Tampa Bay Buccaneers 12, Baltimore Ravens 20
What you need to know
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- The rainy week 15 weather conditions were perfect for Baltimore, a run-first offense with a power back, mobile QB, and stout defense to take advantage of Tampa Bay's pass-heavy offense. Receiver Desean Jackson sat again with a hand injury. Winston and his receivers struggled to make completions in the rain, and Baltimore strung together several lengthy drives. Lavonte David recovered a fumbled handoff late in the 1st quarter. Tampa Bay recovered a muffed punt inside the Baltimore 15 yard line in the 3rd quarter, but only managed a field goal out of the outstanding field position. Mike Evans
accounted for 121 of Winston's 157 passing yards.
- The Ravens rushing attack featuring Lamar Jackson
once again led the Ravens to victory. The Ravens tried to establish the passing game early with mixed results. Jackson missed a few easy throws and still needs to become more consistent as a passer. Jackson continues to shoulder a high number of carries and it remains to see if playing this style of offense is sustainable. Gus Edwards
and Kenneth Dixon
both played very well with Edwards functioning as the primary early down back. Both backs ran hard and decisively. Edwards seems to have a firm grip on the short yardage and goal line duties and Dixon has more upside in the passing game. Willie Snead
and Mark Andrews
were Jackson's top targets with John Brown
and Michael Crabtree
combining for 1 catch.
QB Jameis Winston
, 50 offensive snaps, Pass: 13 - 25 - 157 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 2 - 0 - 0 - Winston had one of the worst showings of his career as he faced Baltimore's talented defense in soggy weather conditions. Winston struggled with accurate passes and his receivers had a few bad drops, while Baltimore limited Tampa Bay's time of possession. Winston scrambled for what seemed like an eternity in the 2nd quarter before launching a 65 yard deep ball(Tampa Bay's longest play of the day) to Mike Evans
, who hauled it in and tacked on another 15 yards for a facemask penalty on the play. Winston and Evans connected for 121 of Tampa Bay's 157 passing yards on the day with big connections in the 3rd and 4th quarter as well. Winston was intercepted on a terribly underthrown ball to Evans, who was running up the right sideline in the 3rd quarter. In Winston's defense, it was raining hard, but the pass was terrible. Winston was only sacked once for a loss of a yard.
RB Peyton Barber
, 32 offensive snaps, Rush: 19 - 85 - 1, Rec: 2 - 4 - 0 (2 targets) - Barber posted one of his better games of the season as he continues to be one of the most underwhelming lead backs in the league. He burst through the middle of the defense for 15 on the first offensive snap of the ballgame. He toted a defender on his back as he galloped to a 12 yard gain later in the 1st quarter. Barber broke another run off left tackle for 13 yards early in the 2nd quarter. Barber punched in a short touchdown after Tampa Bay drew a defensive pass interference call in the end zone in the 2nd. He got a couple of carries inside the Baltimore 10 yard line later in the 2nd, but was stopped short of the goal line.
Barber caught a checkdown pass off of play action for a minimal gain at the end of the 1st quarter.
RB Ronald Jones II
, 4 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - -1 - 0 (2 targets) - Jones was used sparingly behind Barber. He caught a swing route out of the backfield in the 1st quarter and was hit hard behind the line of scrimmage. Jones also dropped another pass later in the 3rd quarter.
RB Jacquizz Rodgers
, 13 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 1 - 0 (1 targets) - Rodgers mixed in with Barber and Jones. He caught a screen pass and was tackled at the line of scrimmage in the 3rd quarter on his only touch.
WR Mike Evans
, 45 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 121 - 0 (9 targets) - Evans was shut out of the end zone again, but still managed 121 yards on a day where his QB only threw for 157 yards total. and Winston narrowly missed hooking up on deep ball early in the 1st quarter as a torrential rain fell. Evans let the ball clang off his hands on the next play on a curl route that would have picked up a first down. Evans beat Jimmy Smith
(who shadowed him most of the day) down the left sideline and made a strongly contested catch for a 23 yard gain at the end of the 1st quarter. Evans caught a 65 yard bomb from a scrambling Winston in the 2nd quarter, and tacked on another 15 yards when Smith tackled him by the facemask on the play. Evans lined up in the left slot and caught a post route for another big gain in the 3rd quarter.
WR Adam Humphries
, 29 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 23 - 0 (6 targets) - Humphries managed a few short receptions from Winston. He caught a short curl route out of a bunch formation with two other receivers early in the 1st quarter. He was dropped well short of the 1st down marker on a 3rd down out route later in the same drive. Humphries caught a swing route for a minimal gain on the next drive of the 1st quarter. Winston looked Humphries' way on a desperate heave while scrambling in the Baltimore red zone in the 2nd quarter, but Humphries was bracketed by tight double coverage. Humphries had one more short gain on a crossing route in the 4th quarter.
WR Chris Godwin
, 41 offensive snaps (3 targets) - Godwin had another day to forget as Winston threw for only 157 yards total. He outright dropped his first target, a wide-open skinny post route that hit him right in the hands. In his defense, the rain was falling pretty heavily at the time of the play. Godwin had a nice gain called back for holding on the offensive line early in the 2nd quarter. Winston targeted Godwin in the back of the end zone in the 3rd quarter, but the receiver was knocked down by incidental contact.
TE Cameron Brate
, 41 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 9 - 0 (2 targets) - Brate was a non-factor as Tampa Bay's passing game struggled in the rain. He hauled in a short crossing route for a 9 yard gain in the 4th quarter.
QB Lamar Jackson
, 77 offensive snaps, Pass: 14 - 23 - 131 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 18 - 95 - 0 - Lamar Jackson
and the Ravens offense struggled early against a Buccaneers defense that was selling out to stop the run. The Ravens tried to counter by attacking downfield with poor results but later found their rhythm and took control of the game. Jackson tried to fit a pass into Michael Crabtree
over the middle and failed to see Lavonte David dropping into coverage. David dropped what should have been an easy interception. On the Ravens ensuing possession Jackson mishandled a snap in the wet conditions and the Buccaneers recovered the fumble. Jackson missed a pair of downfield throws badly. One was a potential 45 yard touchdown to Mark Andrews
and the other was a potential big play over the middle to John Brown
. Despite the missed throws Jackson led the Ravens down the field for a touchdown with his legs and a big 3rd down conversion to Willie Snead
. Chris Moore
capped the drive with a 5 yard touchdown run. Jackson led the Ravens down the field to set up a field goal before halftime. Jackson completed passes to Mark Andrews
and Willie Snead
for gains of 17 and 28 respectively. Jackson made arguably his best throw of the game to Mark Andrews
to open the second half for 17 more yards over the middle. Andrews was well covered on the play but Jackson placed the ball where only Andrews could get it showing good touch on the throw. Jackson followed the completion with runs of 14 and 22 yards to set up a Gus Edwards
touchdown. The Ravens run game chewed 7 minutes of clock to secure the victory.
RB Gus Edwards
, 33 offensive snaps, Rush: 19 - 104 - 1 - Gus Edwards
functioned as the Ravens bell cow against the Buccaneers. Edwards ran hard and got more effective as the game progressed. Edwards struggled to find room to run in the 1st quarter but had a huge 4th quarter to compensate. Edwards split work with Kenneth Dixon
but remains the Ravens favorite early down back. Edwards continues to shine in short yardage situations as well. Edwards followed a nice block from Maxx Williams
off right tackle on his way to a 10 yard touchdown. Gus Edwards
totaled 53 yards on 6 carries on the Ravens final possession chewing up 7 minutes of game clock to help seal the victory. Edwards had a 26 yard run featuring a beautiful cut back at the line of scrimmage to reverse fields.
RB Kenneth Dixon
, 40 offensive snaps, Rush: 11 - 48 - 0, Rec: 1 - 2 - 0 (1 targets) - Kenneth Dixon
played very well and split work with Gus Edwards
. Dixon functioned as the Ravens third down and change of pace back. Dixon ran hard and continues to look great on his relatively fresh legs at this point in the season. Dixon showed good vision and burst to bounce a run to the outside and gain the edge with his speed for 17 yards. Dixon had multiple defenders get a free run at him on a pitch play but he still managed to gain 5 yards on 3rd and 4.
WR Willie Snead
, 59 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 58 - 0 (6 targets) - Willie Snead
remains Lamar Jackson
's favorite target over the middle. Snead made a 14 yard catch on 3rd and short running a slant. Snead again came wide open running a slant over the middle and picked up 14 yards on 3rd and 10. Snead made a big play running down the seam from the slot for 28 yards to set up a Justin Tucker
field goal before halftime. Snead had a 13 yard reception negated by an illegal shift penalty.
WR John Brown
, 48 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 9 - 0 (3 targets) - John Brown
drew a 13 yard pass interference penalty on his first target. Brown made his first catch running a slant for 9 yards. Brown dropped a pass 15 yards downfield with Lavonte David closing in to make a hit.
TE Hayden Hurst
, 30 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 20 - 0 (3 targets) - Hayden Hurst
made 3 underneath catches against the Buccaneers. Hurst did not see any targets downfield and the Ravens clearly prefer to use Mark Andrews
as a weapon in the passing game.
TE Mark Andrews
, 29 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 31 - 0 (4 targets) - Mark Andrews
is Lamar Jackson
's favorite target. Jackson looks to Andrews downfield with frequency and while Jackson has failed to connect with Andrews for multiple big plays expect the duo to connect in the near future. Andrews got wide open downfield for a potential 45 yard touchdown but Lamar Jackson
missed the throw so badly Andrews had no shot at securing the catch. Andrews made his first catch running free down the seam for 17 yards. Andrews showed off his athleticism and ball skills making a contested 17 yard catch over the middle on 3rd and 7.
Tennessee Titans 17, New York Giants 0
What you need to know
- With sloppy weather conditions, the Titans offense was dominated by Derrick Henry
for the second week in a row as Henry touched the ball 34 times, rushing 170 yards and two touchdowns. Marcus Mariota
completed just 12 passes for 88 yards with no meaningful production to speak of going to his wide receivers or tight ends.
New York Giants
- - The Giants offensive line took a step back on Sunday in the wet conditions. There was no room for Barkley to work with on the ground and Manning was pressured heavily in this game.
- Manning had a very sloppy day through the air and turnovers were a big issue. He struggled without Beckham. Engram did a respectable job filling in but nobody else really contributed much.
QB Marcus Mariota
, 67 offensive snaps, Pass: 12 - 20 - 88 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 2 - 11 - 0 - Marcus Mariota
was limited to less than 100 passing yards for the second time this season as the Titans ran the ball on over two-thirds of their plays with the passing offense an afterthought in this game plan. With sloppy weather, it was befitting for the Titans to focus on their ground game in this one. Mariota’s long pass of the game went for just 17 yards to Corey Davis
on the second drive of the game. Outside of that, Mariota rarely even tried to push the ball downfield. He would tuck it and run from the read option to start off their second drive of the game, flashing his speed to pick up 11 yards for his longest run of the game. Mariota should have scored a rushing touchdown from the goal line on that same drive, but he fell victim to a poor spot and yielded to a Derrick Henry
rushing touchdown. Outside of the first couple of possessions, highlights were few and far between for Mariota and this passing offense.
RB Derrick Henry
, 49 offensive snaps, Pass: 1 - 1 - 6 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 33 - 170 - 2, Rec: 1 - 0 - 0 (1 targets) - This game was all Derrick Henry
for the second week in a row as he finished an astounding 33 carries while the Titans ran on over two-thirds of their offensive plays. Henry got the start and had a productive run with his first touch by making great reads to weave his way through the defense for 10 yards. He would follow that up with a couple of powerful six-yard runs up the middle. The second drive of the game is where Henry would find paydirt on a powerful run from the goal line on fourth down as he cut left away from the center of the pile to easily drive the ball into the end zone for his tenth rushing touchdown of the season. Henry would showcase his powerful running style throughout this game as he consistently evaded tacklers to pick up yards after contact. He found the end zone a second time from the goal line late in the third quarter as he continued to pile on yards. Henry even completed a six-yard pass to Tajae Sharpe
in the first quarter to add another dimension to his stat line.
RB Dion Lewis
, 23 offensive snaps, Rush: 7 - 35 - 0, Rec: 3 - 9 - 0 (3 targets) - Dion Lewis
was minimally involved in the offense as he only saw seven carries and three targets with Derrick Henry
dominating the game plan. Highlights were few and far between, with his only impressive run coming midway through the fourth quarter as Lewis showed great vision by cutting to the right side to evade defenders as he accelerated his way to a 17-yard gain. He followed that up with another impressive run of 11 yards as these were his only two gains of more than seven yards.
WR Corey Davis
, 65 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 33 - 0 (6 targets) - Corey Davis
was held in check with the poor weather and low volume passing attack in this game. He led the team in targets with six, but only managed to haul in three of them for 33 yards. Two of his three receptions came on the second drive of the game, with one going for 17 yards as the longest pass play of the game as Davis did a great job hauling in the reception while falling to the ground to convert on a long third down.
WR Taywan Taylor
, 54 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 17 - 0 (5 targets) - Taywan Taylor
was targeted five times but managed to bring in just two of them for 17 yards. Both of his receptions came on the first two passes of the game as he caught the first one for 14 yards, doing a nice job getting out of coverage and coming back to the ball. The second reception would be a short one for just three yards. Taylor’s third target came on that same drive, but thanks in part to the wet weather, Taylor allowed the ball to slip right through his hands to waste what could have been a first down conversion that otherwise ended the drive. Taylor did see a deep target in the end zone on the next drive, but Mariota overthrew him with no chance for Taylor to make a play.
WR Tajae Sharpe
, 39 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 6 - 0 (1 targets) - Tajae Sharpe
was targeted just one time as he hauled it in for six yards. That one target actually came from Derrick Henry
, meaning Marcus Mariota
did not even look his way once as Sharpe is still playing limited snaps in recovery from his ankle injury.
QB Eli Manning
, 65 offensive snaps, Pass: 21 - 44 - 229 - 0 TD / 1 INT - Eli Manning
did not play well on Sunday against the Titans. The conditions were quite poor in the rain, the Giants were unable to run the ball and he was without Beckham. This left Manning in a difficult spot that he was unable to overcome. He took many sacks and had many turnover worthy throws. Several passes bounced right off the hands of titan defenders and he fired several wild passes to avoid the rush. Manning looked jittery in the pocket and checked passes down short for the most part. He had several passes dropped by his receivers which further damaged any fantasy potential. Manning had some occasions to look downfield and try to hit a big play but he often threw these attempts out of bounds. He had a poor fumble in the Giants own 20 yard line which sealed the fate for his team. A sloppy performance overall, there was just not many bright points to highlight in this game. Manning had a few pass attempts in the redzone in garbage time to try and salvage a touchdown but they often fell short or were inaccurate.
RB Saquon Barkley
, 65 offensive snaps, Rush: 14 - 31 - 0, Rec: 4 - 25 - 0 (10 targets) - Saquon Barkley
had a quiet day by his standards against the Titans in a wet game on Sunday. The Giants did not stay committed to the running game and quickly devolved into a "pass happy" mode that left Barkley with only 14 carries. The passing game provided no balance for the ground attack and defenders were quick to swarm Barkley when he got a carry. The offensive line did not play as well as it had in previous games and Barkley struggled to find gaps to run through. He had a few dropped passes but these were for very short potential gains. Barkley had a pitch rightside blow up in his face, tried to reverse direction and took a big loss which summed up the type of game he was having. There was little work he had to work with and the Titans did not respect Manning's ability to test them deep. Defenders were getting into the backfield quickly and then the Giants abandoned the running game more as time went on.
WR Sterling Shepard
, 65 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 37 - 0 (9 targets) - Sterling Shepard
managed only 2 balls despite 9 targets and was relatively invisible in this game for the most part. He was targeted on a deep ball early in the game which he should have caught but it fell incomplete. There was a little interference on the play but no flag was thrown. Shepard was wide open on a corner route along the sideline and made a terrific catch while staying in bounds but this was his only highlight for the day. He had no gain on a stop route at the line of scrimmage and couldn't scoop up a low ball from Manning late in the game. The Giants passing game was in a poor state on Sunday with the weather and mediocre play from Manning which hurt the fantasy production of Shepard.
WR Russell Shepard
, 34 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 28 - 0 (4 targets) - Russell Shepard
couldn't produce on Sunday against the Titans with all the offensive problems the Giants had to contend with. Shepard had a nice jumping catch along the sideline from Manning but really contributed very litte outside of this. He should not be started in any fantasy league and isn't worth owning right now.
WR Corey Coleman
, 22 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 8 - 0 (2 targets) - Corey Coleman
just shouldn't be owned or started in any fantasy league right now. He had a nice catch on a slant against double coverage over the middle, doing well to secure the ball before a big hit in wet conditions. Coleman had a chance at a redzone touchdown pass but the pass was inaccurate and he fell over on the out route.
TE Evan Engram
, 45 offensive snaps, Rec: 8 - 75 - 0 (12 targets) - Evan Engram
was the only real legitimate threat the Giants had in the passing game that looked woeful overall on Sunday. Engram did his part as best he could however and it showed. Engram was the focus of many pass attempts and he gave full effort after every catch. His hands were very reliable and consistently good despite the wet weather. Engram had terrific catch and runs for first downs throughout the game that kept the Giants moving at times. He made leaping grabs on the sideline, tough catches over the middle and used his speed to get open. Engram was open at the end of the game in the corner of the endzone but the pass was too late and underthrown which caused it to fall incomplete. Eli Manning
did not play well enough to provide good value for any Giants player on Sunday but Engram managed to be the leading receiver and he deserves credit to perform with all the adverse conditions thrown his way.
Arizona Cardinals 14, Atlanta Falcons 40
What you need to know
- The Cardinals’ hot start against the Falcons devolved quickly into their typical offensive struggles centering on the offensive line being a glorified turnstile for pressure on Josh Rosen
. The lack of weapons beyond Larry Fitzgerald
did not help matters as Arizona was quickly down by multiple touchdowns and the second half turned into garbage time, which the Cardinals could not exploit for even token yards and a touchdown or two. Rosen was pulled for Mike Glennon
in mop-up duty as the game was clearly loss by the mid-fourth quarter. David Johnson
’s goal line touchdown and 68 receiving yards were small bright spots on an offensive lacking positive takeaways this week.
- Atlanta’s pass protection gave up consecutive third-down sacks that ended a pair of drives and then linebacker Deion Jones gave up consecutive big plays to David Johnson
that led to a score. However, Jones caught a Vic Beasley tip of a Josh Rosen
pass for a pick-six to tie the game. Tevin Coleman
then earned 65 yards on a toss play up the right sideline to get Atlanta inside the Arizona 5, setting up a field goal and a three-point lead after Austin Hooper
dropped a short pass at the goal line on third down. The defense took over from there, sacking Rosen on consecutive third downs and three times in as many series. Brian Poole led the way with a sack, a fumble recovery, and an interception in the first half. Ryan took advantage with a one-yard sneak for a score and a 21-yard go route to Jones against Patrick Peterson to earn a 19-point lead by the end of the half. Coleman put the game away in the middle of the third quarter with a 43-yard run that earned him a career-high in rushing after just 8 carries. Atlanta’s defense earned seven sacks in three and a half quarters – six on Rosen.
QB Josh Rosen
, 52 offensive snaps, Pass: 13 - 22 - 132 - 0 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 2 - 8 - 0 - Rosen and the Arizona offense got off to a strong start in Atlanta before a blowout ensued and they were soundly defeated. Rosen had a highlight throw to David Johnson
for a long gain into the red zone, but the consistent deficiencies of the Arizona passing game emerged for the rest of the game. Rosen was pressured, especially on obvious passing downs, and third down sacks were commonplace. Rosen forced an interception to a contested Larry Fitzgerald
, a tipped interception was returned for a touchdown, plus Rosen was stripped for a lost fumble in the pocket. Rosen is a classic pocket passer, yet the weekly trend has been Rosen being forced to move and extend plays due to pressure. Rosen was pulled by the mid-fourth quarter of the blowout and Mike Glennon
threw for almost as many yards as Rosen in the closing minutes alone of garbage time.
RB David Johnson
, 34 offensive snaps, Rush: 11 - 33 - 1, Rec: 3 - 68 - 0 (6 targets) - Despite the sound defeat at the hands of the Falcons, Johnson surpassed 100 total yards for the first time since Week 11 and logged his first touchdown in more than a month. Johnson caught Josh Rosen
’s best pass of the game, a deep route into the red zone as Arizona was off to a fast start for once. Johnson picked up a third-and-long conversion with another red zone reception and churned a goal line carry for a touchdown. Johnson was limited to 11 carries, his fewest his Week 1, with the negative game script and the blowout result for the entire second half. Johnson’s receiving usage and efficiency will be needed against the Rams in Week 16.
RB Chase Edmonds
, 26 offensive snaps, Rush: 8 - 22 - 0, Rec: 2 - 22 - 0 (2 targets) - Edmonds saw a season-high 10 touches in the blowout loss against Atlanta. Edmonds found a backside cut for his lone notable run but was stuffed on interior runs otherwise. Edmonds converted a third down with his best reception but would require a David Johnson
injury to be a more than an ancillary option in Arizona’s struggling offense.
WR Larry Fitzgerald
, 66 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 82 - 0 (8 targets) - In the blowout loss to Atlanta Fitzgerald logged his second-highest yardage total of the season. Fitzgerald converted fourth-and-long on his best catch of the game, a stop route in tight coverage. Fitzgerald aggregated most of his production in the second half with the game clearly decided, including a 15-yard reception in the closing minutes of garbage time.
WR Trent Sherfield
, 65 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 15 - 1 (5 targets) - In back-to-back games, Sherfield has emerged as the clear secondary receiver to Larry Fitzgerald
with the absence of Christian Kirk
. Sherfield found the end zone against Atlanta, the first of his career, in garbage time and had a touchdown opportunity on a sideline target earlier in the game. Sherfield dropped a slant target on the negative side for his performance, but the five targets and more than 90 yards over the past two games are promising signs for the undrafted rookie late in a lost Arizona season.
TE Ricky Seals-Jones
, 57 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 22 - 0 (8 targets) - Seals-Jones continued his futility against the Falcons, seeing a team-high eight targets translating into a mere 22 yards. Seals-Jones dropped a deep out route and his end zone target fell harmlessly to the ground as his long scoring opportunity. Seals-Jones has not scored since Week 3 and has failed to produce despite Arizona searching for ancillary pass-catchers with Christian Kirk
out for the season.
QB Matt Ryan
, 64 offensive snaps, Pass: 22 - 36 - 231 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - 18 - 1 - After a drop and a completion to Julio Jones
and Calvin Ridley
, respectively, Markus Golden sacked Ryan at the end of a seven-step drop on a first down. Ryan completed a third-down pass to Mohamed Sanu
for 16 but an illegal shift nullified the conversion and Atlanta punted to end its first possession. He was sacked again in the next series on third down by Hassaan Reddick, throwing Tevin Coleman
backwards, and forcing a second consecutive punt. Ryan hit Jones for 22 yards to get inside the Cardinals’ 10 after a Falcons’ fumble recovery. He rushed a throw when a flash of pressure crossed his face and delivered a bad ball to Smith two plays later, setting up a third and seven from the Arizona nine. Ryan finished the drive with a quarterback sneak after feeding Smith on a swing pass that got Atlanta to the one. Midway through the second quarter, Ryan got Atlanta inside the Cardinals’ 35 but later in the drive, he threw well behind Coleman on a third-down slant that forced a 33-yard field goal. Ryan got Julio Jones
into Cardinals territory with a scramble-drill target up the left sideline. Ryan took a hit on the next play against a blitz, hitting Jones again up the same sideline with about 30 seconds in the half. He scrambled for 15 yards—his longest run of the season—on the next play, getting into field goal range. Ryan followed up with a 21-yard touchdown pass up the left sideline to Jones to extend the lead to 19. Ryan’s second touchdown was a garbage-time score to the end-line to a wide-open Justin Hardy
RB Ito Smith
, 29 offensive snaps, Rush: 9 - 34 - 0, Rec: 2 - 5 - 0 (3 targets) - He earned three yards to the Cardinals’ 9 on his first carry in the second quarter. He earned a first down on a swing pass to the left flat two plays later. He spun inside a defender to reach the one, setting up a Ryan sneak for the touchdown. He earned five up the middle to reach the Cardinals’ 34 yard-line during the next series. Smith hopped over penetration up the middle and worked to left end for a few yards. He earned 16 halfway through the third quarter through a huge hole on the backside of the offensive line when Atlanta used Ben Garland as a tight end. Smith lost a few yards two plays later on a throwback screen that Arizona anticipated well. Smith earned six up left guard at the end of the third quarter.
RB Tevin Coleman
, 34 offensive snaps, Rush: 11 - 145 - 1 (1 targets) - He was stuffed for no gain off left tackle to begin the second series. He got knocked out of the way by Hasaan Reddick on third down, giving up a sack that ended the series. Coleman took a toss to right end 65 yards to the Arizona 7, stiff-arming a safety in the open field to begin Atlanta’s third drive. He earned eight around right end on another toss two series later. On the next play, Chandler Jones stuffed Coleman on an attempt off left guard, setting up a third and six. Ryan was well behind Coleman later in the drive on a slant that forced a 33-yard field goal. He was wrapped early on a downhill cut on second and three for a gain of two. Atlanta tried another toss to begin the second half and Arizona cut him off for a loss of one. Coleman scored on a 43-yard run late in the third quarter, breaking two bad tackle attempts. He made a nice jump cut to the middle of the crease to set up his foray into the open field. Coleman then took the ball 44 yards up the middle for another touchdown to begin the fourth quarter, but Russell Gage
committed an illegal block in the back in the secondary.
WR Julio Jones
, 32 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 82 - 1 (8 targets) - The opening play was a fade route to Jones on Patrick Peterson that went through Jones’ hands. Peterson only faced Jones when Arizona played man coverage, which resulted in giving Ryan and the Falcons an easy tell. Arizona stuffed Jones on a fake toss to Coleman and shovel pass to the receiver inside the five, setting up a third and goal. Jones earned 22 yards up the seam after a fumble recovery to reach the Arizona 12. Jones earned 17 yards on a screen play to the left with a fake toss to the right that set up the play nicely. He dropped a shallow route from trips right on third and one, thanks to a good wrap by Tre Boston playing trail position. This led to a punt. Jones earned two routes at the left sideline late in the half against Peterson and then beat the corner up the left sideline for a 21-yard score. He left the field with 0:13 in the half to get extra attention in the training room due to a rib injury from the diving catch, and didn’t play during the first few plays of the initial drive in the second half. He told the trainers on the sideline that he wants to play and returned to the field when Atlanta reached the Arizona 50. However, the coaches benched him by quarter’s end after Tevin Coleman
’s touchdown gave Atlanta a significant lead.
WR Calvin Ridley
, 44 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 42 - 0 (7 targets) - He earned nine yards on a hook route for to set up a short gain for a first down on a quarterback sneak by Ryan. A few plays later, he earned a few years on a short route, slipping to the ground while trying to turn up the field. He earned a short target at the right sideline to convert a first down in the middle of the second quarter. He earned a short out for seven yards late in the half to kick off a drive deep in Atlanta’s own territory. Ridley dropped a third-down crossing route on 3rd and 15 to begin the second half, leading to a punt.
WR Mohamed Sanu
, 60 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 11 - 0, Rec: 3 - 30 - 0 (6 targets) - He earned a first down from the slot on a 16-yard completion on a break to the flat against zone but an illegal shift nullified the play. David Amerson hit his head on Sanu’s shoulder during the play and was assisted off the field. Sanu dropped a route in the flat early in the second half on a play after Ryan underthrew a target to the receiver with pressure in his face. He earned his second catch at the end of the third quarter on a comeback. H3 earned close to 20 yards over the middle on a slant to get Atlanta into the red zone early in the fourth quarter.
WR Justin Hardy
, 10 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 29 - 1 (3 targets) - He earned 18 up the left sideline on a play-action throwback in the middle of the second quarter. He broke through a reach to his shoulder late in the third quarter on a slot screen pass at the line of scrimmage for a first-down conversion to get Atlanta near the Falcons’ 40. Hardy scored on a wide-open post to the end line with a garbage-time touchdown early in the fourth quarter.
WR Russell Gage
, 20 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 33 - 0 (4 targets) - Dropped a short route to the flat in the red zone midway through the second quarter. He earned 10 yards up the seam and then another 19 to midfield on the following target off play-action. His biggest play of the day was an illegal block in the back that nullified Tevin Coleman
’s touchdown run of 43 yards early in the fourth quarter.
WR Marvin Hall
, 18 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 10 - 0 (3 targets) - The Cardinals cut off Hall on a crossing route during the first drive. In the middle of the second quarter, he turned up the sideline for a first down on a short pass to the left side. Ryan was high of target on a route intended for Hall to begin the fourth quarter and Tre Boston cut off the target as well.
TE Austin Hooper
, 34 offensive snaps (1 targets) - He dropped a third-and-goal whip route against bracket coverage in the end zone, forcing a field goal for Matt Bryant
. It was the extent of his action as a receiving during meaningful competition.
Oakland Raiders 16, Cincinnati Bengals 30
What you need to know
- -The top three offensive guards were all out and the rookie offensive tackles both had rough games, which led to the Bengals dominating the trenches.
and Jalen Richard
split time in the backfield but the Raiders were unable to generate much of anything on the ground.
-The lone bright spot for Oakland was speedy backup tight end Darren Waller
, who had 66 yards on just two touches.
- -Jeff Driskel
had a rough day, sailing the ball over the heads of open receivers far too often.
was the Bengals offense. He again handled a massive workload (29 touches) and looked great doing it.
looked on his way to a big game but injured his knee and didn’t play the final two quarters. His season is likely over with a sprained MCL.
, Alex Erickson
, and Cody Core
will be asked to carry the load at wide receiver the rest of the way with both A.J. Green
and Tyler Boyd
QB Derek Carr
, 59 offensive snaps, Pass: 21 - 38 - 263 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rec: 1 - -9 - 0 (1 targets) - Carr has now started nine games since his last interception, though it took some luck to keep the streak alive. On one of his first pass attempts, he threw it straight into the chest of Bengals safety Shaun Williams for what should have been an easy pick six but Williams dropped it. Carr did have one turnover on the day, though it is hard to pin the blame on him for the strip sack. Bengals defensive end Sam Hubbard blew by left tackle Kolton Miller and drilled Carr from the blindside. Hubbard almost had a strip sack from the other side on the next possession. He hit Carr’s arm and knocked the ball out as Carr started to throw but it was ruled an incomplete pass. Pass blocking was a major issue all day for the Raiders. Miller struggled at left tackle and Oakland’s interior also had issues, which was understandable since the top three guards were all sidelined. On the day, Carr was sacked five times and hit another seven times. Carr threw a 1-yard touchdown off of play action to a wide-open Lee Smith
. He should have had a second touchdown when Jordy Nelson
was left all alone on a broken coverage. Carr put way too much air under the pass and didn’t lead Nelson, which forced him to slow down and come back for it. He made the catch and was tackled at the 7-yard line. It was good for a 44-yard gain but the Raiders were eventually forced to settle for a field goal on the drive.
RB Jalen Richard
, 30 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 9 - 0, Rec: 5 - 67 - 0 (6 targets) - One of the factors that has led to Richard not getting a lot of carries has been poor ball security. The problem reared its ugly head again against the Bengals. On a 2nd-and-3, Richard did a good job of churning his legs to push forward past the first down marker. However, while he was pushing for extra yardage, a Bengals defender was able to rip the ball loose and another Cincinnati defender recovered the fumble. Richard picked up 21 yards on a pair of catches in the final seconds of the first half with the Bengals in prevent defense. Richard blew by a linebacker in coverage on a wheel route to haul in a 32-yard reception.
RB Doug Martin
, 27 offensive snaps, Rush: 9 - 39 - 0 (1 targets) - Martin was adequate but there weren’t any highlights. His best gain of the day went for nine yards right up the middle. Martin was held to just nine touches, at least in part because the Raiders quickly fell into a 17-0 hole in the first half.
WR Jordy Nelson
, 57 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 88 - 0 (8 targets) - Nelson found himself wide open deep down the field due to a blown coverage by the Bengals defense. Carr put too much air under the ball, which forced Nelson to come back for the catch. It went for a 44-yard gain but the poor throw allowed a Bengals defender to recover and tackle Nelson seven yards short of the end zone. Nelson picked up 18 yards on a deep crossing route from the slot.
WR Seth Roberts
, 40 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - -2 - 0, Rec: 3 - 29 - 0 (4 targets) - Roberts had a 20-yard gain down the seam on a well-designed play. A fake toss to the running back fooled the Bengals linebackers and left the middle of the field wide open for Roberts.
WR Marcell Ateman
, 49 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 20 - 0 (5 targets) - A miscommunication between Ateman and Carr nearly led to a pick six on the opening possession. Carr expected Ateman to cut more to the inside and his route instead let the safety get between him and the quarterback for what should have been an easy interception that was dropped. Ateman caught a 12-yard pass on a slant route.
TE Darren Waller
, 9 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 21 - 0, Rec: 1 - 44 - 0 (1 targets) - Waller hadn’t touched a ball in an NFL game for over two years but made the most of his couple opportunities against the Bengals. He took a handoff on an end around for 21 yards, showing the speed that made him an intriguing prospect a few years ago before suspensions derailed his career. Waller nearly scored on his 44-yard reception. He caught a short crossing route about five yards down field and broke an attempted tackle to get loose. He sprinted down the sideline before a diving ankle tackle brought him down just inches short of the goal line.
TE Jared Cook
, 52 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 23 - 0 (5 targets) - Cook lined up outside one-on-one with a safety and ran a go route down the right sideline. He had a step on the defender but the throw was too far outside for him to make a play on the ball. Cook picked up 13 yards on a slant lined up wide out left versus safety Shaun Williams.
TE Lee Smith
, 7 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 1 - 1 (1 targets) - Smith scored a short touchdown for the third straight week. Primarily a blocking tight end, he had just four touchdowns in seven seasons prior to this three-week touchdown streak. His 1-yard score came off of play action and there wasn’t a defender within five yards of him in the end zone.
QB Jeff Driskel
, 80 offensive snaps, Pass: 14 - 33 - 130 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 7 - 32 - 0 - Driskel had his first really rough outing despite getting his first career win as a starter. His downfield passes were off all day long. Driskel had John Ross
open deep for what could have been a long touchdown in the first quarter. However, he under threw the pass, leaving it five yards too short and it was instead intercepted. Late in the first half, Driskel had Tyler Boyd
wide open for what should have been a 20-yard touchdown and again misfired badly. His balls were sailing high and he was simply off target most of the game. Driskel threw a strike on a slant route to Tyler Boyd
for a 7-yard touchdown for his only real highlight of the day through the air. He did at least make some big plays with his legs. Just inside the red zone and facing 3rd-and-8, Driskel was able to scramble for a 13-yard gain to setup a touchdown. He showed nice speed and even made a man miss to get the first down. On a later 3rd-and-10, Driskel outraced a defender to the edge and was able to tiptoe along the sideline for a 13-yard gain.
RB Joe Mixon
, 52 offensive snaps, Rush: 27 - 129 - 2, Rec: 2 - 1 - 0 (4 targets) - Mixon got off to a bit of a slow start on the ground but the Bengals were persistent in sticking with the run. It paid off. Mixon had a fantastic effort to break loose for a career-long, 47-yard gain. He made a man miss in the hole, bounced outside and weaved his way down the sideline. After the long gain, Mixon later finished off the drive with a 1-yard touchdown. Marvin Lewis decided to go for it on fourth down and Mixon rewarded his faith in the run game, burrowing through a small hole and keeping his balance to barely push across the goal line. Mixon took a toss sweep to the right and was able to get to the edge for a 15-yard touchdown. Mixon didn’t have much success as a pass catcher, gaining just one yard on four targets. He was targeted near the goal line but Driskel misfired badly on the short pass. Overall, it was another excellent effort for Mixon who was the clear focal point of the offense. The Bengals are now 6-1 this season when Mixon carries the ball 20 times or more.
RB Giovani Bernard
, 30 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 7 - 0, Rec: 2 - 25 - 0 (2 targets) - Bernard wasn’t able to get much going on the ground. He had a 6-yard run up the gut in the second quarter but aside from that, he managed just a single yard on his other five carries. Bernard lined up in the slot and took a crossing route for a 22-yard gain.
WR Tyler Boyd
, 39 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 38 - 1 (5 targets) - Boyd’s first catch of the day was a big one, keeping a first-quarter drive alive with a 7-yard gain on 4th-and-2. There wasn’t much separation but he was able to bring it in and hold on despite the defender being right there. Boyd has had a knack for coming up big on key plays this season. Later on the same drive, Boyd caught a post route for a 21-yard gain to put himself over 1,000 receiving yards for the season and set the Bengals up inside the Raiders 10 yard line. A few plays later, Boyd finished the drive off with a 7-yard touchdown catch on a slant. He was able to get inside positioning and hold on through contact and push his way across the goal line. Boyd was wide open for what should have been his second touchdown of the day. He ran a post corner route and had the cornerback all turned around but Driskel fired the pass well off the mark. Boyd injured his knee while blocking and didn’t play in the second half. His injury has been reported as a low-grade MCL sprain. However, with only two weeks left in the season and the Bengals eliminated from playoff contention, it could be a season-ending injury.
WR Alex Erickson
, 36 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 23 - 0 (5 targets) - Erickson had a solid game that could have been even better but for two John Ross
penalties that cost him yardage. One was a hold and the other a block in the back, that wiped out a long gain. Erickson also starred on special teams, with a 77-yard kick return putting the Bengals in position to ice the game. With Tyler Boyd
likely out for the season, Erickson should be a starter the rest of the way.
WR John Ross
, 73 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 3 - 0, Rec: 1 - 6 - 0 (5 targets) - The Bengals took a deep shot to Ross on the opening possession. He caught the ball but wasn’t able to get either foot down in bounds. Ross has to do a better job of holding his ground against bump and run coverage to give the quarterback some room to work with along the sideline. Cincinnati took another deep shot to Ross on their next possession. This time, Ross got behind the defense on a deep post and would have had a long touchdown if the ball was not under thrown. Instead, the poor pass was intercepted. Ross’ lone catch was a quick screen on third and long. Ross took a pitch on an end around for a short gain. Ross had a bad day as a blocker, with a block in the back on a big gain by Alex Erickson
especially costly. He also had a holding penalty on another Erickson catch. Ross couldn’t make a play along the side of the end zone on a crossing route. With the Bengals desperate for Ross to emerge, he continues to disappoint.
TE C.J. Uzomah
, 69 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 27 - 0 (5 targets) - Uzomah had a quiet day but did get open down the seam for a big 27-yard gain.
Philadelphia Eagles 30, Los Angeles Rams 23
What you need to know
- The Eagles rebounded from a tough divisional loss last week and losing Carson Wentz
for an impressive road win against the Rams. Philadelphia’s defense and key passing moments were driving forces for the victory. Nick Foles
took a host of big hits but delivered downfield to Alshon Jeffery
of note. The backfield is as dispersed as ever with Darren Sproles
gaining prominence by the week and Wendell Smallwood
seeing a collection of critical snaps in the red zone to soften Josh Adams
’ role. Zach Ertz
was held in check by the Rams despite seven targets.
Los Angeles Rams
- Jared Goff
remains in a funk, and the Rams' redzone offense performed extremely poorly. They left 8 points on the field in the first half, struggling to convert touchdowns inside the redzone and settling for field goals instead. They also remain sloppy in the penalty department. The Rams look like a team that peaked about six weeks too early.
QB Nick Foles
, 64 offensive snaps, Pass: 24 - 31 - 270 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 2 - 5 - 0 - Foles is back leading the Eagles offense with Carson Wentz
’s latest injury. Foles not only filled in admirably but was a driving force behind the Eagles’ road win against the Rams. Foles was bold in his decision making and connected on critical downfield passes. Foles was not without his mistakes, however, adding a momentum-shifting interception in the fourth quarter to allow the Rams back in the game and nearly throwing two other interceptions earlier in the game. Foles also overthrew Zach Ertz
on a wide open touchdown opportunity. Foles showed a quality rapport with Alshon Jeffery
as more than half of Foles’ yardage was through Jeffery and Foles had a bold confidence in targeting Jeffery in contested situations.
RB Josh Adams
, 24 offensive snaps, Rush: 15 - 28 - 1 (1 targets) - Josh Adams
was the lead back by title early in the game but heeded critical snaps and touches to both Darren Sproles
and Wendell Smallwood
in the red zone and later in the game, a growing trend in recent weeks. Adams faced tough defensive looks in the first quarter and was stuffed on third and fourth down short yardage situations as well in the first half. Adams logged a goal line touchdown, but only had one other run of note the entire game, powering through contact for a mere eight yards. Adams’ lack of passing game involvement and Smallwood and Sproles being central red zone options both siphon Adams’ upside going forward.
RB Wendell Smallwood
, 20 offensive snaps, Rush: 10 - 48 - 2, Rec: 2 - 9 - 0 (2 targets) - Smallwood’s 12 touches marked his highest total since back in Week 6 as the Eagles’ backfield turned into a full three-headed amalgam in Week 15. Smallwood was active in the red zone with two touchdowns through contact and exploiting multiple other runs for 10 yards with outstanding blocking. Smallwood also had a nine-yard run called back by penalty. Smallwood was the hot hand over Josh Adams
as the game progressed and rose in involvement this week with the season-ended injury to Corey Clement
RB Darren Sproles
, 20 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 30 - 0, Rec: 3 - 16 - 0 (4 targets) - Sproles continued his progression into the Eagles’ offense with high efficiency on his six touches, totaling nearly 50 yards. Sproles as effective on delay rushing attempts, exploiting a Rams defense lurching upfield in the red zone as Sproles zipped past them. Sproles topped the running backs in targets against the Rams and looks to have his same top-end foot frequency dating back to before his injury.
WR Alshon Jeffery
, 64 offensive snaps, Rec: 8 - 160 - 0 (8 targets) - Jeffery was the highlight for the new look Eagles offense with Nick Foles
at quarterback. Jeffery led the team in targets and collected more than half the team’s receiving yardage as Zach Ertz
was firmly held in check by the Rams. Jeffery’s chemistry with the bold-throwing Foles was sublime as Jeffery corralled all four of his deeper targets from Foles. Jeffery exceled in high-point opportunities, including a deep underthrow by Foles as he was hit on the play but Jeffery came back to the pass to seize it from the defensive backs. Jeffery also had a reception called back in the game. The only thing missing from Jeffery’s big game was a touchdown opportunity as all of Jeffery’s big plays were in the middle of the field without after-the-catch angles to take one to the end zone.
WR Golden Tate
, 22 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 43 - 0 (5 targets) - Tate rebounded from an invisible Week 14 performance for a solid game in Week 15 against the Rams. Tate nearly scored on a red zone screen as his best touchdown opportunity and was generally held in check otherwise for after-the-catch yardage. Twice Tate was stopped short of the sticks on third down receptions. Nick Foles
clearly favored deeper throws towards Alshon Jeffery
this week, a tempering sign for Tate to close season as an ancillary option in the Eagles passing game.
TE Zach Ertz
, 59 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 22 - 0 (7 targets) - Despite seven targets Ertz was silenced for a second straight game, this time by the Rams. Ertz’s two big play opportunities was coming open in the end zone but Nick Foles
notably overthrew Ertz for the touchdown and catching a seam pass in the end zone which was knocked out at the last moment by a defensive back. Ertz was limited to three short receptions and a drop by Ertz late in the game nearly ended up as an interception. While Ertz is on pace to break the single-season tight end receptions record in 2018, his past two games have been the least productive stretch of the year for Ertz.
TE Dallas Goedert
, 39 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 12 - 0 (2 targets) - Goedert was active early in the game against the Rams with two receptions, including a third down conversion. However, Goedert turned into a bystander for the Eagles passing game, not seeing a target for the rest of the game. The two targets marked the lowest total for Goedert since Week 10.
QB Jared Goff
, 76 offensive snaps, Pass: 35 - 54 - 339 - 0 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 2 - 11 - 0 - Jared Goff
is struggling, plain and simple. His throws outside the numbers lack velocity and accuracy. Defenses are committing to taking deeper drops at the second level and leaving just checkdowns open for the Rams. Goff did lead the Rams' touchdown drive in the first quarter, but it featured almost all checkdowns and short throws (Gurley capped the drive off with a five yard run). He was intercepted on the Rams' first drive of the second quarter ñ a deep comeback to Josh Reynolds
that was thrown too far inside, allowing the corner to break on the ball and intercept it. He led a solid hurry up to close out the first quarter, moving the ball to the 18 yard line with 20 seconds remaining. The drive ended with three consecutive 9 routes to Josh Reynolds
, none of which were really in play for the receiver to make the catch. The drive again ended in a field goal. Goff continued to mostly live on checkdowns in the second half. His second interception of the day was downright inexcusable, and will live on in NFL Films blooper reels for eternity. His center stepped on his foot, causing Goff to fall and fumble as the play began. He recovered his own fumble ñ but instead of taking the loss and living to see another down, he got up and tried to throw the ball away. He ended up lightly tossing the ball to an Eagles defender as he was wrapped up and being tackled. In the fourth quarter, he had a potential touchdown pass to Josh Reynolds
overturned, with the ball being placed a the one yard line. It was Goff's best throw of the day, a post route right on the money.
RB Todd Gurley
, 63 offensive snaps, Rush: 12 - 48 - 2, Rec: 10 - 76 - 0 (13 targets) - Despite getting stuffed for a four yard loss on his first carry, Gurley did well churning out positive yardage on inside runs early in the game. Eventually, game script turned on the Rams, and he ended the day will only 12 carries. He capped off a touchdown drive in the first quarter with a five yard inside run. He carried the Rams down the field on the drive following Goff's first interception. However, a Robert Woods
OPI penalty killed the drive and ended it with a field goal. Gurley stayed involved even when the game script got out of hand, finishing with 10 catches and 76 receiving yards ñ both team highs. He scored his second touchdown of the game on a one yard run after the officials overturned a Josh Reyolds touchdown catch and ruled him down at the one-yard line.
WR Robert Woods
, 76 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 19 - 0, Rec: 7 - 74 - 0 (9 targets) - He's clearly the best receiver on the Rams, but he isn't capable of carrying a passing game and struggling quarterback by himself. He killed a potential scoring drive in the second quarter by getting called for offensive pass interference while blocking for a Brandin Cooks
screen pass. The penalty was a killer - moving the Rams from 1st and 10 at the 14 to 1st and 20 at the 24 yard line. The drive stalled and ended with a field goal.
WR Brandin Cooks
, 76 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 59 - 0 (7 targets) - Cooks got very little deep action in this game, as Jared Goff
continues to struggle in that area. He caught a bunch of crossers and screens. He did have one intermediate target in the Rams' two minute drill on a deep comeback, which he successfully caught and got out of bounds to stop the clock.
WR Josh Reynolds
, 75 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 70 - 0 (12 targets) - Reynolds is performing admirably, but the Rams clearly miss Cooper Kupp
. Reynolds' production has been fairly steady, but it's clear that defenses don't really fear leaving him in single coverage and don't devote extra attention to him. They'll continue to do so until he and Goff make them pay for it. Reynolds was the recipient of a barrage of Goff targets in the redzone to close out the first half. The Rams were out of timeouts, but it was a really questionable sequence of playcalling. The routes were all well-covered and none of the throws were in play. He had a touchdown catch late in the fourth quarter that was overturned, with the referees ruling that he was down at the one yard line.
New Orleans Saints 12, Carolina Panthers 9
What you need to know
New Orleans Saints
- It may not have been pretty, but a win is a win at this point in the season. The Saints are a step closer to sealing home field advantage and a first round bye to start the playoffs after a comeback win against their division rival. The Panthers jumped out to an early lead on a Christian McCaffery 50-yard touchdown pass on a 4th down trick play, and the Saints struggled to finish their own drives. The offense seemed to move the ball freely in the first half but could not close the deal in Panther territory with touchdowns. Mark Ingram
started strong and then gave way to Alvin Kamara
in the second half. A disastrous 2-point conversion attempt was intercepted and returned for 2 points for the Panthers, and a fumble in the red zone at the end of the game gave the Panthers a chance to go down the field and try to win the game. The defense was able to hold off the frenzied final attack and the Saints moved to 12-2 on the season. There is still a tough road ahead with home games against the Steelers and Panthers again to close out the season, but a loss by the Rams gives the Saints some margin for error for the number 1 seed. Drew Brees
struggled in this one and threw an interception for the 4th straight game and did not throw a touchdown for the first time this season.
- A hobbled Cam Newton
crippled the Panthers offense and forced them to play with one arm tied behind their back. Newton's ailing right shoulder meant, like the past few games, that he was unable to test the Saints downfield. The offense lacked any vertical element and Christian McCaffrey
became a much bigger factor as a result. The second-year back tossed his first touchdown pass as a Panther, as well as providing quality touches as a runner and receiver. The receivers were barely involved, though rookie D.J. Moore
provided a splash play, dashing between the tackles on a designed run before being caught from behind and having the ball knocked out. Devin Funchess
was a non-factor, his only target resulting in an interception. After a strong outing against Cleveland, rookie tight end Ian Thomas
was an afterthought, with passes in his direction often falling short of their mark.
QB Drew Brees
, 74 offensive snaps, Pass: 23 - 35 - 203 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 2 - -2 - 0 - It has been a rough 3 game stretch for Brees and today was the worst of the 3. He threw an interception for the 4th straight game after being nearly perfect to start the year and he failed to throw a touchdown pass for the first time this season. Brees also struggled with accuracy and missed on a season high 12 throws this week. He was bailed out by a smothering defense and a run game that was able to do just enough to pull out the win. The longest play of the day was a 28-yard pass to Watson up the seam followed by a 21-yard streaking Kirkwood across the middle. Brees and Thomas had their usual connection (7 of 9 targets) but the yardage and touchdowns were just not there this week. Brees interception came just over mid field when he tried to take a shot down the field to Dan Arnold
. The backup tight end got his hands on the ball, but it was knocked free as he was going to the ground and intercepted by a trailing defender. Brees also threw an interception on a 2-point conversion play where he targeted Thomas on a quick out and the route was jumped and returned 100 yards for 2 points the other way. These stats do not count towards the official line and Brees ended his day with just the single interception. The team continues to win despite the struggling Brees. There is the outside chance that he gets a breather down the stretch if they have wrapped up the number 1 seed. Brees will face a Steelers defense that just got done shutting down Tom Brady
and the Patriots next weekend.
RB Alvin Kamara
, 47 offensive snaps, Rush: 14 - 67 - 1, Rec: 7 - 36 - 0 (9 targets) - This game would have had a much different ending had it not been for Kamara in the second half. The Saints rode Ingram heavy in the first half and found success moving the ball but could not find the end zone. It was Kamara who finally broke that trend with a little over 12 minutes left in the game to give the Saints the lead. He took the ball 16 yards off the right tackle for the touchdown. It was a pure speed run as he bounced to the outside and simply outran the poor angle of the defender to the end zone. Where Kamara really set himself apart from Ingram this week was in the passing game. He tied Thomas for the team lead with 9 targets and 7 receptions. He was never truly able to break free and was tackled almost immediately on almost every throw. His longest reception this week went for 11 yards. With 23 total touches this week, Kamara finally saw the volume he was getting at the start of the season. Ingram is always going to be there taking away carries, but Kamara is still the better option out of that back field going forward.
RB Mark Ingram
, 33 offensive snaps, Rush: 12 - 63 - 0, Rec: 2 - 11 - 0 (2 targets) - It was setting up to be a big game for Ingram in the first half until the Saints changed gears after half time and featured Kamara almost exclusively. Ingram had the longest play on the ground with his 22-yard rumble, but the success seemed short lived as the Saints were trailing late in the game. The game plan in the second half was much more pass heavy and that caters more to Kamara out of the back field. Ingram caught both of his targets for 11 yards, but that production was met by Kamara on a single reception. There seems to be no traditional roles for either back this season as it has changed from game to game. Usually Ingram is the short yardage and goal line back while Kamara is the pass catching change of pace back. The Saints are finding that Kamara can do it all and there is a chance that Ingram is in a different uniform next season.
WR Michael Thomas
, 69 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 49 - 0 (9 targets) - It was a very quiet game for the entire Saints receiving core and it all started with Thomas. Despite catching 7 of his 9 targets, he failed to surpass 50 yards receiving. Brees struggled mightily this week and there was not much Thomas could do to bail him out. The Saints did a great job doubling him early and then an even better job wrapping him up and tackling on the passes that did get completed. Thomas' longest catch of the night was 12 yards and he was never able to break free. He was the target on the failed 2-point conversion play where Brees just did not see the crashing defender. Thomas ran a quick out route and it was undercut by the corner and returned 100 yards for 2 points the other way. There was nothing he could do on the play as Brees just made the wrong decision on where to go with the ball. Thomas has done all the heavy lifting for the receiving core this season and will need more help on the opposite side to help open things back up for him. A matchup with Joe Haden and the Steelers next week may be just what he needs to break the slump.
WR TreQuan Smith
, 46 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 15 - 0 (4 targets) - It was a very quiet game for Smith against the Panthers this week. He caught 2 of his 4 targets and failed to surpass 20 yards. He has been a boom or bust candidate all season and has been on the bust side of things a lot more recently with the passing game struggling. There is a chance that Ted Ginn
comes back from his knee injury for the playoffs and that will more or less put Smith out of business in the offense. There has been no clear second across from Thomas this season and the Saints may have to look outside the organization in the off season to fill that role. Smith's longest catch of the night was 9 yards and he did not play a major role in this one.
TE Ben Watson
, 32 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 28 - 0 (2 targets) - It was a very slow day for Watson again this week. He was still 4th on the team in receiving yards and did not have any tight ends ahead of him on the list, but he still only had a single reception. Watson caught a 28-yard pass down the seam for a big first down but was quiet the rest of the game. The Saints ran a similar play later in the game where Brees threw his interception, but it was Dan Arnold
on the receiving end instead of Watson. The Saints struggled in the red zone this week and neglected to use Watson at all. The passing game has struggled in recent weeks and Watson has not done much to help it. He is still a very valuable weapon that is just not being used right now.
QB Cam Newton
, 58 offensive snaps, Pass: 16 - 29 - 131 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 5 - 15 - 0 - Cam Newton
produced one of the lowest passing yardage totals of his career in a forgettable performance that confirmed just how serious his shoulder injury could be. After a nice downfield dagger to Curtis Samuel
on a deep dig route, Newton winced with pain - and it wasn't clear whether it was due to the shoulder or the sandwich of Saints players that had just hit him. Newton favoured short passes from that point on, allowing the Saints to key on the receivers and prevent quick completions. Newton was able to connect with Christian McCaffrey
consistently, but the rest of the passing attack was non-existent as Newton threw several balls off the mark. Newton's footwork was poor at times, resulting in off-target passes on simple plays. Some designed runs were built into the offense, but Newton was generally only able to gain ground when the play broke down. His interception was back-breaking for the offense, coming on an end zone target to Devin Funchess
at the end of the first half. The cornerback established excellent position on Funchess and played the lofted ball well as it came into his coverage area. Newton had a final opportunity to drive the team down the field in the fourth quarter, but a pair of incomplete passes - with the Saints bringing pressure - put paid to any comeback hopes.
RB Christian McCaffrey
, 58 offensive snaps, Pass: 1 - 1 - 50 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 15 - 53 - 0, Rec: 8 - 67 - 0 (11 targets) - With Cam Newton
's injury in the spotlight, it was Christian McCaffrey
who assumed the mantle as the offensive spearhead. Offensive coordinator Norv Turner relied heavily on McCaffrey early and the young back delivered, running tough between the tackles and showing excellent vision and patience. McCaffrey was responsible for the Panthers' lone touchdown pass of the game. The fourth down play saw McCaffrey run towards right tackle as if he was ready to carry the ball, only for him to pull up and toss a beautifully lofted pass to Chris Manhertz
, who did the rest. McCaffrey absorbed some punishing hits from the Saints defense, who played close to the line of scrimmage, knowing that Newton's arm would not be able to test them deep. McCaffrey even lined up as a receiver late in the game, bamboozling a defender on a hitch route. McCaffrey provided a safe pair of hands on multiple check down passes for Newton, consistently splitting defenders for chunks of yardage.
WR Curtis Samuel
, 55 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - 8 - 0, Rec: 1 - 17 - 0 (4 targets) - Curtis Samuel
was a non-factor in the passing attack as Cam Newton
struggled to cope with his ailing right shoulder injury, so the young player was utilised as a runner instead. However, the Saints were wise to the threat and snuffed out a reverse and a shotgun carry for minimal yardage. His targets in the passing game were wide of the mark, though he managed to haul in a pass on a low throw from Newton over the middle on a dig pattern.
WR Jarius Wright
, 36 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 21 - 0 (4 targets) - Jarius Wright
provided a reliable target between the hashes on a handful of catches, even corralling a low pass from Cam Newton
that looked certain to be an incompletion. Wright was unable to shake a tackle in the two-minute drill at the end of the game, getting hogtied by a Saints defender.
WR D.J. Moore
, 57 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 22 - 0, Rec: 2 - 12 - 0 (3 targets) - A victim of the offensive struggles, D.J. Moore
showed excellent strength and determination on a slant pass, catching the ball before bouncing off a defender and extending for the first down marker. Moore appeared to have nothing but green grass ahead of him on an inside handoff that was well blocked and well designed. However, after breaking through the line of scrimmage, the Saints defenders chased him down and popped the ball out just as he was increasing his speed. New Orleans recovered the ball and stifled any Carolina momentum.
WR Devin Funchess
, 11 offensive snaps (1 targets) - The entire passing game suffered due to Cam Newton
's injury, but no player was affected more than Devin Funchess
. His lone target came on a critical play at the end of the first half, an end zone shot with Funchess lined up wide to the right. The defensive back established excellent position on Funchess, walling him off and pushing him towards the sideline, but Cam Newton
released the pass anyway. The interception was a fait accompli as the ball appeared to lose velocity in the air.
Houston Texans 29, New York Jets 22
What you need to know
- The tight end group was on the field but opportunities did not come their way with TE Ryan Griffin
and TE Jordan Thomas
getting the bulk of the snaps.
With RB Lamar Miller
’s ankle injury, RB D’Onta Foreman could possibly see time on the field to back up Alfred Blue
. Coach Bill O’Brien opened the door for a potential return for Foreman but everything seems contingent on Miler’s health.
WR Keke Coutee
will remain a game time decision and it appears it might not be until the playoffs that he will be seen again. Coutee’s hamstring issue has been a concern all season and they are making sure he is potentially ready for the most important parts of the season.
New York Jets
- What you need to know: From a dynasty perspective, Sam Darnold
is beginning to make his Fantasy GMs happy, as he has looked very good the last few weeks, notable also because you can see the lack of weapons he has. Robby Anderson
and tight end Chris Herndon
are also looking like good long-term prospects, and all three are not-horrible desperation plays. The Jets are playing for pride and hanging in there in games, which allows them to have some fantasy upside as we close the season.
QB Deshaun Watson
, 53 offensive snaps, Pass: 22 - 28 - 294 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 4 - 26 - 0 - The efficiency of Deshaun Watson
should not be looked over after completing 78.6% of his passes against the New York Jets. His completion percentage continues to climb and this week he focused on his wide receiver group. Watson was dialed in on his deep throws connecting with DeAdnre Hopkins for 27 and 45 yards and Demaryius Thomas for 20. Hopkins was the beneficiary of Watson with him dialing in and giving him chances to make plays. On his 45-yard bomb to Hopkins, Watson waited for him to split the safeties and then it was Hopkins who did the rest. In the 4th quarter alone, Watson was 9 of 10 for 90 yards and he threw the game winning touchdown to Hopkins on a jump ball fade that saw Hopkins go over the defensive back to make another impressive highlight reel catch. Watson also hit wide receiver DeAndre Carter
beating a blitz from the Jets that turned into a 50-yard catch and run. Watson has improved as a passer but he is still leaving yards on the field when he is pressured from defensive backs blitzing him. Watson was also the Texans leading rusher with 26 yards and had the longest run of the game with a 24-yard designed run around the right side.
RB Alfred Blue
, 41 offensive snaps, Rush: 9 - 6 - 0, Rec: 2 - 9 - 0 (2 targets) - With Lamar Miller
down, the Texans turned to Alfred Blue
to carry the workload. Just like Miller earlier in the game, there was not much there for Blue in the running game. He had 9 rushed for 6 yards and two receptions for 9 yards. It was the lowest rushing output of the season for the Texans and Blue had zero room to work with on Saturday.
RB Lamar Miller
, 11 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 8 - 0 - It was a down day for Lamar Miller
. Not only was he held to 3 rushed for 8 yards but he was injured in the 1st quarter after he was tackled by two Jet defenders. Millers leg was caught under the defenders and the team called it an ankle injury. He did not return to the game after he exited with his injury.
WR DeAndre Hopkins
, 51 offensive snaps, Rec: 10 - 170 - 2 (11 targets) - DeAndre Hopkins
was able to get back on track and take advantage of a Jets defense that felt they could play Hopkins one on one in coverage. He put up 10 receptions for 170 yards and two touchdowns which were 14 and 45 yard receptions. His 45 yard touchdown catch came with him splitting the Jets safeties and the other came on a jump ball where he went over the defender to make the grab. Hopkins continues to show he can eat up yards after the catch and that has been a plus for the veteran wide receiver.
WR Demaryius Thomas
, 47 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 59 - 0 (8 targets) - His stats are not saying it but Demaryius Thomas
is getting open and it is just a matter of Deshaun Watson
getting him the football. Thomas had 6 receptions for 59 yards with his two longest receptions for 20 and 27 yards. On his 27-yard receptions, he caught a comeback put a move on the defensive back and turned back inside to put up some yards after the catch. Then on his 20-yard reception, he improvised on a broken play and worked up field and snagged a low pass from Watson to pick up a key first down. Thomas is getting his chances but it is up to Watson to get him the football so he can work.
WR DeAndre Carter
, 32 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 7 - 0, Rec: 2 - 55 - 0 (3 targets) - The Texans have inserted Carter as their primary slot player and he continues to make plays. He started off with an end-around rush for 7 yards and then his biggest reception came on a 50-yard catch and run from the slot. Carter is speedy option and has shown that the Texans trust him to be on the field.
QB Sam Darnold
, 75 offensive snaps, Pass: 24 - 38 - 253 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 6 - 35 - 0 - For the second week in a row, rookie Sam Darnold
looked really good, hitting just over 63 percent of his passes and averaging 10.54 yards per completion. The completion percentage is significantly higher than his overall year average of 55.5 percent, although slightly down from the 66.7 he notched last week against the Bills. The Jets are seeing a significant improvement in their first round pick, and not just in terms of statistics. Darnold is making better decisions, and being more careful with the ball. While he still dodges some bullets when defenders drop a pass that should have been an interception, those are less frequent. He did spend a ton of time scrambling behind an offensive line suffering from shoddy play again this week, but for the most part he showed a great deal of ability to extend the play with his legs until a receiver came open or he could gain some yardage himself. Darnold was a big factor in the Jets coming back at the end of the first half and the beginning of the second as he orchestrated two sharp drives capped off with a touchdown each time. The first time, on a score to Robby Anderson
, Darnold had to step up through the offensive line to buy time to throw the ball. Darnold showed excellent field awareness, making sure he didn’t cross the line of scrimmage and delivered a perfect pass to Anderson along the back of the end zone. The second throw was to Andre Roberts
on a 3rd-and-5 from the Houston 13 yard line. Darnold had plenty of time and saw Roberts shake his coverage a little with a double move. Darnold short-armed the pass a little, so it ended up behind the receiver just a little, but Roberts adjusted and made a nice catch. Perhaps his best throw, however, was to tight end Chris Herndon
in the fourth quarter to extend a drive on a long third down. On the play, Darnold was flushed from the pocket and ran to his right, eyes downfield the entire time. He could have run for a couple of yards, but would have been well short of a first. Instead, he saw Herndon downfield with a man covering him along the sideline. He needed to make a pinpoint thrown in order to put the ball over a defender’s head while also keeping it away from the coverage along the sideline, and he did so, giving his tight end a nice pass for a big gain.
RB Elijah McGuire
, 56 offensive snaps, Rush: 18 - 42 - 1, Rec: 3 - 29 - 0 (4 targets) - With Isaiah Crowell
out for the season, Elijah McGuire
has taken over the starting running back roll, and he was serviceable against a tough Houston front. He showed a great deal of determination on his short touchdown run in the fourth, which put the Jets ahead for a while, continuing to pump his legs and try to force his way forward in the face of a swarming defense. He got a little help from a literal offensive line push, but if he hadn’t kept forward momentum before the line started pushing him, the refs would have whistled the play dead. Unfortunately, McGuire fumbled the ball on the Jets 45-yard line, which the Texans converted into a 45-yard DeAndre Hopkins
touchdown reception. Aside from that, McGuire did OK against a tough defense, and added some nice work as a receiver as well but he needs to work on his ball security.
RB Trenton Cannon
, 23 offensive snaps, Rush: 7 - 13 - 0, Rec: 3 - 24 - 0 (4 targets) - Cannon saw just a handful of carries compared to Elijah McGuire
, who certainly has a stranglehold on the starting job. Like McGuire, Cannon made some noise as a receiver, and extended a couple of drives doing that, but unlike McGuire, he couldn’t make any headway at all against the Houston front seven.
WR Robby Anderson
, 71 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 96 - 1 (11 targets) - For the second game in a row, Anderson found the end zone and was a consistent weapon for the Jets, even when the throw wasn’t a mile downfield. He made two big catches that stood out beyond the others, as well as a massive mistake that overshadowed his whole day. He did a great job continuing to move and find space while quarterback Sam Darnold
scrambled to keep the play alive, and made a nice catch when the rookie spied him along the back of the end zone. He also made a tremendous sideline grab where Darnold was scrambling to Anderson’s side of the field, and had to throw it high in order to get the ball over the defense. Anderson did a mice job going up and aggressively grabbing the ball for a big gain. He had the chance to do it again on a drive to win the game in the fourth quarter but dropped a ball he should have caught. Anderson continues to be a roller coaster, making nice grabs and then dropping balls he should have caught, but it’s clear Darnold trusts him enough to use him early and often.
WR Andre Roberts
, 29 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 16 - 1 (4 targets) - Roberts continues to mostly be a special teams player, but he has had to be more involved in the offense due to the long list of injuries the Jets have had to deal with at the position. His biggest play was on a touchdown in the early third quarter. On the play, he ran a nice double move against the Houston secondary, gaining a few steps on his coverage. Quarterback Sam Darnold
saw the opening the threw the ball, but it was short. Roberts saw that it wouldn’t be long enough though, and adjusted, making a nice grab while going backwards into the end zone.
WR Jermaine Kearse
, 62 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 9 - 0 (5 targets) - Kearse saw several targets but was well covered, and couldn’t haul more than a couple in. He was the target on a throw late in the game which went off the defender’s facemask, thbough Kearse didn’t seem all that motivated to fight for the ball.
WR Rishard Matthews
, 13 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 7 - 0 (1 targets) - Matthews continues to be no more than a warm body on offense, with very little involvement of depth on any given play. It seems very much like if he is targeted, it means Sam Darnold
TE Chris Herndon
, 52 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 53 - 0 (4 targets) - The rookie tight end is on the field more than any other tight end, and fourth most overall in the offense behind Elijah McGuire
, Jermaine Kearse
and Robby Anderson
. His target total doubled from last week’s effort against the Bills, and it’s evident that he has fellow rookie Sam Darnold
’s trust even if it doesn’t always translate to massive totals. This week Darnold looked for him on a 3rd-and-8 while scrambling. Herndon’s route gave him just a little separation from his coverage along the sideline, with another defender underneath him. Darnold trusted his tight end would go up and get the ball, and threw it over the first defender. Herndon made a leaping grab to extend the drive, which would result in a touchdown run by Elijah McGuire
to give the Jets their first and only lead of the game.
TE Eric Tomlinson
, 26 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 11 - 0 (1 targets) - Tomlinson had a nice catch for a first down, but was primarily in as a blocker for the Jets on offense, and worked special teams as well.
TE Jordan Leggett
, 26 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 8 - 0 (1 targets) - Leggett made a nice catch on a 1st-and-15 near the end of the second quarter but was only on the field 35 percent of the offensive plays and even then, usually only as a blocker.
Green Bay Packers 17, Chicago Bears 24
What you need to know
Green Bay Packers
- The Green Bay Packers lost to the Chicago Bears 24-17, to drop their record to 5-8-1 on the year. Aaron Rodgers
completed 25 of 42 passes for 274 yards, with no touchdowns and one interception. Running back Aaron Jones
rushed four times for eight yards before getting injured in the 1st quarter and missing the rest of the game. Jamaal Williams
came on in relief and rushed 12 times for 55 yards and a touchdown, while also catching four passes for 42 yards. Davante Adams
caught eight passes for 119 yards, while Randall Cobb
caught three passes for 30 yards. Tight end Jimmy Graham
caught three passes for 32 yards.
- This was a very typical Bears win in December as it was a grind it out type performance from the Bears relying heavily on possession and their defense to win the game instead of big plays. In the passing game, the Bears took a different approach than they have the last few weeks in that they did not even try to throw the ball downfield instead relying on short high-completion passes from Trubisky to move the ball through the air. The Bears for the third week in a row remain committed to the run after Jordan Howard
had struggled for much of this season. While Howard was not overly effective against the tough Packers' run defense, he did see 19 carries as the Bears tried to wear down the Packers defense and keep the Bears defense fresh on the sidelines.
QB Aaron Rodgers
, 68 offensive snaps, Pass: 25 - 42 - 274 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 3 - 25 - 0 - Aaron Rodgers
completed 25 of 42 passes for 274 yards, with no touchdowns and one interception. Rodgers also rushed three times for 25 yards. This marked the first game of the season that Rodgers failed to throw for a touchdown, which was extremely disappointing considering his 274 yards passing was his highest total in the last four weeks. Rodgers interception, which came on a third and goal—with 3:07 left in the game-- from the Bears nine yard line with the Packers down 24-14, ended his NFL record streak of 402 passes without an interception. The interception happened due to Rodgers throwing a frozen rope to Jimmy Graham
in the middle of the end zone, and Graham was unable to corral the catch, which ricocheted off his hands and into the waiting grasp of the Bears Eddie Jackson. This game was a classic case of Rodgers being slightly off the mark, and his receivers—with the exception of Adams—being unable to help him or make plays on their own. When Rodgers is on, he can make his receivers look great, but when he is not, the Packers struggle to move the ball. It did not help Rodgers cause that Jones went down in the first quarter with an injury, taking the explosive ground element out of the Packers play book. Rodgers 42 attempts was his fifth highest total of the season, and his second highest since week nine. Rodgers day could have been a lot bigger day, but he missed for what is to him a routine throw to Marquez Valdes-Scalding deep down the field. If Rodgers was able to just get the ball to Valdes-Scalding it would have one for a 70+ yard touchdown. Jimmy Graham
and Randall Cobb
both committed some bad drops, with Cobb’s being especially brutal, but to his credit Rodgers also overthrew him on a deep ball where Cobb had burnt his man down the field. Rodgers was under intense pressure all day from the Bears defensive line and linebackers, who sacked Rodgers four times on the day, including 2.5 by Khalil Mack. The Bears secondary also did a good job, recording an interception and eight pass deflections.
RB Jamaal Williams
, 59 offensive snaps, Rush: 12 - 55 - 1, Rec: 4 - 42 - 0 (5 targets) - Jamaal Williams
rushed 12 times for 55 yards and a touchdown, while also catching four passes for 42 yards on five targets. Williams came into the game in relief of the injured Jones and was surprisingly effective against a fearsome Bears defensive front. Williams has not impressed this season, averaging 3.7 yards per carry, after averaging 3.6 yards per carry in 2017. Williams started the season atop the depth chart and looked slow and heavy-footed, struggling to get through the line and into the second level of the defense. As the season progressed though, Williams seemed to gain back some of his quickness, which could be a function of him receiving less volume. Williams touchdown came with the Packers facing a first and goal from the Bears 10 yard line. Rodgers took the snap under center and handed off to Williams running an off-tackle right. Williams got a good block on the edge, and then made on cut before accelerating to the goal line untouched. While it was encouraging to see Williams excel in Jones absence, the aforementioned play is jarring if you have been watching Jones play the last 12 weeks. It feels as though Williams is running in slow motion, and even his cut seems very deliberate compared to Jones’ smooth style. Williams can be very good in the passing game, so the fact that he will receive a heavy workload and be the preferred option on all three downs and in the red zone, gives him instant credibility as a flex option in week 16, against a Jets defense that has struggled to stop running backs.
RB Aaron Jones
, 7 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 8 - 0 - Aaron Jones
rushed four times for eight yards in the Packers loss to the Bears on Sunday. Jones was injured on the Packers second possession and never returned to the game. Jones injury is believed to be a sprained MCL, but that has not been confirmed. He had the same injury last year against the Bears and it cost him a couple games but considering there is only two weeks left in the year, it makes little sense for the Packers to rush Jones back when they are out of the playoff hunt. It has been a breakout year for Jones, and he will most certainly head the Packers backfield next year and look to build on his impressive 2018 season.
WR Davante Adams
, 64 offensive snaps, Rec: 8 - 119 - 0 (13 targets) - Davante Adams
caught eight passes for 119 yards on 13 targets in the Packers loss to the Bears on Sunday. Once again, Adams led the Packers in receptions and yards, and his eighth catch in this game marked his 100th reception on the season, shattering his previous career high of 75 reception set in 2016. Adams currently has 100 catches for 1315 yards and 12 touchdowns, which are all career highs for the fifth year wideout. He has only four games this year without a touchdown catch, and in those four games, Adams has gone over 100 yards receiving in three of them, while catching eight passes for 81 yards in the other. While Adams failed to score a touchdown, he did get in the end zone on a two point conversion. Following Williams touchdown run, Adams lined up out wide on the left, with Equanimeous St. Brown
lined up in the slot on the same side. St. Brown ran a quick route directly to the left sideline, which created a pick for Adams to sneak around. The play worked beautifully as the Bears completely lost track of Adams, however it took Rodgers more time than it should have to look for Adams, who was sitting wide open just over the goal line. Adams made several nice catches in this game, however none more impressive than the 28 yard gain that set up Williams touchdown run. With the Packers facing a third and eight from the Bears 48 yard line, Adams was lined up on the far left hash-mark. Rodgers took the snap in shotgun and did not even bother to look anywhere else but for Adams who was running a straight go-route down the field. Adams dusted Prince Amukamara off the line with his patented stutter step, out-in-out fake. Rodgers threw a dime but it was from a weird ¾ angle and the direction of the ball came forward and out in front of Adams, but also from a sideways angle which made it a much more difficult catch than it looked like initially. Adams was able to go up top and make the catch, although it moved in his hands as he was making the grab, but ultimately he secured the ball and set up Williams touchdown run, which came two plays later.
WR Randall Cobb
, 47 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 30 - 0 (7 targets) - Randall Cobb
caught three passes for 30 yards on seven targets in the Packers loss to the Bears on Sunday. Cobb continues to be the Packers second most targeted wide receiver, but Cobb has yet to really capitalize on those targets. This game was no different as Cobb had an especially bad drop that could have padded his stats a bit more, but he was also overthrown on a deep ball that would have completely changed his statistical outcome for the game. Cobb is a hard fantasy asset to peg after a game like this, as he could have easily had five catches for 100 yards and a touchdown. Cobb’s seven targets were second on the Packers and he played on the majority of the snaps before getting hit and sustaining a concussion in the fourth quarter. Cobb has entered the NFL’s concussion protocol and with the Packers having three rookie wide receivers pining to play, it will come as no surprise if they choose to shut him down for the rest of the season.
WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling
, 21 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 12 - 0 (2 targets) - Marquez Valdes-Scantling
caught one pass for 12 yards on two targets in Sunday’s loss to the Bears. Valdes-Scalding has become an afterthought in the Packers offense after putting together a nice string of games in the middle of the season. To Valdes-Scantling’s credit, he was wide open streaking down the field in the fourth quarter, and Rodgers just made a terrible throw that cost Valdes-Scantling a 76 yard touchdown. It was the type of play that the two had hooked up on several times this year, and it would have made both fantasy relevant players on a down Sunday. With the exception of that play though, Valdes-Scantling did not see another target besides his 12 yard catch, and has now started splitting the #3 job with St. Brown (three targets) and Jake Kumerow
TE Jimmy Graham
, 47 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 32 - 0 (5 targets) - Jimmy Graham
caught three passes for 32 yards on five targets in the Packers loss to the Bears on Sunday. Graham’s five targets were tied for third on the team with Williams. Unlike Cobb or Valdes-Scalding, Graham’s routes were limited to the short area of the field. With the Bears bringing constant pressure on Rodgers, Graham had to do a bit more blocking than he is used to. Unfortunately for Graham, his most memorable play in this game (and one that will be used as a trivia question years from now) was his drop in the end zone that clanked off his hands and into the waiting grasp of the Bears Eddie Jackson. The interception was the first time in 402 attempts that Rodgers had been picked off, and it was Graham’s rock hands that will go down as the reason that Rodgers streak was snapped.
QB Mitchell Trubisky
, 60 offensive snaps, Pass: 20 - 28 - 235 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - 16 - 0 - The game plan for the Bears for much of this game was to throw short passes and run the ball as Trubisky had thrown for five interceptions over his last two games. Trubisky played a game manager type role in this game and played it well as the Bears moved the ball efficiently through the air. By not taking as many deep throws as what we have seen in the past, Trubisky was able to find more open receivers downfield when they did throw vertically as he found Trey Burton
wide open in the end zone for a 13-yard pass which was his only downfield completion longer than 10 yards. This could be a sign of things to come as Trubisky has simply been too inconsistent throwing longer than 10 yards and has struggled all year throwing more than 15 yards downfield.
RB Jordan Howard
, 34 offensive snaps, Rush: 19 - 60 - 1, Rec: 1 - 15 - 0 (1 targets) - The Bears had very little success running the ball in this one, but the best sign for Jordan Howard
was they remained committed to it. Howard saw 19 carries in this game and while he did not have a carry longer than 9 yards, he made his longest carry of the day count. Howard in the first quarter was able to get the Bears on the board with a nine-yard touchdown run in which they pulled Trey Burton
from the right side of the line to the left side of the line which created a huge hole for Howard to run through.
RB Tarik Cohen
, 38 offensive snaps, Rush: 5 - 21 - 0, Rec: 5 - 31 - 1 (6 targets) - While the amount of touches for Cohen has decreased since Mitchell Trubisky
has taken back over for Chase Daniel
, Cohen remains a big part of the Bears game plan on a week-to-week basis. Cohen was inconsistent on the ground as he had four carries for a loss of one yard, but was able to make up for that on a 22-yard carry in which he just used his speed and elusiveness to cut back and simply out-run linebackers who had an angle on him. The Bears did try to use Cohen out of the Wildcat formation in this game which ended up being a disaster between him and Jordan Howard
on a read-option play in which Cohen tried to pull the ball way too late leading to a fumble. In the passing game, Cohen found the end zone late in the second quarter on a check down play in which he amazingly outran safety Kentrell Brice who had an angle on Cohen.
WR Taylor Gabriel
, 46 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 33 - 0 (3 targets) - Taylor Gabriel
has fallen on hard times recently as his role in this offense continues to diminish. With just three targets this week, Gabriel who had a defined role as a vertical speed player with Allen Robinson
out is now being asked to run routes very similar to Tarik Cohen
which are speed horizontal type routes. Gabriel is still a nice complimentary role player as defenses have to respect his speed every time he is on the field, but he has turned into a third or fourth option in the passing game for this Bears team.
WR Allen Robinson
, 46 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 54 - 0 (7 targets) - Allen Robinson
's size gave the Packers issues in this game as he was matched up against Jaire Alexander for most of the game. While the Bears were unable to connect with Robinson on any deep throws, Robinson made the most of it as he was able to turn a 5-yard hitch route into a 30-yard gain as Alexander was unable to tackle the much larger Robinson. Robinson only had one target longer than 10 yards in this game which ended up incomplete along the sideline, and this could be a sign of things to come as the Bears just do not have confidence in throwing the ball deep and are going with a horizontal passing attack instead of a vertical one.
TE Trey Burton
, 46 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 36 - 1 (7 targets) - The Bears utilized the excellent matchup that Trey Burton
had with a speed advantage over the Packers linebackers who are better run defenders than coverage linebackers. Burton saw seven targets in this game and for most of the game he was running slants and in-routes, but in the fourth quarter, the Bears called an excellent corner route to the outside which fooled the defense and left Burton wide open for his first touchdown since Week 9. Burton is going to continue to be utilized as a possession type player on a week-to-week basis so his upside remains limited, but it was good to see him get into the end-zone this past week.
Cleveland Browns 17, Denver Broncos 16
What you need to know
- The Browns pulled off another surprising victory, edging the Broncos 17-16 in Denver. Baker Mayfield
didn't play perfectly as he struggled with his accuracy at times, mostly on rushed throws thanks to Denver's pass rush. That being said, he made big plays when needed and was helped out by safety Jabrill Peppers. Peppers intercepted Case Keenum
in the end zone in the second quarter and sacked Keenum on fourth down on Denver's final drive of the game, one that had game-winning potential had they gotten into field goal range.
- Denver played with a severely depleted secondary after losing CB's Brendan Langley to a concussion, Jamar Taylor to an ejection, and Bradley Roby to a mouth laceration(Chris Harris and Isaac Yiadom were already inactive). Dymonte Thomas intercepted Baker Mayfield
at the end of the 1st half. Derek Wolfe recovered a strip-sack fumble in the 3rd quarter, ending a 9 minute drive by the Browns. Von Miller broke Denver's franchise record for sacks during the contest.
QB Baker Mayfield
, 67 offensive snaps, Pass: 18 - 31 - 188 - 2 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 4 - 6 - 0 - Denver's pass rush got pressure on Mayfield throughout the game which forced him to rush some passes. That played a big part in many of the inaccurate throws that he uncorked during the win. Mayfield did turn in plenty of excellent passes, as well. His 31-yard touchdown pass to Breshad Perriman
capped off his team's first drive of the game. It was an excellent pass and catch which saw Mayfield put the ball in perfect position for Perriman to reach over the defender to high-point the ball. After that drive the Cleveland offense sputtered a few times with Mayfield missing some throws. Mayfield took a few end zone shots on the first drive of the second quarter, missing a closely-covered Perriman on a play that could have been pass interference on the defense and then rushing a throw to David Njoku
which sailed over the tight end's head. Cleveland had to settle for a field goal on that drive. One of Mayfield's worst decisions of the game resulted in an interception at the end of the second quarter. Mayfield made a poor choice and forced a deep pass down the middle to a closely-covered Jarvis Landry
. The ball sailed high and right into the arms of a Denver defender. In the third quarter, Mayfield lost a fumble on a strip sack. He was trying to get the pass out but his arm came forward without the ball, resulting in the turnover. Mayfield's final touchdown came on a short, two-yard slant to Antonio Callaway
. He did a good job of waiting for the safety, who was following his man in the opposite direction, to clear out of the way before firing a strike to the rookie wideout for the score. Mayfield's play has breathed new life into a long-dormant Cleveland franchise, although at this point of his career, he's a better quarterback in real-life than he is in fantasy.
RB Nick Chubb
, 40 offensive snaps, Rush: 20 - 100 - 0 (1 targets) - Chubb struggled early in the game against a tough Denver run defense but he eventually managed to wear them down as the game went on. Most of Chubb's first half carries were stopped for minimal gains, outside of a 12-yard run in the second quarter where he used his power to break a tackle. Things picked up for Chubb in the second half. On the second drive in the third quarter it appeared Chubb had a 35-yard run but the play was nullified by an offensive holding penalty. He followed that lost play with a bad drop on a very catchable ball. That play would have gone for seven yards, minimum, had he made the catch. Chubb bounced back in the fourth quarter, ripping off a 40-yard run to the left. He showed his speed on the run to get past the first wave of defenders. The Browns leaned heavily on Chubb to ice the game, handing him the ball seven times on eight plays on their final drive. Chubb showed well in what was one of his tougher matchups since becoming Cleveland's full-time starter.
RB Duke Johnson
, 26 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 28 - 0, Rec: 4 - 25 - 0 (5 targets) - Johnson saw his most extensive workload in a few games, totaling eight touches in the game. The Browns coaching staff seemed more inclined towards using Johnson than they had been in previous weeks. Johnson's first chance resulted in an incomplete pass. It wasn't a great throw from Baker Mayfield
as it was off-target, but Johnson did get hands on it. At the beginning of the second quarter, Johnson ripped off a 15-yard run up the middle. Most of his receptions came on short passes near the line of scrimmage, with his longest catch going for 10 yards. Johnson saw one red zone carry, which resulted in an eight-yard run, bringing the Browns down to Denver's eight-yard line. While this game was much better than his past few weeks, Johnson's weekly usage is likely to remain inconsistent.
WR Antonio Callaway
, 49 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 35 - 1 (7 targets) - Callaway's first two targets were incompletions as Baker Mayfield
threw too high for him on each. He made a nice play on his first catch, taking a short pass underneath and diving for a first down. In the third quarter, he picked up five-yard gains on consecutive catches. Callaway's longest catch was a 12-yard gain on a slant, but he counteracted that by picking up a taunting penalty after the catch. Callaway wound up scoring the game-winning touchdown early in the fourth quarter, connecting with Mayfield for a two-yard score on a slant route.
WR Jarvis Landry
, 57 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 37 - 0 (8 targets) - Landry got off to a fast start, catching a 19-yard pass on the first offensive play of the game for Cleveland. He was mostly quiet after that big play, however, seeing just two more catches. He did lead the team with eight targets, but many of his targets were uncatchable as Baker Mayfield
missed him high on several attempts. He came close to pulling in a one-handed catch in the first quarter but couldn't reel in a pass that was high and a little behind him. Landry was the intended target on Mayfield's second quarter interception. He was closely covered near the goal line but Mayfield targeted him anyway. The pass sailed over Landry's head for an easy interception for the Broncos defense. Landry did show strong hands on a 12-yard catch in the fourth quarter. On the grab, the defender had a hand in there trying to jar the ball loose, but Landry wouldn't allow it. His final catch was a red zone target from the Denver eight-yard line. He wound up bringing the ball down to the two-yard line on the play but several Broncos brought him down before he had a chance to reach for the goal line. Landry remains the team's top option in the passing game but Mayfield has been spreading the ball around to several receivers over the past few games, which has cut into Landry's volume.
WR Breshad Perriman
, 28 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 31 - 1 (2 targets) - Perriman appears to have found a home as a deep threat in Cleveland's offense. Beset by drops in Baltimore, Perriman flashed excellent hands on a first quarter touchdown reception. Perriman made an excellent catch on the 31-yard score, high-pointing the ball over top of the defender before falling backwards into the end zone. He later drew another deep target at the end zone but couldn't come down with the ball. He wanted a pass interference penalty called as there was some contact on the play. The officials did not agree. He was quiet the rest of the way, having a four-yard catch nullified by an illegal shift, which was called against him. He did make one mistake in the game, picking up an unnecessary roughness penalty away from the ball in the third quarter.
TE David Njoku
, 56 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 30 - 0 (5 targets) - Njoku turned in another quiet game, finishing with just three catches. As has been the case with Jarvis Landry
, Baker Mayfield
's tendency to spread the ball around has cut into Njoku's production. It seems like ages ago, but Njoku saw 23 total targets back in Weeks 5 and 6. His first catch was a big one as he went for a first down on a 3rd-and-13. He later saw a deep target down the middle of the field but the defender made a nice play to deflect the ball at the last minute. Njoku drew an end zone target early in the second quarter but Mayfield was rushed and threw way too high for Njoku to make the catch. In the third quarter, Njoku made a diving catch for a first down on 4th-and-three. His final catch was a five-yarder on 3rd-and-six. It appeared he stretched to get the first down but a bad spot coupled with inconclusive camera angles on the replay challenge forced the Browns to punt on fourth down instead of being awarded with a new set of downs. Njoku remains one of the top athletes at the position but his inconsistent usage has cut into his production this season.
QB Case Keenum
, 73 offensive snaps, Pass: 31 - 48 - 257 - 0 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 2 - 1 - 1 - Keenum and his depleted receiving core killed the Broncos with inaccurate passing and a couple of turnovers. The running game stalled out from the beginning of the contest, and Keenum proceeded to miss receivers all over the field. He was forced to run a touchdown in after the Browns sniffed out a play action pass attempt on the goal line in the 1st quarter. Keenum's receivers were bracketed in coverage, so he rolled out right and dove into the end zone for the score. Keenum was intercepted at the end of the 1st half as he launched a jump ball to Courtland Sutton
in the end zone between double coverage. He was under duress and the decision to throw was a bad one. Keenum chucked up another deep ball into double coverage later in the 3rd quarter, resulting in a second interception as he looked for Hamilton deep. Keenum peppered Hamilton out of the slot with a team-high 12 targets, followed by Patrick with 8, and LaCosse, Sutton, and Lindsay with 6 apiece.
RB Phillip Lindsay
, 39 offensive snaps, Rush: 14 - 24 - 0, Rec: 4 - 20 - 0 (6 targets) - It's hard to say if he's hit the rookie wall or if Denver's coaching staff is using him the wrong way, but Lindsay had another poor showing for the second week in a row. Lindsay's longest run of the day was an 11 yard tote right up the middle at the end of the 1st quarter.
Lindsay took a loss on his first target, a swing route out of the backfield that was snuffed out quickly by the defense. His second catch looked like the same play but managed to pick up a few yards later in the 1st. Lindsay caught a play action pass from the backfield for another short gain in the 3rd quarter. He picked up most of his receiving yards on a checkdown pass that he broke for a 16 yard gain right up the middle in the 3rd quarter.
RB Royce Freeman
, 18 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 7 - 0, Rec: 1 - 1 - 0 (1 targets) - Freeman was used sparingly, and couldn't muster much on his few touches. He got a carry from the 3 yard line but was stuffed at the line of scrimmage in the 1st quarter. Freeman caught one pass for one yard.
RB Devontae Booker
, 15 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 17 - 0 (3 targets) - Booker lined up as a WR and got a red zone target that he couldn't corral in the 1st half. He caught a checkdown pass for a 15 yard gain and another short pass to convert 4th and 2, keeping Denver's final drive alive in the 4th.
WR DaeSean Hamilton
, 72 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 46 - 0 (12 targets) - Hamilton drew a team-high 12 targets as he continued to fill in as Keenum's security blanket out of the slot. He made a nice catch on a pass that was thrown behind him on a 2nd quarter crossing route. He lined up in the right slot and connected with Keenum up the right seam later in the 2nd. Hamilton caught a swing route from the left slot for a short gain at the end of the 1st half. Hamilton had a step on his defender in the 3rd quarter, but Keenum overthrew him in the end zone for a potential touchdown. Hamilton hauled in another out route and turned it up the left sideline for a nice gain on the Broncos final drive.
WR Courtland Sutton
, 63 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 42 - 0 (6 targets) - Sutton appeared to be hampered by a leg injury, but managed to secure 5 of 6 targets total. His first target was a quick pass at the line of scrimmage that didn't go anywhere. Sutton drew defensive pass interference call in the end zone late in the 1st quarter on a deep ball from Keenum. Keenum found Sutton open on a deep curl route up the right hash for a solid gain to start the 2nd quarter. Sutton pulled in an out route to convert 3rd and 3 later in the same drive. Sutton made another highlight reel catch over a defender at the end of the first half, lining up wide left and beating his man up the left sideline again. Sutton remains behind Patrick and Hamilton for targets and yards.
WR Tim Patrick
, 51 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 65 - 0 (8 targets) - Patrick led the team in receiving yard again for the second week in a row since Emmanuel Sanders
' injury. Patrick lined up wide right and caught a quick curl with room to run in the 1st quarter. He followed it up with a beautiful back shoulder catch up the right sideline on the next play for a 15 yard gain. Keenum hit him on a short crossing route in the 2nd quarter for a minimal gain. Patrick had a bad drop near the end of the 1st half. His biggest play of the day was a shallow crossing route from the left WR spot that he broke up the right sideline for a 24 yard gain early in the 2nd half. Patrick caught a curl route and shook off a tackler for another nice gain later in the 3rd.
WR Andre Holmes
, 8 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 5 - 0 (1 targets) - New receiver Holmes played sparingly and picked up a few yards with a WR quick screen in the 2nd quarter.
TE Matt LaCosse
, 68 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 43 - 0 (6 targets) - LaCosse had a fairly productive week compared to his other outings since being elevated to the number 1 tight end spot. He converted 3rd and 10 with a play action crossing route in the 1st quarter. He picked up another first down with a strong run after the catch up the right sideline on a curl route in the 2nd quarter. LaCosse split out wide left and made a nice move on a quick slant later in the 2nd, picking up another gain. LaCosse pulled in one last target for a 14 yard gain up the right seam in the last minute of the 4th quarter.
TE Brian Parker
, 13 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 18 - 0 (2 targets) - Parker worked behind LaCosse as the number two tight end. He caught a short out route on play action and broke a tackle for a solid gain in the 1st quarter. He picked up a first down with an 11 yard catch and run on a curl route in the 2nd quarter.
Miami Dolphins 17, Minnesota Vikings 41
What you need to know
- After the Miami Miracle against the Patriots last week, the Dolphins were flattened by an angry Vikings team playing for their playoff lives. The Dolphins had an outside chance at the playoffs but needed a lot of help to make it happen. The Dolphins surrendered 21 straight points to open the game and only broke the streak on an interception returned for a touchdown. They briefly brought the game back to 17-21 before not scoring at all after their opening drive in the 3rd quarter. Frank Gore
left in the first quarter with an ankle injury and dashed any chance at having a 1,000-yard season. Kalen Ballage
had the best game of his career in relief but almost all of it came on a single 75-yard touchdown run. The offensive line had a horrible game and allowed 9 sacks on Tannehill. There is still a very small chance of a playoff berth with a lot of help and it all starts with a home game against the Jaguars next Sunday.
- At this point in the season, it is a must win situation for the Vikings every week. They accomplished their first goal this week by dismantling the Miami Dolphins. Despite the crushing losses to the Patriots and Seahawks in weeks prior, the Vikings still control their playoff destiny. They have to win out to take that final spot and will need to keep playing like today in order to do so. After firing the offensive coordinator last week, the game plan finally changed, and the run game was featured heavily. The 40 rushing attempts were a season high for the team and almost doubled the number of passing attempts. Dalvin Cook
looked every bit like the lead back they thought they had and the defense amassed 9 sacks in the dominating win. Kirk Cousins
was not asked to do too much this week and let the team around him play. Adam Thielen
did not have a major role in the offense this week, but neither did any of the other top receiving options for the team. Ty Conklin led all receivers with 53 yards and is pushing Kyle Rudolph
for playing time. The Vikings travel to the Lions next week before closing things out against the Bears at home in week 17. Both games are must win if they want to make the playoffs this season.
QB Ryan Tannehill
, 53 offensive snaps, Pass: 11 - 24 - 108 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - 1 - 0 - It was a very tough game for Tannehill this week. His offensive line let him down as he was sacked 9 times for a loss of 71 yards. He constantly had defenders in his face and it is amazing that he did not throw an interception. His longest play of the game was an 18-yard crossing route to Amendola. Tannehill's rhythm was thrown off this week due to the pressure from the Vikings and it showed with a completion percentage under 50%. After stepping up and making several big plays against the Patriots last week, Tannehill reverted this week and just could not make the plays. The Vikings are one of the best defenses he has seen all season and it showed. He is going to have another tough test against a Jacksonville secondary that is still one of the best in the league. It is going to be tough on Tannehill to close out the season, but they are must win games if the Dolphins want any chance at making the playoffs.
RB Kalen Ballage
, 26 offensive snaps, Rush: 12 - 123 - 1, Rec: 1 - -2 - 0 (1 targets) - After Brandon Bolden
stepped up last week against his former team, Ballage got his chance this week against the Vikings. After Gore went down in the 1st quarter it was Ballage that got the carries out of the back field. He led the team with 12 carries and ripped off the longest play for either team. Ballage took the ball off the right tackles for the 75-yard score. The Vikings had committed to the other side and there was no defender close to making the play. Outside of the big run, he had 11 carries for 48 yards and it was not enough to help keep the Dolphins in the game. As a team, Miami averaged 7.8 yards per carry, but it was not enough. Ballage does not figure to see a starring role next week, even if Gore is ruled out. Expect Drake to take control of the back field again when the game is closer and on the line.
RB Frank Gore
, 7 offensive snaps, Rush: 5 - 14 - 0 - It has been a great season for Gore despite splitting playing time this season. He had an outside shot at 1,000 yards, but an early exit in the first quarter due to an ankle injury will dash any hopes of that. Gore had 5 carries before that point with a long run of 10 yards up the middle. With the game out of hand already, the Dolphins elected to not try and force him back into the game with the injury. Gore was not targeted in the passing game at all and looks like he would not have been helpful the rest of the game. Ballage ripped off a 75-yard run and was more or less shit down outside of that. It was not a great day on the ground overall for the Dolphins despite the high average and over 100 combined yards. They made runs when it did not matter and could not finish drives when the game was close. Gore should be back next week unless the team finds the injury was more serious than it originally looked.
RB Kenyan Drake
, 28 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 6 - 0, Rec: 3 - 28 - 0 (3 targets) - With Gore going down early with an injury, you would think Drake would step in and take the reps. That was not the case this week as third string Kalen Ballage
stepped in. Drake was only given a single carry (6 yards) and caught all 3 of his targets in the passing game. It has been a frustrating season for Drake. He has taken a back seat to Drake after being slated as the lead back coming into the year. Then he finally gets his chance with an injury and is leap frogged. Drake still appears to be the back of the future for Miami, but they have not committed to him in recent weeks. He scored the miracle touchdown last week and did not carry any of that over to this week.
WR Danny Amendola
, 39 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 30 - 0 (8 targets) - The passing game was a nightmare for the Dolphins today. Amendola finally got looks from Tannehill today, but it was under duress. Tannehill attempted to get the ball out quickly and that threw off the rhythm with Amendola. The duo only connected on 3 of their 8 attempts this week. The 8 targets were his 3rd highest total of the season and he failed to reach 100 yards receiving again this week. Amendola has not surpassed 100 yards this season in any single game. His longest play of the game was a crossing pattern where he caught and ran for 18 yards. It was the longest play through the air for the Dolphin passing game. The Vikings did a great job tackling and none of the receivers were able to break free for the big play. Amendola is going to draw another tough game against the Jaguars next week.
WR Kenny Stills
, 51 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 17 - 0 (3 targets) - The frustrating season for Kenny Stills
continues. After finally breaking free against the Patriots again last week, he was shut down again this week against the Vikings. Stills caught 1 of his 3 targets for 17 yards. It came too little too late in the game as the Dolphins had already gone down 21-0. Stills has been an enigma all season. He will have a big game with over 100 yards and a touchdown and then games where he only manages a single reception. A tough matchup against Jacksonville next week will most likely continue the frustration for Stills.
WR DeVante Parker
, 19 offensive snaps (1 targets) - Another game and another single target for Parker. This week he did not even manage to catch is lone target. The Dolphins have been frustrated with Parker during his entire tenure in Miami. He has shown flashes of his high draft position but cannot sustain that success. Parker has the size and speed to be the best receiver in Miami but does not seem to fit their system. Look for Parker to be in a different uniform next season.
QB Kirk Cousins
, 69 offensive snaps, Pass: 14 - 21 - 215 - 2 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 5 - 7 - 0 - It was not a banner day for Cousins, but you would not know that from looking at the final score or if you had watched the first 3 drives of the game. The Vikings roared out to a 21-point lead with Cousins and the run game clicking. Cousins kicked things off with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Diggs. It was a play action pass with Cousins rolling to his right. Diggs broke free of his man in the end zone and it was an easy pitch and catch for the score. It looked to be a broken coverage by the Dolphins with Diggs as wide open as he was. Things started to unravel a bit in the second quarter with Cousins throwing an interception that was returned for a touchdown. He targeted Diggs on a quick screen play and Minkah Fitzpatrick jumped the route and returned it 50 yards for the touchdown. This brought the Dolphins back to within striking distance, but the Vikings turned it on and never looked back. Cousins added a 40-yard touchdown pass to Robinson deep down the middle of the field. The 2-high safety look back fired when Cousins was able to find Robinson directly down the middle in the void between the 2 safeties. It was one of the best throws he made all day. Cousins was not very accurate this week (66%) and had a turnover, but the defense and the running game was able to carry them to victory. He will have another game against the Lions to try and work things out before an all-important showdown with the Bears defense in week 17.
RB Dalvin Cook
, 42 offensive snaps, Rush: 19 - 136 - 2, Rec: 1 - 27 - 0 (2 targets) - It just took getting a new offensive coordinator for the Vikings to take the training wheels off Cook. He exploded with 163 combined yards this week and 2 impressive touchdowns on the ground. The offensive line did a much better job blocking for him and the play calling opened up all sorts of holes. Cook's first touchdown was of the 13-yard variety and he showcased his speed to the edge for the score. After bouncing to the outside, he outran the poor angle taken by the defender for the score. The second touchdown really put the game out of reach in the 4th quarter. After turning the Dolphins over on downs, Cook took a routine handoff up the middle. He was met at the line and spun away from the poor tackle of the defender. From there he sprinted 21 yards into the end zone and capped off his already amazing day. He added 27 yards on his lone reception on a swing pass down the sideline. Cook showcased his speed, power, and elusiveness this week in a dominating fashion. It was his best game of the season and is coming at a time when the Vikings desperately need it.
RB Latavius Murray
, 27 offensive snaps, Rush: 15 - 68 - 1 - It can be tough to have enough carries to go around, especially when the lead back is hot, and the team has not featured the run all season. However, that was not the case this week as Murray still had 15 carries and scored a touchdown. He averaged a little over 4.5 yards per carry and still looks to be the go to back in short yardage situations. Murray seems to have an increased role in the new Viking offense, but it is a very small sample size so far. His biggest play was an 18-yard rush off tackle for the touchdown. He was not touched until well into the secondary and all that required was a stiff arm to a diving defender. Murray showcased his speed and vision on the impressive touchdown run. This put the Vikings up 21-0 at the time and they never looked back.
WR Stefon Diggs
, 55 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 9 - 0, Rec: 4 - 49 - 1 (7 targets) - With Thielen struggling, Diggs stepped up this week for the Vikings. He led the team with 7 targets and 4 receptions. He was only a few yards behind Conklin for the team lead. His longest catch of the game was 17 yards, but the most important was his 13-yard touchdown. Diggs kicked off the scoring with one of his easiest touchdown catches of the season. The play action fake from Cousins go the defense to bite and a blown coverage left Diggs all alone in the end zone. Cousins rolled to his right and found Diggs all alone in the corner of the end zone. It was a perfect play to set the tone for the entire game for the Vikings. Diggs also did a great job blocking down field for Cook and Murray out of the back field and proved his all-around worth. The Viking offense looked good under their new coordinator this week but will have tougher tests in the next 2 weeks.
WR Aldrick Robinson
, 15 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 44 - 1 (2 targets) - It was not an overly impressive game for Robinson this week, but he did step up and make a big touchdown catch. The Vikings were fading a little in the second half. Cousins had thrown an interception returned for a touchdown going in to half time and the defense gave up a 75-yard touchdown run to open the second half. In steps Robinson who made a 40-yard touchdown catch to stop the bleeding. He split the defense right down the middle of the field and caught a perfectly thrown ball by Cousins. He only had 1 other catch for 4 yards in the game but came up with the big touchdown when it mattered. Robinson has a ton of chemistry with Cousins from their days in Washington and could be a sneaky weapon for the Vikings down the stretch.
WR Adam Thielen
, 63 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 19 - 0 (2 targets) - After the spat with Belichick and then calling out the play calling in recent weeks, Thielen needed to have a big game to show that he was not all talk. Unfortunately, that did not happen this week and Thielen continues to struggle. He only saw 2 targets this week and caught both of them for less than 20 yards. This week, no receiver really stepped up and had a big game. Diggs and Robinson both had touchdown catches but did not reel off big yardage totals. The run game was working so well this week that Thielen was just not needed. Teams should not forget about what he did earlier in the year or they are going to get burned. Thielen is still a dangerous weapon in this offense and a lot is going to come down to the game plan put in by the new coordinator. The flow did not play to the strengths of Thielen, but that can easily change in the coming weeks. Look for a better showing and a more balanced attack next week against the Lions.
TE Kyle Rudolph
, 51 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 23 - 0 (3 targets) - With the new offensive coordinator taking control, we had to wonder if Rudolph was going to see a bigger role. That was not the case this week and he actually lost targets to backup Ty Conklin. Rudolph had the same number of targets, 1 more catch, but 30 fewer yards than Conklin this week. The run game imposed its will in the red zone and took away the best part of Rudolph's game. There is still the chance that the success of the run game will open up more play action passes for Rudolph, but Cousins will have to actually throw him the ball. It has been a frustrating season for the big tight end, but he needs to step his game up down the stretch if the Vikings want to have any playoff success.
Seattle Seahawks 23, San Francisco 49ers 26
What you need to know
- As the 49ers began to stifle the passing attack, the Seahawks seemed to “take what they could get”, resorting primarily to throws to the RBs, rather than attacking them downfield. In part, this was playing to their strength, as the ground game was strong all day, with Chris Carson
dominating the touches. But it also kept the game closer than it perhaps needed to be, and in the end, they fell on the wrong side of it in OT. Of note in the passing game: Wilson was quietly accurate and efficient, though he slowed considerably in the second half; and Doug Baldwin
appears to be picking up steam, with two TDs, which makes four for him in his last four games played.
San Francisco 49ers
- It's official: Dante Pettis
has taken Marquise Goodwin
's job. Nick Mullens
is able to (mostly) execute the pass offense as called by Kyle Shanahan. The offensive line, especially on its interior, needs to do a better as run blockers, as Matt Breida
(and Josh Wilson) had little-to-no running room for most of the game, especially up the middle.
QB Russell Wilson
, 75 offensive snaps, Pass: 23 - 31 - 237 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 5 - 15 - 0 - Overall, Wilson played his game, patient and efficient, right to the end. He showed a nice touch with the ball, and good rapport early on with Lockett and Baldwin, for big plays, including two TDs to Baldwin. On the first, Wilson layed up a perfectly time fade pass in the back corner of the end zone; and the second was a vintage Wilson-Baldwin hookup in traffic, that Baldwin then took for the score. Their 4th scoring hookup in as many games, it screamed “They’re ba-aack!” as Baldwin punctuated the play with a flying leap to cross the goal line. Wilson’s downfall – i.e.: what held him back from a better game was the fact that on many play action plays, he would look up to see a defender in his face, which led to a number of quick throw-aways. Rather than continue to throw it downfield, the Seahawks took what they could get, in the form of passes in the backfield, which made up for more than half of the total completions. Particularly in the second half, the passing game ground to a halt, as Wilson only threw for 87 of his 237 total yards. He did look light on his feet when taking off on read option plays, but never broke free for a big gain.
RB Chris Carson
, 39 offensive snaps, Rush: 22 - 119 - 1, Rec: 6 - 29 - 0 (6 targets) - Carson ran well all game, controlling the line of scrimmage with ease on most plays. Runs to the left were particularly well blocked, and he did a great job maneuvering through the holes he was given. Not only did he dominate the touches in the ground game, but added to his repertoire this week was six catches. The Seahawks seemed to resort to passes out of the backfield for much of the game, and Carson proved up to the task, despite the presence of Mike Davis
, who got even more work in that area. The one black mark on Carson’s game is the fact that in OT, he was completely stuffed on the first two plays from scrimmage, which led to a Seattle punt, and the eventual loss on the ensuing 49ers drive.
RB Mike Davis
, 33 offensive snaps, Rush: 5 - 21 - 0, Rec: 8 - 63 - 0 (8 targets) - With Rashaad Penny
out, Davis got close to his early season workload – with a twist. Carson was running well, so Davis did not get many carries; instead, he led the team with eight receptions on the day. He actually looked quite good on his limited carries, but will continue to play second – or third, fiddle, if/when Penny returns. His production will be hard to predict.
WR Doug Baldwin
, 61 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 77 - 2 (6 targets) - After sitting last week out with an injury, Baldwin came back with a score on the first drive, on a nicely timed fade pattern from six yards out. Despite a little rust, the rapport was still there with Russell Wilson
, who placed the ball perfectly on his fingertips in the back corner of the end zone. He also looked good on a low, diving catch over the middle. And later in the half, Baldwin seemed rejuvenated – almost his old self – as he found a pocket in the zone downfield, caught the ball cleanly, and then outmaneuvered three close defenders before extending the ball as he flew over the goal line in mid-air.
WR Tyler Lockett
, 68 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 11 - 0, Rec: 2 - 45 - 0 (2 targets) - Lockett had a very nice catch on the first drive, down the sideline and caught over his shoulder for a big gain. And then he went silent. Well, not entirely, but that catch would account for more than half of his total. With a healthy running game, and Russell Wilson
often having to throw the ball away quickly on passing plays, the targets simply weren’t there for Lockett.
WR David Moore
, 58 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 9 - 0 (3 targets) - Moore’s woes continued, as he now has only one catch over the past three games. Meanwhile, Doug Baldwin
seems to be back on track. Moore has had his moments this season, but overall has not been able to establish himself as a reliable starter. I think we can do the math here.
QB Nick Mullens
, 62 offensive snaps, Pass: 20 - 29 - 275 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 2 - -2 - 0 - Mullen's box score stats show a good performance, but the game film shows more of a mixed bag. In terms of screwing up a great play call, Mullens overthrew a wide-open George Kittle
on what should have been a 71-yard touchdown. In terms of not screwing up a great play call, Mullens hit a wide-open Garrett Celek
for a touchdown pass, which also benefited from safety Tedric Thompson's slip and fall on the wet turf. More mundanely, Mullens made a picture-perfect throw to Dante Pettis
on a go route and dealt with pass rush pressure better than usual when Seattle sent blitz after blitz in the fourth quarter and overtime.
RB Matt Breida
, 45 offensive snaps, Rush: 17 - 50 - 0, Rec: 5 - 46 - 0 (5 targets) - Breida's pedestrian performance on paper was also a pedestrian performance on film. His gains as a receiver were due to either well-executed screen passes or being wide open in the flat. As a runner, there simply wasn't much running room all game, such that even Walter Payton
wouldn't have gained much more than the 50 yards Breida did. It should be said, however, that Breida's hard running and cut-back ability turned a handful of 1-to-4-yard gains into 5-to-8-yard gains.
WR Dante Pettis
, 57 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 83 - 0 (5 targets) - The primary memory of Pettis among people who watched this game live is likely going to be him being the beneficiary of a suspect pass interference call that, for all intents and purposes, resulted in San Francisco's game-winning field goal. But his performance was so much more than that, as it cemented the truth of what has been written in this space the past several weeks. First and foremost, with a healthy Marquise Goodwin
once again being relegated to the bench despite Pierre Garcon
's absence, it's now abundantly clear that Pettis present and future in this offense is to play the Goodwin role, not the Garcon role. Second, he once again demonstrated a beyond-his-years adroitness for route-running against both man-to-man and zone. As the former is far tougher, it's worth noting that, on his 30-yard catch in the fourth quarter, Pettis subtly faked an inside move out of the slot that created more than enough separation from cornerback Shaquill Griffin on his go route.
WR Kendrick Bourne
, 46 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 16 - 0 (4 targets) - Bourne, who once again started for Pierre Garcon
, had a performance that was defined by two plays in the middle of the field. On the positive play, he ran a shallow cross out of the left slot and made a spectacular, death defying catch on the type of throw announcers and fans label "The quarterback was trying to get him killed." While that play could have been much worse for Bourne, his negative play could have been much worse for the 49ers had they lost. On 3rd-and-10 with the game tied late in the fourth quarter, Bourne ran a deep dig route from outside right and was wide open. Nuck Mullens tossed a perfect ball despite getting clobbered as he threw, but Bourne flat out dropped it, thereby giving Seattle a chance to win in regulation.
TE George Kittle
, 59 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 51 - 0 (8 targets) - At first glance, it appears Kittle underachieved against the Seahawks. It turn out, however, that perception would be much different if one play had gone differently. Early in the second quarter, Kittle ran a post route from a flexed left position. Single-high safety Tedric Thompson, initially shaded towards Kittle's side of the field, was late to react to the route flipping to the other side of the field. Meanwhile, linebacker Austin Calitro reacted quickly, but was too far upfield to get back in time. All this resulted in Kittle being wide open for a no-doubt 71-yard touchdown, but Nick Mullens
ever so slightly overthrew him.
TE Garrett Celek
, 17 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 61 - 1 (2 targets) - Celek didn't play more snaps than he usually does (around 30 percent as a blocking tight end), so he only warrants mention because one of his receptions produced San Francisco's longest gain of the game. It should not come as a shock that it was less an individual feat than perhaps the easiest touchdown Celek has scored in his career. Lined up in a three-point stance next to right tackle Mike McGlinchey, Celek ran a seam route uncovered through Seattle's zone. And after he caught the pass 16 yards downfield, safety Tedric Thompson -- Seattle's last line of defense -- slipped on the wet turf, thereby allowing Celek an uncontested (lumbering) jaunt into the end zone.
Detroit Lions 13, Buffalo Bills 14
What you need to know
- Detroit’s offense struggled in a loss to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. Without Bruce Ellington
, the passing game revolved around Kenny Golladay
who had his best game in recent weeks. Golladay was able to make several contested catches along the perimeter, but there were few other receiving threats to help Matthew Stafford
. Zach Zenner
drew the start over LeGarrette Blount
and took over the goal line duties on Detroit’s second trip to the red zone, converting a short touchdown.
- Buffalo beat Detroit in a low scoring game at home. The game script was great for Josh Allen
, as Buffalo’s defense was able to contain a depleted Detroit offense, which allowed Allen to make a handful of big plays to win the game. Allen rushed for a touchdown and hit Robert Foster
on a long touchdown pass. Foster and Allen have developed a strong rapport in recent weeks, with Foster topping 90 yards in 4 out of the last 5 games. Foster’s deep speed and Allen’s big arm complement each other well in an offense that is more exciting than years past. Keith Ford
led the Buffalo rushing attack with LeSean McCoy
and Chris Ivory
both inactive, and starter Marcus Murphy
dislocating his elbow in the first half.
QB Matthew Stafford
, 57 offensive snaps, Pass: 22 - 29 - 208 - 1 TD / 0 INT - Matthew Stafford
continued to be plagued by a lack of weapons in the passing game against Buffalo. Stafford leaned heavily on Kenny Golladay
, throwing several balls his way in tight coverage along the perimeter where Golladay was able to make plays. Outside of Golladay, there are few passing game weapons to help Stafford, especially with Bruce Ellington
missing the game. Stafford did manage a red zone touchdown, a beautifully threaded pass to the back of the end zone to Andy Jones
. Stafford also missed T.J. Jones
up the seam and benefitted from a dropped interception across the middle of the field. Stafford could benefit from the return of Ellington and Kerryon Johnson
next week against Minnesota.
RB Zach Zenner
, 26 offensive snaps, Rush: 10 - 45 - 1, Rec: 3 - 0 - 0 (4 targets) - Zach Zenner
ran as the starter against Buffalo, after finishing strong last week against Arizona. Zenner ran with better explosion and burst than LeGarrette Blount
, which was a good upgrade for the Detroit offense. Zenner can run on the interior and get to the edge of the defense as well as contribute in the passing game. LeGarrette Blount
received two carries inside the five-yard line in the first half but was stopped for no gain on each. On the next drive, Zenner got an opportunity for carries inside the five-yard line and scored a touchdown. His first carry was initially ruled a touchdown but overturned on review, but Zenner was able to convert on the next play for a touchdown. Kerryon Johnson
remains the starter in Detroit, but Zenner will likely draw another start next week if Johnson misses the game against Minnesota.
RB Theo Riddick
, 25 offensive snaps, Rush: 8 - 47 - 0, Rec: 2 - 9 - 0 (3 targets) - Theo Riddick
saw expanded use in the running game against Buffalo and had several successful interior runs. Riddick nearly scored a touchdown on an interior run where he broke into the second level of the defense and was barely tripped up inside the 5-yard line. While Riddick was used more in the running game, his passing game usage dropped with only two short catches on three targets, despite slot target Bruce Ellington
missing the game. Riddick will face Minnesota next week.
RB LeGarrette Blount
, 11 offensive snaps, Rush: 7 - 9 - 0 (1 targets) - LeGarrette Blount
was replaced as the starting running back by Zach Zenner
against the Buffalo Bills. Blount still saw seven carries, including two inside the five that were stopped for no gain. On the next drive, Zach Zenner
was able to convert his opportunity at the goal line into a touchdown. Blount was largely ineffective, including a miscommunication on a handoff that nearly resulted in a fumble. Blount is trending in the wrong direction heading into his week 16 matchup against Minnesota.
WR Kenny Golladay
, 52 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 146 - 0 (8 targets) - Kenny Golladay
had his best game since becoming the lead WR in Detroit. Golladay was targeted early with a crossing route for a chunk gain that started his day on a good note. Golladay continued his positive momentum, catching three deep catches in contested coverage, including one that should have been intercepted. Golladay also drew a defensive holding, but the play was offset by an offensive penalty. His success was largely a result of Matthew Stafford
’s willingness to throw balls that relied on Golladay’s ability to make contested catches. Golladay continues to struggle to separate on perimeter routes but succeeded by making multiple tough contested catches on targets he has not seen in recent weeks.
QB Josh Allen
, 68 offensive snaps, Pass: 13 - 26 - 204 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 9 - 16 - 1 - Josh Allen
was able to make enough plays against the Detroit Lions to win a low scoring affair. The game is the type of script where Josh Allen
can succeed: good defensive play to keep games close with Allen making a handful of deep throws and plays with his legs to win. Allen started the game well, leading an early scoring drive where he finished the drive with a scramble for a rushing touchdown. Allen made multiple reads across the field on the play before resorting to scrambling, a development in his passing skills from earlier in the season. Allen later threw a long touchdown to Robert Foster
on a deep over route. He has been making better decisions as a thrower, avoiding the big mistakes he made earlier in the season for turnovers. Allen had a shot for more through the air, including a beautifully thrown corner route that drew a defensive pass interference which set up Allen’s rushing score. He also overthrew Deonte Thompson
on a deep throw which Thompson could have scored on and made a throw to Zay Jones
who could not make a contested catch on the play. Allen had less success on the ground this week, as the Lions played more zone and kept spies around the line of scrimmage to keep Allen from running. The Bills play New England next week, so expect a similar type of game plan as their former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia used this week.
RB Keith Ford
, 41 offensive snaps, Rush: 14 - 46 - 0, Rec: 1 - 7 - 0 (1 targets) - Keith Ford
took over after Marcus Murphy
left with an injury. Ford was elevated from the practice squad this week and saw an extended opportunity with LeSean McCoy
and Chris Ivory
both missing the game with injuries. Ford is a bigger back and Buffalo used him on simple interior run schemes. Ford struggled when forced to change direction on interior runs but was serviceable running north and south. He also caught a pass in the flat from the slot and made a nice play to elude a defender on a screen pass that was called back by penalty. Ford will face New England next week, but the status of McCoy and Ivory is critical to watch during the week.
RB Marcus Murphy
, 19 offensive snaps, Rush: 11 - 35 - 0 - Marcus Murphy
started for the Buffalo Bills against Detroit, with LeSean McCoy
and Chris Ivory
both missing the game against Detroit with injuries. The running back position for Buffalo is hazardous, as Murphy left the game with a dislocated elbow. Prior to his injury, Murphy was the lead back including an unsuccessful carry inside Detroit’s 5-yard line. Murphy was not targeted in the passing game. His dislocated elbow will likely threaten his season with only two weeks remaining.
WR Isaiah McKenzie
, 35 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 4 - 0, Rec: 6 - 53 - 0 (7 targets) - Isaiah McKenzie
saw a team high in targets and led the Bills in receptions against the Detroit Lions. McKenzie has been developing a more expanded role in the offense and showed a good rapport with Josh Allen
while working the middle of the field. McKenzie was able to make a catch in tight coverage across the middle and made a man miss on a screen pass. McKenzie fell and looked to suffer a non-contact injury on a punt return but returned to the game. He will look to continue his strong play next week at New England.
WR Robert Foster
, 57 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 108 - 1 (5 targets) - Robert Foster
continued his recent stretch of good play against Detroit. Foster got open on a deep crossing route for a long touchdown on what turned out to be the game winning touchdown. Foster has developed into a good deep threat for Buffalo, catching another deep crossing route, a deep corner, and nearly scoring a second touchdown on a corner route. Foster was open on the play but dragged down inside the five-yard line on a defensive pass interference that set up Buffalo’s first score. He will face New England next week and be a high upside but risky play with a rookie quarterback in Foxboro in the championship week of fantasy playoffs.
WR Zay Jones
, 66 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 11 - 0 (6 targets) - Zay Jones
struggled against Detroit managing only one catch on a curl route. Jones had the opportunity for a bigger day, with a deep target he was not able to catch in contested coverage and a drop on a post route. He also drew a defensive pass interference on an out and up along the sideline. Jones has struggled with drops in recent weeks after several weeks of strong play. He will look to rebound next week in New England.
Dallas Cowboys 0, Indianapolis Colts 23
What you need to know
- The Cowboys were a no-show on the road in the sound defeat at the hands of the Colts. Dallas was down big by the early third quarter and failed to gain any momentum even in garbage time. Ezekiel Elliott
was dinged up during the game, limping off the field on two occasions, but returned both times to be the lone offensive performer of note in the poor team effort. Dallas remains in a prime position to make the playoffs, but with need a quick turnaround and a ‘get well’ effort against Tampa Bay next week.
- Andrew Luck
and the Colts took a run heavy approach against the Cowboys. Both of the Colts touchdown drives were fueled almost entirely by the run game. Marlon Mack
played one of his best games of the season. Mack was able to find chunks of yardage up the gut and on the edge. Luck played well but had a couple of less than perfect throws targeting TY Hilton. Hilton played well and looked healthy despite being listed as questionable. Eric Ebron
was more involved than his stat line suggests but had a pair of catchable passes go through his hands. Nyheim Hines
made some nice plays in the passing game and finished as the Colts second leading receiver. The return of Dontrelle Inman
creatred a 3 way split in playing time between him and Ryan Grant
and Zach Pascal
QB Dak Prescott
, 69 offensive snaps, Pass: 24 - 39 - 206 - 0 TD / 1 INT - Dallas got down early and never challenged the Colts offensively. Prescott was rarely comfortable in the pocket as Prescott made a myriad of errors from holding the ball too long to inaccuracy to receivers not helping Prescott. The typically mobile Prescott did not log a rushing attempt for the first time all season and his best throw of the game, a rollout touchdown opportunity to Jamize Olawale
was dropped at the goal line. It was downhill from that early moment as Prescott airmailed an open Amari Cooper
, gave up a field goal opportunity with an ill-timed sack, and a tipped interception icing the game in the fourth quarter as notable plays. Prescott gets a quality matchup to rebound in Week 16 with the suspect Tampa Bay defense heading to Dallas.
RB Ezekiel Elliott
, 61 offensive snaps, Rush: 18 - 87 - 0, Rec: 7 - 41 - 0 (8 targets) - Elliott was the lone bright spot for a lagging Dallas offense in the shutout road loss in Indianapolis. Elliott collected 25 touches despite limping off the field on two occasions, but returning to action shortly after. Elliott showed an array of quality plays as Dallas’ offensive centerpiece, but was stuffed on fourth-and-one near the goal line on his notable touchdown opportunity in the game. Elliott added a drop in the passing game but did lead the team in receptions as little was working for Dallas through the air outside of check downs in the direction of Elliott.
WR Amari Cooper
, 54 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 11 - 0, Rec: 4 - 32 - 0 (7 targets) - While Cooper saw seven targets against the Colts, it was his lowest total in four games as the central figure of Dallas’ passing offense. Cooper did not log a catch until midway through the second quarter and also had two receptions called back by penalty. Cooper’s biggest play opportunity was a deep sideline target, but tight coverage thwarted the play. Cooper was also airmailed by Dak Prescott
when wide open on a rollout play. Tampa Bay offers an ideal rebound opponent in Week 16.
WR Cole Beasley
, 44 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 42 - 0 (7 targets) - Beasley saw a hearty seven targets against the Colts, his highest total since Week 7. Beasley appeared to hurt his ankle on a yards-after-catch foray in the second quarter but did not miss meaningful action as a result. Beasley converted a fourth down slant but the play was called back by penalty. Later, Beasley had a fourth down target tipped away by a defender. Beasley’s involvement in the offense was promising but little was working for Dallas on the outside between Amari Cooper
and Michael Gallup
, leading to targets funneling towards Beasley and Ezekiel Elliott
WR Michael Gallup
, 55 offensive snaps - Gallup failed to make the box score against the Colts, drawing a defensive holding penalty in the second half of the blowout loss as his lone contribution. Gallup was coming off 16 targets over the past two games before the invisible performance as the entire Dallas passing game was silenced on the road. Gallup gets a quality bounce-back opportunity against Tampa Bay in Week 16.
TE Blake Jarwin
, 43 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 45 - 0 (7 targets) - Jarwin was the clear preferred option over Dalton Schultz
for the second week in a row, collecting a promising seven targets in each game. Jarwin fought through contact for yards-after-the-catch converting a third down but dropped a third down floating pass in field goal range. Jarwin had two catches in clear garbage time and also dropped two more passes in his up-and-down performance.
QB Andrew Luck
, 72 offensive snaps, Pass: 16 - 27 - 192 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 6 - 20 - 0 - Andrew Luck
and the Colts leaned on their run game to generate much of their offense against the Cowboys including on an opening possession touchdown. The Colts did not need to be very aggressive throwing the ball with their run game finding so much success and with the Cowboys struggling offensively. The Colts opening possession consisted of short passes and run plays after the Colts took over on downs in excellent field position. Marlon Mack
capped the drive with a 1 yard touchdown run. The Colts ensuing possession stalled thanks to 3 offensive penalties including a holding penalty that negated a 38 yard gain to Eric Ebron
. Luck set up a field goal before halftime running the two minute offense with two completions to TY Hilton for gains of 12 and 23. The Colts scored a touchdown on their opening possession of the second half. Again the drive was fueled by underneath passes the run game. Colts running backs totaled 64 yards on the drive including a 6 yard touchdown run by Marlon Mack
. Luck had a pair of less than perfect throws downfield targeting Hilton. The first was well off target when Hilton had a linebacker in coverage downfield and the second was an underthrow for a gain of 37 that could have gone for a long score had it been a perfect throw. The completion set up another field goal and gave the Colts a 20 point lead.
RB Marlon Mack
, 44 offensive snaps, Rush: 27 - 139 - 2, Rec: 1 - 10 - 0 (1 targets) - Marlon Mack
was the driving force of the Colts offense. Mack rarely went down on first contact and consistently found chunks of yardage between and outside the tackles. Mack slipped a tackle from an unblocked defender on the edge on his way to a 19 yard run. A few plays later Mack burst up the middle for a 1 yard touchdown run. Mack caught a check down from Luck for 10 yards. Mack followed Ryan Kelly who was pulling from his center position to the edge for a 12 yard gain on pitch play. Mack followed a pair of good blocks on the edge around the corner for 12 more yards running outside. Mack found gaping holes through the middle of the Cowboys defense on consecutive plays. The first was a physical 21 yard carry and the second was a 6 yard touchdown where Mack wasn't touched until he crossed the goal line. Mack was tracked down from behind in the backfield and was stripped giving the Cowboys the ball back but the game was already well in hand. Mack responded to the fumble with gains of 6 and 16 to secure the victory.
RB Nyheim Hines
, 29 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 19 - 0, Rec: 4 - 45 - 0 (6 targets) - Nyheim Hines
functioned as the third down back and change of pace back to Marlon Mack
. Hines continues to be used creatively by the Colts lining up at various positions to create matchups in the passing game. Hines made his first catch over the middle from the slot for 6 yards. Hines slipped a tackle running a comeback route out wide and escaped down the sideline for 17 yards. Hines got wide open running a slant over the middle and went for 19 yards uncontested.
WR T.Y. Hilton
, 41 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 85 - 0 (8 targets) - TY Hilton played well and looked healthy after being listed as questionable. Hilton made his first catch for 5 yards running a curl route. Hilton was targeted for a potential 1 yard touchdown but Luck's pass was slightly off target and bounced off Hilton's hands. Hilton made a tough 12 yard catch between two defenders running an in breaking route. Hilton came wide open simply running down the seam for a gain of 23. Luck badly missed Hilton who was open downfield for a potential long touchdown with a linebacker in coverage. Hilton smoked his man running a go route and could have had a touchdown with a perfect throw from Luck but the pass went for 37 yards. Hilton caught a pass running a slant for 8 yards.
TE Eric Ebron
, 38 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 8 - 0 (3 targets) - Eric Ebron
did not play well against the Cowboys. Ebron dropped a pass over the middle that hit him right in the hands and would have gone for at least a 15 yard gain. Ebron had a 38 yard catch and run negated by a holding penalty. Ebron had a pass 17 yards downfield get knocked out of his hands by Xavier Woods who made an outstanding play. Ebron made an 8 yard catch over the middle for 8 yards on 3rd and short.
Washington Redskins 16, Jacksonville Jaguars 13
What you need to know
- The defense will have added responsibility with a questionable quarterback running the offense. However, if Josh Johnson
can turn this team into some type of run oriented crew adding his mobility then maybe they can sneak a win or two ending the season. Both sides of the ball have been wildly inconsistent all year so nothing is a guarantee with Washington. Injuries have played a huge part in their current situation but this team can win game with solid defense and running the football. Josh should be a little more comfortable orchestrating the offense next week which could help establish some cohesion.
- Quarterback is just one of many problems on the Jaguars offense. The team has zero fantasy relevant players, especially now that they seem to be scaling Fournette's workload back to get a look at bottom-of-roster players. This is easily the worst offensive squad in professional football.
QB Josh Johnson
, 68 offensive snaps, Pass: 16 - 25 - 151 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 9 - 49 - 0 - Josh Johnson
looked every bit like a quarterback that isn't comfortable with a new team. He has barely been there two weeks and it looked like it today. He was indecisive in the pocket and often tried to use his mobility to keep plays alive. However, he saved his best for last as he orchestrated a touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter. Then shortly after he set up the kicker for a game winning field goal. Josh only threw for one hundred and fifty yards but his forty-nine yards rushing was a huge plus. Playing in a game that remained close throughout was highly beneficial for Josh to compete and become effective.
RB Adrian Peterson
, 37 offensive snaps, Rush: 19 - 51 - 0, Rec: 2 - 20 - 0 (3 targets) - Adrian Peterson
had a more productive day versus the Jags as he gained fifty-one yards on the ground. Considering how limited the offense has become with a quarterback recently signed this was a solid showing. Adrian's best contribution came in the fourth quarter as he had a reception and a ten yard run to set up the game winning field goal. The run game could improve as team's seemingly have to prepare for a mobile quarterback in tandem with Adrian.
RB Chris Thompson
, 29 offensive snaps, Rush: 5 - 9 - 0, Rec: 1 - 4 - 0 (2 targets) - Chris Thompson
was unproductive for this game. He only had one reception and overall ten scrimmage yards. The creativity that comes with better quarterback play has greatly affected Chris' usage.
RB Byron Marshall
, 7 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 17 - 0 (1 targets) - Byron Marshall
had one catch for seventeen yards. He was largely ineffective as the offense was limited throughout the day.
WR Jamison Crowder
, 42 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 46 - 0 (4 targets) - Jamison Crowder
was Josh's favorite target in this game as he tallied four receptions for forty-six yards. He caught all four of his targets but the offense was so vanilla versus the Jags that Crowder didn't really have a chance to do more. He hasn't had a major impact this season but Josh looked comfortable targeting him over the middle of the field.
WR Michael Floyd
, 46 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 16 - 0 (3 targets) - Michael Floyd
had two receptions on three targets versus Jacksonville. Neither of his catches made much impact on the game as both were short throws. As a bottom tier option in the passing game, Michael doesn't get many opportunities.
WR Josh Doctson
, 56 offensive snaps (2 targets) - Josh Doctson
did not record a catch on two targets. The Washington offense was extremely watered down and Josh didn't throw outside of the numbers much. As the offense has crumbled, Josh has struggled to find consistent production.
TE Jeremy Sprinkle
, 41 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 19 - 1 (3 targets) - Jeremy Sprinkle
got an opportunity to play as a backup tight end. He took advantage and scored the only touchdown for Washington in this game. Jeremy only tallied three catches for nineteen yards so he didn't make a huge impact on the day.
TE Vernon Davis
, 30 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 16 - 0 (3 targets) - Vernon Davis
had two catches for sixteen yards on three targets. However, he exited this game with a neck injury before coming back. He was unable to be a main contributor in this game as the quarterback play hindered all skill positions. As the starting tight end now, Vernon will be relied upon for an expanded role moving forward.
QB Cody Kessler
, 52 offensive snaps, Pass: 9 - 17 - 57 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 6 - 68 - 0 - To nobody's surprise, Kessler does not look like a starting caliber NFL quarterback, especially with the surrounding cast Jacksonville is trotting out. He attempted only three passes over 10 yards on the day, none of them being completed. He's capable of making some plays with his legs, but that's about the only positive of note. On the flipside, he doesn't allow plays to develop at all and either auto-checksdown or feels phantom pressure and runs.
RB Leonard Fournette
, 27 offensive snaps, Rush: 11 - 46 - 0, Rec: 3 - 18 - 0 (4 targets) - Fournette got a decent workload in the first half, before seeing his workload reduced in the second. Head coach Doug Marrone stated that the team wanted to see David Williams
get some work after he had a good week of practice. Backup runningback Carlos Hyde
was also a healthy scratch. Maybe the team doesn't want to risk injuring Fournette in an already-lost season. Maybe the coaching staff is making signals to the front office. The teams starting quarterback has been benched, the top backup (who was traded for in-season) isn't even suiting up, and now their fourth overall pick starting runningback is seeing reduced work. It's a strange situation.
RB David Williams
, 8 offensive snaps, Rush: 5 - 32 - 0 - Apparently, he is the top backup to Fournette now. He did have some nice runs in the second half, the longest going for 15 yards.
RB T.J. Yeldon
, 18 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 6 - 0, Rec: 1 - 5 - 0 (3 targets) - Yeldon was active for this game, unlike Carlos Hyde
. However, he barely saw the field in this game and recorded only a handful of touches.
WR Dede Westbrook
, 43 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 20 - 0, Rec: 3 - 21 - 0 (5 targets) - Westbrook is the only Jacksonville wide receiver who recorded a catch yesterday. The longest went for 8 yards. He had the only plays of note for the entire Jacksonville offense. The first, a 74 yard punt return at the very end of the first half (Jacksonville's only touchdown of the game). have the best play of the day for the Jaguars on offense with a 20 yard end-around carry.
New England Patriots 10, Pittsburgh Steelers 17
What you need to know
New England Patriots
- The Week 15 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers have far reaching implications for the New England Patriots. The Patriots have not clinched their division and they are no longer leaders for a first round bye in the 2018 NFL playoffs. This may not seem like a problem, but the Patriots have not played on Wild Card Weekend since 2009 and the Patriots, under Bill Belichick and Tom Brady
, have not reached the Superbowl without having a first round bye. Upcoming home games against Buffalo and the New York Jets will likely end in the Patriots favor, but the Patriots no longer control their own destiny.
- After a three-game losing streak staring them in the face, the Steelers were at an imperative point of the season. Another loss would bring the Steelers closer to the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns. Also, with the New Orleans Saints coming up, a fourth straight loss would have made playing at home during the playoffs an impossibility. Fortunately, the Steelers won the game and are again in the driver's seat for the division and to have at least one playoff game at home.
In the first quarter this match-up looked like a shootout amongst hall of fame bound quarterbacks. The Steelers moving the ball down the field slowly on their first drive for a touchdown and the Patriots scoring on a blown coverage by the Steelers. Things slowed down quickly in the first half and only six total points were scored in the entire second half of the game. The Steelers defense came away with one interception and one sack. The defense deserves a lot of credit for the Steelers Week 15 win.
QB Tom Brady
, 62 offensive snaps, Pass: 25 - 36 - 279 - 1 TD / 1 INT - In previous weeks when Tom Brady
has a down week there are other areas of the team willing and able to step up to take pressure off him. In Week 15 there was little support for Tom Brady
. Some of the only support Brady received was from Chris Hogan
and the Steelers defensive immaturity. The first offensive play for the Patriots saw the Pittsburgh defense looking into the backfield and allowing Chris Hogan
to lose his defender and run untouched to the end zone. After the initial drive, Tom Brady
was feeling pressure the rest of the game. Brady did his best to step up in the pocket and evade the pressure. Fortunately, the Steelers were only able to get one sack on Tom Brady
. Brady's worst throw of the game came at the worst possible time. It was the fourth quarter and the Patriots were in the end zone. The Steelers brought pressure and Brady did not see Joe Haden when Rob Gronkowski
was streaking across the field. Tom Brady
threw up a pass with defenders in his face and Joe Haden was able to easily pick off Brady. Late in the fourth quarter Brady again had his shot to tie the game. After leading the Patriots down to the red zone Brady had four shots at the endzone. Brady's last throw was probably his closest to tying the game. The ball was thrown over the head of Edelman. If the pass would have been a few feet lower, it would've hit Edelman in the hands to a touchdown instead of asking him to highpoint a ball over taller defenders.
RB Sony Michel
, 23 offensive snaps, Rush: 13 - 59 - 0 - The three headed backfield in New England can limit the playing time another player can see. In Week 15 the Patriots were never leading and therefore Michel's playing time was limited. In Michel the Patriots have a runner who gets exactly what is blocked for him and does not display much creativity on his runs. Michel's longest run of the day was 13-yards. Michel was close to have a bigger day if it wasn't for a 20-yard run called back due to a holding penalty.
RB James White
, 25 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - 12 - 0, Rec: 5 - 25 - 0 (7 targets) - The reliability and predictability of White is something shown each week. James White
saw only one opportunity to touch the ball in the first quarter. The rest of White's touches came in the second quarter and then again in the fourth quarter. White's touches, except for two, were all on short passes out of the backfield. It may be designed, but it is interesting to note White sometimes falls before contact. It might be protecting himself or it might be what he is coached to do.
RB Rex Burkhead
, 16 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 25 - 0, Rec: 3 - 18 - 0 (3 targets) - Some of the best runs of the day came from Rex Burkhead
and it shouldn't surprise anyone since he has the freshest legs of all the running backs. Burkhead's versatility and change of pace ability was not only used in the backfield, but he also spent time lined up as a wide receiver. This backfield is no longer considered a 1A and 1B. It should be considered a 1A, 1B, and 1C with the continued integration of Burkhead. It should be noted Burkhead displays the best creativity in his runs. It isn't only slashing straight ahead or catching dump off passes. Burkhead's touches allow him to create in the open field and make defenders miss.
WR Julian Edelman
, 58 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 90 - 0 (11 targets) - Edelman was the loan catalyst for the Pats offense and was close to an even bigger day. With Edelman getting open easily, Tom Brady
started funneling targets towards Edelman even if it was a detriment to the offense. Edelman's longest play of the day came when Edelman was running up the seam and two Pittsburgh defenders crashed into each other. Edelman also almost tied the game up for the Pats. On his last shot at the end zone, Tom Brady
fired down the middle of the field towards Edelman. If the pass was even three feet lower Edelman might have made the reception and tied the game.
WR Chris Hogan
, 39 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 68 - 1 (3 targets) - Hogan was not involved much but did have two notable plays. The first was Hogan's touchdown reception. Hogan's route starts cutting across the field and two Steelers defenders completely lose track of him. Hogan makes the easy reception and races to the end zone untouched. Hogan's second key play was in the third quarter. On a 3rd and 16 play Hogan drew a pass interference on Joe Haden, when Haden didn't need to interfere, and keep a Patriots drive going which would lead to a field goal.
WR Josh Gordon
, 57 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 19 - 0 (2 targets) - The Patriots couldn't get multiple parts of their offense going in Week 15 and Josh Gordon
was just one more piece not firing. Gordon's one reception and two targets sets season lows for Gordon on the season.
TE Rob Gronkowski
, 62 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 21 - 0 (5 targets) - In previous match-up's the Steelers were dominated by Gronkowski. Over the previous three seasons Gronkowski has amassed 18 receptions, 355 yards, and 4 touchdowns. In Week 15 of 2018 Gronkowski didn't see his first reception until the fourth quarter of the game. Gronkowski may not be running with the same fluidity of previous years, but he can still GRONK SMASH. In the fourth quarter on 3rd and 8 Gronkowski caught a short pass over the middle and drug two defenders to convert the third down.
QB Ben Roethlisberger
, 64 offensive snaps, Pass: 22 - 34 - 235 - 2 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 2 - -3 - 0 - Early in the contest the Steelers were showing a different approach to the Patriots. Generally, the Steelers use a lot of screen passes to get the rhythm of the offense going. Against the Patriots, Roethlisberger's first pass of the game was a deep pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster
which was well overthrown. This didn't change throughout the game. Roethlisberger never really settled in and continued to overthrow his wide receivers throughout the game. Roethlisberger missed, at minimum, five deep passes to his wide receivers which could have led to points. Even in Roethlisberger's inconsistency he did show his signature brilliance. The scoring kicked off in the first quarter with a touchdown pass to Vance McDonald
. Roethlisberger was extremely well protected and made a wicked pump fake, which he didn't need, and delivered a well thrown pass to Vance McDonald
. Roethlisberger's touchdown pass to Antonio Brown
was one of the highlight throws on the day. The pass to Brown was a perfectly placed ball on the back shoulder. In Week 15 Roethlisberger showed more ìon the moveî throws. Multiple times Ben Roethlisberger
was flushed from the pocket and made plays on scramble drills with his pass-catchers coming back to him. This was the case on crucial final drive for the Steelers. Roethlisberger was forced from the pocket rolling to his right. The middle line backer lost site of Jaylen Samuels
and Roethlisberger was able to throw over the defender and convert a third down late in the fourth quarter.
RB Jaylen Samuels
, 39 offensive snaps, Rush: 19 - 142 - 0, Rec: 2 - 30 - 0 (2 targets) - The difference between Samuels in Week 14 versus Week 15 is apparent. Samuels displayed patience in following his blockers and an ability to run through arm tackles. Two of Samuels' best runs came on counter toss plays. The play took the Patriots from one side of the field all the way to the other side. The Patriots defense did not have enough speed to catch up and Samuels ran for 10+ yards both times. What makes Samuels' breakout even more impressive is his longest run being 25 yards. Samuels was routinely gashing the Patriots for long plays. Samuels highlight play of the game came in the fourth quarter. Ben Roethlisberger
was flushed from the pocket and Samuels was on a scramble drill. Samuels found his way behind the line backer and converted a third down to keep the clock rolling in the fourth quarter.
RB Stevan Ridley
, 6 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 16 - 0 - In a revenge game against his old team Ridley saw little action. He was inserted once in the first half where he ripped off a 12-yard gain. With Samuels running so well there was little need for Ridley to produce.
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster
, 60 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 40 - 0 (10 targets) - At times, there are too many mouths to feed in Pittsburgh. In Week 15 alone eight different wide receivers were targeted by Ben Roethlisberger
. With this said, Smith-Schuster continues to lead the Steelers in targets and receive optimized touches from the slot. The big day was almost there. Ben Roethlisberger
missed Smith-Schuster deep twice, one of which was a potential touchdown. Smith-Schuster's notable reception came in the first quarter. The Steelers were backed up and it was 2nd & 14. Roethlisberger targeted Smith-Schuster out of the slot and Smith-Schuster elevated over his defender to make a strong catch.
WR Antonio Brown
, 61 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 49 - 1 (7 targets) - The most over used and true statement about the Steelers offense is that they try to take away the best option on the opposing team. In this week's match-up the Steelers were focusing on Antonio Brown
. Every pass going his direction was met with tight double coverage. Antonio Brown
's touchdown reception came on a back-shoulder reception on a seem route. Not many other wide receivers in the NFL could've made the same catch. While the Steelers have a strong number two wide receiver to draw coverage away from Antonio Brown
opposing defenses are still able to focus in on Antonio Brown
WR Eli Rogers
, 28 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 20 - 0 (4 targets) - Rogers took the reigns of the Steelers slot receiving role in Week 15. Rogers had four targets and caught them all for 20 yards. All of Rogers' work came on short passes. Rogers had a key defensive pass interference in the second quarter. The DPI came on a third down which continued a drive which led to a Steelers touchdown. Rogers didn't even see a target from Roethlisberger in the second half of the game.
WR James Washington
, 44 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 65 - 0 (4 targets) - Coming out of half-time the Steelers saw something they wanted to exploit down the field. Roethlisberger stared down Washington and Washington delivered. The ball was high, but Washington made a strong catch leaping over the defender and securing the ball before hitting the ground. Roethlisberger went right back to Washington and he didn't disappoint. Washington caught the ball on a simple hitch and made a defender miss for an additional 15-yards after the catch. Similar to Eli Rogers
, Washington was making plays, but he quickly became irrelevant and saw only one other target for the rest of the game.
TE Vance McDonald
, 23 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 13 - 1 (3 targets) - Like the previously mentioned wide receivers, Eli Rogers
and James Washington
, had his time in the sun. McDonald kicked off the scoring in Week 15 for the Steelers. On a play where Roethlisberger had plenty of time in the pocket, McDonald's route broke outside towards the sideline and then back inside. McDonald's inside position provided a big target for Roethlisberger's first touchdown on the day.
Los Angeles Chargers 29, Kansas City Chiefs 28
What you need to know
Los Angeles Chargers
- Keenan Allen
suffered a hip pointer early in the game. He returned for one play, only to leave immediately thereafter and did not return. He will be re-evaluated this week, but early indications are that the injury is not considered to be serious. Mike Williams
took over number one receiver duties from Allen, and posted a career best stat line.
remained in the MVP discussion with over 300 yards passing, two more touchdowns, and a fourth quarter comeback complete with the game-winning two point conversion with just seconds left on the clock. With both Melvin Gordon
and Keenan Allen
injured, Rivers showed that he is very fantasy relevant even without his best weapons available.
With both Melvin Gordon
and Austin Ekeler
injured and out for the game, it fell to Justin Jackson
and Detrez Newsome
to carry the rushing load. Jackson out-touched Newsome 19-8, but more importantly the duo combined for 138 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown on the ground. They Kansas City defense has been soft most of the season, but the duo (and the Los Angeles offensive line) showed that they can be a force regardless of opponent. And the Chargers once again demosntrated that they are in the class of the other elite NFL offenses as a fantasy gold mine, as it's almost "plug and play" at this point with all of their skill guys.
Kansas City Chiefs
- The Kansas City Chiefs lost to the Los Angeles Chargers 29-28 in a Thursday Night Football slugfest with huge playoff implications. Patrick Mahomes
completed 24 of 34 passes for 243 yards and two touchdowns, while also rushing twice for three yards. Running back Damien Williams
rushed 10 times for 49 yards and two touchdowns and caught six passes for 74 yards. Tyreek Hill
caught four passes for 46 yards, while Chris Conley
caught two passes for 19 yards. Tight end Travis Kelce
caught seven passes for 61 yards.
QB Philip Rivers
, 74 offensive snaps, Pass: 26 - 38 - 313 - 2 TD / 2 INT - One week after failing to throw at least two touchdowns for the first time this season, Rivers got right back on track against the Chiefs suspect defense. And he did it all without his number one target, Keenan Allen
, who was injured early on and didn't even catch a pass. Rivers' day started off as bad as could be, with an interception on his first pass of the game. He threw a floater down the seam to Tyrell Williams
, who had a couple of steps on his defender. But the ball was thrown behind Williams, which was unfortunate since it could have been a 75-yard score if it had been thrown in stride. The defender had a better read on the ball than Williams did, and it resulted in the first interception thrown by Rivers in 103 pass attempts. He was pressured and hurried multiple times the rest of the half, and continuously sacked despite Kansas City featuring one of the league's worst-ranked defenses coming in. At times, Rivers appeared to hold the ball for far too long and seemed a little gun shy when he did see the pressure coming by just tucking and holding the ball instead of getting rid of it. As the half went on, however, he started to get into a little better rhythm and stood tall against the pressure. He was hit on one play just as he released the ball. He was looking to go deep, but the hit caused it to come out short. Fortunately, Antonio Gates
came back to the ball for a short gain. He then connected with Mike Williams
for a big gain, but again that one only went for 37 instead of a long touchdown because it was badly underthrown. He was nearly picked again on a pass attempt in the end zone to Gates. The officials called a questionable holding penalty which would have bailed him out from a turnover, but it just showed how off he was early on. Rivers then appeared to connect with Allen in the end zone for a touchdown, but replays showed that Allen made the remarkable catch while his shoulder was touching the sideline, and so that too was incomplete. Finally, Rivers found Mike Williams
on a jump ball in the end zone, with Williams skying high for the score. After seemingly calming down and engineering a scoring drive, the Chargers appeared primed to tie the game just before halftime. But Rivers made an horrific decision, floating one up off of his back foot to the corner of the end zone to Tyrell Williams
. Instead, the pass was picked off, effectively ending the half. Rivers got lucky to open the second half when a deep ball to Travis Benjamin
was also nearly intercepted, but the defender allowed it to bounce off his hands and Benjamin followed up with a hit to make sure it would be incomplete. But it started to appear as if the absence of Allen plus some time-consuming drives by the Chiefs, were going to doom Rivers to fantasy afterthought. Just when it all appeared lost, however, the Chargers got hot. They cut it to a 1-score game late in the fourth quarter with a rushing score (after Rivers should have had a touchdown pass to Tyrell Williams
that was just dropped outright, bailed out by a holding penalty) and then Rivers engineered one of his most impressive drives of the season. He finally got some time, and picked up chunks of yardage at a time. He made a perfect pass to Benjamin down the seam perfectly in stride for 31 yards and putting the ball deep in Kansas City territory. And then he made a simply unbelievable pass to Benjamin down the seam again, dropping it just ahead of the defender and right on his receiver's hands to convert a fourth and 8 pass to save the game. Rivers did underthrow Justin Jackson
for what should have been the game-tying score, then nearly cost his team when he rolled out to his left and was taken down inbounds with the clock running. But after another questionable penalty in the end zone set the Chargers up with a new set of downs, Rivers found Mike Williams
along the end zone sideline. The ball was juggled just a bit, but replays confirmed he had maintained possession long enough for it to count. Then, rather than kick the extra point and go to overtime, head coach Anthony Lynn
opted for a game-winning two point conversion. Rivers floated one to a completely wide open Mike Williams
for the conversion and the victory, capping a wild fourth quarter comeback.
RB Justin Jackson
, 56 offensive snaps, Rush: 16 - 58 - 1, Rec: 3 - 27 - 0 (4 targets) - Starter Melvin Gordon
was still out with his knee injury, and primary backup Austin Ekeler
was injured at the end of last week's game. With those two on the shelf, it was on Jackson to carry the primary rushing load. He showed some nice inside moves and had some solid gains in the first half, did a good job of reading his blocks, and didn't look overmatched at all in his most extensive NFL action. Just before halftime, he was targeted on a screen pass to the right side and appeared to have a caravan of blockers that may have led a potential path to the end zone. But he stumbled as he turned up the field, so the play resulted in just a 7-yard gain. He made up for that missed opportunity with a 3-yard score late in the second half to get the Chargers within a score. He found a crease in the defense, made a quick shake at the line, and burst into the end zone with a lunge at the end to cap the scoring drive. He had several similar runs in the second half, fighting through tacklers and converted a short third down run with a flip over the top of the defense. He got a heavy workload for much of the second half, and demonstrated an ability to carry the running game with 19 total touches from scrimmage. Jackson also displayed some very nice hands on a shoestring grab from Rivers late in the game (he was in the game on the eventual game-winning touchdown drive).
RB Detrez Newsome
, 18 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 34 - 0, Rec: 2 - 19 - 0 (2 targets) - With both Melvin Gordon
and Austin Ekeler
out for the game, Newsome got by far his most extensive work of the 2018 season, although he was out-touched by starter Justin Jackson
by a tally of 19-8. Newsome came in for the first time early in the second quarter split out wide to the left. But the majority of his work was done out of the backfield. He picked up 16 yards on a run up the left side, finding a nice hole and bursting through it to the secondary. He picked up another first down on a swing pass in the flat. In the second half, Newsome had a strong inside first down run after starter Justin Jackson
had gotten a lot of work and needed a breather. And on a couple of later plays, he got himself wide open in the flat (nobody was even within ten yards of him, as he picked up 11 on the play). Newsome showed a little bit of inside strength for most of the game, pushing the pile several times. But with Gordon expected back next week, it's unlikely Newsome will have much of a role in the offense going forward without another injury.
WR Mike Williams
, 66 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 19 - 1, Rec: 7 - 76 - 2 (9 targets) - With Keenan Allen
exiting the game early due to an injured hip, it fell to the shoulders of Williams to pick up the slack. And from all indications, he was more than ready for the challenge. After hauling in a deep ball down the left sideline (that could have gone for a score if it hadn't been underthrown), Williams appeared primed for a big day. Two plays after Allen was hurt, Williams went high in the end zone to scare a touchdown reception. He had a couple other key receptions in the first half, one of which was a back shoulder pass to convert a huge third down and 12. He was targeted in the end zone on the next pass, but Rivers was hit as he threw and the ball sailed way too high and out of the back of the end zone. In the second half, Williams took over. He took a toss on a reverse, found a slot between defenders to dart through, then took off for the end zone like a bullet. He got to top speed very quickly, showing a very strong burst to shoot through the defense and get into the end zone. A nice head fake at the goal line was all it took to get over the line. Late in the game with the Chargers driving for what was supposed to be the game-tying score, Williams drew a questionable pass interference penalty in the end zone. It looked like the officials called the defender for dragging Williams' arm down, even though it seemed like he wasn't even trying to use that arm to catch the ball and the pass may have been uncatchable anyway. Regardless, it set the Chargers up near the end zone and once again Rivers went right back to Williams. He snagged a score along the sideline to make it a 28-27 game. Officials went to replay to confirm the score since the ball kind of appeared to move in Williams' hands, but it was determined that the catch was clean. After review, the Chargers opted to go for a game-winning two point conversion attempt. Rivers lofted a pass to a wide open Williams for the conversion and the win. If Keenan Allen
is forced to miss any time going forward, Philip Rivers
' decisions in this game emphatically suggest that he is willing to trust Williams in the absolute biggest of situations at any time.
WR Tyrell Williams
, 65 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 71 - 0 (12 targets) - Williams had a solid afternoon, and had a bit heavier workload than usual with Keenan Allen
injured early on and not returning. But Wiliams' afternoon was more noteworthy for what could have been. He was targeted on the first play of the game from scrimmage on a deep ball down the seam. It could have gone for a 75-yard touchdown if it had been thrown in stride, but the pass was underthrown and behind him. By the time Williams found it, the defender had better position on it than Williams did and easily picked it off. Later in the game, he had a short gain on a comeback route that was overturned by replay review. He was then targeted on a long pass in the end zone down the sideline. He stumbled at the end of the play, but probably had no shot to catch it anyway because he never turned his head around. And lastly, he got open in the end zone late on a long-developing play. He did draw a holding flag on the play, but he could have just scored outright if he hadn't dropped the ball. Williams did have a miscue late in the first half that DIDN'T cost him. He caught a short pass over the middle to convert a third down and fumbled the ball after the big hit. Fortunately, he was able to recover the ball himself because there were several defenders around the football as well.
WR Travis Benjamin
, 44 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 8 - 0, Rec: 2 - 57 - 0 (3 targets) - Benjamin has had a very uneven couple of seasons for the Chargers, but he was actually one of the big keys to victory in this one. In the first half, his only action was an end-around for 8 yards, but he slipped at the end of it before he could pick up the first down. In the second half, however, he had two enormous receptions on the team's final scoring drive - perhaps THE two key receptions of the drive. He hauled in a 31-yard gain that was thrown perfectly in stride down the seam to get the Chargers into realistic scoring range. And on arguably the biggest non-scoring play of the game, he was the recipient of a huge 26-yard reception over the middle to convert a fourth down play and get the ball inside the 10-yard line. Benjamin hadn't even come out of his break and the defender was shielding him from the ball, but Rivers put the pass precisely where it needed to be and Benjamin did an excellent job of maintaining his focus to bring it in. Benjamin had also made a key play on an earlier deep ball down the sideline. Realizing he probably wasn't going to catch the ball, he instead pulled up and waited for the defender to get his hands on the ball before hitting him to knock it away. It may not have been caught anyway since it had already kind of bounced away, but Benjamin ensured there would be no deflection catch with his heads-up play.
WR Keenan Allen
, 17 offensive snaps - Allen injured his hip on a corner route in the end zone that nearly went for a score. He was held on the play, juggled the ball a few times as he was lying on the ground, and actually managed to haul it in. But his shoulder was just over the sideline when he eventually gained control. He got up and walked off the field very gingerly with the hip injury. He was checked out in the tent on the sideline and returned to the game in the middle of the second quarter. He only returned for one play, however, before exiting again. He was back on the sideline in the second half, but was never a consideration to bring him back into the game.
TE Antonio Gates
, 42 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 54 - 0 (5 targets) - With Rivers' favorite target Keenan Allen
out of the game early, someone on the offense needed to step in and perform as his security blanket. Gates was up to the task, turning in his second-best receiving totals of the season. His first grab went for 22 and converted the team's first down of the game when he shook his defender deep down the field and got open with a nice cutback. Gates showed his vintage step-back cut in the second half on a short reception over the middle. With the defender right next to him, Gates turned back the clock with a hard cut back, then took off up the field for nice yardage after the catch.
TE Virgil Green
, 43 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 9 - 0 (3 targets) - Even with the offense missing Keenan Allen
for much of the game, Green wasn't an important part of the passing game. Instead, it was Antonio Gates
who picked up the passing game slack from the tight end spot.
QB Patrick Mahomes
, 60 offensive snaps, Pass: 24 - 34 - 243 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 2 - 3 - 0 - Patrick Mahomes
completed 24 of 34 passes for 243 yards and two touchdowns, while also rushing two times for three yards. Mahomes had an average game by his standards, despite the fact that he moved the ball well and was able to set up four different drives that resulted in touchdowns. The Chiefs had almost too much talent on offense to start the season, but the loss of Kareem Hunt
and Sammie Watkins has allowed defenses to commit more men to stopping Kelce and Hill. The Chiefs have gotten great production out of Williams and Spencer Ware
(Ware missed this game due to injury), but Hunt was a much more dynamic player who was capable of getting a block and then making things happen on his own from there. This was especially true in the passing game where the Chiefs could scheme Hunt open with misdirection, dump off a screen pass to him and then watch him break a 40+ yard play. With this in mind, it is no wonder that the Chiefs struggled to create big plays in this game against the Chargers. That is what kept the game in reach and allowed the Chargers to pull of an improbably win at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chargers never wavered in their game plan and they were methodical in their drives, wearing down the Chiefs defense and then striking where the defense was stretched thin. Mahomes engineered four scoring drives, but they were not the quick-strike touchdowns that we have grown accustomed to, nor were they long, energy zapping drives that would have wore down the Chargers defense and allowed the Chiefs to get a quick touchdown when needed. Mahomes’ first touchdown pass of the day with the Chiefs facing a second and goal at the Chargers five yard line. Mahomes took the snap out of the shotgun and ran out to his right on a designed roll out. Mahomes got five yards from the right sideline and slowed down to a near full stop while looking for a receiver. A Chargers defender recognized this and took off from the goal line and rushed Mahomes. As he got to Mahomes and started to tackle him, Mahomes kept his head up, still looking for a receiver, and managed to throw a sidearm pass to Demarcus Robinson
in the back of the end zone as he was being tackled. It was another play that can be added to the pantheon of unbelievable throws that Mahomes has made this season. Mahomes second and final touchdown pass of this game came with the Chiefs facing a second and 10 from the Chargers 11 yard line.
RB Damien Williams
, 44 offensive snaps, Rush: 10 - 49 - 2, Rec: 6 - 74 - 0 (6 targets) - Damien Williams
rushed 10 times for 49 yards and two touchdowns, while also catching six passes for 74 yards. Williams fits into the Chiefs offense seamlessly as a shifty runner who hits the hole with explosiveness. He showed off his ability to make defenders miss and make plays happen in the open field on the Chiefs first drive of the game. Williams took the handoff from Mahomes in the shotgun and ran towards the left tackle, who was supposed to get his defender sealed from the inside. The defender had pushed back on the left guard too far though, which cut off Williams ability to get out wide. Williams stutter-stepped and cut back to the inside and came face to face with two Chargers defenders who were standing straight up. Williams then took off to the right sideline, juking another defender on his way before getting to the outside and up the right sideline for a really impressive 23 yard gain. Williams looks like he is shot out of a cannon when he touches the ball, as he depends on his short-area burst and quick feet to gain separation. Williams first touchdown run of the game came with the Chiefs facing a second and goal at the Charges two yard line. Mahomes set up in shotgun and motioned Williams from his left to his right side before the snap. He then took the snap and handed off to Williams for a trap to the left side of the offensive line. Williams kept his feet moving with short little chops as he hit the line and managed to push his way through for an easy two yard touchdown. Williams second touchdown run of the night came on a first and goal from the Chargers one yard line. Mahomes took the snap out of shotgun and handed off to Williams, who was set up to his right. Williams received the handoff and got his helmet and pads very low to the ground, almost sneaking his way in through the offensive line. While his two touchdowns were rather straight forward runs, it is clear that Williams understands how to make himself small and score in short space. Williams was also responsible for 57 of the Chiefs 80 yards on the Chiefs second scoring drive (Mahomes to Darrel Williams
touchdown pass). While there is no doubt that Spencer Ware
will have some role in the offense when he gets back, it is hard to imagine him stepping back into the high volume role he held previously, as Williams has showed out in his two week audition, totaling 153 yards and four touchdowns with ten receptions and an average of 5.4 yards per touch. He also has a penchant for breaking big plays, something the Chiefs desperately need out of their backfield.
WR Tyreek Hill
, 53 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - -5 - 0, Rec: 4 - 46 - 0 (7 targets) - Tyreek Hill
caught four passes for 46 yards on seven targets in the Chiefs 29-28 loss to the Chargers on Thursday. Hill came into this game with several injuries that prevented him from practicing much of the week, injuries that had forced him out of the game three times against the Ravens in week 14. Hill looked healthy despite the heel and wrist injuries, so there were no health-related reasons as to why he did not have a bigger game in a crucial AFC West rivalry matchup. This was especially frustrating for fantasy owners because Hill dusted the Chargers in week 1 to the tune of seven catches for 169 yards and two touchdowns and it is not like Hill wasn’t getting open. In fact, early in the fourth quarter with the Chiefs facing a first and ten from the Chargers 43 yard line, Hill ran a deep post route, starting from the right side of the formation. Mahomes put the ball on a dime and let Hill leave his defenders in the dust as he was running under the ball. The pass was more of a line-drive throw, so whether it was that, or the lights shining in Hill’s eyes, or a bird flying directly into his head ala Elaine in Seinfeld, the ball came down and hit Hill’s helmet, right between the eyes and he dropped what would have been an easy 43 yard touchdown. The pass was so perfect, and Hill was so wide open, that Robinson already had his hands in the air 5 yards from Hill, celebrating the touchdown. That touchdown would have put the game away for the Chiefs, but Hill got a pardon on his mistake, as there were penalties on the play that would have negated the play anyway. Hill did have an impressive 33 yard catch where he ran an elongated post pattern, coming all the way across the field from the left to the right. Mahomes once again threw a line drive on a rope that put the ball just a little out in front of Hill. Hill went to make the catch with his feet just a little off the ground, and as soon as he touched the ball, he was hit in the back of the legs and hit the ground hard on his back. He secured the catch though, and then got up and did a little shimmy for the crowd.
WR Chris Conley
, 57 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 19 - 0 (3 targets) - Chris Conley
caught two of three targets for 13 yards in the Chiefs loss to the Chargers on Thursday night. Conley is in his fourth year in the NFL, and while he has played well previously in limited opportunities, he is having trouble gaining separation against #2 cornerbacks. The Chiefs have been scheming ways to get Conley opportunities in the red zone, using his 6’3 frame to box out defenders in short space. It worked well to start, but they have since gotten away from that and started using Demarcus Robinson
more in that role. If Conley cannot produce in the red zone, he is not going to make much of an impact, as Hill, Kelce and the running backs are all going to come before him with respect to target volume.
TE Travis Kelce
, 60 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 61 - 0 (9 targets) - Travis Kelce
caught seven passes for 61 yards on nine targets in the Chiefs loss to the Chargers on Thursday Night Football. Kelce had a very quiet first half, catching three passes for 13 yards while the Chiefs were focused on getting the running game going. Mahomes targeted Kelce four times in the first half, with his only incompletion coming on a deep ball where it looked like Kelce might have a chance to pull down a long reception, but the Chargers did a good job of making sure that there were always defenders around him hitting Kelce as soon as he touched the ball or in some cases before he even had that chance. In the second half Kelce got back on track, catching four passes for 48 yards. Two of those catches were back to back 15 and 16 yard receptions in the fourth quarter that went a long way in setting up Damien Williams
one yard touchdown run that put the Chiefs ahead 27-14. Kelce’s day could have been a bit bigger but he had a 25 yard catch that was negated for an offensive holding penalty. Kelce is the most complete tight end in the game, and without a doubt the #1 fantasy tight end. With two games still to play, he’s totaled 93 catches for 1220 yards and 10 touchdowns, which are all career highs for the fifth year superstar.