The Patriots haven’t lost many games in 2018. With a 7-3 record, they’re still on pace to win the AFC East handily. But unlike years past, when this New England team loses, it spirals out of the stadium like an out-of-control oil rig, destroying the earth around it in a display of unwatchable football.
That new tradition continued in Week 10, where the Pats cooked up their third double-digit loss of the season. The franchise had three such losses from 2015 to 2017 combined. And a big part of those struggles can be chalked up to a suddenly-mortal Tom Brady.
In three losses this fall, Brady has completed just 57.8 percent of his passes for 621 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception. That shakes out to an 81.4 QB rating — the rough equivalent of what CJ Beathard had been doing in San Francisco before being replaced by the immortal Nick Mullens.
Those are bad numbers in any year, but especially one where 14 different quarterbacks have a triple-digit rating. Brady should be thriving in an NFL where offense comes first. Instead, he seems to be backsliding at age 41. Which makes sense, but still seems impossible for Tom Brady, man who time forgot.
The rich (Rams) get a little poorer
The Rams became the first of the three remaining one-win teams to suffer a significant injury to their offense, losing wide receiver Cooper Kupp to a torn ACL last week. It’s a blow. Kupp was their leading receiver in 2017, and even though he’s only played eight of 10 games this year, he had already accumulated 566 yards and six touchdowns.
When you’re scoring 33.5 points per game, every contribution matters, and Kupp was on pace to top his impressive rookie numbers from last year.
Kupp did his best work in the slot for the Rams, where he took more than 75 percent of his snaps. He’s been quarterback Jared Goff’s safety valve in that offense, a reliable set of hands that Goff could count on when he needed him. Last season, Kupp had the fifth best rating of any NFL receiver on third and fourth downs, according to Pro Football Focus. This season, 25 percent of his catches have come on third downs, six of those on third downs with 6+ yards to go.
With Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods as the No. 1 and No. 2 receivers and Todd Gurley in the backfield, it’s hard to look at this roster and see the Rams hurting too much. However, Sean McVay is going to have to find a way to fill Kupp’s role.
Panic index: It should be fine. Josh Reynolds will get more work without Kupp, and Woods will probably do more from the slot. On top of that, you can expect tight ends Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett to fill some of the void, as Turf Show Times explains here.
Where’s your luck now, Seahawks?
For a few years, it seemed like a horseshoe had taken permanent residence up the Seahawks’ butt. Everything always seemed to go their way. (Well, except on the 1-yard line in Super Bowl 49, because if any team has been tighter with Lady Luck than the Seahawks, it’s the Patriots.)
In 2012, it was the replacement refs giving them a touchdown on “Fail Mary.” Two seasons later, it was the onside kick in the NFC Championship, again against the poor Packers. The next year, it was the infamous illegal bat game. A couple months after that, then-Vikings kicker Blair Walsh missed what should’ve been a piece of cake field goal in the playoffs that sent the Seahawks to the next round.
Even last year, in a season when they barely missed the playoffs, they found ways to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, courtesy of Bill O’Brien ruining what turned out to be Deshaun Watson’s final game as a rookie.
Now, it looks like their luck is starting to run out (or it transferred over to the Chargers in some form of karmic osmosis). The Seahawks are 4-5, and all five of their losses have come in one-score games:
That includes Week 10’s 36-31 loss to the Rams, a team so good that they can clinch the division in Week 11. That was also the Seahawks’ second loss to the Rams this year. The first came by an even slimmer margin, 33-31.
The Seahawks had a chance to pull it out Sunday — and even benefitted from the refs not calling Russell Wilson for intentional grounding — but Aaron Donald barreling toward Wilson was too much for Seattle to overcome.
So for the second straight week, the Seahawks came up short at the end of the game — and they’re not a fan of it happening to them for a change.
“I’ve been here for a while now, and we’ve had a lot of games where we’ve pulled it out, so to be on the opposite side, it sucks,” Bobby Wagner said after the game.
Pete Carroll also thinks it’s strange, and if something fits the Pete Carroll definition of strange, then you know it must be:
Pete Carroll on late-game losses: "We've been so good at finishing those games. The fact that it's not happening is a little bit unusual."— Gregg Bell (@gbellseattle) November 12, 2018
Unusual based on past #Seahawks teams, yes. This is such a changed team.
Panic index: The reason those Seahawks teams always managed to find ways to win wasn’t simply good fortune. It was because they were really, really good. Once the Seahawks got rid of almost their entire defense this offseason, it looked like they were headed for rebuilding mode.
But this year’s team is better than it should be. They’re hanging with the Rams and Chargers — two of the best teams in the NFL right now. They just need to figure out how to close out games again. They have a few chances left to get a signature win, with games against the Panthers, Vikings, and Chiefs on the horizon. That’s a daunting slate to face, so even if things start coming together for the Seahawks, it might not be enough to make the playoffs this year. It’s not implausible, though; currently, there are only six NFC teams with winning records.
For now, they just need to get over the hump. And if anything can get them back in luck’s good graces, it’s a date with their next opponent: the Packers.
Jalen Ramsey wants out of Jacksonville
The Jaguars have lost five straight and there’s pretty much nothing else that could be worse than that, right? Wrong! Now, the best, young player on the team, cornerback Jalen Ramsey, is posting cryptic tweets about an eventual departure from Jacksonville.
When I’m gone from here, y’all gone miss me. I ain’t even trippin lol— Jalen Ramsey (@jalenramsey) November 12, 2018
A day later, he calmed things down by reminding everyone he said he wants to finish his career with the Jaguars:
But his frustration has — according to at least a couple analysts — resulted in him freestyling and playing man coverage while the rest of the defense is playing zone. That could’ve been why the Jaguars’ usually strong pass defense was ripped to shreds by Andrew Luck in Week 10.
Ramsey’s trash talk has been fun for Jacksonville for most of his time with the team, but it’s not quite as enjoyable for the Jaguars now that it’s blowing up in their face.
Panic index: Ramsey going rogue is a problem, but he’s still a top cornerback in the NFL. The Jaguars can keep him under contract for a few more years via his fifth-year option and the franchise tag. He’s not going anywhere. Reining in and redirecting his frustration might not be as easy, though.
The Giants might have cost themselves a shot at the first pick in the draft
The Giants desperately need a new face at quarterback and as it currently stands, Oregon’s Justin Herbert seems to be the only clear-cut franchise quarterback prospect in the draft and it’s imperative they get a chance at him with a few pieces in place already on offense. Right now, the Raiders own the first pick in the draft over the Giants and they have some quarterback issues of their own to sort out.
Panic index: This season is over for the Giants. At 2-7, the Giants currently hold the third pick in the draft behind the San Francisco 49ers. They would never admit to it, but losing out and securing the first pick in the draft would be the best plan of action for them. If not, they could be looking at another season of Eli Manning with the Giants...enough to make any football fan panic.