A Merry NFC North Christmas
When you go 21-0 down to Green Bay, you can expect an uphill climb which is what the Minnesota Vikings faced in this NFC North clash. Despite an uninterrupted 16 points, the Vikings never really looked like they would topple the now 2-0 Packers, especially with Kirk Cousins throwing two costly interceptions to what is looking like a much-improved defense under new head coach Matt LaFleur.
Aaron Rodgers continues to drive an offense that looks like it will do to the Broncos what the Bears offense were barely able to on Sunday. The improvement in the Packers is starting to make last season look like a blip. With the Bears facing a tough schedule, relying on their defense to keep the score low, it looks as if Green Bay might be taking this division by the time the Vikings come to Green Bay on Christmas Eve.
Kings of New York
Two away-games in two weeks, same city, same stadium, same result. The now 2-0 Buffalo Bills can rightly think of themselves as the Kings of New York after another win in the Metlife stadium, this time against the Giants. Maybe it wasn't spectacular but it was hard-fought and effective. It also showed signs that they might record a winning season this time around. Josh Allen completed 19 from 30 for 253 yards to become the first Bills quarterback since Hall-of-Famer, Jim Kelly, in 1992 to pass for 200 or more yards in seven straight games.
For the Giants, you start to wonder how long it will be until we see rookie quarterback Daniel Jones. Eyebrows were raised when the Giants traded up to pick the quarterback out of Duke. We saw a solid show in pre-season along with Eli Manning struggling to get things going. So far this might mean that what was thought of as a season of learning in the shadows will turn into one under the lights for Jones.
A Race to the top (of the draft)
The Dolphins are terrible. Whether we are allowed to accuse them of purposely tanking or not, they are in poor condition. Project rebuild is truly on. However, tanking is no easy task when you factor in at least two things. Firstly, you are dealing with human beings whose livelihoods (for the players at least) depend on playing as well as they can. Secondly, and the hardest to control, there might always be another team around the corner who is just as bad or worse. Whilst the Giants with Saquon Barkley are probably not going to mount a lasting challenge to the Dolphins’ ineptitude this year, the Bengals might just start looking downwards after their 41-17 defeat in San Francisco. After years spent in mediocrity, the Bengals could probably do with a first pick in the draft to spark something new but the Bengals have to host the Dolphins just before Christmas with the loser winning a new toy for the draft next April.
Coming Up Over the Radar
It’s hard to imagine players going unnoticed during the usual NFL hype, however, Detroit Lions receiver, Kenny Golladay, is quietly becoming exactly what Matthew Stafford and the Lions offense needs.
He finished with 8 catches for 117 yards and the Lions’ touchdown in Sunday's 13-10 win over the Chargers. Golladay is turning into what every organization hopes a third-round pick will become after two years with their team - improved, competitive, and valuable. It wasn’t always pretty with even the outstanding Golladay missing a one-on-one which was intercepted. This, however, is a valuable win for the Lions and head coach, Matt Patricia.
Flags and Whistles
The Saints will again feel aggrieved by the officiating in the fixture which is becoming far more about the men in black and white stripes than it is about teams going up against each other. What difference it would have made against the Rams on Sunday is debatable. With the technology the NFL officials have at their disposal, calling back the Saints as they raced down the field for a touchdown, unsure if Jared Goff fumbled or it was an incomplete pass, was a scandalously bad piece of refereeing. If unsure, let it happen and review the play. Coming towards the end of the second quarter, it could have at least given the Saints a chance instead of them sinking to an eventual 27-9 loss.
The over-zealous use of flags and whistles is dampening the spectacle of the game. It has been giving other teams a break where they wouldn’t have received one otherwise. Deep into the fourth
quarter, Mitch Trubisky’s misfiring Bears offense were chasing the game against Denver. However, they were given another chance to gain precious yardage with a game-winning field goal by
the officials who ruled unnecessary roughness on the most split-second too late of challenges. These kinds of on-field rulings will result in quarterbacks going unchallenged as they make a
play. Although they were at the better end of that decision, the Bears are a team who cannot afford this to become the norm as their defense won them their first of the season 16-14 with the