Week 15 Recap

Mike the Ace and D.K. review two games in week 15 of the season that include teams that haven’t made much headway in the season.

(Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

New York Jets @ Los Angeles Rams (23-20 Jets)
Mike The Ace @TheAceWriter

The New York Jets got a win! I didn’t think I’d have a chance to say that phrase in the year 2020, but here we are. After losing the first 13 games of the season, the Jets traveled out west and beat the Los Angeles Rams.

The Rams were a team that I was very hard on before the season started. We discussed their offseason on Episode 6 of the TFINS podcast (26:10). The Rams surpassed my expectations on the season overall, and they currently hold a wildcard spot with the second best record in the NFC West

My concerns with the Rams in the preseason were centered around their offensive line. I thought that they had an unproven offensive line, and they did not make enough changes in the offseason to get good play up front. I’ll give credit to the Rams’ coaching staff, as their offensive line has been one of the better units in the NFL. Despite the o-line’s great season, they were outplayed on Sunday afternoon against New York.

The Jets defensive line is a young and athletic bunch. Their success starts in the middle with defensive tackle Quinnen Williams. After a slow rookie season, Williams has come to play as a sophomore. He recorded his 7th sack of the season in this game. Williams was also good against the run, making plays early and often. 

Pressure up the middle is always a difficult task for quarterbacks to overcome. The Jets rattled Rams’ quarterback Jared Goff in the first half, and he was unable to find a rhythm. The Rams only got past midfield twice in the first half, settling for a field goal on their second trip past midfield. The Jets held a 13-3 lead going into the break.

Jets’ quarterback Sam Darnold also had a good game. He was decisive with the football, and was able to limit any mistakes. Darnold would finish the game going 22 of 31, for 207 yards, a touchdown, and no interceptions. The Jets were able to move down the field and score on the opening drive of the 2nd half, increasing their lead to 20-3.

The Rams were able to fight back in this game, but were unable to complete the comeback. Jared Goff and the offense had a chance to tie or take the lead with 4:00 remaining in the 4th quarter, but Goff was unable to convert on a 4th & 4 in Jets territory. Jets safety Marcus Maye was able to force an incompletion in man coverage, deflecting Goff’s pass. The Rams’ turned the ball over on downs, and the Jets were able to run the clock out on the ensuing possession.

If the Rams are going to make the playoffs (let alone get a win), they will need to protect Jared Goff better than they did today. Goff is not a very athletic QB, so giving him time in the pocket is crucial. The Jets got too much pressure on him, and he really struggled in the first half. This was an embarrassing loss for Los Angeles, and they will need to tighten up. They face the division leading Seattle Seahawks next week.

(Tom Fox / Staff Photographer)

San Francisco 49ers @ Dallas Cowboys (41-33 Cowboys)
DK @ayeyoo_biggs

The NFC East has been one of, if not the strangest divisions, this year. Even after losing Dak Prescott and an underwhelming performance of Zeke Elliot, they are 4-9 and still in the playoff picture. Every game from here on out (if not stated explicitly) is a must win. Andy Dalton and company were able to keep their playoff hopes alive by beating a very depleted 49ers team, just trying to get to the end of the season at this point. 

Andy Dalton went 19-33 with 209 yards and 2 touchdowns. He was under pressure all game, but was able to make some plays and get the screen game going with running back Tony Pollard. Pollard has been a revelation for Dallas, with Zeke’s sub-par 2020 campaign. Pollard was able to combine for 124 yards running and receiving. Every week of great play from Pollard has the media and fans question the large deal for Zeke from last season. CeeDee Lamb also had a great game with 8 catches for 85 yards. He was also able to contribute on special teams with a touchdown there. This brings Lamb’s yearly totals to 69 catches, with 892 yards, and 5 receiving TDs, a rushing touchdown, and a touchdown on the return today. He was one of my breakout players of the year that I wrote about at the beginning of the season. I thought being on the other side of Amari Cooper would open up a lot of opportunities for him. With Dak going down and Andy stepping in, there was an obvious downgrade at QB, but Lamb is still having a good rookie campaign. 

The 49ers put up a valiant effort trying to ride their strong running scheme and backup QB Nick Mullens’ arm. He went 21-36 for 219 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. The rushing attack was a combination of Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr. Those two, with a few other contributors, combined for 150 yards. Mullen was able to keep the offense moving with the run game and play action off the bootleg. He was unfortunately replaced by CJ Bethard late in the 4th quarter. Bethard was able to go 5 for 7 with 100 yards and a last play Hail Mary to Kendrick Borne in the end zone, for a touchdown. This game goes to show that the 49ers are still in serious need of a Quarterback, this was a game they could have easily won if not for poor QB play. With Jimmy Garoppolo constantly getting injured, they will have to seriously look at dragging a QB. Most mock drafts have them taking a quarterback with their 1st round pick this year. 

The Cowboys are still in the fight in the miserable NFC East. They sit right below the Washington Football Team in the standings, but it seems like a forgone conclusion that whoever gets in will have a first round exit. Dallas plays the Eagles next week in another divisional game that will go far in determining the playoff standings and clear up the NFC playoff picture. 


Week 8 Recap

Mike the Ace and D.K. review two match ups in Week 8 of the NFL Season.

AP Photo/Nick Wass

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Baltimore Ravens(28-24 Steelers)

Mike The Ace @TheAceWriter

One of the most intense rivalries in sports added another chapter to its history books this Sunday. The one-loss Ravens hosted the undefeated Steelers in a pivotal AFC North matchup.

The Steelers entered this game with the best defense in the NFL. All season, this unit has used a mix of blitzes and zone coverages to torment opposing offenses. All three levels of their defense has played well this year, and I predict that will be consistent for them throughout the second half of the season.

Pittsburgh’s defense got off to a fantastic start in this game, intercepting Ravens’ QB Lamar Jackson on the third play of the opening drive. Linebacker Robert Spillane made the interception, and returned it 33-yards for a Steelers’ touchdown. Spillane has played very well in recent weeks. That’s good news for a Steelers defense that is missing star linebacker Devin Bush.

Following the pick six, the Ravens immediately punched back with a 9 play, 75-yard scoring drive, and tied the game at 7-7. The rest of the first half was dominated by Baltimore. 

The Ravens defense played lights out football themselves, and held the Steelers’ offense to just 64 yards for the half. Offensively, Baltimore established their running game. Totaling 180 yards rushing in the first two quarters. The Ravens held a 17-7 lead heading into the break.

Although the running game found success in the first half, Lamar Jackson did not play well. Jackson’s struggles would continue into the second half, as the reigning MVP finished the game just 13 of 28, for 208 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. Jackson was also sacked 4 times, and lost a fumble on one of those sacks.

Against elite defenses like the Steelers, Jackson has to play better. He didn’t make enough big throws and never got comfortable from the pocket. An efficient passing game is necessary for an elite offense, and it seems to be the missing piece from the Ravens’ offense. Jackson has to play better, but his offensive line needs to protect him better as well.

The Steelers offense woke up in the second half. Moving the ball efficiently and playing mistake free football. Pittsburgh held a 28-24 lead on the final two drives of the game. Both drives, their defense was able to come up with the big stops to win this football game.

Ravens fans should not be discouraged. With better ball security, Baltimore could have walked away with the victory. Credit the Steelers for sticking to their identity, and forcing the Ravens into mistakes. The next matchup between these two teams should be another classic.

Mark Brown/Getty Images

Los Angeles Rams @ Miami Dolphins (28-17 Dolphins)
DK @ayeyoo_biggs

In what was Tua Tagovailoa’s first NFL start, I expected a great offensive show between Goff and Tua. What I saw was one of the strangest games of the year, with a lot of defensive swings. 

Tua had, I guess what you can say was, an average NFL debut. He went 12-22, with 93 yards, and a TD. He really appeared to be rattled at some points by the Rams’ defense. Aaron Donald had him running for his life constantly, but we did also see that Tua is healing well from the hip injury. He is moving well in space. He didn’t have to do very much, as the story of the game was really the other 2 phases of the sport, defense and special teams. There was a fumble returned for a TD, a punt return for a TD, and a  forced fumble by Shaq Lawson that was recovered by Kyle Van Noy on the Rams 28 yard line. The last turnover led to a one yard touchdown by runningback Miles Gaskin

Jared Goff put up 355 yards, going 35/61 with 1 TD, and 2 Interceptions. Not the game you want from your franchise quarterback. The Dolphins defense gave him fits the whole game. The game plan was simple for head coach Brian Flores. Flores used the same defensive schemes that were used when he was the Patriots’ defensive coordinator in the Super Bowl, just a few years back. Constantly changing the defensive plays post snap and mixing up the blitz packages was just enough to throw Jared Goff off. This led to two interceptions and also the fumbles from not seeing the hot-read blitzers. 

Tua had a rocky debut but showed that he is ready to lead this team. I really enjoyed watching the defense play as well. Cornerback Byron Jones had a great game, as well as defensive tackle Christian Wilkins. Wilkins, along with defensive back Eric Rowe, both grabbed interceptions in this game. This defense may be the unit that carries the Dolphins this year. 

Week 3 Recap

Mike the Ace and D.K. review two exciting match ups for NFL Week 3.

AP Photo/Adrian Kraus

Los Angeles Rams @ Buffalo Bills (35-32 Bills)
Mike The Ace @TheAceWriter

On Episode 6 of the TFINS podcast, we reviewed the offseason moves of the NFC West. Toward the end of the podcast, we also predicted where each team in the division would finish. 

I was very critical of the Rams, and I had them finishing last in the NFC West. Through the first three weeks of the season, they have certainly proved me wrong.

This matchup was one of the best games this weekend. The Bills and Rams both had something to prove, as their first two wins were against teams that are far from powerhouse. In my opinion, both the Bills and Rams will make some noise this season if they can stay healthy.

The Bills jumped out to a fantastic start, dominating the first half and snatching a 21-3 lead. The lead ballooned to 28-3 after a Stefon Diggs touchdown catch with 8:05 left in the 3rd quarter. From that moment on, the Los Angeles Rams snapped back to life.

The Rams offense immediately got in rhythm, carving up the Bills respected defense. Los Angeles put together four straight touchdown scoring drives, and suddenly took the lead 32-28. With 4:30 left in the 4th quarter, Buffalo had their chance to answer. 

Bills Quarterback Josh Allen put together an impressive scoring drive. Moving his team down the field before throwing a 3-yard TD to tight end Tyler Kroft with 15 seconds left in the game. After nearly blowing a huge lead, it was impressive to see Allen keep his composure and put the ball in the end zone to seal the game.

Both the Rams and Bills showed the type of fight and resolve you like to see in a football team. Both teams played at an elite level, and put pressure on the other. It was truly a great game, and I will have an eye on both of these squads going forward.

Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Las Vegas Raiders @ New England Patriots (36-20 Patriots)
DK @ayeyoo_biggs

This game was about what the Patriots do best, take away your best chance of scoring points, and forcing you to find another way to win. The Raiders came into this game with one of the top young TEs in the league in Darren Waller. The game before, Waller had a stellar game with 12 catches for 102 yards. New England held him to 2 catches and 9 yards. 

Derek Carr went 24/32 for 261 yards with two TDs. The main issue with the Raiders this week were their turnovers. Derek Carr fumbled twice, the first led to a field goal and the second was in his own end zone, resulting in a recovered touchdown for New England. Josh Jacobs also fumbled as well in this game. These types of plays just gave the ball back to New England, in which they were able to capitalize. 

Cam Newton had a good game, going 17/28 with 162 yards and a TD. The story of the game for the New England offense though, was Rex Burkhead. He had a day, having 6 carries for 49 yards and 2 TDs and 7 receptions for 49 yards and a TD. Sony Michel also had 9 carries for 117 yards. The Patriot Defense did Patriots things as well , like the fumble recovered for a TD by Deatrich Wise and only allowing 2 catches for Carr’s favorite target Waller. 

I still actually like the Raiders and think they will have a great season. For the first time in a long time they are playing competent football on offense and have great young defenders like Maxx Crosby and John Abram. I was also extremely impressed with the rookie out of Ohio State, cornerback Damon Arnette. The Patriots play the Chiefs next and will be a great showdown between QBs Cam Newton and Patrick Mahomes, and the Coaches Bill Belichick and Andy Reid