Gridiron Digest: Are the Cowboys the Class of the NFC?

Mike Tanier@@miketanierNFL National Lead WriterSeptember 16, 2019

Gridiron Digest: Are the Cowboys the Class of the NFC?

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    Alex Brandon/Associated Press

    Only nine teams are 2-0 at the end of Week 2. And while the Cowboys may not be the best of the bunch (hello, Patriots), they might have made the biggest statement with two convincing wins against division foes while the rest of the NFC contenders are battling early-season injuries and inconsistency. 

    This week's Gridiron Digest breaks down just how the Cowboys got off to such a hot start and what it means for the NFC playoff chase. Plus:

    • Whiparound coverage of the other 2-0 teams, from the expected (Chiefs) to the surprising (49ers, Bills) to the infernal (hello again, Patriots)

    • A Rams-Saints game that leaves Saints fans with much more to worry about than a blown call

    • A Packers-Vikings game that made us wonder if paying big bucks at quarterback is worth it

    • A fate worse than a bad season for the Steelers

    • Digest Sportsbook's deep dive into 17-plus-point spreads

    • Linemen scoring touchdowns, Bears kickers making field goals and other unlikely events from Week 2 awards, stat breakdowns, an actual fire on the field in Tennessee, and much, much more! 

The Cowboys State Their Case

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    Will Newton/Getty Images

    Want some eye-popping Cowboys numbers? Here are some eye-popping Cowboys numbers. 

    Through two games, Dak Prescott has completed 82.3 percent of his passes for seven touchdowns. He's averaging 10.9 yards per attempt. He has been sacked only once. He has thrown just 11 incompletions.

    The Cowboys have beaten the Giants and Redskins by a combined 66-38 margin through two games, but a pair of meaningless late touchdowns by their opponents made both games look closer than they were. The Cowboys have converted on 13-of-21 (61.9 percent) of their third downs, while their opponents have gone 4-of-20 (20 percent).

    We could keep going, but you get the idea.

    Meanwhile, Saints quarterback Drew Brees is injured, Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald got banged up against the Saints, the Eagles nearly lost half of their roster against the Falcons and the NFC North doesn't have one fully functional offense to share among four teams.

    Maybe the Cowboys are the team to beat in the NFC.

    First, the not-so-fast disclaimers: The Giants and Skins are two of the weakest teams in the NFL, at least in the non-Dolphins category. The Rams are 2-0 against a pair of solid opponents. It's too early to bury anyone yet, no matter who's injured. And not all of the Cowboys' offensive stats after two games are rosy. For example, a defense that just faced Eli Manning and Case Keenum should muster more than two sacks and zero interceptions through two games.

    But here are three reasons to believe that the Cowboys are going to stay squarely in the thick of the playoff picture for the whole season:

    1) Kellen Moore is the lost mini-McVay. The former Cowboys backup quarterback-turned-offensive coordinator has modernized the team's offense, adding lots of pre-snap motion to make Prescott's pre-snap reads easier. Opponents were ready for Jason Garrett's old game plans of three different rushing plays, four play-action passes and some screens for 3rd-and-20. Opponents aren't ready for this.

    2) The offensive line is healthy again. Travis Frederick, Zach Martin, Tyron Smith, La'El Collins and Conner Williams all finally get to be on the same field at the same time after Frederick missed all of last season with an autoimmune disease and Smith was out or limited for much of the 2017 season. When both Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard can gain chunk yardage and Prescott rarely gets touched, it's easy for a new coordinator to look like a genius. 

    3) The receiving corps is better than advertised. We all know about Amari Cooper. But Michael Gallup took major strides this offseason after too much was asked of him as a rookie (though he did leave Sunday's game with a knee injury), and Randall Cobb looks rejuvenated now that he's out of a Packers offense that forced him to run the same three routes for eight years.

    All of the Cowboys headlines during the offseason and training camp involved holdouts and dollar signs. And there will still be some future news for the financial pages: Prescott is setting himself up for a $40 bazillion contract. But the fact that the Cowboys are spending lots of money should not obscure the fact that they also look very, very dangerous. 

    Let's wait for a big defensive performance or a win against a tough opponent before declaring them NFC front-runners.

    But let's also keep an eye on what they are doing, not just on what they are spending.

Undefeated (and Un-Tied; Sorry, Lions Fans) Teams Digest

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    Gary Landers/Associated Press

    Nothing inspires optimism quite like a 2-0 start. Sometimes, that optimism is even warranted.

    We're covering three of this year's 2-0 teams—the Rams, Packers and Cowboys—at length elsewhere in this week's Digest. Here's a rundown of the rest of the lot who are sitting at 2-0 after Sunday's action: what they are doing right, and what opponents might find a way to exploit in the weeks to come. 


    Baltimore Ravens

    What they are good at: Both Lamar Jackson and the defense have shined against their early-season FCS opponents.

    Potential potholes: The drop-stop-and-scramble version of Jackson returned in the second half of the Cardinals game. His final numbers look great (272 passing yards, two passing touchdowns, 120 rushing yards), but the entire second half of a 23-17 win over the lowly Cardinals was too close for comfort. 


    Buffalo Bills

    What they are good at: Winning games in the Meadowlands against the teams who play their home games in the Meadowlands.

    Potential potholes: The Bills defense is pretty good, and Josh Allen can provide exactly one rushing and one passing highlight per week when not overthrowing open receivers by 10 yards. But that won't be enough against better opponents than the Jets and Giants. 


    Kansas City Chiefs

    What they are good at: Dropping 28 points on an opponent while you are making a sandwich. Replacing Tyreek Hill with a rotating superstar-of-the-week.

    Potential potholes: The Chiefs defense gave up an early touchdown to the Jaguars in Week 1 and let the Raiders take a 10-0 lead (with the help of some penalties) before Patrick Mahomes stomped on the accelerator in Week 2. Maybe they're just letting the jobbers get over before smacking them down. Or maybe if the Raiders can score one early touchdown against them, the Patriots will be able to drop six. 


    New England Patriots

    What they are good at: Eradicating all of the joy and pleasure of watching an excellent team play football and turning every game into an existentially grueling chore for non-Patriots fans. 

    Potential Potholes: An infernal pit could swallow Greater Foxborough as a final reckoning for the many unholy bargains they have struck to achieve their success.


    San Francisco 49ers

    What they are good at: Playing stifling defense (especially against the run), showing creative ball-control offense and beating teams you forget exist unless they are on the television screen directly in front of you.

    Potential potholes: The loss of veteran left tackle Joe Staley, expected to miss eight weeks with a broken fibula, will have an impact on the Niners. But beating the Buccaneers and Bengals is a great way of separating yourself from the Buccaneers and Bengals, and the vulnerable Steelers are visiting next week. The 49ers could enter their bye 3-0. They may not look like contenders just yet, but they've come a long way from when Jimmy Garoppolo's training camp interception sprees were making news in August.


    Seattle Seahawks

    What they are good at: Running the ball.

    Potential potholes: They think all of their problems can be solved by running the ball. Sunday's smoke-and-mirrors 28-26 win over the Steelers required a Ben Roethlisberger injury, a personal foul that turned a field goal into a chance to score a touchdown, a big play on a ticky-tack pass interference replay challenge and other fluky events. Their victory over the Bengals was similarly sloppy and strange. Left to their own devices, the Seahawks are going to lose a bunch of games this season because of predictable game plans and an above-average-at-best defense. 

Game Spotlight: Rams 27, Saints 9

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    Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

    What happened

    Drew Brees suffered his first significant injury since he played for the Chargers in the early 2000s.

    Brees left the game after his thumb slammed into his own helmet during a hit from Aaron Donald, and all of the storylines about bad calls and revenge for last year's playoff loss to the Rams immediately flew out the window. Teddy Bridgewater entered the game, and the Saints entered survival mode.

    Bridgewater barely mustered any offense. The Saints defense held the Rams to only six points before halftime, but when Jared Goff and Co. scored touchdowns on three straight possessions in the third and fourth quarters, the Saints offense had no response.


    What it means

    Gridiron Digest wants Bridgewater to succeed as much as anyone else does. But whenever he has been in a game, from Sunday to his Week 17 rest-the-starters appearance last season to his preseason performances, the Saints offense sputters to a halt.

    Bridgewater takes lots of seven-step drops to throw short underneath passes, which is a simple recipe for completing 17 passes for only 165 yards, as he did Sunday. The Saints offense without Brees' decisiveness and surgical precision is just another inefficient dink-and-dunk attack.

    Donald also left the game with a back injury, although he later returned to the game. If he were to miss time for any significant stretch, it would be a huge blow to the Rams. But early wins against the Panthers and Saints mean that the Rams have already turned two tough foes into useful playoff-tiebreaker advantages. 

    The Rams have also proved that they can win games in a variety of ways. The Saints have been winning the same way for more than 13 years.


    What's next

    The Rams visit the Browns. The Saints wait for Brees' prognosis and wonder if Bridgewater can bring back a little of that Teddy Ballgame magic in Seattle.

Game Spotlight: Packers 21, Vikings 16

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    Matt Ludtke/Associated Press

    What happened

    The Packers took a 21-0 lead by the start of the second quarter with the help of big catches by Davante Adams and Geronimo Allison, a missed Dan Bailey field goal and a Kirk Cousins fumble. Their offense then took the rest of the afternoon off. 

    The Vikings closed the gap to 21-16 by midway through the fourth quarter with the help of long Dalvin Cook and Cousins-to-Stefon Diggs touchdowns, and despite an apparent touchdown before halftime getting nullified by a pass-interference replay challenge. 

    The final 25 minutes consisted of the Packers punting while Cousins strung together interceptions, near-interceptions and the occasional slow-motion imitation of a Lamar Jackson scramble, punctuated by at least one holding penalty per series for each team.


    What it means

    The Packers won their opener against the Bears with one offensive highlight and lots of tight defense while waiting for Mitchell Trubisky to implode. They repeated that formula this week but with roughly double the number of offensive highlights.

    The Vikings won their opener by allowing Cousins to throw only 10 passes while Cook and their running game steamrolled the Falcons' pillow-fight run defense. Cousins was 14-of-32 for 230 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions while playing from behind against a better defense this week. The Vikings' four chances to take the lead late in the game ended with three punts and an end-zone interception.

    The new Packers offense can charitably be called a work in progress. The Vikings are still playing Hide-a-Cousins and pretending it's a viable philosophy. The two teams went a combined 9-of-28 on third- and fourth-down conversions. That's apparently what $218 million in quarterback money purchases these days.

    Also, scouring the instant replay for signs of uncalled offensive pass interference after touchdowns is going to cause chaos for the NFL and outrage/heartbreak for fans all season.


    What's next

    The first-place Packers host the Broncos, yet another team that can be beaten by waiting around for their quarterback to fail. The Vikings host the unpredictable, dangerous Raiders. 

Are the Steelers a Bad Team Now? Or Something Even Worse?

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    The Steelers are 0-2, Ben Roethlisberger left their 28-26 loss Sunday to the Seahawks with an elbow injury, running back James Conner and other key players also suffered injuries in the loss, their season-opening 33-3 loss to the Patriots was an absolute embarrassment, and they are in danger of being left behind in the AFC playoff conversation.

    It's early, but from what we've seen so far, there's a chance not only that this team is going to be bad this year, but that it will be irrelevant.

    The Steelers haven't finished below .500 since 2003, the year before they drafted Roethlisberger. But even when they fielded weak teams in the 1990s and early 2000s, they were always relevant. Bill Cowher, Kordell Stewart, Jerome Bettis and star-studded defenses led by the likes of Kevin Greene and Greg Lloyd made the Steelers fascinating and dangerous, even in their worst seasons. They might have finished 6-10 or 7-9 now and then, but a 13-3 season was always just around the corner.

    The Steelers haven't been truly irrelevant since the 1980s. After Terry Bradshaw and all the Steel Curtain heroes of the 1970s retired, legendary coach Chuck Noll muddled along for years with quarterbacks like Mark Malone and Bubby Brister and teams with no identity on either side of the ball.

    The Steelers now run the risk of becoming that sort of team again, with Mike Tomlin and his staff playing out the string after all the stars have left, except the aging quarterback whose physique doesn't scream "TB12 Program" and who suddenly gets hurt on routine plays.

    In the past, Roethlisberger has come back from injuries like the one he suffered Sunday, sometimes weeks before he was expected to return, and led the Steelers on playoff runs. In the past, the Steelers also had a better supporting cast for Roethlisberger. And easier division opponents. And an organization with a more coherent plan than maybe we'll be better now that there's some peace and quiet in the locker room.

    The Steelers have a lot more to worry about this week than Roethlisberger's health. They must figure out how to make themselves matter again. Because while bad is bad, irrelevant is worse. 

    The Steelers may discover it's no fun if the locker room is quiet because no one is paying attention to you anymore.

Inside the Numbers

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    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    Gardner Minshew, QB, Jaguars: 23-of-33, 213 yards, 1 TD, 4 sacks, 1 fumble lost, 56 rushing yards

    The NFL world fell in love with Minshew this week, because a) he looks like the guy who sold your great uncle a conversion van with a shag-carpet interior and the cover art to Santana's Abraxis album painted on the side back in 1973; and b) the internet draftniks considered him a sleeper, because internet draftniks anoint about a dozen rookie quarterback "sleepers" per year then claim to have "discovered" any one of them who plays well.

    Anyway, 118 of Minshew's passing yards came on the final two Jaguars drives, and much of that yardage came on short swing passes to Leonard Fournette. He threw only one pass longer than 20 yards, and he picked up the kind of scrambling yardage that slow-but-spunky young quarterbacks get because the opposing defense doesn't account for them. 

    In summary, Minshew is the kind of quarterback who puts up good numbers while producing 10-12 points per game. That means he will have a 15-year career as a backup. Which is cool, because his mustache is groovy.


    Mitchell Trubisky, QB, Bears: 16-of-27 for 120 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs, 0 sacks, 8 rushing yards

    Trubisky was 9-of-14 for 82 yards at halftime: not great, but not ridiculous. He completed a pass to Tarik Cohen for a loss of nine early in the third quarternot the quarterback's fault, because Cohen tried to pull a Marcus Allen on a receiver screen—and then didn't throw a single official pass on the Bears' 80-yard touchdown drive. He had another sequence when he completed two straight passes after a 2nd-and-8 situation and the Bears still had to punt.

    You get the idea.

    The Bears beat the Broncos 16-14 thanks to a very dubious late roughing-the-passer call, a long field goal and the fact that the Broncos don't believe in 21st-century offense. 

    Trubisky is now averaging 4.8 yards per attempt through two games, which would be great for a running back. Call him a "game manager" for a team with a great defense if you want; the euphemism won't fool anyone.


    Demarcus Robinson, WR, Chiefs: 6 catches for 172 yards, 2 TDs

    Robinson was caught five passes for 144 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, with both his touchdowns coming in the second quarter. He caught passes of 44, 43, 39 and 28 yards on the day. The first three of those came in the second quarter, while the fourth was on the first play of the third quarter. He was silent for the rest of the game.

    In other words, Chiefs receivers must be taking turns trolling fantasy owners until Tyreek Hill returns.

    Last week was Sammy Watkins' turn. This week was Robinson's turn. Rookie wideout Mecole Hardman is probably batting third.


    Adrian Peterson, RB, Redskins: 10 carries for 25 yards, 1 rushing TD, 2 catches for 7 yards

    Peterson's second-quarter touchdown was the 107th rushing touchdown of his career, moving him past Jim Brown for fifth on the all-time list. Congratulations to Peterson, but let's take a moment to celebrate Brown.

    The Hall of Famer famously retired young after an All-Pro season, and he played 60 years and four or five offensive revolutions ago. Yet he ran for so many touchdowns that Peterson, the iron-man running back of our generation, needed to come back from an ACL injury, a suspension and a down-and-out 2017 season to squeak past him.

    That's the difference between an all-time great like Peterson and a historic figure like Brown.


    Adam Vinatieri, K, Colts: 0 field goals, 1-of-3 on extra points

    Vinatieri also missed two field goals and an extra point last week. The Colts have scheduled a press conference for Monday, and Vinatieri told the press after the game that he will attend. In all likelihood, the 46-year-old kicker will announce his retirement.

    Vinatieri is the all-time NFL scoring leader with 2,605 career points. He's also first on the all-time field-goal list (583) and second on the extra-point list (854; George Blanda is first, with 943). Only Morten Andersen played in more career games, and only former teammate Tom Brady has played in more playoff games.

    Vinatieri and Stephen Gostkowski (his successor on the Patriots) are tied for the record with seven Super Bowl field goals each, and Vinatieri holds the record with 13 Super Bowl extra points. Vinatieri is a future Hall of Famer whose career unites Tom Brady with Peyton Manning, the era of Brett Favre and John Elway with the era of Patrick Mahomes. The story of the 21st-century NFL cannot be told without including him.

    If the Colts' 19-17 win over the Titans was his last NFL game, let's remember the Super Bowl game-winners and 140-point seasons, not those last few wobbly kicks.

Awards Digest

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    Wade Payne/Associated Press

    Offensive line of the week: The 49ers offensive line of Joe Staley, Justin Skule (who replaced Staley after he suffered a fractured fibula in the third quarter), Laken Tomlinson, Weston Richburg, Mike Person and Mike McGlinchey helped the team produce 259 rushing yards and 6.2 yards per carry while holding the Bengals without a sack. Remember when the Bengals defensive line looked great last week? That's why we shouldn't jump to conclusions in Week 1. 

    Defender of the week: Jamie Collins intercepted two passes, returning one of them for a touchdown, and recorded a half-sack in the Patriots' demolition of the Miami Tank Machine.

    Defender of the week (against NFL-caliber competition): Falcons cornerback Desmond Trufant took advantage of Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz's targeting system malfunctioning early in the Sunday night matchup, intercepting two passes.

    Special teamer of the week: Bears kicker Eddy Pineiro hit a 53-yard game-winner after also converting 40- and 52-yarders during the game. The kicking demons are exorcised. Now to worry about, you know, the quarterback. 

    Mystery touch of the week: Titans offensive lineman David Quessenberry fooled the Colts defense at the goal line for an old-fashioned play-action, tackle-eligible touchdown catch. Always cover the Titans offensive linemen at the goal line, guys. By midseason, they usually forget they have wide receivers, anyway.

    Meaningless fantasy touchdown of the week: John Ross III streaked past the 49ers defense for a 66-yard catch-and-run on fourth down in the waning seconds to cut the Bengals' deficit to 41-17. In fairness, we've waited three years for Ross to start producing meaningless fantasy touchdowns, so let's savor them. 

    Best supporting actor in a highlight: Russell Wilson managed to upstage Rashaad Penny on Penny's 37-yard touchdown run against the Steelers by blocking both Sean Davis and Terrell Edmunds downfield on the play. If Wilson could have figured out how to block for himself from 2014 through 2017, the Seahawks might have won another Super Bowl. 

    Best supporting actor in a highlight (honorable mention): Falcons left tackle Jake Matthews raced out on a fourth-down wide receiver screen to Julio Jones and smothered Eagles cornerback Avonte Maddox, who happened to be the only defender between Julio and the end zone, 54 yards away. Matthews' block was so devastating that Julio was almost a supporting actor in the lineman's highlight. That's the whole point of this category. 

    Kicking disaster of the week: With kicker Michael Badgley injured, the Chargers decided to let former CFL punter Ty Long handle both kicking and punting chores this week. After all, it's still 1963, right? And the Chargers have such great luck with kickers. Anyway, Long missed a 41-yarder and doinked a 39-yarder off the left upright in a 13-10 loss to the Lions. Tune in next week when the Chargers, with their legendary good fortune when it comes to injuries, hold a series of two-a-day practices while their whole training staff is out of town, leaving the person who gives flu shots at the local pharmacy in charge of their medical department.

Gridiron Digest Sportsbook 18-Point Spread Spectacular!

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    Michael Reaves/Getty Images

    The Patriots were 18-point favorites on the road against the Dolphins on Sunday. Spreads of that magnitude are pretty rare, even when the Patriots are concerned, but we may see more of them in the weeks to come. (The New York Mononucleosis All-Stars are visiting Foxborough next week, for example.)

    So, here's some history to keep in mind in the wake of the Patriots' 43-0 drubbing of the Dolphins:

    • Only 24 NFL games have featured a point spread of 17 or more points since 2000, according to Pro Football Reference. The Tom Brady-led Patriots were favorites in 10 of them. Peyton Manning's Colts were the favorites in three games, and his Broncos were favorites in two more. Kurt Warner's Greatest Show on Turf Rams were the favorites in four games.  

    • The Jets have been the underdogs in three of the 24 games, and the Patriots were the favorites all thee times. The Dolphins also have been the dogs in three of the 24 games (counting Sunday), and all three were against the Patriots. 

    • The 2007 Patriots were favored by at least 18.5 points four times. They failed to cover in any of the games, all of which took place after Nov. 24—a good example of the spread and public lagging behind the results. 

    • The widest spread since 2000—also the widest spread on record at Pro Football Reference—was the 2013 Broncos and Manning at minus-26.5 at home in Week 6 against the Jaguars, who had just benched Blaine Gabbert in favor of Chad Henne. Manning threw two first-quarter touchdowns but also threw a pick-six before halftime that kept the game close, and the Broncos failed to cover in a 35-19 win. 

    • After Sunday's Patriots win and cover, the favorites are 9-13-2 against spreads of at least 17 points since 2000, but they are 6-3-2 when it's exactly 17 points and 3-10 ATS when it is higher. That extra point matters on this extreme end of the blowout curve!

    • Per Patrick Everson of, handicapper Matt Chaprales of referred to a 19-point spread as the "resistance point" for Sunday's game: Bettors were reluctant to follow the Patriots that far into the point-laying madness. Keep such "resistance points" in mind as the Patriots embark on other blowouts, and don't be afraid to set your own "resistance points" when future spreads get gnarly and lopsided.


    Monday Night Action: Cleveland Browns -6.5 (per Caesars) at New York Jets

    This line leapt from Browns -2.5 to the touchdown range within hours of the news that Sam Darnold is out with mono. The Broncos were 12-11-1 ATS with Trevor Siemian as their starting quarterback in 2016-17, but those Broncos teams had some things the Jets don't have, like a pass rush and a secondary. Gridiron Digest would like the backdoor-cover possibilities if the line drifted to seven or beyond despite the possibility of a push, which is like kissing a platonic friend, which could lead to mono.

    Take the Browns, and take heart in the fact that none of Gregg Williams' defensive backs will be able to injure Odell Beckham Jr. if none of them can catch him.

In Case You Missed It

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    Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

    Here's a roundup of news, notes and observations that didn't really fit anywhere else:

    Saints get hosed by refs again: The officials blew a quick whistle after Cameron Jordan scooped up an apparent Jared Goff fumble, turning what looked like a Saints touchdown into an incomplete Rams pass—which then became a turnover after review but not a touchdown because of the whistle. Such a questionable call in a game where "Saints were robbed by the refs last year" was the prevailing storyline seems shocking until you understand the cardinal rule of NFL officiating: After making a bad call, officials must make several additional bad calls against the same team so they don't appear to be granting any "makeup calls." By that principle, the Saints will keep getting hammered by the refs against the Rams for all eternity, in the name of fairness.

    Aaron Rodgers gets testy with Matt LaFleur just before halftime: We had the over/under for their first public shouting match at 1.5 games. So...guess this counts as a a push. 

    Philip Rivers meets some nuns before the Chargers game: Nuns love a man who hates contraception.

    Stefon Diggs wears SpongeBob cleats during pregame warm-ups: It must be hard to be a SpongeBob kind of guy in a Squidward kind of offense.

    Brett Favre leads Bart Starr's widow onto the field before the Packers game: Cherry Starr later took part in a halftime ceremony in her husband's honor and nearly picked off Kirk Cousins twice. 

    Fire breaks out during the Titans' pregame pyrotechnics display: Folks, can we make sure the Dolphins don't get their hands on any fireworks this year?


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    Ron Schwane/Associated Press

    Antonio Brown...

    Point: Nope.

    Counterpoint: Uh-uh. 


    ... Alrighty then, on to the next topic. Jets quarterback Sam Darnold contracts mono.

    Point: That wouldn't have happened had Darnold watched the 1978 after-school television special starring this guy.

    Counterpoint: Mono is highly contagious and can spread through close contact like spin the bottle, sharing coffee cups or two-yard passes on shallow drag routes. In other words, the Jets receivers are doomed.


    NFL offers $3 million to anyone who can design a safer helmet.

    Point: Hold on a second, I'm on the phone. "Mom! Remember my sixth-grade science project, where we dropped the egg from the roof of the school and it didn't break? Fetch that carton I designed out of the attic. We're gonna be rich, Mom. Rich! What? What do you mean you threw it away? And my baseball card collection, too? That was worth a fortune; I had at least a dozen Gregg Jefferies rookie cards! And what do you mean you hard-boiled the egg so my feelings wouldn't get hurt?" I...I need a moment here.

    Counterpoint: This contest translates as "Make all the NFL's problems go away forever and they'll pay you less than one-third of what Chase Daniel makes."


    Odell Beckham Jr. accuses Gregg Williams of instructing his defenders to make dirty tackles.

    Point: How dare he accuse Williams of doing exactly what he was suspended for a whole year for doing!

    Counterpoint: OBJ is gonna protect himself by wearing a watch that shoots laser beams.


    Gregg Williams refuses to address Bountygate questions and makes "Odell who?" jokes in response to Beckham's remarks.

    Point: Tough words from the person least responsible for the Browns "success" last year.

    Counterpoint: Williams then ordered his free safeties to play 35 yards behind the line of scrimmage on OBJ's side of the field. Bold choice to move them up like that. 


    Packers legend Paul Hornung places the ceremonial first legal bet in the state of Indiana.

    Point: Isn't this a little like putting Gregg Williams in charge of judging the new helmets?

    Counterpoint: The long-ago Hornung-Alex Karras gambling controversy serves as a reminder that even in the early 60s, NFL justice consisted mostly of the commissioner randomly deciding to do whatever he wanted.