Reacting and overreacting to everything that happened on Sunday afternoon. Get the full Sunday breakdown from Andy Benoit and Gary Gramling on The Monday Morning NFL Podcast. Subscribe to The MMQB Podcasts now and it will be in your feed first thing Monday morning
Things That Made Me Giddy
Mitchell Trubisky Plays His Game of the Year: Still left a few throws out there, but the Bears’ 34–22 win against the Lions was by far Trubisky’s best performance and something Chicago needs to get from a guy who’s actual performance has been far inferior to what his fantasy stat line suggests.
Mariota and Corey Davis Making Beautiful Music: Which is a very big deal. Offensively, the Titans look like they’ve found their way after the devastating loss of Delanie Walker in Week 1.
God, I Loved That Mariota Third-and-14 Throw: Had to step up in the pocket, got a little wrong-footed but still put the throw on Davis.
Put Andrew Luck in the MVP Conversation: Another spectacular day for Luck in the Colts’ 29–26 win over the Jaguars, who has quite the mind-meld going with Frank Reich. His interception was another receiver giveaway (this one a wide-open Mo-Alie Cox letting one bounce off his chest and into Telvin Smith’s hands). Since his one truly rocky game—a Week 3 loss at Philly—Luck has a 21-to-six TD/INT ratio over six games, with five of those interceptions entirely the fault of a receiver.
Packers Look a Lot Better When They’re Not Playing the Rams or Patriots on the Road: Even in a mistake-filled game in which the offense was disjointed, they cruise to a 31–12 win against the Dolphins. Soooooo… Super Bowl, right?
Freddie Kitchens Gets the Browns Going Again: This was one where the new offensive boss had a chance to make some hay, and the Browns used the run game to get it going after a rocky first half (thanks in large part to a well-blocked and well-run 92-yard TD for Nick Chubb). Unrelated (well, maybe related): Kitchens looks like Kyle Gass.
David Johnson, 85 Receiving Yards?!?!?!?!?!?!: David Johnson can catch the ball? Who knew! (Well, I mean, everyone knew except for Mike McCoy.)
Chargers: Collecting Wins: Next week, they will return to the home soccer field for the first time in 42 days. Since losing to the Rams back in Week 3, they’ve run off six straight wins, only one of them over a team that currently has a winning record (that would be the Titans). They now get the Broncos and Cardinals at home, with a chance to get to eight wins before a December that includes visits to Pittsburgh and Kansas City. That’s good! A win is a win, collect as many as you can and get to January.
Cardinals Pass Rush Came to Play!: Patrick Mahomes was under constant duress, allowing the Cardinals to hang around. (Though, alas, Arizona’s loss at Arrowhead drops 16.5-point underdogs to 1-1 straight-up on the season.)
Matt Barkley, Calmer of Waters: A nice win over the Jets for Barkley, and a nice win for Buffalo, who need to periodically remind everyone that they’re still an NFL team.
Look, I Mean, the Raiders Are Still Playing: They were all excited after that 42-yard fake-punt run early, they were riled up to go for it on a fourth-and-goal (they didn’t get it on account of being not good). But they can’t be accused of having given up on the season (the players, that is—the front office gave up on the season back in August).
The Saints Are, Obviously, Really Good: For those of you who are going to complain that there is no mention of the Saints in this column. (There, happy?)
Dante Fowler, Doing His Thing: His thing being picking up an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty (looked like it was for magic words spoken to an official) after a third-down stop to turn a Seahawks punt into a touchdown drive. To make up for it, Fowler’s strip-sack of Russell Wilson set up a Brandin Cooks touchdown on the next play.
Washington, After an Absurd Win: In which they were outgained 501-286 (and they still haven’t had a lead change in a game!).
Bucs in the Red Zone: The 2011 St. Louis Rams have been knocked from the record books: The Bucs now have the highest single-game yardage total for a team that scored three or fewer points (501! Blowing away the Rams’ record of 424 in a 24-3 loss at Lambeau in October 2011). How did Tampa do it? Well, they have to give thanks to Pan, the goat god. But also, they brought the ball inside Washington’s 30 six times and went: interception, missed 30-yard FG, made 33-yard FG (huzzah!), missed 48-yard FG, lost fumble, lost fumble.
Packers Special Teams Would’ve Gotten Them Killed Against a Better Opponent: On Sunday, it was a lost fumble on a punt return, a punt blocked, and a first down allowed on a fake punt. They’re just fortunate it was Brock Osweiler’s Dolphins trying to take advantage. (In Green Bay’s defense, they converted their own fake punt later in the game).
Jaguars Have Issues on the Back End: Two blown coverages led to Colts scores, which is a big deal when you lose a must-have game by three.
So… the Lions Had No Use for Eric Ebron, Huh?: Let’s set aside the absurdity of punting a season in exchange for the third-round pick they got for Golden Tate (which they might have gotten a year later as a comp pick anyway, but again, we’re not here to re-litigate that baffling move). But what Ebron is doing in Indianapolis this year (three more touchdowns on Sunday) is quite the indictment of offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter.
Bengals Defense Needs a New Approach: Just hear met out. Instead of having your safeties play with their heels on the goal line on every snap, position one 12 rows deep in the crowd and the other straddling the Ohio/Kentucky border.
Cooper Kupp Goes Down Again: On a non-contact knee injury.
Derek Carr Spikes It on a Must-Have Fourth Down Late: It was a busted screen play, but that’s the game, guy. Just throw a prayer. Or if you’re gonna give up, give up. Carr was all fired up that they couldn’t get lined up in time to run a play, from midfield, down 14, as time expired in the fourth quarter. Weird dude.
There’s My Chippy: Things were nasty in Oakland, especially between Jared Cook and Desmond King. The final garbage-time drive featured Cook catching a short pass and slamming King to the ground with his off hand. On the next play, Cook was targeted on a short pass and Derwin James came up and punished him. They had a little talk, and Adrian Phillips got flagged for being the third man in.
A Gentle Reminder That the Falcons’ Defense Has Destroyed Them: They chose not to bring in talent from the outside after losing Deion Jones and both their safeties, and now they’re playing a bunch of dudes who aren’t very good. It came back to haunt them in a crushing loss at Cleveland.
Sportsbooks Setting Betting Lines on Hypothetical Pro Team vs. College Team Games: Stop it. It’s dumb, it’s pointless and it’s lame.
Giving a Touchdown Ball to Floyd Mayweather: O.K., O.K., we found a celebration worse than the cell phone. Don’t give a football to Floyd Mayweather. Everybody, don’t ever do that. Find a kid next time, Tyler Lockett and Brandin Cooks. Even giving it to an official would be more warm and fuzzy.
Moments We’ll Tell Our Grandkids About
Tyreek Hill Behind the Camera: As discussed this morning, the cell phone celebration was phenomenally lame. This, however—while a risk—ended up being cool based on the fact that Hill captured great footage, including the penalty flag! Hill gets an A-.
Dion Dawkins, Pretty Spry: Nimble feet, nice hands catch away from his frame. (Neat play too, with the tackle-eligible on the short side of an unbalanced line, though Andy is gonna hate that.)
Tom Brady Run After Catch:
This Is Exactly Why I Left My Childhood Dreams of Kicking Tee Retrieval Behind:
What We’ll Be Talking About This Week
Patriots Can’t Wait for That Bye Week: They missed Rob Gronkowski in Nashville and Julian Edelman is now banged up. New England couldn’t get anything going against an underrated Titans defense, but that’s a short-term concern. They’re still the class of the AFC, and they need to be whole for the postseason, especially with what the Chiefs and Steelers are doing.
Jaguars Aren’t Dead, But They’re Getting There: They gave away a few too many plays defensively for this offense to keep up. No one in the AFC South is very good, but Jacksonville is sitting three games behind Houston with an 0-3 mark in the division.
Give Mike Vrabel Some Coach of the Year Love: He won’t win it because folks will say “They were a playoff team last year!” But Vrabel brought in a new program and new coordinators on both sides of the ball, then had to weather injuries to seemingly everyone on the front-seven of the defense this summer. Then had to overcome the loss of Delanie Walker, the offense’s second most valuable player. This is as encouraging as a 5-4 record can be.
Todd Bowles Might Not Be Long for This World (of Head-Coaching the Jets): The biggest crime against football the Jets have committed this year is rushing Sam Darnold. There’s no upside to playing a young quarterback who isn’t ready—at best it will have no long-term effect, more likely there’s now damage to be undone. And giving up 41 points to the Bills could be a breaking point for the staff as a whole. As long as we’re here, how about some wild conjecturing. Based on zero intel, but something I’d like to see happen: Matt LaFleur, New York Jets head coach.
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