CODY STOOTS

The Friday Stoots NFL 6 pack

Will Fuller is a threat when on the field. Photo by Edward Clarke

Six things headed into the weekend to ponder about the NFL. Drink it in. 

1. How about Baker Mayfield playing hero in the third game of the season for the Browns. I love Mayfield. He's a baller and I believe he will be very good in the league. He can put it where he wants it with ease and as soon as the coaching gets better around him Cleveland will have a dangerous weapon. Think about the AFC at the quarterback position right now. It's incredible. 13 of the 16 teams have their franchise guy or future franchise guy. (Miami, Jacksonville, and Denver in case you were wondering.)

2. The Kansas City Chiefs have the hardest task of any undefeated team trying to stay unbeaten. While they are at home, the 49ers are coming to town. The Chiefs have allowed almost 900 yards passing in two games but thanks to Patrick (Insert Nickname Here) Mahomes and his 10 touchdowns they're 2-0. I imagine Jimmy Garoppolo and Kyle Shanahan will have plenty cooked up for a putrid Chiefs defense. 

3. Ryan Fitzpatrick has been one of the best stories in the early part of the NFL season. FitzMagic has the Buccaneers off to their best start since 2010 despite being a 35-year-old journeyman who seemed to be placeholding Jameis Winston's spot. The NFL doesn't usually have happy endings and stellar stories like his rarely last. The Steelers are desperate and aren't that different from the 2017 team which finished fifth in total defense. Magic isn't real and Monday, unfortunately, FitzMagic comes to an end as well. 

4. Will Fuller's return can't be understated. He's a potential star at the wideout position and is a far more complete pass catcher than many thought he could be in the NFL. Eli Apple is the Giants starting corner opposite Janoris Jenkins and he hasn't practiced. With Apple out, it could be backups on Fuller meaning another huge day for him. 

5. The Giants allowed six sacks on Sunday against the Cowboys and have allowed eight this season. Dallas didn't have to send much pressure to get some of those sacks either. The Texans have only allowed one less sack and also have put Watson in danger plenty. Each team has underperformed rushing the passer with the Giants having one lone sack and the Texans just three. When there is so much underperforming someone is bound to impress Sunday. 

 

6. The Texans and the Giants both desperately need a win. Just 2.9 percent of the teams who start 0-3 have ever made it to the postseason. The last time a 0-3 team made the playoffs was the 1998 Buffalo Bills. They were one of five teams to ever do it. None of those teams played for a conference championship. If the Texans have designs on a successful season avoiding the bad part of history is in their best interest. 

Drew Brees and the Saints escaped with an ugly win. Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Saints have effectively wrapped up the NFC South with their 25-14 win over the Tampa Bay Bucs. Here's how I saw things:

The Good

-Michael Thomas got himself going this week after a subpar performance against the Cowboys last week. He finished with 11 catches for 98 yards. More of note was his record of most catches in first three seasons. He surpassed Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry on his second catch, his 289th of his career. I hope people take notice and realize how great of a player he is.

-Taysom Hill once again proved his worth as just a football player. He blocked a punt the Saints recovered at the Tampa 30 yard line. It helped set up their first touchdown. Hill is listed as the third string quarterback, but plays running back, wide receiver, and special teams. He also drew a double team penalty on a kickoff.

-Drew Brees is known for his pinpoint accuracy throwing the ball. However, his athleticism is underrated. He notched his fourth rushing touchdown on a 4th and goal play in which he leapt over the line and extended the ball across the plane. The Saints took the lead early in the fourth quarter on that play.

The Bad

-Right before the half, Brees threw an interception that set up Tampa's second touchdown. When this team is rolling, they are the ones scoring before the half when they're getting the ball back after the half.

-They totaled just three rushing yards in the first half on nine attempts. The longest run was from fullback Zach Line at four yards. Another component of this team's success is predicated on the run game.

-Alvin Kamara was held in check. He was limited to 87 yards on 17 touches. His 76 yards on three kick returns were a help, but this team needs him to get going running and catching passes in order to operate at full capacity.

The Ugly

-This was the second game in a row that the Saints failed to score a touchdown in the first half. It could be a sign of teams catching up to them, or it could be a sign of a team that's feeling complacent. Either way, they need to get their offense going again to start games. 24 plays and 104 yards of offense that produced only three points in the first half.

-On their opening possession of the second half, Brees was stripped in the pocket and the Bucs recovered. The pressure came from the left. Missing starting left tackle Terron Armstead is becoming more and more of a glaring issue.

-Brees was limited to less than 270 yards passing, while they also totaled less than 130 yards rushing. Being held below their season averages on offense and still winning is the definition of winning ugly.

The Saints are now 11-2 and firmly in second place in the NFC. Now, they sit back and hope the Rams drop another game down the stretch. They own the tiebreaker over the Rams and need to finish with the same record to get homefield throughout the NFC playoffs. Saints fans will be Bears fans tonight, as well as Eagles, Cardinals, and 49er fans the rest of the season. This is what happens when you drop games you should've won.

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