We have a lot to cover today, ladies and gentlemen.
After a tough beginning to Week 11 (much more on that VERY soon), things thankfully settled down and it was another action-packed game slate. The playoff run is about to begin for a slew of teams and now’s the time to see who will persevere.
As always, I have my five major takeaways for this past weekend. You guys know I like to spice things up and try to talk about storylines that may not be covered as much. With that being said, here’s my reaction to the most popular and covered stories of the season:
1. THE BROWNS-STEELERS BRAWL
The Browns earned a much-needed victory over their division rival Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday night, winning the game 21-7. Baker Mayfield played great, the addition of Kareem Hunt keeps getting better, and their defense forced four turnovers.
Unfortunately, nobody gives a rip about what’s mentioned above.
With eight seconds left in the game (yes, eight seconds), Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph completed a short pass to Jaylen Samuels but was tackled by Browns superstar Myles Garrett as he let it go. Rudolph took exception to the hit, and the two started jawing. While on the ground together, Rudolph was trying to remove Garrett’s helmet for some reason, and despite the best efforts of Steeler linemen David DeCastro and Mike Pouncey, Myles Garrett eventually ripped off Rudolph’s helmet. It’s unclear if Rudolph also connected on a groin shot to Garrett, but once Rudolph got to his feet, he charged Garrett and proceeded to get brained by a helmet swing by the Browns’ pass rusher.
Following that heinous act, DeCastro held Garrett on the ground to control him while Pouncey proceeded to kick Garrett in the head (he actually had his helmet on). While Rudolph stood over the two, Browns’ defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi pushed him over like a fourth-grade bully for no apparent reason. Luckily, nobody was injured in this melee, but I do have some thoughts on the whole event.
Garrett’s actions rival those of Juan Marichal and Jose Offerman, and he certainly deserves his indefinite suspension (which could roll into next season). It truly is a shame because Garrett is not only seen as one of the league’s best players, but he has a squeaky clean record as well. In his minor defense, he did not instigate this fight. He took things to a whole new level, and he will suffer for it, but it doesn’t have to define him.
Pouncey received a three-game suspension (which was fair), and Ogunjobi got one game. I do think it’s ridiculous that Mason Rudolph only has to pay a fine and won’t miss any time. He instigated the whole event because he was god awful all night long. At least one game was necessary for my mind.
Next week, the Steelers look to get back in the win column at Cincinnati, while Cleveland looked to continue their hot streak against the Dolphins. Hopefully, the Browns can keep their composure because they’ve been in Mike Tyson-level territory lately.
2. EPIC COMEBACK IN MINNESOTA
Okay, now back to actual football.
For the entire first half of their contest this past Sunday, the Vikings were getting pinked by Vic Fangio and the Broncos’ defense. Minnesota seemed to have a fumbling problem in the first half, as they lost three balls and only recovered one. Brandon Allen on the Broncos kept hitting his receivers, and Denver was up 20-0 at the half. The third quarter saw Minny get a touchdown back, but they were still down 23-7. Dalvin Cook had been neutralized the entire game, so this was Kirk Cousins’ time to shine. Cook started things off with a little punch-in score to save his fantasy day, which cut the lead to 23-13. Then following a turnover, Cousins hit Stefon Diggs with a 54-yard bomb to cut the lead to three for Denver. After failing to score again, the Vikings got the ball back and Cousins threw a touchdown pass to Kyle Rudolph to finish the comeback. For a Broncos team with a supposed elite defense, this loss was beyond embarrassing.
The Vikes finally get their bye next week, while Denver will take on Buffalo in an absolute bore-fest. One more thing: Kirk Cousins should definitely not be forgotten in the MVP race.
3. AN ATLANTA RESURGENCE?
What has gotten into this Falcons squad? Scoring points, no turnovers, a good defense!?!!?!??!?
Dan Quinn’s job security looks a lot better now, especially after beating the bricks off of Carolina 29-3. Kyle Allen did his best Mason Rudolph impersonation, tossing four interceptions and putting his team in a position to lose all afternoon. Not only that, but the Carolina defense did an even better impression of the Falcons’ defense from the first half, allowing Matt Ryan to complete over 65% of his passes for 311 yards and a score. Atlanta also rushed the passer successfully, getting a season-high five sacks as a team. It was simply a dominant performance from a team out of the playoff race, and a dismal one by a team that needed a victory more than one could imagine.
Atlanta will take on Tampa Bay in what should be a shootout, and Carolina travels to New Orleans and will try and end their losing streak. Is it too late for the Panthers to stake their future to Kyle Allen?
4. IS DESHAUN WATSON OVERRATED?
Now now now, this was an awful game all around for the Houston Texans. They got blown out 41-7, and a large part of that was their defense and offensive line allowing seven sacks. Deshaun Watson was an absolute train wreck, throwing for only 169 yards and one interception. His QBR of 9.0 is easily his worst performance of the season, and it leaves the question if Watson is overrated?
Now, I love Deshaun Watson, and I do believe he is a star in this league. However, I don’t find him deserving of this “top-5 QB” right now talk, or any MVP talk. He has certainly had some major performances, but they always appear to be sandwiched by poor games. His game log certainly proves my point, and now Indianapolis is in first place in the AFC South.
Maybe we haven’t seen Watson at his full potential until he gets acceptable protection. Until then, this team will always have a capped ceiling in terms of success.
5. POOR DWAYNE HASKINS
Out of all the rookie quarterbacks before the draft, I thought Dwayne Haskins would be the best one. Unfortunately, we know situation is a large part of having success, and Haskins landed in arguably the worst one possible.
Haskins has looked bad all year, but who can blame him with the talent around him. This clip surfaced yesterday of him talking to his offensive line and trying to be a leader. You can see the faces of his teammates staring at each other trying not to smirk, as Haskins asks them what he can do to make their lives easier. This could mean one of two things: 1) He has no respect from the veterans or 2) The team has given up. I believe it to be a mixture of both, but the latter is more prominent. The team is a mess and will need a full overhaul this offseason to make sure Haskins has an acceptable team.
The host Detroit next week, which means another week of Washington fans screaming “Sell the team!” to Dan Snyder.
TNF PICK: INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (6-4) vs. HOUSTON TEXANS (6-4) [-3.5]
A battle for first place in the AFC South, the Texans are at home trying to avenge a devastating loss to Baltimore this past week. Jacoby Brissett didn’t have to do much against the Jaguars this past week, as Indy rushed for 264 yards. That is absolutely insane, and they get another soft run defense this week as well. While I do expect the Texans to put forth a better effort than in Week 11, I’m taking the Colts because I trust their coaching more, their running game more, and their ability to protect Jacoby Brissett.
THE PICK: Colts (+3.5)