NFL Week 11: Goss’ three good things, three bad things and one thing to watch

photo: Geoff Burke/USA Today Sports

By Anthony Goss

The injury sustained by Bengals QB Joe Burrow was a gut punch to football fans all around the country.

After a historic collegiate season at LSU, Burrow was drafted by the Bengals, and his arrival injected enthusiasm and some swagger into the Cincinnati franchise. Make no mistake, the Bengals were not a good team even with him, but every week Burrow took the field, looking to get better and give his team at least a chance.

Sadly, an ACL tear against the Washington Football Team on Sunday will sideline him until at least next season. Burrow will be back, though, and when he gets a better offensive line and as he continues to develop, look out for the Bengals.  

Three Good Things 

Resilient Titans Walk Off in Baltimore 

The loss to the Bengals was confusing, and last week’s showing against Indianapolis spiraled out of control, but the Tennessee Titans picked themselves up and snagged a huge win against the Ravens. 

In the middle of the third quarter, the Titans faced a 21-10 deficit on the road against a Baltimore team desperate for a win itself. The Titans kicked a couple field goals early in the fourth, and after WR AJ Brown rumbled his way into the end zone, the Titans found themselves up 24-21. RB Derrick Henry had another big day, finishing with 133 yards and a walk-off touchdown in overtime to seal the game.

Tennesse moves to 7-3, keeping pace with the Colts in the AFC South and owning a tiebreaker over a possible wild card team. A win next week in their rematch with Indianapolis would vault the Titans into the third seed in the AFC playoff picture.

Mahomes Making a Case for MVP 

At the beginning of the year, it seemed like QB Russell Wilson would run away with the league’s Most Valuable Player award. QB Aaron Rodgers also made some noise recently, but at this point in the season, the defending Super Bowl MVP looks like the clear frontrunner for this year’s regular season MVP award.

Down 31-28 late in the fourth quarter, Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes II led a game-winning drive down the field with little resistance, capping it off with a touchdown throw to TE Travis Kelce. Mahomes finished with 348 yards two touchdowns and a rare interception against the Raiders, who are now too far back to challenge Kansas City for the AFC West crown. Mahomes has already surpassed his touchdown total from last season as well, and his incredible passing dazzles audiences every week.

Leading a 9-1 team trying to defend a championship, Mahomes likely has other goals in mind besides the MVP. However, another stellar performance next week when he matches up with future hall of fame quarterback Tom Brady could push the needle further in his direction for the award.

Another Week, Another Big Colts Victory 

Coming off a major win in Tennessee, it would have been easy for the Colts to ride high on their momentum and falter against QB Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. 

Down 28-14 at the half, this looked to be the case. Instead, the Colts rallied in the second half, led by QB Phillip Rivers, who finished with 288 yards and three touchdowns with one interception. The Colts defense came up big, especially in the second half as they forced two fumbles and held the Packers to three points between half time and the end of overtime.

The Colts are not as flashy as some of the other contenders in the AFC, but when Rivers is solid leading the offense and the defense makes plays like they did on Sunday, it’s hard to argue that they cannot make a run deep in the playoffs. The Colts welcome the Titans into town next week for a matchup that may decide the winner of the AFC South.  

Three Bad Things 

Carson Wentz Struggles Continue 

It’s hard to imagine any team having a worse Sunday than the Philadelphia Eagles did. Both of their division rivals competing on Sunday won, and they suffered an ugly loss in Cleveland. There are a lot of issues with this club, whether it is coaching, injuries or other players underperforming. At a certain point though, the quarterback must be held accountable for continuous disappointment on offense.

The safety that they allowed was not ideal, and the weather certainly did not help, but the interception Wentz threw to Browns LB Sione Takitaki was a painful reminder of the turnovers plaguing Wentz this season. Wentz leads the league in interceptions and fumbles. In a division void of a quality team, it has been disappointing to see Wentz get in his own way when many thought the Eagles had the edge after the injury to Cowboys QB Dak Prescott. The road ahead does not get any easier for Philly, either. In their next three games, the Eagles will take on the three teams atop the NFC standings. 

Dolphins Take a Step Back in Mile High 

Last week, the Dolphins won another game to move to 6-3 with a manageable schedule and dreams of a playoff spot in mind. Unfortunately, the Dolphins faltered in a game they might have needed on Sunday afternoon.

The play of rookie QB Tua Tagovailoa has been good, but not great, through his first three starts, and this showed against a hungry Denver defense. Broncos head coach Vic Fangio brought the heat against the rookie, and his defense sacked Tua six times. Defense was also an issue, as the Dolphins struggled to stop the Denver run game and could not create any pressure on QB Drew Lock either.

Without any pressure from the Miami defense, the Broncos were able to control this game, although it remained close throughout. With still a couple of winnable games ahead, there is no reason to panic in Miami, but in a competitive race for a wild card spot, slip-ups like these can be costly.  

Patricia and the Lions Underwhelm Once Again 

Sunday’s game between the Panthers and the Lions was the dichotomy of two polarizing mindsets. For Carolina, there was a clear motivation to play hard and win for a coach that is changing the culture for the Panthers, and that the players respect.

On the other side, it was clear (and it has been clear for a while) that there is a rift between the players and head coach Matt Patricia. Patricia’s tenure in Detroit has been a disappointment, a 20-0 shutout to Carolina reflected this. QB Matthew Stafford’s inefficient performance totaled 178 yards and no touchdowns, and a porous offensive line allowed five sacks on Stafford. Former XFL star QB P.J. Walker had a solid NFL debut for the Panthers, and the Lions’ defensive scheme did not do much to disrupt him.

This season has been the culmination of the underwhelming seasons and disappointing finishes during the Matt Patricia tenure. The Lions will not be able to overcome their sixth loss this early in the season, and at this point, it looks like the team is ready for the season to be finished. 

Keep an Eye On… 

Thanksgiving Day Divisional Matchups 

On the biggest feasting day of the year, the Washington Football Team heads to Dallas to face the Cowboys in what should be the biggest game between 3-7 teams in recent memory. Thursday’s winner will take control of the NFC East for the time being.

On Thursday, the Steelers have an opportunity to start wrapping up the AFC North before Christmas comes around, but they will have to fend off a Baltimore squad that needs a momentum boost after consecutive weeks of disappointing finishes.  

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 8: Goss’ three good things, three bad things and one thing to watch

photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images

By Anthony Goss

Sunday marked the midpoint of the strangest NFL season in history. 

The league has felt the impact of the Coronavirus and has moved games around to fit the needed changes. Despite the weekly outbreaks, most usually in small numbers, the NFL has arguably handled this situation well. While games and bye weeks fluctuate, no cancellations have occurred. 

Testing has been crucial, and contact tracing with it. In some states, fans have been able to attend games in pods. With another half of the season still to go, as well as the playoffs, the NFL has navigated this season as safely as possible without the benefits of a bubble.  

Three Good Things 

Steelers Stay Undefeated 

The victory was not pretty, but the Steelers managed to steal a big divisional game in Baltimore. The Ravens gashed Pittsburgh’s run defense for 265 yards and kept the Steelers offense out of the end zone in the first half. 

The second half told a different story, as the Steelers put together the pieces on offense, QB Ben Roethlisberger tossed two touchdowns and RB James Conner ran one in as well. Despite their inability to stop the Baltimore running game on Sunday, the defense continuously made big plays and kept the pressure on Ravens QB Lamar Jackson. Pittsburgh’s defense finished the day with four sacks, two fumble recoveries, and two interceptions, one of which LB Robert Spillane returned for a touchdown. 

One more stat that fell under the radar was the penalty yardage of each team: Pittsburgh tallied three penalties for thirty yards, but Baltimore finished with six penalties for 110 yards. In an ugly grudge match, the discipline instilled by head coach Mike Tomlin prevailed, but the Steelers (7-0) have lots of room to improve.  

DK Dominates the Niners 

Thinking back to the criticisms of WR DK Metcalf leading up to the 2019 NFL Draft, experts could not have been more wrong.

Metcalf showed flashes of talent in his rookie season, but this year he has asserted himself as a future star in the league. Besides a down game in Arizona last week, Metcalf has not finished a game this season with less than 90 receiving yards; Sunday’s matchup against San Francisco showcased all the talents of the star receiver. On a hitch route, Metcalf caught a pass and dashed across the field, running past the secondary for his first score. Metcalf scored again on a goal-to-go play with a defender draped over him, using his size and strength to seal the defender and secure the catch. 

His size combined with speed make him such a tough cover for defenses and the perfect weapon for QB Russell Wilson. For years, Wilson has managed to carry the Seattle offense with receivers ranging from average to good in skill level, but Metcalf stands out among the others. Metcalf should continue to put up high numbers next week as the Seahawks travel to Buffalo in what should be a high-scoring matchup.  

Colts Keep Winning 

The Indianapolis Colts are an underappreciated team that has shown the ability to do a lot of things well. In an impressive showing on Sunday, QB Philip Rivers led the Colts to a necessary win against the Detroit Lions. 

Despite the injury to WR TY Hilton, Rivers made plenty of plays in the passing game and completed passes to eleven different receivers. RB Jordan Wilkins stepped up in the run game as well, finishing with eighty-nine yards and one touchdown on twenty carries. The final score shows a twenty-point victory for the Colts, but with just under three minutes in the third quarter, LB Darius Leonard’s strip sack of Lions QB Matthew Stafford halted a Detroit drive and ultimately boosted the Colts to a 41-21 victory. 

Defense continues to be the calling card for this team, which gave up only twenty-nine rushing yards and returned an interception for a touchdown. Quietly, the Colts’ 5-2 record has them tied with Tennessee atop the AFC South and in prime position to secure a playoff spot. The Colts will be tested in the coming weeks though, as they will face Baltimore, Green Bay, and Tennessee twice within the next four weeks.  

Three Bad Things 

Titans Take Another Loss 

Following a tough home loss against Pittsburgh, the Tennessee Titans fell once again in Cincinatti. Through the last few weeks, many of the Titans’ issues have come on the defensive end. Hidden in their historic 5-0 start was the absurd number of points given to arguably bad teams in their winning efforts. Lately, these problems have really come to light and cost them two consecutive games. 

QB Joe Burrow shined for Cincinnati with 249 yards and two touchdowns, taking care of the ball, as well. RB Derrick Henry put in another solid one-hundred-yard performance, but it was not enough for the Titans in a 31-20 loss. The Bengals built a lead in the first half by controlling the time of possession and keeping the Titans defense on the field. Despite the problems Sunday’s matchup presented, the Titans should fare well going forward. Offense can still win games for the Titans. 

QB Ryan Tannehill has been good this season, and their run game, led by Henry, has been outstanding. The acquisition of Chargers DB Desmond King should provide a boost to the secondary once he passes COVID-19 protocols and takes the field. The Titans host the Bears on Sunday, but a big divisional matchup against the Colts on the following Thursday looms large.  

Bad Offense Bears 

After a solid 5-1 start, the Bears have had a rapid fall from grace. The offense has been abysmal, especially in the last two games and a noticeable disconnect between the players and coaches has appeared, mainly between QB Nick Foles and head coach Matt Nagy.

WR Allen Robinson also distanced himself on the sideline Sunday, appearing frustrated with the lack of passes thrown his way. On the field, Foles missed on many throws and struggled with the pressure from the Saints defense, making many throws off his back foot. The offensive scheme was inconsistent and fell apart as the game went on. The success of the Bears seems predicated on the play of the defense, but this plan fails without an offense that can score consistently and give the defense manageable field position.

Sitting at 5-3 is not the end of the world by any stretch, but Chicago needs to put together more complete offensive performances to stay in the playoff race. The question remains is if they have the right quarterback to do so. 

Cam Fumbles Away a Prime Opportunity 

After several weeks of poor performances, the Patriots found themselves in position to steal a crucial win in Buffalo on Sunday. Deep in Buffalo territory late in the fourth quarter, New England was looking to run the clock and score a game-winning touchdown, or at least send the game into overtime. On a designed quarterback run, QB Cam Newton fumbled the ball inside the red zone and handed the Bills the game. 

For the Bills, they finally exercised their demons against the Patriots. As for New England, it blew a prime opportunity in a must win game. Against Seattle, Denver, and Buffalo, the Patriots have had chances to win but have not been able to finish, resulting in a 2-5 record and one of the longest losing streaks in recent memory. 

Newton’s performance exceeded those from the previous two games, but the costly turnover against a division rival stings and could spell trouble for the Patriots playoff hopes and his future.  

Keep an Eye On…. 

Dolphins Sudden Success 

After the Dolphins throttled the Rams on Sunday, fans should keep an eye on Miami in the coming weeks. The decision to switch quarterbacks was a strange one, since QB Ryan Fitzpatrick provides more stability on offense.

Nonetheless, the Dolphins have held their own against some of the better teams in the NFL, and an upset win in Arizona next week could enhance their presence on the national stage.