Winners, losers from ‘Monday Night Football’ doubleheader in Week 1

To celebrate the first week of the season, fans were treated to a “Monday Night Football” doubleheader that featured plenty of fireworks.

Early, it was the Houston Texans visiting the New Orleans Saints. This one proved to be an entertaining, see-saw battle all game long. It wasn’t until the last second ticked off the clock that we knew which team would win, as New Orleans eked out a 30-28 victory.

Late in the evening, the AFC West was on display with a rivalry game featuring the Denver Broncos visiting the famed Black Hole and the Oakland Raiders. To the delight of the home crowd, the Raiders dominated, winning 24-16.

These were the biggest winners and losers from the season-opening “Monday Night Football” doubleheader.

Winner: The Hyde/Johnson duo is pretty dynamic

When the Texans lost Lamar Miller for the season with an ACL injury, it was easy to panic about their ability to run the ball consistently. Then, Houston pulled off a trade for Carlos Hyde. That proved to be a savvy move, as the power back was huge in Week 1.

Hyde rushed for 83 yards on 10 carries, providing the thunder in Houston’s offense. Former Cleveland Browns back Duke Johnson provided the lightning with 57 yards on the ground. He also provided a spark in the passing game with four catches for 33 yards. The duo combined on 175 yards from scrimmage and appears to be a solid tandem the Texans can count on this season.

Loser: J.J. Watt was practically invisible

Sep 9, 2019; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk (71) blocks Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (99) in the second half at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

When Houston traded Jadeveon Clowney to the Seattle Seahawks for a pauper’s bounty, many wondered if the Texans could remain dominant up front without him. It was only one game, but on Monday it was pretty clear they won’t be the same.

In particular, star defensive end J.J. Watt was unbelievably unproductive. In fact, Watt didn’t register a single stat. Not one tackle. Not one quarterback hit. Not one pass defended. Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

Watt is too good to struggle like this all season. But perhaps he benefited from Clowney more than anyone realized. We’ll soon find out.

Winner: Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara — still pretty darn good

Sep 9, 2019; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (13) celebrates with fans after a win against the Houston Texans during the second half at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Last season, Saints receiver Michael Thomas had one of the most impressive statistical seasons any wideout has ever had in the NFL. He caught an absurd 85% of the passes that came his way to the tune of 125 catches for 1,405 yards and nine touchdowns. On Monday night, Thomas picked up right where he left off. Catching 10 passes on 13 targets, he racked up 123 yards and was the main weapon in Drew Brees’ arsenal all game long. He’s already living up to the monster contract he signed this summer.

Fantasy football players also once again rejoiced at the production of Alvin Kamara on Monday night. He’s such a dynamic weapon, and he’s among the best the NFL has to offer in terms of bang for your buck. That was on display against Houston as Kamara racked up the yardage. He piled up 97 yards on just 13 carries and another 72 yards on seven receptions. That’s an average of 8.45 yards per touch.

Loser: Houston’s offensive line is still a huge problem

Sep 9, 2019; New Orleans, LA, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) reacts after a touchdown pass against the New Orleans Saints during the second half at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Deshaun Watson was sacked a league-leading 62 times last year and hit 125 times, and not surprisingly he got banged up quite a bit in the process. The Texans tried to fix this issue in the draft and then by trading for Laremy Tunsil right before the season began. But based on what transpired in Week 1 against New Orleans, this problem isn’t going away any time soon.

Hopkins was pummeled by the Saints. From the opening drive until the end, he took big hits in the pocket (and outside of it as well). Houston’s offensive line allowed six sacks and gave up 11 quarterback hits.

That puts Watson on pace to be sacked 96 times this year, and absorb 176 hits in the pocket. That’s not sustainable. And it’s going to get this young man hurt badly at some point.

Winner: Wil Lutz called game

Sep 9, 2019; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints kicker Wil Lutz (3) (behind) is mobbed by teammates after his game winning, 58-yard field goal against the Houston Texans in the second half at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

The final minute of the Texans-Saints game was insanely fun to watch for anyone who is not a Houston fan. It was also one of the best things we’ve seen in sports for some time now.

Deshaun Watson made two of the best throws under pressure you’ll ever see and tied the game on a touchdown pass to Kenny Stills. Then, Houston kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn missed the extra point, only to get a second chance due to a penalty. He made the kick, putting the Texans up by one point with just 37 seconds remaining in the game.

That’s when Drew Brees marched the Saints 35 yards down the field in 35 seconds, setting up a potential game-winner from 58 yards out.

Wil Lutz stepped onto the field, took a deep breath, and then called game.

Loser: Broncos struggled in the red zone

September 9, 2019; Oakland, CA, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Joe Flacco (5) passes the football against the Oakland Raiders during the first quarter at Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Broncos made a few nice pushes into to enemy territory against Oakland Monday night. They just couldn’t do much once they got into the red zone.

Four times, Joe Flacco had Denver in a position to score touchdowns inside the 20-yard line. Three times, the Broncos came up short. The only successful trip came late in the fourth quarter when the game was already practically over.

Rookie offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello struggled with the game plan. Flacco struggled to avoid pressure in key situations. The Broncos had one touchdown go right through their hands (literally), which we’ll get to in more detail later. Just an awful performance by Denver’s offense when it mattered most.

Winner: Darren Waller, Tyrell Williams, Josh Jacobs give Raiders some juice

Sep 9, 2019; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders tight end Darren Waller (83) carries the ball against Denver Broncos cornerback Isaac Yiadom (26) during the first quarter at Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

No Antonio Brown? No problem. The Raiders have plenty of offensive firepower, thanks to the emergence of ‘Hard Knocks’ star, tight end Darren Waller, free-agent acquisition Tyrell Williams and rookie running back Josh Jacobs.

Waller was a tremendous go-to option for Derek Carr in the middle of the field. He came through with seven catches for 70 yards and appears to be a centerpiece on this offense.

Williams did for Oakland what he’s been doing for the Chargers the past few years — make big plays down the field. He hauled in a gorgeous 43-yard pass and scored a touchdown, finishing with six catches for 105 yards.

Jacobs did an incredible job on the ground, rushing for 85 yards and two touchdowns. He also added 28 yards through the air.

This trio looks really good.

https://www.yardbarker.com/nfl/articles/winners_losers_from_monday_night_football_doubleheader_in_week_1/s1_12680_29957384

By: Jesse Reed

Week 1 NFL mismatches: Where Ravens, Browns, Texans have major edge

Yardbarker’s Michael Nania analyzes the biggest positional mismatches each week during the NFL season. 

Baltimore Ravens secondary vs. Miami passing attack
The Dolphins are tanking. No move made this clearer than the trade of young left tackle Laremy Tunsil, whom the Dolphins traded along with receiver Kenny Stills to the Texans for two first-rounders and a second-rounder. 

Miami already had questions on its offensive line. Now having traded the player who was their only stud on the unit, that group could be the worst in the NFL.

Those offensive line struggles only accentuate the many issues Miami’s passing attack will have. Ryan Fitzpatrick, who led the NFL in interception percentage last season by a wide margin (4.9 percent), will start the season under center. He beat out Josh Rosen.

Until Stills was dealt, Miami’s receiving core was considered a strength of this team. He had scored at least six touchdowns for the Dolphins in each of the past three seasons, leading them with 21 TDs over that span. Now, the starting trio at wide receiver is down to the disappointing DeVante Parker, the unproven Jakeem Grant and the injury-prone Albert Wilson. All three have unique talents, be it Parker’s size, Grant’s speed, or Wilson’s after-the-catch ability. But there are a litany of questions with them as a group.

If Dolphins fans are rooting for losses, they should be thrilled with their Week 1 opponent. Baltimore has one of the most stacked defensive backfields in the league, and it should dominate Miami’s offense.

At cornerback, the Ravens have the impressive trio of Marlon Humphrey, Jimmy Smith and Brandon Carr. At safety, they boast the outstanding duo of Tony Jefferson and former Seattle star Earl Thomas, signed in free agency. He is one of the league’s best ballhawks, as his 28 career interceptions ranks third in the league since 2010.

Thomas already has experience taking advantage of Fitzpatrick. In 2012, he made an excellent diving interception off of a careless Fitzpatrick heave, a perfect demonstration of his ability to make plays on the football. Thomas returned the pick 57 yards for his first career touchdown.

The Ravens’ combination of top-end secondary talent and elite pass-rushing production makes them a monstrous defense. Last season, Baltimore had the league’s second-lowest passer rating (80.6) and ranked sixth in quarterback hits (104).

Given the woes that Miami is set to deal with in all facets of the passing game –- up front, at quarterback, and out wide -– Baltimore’s secondary is set to make a lot of noise in Week 1.

Cleveland pass rush vs. Tennessee QB Marcus Mariota

Mariota had a disappointing 2018 season, but he especially struggled against strong pass-rushing defenses. Mariota played four games last season against teams that ranked in the top half of sack rate on defense: the Redskins (5th in sack rate), Jaguars (13th), Ravens (14th) and Bills (15th).

In those four contests, Mariota was unproductive, averaging a minuscule 114 passing yards per game and failing to register a passing or rushing touchdown. Mariota picked up only 23 passing first downs and was sacked 12 sacks, a brutal ratio of 1.9 to 1. In 2018, the league average ratio of passing first downs to sacks was about 4.9 to 1. 

As a result of Mariota’s struggles, the Titans’ offense averaged only 10 points in those four games against top sack-producing defenses. Although the Browns ranked just 28th in sack rate last season, they are poised to take a major leap into the upper echelons of sack rankings.

Former No. 1 selection Myles Garrett ranked sixth in the NFL with 13.5 sacks last season, but now he has company. In the offseason, the Browns added pass-rushing beasts Olivier Vernon and Sheldon Richardson.

Over the past six seasons, Vernon has 47.5 sacks, the 19th-best total in the league over that span. While that is a solid ranking, Vernon is more impressive at generating pressure than he is at getting home for sacks. Over the same span, he ranks 10th in quarterback hits, with 121.

That’s not to say Vernon, who played for the Giants last season, can’t make plays of his own -– he has made plenty of game-changing plays in his career. On the following play, Vernon stripped the ball from Bears quarterback Chase Daniel in a brilliant display of his elite technique as a pass rusher. Vernon (right defensive end) swipes away the hands of left tackle Charles Leno, rips underneath with his inside arm, then turns the corner and punches out the football as Daniel winds up.

Richardson, who played for the Vikings last season,  is a terrific run defender, but he can get some heat on quarterback too. In 2018, he ranked 14th among interior defensive linemen with 47 total pressures.

Even if neither is putting up gigantic sack numbers, the pressure created by Vernon and Richardson will open up plenty of sack opportunities for other Cleveland defenders.  Garrett, Vernon and Richardson have the potential to be one of the best defensive trios in the league. In Week 1, they get a highly favorable matchup against a quarterback who has struggled mightily under pressure.

Houston WR DeAndre Hopkins vs. New Orleans secondary
Hopkins has emerged as arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL. Year after year, he has put up monster numbers regardless of who was at quarterback. But he needed a star under center to truly get him over the hump -– and now he has one in Deshaun Watson.

Last season, Hopkins ranked fifth in receiving touchdowns (15), third in receptions (115), and second in receiving yards (1,572). He did all that while posting a superb catch rate of 70.6 percent, joining Antonio Brown and Wes Welker as the only players in league history to have a season with over 1,500 receiving yards and a catch rate over 70 percent.

Hopkins’ strong hands are the reason for his dominant play — he had zero drops last season. He set a record for the most receptions in a season without a drop, according to Pro Football Focus, which has kept track of that stat since 2006.

Any team that dares to cover Hopkins with only one defender pays the price. Here, he bullies Colts reserve cornerback Chris Milton off the line, clearing himself plenty of room to easily haul in the touchdown from Watson on a goal-line fade.

New Orleans, a team with Super Bowl aspirations, may have a weak pass defense. The Saints fielded the league’s 11th-ranked defense according to Defense-adjusted Value Over Average last season, but that was on the strength of their run defense, which ranked third in DVOA. On the other side of the ball, New Orleans struggled, ranking 22nd in pass defense DVOA. (DVOA calculates a team’s success based on the down-and-distance of each play during the season, then calculates how much more or less successful each team is compared to the league average.)

Struggles at cornerback were part of the issue. In 2018, of the 80 cornerbacks to log at least 350 cover snaps, three of the players ranked in the bottom 15 of most yards allowed per cover snap were Saints: P.J. Williams (T-76 th ), Eli Apple (T-76 th ) and Marshon Lattimore (68 th).

New Orleans allowed a 100.6 passer rating last season, the sixth-worst mark in the league and the worst among playoff teams.

Iffy pass defenses were feasted upon by Hopkins last season. Each of his best three games for receiving yardage came against teams that allowed a passer rating above the league average of 92.9. In total, Hopkins averaged 125.6 yards per game in five matchups against teams that allowed an above-average passer rating; the Texans went 5-0 in those games. In his other 11 contests, Hopkins averaged 85.8 yards per game, and Houston posted a 6-5 record.

Hopkins’ touchdown production also spiked against lesser pass defenses. He recorded six touchdown receptions in five games against teams that allowed an above-average passer rating (1.2 per game), and only five touchdowns in his other 11 games (0.5 per game).

https://www.yardbarker.com/nfl/articles/week_1_nfl_mismatches_where_ravens_browns_texans_have_major_edge/s1_13132_29910758

By: Michael Nania

2019 NFL MVP favorites and odds

The NFL quarterbacks’ MVP dynasty

Two gifted running backs — Shaun Alexander and LaDainian Tomlinson — won the Associated Press NFL MVP Award in consecutive seasons, 2005-2006. Since then, 11 of the past 12 MVPs have been quarterbacks, including 2018 top dog Patrick Mahomes who earned 41 of the 50 first-place votes. Fellow quarterback Drew Brees finished second. So Adrian Peterson’s 2012 season — less than a year removed from a torn ACL — remains the last time somebody other than an NFL quarterback hoisted the NFL MVP hardware.

Spoiler alert: Based on the favorites to win the 2019 MVP, don’t expect this trend to change anytime soon.

Odds via Bovada 2 of 16

Cam Newton

Odds: +2,500
2018 Stats: 3,395 pass yards, 24 TDs and 13 INTs | 488 rush yards  and four TDs

A shoulder injury may have cost Newton the final two games on paper, but anybody who watched the Panthers quarterback grind out the 2018 season knows it cost the team much more. Carolina started the season 6-2 and in a prime position to reach the playoffs. However, the severity of Newton’s shoulder injury prevented him from throwing balls down field and allowed defenses to cheat up and play the underneath routes. After the hot start, the Panthers lost seven of their last eight games. Newton had offseason surgery to repair the shoulder, and he’s expected to be back at 100 percent by the start of the season. His MVP chances ride on improved play of DJ Moore, Jarius Wright and a healthy Greg Olsen. The veteran tight end has missed 16 games over the past two seasons due to injury, but when healthy he’s Cam’s most trusted target. If Olsen misses time, running back Christian McCaffrey’s MVP odds could be just as high as Cam’s. 3 of 16

Philip Rivers

Odds: +2,000
2018 stats: 4,308 pass yards, 32 TDs and 12 INTs

Rivers may be the NFL equivalent of MLB’s Cal Ripken. The Chargers ironman has not missed a game for 13 consecutive seasons. While the league has gone to great lengths to protect the quarterback, the fact Rivers hasn’t sustained a serious injury over the past 208 games is nothing short of a miracle. Led by Keenan Allen, his receiving corps remains intact and receives a slight upgrade with the full-time return of tight end Hunter Henry who missed the 2018 regular season with a torn ACL. The one constant who is missing as of press time is Melvin Gordon. The Chargers starting running back is holding out in hopes of a new contract. If Gordon’s holdout lingers into the regular season, Rivers’ odds of winning the 2019 MVP should take a notable hit. 4 of 16

Jimmy Garoppolo

Odds: +3,300
2018 stats: 718 pass yards, five TDs and three INTs (in only three games due to torn ACL)

The saying goes, “we don’t know what we don’t know,” and when it comes to Jimmy G. what we don’t  know outweighs his elite hype. Garoppolo has yet to play in more than six regular-season games and missed the final 13 games of the 2018 season with a torn ACL. So the 2019 season will be a fresh canvas on which to either paint a masterpiece and fill in those unknown gaps OR post pedestrian stats as he has through his first nine games as the 49ers quarterback: 12:8 TD:INT ratio. If you’re looking for a reason to back this long shot, Kyle Shanahan’s offensive schemes will benefit — not hurt — Jimmy G’s shot at the 2019 MVP. 5 of 16

Matt Ryan

Odds: +3,000
2018 Stats: 4,924 pass yards, 35 TDs and seven INTs

Ryan was one of only four quarterbacks last season to finish with more than 600 pass attempts. Aside from a pass-first offense, the primary reason his pass attempts reached a three-year high is due to a host of injuries on the defensive side of the ball, which turned the secondary into Swiss-cheese city, and opponents racked up early leads. So Ryan, Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley (10 TDs as a rookie) and others spent most of the game in rally mode via the pass. If the defense can stay healthy, the Falcons are one of those squads that could flip the script and qualify for the playoffs one year after missing them. Ryan is as consistent as they come and despite turning 30 years old, Jones will go down as one of the top targets in NFL history. 6 of 16

Ben Roethlisberger

Odds: +3,000
2018 Stats: 5,129 pass yards, 34 TDs and 16 INTs

Without Le’Veon Bell last season, Roethlisberger led the NFL in completions (career-high), attempts (career-high), passing yards (career-high) and pass yards per game. The loss of both Bell and Antonio Brown will no doubt change the Steelers’ offensive dynamic, but don’t sleep on wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster to fill Brown’s shoes as Big Ben’s primary receiver in addition to a healthy running game of James Connor and Jaylen Samuels behind one of the NFL’s best offensive lines. While many believe the AFC North torch has been passed to Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns, an MVP season by Roethlisberger would mute any chance of that happening. 7 of 16

Deshaun Watson

Odds: +2,000
2018 Stats: 4,165 pass yards, 26 TDs and nine INTs | 551 rush yards and five TDs

The good news for Watson is that he’ll probably compete for an NFL MVP one day. The bad news is that unless his offensive line play improves 1,000 percent, he won’t be among the 2019 MVP finalists. Remember: Despite mobility that rivals Russell Wilson, Watson was sacked a league-high 62 times. To be fair some of those sacks were no doubt Watson’s fault. However, as of early August, head coach Bill O’Brien admits he still doesn’t know who will start on the offensive line. How does this not get addressed in the offseason? Forget Watson’s MVP chances. The Texans could find themselves on the outside looking in come playoff time. 8 of 16

Mitch Trubisky

Odds: +2,000
2018 Stats: 3,223 pass yards, 24 TDs and 12 INTs

The Chicago Bears 2018 defense ranked first in points allowed and against the rush, third in turnover differential (+12) and seventh against the pass. Its pass offense ranked outside the top 20. So the obvious question becomes where can Trubisky improve in his third year when the top three receiving targets remain the same and the Bears front office elected to shake up the running back depth chart after averaging 121 rush yards per game last season (11 th)? It’s a loaded question. Despite an above-average arm and 421 rush yards and three rush TDs last season, it’s hard to fathom Trubisky making enough of a statistical leap toward MVP when the most valuable players — plural — on the team likely reside on the defensive side of the ball. 9 of 16

Russell Wilson

Odds: +2,500
2018 Stats: 3,448 pass yards, 35 TDs and seven INTs

Because the Seahawks averaged a league-leading 160 yards per game last season, Wilson’s passing totals were the lowest since 2014. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but for the Seahawks to make another Super Bowl run, the offense needs to find a consistent passing game aside from Wilson running for his life on third and long. Wilson was sacked 51 times last season, but that total could have been higher if not for his elite mobility out of the pocket. So the offensive line play must improve, and Pete Carroll needs to find lighting in a bottle with second-round draft pick DK Metcalf. The 6-foot-4, 228-pound receiver out of Ole Miss is a polarizing brand, but Wilson has no choice but to embrace the rookie because without Doug Baldwin, No. 3’s primary target is 5-foot-11, 175-pound speedster Tyler Lockett. 10 of 16

Carson Wentz

Odds: +1,200
2018 Stats: 3,074 pass yards, 21 TDs and seven INTs (11 games)

Wentz’s 2017 season was cut short due to an ACL tear, and he missed the final three games of the 2018 season with a stress fracture in his back. The knock of Wentz is that these annual ailments date back to high school. However, when you place the injury history on the back burner and assess a potential 16-game campaign for the Eagles quarterback, it’s evident he has the talent and players around him to make a run at an MVP and Super Bowl title. One guy who will help him reach those goals is DeSean Jackson. The speedy, downfield receiver returns to Philadelphia at age 32 and should allow for Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor to enjoy softer coverages this season. Also, the arrival of Jordan Howard should improve the Eagles 28 th-ranked running game of a season ago, which should also boost Wentz’s MVP odds.

By: Ryan Fowler

https://www.yardbarker.com/nfl/articles/2019_nfl_mvp_favorites_and_odds/s1__29673998#slide_1

Bing Predicts: NFL Wild Card

Winners and losers from NFL Week 11

From thrilling last-second wins by teams that are fighting to stay in contention to a horrifying injury that could shape the NFC playoff race, NFL Week 11 had it all.

A six-game winning streak was snapped in agonizing fashion. A team many thought would contend for the title suffered a sixth-straight loss. A team many thought was out of contention is right back in it thanks to a second-straight road win.

Those are among the biggest winners and losers from NFL Week 11.

Winner: Captain Andrew Luck has Colts on a roll

© Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Indianapolis Colts lost five of their first six games this season. It looked like Andrew Luck’s redemption tour was going to be delayed by a year, at least, despite some solid play from him early. But since that awful start, both Luck and the Colts have started playing some outstanding ball.

With 297 yards and three passing touchdowns Sunday in a 38-10 blowout win over the Tennessee Titans, Luck extended his streak of at least three passing touchdowns to seven consecutive games.

His Colts have now rattled off four wins in a row and are in second place in the AFC South, knocking at the door to get into the playoffs. Should they complete the comeback and make the postseason, then Luck deserves to be included in the MVP conversation, along with Comeback Player of the Year.

Loser: Washington suffers déjà vu in worst possible way

© Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports Nov 18, 2018; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Alex Smith (11) reacts after breaking his leg in the second half against the Houston Texans during the second half at FedEx Field. 

Thirty-three years ago to the day, the Washington Redskins were issued a staggering gut punch. Joe Theismann suffered a horrifying broken leg that is still to this day considered among the most gruesome in professional sports.

On Sunday, Washington lost Alex Smith in the same exact manner. He broke his right tibia and fibula while being dragged to the ground on a sack. He was carted off, taken to the hospital in an ambulance and required immediate surgery. To nobody’s surprise, he will miss the rest of the season, head coach Jay Gruden announced after the game.

Washington also lost Sunday’s game in heartbreaking fashion — falling to 6-4 on the season. The team will be bringing in a bunch of veterans on Monday to see who might back up Colt McCoy.

Barring some crazy developments, it’s hard to see this team finishing off the season strong without Smith. Though it still leads the NFC East, Washington will be hard pressed to hold that lead. On the season, it is minus-one in point differential and closes out the campaign with four of its last six games on the road.

Winner: Cowboys rising 

© Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports Nov 18, 2018; Atlanta, GA, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) celebrates with teammates after a touchdown run against the Atlanta Falcons in the fourth quarter at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. 

Dallas couldn’t win on the road earlier this year and entered Week 9 with a 3-5 record. It looked like the ‘Boys were headed for another disappointing season. But the past two weeks have seen this team come together for two straight road wins, and Sunday’s victory in Atlanta was very impressive.

Ezekiel Elliott and the big guys up front are getting back to dominating folks at the line of scrimmage. The dynamic dual-threat running back followed up Week 10’s 187-yard game with an incredible 201-yard showing against the Falcons.

Now just one game behind Washington in the NFC East, featuring an offense that’s starting to click and a defense that can really get after folks — and with four of their final six games at home — Dallas is in great shape to win the division.

Loser: Jags are toast

© Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports Nov 18, 2018; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker Jon Bostic (51) brings down Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette (27) during the second half at TIAA Bank Field.

The Jacksonville Jaguars gave it their all on Sunday. For a while it appeared they had Big Ben Roethlisberger and Co. in the palm of their hands, as the Pittsburgh Steelers could do next to nothing in the first half.

Despite a monster game from Leonard Fournette. Despite two Jalen Ramsey interceptions against Big Ben, and three interceptions overall. Despite the best showing Jacksonville has put up in weeks. The Jags lost. They lost their sixth game in a row. They’re now 3-7 on the season. Oh, by the way, Blake Bortles is still not the guy.

This team is done. A franchise many pegged to represent the AFC in Super Bowl LIII is unofficially out of the playoff chase, and it is officially the biggest disappointment of the 2018 season.

All the Winner and Losers

By: Jesse Reed

Winners and losers from NFL Week 8

Before Sunday’s slate of games got going, there was some serious drama in London as the Jacksonville Jaguars made headlines for all the wrong reasons.

That should have clued us in to the fact that NFL Week 8 was going to get weird.

The league’s most dominant defense was smashed to bits. Adrian Peterson outplayed Saquon Barkley. And a former No. 1 overall pick hit a new low.

These were the biggest winners and losers from NFL Week 8.

Winners and losers from NFL Week 4

The one thing NFL fans can always expect is that the unexpected is bound to happen. This certainly was the case in NFL Week 4, as some stunning events unfolded around the league.

An undefeated team was absolutely throttled and looked completely inept in the process. A quarterback who’s generally been unimpressive early in his career busted out with a performance that any legend would be proud to claim.

We’ll focus on both of those situations and plenty more looking at the biggest winners and losers from NFL Week 4.

RG3 Wants To Play For Texans

Written by Ryan Wilson at CBS Sports.com

Robert Griffin III last played in an NFL regular season game in Week 17 of the 2016 season. The Browns released him in the offseason and there has been little interest in his services in the months since. Now, more than two months into the 2017 season, Griffin is again looking to get back into the league.

The Texans lost their all-world rookie Deshaun Watson to an ACL injury in early November. They elevated Tom Savage to starter and signed Josh Johnson to serve as the No. 3 quarterback behind Savage’s backup, T.J. Yates. But Griffin thinks he has more to offer Houston than just his ability to throw a football.

“Deshaun’s an incredible player with a really bright future,” Griffin told the Houston Chronicle‘s John McClain. “I feel like I could help him after my experiences with Washington and Cleveland. I feel like I could help the team. I know a lot of their guys. I think I can do a lot of things they’ve been doing offensively. Texas is home, and I’ve always got a soft spot in my heart for Texas.”

Griffin starred at Baylor before the Redskins drafted him second overall in 2012. He started 15 games as a rookie and led the team to seven straight wins, a division title and a playoff berth. But Griffin suffered a knee injury in the wild-card matchup against the Seahawks that derailed his career. He was a shell of himself in 2013, and played in just nine games in 2014 and by 2015 as Kirk Cousins grabbed ahold of the starting job in Washington. Griffin signed with the Browns before the 2016 season but injuries and inconsistency plagued him in Cleveland too.

So Griffin waits. And while he does, he continues to work out.

“I’m training and making sure I stay sharp,” he said. “I’m not only staying in shape, but I’m working to get better in the film room, too. When my number’s called, I’ll be ready.”

In May, Griffin’s former offensive coordinator in Washington, Kyle Shanahan — who is now the 49ers’ head coach — explained why the quarterback is having trouble finding work.

To continue reading this article, click here.

DeShaun Watson Out For Year With ACL Injury

Written by Austin Knoblauch at NFL.com

One of the most memorable rookie seasons in memory has been cruelly cut short.

Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson tore his right ACL in practice Thursday, sources informed of the situation told NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport and NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo. Watson’s remarkable debut season is over.

An MRI on the knee confirmed the full extent of the injury, Rapoport reported. He suffered it on a non-contact play, Rapoport added. Watson, who tore his left ACL during his playing days at Clemson, is facing an 8-9 month rehabilitation and should be back in time for the start of the 2018 season.

Texans coach Bill O’Brien did not talk about any issues regarding Watson’s knee during his Thursday news conference. The team only listed Watson as limited after the practice session.

“I talked to Deshaun late this afternoon and we are disappointed,” said Dabo Swinney, who coached Watson during his days at Clemson. “But he is a person who has had some setbacks in his life and always comes back stronger. Since he went through the rehab [for a torn ACL] before, he knows what it takes.

“All he did after the injury in 2014 was come back and lead us to the National Championship game twice and, of course, we won it last year,” Swinney continued. “He started all 30 games the last two years here. I have no doubt he will come back from this. He has the resolve. His work ethic and drive are incredible.”

Watson was coming off the most impressive performance of his young career before suffering the injury. He passed for 402 yards and four touchdowns in the Texans’ 41-38 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in one of the most exciting games of the season.

The performance helped make him the first rookie quarterback to ever win AFC Offensive Player of the Month honors on Thursday. He also was named the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Month for October.

Watson passed for 1,699 yards over six games and is tied for the NFL lead in passing touchdowns with 19. It was the most passing touchdowns over the first seven career games since 1970, passing Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner’s mark. The Texans scored more than 33 points in each of his four October starts.

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Texans Trade Duane Brown To Seahawks For Jeremy Lane

Written by Brady Henderson at ESPN.com

The Seahawks have acquired Pro Bowl left tackle Duane Brown in a trade with the Texans, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Seattle is sending cornerback Jeremy Lane to Houston along with a 2018 fifth-round pick and a 2019 second-round pick, sources told Schefter.

Seahawks general manager John Schneider confirmed that the trade has been agreed upon but said it had not been fully finalized yet. The trade comes one day before the NFL’s Tuesday trade deadline and one day after the Texans lost to the Seahawks in Seattle.

Schneider said the Seahawks are inheriting Brown’s current deal from Houston, which runs through 2018, and that there is no new deal beyond that. Brown is owed about $5 million for the remainder of this season and is scheduled to make $9.75 million in 2018.

“Because we acquired Duane, we want him to finish his career here and have him be here for several more years,” Schneider said.

Brown, 32, has spent his entire 10-year career with Houston, which selected him in the first round in 2008 out of Virginia Tech. He returned last week from a holdout and played 68 out of 71 offensive snaps Sunday against Seattle.

Brown posted a goodbye message to the Texans and their fans via his Instagram account.

Seahawks general manager John Schneider confirmed that the trade has been agreed upon but said it had not been fully finalized yet. The trade comes one day before the NFL’s Tuesday trade deadline and one day after the Texans lost to the Seahawks in Seattle.

Schneider said the Seahawks are inheriting Brown’s current deal from Houston, which runs through 2018, and that there is no new deal beyond that. Brown is owed about $5 million for the remainder of this season and is scheduled to make $9.75 million in 2018.

“Because we acquired Duane, we want him to finish his career here and have him be here for several more years,” Schneider said.

Brown, 32, has spent his entire 10-year career with Houston, which selected him in the first round in 2008 out of Virginia Tech. He returned last week from a holdout and played 68 out of 71 offensive snaps Sunday against Seattle.

Brown posted a goodbye message to the Texans and their fans via his Instagram account.

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