The tenth weekend of the 2020 NFL season is in the books so here are the different thoughts and opinions I have on various things I witnessed this past weekend. My Cowboys were on their bye so my TV got a break from being yelled at on Sunday. I just sat back in the recliner and prepared to enjoy a stress-free day of NFL action.
However the schedule treated me to a slate of yawnstipating games. The games were boring, lots of bad football. I was wishing NASCAR was still going on so I could I flip the channel for some action. But in the end my viewership was rewarded with a good game in Arizona with an exciting finish. Damn that crazy game fired me up!
Just remember I am a Dallas Cowboys fan and I'm extremely biased. Don't think just because they had the week off I won't mention them at all, I usually find a way. Feel free to agree or disagree about anything mentioned here. All comments are welcome.
Thriller in the Desert
When perusing the schedule of this week’s contests, the Arizona Cardinals vs Buffalo Bills game caught my eye. Two up-and-coming teams with playoff dreams led by exciting young QBs who can win games just as easily with their legs as their arms. I was looking forward to the game and man I wasn’t disappointed. In one of the craziest finishes I ever witnessed the Cardinals defeated the Bills 32-30 with the aid of every football fan’s favorite prayer, the Hail Mary.
Arizona started slowly, but kicked it into gear to take a 26-23 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Who was going to seize the game? At first, neither team. Buffalo QB Josh Allen threw two INTs killing the Bills scoring chances, but the Cards couldn’t take advantage of the gifts. Arizona QB Kyler Murray had a pass slip out of WR Larry Fitgerald’s grasp for an INT, but Buffalo blew that chance as well. The 4th quarter turned into a defensive standoff. Little did we know there was an offensive explosion brewing for the game’s final minute.
With time running out, the Bills finally put together a drive and marched down to the Arizona 21-yard line. A FG would tie the game and force overtime, but the Bills weren’t interested in that. Josh Allen reared back and found WR Stephon Diggs with this beauty of a TD pass:
Great pass and great catch that gave the Bills a 30-26 lead with only :34 seconds left on the clock. However Kyler Murray wasn’t intimidated. Starting on his own 25-yard line, he quickly guided the Cards to the Buffalo 43-yard line. With :11 seconds left and no more timeouts it was time for a Hail Mary.
Holy shit! That really happened! WR DeAndre Hopkins made the catch of the year by hauling in the pass while being triple-covered! Great play by Murray to avoid the pressure and uncork a jump ball pass in the endzone that gave Hopkins a chance to make the play. WOW!
Huge win for the Cardinals, who needed a miracle to win and got one. Kyler Murray (22/32, 245 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) was good in the air and also on the ground: 11 carries, 61 yards, 2 TDs. His Hail Mary partner DeAndre Hopkins (7 receptions, 127 yards, 1 TD) had a big game. Murray got plenty of support on the ground from RB Kenyan Drake (16 carries, 100 yards) and RB Gus Edwards (8 carries, 56 yards). The Cards improved to 6-3 and are part of a three-way tie for first place in the NFC West.
Just a heartbreaking loss for the Bills. Josh Allen (32/49, 284 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs) wasn’t at his best, but when the game was on the line he delivered. WR Cole Beasley (11 receptions, 109 yards, 1 TD) and WR Stephon Diggs (10 receptions, 93 yards, 1 TD) were his top targets. Allen didn’t get much help on the ground, he led the team with 38 rushing yards on seven carries. His teammates only managed 35 yards on 11 carries. The Bills fell to 7-3, still in 1st place in the AFC East but the Dolphins are knocking on the back door.
Upset of the Week
After narrowly beating the Jets last week, the New England Patriots were a rare 6.5 home underdog with the Baltimore Ravens coming to town Sunday night. Ha, what the hell does Las Vegas know? The Patriots stole the Ravens pound the rock, play great defense game plan and beat Baltimore 23-17.
Wet and windy weather conditions favored a run-heavy attack and that played right into New England’s hands since their passing game has been less than outstanding this year. The Patriots were determined to run the ball and the Ravens couldn’t find an answer to stop them. As a team the Pats rushed for 173 yards with RB Damien Harris (22 carries, 121 yards) doing most of the damage.
New England’s passing game was solid despite its limited exposure. QB Cam Newton (13/17, 118 yards, 1 TD) made smart decisions and didn’t turn the ball over. WR Jakobi Meyers (5 receptions, 59 yards) threw a 24 yard TD pass on a gadget play. Ironically both Patriots TD passes were caught by RB Rex Burkhead (4 receptions, 35 yards, 2 TDs). After more than a month of bad football the Pats improved to 4-5 and aren’t out of the playoff race yet. Is it possible the devil gave Bill Belichick an extension on his contract? We’ll have to wait and see.
Last week I wrote the Ravens just didn’t have the swagger of last year’s team and this game proved that point. The defense struggled with the Patriots running attack and the offense couldn’t score enough points to force New England to rely on their weaker passing game.
Despite the terrible throwing conditions, QB Lamar Jackson (24/34, 249 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT) had one of his better passing games of the season with help from WR Willie Snead (5 receptions, 64 yards, 2 TDs). Unfortunately for Baltimore the success in the air didn’t translate into more points. Outside of Jackson’s scrambles (11 carries, 55 yards), the Ravens running backs never got rolling: 17 carries, 60 yards.
The Ravens dropped to 6-3, a full three games behind the Steelers in the AFC North. They better patch up their run defense quick because the Titans will be bringing Derrick Henry back to Baltimore next week. We all know how that went the last time Tennessee came to visit. Oh, did you forget? Last year Henry ran over the Ravens with 195 yards. I bet the Ravens haven’t forgotten.
The biggest problem for the Seattle Seahawks this season has been their porous defense, which has forced the team to play in shootouts all season long. That wasn’t the case this week. The defense, while still not good, never let the game get out of hand. Unfortunately for Seattle the offense ran out of gas as the L.A. Rams beat the Seahawks 23-16.
The story of this game was the Rams defense. In their first eight games this season Seattle only failed to top 30 points once, when they “only” scored 27 points against the Vikings. The Rams held them to 16 points by harassing QB Russell Wilson all afternoon. Intense pressure by the front seven and blanket coverage by CB Jalen Ramsey led to Wilson being sacked six times and committing three turnovers. With Wilson running for his life the offense never got on track.
Rams QB Jared Goff (27/37, 302 yards) had little trouble driving the squad down the field with help from WR Josh Reynolds (8 receptions, 94 yards). Goff put the team in position to score while RB Malcolm Brown (6 carries, 33 yards, 2 TDs) and RB Darrell Henderson (7 carries, 28 yards, 1 TD) punched the ball over the goal line. The Rams didn’t have the offensive explosion most teams release upon the Seahawks, but with the defense playing so good it didn’t matter.
The Rams improved to 6-3 and joined a three-way tie atop the NFC West. I still can’t figure this team out. The offense seems to come and go, looking strong some weeks and futile in others. The defense is generally good, if not really good like this week. The Rams fate will depend on the play of Jared Goff and how they fare in the two games they still have to play against the Cardinals.
The Seahawks have dropped three out of last four games and their season is falling apart fast. QB Russell Wilson (22/37, 248 yards, 2 INTs, 1 fumble) is no longer playing the MVP caliber football he was earlier this year, he has 10 turnovers in those four games. With his top two RBs injured he had to handle the bulk of rushing the ball himself: 8 carries, 60 yards. Seattle has had to rely on Wilson bailing them out of trouble way too often this season, essentially every game, and the pressure is getting to him.
The defense had one of their best efforts so far and it still wasn’t that good. They need continued improvement so Wilson doesn’t have to play like Superman. Seattle fell to 6-3, tied with the Rams and Cardinals atop the NFC West. Yet with tie-breakers, they sit in third place. They won’t have much time to think about that with a big game against the Cardinals coming fast on Thursday night.
A Giant leap for Football in New Jersey
The New York Jets had a bye this week so football fans were spared having to witness that dumpster fire. Still fans in New Jersey weren’t denied NFL action as the very bad, but still much better than the Jets, New York Giants faced off against the Philadelphia Eagles. And surprise, surprise the Giants actually looked like a real football team as they defeated the Eagles 27-17. Don’t get too big for your britches now Giants fans, this game had a lot more to do with the ineptitude of Philly than it did with the quality of the Giants.
There was one crazy stat in this game: zero turnovers. Now that usually isn’t a crazy stat, but it was with this matchup. Eagles QB Carson Wentz leads the NFL in turnovers with 21 (12 INTs, 9 fumbles) while Giants QB Daniel Jones (9 INTs, 7 fumbles) is in second place with 16. So each QB gets a thumbs up for not losing the ball. On the other hand each defense gets two thumbs down for not forcing at least one turnover from this pair of butterfingers.
Daniel Jones (21/28, 244 yards) didn’t have any TD passes, but he set the offense up with scores. He did have a rushing TD to go along with the 64 yards he gained on 9 carries. Jones actually had two rushing TDs, but one was called back by a holding penalty. With his arm and his legs he kept the Giants offense moving all day and most importantly didn’t turn the ball over. WR Darius Slayton (5 receptions, 93 yards) did the most damage with Jones’s throws. The Giants improved to 3-7 and are still alive for a playoff spot since they compete in the NFC (L)East.
Coming off of their bye week and being the healthiest they have been all year, the Eagles had big expectations for this game. Then they went out and left a turd on the field. The Giants offense, which ranked next-to-last in both yards and points scored, had little trouble moving the ball and converting those yards into points. Daniel Jones burned the Eagles with his legs the first time these two teams met and he did it again on Sunday, hell the Giants were using the same plays. Didn’t anybody on the coaching staff bother to watch any game film during the bye?
Then again why should any of the coaches bother while Doug Pederson is still the head coach. His game plans, play calling and game management are atrocious. Carson Wentz (21/37, 208 yards) has looked bad all season and this week was more of the same, with Wentz missing throws all over the field. No matter, Pederson kept calling pass after pass even though RB Miles Sanders (15 carries, 85 yards) was having more success with his limited touches. When your QB can only muster 208 yards on 37 pass attempts it is time to consider a change in attack. Unless you’re Doug Pederson of course.
The Eagles converted exactly zero third downs (0-9) and were flagged for 11 penalties. Philly scored a TD in the 3rd quarter to cut the lead to 21-17 and instead of kicking the extra-point they went for two. Why? Plenty of time left, a kick gets them within a FG and Philly only converts about 38% of their two-point attempts. Big surprise the Giants snuffed the attempt. Just terrible coaching and game management, the hallmarks of the Pederson era. The only thing that worked for the Eagles on Sunday was their running game and they avoided that as much as possible. Good Grief.
The Eagles fell to 3-5-1, good enough for first place in the NFC (L)East. This division is so embarrassing and the sad thing is somebody is going to make the playoffs, with a home game to boot.
Around the League
In New Orleans QB Drew Brees left the game early with cracked ribs and the Saints could only manage 237 yards of total offense for the entire game. Yet they still beat the San Francisco 49ers 27-13. Don’t forget folks, special teams and defense are important too!
The Saints defense picked off 49ers QB Nick Mullens twice in their own territory to kill potential scoring drives and the special teams recovered two muffed punts to set up the offense for two short-field TD drives. That is how good teams win, when one phase of the team falters the other phases picks it up.
Drew Brees (8/13, 76 yards, 1 TD) left the game at halftime with fractured ribs and a collapsed lung. His backup QB Jameis Winston (6/10, 63 yards) wasn’t impressive. RB Alvin Kamara (8 carries, 15 yards, 2 TDs, 7 receptions, 83 yards, 1 TD) scored three TDs to pick up the slack. The Saints improved to 7-2 and still lead the NFC South. Whether they can hold on to that lead or not will depend on how many weeks Brees is out.
With all the injuries they have, San Francisco can’t afford to give the ball away and still hope to win. QB Nick Mullens (24/38, 247 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs) turned the ball over when the team needed him the most. Plus it is always hard to overcome two muffed punts, especially when they set up easy scores for the opposition. The 49ers fell to 4-6.
The Carolina Panthers put some early pressure on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but Tom Brady and the Bucs roared back for a 46-23 blowout win. It was a sorely needed win for Tampa after last week’s debacle against the Saints.
Brady (28/39, 341 yards, 3 TDs) had a big game that included connecting with eight different receivers. But the real surprise was the performance of RB Ronald Jones. After getting only three carries last week, the Bucs gave him 23 this week and he responded: 192 yards, 1 TD. Including this run:
98 yards is good for the second longest run in NFL history. Dallas Cowboy Tony Dorsett and Tennessee Titan Derrick Henry are tied for the longest run at 99 yards.
The Bucs improved to 7-3, second place in the NFC South. If the Saints stumble without Brees they might be able to move up.
The Panthers started this game well and it was all tied up 17-17 at the half, but Carolina fell apart on both sides of the ball in the second half by only mustering 20 yards in offense while surrendering 29 points. The Panthers fell to 3-7.
The weather was ugly in Cleveland and the game was even uglier as the Browns beat the Houston Texans 10-7.
Passing the ball wasn’t going to work with heavy winds and rain so Cleveland unleashed RB Nick Chubb (19 carries, 126 yards, 1 TD) and RB Kareem Hunt (19 carries, 104 yards). Since the Texans run defense is putrid it was a good idea. A win is a win in the NFL and the Browns are lucky they don’t give out style points because this game would get none. The Browns improved to 6-3 and are still in the playoff hunt.
With weather that demanded a run heavy script, the Texans were in trouble since they don’t run the ball well and can’t stop the run either. I’m not shocked they only scored 7 points, I am shocked they gave up only 10. QB Deshaun Watson (20/30, 163 yards, 1 TD, 8 carries, 36 yards) did what he could, but Houston is just bad. The Texans fell to 2-7.
In Detroit the Lions ran out to a 24-3 lead over Washington and in typical Lions fashion blew the lead by letting the No-names tie the game at 27-27. But in untypical Lions fashion they managed to kick a FG as time expired to escape with a 30-27 victory.
Lions QB Matthew Stafford (24/33, 276 yards, 3 TDs) and RB DeAndre Swift (16 carries, 81 yards, 5 receptions, 68 yards, 1 TD) each had big days. Good thing for DeAndre because if you are RB with the last name Swift you better be good. The Lions improved to 4-5, but really how excited can you get when you need a last second FG to beat the No-names at home. The Lions may be shooting themselves in the foot here, they might just win enough games that head coach Matt Patricia doesn’t get fired.
Washington QB Alex Smith (38/55, 390 yards) made his first start in 2 years and nearly made a great comeback. It is the feel good story of the week in the NFL after the horrible injury Smith had to recover from. The No-names dropped to 2-7, tied with the Cowboys for last place in the NFC (L)East. I could barf after writing that sentence. Hang on, I think I might.
OK I'm good. However Packers fans on Sunday probably felt like retching too as Green Bay had to make a 4th quarter comeback to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 24-20.
Dear Lord Green Bay, you were 14 point favorites. What the hell happened? The Packers looked like they forgot to practice. I guess they figured they would win by just showing up. They damn near didn’t. QB Aaron Rodgers (24/34, 325 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT, 1 rushing TD) bailed the Pack out with the help of WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling (4 receptions, 149 yards, 1 TD).
The Packers should take a long look at this game film to remind themselves you have to take each game seriously in the NFL. Unless you are playing the Jets of course. Green Bay improved to 7-2, first place in the NFC North.
Sometimes the Jaguars forget they are supposed to be tanking. A punt return for a TD and converting two turnovers into 10 points almost let Jacksonville steal a win. But in the end they lost because they aren’t good, despite the effort of RB James Robinson (23 carries, 109 yards). The Jaguars fell to 1-8 and are probably trying to raise enough cash to bribe somebody to lay down against the Jets.
The Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 36-10 in a game that was even worse than that score looks. The Steelers just toyed with Cincy, who could do nothing but take it.
QB Ben Roethlisberger (27/46, 333 yards, 4 TDs) missed nearly the entire week of practice, but showed no signs of rust. WR Diontae Johnson (6 receptions, 116 yards, 1 TD) was glad about that. The RB committee was glad too because they were pitiful: 20 carries, 44 yards. Woof. The Steelers remain undefeated at 9-0 and comfortably lead the AFC North.
While the Bengals have shown some improvement, they aren’t ready to play with the big boys yet. QB Joe Burrow (21/40, 213 yards, 1 TD) did most of his damage throwing to WR Tee Higgins (7 receptions, 115 yards, 1 TD). The Bengals fell to 2-6-1.
The Miami Dolphins continued to make big plays in all three phases of the game to defeat the L.A. Chargers 29-21. A blocked punt and an INT set up two easy TDs for Miami.
Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa (15/25, 169 yards, 2 TDS) was solid and RB Salvon Ahmed (21 carries, 85 yards, 1 TD) gave him support on the ground. I thought the Dolphins were crazy to turn the team over to Tua so early in the season, but they are 3-0 in his starts. Shows you what I know. Miami improved to 6-3 and are in the playoff hunt, which is impressive after last season’s tank job.
Same old story for the Chargers. They didn’t play bad, but on the other hand they didn’t play well enough to win either. Unlike the Dolphins, the Chargers are wasting the efforts of their rookie QB Justin Herbet: 20/32, 187 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT. The Charges fell to 2-7.
The Las Vegas Raiders had a simple plan to beat the Denver Broncos: sit back and watch the Broncos beat themselves. Good plan. Five Broncos turnovers helped the Raiders crush Denver 37-12.
The Raiders didn’t do anything spectacular on offense because frankly they didn’t have to. They were content letting RB Joshua Jacobs (21 carries, 112 yards, 2 TDs) and RB Devonte Booker (16 carries, 81 yards, 2 TDs) pound the Broncos into submission as the defense continued to force turnovers. Walk in the park for Las Vegas as they prepare for a huge matchup against the Chiefs next week. The Raiders improved to 6-3.
The Broncos are just a mess right now. QB Drew Lock (23/47, 257 yards, 1 TD, 4 INTs) is supposed to be the star of the future, but he looks like he is playing himself out of a job. The Broncos fell to 3-6. Remember in the pre-season when a lot of people picked Denver to be a dark horse Super Bowl contender? Where are all of those folks hiding?
Monday Night Football gave us a contest between a team on the rise (Minnesota Vikings) and a team starting to freefall (Chicago Bears). The two teams stuck to the script as the Vikings beat the Bears 19-13 in Chicago.
Vikings QB Kirk Cousins (25/36, 292 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT) came into this game with an 0-3 record against the Bears and an 0-9 record on Monday Night Football. He was able to toss both of those monkeys off his back with the help of WR Justin Jefferson (8 receptions, 135 yards), who is breaking a lot of Randy Moss’s rookie records with Minnesota. RB Dalvin Cook (30 carries, 96 yards) was contained by the stout Chicago defense, but he was able to pick up key yardage when he had to. The Vikings improved to 4-5 and are climbing back into the playoff race in the NFC.
The Chicago Bears are a tale of two teams. On one side of the ball they have a defense good enough to win the Super Bowl. On the other side they have an offense bad enough to play in the NFC (L)East. That locker room can’t be a fun place to be right now. Chicago couldn’t move the ball in the air, QB Nick Foles completed 15 passes for a paltry 106 yards and 1 INT, or on the ground, RB Cordarrelle Patterson led the team with 30 yards on 12 carries. It was a disaster. Patterson did return a kickoff for a 104-yard TD, so at least the special teams kicked in with a contribution.
Chicago’s robust 5-1 record out of the gate has now dropped to 5-5 after four straight losses. Fitting for a team that is great on one side and rotten on the other.
I'm not going to lie, at least not in this sentence, writing up the post this week has sucked the life out of me. What a crappy weekend of football. Luckily the great game in Arizona gave me some inspiration or I might have just said to hell with doing a write-up this week and just watched some old Cowboys Super Bowl highlights instead. I know what you're thinking, who cares? Man you guys are assholes. That's OK, I'm an asshole too.
Anyway let me know your thoughts on Week 10.