But in a football sense, the two were strangers, and Kelce wasn’t alone among his Kansas City Chiefs teammates.
“I’m pretty sure three or four of the guys out there on the field had never caught a ball by Matt, even in practice,” Kelce said. “I know I hadn’t. It was just going out there and playing within the rules of the offense and trusting the guy to be able to put the ball somewhere.”
The Chiefs played something more than backyard football after the veteran Moore replaced the injured Patrick Mahomes in the second quarter of their 30-6 win over the Broncos. Moore completed 10 of 19 passes for 117 yards, including a 57-yard touchdown pass to Tyreek Hill during which the two looked well-acquainted.
Hill may have been the only Chiefs receiver to be familiar with Moore, their bond coming on the scout team at practice recently as Hill was preparing to return from his injury.
“I had a chance to go against the defense and he was the quarterback,” Hill said. “We [were] out there drawing up plays. I was [Houston’s] Will Fuller, he was Deshaun Watson. Me and him, we kind of got a connection going.”
But to Kelce’s point, the offense was largely basic once Moore replaced Mahomes. That was partly by choice — the Chiefs moved to a 20-6 lead shortly after Moore entered the game — and partly by necessity.
That’s why things should be more refined for Moore if he has to be the Chiefs’ starter for an extended period of time. Sources have told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that Mahomes could return in three weeks, if not sooner. The Chiefs have 10 days between Thursday’s game against the Broncos and Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers (8:20 p.m. ET, NBC) and Moore will have the benefit of some practice time with the starters. The Chiefs could design their game plan around his abilities rather than those of Mahomes.
Moore didn’t even have the benefit of a training camp or a preseason with the Chiefs. He arrived in late August after the Chiefs lost their other veteran backup quarterback, Chad Henne, to a broken ankle. Moore was out of football last season, and hadn’t played in a game since 2017.
“He’s got ice water in the veins,” coach Andy Reid said when asked what he learned about Moore against the Broncos. “He doesn’t flinch. There’s no panic. He says, ‘I’m good. Just call [the play] and let’s roll.’
“We need to just get a little of that rust [off]. We’re good whatever direction this thing goes.”
The 35-year-old Moore was preparing for life after a playing career earlier this year. He worked for a time in the Miami Dolphins‘ scouting department and was helping to coach his former high school football team in California when the Chiefs called.
Moore had 10 NFL seasons before joining the Chiefs with 49 games, 30 starts and a 15-15 record for the Dolphins and Carolina Panthers. His previous game happened on Nov. 26, 2017 when he threw for 215 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions for the Dolphins in a 35-17 loss to the New England Patriots.
“I’ve played in this league before,” he said. “Just like everybody I’ve had my ups and downs. … It’s been a wild half a year or whatever. You’ve just got to move forward and go.”
He put his experience to use and figured some things out on Thursday night. He knew of Hill’s speed — he told himself not to leave the throw short on the touchdown pass — and made a nice throw by lofting the ball over a defender who was in the passing lane.
But like many of his teammates he was largely guessing.
“There were a couple of times when he was working back in,” Moore said of his practice connections with Hill. “There were a couple throws in practice. Not many.”
Moore had the luxury of playing with a comfortable lead for much of the game. The Chiefs were inside the Denver 5 when he entered the game. He ran three plays and the Chiefs kicked a field goal.
The defense scored on the next Denver possession by recovering a fumble for a touchdown.
He figures to be under more pressure against the Packers, but at least Moore has some momentum.
“Matty came in full of energy and ready to rock and roll,” Kelce said. “Matty Moore [is] 1-0.”
Week 10 fantasy football highs and lows
Week 10 of the fantasy football season featured plenty of notable performances. What should we make of them? Matt Bowen and Tristan H. Cockcroft are here with analysis on the biggest performers — and duds — of the week.
Patrick Mahomes continues historic pace
In his return from a knee injury, Mahomes scored 29.8 fantasy points on Sunday behind his third career 400-yard and 15th career three-touchdown passing game, numbers that look all the more impressive if you consider that the opposing Titans entered the day affording opposing quarterbacks only 15.2 fantasy points per game. With that score, Mahomes now has 606.6 points through the first 25 career NFL starts, easily shattering Deshaun Watson‘s former mark of 564.3 for the most by any quarterback in history through that many starts. Remarkably, Mahomes was started in only 57.1% of ESPN leagues in Week 10, sixth-highest among quarterbacks. — Cockcroft
I’ll jump in here, too, on Mahomes. The Titans were down starting cornerback Malcom Butler, but this is still a pretty good defense in Tennessee. And Mahomes lit that group up. If you had any concerns about Mahomes’ movement skills or his ability to sling the ball around after his knee injury, his numbers today should’ve answered those. Mahomes completed 36-of-50 passes for 446 yards with three touchdowns. And I didn’t see any limitations to his game. He can still make those ridiculous second-reaction throws. — Bowen
In his Browns debut on Sunday, Hunt played 38-of-66 (58%) of the team’s offensive snaps and scored 14.4 PPR fantasy points, 0.3 more than Chubb. Despite that, Chubb’s performance shouldn’t warrant any worry amongst his fantasy managers. He played 53-of-66 (80%) offensive snaps, amassed 20 of the team’s 26 rushing attempts and was targeted four times, with those numbers falling right in line with his seasonal per-game rates (including Sunday) of 75% of the offensive snaps played, 19.3 rushing attempts and 4.0 targets.
It’s clear based upon Sunday’s usage that the Browns regard Hunt their passing-down back and Chubb the focal point of their offense, meaning that the only concern for the two should be game flow, something that shouldn’t be a huge issue looking at the final seven games on their schedule. Chubb remains a locked-in RB1 for me, but Hunt could have use in full-PPR formats as a flex play against some of these weaker upcoming defenses. — Cockcroft
I’ll add this, as the Browns did use personnel packages with multiple running backs. Get Hunt and Chubb on the field at the same time. That’s a game plan thing from Freddie Kitchens, and along with Hunt’s receiving production (seven receptions, 44 yards), it tells us that the running back is going to play a defined role for this squad. That meshes with Tristan’s note on Hunt’s PPR value. — Bowen
Darius Slayton‘s career day
Slayton enjoyed a career day against the Jets, scoring 34.1 PPR fantasy points, with his 10 catches exceeding his total in his previous four games combined (8). It was, however, the second time in his past three games that he scored multiple touchdowns, as he continued to strengthen his rapport with rookie QB Daniel Jones. Slayton, who was started in a mere 5.0% of ESPN leagues in Week 10 and remains available in 87.7%, is regardless not an easy player to add, since the Giants enjoy their bye during Week 11 before facing a tough matchup against the Bears defense in Week 12 (not to mention a somewhat difficult one against the Packers in Week 13).
It’s the fantasy playoffs schedule that looks so attractive for Slayton, with a pair of games against the Eagles and one apiece against the Dolphins and Redskins from Weeks 14-17 (and Jones to a lesser degree in two-quarterback leagues). That makes Slayton more of a situational add — you’ll need a roster spot to burn with his upcoming bye, and you’d be assuming that Sterling Shepard‘s (concussion) injury is indeed a season-ender. It’s a move I couldn’t make in a 10-team standard ESPN leagues, but would love to in any deeper format where I had the luxury. — Cockcroft
Lamar Jackson makes it look easy
Jackson was again outstanding, scoring 33.4 fantasy points while playing only three quarters of the Ravens’ 49-13 blowout of the Bengals. He enjoyed his fourth consecutive game with a rushing touchdown, becoming only the 17th quarterback since at least 1950 to enjoy a streak of at least that length, ran for at least 65 yards for the sixth consecutive game (longest such streak in NFL history) and pushed his season total for fantasy points to 237.6. That’s the fifth-most fantasy points by any quarterback in history through his team’s first nine games of a season. Jackson also now has 367.8 fantasy points in his first 16 career starts, which trails only Patrick Mahomes’ 410.1 and Cam Newton’s 370.3. — Cockcroft
Christian Kirk has three TDs
I expected Kirk to win underneath versus the Bucs secondary on quick game throws, screens, etc. That’s why he jumped up in the ranks for me this week as a WR2. But it was the deep ball targets from Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray — plus the sudden touchdown production — that allowed Kirk to rack up 37.8 fantasy points in PPR formats. Kirk got over the top of the Tampa secondary twice, and also cashed in on a red zone target from Murray to get six. Just a monster day for Kirk, who caught six of a team-high 10 targets for 138 yards and three scores. He simply played faster than the Bucs defensive backs.
With the 49ers defense up next, Kirk is going to slide back down in the ranks. Going back to Week 9, Kirk caught only 2-of-5 targets for 8 yards against San Francisco. However, Kirk’s numbers today are a reminder to take the positive matchups with wide receivers in your lineup. — Bowen
David Johnson not fantasy relevant … again
In 55 previous NFL games, Johnson had never been shut out … until Sunday. His zero PPR fantasy points gave him his second miserable score in the past four weeks — he also scored 0.2 points in Week 7, but played only three snaps — and while the matchup (the Buccaneers, who sport by far the league’s best run defense to this point) and Johnson’s limited snap count (45% of the Cardinals’ offensive snaps) played a part, both factors influence his rest-of-year value.
The Cardinals have Kenyan Drake (and potentially Chase Edmonds) available to ease Johnson’s workload, and the injury might coax them to limit him for the remainder of the year, meaning he’ll be susceptible to upcoming poor matchups against the 49ers (Week 11), Rams (Week 13) and Steelers (Week 14). This just isn’t a RB1 right now, and if his practice weeks don’t progress smoothly, he might not be a RB2 some of those weeks, either.
Saquon Barkley has a rough day
Barkley concluded Sunday’s action with 13 rushing attempts for 1 yard, becoming only the seventh player since at least 1950 to carry the football at least that many times while amassing a yard or fewer. And for only the second time in a full game in his career, he was held beneath 10 PPR fantasy points (8.1).
Daniel Jones’ inconsistent play and fumbling issues have caused the Giants to play a fair share of their games from behind, and while that might suit a good pass-catcher like Barkley, his fantasy production just hasn’t shown it: He has averaged only 15.3 PPR fantasy points per game in his five games played that Jones started, compared to 23.7 when Eli Manning started. — Cockcroft
Cooper Kupp gets shut out
The Steelers defense is playing very well, but did anyone see Kupp getting completely shut out today? He saw four targets, and finished with zero grabs. Chalk that up to the Pittsburgh pass rush — which rattled quarterback Jared Goff — and sticky coverage versus Kupp in the secondary. The Rams offense never established a rhythm in the passing game, and the Steelers took away the inside crossing routes where Kupp usually makes his money. Up next for Kupp? It’s the Bears defense on Sunday night in Week 11. — Bowen
Here’s how unusual Kupp’s donut on the fantasy scorecard: In the 13 seasons for which snap-count data is available, he’s only the 36th player at any position to play 90%-plus of his team’s offensive snaps (he played 91%), be targeted at least four times (4) yet score zero PPR fantasy points. That’s an average of fewer than three per season, and most of the individuals who previously did it were far from household names in fantasy. Kupp, meanwhile, was started in a whopping 79.2% of ESPN leagues in Week 10. — Cockcroft
Aaron Jones carries the Packers
Thanks to his second career three-touchdown game, Jones tallied 27.3 PPR fantasy points in Week 10, the fourth time this season that he has scored at least 25 points. He’s now the No. 2 scorer among running backs for the year with 211.3 points, though the No. 3 scorer, Dalvin Cook, has played one fewer game. Interestingly enough, Jones didn’t garner a single target in this game, unusual for him after he totaled 37 in his previous six games combined, though it probably helped that he was facing a Panthers defense that has struggled far more against the run than the pass.
Jones will now enter his bye week before returning for a difficult matchup against the 49ers, but he does have one of the more fantasy-friendly schedules in the month of December. He remains a legitimate weekly RB1. — Cockcroft
Pittsburgh Steelers D/ST continues to dominate
For the sixth consecutive game, the Steelers’ defense/special teams scored double-digit fantasy points, their 22 pushing their season total to 109. That’s the second-most by any D/ST this season, behind only the Patriots’ 168, though the 49ers (107) will have a chance to catch and/or pass them on Monday night. Still, the Steelers will conclude Week 10 among the top three at the position, with the fourth-place team (the Rams) resting at 80 points, illustrating just how well this defense has played.
Even better: The Steelers have one of the most fantasy-friendly D/ST schedules the rest of the way, with games against the Browns (twice), Bengals, Jets, Bills and Cardinals. If this is your defense, you have to feel pretty secure in locking the Steelers in for the duration. — Cockcroft
Ronald Jones II: We can all see that Jones gives the Bucs more juice at the running back position, right? I think Bruce Arians is on board as well, after Jones out-snapped Peyton Barber 38 to 20 on Sunday. Jones finished with 106 total yards and a touchdown on 19 touches. And the majority of his production came in the passing game, as he caught 8-of-8 targets for 77 yards. With the Saints on tap in Week 11 — and four teams on a bye — Jones is going to be in that RB2/Flex discussion in my ranks. — Bowen
Marquise Brown: I don’t want to give out high-fives for beating up on the Bengals secondary, but I do like seeing Brown back in the mix for the Ravens pass game. After catching 3-of-4 targets for 48 yards in Week 9 versus the Patriots, Brown hauled in 4-of-4 targets for 80 yards and a touchdown on Sunday. Even with the 49ers and Steelers still on the schedule, Brown’s deep ball speed and explosive play ability put him in the WR3 discussion as a high upside/low floor play. — Bowen
Kenny Golladay: Golladay managers got some relief late he caught a jump-ball throw from backup quarterback Jeff Driskel for a 47-yard touchdown. But I have some concerns for Golladay’s production moving forward if Matthew Stafford is down again next week versus Dallas. Sure, the targets will still be there for Golladay in a Lions offense that simply can’t generate consistent run game production. But if Stafford isn’t throwing the ball, Golladay has to drop down in the ranks as a mid-tier WR2. — Bowen
O.J. Howard: In a matchup against a Cardinals defense that has been ripped up by opposing tight ends all season, Howard caught 4-of-7 targets for 47 yards and a score. That’s a decent line, and Howard did make a nice grab on a seam ball throw from Jameis Winston. However, the touchdown came on either a busted coverage or poor communication from the Arizona secondary (maybe both). Given that the Bucs play the Saints next week, Howard will once again be ranked as a low-floor TE2 for me. — Bowen
Drew Brees: Yes, that was a prime matchup for Brees against a sub-par Atlanta defense. But with pass protection issues, and New Orleans’ inability to finish drives, Brees had just 11.5 fantasy points. That’s a bust. However, with Tampa on the schedule next week, I’m still going to rank Brees as a top-five QB. — Bowen
Christian McCaffrey: McCaffrey’s 26.1 PPR fantasy points gave him 272.5 for the season, the third-most by any running back through his team’s first nine games of any season since at least 1950. Using non-PPR scoring, McCaffrey’s 224.5 fantasy points are the ninth-most by a running back during that same time span. — Cockcroft
DJ Moore: After catching 9-of-11 targets for 120 yards against the Packers, Moore has now seen at least eight targets in his last five games, and he’s gone over the 100-yard receiving mark in two straight. Moore’s lack of touchdown production (only one touchdown catch this season) knocks down his value a bit. But the steady volume will keep Moore in the WR2 mix again in Week 11 versus the Falcons. — Bowen
Week 10 NFL takeaways – What to make of the Saints’ and Chiefs’ upset losses
The Saints lost by 17 points to the Falcons. And even with Patrick Mahomes back under center, the Chiefs couldn’t outlast the Titans. The Jets got by the Giants in a Battle of New York, Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson piled on offense against an overmatched Cincinnati team and the Browns held off the Bills for their third win.
In the afternoon, Miami upset Indianapolis, and Green Bay made a late stand to beat Carolina in the snow.
All that and more in Week 10’s biggest takeaways from NFL Nation.
The Titans rediscovered the importance of using Derrick Henry as the focal point of the offense. Offensive coordinator Arthur Smith’s decision to stick to the run despite being down by nine points to Kansas City in the fourth quarter paid off. Henry finished with 23 carries for 188 yards and two touchdowns. Tennessee’s win keeps it in the playoff mix and allows the team to get healthy during the bye week. — Turron Davenport
Next game: vs. Jacksonville (4:05 p.m. ET, Nov. 24)
Even with Patrick Mahomes back in the lineup and on top of his game, the Chiefs won’t be able to outscore every opponents. If they don’t clean up their sloppiness on special teams and improve on defending the run, they won’t win the AFC West title for the fourth consecutive season. The Chiefs can be get caught by the 5-4 Raiders, who are a half-game behind and come to Arrowhead Stadium in Week 13. — Adam Teicher
Next game: at L.A. Chargers (8:15 p.m. ET, Nov. 18)
The Falcons, who had a league-low seven sacks coming into Sunday, generated consistent pressure against Drew Brees with six sacks and 11 quarterback hits. Defensive tackle Grady Jarrett led the way with 2.5 sacks and five QB hits. The coverage and communication from the defensive backs was solid, and the rushers up front took care of the rest. If the Falcons can rush with such consistency next week at Carolina and the rest of the season, they could be in every game, especially if the offense continues with long scoring drives. — Vaughn McClure
Next game: at Carolina (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)
New Orleans needs to figure out how to start faster. The Saints’ stunning loss at home to the Falcons feels like a bit of a one-off, since they won the six previous games. But Brees agreed afterward the Saints do need to be concerned about their uncharacteristic trend of slow starts on offense this season. They have scored a total of 25 first-quarter points in nine games. They need to start setting the tone more in a critical month with three more division games coming up, starting next week at Tampa Bay. — Mike Triplett
Next game: at Tampa Bay (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)
Bears coach Matt Nagy refuses to change. He opened the doors to Club Dub, the Bears postgame locker room dance party, after Sunday’s victory over Detroit, even though the team had lost four straight coming in and is 4-5 on the year. “I never considered not doing it,” Nagy said. “It’s who we are.” He recalled one year in Kansas City when the Chiefs were 1-5 and found a way to make the playoffs. “I keep reminding myself of that,” Nagy said. The Bears face long odds, but there is no quit in the second-year head coach. — Jeff Dickerson
Next game: at L.A. Rams (8:20 p.m. ET, Sunday)
Life without Matthew Stafford, as expected, was not kind to the Lions. While the stats might appear better than one would think in Jeff Driskel‘s first start with Detroit, the reality is it was a much different offense without Stafford playing for the first time since the start of the 2011 season. It will be a long season for Detroit, who is now close to needing to win out to reach the postseason, if Stafford can’t return soon. — Michael Rothstein
Next game: vs. Dallas (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)
The Bucs finally found a way to finish. After the Buccaneers surrendered an eight-point lead to the Seahawks last week — their fifth blown lead of the season — and having their secondary called out by coach Bruce Arians for a “disappointing” year, cornerback Jamel Dean made a touchdown-saving interception late in the fourth quarter. “I’m just really elated that we finished,” said quarterback Jameis Winston, who threw two interceptions but delivered three touchdown drives. “That was a really, really ugly win. That was an ugly win. But we found a way to do it.” Arians added, “I can’t be happier for anybody than Jamel Dean. He [won] the game. Last week he [was] the goat. He’s gonna be a hell of a player.” — Jenna Laine
Next game: vs. New Orleans (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)
Ronald Jones II, O.J. Howard and Peyton Barber all fine the end zone for the Buccaneers in a 30-27 win over the Cardinals.
The Cardinals blew an opportunity to inch closer to .500. Arizona’s offense looked impressive at times, with Kyler Murray setting a new mark for consecutive passes by rookie without an interception (211), per the Elias Sports Bureau. However, too many mistakes — including a pick by Murray late in fourth quarter — cost Arizona a win. After the demoralizing loss, the Cardinals now have to gear up to travel to San Francisco for their fourth road game in five weeks. — Josh Weinfuss
Next game: at San Francisco (4:05 p.m. ET, Sunday)
Lamar Jackson made his most complete statement that he’s the MVP in the NFL. He became the third player in the past 30 years to record at least three touchdown passes, one touchdown run and a perfect passer rating in a single game. But what everyone will talk about is his highlight-reel 47-yard touchdown run in which he faked out one defender and spun around another. Coach John Harbaugh said: “I said to offensive coaches on the headphones: ‘They’ll be watching that run for decades and decades. That’s one that everyone in the country is going to see by tomorrow afternoon.'” Thanks to Jackson, the Ravens (7-2) won for the fifth consecutive time, closing to within one game of the Patriots (8-1) and the top seed in the AFC. — Jamison Hensley
Next game: vs. Houston (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)
Almost everything that happened during the Bengals’ blowout loss against the Ravens was part of the bottoming out that comes with the rebuilding process. Rookie quarterback Ryan Finley had some positive moments but also had a couple of costly turnovers that were returned for touchdowns (one fumble lost, one interception). The Bengals went with rookies like Drew Sample and Germaine Pratt in an effort to make progress in their development. And while all of that is necessary to build for the future, it comes at a cost. Cincinnati needed a late field goal to avoid the biggest loss in franchise history. But it was Cincinnati’s 11th straight defeat dating back to last season, which ties the longest in franchise history. The ninth consecutive loss in 2019 makes this the franchise’s worst start since 1993. — Ben Baby
Next game: at Oakland (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday)
After getting stuffed on goal-to-go on two previous possessions, Cleveland finally broke through in the final two minutes. Cleveland has owned one of the worst red-zone and goal-to-go offenses in the NFL, and those struggles continued Sunday. But with one final opportunity, the Browns kept their season — and faint playoff hopes — alive with a gutsy, 82-yard touchdown drive, concluding with a 7-yard pass from Baker Mayfield to Rashard Higgins. Too often this year, the Browns have found ways to lose. Sunday, they found a way to win. Now, in the span of five days, they have an opportunity to double their season win total, with Pittsburgh coming to town Thursday night. Beat the Steelers, and suddenly Cleveland’s season outlook quickly could begin to change. — Jake Trotter
Next game: vs. Pittsburgh (8:20 p.m. ET, Thursday)
This loss may go down as a pivotal moment in Buffalo’s season. The Bills made things interesting for the AFC’s potential wild-card teams after Sunday’s loss to the Browns, adding fuel to the critique that this team’s record is more a result of a weak schedule than anything else. Unfortunately for Buffalo, that “weak schedule” has come to a screeching halt; its next two games against Miami and Denver can no longer be overlooked before a four-game stretch against Dallas, Baltimore, Pittsburgh and New England. Now 10 weeks into the season, the Bills are 1-3 against their four toughest opponents and haven’t created any sort of confidence they can beat good teams. — Marcel Louis-Jacques
Next game: at Miami (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)
There was finally a sign of life for the Jets. Quarterback Sam Darnold even said the Jets (2-7) have a chance to make the playoffs if they run the table. Easy there, young pup. The Jets are in no position to think that way, but give them credit for showing a pulse. Instead of quitting on coach Adam Gase, they rallied from a fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Giants. The defense suffocated Saquon Barkley and the Giants’ run game, and Darnold played his first interception-free game since Week 1. Baby steps. — Rich Cimini
Next game: at Washington (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)
This Giants’ season keeps getting worse with their sixth consecutive loss heading into the bye week. “We lost six straight. … Don’t feel good,” said safety Jabrill Peppers. “Definitely embarrassed.” Have to wonder now if any changes will be made by ownership considering the embarrassment of this game and season. The Giants (2-8) are worse than last year after 10 games, and the Jets came in averaging 12 points per game. Asked after the games if he wanted to comment, owner John Mara didn’t break stride. He immediately exited the building, clearly upset with what is transpiring with his struggling franchise. — Jordan Raanan
Next game: at Chicago (1 p.m. ET, Nov. 24)
The Dolphins appear to have found the right coach in Brian Flores. A two-game winning streak doesn’t mean much for 2019, but it does show positive signs for the culture Flores is building in Miami. The Dolphins might have the NFL’s least-talented roster, one that has often dealt with sudden, dramatic changes at inopportune times, and yet players and coaches have stepped up over the past month. This is a disciplined, hard-fighting team, even in a year that means little record-wise. If this is the ground-level stage of the new Dolphins, the future has some real promise behind Flores. — Cameron Wolfe
Next game: vs. Buffalo (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)
The Colts continue to ruin their chances to take control of the AFC South. They followed up a road loss to Pittsburgh in Week 9 by losing to the struggling Dolphins on Sunday. The loss kept the Colts out of first place in the division. Veteran quarterback Brian Hoyer, starting in place of the injured Jacoby Brissett (knee), threw three interceptions, and kicker Adam Vinatieri continued to show he’s hurting the Colts more than he’s helping them by missing an extra point attempt — bringing the total of missed kicks on the season to 11 (six extra point attempts and five field goal attempts). General manager Chris Ballard can’t sit back and be loyal to Vinatieri. He has to start looking for a replacement for the NFL’s all-time leading scorer. — Mike Wells
Next game: vs. Jacksonville (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)
Quarterback Mason Rudolph said it best in his postgame news conference: The Steelers’ defense is playing like the 1985 Bears. Pittsburgh didn’t give up a single offensive touchdown in its win against the Rams, and the defense forced four turnovers, including three interceptions. Minkah Fitzpatrick sealed the win with a pick, his fifth since being traded from Miami after Week 2. Still in the playoff hunt at 5-4, the Steelers’ stagnant offense needs to capitalize on the momentum to make a continued push toward the postseason. — Brooke Pryor
Next game: at Cleveland (8:20 p.m. ET, Thursday)
The Rams continue a run in the opposite direction, now 5-4. The offense has underperformed throughout most of 2019, and did so again Sunday, as Jared Goff passed for 243 yards, threw two interceptions and also lost a fumble. The run game is a shadow of its former self, with Todd Gurley II and a rotation of backs combining for 88 yards. Now the Rams must regroup and hope for the return of two injured offensive linemen in time to play the Bears, who last season had no trouble solving the Rams’ offensive game plan. — Lindsey Thiry
Next game: vs. Chicago (8:20 p.m. ET, Sunday)
If the Packers keep playing the way they did Sunday for the rest of November and into December, they’ll have important games to play — perhaps even at home — in January. On a wintery Green Bay day, the Packers improved to 4-1 at home with a steady mix of Davante Adams, Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams, along with a timely goal-line stop on the last play of the game to stop the Panthers in their snowy tracks. “It seems like this place is becoming what it was for so long: a very difficult place to play,” Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “And we’re putting ourselves in position to have an opportunity to get one of these meaningful [games] down the line.” — Rob Demovsky
Next game: at San Francisco (4:25 p.m. ET, Nov. 24)
Kyle Allen gives the Panthers a chance to win. Tight end Greg Olsen said the quarterback’s performance in the fourth quarter was as good as any he has been around, considering the environment of Lambeau Field and heavy snow flurries. If you want a positive from the loss to the Packers, it’s that the second-year undrafted QB showed he can be successful against the league’s best teams, posting a career-best 307 passing yards and managing the game despite two costly turnovers (fumble, interception). As Allen said afterward, if he can play “clean football,” the Panthers can win a lot of games. — David Newton
Next game: vs. Atlanta (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)
The Raiders are legitimate playoff contenders and in the middle of their best stretch since Jon Gruden returned to the sideline last year. Beating the Chargers on national TV on Thursday night served notice, and with the Chiefs falling at Tennessee on Sunday, Oakland finds itself a half-game behind Kansas City in the AFC West. The Raiders have two winnable games up next against the winless Bengals and at the 2-7 Jets, setting up a potential first-place showdown at Arrowhead Stadium on Dec. 1. Buckle up. — Paul Gutierrez
Next game: vs. Cincinnati (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday)
Stephen A. Smith can see the Raiders making a playoff push.
Philip Rivers had three costly interceptions that proved too much for the Chargers to overcome. He struggled against an improved Oakland defensive front that sacked him five times. To his credit, Rivers battled playing in front of a banged-up offensive line that included two backup offensive tackles, but the growing number of turnovers from Rivers is a critical issue for head coach Anthony Lynn, who prioritizes taking care of the football. The Chargers are 16-36 when Rivers turns the ball over at least two times. — Eric D. Williams
Next game: vs. Kansas City (8:15 p.m. ET, Nov. 18)
Ryan Finley era gets off to rough start for Bengals – Cincinnati Bengals Blog
Finley had some good moments but also had two turnovers that were returned for points as the Bengals were walloped by the Baltimore Ravens 49-13. In his debut as Cincinnati’s starting quarterback, Finley, a fourth-round pick out of North Carolina State, completed 16 of 30 passes for 167 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Chris Berman and Tom Jackson recap the weekend’s games with extended highlights and analysis.
The show will stream live at 7:30 p.m. ET each Sunday during the 2019 season and will be available on demand each week until late Wednesday night. Watch on ESPN+
When Bengals first-year coach Zac Taylor made the switch from veteran Andy Dalton to Finley, the move was partially made to figure out what they have in Finley ahead of the 2020 draft. After Sunday’s loss, the 0-9 Bengals remain the lone winless team in the NFL and should be in contention for one of the top selections in the April draft.
Finley isn’t competing against anyone on Cincinnati’s roster to be Dalton’s successor as the Bengals’ top quarterback. He will likely have to fend off Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa or LSU’s Joe Burrow, two potential options who could be on the board when the Bengals make their first pick.
Finley’s first start came hours after Burrow and Tagovailoa went throw-for-throw in LSU’s 46-41 victory over Alabama. Burrow, an Ohio native, was 31-of-39 passing for 393 yards and three touchdowns in the Tigers’ first win over Alabama since 2011.
Finley showed some elusiveness under pressure and made timely throws as he moved the Bengals’ offense into Baltimore territory on multiple occasions. But Finley also was intercepted by Marcus Peters, who returned it for an 89-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Finley also coughed up a fumble that was scooped up by Tyus Bowser and returned for a 20-yard score in the third quarter.
Looking good against the AFC North leaders was always going to be a tough task for Finley, especially given the Bengals’ current state. Cincinnati has struggled to defend the pass rush all season, and two of their top wide receivers, A.J. Green and John Ross, are out with injury.
Because Taylor and the Bengals made the switch early, Finley will have more opportunities to prove he should be the starter in 2020 and beyond. But to do that, he has to have better performances than Sunday’s outing against the Ravens.
Biggest hole in the game plan: As much as Lamar Jackson torched the Bengals’ defense, the Ravens used tight ends in their aerial attack. Of the Baltimore quarterback’s 17 targets, 13 of them went to a tight end. Mark Andrews caught six of his seven targets for 53 yards and two touchdowns. But it wasn’t just Andrews. Nick Boyle caught all four targets for 78 yards. Even Hayden Hurst notched two catches for 20 yards.
Silver lining: Running back Joe Mixon cleared the 100-yard rushing mark for the first time since 2018. Mixon had a career-high 30 carries for 114 yards, with a decent chunk of that coming as the Bengals tried to bleed the clock in the fourth quarter. But even at the beginning of the game, Mixon was effective and found small openings to pick up modest gains. It’s a bright spot for a Bengals rushing offense that entered Week 10 as the worst in the NFL.
Eye-popping Next Gen stat: The Bengals were credited with only three pressures, according to NFL Next Gen. Jackson’s only throw under duress was a 20-yard touchdown pass to Marquise Brown.
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