Overview: Last weekend was not Any Given Sunday. It was Chalk Sunday and Thursday and Monday nights.
There were only two upsets this weekend. Chicago lost to San Diego on a missed field goal at the end. The other upset was pulled off by Philadelphia, a slight dog at Buffalo. But the Bills 5-1 record was misleading because of their soft schedule. It was no surprise the Eagles won.
The rest of the favorites won so there wasn’t a change in the balance of power and New England and San Francisco remained the only unbeaten teams. Green Bay and New Orleans are both 7-1 and every other team in the league has at least two losses.
By contrast, there are two winless teams (Cincinnati and Miami) and three one-win teams (Falcons, Jets and Washington).
—Bill Belichick recorded his 300th career victory when the Patriots went to 8-0 with the victory over Cleveland. The only other two coaches to win more than 300 games are George Halas and Don Shula. Belichick is 67, but needs only three more years to break Shula’s record of 347 victories.
—Drew Brees could have waited until after the bye week to give his thumb two more weeks to heal. But the doctors gave him the green light to play and Brees wanted to play. He didn’t look like the layoff was a problem for him as he threw for 373 yards and three touchdowns as the Saints beat Arizona.
—Adam Vinatieri got to a shaky start in the first two games, but he’s back in a groove. He nailed three field goal attempts from 55, 45 and 51 yards, the last one for the game winner as the Colts remained on top of the AFC South with a victory over the Broncos. At 46, he is the oldest player to make a game winning field goal of at least 50 yards in the last minute of regulation or overtime. He is also the oldest to make at least two 50-yard field goals in a game.
—Deshaun Watson managed to elude several Raider defenders, got hit in the eye and still threw the game winning pass to give the Texans the victory over the Raiders. It was a costly win, though, for the Texans as they lost J.J. Watt for the season.
—Marcus Mariota’s days in Tennessee may be numbered. The Titans are 2-0 with Ryan Tannehill at quarterback after the win over Tampa Bay. What remains to be seen is if Tannehill can be a long-term answer for the Titans.
—Eddie Piniero missed a 41-yard shot at a winning field goal in Chicago’s loss to the Chargers. But coach Matt Nagy didn’t help when he had the Bears take a knee twice in the final minute of play instead of trying to get closer to make it an easier field goal. And they didn’t put the ball in the center of the field for the attempt, which Piniero said he preferred. Meanwhile, Chargers’ opponents have missed 13 kicks this year, nine field goals and four extra points.
—The Browns turned the ball over on three consecutive offensive snaps against the Patriots. The Browns didn’t figure to beat them anyway but they didn’t have to make it that easy.–The Chiefs didn’t figure to beat the Packers without Patrick Mahomes but they don’t seem to have a home field edge at Arrowhead these days. They have lost three in a row at home and four of last five dating back to last year. But then this is a new trend in the NFL. Road teams are 63-56-1 this year.
—Joe Flacco complained about the Broncos being conservative in the loss to the Colts. They called a run on third and five near midfield with two minutes left and punted and the Colts mounted a game winning drive. “Why can’t we be more aggressive in some of these situations?” he asked. Well, the Broncos did call three passes from the three-yard line earlier in the game and he missed all three and they kicked a field goal. As it turns out, Flacco probably won’t be quarterbacking the 2-6 Broncos again as his signing turns out to be another misfire at quarterback for the 2-6 Broncos. He’s out with a neck injury and Brandon Allen, who’s never taken an NFL snap, will start against the Browns because Elway says rookie Drew Lock isn’t ready.
–Officiating continues to be a problem for the NFL. Tampa Bay lost its chance for an upset of Tennessee on a quick whistle that nullified a fumble recovery for a touchdown. And then there was a 10 minute replay review in the Pittsburgh-Miami game. The NFL can’t seem to stop these officiating miscues.