compiled by Andrew Potter
Each Sunday, the FO staff sends around emails about the games that each of us are watching. We share information about the games that the rest of the group might not be watching, ask questions, and keep everyone else informed about which games they might want to tune into (if they can).
On Monday, we compile a digest of those emails and produce this feature. By its nature, it can be disjointed and dissimilar to the other articles on the site.
While these emails are generally written with Audibles in mind, they do not represent a standard review of all the games each week. That means we aren’t going to cover every game, or every important play. We watch the games that we, as fans, are interested in watching, so your favorite team’s game might not be covered to your fullest desires or even at all. (If you are a Seahawks or Patriots fan, you are probably in luck; if you are a Bills fan, not so much.) We have no intention of adding new authors solely to cover every game on a given Sunday, nor will we watch a different game from the ones that we’re personally interested in watching just to ensure that Audibles covers every game.
Miami Dolphins 24 at Cleveland Browns 41
Bryan Knowles: Jarvis Landry revenge game? Jarvis Landry revenge game. Landry gets involved early in his first game against his old team, catching two passes and ending up in the end zone against Miami. He has apparently had this game circled for two years, as there’s no love lost between Landry and the Dolphins ownership, even if the coaching staff he worked with is long gone.
Rivers McCown: Odell Beckham actually caught a touchdown! It happened!
FOX pointing out that the deep safety on the play actually left both deep receivers open, so Rashard Higgins was also in the end zone.
Rivers McCown: Kalen Ballage’s run paths are like a batted baseball. Even if he’s heading right towards someone, he approaches like he doesn’t understand he’s allowed to try to move around them.
Rivers McCown: The booth just initiated a DPI review and won it, putting the ball at the Miami 6 on a ball targeting Odell Beckham. Kareem Hunt runs it in, it’s 28-0. I’m finding a different game to watch.
Scott Spratt: Apparently the referees overturned a non-call and made it a defensive pass interference in this one. Maybe the NFL protocol is to only overturn ones that have no game impacts since the Browns are now up 28-0 over the Dolphins.
Scott Spratt: Dolphins interception! It’s 28-3, the same score the Patriots came back from in the Pats-Falcons Super Bowl. Time to get excited.
Scott Spratt: Dolphins comeback update. 28-3 is now 28-17 after a Ryan Fitzpatrick rushing score. Still have the entire fourth quarter to complete the miracle.
Seattle Seahawks 17 at Philadelphia Eagles 9
Carl Yedor: The teams trade three-and-outs to start the game, with the Eagles ending Seattle’s drive by taking advantage of Seattle center Joey Hunt’s lack of size on third down. Hunt gets bull-rushed straight back into Russell Wilson’s lap on third-and-long, leading to a sack. Michael Dickson’s punt goes out of bounds at the Seattle 43, setting Philly up with great field position (it’s very windy today).
Philly ends up getting into the red zone and frankly should have scored a touchdown on a third-down checkdown to Miles Sanders out of the backfield, but Carson Wentz airmails the short throw incomplete. He might want to blame the wind for that one. Ugly throw either way. 3-0 Philly.
Bryan Knowles: Given the respite of the missed touchdown, Russell Wilson and the Seahawks march right back down the field. 21 yards to Jacob Hollister, 17 yards to DK Metcalf, and then 33 yards to Malik Turner on a flea flicker. Wham, bam, thank you ma’am, 7-3. That was too damn easy!
Carl Yedor: That little flea flicker design has been in Seattle’s offensive playbook for years. They’ve run some variation on the run-right, throwback-left multiple times since Wilson has been in the league, though the formations/window dressing have been a bit different. This time featured sixth OL/jumbo TE George Fant motioning across the formation pre-snap. Here’s a similar setup against the Giants from 2017, and then another one against Carolina in 2015.
Aaron Schatz: Most seasons, there’s a flea flicker roughly once every two weeks. This year, there has been more than one per week. I love flea flickers. They work great.
Aaron Schatz: Wentz just airmailed another throw to Sanders out of the backfield. This seems to be a theme early on today. However, the Eagles are also running all over the Seahawks when they hand the ball off.
Vince Verhei: Seahawks up 7-3 at the end of one with Philly driving at midfield, but the real story here is who’s not playing today. The Eagles are out Lane Johnson, Nelson Agholor, and Alshon Jeffery. Their top wide receiver today has been Greg Ward, who spent most of the week imitating Russell Wilson on the scout team. But he has gotten open in the flat for several short-yardage conversions. Wentz has airmailed easy completions to his running backs a couple of times, though I disagree the first one to Sanders would have been an automatic touchdown — I think Seattle had the pursuit in the middle of the field to make a tackle, though it would have been first-and-goal.
Seattle, meanwhile, is out Jadeveon Clowney on defense and Luke Wilson on offense. So of course, they come out for their first play of the game in an I-formation with Nick Bellore at fullback and practice squader Tyrone Swoopes at tight end and run into the middle of the pile. Carroll/Schottenheimer gonna Carroll/Schottenheimer.
Vince Verhei: Seattle adds a field goal after Wilson airmails a wide-open Jacob Hollister in the end zone. Given his baseball background, I think the most appropriate way to score that one is “E4.”
Aaron Schatz: Philly just sacked Russell Wilson twice in a row, both coverage sacks. The first one also had the problem where Malcolm Jenkins rushed the passer late and nobody picked him up, but Wilson should have gotten rid of the ball. He’s holding on to it a bit too long today. Eagles coverage also has improved since they got some of their defensive backs from injury.
Bryan Knowles: The Seahawks dominating the Eagles and still being up only seven points is the most Seahawks-Eagles thing that has ever happened.
Aaron Schatz: I realize there are a lot of injuries in Philadelphia, and Wentz isn’t used to some of his wide receivers, but he’s just straight-out missing guys today. Accuracy looks awful and I don’t think you can blame the missing receivers or the right-side offensive line backups.
Bryan Knowles: Seattle is gaining 5.9 yards per play, Philadelphia just 3.2. Wentz has thrown a bad interception and has fumbled twice, turning the ball over once. He is both not on the same page with his receivers (a function of so many backups) and is flat-out inaccurate (a function of Wentz not being very good). Seattle is moving the ball more or less at will. Philly gets booed off the field at halftime … And it’s still 10-3, Seahawks. I would love to see the first-half DVOA splits here.
Carl Yedor: Seattle’s first drive of the second half doesn’t get very far, picking up a first down after a questionable OPI had set them back behind the chains. On a later third-and-long, Wilson and Metcalf just missed connecting yet again, with the deep shot down the sideline going off of Metcalf’s fingertips. I wouldn’t consider that one a drop given that Metcalf had to dive just to come close. Eagles ball now and driving.
Derrik Klassen: I sound like a broken record of everyone who has seen Philly’s offense this year, but it’s so clear how important a vertical threat is to their offense. Carson Wentz needs to be able to attack the 15-plus area of the field and it’s tough for them to do that with who they have out their right now, especially with the offensive line playing nowhere close to 2017 quality. Still believe Wentz is a plenty good quarterback (despite being mostly awful today), but I don’t think he can make up for how bad this offense is as a whole right now. Granted, I’m not sure how many quarterbacks can make up for Greg Ward, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (rookie), and Jordan Matthews being their top three receivers.
Carl Yedor: After forcing a fumble on a draw play, Seattle pulls a Keystone Kops routine for the entirety of the time they possess the ball. Defensive tackle Quinton Jefferson attempts to pitch the ball to another Seahawk defender while returning the fumble but pitches it forward. This would have been a penalty if not for the fact that his knee was down, so no harm, no foul. Then, Seattle starts the drive with a false start and delay of game prior to their first play. They end up in third-and-15 and pick up about 8 or 9 on the play, but center Joey Hunt is flagged for tripping, putting Seattle in third-and-25 instead. Wilson’s next pass is tipped and results in an interception, giving Seattle no points on a drive that began around the Philadelphia 30.
Vince Verhei: Worth noting that fumble was forced by Shaquem Griffin, who came off the edge and blew up the play in the backfield, the biggest impact he has made in his young career.
Per Derrik’s point about Philadelphia’s limited arsenal today, it is honestly funny how much disrespect the Seahawks are showing to Philadelphia’s wide receivers. It’s not just that Zach Ertz is double-teamed on virtually every play, but one of those double-teamers has often been a starting corner, either Shaquill Griffin or Tre Flowers. Even when he makes the catch, he’s tackled immediately — he has a half-dozen receptions, for a total of only 35 yards. For that matter, Ward is at six for 40. It’s the like field is only 10 yards deep for the Eagles offense.
Bryan Knowles: Carson Wentz has gone to the locker room, injured. Fortunately, they have SuperSub Nick Foles ready to come in and … oh.
(It’s Josh McCown in case Wentz doesn’t come back, for the record.)
Rivers McCown: I understand why the traditional body stereotypes are a big scouting deal as far as projecting health, and why they are preferred.
On the other hand, Carson Wentz gets hurt every season.
Bryan Knowles: Wentz is back, but it may not matter. Rashaad Penny, whom everyone on my Twitter timeline has been yelling at all season long, just ripped one up the middle for 58 yards and a touchdown. 17-3 may be an insurmountable lead for this Philly offense.
Vince Verhei: Rashaad Penny, of all people, just put this one away for Seattle. First play of the fourth quarter, he takes a third-and-1 pitch to the left and makes a man miss to pick up the first down. Later in that drive, he explodes up the middle for a 58-yard touchdown, the longest run of his career. He also has a career-high 128 yards today, on only nine carries — which is still more than the seven of Chris Carson.
— NFL (@NFL) 24 November 2019
Vince Verhei: Well let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Seahawks take over after a Philadelphia fumble, but on first down Chris Carson fumbles, his seventh of the year, most of all running backs. Seahawks recover, but on second down Carson fumbles AGAIN, his EIGHTH of the year, and this time Eagles get the ball. That was a blown handoff and the fumble might get charged to Wilson, but there’s a common thread to Seattle’s worst ball security issues this year, and it’s not Wilson.
Vince Verhei: Fourth-and-2 after that fumble, Wentz throws while stepping backwards in a clean pocket, and the pass is wide of an open J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and incomplete. This guy was the MVP favorite at this point two years ago. What the hell happened?
Carl Yedor: Part of me feels like Wentz’s drop-off in play has somewhat similar underlying reasons as that of his 2016 draft classmate Jared Goff’s decline. Philly had the healthiest set of wide receivers in the league in 2017 by adjusted games lost, and that obviously has not been the case this year. They only lost 0.7 of a game for their tight ends, good for seventh, and they finished 12th in AGL on the offensive line. If I recall correctly, Wentz also ran hot on third downs that year (which may be related to having a fully healthy receiving corps). Performing well in high-leverage situations like third down is a great way to win a lot of games and generate MVP buzz. This year has felt like the complete opposite swing, if someone can pull up the split stats for third downs this year and in 2017.
Bryan Knowles: Wentz’s 2017 and 2019 third-down conversion rates are about the same, but he had an 87.1% DVOA on third and fourth downs in 2017. Coming into today, he’s at 32.7% this season.
Vince Verhei: Eagles get a touchdown with 20 seconds left. They do go for two, which is smart, but they don’t get it, and then Seattle recovers the onside kick to end this.
Zach Ertz is a fine candidate for “great fantasy numbers by a guy who made no real impact on the game,” finishing with a dozen catches for 91 yards and that score.
Carolina Panthers 31 at New Orleans Saints 34
Andrew Potter: Second drive in New Orleans, Sean Payton challenges an extremely soft OPI against Jared Cook that wiped out a massive gain. Looks to me like the defensive back, Javien Elliott, simply lost his balance in the usual maneuvering as Cook made his route break. Naturally, the challenge is unsuccessful.
Saints lead 7-0 after their first opening-drive touchdown of the season, a 26-yard run by Latavius Murray. It’s early, but both Saints lines are dominating their Panthers opponents.
Andrew Potter: And now, Payton is using his second challenge of the first ten minutes on a potential punt muff. A short punt appeared to hit the leg of Rashaan Gaulden, recovered by New Orleans. The ruling on the field is that it didn’t touch Gaulden. This, at least, looks legitimate, and would set the Saints up in the red zone, but that wasted first challenge is already potentially very significant.
Scott Spratt: The Saints defense forgot to guard Christian McCaffrey on a swing pass near the end zone at the end of the half. McCaffrey scored on the play, but the replay is showing he was down just short. With two seconds left in the half, the Panthers are down by eight. Will the Panthers go for the score?
Scott Spratt: Haha, it was the exact same play. McCaffrey unguarded again, touchdown.
Bryan Knowles: The Panthers have been pesky all game, as CMC is out-Kamaraing Alvin Kamara today, but the Saints have finally started to pull away. A 20-yard pass to Jared Cook and a 30-yard Kamara run sets up Michael Thomas for a short touchdown pass to make it 30-18. The Saints go for two to make it a 14-point lead, but they get called for pass interference. Tony Romo questions what the analytics say about going for two from the 12-yard line. I’m pretty sure they say kick the dang thing at that point, which the Saints do. 31-18. Still time for the Panthers to come back, but the Saints are beginning to look comfortable again.
Scott Spratt: After McCaffrey’s second touchdown, Joey Slye missed his second extra point of the day. So there have been at least five extra point misses by kickers today. And possibly more I don’t know about.
Scott Spratt: Massive play by Panthers safety Tre Boston to elevate and take the ball away from Tre’Quan Smith at midfield. The Panthers are still down one touchdown but have 12 and a half minutes left in the quarter.
Scott Spratt: After a big defensive pass interference penalty set the Panthers up with a first-and-goal from the 1, Alex Armah and Christian McCaffrey were stopped in the backfield on both second and third down. But Kyle Allen finds D.J. Moore on fourth down for a touchdown that ties this game up at 31-31.
Bryan Knowles: It took four tries, but the Panthers do turn a first-and-goal from the 1 into a touchdown, and we have a tie game! Love the Panthers throwing it on fourth down, rather than just slamming into the line yet again, though I do wonder how you only give Christian McCaffrey one touch in that situation. All’s well that ends well, though; it’s a 31-31 game.
Scott Spratt: Greg Olsen broke a tackle! I don’t believe it. It’s his first of the year according to SIS charting (subscription required) and the first of his Panthers career according to my informal count.
Scott Spratt: Haha, Tony Romo summarizes the pass interference challenge debacle of 2019: “He did literally pass interfere him … “
Ron Rivera is challenging a non-call here with two and a half minutes left. If he doesn’t get the DPI, then the Panthers will likely try a field goal, allowing the Saints plenty of time to answer or win outright on a two-minute drill.
Scott Spratt: Oh man, the refs actually ruled it pass interference. First down Panthers near the goal line. Not sure these refs are going to make it out of New Orleans intact.
Bryan Knowles: Wait, what, the wish DPI challenge actually worked?!
Scott Spratt: The anti-karma of the Saints getting killed by that DPI overturn is unbelievable. The rule wouldn’t exist without their playoff loss last year.
Andrew Potter: As a Saints fan, I’m not even mad. This is just hilarious irony. I’m also kinda relieved. I was sure that one was being saved for the playoffs.
I should also add, it was 100 percent blatant pass interference.
Scott Spratt: The Saints probably still win this one though since the Panthers failed to get the touchdown after their gift DPI. I assume they are going to kick a field goal after the two minute warning.
Scott Spratt: Or Slye will just miss the 28-yard field goal attempt. After already missing a couple of extra point attempts. Yikes, Panthers.
Bryan Knowles: And Slye misses the field goal … but there’s a flag! The crowd goes bananas … but the refs pick it up.
So it’s a tie game, with the Saints having a timeout and needing just a field goal to win. 1:56 left.
Bryan Knowles: The Saints march down the field and kick a chip-shot field goal to win. The Refs get a pass!
The Panthers really, really needed this game … and they have no one to blame but themselves for losing. Forget about missing the field goal; how do you not run McCaffrey and make the Saints use their last timeout before they get the ball back? Mismanaged at the end of the game, and at 5-6, I don’t see them getting back into anything in the NFC.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 35 at Atlanta Falcons 22
Scott Spratt: Looks like the Falcons are back to their bad defensive form. On a long throw to Chris Godwin in the middle of the field, two defenders collide with each other and miss the tackle. It ended up as a 71-yard touchdown.
Andrew Potter: I see that Buccaneers and Falcons fans are getting the full Jameis experience today. Five passes, two interceptions and a 71-yard touchdown, and that’s only in the first quarter.
Scott Spratt: Wow, that second Chris Godwin touchdown catch was amazing. The pass was thrown a bit in front of him in the end zone, but Godwin reached and secured it while getting tackled in the head. No idea how he even saw the ball.
Bryan Knowles: The platonic ideal of the Jameis Winston game is an even balance between insane interceptions and impossible touchdowns. We just had one of the latter, though the credit goes to Chris Godwin and not Jameis. Falling in the end zone, Godwin taps an off-target throw back towards himself, and the Buccaneers take a 13-10 lead. Winston’s up to two touchdowns and two picks. Balanced, as all things should be.
Godwin’s up to 125 yards and two touchdowns with eight minutes left in the second quarter, by the by. Atlanta’s defense IS back!
Bryan Knowles: Big Man Touchdown! Vita Vea catches a little screen from Jameis Winston, and the Buccaneers take a 19-10 lead!
Scott Spratt: Vita Vea touchdown! He’s so big!
Bryan Knowles: Here’s the Vita Vea touchdown.
VITA VEA: RED ZONE THREAT
— The MMQB (@theMMQB) 24 November 2019
And a note, courtesy of Football Perspective: Jameis Winston is responsible for 7.8% of the league’s interceptions this season. The record since the merger is Vinny Testaverde’s 1988 season, where he threw 6.3% of the league’s picks.
Vince Verhei: That’s a stunning statistic, because there are 32 teams now, but there were only 28 in 1988, and only 26 in 1970. It’s harder for one player to have such a high percentage of anything just because there are more teams now.
Andrew Potter: Wait, three touchdowns leading to 19 points? Did they re-sign Roberto Aguayo while I wasn’t looking?
Bryan Knowles: Matt Gay has missed two extra points, yes. It has not been a good day/year/decade/lifetime for Tampa Bay kicking. Oh, and one more footnote on that Vita Vea touchdown — at 346 pounds, per PFR, he now beats out Jonathan Ogden as the heaviest man to score a touchdown in NFL history. The 100th season truly is historic.
Scott Spratt: Sadly, it was Matt Gay, my bye week fill-in kicker in one league. He missed two extra points and a field goal in the half and has -7 fantasy points in that format haha. Also, I’ll take the over on 346 pounds.
Andrew Potter: Man, the Falcons have been confusing the past three weeks. A Ronald Jones touchdown gives the Buccaneers their fourth touchdown of the day, and a team that just won in New Orleans and Carolina in back-to-back games is trailing 25-10 at home to the Buccaneers. Yes, 25-10, because Matt Gay kicked his third unsuccessful extra point of the day. At least this one was blocked.
Oakland Raiders 3 at New York Jets 34
Bryan Knowles: There have been some very borderline calls in this game already. The Jets had a touchdown taken off the board on review, when they added pass interference (wasn’t a coach’s challenge, so obviously there were no concerns in the league office about overriding the officials). And then, on the next drive, the Jets were kept alive by an … interesting roughing the passer call, allowing Sam Darnold to rush in for the score and a 10-3 lead. The Raiders’ defense isn’t good, but even considering that, Darnold has looked sharp. He’s 9-for-10 for 120 yards with a rushing touchdown to boot. Not a terrible start for New York.
Bryan Knowles: The Raiders slipped into the sixth seed in the AFC after Thursday’s game. They’re slipping right back out, however, with the Jets now taking a 27-3 lead midway through the third quarter. It has been an absolute stomping from start to finish. The Jets have looked really good over the past three weeks; that was dismissed because they were playing the Giants and Redskins, but looking good against terrible teams is still something worth noting. And now they’re looking sharp against a team with playoff hopes. Worth noting: the Raiders are 2-8 in their last 10 early-window games. And one of the wins was in London, where there may be slightly larger jetlag-related issues for both teams.
Denver Broncos 3 at Buffalo Bills 20
Vince Verhei: They had a graphic in this game saying it’s only the fourth time in league history that two unrelated quarterbacks with the same last name have faced each other. (Lots of Davises and Johnsons on that list.) Josh and the Bills lead Brandon and the Broncos 6-0 at halftime, but as you can tell by the score, neither Allen has been terribly effective. Neither has thrown for 100 yards yet, while each has thrown an interception. Josh has put together some impressive scrambles, and between him and Devin Singletary (12 carries for 63 yards), the ground game is the biggest reason the Bills have their lead.
Scott Spratt: Touchdown-scorers now range from 174 pounds to 346 pounds this week because Cole Beasley just scored to put the Bills up 13-0 over the Broncos.
Vince Verhei: Allen Bowl update: the Bills drive 59 yards in eight plays and score a touchdown on the opening drive of the second half. Josh Allen had a great play on third-and-10 in the red zone, going through his reads and taking a big hit to drop an easy pass to Cole Beasley on a seam route for an 18-yard score. Bills lead 13-0, which feels like more than that given Denver’s struggles today (still under 100 yards of total offense).
Rivers McCown: Buffalo got Denver to use a timeout in the waning moments of the third quarter, on third-and-2 from midfield, as they hurried up and got a mismatch. Embarrassingly, Buffalo wasn’t even going to snap the ball. File that one away if this game gets closer. Bills converted the third-and-2 after the timeout to keep the drive alive.
Bryan Knowles: Frank Gore has passed Barry Sanders for third all-time on the rushing yards list. How he’s averaging nearly 50 yards a game at age 36 is beyond me. Only John Riggins, Marcus Allen, and now Frank Gore have had 500-plus-yard rushing seasons at that age or older.
Pittsburgh Steelers 16 at Cincinnati Bengals 10
Vince Verhei: Potential upset alert: The winless Bengals lead the Steelers 7-3 at halftime, with Ryan Finley’s 15-yard touchdown to Tyler Boyd providing the advantage. Otherwise, this has been one of the ugliest games on a day full of ugly games. We’ve got a total of 13 first downs, eight punts, two fumbles (both recovered by Cincinnati’s offense) and one interception (by Mason Rudolph, on third-and-goal from the 9).
Bryan Knowles: Down 7-3, Pittsburgh has made a quarterback change. Mason Rudolph has been benched in favor of Devlin Hodges.
The Bengals are mathematically eliminated from the postseason. The Steelers are still fighting for a playoff spot. You wouldn’t believe that from watching this one.
Vince Verhei: Mason Rudolph’s no-good, very-bad November continues. He’s 8-of-16 for 85 yards and a pick, and Devlin Hodges has come in at quarterback for Pittsburgh to start the second half.
And it pays immediate dividends — Hodges uncorks a deep ball to James Washington, running wide open on a deep crosser from right to left. It’s going to be a big play anyway, but Washington then completely emasculated B.W. Webb, stiff-arming him into oblivion, and going into the end zone for a 10-7 lead. Hodges has thrown two passes and already gained more yards than Rudolph did today.
— NFL (@NFL) November 24, 2019
Scott Spratt: Did Mason Rudolph get benched? Because Devlin Hodges just threw a bomb to James Washington and Washington threw a stiff-arm that hilariously threw B.W. Webb to the ground after a recoil delay.
Tom Gower: Mason Rudolph did indeed get benched for Devlin Hodges, per multiple reports. Finally.
Scott Spratt: The Bengals just kicked a field goal that tied this game at 10-10. A Bengals win would be huge for the Dolphins since, one, the Dolphins own the Steelers’ first-round pick and, two, the Dolphins play the Bengals in Week 16. The fish tank lives!
Vince Verhei: Tyler Boyd has basically been the Bengals’ entire offense today — he’s got five catches for 101 yards and a score — but he made a massive mistake in the fourth quarter. Down 13-10, his 22-yard catch is going to give the Bengals a first-and-goal, but Devin Bush forces a fumble, and Minkah Fitzpatrick (naturally) recovers the ball and gets a big return. A Carlos Dunlap sack leads to a Steelers punt, so the Bengals will get at least one more shot at this, but with less than six minutes to go, they’re running out of chances.
Rob Weintraub: Key element to the Boyd strip was Devin Bush punch — right to Boyd’s groin.
Vince Verhei: Thanks to a bad Bengals punt and a big Benny Snell run, the Steelers reach the red zone. On fourth-and-5, though, they kick the field goal for the dreaded six-point lead, 16-10. Bengals will get the ball back, still with plenty of time left, more than three minutes.
Bryan Knowles: Bud Dupree gets the sack, the strip, and the fumble, and the Steelers should hang onto a victory over the mighty Cincinnati Bengals.
Detroit Lions 16 at Washington Redskins 19
Vince Verhei: Potential upset alert: I’m not watching this, but Detroit’s special teams may well cost them this game — they have given up a 91-yard kickoff return for a touchdown (when Stephen Sims muffed the catch, picked it up, and dashed for the end zone) and Matt Prater has missed a field goal, and Washington leads 13-6 at halftime.
Rivers McCown: Looks like the Bengals just created a two-game lead on the rest of the NFL for No. 1 pick! Washington took a Jeff Driskel gift interception in Detroit territory to take a 19-16 win.
Vince Verhei: Jeff Driskel throws his third interception of the game to end this one. And then in a cool moment, Case Keenum takes the field for the kneeldown so Dwayne Haskins can celebrate with fans. There were tickets for this game available for $4, but the folks who showed up had a good time at least.
Bryan Knowles: Case Keenum had to take the final kneeldown for Washington, as Dwayne Haskins had run to go celebrate with fans. That is hilarious.
New York Giants 14 at Chicago Bears 19
Bryan Knowles: We haven’t touched on this game much, because both these teams are mostly playing out the stretch. Trubisky has been mostly Trubiskying it up, but he did just find Allen Robinson down the middle for a 32-yard touchdown throw to retake the lead. The Bears had just 144 yards in the first half; they’ve already hit nearly double that on their first drive of the third quarter. 10-7 Bears in a game which definitely requires extra servings of pie to get through.
Jacksonville Jaguars 20 at Tennessee Titans 42
Scott Spratt: Apparently the Titans have scored a touchdown on 10 straight red zone trips. Pretty amazing, but CBS should have worked in a Nashville hot chicken pun instead of labeling that stat a boring hot streak.
Scott Spratt: And so much for that streak. The Titans had a Derrick Henry screen touchdown called back on a penalty, and then Ryan Tannehill lost the ball on a strip sack. Still 0-0 with the Jaguars.
Bryan Knowles: So, as Tannehill rumbles in for the touchdown on a called bootleg, going up and smashing through Jaguars into the end zone … is he the answer for Tennessee going forward? He has played really good this year, but he is still Ryan Tannehill. Do the last few weeks of this year make up for seven years in Miami?
Rivers McCown: I mean a lot of that comes down to what you feel an answer is. Do I think Tannehill can be a fringe top-15 quarterback with a good system around him? Sure. Do you want to pay him $Nick Foles to do that? Not sure about that.
Scott Spratt: They wouldn’t need to do that though, Rivers. Since he’s with the team, can’t they just franchise him to keep his price tag down?
Vince Verhei: There are only two games in the late window today. One of them features the league’s two most high-profile teams, the Patriots and Cowboys; the other features its two most anonymous teams, the Jaguars and Titans. Since the league apparently wants everyone watching New England-Dallas, Scott and I are among the dozens and dozens of fans across the country with an eye on Tennessee.
There have been two big plays in this game, one for each team. The first was the fumble Scott mentioned — Taylor Lewan had to briefly leave the game, and Yannick Ngakoue took advantage of his absence with the sack, the fumble, and the recovery.
Tannehill redeemed himself, though, scrambling 21 yards for a touchdown. Considering Tannehill started his college career as a wide receiver, I have always been baffled that he has not run more in the NFL. His career-best is 56 rushing yards against Pittsburgh in 2013; he’s already over 40 yards today, midway through the second quarter. He’s also having a big day passing: 8-of-10 for 122 yards.
Bryan Knowles: For the record, the franchise tag for quarterbacks is expected to be $26.7 million next season. Foles only counts $22.1 million against the cap.
Scott Spratt: Sure, but the benefit of the tag is the lack of long-term impact.
Vince Verhei: I almost threw up at the concept of franchising Ryan Tannehill … but the more I think about it, it makes some sense. They’re not going to be bad enough to draft a quarterback in the top ten to replace him, so they’re going to have to gamble on a veteran one way or another. Better to risk a one-year contract than a multi-year deal. You risk becoming post-Kirk Cousins Washington, which is bad, but it would be the safe move. And the safe move definitely seems like a Tennessee thing to do.
Vince Verhei: Titans lead just 7-3 at halftime. Titans have moved the ball consistently — they’ve got 181 yards of total offense, 6.7 yards per play — but have had bad results in scoring range, both Tannehill’s fumble, and a fraidy-cat punt on fourth-and-8 from the 41. (Jaguars also had a punt from the 41, but it was on fourth-and-23 after a penalty and a sack.) For thirty minutes, they have been clearly the better team, but they still have plenty of time to screw this up.
Bryan Knowles: Another big-man touchdown! At 321, Dennis Kelly is positively tiny compared to Vita Vea, but I appreciate the effort. Titans extend their lead to 14-3.
Vince Verhei: Titans get creative on their opening drive of the second half. Derrick Henry throws a pass in the red zone, and the Jaguars commit DPI to set up a first-and-goal from the 1. Next play, we get a big-man touchdown and a redemption story. Dennis Kelly, who gave up the sack-fumble filling in for Lewan earlier, lines up as an eligible receiver and is wide open in the end zone for the score. Titans up 14-3.
Bryan Knowles: I’m pretty sure Derrick Henry just ran this one into the books, running 74 yards to give the Titans a 21-3 lead. And then the Titans recover a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, so, uh, yeah. At least the Cowboys-Patriots game is still close.
Vince Verhei: Once again, Derrick Henry destroys the Jaguars, this time on a 74-yard touchdown run down the left sideline. He did not have the stiff-arm that James Washington did for Pittsburgh earlier, but he did stiff-arm Jarrod Wilson twice while tightrope-walking the boundary.
DERRICK HENRY DOES IT AGAIN.
— NFL (@NFL) 24 November 2019
And then Jacksonville fumbles the ball back to Tennessee on the ensuing kickoff, and Henry scores another touchdown on first-and-goal, and Tennessee suddenly leads 28-3.
Derrik Klassen: How does Derrick Henry always turn into Walter Payton against the Jaguars? I think Henry is a generally good back, but against the Jaguars, he always rips off one insane run with a handful of broken tackles. It’s made even funnier by the fact that he’s from the Jacksonville area. It’s the most Jaguarsian curse possible.
Vince Verhei: Make it four touchdowns in barely eight minutes (and three in their last five offensive plays) for Tennessee. A.J. Brown catches a slant route off play-action right at midfield and zips into the end zone untouched for a 65-yard score. That makes it 35-3 and I’m officially focusing on Pokes-Pats now.
Vince Verhei: The Jaguars blog at SBNation has declared the season over during the third quarter of a November game. And, I mean, I don’t blame them.
Tom Gower: With only two games in the window and a number of larger cities getting the game as a single-header affair thanks to the local team playing early, this game ended up with more attention than it deserved.
As has been commented upon, it was a nominally even affair for the first 30 minutes, with Tennessee holding a 7-3 lead at the half thanks to a red zone turnover. It was kind of a good and kind of a sloppy first 30 minutes by Tennessee. They got a number of chunk plays to move to or into scoring position, basically all of them thanks to an undisciplined Jaguars defense that seemed unprepared for a steady diet of misdirection-type plays from the Titans. Ryan Tannehill naked boot for 20 yards to start the game. Plow Derrick Henry into the line a couple times, nobody other than Myles Jack (easily blocked by the men charged with it) recognized the screen to Dion Lewis on third down. The second drive was the one with the screen to Derrick Henry that got called back. They got into scoring territory with a pass to non-receiving tight end MyCole Pruitt. Ryan Tannehill found the end zone on a scramble the next drive, which featured some “you’ll make the tackle, right?” work on defense. This wasn’t the 2008 Thanksgiving Day annihilation of the hapless Lions, where “we’ll run misdirection the first five plays and quit trying after we’re up 14-0” was the order of the day, but the second half brought the really big plays as it went from 7-3 to 35-3 in one heck of a hurry. After that, it was all over but the shouting and the only remaining drama was whether Tannehill would go the distance or Marcus Mariota would get some snaps in garbage time and/or the closing kneel. He did not.
Nobody’s going to care and I’m not in the mood to write it up right now, but it seems like it might be time for a franchise reset in Duval even if teal-colored glasses could theoretically point to the “we won 17-7 after going down four scores” as progress of a sort.
Dallas Cowboys 9 at New England Patriots 13
Scott Spratt: Great play there by Matthew Slater to block a punt when he wasn’t directly in line to block the kick. He had to reach back across his body but basically took the ball right off of Chris Jones’ foot.
N’Keal Harry caught his first career touchdown two plays later. 7-0 Patriots in the rain in New England.
Aaron Schatz: Cowboys have gone three-and-out on two of their first three drives. The third one was a nice march down the field until Brett Maher doinked a 46-yard field goal try. Stephon Gilmore has totally erased Amari Cooper so far, I don’t think Dak Prescott has even looked at him. Patriots offense is getting much more rushing yardage than usual for this year, with some big holes, but they’ve had poor pass protection and so nothing has really worked … until the Patriots just blocked a Cowboys punt which gave them great field position. Don’t need a lot of offense when you start with the ball on the Dallas 12. One run, then a 10-yard touchdown pass to N’Keal Harry, his first of his career, and it’s 7-0 Patriots.
Bryan Knowles: Well, Dak did finally look towards Amari Cooper, and Gilmore makes an incredible diving pick to take the ball away.
Aaron Schatz: Offense went three-and-out, though, Tom Brady put it past Julian Edelman’s fingertips on third-and-7. Nick Folk 44-yard field goal to make it 10-0 Patriots.
Scott Spratt: A false start penalty on the Patriots moves their 41-yard field goal attempt to 46 yards. That may have been the difference as Nick Folk missed it close but wide to the right. Pats still up but just 10-3.
Aaron Schatz: Tom Brady just had three straight incomplete passes and they did not look good. He has thrown into traffic today, he has overthrown guys, he has been under a lot of pressure. He had a 32-yarder to Jakobi Meyers but that was almost all YAC. Nick Folk had a 41-yard field goal, false start Patriots, so he honked the 46-yard field goal that followed. 10-3 Pats.
Aaron Schatz: I don’t quite understand the Patriots’ clock management on their final drive of the first half. They took their sweet time early on, which means they ended up running out of time on the 30. So instead of trying for a touchdown, they had a 48-yard field goal try by Folk into the wind. It died in the wind and missed to the right. We go to halftime at 10-6 Patriots.
Derrik Klassen: This is not actually related to any game in particular, but I think Rob Gronkowski on the FOX halftime show is maybe the greatest entertainment idea in the history of football broadcasting.
Vince Verhei: My thoughts on Gronk:
— Vincent Verhei (@FO_VVerhei) 24 November 2019
Aaron Schatz: The Cowboys coverage is pretty good here today. I mean, they’re covering two rookie wideouts, but still. Brady has had a lot of plays with nobody open. He just took a sack on third-and-long to end the Patriots’ first drive after halftime.
Aaron Schatz: Dallas three-and-out their last two drives and this drive looked like it was going to be a 10-yard Elliott run followed by three plays and a punt, so effectively four-and-out. But Prescott made a great play, getting outside the pocket on a third-and-8 to extend the play and then finding Michael Gallup with J.C. Jackson just a little bit off him. It looked like the Cowboys would move the chains on the next third down, which was a third-and-3, Prescott finally found Amari Cooper for his first catch of the day, but it got nullified by a holding call on Tyron Smith. Third-and-13 was caught by Tavon Austin out of bounds, so time for another Cowboys punt. Smith is a great left tackle but that was his third penalty of the day.
This game makes me wish I had more intricate weather adjustments for major rainstorms in the DVOA system.
Bryan Knowles: Down 13-6, facing fourth-and-7 from the 11, with six minutes left in the game, Jason Garrett … kicks a field goal.
I mean, I suppose technically there’s TIME left, and it means a touchdown takes the lead rather than just tying it but … no. Just … no.
Aaron Schatz: Dak Prescott finally gets a deep pass to hit, getting Randall Cobb in stride and Cobb added on a bunch of YAC (I believe that’s a technical term) for a 59-yard gain. A pass to Ezekiel Elliott brought them closer to the end zone, but things stalled out with fourth-and-7 on the Patriots 11. It’s 13-6, so there’s no way that Jason Garrett kicks a field goal to turn a touchdown game into a touchdown game, right?
He did. It’s now 13-9 and the Cowboys need a touchdown still, except it would win the game instead of tying things up.
Rivers McCown: Jason Garrett just understands that the NFL rules give you five extra minutes in the fourth quarter if the game is within seven.
Oh, they don’t? Well, nevertheless.
Derrik Klassen: It would serve them right to never see the ball again. Fourth-and-7 is not a high-percentage play but come on. You just went from needing a touchdown to … needing a touchdown.
Prescott bought time nicely on a few of the previous plays, but on the third-down play, I thought he overthrew Jarwin in the back of the end zone when there was a flatter-trajectory pass he could have thrown that would have tied the game.
Aaron Schatz: Well, the field goal may work out, because the Patriots are punting on fourth-and-10 from the Dallas 41 and the Cowboys will get a shot at going 92 yards for what would now be a game-winning touchdown.
Andrew Potter: Awesome. Whatever they do, I won’t get to see it because this game is blacked out on Game Pass in the UK thanks to the league’s broadcast deal with Sky, and RedZone won’t show any more of it after the Jags game went final. Guess there’s nothing else to do but go to bed.
Bryan Knowles: So, by passing up fourth-and-7 from the 11, Dallas has to instead convert fourth-and-11 from their own 25.
And, on the field, it’s ruled that they convert! So it looks like it’s a point for the Cowboys and no point for the narrative … but we’re going to review, and looks like an incomplete pass to me.
Aaron Schatz: We tend to complain a lot about the officiating around here. I certainly didn’t see things closely from up in the press box but let the record state that Twitter is very angry about the two tripping calls on the Dallas Cowboys, especially the one on Travis Frederick that just made that attempt at a game-winning drive a lot harder for Dallas.
Rivers McCown: The great thing about that one is the clip where Mike Pereira defended it to a clearly upset Troy Aikman who was essentially like “Agh!! He’s blocking!”
Aaron Schatz: Here’s a clip of the play. It definitely looks like a bad call based on this clip.
Game on the line
— new-age analytical (@benbbaldwin) 25 November 2019
Green Bay Packers 8 at San Francisco 49ers 37
Bryan Knowles: Things get off to a fast start. Davante Adams makes a huge gain, but gets flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct, pinning the Packers back inside the 25. On third-and-25, Fred Warner gets into the backfield for the sack, Rodgers coughs up the ball, and the 49ers recover at the two. Easy enough to punch the ball in from there, and the 49ers lead 7-0.
Carl Yedor: So far, the vaunted 49ers defense has been putting its stamp on this game. The Packers’ first five drives have consisted of the fumble, three three-and-outs, and a fourth-down stop on the first Green Bay drive that covered more than 6 yards. Impressive stuff thus far from San Francisco’s defense. The offense hasn’t exactly been firing on all cylinders just yet, but they’ve taken advantage of good field position for their two scores. 10-0 a little less than halfway through the second quarter as Green Bay looks to get something going on offense.
Bryan Knowles: The one thing that IS really going right for the packers is Za’Darius Smith against Justin Skule at left tackle — Joe Staley is still out with a hand injury. Smith has a sack and has forced a holding call and a couple other pressures, as the 49ers’ offense hasn’t quite gotten things going yet. Smith’s disrupting a lot.
Rivers McCown: Green Bay really should’ve been the team to pick up Emmanuel Sanders, is what this game has taught me.
Aaron Schatz: Right now, Green Bay has 2.2 yards per play and the 49ers are at 3.0 yards per play and these guys don’t even have a rainstorm to blame.
Bryan Knowles: The 49ers swapped out left tackles, going from Justin Skule to Daniel Brunskill. Since then, the 49ers’ offense has come to life, with a 59-yard field goal drive (which ended up a field goal on fourth-and-2 in the red zone, c’mon Kyle Shanahan) and a 61-yard touchdown drive, with Deebo Samuel racing into the end zone for a 20-0 lead.
Cris Collinsworth suggests that the 49ers’ worry about their receivers has ended with Samuel stepping up. I can categorically state that that is NOT true, but Deebo’s up to 50 yards tonight, after two straight 100-yard games.
Rivers McCown: I’m guessing given the respective DVOAs coming into this game that the 49ers are going to have a ridiculous defensive DVOA score for this one.
When the Green Bay offense isn’t working they look like the 2018 Titans, right down to the part where they don’t play their best running back.
Bryan Knowles: At halftime, the two teams have combined to go 0-for-14 on third and fourth downs, so it’s kind of amazing that 23 points have been scored. Then again, the 49ers have scored on big plays on offense and defense, circumventing third down entirely. At some point, someone’s going to have to convert, one would assume.
The Packers are averaging 1.8 yards per play — 0.5 yards per pass play. Yes, the 49ers’ defense remains very, very good, but Aaron Rodgers is just not being crisp when he does have time. They’ve also been eaten up by penalties — ticky-tack, for the most part, but penalties notwithstanding. The entire offense just looks out of sorts. The Smiths are having a nice day, but even that ended over the last couple of drives when the 49ers swapped tackles on them. There’s plenty of time left, but this is the second time this season Green Bay has come out to California and just laid an egg.
Aaron Schatz: Alex Light, the right tackle replacing the injured Bryan Bulaga, is getting killed out there.
Bryan Knowles: The Packers end the game with 81 net yards passing. That’s the fifth time this season the 49ers have held their opponents to 100 net passing yards or fewer; no one’s had more than that since the 1970s. The only other team to do five in a row in the 2000s were the 2000 Titans and their -23.0% pass defense DVOA.
Rivers McCown: Ah, peak Jevon Kearse days.
Tom Gower: 2000 Titans also did it to the Ravens in the playoffs for a sixth such game, but lost anyway.