Previewing NFL Week 11

What can the Minnesota Vikings do for an encore?

We find out Sunday when they face the Dallas Cowboys in the CBS late game that will be shown in most of the country. Their other late game is Cincinnati at Pittsburgh.

The Vikings are coming off that unbelievable victory over the Bills that was the game of the year. The Cowboys meanwhile, lost last Sunday to the Packers in the highest rated TV game of the year. That dropped the Cowboys to 6-2, but they remained a game behind the Eagles, who lost their first game to the Commanders.

But a loss to the Vikings would probably leave the Cowboys two games behind the Eagles, who play at Indianapolis. And a Vikings win would keep them tied at 9-1 with the Eagles in the battle for the top seed although the Eagles hold the head to head tie break.

The feature prime time game is Kansas City at the Los Angeles Chargers Sunday night, which was flexed to replace Cincinnati at Pittsburgh.

The 6-2 Chiefs have a game lead over the 5-3 Chargers as well as the top seed in the AFC. A victory would keep the Chiefs in the top seed spot plus a two game lead over the Chargers in the AFC West division race.

In the Thursday night Amazon Prime game, 5-3 Tennessee can remain in first place in the AFC South with a victory over 3-6 Green Bay, which stunned the Cowboys last Sunday.

In the Monday night game, San Francisco will attempt to go to 5-4 in the NFC West with a victory over 3-6 Arizona. Seattle leads the division at 6-3 and has a bye.

Atlanta, which is 4-5, can take the lead in the NFC South with a victory over 3-6 Chicago. Tampa Bay at 4-5 has a bye.

The 6-3 Jets, who play the 5-4 Patriots, and the 6-3 Bills, who host 3-5 Cleveland, can create a three-way tie in the AFC East at 7-3 if they both win. 

Baltimore at 6-3 can remain atop the NFC North with a victory over 2-7 Carolina.

Houston at 1-6-1 can remain in top spot in next year’s draft with a loss to the 4-5 Commanders.

NFL Week 10 in review

The Minnesota-Buffalo game was a game for the season if not the ages.

What we don’t know is the long-term ramifications. It was a devastating overtime loss for the Bills, who went from the top seed in the conference to third in their division.

And with Philadelphia losing its first game to the Commanders, the Vikings are tied for top seed in NFC at 8-1 although the Eagles have the head-to-head tie breaker.

And now Kansas City has a clear path to the top seed in the AFC with a 7-2 record.

But the larger question is what happened to Josh Allen and the Bills. Allen is no longer a MVP candidate after he and the center botched a snap that gave the Vikings a touchdown in the final minute and Allen ended the game by throwing an end zone interception in overtime.

Meanwhile, Minnesota’s Justin Jefferson is establishing himself as the best receiver in the game and his one-handed catch will make all the highlight shows.

Can Allen and the Bills rebound in their last eight games or are they a flawed team that is not as good as we thought?  We will see..

Meanwhile, there is a wild scramble behind the 7-2 Chiefs. Miami leads AFC East at 7-3 with Jets second at 6-3. The Ravens lead AFC North at 6-3 and the Titans are atop AFC South at 6-3. And the Patriots, Bengals, and Chargers have four losses. That means there are eight teams between two and four losses with seven playoff spots. 

The only five loss team in the AFC is Indianapolis, which improved to 4-5-1 when it won Jeff Saturday’s first game as a coach against the struggling Raiders.

Saturday handed the starting job back to veteran quarterback Matt Ryan and it remains to be seen how effective the Colts will be in the last seven games as Saturday tries to show Jimmy Irsay’s decision to make him the interim head coach makes some sense since his only coaching experience was three years in high school.

In the NFC, the big loser was the Cowboys, who were beaten by the Packers in the highest rated game of the year. That dropped the Cowboys to 6-3, two games behind the Eagles and means they could wind up a wild card team.

The Cowboys are now ranked sixth behind the Eagles and Vikings at 8-1, Seahawks at 6-4, Bucs at 5-5 and Giants top wild card spot at 7-2. San Francisco has final wild card spot at 5-4 while the Commanders are eighth at 5-5. Five teams –the Cardinals, Rams, Falcons, Packers and Lions — all have six losses.

NFL has an ownership crisis on its hands

The NFL has an ownership problem.

The fact that the money keeps pouring so teams can’t lose money regardless of how poorly they are run has obscured the fact that some owners don’t know how to even field competitive teams.

The best example, of course, is Washington owner Dan Snyder, who took one of the best teams in the league and ran it into the ground. Having a bad team in Washington is not good for the league.

And then there is a more recent owner, Carolina billionaire David Tepper, who made a deal to build a facility in Rock Hill, S.C, only to have the deal collapse. And he hired Matt Ruhle in 2020 and signed him to a seven-year deal and then fired him this year before he even finished his third year. Signing him to a seven-year deal made no sense in the first place.

But the best example will be on display Sunday when the Colts face the Raiders. Both teams have sons of owners, Mark Davis of the Raiders and Jim Irsay of the Colts, who have their franchises going in the wrong direction.

Irsay had a good run when he had Bill Polian as general manager and Peyton Manning as his quarterback and Tony Dungy as his coach. But it has fallen apart since then. Dungy decided to retire after the 2009 season and Irsay fired Polian after Manning missed a season with a neck injury and the Colts went 2-14 in 2011. Polian had seemed to lose his drafting touch in the later years.

The team got the first draft pick and took Oliver Luck and Irsay sent Manning packing and he went to Denver and went to two Super Bowls. Luck was a good player but never made the Super Bowl and was plagued by injuries and retired after the 2018 year. He was with the team seven years and sat out a year with an injury.

Since then the Colts have had a revolving door with stopgap veteran quarterbacks, including Philip Rivers, Carson Wentz and Matt Ryan the last three years. Irsay got tired of Ryan’s inconsistent play and ordered coach Frank Reich to play Sam Ehlinger. After two losses, he fired Reich. And then he hired former coach Jeff Saturday to finish out the year.

No matter that Saturday’s coaching career was three years of high school ball. The move has made the Colts and Irsay a laughingstock and who knows where the team will go from here. Look for the losing to continue.

Meanwhile, Davis get a new stadium in Las Vegas, but the honeymoon appears to be over. Davis decided to hired Jon Grudenin 2018 and gave him a 10 years contract.He was fired in 2021 after inappropriate emails to former Washington executive Bruce Allen surfaced. David promoted Rich Bisaccia to the head job and he went 7-6 the rest of last season.

But instead of giving him a shot, Davis hired Josh McDaniels from the Patriots even though he flopped as a head coach in Denver and once accepted the head job in Indianapolis and then reneged and forced the Colts to scramble for a replacement after the Super Bowl.

The results have been what you would expect. Under McDaniels, the Raiders have blown not one, not two but three 17-point leads and are 2-6 while the Colts are 3-5-1.

One of the teams will win Sunday’s game unless there is a tie, but the future is bleak for both teams.

As long as Irsay and Davis own these teams, there appears to be no light at the end of the tunnel.

And the NFL will be a loser because it will have to deal with two more non competitive teams.

As it is, seven AFC teams and eight NFC teams have losing records.

The NFL is showing ownership counts and they don’t have enough good owners who know how to run a franchise.

Previewing NFL Week 10

The feature game this weekend will be the Fox early Sunday game with the 6-2 Buffalo Bills hosting the 7-1 Minnesota Vikings.

Fox has only two other early games – Detroit at Chicago and New Orleans at Pittsburgh – so most of the country will get this game. It is only game this weekend in which both teams have winning records. In the last four weeks, the NFL has had just five games in which both teams have had winning records. 

It is a critical game for the Bills, who lost to the Jets last week also don’t know if quarterback Josh Allen can play after he suffered an elbow sprain at the end of last week’s game. He is listed as day to day. If he can’t go, veteran Case Keenum, who started and won two games as a backup in Cleveland last year will get the nod.

The Bills only have a game lead in the loss column on the 6-3 Jets, who have a bye, and the 6-3 Dolphins, who play Cleveland, so they can’t afford a second straight loss.

Since the other three teams in the division — Detroit, Green Bay and Chicago – have six losses, the Vikings are only playing for the top seed. They are a game behind unbeaten Philadelphia, which figures to beat the Commanders in the Monday night game. The Vikings only loss was to the Eagles in the second game of the year so the Eagles have the tiebreaker edge.

The other two prime time games are Atlanta at Carolina on Thursday night and the Chargers at San Francisco on Sunday night. The 5-3 Chargers are a game behind Kansas City in the AFC West and the 4-4 49ers are a game behind Seattle in the NFC West.. The Seahawks are playing the Bucs in Munich Sunday in a game that starts at 

6:30 am Seattle time. Seattle at 6-3 is trying to maintain the NFC West lead. The Bucs and   are tied for the NFC South lead at 4-5. 

The Fox late game is 6-2 Dallas at Green Bay. These two teams have played some famous games including the Ice Bowl but with the Packers at 3-6, it doesn’t figure to be much of a matchup. The other late game is 3-6 Arizona at the 3-5 Rams. Both teams are desperate to stay alive in the playoff race.

The Chiefs, leading the AFC West and the Giants, tied for second with Dallas in the NFC East, are both 6-2 and have favorable matchups with Chiefs hosting the Jaguars and the Giants hosting Houston.

In the other two early CBS games, Cleveland is at Miami and Denver is at Tennessee. Indianapolis, with new interim head coach Jeff Saturday making his debut, is at Las Vegas in the only CBS late game..  The Colts are 3-5-1 and the Raiders are 2-6.

Miami, at 6-3, needs a victory over 3-5 Cleveland to stay in midst of AFC East race.Tennessee leads the AFC South at 5-3 while Denver is 3-5.

NFL Week 9 in review

The Kansas City Chiefs barely escaped, and the Buffalo Bills didn’t.

While the Chiefs forced overtime with the help of a Patrick Mahomes 20 yard scramble on 3rd and 17 and then won it overtime, the Bills lost to the Jets.

The result is the two teams are tied at -6-2 although Bills currently have the head to head tiebreaker. Still Josh Allen is 2-7 in his last nine one score games and that is a red flag. So is the fact Allen suffered a ligament injury in his elbow late in the loss and it is uncertain how it will affect him. 

The Bills also only have a one game lead on the 6-3 Jets and Miami they are in danger of becoming a wild card team if the stub their toe again.  

The way it stands now, the Jets and Dolphins would make the playoffs as wild card teams with the Chargers, who beat edged the Falcons to get to 5-3. There are seven playoff spots and nine AFC teams with between two and four losses. The Chargers remained a game behind the Chiefs in the NFC West.

They are followed by the Pats and Bengals, who are both 5-4. The Pats beat the Colts in an ugly game while the Bengals routed Carolina.

Colts owner Jimmy Irsay then fired coach Frank Reich and hired former Colt Jeff Saturday as interim coach. The hiring was bizarre and raises more questions about the way the team goes from here. Irsay insisted he is not tanking the season, but they will continue to play second year quarterback Sam Ehlinger so they are likely to keep losing. That means they may get a high enough pick to draft a quarterback to start over..Irsay isn’t ruling out keeping Saturday next year.

Despite its loss to the Chiefs, Tennessee is leading the AFC South with a 5-3 mark. The Colts are actually second at 3-5-1 but they are in such disarray that the Titans should coast to the division title. The other two teams in the division– Jacksonville and Houston — both have six losses.

Baltimore beat New Orleans to stay in first place in the AFC North at 6-3, a game ahead of 5-4 Cincinnati, which routed Carolina.

In the NFC, Philadelphia remained the only unbeaten team in the league at 8-0 by beating Houston. Minnesota is a game behind in the race for the top seed at 7-1 after beating the Commanders although the Vikings only loss was to the Eagles, so Eagles have the tiebreker.The Vikings have a five game lead on the Packers in the division so they are only playing for top seed. Green Bay contnued its collapse, losing to Detroit to fall to 3-6. Detroit is 2-6

Dallas and Giants had byes and remained in place for top two wild card spots at 6-2.

Tom Brady captured a bit of that old magic by leading a game winning drive in last 40 seconds to beat the Rams. The Bucs are now 4-5, which doesn’t sound impressive but ties them for the lead in the NFC South with Atlanta..

The Rams fell to 3-5 and are in third place in the NFC West behind 6-3 Seattle, which beat disappointing Arizona. and San Francisco, which had a bye, is a game behind the Seahawks in the loss column at 4-4. Arizona is in last place at 3-6 and will be featured in Hard Knocks In Season. The producers didn’t expect them to be 3-6.