Chicago Bears v Detroit Lions
The Bears were without starting quarterback Mitchell Trubisky for their second matchup against the Lions in just 11 days. Backup QB Chase Daniels was handed his third career start and completed an impressive 27 of 37 passes for 230 yards and two touchdowns, with no interceptions. Daniels‘ best pass came on a 14 yard touchdown to Tarik Cohen from the backfield, the running back easily beat Nevin Lawson and the signal-caller dropped the ball inside where Cohen could haul it in as he crossed into the end zone.
As a team, Chicago totaled two sacks and four hits on Matthew Stafford. The defense then secured the victory with two game-changing turnovers in less than five minutes. The first came with the game tied at 16, Detroit were linking up for a first-down play, at the snap, safety Eddie Jackson read the play and jumped Stafford‘s pass for a pick-six that went for 41 yards. The second interception came even later in the fourth quarter with the Lions driving for the potential game-tying score. Bears’ Kyle Fuller picked Stafford off in the end zone.
In the Lions’ defense they were without two of their key offensive players, Kerryon Johnson and Marvin Jones (both knee), their absence did affect the play calling. Stafford finished the game completing 28 of 38 passes for 236 yards and two interceptions.
The loss dropped Detroit to 4-7 on the season and bottom of the NFC North. The victory for the Bears extends their winning streak to five games and saw them improve to 8-3 on the season, they currently sit top of their division.
Bears v Giants – Sunday, December 2nd (1pm)
Rams v Lions – Sunday, December 2nd (1pm)
Washington Redskins v Dallas Cowboys
Every team knows that the Thanksgiving game at the AT&T Stadium is the toughest of the day, maybe even of the season. The home fans really get behind their team and the atmosphere is like nothing else. It was the Redskins’ turn to face the noise today and it didn’t end well for them. Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper wreaked havoc on their defense as the resurgent Dallas Cowboys picked up their third successive victory to move into a first-place tie in the NFC East.
The game was filled with numerous big plays. Early on the back-and-forth nature kept it interesting. Trey Quinn set the table for his own touchdown reception with a long punt return. Another long run put Washington in a position to add more points when down by multiple scores. Then there was the second-half explosion of Amari Cooper, first on a 40 yard touchdown reception and later on a 91 yard catch, in which he made a pair of defenders miss and outran fellow former Alabama star Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to the end zone.
Cooper has added a whole new layer to this Dallas team, who, have almost turned completely around since his arrival upon the trading deadline. His presence allows the Cowboys to spread the offense out more, which results in an increase in usage and yardage, more space for Ezekiel Elliott to work and of course more areas for Prescott to go with the ball.
Without Alex Smith under center, Washington struggled. What started as a tight game quickly became a blowout. The absence of Smith sees the ‘Skins become a team that needs to grab early leads and pound it out on the ground.
Injury tearing the team apart seems to be a recurring theme for the Redskins these days. The blocking up front is falling short without multiple starting linemen and the loss of Smith is the most obvious. The loss of their starting quarterback couldn’t have come at a worse time, this game was meant to be a hard-fought decider in the NFC East, but instead it became a walk in the park for Dallas.
Whilst Colt McCoy held his own after replacing Smith last game, he failed to do so today. One example, he threw an interception inside 4:30 of the fourth quarter, a pass thrown behind his intended target and into a number of Cowboys defenders. The fact that McCoy hasn’t had a single rep with the group in practice didn’t help their offensive game one bit.
If they continue down the path they’re on, it seems as though the best is yet to come for the Cowboys, who now sit top of their division, with the Redskins in second after their defeat.
Redskins v Eagles – Monday, December 3rd (8:15pm)
Saints v Cowboys – Thursday, November 29th (8:20pm)
Atlanta Falcons v New Orleans Saints
The Saints tightened their grip on the NFC South with a 10th consecutive win to put them 10-1 on the season.
It was the New Orleans defense who set the tone in the first half, limiting the Falcons’ ground game to 12 yards rushing on eight carries. They totaled a season-high six sacks in a single game, racked up 13 hits on Matt Ryan and recovered threes fumbles as well as notching an interception. Sheldon Rankins led the defensive charge by recording his seventh sack of the season, he now has a three-game streak with at least one sack. The defensive play of the game though goes to Marcus Williams, who recovered the fumble of his own strip-sack to turn back the Falcons deep in Saints territory.
In modern NFL games it’s usually the offense that shines brightest, but the Saints proved today that they can play complementary football on both sides of the ball. They’ve allowed just 38 points over their last three games, that’s an average of 12.6 per game.
New Orleans’ Drew Brees showed for the second game running that he doesn’t need to rely heavily on Michael Thomas to get things done on the passing game. The veteran quarterback now knows he has numerous reliable targets to throw to.
With Brandon Marshall and Tre’Quan Smith inactive, opportunities fell to Austin Carr, Tommylee Lewis, Keith Kirkwood and Dan Arnold. Carr recorded a touchdown, his second in as many weeks, whilst Lewis, fresh off the injury list, hauled in a 28 yard score. The decision to convert Arnold from wide receiver to tight end during the off season paid off, he came up with a highlight-reel worthy diving 25 yard grab, whilst Kirkwood bagged a 5 yard TD.
Brees threw to eight different players for a modest 174 yards, in addition to his four touchdowns. The running game was the offensive machine tonight, it gashed the Falcons with 150 yards on 31 carries. Alvin Kamara paced the ground attack with 89 yards on 14 attempts, whilst Mark Ingram chipped in with 48 yards rushing.
On the other side of the field, Falcons QB, Ryan completed 35 of 45 passes for 377 yards, one touchdown and an interception. Atlanta actually ran more offensive plays than the Saints (69-55) and won the time of possession, but it’s what they did, or didn’t do in this case that saw them defeated. They had a strong game from Julio Jones (11 catches, 147 yards) and Calvin Ridley (8 catches, 93 yards, 1TD), but other than that it was a lackluster performance.
The mistakes that contributed to Atlanta’s dismal loss to a divisional rival, dropped them to 4-7 on the season, which is hard to believe when you look at their offensive talent. Like with a lot of teams, injuries have decimated the team, for the Falcons it’s mainly on defense, however, they’ve been without running back Devonta Freeman causing the offensive enigma.
The Saints have a comfortable divisional lead, winning four more games than second placed Carolina Panthers. The Atlanta Falcons sit third.
Ravens v Falcons – Sunday, December 2nd (1pm)
Saints v Cowboys – Thursday, November 29th (8:20pm)
ALL TIMES U.S. EASTERN