Well-balanced attack helped Saints blow out Rams

 

By Nick Shook
NFL.com
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At 5-6 overall, the Saints‘ season has seen its highs and lows. The one consistency that has emerged during most of New Orleans’ season is the same that has followed the Saints for much of coach Sean Payton’s tenure: New Orleans doesn’t have much of an issue putting points on the board.

That was as true as ever in Week 12 against the Rams, in a game billed as defensive coordinator Gregg Williams’ return to the Superdome for the first time since he was ousted as a result of the Bountygate scandal. Surely, the Rams, with their ninth-best defense in terms of yards per game allowed, would find a way to bottle up the Saints, especially with their former defensive commander calling a game against New Orleans.

That wasn’t the case Sunday. Williams entered with a pressure-packed defensive game plan, but Drew Brees and Co. were ready for the heat. Continue reading

Cowboys not worried about Ezekiel Elliott’s workload

By Nick Shook
NFL.com
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After 12 weeks, it appears as though Ezekiel Elliott has also broken the tackle attempt of the Rookie Wall.

Elliott, the league leader in rushing with 1,199 yards, also happens to lead the NFL in attempts (243, 22.1 per game). The workload has been hefty, especially for a face that is still fresh to the league. That doesn’t worry Jerry Jones.

“The more we can give Ezekiel the ball the better,” the Cowboys owner said Tuesday on 105.3 The Fan, per The Dallas Morning News. “We’re winning with that. We’re winning by wearing them down on defense.” Continue reading

Justin Houston dominates all linemen in his path in win

By Nick Shook
NFL.com
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It’s a good thing we lovers of football and various hearty dishes had a holiday to celebrate this week, because the road squads sure didn’t give us a reason to party.

If it wasn’t for Kansas City’s stunning overtime win over Denver on Sunday Night Football, we’d have only had five wins for teams away from home all week. Thankfully, we’re sitting at 6-9 with the Packers-Eagles contest yet to be played. We can become the equivalent of the Jeff Fisher era in St. Louis and Los Angeles if the Packers pull out a victory tonight. Hope springs eternal, even if this column doesn’t have the future of it riding on the shoulders of Jared Goff. Continue reading

Injuries: Danny Trevathan done for remainder of year

By Nick Shook
NFL.com
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As if things couldn’t get any bleaker for the Bears in 2016, the latest news shows it can and has indeed worsened.

Head coach John Fox said Monday that linebacker Danny Trevathan, one of Chicago’s big offseason signings, suffered a ruptured patellar tendon in his knee, ending his first season in the Windy City. Trevathan, who will be placed on injured reserve, suffered the injury during the Bears’ 27-21 loss to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.

It’s the latest blow to a team that has been walloped by injuries and suspensions, as the Bears¬†continue their slog to a merciful end to the 2016 campaign. Continue reading

Thirty-six things we learned from Week 12

By Around the NFL staff
NFL.com
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They’re not dead yet! With just five weeks to go in the 2016 regular season, teams are making their final playoff pushes, avoiding catastrophe in the process.

The AFC East contenders — Buffalo and Miami — both narrowly escaped home defeats to the Jaguarsand 49ers, respectively, two teams that are slated to have top-five draft picks. In the NFC South, the Falcons and Saints went ahead early and stayed ahead against the underperforming Cardinals and Rams. The Titans steered clear of disaster in the Windy City, keeping pace with the struggling Texans.

The postseason picture is clearing up. Here’s what we’ve learned from Week 12.

Oakland Raiders 35, Carolina Panthers 32

1. Derek Carr was at the head of the roller coaster the Oakland faithful collectively rode on Sunday. The quarterback led an offensive attack that had the Raiders ahead 24-7 at half, then suffered a gruesome right hand injury that knocked him out of the game for a series and sparked a Carolina response of 25 unanswered points. But Carr, wearing a glove on the injured hand and receiving snaps exclusively out of the shotgun, didn’t wilt, leading a 10-play, 75-yard drive capped by a 12-yard touchdown pass to Clive Walford to tie the game at 32. He captained another drive that saw two acrobatic grabs from Michael Crabtree and ended five yards short of the end zone. We went from “business as usual Raiders,” to the injury-induced fall of Carr, back to another thrilling win for Oakland. The Raiders have made their living with heart-stopping victories this season. Why, on Sunday against the struggling but reigning NFC champions, should it have been any different? Continue reading

Derek Carr returns to lead Raiders to win over Panthers

By Nick Shook
NFL.com
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Derek Carr left the field in a hurry in the third quarter with a gruesome hand injury, but returned to help the Raiders overcome 25 unanswered Panthers points and improve to 9-2 in a wild 35-32 win¬†over Carolina (4-7). Here’s what we learned:

1. Derek Carr was at the head of the roller coaster the Oakland faithful collectively rode on Sunday. The quarterback led an offensive attack that had the Raiders ahead 24-7 at half, then suffered a gruesome right hand injury that knocked him out of the game for a series and sparked a Carolina response of 25 unanswered points. But Carr, wearing a glove on the injured hand and receiving snaps exclusively out of the shotgun, didn’t wilt, leading a 10-play, 75-yard drive capped by a 12-yard touchdown pass to Clive Walford to tie the game at 32. He captained another drive that saw two acrobatic grabs from Michael Crabtree and ended five yards short of the end zone. We went from “business as usual Raiders,” to the injury-induced fall of Carr, back to another thrilling win for Oakland. The Raiders have made their living with heart-stopping victories this season. Why, on Sunday against the struggling but reigning NFC champion, should it have been any different? Continue reading

Doug Baldwin, Vontaze Burfict fined for gestures

By Nick Shook
NFL.com
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All five fingers are important to each hand, especially for those who earn a living catching and defending passes.

The longest of those fingers left a couple of players a little lighter in the pockets this week.

Seattle’s Doug Baldwin and Cincinnati’s Vontaze Burfict were each fined $12,154 for separate unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, a league spokesman told NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport. Rapoport connected the fines to the public extensions of their middle fingers. Continue reading

Bold predictions: Darrelle Revis to pick off Brady twice

By Around the NFL staff
NFL.com
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Jay Ajayi gets reacquainted with the 200-yard club

Miami saw its season change for the better when it placed an added emphasis on the running game. Led by Ajayi and his back-to-back 200-plus-yard games, the Dolphins vaulted into the league’s top 10 in rushing. Miami went from relying too much on the arm of Ryan Tannehill to letting Ajayi’s churning legs to do the work, and suddenly the Dolphins are squarely in the playoff conversation.

But it’s been a couple weeks since Ajayi cracked 100-plus yards. Against the 49ers, the league’s worst against the run by a wide, nearly historical margin, there’s no better time to again get familiar with the NFL’s top runners. Powered by a zone scheme we broke down in this Next Gen Stats piece, Ajayi uses his bullish, one-cut running style to slice through the Niners’ defense, gaining 150 yards through three quarters. A big run in the fourth breaks 200 yards and ices another win for the Dolphins, who continue their charge toward the postseason.

— Nick Shook

To read the full Week 12 bold predictions from the Around the NFL writers, click here.