NFL Roundup: All Hail the Thief, Alberto Riveron

Gabriel Silverstein-Rivera, our regular NFL columnist, is on vacation for a few weeks so I’m filling in with this week’s roundup. As you can imagine, I want to talk about the critical Steelers-Patriots game last Sunday.

Actually, I don’t want to, but, like anyone who watched the referees brazenly cheat the Steelers out of victory last Sunday — and very likely hand the Patriots critical home field advantage throughout the playoffs — I feel compelled to.

Look, I detest the Patriots, but of course it’s obvious they have a great team, and have for many years. But seriously, enough is enough. This is the third time this year the referees have handed victory to the Patriots. None was as outrageous as the one that reversed a game-winning touchdown by the Steelers’ Jesse James with just seconds left.

What’s worse, the referees and the NFL overturned the decision after it was initially ruled a touchdown, so they had to reverse it after reviewing a video which showed, to everyone in the country other than the Patriots’s vile fan base, that James had clearly caught the ball and scored a touchdown. (Never mind that the refs also wrongly charged the Steelers with a critical timeout on the should-have-been game-winning drive.)

Not a touchdown. Give me a fucking break.

For years the Patriots and Tom Brady have benefitted from bad calls, going back to the infamous 2001 Tuck Rule, which cheated the Oakland Raiders out of a first-round victory and handed Brady his first or many undeserved Super Bowls. But this was perhaps the worst and most dishonest call I’ve ever witnessed, and it raises serious questions about the integrity of the game. (Let’s put aside various other questions about football’s general integrity, and focus for the moment on the fundamental question of fairness, and how the referees have consistently made key calls favoring the Patriots in important games.)

I hadn’t realized just how bad things were, though, until I read this story from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Here’s an excerpt:

Contrary to popular belief throughout New England, the Patriots do have influence in the offices of the NFL.

His name is Alberto Riveron, and he is the NFL’s senior vice president of officiating.

Whether you agree (Patriots fans) with his call Sunday night robbing Jesse James of a touchdown or not (Steelers fans), Riveron has helped decide three victories for New England just this season.

This is not to accuse Riveron, in his first season on the job, of favoritism toward the Patriots, but here are the facts:

• New England’s Brandin Cooks caught a 25-yard touchdown pass with 23 seconds left to beat Houston 36-33 on Sept. 24. He caught the ball with both feet in the end zone but lost control as he hit the ground out of bounds. It was ruled a touchdown, and Riveron did not overturn it upon review.

An NFL source told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Cooks’ catch remained a touchdown because there was no good video angle that showed him losing control of the ball when he hit the ground.

• New York Jets tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins caught a 4-yard touchdown pass against the Patriots, and fumbled through the back of the end zone once he crossed the line. It was ruled a touchdown on the field. Riveron overturned it. The Patriots got the ball at the 20. New England went on to win 24-17 on Oct 15.

• Then, Sunday night Jesse James caught a pass from Ben Roethlisberger over the middle, was never touched as his knee hit the ground, stretched the ball over the goal line and only then seemed to lose control of it. Riveron overturned the score, putting the ball back at the 10. New England won, 27-24.

I don’t know if Riveron is a moron, on acid or paid off by the Patriots, but at minimum he’s one of the three. This guy should be fired and short of that, kept from reviewing any more calls in Patriot games.

NFL Roundup: Saints Lose With Help From Refs But They Should Win Super Bowl; Deflatriots Rolled By Smokin’ Jay Cutler

 
This week in the NFL, the playoff race started to heat up even more with the Seahawks losing a crucial game in Jacksonville that allowed the Falcons to overtake them in the Wild Card standings; the Bills bumping the Ravens out of the AFC bracket after their snowy overtime win against Indianapolis; and the Chiefs snapping their four game losing streak with a win over the Raiders that boosted them to the top of the AFC West, with an upcoming game against the Chargers, who are also 7-6, that will shake things up even more.
Wentz out for Season with ACL Injury

Tragedy befell the Philadelphia Eagles and their fans on Sunday when QB Carson Wentz tore his ACL in a win against the Rams. Wentz currently leads all NFL quarterbacks with 33 passing touchdowns, and his superb play had propelled Philly to its first 10-win season since 2014. The Eagles finished the game with Nick Foles under center and he is currently the replacement for Wentz moving forward for the rest of the season and the playoffs.

Philly’s Super Bowl hopes pretty much went out the door with the loss of Wentz, and many have theorized that if they still want a shot they should sign QB Colin Kaepernick. He has been to a Super Bowl already and is the most qualified backup quarterback Philadelphia could ask for. The Eagles have already clinched a playoff berth so they have the time and freedom to figure out a solution for the playoffs, whether it is allowing Foles to lead the team into the postseason or looking for a backup. Either way, Wentz will be sorely missed by the Birds going into the last season homestretch and playoffs.

Sean Payton’s Outburst Costs the Saints

On Thursday Night against the Falcons, the Saints were down late in the game with the defense on the field fighting to keep Atlanta from reaching a first down, which would have gotten the ball back in the capable hands of Drew Brees. That’s when an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty was called against Saints head coach Sean Payton after he ran onto the field attempting to call timeout. The penalty gave Atlanta a first down and allowed the Falcons to run the clock out and win the game.

Payton’s actions were clearly out of line, but this late in the season, in a game that means so much in terms of playoff and division standings, the referee shouldn’t make that call. You can argue that the game wasn’t decided by that call alone, and that it’s on Drew Brees for throwing a costly interception in the red zone just minutes before, but when a call so clearly impacts the outcome of a game like that, it’s hard to not blame the officials for blowing it. New Orleans is still in first place in the NFC South, but they are not far ahead of Atlanta and need to finish the season strong if they want to secure the higher seed in the postseason. All that said, if Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram get back to 100% before the postseason, there is no doubt in my mind that the New Orleans Saints will win the Super Bowl.

Rodgers Ready to Return for the Pack

In his time as a starter for the Packers this year, former UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley went 3-4, but it’s time for the prodigal son, Aaron Rodgers, to step back in for Green Bay. Rodgers has his work cut out for him. With three games left in the season and the Packers currently seeded ninth in the NFC, Rodgers will have to lead the team to three straight wins and hope that both Seattle and Detroit lose a few games, as well as the Falcons, the lowest seeded team in the NFC playoff picture.

The Packers have remaining games against Carolina, Minnesota, and Detroit, and they need to go 3-0 to have any chance of making the playoffs. With the NFC being as good as it is this year, a 10-6 record might not even be enough to make the playoffs. The Packers have the hardest remaining schedule in the NFL, but if there is one man equipped to run the table, it is Aaron Rodgers. Last year, after a Week 11 loss to the Redskins, Rodgers led the Pack to six consecutive wins and took them to the NFC divisional round. Rodgers is one of the most talented quarterbacks to ever play the game of football, and for him to pull off a Packers playoff berth this year would solidify his reputation as one of the sport’s greatest leaders.

Zeroes and Heroes

This week’s Zero is the entire AFC. The AFC currently has two 7-6 teams in the playoff picture, the Chiefs and Bills. If there has ever been an easier path for Tom Brady and the Deflatriots to take into the AFC championship game, God can strike me down where I stand. Any conference in which Joe Flacco has a chance of leading a team into the playoffs after passing for 28 yards in a full game against the Jaguars (and in which he has two games against the Cleveland Browns every year), has no claim to respectability. The AFC is an absolute joke with just two teams that could be considered real Super Bowl contenders in the Patriots and Steelers.

In Monday night treat, Brady pummeled by Heroes of the Week

Simply for beating the Patriots on Monday night in such satisfying fashion, I am awarding my prestigious Hero of the Week award to Smokin’ Jay Cutler and the Miami Dolphins. Cutler outshined con-man vegan loser Tom Brady with over 260 passing yards and three touchdowns, while Brady threw two interceptions to the same damn player. The Dolphins spayed and neutered the Patriots offense, forcing seven three and outs and allowing just 25 total rushing yards. They might have nearly lost the game by scoring zero points and punting the ball three times in the fourth quarter, and they might not be the safest bet to make the playoffs this year at the ten seed with a 6-7 record, but for this week we’ll allow the Dolphins to live it up as the heroes of the NFL.

NFL Roundup: Saints Lose With Help From Refs But They Should Win Super Bowl; Deflatriots Rolled By Smokin' Jay Cutler

 
This week in the NFL, the playoff race started to heat up even more with the Seahawks losing a crucial game in Jacksonville that allowed the Falcons to overtake them in the Wild Card standings; the Bills bumping the Ravens out of the AFC bracket after their snowy overtime win against Indianapolis; and the Chiefs snapping their four game losing streak with a win over the Raiders that boosted them to the top of the AFC West, with an upcoming game against the Chargers, who are also 7-6, that will shake things up even more.
Wentz out for Season with ACL Injury

Tragedy befell the Philadelphia Eagles and their fans on Sunday when QB Carson Wentz tore his ACL in a win against the Rams. Wentz currently leads all NFL quarterbacks with 33 passing touchdowns, and his superb play had propelled Philly to its first 10-win season since 2014. The Eagles finished the game with Nick Foles under center and he is currently the replacement for Wentz moving forward for the rest of the season and the playoffs.

Philly’s Super Bowl hopes pretty much went out the door with the loss of Wentz, and many have theorized that if they still want a shot they should sign QB Colin Kaepernick. He has been to a Super Bowl already and is the most qualified backup quarterback Philadelphia could ask for. The Eagles have already clinched a playoff berth so they have the time and freedom to figure out a solution for the playoffs, whether it is allowing Foles to lead the team into the postseason or looking for a backup. Either way, Wentz will be sorely missed by the Birds going into the last season homestretch and playoffs.

Sean Payton’s Outburst Costs the Saints

On Thursday Night against the Falcons, the Saints were down late in the game with the defense on the field fighting to keep Atlanta from reaching a first down, which would have gotten the ball back in the capable hands of Drew Brees. That’s when an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty was called against Saints head coach Sean Payton after he ran onto the field attempting to call timeout. The penalty gave Atlanta a first down and allowed the Falcons to run the clock out and win the game.

Payton’s actions were clearly out of line, but this late in the season, in a game that means so much in terms of playoff and division standings, the referee shouldn’t make that call. You can argue that the game wasn’t decided by that call alone, and that it’s on Drew Brees for throwing a costly interception in the red zone just minutes before, but when a call so clearly impacts the outcome of a game like that, it’s hard to not blame the officials for blowing it. New Orleans is still in first place in the NFC South, but they are not far ahead of Atlanta and need to finish the season strong if they want to secure the higher seed in the postseason. All that said, if Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram get back to 100% before the postseason, there is no doubt in my mind that the New Orleans Saints will win the Super Bowl.

Rodgers Ready to Return for the Pack

In his time as a starter for the Packers this year, former UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley went 3-4, but it’s time for the prodigal son, Aaron Rodgers, to step back in for Green Bay. Rodgers has his work cut out for him. With three games left in the season and the Packers currently seeded ninth in the NFC, Rodgers will have to lead the team to three straight wins and hope that both Seattle and Detroit lose a few games, as well as the Falcons, the lowest seeded team in the NFC playoff picture.

The Packers have remaining games against Carolina, Minnesota, and Detroit, and they need to go 3-0 to have any chance of making the playoffs. With the NFC being as good as it is this year, a 10-6 record might not even be enough to make the playoffs. The Packers have the hardest remaining schedule in the NFL, but if there is one man equipped to run the table, it is Aaron Rodgers. Last year, after a Week 11 loss to the Redskins, Rodgers led the Pack to six consecutive wins and took them to the NFC divisional round. Rodgers is one of the most talented quarterbacks to ever play the game of football, and for him to pull off a Packers playoff berth this year would solidify his reputation as one of the sport’s greatest leaders.

Zeroes and Heroes

This week’s Zero is the entire AFC. The AFC currently has two 7-6 teams in the playoff picture, the Chiefs and Bills. If there has ever been an easier path for Tom Brady and the Deflatriots to take into the AFC championship game, God can strike me down where I stand. Any conference in which Joe Flacco has a chance of leading a team into the playoffs after passing for 28 yards in a full game against the Jaguars (and in which he has two games against the Cleveland Browns every year), has no claim to respectability. The AFC is an absolute joke with just two teams that could be considered real Super Bowl contenders in the Patriots and Steelers.

In Monday night treat, Brady pummeled by Heroes of the Week

Simply for beating the Patriots on Monday night in such satisfying fashion, I am awarding my prestigious Hero of the Week award to Smokin’ Jay Cutler and the Miami Dolphins. Cutler outshined con-man vegan loser Tom Brady with over 260 passing yards and three touchdowns, while Brady threw two interceptions to the same damn player. The Dolphins spayed and neutered the Patriots offense, forcing seven three and outs and allowing just 25 total rushing yards. They might have nearly lost the game by scoring zero points and punting the ball three times in the fourth quarter, and they might not be the safest bet to make the playoffs this year at the ten seed with a 6-7 record, but for this week we’ll allow the Dolphins to live it up as the heroes of the NFL.

NFL Roundup: Vikings Rising, Eagles Falling, Texans Done Without Deshaun

This week in the NFL, Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon returned to the field after not playing since the end of the 2014 season, and caught four passes for 85 yards in a loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. The Rams secured their first winning season since 2003 with a 32-16 win over the Cardinals, and in one of their biggest tests of the season so far, the Eagles offense was held to just 98 rushing yards in their 24-10 loss on the road against the Seahawks, which ended Philly’s long win streak.

Giants Show McAdoo the Door

After benching Giants QB Eli Manning and ending his 210-game streak of starting for the team so he could start Geno Smith against the Raiders, Ben McAdoo lost the game 24-17 and then subsequently his job. After reaching the playoffs in his first year as head coach in 2016, McAdoo’s Giants have gone 2-10 this season. The team is ranked 31st in average points this year and the offense is averaging less than 90 rushing yards a game. Many of the team’s struggles can be attributed to injuries, highlighted by the loss of star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. early in the season due to an ankle injury, but even with Beckham playing, the team was 0-4 and the offense was held to ten points or less twice. The nature of this season for the Giants, especially the benching of the team’s longtime starting QB, has evoked speculations from many as to whether Eli Manning will retire after the season. The Giants are the first team to fire their head coach this year, and it is unclear what candidates the front office are considering to fill the spot.

Eli: Retirement may be looming after this disappointing season.

Broncos’ Struggles Continue Against Miami

The Denver Broncos are now 3-9 after losing their eighth straight game on Sunday against the Dolphins. In an AFC West division in which every other team is 6-6, the Broncos have been especially terrible this season in all facets of the game. Denver QB Trevor Siemian threw for 200 yards on the dot and was intercepted three times by Miami’s defense. The Broncos’ only touchdown of the game came on an interception return by Justin Simmons. Even with their offensive struggles, Denver still ranks fifth in the NFL in 3rd down conversions, indicating that the offense’s true woes come in the form of red zone offense. With likely a high position in the upcoming draft and the offseason coming up, the Broncos will have to decide which area to address first, most likely starting at quarterback.

Buccaneers Take the L at Lambeau

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were expected to improve on last year’s 9-7 season in which they came in second in the NFC South and barely missed the playoffs. The offseason signings of receiver DeSean Jackson and defensive tackle Chris Baker brought the team a lot of attention and they were featured on HBO’s Hard Knocks before the regular season started. They are currently 4-8 after their 26-20 overtime loss in Green Bay and have not come remotely close to living up to expectations this year. Jameis Winston has battled multiple injuries and the team just hasn’t gelled. For the Packers, this was just another week of waiting for Aaron Rodgers to return. The team relied heavily on the run game, with Brett Hundley attempting just over 20 passes with only 84 yards to show for it. Rookie Jamaal Williams rushed for 113 yards with one touchdown, and the game was won on a rushing touchdown by another rookie back, Aaron Jones.

Jameis Winston: High hopes didn’t materialize this year.

Zeroes and Heroes

The Houston Texans have now lost five of their last six games coming after the season-ending ACL injury of magnificent rookie QB Deshaun Watson. Just when it looked like they could possibly enter the playoff conversation, their rise came to a screeching halt. Tom Savage has done a poor job filling in for Watson, throwing more interceptions than touchdowns in his time as starter. Somehow, DeAndre Hopkins has still been balling out this year, tied for first in touchdown receptions and coming in second for receiving yards. The Texans look to secure another win this weekend against the lowly 49ers, but it will be hard as tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz was placed on injured reserve this week, along with receiver Bruce Ellington.

The Minnesota Vikings are 10-2 this year, and every game has been hard fought on both sides of the ball. On Sunday, they defeated the Falcons on the road by a score of 14-9. Case Keenum has lead one of the most efficient offenses in football this year, even without 2017 second round pick Dalvin Cook, who tore his ACL earlier this season. Minnesota’s defense has also been showing up for them recently. They only allowed Atlanta to convert on one lone third down during the game, and they did not give up a single touchdown to the Falcons, who boasted a high-flying offense in 2016. The Vikings are hoping to ride this wave of success into the playoffs with just four games remaining, including match-ups against the 8-4 Carolina Panthers and the Packers, who might have Aaron Rodgers back by the time of that game.

NFL Roundup: Eagles Looking Scary Good As Hilariously Bad Cowboys Scorched By Chargers

This week in the NFL, Tyrod Taylor made his return to the field as Buffalo Bills starting QB and his team won in Kansas City, 16-10. Julio Jones burned the Tampa Bay Buccaneers secondary in a 34-20 win, with twelve catches for 253 yards and two touchdowns, including a 51-yard TD catch from Falcons WR Mohamed Sanu. Case Keenum continued to keep the Vikings rolling on with a Thanksgiving Day win over the Lions, taking Minnesota to 9-2 on the season.

Saints and Rams Square Off

The Los Angeles Rams bested the New Orleans Saints in a Sunday matchup of two of the most productive offenses in the league. Jared Goff put up an impressive stat line despite throwing an interception, with over 350 passing yards and two touchdowns through the air, including one to Cooper Kupp, the impressive rookie receiver currently second on the team in receiving yards. Kupp has become one of Jared Goff’s favorite targets this season, leading the receiving corps in catches with 73, and averaging over 50 receiving yards a game.

For the Saints, RB and emerging Rookie of the Year candidate Alvin Kamara had another monster game, with a 74-yard rushing touchdown as well as 101 receiving yards for another TD. Kamara has amazed viewers with his versatility this year, with over 1,000 all purpose yards through just 12 weeks. He has taken on a bigger role in the Saints offense since the departure of Adrian Peterson earlier this season, and his involvement will likely grow with the playoffs approaching.

Electric Saints Rookie Alvin Kamara reaching end zone against the Rams on Sunday.

Cardinals Edge out the Jaguars

Arizona QB Blaine Gabbert got sweet revenge against his former team, the Jacksonville Jaguars, on Sunday. Jags QB Blake Bortles’s two rushing touchdowns, including one late in the fourth quarter, were not enough to secure the comeback and Jacksonville fell victim to a 57-yard Phil Dawson field goal just before time expired in regulation.

Jaguars rookie RB Leonard Fournette’s production has slowed down as the season has gone on. He didn’t find the end zone a single time during the entire month of November and he has become less and less of a presence on the team since missing a photo-op back in October and being benched during the game against the Bengals. The Cardinals are currently third in the NFC West and have struggled since losing QB Carson Palmer to injury, but the offense has gotten some help after obtaining veteran RB Adrian Peterson in a trade with New Orleans in week six of the season.

Phil Dawson sends the game winner through the uprights as time expires.

Bears Down as Eagles Soar 

The Eagles defense broke out the “Electric Slide” during a 31-3 rout of the Chicago Bears, effectively stomping on the graves of the Bears fans’ hopes and dreams for this season. Mitchell Trubisky was picked off twice and only compiled 147 passing yards on over thirty attempts during the game, and no Chicago running back accounted for more than six yards as the offense was completely stymied.

It cannot be stressed enough how scary the Eagles look. The offense and defense are firing on all cylinders and the team has the best record in the NFL at 10-1. After coming in last in the NFC East last year, the Birds have dominated the division this year and have entered Super Bowl conversations all over the league.

The Eagles defense Electric Slides all over the Bears.

Zeroes and Heroes

I’ve been waiting on this one for a while. The Dallas Cowboys have gone three straight games with double digit points since losing Ezekiel Elliott to suspension after their game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Elliott is currently halfway through a six-game suspension for multiple personal conduct violations, and he is serving his time as extensive legal battles between his lawyers and the NFL continue.

The Cowboys lost on Thanksgiving in hilarious fashion, getting scorched by San Diego QB Philip Rivers for 434 yards and 3 touchdowns in front of their home crowd. The Dallas offense was emasculated by the Chargers defense, which picked off Dak Prescott twice and held him to less than 180 passing yards. Dez Bryant — he of complaining, trash-talking, playoff-touchdown-ball-dropping fame — was limited to three catches for 37 yards and the ‘Boys didn’t manage to score until the fourth quarter. The Cowboys are playing the Washington Redskins this week in Dallas as both teams fight to keep any remaining Wild Card hopes alive.

Des Bryant’s famous 2014 divisional round temper tantrum after dropping crucial catch late against Packers.

The Pittsburgh Steelers improved to 9-2 on the season Sunday night with a 31-28 home win over the Green Bay Packers. Antonio Brown proved that he is the best receiver in the league with an incredible ten catch, 169 yard, two touchdown performance. The Steelers, once again, are pulling away from everyone in the habitually weak AFC North late in the season. They have won six straight contests and look to continue their late run into the playoffs with remaining games against Cincinnati, Baltimore, Cleveland, and the 4-7 Houston Texans.

NFL Roundup: Zeroes and Heroes, Black and White

In week 11 of the NFL, the Rams offense was finally stymied, losing 24-7 to the Minnesota Vikings, racking up less than 300 yards of total offense. The Packers were shut down at home by the Baltimore Ravens, losing 23-0 while Joe Flacco put up one of the worst performances a QB can have while trying to make a case for “elite” title, throwing for 183 yards with one pick and one touchdown, and the Cowboys were a shell of their old selves without Zeke, losing at home to the Eagles 37-9.

Peterman pays for McDermott’s sins

In a move that shocked the NFL world, Bills head coach Sean McDermott benched Starting QB Tyrod Taylor on Sunday after the team had lost two straight games. The move puzzled many, as the Bills’ offense for the past few seasons has been pretty much based around Tyrod.

Tyrod. Benched for what?

He sat out the whole first half and continued to be the spiritual leader of the team from the sidelines, while Nate Peterman gave us more fuel to toss atop the Colin Kaepernick-blacklist fire. Peterman threw more interceptions in the first half alone — 5 –than Tyrod has thrown all season.

Taylor was sent onto the field to play the second half, by which point the Los Angeles Chargers had already scored 40 points.  Tyrod was given the unfair task of trying to keep his team in the game but the deficit was too large, and the Bills went on to lose 54-24. Nate Peterman’s disastrous performance left many in awe of the fact that Colin Kaepernick, a Super Bowl runner-up, still does not have a job in the NFL when so many awful QBs are still employed.

Nate Peterman: Better than Kaepernick. Uh huh.

Eli mans up and takes down the Chiefs

The Giants won one for the fans this weekend as Eli Manning was the only passer to not throw a pick in the Chiefs-Giants game on Sunday. Kansas City QB Alex Smith, tight end Travis Kelce and Giants RB Shane Vereen all accounted for at least one interception during the game. The Giants won in overtime on a 23-yard field goal by kicker Aldrick Rosas, improving to a disastrous 2-8 record on the season.

The Giants have looked ready to collapse all season, but they live to see another day after defeating the Chiefs, who had looked like one of the best teams in the league at the start of the season, 12-9. The Chiefs are now 6-4 after losing four of their last five games, and they must be stunned after losing what seemed like a sure victory. The Giants play next on Thanksgiving against the Redskins, who are coming off a devastating 34-31 overtime loss to the Saints — after giving up a 15-point lead with less than three minutes left in regulation.

Big Ben beats up on the Titans

The Steelers improved to 8-2 on the season after a 40-17 Thursday Night thrashing of the Tennessee Titans. Ben Roethlisberger dispelled speculation about his age with another excellent performance, throwing for 299 yards along with 4 touchdowns.

The Titans looked like a potential dark horse at the beginning of the season, being in the AFC South and coming off an impressive 2016 season in which they just missed the playoffs. DeMarco Murray has been one of the team’s biggest disappointments this year. After being the third leading rusher in 2016, Murray has lacked the fire that made him so dominant last year and has been surrendering many carries to 2015 Heisman trophy winner Derrick Henry.

DeMarco: Will he snap back?

Zeroes and Heroes

The Miami Dolphins fell to the Ryan Fitzpatrick-led Tampa Bay Bucs on Sunday, 30-20. The Dolphins have been slacking this season, going 4-6 and getting shut out twice in games against the Saints and Ravens. The Dolphins offense has struggled after Ryan Tannehill — who was coming into his stride after the Dolphins went 10-6 in 2016 and finished second in the division — was lost for the year due to a pre-season injury.

Tannehill was replaced by the godawful Jay Cutler, who came out of retirement for a fat paycheck. Cutler has been plagued by injury and backup Matt Moore has stepped in for him on multiple occasions this year. Furthermore, the loss of Jay Ajayi via trade eliminated one of the team’s only rushing weapons. Ajayi’s play for the Dolphins this year let many down and wondering what happened, but when he scored his first rushing touchdown of the year after being traded to the Eagles it was clear that he was not the problem in Miami.

Jay Cutler: Another terrible White QB. Do I see a pattern here?

The Jacksonville Jaguars have surpassed expectations this year. The team is now 7-3 and sitting atop the AFC South after firing Gus Bradley last year and hiring Doug Marrone as the new head coach. Talented additions to the revamped defense have earned the team’s defensive unit the nickname “Sacksonville.”

Jacksonville’s defense has accounted for 40 sacks this year along with 13 interceptions, and they are currently first in the NFL in both points allowed and total yards allowed to opponents. The team has their greatest challenge ahead of them heading into the last six weeks of the season, playing the Seahawks in week 14 and trying to make the playoffs for the first time since 2007.

NFL Roundup, Week 10: A lot of zeroes and a few awe-inspiring heroes

This week in the NFL, Cam Newton returned to his old form as the Carolina Panthers humiliated the Dolphins on Monday night; the LA Rams continued to impress viewers with a 33-7 win over the Houston Texans in which Jared Goff threw for 311 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions; and former Chargers kicker Josh Lambo helped lift the Jaguars to a W over his old team with a field goal in overtime, proving that no matter what city they are based in, the Chargers are first-rate choke artists.

There’s something wrong with Cleveland

Cleveland, Ohio was once a proud city. Right on Lake Erie, it  used to be one of the many industrial and industrious cities that represented American values of resilience, hustle, and determination. Now, Cleveland has the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, respectable baseball and basketball franchises, and the worst team in football.

Cleveland. Sort of pathetic.

Not even the 0-16 2008 Detroit Lions were as pathetic as the Cleveland Browns. After going winless in 2008, the Lions were able to steadily improve their record and even able to reach the playoffs three years later.

The Browns have not made the playoffs since 2007 and have been the laughingstock of the NFL for most seasons following their return to the league in 1999. The team has not won on a Sunday in almost two years — that’s astonishing — with their last win being on a Saturday in 2016 against the San Diego Chargers (RIP). The title of winningest QB in FirstEnergy Stadium, where the Browns play home games, is Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger.

Meet winningest QB at Browns’ stadium. He’s not a Brown.

The Browns’ last loss came on Sunday against the Lions. They were able to hang with Detroit long enough and kept the game even, until the fourth quarter when they were outscored 14-0 and ended up losing 38-24. The outlook for the Browns the rest of this season is pretty grim, and they can at best hope to win a few games for the fans or just lose out and secure the first overall pick in the draft.

Seahawks’ Sherman goes down on Thursday Night

Last Thursday, the Seahawks and the Cardinals squared off in Arizona and Seattle came out on top, winning by a score of 22-16. The biggest story of the night, however, was the Seahawks losing one of their defensive leaders and fan-favorite CB Richard Sherman in the third quarter.

A tragedy struck the nation.

It was discovered that Sherman suffered a ruptured achilles tendon and he will miss the rest of the 2017 season. The injury is a tragic loss to Seahawks fans and fans of good football and trash-talking, but the incident further brings into question the safety and risks of teams playing Thursday night games on short weeks.

Sherman himself has been critical of Thursday night games in the past and has called out the NFL’s hypocrisy in advocating for player safety while scheduling these games, apparently to pull more viewership ratings and revenue out of players putting their bodies on the line week after week.

As a passionate football fan, I love the Thursday night games because it means less time between Monday night and the start of the next football week. But if the players are asking for more time to recover it’s only right that the league listens.

The 49ers come out on top in the Toilet Bowl

The 49ers proved on Sunday that yes, the New York Giants really are that atrocious. The battle of two of the worst teams in the league ended with San Francisco winning 31-21 and avoiding a winless season.

The game was highlighted by an 83-yard touchdown from receiver Marquise Goodwin, who just hours earlier that same day had lost his son due to complications with his wife’s pregnancy. Goodwin has come to the forefront of the 49ers receiving corps this year, especially after the team had to place veteran wideout Pierre Garçon on injured reserve.

Marquee star.

The loss for New York added fuel to the fire under head coach Ben McAdoo’s hot seat and raised questions about how the team is so bad after making the playoffs last year and coming into the season with plenty of cause for optimism.

Zeroes and Heroes

The Denver Broncos lost 41-16 to the New England Patriots on Sunday night at home. This loss came a week after they were blown out by the Philadelphia Eagles, 51-17.

A few identifiable problems with Denver are their defense and quarterback woes. Since Peyton Manning retired after Super Bowl 50, the Broncos have done little to address the absence of a true starting QB on the roster. First round pick and former Memphis QB Paxton Lynch has been sidelined for most of his time on the team. Meanwhile, it appears that the Broncos believed that if Trevor Siemian could piece together a few wins here and there, they didn’t really need to go looking for a franchise QB.

Most recently, the team brought Houston flameout and disgrace to football Brock Osweiler back to the active roster. Osweiler bounced around in the off-season after riding along last year on Houston’s defense and putting a dark spot on receiver DeAndre Hopkins’ career. The Broncos have dropped to 3-6 on the season and it’s safe to say Vance Joseph is no longer “having the time of his life,” as ESPN on-field correspondent Sergio Dipp put it week 1 on Monday night.

Drew Brees is looking as good as ever since entering the league with the Chargers in 2001. His stellar play this season has taken the Saints to a 7-2 record.

Drew Brees: In form.

On Sunday the Saints beat the Buffalo Bills, 47-10. Last year, their defense was ranked 31st in points allowed; this year it has shocked opposing teams with ferocious play. The Saints are at the top of the NFC South and are entering the Super Bowl conversation as playoff time nears.

NFL Roundup: Kissing Your Cousins Sweet For Redskins

This week in the NFL, the Eagles continued their dominant run with a 51-23 win over the Broncos in Philly, the Panthers edged out the Falcons 20-17 in an in-conference rivalry matchup, and the Texans suffered their first loss after losing sensational QB Deshaun Watson to an ACL injury earlier in the week during a practice.
A tragedy befell the nation.
Kirk Cousins does the improbable
The Washington Redskins have been riddled with injuries during the last few weeks. On Sunday in Seattle, the team was without third year Duke WR Jamison Crowder, starting center Spencer Long, star TE Jordan Reed and offensive tackle Trent Williams, just to name a few. The Skins stormed the House of 12 with an offensive line comprised of free agent signees from the last week and defeated the Seahawks. In the great Russell Wilson’s seventh home loss of his career, Kirk Cousins led the Redskins downfield and hit Josh Doctson inside the five yard line to set up a score from former Tulane fullback Rob Kelley. The defensive unit held on until the last second and broke up a Hail Mary pass to the end zone to secure the win.
Rob Kelley: Thank you, God. It’s me, Long-Suffering Skins fans.
Green’s outburst costs the Bengals
AJ Green was ejected during the first half of Cincinnati’s game against the Jaguars after getting into a scuffle with Jacksonville cornerback Jalen Ramsey, and his absence was felt as the Bengals went on to lose 23-7 to a Jacksonville team playing without rookie phenom Leonard Fournette — benched by the team after not showing up for the team photo. Ramsey has gotten in the heads of opposing receivers since his days as a Florida State Seminole, but getting a reaction from seasoned WR AJ Green was surprising. The Bengals offense was forced to play without its best wideout and was only able to score a single touchdown through the rest of play. Green was averaging over five catches and 81.7 receiving yards per game before Sunday and QB Andy Dalton heavily relied on him this year after the team started the season 0-3 and Dalton’s play was questioned by fans and critics. Luckily for the Bengals, the league did not suspend AJ Green and he will be eligible to play this Sunday against the Titans.
AJ Green loses cool and slams Jags CB Jalen Ramsey to the ground.
The J-E-T-S come up big on Thursday night
The Jets have shocked the world this season by amazingly not losing every game, and they kept it up with a 34-21 win against the Buffalo Bills on the first color rush Thursday of November. Journeyman QB Josh McCown and his 140 passing yards was carried to victory by the strong defensive play of the Jets, who had three fumble recoveries. Veteran RB Matt Forte had two scores as the Jets soared over a Buffalo team which has been led to a strong 5-3 record by Tyrod Taylor and LeSean McCoy. The Bills have been discussed as possible AFC Wild Card favorites this season and this loss is a demerit on an otherwise impressive season. Jets fans can’t blame head coach Todd Bowles for having to play with the weak hand he was dealt, but they can certainly rejoice in a win against their hated rivals.
Jets Head Coach Todd Bowles.
Zeroes and Heroes
When asked during the postgame press conference what he told his team during halftime to try and ignite a flame within them, Giants coach Ben McAdoo struggled to find an explanation and looked around the room for answers. This is an appropriate reaction for the head coach of a 1-7 team looking to cobble together any more wins after losing the majority of their receiving corps early in the season. The New York Giants are crumbling and the speculations have risen about whether or not the team should move on without long-time favorite of New York fans and Tom Brady haters Eli Manning. The Giants look to get their second win against the 0-9 49ers this Sunday.
Multiple Super Bowl loser Tom Brady and Seahawk giant Richard Sherman.
After going 4-12 and giving Mediocrity Expert Jeff Fischer the boot in 2016, the Los Angeles Rams are sitting pretty with a 6-2 record and the first place spot in the NFC West. After making Sean McVay the youngest head coach in NFL history and bringing defensive genius Wade Phillips onto the staff as defensive coordinator, the Rams are proving that the problem in 2016 was coaching, not talent. In his first year as day-one starting QB, 2016 first overall pick Jared Goff is blossoming into his role and putting the rest of the league on notice. With impressive wins this year including a trip to Jerry World where they beat the Cowboys 35-30 and a 33-0 win against the Arizona Cardinals already under their belt, the Rams are looking to close out this year with their first winning season since 2003.
Rams head coach Sean McVay and QB Jared Goff. Turning heads.