This article is part of our NFL Observations series.
So that was the sickest thing of all time.
For some background:
Not only did I pivot from the Broncos to the Ravens (actually the right pot-odds play, despite how ludicrously easy the Broncos win was), but I did it for all three of my Survivor entries, including the $1000-entry-fee Circa one I split with Dalton Del Don that had a significant overlay and has fewer than 3000 people remaining, i.e., our equity there was already worth more than $2000.
And it wasn't only the Justin Tucker NFL-record-setting 66-yard field goal that bounced on the cross bar and hung in the air for what seemed like a minute before it went through. Lamar Jackson, who was sacked twice in the final minute with no timeouts, had to convert a 4th-and-19 from his own 16-yard line with 26 seconds left. That Tucker even got a chance was itself a miracle. (I loved seeing him getting ready for it – he looked completely confident and thrilled to be involved in the moment, but that's partly why he's the GOAT with the largest margin between him and the SGOAT at his position.)
It might have taken a decade off my life, but I'm glad I took the Ravens, and I'm glad Marquise Brown dropped those passes. To win a big pool, you always need some luck, and not only did I get, but now my entry is out of phase with the 50 percent who took the Broncos (they have the Ravens available and I have the Broncos.) Being out of phase in an advantage – it allows you to be apart from the crowd without necessarily taking extra risk to do so. But even more, surviving a near miss is good for one's resolve. You've stared death in the face, you had already let it go. There's nothing to stress about any more – do the math, trust your instincts, let the chips fall.
- The 49ers game was annoying. I had the wrong side, SF -3.5, but the game had no flow and was handled badly. Kyle Shanahan punted on 4th-and-1 from the Packers 49, down 10-0, and the Packers drove down and scored the TD anyway to go up 17-0. Al Michaels commented by saying the punt showed respect for Aaron Rodgers, but it was the opposite. If you respected Rodgers, you'd be concerned with him mounting a long drive, not a short one. You worry about giving a mediocre QB a gift short field when you know he can't hurt you from his own 20. With a great QB, you deny him the ball anywhere at all costs. In any event Rodgers made them pay.
- And of course Kyle Juszczyk scored with too much time left at the end of the game, and everyone knew it. But when you're down six, it's tough to stop at the one and trade the definite score for running out the clock.
- Trey Sermon (10-31-1, 3-2-3-0) got some work but didn't look overly impressive. I'd suspect it's still Elijah Mitchell's job if he's healthy.
- It's amazing the 49ers couldn't run against the Packers soft defense.
- Jimmy Garoppolo is present-day Andy Dalton-level. The fumble with five minutes left was inexcusable. He should be on the emergency use/backup circuit, not serving as the starter for a contender. Shanahan should start Trey Lance this week. Why else trade up for the No. 3 pick?
- Davante Adams (18-12-132-1) looked awfully smooth, and his TD catch was the easiest one you'll see all year. The timing with Aaron Rodgers is perfect on the back-shoulder throws and borderline unguardable. He's still WR1, even if he's not fleet of foot.
- Aaron Jones (19-82-1, 2-2-14-0) is a top-five back, as 2020 second-round pick AJ Dillon is merely an expensive (and very large) backup.
- Pass interference is killing the game. There should be two kinds, one, a 10- or 15-yard penalty and two a spot foul. It's ridiculous that a little contact often results in a game-turning play. That should be reserved for egregious instances only. I know, there would be unintended consequences for doing this – compromise calls where before they would have let them play – but you can't equate wiping out or tackling a receiver and giving him no chance on the ball with some slight early hand-checking. And they already do this for roughing the kicker vs running into the kicker.
- Speaking of ticky-tack PI calls, one of them got the Dolphins to overtime and cost the Raiders the cover. That was a perfect example of what could have been a 10-yard penalty under my framework, if it were even called at all.
- The Raiders are a legitimately good team, especially on offense. They have every type of receiver you need – deep threat Henry Ruggs (7-4-78-0), intermediate workhorse Bryan Edwards (5-3-89-0), quick slot man Hunter Renfrow (6-5-77-1) and elite pass-catching tight end Darren Waller (7-5-54-0.)
- Derek Carr has 1,203 yards through three games, a pace for 6,416 yards over a 16 game season. Peyton Manning's record is 5,477.
- It's amazing the Raiders-Dolphins line stayed at 3.5 even after Tua Taglovailoa was ruled out. Jacoby Brissett is an average-at-best backup, but the market didn't value him any less than the 2020 No. 5 overall pick. While the Dolphins did cover in part due to the late PI and a defensive TD, Brissett had 4.4 YPA and zero TDs, i.e., Tua is better, and if they were to play again next week with Brissett, I'd make the line seven.
- Someone had dropped Mike Gesicki in a 14-team league, and I scooped him up. I didn't expect 12 (short) targets, but I'll take it. Jaylen Waddle (13-12-58-0) wishes he had Gesicki's aDOT, though.
- I rarely draft backups to my star backs because even if the starter gets hurt, they often don't replace him 1:1, e.g., Josh Jacobs and Kenyan Drake. But Alexander Mattison (26-112-0, 8-6-59) did a pretty good Dalvin Cook impression.
- Tom Brady is the favorite to lead the NFL in pass attempts. The Bucs running backs combined for nine carries yesterday. Brady's sneaks at the goal line don't hurt, either.
- Alan Seslowsky took Cooper Kupp (12-9-96-2) at No. 9 overall in our post-Week 2 re-draft of the first round, and maybe he waited too long. Kupp has always been efficient, but prior to this year we had only seen the Jared Goff version.
- DeSean Jackson (5-3-120-1) is probably not a fantasy option, but if he can stay healthy he makes a difference for the Rams offense. Every team should have a player the defense has to worry about 50 yards down the field.
- Matthew Stafford (3-0, 942 pass yards, nine TDs, one pick) is the early MVP favorite. Carr is not far behind.
- Sony Michel (20-67-0, 4-3-12) passed the eye test against the toughest run defense in the league.
- Rooting for the Jets in Survivor was comical.
- The Jaguars got a free TD on a failed 68-yard FG attempt at the end of the half and didn't come close to winning. Trevor Lawrence is lucky the other rookie QBs have been so bad too.
- James Robinson (15-88-1, 6-6-46-0) woke up and did what most expected after Travis Etienne went down.
- DeAndre Hopkins (6-3-21) was hobbled with a rib injury, so naturally the Cardinals turned to A.J. Green (6-5-112-0.) I would have bet a fair amount of money that Green's final career 100-yard game took place in Week 7 of 2018.
- The Steelers are on the ropes. Ben Roethlisberger is cooked, they can't run-block, they were missing their top two receivers and the DPOY runner-up from last year in T.J. Watt.
- Najee Harris caught 14 passes on 19 targets. He's Austin Ekeler now.
- JaMarr Chase (5-4-65-2) and Kyler Murray are the two players I most regret not drafting. (Though at least in Murray's case, I feel less badly about taking Josh Allen over him after Week 3.)
- I didn't watch as much of the Giants as I usually do because (1) I was focused on the Ravens for Survivor; and (2) The game was unwatchable. So I mercifully missed the inevitable Evan Engram (welcome back!) fumble and Joe Judge's beyond egregious punt.
- Saquon Barkley (16-51-1, 7-6-43) is healthy again. He showed power and stamina, but the quickness and burst wasn't entirely evident yet. His monster games will come.
- With Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton hurt, keep an eye on Kadarius Toney – he's in the Rondale Moore/Elijah Moore mold, and he could get more work soon.
- Cordarrelle Patterson (7-20-0, 7-6-82-0) led the Falcons in receiving, while Kyle Pitts (3-2-35) barely saw any work. Pitts is a real problem because you have to consider starting the Mike Gesicki types over him, but if you do, you'll live in terror Pitts will go off for two TDs and 100 yards on your bench. Players with theoretical upside are a curse.
- Mac Jones found it easier to caretake against the Jets than the Saints. Think 2025 Alex Smith if he were to come out of retirement.
- Marquez Callaway (5-4-41-1) made a small impact, almost certainly on your bench.
- The Super Bowl loser hangover is real.
- Mike Williams (9-7-122-2) has always been this guy, but injuries and underuse due to bad coaching and a quarterback who couldn't get zip on the ball held him back.
- Justin Herbert outplayed Patrick Mahomes this week. My comps are Dan Marino (with mobility) for Herbert and Aaron Rodgers for Mahomes. If I'm a GM drafting from the existing player pool, they're the easy top two.
- When Clyde Edwards-Helaire (17-100-0, 2-2-9-1) fumbled early in this game, I thought he might be shelved for a month. Instead, they stuck with him, and he had one of the best games of his career. Unfortunately, Mahomes so rarely checks down, the PPR upside is probably limited.
- The Chargers end-game management was a capital offense. Scoring a TD on first-down in a tie game with 32 seconds left, and giving the ball back to Patrick Mahomes (after missing the PAT, no less) rather than running the clock down to three seconds and kicking a chip shot, qualifies as depraved indifference to winning a game.
- The Colts offense is horrific, and it's taking all the skill players with it, including Jonathan Taylor (10-64-0, 3-1-8-0). And that was before Quenton Nelson suffered a high ankle sprain. It's also putting Nyheim Hines (who had a great run for a TD) on the field more as they're playing from behind. I might be stubborn, but I expect as happened last year, Taylor will get his, but this offense is worse than last year's, Carson Wentz looks like the player he was in 2020, and that's not a good thing.
- Derrick Henry (28-113-0, 3-3-31) is catching passes, and that makes him the No. 1 player with Christian McCaffrey hurt. Even three catches per game would be 51 on the year.
- A.J. Brown hurt his hamstring early in the game and didn't return. This is starting to feel like one of those lost years. e.g., Michael Thomas 2020.
- Mark Andrews (7-5-109) had a good game, but Lamar Jackson missed him on one deep throw in the end zone.
- Marquise Brown's drops aren't like Diontae Johnson's from last year – they're 50=yard touchdowns. On the bright side, had he caught the second drop, he would have scored the TD and not had the third one, i.e., he only cost the team two long TDs, not three.
- Lamar Jackson had a modest day thanks to Brown, but played great. The throws Brown dropped were pinpoint, and he kept his poise on 4th-and-19 after being sacked twice and delivered the throw to Sammy Watkins that set up the winning kick.
- If a team had an opportunity to draft Justin Tucker's career with the 10th overall pick, it would be worth it.
- D'Andre Swift (14-47-1, 7-7-60-0) is Alvin Kamara with fewer touchdowns.
- The game I got most wrong was Bears +7 at Browns. I thought it would be close.
- Justin Fields completed six of 20 passes. It feels good to know Dave Gettleman (Gettlechad) got two firsts, a fourth and a fifth for that pick.
- Odell Beckham (9-5-77-0) made a credible return. I want to see him torch a defense for a 50-yard TD though before I'm convinced.
- Kareem Hunt (10-81-1, 7-6-74-0) had the better role than Nick Chubb (22-84-0.) If you have Chubb, it's worrisome that was the case even in a game the Browns dominated.
- If there were a runner up for game I got most wrong it was the Football Team-Bills.
- Zack Moss (13-60-0, 3-3-31-1) came back from the dead and has the better role than Devin Singletary again.
- Josh Allen (358 yards, four TDs, one rush TD) is a can't-fail player if healthy. Consider he got 43 attempts in a blowout win.
- Cole Beasley (13-11-98) is a target machine, and so far it looks like there are three co-No. 1s between him, Stefon Diggs (10-6-62) and Emmanuel Sanders (6-5-94-2). I expect Diggs to separate, but last year's monstrous target share is probably out of reach.
- Justin Tucker is the man