The fourteenth Sunday of the 2019 NFL season is in the books so here are the different thoughts and opinions I have on various things I witnessed this past weekend. There were some great games played this week as well as some clunkers. Kind of like one of my favorite Clint Eastwood movies: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Come to think of it that is kind of the perfect metaphor to the Cowboys season. It started out good, turned bad and now has sunk to ugly.
Just remember I am a Dallas Cowboys fan and I'm extremely biased. Feel free to agree or disagree about anything mentioned here. All comments are welcome.
Déjà vu all over again
Did you see the Bills trample the Cowboys on Thanksgiving? I can tell you the Bears coaching staff certainly did since they employed the exact same game plan to smash the Cowboys 31-24. Don’t be fooled by the final score, Chicago beat Dallas up.
All week leading up to the game the word out of Dallas was the Cowboys were practicing with a new intensity. Hmm, I wonder exactly what they were practicing. It sure as hell wasn’t football. They made the same mistakes on offense, defense and special teams that have killed this team since Week 4.
Just like in the Buffalo game, the Cowboys took the opening kickoff and marched 75 yards down the field for a TD. And just like the Buffalo game, the offense fell asleep after that until the fourth quarter when the game was out of hand. Garbage time padded Dak Prescott’s stats (27/49, 334 yards, 1 TD) but it’s the 22 incompletions that tell the real story. The Bears backed off on the pass rush late, for most of the game Dak was chased all over the field and had a difficult time throwing the ball.
The Bears did not let Zeke Elliott run wild (19 carries, 81 yards, 2 TDs) and through the first three quarters the Cowboys could only muster seven points. There was a shot for a 40 yard field goal, but of course K Brett Maher missed it. The Cowboys offensive line is supposed to be one of the best in football. They aren’t right now. The running game has been lagging all season and protection for Dak is becoming non-existent.
The Bears offense stinks. Well at least it does against the rest of the league. It looked pretty damn good against the Cowboys. Chicago told QB Mitch Trubisky to use his legs just like Buffalo QB Josh Allen did and it paid off. Trubisky rushed ten times for 63 yards, racking up five first downs with his legs. He had only rushed for six first downs the entire season before this game. His running helped open up passing lanes and combined with the Dallas defense’s shoddy tackling gave him a good stat line: 23/31, 244 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT. The Bears matched their season high of 31 points without the aid of any Dallas turnovers.
The Bears are now 7-6 and still mathematically alive for a playoff spot, but realistically will need the help of several natural disasters to make it.
The Cowboys fall to 6-7 and are now tied with the Eagles for the NFC East lead. Gross. One of those sad sacks of garbage will make the playoffs and be an embarrassment to the sport of professional football.
Battle of New Orleans
A major battle for the #1 seed in the NFC turned out to be a surprising shootout as the 49ers outlasted the Saints 48-46. What the hell happened to two of the top defenses in the league?
This was an exciting game as the Saints broke out to an early 13-0 lead until the Niners fought back to take a 28-27 advantage into halftime. In the second half each team traded body blows with the lead going back and forth. You felt whoever had the ball last would win and the Niners did just that, marching down the field to kick a last second field goal after receiving a kickoff deep in their own territory with less than a minute to play.
Each team’s rushing attacks did well, but this game was truly a battle between the QBs. Drew Brees (29/40, 349 yards, 5 TDs) and Jimmy Garoppolo (26/35, 349 yards, 4 TDs, 1 INT) lit up the Superdome. Niners WR Emmanuel Sanders got in on the action too, throwing a 35 yard TD pass on a trick play to go along with his big day catching Garoppolo’s dimes: 7 catches, 157 yards, 1 TD.
What a game. A few plays put the Niners over the top. Each team had one turnover and San Fran cashed their gift in for a TD while New Orleans only turned theirs into a field goal. Another key play happened early in the game. The 49ers were flagged for a penalty during the Saints second TD. The Saints had the option to take the yards on the kickoff or the extra point attempt. Head coach Sean Payton elected to take the yards for the extra point attempt and go for two. The Niners held firm and New Orleans went up 13-0 instead of 14-0.
That lost point was crucial. When New Orleans scored their last TD, it put them up by only one point instead of two. They had to try a second two point play to try to extend the lead to three. They failed again. If the Saints would have made the extra points each time instead of going and failing for two, the Niners last second field goal would have only tied the game. What a shame, an epic battle like this one deserved over time.
San Fran moved to 11-2 and not only lead the NFC West but also currently hold the #1 seed in the conference. They still have big games with the Rams and Seahawks left on the schedule so they are going to have to fight to keep it.
The Saints fall to 10-3 and have already won the NFC South. If they can win out they still have a shot at the #1 seed if Seattle can knock the Niners out of the division lead. The Saints hold the tie-breaker over the Seahawks after beating them earlier this season.
It’s on to Cincinnati. BOO!
The Kansas City Chiefs avenged last season’s AFC Championship loss by beating the Patriots 23-16 in Foxborough, snapping New England’s 21-game home winning streak.
It was a very typical game for both teams. The Chiefs offense exploded in the second quarter for 17 points but was rather ho-hum the rest of the way as their defense barely hung on for the win. The Patriots offense struggled again to put up points without the aid of turnovers or special team plays. If you don’t beat yourself, the Patriots will struggle to beat you.
KC QB Patrick Mahomes had a decent day (26/40, 283 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) with little support from the running game. As a team the Chiefs ran the ball 29 times for only 75 yards. The Patriots defense was tough, but Mahomes was able to make several clutch throws on third down to keep drives alive.
The Patriots simply don’t have enough weapons for Tom Brady. Brady used to be able to pull magic out of his ass, yet at this stage of his career he needs help. Aside from WR Julian Edelman (8 catches, 95 yards, 1 TD) his targets struggle to get open. And the running game? Ugh. Brady’s two scrambles for 20 yards gave him the second most yards on the ground for the Patriots. The rest of the team combined had 20 carries for 74 yards.
The Patriots got screwed by two officiating blunders that robbed them of 2 TDs. Well it has happened to every other team in the league this year so I don’t want to hear their crying. The referees have been truly awful so New England was due. They say you have to play better than the refs officiate, that hasn’t been a problem in New England for a long time but it is now.
The Patriots performance wasn’t particularly good, but the home crowd was the biggest embarrassment of the day. Trailing 20-7 at halftime, the New England fans booed the Patriots of the field. Really? Talk about the literal definition of a “masshole”. Heading into Sunday the Patriots were tied with several squads for the best record in the NFL and had won a record 21 straight home games, not to mention three of the last four Super Bowls. Maybe, just maybe, they deserved a little more for support from their “fans” after a half of not good but not terrible football. You’ve been spoiled Patriots fans. Try rooting for Cincinnati or Cleveland for a year to see how good you have it.
With their 9-4 record the Chiefs have won the AFC West. Wow that division stinks. I know, not as bad as the NFC (L)East but still. They won’t catch Baltimore but are still in the hunt for a first round bye.
The Patriots fall to 10-3. They still have to play Buffalo again (that should be fun, at least for me maybe not so much for New England) but their other games are against Cincinnati and Miami. A first round bye is still possible.
Houston you have a problem
The Houston Texans were riding high last week after knocking of the Patriots. That didn’t last long as the Denver Broncos strolled into town and smashed Houston 38-24. Once again don’t be fooled by the final score. After taking a 38-3 lead the Broncos decided enough was enough and spent the fourth quarter packing up their gear for the return flight to Denver.
What happened Houston? Denver rookie QB Drew Lock was making only his second career start and his first on the road. Lock didn’t care about that, he shredded the Texans defense: 22/27, 309 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT. Lock is the first rookie QB in NFL history to throw for 300+ yards and 3 TDs in his first start away from home.
The Denver defense stepped up its game as well. They recovered a fumble and returned it for a TD while harassing QB Deshaun Watson into throwing 2 INTs. Watson spent most of the game running for his life, the Broncos sacked him three times.
The Texans were completely inept on both sides of the ball and saw their record fall to 8-5 with the loss. They better figure out what went wrong fast because the red hot Tennessee Titans have caught them in the standings after crushing the Raiders 42-21.
I can’t believe I’m about to type these words: Titans QB Ryan Tannehill deserves consideration for MVP. He won’t win because of Lamar Jackson’s incredible season, but since being named the starting QB Tannehill has led the Titans to a 6-1 record and switched his team from a pretender to a contender.
With RB Derrick Henry nursing a hamstring injury, the Titans turned their offense over to Tannehill against Oakland. Turned out to be a smart move. Tannehill showed the Raiders secondary no respect (21/27, 391 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT) with WR A.J. Brown being the biggest beneficiary: 5 catches, 153 yards, 2 TDs.
The Titans are as hot as any team in the league right now. They sit tied with Houston atop the AFC South standings and the teams face each other in two of the next three games. Tennessee might have to win them both to claim the division crown since their other game is against New Orleans and the Texans is against the Buccaneers. Then again after the beatdown Denver laid on Houston it might not matter.
Around the League
The Baltimore Ravens continue to roll after beating the Bills 24-17 in Buffalo. Give the Bills defense credit, they contained the Ravens offense but in the end couldn’t stop them.
QB Lamar Jackson threw for three TDs yet it was the defense that led the charge against the Bills. They sacked QB Josh Allen 6 times and kept him in the backfield (2 carries, 9 yards). I guess when you practice against Lamar Jackson all the time you learn a thing or two about not letting a QB beat you with his legs.
The Ravens are now 11-2 and still the #1 seed in the AFC. They have a one game lead over the Patriots and the tie-breaker. With the Jets, Browns and Steelers left on the schedule I feel safe saying the path to the Super Bowl in the AFC will travel through Baltimore.
The Carolina Panthers fired head coach Ron Rivera last week. I guess since the front office gave up on the season the team felt it was fine for them to give up as well as they were trounced 40-20 by the Falcons.
Hmm, Carolina fired Rivera when the team was 5-7 and playing without Cam Newton most of the season. Atlanta is only 4-9 after their win and haven’t been hit too hard by injuries yet head coach Dan Quinn still has his job, even though Atlanta disappointed last season too. Funny business this NFL.
The Steelers traveled to Arizona and beat the Cardinals 23-17. At least I think the game was in Arizona. Awful lot of terrible towels waving in the crowd. If I had to guess I’d say 75% of the fans were pulling for Pittsburgh, 20% felt obligated to pull for the home team and 5% were people who wandered in by mistake.
Steelers QB Duck Hodges did what he had to do (16/19, 152 yards, 1 TD) while the defense picked up the slack with 5 sacks and 3 INTs. With their 8-5 record the Steelers are still in a strong position to claim a Wild Card spot, pretty amazing since the offense has been decimated by injuries.
It took ¾ of the season, but the 2019 Rams are finally starting to resemble last year’s Super Bowl team. Unfortunately for them it is probably too little too late. They beat up the Seahawks 28-12. The score wouldn’t have even been that close except QB Jared Goff handed out a pick-6 to the Seahawks.
Seahawks QB Russell Wilson was sacked 5 times by the Rams. That marks the third time in the last four games Seattle has given up at least five sacks. Ouch. They better learn to protect better if they don’t want watch their season go down the drain with a QB injury.
Seattle falls to 10-3 and a game behind the Niners in the NFC West. They get the Panthers and Cardinals before finishing up the schedule against San Fran so the division crown is still a possibility. The Rams improved to 8-5 but still trail the Vikings for the final Wild Card spot.
The Packers and Vikings both had soft matchups this week. Pretty much all they had to do was show up to win and that is pretty much all they did.
The Packers beat the Redskins 20-15. RB Aaron Jones had a big game leading the team in rushing (16 carries, 134 yards, 1 TD) and receiving (6 catches, 58 yards). The Packers took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter and then just ran out the clock. You can do that against a team as bad as Washington. Not very exciting, but nobody got hurt and that seemed to be the main goal. After winning of course.
Skins RB Adrian Peterson carried the ball 20 times for 76 yards, becoming only the 6th RB in NFL history to top 14,000 rushing yards in his career.
The Vikings beat the Lions 20-7 and they had the same game plan as the Packers. After taking a 17-0 halftime lead they just coasted in the second half to run out the clock without getting anybody hurt.
Green Bay improved to 10-3 and leads the NFC North. The Vikings remain a game behind at 9-4. Even if they don’t catch the Packers, Minnesota better keep winning since the Rams are suddenly making a run behind them for the last Wild Card spot in the NFC.
The Giants gave the Eagles a scare Monday Night, but in the end they couldn’t hold on. New York had a 17-3 lead at the half but Philly came back to win 23-17 in overtime.
Eli Manning returned for the G-men and had an excellent first half with 179 passing yards and 2 TDs. Sadly for the Giants there was a second half to this game and Eli disappeared with only 23 passing yards after halftime. Woof.
The Eagles are now 6-7 and tied with Dallas for the lead in the NFC East. The commissioner should just step in and declare that the NFC East doesn’t meet minimal professional standards to keep the division winner out of the playoffs.
The Patriots are in hot water once again after a member of their television production staff was caught filming the Bengals sideline in Cleveland. You know everything is turning to shit when you feel the need to gain an unethical edge over the Bengals. At least the guy doing the camerawork was smart enough not to wear any Patriots gear. He wore a Boston Bruins jersey instead. Nice disguise.
Oh those wacky New York Jets. On Saturday they ruled RB L’eVeon Bell out against the Dolphins on Sunday due to illness. Bell was so “sick” he went bowling Saturday night and claimed to roll a career-high 251. The Jets somehow managed to beat the Dolphins 22-21 anyway.
Bell is catching some flak for this incident but I don’t know why. He didn’t proclaim he couldn’t play, it was the ruling of the Jets doctors. The doctors should be the ones catching hell for ruling him out.
So, you still think today’s NFL is all about the passing game? The two teams with the best record of 11-2, the Ravens and 49ers, just happen to be the two teams leading the league in rushing. The Ravens average 200 rushing yards per game while the Niners come in at number two with 149 rushing yards per game. The 10-3 Seahawks rank third, 9-4 Vikings fourth and 9-4 Bills fifth. Notice a trend there? Teams that can pound the rock win football games. All five have very good defenses too, which helps.
You know which team leads the NFL in passing? The 6-7 Dallas Cowboys. Remind me again why they paid Zeke all that damn money. The 6-7 Buccaneers rank second, the 4-9 Falcons third, the 9-4 Chiefs fourth and 5-8 Chargers fifth.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. The keys to success in the NFL are still running and defense. Unless you are the Chiefs. Patrick Mahomes is awesome enough to buck the trends.
Not many big time matchups coming up this week. The Titans/Texans game will help determine the winner of the AFC South and the Bills/Steelers game is important since both are still fighting for a Wild Card spot. The rest of the playoff contenders will be big favorites so they better not slip up if they want to hold on to their spots.
Let me know your thoughts on Week 14.