By Juan Lozano and Marc Harper | November 11, 2020
Packers @ 49ers- Tyler Ervin (RB)
- Packers running back Tyler Ervin, a San Jose State product, was back in the Bay Area on Thursday night to face the injury-riddled 49ers.
- Ervin would get the ball more than half the time he was on the field, receiving 12 touches (eight carries, four catches) on 22 snaps. Ervin would account for 72 total yards. More importantly, Ervin would get first downs on five of those 12 touches. That’s a pretty strong impact.
- Ervin’s workload and production was needed on a night when the Packers would be without the services of reserve running backs Jamaal Williams and A.J. Dillon. The Packers needed Ervin to help shoulder the load and give Aaron Jones, coming off an injury, a breather.
- A fourth-round selection of the Texans in the 2016 draft, Ervin is in his first full-season with the Packers. Ervin joined the team in Week 13 of the 2019 season after the Jaguars released him in late November of the same season. Prior to his stint with the Jaguars, he had been with the Ravens in 2018 and 2019.
Giants @ Washington – Austin Mack (WR)
- Right now, it’s a pretty safe bet to take players from Ohio State. It’s especially a safe bet to take wide receivers from Ohio State. Even the lesser known players like Austin Mack apparently.
- The Giants chose not to bring mercurial wide receiver Golden Tate on the trip due to his poor conduct against the Buccaneers in the prior week. In fact, Tate has been a distraction most of the season, and it’s only surprising that he wasn’t traded at the trade deadline. On a young team that’s clearly not winning now, there should be a very short leash for Tate.
- Austin Mack was there to fill the void. On Sunday, Mack had 4 catches for 72 yards including a long 50-yard catch. On a Giants team that is still looking for any pass-catching help outside of Evan Engram and Sterling Shepard, Mack’s development could be very important for this offense.
Bears @ Titans – Jayon Brown (LB)
- This game was more of a defensive struggle. The Titans did not do much offensively while the Bears continued to be the Bears, especially on offense.
- One reason the Bears never got much going was Jayon Brown. He had 10 tackles, a sack, a tackle for loss, a pass deflection, and a forced fumble.
- Brown has quietly had a very good 4 years for the Titans after being a fifth round pick out of UCLA. One might expect he’ll be in line for a bit of a raise following this season.
Lions @ Vikings – Dalvin Cook (RB)
- It’s hard to know what to make of the players on the Vikings. Their defense does not make any plays. Kirk Cousins does not play well. The line doesn’t play particularly well. The receivers not named Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen are not very good, and even they weren’t productive on Sunday.
- Two weeks in a row this has been the Dalvin Cook show, and not much else. It’s hard to keep putting him on this list, but he’s about the only player responsible for the wins. On Sunday he averaged over nine yards a carry for 206 yards and two scores. He added 46 yards receiving. He is the Vikings.
- I don’t know how sustainable it is that Cook is touching the ball on more than 50% of the snaps. I also don’t know how sustainable it is to assume he can continue to generate over 60% of the yards gained in a game. But the recipe has worked two weeks in a row and has generated two wins. I assume we’ll see more of that next week as well.
Panthers @ Chiefs – Tyreek Hill (WR)
- I think everyone knows how good the Chiefs are, specifically the Chiefs offense is. Clearly Patrick Mahomes is one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL. Same with Travis Kelce at tight end. But I want to use this space for Hill.
- Somehow, Hill is an underrated piece of the Chiefs offense. Yet he is what makes everything go. He requires all of the energy and gamplanning of opposing defenses. It’s great that Mahomes can throw lefty, but Hill is un-guardable. You can’t simply put your best corner on him. You need to put your faster corner on him. But your fastest corner might not be able to keep up with his routes or his catching ability.
- Sometimes Hill is the MVP of the offense only because he draws attention from the rest of the receivers. However, on Sunday, he was also the best with the ball in his hands. He had 9 catches for 113 yards and two scores. He was also targeted 18 times! I don’t think it’s great that he’s only getting receptions on 50% of his targets, but I think it’s important that he’s being targeted that often.
- I’ve long thought the Chiefs best offense would be allowing Hill to run a deep crosser on every single play of the game. I doubt an NFL coach would do that, but at least Andy Reid realizes they need to get him the ball more. On Sunday that was enough to get a tough win over the Panthers.
Texans @ Jaguars- Zach Cunningham (ILB)
- We could be petty and say the winner of the week for the Texans was a shared prize, given to the entire referee crew as they were in large part responsible for the win as they completely missed a key delay-of-game call that the Texans scored a touchdown on.
- However, we won’t be that petty. Nope. Not us.
- Texans inside linebacker Zach Cunningham sacked rookie Jaguars quarterback Jake Luton on 2nd & 10 from the Texans 43-yard line with 3:09 remaining in the second quarter. This sack stopped the Jaguars momentum and they were forced to punt two plays later. Houston takes over embarks on a drive that results in a touchdown to give them the lead for good. It would be a close game throughout, but they never relinquished the lead.
- In addition to the sack, Cunningham would have an active afternoon and would fill up a stat sheet as he would also record seven total tackles (five solo), a tackle for loss, a quarterback hit and a pass defended. The Texans extended Cunningham’s contract right before the 2020 season. This was a wise decision for both parties.
Ravens @ Colts – Chuck Clark (SS)
- The Ravens did not have a strong showing against the Colts on Sunday. The offensive performance was uneven and if the Colts were playing just about any quarterback other than Phillip Rivers, the game might not have been close in the second half.
- Down 7-0 with the Colts driving again, Clark picked up a fumble and went 65 yards the other way for a score.
- Given the way the Ravens offense is currently playing, they are going to need more and more guys on defense to step up and make plays. Clark’s contribution in the secondary was especially needed as the Ravens were without cornerback Marlon Humphrey (Covid).
Seahawks @ Bills- John Brown (WR)
- The Bills got off to a surprisingly fast start and were in danger of squandering a double-digit lead again at home to an NFC West opponent. Seattle had cut a double-digit lead (17 points) to a one-score game. You might remember that earlier in the season, the Bills almost snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in nearly the same fashion against the Los Angeles Rams.
- Facing a 3rd-and -16 from the Seattle 35-yard line and with 12:21 remaining in the fourth quarter, John Brown caught a Josh Allen pass for a 33-yard completion. Two players later, rookie running back Zack Moss found the end zone to give the Bills a two-touchdown advantage again.
- Buffalo didn’t run the ball much and threw all over a Seattle secondary that was supposed to have benefited from the return of safety Jamal Adams. Yet, Brown hauled in eight passes for 99 yards. Brown has been battling a nagging foot injury over the last month, having only played in two of the last four games and has had only one catch in those games. He’s a vertical threat that “takes the top off” a defense.
- Brown began his career at Mars Hill, a Division II program in North Carolina before eventually transferring to Pittsburg State, another Division II program, this time in Kansas. Brown was a 2014 third-round selection of the Arizona Cardinals. Brown, in his second year with the Bills, was a member of the Ravens in 2018.
Broncos @ Falcons Olamide Zaccheaus (WR)
- Zaccheaus is a second year undrafted free agent out of the University of Virginia. On Sunday, he caught four passes for 103 yards and a score, a 53-yard reception late in the first quarter to give the Falcons a ten-point point lead.
- The Falcons were playing without wide receiver Calvin Ridley on Sunday and found themselves in an offensive battle against the Broncos. Getting quality snaps from a wide receiver not named Julio Jones was instrumental in getting the win.
- Don’t look now but the Falcons are looking like a respectable team. If not for the collapse against the Cowboys and Todd Gurley’s inability to slide short of the end zone, the Falcons could be 5-4.
Raiders @ Chargers – Isaiah Johnson (CB)
- At HCR, we like tall corners. In fact, we prefer them.
- Johnson, a six-foot-two corner showed in the final two plays why we like corners with a little more size to them.
- With the Raiders barely holding onto a five-point lead, Johnson was matched up against one of Chargers quarterback Justin Hebert ‘s favorite targets, the six-foot-four, wide receiver Mike Williams. The Chargers called a fade route to the right corner of the end zone and Johnson knocked the ball out of Williams’ grasp with one second left.
- On the next play, the Chargers challenged Johnson again to the right corner of the end zone, this time with Donald Parham, a six-foot-eight tight end. Parham was ruled to have caught the ball, but replay showed that Parham did not maintain control of the pass. Johnson’s disruptions here saved the Raiders.
- In addition to those two passes defended, Johnson would also contribute six tackles to the Raiders winning efforts.
- Johnson, a University of Houston product, was a Raiders 2019 fourth-round selection who has only played 44 defensive snaps before Sunday’s game. The defense has been much-maligned in Gruden’s tenure. The secondary appears to be developing nicely and on-time, especially of late. And now it might be Johnson’s turn to emerge.
Steelers @ Cowboys – Minkah Fitzpatrick (DB)
- Fitzpatrick has long been one of the best defensive backs in football, but he hasn’t received as much attention as he probably should have. The Dolphins gave him away during a losing season (albeit for a first round pick). Since joining the Steelers, he has been one of the best players on the team.
- Against the Cowboys, he had six tackles, two pass deflections, an interception, and recovered a fumble. The interception was in the end zone with his team trailing by four early in the fourth quarter. If they gave up a touchdown the game could have been over.
- For good measure, Fitzpatrick also batted away the ball on the last play to seal the game. He also did this last week against the Ravens.
- Time and time again Fitzpatrick has made the right play at the right time.
Dolphins @ Cardinals – Emmanuel Ogbah (DE)
- The Dolphins are 3-0 against the NFC West so far. The NFC West is supposed to be the best division in Football, and the Dolphins have looked dominant against the Cardinals, 49ers, and Rams. I know this game was close, but the Dolphins played dominating football throughout. It’s started with the defense in all three wins.
- Ogbah had five tackles, a quarterback hit, a pass deflection, and forced a fumble that was returned for a touchdown. On a team playing with a rookie quarterback, getting easy points from the defense is imperative.
- There were rumors the Dolphins might be trying to tank this year, but I don’t buy it. The defense is too good and the offense does just enough. If the defense keeps playing this week, you can expect to see the Dolphins sneak into the playoffs come January.
Saints @ Bucs- Trey Hendrickson (DE)
- New Orleans provided Tampa Bay with a hellacious beatdown for the second time this season. We have our pick of W.O.W. candidates. Even though the game had already been long decided, Trey Hendrickson’s efforts in the third quarter made him the Saints’ W.O.W. player for Week 9.
- Towards the end of the third quarter, and the Saints with a commanding 31-0 lead, Hendrickson would sack Bucs quarterback Tom Brady on three consecutive plays. (Only the last two would count as the first one was nullified due to a defensive hold.) On 1st & 10 from the Saints 45-yard line, Hendrickson sacked Brady for an 8-yard loss. On the next play, 2nd & 18 from the Bucs 47- yard line, Hendrickson again sacked Brady this time for a five-yard loss. The series would end two plays later with an interception. The Saints would capitalize on the turnover and score a touchdown to take a 38-0 lead.
- At this point in the game, Tampa Bay had completely abandoned the run (They ran the ball four times all game – a fifth one came on the final play of the game- a kneel down). This allowed the Saints defense to focus their efforts on stopping Tampa’s passing game.
- In addition to the two sacks, Hendrickson finished the game with three tackles and two quarterback hits. The defensive line is led by Cameron Jordan and both Jordan and Marcus Davenport capture most of the headlines. Yet, Hendrickson’s 7.5 sacks are currently third – most in the NFL.
- In a game where last week’s W.O.W. nose tackle David Onyemata intercepted a pass (a nose tackle interception!!), it was Hendrickson’s performance in this drive that really stood out and captured the extent of the Saints’ dominance over Tampa Bay.
Pats @ Jets- Jakobi Meyers (WR)
- The Patriots were down to three wide receivers and one tight end for Monday Night’s division showdown against the Jets. They needed all the help they can get to get back to the win column.
- They needed wide receiver Jakobi Meyers, who was celebrating his 24th birthday on Monday, to have a breakout game and he did just that with 12 receptions for 169 yards. Entering Monday’s contest, Meyers’ highest single game yardage total was 74 yards.
- Eight of Meyers’ catches were for New England first downs, arguably the most important being a 20-yard completion with eight seconds remaining that set up Nick Folk’s 51-yard game-winning field goal.
- Cam Newton is beginning to establish a rapport with second-year wide receiver Jakobi Meyers as they have connected for 22 catches for 287 yards in their last three games. The undrafted free agent out of North Carolina State is a converted quarterback that was an early entrant to the NFL Draft. It’s difficult for undrafted early entrants to find their way onto a roster, but it looks like Meyers will be a key piece of the Patriots roster going forward.
Opinions expressed are solely of the author and do not express the views or opinions of Headcoachranking.com.