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Week 15 Observations
That was the best Sunday I’ve had in maybe a decade. It didn’t start out that way, more on that in a bit, but a picture’s worth 1000 words:
Those are the overall NFFC Primetime standings, the grand prize for which is $250K. A couple caveats: (1) It’s a three-week playoff with your cumulative score added to your season average to form a total, and this is just season average plus one week; and (2) The team (not pictured) in 20th place still has two players going Monday night and will likely be ahead of me tomorrow morning. Still, usually you’re drawing dead after the first week (most teams are), but I’m situated about as well as I could be with some difficult lineup decisions pending for Week 16.
As I mentioned it didn’t start well — Christian Kirk and Travis Etienne did almost nothing in the first half, and Kirk dropped a slant that had he held onto might have been a 60-yard catch and run to the house, giving me huge points for both him and Trevor Lawrence. I also agonized over Rhamondre Stevenson (ankle) vs Christian Watson, went with Stevenson, and when I saw Kevin Harris on the field for the first series, immediately regretted it. I don’t know yet what Watson will do, but the O/U is surely less than Stevenson’s 24.8 points.
I also went 3-1 ATS in the Circa Millions, with the Packers -7 pending tonight, should win my Vegas League playoff matchup and had a decent day in the Steak League. And the Giants won, putting themselves in good position for a playoff spot and nearly cementing my alternative +230 over eight wins future too.
Hopefully, I don’t wake up Sunday morning in a few minutes to discover I dreamt it.
The Jaguars have become my second team this year by virtue of having Lawrence, Kirk and Etienne in so many places. I watch more of their games than any other team besides the Giants. Lawrence has turned a corner, it seems. He’s not as natural as Josh Allen or Patrick Mahomes yet — there’s still a little stiffness to his game, but his decision-making and accuracy are much improved, and he can move too when he needs to.
Etienne (19-103-0, 3-2-24-0) looks smooth and explosive, but they don’t trust him in pass pro apparently because James Hasty is often in on third downs, and they also look for Jamal Agnew out of the backfield occasionally. It’s the small impediment keeping him from being a true RB1. But that could change any game.
Zay Jones (8-6-10-9-3) has had a couple monster games this year, while Kirk (10-6-92-0) is the steady-Eddie. I’m aghast to see Evan Engram (10-8-62-0) getting so much work of late, but he’s made some plays too.
Safety Rayshawn Jenkins (18 tackles two picks, game-winning TD) had a pretty good IDP day — in our scoring system that’s 34 points, which has to be a record.
I hate watching the Cowboys. Their offense is boring, and they chew up a lot of clock, which is annoying when you have players going against them. Their defense isn’t as good as it was early in the year, either.
Justin Fields is such an exciting player, but I don’t think his style makes him long for the league. Josh Allen is bigger and slower, doesn’t take the same kind of hits, and the quick little guys like Kyler Murray (who got hurt on a non-contact injury) rarely get squared up.
The Falcons, Saints and Panthers are still alive in the NFC South.
I didn’t watch much of the game, but it didn’t seem like Desmond Ridder was ready.
I didn’t watch much of Jets-Lions, either, but QB1 apparently threw a horrendous pick. He did have 317 yards, so he must have done something right. I don’t like that my Jaguars players draw the Jets next week — they’re tough defensively and happy to make things ugly.
My Steak League team didn’t appreciate zero targets for Pat Freiermuth.
The one blemish on my day was laying 14 with the Chiefs in Houston. The Texans have now played two top teams to the wire on consecutive weeks. I’ll probably fade them again next week, though.
Jerick McKinnon (10-52-1, 8-8-70-1) has quietly been a force the last couple weeks. After Travis Kelce (10-10-105-0) he’s now the team’s most startable skill player.
The Broncos with Brett Rypien against the Cardinals with Colt McCoy was a bum fight.
The Titans are scrappy, but they just don’t have enough juice. The Chargers aren’t going anywhere though. It was nice to see Austin Ekeler (12-58-1, 3-2-12-0) have a modest day, but of course he still got the late touchdown.
I didn’t see much of Bucs-Bengals, but everytime they cut to it, Tom Brady was turning the ball over. I’m hoping the strong showing from the Tampa defense was real because I have them queued up to face the Cardinals this week in the Primetime.
The Giants were lucky not to draw a flag on the game-sealing pass breakup in the end zone, but I’ll take it. God knows there have been and will be plenty of bad beats that go against me too.
Daniel Jones played well, but he has some of the worst receivers in NFL history. Run of the mill Darius Slayton is easily his best, and after that it’s between rookie TE Daniel Bellinger (who’s been hurt half the year), Isaiah Hodgins and Richie James.
Barkley (18-87-1, 8-5-33-0) looked good after being limited last week with a neck injury. They also tried to get him the ball in space via the pass, but there was rarely much of it.
Kayvon (Lawrence Taylor) Thibodeaux’s strip-sack-fumble-recovery-TD was a thing of beauty. Mike Tirico called it a “grand slam” accounting for each of the four elements. The Giants still need to get some pieces back in the secondary, but this defense has upside once it’s healthy.
Brian Robinson (12-89-0, 1-1-18-0) should have seen more work — the Giants just couldn’t bring him down.
I watched most of the Pats-Raiders because I wanted to see my Stevenson over Watson decision play out. Stevenson (19-172-1, 3-2- -4-0) looked great on the gimpy ankle, though Mac Jones was even more inept than usual in getting him the ball through the air. I think the Pats should re-audition Bailey Zappe — I’m convinced Jones isn’t it.
The Pats defense clamped down on Josh Jacobs (22-93-0, 3-2-17-0) in the second half and never let Davante Adams (9-4-28-0) get going.
The Raiders converted a 4th-and-10 to Mack Hollins from their own end to keep the game alive and later connected on a 30-yard TD to Keelan Cole that might have been out of bounds. I thought sticking with the on-field TD call was defensible because the angles that showed Cole’s second foot on the line weren’t conclusive.
Of course, the pièce de résistance of the weekend (maybe the year, century?) was the final play from scrimmage wherein the Patriots handed it off to Stevenson who rumbled for 23 yards into Raiders territory and, before being tackled, lateraled to a nearby Jakobi Meyers. Meyers really got into the spirit of the play, it turns out, because he threw a long overhand backward pass across the field to keep it going, only it was intercepted by Chandler Jones who took it the other way for the game-winning touchdown! It’s easy to imagine what happened. Stevenson made what he thought was a low-risk lateral to keep the play alive, and Meyers got into the desperation-lateral spirit where anything goes, forgetting the game was tied. Not only does something like this never happen, I would never imagine it would be on Bill Belichick’s watch. These aren’t the Patriots of the last two decades.
Forgot to mention in the intro— I was happy Argentina beat France too. No one in Europe likes France, and Heather lived in Argentina for six years, so this was big for her. As I said, it was a good Sunday.