It was a bad week for in-game injuries. It's one thing to make a bad lineup decision. It's another thing to make a decision that you'll never know whether it was good or bad because that player pulled up with a hamstring or rib injury during the game. Tough to get a win when you have a couple of those types of players.
For all the injuries, though, it was a pretty great day of football. More than your usual number of fantastic finishes, with last-second plays that determined a handful of games. "How can you not be romantic about the NFL?" said Aaron Rodgers after their game. Yeah, pretty much.
Colts at Titans: Not a great outing for the Colts offense, as you might anticipate when you've got the quarterback situation they were dealing with. Turns out having a quarterback who can move around a little is beneficial. Another issue was the Colts defense not getting enough stops of Ryan Tannehill and company, and Derrick Henry doing his thing. A good game from Nyheim Hines and a decent one from Michael Pittman, that was the Colts. Pittman had a near-miss touchdown (beat his defender but Wentz overthrew him in the end zone), Zach Pascal got at least three more goal-line throws that weren't particularly close to being touchdowns. A.J. Brown left with a hamstring injury, that's why he got you zip.
Falcons at Giants: Tough loss for the G-Men, who seemed to have this game kind of in hand (just 14-7, but still), serving up the tying touchdown and game-losing field goal on Atlanta's last two possessions. New York seems to have a healthy Saquon Barkley, but lost both Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton to hamstring injuries and perhaps neither Kenny Golladay (hip) nor Evan Engram (calf) were as close to health as they'd have liked. Atlanta doesn't seem to be a very good team but they've been competitive each week. Kyle Pitts breakout hasn't happened yet, pretty sure no one was starting the Falcons who did score, serviceable game for Calvin Ridley. Nice to see Barkley helping fantasy teams, albeit on just over 3 yards per attempt, catching 6 passes. Apparently Gary Brightwell is now the backup, with Devontae Booker inactive. Brightwell had one carry. Cordarrelle Patterson with a big receiving day.
Chargers at Kansas City: Announcers were losing their minds about the Chargers' clock management late in this game. First, when the Chargers were losing by 3 and near the goal line, they were talking about killing time before scoring a touchdown. That was ridiculous, since you don't have the luxury of knowing you'll score on third down (and they didn't, settling for a tying field goal). Then they got a stop and converted a fourth and 9 from about the 38, which was described as really gutsy but to me was evidence that they didn't trust their kicker (who'd already missed an extra point and would later miss another). Down near the goal line, rather than run the clock down to a few seconds and kick a field goal with no time left, they scored a touchdown with 32 seconds left. OK, I get the criticism of that one, since Patrick Mahomes had a chance to throw a Hail Mary that could have won the game. But Vizcaino could also have missed that chip shot field goal, seeing as he missed two extra points in the game, so I didn't think it was quite as awful as all that. Anyway! Huge game for Mike Williams, Justin Herbert, good games for Ekeler and Allen, and the various key Kansas City players (although just modest for Tyreek Hill, maybe the blowup starts next week).
Bengals at Steelers: This was not quite as big an upset as you'd think. Bengals are improved defensively, and the Steelers just look kind of lost. They're thin enough on the line and old and immobile enough at quarterback that if the injuries start to pile up, they don't have a lot of room for error. So they started the game with Diontae Johnson and lost JuJu Smith-Schuster (ribs) to injury early on, just another of those in-game injuries. Huge game for Najee Harris and I started him so I'm happy, but it was also weird to watch them throwing him these ridiculous little 2-yard passes where he'd get encircled by four different tacklers who would pummel him to the ground for a minimal gain. Good-looking player, but he's laboring in a lost cause at the moment. Nice game for Burrow, Chase, Boyd, and Mixon (albeit without scoring), the only Bengals anyone started. Nobody criticizing the Chase pick these days, a really sweet touchdown grab among his 2 scores.
Bears at Browns: So a defense can win a fantasy matchup, if you happened to pick up Cleveland for this game. With 9 sacks on a not-quite-ready-to-play and not-well-protected Justin Fields, it had 3 more sacks than his 6 completions and nearly half as many as his 20 pass attempts. I think I was cool on the Bears passing game but clearly, clearly not cool enough. Nice game for Cleveland, even Austin Hooper got in the end zone. No touchdown for Nick Chubb, but that will happen on occasion. Maybe Andy Dalton coming back sooner rather than later will be good, or maybe it just doesn't matter given the mistakes/misfortune the Bears have had with their offensive line.
Ravens at Lions: So, is it luck if you have a quarterback and a wide receiver who can hook up on a 36-yard-bomb on 4th-and 19 in the final seconds? Is it luck if you have a kicker good enough to kick a 66-yard field goal (in NFL history it appears there's exactly one such guy)? I'm not sure, but it's definitely luck when the football hits the crossbar, pops straight up in the air, hovers for a little while to check the view, and then drops lazily over it for the game-winning field goal. Pretty amazing. Gotta feel for the Lions, who were competitive for the second half against San Francisco and the first half against Green Bay, and did everything but win this one. Game-winning 66-yard field goal, there's a first time for everything. Wouldn't have been good from 6 inches longer. Oh yeah, Baltimore's running game was an unmitigated disaster. In retrospect the Lions might not be horrific in that regard (Aaron Jones after all did most of his damage as a receiver).
Saints at Patriots: Marquez Callaway scoring on benches. With that touchdown kind of a sandlot play, I'm not ready to start him just yet. Still not much of a passing game, but they got Alvin Kamara going and played really, really good defense. Apologies to anyone I underestimated New Orleans' defense to (so maybe...Carolina's offense is really good?). Not that shutting down the Patriots is as impressive as doing it to Aaron Rodgers, but an impressive road performance nonetheless. James White leaves early with a hip injury, and he's an important piece of that offense. Plus Mac Jones is a rookie and all. Anyhoo, still difficult to invest in the New Orleans offense, but at least they can still win some games and hang around until they either figure out how to get Jameis Winston playing well or get Michael Thomas back, I guess. Pick Sixes that bounce off receivers' hands help too, that was where the Saints really took control of this one.
Cardinals at Jaguars: Pretty wild game with more offense than defense until the Cardinals had a Pick Six (really great putting up a defense against the Jaguars these days), with the early highlight the Cardinals attempting a 68-yard field goal (who would try a more than 65-yard field goal?) and the Jaguars running it back for their second return score in two weeks. But the Jaguars are also a great defense to put players up against, including James Conner. Disappointing game for Rondale Moore (no need to get tricky against the Jaguars) and DeAndre Hopkins (too risky to start, I think), nice for Christian Kirk and A.J. Green. It happens. Kyler Murray rolls on, James Robinson gave you a nice game if you had to start him. Jaguars had a couple of nice moments but it's gonna be a rough year.
Football Team at Bills: I'm not sure what's happening with the Washington defense. Sure the Chargers and Bills are very tough matchups, but even the Giants had a good offensive game. Josh Allen did lots of Josh Allen things in this game, including a really nice rollout touchdown to Emmanuel Sanders and a nice throw to Dawson Knox for another. (And another Sanders score.) Things are being spread around a little more but this offense still looks great. Will be interested to see the snap count on Zack Moss versus Devin Singletary, but Moss was the one with the big game and touchdown grab. Pretty cool diving Taylor Heinicke score in defeat. Washington's offense didn't lose this game.
Jets at Broncos: For the Broncos, nice fantasy games for Javonte Williams, Melvin Gordon and of course the Denver defense. On the running backs, noted that Williams lost a goal-line fumble late, which maybe hurts him going forward. But this I think is Denver's dream game (aside from the joy of playing the Jets), using a one-two punch at running back and playing great defense. Won't be as easy against the Ravens next week, but surely the Ravens have used up all their good fortune the last two weeks. Anyway, nice game for some Denver players (let's not forget Brandon McManus, he's kicking it), useless in all ways for the Jets -- I'm not sure how they turn this around. Facing some easier defenses couldn't hurt.
Dolphins at Raiders: This was an unusually entertaining game, in which Jacoby Brissett was better than expected, Mike Gesicki finally had his breakout week, and there were a lot of big plays and near misses. One came in overtime, when Brissett threw what might have been a game-winning touchdown bomb to Will Fuller but the defender dragged him down early and the officials opted not to decide the game right there. (In fairness, the Raiders were definitely held in the backfield before the throw and that flag wasn't thrown either.) Bizarre stat line for Jaylen Waddle (12 catches, 58 yards) because they were basically using one of the league's fastest players as a 3rd-down back completing little short pitches for minimal yards. Anyway, a fun battle with the Dolphins converting a 4th and 20 AND making a 50-yard field goal in overtime, only to lose when the Raiders also converted a couple of big plays in the final minutes (including a bomb to Bryan Edwards and a big run after that by the much-maligned (by me) Peyton Barber. Raiders win, but I gained some respect for Brissett and company. For what it's worth.
Bucs at Rams: This game went a lot like last year's regular-season meeting: Rams were able to limit and frustrate the Bucs offense some, and their passing game is on fire these day. Mostly Cooper Kupp, not much to say beyond he and Matthew Stafford are in sync in a way that Kupp never was (even on his best days) with Jared Goff, and the Bucs style of defense doesn't work so well against a passing game clicking like this. Even DeSean Jackson got in on the fun with a throwback deep touchdown bomb and nearly a second. Rams are better right now. You still got some nice numbers out of some key Bucs, and it's just one game. Weird play before the half that I'll admit I don't understand the rule. Brady was hit, fumbled forward, Bernard caught it in the air and ran some 25 yards. Play ruled a forward fumble and it couldn't be advanced. Since Bernard caught it in the air, I don't see how it was technically a fumble. But I guess it wasn't a pass. Odd one.
Seahawks at Vikings: Nice game for Alexander Mattison, and I was especially impressed by Kirk Cousins in this one. He's got his flaws, but the man can throw a football. In the right offensive scenario, the guy could be the next Drew Brees. Or something close. Washington shouldn't have let him get away. Good games for his main receivers and Chris Carson too. Also Tyler Conklin on benches and K.J. Osborn in lineups; so that's how it's gonna be. Tyler Lockett left this game with an injury that looked bad but turns out he's OK; just twisted his knee awkwardly. But Seattle has some defensive issues to work out. Again.
Packers at 49ers: This was a pretty great game, calling to mind a 1996 regular-season tilt when the Packers won in overtime on a 53-yard kick by Chris Jacke. As in the Chargers game, the 49ers scored too soon, but I don't think you have the luxury of assuming a touchdown on a later play -- gotta score when you have the chance to score. Maybe next time play slightly better defense on Davante Adams in the final seconds; you just can't let those deep passes happen. Although Jimmy Garoppolo was just a long field goal away from getting the win, I wasn't impressed. His late fumble gave Green Bay the points that made a later winning kick possible, and his go-ahead drive was frankly kind of lucky, filled with risky throws (and hospital balls) over the middle where his receivers made great plays to save him from interceptions. San Francisco knows best when the switch to Trey Lance should happen, but I'm not sure what they're clinging to, either.
Monday, Monday: With Washington disappointing and the Giants winless, this Eagles-Cowboys tilt is one for NFC East supremacy (such as it is). I think it will be higher scoring and would be happy to use either running back or quarterback. The game's in Dallas and they seem a little more put together on offense, so I'll call it Dallas 27, Eagles 21.