Week ten is finished and audiences have better ideas of which teams will head to the playoffs. Sunday’s games revealed who’s staying in the race before Thanksgiving and who’s ready for the offseason. Longer postseason runs or trading up for the draft are the main focuses around the league. It’s time to discuss who or what stood out, positively and negatively on the third Sunday of November.
Winners: Los Angeles Rams
That loss to Miami will stand out for the rest of the season because of coaching, but the Rams were gifted during their bye week with Arizona and Seattle losing, setting up an important NFC West showdown in their home stadium against Seattle. The Rams used their bye week well, defensively having one of their best games of the season.
The Rams defense intercepted Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson twice (both were from Darius Williams) and sacked him six times. Wilson’s worst games are usually against the Rams defense, shown in previous years as Aaron Donald controls the line of scrimmage. The offense looked better than their loss to Miami. Quarterback Jared Goff threw for over 300 yards, but didn’t have to score when his runningbacks ran for all three touchdowns.
The Rams are tied with the Cardinals, a team they have yet to play, for first place in the NFC West. Four of the next five games will be hard for Los Angeles, which makes this first win in their division crucial to their playoff push.
David Gettleman, Joe Judge and Daniel Jones
NFL analysts and fans want the New York Giants to dump general manager David Gettleman for his strange draft selections, coaching hires and free agent signings. There are good reasons why he should go, but that probably won’t happen for another season.
We’re starting to see what Gettleman put together, and it’s not a bad product. In the Week 10 picks, I said Giants coach Joe Judge couldn’t close games out, because the Giants blew several leads this season. A recent example was their Thursday night loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in Lincoln Financial Field a few weeks ago. The Giants soundly beat the Eagles the second time around in the Meadowlands Sunday, winning 27-17. Philadelphia looked unprepared and Carson Wentz was sacked three times even with a healthier offensive line protecting him.
Daniel Jones rightfully faces questions about improvement his second year with star runningback Saquon Barkley out for the season. The two game winning streak and a half game out of first place in the awful NFC East is a great response.
The Giants will have a week off to rest and prepare for the Cincinnati Bengals. Their schedule still has three teams vying for division titles, but for the first time this season, the Giants organization can feel good with what they put together.
The Hopkins trade from Houston to Arizona couldn’t have been better for both Arizona or Hopkins. Both are having seasons to remember and have advanced in every facet. He’s a big reason the Cardinals have a real shot at winning the NFC West.
Hopkins had another 100 yard performance against a confident Buffalo Bills defense. He had 7 catches for 127 yards, but what everyone will remember is his “Hail Murray” catch in the endzone triple covered to give the Cardinals a 32-30 win.
To show the audience how much of a bumbler former Houston Texans (more on them later) head coach and general manager Bill O’Brien is, here’s what he traded away this offseason. Through nine games, Hopkins has had:
- 67 catches for over 860 yards, averaging almost 96 yards per game
- an average of 42 yards-after-catch
- an average 13 yards per catch
- one touchdown and four first-downs per game
DeAndre Hopkins has a great chance to become the third wide receiver with 2,000 yards in a single season. He’s having a historic year.
Florida Franchise Records
If your favorite team is in the Sunshine State, you had some memorable moments on Sunday.
While the Jacksonville Jaguars lost a close game in Green Bay, Keelan Cole had a game to remember. His 91 yard punt return got Jacksonville their first touchdown of the game. He set a franchise record for longest touchdown return.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers plastered the Panthers much of the second half after their embarrassing Sunday night loss. Ronald Jones’ 192 yard performance on 23 carries was everything they needed, including his franchise record 98 yard touchdown run. It’s not just the longest scoring run for the franchise, it’s the longest offensive play in Buccaneers history. He may be their most important player they need week-to-week not named Tom Brady.
Last but not least, the Miami Dolphins are 3-0 under Tua Tagovailoa, a rookie quarterback who has thrown five touchdowns and no interceptions. When was the last time this happened for Miami? They finally have a quarterback to build an offense around.
Losers: The Houston Texans Offense
Without quarterback DeShaun Watson, the Texans offense would be a candidate for worst offense in the NFL, and that says a lot considering the New York Jets and Chicago Bears try to outdo each other every week to win that category. Their running game is second to last (88 yards/game), even though they traded for runningback David Johnson.
Sunday’s game in Cleveland was awful for both them and the Browns offense to move the ball, but Houston’s errors resulted in a loss. The Texans were the first team to get inside the five yard line and didn’t score a point. Randall Cobb dropped a would-be touchdown and Watson was stuffed on a 4th and goal run. The weather was bad, but easy points were there. Houston lost 10-7.
This is where the DeAndre Hopkins trade to Arizona cost Houston another win. Hopkins can play even through the worst weather scenarios and take pressure off Watson when he’s facing blitz packages. Randall Cobb, who dropped the touchdown in the first half, led the team with 41 yards receiving. It’ll be a long month and a half for interim coach Romeo Crennel.
November has been a nightmare to Pete Carroll’s Seahawks. We knew their schedule after the bye looked rough especially the first five games. Great teams find ways to work through it, and they look like a team overmatched by winning opponents.
There’s a lot of blame to go around the last two games. The Buffalo Bills punched them in the mouth early and didn’t let up the week before. Those games happen, and offensive errors are easy traps when you’re down double digit points. Sunday’s loss to the Rams was bad in every aspect. The two glaring mistakes were Russell Wilson’s first interception when he should have run for at least a first down and Pete Carroll’s head-scratching decision to punt on fourth and inches.
Seattle is now in a three-way tie for first place with the Rams and Cardinals in a stacked NFC West. Russell Wilson still is an MVP candidate, but the losses of Chris Carson and Carlos Hyde in the running game stand out. Wilson now leads that category by two yards over Carson. Plus, he’s been sacked 11 times and intercepted four times in two games.
There couldn’t be a more pivotal Thursday night home game for the Seahawks this week. While their defense has fresh players they didn’t have against the Cardinals their first game, the coaches and the offense have a lot to fix in order for Seattle to win the division.
Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine
If Seattle’s secondary is the joke of the passing game, Green Bay’s front seven is the joke of the running game. Analysts and fans expected Green Bay to blow out Jacksonville with not only the Packers offense, but also rookie quarterback Jake Luton and the Jaguars’ offense not being a factor in North Wisconsin. They were wrong.
Rookie runningback James Robinson had a great game for the Jaguars, running for 109 yards on 23 carries. Jacksonville led for a few minutes in the fourth quarter until Aaron Rodgers threw a touchdown to Davante Adams to erase that.
Since Green Bay’s bye, they’ve given up three 100 yard rushing performances. The two games they didn’t were against a depleted 49ers offense and the second worst running game in the league with Houston. Teams combined have almost more rushing yards than the whole Packers team, and score more running the ball than Green Bay is.
This is a problem defensive coordinator Mike Pettine has no answer for. It’s a weakness teams like Tennessee and Philadelphia could exploit to control game tempo when December rolls around. The Packers are the top team in the NFC like Seattle was with their defensive errors and could face a similar situation.
Buffalo Bills fans
Buffalo had their highlight win of the season dominating a red-hot Seahawks offense and scored the most points on the Pete Carroll coached team in a decade. The Bills were the superior team against Arizona, and then lost the lead in the third quarter. Stefon Diggs scored a touchdown with 34 seconds left in the game, giving the lead back to Buffalo.
The Bills also accomplished the near impossible, intercepting a pass All-Pro and future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald couldn’t catch. What happened after both of these?
Arizona scored both possessions after. DeAndre Hopkins had the game winning touchdown and the Cardinals are in a tie for first place, while Miami is a half game back of Buffalo in the AFC East. Another kick to the collective jewels for the Bills fanbase. Ouch.