NFL Week Eight After Action Report (AAR)

NFL Week Eight After Action Report – brought to you by Frank Castle, Brad’s alter ego. No relation to the Punisher as far as I know.

Brad’s Picks

Brad was right the wrong way. Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

I was surprised that Tampa was the favorite going into this one, but I can understand the reluctance to trust Carolina playing on the road. The Panthers controlled the game rather easily and, as predicted, won a game against a Buccaneers squad that can go ahead and start making vacation plans for January. My only folly here was in believing that Tampa would make a game of it. Jameis turned the ball over three more times this week, the offense converted 2 of 12 third downs, and DeSean Jackson managed just 37 yards on three receptions despite being targeted eight times. But, hey, at least they didn’t miss any kicks this week. In fact, since sending Nick Folk to IR after that debacle against the Patriots, Patrick Murray has come in and settled down the place-kicking game for Tampa Bay.

By running its record to 5-3, Carolina remains relevant in the NFC. The offensive output was far from pretty as Cam threw for a meager 154 yards and led the team in rushing with 44 yards on 11 carries. The defense obviously played well, but was never really put under pressure by a Tampa offense that was unable to assert itself in the running game and routinely failed to convert on 3rd and medium. Danny pointed out that, if the playoffs started today, Carolina would be in as the second wildcard, despite a middling DVOA ranking of 17th and a +6 in point differential.

Consecutive Post Game Pressers without a Cam-Created Controversy: 1

Brad was wrong about the spread, but mostly right about the game. Chicago Bears at New Orleans Saints.

I must admit that I continue to doubt the Chicago defense at my own peril. As I predicted, the Bears fell behind by a couple scores, but, aided by two killer fumbles from Mark Ingram, they never let the game get away. Sometimes you have to win an ugly game and that is not a mental image that we tend to associate with the high-flying, dome-dwelling Saints, but the passing attack was efficient enough (although third down was a struggle) and the run game allowed them to win the time of possession battle. The 0-2 start is a distant memory even though there is no shame in losses at Minnesota or at home to New England. In fact, many advanced metrics have New Orleans as a top five team in the NFL. I’m seriously looking forward to Saints @ Bills in Week 10!

The Bears don’t do anything particularly well or particularly poorly. They’re sound in all aspects which places them well ahead of what I expected this season. John Fox will be the first to tell you that if they have to throw the ball 32 times, they are in trouble and that is the way it played out on Sunday. Sitting at 3-5 going into the bye week is nothing to crow about, but it represents progress for the rebuilding Bears.

Brad was right. Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs.

While it’s true that it was a 7-point game entering the fourth quarter, Denver is so limited on offense that KC was not really threatened in this home tilt. Hats off to the Denver defense though. It held the Chiefs to 276 yards of offense and was the first team to keep Kareem Hunt under 100 yards from scrimmage. Von Miller and Shane Ray lead a ferocious defense that kept this game within range despite five turnovers from the offense. After dropping a pair of one-possession games in a 4-day span, the Chiefs got back to their winning ways with opportunistic defense and an efficient offense. Alex Smith finally turned the ball over for the first time this season, but he still hasn’t thrown an interception. In fact, I am giving my mid-season MVP trophy to the constantly-disrespected Utah Ute. Here’s the case: First in QBR (115.4), second in yards (2,181), third in TD passes (16), and—the one that will surprise you—first in the NFL in yards per attempt (8.4). Not convinced? Alex also has head-to-head victories over Carson Wentz, Tom Brady, and Deshaun Watson, the other top MVP candidates thus far. I’m not guaranteeing he will win MVP, but I’m giving him my mid-season MVP award (for whatever that’s worth).

Week Eight Accuracy: 3-0
Overall Accuracy: 12-4 <– Maybe Frank/Brad is related to the Punisher…

 

Danny’s Picks

Danny was right. Los Angeles Chargers at New England Patriots.

I had a feeling this game would be closer than the spread and I right as the Chargers just squeezed in under the 8.5 line. This was a weird game. It was a windy day in Foxboro that saw Stephen Gostkowski miss two field goals and Philip Rivers completely unable to take advantage of a bad Patriots pass defense. The Chargers shot themselves in the foot several times in this game including Travis Benjamin’s lone punt return that went for -8 yards and a safety and then Rivers’ late interception deep in Patriots territory. Still, I remain unimpressed by the Patriots. Perhaps it is because I have come to expect better from them, or it may just be they are not as well-rounded in my eyes as they have been in the past. I’m curious to see how they hold up against Denver’s great pass rush in two weeks.

Danny was right. Pittsburgh Steelers at Detroit Lions.

This game was a toss up to me. The Steelers may be the most complete team in the NFL and the Lions are one of the most inconsistent teams. Last year, these were the games the Lions were able to pull off late. This year they’re falling the other way. I’m not sure how Matt Stafford can throw for 400+ yards and not find the end zone once, but that’s what happened. Ben Rothlisberger threw for 300+ with a TD and a pick, but nearly half his yards came on two completions. The Steelers are currently on a roll, but it won’t last if they continue to perform like this.

Danny was right. Atlanta Falcons at New York Jets.

The Falcons are fighting for their playoff lives and the Jets are continuing to perform better than expected. Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense did just enough to pull out a win in New York while their defense should be a serious concern to the coaching staff. The Falcons offense doesn’t quite look right, but Matt Ryan is doing enough to keep them competitive.

Week Eight Accuracy: 3-0
Overall Accuracy: 9-6

 

Chris’s Picks

Chris was wrong about the win but right about the Dolphins. Miami Dolphins at Baltimore Ravens.

In Jay Ajayi we trust, I said. I should have said, the DOLPHINS are 4-2, this cannot last! Even with Flacco leaving the game early after having his chin tested by Kiko Alonso, the Dolphins still couldn’t get out of their own way. Where once chants of WE WANT MOORE reverberated through the Miami fan base, now only crickets can be heard. Guess what folks, there’s a reason he’s a career backup. Smokin’ Jay Cutler, Brad’s favorite apathetic quarterback, may be inconsistent, he may be unreliable, he may be one warm-up bike away from his couch, but he can probably get you 176 yards on 44 attempts. That much, I know.

Still, I blame Adam Gase. The Dolphins offense has struggled to create a ground game with the highly talented Jay Ajayi topping the depth chart, and I can’t help but wonder why Gase won’t commit to the run. I may have been wrong about the win, but I was absolutely right about the catastrophe that is the Miami Dolphins.

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Chris was wrong about a lot of things, but not about the W. Oakland Raiders at Buffalo Bills.

I thought it would be closer. I thought it wouldn’t be a high scoring game. On those counts, I was wrong. But the Bills did beat the Raiders. And it all came down to defense. Derek Carr threw two interceptions in this game and the Raiders fumbled four times. The turnovers cost them as Tyrod Taylor didn’t impress. Fortunately, he controlled the football and allowed his defense to take over the game. LeSean McCoy galloped up and down the field without much resistance and all I can think about is some jackaloon gushing over how supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Derek Carr is. Please. Just stop. He’s good, maybe even great. But he’s got a long road to proving he’s the savior we’ve all been waiting for.

Anyway, the take away here is the Buffalo Bills are for real so you better be bringing your A game.

Chris was wrong about the game, but he was right about the future Hall of Famer DESHAUN WATSON. Houston Texans at Seattle Seahawks.

Yep. I said it. I just told you Derek Carr had to earn it, and now I’m saying Deshaun Watson is a future Hall of Famer. The hypocrisy isn’t lost on me. But Dabo Swinny said this was Michael Jordan and I believe him. You bet against Watson and he proves you wrong. You bet against Michael and he proved you wrong. I just hope Watson continues to stay humble and let his playing doing the talking. Jordan was the man, but that Hall of Fame speech was cringe on so many levels.

I told you Deshaun would throw an interception. That wasn’t too much of a stretch. But I also mentioned he wouldn’t roll over in the face of adversity, and he proved me right. The Seahawks were in the backfield all day and Watson was unflappable. I won’t proselytize too much about his performance other than to say he was fantastic on the road against a great defense, and if you care to hear more, read Brad’s succinct synopsis here.

Seattle showed up in a big way on offense, and frankly I didn’t think they would. Generally speaking, if you walk into CenturyLink field and put up 38 points, I’m going to say you won. Surprisingly, the Texans defense was the first to break. Perhaps the injuries at linebacker are taking more of a toll on this team than I had previously thought. They seemed out of sync in the middle of the field, and issues with communication and assignments seemed to plague this squad down the stretch.

Lastly, Kudos to Jimmy Graham for not dropping the wide open pass over the middle, but I hesitate to say he’s back to pre-Seattle form. He wasn’t the piece offered up for Duane Brown, but I’m still not convinced he’s in the right fit.

Chris was right and it hurts as much as being wrong. Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins.

I’m not going to belabor the obvious, the Washington Redskins have issues. Tyrelle Pryor has been awful. Jordan Reed isn’t the same this season and can’t seem to get healthy. The run game is up and down and in no way can you take that to mean they’re up the field and down near the end zone. With Dak Prescott doing his best Blake Bortles impression, the Cowboys relied on Zeke the freak to put them on his back. I hate watching the Cowboys enjoy success on the field. I have nothing against any of the players, and I don’t actually have anything against the team or its ownership either. I just cringe whenever they’re referred to as ‘America’s team’. I hate you (not really) John Facenda. You too, Bob Ryan. I was right about this being a stomp, but I hate myself for being right. The only solace I find in this situation is Ezekial Elliot’s apparent suspension, again, nothing against the player, but I don’t enjoy watching the Dallas Cowboys having success on the field. In the land of Chris, it always somehow feels unearned.

Call me biased. Or agree with me, that’s okay too.

Week Eight Accuracy: 2-2
Overall Accuracy: 10-6
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