Full10Lookahead – Week 9

By Lawrence Vos (@NFLFanInEngland) and Tim Monk (@Tim_MonkF10Y)

Week 9 sees the final of 4 London games, the battle for the #1 seed in the AFC potentially be decided even at this early stage and the #2 overall pick in the 2019 NFL drat look to go beat up on #1.

Here are your other storylines as we start our journey on the back 9 of the NFL season.


Half-time League Leaders


Image Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn/USA TODAY Sports

Ok not every team has played 8 games yet, so the statistical leaders at the end of Week 8 are slightly misleading, but for arguments sake lets take a look at those top of the pops right now: 

  • Leading passer: Jared Goff (Rams) – 2,367
  • Leading rusher: Dalvin Cook (Vikings) 823
  • Leading receiver: Michael Thomas (Saints) – 873
  • Leading sackers: Myles Garrett (Browns) and Shaquil Barrett (Buccaneers) – 10
  • Leading interceptor: Devin Mc Courty (Patriots) – 5Leading tackler: Blake Martinez (Packers) – 83

Cook always had the potential to be in this place but has suffered through injuries. There is no guarantee he lasts all 16 games, and London bound Leonard Fournette is breathing heavily down Cook’s neck for the rushing title.

Goff will not end up as the NFL’s 2019 passing leader, a title that will likely go to the Packers Aaron Rodgers. Michael Thomas doesn’t care if its Drew Brees or Teddy Bridgewater he will end up with the receiving crown.

Myles Garrett looks like he has the staying power to take the sack title, but lookout for the sibling rivalry of the Bosa brothers (both currently on 7 sacks) attempting to snatch the silverware.


Is this the week the Dolphins tank empties? 


Image Credit: Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins looked like world beaters on Monday night….for a quarter of football against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Ryan Fitzmagic was en fuego as the winless Dolphins took a 14-0 lead. Then like the rest of the 2019 it slowly and painfully unfurled and at the final whistle it was loss number 7 from 7 games played.

This weekend the Dolphins host the equally anaemic New York Jets, who have only one 2019 win to their name. Only fans of car crashes or ‘Fins or Jets will be tuned into this game as it unfolds, but the twist that could be revealed is a win for Miami.

The Dolphins may have churned their roster like a dairy farmer at the start of the season, and they did send RB Kenyan Drake to the Cardinals in the last week, but they did not put their two best players in the shop window last week only to make no sales, unlike the Jets who now have a rather dejected S Jamal Adams and RB Le’Veon Bell wondering what the hell they are doing in their splendid looking green helmets. 


Patriots v Ravens is THE marquee matchup


Image Credit: AP

When such a ginormous matchup is anticipated the end result often is far more anticlimactic than the feeling of excitement held before the opening kickoff. Theoretically the New England Patriots defense will bewilder Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson and force three to four turnovers by the third quarter.

The problem with theory is it can be proven otherwise and the Ravens have the tools to make the Patriots look human. If you keep Tom Brady off the field it helps, and Baltimore’s running game has that ability, along with L-Jax and his rubber legs.

This marquee matchup will come down to Lamar Jackson’s ability to somehow pass the ball when needed, he can’t have a 50% completion rate and expect a victory. We all know what Tom Brady can do, and his dinking and dunking to Julian Edelman and James White is predictable.

What we don’t quite know is what Coach Harbaugh has in store with the Ravens offence and the legs of Lamar Jackson. The biggest game of the season, and the biggest upset.

Problem is if the Ravens and Patriots meet in the playoffs, Sith Lord Belichick will be ready for revenge. 


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Minshew Mania comes to the capital


Image Credit: James Gilbert/Getty

The phrase ‘Bortles Mania’ never took off in the five seasons he spent in Jacksonville, and like a bad penny Blake Bortles once again travelled to Wembley Stadium last week, then as the backup QB on the Los Angeles Rams roster.

The Jaguars are continuing to develop their UK and European fanbase and their game against the Houston Texans will be their seventh consecutive year playing in London. This time the Jaguars are bringing two magnificent moustaches for the price of one. Owner Shahid Khan and rookie QB Gardner Minshew III are hirsute heroes in Florida and they will be wanting to bring some of their magic with them on their trip over the pond.

I for one hope the crowd embraces the facial hair trend and there are thousands of fans walking down Wembley Way on Sunday afternoon boasting an upper lip caterpillar and a bandana or sweatband. If I lived in London I would have already been down to my local joke shop supplier for a few crates of novelty ‘taches.

Expect this game to be dominated by RBs Leonard Fournette (Jaguars) and Carlos Hyde (Texans) but Minshew Mania simply cannot be contained.


Can the 9ers get to 9 wins?


Carolina Panthers v San Francisco 49ers
Image Credit: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The 49ers thumping win against the Panthers last week saw them taste 7-0 for the first time since the 90s. The travel to Glendale, Arizona where #2 overall Nick Bosa will look to continue his ascent to the Defensive Rookie of the Year award (or maybe more!) by beating up on the current favourite for the Offensive equivalent award.

The pleasing thing for their fans though, is the versatility of the team which allows them to win in a multitude of ways.

On offence, the team has three running backs with between 309 and 446 rushing yards and five wide receivers with between 88 and 187 receiving yards.

With reliable frequency, Jimmy Garoppolo will find tight end George Kittle several times per game, and Kittle will reward that faith with monster yardage after the catch. Beyond that, it is a total guessing game from week to week as to whom San Francisco might turn for big plays.

Their dominance has seen them outscore their opponents 111-23 in their last 4 games which also illustrates their dominance on defence to the tune of possibly even breaking the ’91 Eagles record of yards allowed.

Just beware though, as it’s a potential trap game on Thursday Night Football. Dare I say, a Kliffhanger?

You have the ingredients of a short week, away trip and an opponent with nothing to lose with a QB that Shanahan and Saleh have not faced yet in the NFL.

Put that into a witches cauldron and a devilish potion can take down the strongest of teams.


Who the hell is Brandon Allen? 


Image Credit: SI

When Joe Flacco decided to throw his offensive coordinator under the bus during a shocking post-game press conference he may have been suffering from mental pain, but physically he looked fine.

Fast forward 48 hours and Flacco is now out for 5-6 weeks with a herniated disc. This could end Flacco’s season and more extremely it could end his NFL career. Not exactly the way you want to leave the NFL, having won a Super Bowl ring with the Baltimore Ravens.

In Flacco’s place is one of those unknown backup QBs in the form of Brandon Allen. Allen has lingered in the NFL since 2016 when he was drafted in the sixth round by the Jacksonville Jaguars. He was then with the Rams in 2017 to 2018, as an inactive backup and practice squad fodder, before being picked up by the Broncos this September. The former Akansas Razorbacks QB started two pre-season games for the Rams this year, two wins but zero touchdowns.

Nobody has a scooby doo how Allen will perform as he has not ever take a regular season NFL snap. One sensible piece of advice, win or loss agains the Cleveland Browns, is that Allen keeps his opinion to himself in the post game presser.


Running all day long


Image Credit: Getty Images

Buffalo and Washington get it on this Sunday and if the weather is similar to that in the New Era stadium last week, it will all be about the run games.

The Bills and Redskins can call upon some Hall of Fame level rushers to try and help their teams get the win.

With Gore and Peterson, Sunday’s game features the No. 4 and No. 6 all-time rushers, respectively.

The 2 future Hall of Famers currently combine for 28,871 yards over 29 seasons and collectively have 17 1,000yard rushing campaigns.

Individually, 36 year old Frank Gore checks in 4th position in the all time leaderboard with 15,170 rushing yards, while Peterson, 2 years his junior, sits at sixth all time with 13,701.

Long gone are the league wide workhorse backs, but these guys can still deliver the hard hits and the workload should they be called upon.


Trade deadline fallout


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The rumour mill was working overtime on Tuesday as Jamaal Adams and pretty much all of his Jets teammates, Trent Williams et. al were being floated around as trade bait. Unfortunately for the rumour mill, it is now out of business due to the lack of decent output.

The fallout though is always the interest part of it for those that perhaps didn’t get what they wanted from the trade deadline.

We know by now that different players react differently to the same situation. Adams, was not a fan and said that he “didn’t take it lightly” that the Jets were more than happy to float his name on the trading block. A penny for LeVeon Bell’s thoughts too.

How some of them react will be interesting to watch as the aforementioned Trent Williams apparently can’t find a helmet that doesn’t leave him in pain.

I wonder if it’s the logo that’s the problem…?

Full10Takeaways – Week 8

By Tim Monk (@Tim_MonkF10Y)

Another week, more takeaways from the National Football League.

This week saw the first Wembley game, more controversy from the officials and the dolphins threatening to win a football game.


Trade deadline

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Tuesday sees the Trade deadline shut for NFL teams wanting to adjust their rosters for the business end of the season.

We’ve already seen players like Mohammed Sanu move from Atlanta to New England and Emmanuel Sanders move out west to San Francisco. They have been able to slot in to their new teams seamlessly and it remains to be seen whether or not that could be the difference between a runners up prize or the Vince Lombardi.

Other teams have traded with the future in mind though, as Miami running back Kenyan Drake is that latest player to move cities as he packs his bags for Arizona.

Expect teams to make a few phone calls to try and get last minute deals but one thing is for certain, there’ll be no extension granted to that deadline #brexitjoke.


they’ll be kicking themselves

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Image Credit: Getty Images Sport/Dylan Buell

This season has seen the most missed kicks (XP and FG) through week 8 in the last 25 years with 121.

The next closest in terms of misses is 109, which was “accomplished” in 2017 and 2001.

You’d think with all these misses, the coaches would try and make it as easy as possible for them… Nope.

Matt Nagy and Dan Quinn doing their kickers no favours whatsoever and we of course have the hall of Fame quote from Bruce Arians from a few weeks back that his kicker Matt Gay’s Field Goal miss was “better from 5 yards back”.

Add to that a plethora of missed FGs in controlled dome environments, it wasn’t a week where you’d get many highlights from a special teams standpoint.

Shout out though to Adam Viniateri, who poked one through from 51 yards (again with no help from Frank Reich!) to help his team win the game vs Denver despite having his troubles in this game and this season.


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Who is the King of the NFC North?

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Probably safe to say the NFC North will be sending 2 teams to the playoffs this year as we reach the midpoint in the season.

Question is though, who wins the division? Both the 7-1 Packers and 6-2 Vikings have looked red hot in recent weeks and both teams enjoy a favourable homefield advantage for different reasons.

The Packers currently have the edge with a game lead and the tie breaker against the Vikings after beating them in week 2.

Getting a home game in January is paramount in having a deep run in the playoffs and that will be the goal for these two teams on the back 9.

The week 16 clash between these 2 teams will likely decide who’ll get that home game in January.


Did I Reid that right?

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Image Credit: Denny Medley/USA TODAY Sports

Say what you like about Andy Reid’s time management skills or coaching decisions, but you cannot undersell his abilities as a coach.

Many were expecting a bloodbath in Kansas for a  few weeks when Mahomes went down with a dislocated knee, but Matt Moore went toe to toe with Aaron Rodgers on Sunday Night Football to the tune of 24-of-36 (66%),267 yards and 2 TDs with no interceptions which gave them a halftime lead. Moore completed passes to 7 different receivers and looked like he had been in that 1st team offence for months, not days.

Playbooks and play-calling does not have to be rocket science, but Andy Reid makes it’s that easy for whomever is his quarterback. Remember, this was a guy that made Alex Smith look like an MVP.


Traditional values


Sunday saw a battle of traditions go blow for blow as the Chargers doing Charger things battled the Bears’ kicker woes.

It seems that the force is strong with the Bears’ woes with kickers as Eddy Piniero hooked his FG attempt wide and saved the Chargers from themselves.

It’s amazing how certain things can get engrained into franchises (just look at the Browns!) and you have to wonder how this would have all played out if Robbie Gould had just been re-signed…

Let’s not forget the circus act of the offseason where the Bears had a competition to identify their new kicker!

If Piniero does get kicked to the kerb at some point, I wonder how long the line will be at Soldier Field to try out for the gig.


Shanahan Can Masterplan


The 49ers obliterated their stiffest test to date, putting up a 50 burger on the Panthers who were coming off a bye.

Brian Baldinger does some great content (Baldy’s breakdowns) on Twitter and he looked at the Kyle Shanahan offence from this game.

It shines a microscope on the level of detail in a Kyle Shanahan offence and there are multiple instances of the same paly being drawn up but a different player getting the ball upon reading the defence reaction.

You can kind of understand why some players have historically found it hard to adjust when joining the 49ers or why rookies struggle out of the gate. Multiple players including the great George Kittle have come out an divulged at how difficult the system is to get to grips with.

When you get used to the system however, the results are yards, touchdowns and just disarray on the defence. Just as Shanahan dialled it up.

As for the 49ers collectively, even the most stubborn of nay-sayers must now understand that this team is a legitimate one.


How aggressive is too aggressive?


Talking of dialling up plays, there’s a lot of scrutiny on the other end of the phone these days on every single play from scrimmage in the National Football League.

As time progresses, the more analytical the world becomes. This is especially true in sport.

One area that’s always under the spotlight is coaching decisions on 4th down depending on the point in the game, the yardage required and the scoreboard.

Hindsight usually dictates the social media view on these plays and this week was no different.

Kliff Kingsbury and the Cardinals had a 4th and 1 in the 3rd quarter down 10-6 from their own 30 yard line which resulted in being stuffed on a run up the middle.

Other games saw Jon Gruden and his Raiders and Andy Reid’s Chiefs punting lateish in the 4th Quarter in their respective games. Neither coach got the ball back meaning the game was lost but lead to some criticising those decisions.

Depending on your mentality as a person or whether you’re playing Madden, there’ll always be these debates on when it is the right time to “go for it”, but essentially when the gavel comes down, the opinions of the majority are based on whether you won or lost the game.

PS. Follow @surrender_index on twitter for an index on cowardly punts.

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Can you teach this Darn-Old dog new tricks?

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Image Credit: Andrew Mills/NJ Advance Media

Sam Darnold seems to be reverting back to his 2018 self. 7 Interceptions through his last 2 games and now 8 on the season for him in his 4 starts.

More ghastly interceptions, more ghostly shenanigans, Sam Darnold will do well to get through this rough patch. Whether he is still feeling the effects of mono and isn’t quite there yet remains to be seen but the season is now done for gang green so if he is still not 100%, Gase should think about who should be under center.

Talking of Adam Gase, the Jets Head Coach in his career as “the guy” is now more likely to lose by double digits (has happened 25 times in his career) than win a game (24). He isn’t a quarterback whisperer and is an imposter of a Head Coach. You have to wonder whether the Jets front office will blow the whole thing up once more in the offseason. More so for the sake of Sam Darnold, who seemingly isn’t going to progress whilst Gase is at the helm.

The antics of Jacksonville were somewhat entertaining though, with Jackson De Ville jumping down into the stadium as a ghost and the Jumbotron showing Darnold’s lowlights to date playing to the tune of Ghostbusters.


Ravens should start Browns-nosing

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Image Credit: Stew Milne/USA TODAY Sports

I hope Lamar Jackson and John Harbaugh were watching the game between the Patriots and the Browns on Sunday.

Despite what the boxscore says, the Browns matched the Patriots in quite a few categories and if it wasn’t for 3 consecutive turnovers, 13 penalties and some absolutely shocking output from the Kitchen, the Browns could’ve given the Patriots a real scare.

Yes, the conditions helped play in to the script of the game but the Cleveland Browns put a show on how to potentially beat the Patriots and the Ravens could capitalise considering their modus operandi.

One thing going against Jackson and the Ravens though is the way Brady, Belichick and the Patriots have taken care of all the 1st round Quarterbacks in the 2018 draft so far this season. Jackson is last on that list.


Whistle-blowing

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Image Credit: USA Today

In most companies, there is a something that needs reporting, you should be able to confidentially whistle blow on bad practice.

In the NFL though, whistle-blowing has caused many fans to feel aggrieved at the official’s practice.

Yet more instances on Sunday of perhaps whistling that may have been a bit premature.

Leonard Fournette has almost toted the rock 200 times this season, is the 2nd leading rusher in the NFL but only has 1 touchdown to show for his efforts. If Brad Allen and his crew held off for just a  second or two more whilst the pile was being pushed, it would have been paydirt for the second time this season for the Jags RB.

The biggest one of the weekend was definitely in Nashville, though, where Brett Kern fumbled the ball on what appeared to be a botched Field Goal attempt. He scooped the ball up and made haste for chains but got his soul taken from him by the Tampa Bay defence. Of course, when you lose your soul, you also lose the football. Unfortunately for the Bucs, Adrian Hills’s zebra crew blew this one dead and whilst the ensuing return from the Bucs was credited with possession of the football, they were not rewarded with 6 points that they perhaps could’ve have inherited due to the play being blown dead.

Whistleblowing eh? Makes you want to keep quiet.

One for the road…


it was Touted to be a poor game


Despite what the announcer may have said, there were quite a few empty seats at Wembley for their first International Series game of the season.

Very much a sore point with NFL fans across the UK, the touts may finally be getting the point.

With plenty of people happy to point out how low ticket prices were for the Rams vs Bengals game, you have to wonder if the tide is now turning not only for the NFL, but for events in general.

Week 8 Best Bets

Week 8 time and as it’s the first Wembley game, Adam and Tim have once again gone for a £100 challenge between the Rams and Bengals.

Don’t forget to check out the podcast where we go through all our reasoning for this and our best bets below!

Some of the handicap lines may have changed since Saturday’s recording due to injury information, but there’s not a lot i can do about that.

Send us your best bets for week 8 over @full10yards on Twitter!! Check out Adam’s fine work over at tdtips.com

Good luck with all your bets, make sure you are gambling responsibly and have a great time if you are at Wembley today!!

Start ’em, Sit ’em – Week 8

By Adil Khan Deshmukh (@dillytoon)


QB – Jared Goff (LA Rams) vs Cincinnati Bengals 


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Image Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Whilst the LA Rams offense has been nowhere near as efficient in past seasons, the matchup in London for QB Jared Goff is a juicy one. The hapless opposition this time round is the Bengals and their woeful defense. The Bengals come into the week with the worst record in football at 0-7 and they are the 7th worst team at giving up points to the quarterback position. Goff has had his good weeks (last week in Atlanta) and his bad weeks (home to SF), but he can be relied upon in this game to provide a good baseline of passing performance.


RB – Chase Edmonds (Arizona Cardinals) at New Orleans Saints


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Image Credit: Joseph Maiorana

All signs are pointing towards David Johnson being out this weekend after him taking just the first snap last week. What resulted in Chase Edmonds fully taking over the backfield and running amok for 126 yards rushing off 27 attempts for 3 touchdowns. In full PPR he amassed a whopping 35 points. Elite levels can be tempered this week with the extremely good Saints rush defense, however Edmonds will easily provide RB2 numbers. Plug him in and reap the rewards.


WR – Courtland Sutton (Denver Broncos) at Indianapolis Colts


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Image Credit: Christian Petersen / Getty Images

A major trade this week resulted in Emmanuel Sanders swapping his 2-5 record for a pristine 6-0 record in San Francisco. The knock-on effect of this is that Courtland Sutton is going to be a target monster for this team. Sutton has impressed this season, considering how pitiful the Broncos have been as an actual team to date. Sutton has surpassed double-digits in all but one game this season (full PPR) and that was against the Bears. It’s likely the Broncos find themselves behind against the Colts and they will be forced to throw the ball, lending a hand to nicely pad out Sutton’s stat line. He could even be a WR1 on the week against a middle-of-the-pack Colts defense against the wide receiver position.


TE – Gerald Everett (LA Rams) vs Cincinnati Bengals 


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Image Credit: Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images

Yes we’re advocating a Goff/Everett stack this week. For those that are needy for the TE position, Everett is going to be your guy. In three of the last four weeks, Gerald has scored 15 points or more in full PPR. There seems to be a concerted effort to get him the ball, with him garnering at least 8 targets a game in those 15+ scoring games. The last time the Bengals faced such a high volume TE, they were torched by Mark Andrews. Everett is a sure-fire TE1 this week as London will come calling for many fantasy points! 


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QB – Jameis Winston (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) @ Tennessee Titans


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Image Credit: Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports

Sorry Jameis truthers, this quarterback is just simply too unreliable for you to be putting into your fantasy lineups on any given week. Whilst Jameis threw for 400 yards, this was tempered by his disregard for any modicum of good quarterback play. He threw five interceptions on the day and fumbled twice (losing one). The Titans defense is relatively difficult to pass the ball on, with them ranking 9th versus quarterbacks. Look away from Jameis and place your fantasy hopes elsewhere.


RB – Joe Mixon (Cincinnati Bengals) @ LA Rams


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Image Credit: Frank Victores / AP

As most of us have figured out by now, the Bengals are a bad football team this season. They are bad to the level that none of their running back options are scoring in fantasy. For a guy who many spent relatively high draft capital on, Mixon has far from produced the goods. The past two weeks he has failed to surpass 10 fantasy points, with his performance versus the Jags standing out with a 10 attempts for 2 rushing yards stat line. Game script is not going to be Mixon’s friend so expect to see plenty of Gio Bernard on the field as the Bengals try to throw their way back into the game.


WR – Alshon Jeffery (Philadelphia Eagles) at Buffalo Bills


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Image Credit: Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY Sports

To say the Bills defense is good this season would be an understatement. Finally there is a team in the AFC East that is attempting to challenge the Patriots for a divisional title. Against all four offensive skill positions, the Bills feature in the top-10 for fantasy points scored against them. Alshon is certainly a highly capable player but this is not a plus matchup for him. In fact for the next two weeks they aren’t plus matchups as he faces the Bears the week after.


TE – TJ Hockenson (Detroit Lions) vs New York Giants


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Image Credit: Ron Schwane / AP

It will be tempting for many to put Hockenson into your lineups, especially as his opposition is the hopeless Giants. However, don’t let that fool you, as they are only giving up 7.9 points (PPR) to the TE position. The Giants may sport a horrible 2-5 record on the season, but they just don’t give much to this position. Additionally, since his week 1 explosion, he has not surpassed 4 receptions in a single game and will be highly touchdown dependent. Don’t let the TE position burn you this week so stay off the Hock-monster and pick someone else!

Full10Lookahead – Week 8

By Tim Monk and Lawrence Vos

Week 8 sees the 3rd of the London games take place between the Bengals and the Rams, the Bears, Chargers and Eagles fighting to save their seasons and lot’s of revenge on Thursday Night. Let’s get our binoculars out and look ahead to week 8!


DOUBLE REVENGE GAME ON THURSDAY NIGHT

The last time the Redskins and Vikings squared off in Week 10 of 2017, Kirk Cousins was Washington’s QB and Case Keenum was Minnesota’s.

The last time a starting QB faced each other for both teams in same match-up was Norm Snead and Sonny Jurgensen for Eagles and Redskins in 1963-64.

Add into the melting pot that Washington’s Adrian Peterson is a Minnesota Vikings legend.

He’ll look to somehow overcome a high and low ankle sprain to try and stick it to his former team but will have his work cut out to get anything against a Kirk Cousins led team that has found their groove in the last few weeks through the air.

Lot’s of revenge for Thursday Night Football which is apt for the time of year and it remains to be seen which players are in scary movies and which players escape unscathed. You have to feel the Kirk Cousins and the Vikings will be the killers, with Peterson and the Redskins the victims.

MWAHAHAHA


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Sanu and Sanders slip away from the slop


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Image Credit: Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images

What a difference a day makes for two veteran wide receivers Mohammed Sanu and Emmanuel Sanders. Both are swapping conferences, and far more importantly they are moving from cellar dwellers to a 30th floor VIP champagne bar.

For Sanu, who was a genuinely nice guy when he came to Birmingham recently as part of an NFL tour party, he moves from a septic Falcons team to the only undefeated AFC team the Patriots. For Sanders he escapes the Flacco floundering Broncos for the only team in the NFC that has not lost a game, the 49ers.

Sanu will look to be the recipient of the targets that were going to Josh Gordon, who sadly went onto I/R on Wednesday. Sanu has excellent hands and will be able to support Brady by running routes that would have been made by the likes of Rob Gronkowski in the past.

Sanders has been signed to immediately move into the number one spot, to improve a rather eclectic bunch of WRs, none of whom were anywhere near as good as their top catcher – TE George Kittle.

The Patriots wanted Sanu before the start of the season, so they will be happy the Falcons form has been that bad that Atlanta has started jettisoning players before the half-way point in the season.

Both the Patriots and the 49ers play in the second game window this weekend, so expect to see Sanu and Sanders in some RedZone highlights on Sunday. 


Ty goes to the runner 


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Image Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

If you are a Detroit Lions fan and you bought a replica shirt with second-year RB Kerryon Johnson’s surname on the back then you can arguably save a few quid after yet another high-profile injury claimed an NFL star.

Kerryon Johnson went down in the first half of his Week 7 contest against Minnesota and was yesterday put on I/R. Johnson was leading the Lions in rushing with over 300 on the ground. Next man up in the Motor City is rookie Ty Johnson who has shown some burst in his limited appearances so far this season.

Former Maryland Terrapin Ty had a stellar college career, racking up 4,196 all purpose yards, third highest in team history. Ty is a dual threat, as he impressed as a kick return specialist too, going to the house against Ohio State and Michigan. The Lions had high hopes for Kerryon Johnson before his injury, but apart from a 125 yard outing against Kansas City he has been underwhelming.

Ty was drafted in the sixth round by the Lions after a trade with the Falcons, with little expectation as a rookie. That has all changed now and Ty will be under the spotlight at home to the dreadful Giants defensive unit.

This is another situation to watch out for on Sunday if you tune into RedZone, as Ty makes his first start. Expect 70-80 yards rushing and 3-5 catches in a winning effort. 


Is it now Gumbo and cheese instead of Texas BBQ and California Rolls? 


At the start of the 2019 season the NFC ‘on-paper’ favourites looked to be the Rams and the Cowboys, just as Zeke signed his new contract.

Almost at the half-way point and one surprise package, the Green Bay Packers, are now heading the NFC power rankings with the New Orleans Saints just a smidge behind.

Teddy Bridgewater has performed admirably whilst future Hall of Fame enshrinee Drew Brees recovers from his injury, guiding New Orleans to five wins on the bounce and an overall 6-1 record. The age old adage of ‘offense wins games but defense wins championships’ has never rung truer than this season as the Packer and Saints would not both be 6-1 if their defense wasn’t performing at such a high level.

After being robbed of a potential trip to the Super Bowl thanks to a horrendous non-call the Saints have rallied around the injustice and come back fighting even harder. The Packers have got the ‘real’ Aaron Rodgers back, after a few seasons filled with injury and underperformance.

The 49ers may be the conference’s only undefeated team heading into Week 8 but anyone sensible knows the true class of the NFC at this point in time is the Saints and the Packers.

Both teams have very winnable games, the Saints play a rather hot Cardinals team, and the Packers travel to KC, to face Matt Moore and not Patrick Mahomes. 

Bungling back to Wembley

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Image Credit: Getty Images

The last time the Cincinnati Bengals travelled to London to play a regular season NFL contest they came away undefeated, but because they are the Bungles they didn’t come away with a win, they in fact tied a contest against the Washington Redskins.

The Bengals (0-7)  travel over this week to face the Los Angeles Rams (4-3) in the third English game of the season.

Andy Dalton is looking frustrated, the Cincy running game is looking non-existant and their defense is looking raggedy with nine games left to play. You only have to look at their ‘star’ running back Joe Mixon’s stat line last week – 10 rushes for 2 yards and 2 catches for 1 yard (ok yes one did go for a touchdown). That’s 3 yards of offence in a game. Mixon’s stats have been historically awful – in four out of seven games his ground output has been 35 carries for 39 yards. That can’t be all his fault, this ineptitude has to be shared with the offensive line and the play calling.

The Rams are fresh of a monster win over the equally poor Falcons, and will take this game as another walkover. For Bengals fans this season of woes brings back memories of Akili Smith the Bengals biggest bust at QB ever. Head Coach Zac Taylor could be out the door at the end of the season if he can’t show some sort of backbone.

Maybe Wembley is time to unleash rookie passer Ryan Finley. If this does happen remember you read it here first.


Eagles got Bills to pay?


Interesting matchup this weekend up in Buffalo as the Eagles travel over to New Era Stadium.

The Bills are an impressive 5-1 after victory over the lowly Dolphins last week whilst the Eagles are in all sorts of trouble after being embarrassed by Dallas on primetime. Philadelphia can’t lick their wounds for too long considering this is the start of a fairly difficult schedule and if they aren’t careful, could slip in to the “No football in January” quicksand.

The Bills matchup pretty well on both sides of the ball, with Josh Allen and John Brown having that exposed Eagles Secondary and the Bills pass defence being one of the best in the league.

On paper, not the most eagerly anticipated matchup of the year, but there is actually quite a lot on the line.


brees-y does it


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Image Credit: David Banks / Getty Images

Drew Brees is practising this week and hoping to play in the week 8 clash at home to the Cardinals. I, for one hope that he sits this one out and uses this and the bye week to get back to 100%.

The future hall of famer obviously knows his time is up soon and wants to savour every possible second on the pitch, but it is surprisingly short sighted in my opinion from #9 if he want’s to continue playing in to next season. A thumb injury is hardly the most likely to end a career but even putting yourself in a position to reinjure a less than 100% body part is not something that should be recommended. His backup and potentially next Saints starting QB Teddy Bridgewater has done more than enough in his absence, leading them to 5 straight wins against some decent opponents. OK, maybe the defence can take more than the fair share of credit for that run, but why risk Brees against Arizona on Sunday? I’m sure Teddy B can take care of business once more and hand the reins back to Brees in Week 10.

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Cleveland and Carolina try and take the 0


San Francisco and New England remain undefeated as we head into week 8 so undoubtedly everyone now looks at the teams trying to be the first to score a victory over those teams.

Out of the two teams this week, you have to feel that Carolina (+5.5 currently on the handicap) are the more likely to kill the streak as they travel to Levi’s Stadium to face the 49ers after a bye with the hapless Baker Mayfield and his Browns (+13) tackling the red hot Patriots in Foxborough.

Whilst both New England and San Francisco will start to see their schedule get that little bit tougher, the bullseye on their backs will also get that little bit bigger.


if at first you don’t succeed, trade, trade again


If you don’t know by now, the trade deadline shuts next week. Don’t worry, the USA doesn’t have an equivalent of Jim White in a yellow tie, but there’ll certainly be more deals going through on deadline day.

Look for veterans (AJ Green) or guys on rookie deals (Kenyan Drake) to keep the rumour-mill busy over the next few days as teams try and jostle around their rosters to help give them the best chance at not only January football and the Super Bowl but also more picks as those planning rebuilds can start to get a handle on the picks they have for the next NFL Draft. Like Free Agency, some may overpay, whilst some may get players at bargain basement prices. With Sanders, Sanu and Quandre Diggs already heading to their new teams, there’ll be plenty of movement to come before the trade deadline slams shut.


Dan Quinn bye bye?


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Image Credit: Kevin C. Cox /Getty Images

We’ve mentioned it a few times already, but keep an eye out on how the Falcons get on this weekend. Once again embarrassed at home against the Rams, they face a Seahawks team smarting from a defeat at home against the Ravens. If the Falcons lose considerably once more in their own back yard, you can fully expect Arthur Blank to fire HC Dan Quinn during their bye week and look to rebuild.

It’s somewhat telling that they allowed Mohammed Sanu to go to New England for a 2nd round draft pick (which is pretty much a 3rd, let’s face it) and the other usual life saving technique of firing their co-ordinators already happened last offseason. So the are not many lives left at all for Dan Quinn and it’ll be interesting to see the fight the players show on the field this Sunday.

Top 5 London International Series moments

By Tim Monk (@Tim_MonkF10Y)

It’s the first of 4 London games this weekend as part of the International Series, so let’s take a trip down memory lane at 5 memorable moments in the history of the game played this side of the pond.


5. Allen Hurns TD vs Buffalo


Image Credit: Getty Images

Despite 4 punts in the opening 5 drives, this game came alive shortly after as Buffalo and Jacksonville traded blows. In what was supposed to be an easier assignment than other years at “home”, the Jags raced out to a 27-3 lead. Then 28 unanswered points from Buffalo, led by EJ Manuel saw the Bills take the lead inside of 5 minutes left in the game.

Blake Bortles then escapes the pressure, rolls to his left and throws a pinpoint 31 yard bomb in to the front corner of the endzone where Allen Hurns managed to dive, touch his elbow/shoulder in bounds on the slide for one of the best touchdowns seen at Wembley stadium.


4. The tied game/Missed field goal


Image Credit: Sports Illustrated

Washington and Cincinatti produced a decent matchup in this International Series game but it was a game full of turnovers and missed field goals.

Kirk Cousins threw for 458 yards (might take him a whole season to accomplish that this year!) in a game that was nip and tuck all game.

In overtime, Kirk Cousins drove 67 yards to the Bengals 16 yards line for Dustin Hopkins to miss the 34 yard field goal, leading to the first ever tie in London.


3. Matt Prater field goal


The Detroit Lions found themselves 21-0 down at half time in this one despite being the favourites. They were still 21-10 down going in to the 4th quarter.

Deep in the 4th, the Lions managed to score a touchdown but FAIL the 2pt conversion, leaving the score at 21-19 to the Falcons. The Falcons were unable to run the clock down and left 1:38 on the clock after pinning the Lions down inside their own 10.

Matthew Stafford drove the Lions down immediately, with big plays to Golden Tate and Theo Riddick. After a Stafford spike, there was :04 left in the game. Matt Prater steps up and misses from 43 yards. However, due to a delay of game penalty, Prater got another shot 5 yards further back. Of course, he nails it straight through and the comeback is complete.


2. Titans Tried for 2


Image Credit: Associated Press

In a strange game between the Titans and the Chargers, the trend for going for two at the death may have started here.

Down for the majority of the game, the Titans thought they found the endzone on 3rd and goal on a Mariota scramble but was overruled. On 4th and goal, they go to Luke Stocker on the run fake with 35 seconds left on the clock.

Mike Vrabel and co decided to get out with the win by trying to go for a two point conversion.

Mariota’s pass to Tajae Sharp was incomplete, but due to defensive holding, they get another go from the 1 yard line. Give it to Derrick Henry. No, don’t be silly. They try another play deep in the tomfoolery playbook to Taywan Taylor but Adrian Phillips was able to tip the pass, giving the Chargers the win.


1. Landon Calling


Couldn’t get through the article without a pun (and it’s a beauty to be fair!) but here is one for the defensive guys!

In a cold Autumn evening in Twickenham, there was a red hot play on the defensive side of the ball.

In what was a pretty poor game overall, the one highlight was with the Giants 10-3 behind, Landon Collins picking off Case Keenum at the 45 yards line and literally going through the whole Rams team into the endzone.

This helped the Giants facilitate a 17-10 win at the home of Rugby and is regarded by many as the single greatest play in London to date.

Spurred on by a Big Mack

By Lawrence Vos (@NFLFANINENGLAND)

When the Oakland Raiders host the Chicago Bears tomorrow in London it will remarkably be the 85th NFL game played outside of the United States of America.

The game itself will be a landmark contest as it represents the first time NFL football will have been played at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the first venue of its kind in England to have been built to specifically host and showcase the alternative brand of football.

Sunday’s contest, the 15th time the Bears and the Raiders have met, will be the 34th NFL contest to take place in London, including pre-season games. When you think 34 and NFL history there is only one image that comes to mind, that of the dearly-departed Bears Hall of Fame and Super Bowl winning running-back Walter ‘Sweetness’ Payton.

The NFL was first introduced to a completely bewildered audience of around 30,000 people in 1983 when British entrepreneur John Marshall hired Wembley Stadium for the day and arranged a game, called the Global Cup, between the St Louis Cardinals and the Minnesota Vikings.

Just three years later and the Chicago Bears, Walter Payton, William ‘The refrigerator’ Perry, Jim McMahon and head coach Mike Ditka, made their way to Wembley Stadium to play the Dallas Cowboys in the inaugural game of the ‘American Bowl’ series that lasted until 1993.

After a 14 year break the NFL formally returned to England in 2007 for real regular season matchups, and since then the Bears have been back once, a 2011 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Tomorrow will mark the third time the Raiders, who will be the home team, have played a meaningful contest at Wembley, having suffered losses in 2014 (14-38 to the Dolphins) and last year (3-27 to the Seattle Seahawks). 


HEAD TO HEAD


Season series – 7-7

Points totals – Bears 256 – Raiders 249

Overtime contests – 1  (1978 a 25-19 Raiders win)

Last meeting – 2015 in Chicago. Bears won 22-20 courtesy of a 49-yard Robbie Gould field goal in the final two seconds of the game. Derek Carr was the Raiders QB then, he got 196 yards and two td’s, including one to the departed Amari Cooper.

Times played since the Millennium – 4. Bears have won three of four, by margins of 3, 11 and 2. Raiders last beat the Bears in 2011.

Key Raiders stats

  • Allowed 16 first-downs by penalty
  • Opponent is 3 of 5 on 4th downs
  • Minus 1 turnover ration
  • Only had 5 sacks this season – Missing Khalil Mack still
  • Derek Carr completing 72% of his passes
  • Rookie running-back Josh Jacobs leads the team in rushing with 307 yards at an impressive 5.0 yards a carry.
  • 21st in yards per game (335.8)
  • 9th in rushing 125.8 yards a game

Key Bears stats

  • 28th in points scored – 16.5 a game
  • 30th in yards – 273.5
  • Allowed just 13 3rd down conversions all season
  • Giving up just 3.0 yards a rush attempt
  • Accrued 17 sacks – 4.5 of those by Khalil Mack the former Raiders pass rusher
  • Kicker Eddie Piniero is 8 of 9 on field goals
  • Turnover ratio +6
  • Before his injury starting QB Mitch Trubisky had thrown for 588 yards. ‘Bear’ in mind that Jared Goff threw for 517yards in Week 4 alone.
  • Rookie running back David Montgomery lead the team in rushing with 200 at a mediocre 3.4 a carry. He also has 8 catches.

Marquee matchups

  • Bears edge Khalil Mack v both Raiders tackles Trent Brown and Kolton Miller.

    Of all qualified edge rushers Mack is ranked number one by Pro Football Focus, both by position and by pass rush grade. Mack will be licking his lips against crocked left-tackle Trent Brown, but seeing as he lines up on both sides, the Raiders tackles will be both tested. Mack has continue his All-Pro form into 2019 with 4.5 sacks and 4 forced fumbles. With his engine running all game Mack will be eyeing up a British hat-trick of sacks against Derek Carr.
  • Bears WR Allen Robinson v Raiders CB Gareon Conley

    The Raiders pass defense is ranked 27th, and they have given up 9 touchdowns through the air. Even in limited snaps Bears QB Chase Daniel has built up an instant rapport with Robinson. In Week 4 against the Vikings Robinson caught all 7 of his targets for 77 yards. Conley, a 2017 first round pick will have a busy day, and he will need his 4.44 40 speed to be in constant action. Robinson is more than capable of a 100+ yard game, it’s the touchdowns that are harder. Look for Robinson to get 12 targets.

Bears and Raiders season surprises and disappointments

  • Bears WR Allen Robinson leads the team in catches (24) and yards (280) but he is yet to find pay-dirt. Look for this to change at the home of Harry.
  • Missing out on the game is Bears WR Taylor Gabriel who broke an NFL Monday Night Football record in a Week 3 win against the Redskins when he caught three touchdowns in a quarter.
  • Raiders tight-end Darren Waller was a fantasy darling coming into the season, but he has outperformed even the most optimistic projections. 33 catches for 320 yards leads the team in balls and yards by a significant margin, but like Robinson he is yet to score.
  • The biggest Bears let-down so far is second-year WR Antony Miller who was a high-ranked breakout projection. Miller has 4 catches for a paltry 28 yards so far.
  • Bears Swiss army knife RB Tarik Cohen has 116 offensive yards to date, averaging just over 2 yards a carry. 14 catches is good but 89 yards in the air is not so much.
  • Raiders rookie WR Hunter Renfrow was supposed to be a Julian Edelman type slot-machine, but he has 11 catches for just 89 yards at a pedestrian 8.1 a catch.

Final word


This will be my 25th NFL game I will be seeing live, and my 18th in London (including pre-season and Twickenham) so I look forward to celebrating with a healthy Bears win. Former Heisman Trophy winner Chase Daniel will be making only his 5th start in his 10-year career. The archetypal backup played two games for Chicago in 2018, going 1-1 so he knows his team strengths well. The Raiders will look to feed rookie RB Josh Jacobs the ball early and often, but the Bears defense is akin to a great white shark’s mouth. You break the front teeth and another row simply grows from behind. The Bears depth is phenomenal. Look out for defensive end #95 Roy Robertson-Harris who has stood out amongst a quality defensive line.


Prediction


Bears 27-10 Raiders


The Bears to get a big game out of utility back Tarik Cohen and Chase Daniel’s command of the offense will be making Windy-city faithful wonder if he can do a better job than Mitch Trubisky longer-term.

#NFL100Memories – 16/100

Game day with Claire Da Bear – by Jonathan Howell

Going to an NFL game with Claire is an experience. Her knowledge and passion for the sport is clear and it’s easy to be swept along with it all. What does that mean for me? It means that there’s never a dull moment.

Claire, better known in the NFL community as Claire Da Bear, introduced me to the UK NFL games back in 2008. I was lucky enough to see only the second game played at Wembley. It was not only when I started supporting the New Orleans Saints but the nail-biting end to that battle with the San Diego Chargers got me hooked. The tension as the whole of Wembley collectively held its breath was astounding.

I remember first learning about the joys of NFL from the Channel 4 round-up which managed to distill a week’s worth of highlights into an action-packed show. However, the intervening decades had erased most of the finer points of the game from my memory. Going to a game with Claire soon solved that. She managed to see my looks of confusion and instruct me as to why a yardage penalty had been given, or why possession had changed.

A game day with Claire is always a long one. It doesn’t matter if the match is early in the afternoon or in the evening, we need to be up at the stadium in the morning. There was always opportunities for signings and ever since she set up Giveaway HQ she’s been dedicated to getting those autographs. But it’s got bigger than just that.

Claire Da Bear is now recognised, famous in the NFL fan world. She’ll go dressed in an outfit that has bloomed over time. First it was just the Chicago Bears jersey. Then I found I’d become an enabler by ordering her the orange and blue Foamhead hat, which makes her practically visible from space. Year by year more gets added. The Bears trainers, the cape, and the camo trousers all appeared. Claire is now top to toe a Bears fan and it certainly gets her noticed.

Out and about on game day, there’s always a steady stream of people coming up and asking for a selfie with her or just to say “Hi, I follow you on Twitter”. It’s like being out with a celebrity. Usually Claire’s a private person and quiet with it, but not on game day. You can feel the nervous excitement from her, which only intensifies when it’s the Chicago Bears playing. I think if there was a way to sleep over at the stadium the night before then she’d take it.

Although the UK doesn’t do tailgate parties in the way that the Americans do it, there are still events to be a part of. This can include the stage where players and cheerleaders come and entertain the crowd, the array of food on offer (the queue for Po’ Boys was unsurprisingly full of Saints fans), or the signings. Claire wants to be a part of it all and it’s impossible not to be swept along with her. On the other hand, it’s easy enough to grab some quiet time by depositing her in the queue for autographs, knowing full well she’ll happily be there for hours, chatting to other fans.

Going to a game with Claire is a bit like being in the middle of a gentle storm. So many people greeting her, or the exchanges of friendly banter between opposing teams. There’s always the customary “abuse” shared back and forth between her and a Packers fan who always sits near her at Wembley. It’s all part of the atmosphere, all part of the experience, all part of what it’s like to spend a day with Claire soaking up everything an NFL game has to offer.