NFL Week 10: Goss’ three good things, three bad things and one thing to watch

photo: Getty Images

By Anthony Goss

Last week, I noted that the Steelers had a small COVID-19 outbreak within their organization, and one of those exposed was QB Ben Roethlisberger. Roethlisberger basically did not practice all week and attended zoom meetings online.

Despite this hindrance, he was able to take the field Sunday, and his performance (333 yards and four touchdowns) dismantled the Cincinnati Bengals defense. This has been a strong year for the veteran QB, and he has shown how much the Steelers missed him last season. This year, the Steelers (9-0) are strong on both sides of the ball, but Roethlisberger should be the unquestionable leader for comeback player of the year.  

Three Good Things 

Cardinals Win on a Prayer 

Sometimes, a football game comes down to great players making great plays. 

Bills QB Josh Allen capped off a seemingly game-winning drive with a great throw to WR Stefon Diggs with 34 seconds left in the game. Then, wit htwo seconds remaining, QB Kyler Murray avoided a defender to scramble left, heaving the ball into the end zone right into the enormous hands of WR DeAndre Hopkins.

There is a lot to pick at for Buffalo, whether that be the porous defense against Murray, or Allen’s costly interceptions that led to the team’s blown lead, but at the end of the day, Arizona’s best players made an outstanding play. Murray has been outstanding this year, and his dual-threat ability has given defenses fits. The win vaulted the Cardinals into first place in the NFC West division, setting them up for a rematch against the reeling Seahawks in Seattle on Thursday night.  

Brady and the Bucs Bounce Back 

When the Buccaneers are not playing the Saints, they look like one of the best teams in football. QB Tom Brady rebounded after one of his worst games by throwing for 341 yards and three touchdowns, adding another on a quarterback sneak. 

All of the talented weapons on the perimeter for Tampa Bay got involved, including WR Antonio Brown, who posted seven receptions for 69 yards. His progress going forward could make this offense even more dangerous. Carolina looked completely outmatched as the Bucs defense buckled down in the second half after allowing seventeen points and a couple big plays in the first half. The Buccaneers now turn to a Monday night tilt against the Los Angeles Rams, which will be an important game for wild card seeding. 

Colts take Control on Thursday Night 

After a disappointing effort against the Ravens, the Colts had a short week to prepare for the Titans and RB Derrick Henry, but they were up for the challenge. The Titans outgained the Colts on the ground, but the Colts defense stifled QB Ryan Tannehill in the air.

RB Nyhiem Hines accounted for 115 total yards and two touchdowns to lead the way for a Colts offense coming off of a bad outing against Baltimore. A blocked-punt touchdown gave the Colts separation in the third, and after another touchdown in the fourth, the Colts held on to win 34-17. After a hot start, Tennessee has cooled off and now Indianapolis has the edge in the AFC for the foreseeable future.  

Three Bad Things 

Seahawks Start to Fade 

Seattle rode the play of QB Russell Wilson to a fast start, but as the competition has picked up, the Seahawks have now lost three of four and some major flaws have come to light.

Seattle has a porous defense giving up the most yards per game in the league, most of those coming through the air. All of the Rams’ touchdowns came on the ground, but QB Jared Goff threw for 302 yards to eight different receivers. The Seahawks have been able to mask the defensive woes with the play of Wilson; on Sunday though, the Rams kept him out of rhythm by forcing horrible reads and some bad turnovers. 

Wilson’s play was poor, but there was not any help coming from another source against Los Angeles. The Seahawks offensive line allowed six sacks, and Wilson’s best target, WR DK Metcalf, struggled to get open against one of the league’s top defenders in CB Jalen Ramsey. It’s a quick turnaround for the Seahawks, who host the Cardinals on Thursday night, but Seattle has never lost three games in a row with Russell Wilson under center. 

Eagles Blow Another Divisional Matchup 

There will be an NFC East team hosting a playoff game, and surprisingly, it still might be the Eagles. In a must win game to create separation in this horrible division, the Eagles looked awful. QB Carson Wentz took care of the ball, but his 208 passing yards were nothing of substance.

Coaching has been a gripe in Philadelphia for a while, and Sunday only furthered those frustrations. Head coach Doug Pederson brought his team out of the bye week flat, and he mismanaged several third down and fourth down scenarios. The decision to go for two when the Eagles were down by four was a bad one to put it lightly. 

Philly needed this game, as it has a gauntlet of tough matchups upcoming: at Cleveland, Seattle, at Green Bay, New Orleans, and at Arizona. If they can steal one of those games and finish strong in the division, the Eagles should be able to host a Wild Card game, but they have a lot of work to do. 

Ugly Weather, Ugly Night for Baltimore 

As the rain poured down in Foxborough, so did the Patriots run game on a strong Baltimore defense. Baltimore gave up 173 yards against the Patriots, well above their season average. QB Lamar Jackson had a nice showing with 249 yards and two touchdowns and one pick, but the Baltimore offense lacks the flare it showed last season.

Penalties were another killer in this game, as the Ravens finished with eight for 64 yards. There’s no cause for panic in Charm City in terms of playoff hopes, but hopes of reclaiming the AFC North dwindled with their loss on Sunday night 

Keep an Eye On…. 

Wild Card Race in the AFC 

To this point in the season, the AFC runs nine deep with teams contending for playoff spots and records of at least 6-3. The NFL added an extra playoff spot this season in each conference, but there will still be two solid teams left out of the postseason come January.

Watching the playoff picture come together will be intriguing as these teams contend for playoff spots and division crowns. A notable matchup of this group will take place next Sunday when the Titans travel to Baltimore to take on the Ravens.  

NFL WEEK 7: Goss’ three good things, three bad things and one thing to watch

photo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images

By Anthony Goss

This fall, the Tampa Bay Lighting won the Stanley Cup, the Tampa Bay Rays are in the World Series, and now the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are blazing their own path to a divisional crown and potentially a Super Bowl appearance.

The latter might be far away, but the excitement is real for Tampa fans since QB Tom Brady has rejuvenated this Buccaneers franchise, and now they are one of the best teams in the NFL.

Many doubted the ability of the six-time champion, but Brady has played with a chip on his shoulder this season. His play has contributed to making Tampa Bay the new epicenter of the sports world.

Three Good Things 

Steelers Outlast Titans 

In a battle of undefeated teams, the Steelers outlasted a furious rally from the Tennessee Titans to move to 6-0 on the season. This game was a tale of two halves, as the Steelers raced out to a 24-7 lead, and in the second half the Titans stormed back and nearly sent the game to overtime. 

QB Ben Roethlisberger was not himself, but the Steelers defense had another strong performance led by LB Bud Dupree and DE TJ Watt. In the past weeks, the Steelers’ record was questioned because they had not beaten a quality team, but in the last two weeks they have shut down two of the best rushing attacks in the league and grabbed wins against quality AFC opponents.

The offense arguably has not reached its full potential yet, but almost every skill position player has the potential to breakout any given week: This week, RB James Conner led the rushing game with 20 carries for 82 yards and WR Juju Smith-Schuster took the opportunity to silence critics with 9 catches for 85 yards. The Steelers sit at first place in the AFC North and can strengthen their hold in the division with a pivotal game against Baltimore on Sunday.  

Brady and the Bucs look Dominant 

Despite a couple hiccups early in the season, the Buccaneers have been a force on both sides of the ball. QB Tom Brady looks motivated to silence the critics, and he followed up a quiet performance last week by gashing a weak Raiders defense with 369 yards and four touchdowns, which lifted him into the all-time for passing touchdowns.  

After his last year in New England with limited options on offense, Brady has a plethora of exceptional weapons this season. In a couple weeks, Tampa will be adding WR Antonio Brown to this offensive attack.

If they can keep his antics under control, this surging Buccaneers offense will really start to give opposing defenses headaches. Defensively, the Buccaneers held a solid Raiders run game to seventy-six yards and have yet to allow over a hundred rushing yards in any game this season. Through seven games, the Buccaneers have established the best run defense and become one of the best total defenses in football. 

Linebackers Lavonte David Devin White are anchoring a nasty Buccaneers defense. The obsession with winning and preparedness that has become a hallmark of Brady’s illustrious career seems has reflected on his teammates and turned Tampa Bay into one of the best teams in the NFC.  

Cardinals End Seahawks Undefeated Streak 

In a Sunday night shootout, the Cardinals handed Seattle its first loss of the season. A couple weeks ago, I mentioned some of the strange results from Arizona after bursting out to a 2-0 start, but QB Kyler Murray and company have regained their mojo with three straight wins.

Given the crowded situation in the NFC, winning divisional matchups and protecting home-field is vital, and the Cardinals did exactly that. QB Russell Wilson’s turnovers were out of character, but the Cardinals deserve credit for taking advantage and making the plays necessary to win. 

Murray’s dynamic performance resulted in 360 passing yards and sixty-seven rushing yards with four total touchdowns. His connection with WR DeAndre Hopkins grows stronger every week and points further to the potency of this offense. The loss of RB Kenyan Drake to an ankle injury hurts, but Arizona should be able to handle the loss. 

If Sunday night is any indication of what is to come in this division the next half of the season, the NFC West race will be one to keep an eye on until Wild Card Weekend.  

Three Bad Things 

Cam Newton Starting to Struggle  

After a decent start, the Cam Newton experiment at quarterback has gone sour in New England. Many attributed last week’s poor showing against Denver to the weird rescheduling consequences from a COVID-19 outbreak, but with Sunday’s loss, the Patriots have put themselves in unfamiliar territory. 

At 2-4, the Patriots are third in the AFC East with many holes on both sides, but quarterback play has been the main issue on this losing skid. Newton was deplorable with ninety-eight yards and three interceptions on Sunday.

Bill Belichick pulled Newton toward the end of the game and many were critical of Newton’s latest performances, including himself. The Patriots lack any speed or playmakers, and the defense has its own issues. However, Newton must elevate his game going forward to prove his worth as a starting quarterback. With a big game against Buffalo next week, there is no better time for Newton to right the wrongs and put the Patriots back into the race for the AFC East.  

Turmoil in Dallas 

Once again, the Dallas Cowboys took the field and embarrassed themselves. 

After a week of controversy with reports leaking out about discontent with the coaching staff among the players, Dallas continued to struggle against division rival Washington. The loss of QB Dak Prescott has had a severe effect on this offense, which mustered up only three points Sunday. 

The defense has been extremely poor this season and has given up a record amount of points. No moment captures the 2020 Cowboys better than the dirty hit by Washington LB Jon Bostic on QB Andy Dalton, a hit that was followed by absolutely no retaliation by any Dallas player. Beyond the major character issues spread throughout the team, the Cowboys simply lack the talent to compete with most teams.

Prescott’s presence was only able to mask those problems to an extent, but without him, one must question the front office and the decisions they have made. Letting CB Byron Jones leave was a horrible mistake, yet they paid players RB Ezekiel Elliot and LB Jaylon Smith who have contributed next to nothing this season. 

Head coach Mike McCarthy was supposed to turn the Cowboys from a good to a great team after a year off, but has only made things worse. There are some bad football teams in the NFL, but the Cowboys are a bad team without upside. 

Falcons Collapse…..Again 

When a team loses by accidentally scoring a touchdown, it is fair to say they have invented new ways to lose. Down by two, Atlanta put together a solid drive to run clock and potentially win the game in the final seconds. 

On a first-and-goal play, RB Todd Gurley rushed through the line and broke into the secondary but could not stop his momentum before the goal line and accidentally scored a touchdown with a little over a minute left to play. This gave QB Matthew Stafford plenty of time to march down the field and toss a game winning touchdown to TE TJ Hockenson. 

Sitting at 1-6, the Falcons add another gut-wrenching loss to their record. Last week was a fresh start with a win against Minnesota, but this loss is a major setback for any hopes of climbing back into contention. Strange things have happened this season, but the ways in which Atlanta has struggled to finish games is incredible.  

Keep an Eye On…. 

NFC West Race 

San Francisco’s win brought the 49ers back over .500, the Rams defeated the Bears on Monday night, and Arizona’s win over Seattle gave them their second divisional win. Each of the four teams in the NFC West have an argument for being the best team in the division. With a long way to go, this divisional race is becoming one of the exciting storylines in the NFL.  

NFL WEEK 3 COLUMN: Three good things, three bad things and one thing to watch

photo: Abbie Parr/Getty Images

By Anthony Goss

Week 3 of the NFL season carried on some of the same dramatic flair seen in Week 2 (no, this is not just the Falcons blowing two 15-point leads in the fourth quarter). 

Ranging from last-second touchdowns to unfortunate mistakes, Sunday’s slew of games highlighted the success of a few great players, but also boiled the frustrations of the fanbases watching their teams continue to struggle, including the Vikings, Texans and Jets, just to name a few.

Week 3 also had a significant decrease in major injuries, which is a major plus after the notable amount of injuries sustained by big name players in Week 2. Here are three good things, three bad things and one thing to keep an eye on heading into Week 4.  

THREE GOOD THINGS 

Josh Allen Circles the Wagons 

This take may not be new to the fans in western New York, but after Sunday’s outing against the Rams, it is time for the rest of the league to take the Bills, and specifically quarterback Josh Allen, more seriously.

Give credit to the Rams for finding their way back from a 28-3 deficit to retake the lead, but this game was about Allen. In a marquee game, he delivered big time for the Bills, throwing for 311 yards and 4 TD, and running for one more. 

After the Rams took the lead with 4:30 left in the game, Allen marched down the field with a couple of huge throws to wide receiver Cole Beasley and capped off the 75-yard drive with a toss to tight end Tyler Kroft to seal the game.

Last week, the Bills found themselves down against the Miami Dolphins and Allen delivered. The Rams are a much better team than the Dolphins, but Allen’s poise has been mostly consistent against all opponents this year. If he can keep up this level of play, the Bills (3-0) can become real contenders in a loaded AFC.  

Russell Wilson is leading the MVP discussion 

There is not much else to say about Russell Wilson this season except that he has been stellar. Once again, Wilson showed he is operating on a different level, as he dissected and depleted a talent-lacking Cowboys defense to the tune of 315 yards, 5 TD and a passer rating of 130.7 in a 38-31 victory for the Seahawks.

Seattle’s offense has been electric this season with Wilson at the helm, posting over 30 points in each game. Somehow, Wilson has not received the MVP award in the past, despite his role in carrying the franchise successfully for many years, but that could change this season.

Wilson will need to keep posting similar numbers and playing at this level for the Seahawks to stay atop a daunting NFC West.  

49ers Complete Big Apple Sweep 

The 49ers arguably have been plagued the most by injuries early this season.

On Sunday, San Francisco took the field without Raheem Mostert, George Kittle or Jimmy Garoppolo, and still managed to hang 36 points on the New York Giants. The 49ers win on Sunday was an impressive response after an adverse week where several key players went down, including defensive end Joey Bosa, who may be gone for the rest of the season.

Squashing two of the worst teams back to back seems like a minor headline, but San Francisco will be glad to gather up wins like these to keep pace in the best division in pro football.  

THREE BAD THINGS 

Turn Up the Heat on the ATL Hot Seat 

If the NFL played three quarters, the Falcons would be sitting at 2-1 and tied for the lead in the NFC South. Unfortunately, this is not the case, and head coach Dan Quinn’s team has struggled mightily the last two weeks to finish football games.

After their debacle in Dallas, the Falcons headed home for what most thought would be a game for them to get back on track. Taking a 26-10 lead into the fourth quarter, it seemed like they were in a good spot.

Then, Nick Foles came in at quarterback for Mitchell Trubisky (which may be a permanent change). Foles rallied the Bears with three scores in the fourth, sending Twitter into another frenzy and the Falcons to a record of 0-3.

Granted, the team was without Pro Bowl wideout Julio Jones, but the defense struggled down the stretch and the offense could not make any winning plays to put the game out of reach. 

To make matters worse, Atlanta travels to Green Bay next Monday night to play a team averaging over 40 points per game. If Quinn fails to have his team ready, Aaron Rodgers and a potent Packers offense will not hesitate to send them to 0-4. 

NFC (L)EAST 

Once again, the NFC East is the worst division in football.

Starting at the top (surprisingly), the Washington Football Team is a young group not expected to do much, but quarterback Dwayne Haskins and the offense turned the ball over five times against the Browns. Defensive lineman Chase Young also went down with a groin injury, but it should not keep him out of action for a significant amount of time. 

Dallas has shown some good in the early stages of the Mike McCarthy era, but a lot more disappointment. Kellen Moore’s play calling has come into question on offense, but the defense has been nothing short of atrocious. Byron Jones’ departure has hurt the secondary, which has a myriad of injuries and inconsistent play from young players has resulted in Mike Nolan’s bunch giving up an average of 277 pass yards per game and 32.3 points per game.

Dak Prescott has played well for the most part, but a banged-up offensive line has underperformed expectations. There is time for the Cowboys to try and fix some of these issues, but this team has disappointed in the early stages of the season.

The Eagles disappointed once again, unable to beat Joe Burrow and the Bengals at home. Carson Wentz continued to struggle and turn the ball over, adding two more interceptions to his season total, but managed to run for a touchdown that ended up being the last score in a 23-23 tie.

The Eagles are a bad football team, but the Giants look even worse, sitting at 0-3. Losing running back Saquon Barkley has not helped, but their offense is extremely lacking so far, ranking near the bottom of the league in team offense and only averaging 272.3 yards on offense.

Despite this horrendous start for the division, Dallas still looks like the best team and should win the division, but whoever wins may not finish with a record over .500.  

Cooldown for Kyler 

The Lions shocking victory fell a little under the radar Sunday afternoon, as Matt Prater booted Detroit to its first win of the season.

More than anything, this game showed second-year quarterback Kyler Murray still has lots of room to grow. Murray threw for 270 and two touchdowns, but his three interceptions proved costly for the Cardinals.

Murray has been electric this season, and his touchdown run exemplified this explosiveness, but Sunday showed some flaws he has as a young quarterback.

Murray rushed some throws and made some poor reads, but these mistakes take very little away from him as a player. If anything, he will use this game as a lesson to grow. 

The Cardinals are still a very talented group, and Murray’s connection with newly aquired wideout Deandre Hopkins continues to demonstrate the incompetence of Texans coach Bill O’Brien (who infamously traded Hopkins away).

Regardless, Kliff Kingsbury’s team is an exciting storyline early in the season and should play a role in shaping the NFC playoff picture. Sitting at 2-1, the Cardinals now head out of the desert for a three-game road trip against teams all with losing records.  

Keep an Eye On: Status of Michael Thomas 

The New Orleans Saints sit at 1-2 after falling to the Packers on Sunday night. While a single WR should not be the deciding factor for a Drew Brees-led offense, Thomas’ presence has certainly been missed. 

Thomas, the NFL’s leading receiver a year ago, has missed the last two games with a high ankle sprain.

Thomas presents a downfield threat for the Saints that other wideouts on the roster just can’t provide. The offense was better against Green Bay than it was against Vegas a week ago, but if the Saints are going to win the NFC South and an aging Drew Brees can be the best version of himself, Thomas needs to be on the field. 

The Saints have other issues besides the missing Thomas-Brees connection, but having him back will elevate Brees’ game and take the pressure off of running back Alvin Kamara to provide in the passing game. The Saints head to Detroit next week and will try to get back to .500 as Thomas’ injury status remains in question.