Well what a week in the NFL, we seen devisating injuries, a Super Bowl rematch and the first offical Steelers Watch Party held in Dublin. It’s been a big week for football as the playoff creep ever closer.
Teams on Bye
Falcons, Colts, Patriots, Saints
Thursday Night Football
Baltimore Ravens 34 – Cincinnati Bengals 20
AFC North football is always a hard hitting affair but this game took its toll on both teams as Lamar Jackson ended the game limping, Mark Andrews is out for the season (ankle) and Joe Burrow is also out for the season (wrist). The Ravens still pulled out the win and their offense continues to function like a well oiled machine. Zay Flowers is a match up nightmare for teams even before the loss of Andrews but without Andrews, Jackson might have to lean heavy on the rookie wideout. Without the big tight end, the Ravens offense will have to go through a rapid evolution going forward.
Just when the Bengals thought their season was heating up, Joe Burrow injured his wrist and has now been ruled out for the remainder of the season. Jake Browning took over late in the second quarter and he was given an impossible task, to beat the Ravens. While he looked good and had flashes during the game, he could not step up and hang with Jackosn and co. Browning will have a little longer to prepare for his upcoming contest against the Steelers in Week 12
Sunday Early Window
Dallas Cowboys 33 – Carolina Panthers 10
While the scoreboard shows a dominating win by the Cowboys, the Panthers hung around until the 3rd quarter and that’s when the Cowboys put the game away starting with a 75-yard touchdown drive that chewed up a bunch of clock in the process. While CeeDee Lamb was contained by the Panthers, Prescott spread the ball around and put the Panthers away for good.
Bryce Young’s trial by fire continues as he still struggles with ball security and the Panthers as a whole seemed undisciplined the entire game, racking up 90 penalty yards. Without the penalties, the Panthers could have delivered a shocking upset as they kept the game close but when you shoot yourself in the foot, there is nothing you can do to overcome those mental errors!
Cleveland Browns 13 – Pittsburgh Steelers 10
The Steelers went into Cleveland facing a backup quarterback, many hoped the Steelers would bring home the win, as did all of Irish SteelerNation who was watching live from Croke Park with Alan Faneca, Santonio Holmes and Dan Roony at the first official Steelers Watch Party in Ireland. Jaylen Warren is the engine in the Steelers offense, he single handedly could have won the game for the Steelers if they had managed their timeouts better. Warren had a total yardage of 145 which was over half of the Steelers total yards in the entire game. Pickett couldn’t make passes as the Browns defenders were in the backfield before he could finish his drop backs. This resulted in Canada calling plays that involved rolling pockets to keep Pickett moving but he couldn’t find open receivers, the Browns pressure was too much for the Steelers offensive line to handle.
Dorian Thompson-Robinson (DTR) came up clutch when it was needed in only his second start, while the Steelers in the 2nd half locked down the short underneath routes, daring him to throw deep, he still managed to march the Browns down the field for a game winning field goal in the final seconds of the game and in doing so, the Browns spoilt the Steelers first Irish Watch Party! The Browns defensive front kept them alive all game, preventing the Steelers passing game from getting any rhythm. The Browns now move into 2nd place in the AFC North, but can DTR run the table and bring them to the playoffs?
Detroit Lions 31 – Chicago Bears 26
The Lion’s roar back in a close game against the returning Justin Fields, down 12 with less than 5 minutes left in the game, Goff finally found his rhythm and dropped a touchdown on the Bears only taking just over a minute off the clock before the Lions defence forced a very quick 3 and out against the Bears. This allowed Goff to drive down the field, chewing up the remaining clock and David Montgomery scored the go ahead touchdown with 29 seconds left on the clock. While the Lions looked sloppy and lost at the start of the game, they closed out the game and put away a division rival when it mattered!
Returning after missing four games, Justin Fields looked every bit the dual threat he’s known to be, extending plays with his legs and making some fantastic throws while on the move. It looked like Field’s return would stop the Lion’s in their tracks however the Lion’s defence was too much for the Bears to handle as Aidan Hutchinson generated a strip sack that led to a safety sealing the win for the Lion’s!
Green Bay Packers 23 – Los Angeles Chargers 20
A young Packers team upset the Chargers who cannot overcome their own mistakes! In this game we saw another host of injuries, the Packers lost two running backs, Aaron Jones (knee) and Emanuel Wilson (shoulder) and then Joey Bosa (foot) went off injured too. Losing two players at one position is a nightmare scenario for a team but Matt LaFleur believes Jones’ injury isn’t too serious and Wilson should be back quickly. Jordan Love didn’t turn the ball over and kept the team in the game, the Packers are young but they are quickly starting to build chemistry, while that won’t have a big impact on this season, next season they should come out stronger!
The Chargers couldn’t put the Packers away, they only went 1 of 4 in the red zone and Keenan Allen dropped not one but two touchdowns which is shocking for a player who normally has hands of glue! The mistakes didn’t end there, as Austin Ekeler fumbled the ball in the red zone causing the Chargers to miss out on points. The Chargers are not the team they once were, the playoffs are a dot on the horizon, that’s how far they are from making them this season.
Houston Texans 21 – Arizona Cardinals 16
While C.J. Stroud continued to impress and put up statistically amazing numbers, the Texans were lucky to escape with the win over the Cardinals. The Texans drove the field early and often against the Cardinals however they failed to score touchdowns on multiple drives, kicking field goals instead. By the end of the game C.J. Stroud had thrown three interceptions in an ugly win, two of those interceptions came after a hard hit forced Stroud to miss a play, he did not look like the superstar rookie for early in the season.
Kyler Murray couldn’t capitalise on the mistakes by Stroud, while Murray did throw a beautiful touchdown to Rondale Moore, they regularly stalled offensively and while they pushed for a comeback, Murray made a few questionable throws which sealed the win for the Texans. The Cardinals might be 2-9 but they are not laying down in these games, and they have the ability to upset even the best teams
Jacksonville Jaguars 34 – Tennessee Titans 14
The Jaguars finally look like their back on form after they put up an impressive win against the Titans on Sunday. Lawrence seemed to be no longer suffering issues with his knee as was able to stand in the pocket and deliver two touchdown strikes to Calvin Ridley. While the rushing attack by the Jaguars didn’t look great, Lawrence was able to rush for two touchdowns himself to wrap up an impressive day.
The Titans need offensive line help, Derek Henry cannot seem to get rhythm and Will Levis is harassed constantly as they cannot maintain a pocket long enough for him to get the ball away. Without a running game the Titans are leaning heavily on Levis and his arm, for a rookie this is never the best outcome and opposing defences know the Titans line is bad as the Jags blitzed 50+% of the time. The Titans are allowing Levis to get valuable experience but they also need to keep him healthy!
Miami Dolphins 20 – Las Vegas Raiders 13
In a game nobody expected to be close, the Raiders hung tough and almost upset the Dolphins. Antonio Pierce has ignited something in these Raiders as their performance has only gotten better since he took over as Interim Head Coach. Aidan O’Connell is looking like a future QB1 for the Raiders, as he dropped several pin point accurate throws and an amazing deep shot for a touchdown to Devante Adams but he did have his mistakes including three interceptions which kept the Raiders from shocking the Dolphins and stealing the win.
The Dolphins escaped, just barely, with the win over the Raiders. Ramsey intercepted the rookie O’Connell twice to help the Dolphins remain alive while Tua himself lost a fumble and threw an interception, but they eventually managed to overcome these mistakes and pull out the win. Hill continued with his 100+ receiving yards in a game against the Raiders, making this hsi 10th game with over 100 receiving yards as the Raiders had no answer for him in this game.The Dolphins are wobbling as the season goes on, when it comes to the playoffs, will they be able to close out these important games or continue to allow teams to hang around?
New York Giants 31 – Washington Commanders 19
Daniel Jones? Forget about him! Tommy DeVito stepped up for the Giants with an impressive performance and a win to sweep the Commanders on the season. The undrafted rookie did have his defence to thank for his career day as they recovered three fumbles and intercepted the ball three times, setting up DeVito in healthy field position and with the help of Barkley, the Giants finally looked like a complete football team, a complete turn around from last week.
Sam Howell, its feast or famine, has flashes of unbelievable QB1 play and then he has a three interception game against the Giants. Howell was pressured all day and he couldn’t handle this pressure, making question throws on 3rd and long and throwing an interception in the 4th quarter on a 3rd and long. It was not a day Howell would like to remember, which he’s had a few of this season and he’s still dealing with sack issues (four today). Howell needs a lot more help if the Commanders expect him to remain competitive under centre.
Sunday Late Window
San Francisco 49ers 27 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers 14
The Buccaneers’ problem is the same one they have had all season, they don’t have an effective run game and they rely on Mayfields arm to win them games. While Baker has his moments and he can at times rally the Buccaneers but when your team is completely one dimensional, the opposing defence is gonna sell out on the pass every down. While the Buccaneers looked like they could upset the 49ers, there were two trips to the red zone which produced zero points, against the 49ers, every trip needs to produce points. GIve Mayfield a running attack and the Buccaneers could have squeaked into the playoffs.
Purdy is perfect, recording a perfect passer rating against the Buccaneers, only missing four passes the entire game and with George Kittle seeming unblocked the entire game the 49ers are on a hot streak. With Bosa and Young starting to build chemistry, the 49ers defence is going to be a problem heading into the final months of the season. A possible looming rematch between the Eagles in the Championship game looks to be looming, but this time Purdy (hopefully) won’t be injured.
Buffalo Bills 32 – New York Jets 6
The Zach Wilson era in New York is finally over, being benched after another awful performance and Saleh officially announcing that Wilson will be 3rd string going forward behind Tim Boyle and Trevor Siemian. By the 3rd quarter the Jets had benched Wilson for Boyle and by the looks of things, Wilson will not see the field for the remainder of the season unless something catastrophic happens. On the plus side, the Jets finally ended their touchdownless streak, scoring for the first time in 41 drives but failed to score on the two point attempt.
The Bills new Offensive Coordinator, Joe Brady, makes his debut with a dominating win over a division rival, the Jets. The Bills started off slow in the first half with a couple of field goals, a turnover and several punts. When the second half kicked off, so did the Bills offensive attack. Josh Allen racked up two touchdowns and nearly 150-yards in the first two drives of the second half. If the new OC can get the Bills moving hot from kickoff then they might just find enough rhythm and mojo to be a danger in the playoffs, a contender like everyone hoped they’d be in the offseason.
Los Angeles Rams 17 – Seattle Seahawks 16
Geno Smith took a hard hit and injured his elbow late in the 3rd quarter, the Seahawks were leading 16-7 at this point when they had to turn to Drew Lock. Once this happened the Seahawks offense ground to a halt, they did not gain a single 1st down once Lock entered the game and a costly interception by Lock provided the Rams with a field goal in an already tight game. Smith did re-enter the game despite the injury and drove the team down the field into field goal range for the win, only to watch Jason Myers kick sail wide right.
Matt Stafford is back after missing a game due to a thumb injury, one that previously caused issues for him in Detroit, many would question if he was healthy after such a slow start against the Seahawks and losing Kupp late in the 2nd quarter didn’t help the struggling offense. However Stafford, despite his mistakes, led the team on two late back to back scoring drives, including a beautiful touchdown pass to Puka Nacua. They beat their division rival twice this season and are still in playoff contention after this win.
Sunday Night Football
Denver Broncos 21 – Minnesota Vikings 20
The Broncos win again! After a terrible start to the season, they find themselves 5-5 and Wilson finally looks like he’s himself in this offense. Even while being hounded by the Vikings defence all night long, Wilson led the team to four field goals in four red zone trips and then dropped a dime to Courtland Sutton for a 15-yard touchdown pass that finally put the Broncos out in front. While it’s not impossible, the Broncos could still sneak into the playoffs if they manage to win out, let’s ride!
The Josh Dobbs win streak in Minnesota came to an end as the Broncos defence kept the pressure on him all night. Dobbs fumbled three times, lost one and threw an interception which cooled off his hot start against the Broncos. While he kept the Vikings close in this match up, even giving them an 8 point lead in the 3rd quarter, Dobbs wouldn’t find the end zone again in this match up. The Broncos brought the Vikings five game winning streak to an end.
Monday Night Football
Philadelphia Eagles 21 – Kansas City Chiefs 17
The Super Bowl rematch, the Eagles looked to put their stamp on the NFC and put the AFC on notice, and they rolled into Arrow Head and left with the win in a tough road game. The weather didn’t help either team as footing was questionable at times and heading into the locker room at half time down to the Chiefs, the Eagles needed to find the momentum to rally back.The biggest change came from the Eagles defence who shutdown the Chiefs in the 2nd half not allowing any score, the defence kept the Eagles alive long enough for the offense to do just enough for the win.
The Chiefs have problems at wide receiver, during the entire game, Mahomes found his receivers repeatedly failing to bring in the passes he placed perfectly. Late in the game, Mahomes dropped a perfect deep ball for the go ahead touchdown only to watch Marquez Valdes-Scantling drop it, the pass couldn’t have been thrown better! This is an ongoing problem for the Chiefs and something you want addressed this close to the playoffs, added to their inability to finish off the Eagles, the Chiefs have multiple glaring issues to fix before the postseason, otherwise they might not make it that deep.
That’s it for this week, as the playoff seeding starts to flesh out, teams will be scrambling to fix glaring issues and scrambling to keep in playoff contention. We are at the point in the season were even one loss can mean the different between football in January or not!