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

photo: USA Today Sports

By Anthony Goss

As the weather gets colder and the NFL playoff race heats up, I enjoy watching the teams at the middle of the pack or teams who started slow try to climb back into contention.

A perfect example of this climb is the Minnesota Vikings. After notching back-to-back wins within its division, Minnesota is inching its way into the wild card conversation. A record of 3-5 leaves the Vikings with a lot of ground to cover, but riding the coattails of RB Dalvin Cook has led to dominant performances in their last two games.

Cook has carried this offense in its last two games, totaling 369 yards and five touchdowns in victories against Green Bay and Detroit. Leading this resurgence, Cook has made his case as the best running back in the league.  

Three Good Things 

Drew Brees Orchestrates a Vintage Performance 

There has been a flagrant disregard for Saints QB Drew Brees this season.

His arm strength is fading, but he has navigated the season basically without his best receiver in WR Michael Thomas. Despite the doubt cast on Brees and the Saints leading up to their matchup against the Buccaneers, they rang the bell and beat down on Tampa Bay. Brees spread the ball to twelve different receivers and finished with 222 yards and four touchdowns with a passer rating of 135.2. Sean Payton continued to use QB Taysom Hill as a wrinkle in an unstoppable Saints offense. The defense was on top of QB Tom Brady all night with nine hits and three sacks. 

This dominant victory puts the Saints back in the spotlight in the NFC going forward. Brees may not be the player he once was, but Sunday showed that he and the Saints are not quite ready to let go of a division they have owned the last three seasons.  

Bills Notch a Huge Win 

Questions surrounded the Bills after a streak of weak showings, mainly focusing on defense and QB Josh Allen. With a 44-34 victory over the Seahawks, the Bills silenced the critics and officially changed the trajectory of their franchise.

Allen was outstanding with 415 yards, three touchdowns, and no turnovers. The Buffalo defense also stepped up big, forcing four turnovers, generating five sacks, and kept QB Russell Wilson from finding his rhythm throughout the game. Keeping a lid on Wilson is a near impossible task, but Buffalo’s explosive offense picked apart a weak Seahawks secondary which made the difference. In what might be the best win for the franchise in decades, the Bills turned a corner on Sunday. 

In consecutive weeks, Buffalo has shown it can win games in a multitude of ways, a key to success in the NFL. The days of competing as an “exciting” or “up-and-coming” team are over; the Bills are a legit Super Bowl contender that can hang with the best teams in the league. 

Dolphins Steal One in the Desert 

After their rival secured a huge win against an NFC West opponent, the Miami Dolphins returned the favor by marching into Arizona and making a statement in the desert. 

First of all, the turnaround of this franchise led by head coach Brian Flores is nothing short of incredible. Through eight games, the Dolphins have already matched their win total from last season. Last week was an underwhelming debut for QB Tua Tagovailoa, but he was the difference this week and led the Dolphins to victory after going down ten early in the fourth quarter. Tua took a couple sacks, but showed a lot of poise for a rookie quarterback in his second start.

Another big difference in this game was the Miami defense, which scored a touchdown for the second consecutive game thanks to DE Shaq Lawson. The Dolphins might be a bit ahead of schedule, but continued performances like these will keep the Bills on their heels in what looks to be a two-team race in the AFC East.  

Three Bad Things 

Tampa Bay Blunder 

Going into Sunday night’s game, the thought of three quarterbacks out-performing Bucs QB Tom Brady was not on the mind of anyone. After a 38-3 drubbing courtesy of the Saints, that is exactly what happened.

In one of the worst performances of his career, Brady posted only 209 yards and three interceptions, one of which hung in the air for an eternity. This disastrous performance was not just his fault, but showed a general lack of preparedness in all facets of the game. The Bucs ran the ball only five times, one carry being a kneel at the end of the game. In addition to Brady’s poor passing, he as under duress the entire night without any help from his offensive line. The defense that looked so promising in weeks past had no answers for QB Drew Brees, and QB Taysom Hill also had his opportunities to expose their porous defense.

It would be an exaggeration to call this a devastating loss for the Bucs, but it does give the Saints the edge in the division going forward. 

Lions Coming Up Short 

After a disappointing outing last week against Indianapolis, the Lions had a chance to rebound and pick up a key divisional win. Instead, they were trounced by RB Dalvin Cook and the Vikings.

Inconsistency has plagued the Matt Patricia era and the Lions continue to struggle making themselves a true contender. Detroit has shown they can beat their lesser opponents, but against contenders or teams with playoff aspirations, the Lions have come up short. Sunday’s matchup followed this narrative. The inability to contain Cook was a problem, but even worse were the interceptions QB Matthew Stafford threw deep in Minnesota territory on consecutive drives (the second coming after a blocked punt). 

The schedule sets up well for the Lions in the coming weeks, but ends with several challenging games. If they cannot change course, Patricia might be on his way out.  

Winning Ugly v. Losing Ugly 

Earlier this season, Bears QB Nick Foles discussed how winning ugly is better than losing pretty. This sentiment is true, but now the Bears are losing ugly and streaking in the wrong direction.

For the third game in a row, the Bears have demonstrated an ineptitude on offense. Foles and the Bears admittedly moved the ball a bit on Sunday, but could never finish long drives. By the middle of the fourth quarter, the score was 24-3 and despite a couple late touchdowns, it never felt like Chicago had a chance to change the game. 

The defense did its part and held RB Derrick Henry in check, but without any response on offense, the game got out of reach. Chicago was able to mask its offensive woes early, but as its schedule become more challenging, points have been scarce. A win against division rival Minnesota on Monday night would be a major boost for a team desperate for momentum. 

Keep an Eye On… 

COVID Outbreak in Pittsburgh 

So far, the coronavirus is the only thing able to beat the 2020 Pittsburgh Steelers. On Tuesday, QB Ben Roethlisberger and three others were ruled as close contacts with TE Vance McDonald who tested positive for COVID-19. They must isolate for five days and continually receive positive tests while participating in team meetings online. The Steelers face the Bengals on Sunday and, if they are without their quarterback, their undefeated streak might be in jeopardy. 

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.