Recap – Week 9

 

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Oakland Raiders v San Fransisco 49ers

3-34

Thursday night football featured a matchup between two of this year’s struggling teams. It also saw an unlikely hero, Nick Mullens. The quarterback, who broke several of Brett Favre’s records at Southern Miss, started for the injured Jimmy Garoppolo and C.J. Beathard, who was too banged up to throw effectively. Despite a short week’s worth of practice time, Niners coach Kyle Shanahan had him fully prepped and ready to embrace whatever came his way.


Mullens
had a fantastic game, he came out firing and nailed his first six passes for 76 yards and a touchdown. His ability to think, pass and move quickly in the pocket was just what the 49ers needed. He found Pierre Garcon wide open on a 24 yard score, followed by a 4 yard touchdown pass to Kendrick Bourne to take a 14-3 lead against their Bay Area rivals. The third-string QB joined Titans’ Marcus Mariota as the only player this century to unfurl touchdown passed on each of their first two NFL possessions.

The 23-year-old found himself throwing into a much tighter window in the second half. The story of the second half was George Kittle‘s remarkable one handed catch, grab and run for 71 yards that almost resulted in a touchdown, but he was brought down five yards short. That set up a five yard scoring throw to the tight end from Mullens.


Kittle
‘s incredible play and eventual score was followed up by Raheem Mostert breaking the Raiders’ backs on their next possession, sprinting 52 yards to pay dirt against a defense that appeared to have already called it a night.


Mullens
finished his debut completing 16 of 22 passes for 262 yards for three touchdowns and an almost perfect 151.9% passer rating. It’s amazing to think that before the game he was virtually unknown to the rest of the NFL world, but by the fourth quarter he’d become a household name and got verified on Twitter mid-game.

Whilst it was a perfect night for San Fransisco’s quarterback, Oakland’s was another story. Derek Carr had a horrendous night. The Raider’s dismal offensive performance wasn’t all his fault, rookie left tackle Kolton Miller re-inured his knee in the red zone early on and from then on his pass protection was relentless exploited by the Niners defense. Carr had already absorbed more sacks in eight games under Jon Gruden and offensive line coach Tom Cable than he took all of last season.

Oakland’s only points came from a first quarter field goal. Kicker Daniel Carlson later saw his third quarter field goal attempt hit the upright and out, adding the woes of an already beaten down Raiders offense.

The Raiders’ defense seems to feature a collection of misfits, castoffs and fading veterans. They are surrendering more yards per play than any unit had done in NFL history. At one point in the third quarter they’d allowed the Niners to score points of 15 of their last 18 possessions, excluding kneel-downs. The lack of defensive talent was an issue even before the preseason saw Khalil Mack go to Chicago. Now it’s not the lack of talent that’s being brought into question, it’s the effort level, the defense seemed to sleep for the second and third quarters and wake up momentarily for the fourth.

Something has to change at Oakland if there’s any chance of turning the second half of their season around, otherwise they’ll just continue playing for the top draft pick next summer.

 

Up Next:

Chargers v Raiders – Sunday November 11th (4:05pm)

Giants v 49ers – Monday November 12th (8:15pm)

 

 

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Carolina Panthers

28-42

Cam Newton and his offense sliced up Tampa Bay for a franchise record 35 first half points. Christian McCaffrey spearheaded an impressive ground game. The second year running back accumulated 79 rushing yards on 17 carries and scored two touchdowns. He also assembled 78 receiving yards on five catches. Newton had a solid game himself, completing 19 of 25 passes for 247 yards and two touchdowns.

Carolina’s effort in the second half was not as impressive as in the first as the Buccs clawed their way back into the game. The home team should always have won this affair, which they did, for their third consecutive victory.

Newton had a huge supporting cast on offense. Wide receiver Curtis Samuel scored arguably the most amazing touchdown of the season in the second quarter on a well-executed reverse that saw him cover 103.85 yards on a 33 yard double reverse touchdown run. According to Next Gen stats he hit the line of scrimmage at more than 20mph, it’s also the longest distance covered as a ball carrier on a rushing play this season.

Later in the first half Greg Olsen made a spectacular one-handed catch whilst being double-teamed in the end zone from a 24 yard Newton pass. There were other amazing plays in the first half including McCaffrey‘s jawdsropping mid-play leap over Carlton Davis III on a 32 yard reception. Kicker Graham Gano converted all six of his extra point attempts.

Luke Keuchly and Mario Addison impressed on defense for the Panthers. Both recored tackles for loss, whilst the latter sacked Ryan Fitzpatrick three times. Kawann Short and Dontari Poe also recorded a tackle for loss.

The good news for Tampa Bay fans was Fitzpatrick‘s return. He was no way near close to Jameis Winston‘s four interception train wreck last week. He even managed to resuscitate an offense that had been more or less dormant since week 3. The veteran quarterback finished with 24 of 40 for 243 yards, four touchdowns and a couple of interceptions. Though not amazing his performance should keep him in starting position ahead of Winston. The lack of a running game is troubling for the offense though. Peyton Barber and Jacquizz Rodgers were held to a combine 45 yards on 13 carries.

The victory sees the home side second in NFC South on 6-2, behind the 7-1 Saints. If they continue to perform the way the did on Sunday we’ll be seeing them in January without a doubt. The visitors on the other hand need to improve dramatically if they’re to play for more than draft picks, they sit bottom of the division.

 

Up Next:

Redskins v Buccaneers – Sunday November 11th (1pm)

Panthers v Steelers – Thursday November 8th (8:20pm)

 

 

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Pittsburgh Steelers v Baltimore Ravens

23-16

James Conner has played a huge part in the Steelers being 5-2-1. The running back broke 100 rushing yards for the fourth straight game. He finished second in receiving yards and scored a touchdown, becoming the first player in Steelers history to find paydirt 10 times in the team’s first eight games of the season.

The Steelers did enough to hold on to take a game, that for while, looked like it was teetering on the edge. Baltimore, heading in to half time with a 14-6 deficit, launched their comeback in the third quarter with an 11-play, 75 yard touchdown drive. From then on the Steelers seemed to play to preserve the lead rather than win. It was like rationing points, they converted third downs when needed but didn’t take too many chances and smartly gave the ball to Conner when they needed to burn the clock. Ben Roethlisberger took a sack inside two minutes, instead of throwing the ball away on their down, which kept the clock running and gave the ball back to Baltimore. Whilst it proved to be a wise move, it could have easily gone horribly wrong and resulted in the game going to overtime.

The heat is on head coach John Harbaugh after the Ravens lost their third consecutive game, and four out of their last five. Baltimore have lost the oomph that allowed them to dominate Pittsburgh in week 4, which was most apparent in the fourth quarter when they didn’t produce a third down stop on multiple occasions, which would have put them in a strong position to tie the game. Whilst everyone will lay blame on the coach, it looked to be defensive coordinator Don Martindale‘s problem, with the defense not stopping Pittsburgh on third downs and not breaking up Big Ben‘s attempts. On the plus side they’re entering their bye week so will have the opportunity to iron out the creases before Thanksgiving.

 

Up Next:

Panthers v Steelers – Thursday November 8th (8:20pm)

Ravens – Bye week 

 

 

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Chicago Bears v Buffalo Bills

41-9

The Bears defense smothered Buffalo once again, forcing four turnovers, including two first half defensive touchdowns. Safety Eddie Jackson stripped Bills’ Jason Croom and sprinted for a 65 yard score, before Leonard Floyd took a tipped pass to the house. The scores were more than enough to blow the game wide open. Corner Kyle Fuller was arguably the best defender with an interception and three passes defended. The defense generated four takeaways, four three-and-outs and gave up just nine points – a late touchdown, with a missed two point conversion and a field goal.

The Bills offense is like a car in quicksand. Quarterback Nathan Peterman got the start. He had a barren collection of offensive weapons, a penetrable offensive line and a non existent run-game. The first of his three interceptions were not completey his fault, the first was bobbled by Terrelle Pryor and landed in a defender’s hands. The receiver did nothing to aid the Bills attack (2/17). For the pick-six, receiver Zay Jones was hit at the line of scrimmage as the ball arrived and rebounded into the hands of Floyd.

Peterman seemed to shy away from the difficult throws, opting for quick, short tosses that did little to keep his offense alive. With no deep threat, the Bears squatted on short routes, which led to the interceptions. His one bright moment was his touchdown with 5:28 left, which ended a streak of 39 possessions over 12 quarters without a touchdown for Buffalo. The lack of ground game also added to the offensive woes of Peterman, running back LeSean McCoy generated just 1 yard per carry on all 10.

The Bills defense on the other hand hasn’t been terrible. The Bears offense didn’t need to do too much against them thanks to their dominating defensive showing. Chicago totaled just 190 yards and 11 first downs versus a sad Bills offense who managed 264 yards and 22 first down. Touchdowns came from Jordan Howard who had two rushing in the first half, and Anthony Miller who has become a reliable target for QB Mitch Trubisky. Had the playmaker not missed a few throws the Bears could have easily put up at least 50pts.

Now the schedule heats up for the Bears who have three straight division tilts, facing the Lions either side of their matchup with the Vikings. Chicago sit top of the hot NFC North ahead of Minnesota. The Bills sit bottom of AFC East.

 

Up Next:

Lions v Bears – Sunday November 11th (1pm)

Bills v Jets – Sunday November 11th (1pm)

 

 

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Kansas City Chiefs v Cleveland Browns

37-21

The Browns had already had a chaotic week coming in to the game but found themselves in an even bigger pickle come game time. Interim head coach Gregg Williams deactivated safety Damrious Randall, the Browns then saw rookie Denzel Ward leave with a hip injury before E.J. Gaines was ruled out with a concussion. Their paper thin secondary was overwhelmed immediately, giving up chunk plays of 50, 40, 25, 25, 23, 21 and 19 yards in the first half alone.


Patrick Mahomes
finished with 357 yards and three touchdowns, crossing the 300 yard barrier for the eighth game in a row, tying him with Andrew luck for the longest single-season streak. Kareem Hunt broke Cleveland for 141 yards from 19 touches, whilst scoring three times. Travis Kelce, upon his hometown return, piled up 99 yards and two touchdowns off nine receptions, whilst Tyreek HillSpencer Ware and Sammy Watkins made plenty of plays against a Browns team that practically refused to tackle.

The scoreline may not indicate it but it was one of Baker Mayfiled‘s better games for the Browns. The first-overall pick hit 29 of 42 throws for 297 yards and a couple of touchdowns. He did also throw a pick in garbage time. The Browns finally saw Duke Johnson get involved with two touchdowns and 86 yards from 10 touches. Cleveland aggressively went for two after all three touchdowns, but failed each time.

The game featured just three punts, one of which was blocked by the Chiefs which led to a quick touchdown for the visitors, who took a 34-13 lead. Quick strikes, deep shots and passes in to spaces with no defender within a mile helped the Chiefs continue to do what they’ve done all year.

K.C. host the 2-6 Arizona Cardinals next week before flying to Los Angeles to face the 8-1 Rams. The Chiefs defense may be a concern, but their offense could put up points in their sleep. The matchup in LA will definitely be an entertaining one, followed by a perfectly timed bye week for Kansas City, who get to enjoy Thanksgiving with family and friends.

 

 

Up Next:

Cardinals v Chiefs – Sunday November 11th (1pm)

Falcons v Browns – Sunday November 11th (1pm)

 

 

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NY Jets v Miami Dolphins

6-13

Offensive miscues and defense that occasionally stumbled into turnovers resulted in a game of punts. Sunday’s game was a grinding affair between two AFC East teams.

Dolphins quarterback Brock Osweiler was frequently pressured and struggled to 15 of 24 passes for 139 yards. The Jets level a season high with four sacks. The positive for the Fins is they won a game that they could’ve easily lost. The fans will be hoping for Ryan Tannehill‘s quick return from a shoulder injury after Osweiler has proven time and again he’s an average quarterback at best. Jerome Baker was the saving grace for the Dolphins. The linebacker pick-sixed Sam Darnold for 25 yards in the fourth quarter, with 10:48 left on the clock.

The Jets offense rushed for 3.8 yards per carry. Their first third-down conversion didn’t come until 1:29 in the third and it was only because of a facemark sack of Darnold. The rookie didn’t have a good game, serving up four interceptions – an early bullet into the gut of linebacker Kiko Alonso, a second that demonstrated his struggles with seeing under defenders, the pick-six and an ugly fourth out of desperation.

The Dolphins walked away with the narrow win and will have those four interceptions and the pick-six to hang above their mantlepiece like a prized possession. They sit second in their division behind the 7-2 Patriots, whilst the 3-6 Jets sit third in the division above the 2-7 Bills who got slaughtered 41-9 by the Bears.

 

Up Next:

Bills v Jets – Sunday November 11th (1pm)

Dolphins v Packers – Sunday November 11th (1pm)

 

 

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Detroit Lions v Minnesota Vikings

9-24

The Vikings front seven terrorized Matthew Stafford in a dominant performance that hailed them as one of the NFC’s top teams one again. They tallied a franchise record 10 sacks on the Lions QB, stopping the Lions offense that saw some success until the red zone. Detroit failed to score on it’s three trips to the end zone and Minnesota turned on the pressure and collapsed Stafford on the regular. Danielle Hunter tallied 3.5 sacks and three tackles in addition to scoring a 32 yard touchdown on a fumble recovery. Tom Johnson had 2.5 sacks and three tackles for a loss, whilst Everson Griffen had 1.5 sacks. They managed to pull it all off without Anthony Barr, who missed the game due to a hamstring injury. It just underlined how dominating Minnesota (5-3-1) are up front and how much work the 3-5 Lions have ahead.

Adam Thielen missed out on making history, he was set to become the first player ever to record nine straight games with 100+ receiving yards. With Steffon Diggs out the Lions secondary found it easy to double-team him and stay all over him in the slot, limiting him to 22 yards on four catches. He did still make a huge impact even if it wasn’t record breaking. He made a 2 yard touchdown catch in the second quarter and then took pressure off routes for Laquon TreadwellChad Beebe and Kyle Rudolph.

Playmaker Kirk Cousin found some success against the Lions defense, but struggled to find rhythm for long stretches of the game. He connected on 18 of 22 passes for 146 yards and a touchdown. Not having Diggs available certainly limited the quarterbacks effectiveness.

The result of this divisional matchup sees the Minnesota Vikings second and the Detroit Lions last in NFC North.

 

Up Next:

Lions v Bears – Sunday November 11th (1pm)

Vikings – Bye Week 

 

 

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Atlanta Falcons v Washington Redskins

38-14

Washington had a rough day. They were already playing without left tackle Trent Williams when they saw right tackle Morgan Moses and both of their starting guards go down with injures during the game. The remaining linemen were guilty of back-breaking penalties, putting Alex Smith and Adrian Peterson in a sticky situation. Peterson had no room to run, too often taking hits in the backfield before he could even gather momentum.

A Redskins defense that held Christian McCaffreyEzekiel Elliot and Saquon Barkley under 100 rushing yards combined, was torn apart by Tevin Coleman and Ito Smith, surrendering more than seven yards per carry through the first three quarters.

Matt Ryan‘s offense found the end zone four times in their first five possessions, with a red-zone interception as the lone exception through the first half. The Falcons are converting roughly half of their third-and-long attempts, which includes Calvin Ridley‘s 40 yard touchdown. They have also reached the end zone on 17 of their last 20 trips to the red zone. Coleman and Smith accumulated 148 yards on the ground against a defense that has been allowing just 80 rushing yards per game.


Julio Jones
‘ scoreless streak has come to an end. He broke a HA HA Clinton-Dix tackle at the goal line to cap a 33 yard screen play in the fourth quarter. Jones also hauled in seven passes for 121 yards against a struggling Josh Norman. The wide receiver is leading the NFL with an average of 116.5 receiving yards per game.

 

Up Next:

Falcons v Browns – Sunday November 11th (1pm)

Redskins v Buccaneers – Sunday November 11th (1pm)

 

 

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Houston Texans v Denver Broncos

19-17

The Texans escaped Denver with their sixth straight victory, as a result of two missed field goals by Broncos’ Brandon McManus.

The first half was very back-and-forth but both teams dug in in the second half, engaging in a ‘punt-fest’, but for three drives. Both Denver and Houston rattled of a scoring drive of at least 12 plays in the third period, with the Broncos leaning on rookie Philip Lindsay (84 total yards) and tight end Jeff Heuerman (10 rec, 83 yards, TD). Houston fed to the ever reliable DeAndre Hopkins (10 rec, 105 yards, TD).

The Broncos were down with 3.5 minutes left and were the last to touch the ball. Case Keenum converted three third or fourth down conversions on a 14-play drive, which was set back by stupid penalties and poor clock management. At one point it appeared that Denver had struck gold when Keenum completed on fourth down with an 18 yard laser to Emmanuel Sanders, bringing Denver within field-goal position. The Broncos played it way too safe from there, taking 40 seconds with a short pass to Heuerman and a stuffed run from Lindsay. The result of the secure play was a McManus 51-yard game-winning field goal attempt that went wide.

Demaryius Thomas had an interesting day. The receiver, who was traded to the Texans mid-week for a fourth round pick, started hot but ended as cold as snow. He was targeted early, reeling in three from three receptions for 61 yards in the first quarter, he was barely looked at in the final three frames though. Thomas was acquired to replace the injured Will Fuller, who’s a field-stretching threat, but that wasn’t Thomas‘ role on Sunday, he was more active in Houston’s screen game and to make shallow catches. One thing that wounded Houston slightly was Thomas not knowing what the play was on a few occasions, with DeShaun Watson having to run over to explain his role. It will take time to get acclimated in Houston but when he does they’re in for a treat.

Houston’s the first team since 1970 to win six consecutive games after staring 0-3. Coach Bill O’Brien is no longer in the hot seat. The same can’t be said for Vance Joseph, who’s at risk of being let go before the season’s close. His decision to attempt a 62 yard field goal with 18 seconds left in the first half swung the game in Houston’s favor by six points. Then his direction to play safe at the end of the second sealed his team’s fate and maybe his own in the process.

 

The Texans sit atop the NFC South on 6-3, whilst the Broncos are second from bottom in the AFC West on 3-6.

 

Up Next:

Both on bye week 

 

 

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LA Rams v New Orleans Saints

35-45

The LA Rams finally met their maker. Whilst they fought their way back from a 35-17 halftime deficit to tying the game at 35 in the fourth quarter, they just couldn’t hold on. Their 8-0 record coming in to the game was just the second time they’ve reached such a feat in franchise history (1969).

Sunday’s game gave fans everything they’d hoped for in a matchup between two of the NFC’s top teams. It was also the first contest in league history between two teams averaging 33+ points in week 9. The atmosphere throughout the game was electric with a postseason feel. It is a real likelihood that these two teams could meet in January.

Points came easily in the first half for the Saints as they took a 35-14 lead, but the Rams responded with 21 straight points to eventually tie the game in the fourth quarter. Saints kicker Will Lutz nailed his 54 yard field goal at the 6:23 mark of the fourth to put the saints 38-35 up. Drew Brees connected with Michael Thomas on a 72-yard touchdown throw to secure the win by 10 points. In addition to the 80pts scored the Rams (8-1) and Saints (7-1) combined for 970 total yards, the Rams averaging 8.2 yards per play and the Saints 7.

Both quarterbacks topped 300 passing yards, Brees with 346 and Jared Goff with 391. Thomas put up high numbers too, hauling in 12 catches for 211 receiving yards (a franchise record) and a touchdown. Saints’ Alvin Kamara totaled 116 yards and three touchdowns (2 rushing, 1 rec, all in the first half).

Sunday’s battle saw one of the league’s top offense play the league’s top defense. Brees entered the week being pressed on just 15.5% of drop backs and sacked only nine times all season. With the strength against strength on the line, the Saints’ front five more than rose to the occasion. Brees wasn’t sacked and the Rams managed just four hits on the QB, both Saints guards did their job and held back the interior pass rush. The playmaker helped out his O-line with quick throws and deep routes, the offensive line helped him in return by keeping him clean and allowing him to rip apart the Ram’s secondary.

Rams running back Todd Gurley entered the game averaging 143.8 total scrimmage yard, but he faced a challenging match up against the top defense in the league. The elite running back got off to a fast start, scoring a touchdown to tie the game 7-7 in the first quarter. After that he seemed to drop back, unable to get it going for the rest of the game. He finished the game with just 79 total yards, 68 of which were rushing. He caught six catches for just 11 yards on seven targets. Sunday’s game marked only the third time this season that Gurley didn’t total at least 100 yards.

Saints sit top of  NFC South on 7-1, whilst the Rams top NFC West on 8-1.

 

Up Next:

Seahawks v Rams – Sunday November 11th (4:25pm)

Saints v Bengals – Sunday November 11th (1pm)

 

 

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LA Chargers v Seattle Seahawks

25-17

The Seahawks fell short after staging a ferocious comeback from a 19-10 halftime deficit. Seattle receiver David Moore couldn’t hold a tipped pass on an untimed late down that would have given them a chance to send the game to overtime.

The Chargers have now won five games in a row and six of their last seven to move to
6-2. Philip Rivers helped to generate back-to-back long touchdown drives to give his team a fast 14-7 lead. The defense then fended off a magical comeback attempt by Russel Wilson.

LA’s O-line doesn’t get nearly enough credit for their solid plays. Their blockers pushed around the Seahawks defensive front to provide huge holes of space for Melvin Gordon. The running back, upon his return from a hamstring injury, looked fresh, gliding over, around and through defenders for 113 yards on just 16 carriers for 7.1 yards per attempt.  The offensive line also gave Rivers (13 of 26 for 228 yards and 2TDS) time to constantly find Kennan Allen (6/124) to move the chains. To be able to play a balanced game, on the road, in a hostile environment proves a positive for the Chargers who, if they continue as they are could easily go for the playoff push in the second half of the season, giving both LA teams hope.

Seattle’s Chris Carson impressed on their opening drive, however the running back had to leave the game mid second quarter with a hip injury, taking most of the Seahawks’ offensive success with him. Aside from the comeback on the final two drives, Wilson and his offense were stymied, going three-and-out on four occasion. Seattle generated 25 first downs, 15 of which came on three possessions, the other nine earned just 10 first downs. The playmaker was sacked six times, several came when he was attempting to extend the play. He also threw a pick-six to Chargers corner Desmond King that put his team in a 25-10 hole deep into the fourth quarter that they couldn’t climb out of.

Whilst the Chargers deserved the win, their kicking game continues to lose its way. Caleb Sturgis botched two extra point attempts and missed a 42 yard field goal. River‘s facial expression to each miss could fill an entire page and were meme-worthy.

The LA Chargers are second in the AFC West, whilst the Seahawks sit second on 4-4 in the NFC West.

 

Up Next:

Chargers v Raiders – Sunday November 11th (4:05pm)

Seahawks v Rams – Sunday November 11th (4:25pm)

 

 

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Green Bay Packers v New England Patriots

17-31

Sunday evening’s matchup saw Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers meet for just the second time. It lived up to the prime-time duel that was expected of two of the greatest quarterbacks the game has seen, at least for three quarters anyway.


Brady 
(249 yards, 1 TD) and Rodgers (259 yards, 2 TDs) traded blows early on, leading to scoring drives of 14 and 10 plays respectively. Brady and his Patriots burned through the Packers defense with quick-timing and a hurry-up attack, which included a snap before the defensive line was ready. Rodgers approached the game differently by bouncing around his pocket and unfurling to his receivers, though he did throw the ball out as has become usual for him this season.

The game didn’t turn on it’s head because of either playmaker, but on yet another fumble by another Packers running back. Just a week after Ty Montgomery lost his handle and then his job, Aaron Jones let one slip in the fourth quarter when the game was tied at 17, with Green Bay driving for the lead. It was forced by Lawrence Guy at New England’s 34, the fumble resulting in a go-ahead Patriots touchdown within 10 plays. After that the Packers went three-and-out. On the next possession Brady found Josh Gordon, who made corner-turned-saftey Tramon Williams float along the left sideline for a 55 yard touchdown catch-and-run. So just seven minutes after the Packers were driving for the lead, they were facing a 14pt deficit that they just couldn’t recover from.

Coming in to the game the home side were without their two most important offensive pieces, Sony Michel and Rob Gronkowski. In their absence Brady turned to Gordon and Cordarrelle PattersonGordon was targeted a season-high 10 times, hauling in five catches for another season-high 130 yards and his long 55 yard score. His physicality proved difficult for Green Bay’s already banged-up secondary. He now has more receiving yards with the Patriots in six games (396) than he had with the Browns from 2015-2018 (352).


Patterson
was on the field for just 13 offensive snaps, but touched the ball on 12 of them, filling in for Michel and James White, who left briefly with a suspected knee injury. The drive upon which White departed, Patterson often lined up in the I-formation, he carried the ball five times for 51 yards and scored a rushing touchdown, his first since week 6 of 2017.

White (103 total yards, 2 TDS) returned in the second half to carry some of the offensive load and open up the passing game. Patterson however, played a crucial part in helping the hosts keep pace. Julian Edelman also helped out in that respect, in addition to catching six passes, he threw for a crucial 37-yard first down, just proving to everyone that they can always find unexpected ways to surprise, outsmart and discombobulate opponents.

We’re halfway through the season and the Packers find themselves under .500 and 1.5 games behind in the NFC North. Part of the poor showing is due to mind-numbing errors, but now, to make matters worse, the injuries are adding up too. The defense seemed to drop like flies in Foxborough. Kevin King and Kentrell Brice left with injuries, as did right tackle Ryan Bulaga and middle linebacker Blake Martinez , who was carted off with an ankle injury, after twisting it whilst chasing after Brady. Follow that up with Jermaine Whitehead getting ejected, though the ejection was controversial. It’s a bad sign for a team that just sent Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to the Redskins. They’ll be hoping their luck changes quickly as they continue their brutal stretch of five road games, four of which are against contenders.

The Patriots haven’t lost since week 3 and are now running away with the AFC East at
7-2.

 

Up Next:

Dolphins v Packers – Sunday November 11th (1pm)

Patriots v Titans – Sunday November 11th (1pm)

 

 

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Tennessee Titans v Dallas Cowboys

28-14

The Titans didn’t win a single game the whole of October and it looked like they weren’t going to win this one for a while. Dallas started off strong with their defense causing and recovering two fumbles, the first eventually leading to an Amari Cooper touchdown.

The worry didn’t last for long as shortly after Tennessee’s second fumble Kevin Byard intercepted a Dak Prescott throw in the end zone and angered the home fans by celebrating Terrell Owens style on the star. They executed patiently on offense, leading to manageable third downs and extending drives. Marcus Mariota (21 of 31, 240 yards, 3   total TDs) had a great night, making some of the boldest throws of his career, playing smart football and even scoring a 9 yard zigzag rushing touchdown of his own. With him under center the visitors converted 11 of 14 third downs, holding the ball for 34 minutes and punting just once.

After a shaky start the Titans defense showed up, holding Dallas to a scoreless second half with the help of a strong and healthy pass rush and perfectly time blitzes. Tennessee shut down the Cowboys on four straight plays in the red zone late in the fourth quarter. They also held Ezekiel Elliot to just 61 rushing yards from 17 carries and 51 receiving yards from 4 receptions. The Titans then sealed the deal with a final third-down conversion with a Mariota play-action sweep to the sticks.

Dallas’ offense started the game strong scoring a touchdown in each period of play in the first half. Their opening touchdown by Cooper, his first for Dallas, came on the wide receiver’s debut after being traded from Oakland for a first round 2019 draft pick. Their second score came from a 23 yard deep pass by Prescott to Allen Hurns. That was the Cowboys’ last score of the game.

The Cowboy’s offensive woes can be traced to predictable and ineffective play-calling from fourth-year offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, including an inefficient run game from Elliot and a diminishing offensive line. Prescott lacked pocket awareness leading to five sacks for the third time this season. The offense also wasted prime opportunities, like the two Titans fumbles, only one of which they cashed in on. Tennessee, up seven, missed a field goal in the fourth quarter, the quarterback responded by taking a sack on the first down, then dumping it off to Elliot for no gain and then took another sack.

As if Dallas’ defensive woes weren’t already causing nightmares for Jason Garrett and Jerry Jones, they lost veteran captain Sean Lee after aggravating an old hamstring injury, that sidelined him for three games earlier in the season. In his absence they had to rely on Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch, who made nine tackles each, to call the shots in the middle of Dallas’ front seven.

The away victory ended a three-game losing streak and kick-starts the much needed momentum heading into the second half of the season, putting Tennessee in second place and back in contention for the AFC South.

The home defeat for the Cowboys however reduced their chances of making the playoffs to just 19.7%. The 3-5 Dallas head into a tough run of fixtures – away to the Falcons, hosting the Redskins and the Saints, all bookended by traveling to and then hosting the Eagles.

 

Up Next:

Patriots v Titans – Sunday November 11th (1pm)

Cowboys v Eagles – Sunday November 11th (8:20pm)

 

 

Cardinals, Bengals, Colts, Jags, Giants, Eagles Bye Week

Bye week for Arizona Cardinals, Cincinnati Bengals, Indiana Colts,
Jacksonville Jaguars, NY Giants & Philadelphia Eagles

 

Up Next:

Cardinals v Chiefs – Sunday November 11th (1pm)

Saints v Bengals – Sunday November 11th (1pm)

Jaguars v Colts – Sunday November 11th (1pm)

Giants v 49ers – Monday November 12th (8:15pm)

Cowboys v Eagles – Sunday November 11th (8:20pm)

 

 

ALL TIMES U.S. EASTERN

 

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