NFL 2020: Week 11

Some interesting tidbits this week in the NFL. We’ll start, of course, with Covid. With the human-idiocy caused and continuing spike in Covid cases, the NFL is putting all teams into “intensive protocol” jail starting Saturday. It actually makes sense. Not sure it will help, but at least they’re trying.

Lots on interesting QB stuff going on too. I’m thrilled to see Alex Smith back playing QB, his recovery is a great story. Shame it has to be on a team owned by one of the largest douchebags in the NFL, but I’ll take what I can get. Russell Wilson, meanwhile, is now tied for 3rd in interception totals (with the lowly Drew Lock), and is in a huge funk. I love me some Russell Wilson (who doesn’t love an elite QB taken in the 3rd round of the draft), but it appears there may be a downside to letting him cook. Here’s hoping he can get back to being one of the best QB’s in the league (while the Seahawks still lose, though). Speaking of struggling QB’s, Lamar Jackson is having a relatively rough go of it this year. But that’s compared to an MVP season, so saying he’s struggling is a bit of an overstatement. But it seems clear the defenses in the NFL, as they are wont to do, are adjusting to his (and Greg Roman’s) style of play. Should be interesting to see as the chess match continues. Finally in the QB realm, we may have the return (sorry Drew Brees) of Jameis Winston. Last seen throwing interceptions at an incalculable rate, he now gets the keys to a efficient, ball control, yet pretty good, offense. It will be fun to see if he stays his gunslinger interception machine self or if he’ll play within the Saints offense. Either way, should be interesting.

Enough rambling. Here’s your games:

Thursday, Nov. 19, 7:20 p.m.

Arizona Cardinals vs. Seattle Seahawks (-3, 57)

Sunday, Nov. 22


Atlanta Falcons vs. New Orleans Saints (-5, 50.5)
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Washington Football Team (-1, 46.5)
Detroit Lions vs. Carolina Panthers (-3)
New England Patriots vs. Houston Texans (+1.5, 49)
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Cleveland Browns (-3, 47)
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (+10, 46.5)
Tennessee Titans vs. Baltimore Ravens (-6.5, 49)


New York Jets vs. Los Angeles Chargers (-8.5, 46.5)
Miami Dolphins vs. Denver Broncos (+3.5, 45)
Dallas Cowboys vs. Minnesota Vikings (-7, 48.5)
Green Bay Packers vs. Indianapolis Colts (-1.5, 51.5)


Kansas City Chiefs vs. Las Vegas Raiders (+7, 56.5)

Monday, Nov. 23

Los Angeles Rams vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-4, 48.5)

In direct conflict from last week’s abysmal slate of games, there are a ton of great games I want to watch this week. I get two watchable games early Sunday. The Falcons/Saints game will be fascinating to see how the Saints play if they are without Drew Brees and with Winston. I expect a full load for Alvin Kamaara and Latavius Murray, but, for the love of Og, please stop with the Taysom Hill Project. And the Falcons are 3-1 since firing Dan Quinn. I expect the Saints defense to pick up the slack for a potentially missing Drew Brees, but it should be a good game regardless. I also get the Titans/Ravens, which is definitely be worth a watch. The Titans have struggled recently, and the Ravens defense is pretty damn good. But, for some unknowable reason, think the game will go down to the wire, where I trust Derrick Henry to eat up the clock and bring about a Titans win. The rest of the games (with the exception of the Steelers/Jags) have two comparable, if not actually good, teams playing, so keeping track of them should be fun.

Sunday afternoon all starts with the Packers game, where they are an actual underdog (they are on the road) to a very good defensive Colts team. The Packers offense vs. the Colts defense should be fascinating, but the game will likely turn on whether the Packers front 7 can counter the fantastic Colts’ O line. Jonathon Taylor, to my surprise, hasn’t been very good, but the committee of him, Hines, and Wilkins will always have a fresh pair of legs to challenge an iffy run defense. Once again, I’m lucky enough to watch it live, so it should be interesting. Whether the Vikings defense is actually improving or taking advantage of bad offensive teams will be the question on Sunday (although Dallas hasn’t been good offensively since Dak went down). That game should be fun too.

I am surprised the Raiders are 6-3, but I fully expect them to take a beating as the Chiefs make good on the revenge story from their earlier loss to the Raiders. He 56.5 over is incredibly high, but I can easily see Andy Reid (who apparently was pissed by the Raiders taking a victory lap after their win), Eric Bieniemy, and Patrick Mahomes running up the score to prove a point. Could be a fun watch.

And Monday night’s game should be fascinating too. Two good, if a bit unpredictable, teams with good defenses and potentially special offenses going head to head in primetime? Yes please. I kinda want to see Aaron Donald sitting on Tom Brady’s head a few times this game.

So there’s my thoughts. How about you? Any matchups you like? Any players you’re itching to see? Any recommendations on good recipes for Thanksgiving dressing? Let’s hear from you.

I find Philly-Cleveland kind of interesting for the fall-out for the loser:

If Philly loses - its more opportunity to poke fun at the NFC EAST (the division no one wants to win) and fun discussion about the future of Carson Wentz’s career.

If Cleveland loses - they’ll still be a respectable 6-4, but it will have been an ugly 6-4 given blow-out losses to Ravens & Steelers and only scoring 16 points in the last two games combined (and a loss to lowly Philly would add to that). And of course more fun conversation about Baker Mayfield’s future.

I’ve been wondering: Suppose the Covid got so bad that the NFL canceled the season around Week 17 or so. In such circumstances, would they still run the Draft based off of win-loss record? Because in such a situation, it would be terribly unfair to the winning teams; they would have won for nothing. The Steelers, for instance, might be 15-0 or 16-0 by then, but draft last because of their win record - yet not have had any chance of playing in the playoffs or a Super Bowl.

Probably? It’s all uncharted ground, but you have to base draft order on something, and even if there are no playoffs, the current seeding formula, with teams picking in reverse order of record, meets the primary goal of letting the weaker teams draft first.

If the Steelers finish 16-0, but there’s no Super Bowl, their draft position wouldn’t likely be more than a few spots different than it would be if there were playoffs and a Super Bowl – it’s not like they would suddenly wind up in the top 10 draft choices anyway.

An OK game last night. I was drawn in by the Wilson v. Murray MVP battle hype, but neither really impressed. Murray’s injured shoulder may have had something to do with it, but getting just 269 yards on 42 attempts didnt impress. He’s fun to watch when he scrambles or runs. One commentator called him Darren Sproles with a cannon arm. I can see that. But Seattle did an excellent job containing him, although it might have been the injury that limited him to just 5 rushes. Wilson had a better game, but it wasn’t MVP type play. Credit to the Seahaeks defense, finally showing up.

Still, a much sloppier game, with tons of penalties, that I was expecting. But I got to see Kyler and “my guy” Isiah Simmons (he finally had a pretty good game), so it was fun.

Sloppy games are sort of the theme of 2020. With restrictions on how you practice and when and where, teams are less-prepared and the players have less time to gel as a unit. And then the inability to prepare leads to injuries, which forces you to toss in the backups and the backups of backups, and it snowballs.

I prefer it over no season at all. You take what you can get. I am wondering how many stats from 2020 will have asterisks after them.

Yeah, I was disappointed and regardless of Covid, it reminds me why I don’t like Thursday games. The NFL got my eyeballs so they don’t care, although in a non Covid world, I probably would have been at a bar and would have head to the pool tables after seeing what a slop fest it was

Someone named Taysom Hill will start for the Saints. Admittedly, I haven’t been paying attention, but what kind of doghouse did Winston get himself into?

Taysom Hill has been a Saints backup QB for 3 years now. He has been swapped in for Brees in specific situations because he’s a mobile and athletic QB. He played in all 16 games the last two seasons, but often as a special teams player.

I stand corrected in my own stupidity.

The Saints use Hill in a ton of ways, to take advantage of his skills (he’s been nicknamed “The Human Swiss Army Knife”) – it’s been reminiscent of how the Steelers used Kordell Stewart early in his career. On offense, sometimes he’s been on the field at the same time as Brees, and acting as a running back or receiver, as well as quarterback. On special teams, he’s been a kick returner, a gunner on punt coverage, and he’s blocked at least one punt.

Over the course of his career so far, he’s thrown 18 passes, rushed 36 times, caught 28 passes, and returned 15 kickoffs.

Color me shocked the Saints are starting Hill with his 18 career attempts and 79 passer rating over Jameis Winston. I’m sure Sean Payton knows better than I do, though. Should be an interesting watch.

I’m guessing it’s more “starter” in name only. Hill gets the first snap, but Winston will see a significant number as well. See what’s working after a quarter or two and go from there.

Ok, now I remember Hill as the gimmick player. Just never got through my thick skull he was listed as backup QB.

Taysom Hill is awesome in small doses. I don’t recall ever seeing a player used that way. He’s only called a backup QB because I don’t think there is a real term for what he does. He has an undefined situational skill position that the Saints have used well. I don’t know if it’s an innovative idea that could work elsewhere or if it only works with his unique build and talents. (I don’t follow the Saints closely enough to have a more informed opinion.)

He’s Tim Tebow without the Evangelical support and without the delusion that he can be a full time QB in the NFL.

Let us not forget the original “slash” Kordell Stewart. Wait, actually that’s probably for the best.

Joe Burrow out for the year with a nasty knee injury.

Washington gets a win against Cincy in the game which was kinda boring, it’s Alex Smith’s first win since coming back from his awful injury.

Well, he’s 1-0 as a starter.

Remember how we were talking about whether Burrow would be a great QB? I think I said back then that QB ‘greatness’ requires talent…and a lot of luck. By “luck” I mean like being drafted by a team that can win - and of course being injury free.

Burrow has/had the raw talent to be an elite QB, but I don’t care if you genetically engineer a QB with Tom Brady, Joe Montana, Johnny Unitas’, and Russell Wilson’s DNA…put him on the wrong team, and he’ll be nothing more than Jake Plummer at best (Plummer was good, btw, but not a Hall of Famer). No QB can be a Hall of Famer without being in a good franchise. Period.

Sam Darnold. Joe Burrow. Anyone else.