I have a high tolerance for bad football when things are going my way. I loved the Seahawks-Broncos Super Bowl because I bet big on Seattle, including some alternative lines where I was laying 7.5 points at 3:1 odds. But when things are going against me, and the product is terrible, I’m like a celiac getting intravenous Wonder Bread.
I watched the Giants-Redskins and Chiefs-Lions primarily in the early slate. The Redskins made the Giants defense look like the 1986 version. I know having a QB that can sustain drives keeps them rested, but Case Keenum was bad and Dwayne Haskins was worse. Thank God the Giants drafted Daniel Jones (two INTs of his own) instead.
And the Lions outplayed the Chiefs in a hard-to-watch fumble-fest. The Chiefs had a 14-point play (a fumble recovery near their own goal line, returned untouched for a TD), that distorted the outcome, but even without Darius Slay, the Lions secondary largely held Mahomes in check. It’s hard to shake institutional memory, but maybe the Lions are for real.
• The Cowboys for God knows what reason love to run the ball on 2nd-and-1. They did this against the Saints even though Zeke Elliott has not had success running against this front for the last eight quarters. It makes no sense to move the ball two yards up the field for a 1st-and-10 rather than have it two yards back at 2-and-1 when the latter is a far better down and distance.
• Alvin Kamara is impossible to tackle. The Cowboys held him largely in check because they have the league’s best linebackers, but even so, it was a chore.
• Teddy Bridgewater played passably as a caretaker, and the pick wasn’t his fault. The Saints have won at Seattle and against Dallas without Drew Brees. Michael Thomas caught all nine of his targets — maybe he, Kamara and the system make Brees more than the other way around.
• Gardner Minshew looked like Fran Tarkenton — scrambling inside the pocket with bodies around him to make big throws on key downs. The stats don’t jump out much, and he took five sacks, but he got the win against an ostensibly good defense on the road.
• Leonard Fournette has finally diverged sufficiently from the Trent Richardson career path. His 81-yard run was Beast-Quake-esque. It would be nice to see him get into the end zone one of these days, but the usage is there, and this offense isn’t a total doormat.
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• D.J. Chark had a TD called back and he also made a great deep catch out of bounds. He’s a rising star, modest numbers Sunday notwithstanding.
• Joe Flacco looked reasonably competent (though Jaylen Ramsey was out), and both Emmanuel Sanders and Courtland Sutton are top-30 wideouts.
• Kirk Cousins was a pinata. He had no chance against the Bears defense. I believe you can still win with defense and running, but you need a mobile QB and a decent offensive line.
• I didn’t watch enough of Chase Daniel to form an opinion, but I saw him on Thanksgiving and against the Giants last year. He might not be worse than Mitch Trubisky, but he’s not good, either.
• How funny would it be if the Cardinals had to draft another QB in 2020? Kyler Murray scored a rushing TD, but no wideout saw more than five targets in a game where the Cardinals were trailing throughout. David Johnson’s getting plenty of work as a receiver though.
• Larry Fitzgerald moved into second place on the all-time receptions list, nearly fumbling the tying reception before getting a short pass set-up specifically to get him past the milestone. Maybe he’ll pass Jerry Rice when he’s 45.
• Everyone’s sleeper pick for the week, Will Dissly, delivered with 57 yards and a score, continuing the the trend of TEs torching the Cardinals. Maybe next week, Tyler Eifert will be the recommendation? I’m always surprised when it works out so straightforwardly, as if the team with the weakness isn’t shoring it up, or the opponent is exactly like the previous ones.
• Tyler Lockett was forgotten again, but I’ll chalk that one up to game-flow. Chris Carson was a workhorse, and he did not fumble.
• I was afraid of the Chargers, so I put two survivor entries on the Rams.
• Jared Goff threw for 517 yards, but had three picks, two sacks and the game-sealing fumble. The Bucs defense is decent, but the Rams don’t have a single star on their offense.
• Why are the Rams unwilling to get third-round pick Darrell Henderson on the field? They need a spark. Todd Gurley looked sluggish, but he scored twice and finally got involved in the passing game.
• Mike Evans got on the board with a 67-yard TD, but until then, it was all Chris Godwin. Seems like they alternate weeks as to who they feature. One guy they never feature is O.J. Howard.
• Jameis Winston predictably threw the killer pick six, but it was his only blemish. He vastly outplayed Goff.
• It’s crazy last year’s Bucs regime drafted Ronald Jones in the second round, then decided to mock and bury him. Jones ran hard and broke a lot of tackles — he’s certaintly better than Peyton Barber.
• Over the last two years Christian McCaffrey has gone from Alvin Kamara-level usage to peak Le’Veon Bell. He was the entire offense.
• Maybe the Texans should deal a few more first-round picks for offensive line help.
• Finally the Baker Mayfield/Nick Chubb we expected on draft day — of course, it happened in Baltimore. That said, two struggling players having their best games in an unlikely spot happens all the time. I also wonder whether the Ravens defense — that had trouble at home against the Cardinals — is even top-20 right now. I also didn’t realize how fast Chubb is.
• Odell Beckham has a cannon for an arm, though I’m not sure that’s consolation for his fantasy owners.
• Wayne Gallman is just a guy, but in the Shurmur/Jones offense, that’s apparently useful enough. Golden Tate will cut into everyone’s role next week, though.
• I made the Dolphins +16 my best bet, and it looked great all game until it didn’t. I’m still resentful the Chargers, up 20, threw for a game-ending first-down on 3rd-and-6 with two minutes left. Just run the ball and punt like everyone else would have done! It’s like they were trying to cover.
• I didn’t watch much of the Colts-Raiders, and I can’t think of anything to say about it other than I’m surprised the Colts lost.
• Pat Mahomes didn’t look especially sharp. It’s one thing to torch average defenses with the likes of Demarcus Robinson, but against a good one, they missed Tyreek Hill.
• Kerryon Johnson is small and runs a bit upright, but he always passes the eye test.
•LeSean McCoy is the Chiefs starting running back, and I think that remains the case even when Damien Williams comes back.
• Tom Brady had 3.8 YPA against the Bills, while Frank Gore averaged 6.4 yards per carry. Somehow the Pats still won in Buffalo. Two weeks ago, it looked like the Patriots with Antonio Brown might have an elite offense, but on Sunday they couldn’t run or throw.
• The odds in 2010 that Frank Gore would have a 100-yard game in 2019 would have been astronomical.
• I didn’t see much of Titans-Falcons, either, but it feels like Matt Ryan is the prohibitive favorite to lead the league in passing attempts.