AROUND THE NFL

If the Season Ended Today in the NFC, the Cardinals would be closer to the playoffs than the Eagles:

 

                                               Overall        Div           Conf

1          San Francisco   West     6-0                1          3-0

2          New Orleans     South    6-1                1          4-1

3          Green Bay        North    6-1               1           4-1

4          Dallas                East      4-3                1          3-2

5          Seattle               WC       5-2                2          2-1      

6          Minnesota         WC       5-2                2          4-2

7          Carolina                          4-2                2          2-2      

8          LA Rams                        4-3                3          3-3      

9          Chicago                          3-3                3          2-2      

10        Arizona                           3-3                4          2-2             

11        Philadelphia                    3-4                2          2-4

 

We think what FOX showed Sunday during Saints-Bears  is more than a “camera angle” but Dan Hanzus is right, it was unprecedented:

 

@DanHanzus

This was the greatest camera angle in the history of the NFL.

 

Twenty-two seconds of gold here .

 

– – –

Even as the NBA struggles with how to handle those who tell inconvenient truths about China, the NFL is fining players who comment negatively on NFL officiating.  Peter King:

 

I think it’s easy to fine players, as the NFL did to the Rams’ Clay Matthews and Detroit’s Tracy Walker, for criticizing officiating. Walker called the officiating “awful.” The offensive Matthews tweet:

 

@ClayMatthews52

The storyline for the 2019 season continues to be the refs inability to make the accurate and correct calls week in and week out. Al Riveron continues to blindly side with his refs and the current status quo. Something must change! Zero accountability. …#throughthewire

 

Regarding Matthews: It is the storyline; more people are writing and talking about officiating than the league celebrating pro football’s 100th season. Regarding Walker: Several calls were awful. Each got fined $12,500 for telling the truth. It’s a travesty.

 

NFC NORTH

 

CHICAGO

QB MITCHELL TRUBISKY would have been a shaky pick at #3 overall.  The Bears traded up for him to #2. 

 

Peter King checks in on his return Sunday at home:

 

The Chicago offense is a four-alarm fire. Somehow the Bears scored 25 points in the 11-point loss to New Orleans at home. What really is more telling about their performance is this, on both sides of the ball: New Orleans was playing without Drew Brees and Alvin Kamara, and the once-mighty Bears defense gave up 424 yards and 36 points; on offense, the Bears totaled 90 net yards in their first 10 drives. The offense is so abysmal that coach Matt Nagy has to strongly consider doing something he absolutely, positively doesn’t want to do: bench Mitchell Trubisky for Chase Daniel. That’s how bad Trubisky looks in year three. I’d consider benching him for a quarterback who inspired little confidence in his game-plus of action relieving the injured Trubisky. The alternative is playing Trubisky next Sunday at Soldier Field, knowing that the moment he jogs out of the tunnel, all the positive energy Nagy will pump into Trubisky in practice all week will disappear in an avalanche of boos. This isn’t about making any long-term judgment in Trubisky; there will be time for that. This is about putting the best quarterback on the field to win one game. Right now, that’s not Trubisky.

 

 

DETROIT

A milestone for QB MATTHEW STAFFORD.  Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com:

 

Matthew Stafford became the fastest player to eclipse 40,000 passing yards in NFL history on Sunday with a 36-yard completion to Danny Amendola in the first quarter against the Minnesota Vikings.

 

Stafford needed 87 yards entering the day to reach the mark, which he did in game No. 147 of his career. That’s four better than the former record-holder, Matt Ryan, who passed the 40,000-yard mark in 151 games.

 

Stafford, after that reception, had 40,010 career passing yards.

 

“When you step back and look at stuff like that, I think it’s pretty amazing,” Lions coach Matt Patricia said last week. “I think it goes to his resiliency and his drive and his competitiveness that he shows every single day.

 

“We were just having a conversation and comparing some notes on Minnesota; it just takes me back a minute every single time that he and I have those conversations of just how hard this guy works, how competitive he is, how much he wants to win, how much he just continually leads this team. That’s why when you hear something like that or a stat like that, you’re like, ‘It’s super impressive and it’s super amazing,’ but I also kind of step back and I look at it and I go, ‘Yeah, that’s about right,’ because that’s just who this guy is.”

 

He’s the only quarterback to accomplish the feat in under 150 games and only the sixth to do it in under 160 games, joining Ryan, Drew Brees, Dan Marino, Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers.

 

Stafford, who also holds multiple other fastest-to markers (15,000 yards; 20,000; 25,000; 30,000), is No. 21 on the NFL’s all-time passing list with Johnny Unitas next at No. 20 with 40,239 yards and Joe Montana at No. 19 with 40,551.

 

Stafford, 31, shrugged off the milestone last week, which is basically how he’s handled almost every accolade he’s hit in his career.

 

“I hope 40,000 isn’t the last number I hit,” Stafford said earlier this week. “I’d like to keep playing and play well. The biggest thing for me is I just want to get the bad taste out of my mouth of losing two in a row. I just want to win a game.

 

“If I throw for 86 and we win, I’ll be happy as hell.”

 

 

MINNESOTA

Who is this fellow wearing the jersey with COUSINS on the back the last three weeks?  Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

Three weeks ago, the biggest question regarding Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins related to how the team would escape a fully-guaranteed contract that runs through the 2020 season. Today, the biggest question is whether Cousins can keep the best stretch of his career going.

 

On Sunday, Cousins became the first quarterback in league history to throw for 300 or more yards and to generate a passer rating of at least 130 in three straight games. No other quarterback ever has accomplished that. Not Peyton Manning, not Tom Brady, not Brett Favre, not John Elway, not Drew Brees, not Kyle Boller. (Just making sure you’re paying attention.)

 

Cousins also has thrown for four touchdown passes in consecutive games. He has 976 passing yards and 10 touchdown passes in the three outing since the Bears put the clamps on the Minnesota offense and Cousins looked as bad as he ever has. The criticism became intense, and Cousins responded.

 

He admitted after the Week Five win over the Giants that he plays better when “ticked off,” when he has an edge. The challenge now becomes keeping that edge even as the accolades pile up.

 

A microcosm of the mindset emerged late in Sunday’s win over the Lions. With Detroit down 35-24 and driving, having plenty of time to score, to get the ball back, and to score again, Cousins was pacing the sidelines, focused and determined and aware that a stellar effort that should have sealed the victory may still require him to tap that reservoir of ticked-offedness and deliver a big throw in a big spot.

 

That’s been his biggest weakness, throughout his career. Big games, big spots, big moments, Cousins fails to deliver.

 

On Sunday, with the Vikings facing second and six and everyone expecting the Vikings to run the ball, the Vikings trusted Cousins to fake the handoff and throw not a short, safe pass for another first down but to launch a lower-percentage deep ball that found receiver Stefon Diggs for the dagger.

 

That’s not a play Kurt Cousins makes. On Sunday, it was definitely a play that Kirk Cousins made.

 

Now, in three days, he gets a chance to exorcise his prime-time demons against the team whose president gave him that “Kurt” moniker. And if Cousins can take his game under the lights and dismantle Washington the way he should, he’ll take another step toward changing a narrative that had been tattooed on his neck.

 

NFC EAST

 

DALLAS

Back in August, the DB started to wonder if DAK PRESCOTT wasn’t at least the equal of highly-paid Eagles QB CARSON WENTZ.  Ed Werder is having similar thoughts:

 

Ed Werder

@WerderEdESPN

Carson Wentz was selected second in the 2016 draft. Dak Prescott went two days and 133 picks later. I believe most #NFL GMs would choose Wentz over Prescott – but I’m starting to think they would all be wrong. Prescott has outperformed Wentz by every measure so far.

 

 

WASHINGTON

If you bet on the Redskins Sunday and took the spread at 9.5 points, you won without scoring a point.  A Tweet from Doug Kizarian:

 

@DougESPN

NFL gambling history…

 

Redskins became 2nd team in past 25 seasons to cover a point spread without scoring

 

* 2007: Miami lost 3-0 to Pitt as 16-point underdogs

 

NFC WEST

 

LOS ANGELES RAMS

Peter King likes a team that gives him juicy trades to write or talk about:

 

It should be obvious now, as the Los Angeles Rams feel the slings and arrows from around the league for gorging on the present at the expense of the future, what the identity of this franchise is. They completed three trades in an afternoon last week, for goodness sake, two involving Pro Bowl players. It’s not about the PSLs or filling the new stadium next year or knee-jerking a response to a three-game losing streak.

 

It’s about the personality of the people who lead the team. And in a larger sense it’s about a sea change in how the new wave of GMs and team architects are approaching the NFL. Last Tuesday, when GM Les Snead had completed two deals from his California office—acquiring offensive lineman Austin Corbett from Cleveland and trading cornerback Marcus Peters to Baltimore—he was working on a third. Snead and GM Dave Caldwell of Jacksonville were close to doing a mega-trade for dissatisfied Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey.

 

In a Ritz Carlton ballroom in Fort Lauderdale, during the NFL’s fall meeting, Rams owner Stan Kroenke and Rams Chief Operating Officer Kevin Demoff awaited word on the deals. Around 4:30 p.m. ET, Snead and football VP Tony Pastoors both pinged Demoff with details of the first two trades. Demoff showed Kroenke the news. Not a bad afternoon’s work for Snead and his staff.

 

Not enough.

 

Kroenke didn’t pump a fist; it’s not his way. Instead, he asked Demoff about the unhappy Jaguar. He wondered, Is the Ramsey deal still in play? It was, and within an hour, that was done too—Ramsey for the Rams’ first-round pick in 2020 and first and fourth-round picks in 2021, even though L.A. is buying Ramsey for only the remaining 1.5 seasons of his rookie contract. The Rams are optimistic about signing him long-term, but have no guarantee of employing Ramsey beyond the expiration of his contract in 14 months.

 

Three trades in five hours. Now it was Saturday, in the bar of the team’s Buckhead hotel, the day before Rams-Falcons, and Demoff and Snead dissected what the team had done, and what it meant. “This is who we are,” Demoff said. “This is what we do. This is our belief as an organization. Stan isn’t fearful, Les isn’t fearful, and [coach] Sean [McVay] isn’t fearful. This league is so fast-moving. It hasn’t been this way forever for us, but now, we’re going to value the great player over the potential of a draft choice.”

 

And some more on philosophy, with a guest appearance by Bill Polian:

 

“I’ve been thinking about it,” said Hall of Fame GM Bill Polian, “and I want to withhold final judgment, but there are a few factors. Miami’s getting rid of players. The Rams are aggressive. And I think for players with leverage, they see this as being the NBA. I’ll go where I want to go. Ramsey, Antonio Brown—trade me, and the hell with the consequences. But there’s also a little bit of the old [Dodgers GM] Branch Rickey in some of the newer GMs. Rickey said, ‘The only title you can win is the title you can win this year.’ “

 

Polian then made a fascinating point: He said he didn’t want to be a “curbstone psychologist.” But he said, “I think this generation of GMs might be a little more transactional. It used to be not many GMs thought about taking risks. They were from a generation where their parents might have grown up in the Depression, or remembered the Depression. Life was hard enough without taking risks. Today, the idea that you can make these decisions and change your team quickly is inculcated in this generation. I’m not sure of that, but it seems to be true.”

 

I love that theory. I think it is dead-on. Why wait to fix a problem when you might get fired after two years? When I told Demoff and Snead, they were fascinated. “Bill makes a great point about our league now, and your trade data backs up the fact it’s not just us. Bill Belichick is great at it too. When they have a hole, he doesn’t wait. He attacks. He trades. He takes chances too.”

 

Demoff pounced next: “The NBA is coming to the NFL. This [the Ramsey trade] is a similar case to those NBA deals.

 

“Prior team-building formulas, where you basically had guys for their careers, is pretty much over,” he said. “Think of the guys who’ve moved in the past year. Khalil Mack. Marcus Peters. Jalen Ramsey. Jarvis Landry. Laremy Tunsil—”

 

“Odell!” Snead interjected.

 

“Beckham too—forgot him,” Demoff said. “But I think there’s one other important factor here. Today, it’s easier to find ways to measure performance. There’s a rise of analytics, there’s better technology, better and more accurate data. What we’ve found is you can find undervalued players easier than before. So I think football people are getting better at synthesizing data to find players.”

 

I had one more question: “All indications are that Ramsey pulled a power play to force his way out of Jacksonville. They weren’t going to trade him until he basically just stopped playing. Do you have any fear that’ll happen here?”

 

“No,” Snead said. “I can honestly say I do not fear that. He’s coming to L.A., which is where players love to play. He’s got Sean, who is great at creating a culture players thrive in.”

 

The Rams are a destination place now. But in trading two first-rounders for Ramsey, they’ve basically gone all-in on paying him for the long term. And already they are paying four players top-of-market deals: quarterback Jared Goff, running back Todd Gurley, wideout Brandin Cooks and defensive tackle Aaron Donald. Peters was jettisoned to Baltimore in part because L.A. knew it didn’t want to pay him in the $15-million-a-year range long-term after this season; Baltimore may not either, but they needed a playmaking cornerback for this season. And though Ramsey could make more than Peters, that’s coming in 2021, not 2020. Getting Ramsey now gives the Rams two seasons—and, as importantly, two postseasons—to maximize their window. One thing worries me, even with the cap rising $10/12 million a year. When players get quite good, will the Rams, as the Ravens have done regularly, be willing to let them go to get the compensatory third/fourth-round pick? I present the case of wide receiver Cooper Kupp. He has become Jared Goff’s favorite target. (Targets in 2019: Kupp 78, Robert Woods 58, Brandin Cooks 44.) At $1.05 million and $1.2 million through the end of 2020, Kupp is incredible value. You can’t pay ‘em all, and Kupp could be a casualty of Ramsey’s arrival—if the Rams pay to keep him. That’s an issue for 2021, but the Rams must have angst about it now.

 

“The Rams way is just not sustainable,” one veteran front-office man (not a GM) told me Friday. “You cannot pay all those guys in a cap era.” Maybe. But I’d have two rejoinders, neither of which is, It’s going to be a lot of fun to watch. One: The Rams have found some pretty good low-cost players in the process. Two: It probably depends on the development of Jared Goff more than anything else, because no one wins everything without very good play out of the quarterback.

 

The Ramsey deal went over big in the locker room, as you’d figure it would. Don’t discount the importance of that. “Players loved it,” Goff said. “Going out and seeing him at practice the other day—wow. That’s something players really like.”

 

“When your team is built for the now,” safety Eric Weddle told me in the locker room Sunday, “and you have a chance in the future to have two of the best players in this league to build around, Jalen and Aaron Donald, you can get role players to build around them. In all honesty, a draft pick around 25 or 30 you’re probably going to trade anyway. When you have a chance to get one of the best players in the league for two ones, I mean, why not do it?”

 

The only reason is Ramsey might not be around forever. But the Rams are comfortable with what I call The Newbie Risk/Reward Factor. Which means: When in doubt, go get the stud, and worry about everything else later.

– – –

King also has this to add in naming P JOHNNY HEKKER one of his Special Teams Players of the Week:

 

(First: How, how, how, how when you’re playing the Rams and special-teams

coordinator John Fassel are you totally unprepared for a fake punt in plus-territory—the Atlanta 46-yard line? That’s on Dan Quinn and his staff. They may say they were prepared, but it sure looked like they were not.) Late second quarter, fourth-and-three, Hekker took the snap and transitioned to a quarterback immediately. He threw to the right flat to safety Nick Scott, and Scott ran up the right sideline for 23 yards. That led to a late first-half field goal and a 13-3 halftime lead for the Rams. I’d love to know how many fakes Fassel has called over the years. I’d bet he’s been successful on 70 percent.

 

We don’t know if they were all on fake punts (we found at least one on a fake FG), but Hekker has thrown 20 passes in his career, completed 12 and it looks like 11 were good for first downs. 

 

 

SEATTLE

After 7 games, the Seahawks are done with the four teams of the AFC North, having gone 3-1.

 

The 49ers are 3-0 against the AFC North, with a visit to Baltimore still to come.

 

The Rams still have 3 games left with the AFC North, having won at Cleveland.  So maybe, advantage Rams.

– – –

Fortune Favors The Bold.  And Pete Carroll was timid on Sunday.  Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

In the last few seasons, NFL coaches have become increasingly aggressive about going for it on fourth down, as more teams weigh the analytics that say going for it is often a better decision than punting or kicking a field goal. But Seahawks coach Pete Carroll won’t join in that trend.

 

Carroll twice kicked in Sunday’s loss to the Ravens in situations when the analytics would say to go for it. He said today on 710 ESPN that he stands by both of those decisions.

 

“We’re kicking it. That’s what we do. That’s what our mentality’s going to be and there’s no reason to change,” Carroll said, via Adam Jude of the Seattle Times.

 

The first of Carroll’s questionable fourth-down decisions came on fourth-and-3 at the Ravens’ 35-yard line with seven minutes remaining in the third quarter. Seahawks kicker Jason Myers, who has struggled all year, missed a 53-yard field goal in the poor weather. It might seem, given Myers’ struggles and the rain, that it would have been a good time to go for it. But Carroll said going for it on fourth-and-3 was not an option. If Carroll hadn’t felt Myers had a shot at making the field goal, he would have punted instead.

 

The second, and even more questionable, decision came on fourth-and-4 at the Seahawks’ 44-yard line with 12:50 to play in the fourth quarter. Given that the Seahawks were trailing 20-13 at the time, they were running out of time to come back and win the game, and it would seem that trusting Russell Wilson to make a play that could gain at least four yards would be the wiser decision. But Carroll punted instead.

 

The Ravens’ ensuing drive took most of the remaining time off the clock and ended with a field goal that pretty much sealed the Seahawks’ loss. Carroll is adamant that he won’t change his ways about kicking on fourth down, but he ought to consider it. Those two decisions factored into his team losing a game that was close into the fourth quarter.

 

AFC WEST

 

DENVER

Peter King quotes Troy Aikman on QB JOE FLACCO:

 

“This is where Joe Flacco, he’s got to be the leader. Heck, he’s been around—Super Bowl winner, he’s in his 12th year. You know, I don’t want to be too hard on Joe, but let’s get a little life out here … Still, very lackadaisical. The whole operation.”

 

We don’t think the Ravens would take Flacco back.

 

Peter King looks at the track record of one of the greatest QBs of all-time in picking his ancestors:

 

Denver is 14-25 over the past 2.5 seasons. That’s the worst three-year stretch for the franchise in nearly a half-century, since going 14-26-2 (in a 14-game schedule) from 1970-72. The Broncos can equal it (probably will, in fact) with a loss at Indianapolis in Week 8.

 

The bell may begin to toll for John Elway soon. The Broncos are 2-5, and their remaining road schedule alone would seem to make it highly likely they will finish under .500 for the third straight year.

 

Elway was hired by the late owner, Pat Bowlen, to restore the greatness of the Broncos last seen under Mike Shanahan. His first major move, convincing Peyton Manning to sign with the team in 2012, worked well: Denver won the AFC West in Manning’s four seasons and won the Super Bowl in his last season. But his other significant quarterback moves? Not so good.

 

• 2012: Brock Osweiler (second round, 57th overall). Retired last week. At least Elway didn’t give him a second contract.

 

• 2015: Trevor Siemian (seventh round, 250th overall). Best value of the bunch: 13-11 in two post-Manning years.

 

• 2016: Paxton Lynch (first round, 26th overall). Total bust.

 

• 2018: Case Keenum (UFA). Paid $25 million for a year, and Keenum was the NFL’s 29th-rated QB.

 

• 2019: Joe Flacco (acquired for a fourth-round pick, 113th overall). Looks old, unmotivated and through.

 

• 2019: Drew Lock (second round, 42nd overall). Incomplete. On IR. Had a shaky training camp.

 

Man, other than signing Manning, that is one ugly quarterback résumé. Credit where it’s due: Wrangling Manning to Denver was one of the best free-agent wins of the decade. But the QB misses and the recent draft record is at best spotty; first-rounders Garett Bolles (2017) and Noah Fant (2019) both look terrible.

 

If I’m Elway, I’m putting Emmanuel Sanders and Chris Harris Jr., on the block, hoping to get two picks in the first five rounds for them. Then I decide whether the best plan is to go all-in on Lock as the quarterback of the future. If so, you use the 2020 draft to build around him, particularly on the offensive line. If not, you use the top-10 pick Denver will have and supplement with the extra picks (Denver has Pittsburgh’s three from the Devin Bush trade-down last April) and move up to get in prime passer position. Another quarterback after acquiring Keenum, Flacco and Lock in the last 20 months seems almost malpractice. But if Elway and his staff don’t have the confidence in Lock, they’ve got to be aggressive to get one of the good guys in the ’20 draft.

 

It’s a tangled web. Elway might not have many more drafts to run to get the quarterback right.

 

 

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

A Tweet from Andrew Siciliano:

 

@AndrewSiciliano

Chargers are the only @NFL  team to have already lost more games this season (5) than it did in all of last season (4).

 

On the plus side, the 49ers won 4 games last year – and they have won 6. 

 

The Cardinals have matched their 3 wins from last year, plus they have a tie.

– – –

Peter King’s thoughts on the end of the game:

 

Why exactly did the Chargers bring back Gordon? He continued his disappointing return to play in Nashville on Sunday. He had a wholly unimpactful 16 carries for 32 yards. And with the Chargers down 23-20 with 19 seconds left and the ball at the Tennessee two-foot line, Gordon slammed into the right side of the line and didn’t score. Not only didn’t he score, but a review of the play found he fumbled, and the Titans recovered, ending the game. I watched the replay and never saw a clear fumble, but that was the ruling—Gordon fumbling to cost the slumping Chargers the game.

 

We were following that finish with a MELVIN GORDON Fantasy owner who was not happy.

– – –

Peter King points out the QB PHILIP RIVERS jumped from 8th to 6th on the all-time yards passing list Sunday ahead of his compadres in the 2001 draft – the now-injured BEN ROETHLISBERGER and the now-benched ELI MANNING.  And he did so on the same pass play.  Rivers now has 56,870 pass yards in his career.

 

AFC NORTH

 

BALTIMORE

CB MARCUS PETERS has been one of Peter King’s Players of the Week in every single game he has ever played for Baltimore.  Here’s why:

 

Great play by Peters in his first game as a Raven, and in the town (Seattle) where he went to college. With five minutes left in the first half and the Ravens trailing 10-6, Peters baited Wilson into a mistake. Playing on the offense’s right side at the wide corner, Peters took off and began sprinting downfield—until he saw Wilson throwing to the receiver, Jaron Brown, in the space he vacated. So Peters pivoted, turned around, and picked the ball off right in front of Brown. He sprinted 67 yards for the touchdown, and the lead. Nice trade, Eric DeCosta.

 

 

CINCINNATI

Peter King joins the Bengals pile on while pointing out that Miami and Cincinnati cannot both go 0-16

 

To say Cincinnati is a dumpster fire would be insulting to dumpster fires. The bell tolls for thee, Andy Dalton. (Even though it’s hardly your fault.) The Cincinnati schedule over the next eight weeks: Rams in London, bye (bye’s a 3.5-point pick), Baltimore, at Oakland, Pittsburgh, New York Jets, at Cleveland, New England. Then the golden game, Dec. 22, in south Florida: Cincinnati (0-14) at Miami (0-14). Home on Christmas break in various parts of the United States, Justin Herbert, Tua Tagovailoa and Joe Burrow wonder: Who am I rooting for here? Men, I’ve got bad news for you: One of you is going to end up with a striped helmet next fall.

– – –

Cincinnati’s failure in the run game, on both sides of the ball, is almost incomprehensible.  Paul Dehner, Jr. in The Athletic:

 

This season, this offensive line, this system has been figurative kryptonite.

 

It’s hard not to look around the locker room after this one and feel overwhelmed by the frustration.

 

Bernard sat at his locker, towels still wrapped around his waist and shoulders after a shower and gazed into his locker. This disposition was common as players come to grips with this almost impossible reality.

 

It all stems back to an impossibly inept running game. And an impossibly inept rush defense.

 

It makes what’s transpired this year shockingly historical.

 

Mixon and Bernard rushed 14 times for 2 yards on Sunday. Two. Give credit to the Jaguars defense, I suppose. This was a group in Jacksonville that came into the game with the second-worst rush defense in the NFL in terms of yards allowed per carry. And, yeah, you already know who is the worst.

 

Diving into this differential is when I had to start double-checking my math and using phrases like, “Well, since World War II.”

 

We are talking pre-facemasks here. History lesson, facemasks entered the NFL in the late ’50s. The plastic helmet showed up in 1949.

 

The Bengals are now on pace to rush for just 850 total rushing yards this season.

 

The fewest rushing yards for any team since 1949 goes as follows:

 

• 2019 Cincinnati (pace): 850

 

• 1963 New York Jets (14 games): 978

 

• 1970 Chicago (14 games): 1,092

 

• 2000 San Diego: 1,062

 

• 2000 Cleveland: 1,085

 

• 1992 Indianapolis: 1,102

 

You are watching leather-helmet-era futility!

 

Even teams playing 14-game seasons leave the Bengals’ pathetic pace in the dust.

 

Mixon and Bernard have combined for 111 rushes for 303 yards this season. That’s 2.7 yards per rush.

 

Worth repeating for the 100th time, Mixon led the AFC in rushing last year with 1,168 yards and 4.9 yards per rush. Many of the same pieces surround him — even if the offensive-line personnel isn’t great, they are mostly the same guys who led the way last year.

 

“I’ve never been around a running back that wasn’t frustrated with the type of rushing performances we’ve had,” Zac Taylor said. “Again, there are areas he can improve on and there are areas we can improve on up front. But I’ve never met a back that wasn’t frustrated with the way our rushing attack is going, when you have 30-40 yards a game.”

 

If only the frustration ended there.

 

This rush defense, which gave up at least 215 yards on the ground for the third consecutive week, is also at a historical pace.

 

It is on pace to give up the third-most rushing yards in a season since 1950. And the top two are within shouting distance.

 

• 1978 Buffalo: 3,228

 

• 1980 New Orleans: 3,106

 

• 2019 Cincinnati (pace): 3,024

 

• 1978 Baltimore: 3,010

 

That means the Bengals will be on pace to have a rushing-yards differential of -2,174 yards.

 

Pause and let that sink in for a minute.

 

Wait.

 

Wait.

 

Breathe. We’re going deeper.

 

This means the Bengals’ pace for differential this season would be greater than any differential in any two seasons for any franchise in NFL history, you know, since the abolishment of the leather helmet.

 

So, if in 1978 the Browns had their worst year for rush defense and in 1999 had their worst year for rushing offense, the Bengals’ differential this year alone would be worse than the differential of those two Browns seasons. Now do that for everyone else in NFL history.

 

Numbers like these end games before they start. Leonard Fournette said, “You could tell they didn’t want to tackle.”

 

 

PITTSBURGH

The Lady Luck Casino was not fortunate for Steelers LB ANTHONY CHICKILLO:

 

On Monday morning, state police released new information about the arrest of Steelers linebacker Anthony Chickillo following an incident at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort.

 

Investigators said the incident happened at around 1:40 a.m. Sunday.

 

Chickillo, 26, allegedly got into a verbal argument with a 25-year-old woman, identified by a law enforcement source as his girlfriend, in the Lady Luck Casino.

 

Police said that argument continued in their hotel room at Nemacolin.

 

Police said Chickillo told them the argument became physical and the woman hit him in the head with her fist and he pushed her to the ground.

 

But the woman told police Chickillo grabbed her biceps and forced her against a wall and door of the hotel room, causing injuries, and that’s when she punched Chickillo in the head.

 

The woman said Chickillo then threw her to the ground and damaged her cellphone.

 

Police said there were visible injuries to the woman’s left and right biceps but no visible injuries to Chickillo.

 

Chickillo was charged with simple assault, harassment and criminal mischief.

 

He was arraigned and released on $10,000 unsecured bail.

 

The woman, identified by police as Alysha Newman, was cited for harassment.

 

AFC SOUTH

 

HOUSTON

The Texans make a trade for a first round pick unwanted by the current Raiders regime.

 

Jalen Ramsey and Marcus Peters were traded to new teams last week and another cornerback who began his career as a first-round pick has been traded this week.

 

Vic Tafur of TheAthletic.com was the first to report that the Raiders have traded Gareon Conley to the Texans. A 2020 third-round pick will come back to the Raiders.

 

That pick will likely be the one the Seahawks traded to Houston in the Jadeveon Clowney as the Texans’ own pick will go to the Browns as long as running back Duke Johnson plays 10 games this season. The pick would give the Raiders three-third round picks next year and six picks in the first three rounds.

 

Conley was limited to two games as a rookie because of injuries, but has been a starter for the last two years. He has 23 tackles and an interception this season and, like the entire Raiders defense, is coming off a rough day against the Packers.

 

Conley was set to be in Houston this Sunday anyway because the Raiders will be visiting the Texans.

 

Houston has been dealing with a series of injuries in their secondary and they’ll hope Conley can help settle things down. Assuming the pick dealt for Johnson is the third-rounder, they’ll have one pick in the first three rounds next April.

 

 

INDIANAPOLIS

We did not write off the Colts after the departure of QB ANDREW LUCK because we thought QB JACOBY BRISSETT would be an able game manager.  He’s been a little bit more than that.  Here are the NFL TD pass leaders – and Brissett has played one fewer game than the others:

 

Patrick Mahomes       15       

Matt Ryan                   15       

Russell Wilson 15      

Jacoby Brissett         14       

 

AFC EAST

 

BUFFALO

The Bills are 5-1 and heading into the easiest part of their schedule says Peter King:

 

Buffalo isn’t the most impressive 5-1 team we’ve ever seen, but consider its near future. The Bills’ next five foes are a combined 8-25. Still hard to imagine them overtaking New England, particularly with the tiebreaker edge in the Pats’ favor, but consider this intoxicating thought: The Bills, as current fifth seed, would travel to the Colts if the season ended today; tell me they couldn’t win that game. The Bills are a hard team to figure. The Dolphins led them Sunday, in Orchard Park, for almost 28 minutes, and ran up 381 yards of offense. The Bills got booed lustily as they left the field at halftime, down 14-9. And were it not for third-year corner Tre’Davious White, they very well could have lost this game. Miami started the second half with a 10-minute drive, and Ryan Fitzpatrick tried to end the drive with a short TD pass to Isaiah Ford. White picked it off at the Buffalo 2. Two drives later, White forced a fumble at the Miami 28, recovered by the Bills. Talk about big turnovers: Both led to Buffalo touchdowns, and a 14-9 deficit was turned into a 24-14 lead. Ballgame.

 

The schedule may actually be a tad harder than 8-25 would make you think.  It’s Eagles, Redskins, at Browns, at Dolphins, Broncos  – before Thanksgiving at Dallas in what could be a huge game.

 

 

THIS AND THAT

 

 

MVP WATCH

Peter King sees QB LAMAR JACKSON rising:

 

The MVP after seven weeks is … No idea. A vote today would be the most wide-open vote since 2003. Fifty media members vote for one player each, and in 2003 Peyton Manning and Steve McNair tied for the win with 16 votes, and four other players split the final 18 votes. Now, with the specter of Patrick Mahomes possibly playing only 12 full games, I’d put three players at the head of the class right now: Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers and Lamar Jackson. The Jackson candidacy could get quite intriguing. He’s on pace to rush for 1,317 yards, which is absolutely insane, with a passer rating of 94.1. Imagine rushing for more yards than Alvin Kamara, with a better passer rating than Carson Wentz. Jackson’s on track to do both of those things. Plenty of season left, thankfully for the voters.