Chops316 Monday Morning Quarterback: 2019 Week 11
The eleventh Sunday of the 2019 NFL season is in the books so here are the different thoughts and opinions I have on various things I witnessed this past weekend. We had teams winning ugly and teams losing ugly. The race for the 2020 #1 draft pick raged on while the playoff picture continues to get murkier. Since the Cowboys won overall I'll say it was a good weekend of football.
Just remember I am a Dallas Cowboys fan and I'm extremely biased. Feel free to agree or disagree about anything mentioned here. All comments are welcome.
Jerry definitely paid the wrong guy
The narrative against Dak Prescott has always been he’s riding Zeke Elliott’s coattails. Hah! Sunday’s 35-27 over the Lions showed once again the Cowboys are Dak’s team now, he’s bringing Zeke along for the ride. Dak tore up the Lions secondary for 444 yards and 3 TDs while Zeke had another lackluster game on the ground: 16 carries, 45 yards 1 TD. At least Zeke contributed to the passing game, he turned a short screen pass into a nifty 17 yard TD reception.
As always the Cowboys got off to a rocky start. Zeke fumbled the ball on his first carry to set up the Lions for a short field TD. This crap has to stop if Dallas wants to beat the real good teams. Fortunately for them the Lions had no answer for Dak and his two favorite targets: WR Michael Gallup (9 catches, 148 yards) and WR Randall Cobb (4 catches, 115 yards, 1 TD). It was also good to see rookie RB Tony Pollard get some touches (2 carries, 12 yards, 4 catches, 44 yards 1 TD). Pollard hasn’t been on the field much lately and I don’t know why because he can make plays.
Never mind, I do know why. Jason Garrett is still the head coach.
While the offense was humming along, the Dallas defense looked shaky. The Lions were missing QB Matthew Stafford and RB Kerryon Johnson yet still managed to score 27 points. That should not happen when journeyman QB Jeff Driskel is leading the way for Detroit.
The Cowboys improved to 6-4 to move a game ahead of the Eagles in the NFC East. They have a big showdown next week against the Patriots and I’m looking forward to it. Dallas has the talent to win in New England, but as we’ve seen too many times this season that doesn’t mean they can get the job done.
Speaking of New England ….
Remember when the Patriots were the best team in the AFC?
When the Ravens beat the Patriots two weeks ago they made a statement that maybe New England isn’t the team to beat in the AFC. In case that news didn’t filter all the way down to Texas they made sure the Texans found out the hard way in a 41-7 thrashing.
Man what a beating. This game was on my local TV and I was looking forward to a hard fought contest. Well it was for a quarter. Then the Ravens decided that was enough and drove down the field consistently for score after score. The Texans had no clue how to stop QB Lamar Jackson. They shouldn’t feel bad, nobody else has figured it out yet either. Jackson tore up the Texans through the air (17/24, 222 yards, 4 TDs) and on the ground (9 carries, 86 yards).
The Texans were so busy looking for Jackson that RB Gus Edwards blew right by them: 8 carries, 112 yards, 1 TD. The Ravens also saw 9 different receivers make at least one reception. This offense is balanced and dangerous.
Baltimore’s defense chipped in as well by sacking Houston QB Deshaun Watson seven times. Ouch. The Texans offense looked lost and only scored a garbage-time TD near the end of the game. By that time Robert Griffin III was playing QB for Baltimore.
The Ravens improved to 8-2 and have a commanding three game lead in the AFC North. The Texans fell to 6-4 and are now tied with the Colts for the AFC South lead. Houston better figure out how to turn the tide fast, they play Indianapolis this Thursday.
Coming off of their bye week and with revenge in their hearts from Super Bowl LII, I expected the Patriots to hammer an Eagles team missing WR Desean Jackson, WR Alshon Jeffrey and RB Jordan Howard. Well the best thing I can say about New England is they won. Barely, 17-10.
The Patriots looked sluggish early and the Eagles took advantage to take a 10-0 lead early in the second quarter. The Patriots started moving the ball little by little to score 3 field goals before the half to get back in the game.
The Patriots drove the ball down the field after accepting the second half kickoff, but needed a trick play that saw WR Julian Edelman throwing a pass to WR Phillip Dorsett to score a TD on third and long. They made the two point conversion and scoring for both teams was done for the day barely 5 minutes into the third quarter.
The Eagles made a desperation drive at the end of the fourth quarter but fell short when WR Nelson Agholor dropped a pass in the end zone on fourth down. He had to dive for the ball, but it did hit him in the hands. A lot of WRs catch that ball.
Of course the Eagles wouldn’t even have been in that position if they stuck to the successful game script they used in the first half. They ran the ball 12 times for 55 yards while throwing 16 passes in the first half. In the second half they only ran the ball 9 times while attempting 24 passes. There was no need to abandon the run since they only trailed by seven, but head coach Doug Pederson loves to pass. I sure hope the Eagles sign him to an extension, as a Cowboys fan I love this guy!
Tom Brady may want to play until he’s fifty, but he is really starting to look old on the field. The Eagles secondary has been burned by a number of QBs this season yet Brady had a pretty blah game: 26/47, 216 yards. And that’s coming off of a bye week. Still the Patriots are now 9-1 and their defense continues to play great. At least when they aren’t getting gashed by the Ravens. Come on Baltimore the dynasty needs to die!
The Patriots weren’t alone
Winning ugly was a theme around the NFL this week. You know the NFL is a copycat league. The Vikings, 49ers and Raiders also decided to join in on the fun.
Coming off of their big win in Dallas last week, the Vikings found themselves down 20-0 to the Broncos at halftime in Minnesota. The Vikings first half possessions ended this way: punt, punt, punt, punt, fumble, fumble, punt. They totaled 47 yards. Oof.
Luckily for Minnesota the Broncos forgot NFL games consist of two halfs and the Vikings found their groove to score TDs on four straight possessions to win 27-23. QB Kirk Cousins erupted for 261 yards and three TDs in the second half, mostly targeting WR Stefon Diggs: 5 catches, 121 yards, 1 TD. This victory is a first for Cousins in Minnesota, previously he was 0-10-1 when the Vikings were behind in the fourth quarter. The Vikings are now 8-3 and trail the Packers by half a game in the NFC North. Their rematch right before Christmas is going to be a huge game.
The 49ers suffered their first loss of the season last week but figured to get back on track with the Cardinals coming to town. Well they almost figured wrong as they needed 19 fourth quarter points to get a 36-26 comeback win over Arizona.
The Niners have been winning by running the ball and playing great defense. They didn’t do either very well on Sunday and QB Jimmy Garoppolo had to bail them out. He threw for 424 yards and 4 TDs, although he did toss 2 INTs. Still it was an impressive performance since the 49ers were missing TE George Kittle and WR Emmanuel Sanders sat out the second half. The Niners improved to 9-1 and stay a game ahead of the Seahawks in the NFC North. They have a big showdown with the Packers this coming Sunday night. I’m looking forward to it.
After winning a couple of close games, I’m sure Jon Gruden was ready for the Raiders to make a statement with the lowly Bengals heading into Oakland. They did, it said maybe we really aren’t that good as the Raiders squeaker by the Bengals 17-10.
QB Derek Carr (25/29, 292 yards 1 TD, 1 INT) and rookie RB Joshua Jacobs (23 carries, 112 yards, 1 fumble) each had a good game but the Raiders struggled to find the endzone. A couple of costly turnovers and penalties didn’t help their situation. The Bengals ran all over Oakland (22 carries for 173 yards) but QB Ryan Finley only managed to throw for 115 yards.
The Raiders are now 6-4 and only trail the Chiefs by half a game in the AFC West. I highly doubt they can overtake Kansas City but a Wild Card berth is still within their grasp.
Around the League
The Chargers decided to buck this week’s trend of winning ugly. Instead they tried their hand at losing ugly. Philip Rivers tossed four INTs in the Chargers 24-17 loss to the Chiefs. Mission complete.
The Chargers wasted a fine effort by their defense. Patrick Mahomes had a piddly 68 passing yards in the first half and the Chiefs were held to just 310 total yards for the game. Since Mahomes is more than capable of tossing for 300 yards by himself in a half that was a strong showing for the Chargers defense.
Kansas City’s much maligned defense wasn’t great, but aided by River’s generosity they were good enough. The Chiefs are now 7-4 and headed into their bye week. It’s fortunate timing since they are pretty banged up on offense. The extra week will also come in handy since they face the Raiders when they return. That game will be a battle to determine first place in the AFC West. Who would have thought that before the season started?
The Saints rebounded from their baffling loss to the Falcons last week to beat the Buccaneers 34-17. A week after being shut out of the endzone Drew Brees returned to form with three TD passes. Bucs QB Jameis Winston lived up to his reputation as a turnover machine with another four INTs. That gives him 18 on the season, tying his career high with six games left to play. It’s time for Tampa Bay to move on.
The Saints improved to 8-2 and have a massive 3 game lead in the NFC South. They played well on both sides of the ball this week. I still think they are the team to beat in the NFC this season.
The Colts smashed the Jaguars 33-13 in a game that saw both teams starting QBs return to action. Jags QB Nick Foles had the better game statistically (33/47, 296 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT) but he received little to no help from his running game. RB Leonard Fournette had a game to forget: 8 carries, 23 yards.
Colts QB Jacoby Brissett didn’t do much with the ball (15/24, 148 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) but he didn’t have to. The Colts ran roughshod all over the Jaguars defense. RB Marlon Mack was the first to run the steamroller (14 carries, 109 yards, 1 TD) before he left the game with an injury. RB Jonathan Williams had no problem picking up right where Mack left off: 13 carries, 116 yards.
The Rams beat the Bears 17-10. This game hit all the weekly trends, the Rams won ugly while the Bears lost ugly.
With QB Jared Goff continuing to struggle (11/18, 173 yards, 1 INT), the Rams turned the offense over to RB Todd Gurley for the first time in a long time. Gurley carried the ball 25 times for 97 yards and added 3 receptions for another 36 yards. It was easily Gurley’s best performance of the season. It’s also the first time he carried the ball at least 25 times in over a year. Through ten games Gurley still hasn’t rushed for over a hundred yards in a game. That probably explains the Rams lackluster 6-4 record.
What the hell has got into the Atlanta Falcons? Whatever it is, they need a lot more of it. One week after beating the Saints they traveled to Charlotte to pound the Panthers 29-3. The Matt Ryan (21/31, 311 yards, 1 TD) to Calvin Riddley (8 catches, 143 yards, 1 TD) connection was all Atlanta needed on Sunday. Pressuring Panthers QB Kyle Allen into 4 INTs didn’t hurt either. The Falcons finally look like the team they were supposed to be this year, but at 3-7 it is too little too late.
Of course even when his team gets pasted, there is no stopping RB Christian McCaffrey. Game script held his carries down, he only rushed 14 times for 70 yards, but he caught eleven passes for 121 yards. The Panthers 5-5 record is going to take McCaffrey out of the MVP conversation, still he is having an incredible season.
It’s official. With their sad 0-10 record the Bengals are the first team eliminated from the playoffs. However they still hold the lead for the first pick of the 2020 draft, so you know at least they have that going for them. The Redskins are right behind them with their one lonely win after losing 34-17 to the Jets.
The Dolphins screwed up the tank by winning two in a row, but came back to reality with a 37-20 loss to the Bills. Their 2-8 record is tied with the Giants for third worst in the NFL. That tie will be settled on the field as the two teams face each other next month. What excitement we have to look forward to in December!
Next week features a number of games that will help clear up the playoff picture. Maybe. A few upsets could make it even messier. Dallas/New England, Green Bay/San Francisco, Seattle/Philadelphia, Indianapolis/Houston, Baltimore/Los Angeles Rams.
Big weekend . Although the upset I'm rooting for the most is Penn St./Ohio St. Go Nittany Lions!
Let me know your thoughts on Week 11.