Grading each NFL team at the halfway mark of the season

With about half of the NFL season in the books, the 2019 outlook for each team is clearer. We handed out grades for each team through eight weeks of the season. 1 of 32

Arizona Cardinals: C

Arizona made a splash in the offseason by hiring Kliff Kingsbury and drafting Kyler Murray first overall. The defense has spent most of the first eight weeks without Patrick Peterson due to a suspension and has allowed the second most points in the league, but the offense has shown some explosion, resulting in a 3-4-1 record, including a recent three-game win streak. It’s definitely progress. 2 of 32

Atlanta Falcons: F

The Falcons cleaned house in the offseason, getting rid of all three coordinators, but it’s apparent the problem was above them. Atlanta enters the bye week 1-7, allowing a staggering 31.3 points per game and underachieving on offense with only 20.6 points per game. Matt Ryan’s recent ankle injury has only added to their woes. Head coach Dan Quinn led the Falcons to the Super Bowl only three years ago, but now it’s clearly time for him to go. 3 of 32

Baltimore Ravens: B+

It was fair to expect regression from the Ravens after losing significant talent on defense during the offseason, but the team has made up for its defensive issues with an explosive offense led by Lamar Jackson. Baltimore ranks second in the league with 30.6 points per game and is coming off a huge win at Seattle. The Ravens host New England this week, which will be a measuring stick for both teams.

Buffalo Bills: B

While it’s hard to complain about a 5-2 record, especially given the recent history of the Bills, we still need to put their five wins in perspective. They all came against teams with a .500 or worse record, including two winless teams. The offense has struggled despite several notable offseason additions, with young quarterback Josh Allen showing inconsistency. A 31-13 home loss to a floundering Eagles squad in Week 8 is concerning. 5 of 32

Carolina Panthers: B

Considering Cam Newton’s foot injury and resulting five missed games, a 4-3 record is about as good as the Panthers could have expected. That said, they were blown out at San Francisco, 51-13, coming off a bye, which puts a stench on their start. After Kyle Allen’s poor play in that game, Newton’s return is probably coming sooner than later. The defense had played well up to that point, but now there are suddenly questions about it. 6 of 32

Chicago Bears: C-

The Bears have big problems, starting with third-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. He’s taken a big step back early this season, with a terrible 5.6 yards per attempt and a 81.4 passer rating. His poor play has resulted in consecutive home losses, and two missed field goals by Eddy Pineiro vs. the Chargers also raises questions about the kicking game, which was one of the top priorities in the offseason. At 3-4 in a tough division, Chicago’s prospects to return to the playoffs this year don’t look great.

7 of 32

Cincinnati Bengals: F

The expectations for Cleveland were probably a bit too lofty after their big offseason moves, including the acquisition of Odell Beckham Jr. That said, the team is a disappointment at 2-5 for even the most pessimistic. Despite a bevy of weapons, the team ranks 25th in points per game, and Baker Mayfield has seen huge regression with 12 picks in seven games. The Browns have committed the most penalties in the league and have the second-most giveaways. That’s losing football, and it goes squarely on first-year head coach Freddie Kitchens. 9 of 32

Dallas Cowboys: B-

It’s been a first half of inconsistency for the Cowboys, who have a three-game winning streak and a three-game losing streak already. The good news is that their offensive line is finally healthy again, and it looks like their 24-22 loss at the Jets in Week 6 was a wake-up call. Dak Prescott remains an MVP candidate with a 102.6 passer rating, and the team is in the driver’s seat in the NFC East after a big win vs. Philadelphia. The Cowboys could do a lot of things better, but they’re in an enviable position in the standings.

10 of 32

Denver Broncos: D

Vic Fangio’s long-awaited chance to be a head coach hasn’t gone well, with a 2-6 start and an inept offense. The truth is that the Broncos roster has been in transition, with many new faces on defense and Joe Flacco at quarterback. Flacco has continued to prove he’s a below-average quarterback at this point in his career, with the team averaging only 15.6 points per game, and he could be out indefinitely with a neck injury. The team desperately needs to address the offensive line next offseason, but that’s something we’ve been saying for years. John Elway, are you listening? 11 of 32

Detroit Lions: C

Detroit went into its bye week 2-1-1, with a home loss vs. Kansas City as the only major blemish. Since then the team is 1-2, losing to division opponents Green Bay and Minnesota. Quarterback Matthew Stafford continues to play well under new coordinator Darrell Bevell, but running back Kerryon Johnson will miss significant time for the second straight year to injury, and the defense remains a disappointment, allowing 26.6 points per game. 12 of 32

Green Bay Packers: A

The ball has bounced Green Bay’s way during the first half of the season, most recently with favorable reffing vs. Detroit in Week 6 and the absence of Patrick Mahomes when the team visited Arrowhead Stadium in Week 8. Regardless, Green Bay is 7-1 through the first half of the season and has been without No. 1 wideout Davante Adams for most of the year. Aaron Rodgers is playing great football under new head coach Matt LaFleur, and running back Aaron Jones also looks like a potential MVP candidate with 11 touchdowns. Looking ahead, the team’s visit to San Francisco in Week 12 could have huge playoff positioning implications.

13 of 32

Houston Texans: B

The Texans are in good position in the AFC after a 5-3 start, and Deshaun Watson continues to play like an elite quarterback. However, the team has already spent much of its 2020 draft capital to help in the short term, and J.J. Watt is now out for the year. Anything short of a playoff run will be a disappointment, and missing the playoffs is still well within the range of possibilities with four division games remaining. 14 of 32

Indianapolis Colts: A-

With a 5-2 start to the year, Frank Reich has to be the current leader for Coach of the Year. Andrew Luck retired just before the start of the season, and the Colts have also had significant injuries, most notably T.Y. Hilton, Malik Hooker and Darius Leonard. Jacoby Brissett has been extremely efficient, which is a direct credit to Reich’s development, and the defense continues to play in the top half of the league despite the injuries. 15 of 32

Jacksonville Jaguars: B

If the Jaguars were told Nick Foles would suffer a fractured collarbone in Week 1 and Jalen Ramsey would appear in only three games, another disastrous season would probably be considered a foregone conclusion. However, rookie Gardner Minshew has done a great job filling in for Foles, and the Jags were able to get past the Ramsey distraction and net a great trade return from the Rams. Leonard Fournette is also playing the best football of his career. At 4-4, the Jags’ playoff hopes are still alive.

Kansas City Chiefs: B

Injuries have ravaged the Chiefs, including to Patrick Mahomes, three offensive linemen, their top two wideouts and top two defensive linemen. The team has also lost three home games already. However, Mahomes might miss only one or two games after what looked like a catastrophic knee injury in Week 7, and the defense has picked up the pace despite its missing pieces. The Chiefs remain in good position to not only win the AFC West again but to also possibly earn the coveted No. 2 seed in a thin AFC. 17 of 32

Los Angeles Chargers: D

With 2018 being a rare exception, the Chargers seem to have lived through the movie “Groundhog Day” for the last decade. They’ve had numerous major injuries, headlined by star safety Derwin James, lost games in ways no one would believe and continue to disappoint despite a talented roster. Through seven games, they already had more losses than last season. Philip Rivers has started to show his age at times this year, and the remainder of the schedule is brutal, including the Packers, Vikings and two games against the Chiefs. 18 of 32

Los Angeles Rams: B-

The Rams seemed to put their disappointing Super Bowl performance behind them by starting the season 3-0, but that was followed by three straight losses. They’ve righted the ship against the Falcons and Bengals and still have a good shot to make the playoffs. The offense ranks eighth in points per game, well behind what it did last year as Jared Goff and Todd Gurley have struggled, and the defense has been embarrassed on multiple occasions. The good news is that they seem to have received a boost after acquiring cornerback Jalen Ramsey two weeks ago.

19 of 32

Miami Dolphins: F

It appeared the Dolphins were tanking before the season began, and that speculation was realized prior to Week 1 when Laremy Tunsil and Kenny Stills were traded. The team has continued to make trades, most notably Minkah Fitzpatrick for Pittsburgh’s 2020 first-round pick. For all its struggles, Miami has gotten closer to a win recently with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center. However, there’s no sugarcoating the fact that the Dolphins rank dead last in points scored and points allowed per game. 20 of 32

Minnesota Vikings: A-

Minnesota is doing a nice job bouncing back from a disappointing 2018 season, with a solid 6-2 start. Kirk Cousins has played some of the best ball of his career recently, while a healthy Dalvin Cook is on a 2,200 yards from scrimmage pace. The defense also looks better, allowing only 16.5 points per game. While both losses came in the division, they were also on the road. The Vikings remaining schedule is difficult, but an NFC North title and No. 2 seed in the NFC are still well within reach. 21 of 32

New England Patriots: A

There’s no debating that the Patriots’ schedule has been incredibly easy, but they’ve barely had a scare through eight games. The defense is on a historic pace, with only 7.6 points allowed per game, and the team also quietly leads the league with 31.3 points per game. Still, the schedule is about to get much tougher, and it remains to be seen if the offense has enough weapons for Tom Brady to stand up to the challenge, averaging only 3.2 yards per carry and 7.3 yards per pass attempt despite that mediocre schedule.

By: Seth Trachtman

https://www.yardbarker.com/nfl/articles/grading_each_nfl_team_at_the_halfway_mark_of_the_season/s1__30392639#slide_1

Top takeaways from Sunday’s Week 7 NFL action

The Baltimore Ravens went into Seattle and took out a red-hot Seahawks team in a statement win on Sunday. The San Francisco 49ers remained the NFC’s only undefeated team with a shutout win over the Redskins in D.C.

On the other side of the ledger, the Atlanta Falcons’ season-long struggles continued while the Houston Texans put up a bummer of a performance against the Indianapolis Colts.

These are among the top takeaways from Sunday’s Week 7 NFL action.

Ravens make a major statement

Oct 20, 2019; Seattle, WA, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) during the first half against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field. Baltimore defeated Seattle 30-16. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Fresh off ho-hum wins over the Steelers and Bengals, Baltimore headed to the Pacific Northwest to take on the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. This was already being billed as a statement game for the Ravens. They did not disappoint.

The recently-acquired Marcus Peters made a personal statement early on with a pick-six of Russell Wilson . Lamar Jackson continued to dazzle, both through the air and on the ground in putting up 259 total yards. Baltimore then put the game away with a fumble return for a touchdown to ice things. Now at 5-2 following a 30-16 win over Seattle, these Ravens look like real threats in the AFC.

Aaron Rodgers excelling in new offense

Oct 20, 2019; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) throws a pass in the second quarter during the game against the Oakland Raiders at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

It took some time for the former NFL MVP to get into rhythm in first-year head coach Matt LaFleur’s offense. Rodgers had tallied just eight touchdowns in six games heading into Week 7. That changed big-time against the Oakland Raiders on Sunday.

Rodgers completed 25-of-31 passes for 429 yards with six total touchdowns and zero interceptions in a 42-24 win. Statistically speaking, it was the best performance of his Hall of Fame-worthy career. It also led to Rodgers making history as he navigated his team to a 6-1 record heading into the midway point of the season. Things are going swimmingly for Mr. Rodgers and his Pack right now.

Kirk Cousins and Co. keep pace

Oct 20, 2019; Detroit, MI, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) during the first quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Fresh off the best two-game span of his Vikings career, Cousins busted out more of his new tricks against the division rival Lions in Detroit on Sunday. He led Minnesota to at least 38 points for the second consecutive game, throwing four touchdown pases and zero picks while tossing the ball around the field to the tune of 337 yards.

More than anything, Cousins’ ability to connect with Stefon Diggs loomed large in a 42-30 win. Diggs caught 7-of-8 targets for 142 yards. For his part, Cousins is completing 76% of his passes for nearly 1,000 yards with 10 touchdowns and one interception over the past three games. He also now has Minnesota at 5-2 after the Vikings struggled to open the season.

Jaguars ride stout defense to much-needed win

Oct 20, 2019; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew (15) and Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) talk with each other after the Jaguars defeated the Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

If the Jaguars were to have any say in the AFC South this season, they had to dispose of the winless Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. That’s exactly what we saw from Jacksonville in a 27-17 win over the Bengals.

That included a pick-six of Andy Dalton with the game on the line late in the fourth quarter. All said, Jacksonville’s defense forced four turnovers in a brilliant all-around performance. This defense also held the Bengals to -2 rushing yards in an all-time great first-half performance. Now 3-4 on the season, Jacksonville is not yet done.

Texans blow big opportunity

Oct 20, 2019; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) motions at the line of scrimmage in a game against the Indianapolis Colts during the fourth quarter at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Fresh off an upset win over the Kansas City Chiefs last week, Bill O’Brien and the Texans had to be feeling good about themselves heading into Sunday’s AFC South outing against the Indianapolis Colts. But it did not go according to plan.

MVP candidate Deshaun Watson put up his worst performance of the season, throwing two key interceptions. Meanwhile, Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett picked apart Houston’s defense to the tune of 326 yards and four touchdowns in a 30-23 win. The Texans had an opportunity to move two games ahead of Indy in the win column. Instead, Houston now finds itself in second place heading into Week 8.

Chargers find a new way to lose

Oct 20, 2019; Nashville, TN, USA; Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) and Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) after a Titans win at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles entered Sunday’s action at 2-4 on the season and in must-win mode against another pedestrian team in the Tennessee Titans. After making the game close late in the fourth quarter, the Chargers found yet another way to lose.

Down just 23-20 after overcoming a double-digit deficit, it looked like the Chargers were on the brink of a game-winning touchdown. They had second-and-goal from inside the one with mere seconds left. That’s when former holdout running back Melvin Gordon fumbled the ball, leading to yet another horrible loss for the Chargers. More so than Gordon’s fumble, the decision by head coach Anthony Lynn to go with him instead of Austin Ekeler will stand out. Ekeler had put up 125 total yards compared to Gordon’s 32 before that final snap. Ouch!

49ers defense is just stupid good

Oct 20, 2019; Landover, MD, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) celebrates while leaving the field after the 49ersÕ game against the Washington Redskins at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The weather played a huge role for the NFC’s sole remaining undefeated team on Sunday. Jimmy Garoppolo and San Francisco’s offense managed just nine points and 282 total yards in Landover, Maryland against one of the worst defenses in the NFL. However, that’s not the story here. Instead, it’s all about what has now become an historically good defense.

San Francisco held Case Keenum to 50 net passing yards. It has now given up 98 net passing yards over the past two games. Heck, the 49ers have yielded 10 total points over their past three games. Nick Bosa, Dee Ford, DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead are absolutely dominant up front. Kwon Alexander and Fred Warner might be the best linebacker tandem in the league. Meanwhile, the Richard Sherman-led secondary is freakishly good. Championship-caliber stuff.

Bills break out of early funk

Oct 20, 2019; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley (10) celebrates his touchdown against the Miami Dolphins during the fourth quarter at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Buffalo found itself as a resounding 15.5-point home favorite against the winless Miami Dolphins on Sunday. It was certainly a trap game for a Bills squad that was looking to go 5-1 for the first time since 2008. At least initially, it looked like Buffalo was going to be a victim of one of the biggest upsets of the NFL season.

Miami held a 14-9 lead heading into the second half. That’s when the defense stepped up. Tre’Davious White intercepted Ryan Fitzpatrick at the goal line with Miami driving for a potential two-score lead. Buffalo would ultimately score a touchdown on the ensuing possession. It also scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter after White forced a fumble to put the game away. It’s this ball-hawking and dominant defense that has Buffalo as a legit contender heading into the midway point of the season.

Yet another win for Kyler Murray and the Cardinals

Oct 20, 2019; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) throws a pass during the first half against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

 When Arizona started the season out 0-3-1, it looked like much of the same for the long-downtrodden organization. Murray was in over his head as a rookie starting quarterback. Kliff Kingsbury’s offense had yet to click. That’s now changed altogether. Arizona entered Sunday’s matchup against the New York Giants having won two consecutive games and then took care of business against the Giants in Jersey.

This game did not feature the eye-opening numbers we’ve seen from Murray recently. He completed just 14 passes for 104 yards. However, it was the performance by Chase Edmunds (126 rushing yards, three touchdowns) and Arizona’s defense that made the difference in a 27-21 win. Now at 3-3-1 on the season, Arizona finds itself as a budding playoff contender. Crazy stuff.

Wheels completely off in Atlanta

Oct 20, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman (24) grabs the facemark of Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald (99) as defensive end Michael Brockers (90) and defensive back Nickell Robey-Coleman (23) are shown on the play in the third quarter at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Whether it was Devonta Freeman’s frustration or an inability to even slow down what had been a struggling Rams offense, Dan Quinn and the Atlanta Falcons were an absolute mess. When the clock struck zero in Atlanta, the Falcons were on the losing end of a 37-10 blowout loss.

The much-maligned Falcons defense allowed Jared Goff to throw for 267 yards and two touchdowns. Unfortunately for the Falcons, it didn’t get too much better on the other side of the ball. Former MVP Matt Ryan exited in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury and was seen in a walking boot. With the Falcons now at 1-6 on the season, questions will continue to come up regarding Quinn’s status. It’s really bad in Hotlanta right now.

Bears need a quarterback

Oct 20, 2019; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky (10) drops back to pass against the New Orleans Saints during the first half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

We’re not sure if it’s possible for the Bears to add a starter-caliber signal caller ahead of the Oct. 29 trade deadline. What we do know is that Mitchell Trubisky is not the answer under center in the Windy City. The third-year quarterback entered Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints having thrown three touchdowns in four games. He was downright dreadful throughout the afternoon, leading to Bears fans booing the former top-three pick.

Trubisky tallied 251 yards on a ridiculous 54 passing attempts, putting up most of his numbers in garbage time when the Bears found themselves down 36-10. Now at 3-3 on the season, one has to wonder if the Bears will look to make a move. The likes of Ryan Fitzpatrick, Marcus Mariota and Nick Mullens might be available.

Cowboys get off the schneid

Oct 20, 2019; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) gives a way a towel after a victory against the Philadelphia Eagles at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas entered Week 7 having lost each of its past three games. Head coach Jason Garrett was clearly on the hot seat . The time was now to come up with a win and salvage their season. That’s exactly what the Cowboys did at home against the division-rival Philadelphia Eagles Sunday night.

The Cowboys’ defense forced four turnovers of Carson Wentz and Philadelphia’s offense. Meanwhile, Dak Prescott completed 21-of-27 passes for 239 yards in a near-flawless performance. The end result was a dominating 37-10 win over Philadelphia and sole possession of first place in the NFC East.

Separation made in the NFC

Oct 20, 2019; Chicago, IL, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) and Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky (10) meet after the game at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

By virtue of their win Sunday night, the Cowboys have come out on top in all three of their divisional games to date. They are now one game ahead of Philadelphia with the Giants and Redskins riding up the rear. The New Orleans Saints’ blowout road win over the Chicago Bears changes the dynamics for both teams. New Orleans is now a full game ahead of Carolina in the NFC South. Chicago? Well it falls three games behind Green Bay in the win column.

Out west, the San Francisco 49ers’ shutout win coupled with Seattle’s loss has Kyle Shanahan’s squad two games ahead of the Seahawks in the loss column. Despite their win over Atlanta, the defending NFC champion Rams are three games behind San Francisco in the loss column. Yeah, these NFC teams have created separation heading into the midway point of the season.

https://www.yardbarker.com/nfl/articles/top_takeaways_from_sundays_week_7_nfl_action/s1_12680_30313784

By: Vincent Frank

Winners and losers from NFL Week 7

If we’re being honest, there was a ton of really bad football on display during the action in NFL Week 7.

We should have seen it coming, though, after what transpired as NFL Network reporter Melissa Stark was previewing the London game.

Thankfully some outstanding performances did take place, somewhat balancing out the scales. But overall, Week 7 was one many players and teams would rather forget.

With that in mind, let’s dive into the biggest winners and losers.

Projecting the first loss of every NFL team

Are the 2017 Rams The Biggest Turnaround in NFL History?

Written by Bill Barnwell at ESPN.com

We might be approaching one of the most unlikely NFL playoff brackets in recent memory. As of right now, eight of the 12 teams that made it to the 2016 postseason won’t be making a return trip to the playoffs this season. The Patriots, Steelers, Chiefs and Falcons are currently penciled in for meaningful football after New Year’s Eve, and Atlanta is one loss away from being in a four-way tie for the sixth seed in the NFC. So we might even see nine fresh faces this January.

Interestingly enough, three of those teams are in line to go from worst to first in their divisions. The Eagles already have clinched the NFC East at 12-2. The Jaguars took a huge step toward winning the AFC South on Sunday, when they routed the Texans and the Titans lost in San Francisco. The Jaguars’ magic number with two games to go is one, and ESPN’s Football Power Index gives Jacksonville a 95.3 percent chance of winning its division.

Likewise, the Los Angeles Rams all but clinched the NFC West on Sunday with one of the most dominating performances of this or any season. They simply annihilated the Seahawks from start to finish, scoring 34 first-half points en route to a 42-7 victory in Seattle. While brutally avenging their Week 5 defeat at the hands of Russell Wilson & Co., the Rams essentially confirmed that they’ll host the first playoff game in Los Angeles since 1993. They have a 98.0 percent chance of winning the West.

All three of these teams deserve to be commended for their 2017 seasons, but the Rams stand out. Virtually nobody saw this coming. I didn’t think the Jaguars were likely to win their division, but as I wrote this summer, underlying metrics suggested they were the team most likely to improve in 2017. The Eagles weren’t far behind on the same list. There wasn’t the same sort of underlying quantitative basis for the Rams, who were also missing a first-round pick after what looked to be a disastrous Jared Goff trade.

Vegas also concurs here. When the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook posted each team’s odds of winning their respective divisions in May, the Eagles were listed at 7-2 (22.2 percent) and the Jaguars were at 5-1 (16.7 percent). The Rams were at 25-1 (3.9 percent). By July, their odds had improved, but they were still given only a 15-1 shot (6.3 percent) of winning their division. FPI gave them a 3.0 percent shot of winning the West before the season, and the Rams weren’t even FPI favorites to win their first NFC West title in 14 seasons until Week 10.

To continue reading this article, click here.

Vikings Beat Rams In Battle of 7-2 Teams

Written by AP At USA Today.com

The Minnesota Vikings have been eager to see Teddy Bridgewater take back the job he lost to the devastating injury to his left knee.

With the way Case Keenum has been playing, well, this might be a long wait.

“It’s going to be hard to yank him out of there right now. He’s playing good,” coach Mike Zimmer said after Keenum and the Vikings defeated the Los Angeles Rams 24-7 on Sunday afternoon in a matchup of NFC division leaders. “I still have really high hopes for Teddy, and a lot of things happen throughout the course of the season, so we’ll just see how it goes.”

Keenum has started six and finished seven of Minnesota’s eight victories this year, after Sam Bradford was waylaid by left knee trouble following a convincing win over New Orleans in the opener.

Bridgewater wowed his coaches and teammates with his dedication to the comeback that began almost 15 months ago when he was badly hurt in practice right before the 2016 season was beginning. He returned to the active roster two weeks ago, with Bradford on injured reserve. Having received full medical clearance for game action again, the feeling around the Vikings has been that Bridgewater will start sooner than later. Keenum has 32 career starts, but he’s been a backup more than not.

Zimmer has stopped short thus far of declaring Keenum the permanent starter, preferring to announce his decision on a weekly basis. The head coach’s statement about his status, however, after Keenum went 27 for 38 for 280 yards and one touchdown against his old team made it clear as it’s been all year that the Vikings are comfortable riding him as long as his right hand is hot . Minnesota (8-2) has won six straight games.

“He’s the coach. It’s his decision. I’m here to play. So however he wants to do it, I’m here,” Keenum said. “I want to be the best player I can be for this team. So I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing every week and keep answering the same questions and just keep getting ready to play.”

To continue reading this article, click here.

Rams In Driver Seat For NFC West

Written by Jared Dubin at CBS Sports.com

The Seattle Seahawks played one of the strangest games of the 2017 season last Sunday.

Seattle racked up 437 yards of offense, averaging 5.8 yards per play. The Seahawks out-gained Washington by nearly 200 yards, gained six more first downs, and won the time of possession battle by over five minutes. They held Kirk Cousins without a touchdown pass, yielded only 2.35 yards per carry to Washington’s running backs, and recorded six sacks.

Of course, the Seahawks also converted just five of 14 third-down opportunities, committed two turnovers, missed three field goals, and took an unfathomable 16 penalties that cost them 138 yards. Though they got into scoring position six different times in all, the offense was largely impotent for much of the game, with Russell Wilson throwing too erratically to prop up a typically punchless rushing attack.

They allowed Cousins to march Washington right down the field with a four-play, 70-yard drive to snatch the lead away from them after coming back from a fourth-quarter deficit, then proceeded to mismanage the hell out of the clock on their attempt at a last-ditch game-tying drive. And so the Seahawks lost, 17-14.

But Seattle lost more than just the game. Coupled with the Rams’ dominant win over the Giants, this loss dealt a huge blow to the Seahawks’ chances of winning the NFC West. The Seahawks are now 5-3 while the Rams are 6-2, putting Los Angeles firmly in the driver’s seat when it comes to winning the division.

Here’s how SportsLine’s Stephen Oh has things shaking out based on his simulations. The Rams are projected to finish just about one win ahead of the Seahawks, and they have a 58.6 percent chance of winning the division. Seattle has just a 40.3 chance of taking the NFC West.

To continue reading this article, click here.

Sammy Watkins Upset In LA

Written by Will Brinson at CBS Sports.com

There is a pretty decent history of Sammy Watkins not always being thrilled with his situation in the NFL. It’s hard to blame him, considering he spent most of his career with the Buffalo Bills in the height of their dysfunction, but the latest concern is with the Rams and it’s not great news.

Watkins, who blew up for a pair of touchdowns against the 49ers in Week 3 before leaving with a concussion, has been largely silent the past two weeks. Against the Cowboys and Seahawks, Watkins has a total of six targets for one reception and 17 receiving yards.

It’s hardly the sort of statistical output you’d expect from a No. 1 wideout and it’s led to Watkins getting “frustrated” with his role.

“As a player, of course you’re going to be frustrated,” Watkins said. “I don’t know a player, a wide receiver, that’s not frustrated throughout the game if you’re not getting the ball. Each week, it could change. They had certain coverage that kind of took me out of the game, and that’s part of the game.”

We saw a little more frustration from Watkins after the loss to Seattle in Week 5, with former Rams wideout Torry Holt pointing out the low numbers for Watkins on Twitter.

To continue reading this article, click here.

Rams Can’t Over Come Seattle’s Defense, Lose 16-10

Written by Kevin Patra at NFL.com

The Seattle Seahawks (3-2) jumped back in the driver’s seat in the NFC West, escaping Los Angeles with a 16-10 win over the Rams (3-2). Here is what you need to know:

1. The Seattle defense grounded Sean McVay’s high-flying offense. The Rams entered Sunday averaging an NFL-high 35.5 points per game and 383.8 total yards. The Seahawks bottled up Todd Gurley and forced Jared Goff into low-percentage tosses, holding L.A. to 10 points. The Rams moved the ball at times, earning 375 yards and 21 first downs, but Seattle forced five turnovers, including two from Goff late in the fourth quarter. The Seahawks’ pass rush was held at bay until late in the game. Then pressure up the gut forced a fluttering interception by Earl Thomas. On the following drive, Frank Clark burned reliable left tackle Andrew Whitworth to strip Goff. Seattle’s secondary bottled up the throwing lanes and contested nearly every catch. The D-line set the edge and didn’t let Gurley get loose (14 carries for 43 yards), setting up a bevy of Rams third-and-longs. Sunday was the return of the dominant Seahawks defense we’d become used to

2. In a defensive tilt, Wade Phillips’ crew battered Russell Wilson. The Rams’ pass rush came in waves, with Robert Quinn, Aaron Donald, Alec Ogletree and Matt Longacre hounding the QB for six sacks and 11 hits. With the Seahawks’ run game bottled up, Wilson was forced to throw 37 times, but completed just 23 for 194 yards. The Rams’ secondary also forced two interceptions (one from Wilson and one from Tanner McEvoy on a trick play). L.A. blanketed Doug Baldwin and didn’t give Wilson his quick looks. With the Rams’ defensive line blowing through Seattle blockers, Wilson didn’t have time to stretch the field. Jimmy Graham was the lone bright spot on the Seahawks’ offense, earning six receptions for 37 yards on eight targets and a post-up touchdown catch.

3. The Rams will be kicking themselves on Monday. L.A. missed out on at least 13 points in a tight game. Gurley fumbled at the goal line on the first drive, leading to a turnover. Greg Zuerlein (who made seven field goals last week) missed a chip-shot field goal. Goff then threw an interception in field-goal range on a high toss to Gurley that was tipped and intercepted by Sheldon Richardson. The Rams earned just 10 points on five possessions that went inside the Seahawks’ 20 in the first three quarters.

To continue reading this article, click here.

Rams Shock Cowboys, Win 35-30

Written by Todd Archer at ESPN.com

Starting fast was a key part of the Dallas Cowboys’ preparation going into Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Rams. Finishing was the problem in their 35-30 loss.

A defense that was playing without its leader, Sean Lee, got exposed as the game went on, giving up scoring drives on five straight possessions in the second half.

For the first time since Week 3 last season, the Cowboys’ offense scored on its first four possessions, giving Dallas a 24-16 halftime lead, but then the offense went stagnant. It ran 16 plays on its first four possessions of the second half and picked up just two first downs. The Rams turned that deficit into an eight-point lead.

The end result was a defense that was worn out. Todd Gurley became the second running back in three games to rush for more than 100 yards against Dallas. Jared Goff was sacked just once. And the Rams did to the Cowboys what the Cowboys want to do to their opponents: grind the clock to bits.

“The margin is so small in this league,” tight end Jason Witten said. “You have leads like that, you’ve got a chance to put them away and we couldn’t do it.”

A number of plays stand out:

  • Two Cowboys’ special-teams miscues led to 10 Los Angeles points. Ryan Switzer’s fumbled punt changed the tenor of the game in the second quarter, with the Rams answering with a touchdown that cut the Dallas lead to 17-13. A 66-yard kickoff return led to a Rams field goal earlier.
  • On the first play of the second half, DeMarcus Lawrence forced a strip sack of Goff, but Tyrone Crawford was unable to come up with the loose ball. The Cowboys never sniffed a turnover.
  • After the offense woke up with a 75-yard scoring drive, Travis Frederick was flagged for a holding penalty on what would have been Dak Prescott’s game-tying two-point conversion with 7:11 to play. After the Rams were called for holding, the Cowboys’ third chance to tie it up ended when Prescott’s pass to Terrance Williams was slightly deflected and fell to the ground.
  • After that drive, second-year cornerback Anthony Brown dropped a sure interception that allowed the Rams to kill four more minutes off the clock to set up Greg Zuerlein’s seventh field goal.

To continue reading this article, click here.