Dolphins 14, Rams 10 may have been the strangest game I’ve seen all season. Miami could not move the ball all afternoon in the rain. For 3+ quarters, the SoCal 2-step of San Diego and then LA looked to prove too much for the sleepy Dolphins.
With seven minutes left in the 4th quarter, the Dolphins had 88 yards of total offense! And then the Rams missed a field goal, and the Dolphins woke up. They went 77 yards in eight plays – aided by a dumb Rams penalty – and Jarvis Landry got carried into the end zone.
After the Rams predictably went 3-and-out, Ryan Tannehill took the Dolphins 75 yards in seven plays for another touchdown, and Miami won, 14-10.
If you’re scoring at home: 152 yards in final six minutes for Miami; 88 yards in the first 54 minutes.
ALL DAK DOES IS WIN WIN WIN
It’s really amazing what the Dallas Cowboys have done this year offensively with a rookie QB. I know the line is incredible, and Ezekiel Elliott is a plug-and-play rookie, but here’s how good Dak Prescott was Sunday against the NFL’s top defense: 27-of-36, for 301 yards, 3 TDs and no turnovers. But it’s more impressive than that – the Ravens were the #1 defense on 3rd down in the NFL (31% allowed). The Cowboys were 7-of-12 on 3rd down.
A rookie QB tearing apart the NFL’s best 3rd down defense. I was on board the Dak train early, but yeah, I’m surprised.
Dallas gets to stay at home this week and host the Redskins, who have to travel after playing on Sunday Night Football.
CARDS CAN’T PROTECT PALMER
I wrote in this space three weeks ago that Carson Palmer was taking on water at an alarming rate, and Cardinals offensive line has been the main reason for the team’s struggles. Palmer faced an aggressive Vikings defense Sunday and the results were predictable.
According to Pro Football Focus, Palmer was under pressure on 27 of the 43 dropbacks, and he was sacked four times. He threw two interceptions, including a 100-yard pick-6.The Cardinals can’t protect Palmer, and playing a 1st place schedule, they’ve got virtually no shot at the playoffs now.
Their next three games are against teams with winning records: At Atlanta, vs Washington, at the Dolphins. The Seahawks loom in December. Yes, I think the Cardinals are going to give a real long look to Tony Romo in the offseason.
CAN WINSTON BE CONSISTENT?
Will the real Jameis Winston please stand up? We’re deep into his 2nd year as an NFL QB and nobody knows who he is yet. Is he the QB who threw 4 TDs over the Falcons in week 1?
Or the guy who threw four picks in a loss to the Cardinals in week 2?
Sunday, Winston had a fantastic game against a terrific defense – albeit one missing arguably the best cornerback in the NFL, Marcus Peters – throwing for 331 yards and a touchdown, in a 19-17 upset of the Chiefs in Arrowhead.
Winston did have a costly fumble in the red zone early in the game, but rebounded nicely for the Bucs (5-5) to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. I said slim because they’ve got the Seahawks and Cowboys left, plus two ahead against a good Saints team, and then they close against Cam Newton and the go-figure Panthers.
LIONS HAVE THE 4TH QUARTER ON LOCK
I’m still very leery of the Detroit Lions being a factor in the playoffs, but Jim Caldwell has kept his job by somehow turning his team into the best 4th quarter squad in the NFL. Sunday, the Lions again trailed in the 4th quarter – that’s been the case in every game this season – but then scored the final 10 points of the game to beat the Jaguars, 26-19.
The Lions were awful offensively – just 4.9 ypp at home against a poor defense – and their lone offensive touchdown was on a run by tight end Eric Ebron.
Another typical Jags loss. They outplayed the Lions, but gave up a punt return for a touchdown, and a tipped Blake Bortles pass was run back for a score. At 2-8, the Jags are headed toward another Top 5 pick in the draft.
ANDREW LUCK IS GETTING HELP
The Colts finally – finally! – have a pass rush! Last week against the Packers, they sacked Aaron Rodgers three times at Lambeau in an upset; Sunday at home against Marcus Mariota and the Titans, the Colts dropped him five times.
Five different players registered a sack, and the team also had seven tackles for loss. For the first time this season, the Colts have won two in a row, and Andrew Luck has Indianapolis right back in the playoff mix.
LOOK HOW MANY TEAMS STILL HAVE A SHOT AT THE PLAYOFFS
In a year where parity reigns more than ever, here’s a playoff stat that will shock you: As we head into Week 12, a staggering 22 teams are jockeying for nine playoff spots. If you count the Cowboys, Patriots and Seahawks as locks – they’re clearly the three best teams in the NFL – and you eliminate the jokers at the top of this mock draft, more than half the league has a shot at the playoffs.
Even though I think the Panthers, Saints and Packers are toast, they’re still in the mix because division leaders can’t pull away. I did eliminate the Chargers because they’re in a loaded division.
Meanwhile, in college football, here we are in late November, and you’ve got just a handful of teams – we’ll say six to be generous – trying to snag three playoff spots. Essentially, it’s Michigan vs Ohio State as a play-in game, and then Washington, Wisconsin, Penn State and Clemson are battling for the other spots. With the Tigers being a near-lock – unless they somehow lose to South Carolina or in the ACC title game – it’s really four teams for two spots. Give the people what they want – eight teams!