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NFL Matchups - Week 13 Recap

New Orleans Saints vs. Dallas Cowboys

Venue: AT&T Stadium(Arlington)Thu. 11-29 @ 8:20 pm ESTOver/Under: 53

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Dallas Cowboys 13 New Orleans Saints 10

With Week 13 being the final regular season game in most fantasy leagues, this was a highly-anticipated game to kick off all the action. Expectations were high for many as Drew Brees , Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara were leading many fantasy owners to the promised land while Ezekiel Elliott was doing the same on the other side. The over/under coming in was over 50 points so as you can see by the final score, it was very much the under and, overall, this was a horrible game for fantasy owners.

New Orleans Saints

The game plan for the Cowboys was simple – keep the ball out of Drew Brees ’ hands. Mission accomplished. Brees struggled to find his rhythm right from the start as he went 0-for-4 on his first four passes, the first time he’s ever opened a game like that. It just went from bad to worse as the Saints failed to score in the first half for the first time and ran just 21 plays. In the end, Brees threw for just 127 yards and one touchdown. He threw a late-game interception to close things out and fantasy owners who had dreams of a first-round bye or even just a playoff appearance, were brutalized by his worst game of the season.

Neither Alvin Kamara nor Mark Ingram contributed much as they combined for just 63 yards on 18 carries. Kamara had a better showing in the passing department, but still all for naught as both running backs did virtually nothing to help their owners this week.

Credit the Cowboys pass defense as they really tightened up. Michael Thomas was held in check and the only other receiver to actually catch a pass was Keith Kirkwood who made a 30-yard touchdown grab that, even that, looked shaky at best.

This was easily a game the Saints want to forget.

Dallas Cowboys

Dak Prescott did a nice job of managing the offense as the big focus for the Cowboys was on the defensive side of the ball. Prescott was asked to be safe and efficient and he did just that. He threw for 248 yards and a touchdown and while he did lose one fumble, he still had a solid showing as he was sacked seven times.

The top player for the night was Ezekiel Elliott who did exactly what he needed to do to help the Cowboys win this game. He rushed 23 times for 76 yards and caught six passes for 60 yards, steadily moving the chains while keeping the Saints offense off the field. He was, by far and away, the most productive fantasy player on the field.

Both Michael Gallup and Amari Cooper were solid, though neither found themselves in the end zone, so for fantasy sake, they were just ok, at least if it’s a PPR format. Standard? Yuck!

Chicago Bears vs. New York Giants

Venue: MetLife Stadium(East Rutherford)Sun. 12-2 @ 1:00 pm ESTOver/Under: 44.5

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Chicago Bears – 27       New York Giants – 30

While the Bears came away with the loss, some credit needs to be given to Chase Daniel . He’s a journeyman backup quarterback who has kept the Bears competitive in lieu of Mitchell Trubisky . The Bears still have a solid lead on the NFC North with the Packers and Vikings losing on Sunday, but obviously they’d like to get their starting quarterback in the game before the playoffs start. For the Giants, they remain competitive and the defense has actually looked a little bit better of late. They still have a long shot at winning their division even at 4-8, but they aren’t doing themselves any favors. Dallas is playing incredibly well and could cruise to the NFC East title and if the Giants keep winning games they’re only hurting their draft order.

 

Chicago Bears

The best part of Chase Daniel starting for the Bears is they aren’t afraid to let him air it out. Naturally the Bears could’ve opted to lean heavily on the run. And they still did to an extent attempting 32 rushes, but Daniel completed 26-of-39 pass attempts for 285 yards, a touchdown, and a pair of interceptions. Now the huge knock on Daniel is that he had four fumbles on Sunday, but was lucky that none were recovered by the Giants. With Daniel struggling at times the Bears turned to their unheralded quarterback Tarik Cohen , ever heard of him? Cohen managed to toss a one-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Miller , thus solidifying Cohen as the shortest player to ever throw a touchdown pass.

Speaking of Cohen, in addition to his goal line touchdown pass he managed to put a nice little day together to the tune of 12 catches on 14 targets for 156 receiving yards while adding 30 rushing yards on eight carries. Cohen’s more of a PPR gem than standard play. He has over twice as many receiving yards (659) than he does rushing yards (315). Jordan Howard looked pretty decent with the 16 carries he managed to get. He finished with 76 rushing yards, which isn’t a terrible day by any means, but the touchdown on the goal line that went to Akiem Hicks surely would have helped Howard’s fantasy owners. But that’s just been Howard’s rough luck in 2018.

As mentioned before, Cohen had the monstrous fantasy day and that took away from the other Chicago pass catchers. Allen Robinson did bring in five of his nine targets for 79 yards. Taylor Gabriel caught just three of his seven targets for 17 yards. Adam Shaheen caught Daniel’s lone touchdown pass on the day. The Bears host the Rams on Sunday night in a big primetime matchup against the Rams. It might not be the best look for the Bears to drop a second straight game this late in the season, but the prospects aren’t looking great.

 

New York Giants

After a 1-7 start the Giants have won three of their last four games to remain on life support for the playoffs, while at the same time screwing themselves out of a high draft pick in April. But no team will ever admit to tanking so the Giants will play for pride and try to win out the rest of the way. Aldrick Rosas came up big when New York needed him the most. He nailed a career long 57-yard field goal in regulation while drilling a 44-yard attempt in overtime to put the Giants ahead. But despite posting 30 points, Eli Manning was once again far from stellar. He completed 19-of-35 pass attempts for 170 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. Plenty of jokes were queue’d up when Odell Beckham Jr. tossed a 49-yard touchdown pass to Russell Shepard : “Eli’s not even the best quarterback on his own team!” Yeah, we’ve heard it all before.

Saquon Barkley had a fine day on the ground, but didn’t find the end zone. He finished with 125 rushing yards to go with three receptions for 21 yards. Fortunately for Odell, the 49-yard touchdown pass helped salvage his day a little bit. He only managed to catch three of his nine targets for 35 yards and an additional touchdown reception. Surprisingly Rhett Ellison did okay by tight end standards. He caught four passes for 42 yards on seven targets. If he gets seven targets on a weekly basis he’s worthy of being looked at in deeper leagues.

The Giants defense came up pretty big at times on Sunday. Olivier Vernon logged a pair of sacks while B.J. Hill logged three sacks of his own while also registering two additional tackles for loss. Alec Ogletree had two interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown. The only notable injury for the Giants was to Landon Collins who frequently left, then returned to the game with a shoulder injury.

Baltimore Ravens vs. Atlanta Falcons

Venue: Mercedes-Benz Stadium(Atlanta)Sun. 12-2 @ 1:00 pm ESTOver/Under: 48.5

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Baltimore Ravens – 26       Atlanta Falcons – 16

The Falcons season continues to be a downward spiral into a disappointing abyss. Perhaps Falcon fans were mourning the loss of the Georgia Bulldogs in Saturday’s SEC Championship game and couldn’t bare to return to Mercedes-Benz Stadium less than 24 hours later, but the stadium was pretty empty leading up to kickoff. For those who stayed home at least they spared their eyes from yet another disappointing game from the hometown Falcons. Ever since Kyle Shanahan’s departure the team has progressively gotten worse and sure there are key injuries on defense, but there were high expectations for this team coming into the year with the hopes they’d play for a Super Bowl on their home field.

 

Baltimore Ravens

We’ll start with the visiting team. Baltimore dominated time of possession, which somewhat explains the offensive struggles of the Falcons offense. The Ravens possessed the ball for 39 minutes and 39 seconds. Lamar Jackson continues to be frustrating for anyone who owns a Ravens wide receiver and that’s unfortunate because the Ravens have a phenomenal schedule to end the year. But again, with Jackson at quarterback the Ravens seem very committed to running the ball as opposed to throwing it. Jackson completed just 12-of-21 pass attempts for 125 yards while adding 75 rushing yards and a touchdown on the ground. Jackson will need to do better with protecting the ball. He did fumble it three times on Sunday and was fortunate that only one was recovered by the Falcons defense. It should be noted that Jackson also left in the middle of the game to be checked for a concussion. He was shortly replaced by Robert Griffin III, but Jackson was able to return to the game.

Gus Edwards didn’t find the end zone, but led the team with 21 carries for 82 rushing yards. Kenneth Dixon was activated off IR and managed to finish with eight carries for 37 yards. He might be worth keeping an eye on in deeper leagues. He did appear to have some rust that needed to be shaken off as he did fumble, but was lucky enough to recover it on his own.

Former wide receiver-turned-running back Ty Montgomery looked as if he had morphed back into a wide receiver on Sunday. He led the team in targets with seven, having caught five of them for 42 yards. Tight end Mark Andrews led the Baltimore pass catchers with three catches for 47 yards and Michael Crabtree finished with three catches for 36 yards. As long as Jackson remains the starting quarterback for Baltimore, none of the Raven wide receivers should be started.

Time of possession was clearly in Baltimore’s favor and the defense refused to let the Falcons find any rhythm. Matt Ryan was sacked three times and the Ravens defense only allowed Atlanta to collect 131 yards of total offense. That’s right, not 131 rushing or receiving yards. Just 131 total yards. The only injury of note was to guard Alex Lewis who left with a shoulder injury.

 

Atlanta Falcons

This is easily a game the Falcons would like to forget. To be honest it’s really a season they’d like to forget. Due to only running 45 offensive plays, Matt Ryan obviously wasn’t that exciting on Sunday. He completed just 16-of-26 pass attempts with one touchdown and a lost fumble. Ito Smith actually had more carries than Tevin Coleman on Sunday (7 to 6), but the Falcons running game finished with just 34 total rushing yards on the day.

Julio Jones led the Falcons pass catchers in targets with eight, but he caught just two of them for 18 yards. Austin Hooper proved to be the only Falcons player worthy of having any fantasy value. He finished with five catches for 44 yards and a touchdown.

The Falcons defense did what it could to keep the team in the game. Clearly fatigue was setting in when they played nearly 40 minutes, but Vic Beasley did return a fumble 74 yards for a touchdown to put the Falcons up 10-7 in the second quarter. Deion Jones made a big return on Sunday playing in his first game since Week 1. He led the team with 13 tackles to go with an additional tackle for loss and a sack. Next week the Falcons will travel to Green Bay to face the Packers who are fresh off of firing Mike McCarthy.

Arizona Cardinals vs. Green Bay Packers

Venue: Lambeau Field(Green Bay)Sun. 12-2 @ 1:00 pm ESTOver/Under: 43.5

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Arizona Cardinals – 20       Green Bay Packers – 17

In what should have been an easy game for the Green Bay Packers they struggled to even beat the 2-9 (now 3-9) Arizona Cardinals in Lambeau Field. Coming into the game, Green Bay still had hopes of making the playoffs. You simply cannot lose to a team tied for the worst record in the league on your home field. The Packers now fall to 4-7-1 and to no one’s surprise (except for maybe Mike McCarthy’s) he was relieved of his head coaching duties. Joe Philbin has been named the interim head coach.

 

Arizona Cardinals

This game should’ve been a struggle for Arizona. It was in a colder environment and the weather was a bit sloppy, but yet they pulled out a big road win. Josh Rosen , for the third straight game completed 12 or fewer pass attempts for less than 150 yards. It’s clear that Arizona wants to keep their prized young quarterback on a short leash, but he’s making it incredibly difficult to start players like Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson .

Speaking of the latter, it was an incredibly frustrating game for Johnson. Johnson did have 20 carries, but finished with just 69 rushing yards and one catch for three yards. That’s severely disappointing. To make matter worse Chase Edmonds came in and scored two touchdowns on just five carries. And it’s not like Edmonds broke off two lucky runs. Both his touchdowns came from inside the 10-yard line so for whatever reason, the Cardinals opted to take the ball out of their star running back’s hands. But they pulled out the win, so who are we to criticize?

It’s become clear as day that the Arizona passing game will struggle with Josh Rosen under center. Until they can trust him enough to throw it more than 30 times per game Christian Kirk , Larry Fitzgerald , and Ricky Seals-Jones should be avoided. Kirk led the way with eight targets while Fitzgerald had six. Both finished with three catches, but neither eclipsed 60 receiving yards. Left guard Mike Iupati had to be carted off the field with a knee injury, which is already making matters worse for an offensive line that was already starting two rookies.


Green Bay Packers

It wasn’t the birthday Aaron Rodgers had in mind. He completed 31-of-50 pass attempts for just 233 yards and a touchdown. He did add 20 rushing yards on the ground. There has been a lot of talk about the strained relationship he had with now former head coach Mike McCarthy. After all the two won a Super Bowl together, but that was eight years ago and there’s been much criticism about the Packers offense lacking creativity. Hell it took McCarthy about half the season to fully commit to Aaron Jones as the lead running back. Hopefully the change of scenery rejuvenates Rodgers and the offense so they can be the explosive unit we know they can be.

Aaron Jones totaled just 36 rushing yards and a touchdown, but he did add four catches for 16 yards in the passing game. Jamaal Williams did sneak in for seven carries, but finished with just 13 yards.

Davante Adams , to nobody’s surprise, led the team in targets with 13. He finished with eight receptions for 93 yards and a touchdown. For those bold enough to start Jimmy Graham , the move paid off in PPR formats. On 11 targets he finished with eight receptions for 50 yards.

The big knock on Marquez Valdes-Scantling has been his usage in the passing game lately. With Randall Cobb missing a few games, the Packers utilized MVS out of the slot a little more and it clearly wasn’t working out. With Cobb back in, MVS saw seven targets but only caught two passes for 19 yards while adding 29 rushing yards. Stay patient with the rookie wideout, he could bounce back to finish the year strong. Keep an eye on the status of right guard Byron Bell and right tackle Bryan Bulaga . They both left the game in the second quarter with knee injuries. The Packers have a home matchup next week against the Falcons. It’ll certainly be a matchup of two teams who failed to meet expectations heading into this season. Still though, it has the potential to be a high scoring affair next Sunday.

Los Angeles Rams vs. Detroit Lions

Venue: Ford Field(Detroit)Sun. 12-2 @ 1:00 pm ESTOver/Under: 55

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Los Angeles Rams – 30       Detroit Lions – 16

The Rams continue their tear through the NFC as they’ve now locked up the NFC West in back-to-back seasons for the first time since the late 1970’s. Don’t expect the Rams to take their foot off the gas anytime soon. While they can easily lock up a first-round bye next week they’re still competing with the Saints for homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. The Lions fall to 4-8 after dropping five of their last six games. Three of their next four games are on the road so it’s not exactly the easiest finish to a season especially for a team with virtually no chance of making the playoffs.

 

Los Angeles Rams

It wasn’t the most explosive start for the Rams offense on Sunday. They didn’t score their first touchdown until there was less than three minutes to go in the first half. The Lions executed their game plan early on by keeping the Rams offense off the field and even forcing an interception. Unfortunately, and inevitably, the Rams found their groove on offense and that was all she wrote. Goff barely completed over 50% of his pass attempts going 17-of-33 for just 207 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. He also lost a fumble so it wasn’t a great day for the Rams quarterback, but fortunately Todd Gurley had a monstrous day.

Gurley was held quiet during the massive shootout game against Kansas City, but he quelled any worries about his health in this game. Gurley posted his typical 132-yard performance and added a pair of touchdowns as well. He also added three catches for 33 yards. Gurley now has 15 rushing touchdowns to go with four receiving touchdowns and he’s easily on pace for over 2,000 all-purpose yards. The Rams opponents should be spotted ten points before the game even begins. That might even the matchups out just a bit.

This was one of the least explosive games for the Rams aerial attack. Robert Woods led the team with five catches on nine targets for 67 yards and a touchdown. Brandin Cooks finished with four catches for 62 yards. Cooks became the first player in NFL history to record three straight 1,000-yard seasons with three different organizations. Those two and Gurley provided most of the production through the air. The Rams tight end carousel will be difficult to guess week in and week out. Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett combined for three catches on just six targets for 26 yards. But the Rams offense did its job well enough that Johnny Hekker didn’t need to come in to punt at all on Sunday.

 

Detroit Lions

Matthew Stafford had his hands full with the Rams defense on Sunday. He threw for 245 yards, a touchdown, an interception, and a lost fumble. He was sacked four times for a loss of 37 yards. Not to mention the Lions were dreadful on third down converting just 2-of-12 attempts. The running game didn’t fare much better. Ten days after LeGarrette Blount looked pretty effective on Thanksgiving, he managed just 61 yards on 16 carries. Theo Riddick did total 32 rushing yards and caught three passes for 26 yards but you imagine that in a game where the Lions were trailing late in the second half that Riddick would’ve had more than just four targets.

Bruce Ellington actually led all Detroit pass catchers with ten targets. He caught seven of them for 35 yards. Levine Toilolo randomly caught all four of his targets for 90 yards. Kenny Golladay had a disappointing outing with just three catches for 50 yards. Golladay did catch a touchdown pass, but it was called back after one of his feet landed out of bounds. Taylor Decker was the lucky Detroit player who caught Matthew Stafford ’s lone touchdown pass. Devon Kennard was the lone injury for the Lions on Sunday. He left the game with a hip injury.

Denver Broncos vs. Cincinnati Bengals

Venue: Paul Brown Stadium(Cincinnati)Sun. 12-2 @ 1:00 pm ESTOver/Under: 45

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Denver Broncos – 24       Cincinnati Bengals – 10

The Broncos continue to crawl their way back to .500 and a potential playoff appearance. They’re still on the outs at 6-6 as they’re tied with the Dolphins, Colts, and Titans. But they’ve won three games in a row and have three favorable matchups coming up against the 49ers, Browns, and Raiders before a difficult divisional matchup against the Chargers in week 17. The Bengals were without Andy Dalton who is now done for the year and under Jeff Driskel the offense was far less than explosive even with A.J. Green returning from injury, but more on him shortly…

 

Denver Broncos

Case Keenum continues to be a respectable game manager under center. He finished with just 151 yards and a touchdown. The true star on Sunday for Denver was Phillip Lindsay who ran for 157 yards on 19 carries and a pair of touchdowns. Lindsay now has 937 rushing yards on the season with eight rushing touchdowns. Lindsay’s definitely making a case for fantasy MVP, but he will have a slightly more difficult matchup next week against the stingy 49ers run defense. Royce Freeman has had a quiet year after being the hyped up running back coming out of training camp. He did touch the ball 12 times on Sunday for 48 rushing yards. It’s not the sexiest of stat lines, but he may be worth stashing in deeper leagues. For now, you can’t trust him enough to start him.

Courtland Sutton finally came through and led the team in receiving. On seven targets he had four catches for 85 yards and a touchdown. But any Broncos pass catcher is going to be a gamble. In five of his last six games, Case Keenum has 35 pass attempts or fewer including back-to-back games under 30 attempts. While Sutton had a big day, no other Denver pass catcher really made a dent. Emmanuel Sanders finished with just four receptions for 19 yards and Devontae Booker finished with two catches for 38 yards.

The Broncos defense came up big in winning the turnover battle on Sunday. They forced an interception and two fumble recoveries while also sacking Jeff Driskel four times and hitting him nine other times. Unfortunately the Broncos may have lost a key player in their secondary. While defensive end Derek Wolfe suffered a rib injury in the second quarter, defensive back Chris Harris Jr. suffered a broken leg in the first quarter and his season is now done. It’ll help if Brandon Marshall can return soon from his four-game absence, but Harris was one of the biggest assets on defense.

 

Cincinnati Bengals

This was an absolutely ugly game for the Bengals. There are definitely some changed that need to happen with the coaching staff. Marvin Lewis is under contract through 2019 so he’s likely to come back and coach next season because owner Mike Brown apparently doesn’t like paying people to not work. Jeff Driskel made his first career start and completed 25-of-38 pass attempts for 236 yards and a touchdown, an interception, a lost fumble and he was sacked four times. If Driskel’s stat line wasn’t enough of a difficult pill to swallow, the news coming out of the game regarding A.J. Green sure is. Green returned from his toe injury that sidelined him for a couple games and perhaps he came back a bit too soon. Green was forced to leave the game with a foot injury and had to be carted back to the locker room. The 2018 season is a lost cause for Cincinnati so it may be in their best interest to shut him down for the year.

Joe Mixon pieced together a respectable day. On 12 carries he finished with 82 rushing yards to go with two catches for 13 yards. Mixon has just one touchdown in his last four games, but he still maintains value in PPR formats.

Tyler Boyd led Cincinnati pass catchers with six receptions for 97 yards on eight targets. Giovani Bernard managed to catch six passes for 32 yards on eight targets and he may be a player to keep an eye on if Green is indeed shut down for the year. He’s always been a better pass catcher than pure runner so it’ll be interesting to see if Cincinnati commits to using him in the passing game. C.J. Uzomah caught five passes for 33 yards while Cody Core caught Driskel’s lone touchdown pass for 30 yards.

Aside from possibly losing A.J. Green for the year and getting torched for allowing over 200 rushing yards, the Bengals may be without Vontaze Burfict for the immediate future as he left the game with a concussion.

Buffalo Bills vs. Miami Dolphins

Venue: Sun Life Stadium(Miami Gardens)Sun. 12-2 @ 1:00 pm ESTOver/Under: 40

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Buffalo Bills – 17       Miami Dolphins – 21

This was a surprisingly entertaining game despite it being relatively low scoring. The Dolphins came away with a win, but the Bills gave them everything they could on the road. The Dolphins are surprisingly 6-6 and in the hunt for a Wild Card playoff spot. There were some frustrating aspects to this game especially with Miami, but this game still had plenty of appeal for fantasy players.

 

Buffalo Bills

Josh Allen has become the second coming of Lamar Jackson . Or maybe it’s the other way around. Or how about they’re both following in the footsteps of Michael Vick, perhaps? Who cares! The big fella from Wyoming has WHEELS. During the rookie combine his arm strength was well documented (as was his poor accuracy), but Josh Allen has become a fantasy threat because of how effective he can be running the ball. Allen completed 18-of-33 pass attempts for 231 yards, two touchdowns, and a pair of interceptions. He also added 135 rushing yards on 15 carries, thus stealing some thunder from LeSean McCoy . Allen now has 234 rushing yards over his last two games with four rushing touchdowns on the year.

We’ve now seen two running backs slated with a great matchup against the Miami Dolphins fail to take advantage of said matchup. Last week, Marlon Mack failed to reach 100 rushing yards (or score for that matter) and he left with a concussion against Miami. This week LeSean McCoy finished with 52 rushing yards on 15 carries, but he was lucky enough to add four catches for 12 yards. Fortunately McCoy will get a shot at redemption next week against the Jets who have been pretty bad against the run over the past three-to-four weeks.

Zay Jones looked like the promising wide receiver they expected when they initially drafted him. He was the only Bills pass catcher to exceed five targets and he actually had nine. He only caught four passes, but finished with 67 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Isaiah McKenzie finished with four receptions for 46 yards. Charles Clay finished with just one catch for nine yards. He came very close to making a game-winning touchdown reception as time expired. Clay was wide open in the end zone, but Allen made an awkward throw across his body that came up just short with Clay.

 

Miami Dolphins

Ryan Tannehill had a modest, but efficient day on Sunday. He completed just 16-of-24 pass attempts for only 137 yards, but he did finish with three touchdowns to one interception. Tannehill remains a risk for fantasy purposes. He has just one game with over 30 pass attempts this season and while he did miss a few games with injury, he just isn’t accruing the yardage. He does have six touchdowns in his last three games, but next week could be a difficult challenge with the Patriots coming to South Beach.

Adam Gase’s usage of Kenyan Drake continues to be a mess. He’s clearly the best running back on the team and yet Frank Gore still logged more carries than Drake. Drake even finished with more yards on fewer carries and added a receiving touchdown that salvaged his fantasy day. As the season nears the end and as Miami continues to push for a playoff spot, you’d like to see them commit to what’s working for them, which in this case would be Drake. But they’ve been hesitant to feature him as the lead running back and it’s beyond frustrating to watch.

DeVante Parker led all Miami receivers with seven targets, four of which he caught for 43 yards and a touchdown. Kenny Stills wasn’t too far behind with four receptions on six targets for 43 yards and a score. Parker’s still an anomaly in fantasy with boom or bust potential. His strained relationship with the organization is well-documented, but he has had some nice games this season. He’s mostly a deep threat and with Tannehill struggling to air the ball out down the field, Parker will still have his share of frustrating games.

Xavien Howard continues to have a strong season. For the second straight week he caught a pair of interceptions bringing his total to seven on the year.

Cleveland Browns vs. Houston Texans

Venue: NRG Stadium(Houston)Sun. 12-2 @ 1:00 pm ESTOver/Under: 47.5

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Houston Texans 29   Cleveland Browns 13

After starting out the season 0-3 the Texans looked to be perhaps the most disappointing team in the NFL. They lost one of those games to the Giants for crying out loud! Tracking how the rest of this season has gone from there, you would likely to expect me to say that “suddenly they flipped a switch” and while that argument can be made, being that they have won nine games in a row, I would argue that this has been a gradual rise to the longest win streak in the NFL. Here the Texans are now, winners of nine in a row, and people still don’t believe that they are that good. Honestly, that reaction is fair, but after this win, against an improving Browns team, they seem to be in the best form that they have been in all season long. Their defense has come a long way to now one of the more fierce units in the league, while Deshaun Watson finally looks fully healthy from his blown up knee last season. His injury hangover certainly played a big role in the Texans early season struggles. So where do the Texans go from here? Believe it or not, there is some serious run-the-table potential the rest of the way for them and it would probably be the most improbable 13-3 season in the history of the league. Chances are that they will be favored in every game the rest of the way, including this upcoming week in a game against the Colts that will likely decide the division.

As for the Browns role in this game, while they weren’t expected to win, they played a lot worse than you would have expected them to. The Texans defense clearly confused Baker Mayfield , while the rest of the roster came up small. It was 23-0 in the Texans favor by halftime. The rest of the game was garbage time. They face a Panthers team next week in absolute desperation mode. The Panthers are all but done in terms of a playoff berth if they can’t win next week.

Texans

Deshaun Watson wasn’t spectacular in this one, as he threw for just 224 yards and a touchdown, however he most importantly did not turn the ball over. That is an impressive feat considering he was sacked four times by the Browns underrated pass rush. He also added 30 rushing yards on seven attempts, keeping the defense honest and drives alive.

Speaking of running the football, Lamar Miller had his fourth game in his last six outings with at least 100 rushing yards. On 19 carries, he averaged a rock solid 5.4 yards per rush, however fantasy owners were disappointed to see him fail to get into the end zone. Regardless, he could have done a lot worse. This was overall a great showing from Miller, a guy who has been very underrated over the last two months or so. Backup running back Alfred Blue also got into the mix. He saw 13 carries and racked up 54 yards in the process.

Through the air, DeAndre Hopkins unsurprisingly led the Texans with seven grabs for 91 yards. He however, also disappointed by getting shut out of the end zone. The Thomas Twins (not really (Demaryius and Jordan) had matching stat lines with three catches for 32 yards. Jordan got into the end zone however, while Demaryius did not.

Outside of Kendall Lahm -- an offensive tackle who left with a concussion and did not return -- the Texans remained relatively healthy throughout this contest.

Browns

As I said previously, Baker Mayfield struggled in this one. For the first time this season, he looked genuinely confused and was forced into three interceptions. Luckily for fantasy owners, he got plenty of burn in garbage time and managed to put together a near 400-yard performance (397), while also throwing a touchdown pass.

On the ground, the Browns struggled even more. They ran the ball only nine times in this one, while Nick Chubb received 100% of the carries. He managed just 31 yards, however he did get into the end zone.

On the receiving side of things, Jarvis Landry finally woke up from his brief coma and led the team in yards and receptions. In total, he finished the game with six catches on nine targets for 103 yards. Rashard Higgins hauled in four catches for 64 yards and a touchdown, while Antonio Callaway caught just three balls but for 84 yards. He also should have had a touchdown grab, however he fumbled the ball on the two yard line after a 71-yard catch and run.

In terms of injuries, the Browns lost two key defensive players in this one. First and foremost, rookie cornerback Denzel Ward left the game with a concussion. He will be reevaluated later in the week. Secondly was defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi , who injured his biceps in the second quarter. He also did not return.

Indianapolis Colts vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

Venue: EverBank Field(Jacksonville)Sun. 12-2 @ 1:00 pm ESTOver/Under: 47

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Jacksonville Jaguars 6    Indianapolis Colts 0

The Jaguars entered this contest as losers of seven straight. The Colts, winners of five straight. Andrew Luck had managed eight straight contests with at least three passing touchdowns, while the Jaguars defense had seemingly fallen from formerly elite to pedestrian at best. Expecting a Colts road victory with a rather high point total, instead we were “treated” to a defensive struggle in this one. And while the game may have remained close throughout, the fantasy production was abysmal out of this contest. For the purposes of this article each week, that is what we are really after, isn’t it? Here’s the disappointing fantasy breakdown between the Jags and Colts… The two teams combined for a mere 476 total yards – a number that the Saints typically get on their own each week. They managed just 3.8 yards per play, zero red zone conversions, three more turnovers and seven more penalties than points scored. The Colts went 0-for-3 on fourth down attempts, while the Jaguars managed just 132 yards passing. Despite all of this offensive ineptitude, the Jaguars will still undoubtedly go forward with Cody Kessler as their quarterback because in the NFL, all that matters is winning. The Colts on the other hand will look to shake this off, headed into their divisional showdown with the red hot Texans next Sunday. Serious playoff implications in that one.

Jaguars

With a career 0-8 record as a starting quarterback, the odds seemed stacked against Cody Kessler and the Jaguars this week. Against the Colts on Sunday, while his stat line didn’t blow anyone away and he failed to lead a single touchdown scoring drive, he somehow did just enough to not lose the game for the Jags. His final line reads as follows: 18-of-24, 150 yards, no touchdowns, no interceptions, and three sacks. His 18.0 QBR has to be one of the lowest marks to ever win a game in the NFL.

On the ground, the Jags weren’t much better. Carlos Hyde led the Jaguars backfield with just 36 rushing yards on 13 carries, while T.J. Yeldon sprinkled 16 yards on eight carries. As a team, they managed just 79 yards on 27 carries, or in other words, 2.9 yards per carry. Just dreadful.

Where Yeldon struggled to do anything on the ground, he at least helped those who used him in PPR formats. He posted 49 receiving yards on seven receptions throughout the day, leading all Jaguars receivers. Second on the team was Donte Moncrief ; he caught just three passes for 40 yards.

On the injury front, the Jaguars suffered only one significant injury. Defensive tackle Abry Jones injured his shin and did not return. He will be reevaluated later in the week.

Colts

As I already explained, the fantasy fireworks were not present in this one, so don’t get too excited… Andrew Luck completed 33-of-52 passes for 248 yards and an interception. He was sacked three times, after being hit only five times in the entire month of November. This was the first week all season that he was shut out of the end zone, while it was the first time since Week 3 that he failed to throw more than two touchdowns in a game. He went on record saying that he just didn’t have it on Sunday, however he wanted to make it clear that the Jaguars defense deserved credit as well.

In the rushing department, the Colts didn’t fare much better. Marlon Mack led the team with his mere 27 rushing yards on eight carries, while Andrew Luck was second on the team with 16 yards on two rush attempts. Yikes!

Within Luck’s struggles passing, he didn’t exactly spread the ball around either. Three Colts receivers had over eight catches in the game, accounting for nearly all of the aerial production. Eric Ebron led the team with 10 catches for 81 yards, as he saw his role expanded in the absence of Jack Doyle . Nyheim Hines caught nine passes for 50 yards, while T.Y. Hilton caught eight passes for 77 yards.

In terms of injuries, while it is unclear the severity of them, the Colts suffered a handful of game ending situations. Center Evan Boehm , who was already playing in place of injured starter Ryan Kelly , had to leave the game in the fourth quarter with a neck injury. Beyond that, linebacker Skai Moore and safety Mike Mitchell also exited the game early without returning.

Carolina Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Venue: Raymond James Stadium(Tampa)Sun. 12-2 @ 1:00 pm ESTOver/Under: 54.5

   Weather

Carolina Panthers – 17       Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 24

It seems safe to say that Cam Newton is hurt. There wasn’t much reporting on the matter during Sunday’s game against Tampa Bay, but Cam certainly looked hurt. At the end of regulation the Panthers attempted two Hail Mary’s to force overtime. The first attempt was by Newton and his throw came up well short of the goal line. Fortunately there was a penalty on the defense and since a game can’t end on a defensive penalty, the Panthers got another shot, but this time they brought in Taylor Heinicke to attempt the deep bomb. While the attempt wasn’t successful it did go deeper than Newton’s pass. Cam’s shoulder and health status should be monitored as closely as possible. It doesn’t appear he’s got the arm strength to air it out, but it’ll be difficult to bench him going forward.

 

Carolina Panthers

The shoulder wasn’t the only concern for Cam on Sunday. He did attempt 41 passes and completed 28 of them. In total he threw for 300 yards and two touchdowns, which you also won’t complain about. But he did have four interceptions, which now gives him seven picks in his last four games. Newton does have 11 straight games with multiple touchdowns, but he is beyond frustrating to watch lately with his turnovers and four interceptions against a weak secondary like Tampa Bay’s is a pretty poor performance.

Christian McCaffrey put together another fine performance on Sunday. On just ten carries he ran for 106 yards, while catching nine passes on ten targets for 55 yards and a touchdown. McCaffrey now has 11 total touchdowns on the year and over 1,500 all-purpose yards. Nearly 400 of those yards have come in his last two games. He’s been on fire lately.

On Sunday it was Curtis Samuel , not D.J. Moore who turned out to be Cam Newton ’s favorite target. Samuel caught six of his 11 targets for 88 yards. Moore brought in just four of his eight targets for 44 yards. Plenty of opportunities could present themselves to anybody in the passing game with the news breaking that Greg Olsen is done for the year with a foot injury. In his place, Ian Thomas stepped up to catch all five of his targets for 46 yards. The only other injury of note was to offensive linemen Trai Turner who left with a neck injury. His absence could prove to be a pretty serious loss.

The Panthers defense had an okay day with four sacks, but forced just one turnover. Against a turnover-prone quarterback like Jameis Winston that’s a little disappointing.

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

As much crap as Jameis Winston may get for his poor decision making on (and off) the field, he’s been very efficient over his last two games without throwing an interception. On Sunday, most of his production came in the first half but he threw for 249 yards and a pair of touchdowns while adding 48 rushing yards with his legs. Winston gets a challenging matchup against New Orleans who is looking to avenge their loss from earlier in the season where Ryan Fitzpatrick torched the Saints secondary for 417 yards and four touchdowns.

The running game was a struggle at times. Winston led all rushers with 48 yards as mentioned earlier while Peyton Barber totaled 45 yards and a touchdown just 16 carries. The touchdown is nice, but the 2.8 yards per carry is less than desirable. Barber also lost a fumble, so the Tampa Bay backfield continues to be a bit of an annoyance this season.

Chris Godwin and Adam Humphries were the bright spots in the Tampa aerial attack on Sunday. Godwin caught five of his six targets for 101 yards and a touchdown. He now has two 100-yard receiving games in his last four contests. Humphries continues his hot streak with seven catches on nine targets for 61 yards and a touchdown. Humphries now has five touchdowns in his last five games. Cameron Brate and Mike Evans had disappointing days by their standards. Brate dropped a touchdown pass, which resulted in Adam Humphries scoring on the very next play. Brate finished with three catches for 36 yards. Evans saw only six targets as the Carolina defense tried to take him out of the offensive plan. Evans finished with four catches for 48 yards.

Tampa’s defense came up huge on Sunday despite being unable to contain Christian McCaffrey . Andrew Adams had three interceptions after not logging one all season. Javien Elliott caught the other interception off Newton. Lavonte David led the team with ten solo tackles, a sack, and another tackle for loss. The Bucs did lose a pair of safeties in Justin Evans and Isaiah Johnson . Evans left with a toe injury and didn’t return and Johnson left with a concussion. The secondary is already pretty banged up with Brent Grimes missing Sunday’s game with a knee injury.

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Oakland Raiders

Venue: O.co Coliseum(Oakland)Sun. 12-2 @ 4:05 pm ESTOver/Under: 55

   Weather

Kansas City Chiefs 40    Oakland Raiders 33

Raise your hand if you had this as a seven point game… I’ll wait.

I’ve said it many times over the last few months -- that the Raiders had quit on Jon Gruden -- but maybe I have to rethink that, as over the last couple of weeks, they have really come to play. Not that their recent effort has turned into any victories, but they certainly aren’t as much of a deflated bunch as I once thought.

On the other hand, the Chiefs should be ashamed of themselves for allowing this rag-tag bunch of Raiders offensive “weapons” to scratch out over 30 points on the road. While their offensive firepower remains as good as anyone’s, I find it hard to believe that Kansas City has the defense to make a Super Bowl run. They need to get their crap together, as the Chargers just keep on winning. This division is not completely wrapped up just yet.

I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention the Kareem Hunt situation. The Chiefs chose to part ways with the former Pro Bowler and it was well within their right to do so. Of all of the issues that the NFL has, domestic violence is by far paramount. It is a more pressing issue than concussions, kneeling, and the President’s tweets combined. Like the Chiefs defense, the league needs to get their act together on such an important issue.

Chiefs

Another day, another four touchdown game from Patrick Mahomes . It was his fifth such occurrence this season, a number he has reached more than any other in 2018. His four touchdowns on Sunday give him 41 for the year and a season pace of 55, which would tie Peyton Manning’s 2013 NFL record. What an amazing feat for anyone, but particularly coming from a first year starter in this league. For the day, Mahomes completed 60% of his passes, tallied 295 passing yards, and threw those four touchdowns to zero picks. He also posted his best rushing output of the year with 52 yards on nine carries.

Speaking of running the ball, the Chiefs were in a unique situation after dismissing Kareem Hunt . Spencer Ware was tapped with the opportunity to take the bulk of the carries, and while he wasn’t horrible, he also didn’t do much to stake a stronger claim on that backfield. On the day, Ware managed 47 yards on 14 carries, while he scored the Chiefs only rushing touchdown. Right on his heels however was Damien Williams . He picked up 38 yards on five carries and also caught two passes for seven yards.

The Chiefs receiver that had the best day by far was Travis Kelce . He hauled in a whopping 12 passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns. Kelce’s backup -- Demetrius Harris -- also caught a touchdown, as he finished with three grabs for 39 yards. Chris Conley caught Patrick Mahomes ’ fourth touchdown of the day and finished with a total of three catches and 25 yards. The biggest surprise of the day had to be the meager output of Tyreek Hill . He caught just one pass for 13 yards. It was especially shocking to see him so uninvolved after he took the first carry of the game up the sideline for 33 yards.

In terms of injuries, the Chiefs luckily left this one unscathed. Sammy Watkins and Eric Berry obviously did not play.

Raiders

Even in a losing effort, this was probably the best game that Derek Carr has played all season. He threw for 285 yards and three touchdowns, while he didn’t turn the ball over once. That’s a huge step in the right direction for a guy who has eight picks and seven fumbles on the season.

On the ground, Jalen Richard surprisingly led the Raiders in rushing yards on Sunday. He had 95 of them on just six carries, including a long of 30 yards. Doug Martin however, led the team in carries with 16, while he also scored a touchdown. He managed 61 rushing yards in the process.

In the receiving department, both Jared Cook and Jordy Nelson had great games. Cook caught seven passes for 100 yards, while Nelson caught 10 balls for 97 yards. Cook got into the end zone, while Nelson did not. Two other Raiders receivers caught touchdowns on Sunday, however neither is well known. Marcell Ateman is a rookie out of Oklahoma State, who flew under the radar in comparison to his teammate James Washington , but the talent is certainly there. He finished the day with two grabs for 16 yards and that touchdown catch. Backup tight end Lee Smith caught the other TD and it was his only catch of the day. It went for just one yard.

Like the Chiefs, the Raiders also left this game without any significant injuries.

New York Jets vs. Tennessee Titans

Venue: LP Field(Nashville)Sun. 12-2 @ 4:05 pm ESTOver/Under: 40.5

   Weather

Tennessee Titans 26    New York Jets 22

Doesn’t it seem like forever ago when the Jets were 48-17 blowout victors of the first Monday Night Football game of the season? Or even when they were 3-3 after six weeks and right in the thick of the playoff hunt? Here we are now and they are 3-9 and once again one of the league’s few laughing stocks. Head coach Todd Bowles is almost certainly a lame duck now, simply here for the ride as he won’t see 2019 in green and white. Without their rookie quarterback healthy, the team has gone into a tailspin, and while they have remained competitive, they continue to do what bad teams do -- lose close games.

Give credit to the Titans though, as they battled back from down 16 with only six minutes to play and cleared the Jets near wire-to-wire lead. With the win, the Titans ended their two-game losing streak and kept their slim playoff hopes alive.

Titans

Early on in this game, Marcus Mariota looked lost. He threw a pick-six on the first drive and was booed by the home crowd various times throughout the first half. Safe to say that he was playing far from how he did in the previous week, when he nearly set an NFL record for completion percentage in a single game. After his early game struggles though, Mariota turned it on late and ended up with decent numbers. In all, he managed a stat line of 20-35 for 282 yards, two touchdowns, and one pick. He also led the team with 43 rushing yards and needed only four carries to do so.

Speaking of running the football, Derrick Henry finished second on the team with 40 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries. Dion Lewis brought up the rear with 36 yards on just six carries. In all, the Titans managed 130 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. 6.0 yards per rush isn’t too shabby at all.

In the receiving department, Taywan Taylor led the squad with three receptions for 104 yards. Reserve tight end Anthony Fisker also caught three passes. He went for 42 yards and caught one of Marcus Mariota ’s two touchdown passes on the day. Corey Davis posted an identical stat line on the day, also catching three passes for 43 yards and a touchdown, however his touchdown catch was an 11-yard game clincher with just a minute to go. This was a big moment for both he and Mariota’s chemistry going forward, as the two figure to have a long tenure together as the Titans primary aerial connection.

The Titans finished this one relatively healthy, with no significant injuries throughout.

Jets

In the stead of the injured rookie quarterback, Josh McCown played terribly on Sunday. He completed just 56% of his passes, while he managed a mere 128 passing yards. He threw no touchdowns, and instead was picked off in the waning, critical moments of the game. He all but admitted to losing this game for the Jets… “You can’t do that. You have to get seven when you are down there, and we didn’t do that.”

On the ground, Isaiah Crowell had one of his better games in the last two months or so. He just missed the 100-yard mark by two yards, making the most of his 21 carries. Elijah McGuire added 19 yards on six carries, while Andre Roberts and Trenton Cannon chipped in with 18 a piece.

As I said earlier, nothing much was doing in the Jets passing game on Sunday. Robbie Anderson led the team with just 48 yards on four receptions, while tight ends Chris Herndon and Jordan Leggett combined for four catches and 49 yards. Quincy Enunwa disappointingly had just two grabs for nine yards.

While the Jets blew this game, at least they managed to leave Tennessee without any major injuries. Morris Claiborne injured his shoulder at one point, but managed to return to action.

San Francisco 49ers vs. Seattle Seahawks

Venue: CenturyLink Field(Seattle)Sun. 12-2 @ 4:25 pm ESTOver/Under: 46

   Weather

Seattle Seahawks 43    San Francisco 49ers 16

This game went just about as predicted. The lowly Niners had almost no shot at making any noise on the road in one of the league’s most difficult venues to win in. Contrarily the Seahawks took care of business and kept their solid playoff hopes alive, despite the fact that the Rams clinched the division crown on the same day of the Seahawks home domination.

If I had to give a game ball, it would go out to Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner , who filled every category on the defensive stat sheet. I can’t ever remember another time when I saw that happen. On the day he racked up 12 tackles (eight solo), one sack, one tackle for loss, two pass deflections, two QB hits, one interception (for 98 yards mind you), one defensive touchdown, and a partridge in a pear tree!

Through the exodus of the “Legion of Boom” over the last couple of seasons, middle linebacker Bobby Wagner has been the one constant. He was the leader of the Seattle defense then and he is still the leader now. The faces may change around him, but he is still the engine that makes this west coast football machine run. I could be reaching here, but I would go as far to say that he is one of the most underrated players in football today. So long as he remains healthy, Seattle has a chance to make a deep playoff run.

Seahawks

While he completed only 11 passes for 185 yards in this one, Russell Wilson had himself a fantastic day. In the process he threw for four touchdowns, didn’t turn the ball over, and finished with a near perfect QBR. He’s playing MVP caliber football right now and not enough people are talking about him.

Chris Carson led the backfield in rushing yards with 63 on 13 carries, however he missed out on a few reps along the way as he dislocated his finger during the game. He had it popped back into place, which should mean that he will be fine going forward, however if he misses any time during practice, Rashaad Penny and Mike Davis will be right there waiting to suck up the leftover touches like a vacuum. Speaking of Penny and Davis, Penny finished the day with 65 yards and a touchdown on seven carries, while Davis was far less productive with just 10 yards on four carries.

While there were only 11 catches to go around, there were also four touchdowns. Jaron Brown caught two of them on his three total catches on the day. One touchdown went for 18 yards and the other for four. He finished with 67 total receiving yards on the day. Tyler Lockett caught one of the other touchdowns. It went for 53 yards and was his only catch on the day. Doug Baldwin caught the other and it went for just one yard. He finished the day with two catches for 22 yards.

In terms of injury, the Seahawks may have run into a bit of trouble with guard D.J. Fluker . He left the game in the fourth quarter on a cart. As was also mentioned, Chris Carson injured his finger. He should be fine, but it is something worth monitoring going forward.

49ers

While the Niners had no business being in this game – which they really weren’t – quarterback Nick Mullens really balled out. Sure he had his struggles and threw a 98-yard INT to Bobby Wagner in the red zone, but he also threw for 414 yards and two touchdowns. I don’t care who you are, it is still impressive to throw for over 400 yards in this league.

Onto the ground game… Who in the bloody hell is Jeff Wilson Jr.??

On Sunday, in the virtual absence of Matt Breida , the undrafted free agent out of North Texas – Jeff Wilson Jr. – managed 23 touches for 134 total yards. Word on the street is that his dual-threat skill set will work, especially in PPR formats, for next week’s matchup against the surging Broncos. The expectation is that Matt Breida won’t play next week and the Niners will be playing from behind once again. Wilson Jr. could have a huge day both running and catching the ball out of the backfield.

In the receiving department, Dante Pettis led the Niners with 129 yards and two touchdowns. He accomplished that on just five catches. George Kittle also chipped in with 70 yards on six catches, while Jeff Wilson Jr. led the team with a whopping eight catches for 73 yards. What a breakout performance for this guy.

In terms of injuries, as I already mentioned, Matt Breida saw only eight touches in this one and left the game with an ankle injury. He has already been declared out for Week 14, which leaves a big opening for Jeff Wilson Jr. to jump into. Consider JWJ the waiver add of the week.

Minnesota Vikings vs. New England Patriots

Venue: Gillette Stadium(Foxborough)Sun. 12-2 @ 4:25 pm ESTOver/Under: 49.5

   Weather

New England Patriots 24    Minnesota Vikings 10

This has to be one of the worst Patriots teams in years, yet somehow, here they are at 9-3 and a foregone lock for the AFC East division crown once again. While it didn’t look pretty on Sunday night, they absolutely took care of business at home against a talented Minnesota Vikings team. Maybe it is because Brady hasn’t been as dominant as he has been in years past, or because Gronk looks like he’s one bad hit away from a wheelchair, but even in their wins, something just doesn’t seem right with New England. With all of that being considered, there is a story to be written about their defense. Outside of the Titans game, quietly, this Patriots defense hasn’t allowed more than 17 points in over a month. I know that Titans game shouldn’t be excluded, but they were on the road, Brady threw exactly zero touchdowns, and they were forced to punt six times. Their offense let them down just as much, if not more, than the defense did in that game.

Enough about the Patriots cuz we know they are gonna make the playoffs and that they probably will at least make the AFC Title Game regardless of how mediocre they look offensively… Where does this loss leave the Vikings?

The only good news for them is that every NFC North team lost on Sunday. The Lions are finished, the Packers fired their head coach, and the Bears lost a game that they had no business losing in the Meadowlands. Right now, the Vikings appear to be the most competent team in the division and that is even while being virtually two games behind the Bears in the division. Currently they are the sixth and final seed in the NFC playoff picture. If they are going to hold onto that though, they more than likely will have to win this upcoming Monday night, on the road, against the red-hot Seahawks. Yikes!

Patriots

Now back to the game… As I was saying, Tom Brady hasn’t looked like himself this season. Perhaps it is because he has been playing with a depleted receiving corps all season long, but regardless, he’s not posting Brady-like numbers. He threw just one touchdown on Sunday and it was just his 20th of the season. For some perspective, first year starter Patrick Mahomes threw his 41st touchdown of the season on Sunday. Beyond the single touchdown pass, Brady also threw a pick, his eighth of the year, while his 311 passing yards were at least a welcomed surprise.

On the ground, Sony Michel led the team in yards, but with just a disappointing 63 of them. While he also led with 17 carries, two of his potential goal line looks were ceded to fullback James Develin , who scored both times. This was one of the worst vulture performances of the season thus far. The return of Rex Burkhead was also an unwelcomed addition to the Patriots backfield mix. He stole seven carries and two receptions from both Sony Michel and James White .

Be that as it may, White still managed to lead the team in receptions and receiving yards with seven and 92 respectively. Josh Gordon finished with three receptions for 58 yards and a touchdown, while Gronk and Julian Edelman managed just six receptions for 51 yards combined on the day.

For the most part, the Patriots remained relatively healthy in this one, however Patrick Chung was helped off the field in the fourth quarter. He will be further evaluated this week.

Vikings

While he dropped back 44 times in this one, Kirk Cousins did a whole lot of nothing. He finished the day with just 201 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. Sure he completed 72% of his passes, but it was all just filler and no substance.

On the ground, Dalvin Cook had one of his best games of the season, but inexplicably the Vikings only gave him the ball nine times in this one. He finished with 84 rushing yards and no touchdowns.

To top off the Patriots excellent defensive performance, the New England cornerbacks did a really nice job against this ultra-talented Vikings receiving corps. They held the dynamic duo of Diggs and Thielen to just 10 catches for 77 yards and a touchdown, combined. No Vikings receiver had more than 50 receiving yards, and while Dalvin Cook did manage an impressive eight receptions, he only totaled 22 yards in the process. This was rock solid work from the Patriots secondary, to say the least.

On the injury front, the Vikings lost cornerback Trae Waynes to a concussion in the second quarter. He will have to clear the protocol this week before playing on Monday night against Seattle.

Los Angeles Chargers vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Venue: Heinz Field(Pittsburgh)Sun. 12-2 @ 8:20 pm ESTOver/Under: 52

   Weather

Los Angeles Chargers 33    Pittsburgh Steelers 30

Until I come up with a better name, we are calling this one “The Offsides Bowl.” I wouldn’t say that there was a particularly high amount of offsides calls in this game, however there were several critical ones – called or not – that came to define the outcome of this game.

The first pivotal offsides call was one that wasn’t. It came in the first quarter, on a Philip Rivers touchdown pass. Right tackle Sam Tevi jumped into his kick-slide about two beats ahead of the snap and clearly performed what they call in the business a “false start.” It was so egregious that half of the Steelers didn’t even get out of their stances once the ball was snapped. Philip Rivers and wide receiver Travis Benjamin however didn’t get the memo and instead hooked up for a long touchdown throw and catch. Later on in the game, after a long back-and-forth affair, the Chargers and Steelers were tied with just a few ticks left on the clock. The Chargers were setting up for a game-winning field goal, just when the Steelers ever-so slightly jumped early. This spooked kicker Michael Badgley , as he pulled the potential go-ahead kick to the left. This time the refs got the call correct. Next play – now five yards closer – Badgley had his kick blocked! The home crowd roared and then crescendoed into a mob of boos, as the refs noted that the Steelers had jumped offsides for the second consecutive play. Now another five yards closer, and Badgley was ready to kick again. Would you believe it if I told you that the Steelers jumped for a third straight play? This time though, the Chargers kicker was ready for it and drilled the 29-yarder despite the illegal pressure. The final offsides penalty was denied and the Chargers snuck out of the steel city with a three point victory. The Chargers now are all but locked into a playoff berth, while the Steelers are eerily close to the Ravens in their division race.

Chargers

Just before the game kicked off, Philip Rivers found out that his wife was pregnant with their ninth child! You just knew that this news was going to invigorate the Antonio Cromartie wannabe. Rivers followed up the news with a fantastic performance on the road. He completed 72% of his passes for 299 yards and two touchdowns. He was sacked just twice and didn’t turn the ball over. He did all he could to get his team the victory on Sunday.

In the absence of Melvin Gordon this week, much of the talk entering the game was that Austin Ekeler was going to take the lion’s share of the backfield touches going forward. I mentioned being keen on Justin Jackson instead and the latter paid off in spades. While he only saw eight carries, he turned them into 63 yards and a touchdown, nearly all of which came on the Chargers second to last drive of the game. Ekeler subsequently struggled to just 21 rushing yards on 13 carries. Ekeler also caught five balls for 22 yards.

Speaking of catching the football, Keenan Allen did a lot of it on Sunday. For some reason, the Steelers decided to try and cover Allen with linebackers and he responded with 14 catches for 148 yards and a touchdown. Second on the team in yards and receptions was Mike Williams . He caught three balls for 52 yards, while I already mentioned Travis Benjamin and his controversial 46 yard touchdown.

In the injury department, the Chargers luckily left the game unscathed.

Steelers

Big Ben didn’t look great in this one. He completed just 64% of his passes, while his mere 281 yards and two touchdowns didn’t go well with his interception. He did manage to throw for an 80.1 QBR however, so there’s that.

James Conner struggled to get much of anything going on Sunday, however because of his big frame, he still managed to get into the end zone twice on the day. His 4.0 yards per carry on his 15 carries for 60 yards isn’t too shabby either.

One offensive player who shined for the Steelers was Antonio Brown . Brown caught 10 passes for 154 yards and a touchdown this past Sunday. JuJu Smith-Schuster contributed as the team’s second leading receiver. While he wasn’t nearly as productive as Brown, he could have done a lot worse than six receptions for 49 yards.

On the injury front, the Steelers lost two wide receivers. One was Justin Hunter , who was getting a spot start, and sustained a shoulder injury.. The other was Ryan Switzer , who suffered a concussion, also in the fourth quarter.

Washington Redskins vs. Philadelphia Eagles

Venue: Lincoln Financial Field(Philadelphia)Mon. 12-3 @ 8:15 pm ESTOver/Under: 45

   Weather

Philadelphia Eagles 28 Washington Redskins 13

The battle for NFC East has been interesting as the surging Cowboys jumped to a 7-5 record. The Redskins need a win to keep pace while the Eagles are desperately trying to even their record and get back into the thick of things. The Skins are still trying to patch up their roster from injuries while the Eagles are simply trying to get themselves back on-track after weeks of struggles on offense and mass injuries on defense. Both teams are a little desperate which, sometimes, makes for a good football game.

Washington Redskins

When you’re fighting for your playoff life and/or division supremacy, the last thing you want is to lose your starting quarterback. Especially when he’s actually your second-stringer. But lo and behold, that’s what went down early in the first half as Colt McCoy suffered a fractured fibula and left all the redskins’ hopes and dreams pinned to the jersey of Mark Sanchez . Shocking that the team couldn’t muster more than 13 points, right? No. Not really. Not when Sanchez completes just 13-of-21 passes for 100 yards and throws an interception to kick off the fourth quarter. Not a great thing for the Redskins – Three quarterbacks, two broken legs and a guy forever to be known for the butt-fumble.

So Adrian Peterson breaks loose and scores a 90-yard touchdown, huh? Impressive, wasn’t it. Word is he was running down the field at speeds in excess of 20 mph. Too bad he couldn’t do anything more with the rest of the game, right? On his other eight carries, he averaged one yard per carry. One. So yeah, let’s celebrate one great run and forget about the fact that everything else was garbage.

Chris Thompson made his return but with minimal movement on the fantasy needle. Obviously with an ineffective running game and Sanchez at QB, the passing game had little chance of being successful and Thompson’s simple three catches for 18 yards were pretty blah considering how the Eagles have struggled all year in covering screens and RB pass plays.

Nothing much to report on the receivers either. Jamison Crowder finally returned after a seven-game absence but did very little. Josh Doctson , Jordan Reed and Thompson led the way with five targets each but none of them had more than 51 yards in total and none got into the end zone. If you were relying on any of them, your day was over when McCoy went down.

Philadelphia Eagles

Carson Wentz put forth a solid game for his fantasy owners, throwing for 306 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Credit the offensive line for some fantastic protection as Wentz wasn’t sacked at all in this game and was able to set up in the pocket with time afforded to his receivers to run their routes.

As expected, the heavy lean for Wentz was his tight end, Zach Ertz who saw 11 targets which he turned into nine catches for 83 yards. He didn’t get into the end zone which puts a serious damper on his overall fantasy value, but in a week like we saw here in Week 13, he was still on the higher end of the spectrum at this trashy position.

While Alshon Jeffery spent much of his time being shadowed by Josh Norman , Golden Tate was the receiver darling out of the slot as he caught all seven of his targets for 85 yards and a touchdown. Nelson Agholor saw one more target than Tate did, but it was good to see the incorporation of Tate in the passing game. The question of consistency now comes up though. Is Wentz going to be able to lean on him moving forward? What happens to Jeffery’s targets if Wentz and Tate start connecting more? So long as the top cover corner is on Jeffery, it should probably look like this in the coming weeks, so if Tate was dropped in your league for some reason, add him now.

Another big game for Josh Adams who rumbled to 85 yards on 20 carries. From a fantasy standpoint, this is a huge game as Doug Pederson, once again, was a man of his word and piled the carries onto the shoulders of Adams who maintained a 4.3 yards per carry average throughout the game. He’s going to be a huge asset for those who own him and are headed to their playoffs. Of course, if little Darren Sproles keeps poaching the work inside the 20, we can all start writing love letters to Pederson asking what’s up.

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