This article is part of our NFL Observations series.
For the second week in a row, I was crushing the early games ATS (6-2-2), and went winless in the afternoon. The order of the wins and losses doesn't matter obviously, but the experience of losing an entire slate is worse than mixing it up. At least one of my playoff teams is a decent favorite heading into Monday night, even if my Tom Brady-quarterbacked NFFC squad is probably drawing dead.
• I was a Rams hater, but now I hope they make the playoffs. They're easily one of the 10 best teams in the league now, and the tournament will be better if they're in it. Maybe we can award them the NFC East.
• Goff threw a pick six, and another pick that was essentially a punt, but he was razor sharp most of the game. Whatever was broken is now fixed, and even Todd Gurley looks like his pre-collapse self.
• The Rams have a narrow tree now – only four players caught passes, and everyone caught at least four. Brandin Cooks is an afterthought, but Tyler Higbee has been huge now that the Rams have figured out using the tight end as a pass catcher is a thing. Gerald Everett might have been even better had he stayed healthy.
• Russell Wilson had a huge dud in the fantasy playoffs. He's still the NFL's best player, but his timing was poor.
• I argued Ryan Tannehill's league-leading YPA was misleading because it didn't count all his sacks, but after he got 14.5 YPA and took no sacks this week, that's a harder argument to make. Sacks should always be considered, but he's first, even sack-adjusted now.
• Derrick Henry loves the fantasy playoffs.
• A.J. Brown is the wide receiver version of Henry – just too physical for his position and also fast enough.
• The Raiders collapse is complete, but Jon Gruden did a pretty good job with the scrubs he had.
• It's incredible the Patriots were in position to tie the game in the closing minutes. Their biggest plays were a flea-flicker 37-yard TD, a 35-yard pass from James White to Jacobi Meyers and a 17-yard scramble by Tom Brady. Their regular offense was unwatchable and produced next to nothing.
• Even so, they should have at least sent the game to overtime as they were cheated out of a touchdown twice, the first time via an early-whistle on a would-be fumble return and the second on a bad out-of-bounds call on N'Keal Harry's would-be TD.
Why blow the whistle before the play is over? And why did the ref whose only job was to watch Harry's feet, and with whom the other refs consulted, not see that he stayed in? It was an awful game, and the Patriots are a brutal watch, but having the result come out wrong only made it worse.
• Andy Reid went into a shell in the second half, content to run the ball and punt. It was as though he was playing not to lose and giving the Patriots chance after chance to win. The game did not inspire confidence in either team.
• Mike Tomlin has taken an offense full of nobodies and pushed it into playoff contention. He deserves strong consideration for Coach of the Year.
• Kyler Murray looked okay, but he made a terrible decision on a 4th-and-2 play where he threw a pick (the pick didn't matter as it was fourth down), instead of running for an easy conversion. It was funny to see David Johnson catch a TD late. It would be funnier still to see him look like peak David Johnson the last three games and get overdrafted again in 2020.
• Of course this was the week I faded the Chargers. Austin Ekeler is the team's best offensive player and became the first this year to have 100 yards rushing and receiving in a single game. Melvin Gordon still managed five catches and 12 carries too.
• The Bills largely solved Lamar Jackson – his 5.8 YPA included a 61-yard TD pass to Hayden Hurst that was mostly run-after-the-catch. Jackson ran for only 36 yards on 11 carries too. But somehow he still got three TD passes, salvaging the day for his fantasy owners.
• The Bengals spread-covering field goal was a thing of beauty, but it wouldn't have been necessary but for a Baker Mayfield interception overturn on a PI challenge. It probably was PI, but it was the mildest PI overturn yet. This is a disaster in the making.
• The Packers might get a first-round bye, but their only offensive playmaker is Aaron Jones. That's not enough to make a serious run.
• Terry McLaurin's TD was one of the best catches of the year. He'll be a monster if the Redskins can pair him with an NFL-level QB.
• Quality back-door push by the Lions.
• The Saints-49ers was a great game, though the referees got much too involved. One of the worst calls was the personal foul hit on Kyle Juszczyk. Juszczyk grabbed his helmet immediately after contact, and the ref threw the flag, gifting the Niners a first down instead of a field-goal attempt, and they converted it into a TD.
The call was borderline, but barring obvious intent, the refs should not have outcomes turn on helmet contact. A fine/suspension, levied after the game, is a much more apt remedy if they decide it was a foul. And Juszczyk incidentally was fine and stayed in the game.
• Drew Brees had a monster game – five TD passes, 349 yards and a QB-sneak TD – against an unlikely opponent. I shudder to think of the people who had him on their benches.
• Michael Thomas now has 121 catches and 1,424 yards with three games left to play. He'll smash Marvin Harrison's receptions record and could finish top-five all-time in yards too.
• What happened to Alvin Kamara? He's ostensibly healthy, too.
• Jimmy Garoppolo had a huge game of his own. The 49ers receiving corps with Emmanuel Sanders, the emergent Deebo Samuel and monstrous tight end George Kittle, who carried Saints on his back while being facemasked during the game-sealing play, is suddenly among the league's best.
• Mike Evans might be out for the year, but at least he had the decency to catch a 61-yard TD for you on his final play. Chris Godwin normally would have huge volume, but after having one of the league's thinnest trees all year, Jameis Winston is suddenly spreading the ball around to O.J. Howard, Breshad Perriman, Cameron Brate and Justin Watson.
• Despite three more picks, Winston had a monster game and will battle Dak Prescott for the passing yardage title over the last three weeks.
• Deshaun Watson apparently understood the importance of the fantasy playoffs in a game that was out of hand.