Anatomy of (Yet Another) Choke: Vikings @ Bills (11/16/22)

Bills fans thought they had hit rock bottom last week. Losing to the Jets was only the beginning, as Josh Allen was diagnosed with a UCL sprain after the game. Even worse, next week, they wouldn’t be getting another doormat, but a scrappy Vikings team trying to come to terms with their impressive and surprising success. They would be looking for a signature statement to put them on the map as NFC contenders. Unfortunately for Minnesota, Allen’s injury was mild, and he was cleared to play on Sunday, and he would be starting. At kickoff, the Bills were -5-point favorites against Minnesota, at home.

They would prove all the upset picks right on the opening drive by going 3-and-out and getting stuffed by the Purple People Eaters and Buffalo defector Harrison Phillips. The offense, led by Kirk Cousins, promptly marched down the field for a touchdown as Justin Jefferson torched that injured Bills secondary. It is here that the Bills’ offense got rolling once again. They finally got a running game going and capped off their scoring drive with a Devin Singletary touchdown. Even better, Minnesota went 3-and-out on their next drive and the Bills cashed in for another touchdown. When you think things couldn’t get worse for the Vikings, Kirk Cousins throws a pick. The Bills, set up in prime field position, could only get a field goal. I’d say this would be a harbinger for things to come, but let’s forget that. The Bills scored another touchdown. Up 24-10 going into the locker room. It would take a miracle for the Vikings to come back.

This sentiment would be emphasized early in the third quarter as Kirk Cousins threw another interception and the Bills got 3 more points. However, Minnesota has been a second-half team all year. They are known across the land for dramatic, last-second victories. Then Vikings fans got a break from their misery as Dalvin Cook ran off for a 76-yard rumble to make it a two-score game.

The 4th quarter was sheer ugliness. Both teams exchanged punts and turnovers, sometimes in quick succession. This was until Minnesota scored a touchdown to make it a one-score game. Greg Joseph knows the stakes. He decided to keep the memes afloat by hitting the upright on the extra point, keeping it at a 4-point game. Buffalo, predictably, proceeded to do absolutely nothing with the ball and punted it back to Minnesota. However, all was well in Bills Mafia. The defense did its job to force a 4th and 18, and then Bills Defensive Coordinator Leslie Frazier put a rookie 1-on-1 against the Vikings’ best receiver. The Vikings converted with one of the best catches of the season thus far. After this miracle play, Minnesota got down to the goal line. It is here that the Bills’ defense goes back to brick wall mode. They stuff the Vikings on 4th down and get a critical turnover to give Buffalo the ball back to try and run out the clock.

There was, however, one problem: the Bills would have to start from their goal line. This was their downfall. Josh Allen fumbled the exchange from his center and the Vikings recovered for a touchdown to take the lead with 40 seconds left.

Bills fans might be scratching their heads furiously as to the play call, but never mind. Look at the high-end talent! Buffalo marched down the field, with some help from the refs for not reviewing a catch that shouldn’t have counted, and ties the game to force overtime.

However, this is where the Bills experience Deja vu. They lose the overtime coin toss. However, unlike the playoff game, the defense decided to show up. Despite getting to the goal line, Minnesota could do nothing as Ed Oliver sacked Cousins to force them out of striking distance for a touchdown. They were forced to kick a field goal and give the ball back to Allen and the Bills with 3 minutes left in extra football. The Bills did their job, marching down the field to the 20. Coming out of the two-minute warning, though, Josh Allen has a trick up his sleeve. Faking out everyone, including his own team, he throws a dart down the middle to the end zone. Do you know who wasn’t fooled? Vikings cornerback Patrick Peterson. Interception, game over. The Vikings win an epic game in Buffalo and have the signature statement win they’ve needed. The Bills, meanwhile, are in freefall. The supposed best team in the NFL has now fallen to 6-3 and has dropped all the way to third in the division. Miami and the Jets both hold tiebreakers and are ahead. Pain.

Whenever I think this team can’t go lower in the art of disappointment and pain inducement, they stumble upon a portal to another dimension and dig there. This is a statement of legitimacy by Minnesota, that I will give them, but for the Bills, it’s a colossal choke. A 17-point lead with 2 minutes left in the third quarter should have been game over. A team they had dominated all day long, an offense that they had generated 3 turnovers against, a defense that couldn’t stop their newfound running game, all those opportunities were completely squandered because the entire team chose to clock out 30 minutes early.

In reality, what the game boiled down to was that 4th down interception at the beginning of the 4th quarter. If the Bills do the right thing there and take the points, none of this probably happens. The Vikings don’t use it as a giant momentum swing to keep their comeback alive. The Bills aren’t playing for a tie on the final drive and could have won with a walk-off field goal. The game doesn’t go to overtime, where the Bills are notorious for coming out on the wrong side, and that’s regardless of whatever goal line hijinks may have occurred in this alternate reality. Not to discount the other screw-ups by Buffalo that could have made a difference, too. I’m sorry, but how do you blow a 4th and 18 with what is supposedly the #1 defense in the league? How do you let them march to the 1-yard line? Why didn’t the offense line up in shotgun formation to throw a screen out of the end zone? If it weren’t for the refs, this game doesn’t even go to overtime, that “catch” by Davis shouldn’t have counted. But by sending this game to overtime, we witnessed even more ineptitude.

Offensive Coordinator Ken Dorsey needs to change his tactics or get fired, there, I said it. His red zone play calling seems to be something out of The Hack’s Denver playbook. Chuck it into the end zone, and repeat, and repeat. He goes for broke on every single down, playing right into Allen’s one critical flaw; he tries to play hero ball on every snap, even when it’s far from the best decision. In what world is it a good idea to make that last throw? Davis was in double coverage! If that ball isn’t in the exact right spot, it’s going the other way, and unfortunately, that’s what happened on that play.

Another concern is Allen’s propensity for red zone interceptions. One of the most mentioned stat lines last year was that he had never thrown a red zone INT in his career. That has changed drastically this season. In the last 3 games, Allen has thrown five of them, two of them last week against the Jets and another two in this game. If this keeps happening, I honestly don’t know if the Bills will make the playoffs. They’re good, but with how deep the AFC is unless they change something fast, they aren’t going anywhere.

Speaking of which, thank god they get Cleveland and Detroit these next two weeks. Knowing the Bills, they’ll find a way to screw this up too. Cautious optimism is key. As I write this, Kirk Cousins is probably wearing five figures worth of ice and partying it up on the Vikings’ charter plane. I should be happy for the Vikings finally breaking free of the narratives, but all I feel is pain and resentment. This Bills team is going to break me by the end of the year, I can feel it.

NFL Week 10 Recap

Falcons 15, Panthers 25

Do you remember that Thursday Night Football special I did an ad for a few weeks ago? Well, good news, since I’m pleased to report that we have a sequel! That was this game. Behold, a match between two struggling teams in a rain-soaked Charlotte as the Panthers lorded it over their neighbor to the south and kept Mariota and his merry men in check for most of the game. Let’s check on the fan apathy meter real quick and- oh lord, the readings are through the roof. Atlanta, that shocking promise you had after leading the division outright is now gone, kindly report to the tank bowl registration to claim your late spot.

 

Seahawks 16, Buccaneers 21

This game felt like we rewound the clock to last year. The Seahawks were shot down back to earth this week as the Bucs toyed with them all game long to a captive audience of Germans as they got to witness the equivalent of the Dresden firebombing. Outright domination, with so many Seahawks killed in action that Tampa felt comfortable letting Leonard Fournette play quarterback for a snap. Despite a late comeback attempt by Seattle, it was all for nothing, as the Bucs’ running game woke from its underachieving slumber to burn the clock out and get them back to .500. It may be the worst thing for Tampa in the long run but let them have this. Their city may be going into a sports dark age soon.

 

Lions 31, Bears 30

Prepare yourselves… for a TANK BOWL!

For those of you not familiar with this unofficial tradition, let me start by explaining the rules of Tank Bowl real quick. The goal is to lose the game. Yes, completely against any kind of athletic ambition, but the prize of the first overall pick will do wonders for the franchise. With no draft lottery in the NFL, tanking is a very real phenomenon, and both the Bears and Lions are avid participants in this quest for the other #1. Justin Fields does not agree. He’s got a chip on his shoulder, and he’ll rampage through that garbage Lions’ defense until morale improves. Unfortunately for him, but fortunately for the Bears’ top brass, their tattered remnants of a “D” valiantly remembered the true prize and allowed Jared Goff to torch them on the final drive. Chicago had an opportunity to save their season with this win, but once again came up short. Think about it, if they didn’t sell at the deadline and completely gut their defense, they could be knocking on the door of the playoffs with how weak the NFC is this year. Detroit gets more false hope before a December anvil falls on them.

 

Browns 17, Dolphins 39

This game was a tale of two franchises: the injury-riddled amputee that gets routinely kicked into a curb, and the former pauper that recently won the lottery and is doing everything right. No surprises here, except that the Dolphins now control their destiny in the AFC east thanks to the Bills’ choke job. What a time. Cleveland, meanwhile, falls to 3-6 and will be needing several Christmas miracles to get back into playoff contention. It’s too bad their next opponent is only…Buffalo. Dawg Pound, get the liquor, you’ll need plenty of it. Only two more weeks until Deshaun Watson gets released from the Ginger Emperor’s basement, guys.

 

Broncos 10, Titans 17

Two bad coaches leading struggling teams in a battle for mediocrity. You know what this means. The return of the ineptitude bowl!

You thought you had a break from these things last week, didn’t you? That’s where you’re wrong. Denver needs no introduction to the art of ineptitude. Over $300 million was invested into their offense and they still can’t move a feather when they get the ball. Tennessee, meanwhile, didn’t fare much better. While the newly minted Ryan Tannehill was able to sky the ball with success due to a battered Broncos defense, their vaunted rushing attack was stifled for most of the game. Unfortunately, one team had to win, and the Titans claimed victory thanks to sheer defensive will. I would call for the Hack to be fired after this loss, but this is Elway, and he won’t do a thing until his hand is forced.

 

Vikings 33, Bills 30 (OT)

Do you seriously expect this kind of game can be confined to a normal recap segment? This deserves more of… an autopsy. God, this Bills team is going to make me lose every one of my few brain cells by the end of the year.

 

Texans 16, Giants 24

The Giants continue their cakewalk schedule in earnest. This time, they’re facing Houston. There was no chance from the start. They’re built like a college team, which might explain why Danny Dimes was much more in his element this game. Despite Kenny Golladay’s best efforts at sabotage, New York improves to 7-2 by suffocating their opponents through Brian Daboll’s willpower. The schedule gets a bit tougher from this point forward, but barring a collapse, they should make the playoffs. I’m still not sold on their prospects there, but with that kind of scheming, they’ll at least be competitive.

 

Jaguars 17, Chiefs 27

Jags fans thought they had a shot after last week’s victory, didn’t they? Let’s put that to rest this week, as they are facing, let’s see here, the Chiefs. Kansas City didn’t even need to try; just maintaining a steady pulse would have won this game. They even allowed Jacksonville to attempt a comeback but managed to come out on top in the end. Even better, due to the rest of the conference collapsing, the Chiefs are now back in sole possession of the #1 seed in the AFC. The other 15 teams in the conference groan in unison.

Saints 10, Steelers 20

Prepare yourselves… FOR ANOTHER TANK BOWL!

The second tank bowl of the week takes us to Heinz Field. There’s still a fleeting chance for both these squads, their conference foes looking for closure. Throughout the game, Pittsburgh would continually prove itself superior, despite Matt Canada doing his best to shoot the offense in the foot. Behind the return of TJ Watt, the Steelers maintain a faint pulse and avoid having to be placed on life support. For the Saints, meanwhile, a 3-7 start is concerning, but there’s still a chance with how weak the NFC south is. Tampa leads it with a 5-5 record. One of the four teams in the South will get a home playoff game. God, this division is such trash and I love it.

 

Colts 25, Raiders 20

Two teams in freefall and dealing with executive and organizational turmoil. If this isn’t an ineptitude bowl, I don’t know what is.

The Raiders need no introduction. Josh McDaniels has been revealed to be a total hack and is running all of his talent into the ground. As for Indy, their spot in the ineptitude bracket would usually be filled by Frank Reich and his mumbling motivation tactics. That is not the case. Enter interim coach Jeff Saturday, hired off the street by Irsay to be a yes-man until the end of the season. Why else would Matt Ryan be back under center this week? To be fair, it was the right move, and it paid off in this scenario, mostly thanks to the Raiders’ defense. Do you know how awful you have to be to make Ryan look like Lamar Jackson when he scrambles out of the pocket? The Raiders somehow did it. Congratulations, Vegas, you successfully lost to a Colts team and a head coach that hasn’t even worked a full week in the profession past the high school level. The Raiders have hit rock bottom. A 2-7 record. Derek Carr, broken to the point where he’s literally crying in the press conference. Davante Adams, wasted on an offense that has no clue what it’s doing. I’ll say what I did at the beginning of the year: Letting Rich Bisaccia walk was the worst move the Raiders have made since bringing back Jon Gruden. The fraud they hired in Bisaccia’s place is running this team into the ground and sinking it into quicksand.

Hold up, we have a new invoice from the Raiders’ top brass. Josh McDaniels, drumroll please, will…not be fired. If it weren’t for a certain snake from Washington, Mark Davis would be the worst owner in the NFL right now. His refusal to make a necessary change has already cost his team the season but might screw them over years down the road as well. I would start preparing the sacrifice offering for Black Monday, but the Raiders are too old-school to even know about it. But loyalty, am I right?

 

Cardinals 27, Rams 17

In the bloodbath that is the NFC west, we get a special event this week. A MARQUEE INJURY BOWL!

Both teams were dealing with so many injuries before the game that it made it extremely hard to watch. To start with, both starting quarterbacks were out with injuries: Kyler took a big hit last week against Seattle, and Matt Stafford was out with a concussion. This meant that the QB battle for this game would be Colt McCoy vs. John Wolford. Ugly football at its finest. That’s not all: to flex their superiority over LA, the Cardinals injured Cooper Kupp. Nothing serious, just a high ankle sprain that could put him on IR. The Rams are in some serious trouble. Kupp is the only reason why that offense has been humming at all this year, and if their WR1 is Ben Skowronek they’re in serious trouble. Arizona gets more false hope before they lose nine of ten to end the season in their patented collapse.

 

Cowboys 28, Packers 31 (OT)

America’s Game of the Week was worthy of such a title today. Nothing makes this country more united than watching the Dallas Cowboys get utterly embarrassed on national television. Remember all the talking heads praising Dan Quinn and the job he’s done with this defense? How in god’s name did they make the Packers’ offense look good? The same one that got stonewalled by Detroit? Their offense at least pulled their weight—for the first three quarters. Once darkness fell on Lambeau the entire team just froze like the field of play and allowed the Packers back into it with 14 unanswered points. They even win the overtime coin toss with a chance to make up for this ineptitude, but Mike McCarthy happens, and the Cowboys turn it over on downs. The Packers find their lost magic horseshoe and march down the field to kick the game-winning field goal. Just like every other big game they’ve had against Green Bay, Dallas finds a way to lay an egg and choke away an easy win. Say it with me, everyone! HOW ‘BOUT THEM COWBOYS!!! God, this team is trash. No wonder Skip Bayless is so upset.

 

Chargers 16, 49ers 22

San Fran is a lot better than their record suggests. Ever since acquiring McCaffrey, they have been on a tear and there aren’t many that can stop them. An example of this is their scrum against the LA Chargers. While the offense took a while to get going, the defense managed to clamp down and suffocate a talented Chargers offense. I’m impressed with what’s going on in Santa Clara. Unless they fall apart, they control their destiny for the division. I can’t wait. San Fran in the playoffs is always a treat. Shanahan is going to get his ring at some point, I can feel it.

Commanders 32, Eagles 21

Washington playing spoiler on the road against an undefeated team as a double-digit underdog. Where have I seen this before? Throughout the game, the Commies sculpted their game plan flawlessly. On offense, the receivers carved holes in the Eagles’ allegedly impenetrable defense. Their defense shut down Hurts and sustained pressure against him throughout the game. Philly’s turnovers did the rest. Despite getting screwed over by the refs on a missed facemask on one of their lost fumbles, the Eagles did themselves no favors. Only the Eagles would stumble into a big passing play, only to have the receiver fumble the ball for a turnover while sprinting for the end zone. Couldn’t have happened to a more deserving fan base, I can tell you that. When the Commies got the ball back to run out the clock, Brandon Graham decided it would be a good time to pancake Heinicke and trigger a roughing the passer penalty, all but ending the game. Do you know what this means? The last undefeated team has fallen. The ‘72 Dolphins get their one day of relevance as they flaunt the shorter schedule of the 70s.

NFL Week 9 Recap

Eagles 29, Texans 17

This game was exhibit R as to why Thursday Night Football is a terrible blight on humanity. The Eagles looked unprepared and sloppy as they allowed Houston to keep it close for 3 quarters. After this charade, the top-heavy nature of the NFL restored itself as Philly cruised to yet another victory since Houston’s defense is about as porous as a hunk of Swiss. Philly goes to 8-0 as a result and gives Philadelphians a pound of flesh from Houston to compensate for all the misery from the world series.

Colts 3, Patriots 26

Remember when the Colts’ offensive line was considered the class of the NFL? I remember. About how everyone was praising them and their winning culture? That came to a screeching halt Sunday afternoon. Just like most other winnable games for them this year, Indy marched into Foxboro and got wrecked. That vaunted offensive line was a sieve today, allowing 9 sacks as the Colts couldn’t move on offense all day long. No mercy from the Patriots, who have now won 2 straight to thrust themselves back into the AFC playoff picture. Indy, meanwhile, falls into the pits of despair. 3-5-1 and they still have to play the rest of the NFC east. It’s not like I jinxed them or anything—oh, right, I had them going to the playoffs in my season preview.

After this alarming start, Ballard finally pulled the trigger. Frank Reich has been fired. It honestly should have happened after last year’s choke against the Jaguars, but Carson Wentz was sacrificed to Ballard instead in a desperation maneuver. Reich was way past his expiration date with the team, and his baffling play-calling and decisions this year proved it. Nonetheless, he is a good coach when put in the right situation. The Colts’ perennial playoff contention since he got hired is proof of such thinking. He won’t be out in the cold for long.

 

Packers 9, Lions 15

Green Bay has hit rock bottom. Against the Commies and Bills, you could excuse their god-awful performances as both those teams have solid defenses, but against this outfit? The worst defense in the league by every conceivable metric outright owned Rodgers and the Packers all day long. The Packerena needed a strong performance to save their season and what they got instead was 3 red zone interceptions and getting stopped on 4th down 3 other times. Aren’t you guys so proud, cheeseheads? Your team just lost to one of the worst teams in football. This is a team that is openly tanking for Bryce Young and you allowed them to waltz all over Ford Field. What a waste of that defense. Embarrassing.

 

Chargers 20, Falcons 17

Two teams that like nothing more than choking the game away to a crowd of mostly stadium seats. This glorious match somehow has playoff implications as well, due to inflated records and weak conferences in the case of Atlanta. Throughout the game, the tension was tight, and both teams traded blows and tried to hand each other the game at the same time. However, there was hope. The Falcons picked off Herbert on their final drive. Unfortunately, there’s a catch. The returner fumbled the football and gave it right back to the Chargers. They proceed to march down the field and boot the game-winning field goal. Atlanta is back to horrible pain, and Brandon Staley survives yet another undeserved day before out-geniusing himself out of his coaching position.

 

Bills lol, Jets 20

This game did not happen. I refuse to believe it. They lost to the freaking Jets and now I’m going to get dunked on for the rest of the year at minimum. I need another article to discuss this dubious game in more detail. Can North Korea just nuke us already, please? I need an out from the pain.

 

Vikings 20, Commanders 17

This dubious game does not get such an honor. Galvanized by 3 straight wins, Washington welcomed their old quarterback into the FedEx landfill and bullied him for 3 quarters straight. A 17-7 lead should put them away. Wait, never mind, since the Commies reverted to past form and allowed Minnesota to do just enough to escape with a win. This has been the story of the Vikings so far; look awful and are exposed against inferior competition but find a way to win regardless. Next week, though, will be the true test. For the sake of my sanity, I hope they lose in humiliating fashion.

 

Panthers 21, Bengals 42

Poaching is a serious issue in North America. Illegal hunting of Panthers has been prevalent for generations and has reduced their population to a mere hundreds. But what if I told you that the NFL not only encourages such actions but actively partakes in them as well? My friends, that’s exactly what happened this past Sunday, as Carolina walked into Paycor Stadium and was predictably slaughtered and hunted to extinction. 35 unanswered points scored by the Bungles before the Panthers’ offense even considered showing up. Cincy may have saved their season with this one, and they made it look easy. As for Carolina, the road to the top draft pick never ends. Carry on.

 

Raiders 20, Jaguars 27

The good news for the Raiders is that they scored points. 17 of them unanswered to start the game, to be exact. Remember what happened last time Vegas started a game this way? They collapsed on the road and allowed a team caught in a beartrap to escape into a running car and plow them over with it. Yet another humiliation was on the docket this week, as the Jags dominated in the second half to not only keep their season on life support but hand the Raiders yet another loss in a game they needed to win to keep their dwindling playoff hopes alive. Josh McDaniels isn’t on the hot seat—he’s upgraded to a bonfire.

 

Dolphins 35, Bears 32

While it probably won’t matter this season thanks to the Bears’ slow start, this may have been a breakout game for Justin Fields. 4 total touchdowns, 3 of them passing, and over 175 yards on the ground, a truly magnificent performance. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about their defense. Who knew that trading away their two best players would make them weak and unable to stop a feather against a quality offense? They got picked to the bone by a Dolphins offense that has looked highly suspect these past few weeks. I’ll give them credit for sticking around until the end, but 3-6 is a tough hole to climb out of. Then again, with how insane this season has been, it’s not impossible.

 

Seahawks 31, Cardinals 21

These two teams are in opposite positions than where I thought they would be back in their season preview. I figured the Cardinals would be contenders while Seattle would be deep into a tank year. What has happened instead is that Arizona is clinging to a ledge while the eternally underrated Seahawks have hit a stride we haven’t seen out of them since their Super Bowl window a decade ago. They look legit, and they made it known in style, marching into Arizona and imposing their will on a battered and fatigued Cardinals team that has now resorted to scrapping each other on the sidelines. I must say, Seattle is turning a lot of heads with this streak they’re on. I don’t know if this is sustainable, especially from Geno, but consider me intrigued. However, I won’t lavish too much praise on them yet, especially with how my playoff predictions are turning out so far. Gotta play it safe.

 

Rams 13, Buccaneers 16

This was one of the worst excuses for a Nantz and Romo game I’ve seen in a while. Terrible offensive line play, an inability to move the ball, and both teams were in the single digits well into the third quarter. Oh, and Brady got his 100,000th passing yard. I don’t know if the media has rubbed it in our faces enough, but instead, we can watch him get stopped on a 4th and 6 to give the ball back to LA with under 2 minutes to play. They may have been forced to punt but Brady was starting on his own 40 with no timeouts and 45 seconds. Rams fans thought they had this in the bag. The defense then told them to hold their drink. Leaving the sidelines and short passes open, they willingly allowed Brady to pick them apart as he marched down the field for a touchdown as the Rams snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Tampa Bay is consumed by false hope as they drunkenly stumble into a tie with Atlanta for the division. All of the 13 Rams fans now want Jalen Ramsey burned at the stake.

 

Titans 17, Chiefs 20

The Titans have had a very weak schedule, but a 5-game winning streak is nothing to take lightly, especially with the performance they put on at Arrowhead. Despite their offense deciding to sell at the worst possible time, the defense suffocated KC for 3 quarters and made all their skill players throw fits on the sidelines. With a more experienced QB and nonpartisan officials, they probably win this game. This is Tennessee’s loss to be proud of. They may have come up short, but putting up that kind of defensive showing against Mahomes is no joke. I’m kind of proud of them in a way. Just thank the lord the AFC South is as trash as it is right now.

 

Ravens 27, Saints 13

On this hallowed Monday Night on Bourbon Street, we took a trip back in time to the age of the Romans. A bunch of battered, fatigued Saints led by Andy Dalton were chucked into the arena and slowly pecked to death by the Ravens in an act of religious persecution. After this brutal annihilation, the corpse of the New Orleans offense was laid out and feasted upon by the carrion birds that are the Baltimore defense. They were relentless, they were solid, and they made big splash plays to secure the win. However, this might be going against their true best interests. Remember, each win is another undeserved day that Harbaugh and Roman are secure in their jobs. Ravens fans should be hoping they lose so that some long-overdue change is made to the coaching staff.

Anatomy of (Another) Choke: Bills @ Jets (11/6/22)

The Bills just played their worst game of the season. Even worse than the Miami game that was also separated. You know what this means. I need more than a recap segment to cover this, erm… glorious occasion. Somebody kill me, please.

The buildup to this game was pretty unassuming. The Bills were coming off a win, but admittedly a lackluster performance against a Packers team deep into a decline. The Jets, meanwhile, were coming off their worst game of the season; a 22-10 loss to a Patriots team that looked dead on arrival. However, this wouldn’t be Bills football without more injuries on defense, because we haven’t had enough of that over the past month and change. This time, safety Jordan Poyer and the Bills’ best linebacker in Matt Milano were both injured and out for the game. Also, as usual, Buffalo entered the game as a huge favorite. -400 to be exact. Despite the injury concerns, it was looking to be a stomping of all things Jets.

It seemed that way to start. The Jets did their typical thing of tripping over themselves- quite literally. Their punter slipped on the opening kickoff and the Bills recovered at the 45-yard line. One play later and they were in the red zone. What happened next? Allen lobbing a meatball to the defense for an easy pick… wait, what? That’s not in the script. Oh well, then. Hopefully, the interception would lead them to realize the Jets would play hard. They seemed to get the message. A 3-and-out gave the ball right back to Buffalo, who drove the length of the field for an efficient touchdown. The Jets would go back down the field for a field goal, but this is Buffalo, they’ll ram the ball and finish it early. So their offense stalled out, too. Okay, time to settle for plan B: Have the defense turn into a brick wall. They made stop after stop as the Jets could do nothing with the ball. Even the offense woke from its underachieving slumber to score another touchdown. The Bills were suffocating the Jets in their own home, everything was going to plan- until their defense chose to bend on the final drive of the half to allow a touchdown.

With the game at 14-10 at halftime, there weren’t any serious issues that were bubbling to the surface. Yes, it probably shouldn’t have been a 1-score game and Allen looked a little off, but the Bills had been a 2nd half team all year. They would wake up in the 3rd quarter to finish the Jets.

Or not, as they keep getting in their own way on offense. It’s alright, though, look at the defense recover a Jets fumble in the red zone for a critical stop! It would be roses and sunshine as Allen drops back to throw… another pick. This was one of the worst performances I’ve personally seen Allen put up. Wildly inaccurate, reverting to rookie form, and unable to throw downfield. He’s lucky the Jets DBs couldn’t catch a cold, or he would have had at least 3 more interceptions. The Jets take advantage of the prime field position to score a touchdown. It’s all right, though, the Bills went down and tied the game at 17. Even better, they stopped the Jets and had another chance to punch it in. In typical fashion as of late, they stalled out thanks to an underthrown ball and punt the ball back to the Jets. This is where the Bills’ defense finally broke. Gashed by the Jets’ running game all 2nd half, they willingly lied down and allowed the Jets to get into field goal range. They took the lead with a minute and change left, but if anyone could come from behind in this situation, it’s the Bills. Watch them go, as… a holding call backs them up and they turn it over on downs. Jets win.

This was honestly one of the worst games I’ve seen out of the Bills in a very long time. The Miami game could be excused due to the conditions, but this? Against an 11.5-point underdog, with no wind, mild temperatures, and none of their offensive skill players injured? This should have been cake! They proceeded to blow it, just like most other times they’re facing an inferior opponent. The Jets’ defense was in and out of the infirmary for most of the game. Even with everything lining up in the Bills’ favor, they still found a way to screw up immaculately and made the Buttfumblers’ defense look like the ‘85 Bears. New York did nothing special. They were fine, but they didn’t make that many big plays that weren’t handed to them by Buffalo. The Bills beat themselves, just like most of their losses over the past two seasons. It’s the equivalent of the Luigi wins by doing nothing meme. Now they’re potentially in trouble with Minnesota coming up next week and only a half-game lead in the division. Oh yeah- the division. What was once thought of as all but Buffalo’s property is now up in the air once again as the Jets and Dolphins both hold tiebreakers. Shameful.

NFL Week 8 Recap

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Ravens 27, Buccaneers 22

A matchup hyped as a clash of the titans before the year instead turned out to be a battle between struggling, mid-tier squads trying to keep pace in their respective conferences. Throughout the game, Baltimore would continually prove itself superior. It probably had something to do with the Bucs’ offense struggling to get going again, but a win is a win, especially in Baltimore. They also managed to hang onto a double-digit lead, something quite foreign as of late. The Bucs, meanwhile, should be in panic mode. Tom Brady’s swan song is not going well for him at all. Maybe he should pull a Vontae Davis and retire at halftime next week.

Broncos 21, Jaguars 17

Yes, another London game. The NFL wants to showcase the best and brightest the league has to offer. I mean, there is a former first-overall pick leading the way. He felt like shooting his team in the foot yet again on the international stage. This week’s serving of misery, two picks as the Jags go back into freefall. Remember that optimism their fans felt after week 3, yep, that’s all gone now. Denver barely had to even try, just maintaining a pulse would have won this game. They keep their slim playoff hopes alive with this win.

Dolphins 31, Lions 27

Every time I think Detroit can’t one-up themselves in the disappointment and fan agony department, they find a way to up the ante tenfold. This week, it started with accruing a 27-17 lead by halftime and then imploding to allow 14 unanswered to lose the game and fall to 1-6. While they are better than their record, the Lions’ issues are starting to bubble up to the surface. Their defense is terrible. I could literally use a handheld fan to blow them over. They allowed a Dolphins group that has had trouble on offense to keep pace with them to secure the ugly W. Next week, they get the Packers at home in the dome. Maybe the offense will finally show up for all 60 minutes.

Panthers 28, Falcons 34

It’s a match between two mediocre teams fighting for first place in the worst division in football. You know what this means. A HEAVYWEIGHT INEPTITUDE BOWL!!!

This game lived up to the hype. Penalties, turnovers, defensive collapses, this game had it all. Atlanta looked to have this game in cruise control, but Carolina was clawing back with 15 points in the 4th quarter. Even then, it looked like the end was near. Carolina was on their own 38 down by 6 with 12 seconds left. What’s a more Falcons thing to do than to give up a 62-yard hail mary to tie the game? Oh, but the ineptitude and choking went both ways in this game. Enter DJ Moore, who took off his helmet during the touchdown celebration triggering a 15-yard taunting penalty, and pushing the game-winning extra point back to 48 yards. Piniero misses and the game goes to overtime. That’s not all on the Carolina side, though. After stopping the Falcons on the first drive of overtime, what is their logical response? Missing another field goal. This time, a 31-yard chip shot. In a dome. This is when the Falcons finally get their act together and drive the length of the field for a successful kick of their own. They lead the NFC south as a result of this win. It’s a step in the right direction, but this team is better than their record suggests. If it weren’t for choking and refball, they would be 6-2 right now. Arthur Smith has done a phenomenal job so far. As for Carolina, this one stings. 2-6 is a hard hole to climb out of, but this NFL season has been so crazy that anything is possible at this point.

 

Cardinals 26, Vikings 34

Minnesota is coming off their bye week. They need some training wheels to get back into the flow of the season. Hey look, the Arizona Cardinals! They are the perfect antidote to any rust a team may accrue. In addition to their defense being terrible by default, they also have all their running backs injured, meaning the Vikings D could zone in on the pass. It got a bit scary for Minnesota near the end, but they prevailed thanks to their offensive firepower and Kyler Murray auditioning for gamer of the year with two picks. I still don’t know what to think of the Vikings, though. The 6-1 record is impressive, but there are inherent flaws in their organization that will likely be exposed when they face real teams. Only time will tell. Meanwhile, turmoil once again engulfs the desert as the calls for Kliff Kingsbury to be fired keep mounting. He’s not on a hot seat, he’s upgraded to a spit roast.

Bears 29, Cowboys 49

It’s amazing what can happen when a young backup is unexpectedly thrust into a starting role due to injury. It sometimes results in that player putting their name on the map in bold font with a breakout performance. Folks, on Sunday, we witnessed such a game from Tony Pollard. Free from the shackles of Zeke, he ran all over Jerry World to have a career day. 131 yards on the ground and 3 touchdowns on just 14 carries. Now a running back controversy surfaces. Pollard is good, but do they go back to Zeke once he’s healthy? Given the issues Dallas was dealing with earlier in the season, this is a good problem to have.

Bears fans, though, were forced to take the L for the second time in two days. An era is officially over. Roquan Smith is gone. What was once the pride of Ryan Pace’s draft resume has now been dealt to the Baltimore Ravens for a 2nd and a 5th-round pick. With that, all the members of the Monsters of Midway front 7 are now gone. The sad part is that the Bears could have been so much better. They had it all. The best defense in football, a potent running game, and explosive wide receivers, were all wasted. I know Bears fans will, by default, blame Parkey for this, but the real eye of the fanbase should be on Nagy and Pace. Their neglect of the QB position is the reason the Bears are irrelevant and spinning the tires right now. What a shame.

 

Raiders 0, Saints 24

Good news, boys! If you played fantasy football and scored any points last week, you were officially more productive than the Raiders offense. They got shut out by the Saints. The same injury-riddled mess of a defense that got torched by Arizona of all teams. Derek Carr could get nothing going on offense all game and produced so many turnovers you would think he ran a bakery. Vegas didn’t even get past midfield until the 4th quarter; they were that suffocated. It got so bad that Carr was benched for Jarrett Stidham. And he did a significantly better job. Panic time, Raider Nation. Your hunt for a head coach after the Gruden fallout will continue in earnest. Josh McDaniels is not the droid you’re looking for. In fact, he is a perfect microcosm of this organization; full of disappointment and failure.

 

Steelers 13, Eagles 35

This is what the college ranks would call “the win-padding game” where the superior team brings some weak cannon fodder to their stadium to get the brakes beat off them to tens of thousands of fans. The benefit of college is that those teams are paid to get cattle-prodded on national television. The Steelers are not. This week, they got completely owned by the Eagles’ defense and their new toy in Robert Quinn thanks to handless receivers and an awful offensive line. 6 sacks for the Birds’ front seven as this game wasn’t anywhere near competitive. The road to the first overall pick continues in earnest for the Black and Gold brigade. Wake me up when that fraud Matt Canada gets fired.

 

Patriots 22, Jets 17

New England’s season may be a trainwreck so far, but they can indulge in a familiar pastime to get their minds off it: dunking on the Jets. Even at 5-2, their offense would be easy prey for the Pats’ defense. Zach Wilson reverted to rookie form today, throwing 3 picks and reminding everyone that the Jets are simply overachieving and still aren’t very sustainable. This game was over by the time the Pats took the lead in the 3rd quarter, and the Buttfumble squad spent the rest of the game fruitlessly playing catch-up as Belichick toyed with them. That’s 13 straight losses to your abusive schoolmasters in New England now. See you in Foxboro for another wasted defensive effort, New Jersey! Next week, you get the Bills. You’re going to need all the help you get.

 

Titans 17, Texans 10

I have one takeaway from this game: Malik Willis ain’t ready yet. He was thrust into play thanks to a Tannehill illness. For all those Titans fans clamoring to see him start, you’d might as well duck and cover, as Willis went 6 for 10 with a pick. Fortunately, the Titans have a different weapon they can utilize when their passing attack is neutralized; the wrecking ball of Derrick Henry. He was the only reason Tennessee won this game, and ran all over the Texans’ defense for over 200 yards. Despite this, they only scored 17 points against the worst team in football. The Titans go to 5-2, but a pretty weak one. I’ll just wait until the annual playoff choke to ridicule them any further.

 

Giants 13, Seahawks 27

I knew this was long overdue for the Giants. They’re a young team with a first-year coach that plays a highly unsustainable style. It was only a matter of time until their various self-inflicted wounds caught up with them. The Seahawks are just the kind of team that will capitalize on such errors. Thanks to awful special teams play and a collapsing defense, the Giants were brought back to earth in convincing fashion as, don’t look now, Seattle has won their 3rd straight and are looking like world beaters. Geno Smith’s revenge tour is going nicely, and a win against the other mistake from Jersey in week 17 will complete his arc.

Commanders 17, Colts 16

The Colts are in a state of freefall. Matt Ryan was benched after last week’s debacle for gross incompetence and a cooked arm. In comes Sam Ehlinger and the offense predictably stuck to its script of shooting themselves in the foot for every toe they have. Their scrum against the Commies was a comedy of errors from the get-go. Fumbles, turnovers, and punting as far as the eye could see- at least until the 4th quarter. It is here that the offense wakes up and guides them to a 6-point lead with less than a minute left. It would take a miracle for Washington to come back. Wouldn’t you know it, that’s just what happened. The Colts’ defense, learning nothing from the past few weeks, got wrecked on a hail mary and a subsequent goal line play, allowing Washington to score a touchdown and win the game with an extra point. I must tip my cap to the Commanders. They’ve used some impressive sorcery to revive their dead season. The schedule gets a good bit tougher from this point forward, but I’m intrigued to see how far their momentum carries them. If anyone can motivate these guys to play hard, it’s Ron Rivera.

49ers 31, Rams 14

San Fran going into LA and utterly owning the Rams in a pivotal game. Now, where have I seen this before? The Niners stuck to their usual routine of relegating the Rams to property in the regular season. This week’s honorary ram-beater was Christian McCaffrey, who became only the 3rd running back in history to have a triple crown in touchdowns. That’s 4 straight season sweeps of the Rams in the regular season now. This was a good bounceback from the KC debacle last week.

 

Packers 17, Bills 27

So this is what it looks like to see a career wither and die. A depleted Packers squad with Aaron Rodgers frustrated because all of his good wide receivers are in the hospital would be easy prey for, let’s see here, the Bills. Surprisingly, this game wasn’t an absolute blowout as was foreseen, thanks to Josh Allen reverting to rookie form in the 2nd half, but even then, it was too little, too late. Buffalo soars to their best start since 1993 at 6-1 with this win, as Green Bay is now teetering on the edge of the pits of despair. Inking Rodgers to that giant contract before the season may have been a mistake. All their eggs are now in one basket and they have no set plan B. The barren tundra of Lambeau might be getting a lot colder soon.

 

Bengals 13, Browns 32

The Battle of Ohio. The only thing this snooze fest of a game ever tells us is which coach is closer to being fired. This year, it’s Zac Taylor. This level of talent from the Bungles should not be hovering around .500 this far into the season. Something needs to change, and it needs to start with the guy calling the plays. The Bungles went into the Dawg Pound and got wrecked. Jacoby Brissett torched that grease fire they call a defense, and they had no answers for Amari Cooper all night long. Super Bowl contenders? They might not even make the playoffs this year. They need Ja’Marr back and they need him back now.

Humans of Northwood: Carter Day ‘23 

“I really enjoy paddling, when I have time for it. Time spent outside is always good. I live on the Saranac Chain [of lakes], so pretty much in my backyard, I have a huge amount of water that’s open to me to use. I’ve been using it since I was really little, and I’ve grown quite fond of it. It’s a great way to get away from the hustle and bustle of school or work, and it’s incredible to be out in the Adirondack backcountry. 

“I’ve skied since I was two, and I joined NYSEF when I was seven. NYSEF was great. It gave me an identity – I had never been one for team sports – and it allowed me to get out and do something physical, which I really needed, and it gave me a passion. I also built a really strong group of friends through it. I had a lot of injuries, and the support that came from NYSEF when I had those injuries was remarkable. When I was seven, I took a wrong turn on Mount Hood glacier and ended up lost on the wrong side of Mount Hood, in territory known for crevasses and mountain lions. I don’t remember much about it, except I remember being very scared, and very tired after hiking out of it, which took me 3 or 4 hours with skis on my back. 

“I was always interested in climbing, but I was never able to get out and do it. And then NOC came around at the time when I was thinking about ending my [ski] racing career. The only thing that I was really on the fence about was leaving a racing community that I’d been in since I was little. As I was deciding what to do, I spent a day climbing with NOC and felt very welcomed by the group and by Mr. O’Connor, and I decided that NOC would be a better fit for me than the ski team and that there would be a significantly lower chance of injuries for me. 

“Downstairs Boat Rental is a company I started two years ago that specializes in short-term boat rentals on Mirror Lake. People come from all over the world to paddle on Mirror Lake, and the purpose of the boat rental is to get them on the water and enjoy the water for what it is. Owning DBR is a huge responsibility and balancing it with school can be very difficult at times. While it’s also a huge responsibility, it has also been a privilege to be able to have the experience of running something like that. It’s taught me more about the adult world than I ever really thought I would know, and it’s provided an excellent lens into what it really means to own a business, and how much work it entails. Before I started, I had no idea how much it would take. 

“I’m really excited for the ski season. I’m lucky enough to be going to Utah for two weeks in January, and I’m super excited to get out and ski somewhere new, and that’s what I’ve been thinking about in terms of this year. Otherwise, I’m really excited to see what we can do with NOC. I’m amazed by the caliber of the trips that NOC is attempting this year. I’m also really excited for college. I don’t know where I’m going to go yet, but I’m excited to get out and see the world a bit, and experience new cultures.”  

As told to Gus Garvey ’25. Photo by Mr. Michael Aldridge.

World Series Preview

The best month of the baseball season has come and gone, and the World Series is beginning to come into view. Before we go over the World Series matchup, let’s recap how everyone else did.  

 

Toronto Blue Jays 

This year was supposed to be the movie to last year’s trailer, according to Vlad Guererro. It was, in a way. It was a horror film of choking and failure that diverted attention away from the Leafs for a few days. Toronto’s trip to the playoffs couldn’t have gone worse than it did. They got dominated by Seattle in game 1, but the real magic took place in the elimination game. A 7-run lead in the 6th inning should have been game over. They chose to imitate most of Toronto’s sports over the past decade by blowing that lead too. Aren’t you guys so proud, Jays fans? Way to waste the best season you’ve had in 6 years. Now Toronto can go back to crying over the Leafs and Raptors as they continue to underachieve.  

Tampa Bay Rays 

This year was more of the same for the Rays. A great regular season, followed up by an embarrassing playoff collapse. Even on the road against a division winner, the Rays were favored to advance into the playoffs. Instead, they got ground into dust by a far inferior opponent. Tampa chose to execute death-by-bullpen in game 2 and it backfired horrifically. Time for the organization to cut more payroll this winter. It’s honestly deserved.  

 

St. Louis Cardinals 

The voodoo magic didn’t carry over into the playoffs. Despite home field and a huge advantage in pitching, the clock once again struck midnight on the Cinderella Cardinals. The Phillies pummeled them into submission with the long ball and St. Louis’s bats couldn’t keep up, leading to an embarrassing sweep. So long to Albert Pujols’s swan song.  

 

New York Mets 

I thought these guys had turned the corner. That was until they executed what was quite possibly the most heartbreaking skid in recent Mets history. With a 10.5-game lead over the Braves at the beginning of September, what did they do? Collapse and fizzle out just like every other year. The highlight of which was getting swept by that Braves team in the final week to complete the choke. All hope wasn’t lost, though. They were facing a Padres team that they dominated in the regular season. However, this is the Mets we are dealing with. What do you think happened? That’s right, their power bats suffered deathly silence as Hader and Musgrove pitched circles around them. A 101-win season and they still find agonizing ways to let their fans down. Steve Cohen is now the most frustrated owner in professional sports. Jacob DeGrom will be catching the first bus out of town, too. I smell a purge. 

Seattle Mariners 

They came; they saw; they got their butts kicked. Going into Houston is a tall task on its own, but the Mariners chose to find new and creative ways to give their fans their annual metaphorical junk shot. In game 1, with a 7-5 lead and the Astros down to their final strike, they decided to pitch to the best slugger in the league with an inconsistent reliever. Guess what happened. That’s right, he hit a walk-off bomb to win game 1. You thought that was it for the pain, you’re wrong. How about an 18-inning loss at home to lose the series? The games were close, and they have hope for next year, but this is still a crushing loss. Now all attention in that city focuses on the Seahawks as they haven’t been completely terrible this year.  

 

Los Angeles Dodgers 

Dave Roberts needs to be fired. There, I said it. The main reason why the Dodgers lost this series was the guy behind the bench. Roberts is one of the most overrated managers in the game, and his antiquated game planning and strategizing came back to bite the Dodgers in the rear end when it mattered. The last few years you could excuse, what with the mickey mouse title and losing to the eventual champs every other year, oh, but this year against the Padres? They took LA’s big market pain to a whole new level. A 111-win season, Roberts declaring a championship before they even started playing, and a matchup against a team that they all but filed property to in the regular season, and they still fell apart when it mattered due to poor game planning and scheming. Here’s the thing, with all the talent and resources they have, the Dodgers should be making it at least to the World Series every single year. The fact that they haven’t is a damning testament to Roberts’s tenure in LA. Your move, Friedman. Do the right thing this offseason.  

 

Atlanta Braves 

And with that, each NL Division winner has been eliminated in the first round for the first time in the luxury tax era. What killed the Braves in this series was their inability to respond to the Phillies’ bats, and their pitching owning them once they made their way up to the Bell. Losing all those pieces in the offseason wound up coming back to bite them. Do you think they regret being cheap and letting them walk yet? If so, it’s about time.  

 

Cleveland Guardians 

I will now list the only positive of the Guardians’ postseason: They showed effort. That’s all. Against the Yankees, it was an uphill battle from the start, but they still put up a fight and forced a game 5. Once that game got underway, though, it turned into a death march for Cleveland. Home run after home run hit into the seats as the Guardians’ optimism slowly died in front of them. If there’s one thing to take from this year, it’s this: They’re back. I’m looking forward to next year.  

 

San Diego Padres 

The clock struck midnight. There’s nothing else I can say on this front, they just had no answers to Philly’s power bats. The Padres’ biggest issue this year was their bullpen and it showed. Whenever they yanked their starter, it allowed the Phils to run hog wild on them for the rest of the game. Their entire lineup feasted on endless stats and home runs all series. They have hope for next year, especially with Tatis coming back, but this year will be one of the what-ifs. I’m interested to see what they do this off-season.  

 

New York Yankees 

What did I tell you: the Yankees pull this garbage every single year. They had trouble taking out a mediocre team in Cleveland, but against a true juggernaut like Houston, they had no chance. Aaron Judge couldn’t get anything going and the Yankees were swept into the pits of hell by a far superior Houston order. I will say this, Harrison Bader is a transcendent talent and should be treasured. Talent like this would be great if they weren’t the Yankees. They find a way to waste it every year. My point still stands, we need a new manager. The Bronx Bombers won’t stand a chance otherwise.  

With the failures who didn’t make it properly eulogized, it’s time to unveil this year’s World Series matchup and preview the fight for the Commissioner’s trophy.  

 

World Series preview and prediction 

I see this matchup being closer than everyone anticipates. Remember, the Braves and Nationals, both thought of as inferior to Houston, beat these guys in the fall classic to win titles against largely the same roster. The Phillies have some of the best power bats in the league, their deep playoff run this year proves it. However, the real question is if they can hit the Astros’ ace pitching. Signs point to probably. I would show some optimism and hope, but screw you and screw your ambitions, I’m taking the Astros in six. To the chagrin of Yankees fans such as me, the cheating narrative is vanquished and every baseball fan outside of the Houston metro area falls into a bottomless sinkhole. Reverse jinxing, don’t fail me now!  

NFL Week 7 Recap

Saints 34, Cardinals 42

As rare as sanity is in the world right now, we got a good Thursday night football game this week. Saints and Cardinals locked horns in a fight to save their respective seasons. Arizona, though starting slow, turned on their high-octane passing attack in the 2nd half to soar to victory, helped by two ill-timed pick-sixes by Andy Dalton. Arizona may have salvaged its campaign with this win. However, I must warn them; every win is an excuse for the Bidwills to keep Kliff Kingsbury around to bumble more games. Don’t fall for the bait.

 

Browns 20, Ravens 23

I’ve grown tired of all the ballyhooing Ravens fans have done since Sunday. They need to calm down and tone down their arrogance dramatically. They beat the Browns. It’s easy to beat a team that has no offense or competent quarterback, in addition to getting a lot of help from the refs. John Harbaugh and Greg Roman can survive for a day, as they barely escaped with a win against an opponent they should have ground to powder. The seats remain hot for those two, but for at least a day, they get a stay of execution. Cleveland, though, their season is unofficially over. They’ve lost 5 games and they still have to play the Bengals, Bills, and Dolphins. It’s going to be a long year until Watson comes back.

 

Buccaneers 3, Panthers 21

Yet another week where Tampa fails the basic tasks of running an offense and they bumble around for 60 minutes. Even worse, this wasn’t even against a quality opponent. Try the Carolina Panthers. They’re deep in freefall, just fired their coach, traded away their two best offensive weapons, and are starting PJ Walker. Even with all the odds stacked in their favor, Tampa still couldn’t pull off a win against one of the worst teams in the league. This game felt like the Bills-Jags game from last year. My jaw hit the floor. Let’s check in on the enthusiasm meter and- oh god, the readings are through the roof. Charlotte has something to distract them from the Hornets’ failure for a day. They aren’t even out of the division race, either. With a win and a Tampa Bay loss on Thursday, they will lead the NFC south, even after all that’s happened to them.

Hold up, it looks like we might be breaking out the wheel of discipline yet again this year. Ironically, it won’t be any player spinning it but the zebras themselves. Two refs were filmed after the game asking for and receiving autographs from Mike Evans of the Buccaneers. Not only is this completely unprofessional and calls into question the integrity of the game, but it also doesn’t help that getting an autograph from a player is explicitly prohibited in the Referee handbook. The Shield has begun to eat its children after running out of players to judge. What a time.

 

Falcons 17, Bengals 35

Did you see what happened in Charlotte, Falcons? It means you have a chance to claim the division lead. Unfortunately, they ran into a Bengals team that smoked them over a fire for 3 hours and sent their remains to be served at Skyline Chili. Cincy is back to being above .500, and they did it with a dominating win over an upstart Falcons team looking to turn some heads. They’re back to relevance and have a good shot at the division given how much Baltimore has been choking as of late. The sanity has been restored.

 

Lions 6, Cowboys 24

Dak is returning for the Cowboys this week, and what better training wheels to ease back in than the dumpster fire that is the Lions’ defense? Despite looking unsurprisingly off-sync, Dallas roared to life in the 2nd half to put the game away and keep pace with their division rivals. Despite the offensive prowess they showed, I still have some concerns. Detroit is built like a practice squad, which might explain why Prescott was much more in his element. These offensive flaws will catch up to them soon though. I reference last year as evidence.

 

Giants 23, Jaguars 17

A tale of two teams: a group trying to come to terms with their impressively surprising success, and a squad trying to reclaim such success after losing 3 straight. Both teams would trade blows throughout the game, but the Giants were able to surge in the 4th quarter to claim victory, despite having to deal with both refball and a stingy Jags defense. Even then, Jacksonville was only a yard short from victory and showed a lot more fight than their record suggests. They could play some serious spoiler for a playoff hopeful a few weeks down the road. I’m intrigued. The Giants, meanwhile, get their best start since the Coughlin era. Cherish it.

 

Packers 21, Commanders 23

This game taught me one thing: The Packers are absolute garbage this year. Who knew that having no offensive weapons and putting all your eggs in one Aaron Rodgers basket would come back to bite you? They lost to the Washington Commies, a team that is more injured and demoralized than George Orwell’s dystopia. A team starting Taylor Heinicke in his first action this year. A team with Ron Rivera as czar pulling all the strings. Green Bay may have bungled away their hopes at the division with this game, and they’ll get no favors as they face Buffalo next week. Their entire organization is being dragged kicking and screaming into a tank. At least Chicago and Detroit were expected to be horrible, the Packers are just mistake after mistake made over the last decade finally catching up with them. This season is vintage comedy for the rest of the NFC North.

 

Colts 10, Titans 19

Two horrible teams enter, and only one leaves with an undeserved division lead. Fortunately, the Titans managed to screw up a little less than Indy, and drunkenly stumbled to victory thanks to defense and high-end talent. They are now in sole ownership of the division lead, but a pretty weak one. The stars are aligning for yet another first-round playoff exposure, Nashville. The Colts, meanwhile, despite a .500 record, are nowhere near deserving of that stat in actuality. Matt Ryan was injured in the game, and Indy is now forced to dress Sam Ehlinger for next week’s heavyweight Ineptitude Bowl against Washington. Brace yourselves.

 

Texans 20, Raiders 38

With Las Vegas’s early screw-ups, things were looking up for Houston, but their utter lack of offensive talent chose to rear its head at the worst possible moment and the Raiders cruised to victory. The Patriots have always owned Houston, and that trait seemed to have rubbed off onto Josh McDaniels, who was made to look like a genius against the trainwreck the Texans call a defense. However, at 2-4, Vegas isn’t out of the woods yet. They have a tough schedule coming up, and it will be up to them to salvage their season before it completely goes to the dogs. Sadly, with McDaniels at the helm, I don’t see this happening.

Jets 16, Broncos 9

Jets fans, you are today’s recipient of a free win! That’s right, a FREE WIN! You get to go up against a team with no offense to speak of in the Denver Broncos. Even for a group with choking tendencies such as the Jets, Brett Rypien is easy prey for guys like Quinnen Williams. Unfortunately, this win was pyrrhic, as it cost Breece Hall his ACL. Man, the Jets can never get a break, can they?

Fortunately for the Jets, they weren’t destroyed by the Hall injury, as the stoves of the trade deadline were burning with impunity this week. The newest member of the buttfumble brigade is James Robinson, acquired from Jacksonville for a conditional 5th-round pick. Seriously, only a 5th? Baalke is an idiot for this. This is why the Jags can’t have nice things.

 

Chiefs 44, 49ers 23

Before recapping this game, I need to cover the major development in the Bay area over this past week. Remember how I said the trade stoves were extra hot this week? Santa Clara reached down and acquired a generational running back in Christian McCaffrey from the Carolina Panthers for a 2nd, 3rd, and 4th round pick. For a player that was rumored to be worth two firsts at minimum, this is an absolute steal for the Niners. Even better, Shanahan was able to work some simple plays into the book for McCaffrey to use in the game as well, meaning he could start. All around a great move by John Lynch and company.

So, now to the game in question, and oh yeah, the McCaffrey trade didn’t mean anything. My friends, what happened to the Niners on that fine Sunday afternoon was what happened to US soldiers facing an Apache resistance. Lulled out to a false sense of security with a 10-0 lead, San Fran grew overconfident and got destroyed by the Chiefs and their offense for the remaining 3 quarters. Their offense, even with their new acquisition, couldn’t get much going, and Jimmy G himself was benched for Brock Purdy, who did just as terribly as Niners fans thought he would. KC reaffirms itself among the league’s elite with this win, as they try to keep up with Buffalo for the #1 seed in the conference. San Fran, meanwhile, is 3-4. I wouldn’t worry too much, though. We all said they were done last year at 3-5 and they made it to the NFC championship game. Not saying that changes aren’t necessary, but Niners fans shouldn’t be too upset over this. They straight up ran into a machine. No shame in losing this one.

 

Seahawks 37, Chargers 23

Guys, I think Seattle’s offense might be legit. It helps that they’ve faced defenses that are terrible to begin with and/or decimated by injuries, but when an offensive unit accrues over 200 yards on the ground, that should be the reason to take notice. Pete Carroll has been preaching a next-man-up mentality all season, and with Rashaad Penny done for the year with a broken fibula, Kenneth Walker took the mantle. We may have just witnessed his breakout performance into the NFL’s elite. With a substandard line blocking for him, Walker rushed for over 160 yards and two touchdowns against a defense boasting Khalil Mack, but not much else these days. Oh yeah… the injuries. They might have to make a trade or two to bring in some outside talent. Most of their big pieces are now in the infirmary. JC Jackson is done for the year. Mike Williams went down with an ankle injury, and this is with Joey Bosa already out for the year with a groin injury. Let’s just say that LA has a lot of work to do this week in the managerial department. I would wish them good luck, but this is karma for giving the middle finger to San Diego all those years ago and moving to a city that does nothing but fill their stadium with opposing teams’ fans. Seattle, meanwhile, thanks to both the win and the Rams’ bye, is now perched atop the NFC West with a chance to make another statement against the Giants. That should be a good game.

 

Steelers 10, Dolphins 16

You thought you would get a break from terrible football this week, didn’t you? I did, too, until this game came stumbling along. Prepare yourselves for an ineptitude bowl!

This game had it all, both on the drama and incompetence fronts. Miami jumped out to an early lead in the 1st half, since the Steelers lack things such as offensive creativity and firepower. However, that wouldn’t stop them from piecing together a long drive to put the game back in reach. However, the 2nd half is when the magic would commence. Miami chose to revert to how they looked on offense these past few weeks without Tua under center, bumbling around and blowing golden opportunities with a combination of idiotic 4th down decision-making and some terrible passes downfield. Pittsburgh’s defense couldn’t capitalize either. Getting into the giving spirit, they dropped 4 separate passes that should have been intercepted. Cameron Sutton, in particular, gave Miami gifts at critical junctures two separate times. The team to win this game would be the one that failed less hard than the other, and that team was Miami. Kenny Pickett decided to imitate the guy he replaced by chucking the ball into a deep sea of teal on the final drive to seal the ugly dub for South Beach. Dolphins, you looked horrible, but here’s your free win.

 

Bears 33, Patriots 14

This game had a lot in store for football fans everywhere. We got to see the Patriots’ shiny new toy in Bailey Zappe. We even got to witness Jakobi Meyers score a touchdown, which happens about as often as Haley’s comet. And most importantly, we got to gleefully watch the entire state of Massachusetts eat a giant trough of manure hand-delivered by the Bears’ defense. They were stifling, they were unrelenting, and they made New England’s offense look mortal just like we all predicted. Even the Bears’ offense wasn’t an uninspired wreck today. Despite failing to dominate on the stat sheet, the Bears were able to run up the score considerably on a Patriots defense that has received almost a godlike reverence from the media over the past few weeks. The football world dances at its demise. We also got to see Mac Jones kick some dude in the balls before getting benched. That was honestly the highlight of this game.

 

I think now that we’re almost at the trade deadline, it’s time to take a look at how every team is doing so far, and what the early playoff pictures look like. In the AFC, Buffalo still sits on their laurels at 5-1 and controls the #1 seed, but the Jets are only a half-game back of the division lead at 5-2. The second seed and the AFC West is controlled by Kansas City, also at 5-2, with the Chargers falling to 4-3 with their loss to Seattle. In the third spot is Tennessee, who has surged back to a playoff position with 4 straight wins after an 0-2 start. The 4th seed is Baltimore, limping in at 4-3 and controlling the tiebreaker over Cincinnati. The wild cards, in order, are the Jets, Dolphins, and Chargers, the latter of which is not deserving of such a position.

The NFC gets a little less complicated. As the only undefeated team remaining, Philly not only controls the NFC East but the #1 seed with a 6-0 record, but the Giants are a half-game back at 6-1, and Dallas is at a less concerning 5-2 with a disadvantage at tiebreaker. The 2nd seed is Minnesota at 5-1, by virtue of easy opponents and the rest of their division falling into Lake Michigan. Coming out of the mosh pit of the NFC West is Seattle, at 4-3 and looking way better than we expected. Then, we go to the South. Oh god, it’s a mess. The NFL’s tank division is still controlled by Tampa, but that’s despite their measly 3-4 record. They have the tiebreaker over the 3-4 Falcons thanks to refball, but Carolina is 2-5 and will control the division with a win and a Tampa Bay loss. New Orleans still has a shot, but everyone has a tiebreaker on them except for the Falcons. The Wild Cards are a bit more straightforward. It’s the Giants at 6-1, the Cowboys at 5-2, and the Rams at 3-3.

It’s going to be an exciting two months before all the playoff spots are set in stone. Grab the popcorn and prepare to sit on the couch salivating as all 32 teams run the gauntlet of the playoff push. I’ll see you on the other side.

NFL Week 6 Recap

Commanders 12, Bears 7

It’s a Thursday night game featuring two teams with no life on offense. You know what that means, it’s time for an ineptitude bowl!

For the fourth week in a row, the Thursday night game was utter trash. It might have something to do with the fact that both these offenses couldn’t move a paperweight, but we can point and laugh at the stupidity of making players perform on 3 days’ rest instead. This game did not disappoint with the ineptitude, with Ron Rivera chucking his quarterback under the bus for things that are his fault, and Matt Eberflus completely forgetting how to run an offense. With enough said, the Commies were leading 3-0 deep into the third quarter. However, a miracle happened. The Bears and their parking-cone uniforms marched down the field for a touchdown, the first scored on a Thursday in two weeks. Washington used this to get their act together and was able to storm back down the field, leading to another special moment. Brian Robinson has scored a touchdown. To understand what that guy has been through the last couple of months and then to come back and earn a starting spot is a testament to human will. He could be getting comeback player of the year this year, it’s that impressive. However, Chicago was marching down the field. They’re at the goal line. They throw it on 4th down and are two inches short of the goal line as their big-money wide receiver decided to develop butterfingers and didn’t secure the ball until he was out of the end zone. Washington snapped their 4-game losing streak as a result. Can’t say it was deserved, though. A real team would have taken out their terrible excuse for an offense 10 times over.

 

Ravens 20, Giants 24

Well, let’s whip out the old checklist again. Baltimore dominating on the stat sheet? Check. Leading by double digits in the 4th quarter? Check. Now what’s next, oh my, it’s another blown lead for Baltimore. This time, they fell apart due to turnovers to blow a 10-point lead to a bad offense with 3 minutes left. I would normally be alarmed, but this is decaf for the Ravens. Wake me up when Harbaugh gets fired and they make some long overdue changes.

 

Jaguars 27, Colts 34

Oh, so now the Colts’ offense wakes up? Not against any of the teams they should have beaten earlier, but against Jacksonville? Well, at least they’re showing some sign of life. Matt Ryan proved today that he still has some gas left in the tank, throwing for over 390 yards and 3 touchdowns against the Jaguars’ allegedly formidable defense. Oh yeah, Jacksonville. Remember when everyone thought they were turning a corner after they destroyed the Chargers? That optimism has come and gone like the wind. That brief stretch might have been smoke and mirrors, but they still have a faint shot. They dug this hole, time to climb out of it.

 

Patriots 38, Browns 15

This week featured a lot of upsets, but at least there’s still one constant. The Browns have once again been relegated to the Factory of Sadness. Today’s helping of pain in the Dawg Pound comes in the form of their scrum with the Patriots, fresh off the domination of Detroit and looking for another mediocre team to beat up on. Say hello to Cleveland, guys. They will lie down and die for New England at every turn, turning the game into a glorified practice drill for Bailey Zappe, who threw for over 300 yards against a defense that has been touted as otherworldly. Their offense didn’t fare much better. That Patriots front 7 was treated to a buffet at FirstEnergy stadium, an all-you-can-eat bonanza of skill players. Nick Chubb could get nothing going and Brissett consistently chucked the ball into a deep sea of white. Once again, no one feels bad for the Browns. Not until they cut Watson.

Bengals 30, Saints 26

Sure, the Bungles may have won this week, but I’m not impressed. This is a game that they should have won by double digits at least. Instead, they spent the majority of the game playing down to New Orleans and giving Cincy fans heart attacks at every turn. That last touchdown by Ja’Marr Chase bailed them out and now they’re back to .500 because the Saints’ defense can’t stop a feather without all their guys being healthy. Now they must run off for a Thursday night game against the Cardinals on a short week.

 

Buccaneers 18, Steelers 20

Time for the 4 words that everyone in Buffalo has been waiting to hear for 20 years. Tom Brady is cooked. Sure, he may be dealing with some off-field drama with Gisele, but c’mon man, this is the Steelers! Their defense is decimated by injuries. An offense featuring all the talent in the world suddenly self-destructs and fails to do anything against a defense that got 31 points hung on them in one half last week. This game said more about Tampa than it did about the Steelers. Which makes me wonder, how much was Arians’ system buoying up their offense? They look lost out there under Todd Bowles. No one is being held accountable. Brady seems to be the main arbiter of discipline and that’s just not how you run an organization. Tampa needs to get this fixed and fast.

 

49ers 14, Falcons 28

San Fran, did you enjoy your free win against the Panthers? Good, since you get to play another NFC south team that got royally screwed over by the refs last week. Jimmy G and the offense may be able to get away with miscues against weak teams, but against a scrappy Falcons team looking for someone to beat up on, they had no chance. The Niners dominated on the stat sheet but couldn’t do a thing when it mattered. They got into the red zone 7 times and only converted twice. That is alarming. Atlanta wasn’t even that impressive on offense and they still hung 28 on a defense that describes itself using words such as “competitive” and “sturdy”. Not a good look for a team that has been touted as a Super Bowl contender.

 

Jets 27, Packers 10

Oh my goodness, the Packers are self-destructing in front of our very eyes. Their offense can’t do a thing and their defense is completely gassed from having to carry them to wins. Aaron Rodgers looked horrible, and the Packers’ receivers could get no separation. Even their special teams got in on the fun by having a field goal blocked to end the half and then having a blocked punt returned by the Jets for a touchdown. Now, where have I seen that before? Enjoy your free victory to 4-2, New Jersey! Wait a minute, 4-2?

 

Vikings 24, Dolphins 16

The Vikings continue their incredibly undeserved winning streak, this time against a Dolphins team that has all their quarterbacks in the infirmary. Their defense may have kept it close, but with Skylar Thompson at quarterback, Miami had no chance. Even then, the Vikings still managed to give their fans heart attacks, allowing the Fins to keep it uncomfortably close for most of the match. Even better for Minnesota, thanks to the rest of the conference falling apart, they now hold 2nd place in the NFC with a 5-1 record. Like I said at the start, incredibly undeserved.

 

Panthers 10, Rams 24

Here it comes, stumbling in from the right, the Carolina fan engagement and apathy meter. After last week’s supernova, the Panthers are now in freefall. Who are they playing this week, anyway? The Rams. That’ll put fan enthusiasm at a solid 10%, good start. To the surprise of everyone, their defense puts on a valiant performance against the defending champs. They keep the Rams and their offense in check for one half, such an effort needs to be applauded, so bump the meter’s reading up to 30%. You’re forgetting the sandbags the Panthers call an offense. This offense is so bad that subjecting people to it could be considered cruel and unusual punishment. I feel there should be mandatory conscription to watch this offense in action, to witness what sheer pain looks like. It gets so bad that Robbie Anderson gets in a fight with interim coach Steve Wilks and gets traded to the Cardinals after the game. Fan enthusiasm reaches a new low as Carolina once again sucked so much that even my cutting-edge meter once again couldn’t get a reading by the end of the game. Rams, you looked awful, but here’s your free win.

 

Cardinals 9, Seahawks 19

A matchup between two coaches who are well past their expiration dates. Prepare yourselves for another ineptitude bowl!

Good lord, this match certainly lived up to the ineptitude bowl billing. Both offenses couldn’t do a thing this week, thanks to the boneheaded play calling on both sides. Arizona was consistently overaggressive while the Seahawks just sucked in general. Unfortunately, one team had to win, and Seattle managed to do just enough on offense to win and distract the Emerald City from the Mariners’ playoff loss for a day. Arizona’s freefall continues in earnest as they fall to dead last in the NFC west. Kingsbury, here’s the phone. Your job is on the line.

Bills 24, Chiefs 20

It’s hard to say anything bad about either team, as we witnessed the first true classic of this NFL season. Just like last year, it was unfortunate that one team had to lose. Bills vs. Chiefs will always be a good game, and this week was no different. The only difference in this game was that the defenses showed up to play today. Both units were stingy, and stout, and didn’t give up very many big plays. What would end up costing the Chiefs was the quarterback. Josh Allen made clutch throws and even jumped over another guy on the final drive. Patrick Mahomes decided to imitate Famous Jameis by throwing two costly interceptions, one of them coming in the final minute to seal the win for the Bills. Buffalo wins, exercises their demons, and Leslie Frazier completes his redemption arc—for now. Buffalo beat the Chiefs last year in the regular season, too; a lot of people forget that. Hopefully, they won’t collapse down the stretch like last year.

 

Cowboys 17, Eagles 26

When Dallas and KC lose on the same day, America wins. Unfortunately, this must come at a cost, as the Eagles are now 6-0 and their hornet’s nest of a fanbase is rightfully ballyhooing about the team’s success. Why wouldn’t they be? They only put on an absolute clinic against one of the best defensive units in the league. The key to beating Cooper Rush is to score a bunch of points early to take them out of the game. Once you have him playing catch-up, there is no chance for Dallas. Sure, it may have gotten a little hairy near the end for Dallas, but Philly will ride on to continue their winning streak. They’re looking more and more legit every time I see them.

 

Broncos 16, Chargers 19

I’m making an executive decision. All the coaches in the AFC West besides Andy Reid are utter trash and don’t deserve any dignity in these recaps. Thus, all in-division matchups between those three will be relegated to ineptitude bowl status, starting with this one. Here goes.

This game was the worst game I’ve seen in a while. Two coaches who fancy themselves as geniuses botching basic playcalling is something worthy of song. When the Hack and Brandon Staley lock horns, there is much ineptitude that abounds. Denver may have gotten out to a 10-0 lead, but they blew it because their offense decided to give the Chargers prime field position on every one of their drives. Even with this, both offenses were such trash in the second half that this game went to overtime. It shouldn’t have, but Brandon Staley decided to get cocky, hanging onto his timeouts to run 38 seconds of clock out to chuck a hail mary with one second left, instead of trying to get into field goal range. Once in overtime, Denver got the ball first. Then, the boredom commenced. 3-and-out after 3-and-out as both coaches kept out-geniusing themselves at every turn. With 5 minutes left, the Chargers were punting for the second time. However, the Bronco returner, probably feeling pity for anyone still watching the game, muffed the punt to set up the Chargers in field goal range to win. That is such a Denver way to lose a game, dear god, they are trash. Tune in next week as they continue to bumble opportunities against the Jets. The Chargers are 4-2 and somehow tied for the division lead because of The Hack and his playcalling. They may have saved their season with this win.

Tagovailoa Injury Yet Another Example of Inept Dolphins Organization

The Dolphins. They could be in deep trouble pretty soon. I know what you’re thinking. What the heck did they do this time? What loophole did they fail miserably at exploiting?

For those of you who aren’t familiar with what happened Thursday, September 29, Tua Tagovailoa, the Dolphins QB, was cleared to play by the team despite every outside doctor calling for him to sit the game out. He, unfortunately, suffered the worst-case scenario and got carried off the field on a stretcher.

Teammates gather around Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa after an injury during the first half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Cincinnati (Photo: Emilee Chinn/AP).

I think right now is a good time to take a long, hard look at the Dolphins organization. Not just because of the Tua situation but because of all the shady backroom shenanigans they’ve gotten up to under Stephen Ross these past few years.

Speaking of Ross, he needs no introduction to Dolphins fans. He may have been the only owner to vote against the moves of the Chargers and Raiders, citing fan loyalty and morals, but he sure hasn’t displayed any of that sentiment in his tenure as the Dolphins’ head honcho. Ross has been revealed to be one of the most incompetent and deviant owners in the sport, down there with figures such as Dean Spanos and Dan Snyder. Let’s dive into Ross’s recent actions.

The last few years, in particular, have been scandal after scandal after scandal. There were inklings of horror in 2019 when Miami put together the most blatant tank job since Sam Hinkey’s process. Despite denying these allegations, they would be brought back into the light last off-season when their promising third-year coach Brian Flores was fired. Even though they started the previous season 1-7, they rebounded, winning 8 of their last 9, but missed the playoffs by a game. During that stretch, they pulled off remarkable upsets of teams like the Ravens, Saints, and Patriots, two of those games being played in primetime. Despite this, the Dolphins chose to cut him loose. There were allegations that Ross and Flores disagreed on personnel decisions, but the damning allegation came after he got fired. Flores claimed that Ross had offered to pay him $100,000 for each game that Miami lost during their 2019 tank bowl season, and was angry when Flores refused. He claimed that since this moment, management had tried to undermine him multiple times, eventually culminating with his firing. This is honestly damning to the organization, even if the allegations turn out not to have been true. However, the big shock wave was still to come.

Over this past summer, a rumor began swirling that Ross had attempted to recruit Tom Brady from the Bucs to play for the Dolphins after using his retirement to get out from under contract. The only problem was that he allegedly did this while Brady was under contract with Tampa, which constitutes illegal tampering. The NFL did an investigation on the matter, and the rabbit hole went even deeper. Not only did Ross tamper with Brady during his Bucs tenure, but he also did so while he was still playing for New England. In addition, it was revealed that the Dolphins owner also tried to lure Sean Payton over to coach Miami, while he was still under contract in New Orleans.

This is a big no-no at the NFL level. They take the integrity of their game seriously, or so they want us to think. The reality is that almost every NFL team does this in some capacity, but the Shield and Roger Goodell needed to make a statement. The Dolphins lost multiple high draft picks for the coming years, and Ross himself was suspended until mid-October and was fined $1.4 million.

This leads us to the current situation. It started in week 3 in the game against Buffalo, when Tua was injured on a hit by linebacker Matt Milano. He hit his head hard on the grass and was pulled from the game and checked by team doctors at halftime. Then, despite stumbling over himself and looking visibly disoriented, he was allowed to start the second half. After the game, the team labeled it a back injury. However, the NFL and football fans everywhere had reason to believe that the Dolphins may have skirted concussion protocol to keep Tua in the game. Despite the launching of an investigation by the NFL, the Dolphins went on saying Tua’s injury was his back and that it was nothing serious.

That brings us to the week four Thursday Night game against the Bengals. Many doctors and outside professionals were calling for Tua not to play due to what they saw as a serious issue. Knowing this, the Dolphins chucked him out there anyway, probably loaded with enough painkillers to put an elephant in a coma. After 3 days’ rest, after a game in over 100 degrees that beat up everyone who played, and after suffering an obvious head injury in said game. That’s not a back issue. That’s a neuro issue.

Unfortunately, Tua was injured again. Another big hit sent him to the turf locked in a fencing position. He couldn’t move his extremities until he was in the hospital. A promising young career may have been thrown away as a result of the Dolphins’ complete neglect of player safety. Sure, they fired the doctor who evaluated Tua as a means of damage control, but at the end of the day, the damage is done, both to Tua and the Dolphins organization. This black eye will now follow the Dolphins, no matter how well they do this season.

This leads me to believe a rather stark theory: That the Dolphins have been doing this for years. Look at all the players that left Miami during or just after the Adam Gase era. Most of them were able to revive their careers elsewhere, some of them making complete turnarounds.

A classic example of this is Ryan Tannehill. In Miami, he struggled with injury after injury, despite having a strong offensive line protecting him. He was good for about 2 or 3 injuries a year that sidelined him, forcing the likes of Matt Moore, Jay Cutler, and Brock Osweiler to fill in for him. Once Tannehill left for Tennessee, he revived his career. Even worse of a look for Miami, he hasn’t missed a game since he replaced Mariota in October of 2019. In Miami, he was often criticized for being too injury-prone, but now I’m wondering how much of that had to do with the Dolphins organization itself. The fortunate thing is that Tannehill never suffered an injury serious enough to warrant any scrutiny of the organization.

And that’s not all, look at Laremy Tunsil. Yes, he’s more infamous for what Houston gave up to bring him in, but he got significantly better after being put into a system that wouldn’t kill him. Look at Jay Ajayi. The dude dealt with stinger after stinger in one year in Miami, then got traded to Philly and was a core contributor when they won the Super Bowl. This is very damning to the Dolphins organization as a whole, and this black eye will follow them around until Stephen Ross sells.

The Dolphins may be doing well on the field, but their off-field actions remain as inept as ever.

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