The Packers don’t stink at home, but they sure are boring. Why is Nick Foles still starting? I think the Eagles hate good receivers. (Photo by MATT LUDTKE, AP)
The Season is going by way too quickly. I’m already sad about the NFL being gone in two months.
Last Week: 8 – 6 – 0
Season: 93 – 53 – 1
Thursday Night (8:20PM ET)
Cardinals 21 at Seahawks 28
Thursday night’s NFC West showdown was a good reminder of how wide open the NFC is right now. We’ve witnessed the Seahawks flaws over the past three weeks. Their defense is hit or miss (more often missing), and even with the great Russell Wilson, Seattle needs some semblance of a running game for its offense to be full throttle. The Cardinals were floated as perhaps the NFC’s 2nd best team after a thrilling victory over the Bills last week. The Cardinals are good, of that there is no doubt, but they have obvious flaws, too. Their secondary, despite a collection of big names, has been swiss cheese for a month now. The loss of Chandler Jones has neutered their pass rush, exposing their secondary even more. Worst of all, Arizona is sloppy with penalties and Kliff Kinsbury is at the top of the list when it comes to head-scratching decisions. Thursday night was yet another reminder how much the Cardinals rely on Kyler Murray’s legs. He only rushed for 15 yards. It was his lowest output of the season. Arizona is 1-8-1 when he rushes for less than 30 yards. He did injure his shoulder early against Seattle, so perhaps he was hesitant to take hits and thus opted not to run. Regardless, his legs are almost as important to the Cardinals as his arm.
Pissed They Were George Clooney’s 15th Best Friend (Bye Week)
Josh Allen is Carson Wentz, but two levels higher on the good side and a level and a half lower on the bad side. So, sorry if I don’t feel that bad for Buffalo fans after last week’s unfortunate ending. Besides, imagine having a Super Bowl title on the other side of a 47-yard field goal and missing it. Those fans know what it’s like to feel bad.
Nick Foles won my beloved Eagles a Super Bowl and he’s been overrated ever since. Don’t forget how bad Foles was in the Divisional Round against the Falcons prior to the Super Bowl. Or that he disappeared in the 2nd half against the Saints in the Divisional Round a year later. Or that he got benched for Gardner Minshew last year. Or that he’s 2-5 as a starter since replacing Mitch Trubisky, throwing only 7 touchdowns and 7 interceptions in those 7 games. He’s a tremendous person and a great backup, but if he’s your starter for an extended period, you’re toast.
All the analytic models and forecasts point to the Eagles winning the NFC East with six wins. That means the Giants have to get to 7 wins unless they close the season by going 3-2-1. Three wins over their final six is a stretch for the Giants. Four is nearly impossible. After the bye, New York goes @CINC, @SEA, AZ, CLE, @BAL, DAL. Cincinnati and Dallas are certainly winnable. The other four are a stretch, especially considering Baltimore will undoubtedly be fighting for a playoff spot/positioning in Week 16.
It’s been a disaster of a season for the defending NFC Champions, but the run of injuries have only further proven that Kyle Shanahan is a really good coach. If he can find himself a capable quarterback sometime in the next 2 years the 49ers will be back in the hunt for an NFC crown.
Early Games (1:00PM ET)
Eagles at Browns
Doug Pederson finally caught flack for keeping Carson Wentz on the field when Jalen Hurts was in at quarterback. I understand the questions and outrage from media and fans. Why not give Hurts another target? What good is Wentz just standing there? Drew Brees comes off when Taysom Hill enters the game! All fair points. However, offenses put players in specific positions to set up a defense. Perhaps Doug wants Wentz out there because at some point he’s going to drop him back for a lateral and have him throw the football downfield. I don’t know, but it’s not that hard to figure out why Wentz remains on the field. Besides, I’ve watched every play where both Hurts and Wentz were on the field. Wentz has held one defender every time, so it’s not as if he’s a complete zero out there. Also, this Eagles team always wins games their not supposed to after they’ve hit rock bottom. They’re definitely winning two of these five “unwinnable” games. I just don’t know if they’ve hit rock bottom yet. EAGLES If I were Charles Barkley; Eagles +3
Falcons at Saints
Aside from Jameis Winston, no one benefits more from the Drew Brees injury than the Falcons. Atlanta will face the Saints twice in 15 days. Brees is likely out for at least three weeks. #winning. In a piece of fantasy news absolutely no one cares about; I added Taysom Hill as my tight end this week. Imagine if he starts at quarterback or is inserted after a Winston injury etc… How mad would you be that ESPN allowed this? I’m excited for the blow back one way or another. FALCONS If I were Charles Barkley; Falcons +4
Bengals at Football Team
I was most disappointed in the Bengals last week. They played well enough to win against the Colts and Browns before beating the Titans before their bye. I thought they were turning a corner. Guess not, because the Steelers never gave them a chance. Even in the NFC East, it’s officially do-or-die time for Washington. Their last three losses have been by a combined 7 points, so they’re knocking on victory’s door. Pittsburgh disrupted Joe Burrow and the Bengal passing attack with constant pressure. Washington’s defensive line is really good. They rank 2nd in sack percentage and 5th in sacks. Guess who is first… Pittsburgh. If the Bengals can protect Burrow, they win. If not, they lose. FOOTBALL TEAM If I were Charles Barkley; Football Team -1
Lions at Panthers
Déjà vu for Panther fans.
2018: Started 6-2, finished 1-7.
2019: Started 5-3, finished 0-8.
2020: Started 3-2, 0-5 since.
Now, in fairness to Matt Rhule and Carolina, Atlanta is the Panthers only loss to a team with a losing record. They’ve been without their best player for all but three games and now their starting quarterback may be out. They’re better than their record indicates. If they were healthy, a late season run a la the 2019 Dolphins would not have surprised me. LIONS If I were Charles Barkley; No Line Yet
Steelers at Jaguars
Two weeks ago we saw the Steeler offense struggle mightily against one of the NFL’s worst defenses. Last week they torched another of the NFL’s worst defenses. Do they go back to a struggling offense against another bad defense or do they roll another lousy opponent? Jacksonville has some weapons on offense, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they hung around long enough to make things interesting. STEELERS If I were Charles Barkley; Jaguars +10.5
Titans at Ravens
This is a sneaky huge game for the Ravens. A win here and their playoff chances go way up with head-to-head tiebreakers over the Colts, Browns and Titans. Lose and the Ravens could find themselves in a vulnerable spot come early January if the Colts win the AFC South and the Titans are left among the Wildcard crowd. It’s also not a stretch to go to bed Thanksgiving night with the Ravens at 6-5 and out of the current playoff picture. Imagine that a month ago. Who could’ve predicted a 1-4 stretch for the reigning NFL MVP and the AFC’s best team (record wise) from 2019? It’s not all doom and gloom for Raven fans, though. Even if Baltimore stumbles to 6-5, their final five games feature one winning team (Cleveland) and four teams with three or fewer wins (DAL, JAC, NYG, CINC). The playoffs are all but a certainty, even for the struggling Ravens. It’s just a matter of how bad they look getting there. RAVENS If I were Charles Barkley; Ravens -5
Patriots at Texans
The NBA Draft was this week. I can’t be the only one who thought of this guy every time Anthony Edwards’ name was mentioned over the past month.
I can’t think of a Week 11 game less interesting than this one, and that’s saying something considering there are two other matchups this week featuring teams with no more than 2 wins. This feels like a let down game the Patriots choke away behind a dreadful Cam Newton performance. TEXANS If I were Charles Barkley; Texans +2
Afternoon Games (4:05PM ET)
Dolphins at Broncos
Miami tortures average/bad quarterbacks. If you remove Kyler Murray, here is the opponents’ quarterback output from Miami’s last four wins; 92/172, 53%, 214 yards/game, 4 TD and 6 Int. Maybe dominating Joe Flacco and Jimmy Garoppolo isn’t something to brag about, but the Dolphin defense made Jared Goff look lost and flustered Justin Herbert to the worst game of his young career and may have even forced him into cutting his hair. If they can dominate solid quarterbacks, imagine what turnover machine Drew Lock is in for. DOLPHINS If I were Charles Barkley; Dolphins -3.5
Jets at Chargers
Justin Herbert cut his hair. I’ve read the Bible. Has Herbert heard of Samson? I’ve really, really enjoyed Herbert’s play this year and now I’m extremely worried he turns into Sam Darnold or Josh Rosen. Hair adjustments shouldn’t be taken lightly. This game doesn’t mean much in a traditional sense to either team as both are dead in the playoff chase. However, the Jets are racing for that top pick and Anthony Lynn is in a must-win situation. Would this be a must win if he were playing just about any other NFL team? No. But the Chargers have stolen defeat from the arms of victory too many times already. Losing to the lowly Jets could get Lynn fired. CHARGERS If I were Charles Barkley; Chargers -9.5
Packers at Colts
Aaron Rodgers mentioned something about playing at home not being the same without the fans and energy in the stadium. When I heard this, my first thought was, no duh, we can all tell. Then I actually went and looked to see if I was just making this up in my head. Nope. Outside of a Week 2 drubbing of the Lions, the Packer offense has been miserably boring at home. I’m not talking about statistics here. I’m talking entertainment value. In Week 4 they jumped on the Falcons early and snoozed for most of the 2nd half. They looked great early against the Vikings in Week 8 before falling asleep at the wheel and ending up in a ditch. Against the Jaguars last week, the offense would mix an exciting touchdown with a couple of lazy turnovers and inept offense en route to an uninspired victory. Come on Packers, entertain me for 60 minutes! More Aaron Jones downfield like last year, Matt LaFleur! PACKERS If I were Charles Barkley; Packers +1.5
Cowboys at Vikings
Justin Jefferson’s name was brought up a lot this weekend around Philadelphia. If you recall, he was taken with the 22nd pick, right after the Eagles chose Jalen Reagor. Yes, it’s entirely too early to draw conclusions about a draft class. However, the Eagles have a knack for passing on talent. Take a look at the NFL leaders in receiving yards…
Stefon Diggs could’ve been had by any team for a late 1st round pick this past offseason. The Eagles passed (I didn’t blame them at the time). DeAndre Hopkins was stolen for a 2nd rounder and an almost washed up running back. The Eagles passed here, opting instead to draft a backup QB with their 2nd round pick. DK Metcalf was available when the Eagles selected wide receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside with the 57th pick in the 2019 Draft. As was Terry McLaurin. Arcega-Whiteside has 214 receiving yards… in his career. Robby Anderson was a 2020 free agent often linked with the Eagles. They passed. That’s 6 of the top 7 receivers in the league available to the Eagles, three of them at no cost other than their own draft pick. I apologize for using this space to complain about the Eagles. Moving on… Big time win by the Vikings and Kirk Cousins last week. While it’s not something Minnesota wants to do with great frequency, Cousins and the passing game led the Vikings to a crucial victory to keep their postseason dreams alive. VIKINGS If I were Charles Barkley; Vikings -7
Sunday Night (8:20PM ET)
Chiefs at Raiders
I’m 99.99% certain missing almost your entire starting defense is not the right way to slow down Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. Let’s all pray the Raider defense comes off the Covid list before Sunday. I’ve said this a number of times this season, but the Raiders greatest offensive asset is their ability to control the game. They’re third in the league in time of possession. Kansas City’s defense is 20th. That was a deadly combination for the Chiefs in Week 5 when the Raiders held the football for 59% of the game. It was after the bye in 2019 when the Kansas City defense flipped the script and became a dominant force to close the season. I’m not expecting such a drastic change this year, but they’ve been floundering in 2020 and any improvement would help the Chiefs. However, even with a mediocre defense, Kansas City is still the best team in the league. CHIEFS If I were Charles Barkley; No Line Yet
Monday Night (8:15PM ET)
Rams at Buccaneers
I don’t know what got into Russell Wilson last week but he bailed out a Rams offense that went to sleep for the final 20 minutes (two 1st downs, 19 yards). Last week’s victory over a melting-down Wilson didn’t change my opinion about the Rams: They’re a really good bad team. If they beat Tampa here, I’ll probably have to reevaluate, but I don’t think Jared Goff is good enough to withstand the Buccaneers pass rush (ranked 5th in sack percentage and 2nd in pressure percentage). On the other hand, am I certain Tom Brady can withstand the Rams pass rush (4th in sack percentage)? No, I can’t say that I am. BUCCANEERS If I were Charles Barkley; Rams +4
If I were Charles Barkley;
Last Week: 5 – 9 – 0
Season: 78 – 65 – 4