NFL 2022 Week 4 Recap

October 2nd, 2022

NFL 2022 Week 4 Recap

Miami Dolphins at Cincinnati Bengals was the Thursday night game. The Dolphins were a surprising 3-0 after an emotional win over Buffalo. The defending AFC Champion Bengals were a surprising 1-2 on the season. Joe Burrow went right to work after a touchback, hitting jammer Chase for 8, Hurst for 19, and Tee Higgins for 10. Burrow then hit Hurst for 6 with defensive unnecessary roughness adding 15. On 3rd and 1 from the Miami 5, Joe Mixon ran it in to make it 7-0 Bengals.The Dolphins after a touchback moved 70 yards in 10 plays. On 3rd and 4 from the Cincinnati 5, Tua Tagovailoa threw incomplete. Jason Sanders hit the 23 yard field goal to get the Dolphins within 7-3. An interception of Tagovailoa had the Bengals move 10 plays to a 4th and 1 at the Miami 24. Mixon got the carry and got stuffed for no gain. Sanders hit from 48 in the second quarter to get the Dolphins within 7-6 but then tragedy struck.

From his own 42, Tagovailoa threw incomplete but roughing the passer meant 15 yards for the Dolphins. Yet Tagovailoa was playing hurt. He had a concussion last week. The next hit was worse, On 2nd and 7 from the Cincy 40, Tagovailoa was sacked for a 10 yard loss and stayed down. He was down for over 10 minutes on the field. His body seized up in a frightening scene. He was carted off the field, but in the hospital he had use of all of his upper and lower extremities. TeddY Bridgewater came in the game with the Dolphins facing 3rd and 17 from midfield. Bridgewater calmly hit Sherfield for 16. Yet on 4th and 1 from the Cincy 34 with 4 1/2 minutes left in the half, Mike McDaniel was in a somber mood, not a gambling one. Sanders’s 52 yard field goal try to give the Dolphins the lead was blocked, further deflating them. 

Given great field position, the Bengals soon faced 3rd and 11 at their own 41. Burrow connected with Higgins for a 59 yard touchdown and a 14-6 Bengals lead. Yet Bridgwater is no ordinary backup. He suffered a leg injury that cost him 2 years of his career. Now he was the one filling in for the injured starter. Bridgewater then received an unnecessary hit, resulting in a 15 yard defensive penalty. At the 2 minute warning from his own 46, Bridgewater hit Jalen Waddle for19 and Tyreek Hill for 11. On 3rd and 5 from the Cincy 19, Bridgwater hit Sherfield for 12 and Chase Edmonds for the 7 yard touchdown with 9 seconds left in the half. A 2 point conversion would tie the game, but Mike McDaniel opted to play it safe. Again, it is hard to criticize his decision. Again, his kicker let him down as Sanders missed the extra point to have the Dolphins down 14-12 at the break. With 6 minutes left in the third quarter, the Dolphins took over at their own 10. From their 15, Bridgwater hit Sherfield for 16 and then went bombs away to Hill for a 64 yard gain. Yet on 2nd and goal from the 2, Mostert got stopped. Bridgwater then threw incomplete. On 4th and goal at the 2, for the third time there would be no McDaniel gamble. Sanders hit from 20 to put the Dolphins up 15-14  after three quarters.

The Bengals soon faced 3rd and 11 at their own 24. Zac Taylor went to the bag of tricks with the halfback option pass. Burrow got it to Boyd, who went deep to Chase for 23 yards. Burrow then went deep to Boyd for 43 more. Yet on 3rd and goal at the one with 12 minutes remaining, Zac Taylor decided not to go for it. Evan McPherson hit the 19 yard field goal to put the Bengals up 17-15, but the Dolphins now only needed a field goal to take the lead. on 3rd and 1 from their own 34, Edmonds got the carry and lost a yard. McDaniel had played it safe all night, and he opted to punt. The Bengals moved from their own 28 to a 2nd and 8 at the Miami 34. Then came an incompletion, a false start, and another incompletion. Taylor went bold and had Mcpherson try a 57 yard field goal knowing a miss would give the dolphins a golden chance for the lead. McPherson delivered to make it 20-15 with 6 minutes left in regulation. The Dolphins moved from their own 22 to a 1st and 10 at the Cincinnati 26 with 3:17 to play. Bridgewater went for it all and was intercepted by Bell, who returned it 46 yards to the Miami 45. On 2nd and 7, rather than grind down clock, Burrow went deep to Chase for a 36 yard gain. On 3rd and goal at the 2 with 1:52 to play, Burrow went to Hurst for the touchdown to lock up the win and knock Miami from the unbeaten ranks. Yet the loss of the game was only part of the story. The loss of Tagovailoa is a gut punch for a quarterback finally earning some respect and a team finally earning some also. The Bengals meanwhile are back to even after an 0-2 start. 27-15 Bengals 

 

Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints from London. This may not have been as thrilling as the Minneapolis Miracle, but it was a very jolly good football game in England. Red Rifle Andy Dalton started in place of the injured Jameis Winston. The Vikings took the opening kickoff and went right to work. Kirk Cousins hit Justin Jefferson for 10. On 3rd and 7 from his own 38, Cousins hit Smith for 10 and Adam Thielen for 10 more. On 3rd and 1 from the New Orleans 33, Cousins got stopped but the defense jumped offside. On 3rd and 2 from the New Orleans 14, Cousins hit Dalvin Cook for 9. A touchdown pass was nullified by offensive pass interference to set up 3rd and goal at the 15. Cousins went to Mattison for the touchdown to cap the 13 play, 75 yard, 7 minute drive to make it 7-0 Vikings. The first quarter ended with an interception of Cousins to set up the Saints at their own 40. On 3rd and 8 from the Minnesota 47, Dalton hit Chris Olave for 11 and Johnson for 13. On 3rd and 2 from the Minnesota 15, Ingram gained 5. On 3rd and goal at the 4, Dalton hit Olave for the touchdown to cap the 12 play, 60 yard, 6 minute drive and make it a 7-7 ballgame. 

A field position game had the Vikings taking over at their own 44 with 3:42 left in the half. On 3rd and 1 at the Saints 10, Cousins threw incomplete. Kevin O’Connell decided to play it safe. Greg Jospeh hit the 28 yard field goal to make it 10-7 Vikings with one minute left. Yet one play after a touchback, Dalton was sacked and fumbled. The Vikings recovered at the Saints 20. Yet a run went nowhere followed by an incompletion and a false start. On 3rd and 15, a completion gained only 7. Joseph hit from 36 as the Vikings took a 13-7 lead to the locker rooms. Early in the third quarter the Saints fumbled a punt and the Vikings recovered at the saints 44. Cousins went deep to Jefferson for a 41 yard gain. Yet on 1st and goal at the 3, a delay of game proved costly. On 3rd and goal at the 7, a completion gained one yard. Joseph hit his third field goal from 24 to make it 16-7 Vikings.

Then the game changed as the Saints took over at their own 22. Murray had gains of 6, 10 and 6 sandwiched around Dalton hitting Callaway for 15. On 3rd and 4 from the Minnesota 41, Dalton threw incomplete. Dennis Allen decided to go for it and on 4th and 4 Dalton hit hallway for 5. On 2nd and 15 from the Minnesota 41 after a false start, Dalton hit Callaway for 33. On 3rd and goal at the one, Murray got in to get the Saints within 16-14. An unnecessary roughness penalty on the Saints on the ensuing kickoff had the Vikings starting at their own 45. On 4th and 2 from his own 47, Kevin O’Connell gambled on a fake punt. Wright hit Nailor for 13. Yet on 1st and 10 from the New Orleans 23, intentional grounding and a false start killed the drive. Joseph began the fourth quarter by hitting his fourth field goal from 46 to make it 19-14 Vikings. After a touchback, Murray gained 6 and 7 and Taysom Hill dded 13 more. Dalton hit Smith for 18 and Trautman for 11. Hill ran for the 2 yard touchdown.Dalton hit Jarvis Landry for the 2 yard touchdown to give the Saints the 22-19 lead with 9 1/2 minutes left in regulation.

The Vikings soon faced 3rd and 3 from their own 32. Cousins hit Jefferson for just enough, but defensive holding meant an automatic first down anyway. On 3rd and 4 from their own 43, Cousins hit Osborn for 6. On 3rd and 10 just shy of midfield, Cousins went deep incomplete. Yet another defensive illegal use of hands meant another automatic first down. On 3rd and 8 from the Saint 44, Cousins again went deep incomplete. Yet defensive pass interference meant a 41 yard gain and 1st and goal at the 3. Jefferson got around the end for the touchdown. Joseph missed the extra point but 3 defensive penalties killed the Saints. With 4:15 to play, The 10 play, 75 yard, 5 minute drive put the Vikings back on top 25-22. The Saints after a touchback moved to a 2nd and 9 at the Minnesota 42. Dalton threw incomplete twice. With 1:51 to play, Dennis Allen brought in Wil Lutz to try a 60 yard field goal. Lutz nailed it for a 25-25 game. 

The Vikings took over at their own 18. Cook gained 14 and Cousins went deep to Jefferson for 39 more. Yet on 1st and 10 from the Saints 29, three runs gained a combined 0 yards. With 24 seconds left, Joseph came in for a 47 yard field goal try to give the Vikings the lead. Joseph’s 5th field goal try was good. After a touchback, the Saints had 24 seconds and 0 timeouts. They needed their own version of a miracle. Dalton went deep to Olave for a 32 yard gain. The Saints got a major break when an injury on the defense forced the Vikings to stop the clock with 12 seconds left. Dalton threw incomplete twice to leave 2 seconds on the clock. Lutz had hit from 60, and now he was brought in for a 61 yard try to tie the game and force overtime. Lutz pulled the double doink made famous by Cody Parkey. Lutz’s kick hit the left upright and then bounced off the crossbar, no good. In the first football game in the British Empire since the death of Queen Elizabeth, both teams put on a show worthy of the royal crown and the NFL. 28-25 Vikings  

Cleveland Browns at Atlanta Falcons

Buffalo Bills at Baltimore Ravens

Washington Commanders at Dallas Cowboys

Seattle Seahawks at Detroit Lions

Los Angeles Chargers at Houston Texans

Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts

Chicago Bears at New York Giants

Jacksonville Jaguars at Philadelphia Eagles

New York Jets at Pittsburgh Steelers

Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers

New England Patriots at Green Bay Packers

Denver Broncos at Las Vegas Raiders

Kansas City Chiefs at Tampa Bay Buccaneers is the Sunday night game.

Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers is the Monday night game.

NFL 2022 Week 4 Prequel

September 28th, 2022

NFL 2022 Week 4 Prequel

Thursday, September 29, 2022, 8pm

Miami Dolphins at Cincinnati Bengals (-3 1/2) — The Dolphins are unbeaten and coming off an emotional home win over Buffalo. A letdown is very possible. The Bengals are not playing as well as they did last year. The Dolphins have a seriously good defense. The Bengals still have not fixed their offensive line. Upset special, Dolphins win outright

Sunday, October 2, 1pm

Minnesota Vikings (-2 1/2) at New Orleans Saints in London — The Vikings won their two home games and lost their road game. Jameis Winston is not healthy. Yet the Saints have a very good defense. Trust the defense. Upset special, Saints win outright

Cleveland Browns (-1 1/2) at Atlanta Falcons — Jacoby Brissett and Marcus Mariota are both coming off of big wins. Weather will not be a factor in this game. Kevin Stefanski gets more out of less. Nick Chubb runs hard. Browns cover

 

Buffalo Bills (-3 1/2) at Baltimore Ravens — This could be an AFC Title Game preview. Lamar Jackson is a pinball video game. Josh Allen can scramble as well. The Bills have the better defense and will be angry after their loss at Miami. These teams are both well-coached. the spread is too high for a road team, especially when the home team has Jackson. Go with the home field. Upset special, Ravens win outright

Washington Commanders at Dallas Cowboys (-3) — Cooper Rush has been playing well in place of the injured Dak Prescott. The Commanders inspire nobody. They looked lifeless at home against Philadelphia. Cowboys cover

Seattle Seahawks at Detroit Lions (-5) — Both of these teams lost heartbreakers last week. The Lions twice blew double digit leads. The spread is too high for a Lions team that is still young and learning how to win. Jared Goff is still better than Geno Smith. Lions win but fail to cover

Los Angeles Chargers (-5) at Houston Texans — The Chargers looked horrendous at home last week against Jacksonville. Justin Herbert is not healthy. Yet the Texans are terrible. Davis Mills can manage a game, but there is no way he will win a shootout with Herbert. The Chargers will look to rebound and prove that their preseason hype was not misplaced. Chargers cover

Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts (-3) — The Titans barely survived at home to avoid becoming the only winless team in the NFL. The Colts shocked Kansas City at home. Derrick Henry looked like his old self, and Matt Ryan seems to be struggling. This is one that could go either way, so go with the home field. Colts cover

Chicago Bears at New York Giants (-3 1/2) — Nobody is taking either of these 2-1 teams seriously. It is hard t trust Daniel Jones or Justin Fields. Saquon Barkley has been looking like his old self, which could be the difference. These evenly matched teams could go down to the final play. Giants win but fail to cover

Jacksonville Jaguars at Philadelphia Eagles (-6 1/2) — Doug Pederson returns to take on the team that got rid of him only three years after the only Super Bowl win in Eagles history. He was expected to turn the Jaguars around, but not this quickly. The Jaguars went on the road and gave the Chargers a royal beating. Yet Kevin Sirianni is no slouch either. After starting his rookie season 2-5, he got the Eagles to the playoffs and has them 3-0 this year. The Jaguars are due for a letdown. Eagles cover

New York Jets at Pittsburgh Steelers (-3 1/2) — The Steelers looked flat at Cleveland, but they had 10 days to get ready for a Jets squad that looked lifeless against Baltimore. Joe Flacco used to beat the Steelers regularly, but that was years ago. The Steelers can still run the ball and Mike Tomlin usually has his teams prepared. The Steelers will rebound. Steelers cover

Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers (-2) — A monumental comeback 2 weeks ago is the only thing keeping the Cardinals from being winless. Kyler Murray is better than Baker Mayfield, but the Panthers have the better defense. The forecast calls for in, which will make things tough for the Arizona passing game. Go with the home field and the team that runs the ball with Christian McCaffrey and plays defense. Panthers cover

4pm

New England Patriots at Green Bay Packers (-10 1/2) — 25 years ago, Mike Holmgren and Brett Favre led the Packers to a Super Bowl win over Bill Parcells and the Patriots. Desmond Howard was the unlikely hero. Aaron Rodgers is far superior to Mac Jones, especially with Jones being injured. The Packers gutted out a win at Tampa last week due to their defense. Nevertheless, when was the last time a Bill Belichick team got blown out in the regular season? The spread is too high, especially with the Packers winning uglier than in years past. The Patriots can run the ball and speed up the game. Packers win but fail to cover

Denver Broncos at Las Vegas Raiders (-2 1/2) — The Raiders are the only winless team in the NFL, mainly due to Josh McDaniels’s stubborn refusal to work Josh Jacobs. on the ground. The Broncos are 2-1, but all three games were hideously ugly. The Broncos have the better defense, but Russell Wilson has not gelled with his offense yet. Derek Carr has more weapons but a suspect offensive line. The Raiders are desperate. McDaniels is also desperate to beat the team that fired him after less than two years on the job. If the Raiders run the ball, they will win. Raiders cover

8pm

Kansas City Chiefs (-2 1/2) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Right now Tampa has bigger worries than football. Hurricane Ian is expected to belt Tampa from Wednesday through Saturday. The weather should be sunny by Sunday, but who knows if the game can even be played in Tampa. In strictly football terms, Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady both had ugly losses last week. They both have slightly fewer offensive weapons than one year ago. There is no evidence that Todd Bowles can be a successful head coach. With everything else considered equal, go with the guy holding seven rings. Upset special, Buccaneers win outright 

Monday, October 3, 8pm

Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers (-2 1/2) — The Rams overcame a 17-7 deficit to win a brutal NFC Title Game last year 20-17. With these teams, throw out the records. They know each other well and are willing to get nasty in the trenches. The 49ers are coming off an ugly loss where the offense did nothing. The Rams nearly blew a 25 point lead but hung on to win. The Rams won it all last year, but the 49ers went blow for blow with them in all three of their head to head matchups. Jimmy Garoppolo has his job back, and is determined to prove to the football world that he is more than a game manager. 49ers cover

eric

 

NFL 2022 Week 3 Recap

September 28th, 2022

NFL 2022 Week 3 Recap

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns is the Thursday night game. Both of these teams lost at home last week. The Browns led by 13 with 1:55 left and lost in gut-wrenching fashion. A field position game saw the Browns kick a 25 yard punt to give the Steelers a short field at the Cleveland 48. Yet the Steelers failed to capitalize when Chris Boswell missed a 49 yard field goal. Kevin Stefanski then decided to gamble with the Browns facing 4th and 1 just shy of midfield. Jacoby Brissett gained 3. Nick Chubb then ripped off a 36 yard gain. Brissett hit Amari Cooper for an 11 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Browns. After a touchback, Mitchell Trubisky hit Johnson for 11 and Pickens for a 36 yard gain. The ground game did the best as Warren gained 7, 6 and 7. Najee Harris ran for the 5 yard touchdown on the first play of the second quarter for a 7-7 game.

The Browns soon faced 3rd and 4 at their own 27. Brissett hit David Njoku for 13. On 3rd and 9 from their own 41, Brissett hit Donovan Peoples-Jones for 10. Brissett then went to Karim Hunt for 11 and Cooper for 18. On 3rd and 3 from the Pittsburgh 13 out of the shotgun, Hunt ran for 6. Brissett hit Njoku for a 7 yard touchdown. York’s extra point doinked off the upright no good, giving the Dawg Pound heartburn. A missed extra point last week was the margin of defeat. Nevertheless, the 12 play, 79 yard, 6 minute drive had the Browns up 13-7. After a touchback, Trubisky hit Johnson for 8 and Johnson for 16. Warren gained 18. Chase Claypool gained 11, Harris gained 10 and 4, and Trubisky got the last yard. With 4 minutes left in the half, the Steelers led 14-13 after the 10 play, 75 yard, 5 minute drive. The Browns moved from their own 12 to a 4th and 2 at the Pittsburgh 31. A field goal would have been 49 yards, but Kevin Stefanski saw his kicker struggling and opted to go for it with 34 seconds left in the half. Brissett hit Cooper for 3 yards, but on further review it was reversed to an incompletion. 

The Steelers began the third quarter with a 10 play drive that ate up 5 1/2 minutes. Yet they only managed 38 yards. On 4th and 5 from the Cleveland 41, Mike Tomlin was not in the mood to try a 59 yard field goal. He opted to punt. The Browns from their own 14 moved 70 yard in 14 plays and 7 minutes. On 4th and 1 from the Pittsburgh 36, Kevin Stefanski again opted against a 54 yard field goal try. This time his gamble paid off as Brissett gained 2. Yet on 1st and 10 from the Pittsburgh 16, Brissett threw 3 straight incompletions. York it from 34 as the Browns retook the lead 16-14 after three quarters. The Browns got it back and soon faced 3rd and 1 at their own 29. Brissett went deep to Cooper for 32. Chubb ran for 16 and Hunt added 8 and one. On 3rd and 1 from the Pittsburgh 14, Brissett gained 6. Hunt gained 5 and 2, but on 3rd and goal at the one, Hunt got stopped. Now Stefanski had a major decision to make. With 9 1/2 minutes left in regulation, he opted to go for it. On 4th and goal at the one, Chubb got in to make it 23-14 Browns.

The defenses then dug in as both teams punted twice. The Steelers got it back at their own 20 with 3:13 left. With 1:48 to play, the Steelers faced 4th and 1 at the Browns 17. Needing 2 scores to win, Mike Tomlin opted for the field goal. Boswell hit from 34 to get the Steelers within 23-17. The onside kick failed, but the Steelers defense did the best they could. With the Browns facing 3rd and 1 at the Pittsburgh 37, Chubb got the yard. Yet on further review, officials reversed the call to inches short. A 55 yard field goal would wrap up the win, but a miss would give the Steelers a shot at a Hail Mary. This time on 4th and 1, Kevin Stefanski played it very safe. A coffin corner punt pinned the Steelers at their own 4 yard line with time for one more play. The Steelers needed 96 yards, but the hook and laterals quickly backfired and were recovered in the Pittsburgh end zone for another Cleveland touchdown. 29-17 Browns

New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers — This game was about defense. After nearly 10 minutes of scoreless football Alvin Kamara fumbled. Marquis Haynes recovered the ball and returned it 44 yards for a defensive touchdown to make it 7-0 Panthers. Eddie Pineiro hit second quarter field goals of 45 and 48. The half ended with Wil Lutz having his 30 yard field goal try blocked. Lutz also missed from 48 in the third quarter. On the last play of the third quarter with the Saints facing 3rd and 100 from their own 10, Jameis Winston hit Olave for 12. Winston began the fourth quarter hitting Olave for 8, Michael Thomas for 16, Trautman for 9, Smith for 11, Kamara for 6, and Smith for 23. Mark Ingram ran it in for a 5 yard touchdown.  The 10 play, 89 yard drive had the saints only down 13-7 with 12 1/2 minutes left. Yet 2 plays later, Baker Mayfield connected with Shenault for a 67 yard touchdown to make it 19-7 Panthers. Winston then had a pass deflected and intercepted, allowing Pineiro to hit from 34 to make it 22-7 Panthers. The Saints reached the end zone again with 2:22 to play, but by the time they got the ball back at their own one yard line, only 17 seconds were left. Winston’s Hail Mary reached midfield and was intercepted. 22-14 Panthers   

Houston Texans at Chicago Bears — A pair of uninteresting teams actually played a decent game. Cairo Santos hit a 47 yard field goal to get the Bears on the board first. The Bears got it back at their own 19 and St. Brown got around the end for a 41 yard gain. On 3rd and 5 from the Houston 35, Khalil Herbert gained 8. Herbert then gained 11 and finally another 11 for the touchdown to make it 10-0 Bears. The Texans soon faced 3rd and 7 at their own 28. Davis Mills went deep to Moore for a 52 yard gain. Damon Pierce had gains of 7, 5 and 2. Mills hit Akins for the 4 yard touchdown to get the Texans within 10-7. In the second quarter the teams traded interceptions and then played field position as a 31 yard punt return by King gave the Texans a short field at the Houston 41. Pierce ran for 24, 9, 7, and the one yard touchdown to make it 14-10 Texans. 

The Bears took over at their own 18 and moved 50 yards in 12 plays and nearly 6 minutes. On 3rd and 6 from the Houston 23, Justin Fields was sacked. Santos hit from 50 to get the Bears within 14-13. The Texans after a third quarter touchback moved to a 3rd and 8 at the Chicago 27. Yet a completion gained only 6 yards. Lovie Smith played it safe on 4th and 2 as Kaimi Fairbairn hit form 39 to make it 17-13 Texans. After a touchback, Herbert ripped off a 52 yard gain. Fields hit St. Brown for 20. On 3rd and goal at the one, Herbert got in to make it 20-17 Bears. After a touchback the Texans moved 70 yards in 14 plays and 7 1/2 minutes. Yet on 3rd and 1 from the Chicago 2, Pierce got taken down for a 3 yard loss. Fairbairn hit from 23 as the game was tied 20-20 after three quarters. The game came down to one play. With one minute left and the Texans facing 3rd and 1 at their own 26, Mills was intercepted by Roquan Smith. Smith returned the pick 12 yards to the Houston 18. With 3 seconds left, Santos came in for the 30 yard chip shot to win it. Santos was good as Smith failed to beat his former team. It was not pretty, but Herbert 157 yards on the ground were the difference. 23-20 Bears 

Kansas City Chiefs at Indianapolis Colts — All the Chiefs had to do to remain unbeaten was crush an awful Colts team. Someone forgot to tell the Colts. One minute into the game, the Chiefs fumbled a punt and the Colts recovered at the Kansas City 4. On 3rd and goal at the one, Matt Ryan hit Woods for the touchdown to make it 7-0 Colts. Late in the first quarter Frank Reich gambled on 4th and 1 just past midfield after Jonathn Taylor got stopped on 3rd and 1. Ryan was sacked and fumbled as the Chiefs took over at the Indianapolis 35. Patrick Mahomes went to Travis Kelce for 29 and again for a 3 yard touchdown. Matt Amendola missed the extra point as the Chiefs trailed 7-6. 

The Colts took over at their own 29 and and held the ball for 6 minutes and 11 plays. Yet on 2nd and 7 from the Kansas city 23, an incompletion was followed by Ryan getting sacked. Chase McLaughlin hit the 43 yard field goal to make it 10-6 Colts. The Colts got it back at their own one yard line and Ryan went deep to Pierce for 30 yards. Yet 2 plays later Ryan was sacked and fumbled again. The Chiefs took over with another short field at the Indy 21. Mahomes hit Juju Smith-Schuster for 10 and Clyde Edwards-Helaire for 9. Edwards-Helaire ran it in for the one yard touchdown. Walrus Andy Reid went for a 2 point conversion and Mahomes hit Kelce successfully for a 14-10 Chiefs lead at halftime. 

Andy Reid made an interesting decision as the Chiefs took over at their own 46 with 34 seconds left. Yet offensive holding and an incompletion meant 2nd and 20 with 20 seconds left. Reid for some reason decided not to try a Hail Mary or try and get in field goal range. He opted to run out the clock. Given the high octane Chiefs offense, it seemed to be a strange decision. The third quarter saw the Chiefs take over at their own 31 and moved to a 2nd and goal at the 2. A run went nowhere and Mahomes then threw incomplete. Andy Reid again decided not to gamble. Ammendola after a false start hit from 26 to make it 17-10 Chiefs. After a touchback, the Colts held the ball 5 minutes on a 10 play drive. On 2nd and 3 from the Colts 19, a run lost 3 yards. On 3rd and 6, Ryan was sacked. McLaughlin nailed a 51 yard field goal to get the Colts within 17-13. 

The Chiefs from their own 12 moved 64 yards in 10 plays. Yet 90 seconds into the fourth quarter on 4th and 11 from the Indy 24, Andy Reid went with a fake field goal. Townsend’s pass was incomplete.  The Colts moved to a 4th and 1 at the Kansas City 31. With 11 minutes left, Frank Reich went for it. Taylor got stopped for no gain. The Chiefs then moved to a 2nd and 7 at the Indy 16. Mahomes threw incomplete twice. Amendola came in for a 34 yard field goal try to extend the lead  with 8 1/2 minutes left in regulation. His kick was no good. The Colts soon faced 4th and 1 from their own 33 with 6 1/2 minutes left. Reich gambled again knowing that failing to convert would pretty much end things. Ryan gained 2 key yards. On 3rd and 6 from the Indy 39, Ryan was sacked for an 8 yard loss. 

Yet an absolutely mindless unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the defense turned what should have been 4th and 14 into a 1st and 10 with 5 minutes left. With 1:55 left and the Colts facing 2nd and 20 from the Chiefs 39 after offensive holding, Taylor gained 13 and Ryan hit Pierce for 14.  The Colts wrapped up the staggering 16 play, 76 yard, 8 minute drive with a 12 yard touchdown pass from Ryan to Jelani Woods. Down by 3, the Chiefs took over at their own 30 with 18 seconds left. Ryan hit Marques Valdez-Scantling for 24. With 8 seconds left, the Chiefs were at the Indy 46. They still had 2 timeouts. One more completion would mean a long field goal try for overtime. Yet Mahomes was intercepted by McLeod. In an absolute shocker, the Chiefs were knocked from the unbeaten ranks. Cue ESPN uber-announcer Chris Berman: “THAT’S why they PLAY the GAMES!” 20-17 Colts

   

Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins — For the first time in 30 years back when Jim Kelly and Dan Marino were lighting it up, these teams faced off both unbeaten. The Bills were for real. Despite overcoming a 35-14 deficit to win last week, The Dolphins were still a question mark. This one saw both teams lay the lumber in the scorching Miami heat as temperatures on the field topped 100 degrees. After an opening touchback, the Bills went right to work. On the first play from scrimmage, Josh Allen went deep to Stefan Diggs for a 28 yard gain. Allen then went  to Singletary for 19 and to Gilliam for 14 and 8. On 3rd and goal at the one, Allen was rocked for a one yard loss. Sean Mcdermott went for it. On 4th and goal at the 2, Allen hit Singletary for the touchdown as the 10 play, 75 yard, 6 minute drive had the Bills up 7-0. The Bills got it back and soon faced 3rd and 8 from their own 14. Allen got sacked and fumbled. Melvin Ingram recovered for the defense at the Buffalo 6. On 3rd and goal from the one, Chase Edmonds got in to tie the game 7-7. 

The Bills after a touchback mounted another long drive. Allen hit McKenzie for 7, Dawson knox for 8, and Singletary for 8 more. The second quarter began with the Bills facing 4th and 2 at the Miami 30. Sean McDermott again went for it and Allen gained 3. A sack of Allen meant 2nd and 19 at the Miami 36. Allen went to McKenzie for 27. On 3rd and goal at the 8, Allen hit McKenzie for the touchdown. The 14 play, 75 yard, 6 1/2 minute drive had the Bills up 14-7. From their own 17, the Dolphins again responded. Tua Tagovailoa hit Tyreek Hill for 11, Smythe for 13, Jalen Waddle for 17, Mike Gesicki for 6, and Cracraft for an 11 yard touchdown and a 14-14 halftime tie. 

In the third quarter, the Bills were pinned by a great punt at their own 2 yard line. They then mounted the drive of the year. 20…yes, 20…plays. 87 yards. 9 1/2 minutes. Yet despite grinding the ball all the way down to a 1st and goal at the 6, a false start was followed by 3 straight Allen incompletions. Tyler Bass hit a 30 yard field goal. The only points of the third quarter had the Bills up 17-14. Yet the fourth quarter began with Bass missing a 38 yard field goal that would have extended the lead. The Dolphins got it back at their own 28. Tagovailoa went deep to Waddle for 32 yards. A sack of Tagovailoa had the Dolphins facing 3rd and 22 from their own 48 with 11 1/2 minutes left. Buffalo’s stingy defense had a key breakdown at the worst time. Tagovailoa went bombs away to Waddle for a 45 yard gain. On 2nd and goal at the 5, Tagovailoa threw incomplete but a questionable late hit penalty meant 1st and goal at the 3. It was not that hard of a shove. Edmonds ran it in on the next play to put the Dolphins up 21-17 with 10 minutes left.

The Bills then mounted another insanely long drive. 17 plays. 73 yards. Nearly 8 1/2 minutes. At the 2 minute warning, the Bills had 2nd and goal at the one. Out of the shotgun, Allen lost a yard. Then he threw incomplete. On 4th and goal at the 2, Allen threw incomplete again. Yet the Bills still had 2 timeouts. With 1:40 left, the Dolphins had 3rd and 11 from their own one. With the Bills out of timeouts, the entire football world knows that you run the ball every single time in that situation to take the clock down to one minute. Again, you run the ball every…single…time. Instead, Tagovailoa threw incomplete and the clock stopped. Then came the weirdness knows as the “butt-punt. From the back of his own end zone, Morestead tried to punt. Yet a ferocious rush by the Bills resulted in Morstead kicking the ball straight into the rear end of his own offensive lineman. The ball went backward for a safety. 

Now the Bills were only down by 2 points and would get the ball back. This time without a rush in his face, Morestead punted a rocket ball 74 yards. Crowder returned it 17 yards to the Buffalo 23. The Bills had 1:25 to work with and needed only a field goal to win it. With 27 seconds left, the Bills had 1st and 10 at the Miami 43. Only a few more yards were needed for long field goal range. After an incompletion, offensive holding was a killer. Now 18 seconds remained and the Bills were at their own 47 facing 2nd and 20. Rather than work the sideline, Allen went to McKenzie for 12. Yet McKenzie did not get out of bounds. A field goal try would have been from 59 yards, but the Bills never got a chance. The clock hit zeroes as Allen flung his helmet in disgust. In a slugfest, it was the Dolphins with the 3-0 record. Unlike the “butt-fumble” that came in a 42-0 loss, the butt-punt will soon be forgotten thanks to the brutally tough victory. 21-19 Dolphins

Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings — Last week the Lions finally looked like they were turning the corner while the Vikings realized they were not as good as their opening week win. The game started ugly as Austin Seibert missed a 48 yard field goal for the Lions and Greg Joseph from 56 for the Vikings was also no good. The latter miss gave the Lions excellent field position at their own 46. Jared Goff went to Jamaal Williams for 17. On 4th and 5 at the Minnesota 32 after an incompletion, Dan Campbell turned into a wild man gambler throughout the day. He passed up a very makable 50 yard field goal try and went for it. Goff went to St. Brown for 30. Williams got the lsat 2 yards for a 7-0 Lions lead. The Lions got it back at their own 30 and Williams ran for 4 and 12. On 4th and 1 from the Minnesota 45, it was time for another Campbell gamble. Williams gained 5. On 4th and 1 from the Minnesota 31, yet another Campbell gamble came about. Goff hit Reynolds for 17, St. Brown for 9, and TJ Hockensen for the 5 yard touchdown to give the Lions the surprising 14-0 lead early in the second quarter.

The Vikings took over at their own 20 and finally got going . Kirk Cousins hit Ham for 12. Alexander Mattison ran for 6 and 9. On 3rd and 2 from the Detroit 37, Cousins hit Smith for 17. Dalvin Cook ran for 13. On 3rd and goal at the 4, Cousins threw incomplete but defensive pass interference meant 1st and goal at the one. Cousins hit Adam Thielen for the touchdown to get the Vikings within 14-7. The Lions moved from their own 14 to a 4th and 1 just shy of midfield. This time a Campbell gamble saw Goff throw incomplete to give the Vikings a short field. On 4th and 6 from the Detroit 45, this time it was Kevin O’Connell taking the risk. Cousins hit Thielen for just enough and then again for 14. On 3rd and 4 from the Detroit 19, Cousins hit Thielen yet again for 15. Cook ran for the touchdown as the teams went to the half knotted up 14-14.

The Lions took over at their own 32 and held the ball for 10 plays and 5 1/2 minutes. On 4th and 2 from the Minnesota 46, another Campbell gamble had Goff hitting Reynolds for 16. On 3rd and 2 from the Minnesota 22, Goff threw incomplete. With the game tied, this time Dan Campbell kept things sane. Seibert hit the 40 yard field goal to put the Lions up 17-14. The Vikings failed to tie the game when Joseph was again  no good from 56. The Lions soon faced 3rd and 3 at the Minnesota 47. Goff hit St. Brown for 8 and Reynolds for 26. Williams ran for a 13 yard touchdown as the Lions again had the surprising lead on the road 24-14 after three quarters. The Vikings then fumbled the ball and the Lions recovered at their own 42. Yet a chance to ice the game was delayed when Goff threw incomplete twice and on 3rd and 10 gained only 3 as the third quarter ended. 

With 10 1/2 minutes left, the Vikings took over at their own 43. Cousins hit Mundt for 11 and Thielen for 10. A pair of defensive holding penalties added 10 more yards. Cousins hit Mundt for 12. Mattison ran for the 6 yard touchdown to get the Vikings within 24-21 midway through the fourth quarter. The Lions moved from their own 22 to a 4th and 1 at the Minnesota 30. A field goal would not put the game away, so it was time for another Dan Campbell gamble with 3 1/2 minutes left in regulation. Williams got stopped cold. Yet on 4th and 8 from his own 47 with 2 1/2 minutes left, Cousins threw incomplete. The Lions tried to run down the clock but the Vikings took their timeouts on defense. 

With 1:14 left, the Lions faced 4th and 4 at the Minnesota 36. This time there were only tough options. A field goal would still not put the game away, but Dan Campbell was done gambling for the day. Yet playing it safe backfired when sievert from 54 missed again. Then the Detroit defense melted down. From his own 44, Cousins went to Osborn for 28 and then back to Osborne for the other 28 and the touchdown. With 45 seconds left, the Vikings had the 4 point lead. After a touchback, Goff quickly hit Reynolds for 25 to midfield and spiked the ball to stop the clock with 23 seconds left. Goff went deep incomplete and on 3rd and 10 his desperation Hail Mary was intercepted. The Lions were game, but they could not finish the job. 28-24 Vikings

Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots — The Ravens blew a 21 point lead last week in a stunning home loss. Yet of all the coaches that has been able to consistently beat Bill Belichick, John Harbaugh is at the top of the list. The Ravens in the first quarter faced 3rd and 5 at their own 36. Lamar Jackson scrambled for 8 yards. Jackson hit Mark Andrews for 17, 11 and 6 and Ricard for 12. On 3rd and 1 from the New England 5, Jackson hit Andrews for the touchdown to cap the 11 play, 69 yard, 6 1/2 minute drive and make it 7-0 Ravens. The Patriots moved from their own 22 to a 2nd and 6 at the Baltimore 16. Offensive holding killed the drive. Nick Folk hit a 35 yard field goal on the first play of the second quarter to get the Patriots within 7-3. 

A field position game hd the Patriots moving from their own 41 to a 4th and 3 at the Baltimore 33. Bill Belichick decided to go for it rather than try a 51 yard field goal. Mac Jones hit Kendrick Bourne for no gain. Yet Jackson was soon intercepted, and Jones returned the pick 15 yards to the Baltimore 32. Raimondre Stevenson ran for 6, 16 and 2. Jones ran for the 3 yard touchdown to make it 10-7 Patriots. The Ravens soon faced 2nd and 14 at their own 21. Jackson ran for 17. Jackson hit JK Dobbins for 11. Hill ran for 11 more. Jackson added 11 more. Jackson hit Andrews for a 16 yard touchdown. With only 30 seconds left in the half, the Ravens were back up 14-10.

After a touchback, 30 seconds was enough time. Jones hit Stevenson for 11 and Bourne for 22 and 10. Folk nailed a 50 yard field goal to get the Patriots within 14-13. The Patriots in the third quarter after a touchback saw Jones go deep to Parker for a 36 yard gain and again for 25 more. Damien Harris ran for the 2 yard touchdown to have the Patriots up 20-14. The Ravens soon faced 3rd and 5 at their own 30. Jackson hit Devin Duvernay for 21. Hill ran for 9 and then broke free for a 34 yard gain. Jackson hit Josh Oliver for a one yard touchdown as the Ravens retook the lead 21-20.

The Ravens got a jolt of momentum when Duvernay returned a punt 43 yards to the New England 44. Jackson then rumbled for a 38 yard gain. On 3rd and goal at the 4, Jackson hit Duvernay for the touchdown as the Ravens led 28-20. Two plays after a touchback, Jones was intercepted by Bynes to give the Ravens a short field at the New England 43. Justin Tucker blasted a 56 yard field goal as 17 unanswered points had the Ravens up 31-20 after three quarters. 

After a touchback, Jones went to Stevenson for 7 and Parker for 24 more. On 4th and 1 from the Baltimore 17 only 90 seconds into the fourth quarter, the Patriots needed 2 scores. Kicking the field goal would make it a one score game, but the New England defense had failed to stop Jackson. Bill Belichick went for it and Jones hit Smith for 8 and the 8 more. Stevenson got the last yard and then caught the 2 point conversion pass from Jones. Yet on further review, Stevenson was ruled down by contact as the 2 point try failed. The Patriots were within 31-26 with 12 1/2 minutes left in regulation. On the first play after a touchback, Jackson hit Bateman for 24 yards but Bateman fumbled and Jabril Peppers returned it 12 yards. The Patriots had golden field position at the Baltimore 39 with a chance to take the lead. 

The Patriots moved to a 1st and goal at the 10. A swing pass lost 4 yards. On 3rd and goal at the 10 with 9 minutes left, Jones went to the end zone for the lead and was intercepted by Marlon Humphrey for a touchback. The Patriots got it back and faced 3rd and 6 from their own 33 with 5 1/2 minutes left in the game. Jones went deep to Nelson Agholor for 28 yards but Agholor fumbled and the Ravens recovered at their own 27. Jackson went to Bateman for a 35 yard gain. Jackson then ran for 20. On 3rd and 1 from the New England 9, Jackson ran it in to put the game out of reach with 3 minutes left. Jones threw one more interception. Jackson threw for 4 touchdown passes and was also the leading rusher with 107 yards and a 5th touchdown. 37-26 Ravens

Cincinnati Bengals at New York Jets — Last week the Jets trailed by 13 with 1:55 left and somehow won on the road with Joe Flacco. The defending AFC Champion Bengals were a surprising 0-2. This game brought a return to sanity. After a touchback, Joe Burrow hit Tyler Boyd for 13. On 3rd and 9 from his own 39, Burrow went to Tee Higgins for gains of 19 and 14. On 3rd and 8 from the Jets 26, Burrow went to Boyd for 22. A touchdown pass was nullified by offensive holding, leading to 3rd and goal at the 12. Burrow went to Perine for the touchdown. The Bengals led 7-0. 

The Jets managed to get first quarter field goals of 50 and 40 from Greg “The Leg” Zuerlein, but trading field goals for touchdowns was not going to get the job done. The second field goal was set up by a fumble and a short field. The Bengals soon faced 3rd and 9 at their own 26. Burrow threw incomplete but defensive unnecessary roughness gave the Bengals 15 yards. On the last play of the first quarter with the Bengals facing 3rd and 7 at their own 44, Burrow connected with Boyd for a 56 yard touchdown and a 14-6 Bengals lead.

The Bengals expanded the lead with Evan McPherson hitting field goals of 22 and 43, with the latter kick set up by an interception of Flacco. Zuerlein hit his third field goal from 52 to end the half but the Jets still trailed 20-9. The Jets began the third quarter by fumbling to set up the Bengals at the Jets 24. Burrow went to Boyd for 14. On 3rd and goal at the 5, Burrow hit JaMarr Chase for the touchdown to make it 27-9 Bengals. The Jets managed a fourth field goal late in the third quarter, but nothing else. The fourth quarter saw the Jets offer up a fumble and an interception and the Bengals miss a field goal that did not affect the game. 27-12 Bengals 

Las Vegas Raiders at Tennessee Titans — Both of these playoff teams from last year started 0-2. The Titans were blasted by 34 points last week while the Raiders had an epic collapse in blowing a 20 point lead. After a touchback, the Titans moved with ease. Ryan Tannehill hit derrick Henry for 23. On 3rd and 10 from his own 45, Tannehill hit Austin Hooper for 11. Henry ran for 9 and 10 and Burks added 8. On 2nd and 12 from the Raider 27, Tannehill hit Robert Woods for 16. On 3rd and 1 from the Raiders 2, Tannehill hit geoff Swaim for the touchdown to make it 7-0 Titans.

After a touchback, the Raiders caught a break with a 36 yard defensive pass interference penalty. On 3rd and 15 from the Tennessee 41, Derek Carr hit Mack hollins for 20. Josh Jacobs gained 10. Yet the same issues that have plagued the Raiders for years remain. On 3rd and 2 from the Tennessee 3, Carr threw incomplete. Daniel Carlson hit the 21 yard field goal to get the Raiders within 7-3.

After a touchback, Henry ran for 2, caught a pass for 13, and ran for 5 more. Tannehill then went deep to Woods for 41 yards. Tannehill went to Burks for 13 down to the one. Henry got in himself to make it 14-3 Titans. After a touchback, Carr went to Foster Moreau for gains of 22 and 14. Carr hit Jacobs for 6 and Davante Adams for 18. Jacobs ran for 11. Carr hit Adams for a 5 yard touchdown to get the Raiders back within 14-10.

The Titans soon faced 3rd and 3 from their own 28. Tannehill went to Westbrook-Ikhine for 10. Henry ran for 10. Tannehill found Woods for 21. Henry ran for 6 and then 24 down to the one. Tannehill got in himself. 3 drives meant 3 touchdowns and a 21-10 Titans lead. With one minute left in the half and the Raiders back at their own 13, Josh McDaniels showed why he is a terrible play-caller. His stubborn refusal to run the ball in obvious running situations in favor of his West Coast Offense dink and dunk passes is why the raiders keep losing. An incompletion stopped the clock. A sack on 3rd and 4 allowed the Titans to get the ball back just past midfield with 21 seconds left. Tannehill hit Westbrook-Ikhine for 15. Bullock hit a 48 yard field goal to end the half with the Titans up 24-10. 

The Raiders defense pitched a shutout in the second half. The question would be if their inept offense led by boy genius Josh McDaniels would get out of his own way and let the players win. The Raiders after a second half touchback embarked on a 14 play, 61 yard, 8 minute drive. Yet again, the red zone was a nightmare. On 2nd and 7 from the Tennessee 12, McDaniels called one of his West Coast Offense dink and dunk passes for 3 yards. Throwing past the first down marker is lost on this guy. On 3rd and 4 from the 9, a false start was followed by an incompletion. Carlson hit from 32 but the Raiders still trailed 24-13. 

Tannehill was then intercepted to give the raiders golden field position at the Tennessee 31. They were already in field goal range. Even 3 straight runs into the line would not harm them. Instead, boy genius McDaniels kept passing. Offensive holding was followed by short passes. On 3rd and 13 they were still in field goal range. Then came a delay of game. Then on 3rd and 18 came a West Coast Offense dink and dunk pass that somehow lost 2 yards. This is Josh McDaniels. This is the West Coast Offense. This is the Raiders pushing themselves out of field goal range.

The Titans moved from their own 2 yard line to a 3rd and 1 at the Raiders 41. Yet the defense ,are a big stop and blasted Henry for a 3 yard loss. Mike Vrabel went for it on 4th and 4 and Tannehill threw incomplete. The Raiders moved all the way to a 3rd and 3 at the Tennessee 6 yard line. With 9 1/2 minutes left, the Raiders had 2 chances to gain 3 yards. They have a bell cow in Jacobs. Yet McDaniels instead called for a low percentage rifle pass over the middle where only bad things happen. Darren Waller should have caught the ball for the touchdown. Yet it bounced off of his hands and was intercepted by Byard, who returned it 24 yards to the Titans 20. Again, the hapless Raiders offense came up empty.

The Raiders got it back at their own 20 with 6 minutes left and moved to a 3rd and 3 at the Tennessee 17. As expected, the red zone meant failure. Carr threw incomplete. Carlson hit the 35 yard field goal to get the Raiders within 24-16 with 3 1/2 minutes left. The silver and black defense forced a 3 and out as only 30 seconds came off the clock. The Raiders from their own 19 had a full 3 minutes to work with. Carr hit Jacobs for 13. With 2:13 left, the Raiders were down to 4th and 15 from their own 27. This was their last gasp. 

Carr went bombs away to Mack Hollins for a 48 yard gain. With 1:37 left, it was again desperation time. On 4th and 10 from the Tennessee 14, Carr threw incomplete. Yet defensive holding meant 1st and goal at the 9. With 1:14 left it was again do or die. On 4th and goal at the 9, Carr threw a jump ball fade and Hollins out-muscled the defender. The Raiders last week could not close out an opponent. This week they refused to die as Tennessee could not close them out. Yet there was one difference. Last week the Raiders gave up the 2 point conversion that forced overtime. This week the Tennessee defense did not. Carr threw over the middle into traffic, where bad things happen. This time the result was an incompletion. The onside kick failed. The Raiders are the only 0-3 team in the NFL. Josh McDaniels is the Joe Biden of the NFL, a lifelong assistant not suited to be the boss. 24-22 Titans

 

Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Commanders — Carson Wentz was hoping to get revenge against the team that drafted him and cast him away. The Eagles had never beaten the Commanders, who have only existed for 2 weeks. Despite a scoreless first quarter, this game was over by halftime. Jake Elliott hit a 32 yard field goal for the Eagles to start the second quarter. 2 plays later the Commanders fumbled and the Eagles took over at the Washington 24.  On 2nd and 9, Jalen Hurts went to Dallas Goedert for a 23 yard touchdown to make it 10-0 Eagles. 

The Eagles got it back at their own 36 and defensive pass interference added 17 yards. On 3rd and 5 from the Washington 42, Hurts hit Smith for 31 yards. On 3rd and 8 from the Washington 9, Hurts went to AJ Brown for the touchdown to make it 17-0 Eagles with 3 minutes left in the half. The Eagles got it back at the 2 minute warning and faced 3rd and 2 at their own 20. Hurts hit Zach Pascal for 4. Hurts went to Brown for 15, Smith for 16, and Smith again for a 44 yard touchdown to make it 24-0 Eagles. Last week the Eagles led 24-7 at the half and their offense took the entire second half off, allowing the defense to pick a shutout. This week the Eagles offense took the second half off again, and the defense did give up a fourth quarter touchdown. Yet they are 3-0 and winning with efficient offense and tough defense. 24-8 Eagles 

Jacksonville Jaguars at Los Angeles Chargers — Doug Pederson was expected to revive Trevor Lawrence and turn the Jaguars around, but it would take time. The Chargers were considered an elite team. Justin Herbert was ill but played. The blowout did materialize, but not as expected. The first quarter was scoreless. The Jaguars eventually took over at their own 33 and Lawrence got going. Yet on 1st and 10 from the Chargers 11, a run gained one yard followed by an incompletion. On 3rd and 9 from the Chargers 10, Lawrence hit Jones for only 6. Pederson opted for the field goal and Riley Patterson hit from 22 on the first play of the second quarter to make it 3-0 Jaguars. Herbert was immediately intercepted, giving the Jaguars 1st and goal at the 5. Yet a run went nowhere and Lawrence threw incomplete twice. Patterson hit from 23. The Jaguars led 6-0.

The Chargers were lucky to still be in the game, but their luck then ran out. They fumbled on their next series and the Jaguars had another short field at the Chargers 28. On 3rd and 8, Lawrence hit Evan Engram for 9 and Bay Jones for the 14 yard touchdown to make it 13-0 Jaguars. The Chargers responded with a 75 yard drive. Herbert hit Mike Williams for a 15 yard touchdown. The chargers were within 13-7, but the Jaguars kept coming. After a touchback, the Jaguars moved 70 yards in 11 plays and 5 minutes. Patterson hit his third field goal from 23 to make it 16-7 Jaguars. In the third quarter the Chargers moved 68 yards in 10 plays. Yet despite 1st and goal at the 7, Herbert threw 3 straight incompletions. Dustin Hopkins hit from 25 to get the Chargers within 16-10 only 3 minutes into the second half. 

After that, the Jaguars turned out the lights. After a touchback, Lawrence hit Jones for 16 and Kirk for 9. After Lawrence threw incomplete on 3rd and 1 from midfield, Doug Pederson gambled. On 4th and 1, James Robinson ran for the 50 yard touchdown to make it 23-10 Jaguars. The Jaguars got it back at their own 40 and mounted a 14 play, 60 yard drive that gobbled up 8 1/2 minutes off the clock. Again, Pederson trusted his players. On 2nd and 1 from the Chargers 6, a pair of runs went nowhere. Yet on 4th and 1, Pederson went for it and Lawrence gained 2 up the gut on the quarterback sneak. Lawrence hit Kirk for a 4 yard touchdown and Engram for a 2 point conversion to make it 31-10 Jaguars. In the fourth quarter the Jaguars grinded the Chargers into dust with a 14 play, 68 yard, 9 minute drive. On 3rd and goal at the 11, Lawrence hit Jones for one more touchdown. The Jaguars are 2-1. Pederson needed only 3 games to turn them around. 38-10 Jaguars

Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals — Last week the Cardinals overcame a 20 point second half deficit to win a road shocker while the Rams barely avoided blowing a 25 point lead. The Rams blasted the Cardinals in the playoffs last year and picked up where they left off. A blocked punt set up the Rams at the Arizona 35. Despite 1st and goal at the 4, Matthew Stafford completed a pass for no gain and threw a pair of incompletions. Matt Gay hit a 22 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Rams. A 22 yard punt gave the Rams the ball back at their own 42. From midfield, Stafford hit Tyler Higbee for 19. Cooper Kupp ran for a 20 yard touchdown to make it 10-0 Rams. The Rams got it back at their own 20 and Stafford hit Blanton for 28 and Skowronek for 26. Gay hit a 40 yard second quarter field goal to make it 13-0 Rams.

The Cardinals tried to make a game of it from their own 30. A mind-numbing 19 play, 65 yard drive ate 9 1/2 minutes off the clock. Yet despite 1st and goal at the 3, a run was blown up for a 2 yard loss and Kyler murray threw incomplete twice. Matt Prater hit a 23 yard field goal. Prater would also connect from 43 to end the half. In the third quarter the Cardinals from their own 11 had another lengthy 16 play, 58 yard, 8 minute drive. A crazed Kliff Kingsbury even went for it on 4th and 1 from his own 20 and James Conner gained 5. Yet the drive died at the Rams 30. Prater hit his third field goal from 49 to get the Cardinals within 13-9.

Yet the Cardinals inability to crack the end zone was their undoing. The Rams soon faced 3rd and 11 from their own 24. Stafford hit Kupp for just enough and Higgins for 26 more. Cam Akers then gashed the defense for gains of 5, 14, 6, and the 14 yard touchdown to make it 20-9 Rams after three quarters. The Cardinals after a touchback moved to a 3rd and 4 at the Rams 26. After Murray threw incomplete, Kliff Kingsbury had to go for it with 11 1/2 minutes left in regulation. Murray threw incomplete again. The Rams moved from their own 26 to a 2nd and goal at the one. Yet with 6:46 to play, the Rams again could not seal the win. Akers fumbled the ball away. Again, the Cardinals moved at a snails pace, needing 17 plays to go 84 yards in 5 1/2 minutes. With one minute left and needing 2 scores, Kingsbury on 4th and 4 at the Rams 13 opted for the field goal. Prater hit his fourth one from 31 but the onside kick failed. 20-12 Rams   

Atlanta Falcons at Seattle Seahawks — A pair of below average teams came together and played a pretty good football game. The Seahawks after a touchback moved 61 yards in 11 plays. Yet despite 2nd and 3 at the Atlanta 14, Rashad Penny got stopped for no gain and Geno Smith threw incomplete on 3rd and 3. Jason Myers hit the 32 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Seahawks. The Falcons soon faced 3rd and 4 at their own 31. Marcus Mariota hit Kenny Pitts for 14, Anthony Firkser for 22, and Pitts again for 21. Mariota got the last yard himself to make it 7-3 Falcons.

The Seahawks took over at their own 26. Smith hit DK Metcalf for 14. On 3rd and 1 just shy of midfield, Smith went deep to Parkinson for 36 and then to Will Dissly for an 18 yard touchdown to make it 10-7 Seahawks. After a touchback, the Falcons moved to a 2nd and 6 at the seattle 7. Yet offensive holding and a sack killed the drive. Younghoe Koo hit a 41 yard field goal to end a very exciting first quarter with the teams deadlocked 10-10.

In the second quarter the Falcons got it back at their own 11. Mariota went deep to London for 30. A sack had the Falcons facing 3rd and 19 at their own 33. Mariota went deep to Zaccheaus for 26. On 3rd and 5 from the Seattle 36, Mariota hit Pitts for 19. Cordarelle Patterson ran for a 17 yard touchdown to make it 17-10 Falcons. The Seahawks soon faced 3rd and 7 at their own 28. Smith hit Tyler Lockett for just enough and Noah Want for 16 more. On 3rd and 2 from the Atlanta 41, a run went nowhere. Pete Carroll decided to go for it rather than try a 59 yard field goal. Smith went deep to Goodwin for 23 and then to Metcalf for an 18 yard touchdown and a 17-17 tie.

The Seahawks took over at their own 20 with 3 minutes left in the half and moved 67 yards in 13 plays. With 22 seconds left the Seahawks had 2nd and 3 at the Atlanta 13 and all of their timeouts. Smith threw incomplete twice. Myers hit from 31 as the third lead change of the game had the Seahawks up 20-17. In the third quarter after a touchback, the Falcons moved to a 2nd and 6 at the Seattle 24. Then came an incompletion, a false start, and a sack. Koo bailed the Falcons out with a 54 yard field goal for the third tie of the game at 20-20.

The Seahawks after a touchback moved to a 3rd and 2 at the Atlanta 7. Smith threw incomplete. Pete Carroll played it safe and Myers hit from 25 to make it 23-20 Seahawks. After a touchback, Paterson raced for a 40 yard gain and then ripped off 18 more. On 3rd and 7 from the Seattle 14, Mariota hit London for the touchdown. The fourth lead change of the game had the Falcons up 27-23 after three exciting quarters. Yet the fourth quarter was quiet. The Falcons took 5 1/2 minutes off the clock and moved from their own 10 to a 2nd and 7 at the Seattle 34. Yet Mariota was hit and fumbled. The Seahawks took over at their own 37 with 5 minutes left and a chance to win it. At the 2 minutes warning, the Seahawks faced 3rd and 8 at the Atlanta 28. Smith was sacked. On 4th and 18, Smith went deep and was intercepted. The goal line was the difference. The Falcons scored touchdowns and the Seahawks kicked field goals. 27-23 Falcons

Green Bay Packers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Tom Brady always sees to beat Aaron Rodgers, with 2 of those wins in Green Bay including the NFC Title Game. The Buccaneers took over after a touchback and held the ball for 6 minutes and 10 plays. On 2nd and 4 from the Green Bay 20, a run lost a yard and Brady was sacked don 3rd and 5. Ryan Succop hit a 45 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Buccaneers. The Bucs offense then took the remaining 21 minutes of the half off. After a touchback, Aaron Jones ran for 3 and 10 and caught a pass from Rodgers for 8. Rodgers then went to Romeo Doubs for 21. On 3rd and 6 from the Tampa 29, Rodgers went to Randall Cobb for 17. On 3rd and 3 from the Tampa 5, Rodgers went to Doubs for the touchdown and the 7-3 Packers lead.

The Packers got it back and began the second quarter facing 3rd and 8 at their own 31. Rodgers hit Robert Tonyan for 9 and Doubs for 9 more. On 3rd and 7 from the Tampa 45, Rodgers hit Lazard for just enough. On 3rd and 1 from the Tampa 29, Rodgers hit Davis for 23 and Lazard for the 6 yard touchdown to make it 14-3 Packers. The Packers got it back at their own 38 and moved to a 3rd and goal at the 5 just before the 2 minute warning. Rodgers hit Jones for 3, but in trying to cross the goal line Jones was belted by 2 defenders and fumbled. The Buccaneers recovered for a touchback. Rather than lead 21-3, the Packers offense took the entire second half off. Asking the defense to preserve a win over Brady with only 14 points was not a great strategy.

The Buccaneers in the final 2 minutes of the half moved form their 25 to a 2nd and 10 at the Green Bay 40 with 51 seconds left. Brady hit Perriman for 14 but Perriman fumbled the ball away. In the third quarter the Buccaneers fumbled the ball away again. The Packers faced 3rd and 5 at their own 40. Rodgers was intercepted to give the Buccaneers a short field at the Green Bay 47. On 3rd and 9 from the Green Bay 27, Brady went deep incomplete. Succop hit from 45 as the Buccaneers were within 14-6. The final 21 minutes were about defense. With 3 minutes left in regulation, the Buccaneers began their last drive at their own 11. With 14 seconds left, the Buccaneers had 3rd and goal at the one. Brady went to Russell Gage for the touchdown. Everything came down to the 2 point conversion to force overtime. A killer delay of game penalty moved the try from the 2 to the 7. Brady fired incomplete. Yes, Brady threw his helmet again. Meanwhile, Rodgers finally beat Brady again. These are 2 first ballot hall of famers, but this game was about two spectacular defenses. 14-12 Packers 

    

San Francisco 49ers at Denver Broncos was the Sunday night game.

Jimmy Garoppolo and Russell Wilson have benefited from some nasty defenses over the years, and this night was no exception. The 49ers took over in the first quarter at their own 25. Garoppolo went to Brandon Aiyuk for 20. Wilson ran for 37. Garoppolo went back to Aiyuk for a 3 yard touchdown. the 49ers led 7-0, but would not reach the end zone again. Brandon McManus nailed a 55 yard second quarter field goal to get the Broncos within 7-3. In the third quarter from his own 2 yard line, Garoppolo was sacked in the end zone for a safety as the Broncos got within 7-5. The Broncos failed to take the lead after the free kick when McManus missed from 53. 

A brutal field position game had the 49ers taking over at the Denver 41 to start the fourth quarter. On 4th and 2 and points at a premium, Kyle Shanahan opted for the field goal. Robbie Gould delivered from 51 as the 49ers led 10-5. The Broncos faced 3rd and 1 at their own 29 with 9 minutes left. Melvin Gordon gained 4. On 3rd and 10 from his own 33, Wilson hit Hinton for 27. On 3rd and 5 from the Frisco 24, Wilson hit Sutton for 19. Gordon ran it in from the one to put the Broncos up by one point with 4 minutes left in regulation. After a touchback, the 49ers faced 1st and 10 at their own 48. Garoppolo was intercepted just before the 2 minute warning. The 49ers took their 3 timeouts on defense and the 49ers got the ball back at their own 15 with 1:42 left needing only a field goal to win. Garoppolo was sacked. On 2nd and 22 from their own 3, Garoppolo hit Wilson for 16 but he fumbled the ball away to end this ugly game. 11-10 Broncos

Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants was the Monday night game. Nobody expected the Giants to be 2-0. The Cowboys again started Cooper Rush in place of the injured Dak Prescott. The first 39 minutes were a hideous slugfest. Graham Gano missed a 47 yard field goal try for the Giants. Bret Maher hit from 26 for the Cowboys. In the second quarter Gano hit from 42 to tie the game. Maher hit from 28 for a 6-3 Cowboys lead. Maher missed from 59 to end the half. In the third quarter  Gano hit from 51 for a 6-6 game.

The Giants took over at their own 23 midway through the third quarter. Daniel Jones ran for 14 and hit Sills for 14 more. Saquon Barkley ran for a 36 yard touchdown. After nearly 40 minutes, the first trip to the end zone by either team had the Giants up 13-6. After a touchback, Rush went to CeeDee Lamb for 17. On 3rd and 1 just past midfield, Ezekiel Elliott gained 2. Rush hit Hendershot for 29 and Brown for 6. On 3rd and goal at the one, Elliott got in for a 13-13 tie after three quarters.

The Cowboys got the ball back at their own 11 to start the fourth quarter. On 3rd and 1, the defense jumped. Tony Pollard ran for 10 and Rush hit Lamb for 17. On 4th and 4 from the Giants 41, Mike McCarthy decided to go for it knowing a failed conversion would give the Giants gift field position. Rush hit Lamb for just enough. Rush hit Hendershot for 10, Lamb for 26 down to the one, and Lamb again for the touchdown. with 8 1/2 minutes left in regulation, the Cowboys led 20-13. 

The Giants offense went nowhere and a 28 yard punt return gave the Cowboys a short field at the Giants 35. On 3rd and 1, Rush threw incomplete. Up by 7, Mike McCarthy was not in a gambling mood. Maher hit from 44 as 17 unanswered points gave the Cowboys a cushion up 23-13 with 6 minutes left. The Giants after a touchback moved to a 1st and 10 at the Dallas 22 with 4 minutes left. A pair of Jones incompletions and an intentional grounding call meant 4th and 21. Gano delivered from 51 to get the Giants back within 7 with 3 1/2 minutes left. The Giants held on defense and got the ball back at their own 9 yard line with 1:45 left. On 2nd and 15 from their own 16 with 1:17 left, Jones was intercepted. 23-16 Cowboys 

eric

NFL 2022 Week 3 Prequel

September 22nd, 2022

NFL 2022 Week 3 Prequel

Point spread provided by the Sporting News and all time Eastern.

Thursday, September 22, 2022, 8pm

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns (-4.5) — These rivals both lost at home last week, but for the Browns it was an epic meltdown. They led by 13 with 1:55 left and lost. They lost to the Jets. It is hard to trust Mitchell Trubisky, but Jacoby Brissett is no superstar either. This could be a close game, but the Steelers are the more resilient team. Upset special, Steelers win outright

Sunday, September 25, 1pm

New Orleans Saints (-3) at Carolina Panthers — These rivals both lost last week but at least the Saints gave Tampa Bay a brutal fight. The Panthers also lost a heartbreaker but they show no signs of life. The Saints have a very good defense.They flustered Tom Brady. They can handle Baker Mayfield. Saints cover

Houston Texans at Chicago Bears (-3) — Both of these teams are bad, especially on offense. Nobody knows who is coaching them. Justin Fields has more potential than Davis Mills. Throw in the home field, and the decision is reasonable. Bears cover 

Kansas City Chiefs (-6.5) at Indianapolis Colts — The Chiefs are every bit as good as they have been the last few years. The Colts are bad. They are head-scratchingly bad. Frank Reich has not forgotten how to coach. Yet the team that once vowed to suck for Luck has sucked ever since Andrew Luck retired. They switch out quarterbacks with no difference. The Chiefs have too many weapons, and Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes will utilize them all. Chiefs cover

Buffalo Bills (-5.5) at Miami Dolphins — The Dolphins overcame a 35-14 second half deficit on the road to shock Baltimore. Tua Tagovailoa threw 6 touchdown passes, 4 of them in the fourth quarter. While the Dolphins may be improved, The Bills are in serious Super Bowl Mode. Josh Allen is playing lights out, and Sean McDermott’s defense is for real. The Bills beat the defending champions by 31 and last year’s AFC top seed by 34. Bills cover                    

Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings (-6) — Both teams won their opening home game and lost their opening road game. As bad as the Vikings looked last week on the road, Detroit tends to play badly on the road as well. It is too soon to see if Jared Goff has been revived. Trust Kirk Cousins, Dalvin Cook and Justin Jefferson at home. Vikings cover 

Baltimore Ravens (-3) at New England Patriots — The Ravens blew a 21 point second half lead in a shocking home loss. The Patriots went on the road and won a slugfest at Pittsburgh. Yet Lamar Jackson is still a human highlight reel and Mac Jones is efficient but unspectacular. John Harbaugh is one of the few coaches who consistently beats Bill Belichick. The Patriots do not have the personnel to stop Jackson. Ravens cover 

Cincinnati Bengals (-5) at New York Jets — The defending AFC Champion Bengals are 0-2. Even more surprising, the Jets are not. They were down by 13 last week on the road with 1:55 to play and somehow won. This is the week that sanity returns. Joe Flacco is not going to return to his Super Bowl form from a decade ago. Joe Burrow will get his swagger back from last year. The spread is too high for a winless team going on the road. Bengals win but fail to cover

Las Vegas Raiders (-2) at Tennessee Titans — Both of these playoff teams from last year are a stunning 0-2. The Titans lost a home stunner and then got blasted by 34 points on the road. The Raiders lost a road heartbreaker and then melted down by blowing a 20 point lead at home. Derrick Henry and Josh Jacobs both have a bruising running style. The Titans have the better defense. The Raiders have better weapons on offense, but Josh McDaniels has not shown any ability to utilize them. Mike Vrabel plays smash mouth. McDaniels prefers West Coast Offense dinking and dunking, which intimidates nobody. As bad as the Titans played last week, they are at home against a team on the ropes. Upset special, Titans win outright

Philadelphia Eagles (-6.5) at Washington Commanders — The Eagles are unbeaten while the Commanders lost their first game in franchise history one week after winning their first game in franchise history. Jalen Hurts and Carson Wentz have both been unfairly maligned, The spread is too high for a road team a\playing a division rival that is well-coached.Upset special, Commanders win outright

4pm

Jacksonville Jaguars at Los Angeles Chargers (-7) — Doug Pederson will turn the Jaguars around. He will revitalize Trevor Lawrence. Yet it will take another year. The Chargers took Kansas City to the limit before falling. Justin Herbert spreads the ball around in pinball fashion. At home, the Chargers could put this game away by halftime. Chargers cover

Los Angeles Rams (-3.5) at Arizona Cardinals — The Rams nearly blew a 25 point second half lead. The Cardinals had their greatest comeback win in franchise history by overcoming a 20 point deficit at the half. Yet the Rams still have Aaron Donald wreaking havoc. Kyler murray is talented, but the Rams have more depth Sean McVay is a better offensive mind than Kliff Kingsbury. The Rams have their best array of offensive weapons since their Greatest Show on Turf days. 

Atlanta Falcons at Seattle Seahawks (-2) — Neither of these teams are good, but the Seahawks have the home field and the ageless Pete Carroll. At home, Geno Smith will be a game manager. Marcus Mariota has multi-purpose weapon Cordarelle Patterson. The Seahawks are far from their Legion of Boom days, but their defense is still ornery, especially down by the goal line. Seahawks cover

Green Bay Packers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-1.5) — Tom Brady has 7 Super Bowl rings. Aaron Rodgers has one, and he has not looked impressive this season after racking up two consecutive league MVP trophies. Rodgers may own Chicago, but Brady owns him. The Buccaneers have been beating the Packers in Green Bay, something unthinkable until this young decade. The Buccaneers have the better defense and the better quarterback. Buccaneers cover

8pm

San Francisco 49era (-1.5) at Denver Broncos — The 49ers know Russell Wilson well, and he knows them. Yet with Trey Lance out for the season, the 49ers may be revitalized with Jimmy Garoppolo back in the saddle. Garoppolo has more weapons. Wilson needs more help. Deebo Samuel is not easy to scheme against. The Broncos will gel at some point soon, but Garoppolo will play with a chip on his shoulder and a desperate desire to outduel Wilson. 49ers cover 

Monday, September 26, 8pm

Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants (-2) — Cooper Rush is 2-0 as a starter while the Giants are a surprising 2-0 this season. The Cowboys have the superstars. The Giants have an unexplainable pair of victories over teams that are winless. This week restores sanity to the division. Upset special, Cowboys win outright

NFL 2022 Week 2 Recap

September 21st, 2022

NFL 2022 Week 2 Prequel

Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs was the Thursday night game. The Chargers barely hung on at home last week while the Chiefs went on the road and demolished Arizona. Early on the Chargers managed a 31 yard dustin Hopkins field goal for a 3-0 lead, but the expected shootout had more defense than anticipated. A field position game had Brandon Staley gambling on 4th and 1 just past midfield. Justin Herbert gained 2 yards. Herbert then went deep to Mike Williams for a 39 yard gain down to the one. On the first play of the second quarter, Herbert hit Horvath for the touchdown as the Chargers had the surprising 10-0 lead.

After a touchback, the Chiefs offense finally got going. Patrick Mahomes went deep to Mycole Hardman for a 30 yard gain. On 3rd and 4 from the Chargers 39, Mahomes was intercepted. Yet defensive holding nullified the pick and kept the Chiefs going. On 3rd and 4 from the Chargers 28, Mahomes hit Travis Kelce for 19 and Jerick mcKinnon for the 9 yard touchdown to get the Chiefs within 10-7. The Chargers began the third quarter facing 3rd and 1 from their own 34. Austin Ekeler got around the end for 7 and caught a pass from Herbert for 18 more. Herbert then went to Williams for 14. On 4th and 1 from the Chiefs 18, Brandon Staley went for it gain. Ekeler again got around the end for 3. Herbert then hit Williams for a 15 yard touchdown to cap the 11 play, 78 yard, 6 minute drive and have the Chargers up 17-7.

After a touchback the chiefs again kept the game close. Again Mahomes was intercepted and again he escaped when officials reversed the call to an incompletion. Mahomes then hit Gray for 11 and Clyde Edwards-Helaire for 21. On 3rd and 10 from the Chargers 41, Mahomes went to Justin Watson for the touchdown to get the Chiefs within 17-14. The Chiefs got it back and moved from their own 36 to a 2nd and goal at the one. Mahomes threw incomplete, On 3rd and goal, Mahomes hit Kelce but for no gain. The fourth quarter began with Walrus Andy Reid having a major decision to make. The crowd didn’t like it, but on 4th and goal at the one, Reid played it safe. Ammendola hit the 19 yard field goal to tie the game 17-17.

Ammendola then hit the ensuing kickoff out of bounds to set up the Chargers at their own 40. The Chargers moved to a 1st and goal at the 3 with 1- 1/2 minutes remaining in regulation. Then came the play of the game. Herbert threw an innocent slant pass toward the end zone. Jaylen Watson jumped the route and raced 99 yards the other way. The defensive touchdown electrified the home crowd at Arrowhead and gave the Chiefs their first lead of the day up 24-17. With 4 minutes left, the Chiefs took over at their own 15. Edwards-Helaire immediately ripped off a 52 yard gain. Ammendola hit from 31 to give the Chiefs breathing room up 27-17 with 3 1/2 minutes left. Herbert managed a 7 yard touchdown pass on 4th and goal with 1:11 left, but the onside kick failed and the Chargers valiant effort fell short. 27-24 Chiefs

Miami Dolphins at Baltimore Ravens — This game will be remembered forever. The Ravens were expected to easily dispatch with the overmatched Dolphins. From the start, it looked like the Ravens would do exactly that. Devin Duvernay returned the opening kickoff 103 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 Ravens lead 13 seconds into the game. Tua Tagovailoa was then intercepted. The Ravens then mounted a staggering 18 play, 74 yard drive that took 11 minutes off the clock. Yet on 2n and goal from the one, Davis got stopped. The second quarter began with 3rd and goal. Lamar Jackson got in, but on further review officials reversed the call to short of the goal. John Harbaugh went for it on 4th and goal at the one. Jackson ran into a Mimi brick wall and fumbled the ball away. Momentum shifted with the goal line stand. On 2nd and 13 from their own 3, Tagovailoa found Jalen Waddle for a 59 yard gain. Tagovailoa then found Tyreek Hill for 15, Sheffield for 12, Smythe for 5, and Waddle again for a 6 yard touchdown. Instead of being down 14-0, the Dolphins tied the game 7-7.

Yet 10 seconds after a touchback, the Ravens had the lead again as Jackson went to Rashod Bateman for a 75 yard touchdown and a 14-7 lead. The Ravens got it back at their own 34. From midfield, Jackson ran for 19 and hit Mark Andrews for a 26 yard touchdown. Again it was reversed to being down at the one yard line. This time Jackson hit Andrews for the one yard touchdown and the 21-7 Ravens lead. Tagovailoa was intercepted again and the Ravens took over at their own 20. Jackson went deep to Likely for 34 and Hill ran for 13 more. Jackson hit Andrews for 10 and Robinson for a 12 yard touchdown with 30 seconds left in the half. The Ravens were up 28-7. The Dolphins began the third quarter with a 12 play, 75 yard, 7 minute drive. On 3rd and 13 from the Baltimore 14, Tagovailoa hit Gesicki for the touchdown to get the Dolphins within 28-14. Yet late in the third quarter with the Ravens facing 3rd and 2 from their own 21, Jackson ran for a 79 yard touchdown. The Ravens were cruising 35-14 after three quarters. Then came the absolutely indescribable. 

After a touchback, the fourth quarter began with Tagovailoa hitting Waddle for big gains of 33, 12 and 16. On 3rd and goal at the 2, Tagovailoa hit River Cracraft for the touchdown to get the Dolphins within 35-21 with 12 minutes left in regulation. After a touchback, the Ravens faced 4th and 1 at the Miami 40 with 9 minutes left. Despite having the greatest kicker in the game in Justin Tucker, John Harbaugh went for it. Jackson kept it and was stopped for a one yard loss. The dolphins struck quickly. On 3rd and 10 from the Baltimore 48, Tagovailoa went deep to Hill for a 48 yard touchdown. Midway through the fourth quarter, The Dolphins were within 35-28. The Dolphins took over and again struck quickly. On 3rd and 6 from their own 40, Tagovailoa again went deep to Hill for a 60 yard touchdown. With 5:19 to play, the game was tied 35-35 and about to get even crazier.

After a touchback, Jackson went to Andrews and Duvernay for 16 yard gains with defensive pass interference between them adding 9 more. The drive stalled but Tucker nailed a 51 yard field goal. With 2:18 to play, the Ravens were back on top 38-35. An 18 yard kickoff return of a short kick had the Dolphins at their own 32. Tagovailoa hit Hill for 21 and then 09 more. Edmonds ran for a 28 yard gain. With 14 seconds left, Tagovailoa hit Waddle for a 7 yard touchdown. The Dolphins led by 4 in front of a shellshocked home crowd at the Big Crabcake. After a touchback, the Ravens still had 2 timeouts. With 4 seconds left, The Ravens had one final shot from their own 49. Tucker has the NFL record long 66 yard field goal, but that one hit the crossbar and bounced over. John Harbaugh decided against a 69 yard try. Jackson’t Hail Mary went to an area with only one receiver and one defender but fell incomplete. In an absolute shocker, Tagovailoa threw 6 touchdown passes, with 4 of them in the fourth quarter alone. He finished with 469 yards passing. Jackson had 318 yards passing and 3 touchdowns along with another touchdown and 119 yards rushing. Yet it was on the losing end of a shocking offset. ESPN uber-announcer Chris Berman keeps telling us “THAT’S why they PLAY the GAMES!” That’s why they play the ENTIRE game. The kid coaching the Dolphins has a 2-0 football team. 42-38 Dolphins

New York Jets at Cleveland Browns — Sometimes a pair of very bad teams with a history of agonizing losses can come together and play a thriller. This was that game, as Jacoby Brissett and the supposedly washed up Joe Flacco put on a show in place of the highly paid starting quarterbacks not playing in this game. A decade ago Flacco won a Super Bowl with Baltimore and repeatedly beat the Browns. Yet he had never won a game with the Jets. Early in the first quarter the Browns moved 90 yards in 14 plays and 8 1/2 minutes. Jacoby Brissett hit Bryant for gains of 8 and 7 and ran for 13 himself. Brissett went to Njoku for 13 and Nick Chubb for 7. On 3rd and 2 from the Jets 4, Chubb ran it in to put the Browns up 7-0. Late in the first quarter The Jets faced 4th and 2 at their own 46. Robert Saleh gambled on a fake punt. Mann hit Smith for a 17 yard gain, The second quarter began with the Jets facing 3rd and 2 at the Cleveland 29. Hall gained 23. On 3rd and goal at the 2, Joe Flacco hit Garrett Wilson for the touchdown to make it a 7-7 game.

 The Browns soon faced 3rd and 3 at their own 46. Brissett hit Amari Cooper for 9 and 13. On 3rd and 6 from the Jets 28, Brissett hit Cooper for 20. On 3rd and goal at the 6, Brissett hit Cooper for the touchdown to cap the 10 play, 61 yard, nearly 5 minute drive and make it 14-7 Browns. The Jets got it back and moved to a 3rd and 8 at the Cleveland 12. Flacco was sacked and fumbled the ball away. The defense held and the Jets got it back at their own 46 with 1:05 left in the half. Flacco hit Moore for 18. On 3rd and 6 from the Cleveland 28, Flacco hit Wilson for 18 more. On 3rd and goal from the 10 with 11 seconds left in the half, Flacco hit Hall for the touchdown and a 14-14 tie. As crazy a the end of the half was, the end of the game was even crazier. 

The Browns began the third quarter at their own 20 and  moved 76 yards in 11 plays and 5 minutes. On 2nd and goal at the 4, Brissett threw incomplete twice. York hit the 22 yard field goal for the 17-14 Browns lead and the only score of the third quarter. A field position game Hd the Jets move from their own 10 to a 2nd and 5 at the Cleveland 29 to start the fourth quarter. A 24 yard gain was wiped out by holding. Greg “The Leg” Zuerlein leveled a 57 yard field goal for a 17-17 game. 

After a touchback, the Browns faced 3rd and 2 at their own 33. Brissett hit Cooper for 5 and Chubb then ran for 22 and 3 and caught a pass from Brissett for 15. Karim Hunt added 10 more. Chubb ran for a 7 yard touchdown to put the Browns up 24-17 with 9 1/2 minutes left in regulation. The defenses dug in and an unnecessary roughness penalty on the Jets gave the Browns golden field position with 2 1/2 minutes left at the Jets 42. Then came the accidental score. With 1:55 left and the Jets out of timeouts, Chubb got the carry. All he had to do was fall down and the clock would wind down. The Jets practically let him score, and he did. It is hard to argue with a touchdown, but falling to the ground would have ended the game with a couple of knees. Chubb’s score gave the Jets a shot, but they were down by 13 with 1:55 left. Even with the missed extra point, this game was over.

Someone forgot to tell Flacco, who still has a cannon of an arm. Two plays after a touchback, he unleashed a 66 yard touchdown pass to Corey Davis. With 1:22 left the Jets were within 30-24. The Dawg Pound then went into shellshocked when a perfectly executed onside kick was recovered by the Jets at their own 47. Flacco hit carter for 12 and Wilson for 12 more. With 22 seconds left, on 3rd and 10 from the Cleveland 15, Flacco hit Wilson for the touchdown. Now the missed extra point mattered as the Jets made their for a one point lead. 2 plays after a touchback from his own 46, Brissett went deep and was intercepted. 2 touchdowns in the final 90 seconds gave Flacco his first win leading the Jets and added to the pain that is being a Browns fan. That’s why they play the ENTIRE game. 40+ years after the Cardiac Kids, the new Browns version won on the final play and then lost on the final play. 31-30 Jets

New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers — Bill Belichick usually gets the better of Mike Tomlin although both of these teams are less than their usual championship caliber. This was a gritty game. The Patriots from their 20 went on a 13 play, 71 yard, 7 minute drive. Yet on 4th and 2 from the Pittsburgh 9, Belichick decided not to gamble. Nick Folk hit the 28 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Patriots. The teams traded interceptions. The Steelers from their own 34 went on a 16 play, 7 minute drive, but only gained 48 yards. On 3rd and 4 from the New England 13, Mitchell Trubisky was sacked for a 5 yard loss. Chris Boswell hit from 36 for a 3-3 game in the second quarter. 

The Patriots took over at their own 26 with 3 minutes left in the half. With 22 seconds left in the half the Patriots had 3rd and 3 at the Pittsburgh 44. One play changed the game. Mac Jones went to Nelson Agholor for the touchdown as the Patriots took a 10-3 lead to the locker rooms. In the third quarter Folk missed a 52 yard field goal that would have extended the lead. The excellent field position at their own 42 allowed the Steelers to set up for a 52 yard try by Boswell. He was good and the Steelers were within 10-6. The biggest play of the game came with 4 minutes left in the third quarter. The Steelers fumbled a punt and the Patriots recovered at the Pittsburgh 10. On 3rd and goal at the 2, Jones  hit Damien Harris for the score to make it 17-6 Patriots. 

After a touchback, Trubisky moved the Steelers 75 yards. He hit Harris for 14. Olszewski ran for 18. On the first play of the fourth quarter on 3rd and 4 from the New England 8, Trubisky hit Pat Freiermuth for the touchdown. Trubisky went to Johnson for the 2 point conversion to get the Steelers within a field goal. After that, the defenses dug in. With 4 1/2 minutes left in regulation the Patriots had 3rd and 2 at their own 38. Jones scrambled for 5. With 1:51 left the Patriots faced 3rd and 3 at the Pittsburgh 20. Harris gained 5 to seal the hard fought win as Jones took 3 knees. 17-14 Patriots

Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars — Last year the Colts needed only to beat the 2-14 Jaguars to secure a playoff spot. The Jaguars humiliated the Colts and drove Carson Wentz out of town. Matt Ryan was supposed to be the upgrade. New year, new quarterback, same stunning result. On 3rd and 10 from the Jacksonville 40, Matty Ice was intercepted. The Jaguars took over at their own 32 and just hit the Colts in the mouth. On 3rd and 8, Trevor Lawrence hit Jones for 12. On 4th and 3 from the Colts 47, Doug Pederson gambled and Trevor Lawrence hit Zee Jones for 8. On 3rd and 4 from the Indianapolis 10, Lawrence hit Christian Kirk for the touchdown. The 15 play, 68 yard drive took over 9 minutes off the clock for the 7-0 Jaguars lead.

In the second quarter the Jaguars took over at their own 21. Lawrence hit Jones for 13. On 1st and 20 from their own 37 after offensive holding, Lawrence hit Kirk for 26. James Robinson then ran for a 37 yard touchdown to make it 14-0 Jaguars. The Jaguars got it back at their own 25. Another 10 play drive was enough for a 52 yard Patterson field goal and a 17-0 Jaguars advantage. Midway through the third quarter the Jaguars took over at their own 8. Lawrence led a 12 play, 92 yard drive that took nearly 8 minutes. On 3rd and 1 from the Indy 5, Robinson got stopped. Doug Pederson wanted to make a statement. He went for it and Lawrence on 4th and 1 hit Kirk for the final touchdown. The Jacksonville defense was suffocated. Twice the Colts moved inside the 10 yard line without scoring. Ryan was intercepted on his final 2 drives as the defense preserved the shutout. 24-0 Jaguars

Carolina Panthers at New York Giants — The Panthers lost last week at home on the final play and the Giants won a shocking road game at Tennessee on the final play. The Panthers fumbled the opening kickoff to set up the Giants at the Carolina 22. The offense could only muster a 36 yard Graham Gano field goal to make it 3-0 Giants. The Panthers fumbled again and the Giants had another short field at the Carolina 40. Only the Giants could run 13 plays and take 8 minutes while only moving 25 yards. On 3rd and goal at the 8, Daniel Jones was sacked. Gano hit from 33 to make it 6-0 Giants. In the second quarter it was the Panthers moving deep while being unable to reach the end zone. Eddie Pineiro hit from 31 and again from 32 as this hideously unwatchable game went to the half tied 6-6. 

Early in the third quarter the Panthers took over at their own 33. Baker Mayfield went deep to DJ Moore for 29, scrambled for 17 more himself, and hit Moore for a 16 yard touchdown to make it 13-6 Panthers. The Giants soon faced 3rd and 9 from their own 26. Jones hit James for 15. Saquon Barkley ran for 16. Jones hit James for 12, Hudson for 15, and Daniel Bellinger for a 16 yard touchdown and a 13-13 tie.

The Giants took over at their own 9. Barkley ran for 15 and the Giants began the fourth quarter facing 2nd and 12 from their own 22. Jones went deep incomplete but defensive pass interference meant a 13 yard gain. On 3rd and 10 from their own 35, Jones went to Sills for 24. On 4th and 2 from the Carolina 33, Brian Daboll decided not to gamble. Gano nailed the 51 yard field goal to make it 16-13 Giants with 12 1/2 minutes left in regulation. After a touchback, Christian McCaffrey ripped off a 49 yard run. Yet on 2nd and 4 from the Giants 15, an offensive penalty for motion was followed by a pair of incompletions. Pineiro hit from 38 for another tie at 16-16 with 11 minutes left. 

After a touchback, Barkley ripped off gains of 10 and 8. On 3rd and 1 from their own 44, Brightwell gained 14. On 2nd and 9 from the Carolina 29, a run lost 4 yards followed by offensive holding. With 3 1/2 minutes left in regulation, Gano came in for  56 yard field goal try. 4 years ago Gano was playing for the Panthers. He nailed a 63 yard field goal to beat the Giants and send the Hispanic football announcer into a crazed yell of joy normally reserved for Hispanic soccer announcers. This time the teams were reversed but Gano did it again for a 3 point Giants lead. 

After a touchback, the Panthers moved to a 3rd and 6 at their own 46 with 2:42 left. Mayfield was sacked and Matt Rhule decided to punt on 4th and 15. The Giants took over at their own 25. With 1:50 left on 3rd and 6 from their own 40, Jones scrambled for 11 yards. Jones then took a couple of knees. Raise your hands if you expected the Giants to be 2-0. Put your hands down. Stop lying. 19-16 Giants

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints — The one team that has vexed Tom Brady the last few years is the Saints. Even with Dennis Allen subbing for Sean Payton, the Saints defense suffocated Brady and beat him 9-0 in Tampa. Brady was seen throwing his helmet and his tablet on the sideline. This time in New Orleans, the Saints team again gave Brady fits and threw him into a rage. Yet Jameis Winston, the man Brady replaced in Tampa, also had a miserable game. This was a brutal defensive slugfest. Wil Lutz hit a 31 yard field goal for the Saints 6 minutes into the game. Ryan Succop answered from 47 in the third quarter as this game was tied 3-3 after three quarters.

With 12 minutes left in regulation, Jameis Winston went for it all and was intercepted in the end zone for a touchback. On 3rd and 10 from from his own 36, Brady hit Cameron Brate for only 9. Yet defensive unnecessary roughness tacked on 15 key yards. On 3rd and 5 from the Saints 28, Brady went deep to Perriman for the game’s first touchdown. Midway through the fourth quarter, the Buccaneers led 10-3. Winston was then intercepted again, and Dean returned it 24 yards to the Saints 24. The Bucs offense went nowhere but Succop hit from 47 to make it 13-3 Buccaneers. Yet Winston’s final interception was a dagger. Edwards returned it 68 yards for a defensive touchdown and a 20-3 Buccaneers lead. Tempers flared on this day. Brady again threw his helmet and his tablet. Mike Evans was suspended one game for fighting. Yet this time it was the Bucs defense that got the job done. 20-10 Buccaneers 

Washington Commanders at Detroit Lions — The Lions went decades without beating the Redskins. Yet when the Redskins became the No-Names a couple years ago, the Lions beat them. Now the No-Names are the Commanders, who entered this matchup having never lost a game. The first half was all Lions. The Lions faced 3rd and 3 at their own 27 early on. Jared Goff went to St. Brown for a 49 yard gain. On 4th and 3 from the Washington 17, there would be no Dan Campbell gamble. Seibert hit the 35 yard field goal for a 3-0 Lions lead. The Lions got it back at their own 43 and Deandre Swift gained 50. This time on 4th and goal at the 3, there was a Dan Campbell gamble. Goff threw incomplete. Yet Carson Wentz was then sacked in the end zone for a safety and a 5-0 Lions lead. Raymond then returned the free kick 52 yards to the Washington 31. 

Goff hit Reynolds for 13 and St. Brown for a 13 yard touchdown to make it 12-0 Lions after the first quarter. The Lions began the second quarter at their own 42 and kept dominating. Goff hit reynolds for 23. Seibert hit a 48 yard field goal to make it 15-0 Lions. The Lions got it back at their own 23. Goff hit Swift for 9. Williams ran for 12 and caught a pass from Goff for 7. Reynolds ran for 11. Goff hit St. Brown for 11. Williams ran for 8. Goff hit Reynolds for 12 and again for a 3 yard touchdown as the Lions dominated the first half 22-0.  

The Commanders tried to make a game of it in the third quarter. On 2nd and 6 from their own 40, Wnts hit Jahan Dotson for 40. On 3rd and 5 from the Detroit 15, Wentz hit Curtis Samuel for the touchdown. On the next Commanders drive, Wentz was intercepted but the Lions did not capitalize. The Commanders got it back at their own 6. Wentz found Dotson for 9 and then went deep to Terry McLaurin for 35. wants then went deep to Samuel for 27. Wentz found Logan Thomas for a 20 yard touchdown. Wentz hit Dotson for the 2 point conversion. With 3 minute left in the third quarter, the Commanders were within 22-15.

Yet this time the Lions proved resilient. After a touchback, St. Brown got around the end for a 58 yard gain. On 3rd and 15 from the Washington 22, Goff hit Swift for the touchdown to put the Lions up 29-15 after three quarters. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Riverboat Ron Rivera gambled 4th and 1 from his own 26. McLaurin gained 7 yards. On 3rd and 3 from his own 40, Wentz hit McLaurin for 17. Samuel added 21 more. Wentz hit Antonio Gibson for 11 down to the one. For some reason Rivera went for 2. Wentz threw incomplete and the Commanders trailed 29-21 with 10 1/2 minutes left in regulation. 

The Lions took over at their own 30. Williams gained 8. Goff hit TJ Hockensen for 18. On 3rd and 2 from the Washington 36, Goff hit Wright for 25 and St. Brown for an 11 yard touchdown. Midway through the fourth quarter, the Lions had a 36-21 lead. The Commanders got it back at their own 24 and moved 76 yards in 14 plays and 5 minutes. On 3rd and goal at the one with 1:56 to play,  Wentz hit Dotson for the touchdown. This time Joey Slye missed the extra point. It was a killer because it kept the Commanders down 9. Yet with one minute left on 4th and 4 from their own 39, Wentz was sacked to snuff out any hope of a rally. The Lions have never lost to the Commanders. 36-27 Lions

Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers — The game seemed like an afterthought compared to the soap opera subplot regarding the 49ers quarterbacks. Despite taking the 49ers to 2 NFC Title Games and one Super Bowl, the 49ers have always treated Jimmy Garoppolo as the weak link. They drafted Trey Lance, but Garoppolo had such a good run last year that Lance stayed on the sideline. 49ers faithful blame Garoppolo for blowing last year’s NFC Title Game, and this year Lance won the starting job. Yet in a totally strange turn of events, Garoppolo was kept on the roster as a backup rather than be released or traded. Oh yeah, and a football game was played and the Seahawks now have Geno Smith instead of Russell Wilson.

On the opening drive after a touchback, Lance led the 49ers 73 yards in 11 plays and 6 minutes. On 4th and goal at the 2, Kyle Shanahan deiced not to risk it. Robbie Gould hit the 20 yard field goal to make it 3-0 49ers. The 49ers got it back at their own 11 and moved to a 2nd and 8 at the Seattle 21. Lance gained 2 yards but total disaster struck. Lance suffered a broken ankle on the play. He will be out for the entire season. Just like that, Garoppolo was now the starter again. Gould hit a 33 yard field goal to make it 6-0 49ers.

The rest of the game seemed irrelevant. Garoppolo played well enough, winning in efficient if unspectacular fashion. In the second quarter Garoppolo hit Ross Dwelley for a 38 yard touchdown to cap a 78 yard touchdown drive. Smith was intercepted twice in the second quarter. At the 2 minute warning, the Seahawks fumbled a punt and the 49ers recovered at the Seattle 22. Garoppolo hit Kyle Juszczyk for a one yard touchdown to make it 20-0 49ers at halftime. The Seattle offense was lifeless, managing only a blocked field goal for an 86 yard touchdown to trail 20-7 in the third quarter. The 49ers defense clamped down and the offense managed a fourth quarter 13 play, 63 yard, 7 minute drive. On 4th and goal at the one, Garoppolo got in to complete the scoring. For at least one more year, like it or not, Jimmy G is the man in charge in the Bay Area. 27-7 49ers

 

Atlanta Falcons at Los Angeles Rams — Sometimes a bad team can go on the road and shock a very good team in an upset for the ages. Early on, this was not that game. After a touchback, the Falcons moved 49 yards in 13 plays and held the ball for 8 minutes. Yet on 3rd and 6 from the Rams 14, a false start was followed by Marcus Mariota getting sacked. Younghoe Koo surprisingly missed a 44 yard field goal try. After that the Rams took over. From their own 34, Matthew Stafford hit Allen Robinson for 15, Skowronek for 8, and Tyler Higbee for 18, Higbee for 5 down to the one, and Robinson for the touchdown to make it 7-0 Rams. The second quarter began with Arthur Smith, who apparently coaches the Falcons, gambling on 4th and 2 from midfield. Cordarelle Patterson got stopped for no gain. Stafford hit Higbee for 7, Cam Akers for 10, and Powell for 6. On 3rd and 2 from the Atlanta 11, Darrell Henderson gained 3 and then the 8 yard touchdown to make it 14-0 Rams.

The Falcons after a touchback moved 67 yards in 11 plays and 7 minutes. Yet on 3rd and goal at the 8, Mariota threw incomplete. Koo hit from 26. Stafford threw an interception but Mariota gave it right back as Durant returned it 51 yards to set up the Rams at the Atlanta 9 yard line. Stafford hit Cooper Kupp for a 3 yard touchdown to make it 21-3 Rams. The Rams began the third quarter after a touchback with a 10 play, 75 yard, 5 1/2 minute drive. Stafford hit Higbee for 15 and Kupp for 19.Stafford hit Akers for 8 and Kupp again for 12. On 3rd and 4 from the Atlanta 10, Stafford went to Kupp for the touchdown to have the Rams cruising 28-3. Now the Falcons are famous for one blowing a 28-3 lead, but the Rams nearly blew a 27-3 lead last year in the playoffs. This year, the Rams inexplicably could not put away a game they led by 25 points.

Another inexplicable scenario was Sean McVay throwing the ball rather than running it up by 25. An interception of Stafford was returned 21 yards to the Rams 20. Mariota hit Drake London for a 4 yard touchdown to get the Falcons within 28-10 after three quarters. The Rams took over at their own 21 and moved 78 yards in 13 plays and 6 minutes. On 3rd and 10, Stafford hit Robinson for 29. Yet on 2nd and goal at the one, rather than run the ball, McVay kept calling pass plays. Stafford threw incomplete twice.  On 4th and goal at the one, McVay opted for the field goal. Matt Gay hit from 20. McVay’s decision was reasonable given that it put the Rams up 31-10 with 12 minutes left in regulation.

The Falcons took over at their own 28. Allgeier gained 9 and 2. Mariota hit Pitts for 6, London for 22, Hodge for 18, and Olimade Zaccheaus for an 11 yard touchdown. Midway through the fourth quarter, the Falcons were within 31-17. With 5 minutes left, the Rams were punting on 4th and 8 from their own 41. The punt was blocked and returned for a touchdown by Lorenzo Carter. For some strange reason, Arthur Hill needlessly went for a 2 point conversion. Mariota hit London successfully as the Falcons were now only down 31-25. The Rams soon faced 3rd and 4 at their own 31Stafford hit Kupp for 13 yards, but Kupp then fumbled. The Falcons recovered at the Rams 37. A 25 point Rams lead was down to 6 points. With 3 1/2 minutes left, the Falcons had a chance to win in shocking fashion. 

The final 2 minutes were crazy. At the 2 minute warning, the Falcons had 2nd and 9 at the Rams 20. A run lost 4 yards. The clock ticked all the way down to 1:18 as the Rams took their 2nd timeout on defense. On 3rd and 13, Mariota went to the end zone and the win and was intercepted by Jalen Ramsey. The Rams needed a first down to close out the game. They didn’t get it as the Falconstook their timeouts on defense. With 13 seconds left the rams had to punt on 4th and 7 from their own 26. This time Sean McVay took no chances on another block or return. He instructed his punter to run out the back of his own end zone for an intentional safety. The free kick was kicked out of bounds. The Falcons had one chance from midfield. Mariota’s Hail Mary never had a chance. He was sacked and fumbled to end the game. The Rams nearly collapsed, but they survived. Again, that’s why they play the ENTIRE game. 31-27 Rams

Houston Texans at Denver Broncos — Last week the Texans blew a 20-3 lead and settled for a 20-20 tie. The Broncos lost by one point after fumbling the ball twice at the opponent’s one yard line. Something had to give in this ugly game. A hideous first half saw each team kick a field goal in each of the first two quarters. Despite 1st and goal at the 2, the Broncos had a touchdown pass reversed to an incompletion followed by 2 more incompletions. Brandon McManus hit from 20. Kaimi Fairbairn answered from 40 for the Texans. In the second quarter Fairbairn hit from 44. The Broncos reached 3rd and goal at the one as their nightmarish goal line experiences continued. Wilson threw incomplete and Nathaniel Hackett had seen enough. McManus hit from 24. A third quarter interception of Russell Wilson gave the Texans a short field. Despite 1st and goal at the 4, this time it was the Texans going backward. Fairbairn hit from 24 as the Texans led 9-6 after three quarters. 

The fourth quarter began with the Broncos facing 3rd and 16 at their own 32. Then came the play of the game. Wilson found Sutton for 35 yards. Wilson then went to Eric Saubert for a 22 yard touchdown. With 12 1/2 minutes left in regulation, the end zone was finally reached as the Broncos led 13-9. The Broncos got it back at their own 14 and moved 54 yards in 12 plays and 6 minutes. Despite 1st and 10 at the Houston 26, a pair of incompletions was followed by Wilson getting sacked. McManus hit from 50 to put the Broncos up by 7 w with 3 1/2 minutes left in regulation. After a touchback, the Davis Mills quickly hit Collins for 20 and Cooks for 23. Yet on 1st and 10 from the Denver 32, Mills was sacked. On 4th and 15, Mills threw incomplete. Only 90 seconds remained, but the Texans had all 3 timeouts. Their defense held and they got the ball back at their own 25 with 53 seconds left. Yet a game that was virtually all defense ended with defense. A completion lost a yard as precious seconds ticked down. Mills then threw 3 incompletions as the game’s only touchdown was the difference. 16-9 Broncos 

Arizona Cardinals at Las Vegas Raiders — The relocation bowl saw the Chicago/St. Louis/Arizona Cardinals take on the Oakland/Los Angeles/Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders. The Raiders lost a heartbreaker on the road last week while the Cardinals were blown out at home. This game will be talked about for years. After a touchback, the Raiders exploded out of the gate. Josh Jacobs ran for 7. A sack of Derek Carr had the Raiders facing 3rd and 11. Carr went deep to Mack Hollins for 20. Jacobs gained 6, 3, and on 3rd and 1 from the Arizona 47, 2 big yards. Jacobs then gained 13 and 4. Another sack of Carr had the Raiders facing 2nd and 21 from the Arizona 38. Carr hit Hollins for 9 and on 3rd and 12 found Hollins again for 23. On 3rd and goal at the 4, Carr threw incomplete but defensive pass interference meant 1st and goal at the one. Carr hit Davante Adams. The opening 15 play, 75 yard drive took over 9 1/2 minutes off the clock. The Raiders were just getting started.

The Raiders got it back at their own 20 and the Cardinals immediately jumped into the neutral zone. Carr then hit Darren Waller and Foster Moreau for a pair of 19 yard gains. The Raiders were rolling but on 3rd and 5 at the Arizona 14, Carr threw incomplete. Daniel Carlson hit a 32 yard field goal to put the Raiders up 10-0 in the second quarter. The Raiders got it back at their own 41. Carr went to Waller for 13 and Hunter Renfrow for 20. On 3rd and 10 from the Arizona 26, Carr hit Abdullah for 23. Carr went to Waller for the 3 yard touchdown. Kyler Murray was then intercepted to set the Raiders up at their own 27 with 1:51 left in the half. On 3rd and 6 from their own 48 with 17 seconds left, Carr went to Adams for 11. Carlson buried a 55 yard field goal at the gun to have the Raiders up 20-0.

The first half was complete domination by the Raiders. In their franchise history, they had never lost a game when leading by 20 points or more at the half. The Cardinals had never won a game when trailing by 20 points or more at halftime. The Raiders running game was key. Jacobs was running with brutal purpose. With a big lead, all the Raiders had to do in the second half was grind down the clock. Yet pass-happy Josh McDaniels loves his West Coast Offense dink and dunk passes The Cardinals in the third quarter soon faced 1st and 15 at their own 16. Murray then went to Greg Dortch for 29 and Zach Ertz for 13. On 3rd and 6 from the Raiders 26, Murray hit Ertz for 16. On 3rd and goal at the 5, Murray hit Dortch for the touchdown to get the Cardinals within 20-7. After a touchback, the Raiders quickly responded with help from a 47 yard defensive pass interference penalty. Yet on 1st and goal at the 7, a run went nowhere and Carr threw incomplete twice. Carlson hit from 25 to have the Raiders up 23-7 after three quarters. All the Raiders had to do was run the ball in the fourth quarter and go home. 

After a touchback the Cardinals moved to a 2nd and 1 at the Raiders 11. A run went nowhere and on 3rd and 1 Murray threw incomplete. Kliff Kingsbury went for it and Murray threw incomplete again. The inspired Raiders defense had done their job. With 12 1/2 minutes left in regulation, all the Raiders needed was to run down some clock. For some bizarre reason, Josh McDaniels called 3 straight pass plays and Carr delivered 3 straight incompletions. The Raiders took only 24 seconds off the clock and forced their defense to go right back on the field. An 18 yard punt return had the Cardinals taking over at their own 46. Murray went to Dortch for 11 and Benjamin for 8. With 8:40 left, the Cardinals were down to their last gasp with 4th and 4 at the Raiders 25. This is when the Raiders gave new meaning to the concept of Failure to Close out games, or FCO for short. 

Murray went deep to Brown for a 24 yard gain down to the one. That was FCO 1. Darrel Williams got in on the next play. A defensive stop on the 2 point conversion try would keep it a 2 score game. Murray then delivered the greatest 2 point conversion in NFL history. He ran laterally all over the field, unable to find a receiver. The play took nearly 21 seconds. Counting all the running around sideways, Murray ran 84 yards on the play. What mattered was his ability to run in the 2 point conversion. The Cardinals were now within 23-15. This was the Raiders FCO 2. After a touchback, Jacobs gained 7 and 3. Yet Jacobs then lost 4 yards. On 3rd and 10, Josh McDaniels called one of his beloved West Coast Offense dink and dunk passes despite having a quarterback capable of throwing further than 10 yards. Carr completed the pass for 4 yards. This was FCO 3. The Cardinals took over at their own 27 with 4:43 to play. 

Murray hit AJ Green for 10 and Ertz for 11. On 3rd and 1 from the Raider 43, Williams got stopped inches short of the sticks. One more stop would pretty much end the game. On 4th and 1, Murray scrambled and gained 2. This was FCO 4. On the next play Murray was sacked, but defensive holding meant a new set of downs. With 30 seconds left in the game, everything came down to 4th and 4 at the Raiders 6 yard line. The defense was tired, but one stop would end things. Murray ran all over the place and threw incomplete. The Raiders celebrated as only 16 seconds remained. The game was over…but it wasn’t. Defensive holding meant 1st and goal at the 3. This was FCO 5. Murray threw 3 straight incompletions. With 4 seconds left, everything came down to 4th and goal at the 3. Out of the shotgun, Murray got in again for the touchdown. This was FCO 6. The staggering 18 play, 73 yard, nearly 5 minute drive had the Raiders defense completely spent. They were on the field most of the entire second half.  

The clock was at double zeroes, but the Cardinals still needed to make the 2 point conversion to force overtime. Anyone who had ever watched a Raiders game knew what was coming. Murray fired to the back of the end zone and Green somehow caught the ball between 2 defenders. It appeared the ball hit the ground, but the completion stood. FCO 7 had the game tied 23-23. The Raiders defense was exhausted, and things went from bad to worse when the Cardinals won the overtime coin toss. The Cardinals moved after a touchback to a 4th and 1 at the Raiders 37. A field goal try would be 55 yards. Kliff Kingsbury went for it knowing that failing to convert would mean good field position for the Raiders. Everyone expected Murray to keep the ball since he had run over and around the Raiders the entire second half. Yet Kingsbury decided to go for it all. The play call had Murray finding a wide open Brown inside the red zone. Yet at the last moment, Brown was blasted by Harmon, knocking the ball out of his hands for an incompletion.

The Raiders defense had survived. On the brink of death, they made the play they had to make. Now the offense needed only a field goal to win. They needed to run the ball. Jacobs had barely been given the ball in the second half. Yet McDaniels stubbornly kept passing. Carr threw incomplete. Then he hit Hunter Renfrow for 7 yards to set up a critical 3rd and 3 at their own 44. Carr went back to Renfrow, one of Carr’s most reliable targets. He is so consistent that third down in Las Vegas is known as 3rd and Renfrow. This time Carr hit Renfrow for 11 yards, but Renfrow had the ball chopped out of his hands. After a wild scramble, the Raiders were bailed out when Moreau fell on it. The Raiders had dodged a bullet. 

With 4 minutes left in overtime, the Raiders had 1st and 10 at the Arizona 39. A field goal from that distance would be 57 yards. Carlson is one of the best kickers in the game. All the Raiders had to do was run the ball, kick the field goal, and win the game. The time for passing was over. The Raiders won their regular season finale to make the playoffs because interim coach Rich Bisaccia trusted Jacobs to run the ball down the opponent’s throats when it mattered. Josh McDaniels kept calling passes. Carr went deep incomplete. On 2nd and 10, a run was still the right call. Then came FCO 8 and an epic disaster. Carr went to Renfrow, who as usual caught the ball. Renfrow then got blasted and fumbled again. the ball bounced around and Byron Murphy picked it up and raced 59 yards for a defensive touchdown in front of a shellshocked home crowd. 

Just like that, the game was over. The Raiders lost due to an epic collapse, their worst second half meltdown since their birth in 1960. This was the biggest second half Cardinals comeback since their existence as a franchise in 1899. The Raiders are 0-2. Their 4-0 preseason was a mirage. Renfrow tried to take the blame, but this loss is squarely on boy genius McDaniels. He has to commit to the run, especially when the Raiders have a fourth quarter lead. McDaniels flamed out as a head coach 12 years ago because he refused to listen to others. Now the entire fan base is screaming at him to run the d@mn ball. He needs to listen right now. He did not inherit a rebuilding project. He inherited a team that made the playoffs by pounding the rock. Now the Raiders are run by a coach who makes play-calling decisions that are often dumb as a rock. This was a truly bitter pill for the Raider Nation to swallow. That’s why they play the ENTIRE game. The Raiders need someone willing to coach the entire game. 29-23 Cardinals, OT

Cincinnati Bengals at Dallas Cowboys – Both teams lost their home opener. The defending AFC Champion Bengals were stunned on the last play of overtime by Pittsburgh. Joe Burrow was sacked 7 times and had 4 turnovers. The Cowboys managed only 3 points at home and lost Dak Prescott for several weeks to injury. Cooper Rush won his only start last year and now was starting his second NFL game. Early on Mike McCarthy showed tremendous confidence in Rush, going for it on 4th and 2 from his own 44. Out of the shotgun, Rush hit Noah Brown for 17 yards. Rush capped the 12 play, 75 yard, 6 1/2 minute drive with a 9 yard touchdown pass to Brown for a 7-0 Cowboys lead. 

The Bengals after a touchback moved to a 2nd and 6 at the Dallas 23. A false start and a sack killed the drive. Evan McPherson hit a 43 yard field goal to get the Bengals on the board. The Cowboys soon faced 3rd and 10 from their own 25. Rush went deep to Brown for 28 yards. Rush then connected with Tony Pollard for a 46 yard gain down to the one. Pollard got in on the next play to make it 14-3 Cowboys after the first quarter. The second quarter was quiet, but Maher nailed a 54 yard field goal to end the half with the Cowboys up 17-3. 

The Bengals gradually clawed back in the third quarter with some luck. After a touchback to start the seance half, the Bengals had to punt on 4th and 4 from their own 41. Yet the Cowboys jumped into the neutral zone. Given new life, the Bengals moved into position for McPherson to hit a 50 yard field goal to get the Bengals within 17-6. A 20 yard punt return gave the Bengals the ball back at their own 41. McPherson hit another field goal from 46 as the Bengals trailed 17-9 after three quarters.

Early in the fourth quarter the Bengals took over at their own 17. On 3rd and 10, Burrow hit Tee Higgins for 16. and JaMarr Chase for 11. On 3rd and 7 from the Dallas 39, Burrow hit Hurst for 8. On 4th and 6 from the Dallas 27 with 6 minutes left in regulation, Zac Taylor decided to go for it. Burrow hit Chase for 8 and Higgins for 10. Burrow hit Higgins for a 5 yard touchdown. The mind-numbing 19 play, 83 yard drive took 9 minutes off the clock. Burrow hit Boyd for the 2 point conversion for a 17-17 tie with 3:45 left in the game. 

An exchange of punts had the Cowboys taking over at their own 35 with one minute left. Rush hit Lamb for 8, Brown for 12, and Lamb for 10. The Cowboys took their final timeout with 24 seconds left. On 1st and 10 from the Cincinnati 35, Mike McMarthy took no chances. A safe run gained 3 yards and Rush spiked the ball to stop the clock with 4 seconds left. Maher came in for a 50 yard try to win it. The kick was good as the Bengals fell to a surprising 0-2 on the year. Meanwhile, Rush is 2-0 in his starting career. 20-17 Cowboys

Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers was the Sunday night game. The Packers have owned the Bears for much of the last 30 years. Aaron Rodgers owns the Bears. He said so. After an opening touchback, the first play from scrimmage saw a defensive personal foul against the Bears for a low block. Mason Crosby hit a 40 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Packers. The Bears took over at their own 29 and David Montgomery ran for 4 and 12. Justin Fields fumbled the next snap but fell on it. On the following play Fields went deep to St. Brown for a 30 yard gain. Montgomery ran for 13 and 9. Fields ran for a 3 yard touchdown. The Bears led 7-3 after the first quarter, but then reality set in.

After a touchback, Dillon ran for 6 and 5. Rodgers ran for 7 and hit Watson for 9. Rodgers went to Watkins for 24. Aaron Jones ran for  15 yard touchdown on the first play of the second quarter to make it 10-7 Packers. The Packers got it back at their own 46. Jones ran for 5 and 8 and Dillon added 9. On 2nd and 28 from their own 42, Rodgers hit Doubs for 20 and on 3rd and 8 found Randall Cobb for 9. Rodgers hit Jones for an 8 yard touchdown to make it 17-7 Packers. The Packers got it back a their own 33. Jones ran for 14. Rodgers hit Jones for 15, Cobb for 20, Robert Tonyan for 9, and Allen Lazard for the 5 yard touchdown. The Packers led 24-7 at the half. A pointless second half saw the Bears kick a third quarter field goal and the Packers kick a fourth quarter field goal. George Halas’s heirs in the McCaskey family may not like it, but Rodgers still owns the Bears. 27-10 Packers

   

Tennessee Titans at Buffalo Bills was the early Monday night game. These teams have played some memorable games, but this one was forgettable. The Titans were the top seed in the AFC playoffs last year, but opened this season with a stunning home loss to the Giants. The Bills entered the season with serious Super Bowl aspirations and went on the road and throttled the defending champion Rams. After an opening touchback, Singletary ran for 16 yards. On 3rd and 9 from their own 46, Josh Allen ran for 10. On 3rd and 8 from the Tennessee 42, Allen hit Kumerow for 11. On 3rd and 2 from the Tennessee 23, Allen hit Dawon Knox for 12 and Gilliam for an 11 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Bills. After a touchback the Titans moved to a 4th and 1 from the Buffalo 2. Mike Vrabel went for it and Derrick Henry banged into the end zone. The game was tied 7-7 after the first quarter. 

In the second quarter the Bills moved from their own 18 to a 4th and 1 at the Tennessee 26. Sean McDermott went for it, but a false start killed the try. Tyler Bass hit a 49 yard field goal to make it 10-7 Bills. The Bills got it back and soon faced 2nd and 15 at their own 18. Allen hit Knox for 15 and Kumerow for 39. Allen then went to Diggs for 15 and 9. With one minute left in the half on 4th and 1 from the Tennessee 4, McDermott gambled again. This time Allen hit Diggs for the touchdown and a 17-7 Bills lead. Then came the avalanche.

In the third quarter the Bills faced 3rd and 14 from their own 16. Allen threw incomplete but defensive offsides meant 3rd and 9. Allen hit Crowder for 16 and Diggs for 9 and 8. Allen went deep to Diggs for a 46 yard touchdown to make it 24-7 Bills. The Titans failed in all 3 phases of the game by fumbling a punt. The Bills recovered at the Tennessee 20. The Bills settled for a 37 yard Bass field goal to lead 27-7. The Titans soon faced 2nd and 2 from their own 33. Ryan Tannehill was intercepted and the Bills took over just shy of midfield. Allen threw a 14 yard touchdown to Diggs to make it 34-7 Bills. Tannehill was then intercepted by Matt Milano, who returned it 43 yards for the game’s final points. A 24 point third quarter had the Titans at 0-2 and the Bills at 2-0. The pre-season Super Bowl hype in Buffalo is legitimate. 41-7 Bills 

Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles was the late Monday night game. Both teams won their openers. The Vikings came in confident after beating up Green Bay last week. The Eagles began at their own 18. Jalen Hurts hit Smith for 5 and Dallas Goedert for 18. Miles Sanders ran for 12 and 2. On 3rd and 13 from midfield, Hurts hit Kenneth Gainwell for 19. On 3rd and 3 from the Minnesota 24, Hurts hit Zach Pascal for 8 and Goedert for 13. Hurts ran for the 3 yard touchdown to cap the 11 play, 82 yard, 6 minute drive and make it 7-0 Eagles. The Eagles again took over at their own 18 and it was deja vu all over again. On 3rd and 5, Hurts hit Smith for 8. On the first play of the second quarter, the Eagles faced 2nd and 8 from their own 47. Hurts went deep to Watkins for a 53 yard touchdown to make it 14-0 Eagles.

The Vikings soon faced 3rd and 1 from their own 34. Jalen Reagor got around the end for a 17 yard gain. Kirk Cousins hit Justin Jefferson for 11. On 3rd and 6 from the Philadelphia 34, Cousins hit Osborn for 15, Mundt for 17, and Irv Smith for a 2 yard touchdown to get the Vikings within 14-7. They got no closer. The Eagles took over at their own 15. Hurts hit Smith for gains of 19 and 16. Boston Scott ran for 16. On 3rd and 2 from the Minnesota 26, Hurts ran all the way for the touchdown to make it 21-7 Eagles at the 2 minute warning. The Eagles got it back at their own 5 yard line with 1:14 left. Hurts ran for 9. On 3rd and 6 from their own 21, Hurts hit Smith for 16 and Goedert for gains of 19 and 24. Jake Elliott hit a 38 yard field goal to end the half. The entire second half was scoreless as Cousins was intercepted 3 times and the Eagles suffered an interception and a blocked field goal. 24-7 Eagles 

eric

 

NFL 2022 Week 2 Prequel

September 14th, 2022

NFL 2022 Week 2 Prequel

Thursday, September 15, 2022 at 8pm.

Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs (-4) — The Chargers are a good football team. The Chiefs are a great football team. Last week on the road the Chiefs looked unstoppable. They lose key pieces and keep rolling because Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes are that good. The Chargers barely won last week in an imperfect game. They would need a perfect game to win this one. Chiefs cover 

Sunday, September 18 at 1pm.

Miami Dolphins at Baltimore Ravens (-3.5) — The Dolphins looked surprisingly above average last week in an efficient home win. The defense was solid. Nevertheless, the Ravens are the superior team, especially at home. Lamar Jackson is on a mission and the Ravens can run the ball. This should not be a close game. Ravens cover

New York Jets at Cleveland Browns (-6)

New England Patriots (-1.5) at Pittsburgh Steelers — Nobody gets more out of less than Mike Tomlin. Yet Bill Belichick consistently consistently out-coaches Tomlin. The Steelers showed character, heart and guts in a road win at Cincinnati last week. The Patriots lost, but Mac Jones is a better quarterback than Mitchell Trubisky. In a close game, go with the Evil Hoodie. Patriots cover  

Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars (-4) — Last year the Colts needed to beat the 2-14 Jaguars to make the playoffs. The Jaguars humiliated the Colts and sent Carson Wentz packing. The Jaguars showed signs of life in a loss last week while the Colts inexcusably fell behind 20-3 at Houston before eking out a tie. The Colts are the better team. Doug Pederson will turn the Jaguars around, but it will take time. The Colts will get their revenge as Jonathan Taylor runs wild. Upset special, Colts win outright.  

Carolina Panthers at New York Giants (-2.5) — The uninspiring Panthers found a way to blow a home game against lowly Cleveland. The Giants won a shocker at Tennessee. Neither team is any good. Go with the home field. Giants cover

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3) at New Orleans Saints — The saints showed tremendous resilience in overcoming a 16 point fourth quarter deficit to win at Atlanta on the final play. The Buccaneers are the better team, but Dennis Allen’s defense schemed brilliantly against Brady in a 9-0 Monday Night Football win that had Brady cursing and throwing his helmet. The Buccaneers have more weapons on offense but Todd Bowles has not proven himself as a head coach. Jameis Winston would love to beat the guy who took his job, but there is a reason Brady did. This could be close, but go with the better team. Buccaneers cover

Washington Commanders at Detroit Lions (-2) — The Lions went decades without beating the Redskins, but the minute the Redskins became the No-Names two years ago, the Lions beat them. Now the Redskins are the Commanders, and the Commanders have never lost a game. The Lions do not get the benefit of the doubt until Dan Campbell’s fiery speeches turn into wins. Ron Rivera has already done that. Upset special, Commanders win outright

4pm

Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers (-10) — The 49ers are not nearly as good as advertised and the Seahawks are not as bad as advertised. Benching Jimmy Garoppolo for Trey Lance may prove effective, but it has not yet. Lance was awful last week, but in miserable weather conditions. Pete Carroll’s defense showed plenty of grit in preserving a one point win. The spread is simply way too high. 49ers win but fail to cover

Atlanta Falcons at Los Angeles Rams (-10.5) — The Falcons blew a 16 point fourth quarter lead that cannot be blamed on Kyle Shanahan. The Rams looked awful in their home opener, but Buffalo is a much better team than Atlanta. This is the week an angry Rams team rights the ship. The spread is high, but the talent level merits it in a game that should not be close. Rams cover

Houston Texans at Denver Broncos (-10) — The texans bungled a 20-3 lead at home and settled for a 20-20 tie. The broncos bungled away their game with 2 fumbles at the opponents one yard line in a one point loss. The Broncos will improve . The Texans probably will not. The spread is high, but Russell Wilson should soon start gelling with his new team. Broncos cover

Arizona Cardinals at Las Vegas Raiders (-5.5) — The Raiders were inept for large stretches last week on the road. They still almost won. The Cardinals at home were awful the whole game. The spread is high, but the Raiders deserve one chance at home to prove they are a legitimate football team. Derek Carr will correct his mistakes and the running game should take some of the pressure off of him. Raiders cover

Cincinnati Bengals (-7.5) at Dallas Cowboys — The defending AFC champions were awful last week. They failed in all 3 phases at home against a Pittsburgh team starting over. The Cowboys looked lifeless at home and lost Dak Prescott for several weeks with a bad thumb. Cooper Rush won his only start last year, but the offense was terrible even before Dak got hurt. Joe Burrow will want to redeem himself after his miserable performance. The spread is too high on the road for a team that has Super Bowl hangover. Bengals win but fail to cover 

8pm

Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers (-10) is the Sunday night game. The Bears won last week in a torrential downpour. The Packers were blasted at Minnesota in a game that was never competitive. The Packers are the far superior team. Aaron Rodgers will be angry. Forget the high spread. This should be a blowout that could be over by halftime. Packers cover

Monday, September 19th at 7pm

Tennessee Titans at Buffalo Bills (-10) is the early Monday night game. The Titans were pathetic in blowing a 13 point lead at home against the lowly Giants. The Bills looked like a Super bowl contender in going on the road and throttling the Rams. The Titans had the top seed in the AFC last year. Unless they have truly regressed, they should still be competitive. The Bills could win big but a garbage touchdown is certainly a possibility. Bills win but fail to cover

8:30pm

Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles (-2) is the late Monday night game. The Vikings looked spectacular at home in demolishing Green Bay. The Eagles barley survived  woeful Detroit. Nevertheless, this game is ripe for Minnesota to have a hangover after their emotional win. Neither team is that big a deal, so go with the home field in this one. Eagles cover

eric

NFL 2022 Week 1 Recap

September 14th, 2022

Buffalo Bills at Los Angeles Rams was the Thursday night season opening kickoff game. The Rams won it all last year and began their quest to run it back.The Bills were 13 seconds from the AFC Title Game and entered this season as a serious Super Bowl contender. The Bills took the opening kickoff and moved 75 yards in 11 plays and 5 minutes. On 3rd and 1 from the Rams 26, Josh Allen rolled out and found a wide open Gabe Davis for an easy touchdown and a 7-0 Bills lead. 

Yet this potential Super Bowl matchup was far from super at times. The Bills turned the ball over on their next 2 drives with an interception and a fumble. The Rams did not capitalize as Matthew Stafford immediately responded with an interception of his own. The Bills took over early in the second quarter at their own 32. Allen hit Davis for 10 and Stefan Diggs for 21. On 3rd and 4 from the Rams 23, Allen went deep incomplete. Tyler Bass hit the 41 yard field goal to make it 10-0 Bills.

The Bills had all the momentum, but Bass then hit the ensuing kickoff out of bounds to set the Rams up at their own 40. On 3rd and 6, Stafford hit Skowronek for 12. On 3rd and 14 from the Buffalo 40 after a sack, Stafford hit Robinson for 12. Sean McVay went for it on 4th and 2 Stafford hit Cooper Kupp for 3. Darrell Henderson then got around the edge for 18. Stafford threw a 4 yard touchdown pass to Kupp to get the Rams within 10- 7 with 3 minutes left in the half. Another interception of Allen gave the Rams a short field at the Buffalo 45 with less than 2 minutes left. Matt Gay leveled a 57 yard field goal as the teams went to the half deadlocked 10-10. The first half was a slugfest. The second half was a statement.

Sean McDermott came out in the third quarter determined to pound the rock. From his own 42, Singletary gained 12. On 3rd and 7 from the Rams 43, Allen gained 8. Singletary added 13 more. Allen hit McKenzie for a 7 yard touchdown to make it 17-10 Bills. The Bills got it back at their own 11 and moved backward with a false start. They then moved forward with a 15 play, 7 minute, 94 yard drive. Allen and Moss both picked up 8. Allen hit Crowder for 11. On 3rd and 7 from their own 47, Allen went bombs away to Davis for 47 yards. Allen ran the 2 yard touchdown in himself as the Bills led 24-10 early in the fourth quarter. Stafford was intercepted again, setting up the Bills at their own 41. Allen went deep again to Diggs for a 53 yard touchdown to complete the scoring. Stafford then threw his 3rd interception. The Rams should not panic. The Bills are for real. They hit the Rams in the mouth. The defense is fantastic, especially with the addition of Von Miller. He was on the Rams last year and helped crush his former team. The Bills have never won a Super Bowl. This year they have a legitimate shot. 31-10 Bills

Cleveland Browns at Carolina Panthers — A pair of bad teams faced off as Baker Mayfield looked for revenge against the team that got rid of him. Only 2 years ago, Mayfield led the Browns on an impressive playoff run. Early in the second quarter of a scoreless game, Mayfield was intercepted to give the Browns a short field at the Carolina 42. Jacoby Brissett returned the favor on a deep ball, but defensive pass interference instead meant 1st and goal at the one. Brissett then hit Karim Hunt for the touchdown to make it 7-0 Browns. The Browns got it back and moved 78 yards as Hunt ran for a 14 yard touchdown to put the Browns up 14-0. 

This time the Panthers responded. On 3rd and 3 from his own 32, Mayfield hit Moore for 16 yards. Mayfield then went bombs away to Thomas for a 50 yard gain down to the Cleveland 2 yard line. Christian McCaffrey got in from the one to get the Panthers within 14-7. The Browns ended the second quarter and began the third quarter with long drives that led to field goals by York of 26 and 34 yards. After three quarters the Browns led 20-7, but the fourth quarter was a wild one.

The Panthers managed an 11 play, 75 yard drive that had them facing 3rd and 7 from the Cleveland 33 to start the fourth quarter. With everyone expecting a pass, McCaffrey ran for 9 yards. On 3rd and 5 from the Cleveland 7, Mayfield scrambled for the touchdown himself. The Panthers were within 20-14 with 13 minutes left in regulation. The Browns responded with a 10 play, 57 yard, 6 1/2 minute drive. York hit his 3rd field goal from 36 yards out to give the Browns breathing room up 23-14 with 6:13 to play.

They would not be breathing for long. One play after a touchback, Mayfield went bombs away to Robby Anderson for a 75 yard touchdown to get the Browns within 23-21. The Browns held on defense and got the ball back at their own 20 with 2:14 to play. Mayfield hit Moore for a 26 yard gain and McCaffrey for 21 more. With 1:13 to play, Eddie Pineiro hit a 34 yard field goal to put the Panthers up 24-23. 

After a touchback, a roughing the passer call had the Browns at their own 40. With 8 seconds left, Brissett spiked the ball to stop the clock. The Browns faced 4th and 1 at the Carolina 40. Trying to get the first down was high risk. So was trying a 58 yard field goal. York was 3 for 3 on the day, so Kevin Stefanski decided to trust his kicker. York delivered, as Mayfield failed to get his payback. 26-24 Browns 

New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins — For some reason, no matter how good the Patriots are and how bad the Dolphins are, Bill Belichick always seems to struggle at Miami. Last year, rookie Mac Jones got the Patriots to the playoffs while Tua Tagovailoa failed to do so in his second season leading the Dolphins. The Dolphins have a decent defense, and they showed it on this day. A 41 yard Jason Sanders field goal got the Dolphins on the board first. In the second quarter, Jones was sacked deep in his own territory. Melvin Ingram recovered the resulting fumble and returned it 2 yards for a touchdown to make it 10-0 Dolphins. The Dolphins got it back and moved 92 yards in 10 plays. On 4th and 7 from the New England 42, some kid named Mike McDaniel decided to go for it. Apparently he is the rookie coach of the Dolphins. Tua Tagovailoa found Jason Waddle for the first down and the touchdown to make it 17-0 Dolphins at the half. The Patriots did manage a 15 play, 92 yard, 8 1/2 drive in the third quarter. Jones hit Montgomery for a 6 yard touchdown to avoid the shutout. After that the Miami defense clamped down. Their offense added one more field goal to complete the scoring. Mike McDaniel is undefeated against Bill Belichick. 20-7 Dolphins

Philadelphia Eagles at Detroit Lions — Dan Campbell gives fiery speeches, but this is the year the Lions coach has to show that the emotional words lead to wins. The Lions marched down the field 75 yards on their opening drive. Jamaal Williams ran it in from the one to make it 7-0 Lions. In the second quarter the Eagles exploded. A 13 play, 82 yard, 8 minute drive led to 4th and goal at the one. Nick Sirianni decided to go for it. Jalen Hurts ran it in to tie the game 7-7. The Eagles then marched 66 yards. On 3rd and goal at the one, Sanders got in for a 14-7 Eagles lead. 3 plays later a key play in the game saw Jared Goff get intercepted by James Bradberry, who returned the interception 27 yards for a touchdown and a 21-7 Eagles advantage with 6 1/2 minutes left in the half. 

Jared Goff led the Lions back with a 10 play, 75 yard drive. On 3rd and 1 from the 7, Williams got the carry and got stopped as the clock hit the 2 minute warning. Dan Campbell gambled on 4th and 1. D’Andre Swift got the first down and the touchdown as the Lions were within 21-14. Yet the Eagles still had 1:50 to work with from their own 27. On 3rd and 4 from their own 42, Hurts went deep to AJ Brown for a 54 yard gain. On 3rd and goal from the 5 with 11 seconds still remaining in the half, Hurts threw his second straight incompletion. Jake Elliott hit the 23 yard field goal to make it a 24-14 Eagles lead at the break. 

The Eagles began the second half at their own 18 and marched 82 yards in 10 plays. From their own 47, Sanders got around the end for a 24 yard gain with 15 more tacked on for defensive unnecessary roughness. Kenneth Gainwell ran for a 2 yard touchdown as the Eagles led comfortably 31-14. The Lions responded with a 14 play, 75 yard, 6 minute drive. On 3rd and 10 after a touchback and the defense smelling pass, Swift ran up the middle for a 16 yard gain. On 3rd and 8 from their own 43, the defense entered the neutral zone. On 3rd and 3, Goff hit DJ Chark for 13 and TY Hockensen for 16. On 3rd and 7 from the Philadelphia 20, Goff scrambled for 10. On 3rd and goal at the 4, Goff hit St. Brown for the touchdown. With 4 minutes left in the third quarter, the Lions were within 31-21. Yet a surprise onside kick failed. The Eagles took over just past midfield A defensive unnecessary roughness penalty resulted in the Lions defender being ejected. Hurts then hit Dallas Goedert for 22 yards down to the one. Bart Scott ran it in to give the Eagles a 38-21 lead after three quarters.

The Lions mounted a furious fourth quarter comeback. After a touchback, Goff went deep to St. Brown for 29 yards. Goff then hit Hockensen for 11 and Swift for 25 more down to the one as the fourth quarter began. Williams got in to get the Lions within 38-28. An 11 play, 72 yard drive culminated in Goff hitting Chark for a 22 yard touchdown. With 4 minutes left in regulation, the Lions were only down a field goal. If their defense that had been scorched all day could just get one stop when it mattered, they would have a chance. The Eagles faced 3rd and 2 from their own 27. Sanders broke free for a 24 yard gain. With 1:50 left and the Lions out of timeouts, the Eagles had 3rd and 1 from midfield. Scott got the carry and got stopped. Now Kevin Sirianni had a big decision to make on 4th and 1. He could punt or go for it, knowing another stop would give the Lions excellent field position. Siranni let the clock tick to 1:06 and decided to go for it. With everything on the line, it was close but Hurts got the yard and the Lions were done. 38-35 Eagles

Baltimore Ravens at New York Jets — The Ravens were cruising toward the playoffs with an 8-3 record. Then Lamar Jackson got hurt and the Ravens lost their last 6 games. Luckily for them, they began this new season against a Jets squad that never seems to get better. Ancient veteran Joe Flacco started in place of an injured Zach Wilson against the team he led to a Super Bowl win a decade ago. For those wondering if Flacco was still in the league, he threw an early interception that led to a 24 yard Justin Tucker field goal. The closest thing the Jets had to offense was a 45 yard field goal attempt that was no good. In the second quarter, a 32 yard defensive pass interference penalty had the Ravens facing 3rd and 5 at the Jets 25. Jackson went to Devin Duvernay for the touchdown to make it 10-Ravens. Greg Zuerlein did hit a 45 yard field goal as the half was ending, but that was it for the anemic Jets. In the third quarter they failed at all 3 phases of the game with a 20 yard punt to their own 44. Jackson hit Duvernay for a 17 yard touchdown. An 88 yard drive was easily completed with a 55 yard touchdown pass from Jackson to Rashod Bateman to make it 24-3 Ravens. The Jets managed a touchdown with one minute left long after the fans took their “Just End The Season” signs home. 24-9 Ravens

 

San Francisco 49ers at Chicago Bears The Bears have a new coach and a chance for Justin Fields to either grow or fail in his second year. The 49ers kept Jimmy Garoppolo, but he was benched in favor of Trey Lance despite taking the 49ers to the NFC Title Game last year. The game was played in a pouring rainstorm, and the play on the field was even uglier than the weather. A hideous field position game had the 49ers starting the second quarter at their own 48. Lance hit McCloud for 20 and Mitchell ran for 11. On 3rd and 3 from the Chicago 8, the Bears jumped into the neutral zone. Deebo Samuel ran for a 6 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 49ers. In the third quarter the 49ers moved to a 2nd and goal at the 2. Wilson lost 2 yards and Lance was sacked on 3rd and goal at the 4. Robbie Gould hit the 25 yard field goal against his former team to make it 10-0 49ers. That concluded the 49ers offense for the day as the Bears finally found theirs.

The Bears faced 3rd and 4 at their own 34 midway through the third quarter. A run went nowhere but a defensive facemask meant 15 yards. On 3rd and 10 just shy of midfield, Fields went to Dante Pettis for the 51 yard touchdown to get the Bears within 10-7.The Bears got it back at their own 16. Fields hit Byron Pringle for 22. On 3rd and 9 from their own 39, Fields only gained 5 but defensive holding meant an automatic first down as the third quarter ended. On 3rd and 1 from the San Francisco 42, Fields got the yard with an additional 15 tacked on for defensive unnecessary roughness. To add injury to insult, the defender injured himself on the unnecessary hit as defensive penalties killed the 49ers. On 3rd and 2 from the Frisco 18, Fields hit Equanimeous St. Brown for the touchdown. The extra point failed but the bears led 13-10. Lance was then intercepted by Jackson, who returned it 26 yards to the Frisco 21. Khalil Herbert ran for a 3 yard touchdown midway through the fourth quarter to put this ugly game out of reach. 19-10 Bears 

 

Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans — Matt Ryan is the new Colts starter while the Texans are in rebuilding mode. Rod Blankenship hit a 45 yard field goal to put the Colts up 3-0 after the first quarter. The second quarter began with the Colts facing 4th and goal at the 2 and looking to pad their lead. Frank Reichd decided to go for it. Naheem Hines took the direct snap and lost 2 yards. The goal line stand ignored the Texans. From their own 4 yard line, they moved 69 yards in1 4 plays and 6 1/2 minutes. Kaimi Fairbairn hit a 45 yard field goal in the second quarter to tie the game. Matty Ice was then intercepted to give the Texans good field position at their own 42. A 33 yard defensive pass interference penalty was followed by Davis Mills hitting OJ Howard for an 18 yard touchdown to make it 10-3 Texans. In the third quarter Fairbairn hit again from 43 to make it 13-3 Texans. Ryan then fumbled to set up the Texans at their own 42. A roughing the passer penalty was followed by a 22 yard touchdown pass from Mills to Howard. The Texans were winning a shocker 20-3 after three quarters. Colts fans who drove Carson Wentz out of town were now out of excuses. 

The Colts drove from their own 15 to a 1st and goal at the 4. Ryan then threw 3 straight incompletions. With 11 minutes left in regulation, Frank Reich opted for the field goal. Blankenship hit from 27 to get the Colts within 20-6. Rather than put the game away, the Texans quickly fumbled the ball away. The Colts took over at the Houston 20. Jonathan Taylor ran for a 2 yard touchdown to get the Colts within 20-13 midway through the fourth quarter. The Colts got it back at their own 20 with 4 1/2 minutes left in regulation. Ryan hit Strachan for 13. Taylor gashed the Houston defense for gains of 9, 13, 13 and 14. At the 2 minute warning, Ryan hit Michael Pittman Jr for a 15 yard touchdown. The game went into overtime, and it appeared the Houston collapse was complete. The Colts took over at their own 31 and moved 45 yards in 13 plays and 6 1/2 minutes. Blankenship came in for the 42 yard try to win it. His kick was no good. The Texans moved from their own 32 to a 2nd and 1 at the Indy 47 with 40 seconds left in overtime. Mills threw incomplete. On 3rd and 1, a run lost 2 yards. A good punt pinned the Colts at their own 6 yard line. The game ended in a tie. 20-20 Tie, OT 

Jacksonville Jaguars at Washington Commanders — The Redskins died in 2020, and after 2 years of being No-Names, the Commanders are now in existence. The Jaguars have a winner in new coach Doug Pederson. Trevor Lawrence entered his sophomore season with a lot to prove. The Jaguars after a touchback quickly moved to the Washington 13 before moving backward and settling for a field goal and a 3-0 lead. Carson Wentz, on his third team in 3 years, started out facing 3rd and 5 at his own 31. Wentz hit Curtis Samuel for 13, Rogers for 23, Gibson for 26, and Samuel again for a 3 yard touchdown to make it 7-3 Commanders. The Commanders got it back at their own 29 and Wentz was still in command. On 3rd and 11 from his own 39, the Jaguars jumped into the neutral zone. On 3rd and 6, Wentz hit Samuel for 12. The second quarter began with the Commanders facing 3rd and 8 at the Jacksonville 41. Wentz hit Terry McLaurin for 9. On 3rd and 10 from the Jags 22, Wentz threw incomplete but roughing the passer meant 1st and 10 at the Jags 11. Wentz hit Dotson for a 7 yard touchdown to make it 14-3 Commanders. 

In the third quarter the Jaguars came back. From their own 20, James Robinson ran for gains of 8 and 7. Lawrence then went deep to Kirk for a 49 yard gain. Lawrence hit Robinson for the 3 yard touchdown. The 2 point conversion try failed but the Jaguars were within 14-9. The Jaguars got it back and moved from their own 20 to a 3rd and 6 at the Washington 25. Lawrence threw incomplete. Patterson hit the 43 yard field goal to get the Jaguars within 14-12. Wentz was then intercepted to give the Jaguars a short field at Washington 45. On 3rd and 5 from the Washington 26, Lawrence threw incomplete. Patterson hit from 45 to give the Jaguars the 15-14 lead with 12 minutes left in regulation. One play after a touchback, Wentz was intercepted again by rookie top pick Travon Walker, who returned it 9 yards to the Washington 11. One play later, Robinson ran it in as 19 unanswered points had the Jaguars up 22-14. The Wentz haters were laughing, but he had the last laugh.

On 3rd and 8 from his own 24, he hit Logan Thomas for 27 and McLaurin for a 49 yard touchdown. The 2 point try failed but the Commanders were within 22-20 with 9 1/2 minutes left. The Commanders got the ball back and Wentz led them 90 yards in 13 play and 5 minutes. On 3rd and 8 from the Jags 24, Wentz threw his 4th touchdown pass to Dotson and this time the 2 point try to JD McKissic was good. The Commanders led by 6, but now Lawrence had his turn to try and be the hero. With 1:46 left from their own 24, the Jaguars moved to a 3rd and 11 at their own 44 with 1:10 left. Lawrence went for all the marbles and was intercepted. Ron Rivera got the win over his good friend Doug Pederson. Wentz threw 4 touchdown passes. The Washington Commanders have never lost a game. 28-22 Commanders

New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons — The top 2 overall picks from a few years ago faced off as quarterbacks Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota played a thrilling game. Younghoe Koo drilled a 54 yard field goal to put the Falcons on the board first. Although Winston was the Saints official quarterback, it was Swiss army knife Taysom Hill who on 3rd and 1 from his own 32 broke free for a 57 yard gain. Hill then ran for the 11 yard touchdown to make it 7-3 Saints. One play after a touchback, a Falcons fumble set the Saints up for a 44 yard field goal try. Wil Lutz was no good. After that, momentum changed.

Cordarelle Patterson went from being his own style of Swiss army knife to being a bell cow. Patterson gained 12,5, 7, 2, and on 3rd and 1 from the Saints 37 to start the second quarter, a critical 2 yards. Patterson continued gashing the defense, gaining 8, 12, and the 5 yard touchdown to to make it 10-7 Falcons with 12 minutes left in the half. The Falcons got it back at their own 18 and benefitted from a defensive pass interference call. Patterson ran for gains of 15 and 4. Koo nailed a 50 yard field goal with one minute left in the half to make it 13-7 Falcons. The Saints quickly went 3 and out and the Falcons got the ball back at their own 39 with 23 seconds left. Mariota went deep to London for 31 yards. Koo hit again from 40 to have the Falcons up 16-7.

The Saints moved well on their opening third quarter drive but settled for a 49 yard Lutz field goal to get within 16-10. After a touchback, Mariota hit Zaccheaus for 9 and Patterson ran for 11. Mariota went back to Zacheaus for 13. A defensive pass interference call added 39 more down to the 2. Mariota got in to put the Falcons up 23-10. An exchange of fumbled and a field position game had the Falcons taking over at midfield and moving to 2nd and goal at the 4 early in the fourth quarter. A touchdown would pretty much put the game away. Then came a false start and a pair of incompletions. Koo hit his 4th field goal from 27 as the Falcons had a comfortable 26-10 lead with 12 1/2 minutes left in regulation. Saints fans all said the same thing. Dennis Allen is not Sean Payton and no quarterback they have is Drew Brees. 

After a touchback, Winston hit Johnson for 26, Alvin Kamara for 15, and Jarvis Landry for 31, and Michael Thomas for a 3 yard touchdown. The 2 point conversion try from Winston to Olave was good as the Saints were within 26-18. The Saints got it back at their own 14. Winston hit Olave for 20, Landry for 7, and Thomas for 21. A sack meant 2nd and 20. Winston quickly hit Thomas for 20, Landry for 14, and Thomas for the 9 yard touchdown. This time the 2 point try failed, but the Saints were within 26-24 with 3 1/2 minutes left. The Falcons tried to run out the clock. With 1:40 left and the Saints out of timeouts, the Falcons faced 3rd and 1 at the New Orleans 42. One yard would end the game. Mariota fumbled the snap. The Falcons retained possession. Arthur Smith decided not to gamble on 4th and 1. The Falcons punted and the Saints took over at their own 20 with 46 seconds left and 0 timeouts. Then things got crazy.

Winston went deep to Landry for a 40 yard gain and to Johnson for 17 more. Lutz came in for a 51 yard field goal try to give the Saints the lead. Lutz was good as 17 straight points had the Saints up by a point. Yet 19 seconds still remained. A touchback and a pair of incompletions had the Falcons facing 3rd and 10 from their own 35 with only 6 seconds left. Mariota hit Patterson for only 5 yards. The game should have been over. Yet a mindnumpingly stupid unnecessary roughness penalty on the defense after the play meant 15 more yards for the offense and one untimed down. Just like in “The Program,” Lattimore was the guilty party. North Falcons had one shot from the Saints 45. Arthur Smith decided against a Hail Mary. He brought in Koo to try a 64 yard field goal. Koo hit 4 on the day, but this one was blocked. The Falcons had another epic collapse, although at least this was not the Super Bowl. Dennis Allen got his first win as Saints coach. 27-26 Saints 

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals — The Steelers started Mitch Trubisky at quarterback as Ben Roethlisberger settled into retirement. The Bengals went to the Super Bowl last year, but nobody gets more out of his players than Mike Tomlin. The Bengals weakness is their offensive line. Joe Burrow was sacked 9 times against Tennessee in the playoffs last year and somehow won. He was sacked 7 times in the Super Bowl. On Cincinnati’s first play from scrimmage, Burrow was sacked. On their second play he was intercepted. Minkah Fitzpatrick returned the interception 31 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 Steelers lead. The Bengals moved from their own 25 to a 3rd and 10 at the Pittsburgh 34. Burrow was sacked. Yet Zac Taylor went big and bold and had Evan McPherson try a 59 yard field goal. McPherson drilled it to get the Bengals on the board. On the next Cincinnati drive, Burrow was intercepted again but defensive pass interference nullified the pick. On the next ply, Burrow was sacked again and fumbled the ball away at the Cincy 34. 

Trubisky hit pat Freiermuth for 31, but a 2nd and goal at the one run lost a yard. Another incompletion left 4th and goal at the 2. Tomlin opted for the field goal. Chris Boswell hit from 20 to put the Steelers up 10-3. Burrow was then intercepted by TJ Watt, to set up the Steelers at their own 41. Claypool got around the end for 15. Trubisky hit Gentry for 32. On 3rd and goal at the 3, Trubisky threw incomplete. Yet this time defensive pass interference kept the drive going. From the one, Trubisky hit Najee Harris for the touchdown as the Steelers led 17-3 in the second quarter. Burrow then threw his third interception. A miserable first half saw the defending AFC Champion quarterback throw 4 interceptions, although only 3 of them counted. 

Yet this time the Steelers did not capitalize. The Bengals took over at their own 35. On 4th and 1 from the Pittsburgh 35, Zac Taylor went for it. Joe Mixon gained 31. Yet despite 2nd and goal at the 3, a false start and a pair of incompletions killed the drive. McPherson hit from 26 to end the half as the Bengals trailed 17-14. A field position game in the third quarter had the Bengals with a short field at the Pittsburgh 46. Burrow hit Mixon for 11. On 2nd and 14 from the Pittsburgh 28, Burrow hit JaMarr Chase for 24. On 3rd and goal at the 2, Burrow hit Tyler Boyd for the touchdown. Burrow hit Thomas for the 2 point conversion to get the Bengals within 17-14 with 4 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter. 

Another field position battle had the Steelers with a short field at the Cincinnati 45 early in the fourth quarter. Boswell hit from 48 to put the Steelers up 20-14. Burrow then threw his fourth interception. This was not the worst opening day start for a quarterback. Ken Stabler was the defending Super Bowl champion in 1977 when he threw 7 interceptions at home. Yet Burrow was having a miserable day. Despite all of this, the Bengals still had every chance under the sun to win the game. With 6 minutes left, they took over at their own 30. Burrow hit Mixon for 18 and ran for 23 himself. With 2:48 left in the game, the Bengals had 1st and goal at the one. Mixon got blasted for a 2 yard loss. On 3rd and goal at the 3, Burrow hit Hurst for only one yard. At the 2 minute warning, it came down to 4th and goal at the 2. Burrow threw incomplete. Making matters worse, Chase was called for taunting. 

Now with 1:51 left, the Steelers needed to try and close the game out. Because of the penalty, they were at their own 17 instead of their own 2. On 3rd and 12, Mike Tomlin was not taking any chances. A run gained 4 yards. The Bengals got it back at their own 40 with 1:35 to play and one timeout. Burrow hit Mixon for gains of 9 and 11 and Perine for 9 more. On 3rd and 1 from the Pittsburgh 31, Burrow hit Chase for 14 as the Bengals took their last timeout with 27 seconds left. On 2nd and 10, an incompletion was nullified by defensive illegal use of hands on TJ Watt. Making matters worse, Watt was injured on the play. With 2 seconds left, the Bengals were 6 yards away from the end zone. Burrow had the ability to shake off a miserable game with just one play. Steelers fans were again ready to unfairly roast Mike Tomlin for being too conservative. 

Burrow hit Chase for the touchdown as the home crowd erupted. A spectacular comeback meant an epic Bengals win for the ages over their hated rival. Yet the game of shocks was not done. All world kicker McPherson still had to make the game winning extra point attempt. Blocked! Are? You? Kidding? Me? Again it was Fitzpatrick. This game was not over it was headed to overtime. The Steelers got the ball first in overtime but went 3 and out. The Bengals took over at their own 25. They moved all the way to the Pittsburgh 11. On 3rd and 8, Zac Taylor brought in McPherson to finish things rather than risk a 4th down meltdown. From 29 yards out, now it was time to celebrate the Bengals thrilling comeback win. No good! Again, are you kidding me? McPherson last year as a rookie had iceboater in his veins. On this day he was just ice cold. With 3 1/2 minutes left in overtime, the Steelers were very much alive.

The Steelers moved from their own 20 to a 3rd and 4 at the Cincy 37. Trubisky completed a pass for no gain. A field goal try would be 55 yards, and 2 1/2 minutes still remained in overtime. A miss would give the Bengals excellent field position. Mike Tomlin opted for the field goal try. No good! Boswell missed it. Now the Steelers fans will accuse Tomlin of being too aggressive. The Bengals took over at their own 45. Burrow gained 9 as the clock hit the 2 minute warning. The Steelers took their timeouts on defense. With 1:34 left in overtime, the Bengals had 3rd and 4 at the Pittsburgh 38. A safe run of a few yards would be more than enough to give McPherson a shot at redemption. Instead, Zac Taylor gambled on a pass play and lost as Burrow was sacked yet again. The Bengals retained possession but lost 12 yards to push them well out of field goal range. 

The Steelers got it back at their own 20 with one minute left. On 3rd and 1, Trubisky went deep to Freiermuth for 26 and again for 10. With 4 seconds left on the clock, Boswell came in for  53 yard field goal try. On the last play of overtime, there would be no tie game. Boswell was good. Yes, Trubisky was the hero…on the road in a hostile environment. Yes, Mike Tomlin still gets more out of less. Thankfully TJ Watt’s injury did not require season ending surgery. As for Burrow, he was sacked another 7 times on the day. He and McPherson were both very cocky last year, and this game was a painful dose of humility for a franchise that has never won a Super Bowl. Once again, the big brother beat up the little brother. 23-20 Steelers, OT

 

Kansas City Chiefs at Arizona Cardinals — The quest to host a record 5th straight AFC Title Game began in spectacular fashion for the Chiefs. The Cardinals began 10-2 last year before flaming out and going 1-4 down the stretch. This game was never a contest. After a touchback, the Chiefs moved 75 yards easily. Pass-happy Andy Reid began by running the ball and Clyde Edwards-Helaire gained 9, 7 and 18. On 3rd and 7 from the Arizona 27, Patrick Mahomes hit Juju Smith-Schuster for 18 and Travis Kelce for the 9 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Chiefs. The Cardinals went 3 and out and the Chiefs then marched 86 yards. A roughing the passer call gave the Chiefs 15 yards and Edwards-Helaire gained 25 more. Mahomes hit Smith-Schuster for 20, Kelce for 7 and 11, and Edwards-Helaire for the 3 yard touchdown to make it 14-0 Chiefs. 

The Cardinals did manage to go 75 yards in 11 plays and 5 minutes, James Conner ran for a 2 yard touchdown early in the second quarter to get the Cardinals within 14-7, but their defense had no answers. The Chiefs responded with an 11 play, 75 yard, 5 1/2 minute drive of their own. Mahomes hit newly acquired Marques Valdez-Scantling for 17. On 3rd and 2 just past midfield, Mahomes hit Mycole Hardman for 8, Smith-Schuster for a pair of 7 yard gains. On 4th and 2 from the Arizona 4, Walrus Andy Reid decided to go for it. Mahomes hit Edwards-Helaire for the touchdown. The extra point was no good but the Chiefs led 20-7. With 40 seconds left in the half, Kliff Kingsbury gambled on 4th and 2 from the Chiefs 34. Kyler Murray threw incomplete. 35 seconds was more than enough time for Mahomes to hit Valdez-Scantling for 12 and Kelce for 18. Harrison Butker hit a 54 yard field goal to put the Chiefs up 23-7 at the half. 

The second half was a rout. After a touchback, Mahomes hit Kelce for 35, Moore for 30, and Fortson for a one yard touchdown to make it 30-7 Chiefs. The Chiefs then moved 66 yards and Mahomes hit Hardman for a 2 yard touchdown to make it 37-7. The pointless fourth quarter saw the Cardinals score 2 touchdowns while giving up one more touchdown to the Chiefs. Mahomes finished 30 of 39 for 360 yards, 5 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. 44-21 Chiefs 

Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings — The Packers owned the NFC North, winning 13 games in each of the last 3 seasons. The Vikings were supposed to be in rebuilding mode with a new coach. This game was supposed to be a blowout. It was. The Vikings began at their own 22 and moved 78 yards in 10 plays and 6 minutes. Kirk Cousins hit Mundt for 12. On 3rd and 5 from his own 39, Cousins hit Justin Jefferson for 20, Mundt for 5 and Jefferson for 22. On 4th and 1 from the 5, rookie coach and nice kid Kevin O’Connell decided to go for it. Cousins hit Jefferson for the touchdown to make it 7-0 Vikings. In the second quarter the Packers moved to a 4th and goal at the one. Matt LaFleur went for it and AJ Dillon ran into a purple brick wall for no gain. From their own one, the Vikings moved 89 yards. They settled for a 28 yard Greg Joseph field goal, but they led 10-0 and were winning the battle in the trenches. The Vikings got the ball back at their own 26. Dalvin Cook had gains of 9, 2, 9 and caught a pass for 7. Cousins went to Jefferson for 11 and again for a 36 yard touchdown as the Vikings dominated 17-0 at halftime. A third quarter fumble by the Packers led to a Vikings field goal. The Packers did manage one touchdown, but the Minnesota defense clamped down the rest of the game. The Vikings added another fourth quarter field goal. As Kirk Cousins would say, “You like that!?!” Vikings fans certainly did. 23-7 Vikings 

Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers — In one of the craziest games ever played, the Raiders defeated the Chargers 35-32 on the last play of overtime in las year’s regular season finale to get the Raiders in the playoffs and knock the Chargers out. Yet Mark Davis blew up his team anyway, bringing in Josh McDaniels as head coach and John Ziegler as General Manager. The Raiders went 4-0 in the preseason for the very first time in franchise history, which meant absolutely nothing once this game kicked off. The Chargers were hellbent on revenge against their hated rival. The Raiders loaded up in the offseason, bringing in Davante Adams and Chandler Jones. The Chargers added Derek Carr’s best friend and former Raiders star Khalil Mack. 

The Chargers marched right down the field after a touchback. On 3rd and 8 just shy of midfield, Justin Herbert rifled a pass between defenders to Everett for a 25 yard gain. On 3rd and 9 from the Raiders 25, Herbert fired incomplete. Dustin Hopkins hit a 43 yard field goal for a 3-0 Chargers lead. After a touchback the Raiders marched 70 yards in 14 plays and 6 1/2 minutes. On their first play, Derek Carr found his best friend on the team Davante Adams for an 11 yard gain. Carr was magnificent on third down. On 3rd and 17 from his own 29, Carr hit Adams for 21. On 3rd and 6 from the Chargers 46, Carr hit Hollins for 16, On 3rd and 6 from the Chargers 26, Carr hit Adams for 22 to set up 1st and goal at the 4. Yet the same goal line woes that plagued the team in recent years surfaced again as the Raiders could not finish the drive. Josh Jacobs had a wide open lane to the end zone but slipped and fell. Carr threw incomplete twice. Daniel Carlson hit the 23 yard field goal for a 3-3 game, but it was a missed opportunity.

The Raiders defense forced a 3 and out but a great punt pinned them at their own 2 yard line. On 3rd and 2, a run gained only one yard and the Raiders punted. The Chargers faced 2nd and 15 from their own 28 when Herbert took advantage of a Raiders secondary that still has not been fixed. Herbert hit Keenan Allen for 19 and then again deep for 42 yards. On 3rd and 4 from the Raiders 5, Herbert scrambled for 3. On 3rd and goal at the one, Herbert hit Zender Horvath for the touchdown to make it 10-3 Chargers. The Chargers got the ball back and moved easily from their own 9 to a 3rd and 1 at the Raiders 28. Austin Ekeler got the carry and got stopped. Brandon Staley goes for it on 4th and 1 at his own 28, so he was certainly going to go for it at the opponent’s 28. Herbert kept it and again the Raiders defense made the stop. The Raiders now had the momentum, but one play later they literally threw it away. Carr forced a ball into coverage and was intercepted. The Chargers took over at the Raiders 31. Two plays later Herbert hit DeAndre Carter for a 23 yard touchdown. Just like that, the Chargers led 17-3 at the half. 

After a second half touchback, the Raiders moved quickly to get back in the game. Carr hit Adams for 11 and then went deep to Adams for 41 more. On 3rd and 5 from the Chargers 18, Carr went to Brandon Bolden for the touchdown. Just like that, the Raiders were within 17-10. Yet their defense had no answers. From his own 27, Herbert hit Ekeler for 13 and McKitty for 9. On 3rd and 5 from the Raiders 40, Herbert hit Ekeler for just enough. Herbert hit Everett for an 18 yard touchdown to put the Chargers up 24-10. The Raiders moved from their own 25 to a 4th and 4 at the Chargers 34. Needing to go for it, Carr hit Hunter Renfrow for 9. Renfrow fumbled the ball but somehow got it back. Yet on 1st and 10 from the Chargers 25, Josh McDaniels called a trick play that blew up in spectacularly awful fashion. A double lateral halfback option pass relied on Carr to block Joey Bosa. That did not work out well as Bosa went past him and blasted Adams for a 10 yard loss before he could throw the ball. Then came a false start. On 3rd and 25 from the Chargers 40, a give up pass gained only 3 yards. Carlson bailed the Raiders out by leveling a 55 yard field goal. After three quarters the Raiders trailed 24-13.

The Raiders defense stiffened in the fourth quarter and they got the ball back at their own 23. From his own 44, Carr went for all the marbles deep to Adams. The ball was under thrown and intercepted. There was blatant defensive pass interference on the play that was not called. Nevertheless, this was on Carr. The Raiders dodged a bullet on the turnover when a 49 yard field goal try by Hopkins for the Chargers was no good. The Raiders took over at their own 39 midway through the fourth quarter. Carr hit Jacobs for 16. On 3rd and 4 from the Chargers 39, Carr hit Renfrow for 5 and then went deep to Darren Waller for 31 yards down to the 3 yard line. Carr hit Adams for the touchdown. The 2 point conversion try failed but the Raiders were within 5 points. With 4 1/2 minutes left, they had every chance to win this game. 

The Raiders defense forced a 3 and out and the Raiders took over at their own 21 with a full 3 1/2 minutes left. Carr has been Captain Comeback for so many years. On 3rd and 3 from his own 40, Carr was sacked and fumbled. The Raiders were lucky to retain possession. Everything came down to 4th and 8 at the 2 minute warning. Carr was sacked again and fumbled again. There would be no comeback this time. Adams was magnificent, racking up 141 yards. The offensive line was awful. Carr did not get the help he needed, forcing him to hurry his throws into traffic. The secondary still cannot stop anyone for long stretches. Josh McDaniels has never won a game coaching the Raiders. 24-19 Chargers

New York Giants at Tennessee Titans — The Titans blew home field advantage last year when Ryan Tannehill threw 3 killer interceptions. He remained the starter on a team that likes to win with smash mouth running and defense. The Giants were expected to be awful and in rebuilding mode, with Daniel Jones having one final year to prove himself and an unknown rookie coach. This should have been one say Titans win. The first half went as expected. A 46 yard punt return 2 minutes into the game had the Titans starting at the Giants 45. Ryan Tannehill hit Robert Woods for 13, Burks for 20, and Dontrell Hilliard for a 7 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Titans. Randy Bullock hit second quarter field goals of 46 and 23, the latter set up by yet another Jones fumble. The Titans took a 13-0 lead to the locker rooms. Yet something changed at halftime. 

In the third quarter the Giants took over at their own 10. Saquon Barkley got around the end for a 68 yard gain. Barkley ran for  4 yard touchdown. For some bizarre reason new coach Brian Daboll went for 2. The try failed and the Giants trailed 13-6. The Giants got it back and needed only 2 plays to score. On 2nd and 11, Jones went to Sterling Shepard for a 65 yard touchdown to tie the game 13-13. After a touchback the Titans responded. Tannehill hit Phillips for 20. On 1st and 18 from their own 45 after a holding call, Tannehill hit Burks for 27. On 1st and 20 from the Giants 23 after another holding penalty, Tannehill hit Hilliard for the touchdown. After three quarters the Titans led 20-13. In the fourth quarter the Titans fumbled a punt and the Giants recovered at the Titans 11. Yet on 3rd and 7 from the 8, Jones was intercepted for a touchback.

The Giants got the ball back at their own 27 with 5 1/2 minutes in regulation and nobody expecting Jones to be the hero. Barkley even fumbled but the ball went out of bounds after a 33 yard gain. Yet at the 2 minute warning the Giants faced 4th and 1 at the Tennessee 17. Jones gained 2. With one minute left, Jones hit Chris Myarick for the touchdown. Brian Daboll then went the full Dom Capers by going for 2  in his very first game. Capers never got the chance because of a false start. Daboll saw Jones hit Barkley for the conversion. The Giants had the one point lead in front of a shocked him crowd. Yet The Titans from their own 30 had plenty of time. Tannehill shredded the Giants defense as expected. With 4 seconds left Bullock came in for the 47 yard field goal try. No good! In an absolute stunner, the Giants won on the road. As ESPN uber-announcer Chris Berman reminds us, “THAT’s why they PLAY the GAMES!” 21-20 Giants

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Dallas Cowboys is the Sunday night game. Last year these teams played a thriller that the Buccaneers won on the final play. This year they played a far duller game that had bad consequences for one team with high expectations. Tom Brady retired and then unretired, while Bruce Arians retired so Todd Bowles could take over. Mike McCarthy entered this season on the hot seat. The Cowboys managed a 51 yard Brett Maher field goal 6 minutes into the game and then took the remaining 54 minutes off. Brady could not find the end zone but Ryan Succop had 5 field goal attempts in the first half. He made 4 of them, hitting from 44 and 38 in the first quarter and from 29 and 47 in the second quarter. Leading 12-3 at the half, the Buccaneers scored game’s only touchdown late in the third quarter. Brady capped a 79 yard drive with a 5 yard touchdown pass to Mike Evans. Chris Godwin went out injured, but the Cowboys suffered worse late in the fourth quarter. Dak Prescott went out with a thumb injury and is expected to miss several weeks. Gone was the Arians aerial show. Bowles got the win his way, with defense. 19-3 Buccaneers 

 

Denver Broncos at Seattle Seahawks is the Monday night game. Russell Wilson faced off against his former team in a crazy revenge game for him. The Broncos had a new coach and a tough defense. Wilson was expected to be the last piece of the puzzle. Pete Carroll is 70 and still running around on the Seahawks sideline like a little kid playing his first game. The Seahawks looked good on their opening drive. On 3rd and 3 from their own 37, Geno Smith hit Tyler Lockett for 17, DK Metcalf for 9, and Will Dissly for a 38 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Seahawks. The Broncos responded with a long drive but settled for a 30 yard Brandon McManus field goal to get on the board.

In the second quarter the Seahawks moved from their own 19 to a 2nd and 8 at the Denver 19. Offensive holding and a sack of Smith killed the drive. Jason Myers hit from 49 to put the Seahawks up 10-3. Three plays later the game was tied. On 3rd and 2 from his own 33, Wilson went to Jerry Jeudy for a 67 yard touchdown and a 10-10 ballgame. After a touchback, the Seahawks responded. From their own 37, Smith hit Goodwin for 16, Colby Parkinson for 18, and Parkinson again for the 25 yard touchdown. With 2:24 left in the half the Seahawks led 17-10. The Broncos moved from their own 21 to the Seattle 22. McManus hit from 40 to end the half with the Broncos down 17-13. 

Although the legion of boom is long gone, the second half was all defense. The Broncos from their own 20 moved 78 yards in 10 plays and 7 1/2 minutes. On 4th and goal at the one, rookie coach Nathaniel Hackett went for it. Melvin Gordon got the carry and got blasted just before the goal line. The Seahawks recovered the fumble and took over at their own 10. The Seahawks moved to their own 46 but then fumbled the ball back as Simmons returned it 17 yards to the Seattle 32. This time the Broncos had 3rd and goal at the one. This time Williams got the carry. He lost 2 yards and fumbled the ball as well. Again the Seahawks recovered. Twice, from the one, the Broncos fumbled the ball away.

In the fourth quarter from their own 20 the Broncos embarked on a 15 play, 72 yard, 6 1/2 minute drive. They had 1st and goal at the 3, but a false start was followed by incompletions. This time they did not turn the ball over. McManus hit from 26 to get the Broncos within a point with 6 minutes left. The  Broncos held on defense and got the ball back at their own 22 with 4 minutes left. With 1:11 left on 3rd and 11 from the Seattle 45, Wilson hit Williams for 9. Both teams allowed t he clock to tick down to 20 seconds. The choice for Nathaniel Hackett or a 64 yard field goal try. McManus has the leg, and Hackett gave his kicker a shot. The 12th man crowd held their breath as the kick was long enough, but just barely wide no good. The Seahawks had escaped, Wilson failed to get revenge, and Pete Carroll ran around wild in his fun way. 17-16 Seahawks

NFL 2022 Week 1 Prequel

September 8th, 2022

NFL 2022 Week 1 Prequel

The agony is over. The waiting is over. The dreadful 7 month stretch of misery known as the offseason is over. Football is back. Here is the NFL 2022 Week 1 Prequel, with point spreads provided by the Sporting News and all times Eastern.

Thursday, September 8, 2022, 8pm

Buffalo Bills at Los Angeles Rams BUF -2.5 — Both teams are legitimate Super Bowl contenders. The Bills were 13 seconds away from the AFC Title Game. The Rams may or may not run it back, but at home in front of a jacked up crowd, emotion will carry the day. Having the Bills as favorites is insane under these conditions. Upset special, Rams win outright.

Sunday, September 11, 1pm

Cleveland Browns at Carolina Panthers CAR -2.5 — Both teams are a mess. The Browns are without Deshaun Watson for 11 weeks and have no competent backup. Sam Darnold may not be the answer, but a healthy Christian McCaffrey still knows how to run a football. The Browns have the better coach but give the Panthers one chance at home to show they have anything to be proud of this season. Panthers cover.

New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins MIA -3 — Why are the Dolphins favored? The organization is a mess, the coach was fired, the owner was accused of tanking, and Tua Tagovailoa has not proven anything. Despite a miserable first layoff game, Mac Jones got the Patriots to the playoffs. Bill Belichick has not forgotten how to coach. Upset special, Patriots win outright.

Philadelphia Eagles at Detroit Lions PHI -4 — The Eagles started 2-5 and made the playoffs. The Lions were miserable most of the year but showed a ton of heart down the stretch. Dan Campbell’s fiery speeches did not result in wins. Jared Goff has one more chance to prove he is the answer at quarterback. On paper the Eagles are the better team, but give the Lions one chance at home to show they are not worthless. Eagles win but fail to cover.

Baltimore Ravens at New York Jets BAL -7 — The Ravens were cruising toward the playoffs with an 8-3 record last year. When Lamar Jackson went out injured, the Ravens lost their last 6 games. Action Jackson is back. John Harbaugh is a proven winner. The Ravens have a tough running game, a tough defense, and perhaps the greatest kicker of all time in Justin Tucker. Zach Wilson might not be healthy, and Robert Saleh has yet to prove himself. The Ravens just have too much depth. Expect Jackson to run and throw at will. Ravens cover.

San Francisco 49ers at Chicago Bears SF -7 — Trey Lance gets the start as Jimmy Garoppolo remains the Rodney Dangerfield of the NFL. The Bears are good at very little, and Justin Fields has yet to show he is the answer. Kyle Shanahan only struggles in the NFC Title Game and Super Bowls. In the regular season, he is a play-calling wizard. With Deebo Samuel happy and George Kittle himself, the 49ers have enough firepower to crush the Bears. 49ers cover.

Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans IND -7 — It may be totally unfair to blame Carson Wentz for last season, but Matt Ryan seems to be an upgrade. The Texans are a dumpster fire. The Colts are expected to make the playoffs. This is one of those weird division rivalry games where records often do not matter. The Colts should win, but if the Texans defense can get any pressure on Ryan, the game could be closer than expected. Jonathan Taylor is all world, but a give up touchdown late could beat the spread. Colts win but fail to cover.

Jacksonville Jaguars at Washington Commanders WSH -2.5 — The Jaguars got rid of Urban Meyer and have a real leader in Doug Pederson. Trevor Lawrence will show that it was proper to make him the top pick. Pederson is a West Coast Offense Andy Reid guy, but who is more willing to pound the rock rather than dink and dunk. Ron Rivera is a proven winner, and the artists formerly known as Redskins and then No-Names have a respectable defense. Carson Wentz is desperate to revive his career and it’s way too early to give up on either of these quarterbacks. Go with the home field and experience on this one. Commanders cover.

New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons NO -5.5 — This is a fascinating division matchup because change has come after years of stability. Sean Payton, Drew Brees and Matt Ryan are all elsewhere. Can Marcus Mariota play? He has raw talent but has not stayed healthy over the years. Jameis Winston finally reduced his interceptions in Tampa, but Bruce Arians was an offensive guru. Dennis Allen excels on the defensive side of the ball. This could be a defensive game in a rivalry where home field rarely matters. Winston and Mariota were the top 2 picks a few years back, so whoever makes the least mistakes will win ugly. Saints win but fail to cover.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals CIN -6.5 — The Bengals finally have their quarterback. The Steelers finally do not. Yes, the Bengals are the defense ding AFC champions. Yet nobody gets more out of a team than Mike Tomlin. It is hard to like Mitch Trubisky, but the Steelers will try to pound the ball and play defense. The Bengals are the better team, but the Steelers have heart. Bengals win but fail to cover.

4pm

Kansas City Chiefs at Arizona Cardinals KAN -6 — Patrick Mahomes is a super-human freak of nature. Kyler Murray has raw talent but refuses to work at his craft. Andy Reid is the maestro of play-callers. Even without Tyreek Hill, the Chiefs just have so many weapons. The Cardinals started last year 10-2 but faded 1-4 down the stretch before getting blown out in the playoffs. The Chiefs have been to the AFC Title Game 4 straight years, all on their home field. The Chiefs are proven winners. The Cardinals are not. The trend is your friend, but the Cardinals have a decent enough defense to make things interesting. Chiefs win but fail to cover.

Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings GB -1.5 — This used to be a series where the home team usually won. The Vikings are in flux. Mike Zimmer is gone. The stone age philosophy of winning with hard-nosed running and tough defense often works. Last year in Minnesota, the team regressed. The Packers keep winning in the regular season. Aaron Rodgers is coming off of consecutive MVP awards. He is still angry. The loss of Davante Adams will not hurt the Packers because the Vikings are in rebuilding mode. Packers cover.

Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers LA -3 — The 2022 regular season finale became an instant NFL classic. The Raiders needed 5 complete quarters to win 35-32 and knock the Chargers out of the playoffs. Home field means nothing, since the Raider Nation still exist in Los Angeles. Derek Carr and Justin Herbert are both studs. Josh Jacobs wants a fat contract and needs a great year to get one. He runs with intensity. The coaches are fascinating Brandon Staley gambles on 4th and 1 from his own 29. Josh McDaniels started 6-0 in Denver and then flamed out in less than 2 years. The Raiders defense is good off the edge with Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones. The Chargers have former Raider Khalil Mack. The Raiders have a stud kicker. This game is basically a coin flip. The Chargers will be burning for revenge, a powerful motive. If the Raiders can withstand getting blown out in the first quarter, they have a shot. Go with the revenge factor. Chargers cover.

New York Giants at Tennessee Titans TEN -5.5 — The Titans are clearly the better team. Ryan Tannehill is seen as the weak link, but handing off to Derrick Henry is not complicated. The Tennessee defense sacked Joe Burrow 9 times in their playoff loss. Daniel Jones fumbles frequently. An experienced smash-mouth coach in Mike Vrabel with a top defense vs a rookie head coach with a shaky signal-caller. Do the math. Titans cover.

8pm

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Dallas Cowboys TB -2.5 — Last year the Cowboys lost on the final play when the kicker choked. The Buccaneers have Tom Brady, but they also have an offensive line that is not healthy. The wide receiving corps is less spectacular than in the last two years. The Buccaneers were whipped at home in the playoffs by the Rams and only came back when the Rams tried to give the game away. The Cowboys have a good defense under Dan Quinn but Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott have not held up their highly paid end of the bargain. Nobody knows if Todd Bowles can coach. He failed with the Jets, but does pretty much everyone else. In a close game, trust Brady over Prescott until proven otherwise. Buccaneers cover.

Monday, September 12, 8pm

Denver Broncos at Seattle Seahawks DEN -6.5 — Russell Wilson attempts for revenge against the team he won a Super Bowl with. Ironically, he is now with the team he defeated in that game. The Broncos under fired coach Vic Fangio had a good defense but were missing a quarterback. Now they have one. The Seahawks are stuck with Geno Smith and Drew Lock, who flamed out in Denver. The 12th man will be rocking to capacity on the Richter scale. The Seahawks have the proven winner in Pete Carroll. The Broncos seem like the better team on paper, but it takes time to develop a rapport with a new team. Even Peyton Manning struggled early on leading the Broncos. Pete Carroll is a defensive wizard who will have a few wrinkles for his former quarterback. Do not underestimate the crowd, especially early on. At home, trust that crowd and proven head coach. Upset special, Seahawks win outright.

eric

Just got married

August 14th, 2022

After 50 years of being a bachelor, I just got married.

eric

Pro Football 2022 Hall of Fame Game Raiders Recap

August 7th, 2022

Pro Football 2022 Hall of Fame Game Raiders Recap

The 2022 NFL preseason began. The Las Vegas Raiders played the Jacksonville Jaguars in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio. 

Last year the Raiders had turmoil no team should ever go through. The team started 3-0. Then 2 weeks later Jon Gruden was forced out as coach due to an NFL hit job involving emails he sent a decade earlier when he was not even in the league. Then a few weeks later wide receiver Henry Ruggs was involved in a driving accident that killed a woman. Despite being 6-7, interim coach Rich Bisaccia had the team together. They rattled off 4 straight wins in harrowing fashion. The finale against the Chargers took all 5 quarters. The Raiders won 35-32 to make the playoffs and knock the Chargers out. The Raiders in their wildcard playoff game took the Cincinnati Bengals to the limit. This time the cardiac kids in silver and black came up short. They were less than 10 yards from tying the game but lost 23-16. The 2021 Raiders set an NFL record with 6 wins on the final play. 

Rather than preserve continuity, Mark Davis blew up the front office. The new coach is Josh McDaniels, who previously coached the archival Denver Broncos and spent many years as the offensive coordinator under Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots. 

The game was delayed 40 minutes due to lightning, just as their regular season finale against the Chargers was. 

Now it was time to play football in this new season. Derek Carr, newly acquired Davante Adams, Darren Waller, Hunter Renfrow and most of the starters got the night off. Jarrett Stidham, who played in New England, got the start. On the first play from scrimmage, there was a tribute to Al Davis with a bomb. Stidham was hit as he threw so the ball floated in the air, but somehow it was complete for a 31 yard gain. Roughing the passer added 15 more yards. One star who did play was Josh Jacobs. His first carry gained 12 yards. The Raiders last year kicked too many field goals and scored not enough touchdowns.

Although the Jaguars were the worst team in the league last year, they have a decent defense. The starting defense played early on. They are now coached by Doug Pederson, who won a Super Bowl with the Philadelphia Eagles. Trevor Lawrence had the night off and backup CJ Beathard was injured. 3rd string quarterback Jake Luton got the start. The defense forced a 3 and out. 

On the next Raiders drive on 2nd and 10, Jacobs banged ahead for 9 yards. On 3rd and 1, Jacobs showed his mettle by going up the gut again for 5 yards. McDaneils kept feeding Jacobs. It seemed strange to have him play, but the team declined his 5th year option. McDaniels was determined to see what he had in Jacobs. Jacobs showed how good he was, as he took a screen pass from Stidham for 14 yards. Zamir White is the newly drafted Raiders running back putting the heat on Jacobs. White’s first carry gained 15 yards. Consecutive sacks of Stidham, including one by top draft pick Trayvon Walker and another by former Raiders player Arden Key, killed the drive. Yet Daniel Carlson buried a 55 yard field goal in the rain to make it 6-0 Raiders. 

Luton finally got the Jaguars offensive going as the Jaguars crossed midfield. Yet a 3rd and 5 bomb was overthrown incomplete. Doug Pederson brought in kicker Brian Santoso for a 60 yard field goal try, which he would not do in a regular season game in that situation. The kick was long enough but just wide no good. 

This allowed the Raiders to begin their 3rd drive at midfield. Stidham was out and 3rd string quarterback Nick Mullens came in and immediately fumbled the snap. Yet the Raiders escaped with only a one yard loss. Jacobs was done for the night. Mullins then executed screen pass to Amir Abdullah for a 17 yard gain as the first quarter ended. 

The second quarter began with a 3rd running back in Kenyan Drake getting the carry. McDaniels said he was going to do running back by committee. Mullens then found Tyron Johnson over the middle for a 25 yard gain down to the 8 yard line. A pitchout in the rain is always risky, but Abdullah took it around the end for a touchdown and a 13-0 Raiders lead. On the next Jaguars drive, a completion by Luton went for a first down past midfield, but then a pair of helmets on the ball meant a fumble that the Raiders recovered. 

The Raiders took over at their own 45. On 3rd and 1, White got the carry up the middle and got stopped inches short. Josh McDaniels decided to go for it, since it’s easy to be brave in the preseason. On 4th and inches, White got the carry again and gained 2 yards. Another well executed screen pass went to White for 19 yards. On 3rd and 16 from the Jacksonville 41, Mullens was sacked. Josh McDaniels decided against a 58 yard field goal try, and the punt went for a harmless touchback. The defense forced a 3 and out.

In a surprise move, Stidham came back in the game. on 3rd and 11 form his own 30, Stidham found Johnson on the sideline for a 12 yard gain that was ruled incomplete. Josh Mcdaniels called a timeout to review the play, which appeared to be a catch. On further review, it was reversed to a catch and a first down as McDaniels won his challenge. On 3rd and 1 from the Jacksonville 46, White took a pitchout wide, banged a defender short of the sticks, and plowed ahead for 3 yards. A bomb to Johnson at the goal line was on target, bobbled, and dropped incomplete. Keenan Cole took a pitchout for 12 yards and a first down but suffered a helmet to helmet hit that was not called. Cole got up under his own power. 

At the 2 minute warning, the Raiders faced 3rd and 7 at the Jacksonville 27. Stidham found DeMarcus Robinson for 12 yards. Robinson was with the Chiefs for 6 years and should be a positive addition. On 3rd and 8 from the Jags 12, Stidham rolled out and had a wide open lane. He waltzed into the end zone for another touchdown. The Raiders took that 20-0 lead into the locker rooms. 

The second half was uneventful. Yes, the Jaguars were the worst team in the league last year. Yet the Raiders offense looked good, even great at times. They scored on 4 possessions. Both Mullens and Stidham directed a touchdown drive. All 3 running backs had some good yardage. The Raiders defense pitched a shutout in the first half. Meaningless game or not, a 20-0 lead is a positive by any standard.

The Jaguars kicked a field goal late in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, the Jaguars returned a punt for a touchdown only to have it called back by an illegal block. The Jaguars went for it on 4th and 1 near midfield. 3rd string quarterback Kyle Sloter fumbled the snap, resulting in a huge loss. The Raiders took over at the Jacksonville 42. On 3rd and 9, 4th string quarterback Chase Garbers fired over the middle for a first down. On 4th and 3 from the Jags 24, McDaniels went for it and Garbers completed a crossing route that went for 16 yard gain. Austin Walter took a pitchout for an 8 yard touchdown to make it 27-3 Raiders midway through the fourth quarter. All 3 quarterbacks who played led a touchdown drive. Derek Carr was the only quarterback not to have a touchdown drive, but he will be the starter. The Jaguars scored a meaningless touchdown late to close the scoring. 

The 2022 Pro Football Hall of Fame Game is now in the books. 27-11 Raiders

eric