Chops316 Monday Morning Quarterback: 2019 Week 13
The thirteenth 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. Sunday was a cold day in Pennsylvania, full of sleet, snow and freezing rain. What a mess. At the same time what a perfect day to stay inside and enjoy some NFL action. As an added bonus my Cowboys already lost on Thursday so my TV had a stress-free day.
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.
Super Bowl Preview?
After last week’s disappointments, finally we got a big time matchup that lived up to the hype. It was a cold, rainy afternoon in Baltimore that lent itself to an old fashioned pound-the-ball-defensive-slugfest and that was what we received, with the Ravens beating the 49ers 20-17.
The Ravens coaching staff had a smart game plan. While the 49ers have the league’s #2 ranked defense, they are only ranked 16th against the run. Throwing the ball against San Fran can be a lesson in futility so Baltimore rushed the ball. A lot. 38 rushing attempts versus 23 passes thrown.
Baltimore’s RB committee only had modest success (22 carries, 77 yards), but have no fear QB Lamar Jackson was more than capable of carrying the load. Jackson gained 101 yards on 16 carries with 1 TD. With the wet conditions and stout 49ers defense, Baltimore limited his pass attempts to short throws: 14/23, 105 yards, 1 TD. Jackson didn’t light it up in the air, but he didn’t turn the ball over either. He continues to make smart plays with his arm and legs each week.
The 49ers coaching staff used a similar game plan, relying more on the run than the pass, which was very necessary due to the weather. QB Jimmy Garoppolo was OK (15/21, 165 yards, 1 TD) yet it was RB Raheem Mostert who powered the offense: 19 carries, 146 yards, 1 TD. The 49ers defense deserves credit, they forced the Ravens to punt twice. The Ravens hadn’t punted the ball in nearly a month.
In the end it was a tight, well-played contest on both sides of the ball. The kind of game that usually comes down to the kickers and Ravens K Justin Tucker nailed a 49 yard field goal as time expired. That guy is a weapon.
Baltimore moves to 10-2 and currently hold the #1 seed in the AFC. They travel to Buffalo next week but finish the year against Jets, Browns and Steelers. The path to the Super Bowl in the AFC will most likely travel through Baltimore.
The 49ers fell to 10-2 with a huge matchup against the 10-2 Saints next week. With Seattle’s win over the Vikings Monday Night, the Seahawks and Niners are tied for the NFC West lead with Seattle currently holding the tiebreaker. It is possible for the Niners to go 13-3 and still not win their division. Crazy.
Does anybody want to win the NFC East?
With the Cowboys in a tailspin, the Eagles had a golden opportunity to move into a first place tie in the NFC East. All they had to do was migrate south to Miami and beat the lowly Dolphins. Easy right? HAHAHAHAHA! The Dolphins had other ideas, beating Philadelphia 37-31. Miami stinks at tanking but they are getting better in crushing hope.
This choke job is going to linger on in Philly for a long time. Nearly halfway through the 3rd quarter the Eagles took a 28-14 lead. The game seemed to be in hand, the Dolphins only average around 15 points a game. They needed a trick play on 4th and goal that saw their holder Matt Haack throw a TD pass to kicker Jason Sanders to score one of their TDs.
While the Dolphins were ranked 30th in offense, they do lead the league in one special category: Fitzmagic. Dolphins QB Ryan Fitzpatrick was making his seventh career start against the Eagles with his seventh different team. He decided he was going to make this one count. He lit up the Miami sky as the Dolphins outscored the Eagles 23-3 to close out the game.
The Eagles could find no answer to stop the Fitzpatrick to WR DeVante Parker connection. Fitzpatrick kept throwing the ball up and Parker kept snatching it out of the air. Both had big days: 27/39, 365 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT for Fitzpatrick and 7 catches, 159 yards, 2 TDs for Parker. TE Mike Gesicki chipped in with 5 catches for 79 yards and his first career TD.
The Eagles offense moved the ball easily in scoring their first 28 points, but then they just fell off a cliff with the defense. Neither could do squat in the last quarter and a half. QB Carson Wentz had his best game in a while (28/46, 310 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT) with WR Alshon Jeffrey being his favorite target: 9 catches, 137 yards, 1 TD.
If there was any doubt before, there is none now. The NFC East is the worst division in the NFL. Either Dallas or Philly will win although neither team seems very interested in doing so.
What happened to tanking?
The Dolphins weren’t the only team to make a mockery of tanking this weekend. The Cincinnati Bengals got off the schneid to win their first game of the season 22-6 against the hapless Jets.
The return of QB Andy Dalton gave Cincy a boost since they finally had a passing attack again. Dalton wasn’t great (22/37, 243 yards, 1 TD) but good is usually enough to down the Jets. Of course Dalton could have had a better day if his receivers remembered how to catch passes, but when you’re 1-11 it all can’t be roses.
The Jets offense had scored exactly 34 points in each of their three previous games, but couldn’t do squat against the Bengals lousy defense. Plenty of blame to go around, the Jets couldn’t pass and they couldn’t run. Yet still it wasn’t a completely useless effort for the Jets. They did manage to set a new NFL record by becoming the first franchise to lose to two teams with 0-7 or worse records in the same season. Congrats New Jersey!
With the win Cincinnati is in danger of losing the highly coveted #1 pick in the 2020 draft. Maybe. The Redskins helped to bail them out by beating the Panthers 29-21 for win number three. QB Dwayne Haskins did very little, but the RB duo of Adrian Peterson (13 carries, 99 yards, 1 TD) and Derrius Guice (10 carries, 129 yards, 2 TDs) powered the Skins to victory.
Three straight losses by the 5-7 Panthers have killed their feel-good story of the season. QB Kyle Allen has fallen back to Earth after his impressive start, but the most surprising thing about Sunday’s game was how Washington managed to contain superstar RB Christian McCaffrey. The Skins defense is awful yet you wouldn’t know it by looking at McCaffrey’s numbers: 14 carries for 44 yards on the ground and seven catches for 58 yards in the air.
The New York Giants on the other hand are still trying to give the Bengals a run for the money. Their 31-13 loss to the Packers dropped their record to 2-10. Giants QB Daniel Jones continues to be a turnover machine, he threw 3 INTs and fumbled once but the G-men managed to recover. Jones makes some nice plays here and there, if he ever learns how to hang on to the ball he might have a future in the NFL.
The Giants won’t admit it, but they would have had a better year with Eli under center. Oh well, they weren’t going anywhere regardless and still have a shot at the #1 pick. At least they kept the spirit of tanking alive. Even though that wasn’t their plan.
What else floats on water? A Duck!
If you got the Monty Python reference in the title of this section you are old like me or have excellent taste in funny movies. Either way kudos to you! But no kudos to the aptly named Cleveland Browns who shit the bed in Pittsburgh, losing to the Steelers 20-13 despite the fact that the Steelers were missing half of their offense.
After the debacle that occurred the last time these two teams met, Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens told the press he informed his squad they have to be smart and not let the rivalry become overheated. That’s pretty comical coming from Kitchens, who posed for a photo while wearing a Pittsburgh Started It t-shirt earlier in the week. How freakin’ stupid. In his defense Kitchens claimed his daughter gave him the shirt and asked him to wear it. Also it was OK since he wore a jacket over the shirt.
So let’s put this all together now. A) He is dumb B) He passed the stupid gene down to his daughter C) In a lame attempt at trying to defend himself he had no qualms in throwing his daughter under the bus. I think I got it.
Sadly for the Browns Kitchens seems to have the same propensity for bad coaching as he does for poor fashion sense. The Browns had success running the ball (24 carries, 106 yards) yet they decided to put the game in QB Baker Mayfield’s hands. D’oh. The Browns offensive line couldn’t protect him (5 sacks) and when he did manage to get a throw off it wasn’t very effective: 18/32, 196 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT.
On the other hand Steelers QB Devlin “Duck” Hodges, the team’s #4 QB when the season started, had a solid game: 14/21, 214 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT. He was aided by WR James Washington who has emerged as the Steelers #1 WR in the absence of JuJu Schuster-Smith: 4 catches, 111 yards, 1 TD. Washington had more receiving yards than Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. combined. Think about that Cleveland.
The Steelers are now 7-5 and in prime position to claim a Wild Card spot. Wow. Who would have thought that after Roethlisberger went down and the team started 1-4? If Pittsburgh makes the playoffs head coach Mike Tomlin deserves serious consideration for Coach of the Year. The injury bug has hit this team hard but it hasn’t stopped them.
The Browns drop to 5-7 and will need divine intervention to sneak into the playoffs. I’ll be surprised if Kitchens doesn’t get fired. He seems way overmatched for the job and clearly lacks leadership skills. Let alone fashion sense.
AFC South is getting interesting
The Houston Texans weren’t fooled by the Patriots 10-1 record. They knew New England was a team in distress and proved it in a 28-22 victory that wasn’t nearly as close as the final score looks. Way to rack up those garbage time stats Patriots!
The Patriots defense is still legit, but QB Deshaun Watson didn’t care. He stepped up and carried the offensive load for the Texans: 18/25, 234 yards, 3 TDs. He added another TD from an option “pass” from WR DeAndre Hopkins. Watson had to be the entire show on offense because Houston couldn’t get the running attack moving at all: 23 carries, 52 yards. Woof.
The Patriots could only muster nine points in the first three quarters before the Texans switched to prevent defense in the fourth. They scored two garbage time TDs to make the final score look interesting, but it was all for naught. QB Tom Brady was brutal in the first half (7/19, 82 yards, 1 INT) and needed those fourth quarter padding stats to finish with a stat line of 24/47, 326 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT.
It was a classic Blake Bortles performance for Brady and the Patriots offense. Look like crap when the game is on the line and prop up the numbers when the other team is just trying to run out the clock. Great for fantasy football owners, not so good when it comes to winning games.
The Texans are now 8-4 and lead the AFC South, but they can’t rest on their laurels as the resurgent Titans moved to 7-5 with a 31-17 win over the Colts.
Tennessee needed big plays by the offense, defense and special teams to get the job done, but dammit they did it. The defense picked off Colts QB Jacoby Brissett two times while the special teams blocked a field attempt and returned it for a TD. On offense QB Ryan Tannehill continued his steady play (17/22, 182 yards, 2 TDs) and RB Derrick Henry continues to smash defenses (26 carries, 149 yards, 1 TD).
The Titans are 5-1 since their strange loss to the Broncos, which seems like a lifetime ago. Tennessee still has two games to play with the Texans so this division is still up for grabs. No matter which team comes out on top, the other has great shot at a Wild Card spot.
Around the League
Supposedly the Vikings have one of the best rushing defenses in the NFL (they were ranked #3 headed into the game) but the Seahawks trampled their ass in a 37-30 victory. Seattle ran the rock 43 times for 218 yards and 2 TDs. QB Russell Wilson threw for two more TDs to complete the shootout.
Minnesota QB Kirk Cousins usually gets the blame for the Vikings failures, but he was the reason they were able to stay in the game. His passing (22/38, 276 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT) propped up a lousy day on the ground for RB Dalvin Cook who left the game in the third quarter with a shoulder injury: 9 carries, 29 yards, 1 fumble.
Seattle improves to 10-2 and takes the lead in the NFC West since they currently own the tie-breaker over the 49ers. The Vikings fall to 8-4 and are a game behind the Packers.
If I told you the Raiders were able to hold QB Patrick Mahomes to 175 passing yards and 1 TD pass you might think Oakland was able to upset the Chiefs. Then again you might not since it is Oakland after all and your intuition would be correct as the Chiefs pasted the Raiders 40-9 despite Mahomes modest day.
The Chiefs didn’t need much from their QB, the defense created turnovers for easy scores. The Raiders looked like a Wild Card contender a few weeks ago, back-to-back ass whoopings have put an end to that nonsense. One bright spot for Oakland has been rookie RB Joshua Jacobs. His 104 yard performance against KC pushed him over 1,000 rushing yards on the year, the first ever Raider rookie to accomplish the feat.
One week after a brutal loss to the Ravens, the Rams captured a little of their 2018 magic in a 34-7 thrashing of the Cardinals. QB Jared Goff had his best game of the year (32/43, 424 yards, 2 TDs) and RB Todd Gurley smashed the Cardinals line (19 carries, 95 yards, 1 TD).
In total the Rams piled up 549 total yards in offense. An impressive number, especially since they pretty much gave up after the 3rd quarter. They defeated Arizona so soundly even backup QB Blake Bortles came into the game. He completed one of two passes for 3 yards and lost 10 yards on one rushing attempt. Yep he’s still got it. How about that, two Blake Bortles references in one post. Man I’m a hack.
The Rams are now 7-5 but still face a hard path to the Wild Card. They have games left with Seattle and San Francisco. And they have to face Dallas too, maybe the 2018 Cowboys will resurface for that one. Then again, maybe not.
I normally leave a few non-descript games out of the weekly post since this post tends to run long with my rambling, but in the spirit of Thanksgiving I’ll mention everybody.
The Buccaneers beat the Jaguars 28-11 in a game nobody outside of Florida cared about. Actually I’m not being fair to Floridians, I doubt many of them cared either. The most amazing thing about this game was Bucs QB Jameis Winston didn’t throw an INT. Wow the Jags defense has hit rock bottom. The Jags offense did as well, after a terrible first half (7/14, 93 yards, 1 INT, 2 fumbles) Nick Foles was replaced at QB by Gardner Minshew.
Speaking of games only the hardest of hard-core gamblers cared about, the Broncos beat the Chargers 23-20. Rookie QB Drew Lock made his debut for Denver and he, well, uh didn’t suck too bad. I guess, you be the judge: 18/28, 134 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT.
It wouldn’t be a Chargers game without a wacky ending. With 9 seconds left on the clock, the Broncos had the ball on their own 25 yard line in a 20-20 game. Why take a knee and play for overtime when you are 3-8? Lock threw a prayer down the field and the Chargers were hit with a 39 yard pass interference penalty. A well-deserved one. Geez San Diego, fall back! All you had to do was prevent a miracle.
Anyway Denver kicker Brandon McManus nailed a 53 yard field goal as time expired. Now both teams are 4-8 and share the cellar of the AFC West. Well technically the Chargers are last since Denver holds the head-to-head tiebreaker. There you go Broncos, something to build on!
Whew what a weekend. The playoff races are heating up, tune in next week to see who continues on their path to glory and who has their season drop right into the toilet. Let me know your thoughts on Week 13.