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.
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.
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.