Reacting and overreacting to everything that happened in the Week 6 Sunday afternoon games...
Things That Made Me Giddy
49ers Take Full Control of the NFC West: They overwhelmed the Rams in the trenches, with L.A. having to turn to a host of gadget-y stuff to claw out yardage. Robert Saleh’s group won the day handily, and Jimmy Garoppolo and the offense had a huge margin for error in what was an uneven day on that side of the ball.
Deshaun Watson’s MVP Campaign Gaining Steam: The offensive line has been better, he didn’t get much help from receivers in Houston, but he still outdueled Patrick Mahomes. Let’s call it a signature win, because who’s to stop us?
Get Ready to Pen an Apology Letter to Adam Gase: No man should be judged by his work with Luke Falk. The Bills made Sam Darnold look bad in Week 1, because the Bills make every opposing quarterback look bad. Sunday, in a mostly comfortable win over Dallas, Darnold showed what the offense was supposed to be this year.
Kirk Cousins Does What He’s Supposed to Do: There was an overreaction to road struggles at Green Bay and Chicago—two places where most visiting quarterbacks will struggle this season. On Sunday, he had a chance to light up a really bad Eagles secondary, and he did just that (to the tune of 22-29, 333 yards, four touchdowns and one INT, which bounced off the hands of a wide-open Stefon Diggs). Canton is not in his future, but the Vikings can contend for a Super Bowl with Cousins under center.
The Saints’ Secretly Dominant D: Well, not so secret if you follow professional football, but New Orleans has allowed 67 points over four games since Drew Brees went down, and have held its last three opponents to less than 260 yards of offense. Meanwhile, Marshon Lattimore has emerged as the correct answer to, “Who is the current Defensive Player of the Year frontrunner?”
Checkdowns to Christian McCaffrey: No one does it better. (And props to Vernon Hargreaves for absolutely nailing that pratfall.)
Miles Sanders Running Downfield Routes Out of the Backfield: It is tough to cover, leading to a long touchdown and another long play for the Eagles. That’s Doug Pederson pulling from the old Andy Reid playbook.
Kirk Cousins and Stefon Diggs Are Deeply In Love Again: Facing the Giants then the Eagles secondary in back-to-back weeks will fix a lot of relationships.
Texans O-Line Coming Together: Deshaun Watson has now played back-to-back games without being sacked. This is what Bill O’Brien was dreaming of when he traded 17 draft picks and an Indecent Proposal-style night with Toro the Texans mascot to get Laremy Tunsil. If not for a couple of drops, Houston would have flirted with 50 in Kansas City.
Seahawks Can Counterpunch: They came back, on the road, in a game they trailed 20-6 in the first half and 28-25 in the last 10 minutes. And it didn’t seem like they broke much of a sweat on the game-winning drive, when they went 79 yards on nine plays and only faced one third down along the way.
Lamar Jackson’s Legs: It’s a bad Bengals defense for a lot of reasons, but Jackson’s performance emphasized the lack of athletes in Cincinnati’s defense. Jackson rolled up 152 rushing yards and often looked like he was playing at a different speed. Probably because he was.
Vic Fangio’s Defense Plays Hard: And well. Yeah, it was only the Titans (and, worse, the Tannehill-led Titans in the fourth quarter). But this is back-to-back dominating performances from Fangio’s group, and they came after an 0-4 start to the year.
Panthers Pass Rush: And this is without KK Short. They overwhelmed a pretty, y’know, O.K. Bucs offensive line in London.
George Kittle After the Catch:
That One Time Andy Dalton Wasn’t Under Immediate Pressure: That was good for the Bengals.
Brett Maher From 62: To end an otherwise ugly first half for the Cowboys. Long field goals are good for the soul.
Brian Flores Goes for Two: As a favor to the general public, after pulling to within 17-16 in the final seconds against Washington. Did they get it? It doesn’t matter. It was a great decision because it guaranteed a conclusion to the travesty that was Washington-Miami.
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These Are the Browns: They’ll probably get better as the year goes on, but right now they are a thoroughly mediocre football team with a flawed offense, struggling young quarterback and defense that is more a collection of pieces at this point. Browns fans, circle 2020 on your calendar. You know, your calendar that only tracks years instead of months and days, which you mostly regret purchasing, but this is a good use for it.
Rams Don’t Have the Answers: The offensive line continues to get de-pantsed (they lost struggling young guard Joseph Noteboom in this one), and the domino effect is that Jared Goff is having an awful time getting anything going. The little they accomplished against the 49ers was more smoke and mirrors than effective, consistent offense.
The Chiefs’ Defense: They’re still just bad. They couldn’t get any heat on Deshaun Watson on Sunday, and they’re just not very good on the back end (they would have given up 50 if not for a series of drops by the Texans). Frank Clark has been invisible too often. Steve Spagnuolo is stylistically different than Bob Sutton’s 2018 group, but the results are the same.
Dan Snyder’s Team: Still a Punchline: If you ever wanted to see the NFL version of a Washington Generals intrasquad scrimmage, you got it in Miami on Sunday. I know somebody probably had more points than the other team, but I hereby award a victory to nobody.
Eagles Wasting Carson Wentz’s MVP Season: And make no mistake: Considering the injury issues among their skill position guys, anyone not putting Wentz firmly in the MVP discussion is legally inebriated.
Jameis Winston’s Ball Security: The game-opening interception was a ridiculous risk/reward miscalculation—Luke Kuechly had dropped and shut off the passing lane, Winston tried to cram it in anyway, essentially throwing a 50/50 ball where the potential reward was a six-yard gain. At the end of the first half in the red zone, he got loose with the ball in the pocket and was bailed out by a miracle recovery of his fumble. The very next play he moved outside the pocket doing his Shady McCoy impression and this time lost a fumble. The second-half turnovers were . . . whatever. But the ones when the game was within reach weren’t calculated risks gone awry, they were just bad football.
Will Fuller’s Hands: As the old saying goes, when you catch 35% of ’em, you drop 65% of ’em. Fuller left two, maybe three touchdowns on the field in K.C.
Ryan Tannehill Comes On for the Titans: [audible groan]
That Eagles Secondary: We know they lack talent at the cornerback spots, but they were also having communications issues on the back end (or at least they were anytime Stefon Diggs ran downfield). Go get Jalen Ramsey, Howie Roseman. Two first-round picks. To not do it would be malpractice.
Josh Norman Is a Human Highlight Reel: In that he has been featured on an inordinate number of highlights for opponents. Today’s was the late DeVante Parker TD that puled the Dolphins to within 17-16 in the final seconds.
Dolphins Borrowing Heavily From Rutgers’ Playbook: Josh Rosen completed 15 passes for 85 yards before getting benched. That averages out to overwhelming shame.
People Hurdling Other People Rather Than Hurdles: It is, admittedly, still kinda neat when it works. But we saw T.J. Hockenson concussed last week, and this week featured Mark Andrews forgetting he was carrying a football mid-hurdle. The conclusion is clear: Hurdling is for losers. Look for my PSA during Week 7 games.
Mahomes Gives Seven Away at the End of the First Half: With 32 seconds left in the first half and the ball at your own 20-yard line, ball security is of the utmost importance. In a stroke of absolutely Bortlesanity, Mahomes had it stripped, and the Texans scored on the next play.
Joey Slye Misses the Opportunity of a Lifetime: The Panthers kicker had the best chance anyone has ever had at the fair-catch—free-kick at the end of a half (the oft-discussed but seldom-exercised rule). After a series of penalties backed them up, the Bucs’ last-second punt came down at the 50-yard line, setting Slye up for rush-less 60-yard attempt. He pushed it right. The dream has died.
Matt Bryant Blows It: Not a whole lot else you can say about it, and the battle for a second win, in mid-October, in Arizona, is far from the biggest stage he’s ever kicked on. But he flat-out shanked a potential game-tying PAT in the final two minutes.
This Buccaneers Schedule: L.A., then New Orleans, then London, then presumably the island nation of Nauru, then I guess Galatea, Neptune’s fourth moon. It will be 48 days between home games for the Bucs. The absurdity of the international series and the outright stupidity of Thursday Night Football throw things off, but Howard Katz’s crew has to be much better than this.
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Moments We’ll Tell Our Grandkids About
Deshaun Watson as Kyra Sedgwick in The Closer: A gutsy, tight-window conversion on fourth-and-3 to end it in K.C.
Fourth-Down Stop Followed By 92-Yard TD: Just like God intended . . .
The MMQB's Kalyn Kahler Might Be Your Dad:
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What We’ll Be Talking About This Week
Trouble in K.C.: The defense is not getting any better, the offensive line is suddenly not looking very good, and some of those risky throws are coming back to bite Patrick Mahomes. There’s a little more margin for error in the AFC than there is in the NFC, but right now the Chiefs' problems run deeper than the injuries to their receiving corps (which, by the way, had Tyreek Hill back on Sunday).
Vikings Are Here to Stay: They’re the best team in the NFC North, and they’ve already taken their licks at Chicago and Green Bay. The schedule works in their favor. Get back on the bandwagon while there’s still room.
Cowboys Will Be Fine: Relax. If you want to fire Jason Garrett, you're either nine months too late or three months too early. A bunch of goobers wrote the Jets off when they shouldn’t have, and the Cowboys had to play a decent team, on the road, without their starting tackles. The Eagles certainly haven’t pulled away in the NFC East. Dallas will be in it all year.
The Unsinkable Kyle Allen: Unbeaten on two continents! He’s a beautiful complement to a McCaffrey-based offense and resurrected, dominant defense for Carolina. But is he better than a healthy Cam Newton? As the Brits would say: no.
Here Come the Texans!: Right? This time? The offensive line is finally improving, they probably won’t drop multiple touchdowns most weeks, and the pass rush is still there. The secondary is a potential Achilles’ heel, but that’s life, everyone has a weakness. You could call them the second-best team in the AFC and no one would have you committed.
Robert Saleh Is Three Months Away From Becoming a Head Coach: The 49ers defensive coordinator has arrived.
The Dolphins’ Struggles Were All Josh Rosen’s Fault: And now FitzMagic is back, so, fine, whatever. The Dolphins remain an abomination.
Mike Vrabel’s Moustache: Is O.K., I guess.
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