John Woz, Jr. | November 4th, 2019
This week‘s edition of Woz’s NFL Notebook focuses on the top teams in both conferences. The New England Patriots suffered their first defeat of the season and there were shocks in the NFC North.
Impressive Ravens top Patriots
New England Patriots 20 – 37 Baltimore Ravens
We start in Baltimore where the Ravens improved to 6-2, after handing the 8-1 Patriots their first loss of the season. The Patriots defeat doesn’t concern me, but the result proves Baltimore’s postseason potential. The Ravens have the league’s No.2 ranked offense, led by an agile quarterback.
Lamar Jackson cemented his MVP credentials after another fine performance. Jackson was 17-23 with 163 yards and one touchdown. The Ravens signal-caller had 16 carries for 61 yards and two rushing touchdowns. Franchise quarterbacks are scarce, especially those who pose a dual-threat. Because of Jackson’s performances this season, Baltimore is a real Super Bowl contender.
The Ravens defense didn’t give the Patriots time to breathe, they sacked Tom Brady twice for a loss of 17 yards. Baltimore’s defense was also effective against the rush, holding New England to 74 yards on the ground. The Patriots had 17 rushing attempts, compared to 41 by the Ravens. Mark Ingram deserves the game ball, he carried the football 15 times for 150 yards.
New England committed seven penalties for a loss of 48 yards, and their performance wasn’t up to the standards of the first eight weeks. The next four games will be a measure of where the Patriots are, but one defeat is no reason to panic. John Harbaugh is no mug, keep an eye on the Ravens in the second half of the season.
Minnesota Vikings 23 – 26 Kansas City Chiefs
After four straight wins, I didn’t expect the Vikings to lose this game. The Vikings pass rush turned up but their rushing offense didn’t. The Chiefs won without the current MVP, Patrick Mahomes and that says something about the team.
Tyreek Hill and Damien Williams combined for 265 yards and a touchdown each to blow the doors off the Vikings’ defense. Matt Moore deserves credit for his performance. The backup quarterback was 25-35 with 275 yards and a touchdown. Moore took a lot of heat from the Vikings’ pass rush unit. Moore kept his cool to see the game out, despite being sacked five times for a loss of 45 yards.
The Vikings are a capable football team, but this is a game they should have won against a team with a backup quarterback. Minnesota’s Super Bowl aspirations depend on their ability to win big games on the road.
Dallas and Denver are next up for Mike Zimmer’s team, and I want to see more from Stefon Diggs and Dalvin Cook. Is Kirk Cousins living up to his contract? Some may argue that he is not, but Pro Football Focus named Cousins as one of the NFC Players of the Month.
The 6-3 Vikings can clinch the NFC North, especially as the current leaders lost on the West Coast.
Packers fall to improving Chargers
Green Bay Packers 11 – 26 Los Angeles Chargers
The Packers stubbed their toe for only the second time this season when they traveled to the struggling Chargers. I wrote in my game preview that I wouldn’t be surprised if the Chargers walked off the field with a win, and that’s exactly what they did.
The Bolts pass-rush duo of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram contributed to a first-half shut out of the Packers offense. Aaron Rodgers is an excellent quarterback, and on his day he can pick apart the best of defenses. Sunday’s defeat wasn’t one of those games. Ingram and Bosa led the Chargers four-man rush, combing for three sacks.
Shane Steichen’s debut ends on a high
Steichen got his offensive coordinator duties off to a great start. Philip Rivers and his offense started the game with vigor, and despite ending their first drive with a field goal, they played with a purpose. In midweek, Coach Anthony Lynn spoke about the need for balance on the offense. Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler contributed to all but nine of the Chargers’ 159-yard rushing total.
Gordon’s season has been a washout until now, he had 20 carries for 80 yards and two rushing touchdowns. Rivers had lots of productivity from his receiver corps. Mike Williams had three receptions for a career-high 111 yards, and Hunter Henry had seven receptions for 84 yards.
The AFC West is shaping up to be super competitive. The Chargers moved to 2-1 against the NFC North and 4-5 on the season. It was their second win in as many weeks.
Was Sunday a bad day at the office for the Packers? We will have to see, but Green Bay can bounce back with a win against the Panthers in Week 10.
Two Minute Drill
Russell Wilson took another step towards an MVP nomination after leading the Seattle Seahawks to victory in a 40-34 shootout against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Wilson was 29-43 with 378 yards and five touchdowns. The Seahawks receiving corps torched Tampa Bay’s secondary.
In contrast to those teams making good progress, there are several teams who stink. The New York Jets still have Adam Gase at the helm despite losing to the Miami Dolphins.
Bears are not so grizzly
The Philadelphia Eagles shut out the Chicago Bears until the third quarter. Matt Nagy has got many problems to sort out. Chicago ran the football 18 times for 62 yards, and their passing game wasn’t much better. Mitchell Trubisky had another poor game, he was 10-21 with 125 yards.
The Bears ended the first half with two 1st downs and nine total yards. To make matters worse, they had eight penalties for a loss of 56 yards.
Chicago’s strength of schedule, a regressing quarterback, and a head coach under pressure has all the ingredients for a poor season. I expect the Bears to select a quarterback with their first pick of the 2020 Draft.
What are the Browns doing?
The Browns can’t win football games, and now they can’t adhere to the league’s dress code. The front office also waived Jermaine Whitehead for his social media antics.
Week 10 is on the horizon, and the San Francisco 49ers are still undefeated. There’s never a dull moment in the NFL. What will next week bring?
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Main Credit Image: Embed from Getty Images