What I Saw: Thoughts On Every Game, Week 12
My name is Sam Turrubiartes and I try to watch every game every week so you don’t have to. If you missed the games, check out my breakdowns below and thanks for reading!
Redskins Vs. Cowboys
QB: What a heartbreaker for Kirk Cousins who put in one heck of an effort against the Cowboys. Cousins was definitely the Redskin putting in the most effort, and just not getting enough help from his team to make out a win. Dak Prescott also looked significantly better tonight than he as in a few games although his stats, particularly his yards, don’t bear that out. The biggest difference maker was probably the Dallas O-Line. Dak finally had space to take time for plays to develop. He had some pretty good throws, and makes me think he’ll continue to do better moving forward. There was quite a bit of help from the defense making some great plays, but I like the Cowboys to win the next couple games at least.
RB: Samaje Perine struggled on the ground as the offensive line was dominated at the LOS by Dallas’ defense. He did get some action through the air which is nice and gives him a boost. Unless Washington continues to struggle with turnovers, I’d expect better from Perine moving forward. Alfred Morris had himself one heck of a night. With the Dallas O-Line returning to form, Morris bit off large chunks of yards all night. The Dallas offense might just run through him now the way it did through Elliott. Rod Smith got himself a TD, which helps his box score, but that was due in large part to garbage time shenanigans. Morris is the only one to own and play.
WR: Jamison Crowder, after having a huge night last week really struggled. It seemed like just a freak night for Crowder, who played a huge role in turning the ball over multiple times throughout the night. He still had some nice plays, but boy oh boy this loss should be stinging him more than anyone in Washington. Ryan Grant was actually looking like the number 2 wideout for the ‘Skins this game. He played well and came down with decent yardage and a touchdown. Josh Doctson also had a touchdown but his low yardage totals keep me from having faith in his production long term. Dez Bryant looked great on some of his catches and his TD was a gorgeous play over the top of Bashaud Breeland. With Dallas playing well again, I think Dez is probably going to have a couple good weeks coming with Janoris Jenkins out on IR. None of the other Dallas receivers got much action, so Dallas’ biggest challenge right now is getting Williams and maybe Beasely into better positions. There was far too much reliance on special teams and the defense for this win.
TE: Vernon Davis was again virtually invisible. That’s so weird to me because Davis really has the potential to be a big playmaker. I suppose with O-Line injuries being what they are, it’s simply more important that he block. Jason Witten was finally included in the offense, however. He and Dez accounted for nearly all of Dak’s yards. I’m not sure if this is a return to what has worked for Dallas in the past, but it probably should be.
Patriots Vs. Bills
QB: Man, what a terrible game for Tyrod Taylor. He started off with a really solid opening drive only to throw a pick a few yards shy of the goal line. And this wasn’t some deflection or freak play that lands in the wrong dude’s hands. Taylor straight up threw it to Eric Lee, a DL who just started for NE from the Bills’ own practice squad. There were also quite a few inaccurate throws and stalled drives only for Taylor to be injured in the 4th quarter. NE has been playing well defensively, but even accounting for that Taylor was struggling. Nathan Peterman was not that great in Taylor’s relief. Maybe next week will be better, but I kind of doubt it. You might think Tom Brady had an uncharacteristically slow night, but the Bills somehow always seems to show better defensively against the Pats than they normally do and this day wasn’t an exception. He had quite a bit of pressure most of the game and took a few sacks, too. If the Bills could run block, the Pats would have been in trouble.
RB: On the ground, LeSean McCoy ran very well. He is firmly in control of the backfield, as well he should be, despite being “questionable” for the game. Possibly because the Bills tried to stop the passing game as much as possible, they were destroyed on the ground. Thankfully for the Pats, they have a great RB combo in Deon Lewis and Rex Burkhead. Burkhead was the biggest beneficiary because of two touchdowns, but Lew also ran very well. It’s a great combo and you should be happy if you have either of them.
WR: Zay Jones and Deonte Thompson both had a good number of targets, but the quality was very poor. With Taylor very questionable for next week, you probably shouldn’t bother with either. Brandin Cooks is still the man for the Pats, but with Brady held largely in check, there wasn’t much for the wide receivers.
TE: Charles Clay had the same problem Zay-Jee and Thompson had, which is bad quarterbacking. He’ll probably have the same problem next week, unfortunately. As for you, Rob Gronkowski, shame on you. That garbage hitting does not belong in this game. I hope your suspension sticks for at least one game.
Chiefs Vs Jets
QB: Wow, what a night for Alex Smith. After several weeks of stinking it up, Andy Reidarded has finally given up play-calling and it payed off with some big numbers. Smith threw two big TD’s to Travis Kelce to start off the game and kept it up with the receivers. He’s looking fine again, so if you need a QB and Smith is on the wire, he’s got a couple good match ups at least. He also had a great run. That probably won’t repeat, but it made for a great week. Josh McCown also played very well, as he has been for awhile now. Two rushing TD’s really added to his stats, but he was firing bullets all game matching Smith tit for tat. It was a pretty great game.
RB: Kareem Hunt remains a bit of an enigma. After his incredible start, he’s still not doing much on the ground. He’s such a dynamic player, I don’t know what the Chiefs need to do to get him more involved. As for the Jets, they got running backs spilling out of every hole. Frankly, I still think they need to reduce carries for Elijah McGuire because he’s just not very effective. Even just the 5 carries he got were 5 too many. Bilal Powell I think is their best, but Matt Forte played his keister off. It’s a good combo, maybe like Lewis/Burkhead lite
WR: What a night for wide receivers on both sides. Tyreek Hill returned to form, catching two incredible deep touchdowns. Dude is a stud and the Chiefs better not forget what he can do next week. Robbie Anderson showed again why he is now a stud. He made catch after catch, wrecking KC to the tune of 107 yards while Jermaine Kearse has maybe found room to play with teams concerned about Anderson. Kearse had his best night by far with 157 yards and made some great plays. I’ve been pretty down on Kearse at times this year, but he played very well. If he keeps it up, he might be worth helping you through the finals.
TE: Travis Kelce is already one of my favorite players, but the Jets have no excuse for how poorly they covered him. Kelce was wide open for 3 huge gains, including two TD’s, in the first quarter. After that, they tightened up, but it was pretty pathetic at the start. ASJ played so poorly I’m not even going to type out his name. Other than occasional TD’s, which are anyone’s guess when they’ll land, he’s probably not going to do much for the remainder of the season.
49ers Vs. Bears
QB: “Handsome” Jimmy Garoppolo finally made his debut for SF, and it wasn’t too bad, if it could be much better. The biggest takeaway is that Handsome Jimmy looked pretty comfortable in the pocket and passed fairly well. Sure he didn’t have any passing TD’s and he did have an interception, but It looks like SF finally has a QB. Also, he’s a pretty good looking if you haven’t heard. Mitch Trubisky wasn’t bad, per se, but SF really dominated time of possession. The Bears simply did not have time to make plays.
RB: Matt Breida appears to have gotten the start, though Carlos Hyde did out-touch Breida 17 to 12. There wasn’t a lot of room for Hyde to run, but Breida was more efficient. The backfield is not quite an even split, but SF clearly wants Breida involved. Jordan Howard also didn’t have much running room. Compounded with the lack of offense overall from Chicago and it was not a great day for Howard. He’s still a beast, but playing for CHI is hampering him more than I would have guessed at this point. Tarik Cohen is still a great playmaker and his run back TD was incredible, running backwards on the field until a path opened up and he could take it to the house. Cohen needs more involvement in the regular offense because he’s just too explosive.
WR: Marquise Goodwin and Trent Taylor both came alive this game. Both of them looked great and had just shy of 99 yards. It’s anyone’s guess if they can keep it up vs. Houston, but I like them to do so as long as Garoppolo is under center. Dontrelle Inman continues to be the Bears #1, but the Bears are just not good enough to support a single decent wide receiver. Even the Browns can usually do that so CHI is in a lot of trouble until they can make some moves in the offseason or draft some serious help.
TE: Neither of these teams currently has a TE worth owning.
Broncos Vs. Miami
QB: What a terrible performance for the Broncos. Trevor Siemian was so bad that if the Broncos had anyone else they thought they could rely on, they would use them instead. But Paxton Lynch still has a high ankle sprain and he wasn’t that great, either. Siemian wasn’t terrible earlier in the season, so I’m not sure exactly why he was so pitiful, but the Broncos are currently a dumpster fire. Sell, sell, sell! Jay Cutler did what Jay Cutler does and played like a mixed bag. He made several great throws, but of course tossed a couple picks. He’ll probably remain that way for the rest of the season.
RB: CJ Anderson finally was used as a workhorse for the Broncos again. It wasn’t a great performance, per se, but with some pass catching out of the backfield, CJ could be a good FLEX play again. Much like some other talented backs, his biggest limitation is the QB sucking it up and ruining his chance for more offense. Devontae Booker and Jamaal Charles have once again been relegated to scraps. For the Dolphins, Kenyan Drake played very well. I wasn’t much a fan of his, but maybe I’ll have to rethink it. Either that, or the Broncos were just so tired of constantly being on the field that the defense just wasn’t motivated to defend anymore. Either way, the Dolphins are playing well enough that Drake isn’t a bad play at the moment.
WR: Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas are still good receivers, but the throws from Siemian were so bad that neither is going to do much right now. It’s a shame to see so much talent wasted. Kenny Stills, however, appears to be coming into his own. Not only did he see a whopping 13 targets, but he got the TD. He’s looking to be more valuable than Jarvis Landry, who can still make some good plays but who isn’t going to see his potential maximized while Cutler (or Moore, if he comes back) fully realized.
TE: Julius Thomas caught a touchdown, but who knows if that’s repeatable. I don’t think he played well enough to warrant much consideration, and 3 targets for just 20 yards seem to bear that out.
Rams Vs. Cardinals
QB: The Rams looked pretty good again against division rivals in the Arizona Cardinals. Jared Goff had a bit of a down game but continues to impress. He is playing well and while I expect the Eagles to be a bit of a challenge for him next week, I think he has enough weapons and talent to be worth a play. Blaine Gabbert, however, was not able to stand up to the pressure of the Rams defense. The Rams were constantly in his face to the tune of 6 sacks and constant pressure. The AZ O-Line might be doing ok run blocking, but the pass protection was basically non existent.
RB: Todd Gurley is simply the man. He is matchup proof thanks to his involvement in the passing game and every week he dominates. Love me some Gurley. Kerwynn Williams got the start for the Cards in Adrian Peterson’s absence with a neck injury. Williams ran very well for AZ. The Rams seem to be especially susceptible to running backs, so it’s not clear how well Williams would do against a real run defense, but AP might be back against Tennessee, anyway, so maybe it’s moot.
WR: Cooper Kupp didn’t have a very big game, but the Cards were playing ok defense against receivers this round. Kupp’s 68 yards were well-earned, and his 6 targets are promising but his next outing is against the Eagles, which could be a pretty tough game for him. Sammy Watkins was minimally involved, but did get the touchdown off a screen pass during hurry up offense. I really wish Watkins were a bigger piece of the Rams’ offense because I feel like he could do so much more. We’ll see what happens next week. Larry Fitzgerald had a downright great game against the Rams. He caught all 10 of his targets and really looked good. He should tear it up against the Titans next week. JJ Nelson got 8 targets, but only 2 catches. It’s hard to say if he would do better against weaker defense, but outside of Fitz, none of the other Cardinals receivers are trustworthy.
TE: The Rams tossed a touchdown to Gerald Everett, but he only had 7 yards total. Seems like a Rams TE might get an errant TD, but probably shouldn’t be played. Ricky Seals-Jones does appear to be continuing his role as a big piece of the Cardinals offense, but the Rams defended against him rather well. I think this will go down as a slow game for RSJ, but next week will probably be more like previous weeks. RSJ’s involvement as a regular piece of the offense is the difference maker here compared to several other TE’s I regularly dislike cough ASJ cough.
Browns Vs Chargers
QB: The Browns faced a pretty tough match against the Chargers, and unfortunately DeShone Kizer simply isn’t good enough to meet the challenge. He had multiple throws that were way off trying to go deep. He did have a few that were really good in the intermediate, such as a dart to David Njoku for his only TD throw of the game. He does have a decent floor from rushing, but Kizer needs a whole lot of development and deep ball accuracy if he wants to stay under center for the Browns. Philip Rivers did rather well, except that he just couldn’t make anything happen in the red zone outside of 1 TD thrown to Keenan Allen. He has over 300 yards this game and the Browns have a pretty decent defense, so I’d expect Rivers to do much better next week against Washington.
RB: Isaiah Crowell found little running room against the Chargers. He did have quite a few good runs, but he ended with just 41 yards on 10 carries. It was a hard outing for the Browns as a whole. Duke Johnson, Jr also didn’t make much happen outside of one heroic effort shedding a tackle while falling just short of a 1st down. If you ask me, the Browns should have subbed some of those poorly thrown deep balls for dump-offs to The Duke. Melvin Gordon also didn’t have a ton of space to work with, but his 19 carries yielded 77 yards, and that’s not bad against a pretty good Browns run defense. He’s still the lead dog over upstart Austin Ekeler, who remains a change of pace option only.
WR: This game saw the much heralded return of uber wide receiver Josh Gordon. My colleague Ben Palmer has an excellent breakdown of Gordon’s targets in gif form here, and it’s totally worth checking out. Casey Hayward, who was covering Gordon for the most part, had good things to say about Gordon and I think if Kizer can be just a little bit better, Gordon’s stud status is locked in. As it is, he had 85 yards on just 4 catches, a pretty good stat line against the Chargers. Corey Coleman has been relegated to second fiddle and failed to catch any of his 4 targets. Perhaps the target distribution will come closer to even against the Packers, but this was certainly a strong debut for Gordon and a worrying development for Coleman owners. Keenan Allen played as well as he usually does, to the tune of 105 yards and a touchdown. The target monster simply could not be stopped and is locked in as a WR1 on a high powered offense. Travis Benjamin had a decent day as well, but the Chargers spread the ball around quite a bit so it’s anyone’s guess if Benjamin or one of the Williams boys will play the part of #2 for the Chargers any given week. Tyrell Williams only even saw 3 targets.
TE: I suppose if you were dead set on playing a Browns TE, David Njoku would be the one. The Browns have not made good use of a single TE for the last several weeks, so this may just be a case of exploiting a mismatch. Njoku did catch the TD for the Browns and Seth DeValve had 33 yards. If the Brown had just one TE they ever threw to, that TE’s value would go up dramatically. As it is, I don’t think either is a sure thing. Hunter Henry was back as a pivotal piece of the Chargers’ offense and he caught 7 of 9 targets. He was all over the field moving the sticks for the Chargers until he came out with a knee injury that doesn’t appear to be serious. I like Henry to do just as well next week against the Redskins.