Each week I try to re-watch each NFL game that isn’t already a stand-alone game or that I wasn’t following as my primary game in real time, using NFL Game Pass’s Condensed version. I tried to glean insights that I’ve missed from merely following a game on the Grid Channel or Red Zone, either for the purposes of the show or podcast, or for my Weekly Value Meter. Instead of just jotting them down, I thought that it might be helpful to post them here as I go, too.
Seahawks @ Lions
– After Rashaad Penny looked so good against the Raiders in the London game, I was surprised to see him still behind Mike Davis in the Seattle rotation. I’ve bought into the notion, promoted by RotoWire’s Mario Puig among others, that he’s a superior player, but at some point he has to see the field to be relevant for our purposes.
– Russell Wilson was doing a good job of throwing receivers open in this game – witness the first touchdown to Tyler Lockett.
– Twice David Moore had to make acrobatic, contested catches, including one that originally wasn’t ruled a catch but was successfully challenged.
– In fact, all three of the touchdown receptions were contested.
– Chris Carson always seems to fall forward and get the extra yard. He totally trucked a Lions tackler on his touchdown.
– This could have been worse – the Seahawks didn’t score on a 4th-and-goal from the 1, when Nick Vannett barely went out-of-bounds before catching what was thought to be a touchdown. Instead, it was Lions’ ball from the 1.
– The Seahawks converted a fake punt from their own 3 late in the game. It wasn’t supposed to be a fake necessarily – punter Michael Dickson actually was supposed to take a safety.
– Safety Bradley McDougald was not on the field, tending to a sore shoulder and an illness, when the Lions scored their second touchdown on a blown coverage. McDougald repeatedly drew the praise of analyst Mike Mayock during the broadcast.
– Matthew Stafford’s scrambling ability and a pump fake on the run created the opening for Marvin Jones on the Lions’ first score.
– Ameer Abdullah’s fumbling issues were a big problem in the past and came up quickly on Sunday, as his fumbled kickoff return was a big play in the game.
– The Lions hit LeGarrette Blount on an “against tendencies” screen pass that hit for a good gain.
– Their first drive of the third quarter was stymied on a 3rd-and-2 sack, tough one to take.
– Dumb challenge alert: The Seahawks’ Nick Vannett was targeted on a play in the fourth quarter that was initially ruled a catch, giving them a first down for seven yards. On that play, the Lions committed an illegal contact penalty, that was good for five yards and a first down. Lions coach Matt Patricia challenged the catch – and won – so then the Seahawks merely took the penalty, losing two yards in the process. Either way, it was a first down!
– The Lions are a sneaky bad defense – they’ve allowed just 11 3-and-outs all season through seven games.
– Stafford threw a bad interception down 14 with about 3:00 left around the goal line – game over. They thought as much, as they didn’t bother calling a time out after the first run play following the interception.
Jets @ Bears
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– This was always going to be an “eat your vegetables before you fill up on a dessert” sort of game – you have to slog through this to enjoy Packers-Rams, or Chiefs-Broncos.
– The Jets had a ton of pre-snap penalties in this one, especially in the first half. This shouldn’t be happening in Week 8.
– The Jets just couldn’t get anything downfield, and it’s clear that they were missing Enunwa, Anderson and even Pryor. The remaining receivers really struggled to get separation.
– At one point midway through the third quarter, the Jets had six three-and-outs in eight possessions. I’d argue that they could be the tonic that could cure the Lions defense, but we already saw that game in Week 1.
– Jermaine Kearse had three catches for 30 yards early, then nothing late. Deontay Burnett was the primary receiver for Sam Darnold late in this one.
– It was probably futile, but gutless anyway, when they punted again with 5:30 remaining, down 14, after yet another 3-and-out. They were going for the respectable loss at that point.
– Cody Parkey had a bad miss on the Bears’ first field goal drive – ugly push right, accentuated by the wind.
– The Tarik Cohen screen pass touchdown was the perfect play call – the Jets sent an all-out blitz, and no one was within an area code of Cohen after he caught the ball.
– Jordan Howard had a target midway through the game on 2-and-6 and couldn’t come up with it – it wasn’t an easy catch, but a better pass-catching back comes down with it.
– Kevin White had a big catch wiped out by offsetting unrelated penalties.
– Trey Burton’s first catch didn’t come until halfway through the third quarter.
– Eddie Jackson had a really dumb personal foul penalty that kept the Jets’ drive alive on their lone touchdown.
– The pass rush was effective if not dominant without Khalil Mack in there.
Ravens @ Panthers
– The Ravens had Lamar Jackson on the field on multiple plays on their first drive, including on Alex Collins’ touchdown drive, where the defensive end froze for a second due to the threat of him running, as he had done two plays prior.
– The Ravens had a successful fake punt in their own territory, but it was called back due to a penalty.
– Collins pretty much had no chance on his critical fumble – he was blown up the second he touched the ball. The Ravens recognized that, at least, and kept him in the game after that play.
– At one point Michael Crabtree caught a pass on a crossing pattern and tried to extend the play running laterally instead of turning downfield, and made it worse – he was clearly was slower than those chasing him, and he lost yardage in the process.
– Willie Snead was called for an OPI that wiped out his 3rd down conversion, and then Joe Flacco threw an INT on the next play.
– It was pretty much game over after a failed 4th-and-3 in the third quarter.
– We’ve all seen the highlight now, but the Panthers had an incredibly lucky bounce on their third touchdown, the deflection that Christian McCaffrey came up with. If the Ravens come up with the INT, it’s potentially a far different game.
– The Panthers employed D.J. Moore frequently in the game, both in the passing offense as well as on a couple of running plays. On those receptions, he was covered by Ravens safety Tony Jefferson, who they frequently targeted instead of going after Jimmy Smith. If you’re concerned about Moore taking opportunities away from Devin Funchess or Curtis Samuel, realize that this was a matchup decision that repeatedly worked.
– The Panthers salted this game away running the same naked bootleg to Cam’s non-throwing side, with the second play working even better than the first. You don’t often see that play run back-to-back.
– They had a really clever sequence to steal three points before halftime, taking a delay, then sending in the backup QB to throw a quick out to Greg Olsen to gain the necessary yardage before Graham Gano kicked a long field goal.
Broncos @ Chiefs
– The Broncos’ pass rush is really good. Nick Chubb and Von Miller were getting to Pat Mahomes often in the first quarter and then again in the fourth quarter.
– Phillip Lindsay looked great all day. He ended up with 95 rushing yards and 17 more in the air, but had 50 more yards wiped out on penalties, with the potential for more production eradicated as a result on one drive in the third quarter. He’s getting goal line carries too – this is Captain Obvious Time at this point, but they didn’t miss Royce Freeman at all.
– Brandon McManus had his first miss Sunday, and it was an important one – after a big play got wiped out, the Broncos had to settle for the FG attempt, with the Broncos up 7-3 in the second quarter. They didn’t add on to their lead, and instead the Chiefs drove down and took lead, which they never relinquished.
– Courtland Sutton has great hands, and displayed them again on another deep ball late in the second quarter. It’s no shock that there’s a lot of talk about a trade to free Sutton up for more targets.
– The Broncos had a sequence where Emmanuel Sanders was out in the third quarter with what appeared to be a shoulder stinger.
– When the Broncos ran the ball on third-and-goal from the eight yard line late in the third quarter, down 30-13, I got annoyed, but they only did that to set up a shorter 4th-down attempt which they converted.
– The Chiefs missed center Mitch Morse, who was out with a concussion for the second week in a row. They had a couple of snap penalties on their second drive, including one on 4th-and-goal from the 1, that forced the Chiefs to settle for a field goal.
– No shock here, but the Chiefs did a great job finding and exploiting a mismatch after reacting to what the Broncos were doing this time. Sammy Watkins was the beneficiary, catching eight balls on nine targets for 107 yards. His first touchdown as a great example – he lined up in the slot, isolated against linebacker Todd Davis – one move and he was wide open. I think that they did a good job of avoiding Chris Harris overall.
– Tyreek Hill got a great spot on a third down catch in the third quarter to give the Chiefs a first down, on a drive that ultimately ended with Kareem Hunt’s hurdle touchdown.
– That touchdown, by the way, came on a fourth-and-one from around the Broncos 20, on a shuttle pass.
– The Chiefs pass rush came up huge in the second half when the offense started to falter, creating one turnover on a sack/fumble.
– They also helped salt the game away by picking off a pass on a flea flicker attempt.
Saints @ Vikings
– Michael Thomas’s day actually started well – he had a great sideline catch that the Vikings challenged and failed on the third play of the game, and then caught a long pass from Taysom Hill on the same drive. Alas, that accounted for 64 of his 81 total yards.
– P.J. Williams was picked on early – Thielen and Diggs made highlight reel catches against him. Of course, he got the last laugh with the pick-six, but look for him to see frequent targets against him, especially now that the Saints have acquired Eli Apple. Whether Cooper Kupp plays this week against the Saints takes on a greater urgency now.
– A lot was made of the importance of the Thielen fumble and the pick-six, and rightly so, but the Saints also left some opportunities on the field. Williams had a PI at the goal line on a ball that probably wasn’t going to be caught, on 3rd-and-7, leading to the Vikings’ second touchdown. Alvin Kamara dropped a short pass that would have been a first down, forcing the Saints to settle for a 52-yard field goal instead.
– Late in the game, Eli Apple took an obvious pass interference against Stefon Diggs that probably would have been a touchdown but for the penalty. Thielen instead got the score later in the drive.
– The Vikings ran the ball exceptionally well early, but then went away from Latavius Murray. They seem to be worried about overusing him.
– Forgotten about the Theilen fumble play is that Laquon Treadwell gifted the Saints an additional 15 yards by throwing his helmet at the conclusion of the play. Maybe the Saints still score a touchdown on the drive, but he made it a lot easier for them.
– Everyone has seen and said this, but Diggs clearly stopped his route on the pick-six. Of course, the play was right in front of Cousins and Diggs wasn’t really open even if he had continued the route, but I digress.
– A big sequence early in the third quarter – Diggs got stopped just short on a third down catch, and then the Vikings got stopped on their own 45. I hated the play-call – 4th-and-1, shotgun formation, throwing to their (at-best) third receiver in Treadwell, who was covered by the Saints’ best cover corner, Marshon Lattimore.
– The Vikings just missed a big change in momentum play, when a sack/fumble was overturned into just a sack.
– Down 14 with about three minutes left in the third, Cousins took a sack on 3rd-and-4 from the Saints 49. That just can’t happen – you have to get points in that situation, and losing that yardage prevented them from another fourth down attempt. There just wasn’t enough time after that, as the Saints grounded out a long drive resulting in a field goal and a three-score lead following the punt. It wasn’t quite #PuntToWin territory because of the distance on fourth down, but it was critical.