NFL Week 7 Winners and Losers

Week seven is nearly finished and audiences have a better collective picture of who’s heading to the playoffs. Most of yesterday’s games revealed who’s staying in the race for an additional month and who will pack up and get ready for the offseason. Half the league needs to use the trade deadline to their benefit and fill in some gaps to make longer postseason runs or trade up for the draft. Without further ado, it’s time to discuss who or what stood out yesterday, positively and negatively on this final week of October.

Winners: Justin Herbert

Herbert looks to be the quintessential Chargers quarterback: puts up good numbers, looks great most of the game, can’t win when it matters in the fourth quarter. He’ll definitely be the franchise cornerstone for at least the next five years.

The one flaw was his donut in the win column. Los Angeles played one of their few complete games this season, picking up a needed win against Jacksonville. At 2-4, they are tied for third place in the AFC West. Herbert may have been nervous about that first NFL win, yet it comes at a time when the Chargers need to stay in the playoff race. He keeps them alive for a couple of weeks. Los Angeles has a chance to go .500 for the season with an easy schedule. At least they didn’t squander their bye week, unlike two of the other West Coast teams.

Matt Patricia

There are valid arguments for firing Matt Patricia after the Detroit Lions put up two miserable seasons with him on the sidelines. There’s still a lot of good Patricia has brought and anyone who’s watched Detroit the past two weeks can see there’s change.

Let’s consider who the Lions played yesterday. A rejuvenated Atlanta Falcons team with Raheem Morris providing a needed spark. The Falcons played like a winning team against Minnesota, and Patricia knew his defense had to find ways to slow down Matt Ryan and the offense. Detroit’s defense is still in re-build mode, but they can say they’re one of three teams to hold the Falcons offense under 25 points. That’s great to build on when Atlanta started Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley and Hayden Hurst.

Patricia won a critical challenge after audiences thought Detroit would punt midfield on fourth and short. While kicker Matt Prater missed three points a few minutes later, that drive showed we’re seeing a different Lions team gradually. Two years ago, they wouldn’t have scored a game winning touchdown at the end of the 4th quarter. Yes, Atlanta blew another lead for Detroit to get that possession, but the Lions are 3-3 and have three losses because they couldn’t close out double digit leads. Their bye week looks like it came at the right time.

Detroit is in the easier part of the schedule. If Patricia leads his team to two or three more wins before the second matchup against Chicago, the conversation on his job security will change.

The Carolina Panthers once Christian McCaffery returns

We’re all in awe with head coach Matt Rhule turning the Panthers around after an awful 0-2 start. The worst team they’ve lost to is the Las Vegas Raiders, and that was Week 1.

You shouldn’t have to rely on a 65 yard field goal to tie the New Orleans Saints in the Superdome. Teddy Bridgewater didn’t play his best when he had to near the end, and that’s what cost the Panthers a win. Still, there’s a lot to take away from the past two weeks for Carolina and the league. The Panthers are a good team, but star runningback Christian McCaffery is the X factor they’re missing. If McCaffery plays in both the Bears and Saints games, there’s no doubt Carolina is 4-2 and not 2-4.

Bridgewater’s return to form and emphasis on the offense to play well keeps Carolina in close games. Adding McCaffery back in the lineup once he’s healthy could give Carolina that edge to win close games. Kansas City, Tampa Bay and Detroit play Carolina after this upcoming Thursday, and McCaffery should be good to go when the team goes to Arrowhead. Keep an eye on this team in November.

NBC & the NFL flexing mid-week for Seattle-Arizona instead of Tampa Bay-Las Vegas

The big story going into week seven was the faceoff between Jon Gruden and the Las Vegas Raiders v. Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Gruden and co. had their bye week with focus and revenge on a quarterback who not only cost him his job and championship in Oakland, but admitted the Tuck Rule moment in 2002 was a fluke. This built up hype for a great Sunday night game.

Unfortunately, the Raiders’ offensive line had to quarantine because of COVID-19 scares. NBC and the NFL wanted and needed their ratings, deciding last Thursday to flex the game out for another NFC West rivalry game. This time, it was Seattle and Arizona, and that made for wonderful t.v.

Tampa Bay forced another Tuck Rule decision early in their game against Las Vegas. After that, Brady and the offense didn’t hold back. The Raiders blew a three point lead and lost by double digits. A Raider offensive lineman was ejected for an after-the-play personal foul. This game wouldn’t have been a hit on prime time.

Most U.S. sports fans know after Sunday night Arizona came back from multiple 10 point deficits and stunned Seattle late in overtime to hand the Seahawks their first loss of the season. Kyler Murray is one of two quarterbacks to defeat Russell Wilson when Wilson holds a 10 point lead. Hilariously, the other is Tom Brady, and both of those games came in Glendale, AZ. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Losers: Las Vegas Raiders

It isn’t Denver Broncos bye week bad, but it’s still awful considering the opponent they played after the bye. The Raiders didn’t look ready in a game Jon Gruden personally coveted. An offensive lineman was thrown out for an egregious personal foul penalty. Then there’s the offensive line dealing with COVID quarantines days before the game. That cost them a Sunday Night Football slot, which they may not be featured in for a few more months.

The worst part of their loss is what happened elsewhere in the division. Kansas City faced little resistance in snowy Denver, obliterating the Broncos without Patrick Mahomes II carrying the offense. The Chiefs are two games ahead of the Raiders and will likely win the West this year. The Raiders have a great win in Arrowhead, but sit in second at 3-3. Behind them are two teams with two wins each, and one has an easier schedule in the second half of the season.

In the Raiders’ defense, they’ve yet to play a bad team and came out with three wins after six difficult games. They’ll have two shots at Denver and Los Angeles, but they have to play like a playoff team the rest of the way. Given what we’ve seen so far, that could prove tricky.

Cam Newton

Mina Kimes and Doug Kyed brought out a wild stat for Newton’s past two games. Cam Newton throwing only three passes to his right side in two games is alarming, and it explains partially why New England’s offense plummeted in those two losses.

Bill Belichick has struggled in his coaching career to defeat San Francisco, so the sky isn’t falling in Boston yet. Plus, the 49ers are in the gauntlet of their schedule right now. Newton put up one of his worst performances in his career. When you complete nine of 15 passes for 98 yards, but half of the incompletions are interceptions by the defense, you’re not going to win games.

Newton’s going through the asymptomatic side with COVID-19, and it’s clear he hasn’t been the same since testing positive. We knew the talent outside of Julian Edelman was scarce, but Newton hasn’t made anyone show progress like Brady had in past years. In order for New England to not fall apart and get back into contention within their division, they need Cam to play much better.

The Dreadful NFC East

I personally watched both the 2010 NFC West and 2014 NFC South dumpster fires. The 2010 Seahawks started off well in Pete Carroll’s first year, but their depth issues and bad tackling held the team back. They got to the playoffs because a rookie Sam Bradford couldn’t play when it mattered most. The 2014 Panthers got hot near the end of the season after the other three teams decided they didn’t care enough to make the playoffs. Both teams won their wild-card playoff games.

The 2020 NFC East may be one of the worst divisions in the history of U.S. sports, and that’s saying something. None of these teams went on a tear to start the season. At this rate with injuries piling up, they won’t go on a tear to end the season. Forget winning a playoff game, who the hell is going to put up seven wins?

Five of the seven wins in this division were against each other. The Washington Football Team, which faces legal crises off the field, has two divisional wins and the best record against their divisional opponents. Their -32 point differential is the best in the division. The worst point differential in the rest of the NFC is Minnesota’s -37, and they’re last in the NFC North with one win.

Dallas’ defense couldn’t stop Kyle Allen and the Football Team’s near bottom offense. News today says Dallas is trying to shop free agent acquisition Everson Griffen, someone who’s played far worse than when he came in. Their defense got torn to pieces by Daniel Jones and Allen. Kyler Murray completed 9 passes against it and the Cardinals put up 35 points. Dallas lead the division before week seven, even with news the locker room was starting to quit on the coaching staff. Coach Mike McCarthy could start third string quarterback Ben DiNucci next Sunday against Philadelphia because of second string Andy Dalton suffering a head injury in yesterday’s blowout loss.

While the Giants are just inept and bad in every facet, the Eagles have injury issues, and that’s accelerating each game. It won’t be long before Carson Wentz goes down with an injury.

Two teams going to the playoffs off sub-.500 records are fine only if those teams win a postseason game. The NFL has to restructure the division at the end of the season if the winner gets smoked, right?


Stephen Hauschka got blasted a few weeks ago rightfully over missing two critical kicks that deflated a Jacksonville Jaguars team in the second half. Kickers this week cost or nearly cost their teams wins. Jake Elliott, Zane Gonzalez, Matt Prater, Cody Parkey and Michael Badgley were fortunate they made kicks late or their opponents didn’t score again. The five teams these kickers are on all need to stay in the playoff race heading into December. They can’t screw up kicks in close scoring games. It’s worth keeping an eye on three of these for the next few weeks.

Stephen Gostkowski and Joey Slye both cost their teams a chance to go to/win in overtime, missing game tying field goals. Slye attempted a 65 yard kick because Carolina’s final drive was pushed backwards. That’s on the offense. Sadly, he’ll be the scapegoat because he didn’t score when it mattered. Gostkowski is up and down this season, but this time he cost the Titans a possible win. That affects seeding with Pittsburgh alone in first and the only undefeated team in the NFL.


NFL Week 6 Winners and Losers

Week six is almost finished, leaving audiences buzzing on who’s the real deal and who needs to improve before the playoffs. Continuing from last week, a lot of yesterday’s games were close at certain points. Additional teams are gaining ground and look close to complete on both sides of the ball, even with a handful distancing from the rest. Who stood out yesterday, positively and negatively in this third week of October?

Winners: Raheem Morris

Arthur Blank is bogus if he said Morris has to go 11-0 in order to secure an interview for the Falcons’ head coaching job. Blank’s probably picked candidates out mentally, but this is a great time for interim coach Raheem Morris to show he’s still one of the best coaches available.

A lot of analysts had Minnesota bouncing back after a crushing loss to Seattle last Sunday night with good reasons. The Vikings could’ve overlooked an 0-5 team that’s played dreadful on defense. In Morris’ first game coached since 2011, the Falcons played like they were 5-0, setting the tempo early in the game by intercepting quarterback Kirk Cousins on Minnesota’s first drive. The audience was right to wonder if Atlanta would blow another double digit lead when they were up by 26. That didn’t happen as the Falcons rolled on to an easy win.

Raheem Morris won’t go 11-0 as interim, but general managers will give him interviews at the end of the season, and it’s possible he’ll go to a team such as Cincinnati where he can lay a better foundation. If Morris can make a winless team look focused and competitive, then he should be hired over someone like Adam Gase.

The Perplexing Career of Vic Fangio

I personally don’t think there’s been any team in the National Football League who’s gone through more injury trouble than the Denver Broncos. They couldn’t even get a real bye week. They get rewarded by playing the New England Patriots in Foxborough, Massachusetts later than expected, with Cam Newton coming back to start for the home team. Drew Lock returning for Denver was ok, but the team outside of quarterback played pretty well for the win.

Sometimes a coach has to settle in and get the locker room sold when there’s chaos, internal or external. Broncos head coach Vic Fangio looks to be the right hire despite general manager John Elway doing…whatever. 99% of the time, New England takes this game, especially if the opposing quarterback looks bad. This was a rare game both Newton and Lock were rusty. The game came down to which coach could top the other. Fangio won by a landslide, besting one of the game’s best ever coaches despite scoring 18 points.

Denver won’t be in the Winner’s section most of this season, and most of it isn’t because they lack talent. They should feel good about their head coach, who’s keeping the franchise from hitting New York Jets levels of bad. A win like this you savor long-term.

The Twin Franchises Established in 1976

Those two would be the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Seattle Seahawks (yes, in that order). Any of the readers familiar with these two teams know Sunday was one of their better days together in the league, and they both fed positives into each other.

Tampa Bay had one of their best recent games in franchise history, pummeling an undefeated Green Bay Packers team that sprinted to an early 10-0 lead. Head coach Bruce Arians and team captain Tom Brady took their last loss against the Chicago Bears personally, playing disciplined and precise against what was considered the best team in the NFC North and maybe the conference. The Buccaneers scored 38 straight points, harassed Aaron Rodgers on a level not seen since Ndamakung Suh’s heyday in Detroit (outside of the NFC West), and courtesy of FOX Sports, hadn’t committed a penalty in a game for the first time since playing Detroit in 1983.

Bruce Arians and Tom Brady may be polar opposites when it comes to how they play the game but there’s no denying they’re the reason the Bucs are better in almost every facet, the big one being team culture. The classic Buccaneers would’ve given up after falling behind by 10 especially after an ugly loss. Arians definitely called the locker room out and Tom Brady put in that extra work with the offensive line. The team as a whole played clean, aggressive football. We’ve learned over the years when Brady’s bitter in a bad loss, the team feels it and works better before next game. Thanks to these two, Tampa Bay is alone in first place in the NFC South.

Tampa’s win over Green Bay came when two playoff contenders were on bye weeks. New Orleans will have another go with them soon, so there isn’t much lost. Seattle though was on their bye week, and had to be pleased with what they watched.

Seattle is in direct control in the NFC, the last remaining undefeated team still standing. Russell Wilson is at the top of the MVP race as Josh Allen and Aaron Rodgers were thrown around in their last games, affecting their teams performances. Players on defense should contribute and fix a porous unit by next Sunday. The biggest win for the Seahawks came within their division, as the San Francisco 49ers bullied a Los Angeles Rams team. First place is separated by two games, so Seattle can play loose some quarters in their next three games to see how much depth they have. Finally, the Seahawks play their first divisional game against a Cardinals team coming off of a Monday night game. This was the best week for the 1976 franchises in at least five years.

Joe Burrow…

What builds winners? Failure. Rookies have games where they learn what it takes to win. Easing up on an opponent who’s behind 21 points is an area even the best players have to methodically plan so they can leave no doubt who’s better.

Sunday’s loss to Indianapolis after roaring out to a 21-0 nothing lead in the first half is a learning lesson to this year’s number one overall pick. Every team gives up leads like this at some point, but it’s up to those teams to make the adjustments. Burrow put up good numbers facing a tough defense. For those who’ve watched him play in college, they can say his claim to fame at LSU was continual growth. The Bengals’ young star will keep this game tape with him a long time to break down do’s-and-don’ts in future matchups against playoff contenders.

The Bengals will struggle winning this season (more on them next), but maybe they needed this loss in order for Joe Burrow to take the next step. There’s no denying after Sunday they could be trouble for teams like the Miami Dolphins have.

Losers: …Zac Taylor’s Coaching

Here’s a candidate on the hot seat. Earlier in the week, star receiver A.J. Green addressed issues in Cincinnati. It’s clear he wants to go play for a contender. Any player would feel the same if all they had to show for their best seasons were playoff performances and no wins. Teams feed off those energies from star players. It’s safe to say the Bengals locker room isn’t in a good place.

Taylor made few second half adjustments on all sides of the ball. His team scored three points in the second half. The Bengals defense can hold to a point, but even expiration date Philip Rivers broke through. Head coach Zac Taylor is an offensive minded coach, and while the offensive line is an issue that precedes him, Taylor couldn’t find the right plays to keep the Colts defense on the field. It’s one thing for a rookie player to take this loss because it sparks growth and more want to win. In the case of a coach and his staff, it shows the play-callers have to go since they can’t play with double digit leads.

Gary Kubiak and Mike Zimmer

Last Sunday night took more of a toll on the Vikings collectively than we realized. They followed up that heartbreaker with one of the worst losses in Mike Zimmer’s coaching career, and the game wasn’t close to start.

Sometimes teams have games they overlook an opponent, particularly when the previous opponent is difficult to beat. The coaches botched this on every level. On a scoring drive in the first half near the Atlanta goal-line, starting runningback Alexander Mattison again missed a hole on the right side of the offensive line that could’ve resulted in not just a one yard gain, but a touchdown. For a coach who likes to run the ball, Gary Kubiak didn’t work hard or well enough with Mattison to not make the same mistake. The Vikings were shut out that first half 20-0.

For Zimmer, his message either fell flat or he trusts his starters too much. The cornerbacks Minnesota’s starting are pretty young, but that doesn’t excuse being overmatched against a receiving core dealing with injuries. They were burned for 137 yards alone from an hobbled Julio Jones. Quarterback Kirk Cousins should’ve been pulled when the score was 33-7 to see if there’s additional depth. The players had to show up and shake off last week’s loss, but failed because the coaches didn’t prepare them well enough for the next game.

Green Bay Packers

If Denver won’t be in the Winners section much this year, then Green Bay won’t be here much either. The 1976 twin franchises had a day to remember in the right ways Sunday. Green Bay though is in a few holes, and familiar questions will be raised.

Unfortunately for the Packers, the NFC will be ultra competitive throughout the year. Every loss teams take produce ripple effects. Green Bay losing to Tampa Bay produced these things heading into Week 7:

  • Seattle unanimously as the No. 1 team in the conference
  • Tampa Bay division leader in the NFC South
  • Division rival Chicago Bears jump up to first place via tie-breaker

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers wasn’t going to look flawless this season. It doesn’t help his worst performance came in a nationally televised game versus Tom Brady. He made those mistakes Tampa created to grab control and dominate for the win. The Packers have an easy schedule until November 22nd, but the difference is they have to play perfect. It could take a toll heading into January.

Joe Flacco

If there was ever a fall from grace in the past decade of football, this is the prime example. Announcers Andrew Catalon and James Lofton went through the analysis of Flacco’s storied career. Here is a brief analysis of what they talked about.

Flacco’s first win in the playoffs came against Tony Sparano’s surprise 2008 Dolphins, making him the third rookie quarterback to win a playoff game. He was a quarterback deemed Tom Brady’s kryptonite. He’s won seven road playoff games, more than any quarterback in NFL history, and yes he has a historic championship run.

Flacco’s narrowly outside the top 20 of all-time passing yards, yet experienced a downturn unlike any other. Many fans and analysts knew after he won a Super Bowl with Baltimore his play would drop off a bit. It’s bottomed out. He’s a backup quarterback on a winless New York Jets team who took a 28 yard sack. Sunday was the first time he was shutout, on all games a nationally televised one.

Anyone could describe how bad the Jets offense is, with great reasons and accuracy. If there’s anything worse, how bad Joe Flacco’s played is up there. This is also a lesson to appreciate true greatness from quarterbacks whenever they win a championship.

NFL Week 5 Winners and Losers

Week five is almost finished, and we’re finding out who’s the real deal and who needs to improve before the playoffs. Unlike the first four weeks, a lot of yesterday’s games were close at certain points. More teams are finding their rhythms on both sides of the ball, even with a handful distancing from the rest. Who stood out yesterday, positively and negatively in this second week of October?

Winners: Wide Receivers in Pennsylvania

The Eagles-Steelers matchup was one of the better early afternoon games, and we have Travis Fulgham and Chase Claypool to thank for that. Fulgham, in his sophomore season and first with the Eagles, couldn’t be stopped. He gashed the Steelers for 152 yards and a touchdown on 10 catches. Travis Fulgham became quarterback Carson Wentz’s go-to target on third downs, averaging just over 15 yards whenever he caught the ball. His touchdown put Philadelphia into a two point deficit and the undefeated Steelers on their toes the rest of the game. In order for the Eagles to win games against playoff contenders this fall, they need their new guys and depth to step up like Fulgham did yesterday in Pittsburgh.

Chase Claypool had the game of his life on the opposite end. Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers offense found ways to bring new receiver depth non-stop last decade. Claypool could be another hit. He had 110 yards and three touchdowns on seven catches and ran the ball three times for six yards and an additional touchdown. That’s 24 of Pittsburgh’s 38 points. They may have found a new weapon to give defenses fits, which helps them as the season extends.

Nelson Agholor, Derek Carr and Jon Gruden

The Raiders were blown out most of the games they played against the Chiefs in the past five years, and a lot of analysts predicted that again yesterday. Not only was the game close, the Raiders took home a much needed and coveted win against their rival. The Raiders won’t be an easy mark for the Chiefs anytime soon.

A big part of the change starts with head coach Jon Gruden. Gruden was angered by previous results, and he knew in order to beat a team like the Chiefs, he needed a physical and gritty team. Las Vegas’ front four tore through Kansas City’s offensive line, with one lineman leaving the game (and done for the year) with multiple knee injuries. Gruden knew how he wanted to build this team, and it showed up for this crucial divisional win.

Josh Jacobs looks to be the real deal, but the two offensive players who stood out were Derek Carr and Nelson Agholor. Arrowhead Stadium is where Carr’s played his worst football for years. Without a crowd, he did surprisingly well, going 22 of 31 for 347 yards and three touchdowns. Carr’s best pass went to new addition receiver Agholor, who shook off two defenders on one of his two catches on the day. Agholor was tired of Philadelphia’s culture and wanted out. The past two games, he’s scored three touchdowns with not a lot of drops. That’s the receiver a lot of viewers want to see.

The Raiders’ offense was shaky the previous two weeks, and their next two opponents will be tricky to stop, but going into the bye week, they have a lot to feel proud about.

Cleveland Browns

There was a lot to feel great about last week in Cleveland when the Browns set records against the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington. True, it was against an awful defense where even Daniel Jones and the New York Giants (more on them later) put up 31. Could the Cleveland Browns do the same to the Indianapolis Colts?

The answer to that was mostly yes. They started slow in the first quarter trailing 7-3, but outscored Indianapolis 29-16 the rest of the game. The Colts needed a test, and while they weren’t successful, they have time to re-tool and get ready for their next few opponents. They could still take their division.

The Browns look to be in a great place. Their offense is a two-way threat even without starting runningback Nick Chubb. Kareem Hunt is a top three back in the league and Baker Mayfield is showing progress within head coach Kevin Stefanski’s system. Receivers Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. are a pain to cover for a full game. This team can win games in clutch-time, something we haven’t seen the Browns do in years.

Brian Flores’ Impact in Miami

It was impossible to ignore yesterday’s Miami-San Francisco score for anyone tuning into any of the late afternoon games. The Dolphins throttled the 49ers for 60 minutes and didn’t give an inch to the defending conference champions. Miami probably played their best game as a team in the past year, and that’s saying loads about how far they’ve come since head coach Brian Flores took over.

Commentator Chris Spielman noted why Flores was hired, “He’s a Bill Belichick disciple, but he’s his own person. He’s not a clone or like the others who were hired working for Bill. That’s what makes him stand out. He knows the physical parts of the game, but the mentality is his own.” The Dolphins may have the best coach from the Bill Belichick tree and can be a threat with him even after Belichick leaves New England. While Seattle beat Miami the previous week, Flores and his staff found ways for the defense to give Russell Wilson and DK Metcalf fits. This week they jumped on a creaky 49ers offense and torched the defense on the other end. The Dolphins should give teams fits for the rest of the season, and it starts with their coaching staff.

Losers: Stephen Hauschka

Anyone who follows the game closely can tell you kickers get the short end of the stick, especially in critical scoring opportunities. However, there are times when it’s fully deserved, and Hauschka’s timing fits right in.

The Jacksonville Jaguars’ offense stalled on multiple drives in the second quarter against a winless Houston team that had new life with interim head coach Romeo Crennel calling plays. It is hard to plan against a team with a new coach within a week, and it was in the first half. Hauschka had two attempts in the game and both came in the first half. One was a chip shot around 27 yards. How’d he fare?

His is the first name in the losers section here, so it isn’t a hard guess.

The Jaguars could’ve gone into half-time up 13-10 on the Texans. Instead they trailed by three, and were blown out 20-7 in the second half. Here’s where the six points come into play. Let’s say the Jaguars get a touchdown like they did a third of the way into the fourth quarter with those six points added on. Houston probably would’ve scored again with a field goal. But it’s still Jacksonville who controls the tempo. That’s the difference late in the game, and it’s why in this situation, both the kicker and special teams get a big part of the blame.

Whoever is an active quarterback on the San Francisco 49ers

It’s time to retract the Nick Mullens praise and cheerful thoughts about San Fran’s quarterback depth. It’s excusable to have a crap performance one week. It happens. Getting bludgeoned at home a second straight week is alarming. As mentioned here two weeks ago, the 49ers needed those wins against the Eagles and Dolphins before they started running their mid-season gauntlet against the Los Angeles Rams. Not only are they 0-2 in those games, their quarterbacks look horrendous.

Kyle Shanahan made the right move putting Jimmy Garoppolo in yesterday. He had to see action before playing a division rival. He lead San Francisco to one dominant scoring drive in the first half, but was awful the rest of his start. He threw for 77 yards and two interceptions while taking three sacks. Backup C.J. Beathard fared a bit better but faced limitations due to the Dolphins torching the defense.

It’s a fair point saying the team played down to their competition. That may be okay if they didn’t do that already the week prior. Mullens and Garoppolo were awful in those games, with Beathard seeing limited action in those losses. The conference champions are feeling everyone’s best games (outside of New Jersey) and aren’t passing the tests. This could be a mighty long season in the bay.

New York Giants

It has become a race to the bottom in not just the NFL but in the state in which the Giants play. The Giants and Jets are playing a game of How Low Can You Go?– with each other. The 2017 Browns and 2008 Lions weren’t this atrocious, and that’s saying a lot.

In their first game against the Dallas Cowboys, the New York Giants had this on their side:

  • a 17-3 lead
  • momentum swing after Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott broke his ankle
  • a three point lead at the final two minute warning
  • the second-to-last possession where they could take a lead.

These are reasons on why you get on the Losers list if you have all four of these going your way and still go 0-5, even with a garbage Dallas defense yielding over 30 points a game.

Kyle Allen

Allen is a nominee and resounding winner for Week 5 unluckiest player. Clearly coach Ron Rivera didn’t want Dwayne Haskins starting another game, so he let his former Carolina quarterback Kyle Allen get the start. Allen had the sobering misfortune to face the Los Angeles Rams’ front four. He scored a touchdown early in the game to give the Washington Football Team a one point lead. After that first quarter, it was all downhill.

Allen was sacked twice and left the game because of a concussion. That paved the way for Comeback Player of the Year nominee Alex Smith to make his first appearance under center since breaking his leg in 2018.

Alex Smith playing (poorly, but upright nonetheless) is what fans and pundits will focus on the remainder of this week, probably to the point where Smith gets the starting job with Allen in concussion protocol. None of that’s on Allen, it’s just cruel timing in a bad situation.

NFL Week 4 Winners and Losers

One fourth of the season is almost in the books, and it’s been worth it. We’re finding out more who are playoff qualifying teams and who’s done when November rolls around. Almost every game Sunday was competitive and worth tuning in for at least a quarter. So who stood out, positively and negatively for the first week of October in the regular season?

Winners: Tre’Quan Smith

No Michael Thomas? No problem. Saints quarterback Drew Brees knew Emmanuel Sanders was his top target with Thomas out. Inserting Tre’Quan Smith means more to the offense. The Lions targeted him in the second and third quarters after plays to intimidate him, but Smith got the last laugh with four catches for 54 yards and two touchdowns, the second gave New Orleans a 28-14 lead.

Those two touchdowns are his first of the year. His yards per game has doubled in four games than his previous high, which was 28.5 in 2018. Simply put, the Saints have a great third option receiver for Drew Brees to throw to. We know about Thomas and Sanders. Jared Cook is a decent tight end to work with, but New Orleans’ improvement means getting Smith involved, and it seems they’re starting to realize that. The Saints play the Chargers next on Monday night and head into a bye after. With Carolina and Chicago to close out October before their second game against Tampa Bay, New Orleans could have their offense clicking at the right time.

The Ageless Wonder of Tom Brady

Yesterday is a lesson to all you sportswriters to NOT publish pieces on what’s wrong with Tampa Bay at the quarterback position until the game is over, and to not judge Tom Brady until he’s done for good.

Brady did throw another interception for a touchdown, and Tampa was in a deep hole early against the Los Angeles Chargers. Tom Brady is the captain of the offense for many reasons, and he showed leadership driving down the field, connecting with Mike Evans for his second touchdown of the afternoon to close out the second quarter.

Brady threw five touchdowns to five different receivers on his team and wasn’t intercepted again. He broke Warren Moon’s record with this feat, making him the oldest quarterback to throw for five scores in a game. His 369 yards and 117.0 quarterback rating compliment his performance. Most importantly, head coach Bruce Arians put some praise on the team saying, “This is a game we wouldn’t have won last year.” Brady and the offense deserve the praise, but Tampa Bay’s defense played its part and made sure the Chargers stalled in the second half.

Dalvin Cook and Dalvin Cook only on Minnesota

It’s pretty safe to say the Minnesota Vikings will have a hard season. The Texans are a shipwreck thanks to Bill O’Brien. While the win was ugly, Dalvin Cook is a player to feel confident in moving forward.

Offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak isn’t having a premier season, but making Dalvin Cook the focal point of the offense may be the best move the team has. The defense isn’t what it used to be with key players gone and 23 points a game averaged on them. Making the offense run centered takes some of the pressure off. After four games, Cook has career highs in rushing yards/game (106), yards per attempt (5.7), and his second highest number of touchdowns scored in a season (6). Minnesota’s fifth in the NFL running the ball too.

Even at 1-3, this is a game-plan to stick with. The Vikings have a good chance of going 1-1 before their bye week. After their second Green Bay game, Minnesota plays four opponents who struggle to stop the run. Here’s hoping Dalvin Cook continues his career year.

The Los Angeles Rams

The Rams are here for several reasons, and yes, that ugly win is a big reason why.

It’s a good theme to keep up with like Patrick Mahomes’ ugly win in Los Angeles two weeks ago. Not every game will be double digit win margins and pretty statistics. These kinds of games the coaches and players have to dig and grind out.

Yesterday’s win against the New York Giants was a game the Rams could’ve lost last year if Jared Goff threw for 200 yards and one touchdown. They didn’t need much from him, yet they held the lead and did enough. Seattle is undefeated at 4-0, but they were off a good part of their game against Miami (more on that later). The Rams are 3-1 and could remain at one loss until their Week 10 matchup against the Seahawks.

The Rams were gifted with second place yesterday as both the Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers took shocking losses to teams with a combined record of 1-4-1. You don’t get that gift every Sunday, so the Rams must maintain the mindset of 1-0 every week.

Losers: Dak Prescott

If I told you that the Dallas Cowboys were number one in the NFL in passing yards and yards per game, what would you think their record is? Probably 2-2 at worst or possibly around 3-1 right? After all, quarterback Dak Prescott has been playing his best football and wants to get a massive contract. My, how wrong you’d be.

The Cowboys are 1-3, tied for second place in the worst division in professional football. We know given those offensive rankings, it’s because the defense plays like legendary bust linebacker John Bosa leads them. Awful coverage in the passing game, bad pass rush, can’t stop the run. That puts a lot on the offense to win high-scoring games. Even if Dallas was 2-2, those wins would be shocking, double-digit comebacks where their opponents couldn’t close out. This Browns team isn’t the Falcons, so 2-2 wasn’t happening.

Before Dak Prescott was picked off twice against Seattle the week prior, he hadn’t thrown an interception in close to a half dozen games. He’s had three in two weeks, two in the fourth quarter alone. The offensive line isn’t his best friend either. He was sacked three times, two of which he fumbled and lost the ball to an improved Browns defense led by former number one pick Myles Garrett. There’s only so much Dak can do and it doesn’t seem to be enough.

The Damning Play of Tre Flowers

Football fans were used to Seattle’s Legion of Boom throwing receivers and tight ends around for most of last decade. The hard hits, shutdown coverage, staying ahead of quarterbacks and route-runners on a scale we hadn’t seen since the 2000 Ravens. And then, there’s this incompetent spineless nut who somehow would make Pope John Paul II look All-Pro if he ever took the field.

Simply put, Tre Flowers might be the WORST cornerback you’ll lay eyes on in the 21st Century, and that’s saying something. It’s shocking how defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. not only made him starter last season, but has him playing major minutes this season. Part of that are injuries to Quinton Dunbar, Neiko Thorpe and half of Seattle’s safeties. Even then for some unknown reason, Norton likes to play Flowers, and opposing quarterbacks love when he’s in.

Last year in the playoffs, audiences wondered how Davante Adams put up a career playoff game against a corner one-on-one. What they should’ve been asking is, “How the hell is this corner in the league playing off of him every five yards?” Flowers’ stats give him 14 total tackles, nine unassisted, which is ok for a corner four games into the season. What the stats DON’T show is the blown coverages on almost all his tackles. In Seattle’s game against Dallas, audiences saw his blooper trying to pick off Dak Prescott, but since he can’t catch, Michael Gallup caught the ball and ran for a first down.

Coach Pete Carroll stated before the season he’d let the defense compete for the first four weeks to see who the best defenders are. Corners Ugo Amadi and secondary specialist Ryan Neal (who had two straight interceptions, the last Dallas possession and the first Miami possession) should be locks for the rest of the season with how well they’ve played. If the rest of the coaches have working eyes, Flowers won’t see another down.

The Jacksonville Jaguars

Every year there’s that stunning upset in the first week of the season. It looks like Jacksonville beating Indianapolis is that one. The Jaguars are 0-3 since and look worse every game.

It’s one thing for the winless Cincinnati Bengals, led by number one pick Joe Burrow and runningback Joe Mixon to beat you. It’s another for them to come out of the locker room after half-time and dominate play. The Bengals went on a 17 point tear in the 3rd quarter, going from a three point deficit to leading by 14. The Jaguars rallied in the fourth, but came up short in an eight point loss, giving Joe Burrow his first career win and the record of first rookie quarterback to throw for 300 or more yards in three straight games.

The Jaguars are in third place behind the team they beat, the Indianapolis Colts by two games. The Tennessee Titans are undefeated at 3-0. COVID-19 or not, that’ll get you the division lead. The Jaguars have four easy games in the next five weeks (that other week is their bye) and need to find a way to reach .500. If they can’t, then that’s a career year of long-term starting quarterback Gardner Minshew wasted and coach Doug Marrone’s job.

Anthony Lynn

A lot of praise and great analysis was put on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tom Brady for yesterday’s comeback win. What isn’t talked about is how horrendous the Los Angeles Chargers are at maintaining double-digit leads.

The Chargers are 1-3 after the first four weeks of the season. That one win was in the first week where Bengals kicker Randy Bullock missed a chip-shot field goal, preserving a three point win without having to go to overtime. The Chargers have lost three one possession games since. Two of those they dominated at least two and a half quarters of play.

This last loss, the Chargers scored once in the second half against Tampa Bay. Receiver Jalen Guyton caught a 71 yard catch-and-run touchdown from rookie quarterback Justin Herbert to close out the third quarter, and somehow was their leading receiver off that one catch alone. When Tampa made the game competitive, the Chargers didn’t show up.

Los Angeles had this problem last year. There aren’t fans in the stands to blame for miscommunication to players this time, and this isn’t a new problem. The Chargers are a top ten passing team, and there are worse defenses around than theirs. Losing games to teams like Carolina shouldn’t happen if you’re serious about winning. Anthony Lynn better find an answer quick or this could be his swan song.