On a weekend in which Dak Prescott and Cam Newton didn’t play, the QB everyone is talking about is Detroit’s Matt Stafford. The 8-year veteran is in the Top 10 in the NFL among QBs in every important category, but here’s the most important stat for the MVP candidate: 24.
That’s how many game-winning drives in the 4th quarter/overtime Stafford has had since 2009, second only to Atlanta’s Matt Ryan in that span. And this season, in the 4th quarter, Stafford’s been fantastic: in all four Detroit wins, they’ve trailed in the 4th quarter. Stafford led late rallies against the Colts, Eagles, Rams and Redskins.
The only reason I’d pump the brakes on Stafford as an MVP candidate – margin of victory in those? Eleven points. Also, all four have come in a dome.
GUS MUST GO
How does Gus Bradley still have a job? For three years running now, social media has fallen in love with the Jaguars in the offseason, and then the season happens and they’re a disaster. Over and over.
They got lucky last week to rally against the inept Bears to win, but boy were the Jags awful at home against the Raiders Sunday. They were never in the game – not even remotely – but they did do one thing well: Penalties. They were flagged 13 times for 112 yards, and two players were ejected. Free agent pickup Malik Jackson (from the Broncos to the Jags, yikes!) and rookie Jalen Ramsey got ejected in the 4th quarter.
The Jags have Tennessee and Kansas City ahead, both on the road. Gotta assume Gus Bradley will be able to enjoy Thanksgiving without having to worry about game-planning for the weekend.
Going back a decade, there had been just one field goal miss of under 30 yards in overtime. It happened in 2010. Yet somehow … there were two in Sunday night’s Arizona/Seattle debacle.
Chandler Catanzaro hit the upright from 24-yards out for Arizona (remember, he also missed a potential game-winner in the season opener against New England), and then Stephen Hauschka shanked a 28-yarder for Seattle that left Pete Carroll and the country speechless.
BACK-TO-BACK LIKE DRAKE
Jay Ajayi, who made this column last week, got himself into the history books with another 200-yard performance. Last week, it was the against the Steelers; Sunday, it was against the Bills when he erupted for 214 yards on 28 carries. Amazingly, he had nine carries of 10+ yards, the third highest total in a game since 1960.
Only three NFL running backs have had back-to-back 200-yard games:
Ricky Williams (2002)
Earl Campbell (1980)
OJ Simpson (1973, 1976)
If you’re wondering who Ajayi has next … it’s my Jets, which boast a Top 5 run defense in many categories.
SOFT, SCARED SAM
This is how week-to-week the NFL is: Last Sunday, in a loss to Washington, the Eagles didn’t sack Kirk Cousins once. He attempted 34 passes and was only hit twice.
Yesterday, the Eagles were playing the undefeated Vikings and their beat-up offensive line. Sam Bradford attempted 41 passes, was sacked six times, and hit an astonishing 12 times. (Other stat collectors claim Bradford was hit 19 times on 45 drop backs.)
How about this, via ESPN: “on the 17 dropbacks in which Bradford was pressured, he committed three turnovers and the Vikings gained 11 yards.”
As impressive as the 5-0 start was, the Eagles exposed the Vikings biggest issue – offensively, Bradford scares nobody (four fumbles, two lost), and he crumbled under pressure.
RUN CHIP KELLY, RUN!
If you didn’t think the Navarro Bowman loss to the 49ers defense was massive, here’s how the run defense has performed since their middle linebacker went down:
LUCK, STILL THE BEST
I enjoy reading the hot take artists trying to disparage Andrew Luck. After a ho-hum 29-of-37, 353-yard, 3-TD performance (#2 in “Total QBR” this week), and bringing the Colts back in the 4th quarter (again), what’s left to be said?
The running game wasn’t there: 24 carries, 81 yards. He was without his #1 tight end (Dwayne Allen), and #2 and #3 WRs (Donte Moncrief and Phillip Dorsett). So Luck’s top target after Ty Hilton? Undrafted free agent tight end Jack Doyle, who was cut a few years ago by the Titans, and picked up by the Colts.
All he did against his former team: Caught nine of the 10 passes thrown his way (the other went through his hands in the end zone), and was integral in the victory, hauling in the go-ahead TD pass with two minutes left.
Aaron Rodgers is about to learn what life is like for Andrew Luck, with no running game, a below-average offensive line, and limited weapons.