Thursday night football games are known for being sloppy and injury-ridden. This was no exception. The Browns and Steelers looked like they didn't have enough time to prepare for each other. Meanwhile, players dropped like flies, most of whom were Steelers. James Conner, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, Artie Burns and Morgan Burnett all left the game, while T.J. Watt got banged up, but remained on the field. Some anonymous special-teamers got hurt as well.
And if this game wasn't ugly enough, it ended hideously when Myles Garrett ripped off Mason Rudolph's helmet after Rudolph tried to do the same thing to him. Garrett then swung the helmet at Rudolph's head as a weapon. This led to a major fight where many punches were thrown by Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey and others. Garrett will almost certainly be suspended for several games because of this. In fact, he may not play again this year.
With so many Steelers getting injured, they didn't stand a chance. Smith-Schuster and Conner were knocked out early with a concussion and a shoulder injury, respectively, while Johnson left the field with a concussion of his own on a dirty hit that got safety Damarious Randall ejected. Rudolph didn't really have anyone to work with when Smith-Schuster, Conner and Johnson were all sidelined, which would explain his miserable second half. Rudolph was 11-of-23 for 119 yards, one touchdown and three picks after intermission.
Rudolph finished 23-of-44 for 221 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions. His first pick was a deflected pass by Denzel Ward. His second thrown behind his receiver. His third occurred because he didn't see linebacker Joe Schobert, who had a great game, drop into coverage. The final interception was on an overthrow. It could have even been worse for Rudolph, as the Browns dropped a couple of potential picks. He also had a fumble on a strip-sack that was nearly returned for a touchdown.
Rudolph has been able to win some recent games because he played at home and got lucky (i.e. with Adam Vinatieri's missed field goal.) This was just the first time he played on the road since Week 3, and he was a bit exposed. He saw constant pressure with the Browns winning in the trenches, and he looked lost in the second half.
The Browns, meanwhile, had a great opening drive that saw Baker Mayfield launch what appeared to be a 43-yard touchdown to Odell Beckham Jr. The play was turned into a 42-yard reception via replay, but Mayfield plunged into the end zone on the ensuing snap. The Browns looked great with a quick 7-0 lead, but sputtered after that. Their offense was nonsensical at times, as they opted to run in too many second-and-longs, and they were trying to be too horizontal rather than vertical. Mayfield also didn't have the best pocket presence.
Mayfield barely completed half of his passes, going 17-of-32 for 193 yards and three touchdowns (two passing, one rushing). Mayfield didn't have the best pass protection, and he had to throw several passes away, so his completion percentage is a bit misleading. That said, he didn't play very well overall, as he missed some open receivers.
Beckham fantasy owners had to be frustrated, as they saw a touchdown wiped away via replay. Beckham was also targeted in the end zone on a terrible fade pass. He led the Browns in receiving, but had just four catches for 60 yards. Jarvis Landry (4-43) caught a touchdown.
Nick Chubb didn't find much running room against Pittsburgh's great ground defense. He mustered 92 yards, but on 27 carries. Kareem Hunt was also involved, but not so much on the ground (6 carries, 12 yards). He saw extensive passing work with six catches for 46 yards. Hunt made a great play on one instance to pick up a first down on third-and-long.
The Steelers didn't have nearly as much success on the ground, thanks to the Conner injury. Conner carried the ball just five times for 10 yards. With Conner out, Jaylen Samuels (5-26) took over and caught a receiving touchdown.
Smith-Schuster and Dionate Johnson suffering injuries meant that James Washington led the team in receiving with three catches for 49 yards. Washington drew an interference flag on Ward.
Thursday Night Football is a disaster and must be fixed. I wrote about how the NFL can repair the problem while not losing out on any money in my new book, A Safety and a Field Goal.
Cowboys 35, Lions 27
It looked like the Lions would have a chance to pull the upset, as they had multiple leads in the opening half. Ezekiel Elliott fumbled on the second play of the game, setting up the Lions with a quick score. Detroit led 7-0 and then 14-10, as the team played very hard in an attempt to defeat Dallas. However, the Lions' horrible defense didn't have an answer for Dak Prescott's prolific passing.
Prescott eas excellent in this game, going 29-of-46 for 444 yards and three touchdowns. He was on track to throw for 500-plus yards at one point, as he was 16-of-25 for 274 yards and a couple of scores in the opening half. The Cowboys were willing to run out the clock in the fourth quarter, so Prescott didn't get to reach that milestone.
Unfortunately for Prescott, there was one negative at the end, as he and stellar right tackle La'el Collins suffered injuries on the same play. Prescott looked to be OK after a few moments, but Collins seemed legitimately hurt. This occurred minutes after DeMarcus Lawrence suffered an injury. It remains to be seen if Collins and Lawrence will miss time. Dallas won't be the same without them.
Prescott's receivers made several great plays throughout the afternoon. Michael Gallup led the way with nine catches for 148 yards. He made a ridiculous catch where he initially dropped the ball, causing it to pop into the air. He then snatched it, all while he was being interfered with, as a Detroit defender was dragging him down. Randall Cobb, meanwhile, dropped an early pass but made it up for it with some tough catches. He logged four catches for 115 yards and a touchdown.
Amari Cooper, meanwhile, didn't do as much (3-38), but he wasn't really needed. He was on the field for about half the snaps, and he was smothered by Darius Slay when he played. Slay had some terrific pass break-ups against Cooper.
Elliott helped his fantasy owners with two touchdowns (one rushing, one receiving), making up for his early fumble. However, he was limited to just 45 yards on 16 carries, as his rushing struggles continued.
It was shocking to see the Lions run so well, considering they just signed Bo Scarbrough off the practice squad. Scarbrough was a good player at Alabama who tested well in pre-draft workouts, but injuries derailed his career prior to this contest. Fortunately, he was given an extra chance, and he looked good. He rumbled for 55 yards and a touchdown on 14 tough runs. Ty Johnson (2-6) and J.D. McKissic (3-13) barely did anything as a runners, though McKissic made a couple of fantastic plays as a receiver. It made me wonder why Detroit didn't use him more often.
Jeff Driskel didn't accomplish much in meaningful action, as he went just 6-of-11 for 53 yards in the opening half. He picked up some garbage-time yardage at the end, allowing him to go 15-of-26 for 209 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran in a score, scrambling eight times for 51 rushing yards. As a result, Driskel finished as one of this week's top fantasy quarterbacks even though he didn't play very well. What the stats don't show is that Driskel had two potential interceptions on some horrible throws.
Some of Driskel's passing yardage came late when he heaved a Hail Mary from his own end zone. The pass ended up being a 34-yard completion, which was Kenny Golladay's only reception of the afternoon. Conversely, Marvin Jones (4-43) scored twice. He trailed only Danny Amendola (4-47) on the receiving list.
Colts 33, Jaguars 13
Nick Foles made his return to the field for the first time since he suffered an injury in Week 1. Things looked promising early when he led an opening-quarter touchdown drive, capped off with a deep touchdown to D.J. Chark. It looked like the Jaguars would cruise to an easy victory, yet they didn't score a single point after that until the final minutes of the game.
The Colts did a great job of sitting on the ball following Jacksonville's opening touchdown drive. They held the ball for 33 of the next 53 minutes, as their rushing attack gashed the Jaguars' beleaguered linebackers. Marlon Mack started it on a great touchdown run that featured two spin moves and a stiff-arm, and he looked like he would potentially break the 200-yard barrier, as he notched 109 yards and a touchdown on just 14 carries.
Mack, however, left the game in the third quarter with an injury that would eventually be diagnosed as a fractured hand, and yet it didn't matter. Backup running back Jonathan Williams (13-116) also ran well - he had some tough rushes near the goal line - while Nyheim Hines joined in the fun with a rushing score of his own. Even guard Quenton Nelson threatened to score on the ground, but his touchdown was negated by replay review.
Jacoby Brissett, meanwhile, managed the game well in his return to action. He didn't do anything spectacular, but he misfired just nine times, going 15-of-24 for 148 yards, one touchdown and an interception. The pick wasn't his fault, as the ball bounced off Zach Pascal's hands. Pascal was furious that a pass interference flag wasn't thrown on the play, and he certainly had a point. Brissett, however, also fumbled when Yannick Ngakoue strip-sacked him, but he was lucky that a teammate fell on the ball.
It was a frustrating day for Pascal, as he caught just two of his six targets for 17 yards. One incompletion nearly resulted in a touchdown, but Brissett overthrew him by a bit. Someone named Marcus Johnson was the only Colt with more than 31 receiving yards, as he caught four passes for 38 yards and a touchdown. Devin Funchess should be back next week to aid Indianapolis' injury-ravaged receiving corps.
As for the Jaguars, Foles had a pretty stat line, though it was misleading. He was 33-of-47 for 296 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, where he threw up the ball up for grabs like a punt. He also had a pick-two on a two-point conversion attempt at the very end, though it was insignificant in the grand scheme of things. What's not insignificant is that a chunk of Foles' passing yardage came in garbage time, as he wasn't nearly as good as his stats say he was. Foles' stats would look worse had a potential interception of his thrown into double coverage to Chark not been dropped.
Chark was able to benefit from this garbage time, as he caught his second touchdown at the end of the game. Chark reeled in eight balls for 104 yards in addition to the two scores. Chris Conley (6-58) was next on the receiving list, while Dede Westbrook (4-32) was a disappointment. He dropped one pass.
With the Jaguars constantly trailing, they didn't have a chance to run nearly as much as the Colts did. Leonard Fournette was given just eight carries, which he turned into 23 yards. Fortunately for his PPR owners, he was active in the passing game, as he caught seven balls for 34 receiving yards.
Bills 37, Dolphins 20
The Bills trailed in the third quarter against the Dolphins the last time these teams played, but they weren't going to allow the worst team in NFL history to potentially upset them again. The Bills showed way more effort this time, dominating this game from start to finish. In fact, if it weren't for a fluky Miami kickoff return for a touchdown, the final score of this game would have been even uglier.
Josh Allen played an excellent game. Granted, he was battling a horrific defense that features several practice squad-caliber players, but he still was prolific. Allen went 21-of-33 for 256 yards, and he also scrambled seven times for 56 yards on the ground. He scored four times, thrice as a passer and once as a rusher. He didn't officially make any mistakes, though there was one pass that was nearly intercepted when he fired behind his receiver. Nothing came of this, however, and Allen finished with a clean stat line in this blowout victory.
John Brown has been a very steady receiver this year, but hadn't really hit his ceiling prior to this week. That changed in this contest, as Miami's hapless secondary didn't stand a chance against him. Brown caught nine of his 14 targets for a whopping 137 yards and two touchdowns.
Allen's other touchdown was thrown to promising rookie tight end Dawson Knox, who caught two balls for 32 yards. Cole Beasley (4-38), meanwhile, had a mediocre stat line.
Devin Singletary's fantasy owners may have expected a big game from their rookie back. They came away disappointed, as Singletary barely had more carries than Frank Gore. Singletary had four more attempts (15-11), and yet he outgained Gore by a wide margin (75-27). It's inexplicable as to why Buffalo's coaching staff continues to feed the ball to Gore nearly as much as Singletary. It'll cost them in tougher matchups.
I don't want to spend much time on the worst team in NFL history. Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 323 yards, but needed to go 32-of-45 to get there. Fitzpatrick, who absorbed a whopping seven sacks, threw mostly to DeVante Parker (7-135), Allen Hurns (4-53) and Patrick Laird (6-51). Parker had his longest gain when Tre'Davious White slipped. Meanwhile, Kalen Ballage scored a touchdown, but picked up just nine rushing yards on nine carries.
Vikings 27, Broncos 23
The Vikings suffered a humiliating defeat as a double-digit home favorite against an AFC opponent whose quarterback barely had any starting experience. This occurred last year in a shocking loss the Vikings had to Buffalo in Week 3 when they were 16-point favorites. For most of the afternoon, it appeared as though history would repeat itself.
This provided evidence that teams sometimes lack focus and look past their opponent. In this case, it was the Vikings "smelling themselves" - as my podcast partner Kenny Ortiz would say - following a victory over the Cowboys last week on national TV. The Vikings thought they could just show up and stomp all over a Brandon Allen-quarterbacked Denver squad. Instead, the Broncos did exactly that to the Vikings for most of regulation.
Minnesota made several errors throughout the afternoon, ranging from a Kirk Cousins strip-sack to a lost fumble on a kickoff return. However, a missed Brandon McManus field goal for the Broncos opened up an opportunity for the Vikings to engineer a comeback victory. They turned a 23-7 fourth-quarter deficit into a 27-23 lead, as Cousins was unstoppable in the final frame. However, had McManus nailed the field goal, Denver could have won the game with a chip-shot kick at the very end. The Broncos got deep into Minnesota territory at the very end with multiple fourth-down conversion throws by Allen, but ultimately failed on a final throw into the end zone.
Cousins finished 29-of-35 for 319 yards and three touchdowns. He lost a fumble, but it didn't end up mattering because of his great play in the fourth quarter, sparked by a conversion on third-and-14. His 32-yard touchdown to Kyle Rudolph in a busted coverage gave the Vikings the lead for good.
Cousins' touchdown passes went to Rudolph (5-67), Stefon Diggs (5-121) and Irv Smith Jr. (3-20). Cousins' score to Diggs, a 54-yarder, put the Vikings within three before Rudolph ultimately found the end zone. Diggs' stat line would've been better had a deep completion of his not been negated ny penalty.
Dalvin Cook couldn't find much running room versus a stalwart Denver run defense that has improved tremendously after some early-season struggles that were the result of injury. Cook mustered just 26 yards on 11 carries, but managed to score a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Cook also caught five passes for 31 receiving yards, though he dropped a ball thrown to him.
The Broncos had more success running than the Vikings did. They entered this game with the plan of giving Phillip Lindsay a more extensive workload, and they stayed true to their word. Lindsay had double the number of carries that Royce Freeman did, as Lindsay dashed for 67 yards on 16 carries. Freeman, meanwhile, picked up 31 yards on eight attempts. Denver had previously split the touches evenly between Lindsay and Freeman, which was a stupid plan. This strategy was correct because Lindsay is more talented.
Denver would have prevailed in this game if it had better quarterbacking. Despite battling a poor secondary, Allen struggled for most of the afternoon, failing to complete half of his passes. Allen had some bright moments, including a pair of fourth-down conversions on the final drive and a 48-yard bomb to Courtland Sutton where he fit the ball through a tight window, but Allen also had an ugly interception where he threw off his back foot and telegraphed a pass to Noah Fant, negating a scoring opportunity in the red zne. He also missed an open Fant for a touchdown and couldn't connect with Sutton on a deep throw on the opening drive.
Allen finished 17-of-39 for 240 yards, one touchdown and a pick. He had a nice matchup, but couldn't take advantage of it. Drew Lock will likely be named the starter in the near future.
Sutton had a big game. He caught five passes for 113 yards, and he also threw a 38-yard pass on a trick play. He also drew a deep pass interference flag on Xavier Rhodes, who he ate for breakfast throughout the entire game. Fant, meanwhile, had a fine stat line (4-60), but it would've been much better had Allen been more accurate.
Saints 34, Buccaneers 17
Apparently, Drew Brees is over whatever sort of rib injury he had in last week's shocking loss to the Falcons. Tampa's beleaguered secondary had no chance against him, as he completed 16 of his first 20 passes, leading the Saints to a commanding 20-0 advantage. With the Buccaneers' offense unable to sustain drives, and their special teams putting the defense in poor field position, it was just too easy for New Orleans in a complete blowout that was never close.
Brees ended up misfiring on just seven passes. His yardage wasn't very high - 28-of-35, 228 yards - but he threw three touchdowns and didn't make any mistakes.
The same, however, couldn't be said of Jameis Winston. The former No. 1 overall pick threw four interceptions, though two weren't really his fault. The first occurred when O.J. Howard bobbled the ball into the arms of a Saints player, which resulted in Howard getting benched. This turnover allowed the Saints to quickly expand their lead from 6-0 to 13-0. A pick in the second half took place because Mike Evans ran an incorrect route. Conversely, Winston's other two picks were on him. He heaved an interception right before halftime when he was jittery in the pocket because of all the pressure he was seeing, and his final pick occurred in garbage time when he underthrew Evans in the end zone.
Winston ended up 30-of-51 for 313 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions. Most of his yardage came late in meaningless action, as he accumulated just 106 yards in the opening half. Winston was a mess throughout, tossing inaccurate balls because he saw phantom pressure in the pocket. And adding injury to insult, Winston was hit low in the second half, and he began limping after that. He didn't leave the game, but didn't look completely healthy after that play.
There was a huge disparity between the play of the two quarterbacks, and the same can be said of the top receivers. Michael Thomas was excellent once again, catching eight of his 11 targets for 114 yards and a touchdown. Evans, conversely, was a huge disappointment despite not having to go up against Marshon Lattimore. He caught four passes for 69 yards, but much of that came in garbage time. Evans had just one reception in the opening half. As mentioned, he ran a wrong route to cause an interception, but this was just one of many blunders he made during the afternoon. Evans also dropped a pass on third down and then was flagged for offensive pass interference on a crucial down because he shoved a Saints cornerback.
With Evans and Howard killing their team with errors, Cameron Brate led the Buccaneers in receiving with 10 grabs for 73 yards, while Chris Godwin (3-47) and Peyton Barber caught touchdown passes. Meanwhile, Ted Ginn (2-14) and Jared Cook (2-33) caught touchdowns for the Saints. Cook's score was a terrific, leaping grab over a defender.
You'll never guess it, but there was also a disparity between the two running games. The Buccaneers entered this contest with the top ground defense in the NFL, and yet Alvin Kamara rushed for 75 yards on just 13 carries. Kamara was also a huge factor in the passing game, as he hauled in all 10 of his targets for 47 receiving yards. He didn't score, but he had a touchdown negated by a holding penalty. Kamara had been banged up entering this contest, but he looked completely healthy. He broke tons of tackles, so the Saints' offense will continue to be highly productive as long as he's 100 percent.
The Buccaneers, meanwhile, ran just six times because of their huge deficit. Ronald Jones gained 13 yards on four carries, while Barber didn't log a single rush.
Jets 34, Redskins 17
Sometimes, final scores aren't indicative of what actually happens on the field. That is the case here, as the final result doesn't even tell the entire story of how lopsided this affair was. The Jets dominated from start to finish, as the hapless Redskins didn't give themselves a chance with all of the dumb errors they made.
There will countless Redskin blunders. They committed roughing the kicker in a 6-0 game that kept the drive alive for the Jets, ultimately giving Sam Darnold a chance to find Robby Anderson in the end zone. The Redskins then tried to cut the lead down to one score, but a Dwayne Haskins 67-yard bomb to Terry McLaurin, which displayed some impressive arm strength, was negated by a holding penalty on Brandon Scherff, who was so furious that he also was flagged for an unsportsmanlike infraction. Washington then failed to capitalize on a Jets fumble on a kickoff return, as Dustin Hopkins doinked a 29-yard field goal off the right upright. The Redskins' two trips inside the red zone in the opening half resulted in just three points.
The Jets, meanwhile, did a great job of capitalizing on the mistakes. As mentioned, Darnold was able to hit Anderson for a score, and then Darnold connected on some nice gains while engineering a touchdown drive right before halftime. The Jets were up 20-3 at that point, but it felt like they should have been leading 34-0, as they outgained the Redskins in the first half, 262-60, averaging nearly five more yards per play!
Darnold ended up having a great afternoon. He threw four touchdowns on 19-of-30 passing for 293 yards. He made just two mistakes. One was a fumble, forced by Ryan Kerrigan, but a teammate recovered the loose ball. The second error was throwing an interception, which he heaved off his back foot. Outside of that, Darnold had a tremendous showing. Perhaps all of the ghosts have finally been exorcised.
All of Darnold's touchdowns went to different players. Ryan Griffin was one of those, and he led the team in receiving with five catches for 109 yards. Griffin was wide open on numerous occasions, as the Redskins showed no interest in covering him. Jamison Crowder also had five catches and a touchdown, accumulating 76 yards in the process in his revenge game, though he had a drop. Anderson (1-6) and Daniel Brown (1-20) secured the other scores. Anderson had a big gain wiped out by a hold.
Le'Veon Bell also found the end zone, though he did so as a rusher. He gained 59 yards on 18 carries to go along with two catches for 33 receiving yards.
Moving back to the Redskins, it was a rough afternoon for Haskins. It looked like he'd have some early success when he completed the aforementioned long pass to McLaurin, but that play being overturned by penalty was a harbinger of things to come. Haskins was putrid, as he had zero pocket presence. He tossed mostly checkdowns, and even his checkdowns weren't accurate. For instance, he heaved an interception on a checkdown to Trey Quinn, which was wide of the mark. He was also overly conservative, tossing a 3-yard pass on a third-and-4 in the 2-minute drill of the second quarter.
Haskins barely completed half of his passes, going 19-of-35 for 214 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Those stats were enhanced by garbage time, as Haskins logged just 52 yards in the opening half. Haskins didn't look like he was ready to play in the NFL, which is why he wasn't named the starter earlier in the year.
McLaurin was hurt by Haskins' incompetence. He led the Redskins in receiving, but had just three catches for 69 yards. He wouldn't have done anything if it wasn't for a 41-yard reception made deep into garbage time.
If there's a silver lining for the Redskins' loss, outside of their improved draft positioning, it's that Derrius Guice looked great on a 45-yard touchdown reception late in the afternoon. Guice saw less work than Adrian Peterson on the ground; Peterson had 25 yards on nine carries, while Guice picked up 24 yards on seven attempts. Guice should emerge as the primary ball-carrier soon.
Ravens 41, Texans 7
Everyone knows that Lamar Jackson is an electric runner, but Jackson needs to improve his passing ability for the Ravens to have a chance to make a deep run into the playoffs. Jackson struggled with his throwing early, as he had an interception dropped on a deep throw and then overshot Miles Boykin. This occurred following a Deshaun Watson turnover, and because of the missed opportunities, as well as Justin Tucker's first missed field goal of the year, the Ravens failed to capitalize.
Jackson, however, picked up his play after a couple of drives. He completed seven consecutive passes across two possessions, both of which resulted in touchdowns. The second score was a beauty, as Jackson perfectly lofted the ball to Mark Andrews to give Baltimore a 14-0 lead.
Jackson's completion streak extended to 10 on the first possession following halftime. He appeared to misfire on a deep throw to Marquise Brown, but pass interference was called on Lonnie Johnson. That drive concluded with a touchdown pass to Mark Ingram, who scored very easily on a busted coverage. A couple of Texans looked like they had a chance to tackle him, but they didn't put much effort into it. They thought the game was over, and they were correct, as Ingram's score gave Baltimore an insurmountable 21-0 lead.
The completion streak ultimately ended at 13 when Jackson overthrew his receiver following yet another Houston turnover. Still, the damage was done, as the Ravens were leading 27-0 at that point.
Jackson finished 17-of-24 for 222 yards and four touchdowns to go along with nine scrambles for 86 rushing yards. If he can continue to throw well like he did in this game, there won't be any stopping him, and Baltimore may not lose another game this year.
Two of Jackson's touchdowns were thrown to Ingram, who needed the receiving stats to help his fantasy owners. Houston's great run defense limited Ingram to just 48 yards on 13 carries, but Ingram was able to catch three passes for 37 receiving yards and the two touchdowns.
Jackson's other scores went to Andrews (4-75) and Seth Roberts. Marquise Brown caught two passes for 23 yards. He didn't seem very healthy.
As for the Texans, they didn't have much officiating help in the early going. Watson threw a ball to DeAndre Hopkins into the end zone, but a Baltimore player grabbed Hopkins and then hooked him. Bill O'Brien threw the challenge flag so that the refs could overturn an obvious non-pass interference call, but the horrible official wouldn't change the call because of pure arrogance.
It looked like this non-call would end up mattering, but it didn't because the Texans couldn't sustain drives. Watson saw way too much pressure, and he struggled against the blitz, which was unusual for him. Watson, who went 18-of-29 for 169 yards and an interception, had never lost by more than eight points in a regular-season NFL game before this week.
Hopkins ended up with seven catches for 80 yards, as he was far ahead of the next-closest receiver, Kenny Stills (4-27).
The Texans couldn't run the ball, as Carlos Hyde did nothing outside of a 41-yard touchdown burst in the fourth quarter. Hyde mustered 65 yards on nine carries.
EDITOR'S NOTE: At this rate, Dan Quinn isn't going to get fired. The Falcons are destroying everyone right now, and I can't say I know why.
The Panthers' hopes of making it to the playoffs were dealt a crushing blow with an upset home loss to the Falcons. Carolina did not show up to play, leaving Atlanta to dominate on offense, defense, and special teams in the first half and construct an insurmountable lead. This game also gives the Panthers more proof that they should not plan on Kyle Allen being the starter of the future. He had a pathetic performance against the Falcons.
The Falcons grabbed a field goal on the opening drive after Matt Ryan found Calvin Ridley open downfield for a 34-yard completion to get into field goal range. Carolina's first possession set the tone for the day as Kyle Allen was pressured and threw the ball right to DeVondre Campbell for his first interception. A Mario Addison sack led to Atlanta settling for a field goal attempt, but Younghoe Koo missed the 38-yard attempt. Atlanta went up 10-0 after former Panther Kenjon Barner returned a punt for a 78-yard touchdown.
Carolina's offense finally got moving with a completion to D.J. Moore (8-95) and a fourth-down conversion by Christian McCaffrey, but Allen threw another interception with a terrible pass that was easily picked off by Desmond Trufant in the end zone.
Atlanta quickly moved down the field via Ryan using Julio Jones and Ridley to get the Falcons a 13-0 lead after a field goal. Ryan dropped in a beautiful ball to Jones, who made a superb 49-yard catch at the 1-yard line. Qadree Ollison scored on the next play, letting the Falcons take a 20-0 lead into the locker room that meant the game was over.
Atlanta added to its lead with a short touchdown pass to Ridley in the third quarter, and then the teams traded field goals in garbage time, plus Allen threw another interception.
Ryan completed 21-of-31 passes for 311 yards with a touchdown.
Ridley hauled in eight catches for 143 yards with a touchdown, while Julio Jones had six receptions for 91 yards.
McCaffrey ran for 70 yards on 14 carries and made 11 receptions for 121 yards.
Allen was 31-of-50 for 325 yards with four interceptions.
Atlanta's defensive line dominated Carolina's blocking front, with Adrian Clayborn recording two sacks. Vic Beasley, Takk McKinley and Allen Bailey also had sacks for the Falcons.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The Bengals lost twice this weekend. Once in this game, and once on Saturday when Tua Tagovailoa suffered a devastating hip injury. It's not a good time to be a Cincinnati fan right now.
This was a potential trap game for the Raiders, but they managed to top Cincinnati to maintain their place in the AFC playoff race and stay on the heels of the Chiefs in the AFC West. The Bengals fell to 0-10, maintaining their position to land the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
On the Bengals' first possession, Maxx Crosby had a blindside strip-sack of Ryan Finley and Maurice Hurst pounced on the loose ball to set up the Raiders just inside the Cincinnati 30. Josh Jacobs ran the ball inside the 10-yard line, but then fumbled it away with Nick Vigil recovering the loose ball. Joe Mixon took off on a 30-yard run, and Finley made a few completions to set up a short touchdown run for Mixon.
Oakland got moving with two completions to Tyrell Williams for 44 yards to cross midfield. Completions to Hunter Renfrow (5-66) and Darren Waller set up a short touchdown toss to Foster Moreau, tying the game at seven. Shortly later, a pass of about 25 yards to Williams and a late hit on Sam Hubbard moved the ball inside the Bengals' 25. To end the drive, Carr dived over the goal line on a third-and-goal to put the Raiders up 14-7 at the half.
Early in the third quarter, Jessie Bates picked off Carr to set up the Bengals just past midfield. That led to a Bengals field goal to cut the Oakland lead to four. A 32-yard pass to Darren Waller and a Trayvon Mullen interception, clinched the win for Oakland.
Carr completed 25-of-29 passes for 292 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Williams had four receptions for 82 yards, with Waller hauling in five passes for 78 yards.
Jacobs ran for 112 yards on 23 carries with a lost fumble.
Finley completed just 13-of-31 passes for 115 yards and an interception.
Mixon ran for 86 yards on 15 carries with a touchdown.
Auden Tate led the Bengals in receiving with four catches for 56 yards, but he was carted off the field in the fourth quarter after an awkward tackle.
Raiders rookie defensive end Maxx Crosby destroyed the Cincinnati offensive line, totaling four sacks and three tackles for a loss. He was phenomenal for Oakland. The Bengals' defensive line had a good game against the Oakland blocking front, with Geno Atkins (1.5 sacks) and Carlos Dunlap playing well for Cincinnati.
49ers 36, Cardinals 26
I must begin by offering my condolences to those who bet Arizona +10. The Cardinals were winning for most of the afternoon, and when they weren't, they were trailing by a few points. That was the case on the final play of the game, when Larry Fitzgerald tossed a lateral in an attempt to get a desperation touchdown. Instead, the ball bounced around, and a 49er player picked it up off the ground and scored to make the margin 10. I've been victimized by this in the past - remember that Monday night game between the Chiefs and Redskins a few years ago - so I feel your pain. Just be happy that you at least pushed!
Despite the loss, Kyler Murray played very well. He led the Cardinals on several touchdown drives and even had his team up 16-0 at one point. This game eventually turned into a shootout, and Murray had a chance to either prevail with one final drive. However, Murray's chances of doing so quickly vanished when KeeSean Johnson lost a fumble, effectively ending the game.
Murray ended up 24-of-33 for 150 yards and two touchdowns. The passing yardage might seem low, but that's because two deep passes were drawn interferences by Christian Kirk on Richard Sherman. One was even overturned by replay, which was almost a miracle. Murray also picked up plenty of yardage on the ground, scrambling eight times for 67 yards and a touchdown.
Kirk had a great game because of the drawn pass interferences on Sherman, but it didn't help his fantasy owners. Kirk ended up catching six passes for only 41 yards. He also dropped a deep pass, though it looked like he lost the ball in the sun. The drop was very unfortunate for his team, as a catch may have resulted in the Cardinals opening up a 19-0 or 23-0 lead in the second quarter.
Kirk's stat line was obvious regression from his great performance at Tampa, and it was especially painful for his owners, who saw Fitzgerald (5-37) and Pharoh Cooper (3-35) haul in Murray's touchdowns. Cooper, by the way, was the recipient of a beautiful 23-yard throw by Murray.
The Cardinals didn't even bother with the injured David Johnson this week, opting to run exclusively with Kenyan Drake. The former Dolphin played well, running for 67 yards on 16 carries. He was a big part of the passing game with six catches, though he turned those into just 13 receiving yards.
The 49ers were down 16-0 in the second quarter, but Jimmy Garoppolo came alive to have one of his best statistical performances ever. Save for a few throws, including a pass heaved behind Ross Dwelley in the red zone, Garoppolo was flawless, particularly in the second half. He was 26-of-30 for 313 yards, three touchdowns and a pair of picks following intermission, one of which was a telegraphed throw in the red zone. Had he played this way for the entire game, he would have shattered record books with 626 yards and six touchdowns.
Still, Garoppolo's final numbers were great, as he was 34-of-45 for 424 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions. Those numbers don't include a couple of drawn pass interferences deep downfield. I'd like to note that one of the pass interferences was complete nonsense. It might have been the worst such call ever, as Kyle Juszczyk tackled a linebacker covering him, and yet the linebacker, who was looking back for the ball, was the one who was penalized. It was unbelievable.
Emmanuel Sanders returned from a rib injury, but he didn't last very long, as he was sidelined in the second half. Instead, Garoppolo focused on getting the ball to Deebo Samuel, who caught eight balls for 134 yards. Juszczyk (7-63) was also a big factor in the passing attack.
As for Garoppolo's scorers, Dwelley caught two touchdowns and would've scored a third had an end zone trip not been wiped out by a hold. Dwelley caught four balls for 14 yards otherwise. Kendrick Bourne (4-21) and Jeff Wilson Jr. also found the end zone to clinch the victory. Wilson found himself covered by Chandler Jones on a horrible Arizona blitz. Wilson easily took advantage of that mismatch.
Surprisingly, the 49ers barely had any success running the ball. Tevin Coleman mustered just 14 yards on 12 carries. He caught three passes for 48 receiving yards, which was a bit of help for his PPR owners.
Patriots 17, Eagles 10
Tom Brady told the media that he wanted revenge for the Eagles' Super Bowl victory a couple of years ago. Brady wanted to avenge that loss so badly that he ceded a pass to Julian Edelman, as the Patriots ran their version of the Philly Special. It was Edelman throwing a touchdown to Phillip Dorsett, which was New England's only trip into the end zone during this contest. It proved to be enough, however, as that score gave the Patriots the lead, and ultimately, the victory.
The Patriots may have avenged the Super Bowl loss, but they weren't exactly playing the same caliber of opponent. The Eagles, already down their top two receivers, also lost their All-Pro right tackle Lane Johnson to a concussion in the second quarter. The Eagles, who held a 10-0 lead in the early going, couldn't score a single point after Johnson was ruled out, as the pass protection wasn't there for Carson Wentz. Still, Wentz had a chance to win the game. He heaved a fourth-down pass late in the evening to Nelson Agholor into the end zone, but Agholor dropped the ball. This was the third time that a Philadelphia backup receiver dropped a game-winning or game-tying touchdown in the final minutes this season.
The Eagles lost this game because of numerous drops. Agholor had another one on a previous third-and-2, and Dallas Goedert was guilty of a drop to end another drive. Wentz had no chance because his diminished supporting cast wasn't helping him at all, though it didn't help his cause that he missed a wide-open Zach Ertz on third down. He also overshot Mack Hollins on an earlier third-and-9.
Wentz completed just half of his passes as a result of this, going 20-of-40 for 214 yards and a touchdown. He has historically been far worse without Lane Johnson's great protection, so it's not a surprise that he was just 9-of-24 for 127 yards following intermission.
Given that the top receivers were out, the two Eagle tight ends accounted for most of Wentz's production. Ertz caught nine passes for 94 yards, while Goedert hauled in three balls for 36 yards and a touchdown that was ruled an interception for cornerback Jonathan Jones prior to replay review.
We were told that Miles Sanders would handle the majority of the workload with Jordan Howard injured, but the Eagles, for whatever reason, thought that getting the ball to Boston Scott would be a good idea. Scott did nothing outside of a 12-yard burst, gaining just 26 yards on seven carries. Sanders tallied 38 yards on 11 tries. He also caught just two passes for nine receiving yards. Giving Sanders more touches would have been a great idea.
The Patriots also didn't have much success running the ball against Philadelphia's great rush defense. Sony Michel was limited to just 33 yards on 10 carries, which wasn't too much of a surprise.
Brady didn't have his best game, as he went 26-of-47 for 216 yards. Brady dinked and dunked most of the time, and even his longest completion, a 30-yarder, was a shovel pass to Rex Burkhead that would have gone for no gain had Eagles linebacker Nathan Gerry not whiffed on the tackle. Bill Belichick didn't seem to trust the pass protection, and the heavy Philadelphia winds also played a factor in his decision-making.
Brady was hurt by some drops as well, as James White and Edelman were guilty of this on one drive. Conversely, Brady was helped by an Eagles drop, as a Philadelphia defender dropped a potential pick of his in the end zone.
In addition to the Philly Special touchdown, Edelman caught five of his 10 targets for 53 yards. Ben Watson (3-52) was next, while Mohamed Sanu (2-4) didn't do anything.
Rams 17, Bears 7
It appeared as though the Bears finally pulled the trigger. The NBC announcers said Chicago benched Mitchell Trubisky prior to the final drive of the game. Trubisky was terrible throughout and didn't have very good pass protection, but head coach Matt Nagy seemed to decide that Chase Daniel gave his team a better chance of scoring than Trubisky.
It seemed to be a curious decision, just based on when it happened. However, it was later discovered that Trubisky suffered some sort of hip injury, which was the reason why he was pulled. It's unclear how severe this hip injury is, or how long it'll keep Trubisky out of the lineup. I suspect Trubisky will be hurt until Daniel struggles.
Trubisky went 24-of-43 for only 190 yards, one touchdown and an interception. Trubisky dinked and dunked to his heart's content, and he couldn't complete anything downfield. He made odd decisions most of the time, and he refused to use his legs, which were a great feature of his last year. If there's a silver lining, it's that his pick wasn't his fault. It was actually a thing of beauty by Anthony Miller, who pushed off and then had the ball bounce off his hands and into the arms of a Los Angeles player. If that wasn't bad enough, Miller began talking trash by yelling at the Rams sideline.
The Bears were at their best when they involved Tarik Cohen. The quick back ran for 39 yards on nine carries, and he also caught five passes for 35 receiving yards and a touchdown. David Montgomery, who was a game-time decision, managed just 31 yards on 14 tries.
Cohen was third on the team in receiving. He finished behind Taylor Gabriel (7-57) and Miller (6-54). Allen Robinson barely did anything - four catches, 15 yards - because of Jalen Ramsey's elite coverage. One of Robinson's completions took place when the Bears lined him up in the backfield in a desperate attempt to have him get open.
The Rams, meanwhile, didn't fare much better offensively, though they may have found something with two young offensive linemen, Bobby Evans and David Edwards. They run blocked well for Todd Gurley, who ran for 97 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries. They also opened a lane for Malcolm Brown, who scored the covering touchdown with a few minutes remaining. Of course, if Bears idiot kicker Eddy Pineiro hadn't missed two kicks, the Bears would've covered.
Jared Goff didn't play very well, as he went 11-of-18 for 173 yards and an interception, which was a pass late across his body. To be fair, Goff had a deep touchdown to Josh Reynolds negated by a stupid illegal formation penalty that didn't impact anything. That said, Goff was very fortunate as well, as Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller dropped a very easy pick-six in the second half that would have given Chicago the lead.
With Robert Woods out for personal issues, Reynolds led the Rams in receiving despite the called-back touchdown. He caught three passes for 55 yards, barely edging out Cooper Kupp (3-53), who also had a touchdown that was negated. Kupp appeared to score, but it was ruled that he was out of bounds before crossing the goal line. Gurley ran into the end zone on the next play.
Chiefs 24, Chargers 17
The Chiefs had major concerns about their defense entering this game, and those worries were very prevalent in the opening half. The Chargers outgained the Chiefs heading into intermission, 312-109, as Kansas City could barely get off the field. Philip Rivers converted first down after first down, while Melvin Gordon trampled right over Kansas City's beleaguered ground defense.
However, the Chiefs made enough big plays to stop the bleeding. Though they allowed tons of yardage - they were ultimately outgained, 438-310 - their defense collected four interceptions, as Rivers blew this game for the Chargers.
Rivers' first interception looked like a strip-sack by Frank Clark, but it was ruled a pick for some reason. Rivers can't be blamed entirely for that one, as Clark just made a terrific play. However, Rivers telegraphed an ensuing throw which was almost returned for six by Tyrann Mathieu. This set up the Chiefs to take a lead that they would never relinquish, though things were dicey at the very end.
Rivers killed his team's chances toward the conclusion of regulation. He took a deep shot to a backup receiver on the penultimate drive of the game, which was picked off. He then got one more chance, and after completing a 50-yard bomb to Mike Williams, Rivers was intercepted for the fourth time on an underthrown attempt into the end zone, targeted for Austin Ekeler.
Rivers had a nice yardage stat line - 28-of-52, 353 yards and a touchdown - but the four picks murdered the Chargers' chances of pulling the upset. And yet, things could have been worse! Mathieu dropped the easiest interception he'd ever get in his life, and Rivers had a fumble as well, which a teammate recovered. The Chargers' offensive line is a mess - three starters are out - but that doesn't excuse Rivers' sloppiness.
It's no surprise that Rivers targeted Ekeler at the end, as Ekeler was the team's top receiver. Ekeler caught eight of his 12 targets for 108 yards. Williams was second, thanks to the 50-yard bomb, though he did nothing otherwise, finishing with two grabs for 76 yards. Keenan Allen (8-71) caught Rivers' lone touchdown, though he dropped a pass inside the Kansas City 5-yard line. Hunter Henry (6-69) was also heavily involved.
It looked like Gordon would have a big game, as he rushed for 58 yards on 10 carries in the opening half. However, because of the big deficit, Gordon rushed just four times following intermission, finishing with 69 yards on the ground. Gordon hurt his teammates and PPR owners with two drops in the fourth quarter.
The Chiefs' leading rusher happened to be Patrick Mahomes. He scrambled five times for 59 rushing yards, though I'm sure Damien Williams (4 carries, 7 yards) or LeSean McCoy (7-29) would have beaten Mahomes on the ground had both stayed healthy. Instead, they each suffered injuries. Luckily for the Chiefs, both runners have a bye week coming up to get healthy.
Speaking of players whose health concerns, Tyreek Hill left the game catchless on two targets in the first quarter because he hurt his hamstring. This was absolutely brutal for anyone who used him in fantasy. With Hill out, Mahomes' passing numbers were suppressed. He threw for just 182 yards on 19-of-32 passing. He threw a touchdown, but also had an interception on a deep shot.
Travis Kelce stepped up in the wake of Hill's absence. He caught seven of his nine targets for 92 yards and a touchdown. He was the only Chief with more than 30 receiving yards.
For more thoughts, check out my updated NFL Power Rankings, which will be posted Tuesday morning.