The MNF Chief-Rams masterpiece; The Cowboys’ resurgence; Lamar Jackson’s dazzling debut: Just another week in the NFL. We’ll give you all the 2018 NFL news you can handle in under three minutes (Disclaimer: you can stay longer than three minutes. Time is relative). Here’s the best—or worst—of the NFL from Week 11.
The Epic Monday Nighter: Can We Get A Re-Match?
Catch your breath yet?
Have you ever seen a more captivating, downright dizzying three-plus hours of football than the Chiefs-Rams extravaganza on Monday night? Put it this way: as hard as ESPN tried to overhype the game, with more promos than Geico commercials if possible, you came away thinking maybe they undersold it.
After all, it was the first time in NFL history that both teams scored 50 or more points, as the Rams prevailed 54-51, and let’s be honest, just watching was as exhausting as it was exhilarating.
So, with apologies to the Saints, the highest-scoring team in the league this season, averaging 37.8 points per game, can we skip the preliminaries and move right to a rematch between these two teams in the Super Bowl? You know you want it.
As it was, after watching from the sidelines as part of ESPN’s coverage, Hall of Famer Steve Young said the Monday nighter felt “almost Super Bowl-like,” and found himself “leaning in, like, ‘how do I get on the field— this is so much fun.’ It’s fun to watch.” Like everyone else, Young admitted to being mesmerized by the “unflinching nature” of the young quarterbacks, Jared Goff and Patrick Mahomes, who both persevered through costly mistakes to continue making big plays for the entire 60 minutes.
The defenses actually had their moments, with interceptions and strip-sacks that certainly contributed to the record point total, the most points ever scored in 773 Monday Night games. But mostly this was about the NFL, circa 2018, where the rule rule changes have resulted in quarterbacks young and old having historic seasons.
To the point where Young predicted, “A 60-point game is coming very quickly.”
Let it be in a Chiefs-Rams rematch in Atlanta on February 3rd.
What was Jeff Fisher Watching?
The last word on that Rams-Chiefs game? It belongs to ESPN analyst Booger McFarland, who decided to call out former Rams’ coach Jeff Fisher.
“Shame on you, Jeff Fisher,” McFarland said, “because you had America thinking that Jared Goff was a bust. He’s not a bust. He’s one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL. All it took was Sean McVay and some great coaching to bring it out.”
Not that he’s wrong about the former Rams’ coach but…ouch.
And also to McFarland’s point, is there anyone who creates more mismatches and open receivers with his offensive schemes than McVay, the 32-year old whiz-kid coach? On Monday night, former 49ers QB Steve Young compared McVay to the legendary offensive genius Bill Walsh.
For which Goff obviously should be grateful. Maybe he should wear a t-shirt that says, “I survived Jeff Fisher.”
The Amari Cooper Effect in Dallas
Ok, so maybe Jerry Jones wasn’t so dumb, after all.
Jones took a beating in the media for giving up a 1st round draft pick in what seemed to be a desperation trade for Amari Cooper, but the former Raider wide receiver’s arrival in Dallas seems to have had the desired effect on Dak Prescott, making him a more efficient quarterback.
With Cooper giving the Cowboys a receiver who actually creates separation from defenders, Prescott has passed for his three highest completion percentages of the season (67.7, 72.2, and 68.7).
At least partly as a result, the 5-5 Cowboys have won two straight games to revive their division title hopes in the NFC Least (not a typo), if you will, where the 6-4 Redskins have lost QB Alex Smith to a broken leg and it’s not unthinkable that all four teams could finish 8-8.
Or Dallas will get on a roll and TV will give us more of those obligatory shots of Jones hugging his son Steve in the owner’s suite, as he whispers, “Thanks for not letting me draft Johnny Manziel.”
When Kickers Make Coaches Lose Their Mind
The head-scratching coaching decision of the week?
Put it this way: when Ron Rivera explained his call to go for a two-point conversion in the final minute of the Panthers’ 20-19 loss to the Lions, saying you always play for a win on the road, what he really meant was this:
He’d have sooner set himself on fire than put his trust in kicker Graham Gano, who’d already missed a PAT and a 34-yard field goal.
Still, it made little sense. Yes, Cam Newton missed an open receiver, but even if he’d hit the pass and the Panthers had gone ahead by a point, the Lions would have had 1:09 remaining to drive for a game-winning field goal. Better to kick the PAT and hope for overtime. But as Rex Ryan said on ESPN: “Kickers can make you a little crazy sometimes.”
Needless to say, Riverboat Ron's risk didn't pay off.
Jackson’s Dazzling Debut: Can It Last?
Was it sour grapes or honest concern that prompted Bengals’ coach Marvin Lewis to deliver a doom-and-gloom analysis of Lamar Jackson’s electrifying debut as a starting quarterback for the Ravens?
After Jackson ran for 117 yards, the most by an NFL quarterback in four years, to help beat the Bengals, Lewis warned:
“Quarterbacks don’t run forever in the NFL. Sooner or later they get hurt, and they don’t run the same.”
In truth, Jackson’s teammate, Robert Griffin III, serves as a reminder of the perils a running quarterback faces, as a knee injury wrecked his career as a starter. But for the moment, Jackson’s performance allowed him to join his fellow first-round draft choices, Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, and Josh Rosen, as rookies who have started and won this season.
Maybe Lewis will prove to be right. Then again, maybe he should just worry about his own team, considering the Bengals have lost four of their last five games, surrendering 182 points and firing their defensive coordinator along the way.
It Could Get Ugly In Philly
How far have the Eagles fallen?
Well, Carson Wentz has not been himself...
And the dominating "underdog" defense from last season is nonexistent...
At 4-6, they’re hanging on for dear life in the NFC East, but let's talk about the embarrassing 48-7 beating they took in New Orleans last week. It was the largest defeat for an NFL-defending championship team since 1954, when the Cleveland Browns beat the Detroit Lions 56-10 in the NFL title game.
It was also the Eagles’ third loss in their last four games, and if they lose at home this week to the Giants, well, you may have heard:
They once booed Santa Claus in Philly, so it won’t be pretty.
*Out-of-market games only. Select int'l games excluded.