finished 32-of-52 for 329 yards and a touchdown. Dalton was in position to throw a second score toward the end of regulation, but tossed the ball well shy of the end zone on fourth-and-goal, which was a very curious decision, to say the least.
The Bengals ran well when they had a chance to, as Joe Mixon gained 66 yards on 17 carries, all while catching all four of his targets for 11 receiving yards and a touchdown. It's a shame the Bengals couldn't be more competitive; otherwise, Mixon may have eclipsed the century mark.
Jaguars 29, Jets 15
Sam Darnold admittedly saw ghosts this past Monday night, but he seemed to exorcise those negative spirits early in this game. Darnold engineered a 12-play, 93-yard drive that culminated with a touchdown pass to tight end Ryan Griffin. The possession featured some horrible tackling by Jacksonville's decimated linebacking corps.
This was a very ugly showing by the Jaguars, as the Jets were able to grab an early lead, which they would never relinquish. Actually, not really. The opposite occurred, as the Jaguars destroyed them, as New York could barely muster anything offensively, excluding that initial drive. Excluding that possession, the Jets accumulated 124 net yards of offense during the afternoon, compared to 389 by Jacksonville.
While Darnold looked good on the opening drive, the ghosts and goblins were back to haunt him, as he heaved three interceptions. One was an irresponsible throw amid pressure when he was trying to make something happen. The second was a desperation hurl downfield. The third was an ugly pass behind Robby Anderson. Darnold was also strip-sacked when he didn't sense the pressure very well, but he was fortunate that the ball dribbled out of bounds. Darnold was all out of sorts, as he later took a delay of game on a third-and-6 and then was punished for it by being sacked on third-and-11.
Darnold finished 21-of-30 for 218 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. Save for the opening possession and one other drive, Darnold did nothing. It's tough to blame him, as the offensive line is missing three starters, but he's expected to play better than this.
Both of Darnold's touchdowns - as well as a two-point conversion - went to tight end Ryan Griffin, who caught all four of his targets for 66 yards. He finished slightly ahead of Demaryius Thomas (5-63) and Robby Anderson (4-43) on the receiving list. Anderson had a poor fantasy performance, but he was able to draw a deep interference flag. He also had a long reception negated by his own pass interference, which as an obvious push-off.
With the Jets trailing for most of this game, Le'Veon Bell was able to carry the ball just nine times, which he turned into 23 rushing yards. Bell wasn't much of a factor as a receiver despite the great matchup against Jacksonville's injury-ravaged linebacking corps. Bell saw just five targets, catching three of them for 12 yards. Adam Gase is doing a very poor job of designing plays for the most talented player on his offense.
Leonard Fournette had more success as both a runner and a receiver, though he couldn't fully take advantage of his good matchup versus the C.J. Mosley-less linebacking corps. This was because Fournette was screwed out of a touchdown. He appeared to score on one play, but the officials blew the play dead, ruling that his forward progress was stopped. It was a premature call that had Fournette fuming. This wasn't the only instance of Fournette being screwed by the officials, as they accused him of taunting in the opening half when a Jets player was clapping in his face.
Fournette had the last laugh though, as he gained 76 yards on 19 carries, most of which was on a 66-yard burst on the second play from scrimmage. He also snatched all seven of his targets for 60 receiving yards.
Gardner Minshew had a terrific performance against the Jets' poor cornerbacks for the most part, which lost Trumaine Johnson to injury. However, Minshew began slowly. He had a potential interception dropped by Jamal Adams on a deflection and then was strip-sacked. However, Minshew rebounded, going 22-of-34 for 279 yards and three touchdowns. One of the scores was very impressive, as Minshew was able to avoid the blitzing Adams, who appeared to have the quarterback wrapped up, yet Minshew was able to break out of it and find Chris Conley for a score. Minshew's only blemish on the afternoon was a lost fumble on a strip-sack.
In addition to Conley (4-103), Minshew's touchdowns went to D.J. Chark (6-79) and Keelan Cole (2-12). Chark saw way more targets (12) than anyone else; no other Jaguar had more than seven balls thrown their way. Conley dropped a pass.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The Seahawks had a 24-0 lead, yet couldn't cover the 8.5 points because stupid Matt Schaub had to throw a billion yards in garbage time. Unreal.
With Matt Ryan out of this game with an ankle injury, everyone expected Seattle to roll Atlanta, and that's exactly what happened in the opening half, as the Seahawks built an insurmountable lead. Atlanta fought hard to try to get back into the game in the second half, outscoring Seattle 20-3, but a Devonta Freeman fumble and two missed field goals killed the Falcons' hopes of completing a comeback. In the grand scheme of the season, the Seahawks maintained their place in the divisional and wild-card races, while the Falcons maintained their draft positioning to land an elite talent to help start a turnaround for the franchise. That could be Ohio State edge rusher Chase Young via our 2020 NFL Mock Draft.
The Seahawks turned the opening possession into a field goal drive. A 25-yard pass to Julio Jones got Atlanta moving, but Matt Bryant missed a 51-yard field goal. Seattle took advantage with a completion to Tyler Lockett and runs from Chris Carson to set up a four-yard touchdown pass to D.K. Metcalf (3-13). The Seahawks were quickly set up for more points with Schaub throwing an interception to Mychal Kendricks. Carson trucked Deion Jones on 19-yard run, and Carson finished off the drive with a short touchdown run. After another missed goal for Atlanta, Lockett made some beautiful catches with Metcalf getting wide open at the goal line for his second touchdown. Seattle took a 24-0 lead into the half.
In the third quarter, the Falcons produced a touchdown on the opening possession as a 35-yard screen pass to Austin Hooper got them moving, and Brian Hill scored a 23-yard touchdown with Calvin Ridley (4-70) catching a two-point conversion. A Grady Jarrett sack got the ball back quickly for the Falcons, and they added a field goal drive to cut the Seahawks' lead to 24-11. Schaub kept ripping the Seattle secondary, using Jones and Ridley to move down the field, but inside the 5-yard line, Freeman fumbled the ball away when he tried to stretch the ball across the goal line. Seattle turned the turnover into a 54-yard field goal.
Russell Wilson completed 14-of-20 passes for 182 yards with two touchdowns. Lockett has six reception for 100 yards.
Chris Carson ran for 90 yards on 20 carries with a touchdown.
In relief of Ryan, Schaub completed 39-of-52 passes for 460 yards with a touchdown and an interception, but most of this occurred in garbage time.
Freeman ran for 39 yards on 13 carries. Julio Jones had 10 receptions for 152 yards.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Though the Saints won this game, and no harm was done, I was skeptical of their decision to start Drew Brees in this game. I thought they were going to risk injury to Brees, so why not wait until after the bye?
Drew Brees didn't miss a beat in his first game back from thumb surgery, as he completed 34-of-43 passes for 373 yards and three touchdowns before Teddy Bridgewater came in for mop-up duty in a 31-9 drubbing of the Arizona Cardinals.
Arizona came into New Orleans feeling good with a three-game winning streak, but those wins came against the Bengals, Falcons and Giants, i.e., not the Saints. New Orleans, on the other hand, came into this game on a five-game heater with its backup quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater, leading the way for each.
The Cardinals looked overmatched throughout, as they ran 49 plays and converted just 10 first downs for 237 total yards and three field goals. Playing against some weak front lines had helped the Cardinals move the ball over the last three weeks, but the Saints' defensive line is another beast and got to Kyle Murray three times while stonewalling the run game.
David Johnson was out this week with an ankle injury, giving Chase Edmonds another shot as the lead back. Last week, Edmonds steamrolled the Giants' defense for 150 yards and three touchdowns. This week was another story, as he rushed seven times for eight yards and caught two targets for five yards before leaving the game in the third quarter with a hamstring injury.
New Orleans' backup running back Latavius Murray had a similar trajectory as Edmonds, as he got the start last week against the Bears due to an Alvin Kamara ankle injury and went off for exactly 150 yards and two touchdowns. Unfortunately for Arizona, the similarities stopped there, as Murray once again went off with Alvin Kamara sidelined, rushing 21 times for 102 yards and a touchdown and catching 9-of-12 targets for another 55 yards and his second touchdown.
Brees and Murray didn't need much more help winning this matchup, but Michael Thomas still plays for the Saints, and he has been unstoppable. Thomas' ability to catch everything thrown his way continued to help as he took on Patrick Peterson for much of the day and still caught all 11 of his targets for 112 yards and a touchdown.
There isn't much of anything positive for the Cardinals in this game, but they did get Christian Kirk back after two missed games and he caught 8-of-11 targets for 79 yards and ran the ball once for 19 yards. He should continue to be a strong target, as Larry Fitzgerald has fallen off a cliff of late and nobody stepped up when Kirk was out.
Kliff Kingsbury made one of the more confusing calls of the day when the Cardinals had a fourth-and-1 at their own thirty-yard line down 10-6 and opted to go for it. It could have paid off, and I'm usually all for a team going for it on fourth-and-1 about anywhere on the field, but after having no luck running the ball on the Saints' massive defensive line, Kingsbury called a run up the gut for Edmonds, which was predictably unsuccessful. When you have Kyler Murray as your quarterback, that play makes absolutely no sense. Then, of course, Brees quickly turned that possession with a short field into a touchdown and a 17-6 lead.
The 3-4-1 Cardinals now get the pleasure of hosting the undefeated 49ers on Thursday Night Football without their two best running backs. It will get ugly.
The Saints get to take their 7-1 record into the bye, which will help Alvin Kamara get fully healed and then they play a home game against the 1-7 Falcons. The Saints will likely have that division game wrapped up by halftime.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The Panthers lost this game, but they at least had a safety and a field goal. Speaking of a safety and a field goal, here's a link to my new book, A Safety and a Field Goal.
The 49ers cruised to a win over Carolina, as the San Francisco defensive line dominated at the point of attack. At 7-0, the 49ers maintained their division cushion, as the Seahawks and the Rams both won. This is a painful loss for the Panthers, as they are another game back from New Orleans in the NFC South, and have fallen behind Seattle and Minnesota in the wild-card race.
The 49ers took the opening drive and marched down the field with the newly acquired Emmanuel Sanders catching a short touchdown pass. After a three-and-out, Luke Kuechly picked off Jimmy Garoppolo. Carolina turned the turnover into a field goal.
Garoppolo bounced back as he found George Kittle down the seam for a gain of about 20 and an unnecessary roughness penalty on Tre Boston tacked on 15 more. The drive ended with Tevin Coleman taking off on a 19-yard touchdown run. Kyle Allen then threw his first interception, with Emmanuel Moseley picking him off. A screen pass to Coleman got the ball into the end zone, and the 49ers were up 21-3 early in the second quarter. Just before halftime, Coleman took off on a 48-yard touchdown run with a botched extra point snap to give the 49ers a 27-3 lead at halftime. Nick Bosa had three sacks to lead San Francisco to six sacks by intermission.
Carolina finally showed signs of life in the third quarter with a safety from Bruce Irvin and a 40-yard touchdown run by Christian McCaffrey. However, the 49ers promptly moved down the field, with Deebo Samuel taking a carry 20 yards for a touchdown.
Late in the third quarter, Allen threw a terrible pass into triple coverage, and it was picked off by Richard Sherman to set up the 49ers at the Panthers' 10-yard line, and that play essentially clinched the win for San Francisco. Coleman scored his fourth touchdown of the game to expand the margin.
Garoppolo was 18-of-22 for 175 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.
Coleman ran for 105 yards on 11 carrels with three touchdowns and two receptions for 13 yards and a score.
Kittle led the 49ers in receiving with six receptions for 86 yards.
McCaffrey ran for 117 yards on 14 carries with a touchdown. He also had four catches for 38 yards.
Bosa had three sacks and an interception in a game of pure domination from the 49ers rookie.
Texans 27, Raiders 24
The Texans won this game to improve to 5-3, but this may have been a Pyrrhic victory for them. They lost some players to injury in this game; none more important than J.J. Watt, who may have suffered a torn pectoral. Watt was sent to the hospital to confirm the injury. If it's a torn pec, he'll be done for the season, which would be a huge blow for Houston's defense.
I've been covering football for 19 years and 51 weeks for this Web site, and yet I can't ever recall a quarterback throwing a touchdown after being kicked in the eye. That's exactly what happened on what turned out to be the winning score in this contest. Deshaun Watson rolled out of the pocket amid pressure, as Arden Key's leg levitated off the ground and caught Watson in the eye. Despite wincing in obvious pain and fixing his face mask, Watson was able to locate Darren Fells for the decisive touchdown.
Watson was terrific in the second half after starting slowly with horrible accuracy issues prior to halftime. He was 14-of-18 for 156 yards and two touchdowns following intermission. Watson couldn't get things going in the opening half, which was very bizarre, given how easy of a matchup this was for him. He even had a dropped pick-six in the opening quarter. However, Watson eventually found a rhythm, as he was able to finish 27-of-39 for 279 yards and three touchdowns to go along with 10 scrambles for 46 rushing yards.
DeAndre Hopkins also had a big second half. He didn't find the end zone, but he was able to secure 11 of his 13 targets for 109 yards. Fells (6-58) scored twice, while Duke Johnson had the third touchdown.
Carlos Hyde had a solid performance, which was a bit of a surprise. He rushed for 83 yards on 19 carries, which includes a 20-yard burst and a converted third-and-medium situation where it looked like the Texans were planning on going for it on fourth down. The conversion set up Watson's eye-kick touchdown.
Josh Jacobs didn't have as many rushing yards as Hyde, which was even more shocking. Jacobs didn't have a single negative rush prior to this game, yet had four carries for losses in this contest, despite Watt's injury. Jacobs finished with 66 yards on 15 carries.
Derek Carr played well against a poor secondary that was not enhanced by Gareon Conley. Carr went 18-of-30 for 285 yards and three touchdowns. He got away with one big mistake, nearly throwing a potential pick-six, which was dropped.
Carr's scores went to Tyrell Williams (3-91), Hunter Renfrow (4-88) and Darren Waller (2-11). Waller had a poor yardage total, but he had a big gain negated by offensive pass interference. Williams was also responsible for a pair of drops on the final offensive drive. Catching one of them would've put the Raiders in position to kick the tying field goal at the very least. These two drops were sandwiched by a Jacobs 10-yard run negated by a hold. The Raiders can certainly blame themselves for this loss.
The Raiders lost center Rodney Hudson to an ankle injury in this game, as he was carted off the field in the opening half. Oakland's offense won't be the same without him, but from what I could tell, his replacement did a solid job.
Patriots 27, Browns 13
As Tony Romo mentioned during the telecast, the Patriots would have a winning record if their offense didn't step on the field at all this season, thanks to everything the defense has done. That continued to be the case, as the New England stop unit dominated Cleveland's offense in this rainy affair.
The Patriots effectively won this game on three consecutive Cleveland plays. Nick Chubb had a fumble knocked out by his own teammate, which was returned for a touchdown. Chubb then lost a fumble at the end of a 44-yard run, which negated a score. Baker Mayfield followed that up by tossing an interception on a weird pitch, which Lawrence Guy scooped into his hands after the ball hit his face mask. This set up a New England touchdown. The Browns had three turnovers on three consecutive plays, which turned into 14 New England points. As it so happens, that was the margin of victory for the Patriots.
This was just part of a dreadful afternoon for Mayfield, who was befuddled by Bill Belichick's schemes. He was lucky to get away with just one interception, as he had another potential pick that was dropped. Mayfield has been struggling going beyond his first read, and the Patriots were able to take that away, forcing yet another young quarterback into poor decisions. It didn't help that Mayfield saw tons of pressure, as he was swallowed up in the backfield five times.
Stephon Gilmore was able to erase Odell Beckhem from this game, as Beckham caught five passes for just 52 yards. He dropped a pass on a third-down back-shoulder attempt. There will be better days for Beckham going forward in easier matchups. Jarvis Landry saw more targets (10, compared to Beckham's seven) and caught five passes for 65 yards. He got hurt in the second half, but didn't miss much action.
Chubb had a pretty stat line, rushing for 131 yards on 20 carries. However, his two mistakes proved to be very costly, as the pair of fumbles ruined any sort of chance the Browns had of keeping this game close.
Meanwhile, the Patriots could have run the Bobby Boucher offense and still prevailed, but Tom Brady had to work with newly acquired Mohamed Sanu to implement the former Falcon into the offense. Sanu ended up catching two passes for 23 yards, one of which was a fourth-down reception that occurred as Sanu was getting hit. However, Sanu also dropped a pass.
Despite Sanu's pedestrian numbers, Brady was able to go 20-of-36 for 259 yards and two touchdowns. Brady didn't commit a turnover, but easily could have, as he had a dropped interception in the end zone when he stared down his receiver. He's lucky Denzel Ward dropped the ball.
Brady's two scores went to Julian Edelman, who reeled in eight of his 11 targets for 78 yards. Edelman barely eclipsed James White (4-75), who had a 59-yard reception.
Sony Michel was the lesser of two former Georgia running backs as far as his raw numbers are concerned. Michel gained 74 yards on 21 carries, but unlike Chubb, he wasn't responsible for any turnovers.
Packers 31, Chiefs 24
If the lopsided betting action is any indication, most people expected the Chiefs to get blown out of the water in this game because Matt Moore would be starting in favor of Patrick Mahomes. It seemed as though that's exactly what would happen when Green Bay established a quick 14-0 lead. Aaron Rodgers couldn't be stopped, as he delivered big plays to Jake Kumerow and Aaron Jones.
No one expected the Chiefs to mount a comeback after that, but Andy Reid devised a great game plan to put Matt Moore and the Kansas City play-makers in a great position versus the Packer defense. Moore caught fire, and the Chiefs eventually went up 17-14. Suddenly, it appeared as though the Chiefs would pull the upset.
This game completely changed toward the end of the third quarter. Tied at 17, the Chiefs were driving, but their possession came to an abrupt end when LeSean McCoy lost a fumble. This turnover allowed the Packers to take the lead. Combine that, and a 67-yard Aaron Jones scoring reception against incompetent linebacker coverage, and the Packers established a touchdown lead that they wouldn't relinquish, especially after running out the clock impressively on the final drive.
Jones had an amazing performance. His rushing numbers weren't great - 13 carries, 67 yards - but he caught seven of his eight targets for 159 receiving yards and two touchdowns. The kicker is that Jones had a third touchdown wiped out by replay review that showed that he was barely out of bounds during a long gain. Jamaal Williams (7-22) vultured his first of two scores immediately afterward, but Jones fantasy owners shouldn't complain too much, especially after seeing their star running back return from injury; Jones got hurt in the opening half and went into the locker room to get X-rays, but he was able to return to action.
Rodgers threw three touchdowns, all to his running backs. Rodgers was terrific for the most part, misfiring on just 10 occasions. He finished 23-of-33 for 305 yards and the trio of scores. Rodgers made just a couple of bad throws, but got lucky in those instances. The Chiefs had legitimate chances to secure a pair of interceptions of his, but dropped both balls. One dropped pick occurred in the end zone, so this game could have gone much differently for Kansas City if its defensive backs had better hands.
Excluding the running backs, Jake Kumerow (2-48) led the Packers in receiving. Jimmy Graham (3-20) was next. Both Marquez Valdes-Scantling (1-4) and Geronimo Allison (1-7) were major disappointments. Davante Adams could be back versus the Chargers next week.
Kansas City's receivers were more productive, despite the quarterbacking. Tyreek Hill paced the team with six catches on nine targets for 76 yards. Both Travis Kelce (4-63) and Mecole Hardman (2-55) scored touchdowns, while Sammy Watkins (5-45) was guilty of a drop.
Moore allowed the Kansas City wideouts to excel. As the NBC announcers put it, Moore went toe to toe with Mike Tyson. He played very well, going 24-of-36 for 267 yards and two touchdowns. He had some early-game jitters, made apparent by some poor misfires, but he got into a groove and improved as the evening progressed. Moore had just four incompletions in the second half.
McCoy, conversely, performed poorly. He was nowhere to be seen following his costly fumble. He ended up with 40 yards on nine carries, while Damien Williams (7-30) scored a touchdown.
Steelers 27, Dolphins 14
For a while, it seemed as though the Steelers were going to suffer the most humiliating loss in their franchise history. They were down early to the Dolphins by the score of 14-0, thanks to a horrible Mason Rudolph interception and some of the worst tackling you'll ever see from a professional football team. The Steelers were favored by two touchdowns, yet were trailing by that exact margin, and the frustrated fans showered their team with a cascade of boos.
It seemed as though the Steelers had no chance. Their defense looked shockingly helpless versus Ryan Fitzpatrick, while their own quarterback looked shell shocked. However, the Steelers outscored the Dolphins the rest of the way, 27-0, to improve to 3-4. They almost covered to boot, but Rudolph missed a pair of completions to open receivers deep downfield.
The turning point of the evening occurred when the score was 14-3 at the end of the opening half. The Steelers were in a third-and-20 when the Dolphins sent an all-out blitz. This was a nonsensical decision that would've been made by a team that was tanking. It was awfully suspicious, as it left Diontae Johnson wide open to score an easy touchdown. This score gave the Steelers all the momentum they needed in the second half.
Rudolph finished 20-of-36 for 251 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. The stats don't look bad, but he was horrible against the worst defense in the NFL. His pick occurred because he held the ball for an eternity and was hit as he released the ball. Rudolph then threw behind James Washington on a fourth-and-6. He also fumbled, but had a teammate recover. And as mentioned earlier, he missed two open receivers for big gains in the fourth quarter, including a possible 83-yard touchdown to Johnson, who had no one around him.
Rudolph was bailed out by his receivers making big plays. JuJu Smith-Schuster hauled in five passes for 103 yards and a touchdown, while Johnson snatched five balls for 84 yards and a score. Johnson's stat line could have been enormous, so that's at least something to file away once Pittsburgh has viable quarterbacking once again.
Conversely, Washington really struggled. He saw six targets, but secured just one of them for 21 yards. Washington was nearly responsible for an interception when he bobbled the ball, but the defender stepped out of bounds before he caught the pick.
The dark cloud over this victory for the Steelers, save for Rudolph's poor play, was James Conner's injury on the final drive. Conner had to be walked into the locker room, runing his 145-yard, one-touchdown performance, which was done on 23 carries. Mike Tomlin said that Conner suffered an AC sprain, so Conner may not miss much action.
The Dolphins didn't have nearly as much success running the ball, thanks in part to their decision to trade Kenyan Drake. Mark Walton started and was very pedestrian, gaining 35 yards on 11 carries to go along with a lost fumble. He also caught three passes for 19 receiving yards.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, meanwhile, went 21-of-34 for 190 yards, two touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. One pick wasn't his fault, as the ball ricocheted off tight end Nick O'Leary's hands. The other, however, was a nonsensical deep shot. Former Dolphin Minkah Fitzpatrick snatched both interceptions.
Ryan Fitzpatrick looked like he was trying his hardest to get the Steelers to cover the spread at the very end. He lost a fumble in his own territory, down 10, but the Steelers managed just a field goal on the ensuing possession. Fitzpatrick then fumbled again, which popped into the hands of his guard. The lineman then fumbled, which was returned for a touchdown by a Pittsburgh defender, but the officials blew the play dead a split second beforehand.
Fitzpatrick's touchdowns went to receivers who caught just one pass each: Albert Wilson and Allen Hurns. It's unclear why Wilson was given just two targets on the evening. Instead, DeVante Parker (6-59) and Preston Williams (4-42) saw the most passes go their way.
For more thoughts, check out my updated NFL Power Rankings, which will be posted Tuesday morning.