NFL Week Ten After Action Report (AAR)

With week ten in the books, the playoff races begin to emerge. There’s a lot at stake for some of these teams heading into week eleven, but first, let’s take a look at how our predictions fared here at SportsIntel. Once again, we’ll start with Brad, our front runner thus far.

Brad’s Picks

Brad was wrong, but I’m blaming a dumb rule. Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears.

Hats off to the Pack for going on the road and winning a tough game in division. With their season on life support and seemingly half their team in the hospital they found a way to do just enough to escape Soldier Field with hope. The key to victory for Green Bay was dominating time of possession which they did with a steady, vanilla offensive game plan and an efficient defense that contained the run well and routinely got off the field on third down. The Bears don’t do any one thing particularly well which means their margin for error is razor thin. They made one big mistake on Sunday and it ultimately did them in. With 8:09 left in the third quarter Trubisky completed a screen pass to little-used running back Benny Cunningham who scampered up the sideline and dove for the pylon, appearing to score a touchdown before losing control of the ball. After review, it was determined that he had essentially fumbled the ball out of bounds in the end zone which, by rule, results in a touchback. It seems like the officials got it right, but I think the rule is absolutely asinine. It makes no sense to give the ball to a defense that is about to give up a score. If Cunningham fumbles the ball out of bound six inches short of the pylon, the Bears retain possession and likely take the lead shortly thereafter. As our friends over at The Ringer wrote, the rule should be changed.

Brad was right about the game, wrong about the spread. Cincinnati Bengals at Tennessee Titans.

The Titans were favored by 4.5 and won by 4 meaning that the Bengals would have been the correct play with the spread. The Titans are fun to watch with exceptional speed and athleticism at QB, a fun stable of RBs, and Swiss Army knife Adoree’ Jackson. Seven different players for Tennessee had a play of 19 yards or more from scrimmage on Sunday and that balance has been a big part of their surprising 6-3 record. Cincinnati, on the other hand, got one big play each from Green and LaFell, the only reason they were even in the game. They committed two turnovers and a boatload of penalties while managing to possess the ball for less than 20 minutes. That is not a typo. Cincy seriously lost the time of possession battle 19:51 to 40:09 which is an eye-popping difference. How is that even possible? The Bungles did this by going 1-10 on third down, calling just 14 running plays, and throwing a lot of incompletions. Come to think of it, it’s a miracle Cincy didn’t lose this game by 30.

So, what’s next for these teams headed in opposite directions? Chris is disappointed in the Bengals, but this is about what I expected this season. Time to blow it up and get a new coach. We’ll be focusing on the Titans tomorrow as they travel to Pittsburgh for TNF so I’ll keep it brief here, but we may be in for a fun finish between Jacksonville and Tennessee in the AFC South. The Titans have the slightly harder schedule to finish out the season, but they get the Jags at home in the regular season finale on New Year’s Eve. How fun would it be to see the 10-5 Titans host the 11-4 Jaguars for all the marbles on the final day of the year?!

Brad called the upset. New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers.

The previously winless 49ers had managed just 30 points combined in their three last three contests going into Sunday, but feasted on the hapless, injury-plagued Giants for a 31-21 win. As predicted, SF had no issues running the ball piling up nearly 200 rushing yards on 33 attempts. The offense was also incredibly efficient throwing the ball and made very few mistakes on the day while converting 8 of 12 third downs. New York was not efficient at all and constantly found itself in third & long which translated to a 5 of 14 conversion clip. The Giants finally did get some production out of their banged up WR corps as Sterling Shepard had a great game with 11 catches for 142 yards.

The negative for San Fran, if there is one to mention, is that they cost themselves draft positioning with the win. They have needs at almost every position and will be considering everything but QB, so drafting anywhere in the top 5 will be fine for them. Neither the Giants nor the 49ers will be favored in any of their remaining games unless something crazy happens so we may look back on this game as the time two proud franchises crossed paths on their way to matching 1-15 records. In case you were wondering, 10 times in NFL history a team has finished a season 1-15. It has never happened to the Giants or the 49ers and there have never been two teams at 1-15 in the same season. Throw in the Browns who are staring down history’s second 0-16 season (Detroit 2008) and we could be looking at the ugliest trifecta imaginable. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the NFL in 2017!!

Week Ten Accuracy: 2-1
Overall Accuracy: 16-6

Danny’s Picks

Danny was right. New Orleans Saints at Buffalo Bills.

I don’t know if I feel comfortable claiming I was right about this game. I briefly thought the Bills might pull off an upset here, but I was way off. The Saints stated their claim as Super Bowl contenders winning in non-Saints fashion. The Saints nearly rushed for 300 yards and Drew Brees didn’t throw for any touchdowns in what turned into a route. The Bills meanwhile are slumping after a strong start to the season. The Saints continue to prove they aren’t the team of seasons past with a strong defense and a running game to compliment Drew Brees’ mastery of the passing game. I would argue that through 9 games this is the best Saints team that Drew Brees has ever had. This could spell a bad omen for the rest of the NFC.

Danny was right. New York Jets at Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

I waffled on this game throughout the week. I believe at this point in the season the Jets are the better team, however they are still the Jets and going on the road against a proud Tampa team wasn’t going to be a picnic. The Bucs defense got after Josh McCown sacking him 6 times and shutting down the Jets’ run game. The Bucs are too talented to continue to lose at their current pace. I don’t think Jameis Winston will fix anything when he comes back from injury, but they are a better team than their record presents.

Danny was right. New England Patriots at Denver Broncos.

I’m done with the Denver defense. They have elite talent, but they appear to be a shadow of the unit that began the season and shut down the Cowboys run game. Once the Giants shocked the Broncos in prime time, the team has been unable to regain its early season form. The Patriots continue to win on the backs of a Tom Brady-led offense while the defense continues to struggle. When Brock Oswieler moves the ball on you, that’s when you know it is time to worry. If Tom Brady is able to win a Super Bowl this year it will be his most impressive accomplishment. It will be the first time he has won with a mediocre defense.

Week Ten Accuracy: 3-0
Overall Accuracy: 14-7

Chris’s Picks

Chris was right about the game but wrong about the scoreline. Minnesota Vikings at Washington Redskins.

Any concerns I had earlier in the week about how a healthy Teddy Bridgewater might impact Keenum’s ability to focus on football are gone as Keenum threw for 300+ yards and four touchdowns against the ‘Skins. Case Keenum is everything a team could ask for in a backup QB. He’s remained hungry, humble, and effective filling in for Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater this season, and you can tell he’s got this offense humming as the Vikings put up 38 points on Sunday. He did throw two picks in this contest, but if there was a game to do it in, this one was it. Despite the 38-30 final score, the Vikings felt in control of this game after taking the lead late in the second quarter. Stefon Diggs had four grabs for 78 yards and a touchdown and continues to excel in purple, while Adam Thielen put in some work with eight grabs on twelve targets for 166 yards and a touchdown. This would have been a different game had QB Kirk Cousins not tossed a costly pick to give the Vikings a short field, and eventually, a lead-changing touchdown just before halftime. Still, the Redskins had their opportunities on offense, their defense just had a difficult time getting stops.

Chris was right, though he probably shouldn’t have been. Los Angeles Chargers at Jacksonville Jaguars.

This one was a bit of a cluster fuck. Oops, can I say that?

The game was close all the way down to the wire and the Chargers should have won this match up. In conversation with Brad and Danny this morning, they highlighted the fact the Chargers regained control of the football twice with less than two minutes left and still couldn’t find three points to tie the game up. It’s a sad day for Brad and his lightning bolts, don’t be mislead by his tomfoolery, he’s low key disappointed Ol’man Rivers and company continue to be their own worst enemy. If you’re not sure what I mean, check out these late-game penalties! Joey Bosa, way to give them another chance after Marquise Lee gifted you 15 yards!

Not much more to say about this one, other than, the Jaguars didn’t run the ball well, and Blake Bortles was forced to actually play quarterback again. They still won though, and that’s all that matters.

Chris was wrong. Dallas Cowboys at Atlanta Falcons. 

Ezekiel Elliot was out, but in a game where Dak Prescott was sacked eight times, with six of those coming from the Adrian Clayborn, I think they missed Tyron Smith more. According to David Helman, seven of the eight sacks against the Cowboys came from Smith’s vacated side.  Which only adds insult to injury, as the Falcons have been bad all season, at least offensively, and that didn’t really change on Sunday. Devonta Freeman left the game early with an injury, and Matt Ryan only threw for 215 yards. The exception to their poor offensive performance was their ground game. They used their committee running crew to good advantage. Tevin Coleman filled in as the primary after Freeman left, but WR Taylor Gabriel and RB Terron Ward also had opportunities and contributed yards when asked. Defensively, the Falcons showed up and brought the pressure. By the end of four quarters they allowed just 233 total yards of offense and seven points on the night. Smith’s absence was also felt by Alfred Morris, as the Cowboys struggled to generate space for him off the line of scrimmage. Hindsight is 20/20 as they say, and I probably should have seen the impact Smith’s absence would have on Alfred Morris’s ability to generate yards. Ezekiel Elliot was given a lot of credit for his own rookie year success last season, but he did have the luxury of running behind the best offensive line in the league in 2016. They aren’t the same squad this year with Doug Free and Ronald Leary gone, but Tyron Smith was best of that bunch and he’s an impact player when he’s on the field.

Week Ten Accuracy: 2-1
Overall Accuracy: 14-8