Our NFL Week 11 Awards

By David McDonnell

Before we embark on another set of fixtures, lets give out our Week 11 gongs.

Offensive Player of the Week: Tony Pollard (Cowboys)

Defensive Player of the Week: Maxx Crosby (Raiders)

Rookie of the Week: Jack Sanborn (Bears)

Touchdown of the Week: Cordarrelle Patterson

Smash of the Week: Deron Payne (Commanders)

Our Week 10 Awards

By David McDonnell

We always post these on our socials, but we’ve decided this week to throw them up on a post.

Offensive Player of Week 10: Justin Jefferson (Vikings)

Defensive Player of Week 10: Patrick Peterson (Vikings)

Rookie of Week 10: Christian Watson (Packers)

Touchdown of Week 10: Justin Fields (Bears)

Smashmouthing Football’s Smash of Week 10: Andre Cisco (Jaguars)

Fist-pump of Week 10: Who else? (Packers)

How does Aaron Rodgers celebrate when he gets a question right on Jeopardy?

NFL Week 9 Preview

By David McDonnell 

I’ve decided to go a bit off-road this week and talk about teams I haven’t conversed about recently. There are only so many weeks I can bang on about the plight of the under-performing Rams or Bucs, so this weekend for my own amusement as much as anything else I’m going to focus elsewhere. 

Let’s start in the Windy City. 

Miami Dolphins @ Chicago Bears

Miami is a whirlwind of excitement and anticipation right now and it must be a joy to follow with the way they are attacking teams. And that was before the arrival of two more bodies in Florida before the close of the trade deadline on Tuesday. 

With Tua back at quarterback, the Dolphins are back motoring again with Tyreek Hill almost at 1000 yards before the midway point of the season. With the NFL regular season now 17 games, he is on pace to beat Calvin Johnson’s 2012 single-season record of 1,964 receiving yards. Even when he is double-teamed he is extremely difficult to cover. 

That Hill’s partner-in-crime Jalen Waddle has caught for almost 750 yards shows just  how explosive this offence has become and they are a threat to take it to the house on every play. 

Tagovailoa has always had good timing and accuracy with his throws. This is where the off-season additions of experienced left tackle Terron Armstead and centre Conor Williams have been key, because when afforded enough time in the pocket, Tua has the smarts to consistently pick out the right option. 

The dual threat receivers, are in my opinion the two fastest players in the league, often sees tight-end Mike Gesicke single-covered and he has become a redzone favourite of Tua.

What makes this team even more credible is their defence has been competitive all season with Javon Holland at safety playing at an All-Pro level.

Last season the Dolphins were the highest blitzing team in the league and while they still have that in their locker, what has impressed me is that they have been able to put opposing quarterbacks constantly under pressure while only rushing four. 

Playing a 3-4 base defence they have now added Bradley Chubb to book-end with the exciting pass-rusher Jalen Phillips and going forward this could be significant in getting teams off the field on third down. 

There was an interesting social media post I saw during the week that showed that the Miami Dolphins turned the three first-round picks acquired for trading down with the 49ers in the 2021 draft, who moved up to take QB Trey Lance, into Hill, Waddle and Chubb. You don’t have to be a genius to figure out who won that trade battle. 

Miami’s addition of running-back Jeff Wilson again is a clever pick-up as he knows the Mike McDaniel system having played in it at the 49ers last season and won’t need any time to adjust to the playbook.

So, are the Miami Dolphins now realistic Super Bowl contenders? I wouldn’t put them into that bracket just yet but they are certainly the best they have been in years and have the firepower to beat anyone on their day. After a generation in the AFC East doldrums, they are certainly relevant again.  

So how will the Bears try to beat them on Sunday?

Very simple. Try to keep that Dolphins offence off the field by running the ball. This is an approach that the Bears are having success at right now. 

Through the first quarter of this season Chicago were terrible on offence and it seemed that offensive coordinator Luke Getsy, who had spent the last three years as QB coach to Aaron Rodgers, was trying to fit Fields into the Green Bay offence. It didn’t work but there has been a noticeable change in their approach.

Getsy has decided to use the best performing unit on the team, their offensive line and run the ball down the opposition throats. Tevin Jenkins at right guard, in particular, is what you want in a run-blocker. He is mean and aggressive on every play and moves bodies and loves to smash into people in the run game. 

Getsy has also introduced more run-option and play action into the game plan, which allows Justin Fields to excel at what he is great at; using his legs to pick up first downs. By having such a strong running threat, the Bears are wearing the opposition down and affording Fields even more space to attack later in the second half. 

When Fields gets to plant his leg, his throwing accuracy is much improved but he is still susceptible to being inaccurate when throwing under pressure. The addition of big-bodied wide receiver Chase Claypool during the week could be the safety blanket Fields needs, which should allow him to throw for contested catches in the red zone. The addition of Claypool should also result in Darnell Mooney getting more single coverage. 

Although still relatively one dimensional things are looking up for Chicago but they are going to be a work in progress for some time to come. Still with a high performing rookie class, there is plenty to get excited about looking towards the future. 

For the present, beating Miami in Soldier Field would be a statement win of sorts but I don’t believe it will happen this weekend. 

Vikings @ Commanders 

This should be a good match-up as these are two sides whose record I would suggest is better than they are currently playing.

Minnesota has a 6-1 record and a three game lead in the NFC North. As it stands they are looking like post-season certainties but I remain unconvinced by anything I have seen from them this season. They do have a tendency to start games well but tend to fade out in the second half and they have come out the right side of a number of close encounters.

They do have talented players none more so than Justin Jefferson but he must be frustrated having not caught a receiving touchdown since the opening game of the season. Dalvin Cook at running-back has played well and on defence the signing of Za’Darius Smith from the rival Packers has been a significant addition for the Vikings and an equally telling loss for Green Bay. I have been impressed with their offensive line and they have a young unit that is performing consistently well. 

Cousins in my opinion throw a lovely deep ball but he is what I consider a play-action specialist. I would tar Ryan Tannehill with the same brush. Get the run game going, and Cousins can really hurt you from play action. When he has to stand in the pocket and pick a defence apart he struggles and I haven’t seen any noticeable improvement in his game since he left the Washington Redskins in 2018. 

Since he left there have been two changes in the name of the franchise and a revolving door at QB. 

Cousins is not fondly remembered mainly due to the instability he added to a highly unstable franchise when he wouldn’t sign a long term deal and played out two years on the franchise tag. Ultimately, it cost him a move to rejoin his former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan at the San Francisco 49ers, who ultimately got impatient waiting for him to become a free agent that he took a punt with Jimmy Garropolo. If Cousins hadn’t played the franchise game, would he have two Superbowls in the Bay Area? I’m not so sure. 

Washington have recently turned their season around and are now 4-4 in the NFc East, the highest performing division in football. 

Since they turned to Taylor Heineke after Carson Wentz’s injury, the team is playing better particularly on defence and they have conceded an average of less than 15 points in their  last three wins. This bodes well for a unit which will add the returning Chase Young in Week 12. 

On offence the big difference with Heineke is that he can move well in the pocket and he knows how to find his two best receivers Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuel on third downs. That has kept the Commanders on the field and allowed them to extend drives.  Heineke has proved to be a good player to have around and an ideal back-up QB who his teammates  rally behind. Where the team has struggled all season is their offence line when running the ball and they need to add more difference makers in the off-season. 

This should be a close game and I am expecting a low scoring affair. I think the home town Commanders will keep this game close and I can see them taking a fourth-quarter lead as has been their forte recently.

Titans V Chiefs 

The late game on Sunday night sees Derek Henry v the Kansas City Chiefs. 

There is no team playing more one-dimensional football in the league than the team from Tennessee and why wouldn’t you when you have the big man in top form. Last Sunday, Henry ran for 219 yards and two touchdowns as a repeat performance would certainly make things interesting. 

It will be good to see how the Chiefs D-line stand up to this physical challenge as many teams will try to keep Patrick Mahomes off the field using a run-heavy scheme in future contests. If they can hamper the juggernaut that is King Henry, it should bode well for men in red. 

What I will be looking out for is how the Titans will use rookie QB Malik Willis, who possesses extreme athletic talent. Hopefully he will be asked to dip further into the playbook as he only managed 55 passing yards and ran for only 12 yards against the Texans. That day, they didn’t need him to do much more.

It is hard to see past the Chiefs for this contest with the form of Mahomes who is playing at an MVP calibre level. Whatever time he is afforded, should be enough for him to navigate his way up the field for a few touchdowns. 

This week the Chiefs added Kadarius Toney and hands up I didn’t have a first-round grade on him coming out in 2021 mainly due to the fact that I never saw him winning contested catches for the Gators at the University of Florida. I thought he would struggle in this regard in the NFL but getting traded to play with Kansas City is a Godsend for him as Mahomes can put the ball on a postage stamp. Hopefully we will now get to see what this human joystick of a receiver can really do at the NFL level. He is expected to suit up on Sunday night. 

MNF Preview: Bears @ Patriots

Fields and Jones were selected 10th and 15th in the first round of the 2021 draft

Monday Night Football Preview

By Conor Perrett 

As the Chicago Bears travel to New England, all eyes will be on this quarterback situations at both the Patriots and the Bears. Justin Fields is looking to rebound with a win for the Bears after a loss against the Commanders on prime-time last time out. With the return of QB1 Mac Jones, he will be under pressure as his replacement over the last few weeks Bailey Zappe has lead the team to successive wins.

New England Patriots

Pats have no one out tonight

Power Rankings – 12th

DVOA Rankings:

Offence – 22nd

Defence – 7th

ST – 16th

Overall – 10th

The Patriots have a chance to move above .500 for the first time this season as they round out the easiest three-game stretch on their schedule. A win will see all the teams in the AFC East with winning records. The big talking point is the return of quarterback Mac Jones, who missed the last three games with an ankle injury and watched rookie Bailey Zappe shine in his placement. 

A key battle for the Patriots offensive side will be wide receiver Jakobi Myers and the Bears top corner-back Jaylon Johnson. Meyers ranked 10th in the league in yards per target and entering MNF he will hope to showcase his ability as an underrated player in his position. He’ll be tested when lined up against Johnson, who has been targeted nine times in three games this season and surrendered only four catches for 42 yards and no touchdowns.

On an impressive two-game win streak, Bill Belichick will be looking to continue their winning ways after a shaky start to the season on offence. But after putting 67 points up over the last two weeks with a talented running game to the front,  they could be looking to continue this approach against a poor Bears D-line. Damien Harris returns from injury to help Rhamondre Stevenson with their smash-mouth approach of recent weeks. 

Chicago Bears

Clean bill of health for the Bears

Power Rankings – 30th

DVOA Rankings:

Offence – 31st

Defence – 21st

ST – 8th

Overall – 32nd

Since Week 2, the Patriots defence has recorded an interception in every game. With the Bears struggling on offence, it would be easy to assume Justin Fields will keep that statistic alive. But if Chicago is to get back to winning ways that’s what they must not do: turn the ball over.  

Overall this Chicago team is not great at all, but to be fair to them we didn’t expect anything different this season. A rebuilding year was always on the cards! 

There have been few bright spots on offence. The attacking side of the ball has been holding back the Bears this season, with the O-line struggling with protection for Justin Fields being a major issue. But the finger of blame is also starting to point in the direction of their quarterback after a couple ill-advised throws in last week’s loss to Washington. Fields was the best player on the field but his worst mistake was throwing the ball that bounced off Efe Obada helmet that was picked off in the red zone. 

The defence has shown potential with rookie safety Jaquan Brisker catching the eye almost every week and corner-back Kyle Gordon showing promise. Head Coach Matt Eberflus comes from a defensive background and seems to have trust in these young pieces and they are delivering.  


Justin Fields has not looked comfortable with his surroundings this season and a prime time trip to New England won’t make that any easier. Things seem off with his ball placement and pressure from opposing defences are causing major issues for the quarterback.

Belichick has this Patriots’ defence playing towards the top end of the league right now and has been a big factor for their impressive run. This only causes a matchup nightmare for the Bears as they will have to rely heavily on their rushing attack.

It’s no secret both teams like to run the ball and will look to control the run of play through that aspect of the game. I think this will result in a low scoring event with both offences looking to keep the ball for as long as possible. The Patriots happen to have a better offence and defence and with being at home, I think they should control the game to win comfortably.

Bears 6, Patriots 24

Please share the love on our socials if you like our content!!!

TNF: Commanders @ Bears

By Conor Perrett

After the field goal contest last week on Thursday Night Footballs, it’s back this week with two disappointing teams looking to get their season back on track. 

Chicago Bears

Power Rankings – 27th : https://tinyurl.com/26z255sa 

Defense-adjusted Value Over Average take into account the quality of offensive opponents. 

The Bears offence has been nothing short of terrible this season. They could potentially have their franchise quarterback in place, but with no support around him there have been struggles.

The running game isn’t all that bad with Khalil Herbert having 328 rushing yards on the year at 5.9 yards per carry, but the passing game is what has been a tough watch. Fields is by far the most sacked quarterback in the league with a poor offensive line protecting him. Combined with receivers, most of whom would struggle to make another roster in the league, has led to the fewest total passing yards and passing yards per game in the league.

But despites these internal issues, the Bears are coming off their best offensive performance to date when they scored 22 points against the Vikings. Now, granted they lost the game, but from an offensive perspective it was a big improvement on what we had seeing of late. 

Bears Injury Report

Washington Commanders

Power Rankings – 31st: https://tinyurl.com/26z255sa 

DVOA Rankings

Washignton is having an underwhelming season to say the least. With expectations of pushing for playoffs after their Week 1 win when Jahan Dotson hit the scene, the wheels have started to fall off with a four-game losing streak. 

Carson Wentz was traded to the Commanders this past off-season and hasn’t met the heights of what Ron Rivera and the fans would have wanted. In classic Wentz fashion he has the talent to make spectacular plays, but his lack of consistency means every good play is followed soon after vwith a horrific play.

On a positive note Washington has got rookie Brain Robinson back, with a three-headed rushing attack monster in the works. Last week Robinson, Antonio Gibson and J.D. McKissic all split snaps across the game as Washington tried to put them in positions to take advantage of what the opposing defence showed. They seem to have a few weapons to turn this ship back around towards the playoffs, but does something need to change?

Head coach Ron Rivera was asked that question last week, his response. “It’s something that we have to address if it gets to that point, and we’re getting close,” the coach told NBC Sports Washington. 

That question was asked prior to their matchup against the Titans which they went on to loss. So if they fall to the Bears and drop to 1-5 on the season, could that be the final straw for Rivera to start making changes?

Commanders Injury Report


Now it’s looking like this game could be another sluggish offence affair, much to the same as last Thursday Night Football. In similar fashion both teams have struggled to get things working on offence whilst being average on defence. 

On paper I like this Bears team better. In my opinion, they have the better out-and-out quarterback and have starting corner Jaylon Johnson back, with N’keal Harry expected to make his debut in Chicago. Not to mention Washington are beaten up and missing some starters.

But when it comes to match-ups I like the chances of this Washington side. Both teams are going to want to rely heavily on the run and Washington looks in better shape to stop that. With this new look rushing attack, Tennessee did a good job in stopping it last week, but the Bears are far weaker allowing 170 rushing yards per game for 31st in the league.

Wentz up to date has fared well on Thursday Night Football and if their defences can keep heading in the right direction they should be able to get an away win on prime time.  

Bears 13, Commanders 20

NFL Week 2 Preview Column

By David McDonnell

Steelers @ Patriots

One of the most intriguing contests of Week 2 sees the two most successful franchises in NFL history collide when the New England Patriots host the Pittsburgh Steelers. 

Which defence will prevail?

This fixture also pits the two longest-tenured head coaches in the National Football League with the Steelers’ Mike Tomlin, in situ since 2007, continuing a remarkable record of never having a losing season, while his opponent, Bill Bellicheck has embarked on his 23rd campaign as the boss-man in New England.

What makes this game fascinating is both teams are renowned for their defence prowess and neither side set the world alight on offence during Week 1. 

Let’s start with the Pats. 

Despite a 20-7 defeat to the Miami Dolphins, their defence played well limiting an explosive Dolphins offence to one touchdown when speedster wide-out Jaylen Waddle took the ball on a slant, broke cover and took it 42 yards to the house. 

New England’s offence was dismal last week. 

It is hard to see how they will improve their plight as they have no blue-chip talents at the receiver positions. They are paying the price for spending big on offence in free agency in 2021 and failing to land a difference maker. More importantly they have lost the offensive mastermind Josh McDaniels, who took up the head coaching job with the Las Vegas Raiders. Certainly there were a few eyebrows raised when former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia took over this role for the ‘22 season. 

Another issue with the Patriots offence against the Dolphins was their second season quarterback Mac Jones took a lot of punishment as his offensive line was consistently under pressure throughout the game. A tackle from his namesake Brandon Jones saw the ball knocked free and Melvin Ingram gathered before walking into the endzone in the second quarter.  After the game, Jones reported to his medical team with a back injury but has since returned to training and will start on Sunday. 

With the much vaunted Pittsburgh defence coming to town, I expect the Patriots to go back to a traditional running game with Rhamondre Stevenson and Damien Harris figuratively and literally carrying much of the load. Look out for tight-end Hunter Henry to be targeted more than three times this Sunday, especially when the Pats get into the red zone. 

Last Sunday Pittsburgh opened their season with a win after an epic contest against the Cincinnati Bengals. Their defence wreaked havoc recording seven sacks, two forced fumbles, four interceptions and a defensive touchdown and they must be licking their lips after the Patriots’ struggles in Miami. 

Unfortunately, the Steelers travel to Foxboro without their best player, TJ Watt, after the current Defensive Player of the Year was ruled out after tearing a pectoral muscle. It is expected that the defensive-end will return later in the season. 

The Steelers offence is also likely to  struggle to get the chains moving after QB Mitch Trubisky only completed 21 of 38 passes thrown last time out. His only touchdown was to running-back Najee Harris from the one yard line. 

This game is likely going to be a one for the purists, with the Steelers winning a low scoring affair. 

New Orleans Saints @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

The best match-up of the weekend comes in  the NFC South when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers host divisional rivals New Orleans Saints. 

Most surprisingly the Saints go into this contest having won the last seven regular season fixtures against the Bucs, with the Tampa Bay side overturning the form guide in the playoffs on their way to the Superbowl in 2021. 

This shouldn’t have any significance as both franchises have new head coaches after promoting from within.

Saints Head Coach Denis Allen got his reign off with a come-from-behind last gasp fourth quarter victory against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 1. Trailing by 16 points in the fourth quarter, Jameis Winston led his team to victory throwing for 16/17, 213 yards and two TDs. Kicker Will Lutz managed to win the game at the death with a field goal from 51 yards to give the Falcons a metaphorical kick in the gut to open their season. 

Two things were particularly noteworthy about this victory. The first was that Winston threw no interceptions in the game. The second was the return of Michael Thomas to what looked like his 2019 form when he set a new NFL record for single-season receptions with 149 catches and earned him end of season Offensive Player of the Year honours. If Thomas can keep this sharpness up, then the Saints have the offensive power to trouble any opponent. 

New slot receiver Jarvis Landry had seven catches for 114 yards and first round pick Chris Olave caught all targets thrown his way for 41 yards as well as an important two-point conversion in that comeback win. With a supporting cast that includes running-back Alvin Kamara, the Saints look primed to make it to the postseason if Winston can remain consistent with his decision making.

The hometown Buccaneers return to Raymond James Stadium with their veteran quarterback Tom Brady lining up once again for what is expected to be his final season. 

In the Bucs opening weekend victory against the Dallas Cowboys,  Brady spread the  ball around between receivers Julio Jones, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin all seeing their share of targets. Godwin is ruled out this coming Sunday with a hamstring injury.

The Tampa Bay defence also impressed with Devin White, Vita Vea, Levontae David and Antoine Winfield Jr all impressing out the gate. I will side with the hometown Bucs to emerge victorious for their first regular season win against the Saints since 2018.   

San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks

Geno’s Back

One of the best football rivalries of the past decade continues on Sunday when the Seahawks host 49ers. 

It is curious that Seattle sit atop of the NFC West after week one as they were widely expected to be the worst team in the division, but that is where they stand after an exciting victory last Monday against their former quarterback Russell Wilson and his Denver Broncos.

It was a close game that came down to a missed kick after Broncos Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett decided to kick from 64 yards instead of going for it ‘fourth and five.’ This was much to the surprise of most pundits after the Broncos had acquired Wilson in the off-season for exactly this type of situation.

What was most noteworthy of this victory was the return to prominence of QB Geno Smith. Before Monday’s contest, he had not been named a Week 1 starter for a team since 2014, after serving as a back-up since. Coming off the field after the best performance of his career. it was put to him about the many people who had written him off? Geno replied with aplomb: “They wrote me off, but I ain’t write back.”

The San Francisco 49ers have been perennial contenders for the past few years but lost unexpectedly to the Chicago Bears on a wet Soldier Field last Sunday. Leading in the second half, they couldn’t stem the Bears’ momentum once they got going. 

Most concerning for 49ers fans was the poor display by Trey Lance in the QB role. After giving up three first-round picks to acquire Lance in the 2021 draft, he was given the starting role at the expense of Jimmy Garropolo in the off-season. With their former quarterback of the last four seasons now sitting on the bench, it will be interesting if Head Coach Kyle Shanahan changes his mind during the season. If Lance fails to perform or secure victory away at their fiercest rivals, he will be under severe public pressure. 

I think the 49ers win this one as they have a terrific defence and with tight-end George Kittle likely to return, this will give Lance a top catching talent to target. 

Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears 

In Sunday’s late night contest, the Chicago Bears buzzing with excitement after last Sunday’s triumph over the 49ers will welcome their most-hated rival in the Green Bay Packers. 

In this fixture last season, Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers shouted at the Soldier Field supporters “I still own you ” after extending his record to 22-5 against the Bears. This is unlikely to be forgotten and expect the home crowd to be vociferous against their nemesis from the outset. 

The Bears looked bereft of ideas in the first half of last Sunday’s contest against the 49ers but their fortunes changed after a heads-up play from QB Justin Fields saw him find the unmarked Dante Pettis in the third quarter for a touchdown.  He then threw the winner to former Packer wide-out Equanimeous St  Brown for a morale-improving win.

Green Bay started their season with a loss against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 1 with Rodgers clearly frustrated with his new cast of receivers throughout the contest. An example of this was when second-round pick Christian Watson dropped a clanger when he looked certain to race into the endzone in the first quarter. 

I would like to see a closely-fought contest and for the Bears to turn the tide in this one-sided rivalry but until it happens, I expect Rodgers to continue his historical form against the Bears and emerge victorious.