Entering the middle of November and the defending Super Bowl champion’s playoff hopes took a major hit versus Dallas. In Buffalo an unexpected hero emerged and in Tennessee the Titans trampled the Patriots in a rematch of last season’s AFC divisional playoff game.
Sound and Fury
The lowest scoring team in the NFL this season, the Bills put up 41 in their divisional win over the Jets. Quarterback Matt Barkley, who hasn’t thrown a regular season pass since the 2016 season with the Bears, started and passed with flying colors. He completed 15-of-25 passes for 232 yards and two touchdowns. Despite the stellar performance, Bills coach Sean McDermott indicated rookie Josh Allen will be back in the lineup following the bye week, if healthy. Barkely was unfazed by his performance saying he knew he could play in this league. However, it appears it’s back to the sidelines very soon for this week’s “Sound and Fury” player.
Although Tampa Bay quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has had many stellar moments this season and has generally been excellent, Sunday was far from his best day. Sure his 406 yards passing on the surface appear great, but he was intercepted twice and lost a fumble. His decision making, particularly on a drive early in the game, helped change the tone of the game. On a second and eight scramble from the Washington 16, Fitzpatrick approached the 10 yard line with clearly enough room for a first down. Inexplicably, he backtracked to the 12 trying to get outside and was tackled. The subsequent third down pass was incomplete and a missed field goal later and a 13 play, 63 yard drive come up empty. Washington maintained a 3-0 lead and the Buccaneers never found the end zone in a 16-3 loss.
After an impressive game against the Cowboys, the Titans looked to take down the Patriots. New England won the last meeting in last season’s AFC Divisional playoff round, overwhelming Tennessee 35 – 14. While a win in November doesn’t give a team the same satisfaction as in January, the Titans put a whipping on the Patriots, 34-10. Titans’ head coach Mike Vrabel played under Belicheck for several years in New England, making this victory all the more sweet for him and gets the Titans to 5-4 and on the heels of the red hot Texans in the AFC South.
Best of the Week
Two running backs take center stage. Cleveland’s Nick Chubb helped the Browns earn their third victory of the season with a 20 carry, 176 yard rushing performance. In the play of the week, Chubb busted off a 92-yard touchdown run midway through the third to give the Browns an 18-point lead. The run by Chubb was the longest in franchise history.
In Philadelphia, Ezekiel Elliott shredded one of the top rush defenses in the league for 151 yards on 19 carries. In doing so, he helped the Cowboys keep their playoff hopes alive and put a serious dent into the chances of the defending Super Bowl champions. Both teams are two games behind the Redskins in the NFC East, although the Cowboys now hold the tiebreaker.