The Sportfolio Strategists’ NFL Week 3 X-Ray Report
Karma clan, we welcome you to check out our weekly deep-dive recap of several key games from the previous week, providing you with actionable insights that see through the final score and into the most substantive key takeaways, many of which will be incorporated into future sportfolio positioning. I think we can all appreciate that relying on ESPN storylines and highlights to frame your understanding of a team's performance or the evolution of a game is a disservice to your bankroll. Our X-Ray Report will isolate critical factors that misalign with the media's broader narrative of a game, providing you with more opportunity to capitalize on mispricings in the market.
Be sure to also subscribe to get access to our NFL Core and Aggressive sportfolios.
What we learned: both teams' OLs are massive liabilities and knocks both teams back, but burrow can navigate better. burrow unquestionably outperformed wentz. in spurts, burrow looks deadly accurate and sees field perfectly. bengals forcing run or getting sacked can stall drives, but have considerable weapons all around and burrow uses them all. eagles cashed on some low probability plays that allowed them to stay competitive, but bengals could/should have won this by 4-7 points. it's early, but burrow looks like a future top 5 QB.
*good opening drive by bengals, quickly past midfield on mixon runs and burrow passes; but sack stalls drive.
*wentz big pass, way off...wentz duck pass tipped, picked.
*wentz repeatedly under pressure. narrowly escapes two sacks, runs for 1st down, then late hit penalty moves eagles down field. results in FG that could hav easily been a punt. eagles 1 n goal inside 10 and can't cash in. eagles 3-0.
*even when wentz has time, defaults to underneath pass. hard to move down field when only getting 3-4 yards a clip.
*burrow able to more easily navigate the bengals terrible OL, but still susceptible to sacks, rushed/tipped passes. mixon suffers more from it.
*eagles' inability to move ball results in bengals good field position; only needed a single 1st down to get in FG range; Bullock nails a long one...3-3
*wentz scrambling (not by design) most potent offensive weapon in 1H. big 3 n 9 conversion put eagles in FG range. 6-3.
*burrow misfires here and there, but then floats a beautiful pass to the right WR, even under pressure. quickly down field in 2 min drill...TD, 10-6 bengals.
*kickoff penalty gives eagles ball at 40, big run by sanders, into FG range, wentz sack, fumbles, luckily recovers. next play, wentz finds ward down sideline for TD w 6 sec left. 13-10 eagles.
*eagles offense just runs out of gas quickly, can stall rather effortlessly/conversely, when the bengals get moving, hard to stop them.
*burrow completes 13 straight passes and leads bengals to 10 pts on bk to bk drives. dude makes some LJ-type insane moves in pocket.
*bengals drop INT in OT that could have sealed game. alas.
What we learned: Vikings D isn't entirely porous (only gave up 9 points in 1H), and if Cousins given time, still has weapons to pick apart an average D, especially with the emergence of Justin Jefferson, who legitimately balled out, showing significant promise, making difficult catches. Vintage Cook game, demonstrating speed and elusiveness. If Titans don't covert big 4th down in 1H, Vikings likely win this game. It was that close.
*big pass by titans on 1st drive, but that's all, drive stalls, 3-0 titans
*vikings look like probably what everyone thought they'd look like all game on 1st drive: bad OL, Cousins rushed, dump off pass for nothing, sack.
*snap over the head of tannehill's head stunts titans 2nd drive; but vikings fumble gives ball right back to titans, inside redzone, but offense stutters, tannehill inaccurate passes, settle for FG, titans 6-0
*vintage cook speed bursts thru holes, complemented by bk to bk rookie justin jefferson catches, quick drive for TD, vikings 7-6
*decent dink and dunk drive by titans results on tannehill INT in endzone; diving catch by harrison.
*rookie jefferson makes great adjusted catch over defender for big gain. great vision, sight, and concentration. made another nice catch earlier in drive to extend possession. next play, 20y pass to theilen in corner of endzone. cousins given time to pass. vikings 14-6.
*ngakoue really showed up in this game (got pressure, made plays, sacks, strip fumble). titans go for it on 4 n 1 on own 40, henry stuffed, but makes it by inches. this was probably play of the game. drive resulted in FG, vikings 14-9.
*cousins dropped two perfect passes into endzone to jefferson and thelien but were both defended perfectly, both incomplete, results in FG, 17-9.
*cousins 1st pass of 2H, pick 6. penalty negates the return for TD, titans stall. big penalty.
*vikings D consistently getting pressure on tannehill, disrupting rhythm. titans started to get more pressure on cousins.
*scoring picked up for both teams in 2H, driven by more big plays, poor D and angling. vikings TD, titans TD, vikings punt, titans TD, vikings TD.
*tannehill carved up vikings D, esp over the middle on quick passes for 10-15y chunks.
*vikings almost pick tannehill on final titans drive that led to GW 50y FG.
What we learned: Broncos got a much worse rep after this game than deserved. Driskel struggled, but that's more a consequence of a still underrated Bucs D, and less so an ineffective offense (although the OL is worrisome). Brady, if given time (which he was in this game) can be as potent as ever, especially with the given weapons. Bucs are getting better, but still aren't a necessaily explosive team.
*bucs blocked broncos punt right off the bat, start inside the 10, bucs barely convert 3rd down, TD 7-0
*driskel just not on same page as WRs, which should be expected.
*bucs not very aggreesive, no shots down field, brady takes time, finds easy man, slowly move down field, small chunks, stalls...FG, 10-0
*driskel does just enough to move broncos down field, even in spite of running for his life. broncos nail 55y FG, 10-3
*brady goes deep on 3 n 8, perfect. inside 25y line. brady misses grink deep in corner of endzone. hit or miss getting pressure on brady, but when he feels it, throws into ground. brady converts again on 3rd down, leads to TD. 17-3.
*broncos 2 n 1, turns in 3 n 13 after sack. brutal. punt.
*broncos constantly behind the sticks due to pressure, but in 2min drill, driskel completes 5 straight passes for 60+ yds, in for a TD. 23-10 @ HT.
*broncos d sufficient to get stops. brady just still as deadly as ever if gets time and clean pocket.
*bucs d tightened in 2H; i think ppl forget that bucs d is top 10, not surprising that they would suffocate driskel.
*i like the increased use of mccoy in the short-pass game; perfect role player that brady likes out of backfield.
*i don't see the big fuss made about how bad driskel played; seems to be an overreaction. he made mistakes, but capitalized where he could, given the circumstances he was put in.
What we learned: The achilles heal for the Rams is no more explosive plays from 2 years ago and their defense struggles against the run. Bills defense got gashed on the ground at times and over the middle, but still have playmakers. Josh Allen’s ability to escape pocket won them this game, a game they should have lost in the end.
* 3 n out for Bills, but good pass protection
* Goff sacked on 3rd and 5 costs a FG miss, as likely hits it if doesn’t get pushed back 7 yards.
* Rams struggled to stop Singletary in 1st Q right down field and TD.
* Rams throw INT, then Josh Allen big pass play to wide open WR
* Josh Allen runs like Cam Newton at times, super hard to tackle when he runs downfield. 14-0 Bills.
* Pressure on Goff leads to settling for a FG in the red zone.
* Allen right down field before the half and easy TD.
* Rams go for it on 4th and 4 and don’t get it. One big play by Singletary and Bills finish drive going up 28-3.
* Rams drive right down and get TD, still running ball well with Henderson.
* INT by Josh Allen throwing it up down the field, as good as a punt. Rams two plays later get a TD on two big plays, a rare treat. 28-17
* Bills punt and Kupp and Woods eat Bills up through the middle of the field. TD and Get the two point conversion, down 3. 97yd 10 play drive.
* Donald stops any Bills momentum with 2 huge sacks on Bills drive, including stripping Josh Allen.
* Easy drive for TD by Rams and Henderson
* Somehow Bills get a 3rd and 22 pass play completed because Allen just moves in pocket so much.
* Rams miss a huge sack opportunity by just not being able to grab Allen.
* 4th and 9 and Allen gets bailed out with a PI on the defense on a bad ball.
* Leading to TD Bills with 15 seconds left.
What we learned: Vintage Rodgers. Saints run D is still stout, Packers run D is still poor, but vintage Rodgers out to prove something - who was once worth the most points in football, about 7 points (maybe more) and If Rodgers has this kind of command of an offense, very difficult to fade him. Saints are still the best 1-2 team I’ve seen and expect them to be strong especially once Thomas comes back healthy. Brees has lost a step, but I’m not buying the narrative that he’s washed up either.
* Brees needs Michael Thomas, as Brees is scared to throw ball down field, 3rd and 4 throws it 2 yards in double coverage on 1st drive
* Rodgers has come to love Lazard, his safety blanket when Adams is out.
* Greenbay getting gashed on the ground, and can’t do anything to stop Kamara, again and again through entire first half.
* Saints held Packers to two FG’s to start the game, playing well and Rodgers taking what the Saints give him underneath.
* Great play fake and GREAT 40yd pass to Lazard, leading to Packer TD to Lazard on next play.
* Saints score TD at end of half, great throw/catch by Sanders/Brees, but really could benefit with Michael Thomas.
* 3rd and 10 Lazard runs a deep post, wide open, great pass for 60 yards, terrible defensive call. Packers go for it on 4th down and get TD on drive.
* Saints get FG to tie, but Packers right down field with Rodgers and finish with TD.
* Kamara with a brilliant dump off for TD run. Gbay showing their inability to get RB’s.
* Saints stop the 4th and 1 run up middle at the 50 then Taysom Hill fumbles ball with that package gimmick. FG swing the other way.
* Vintage Rodgers catches saints offsides, throws deep for Lazard, gets PI and then TD.
What did we learn: Nick Foles will have turnovers, but he at least gives his players a chance to make plays, having two CALLED TD passes reversed on separate drives, resulting in a interception and a dropped 4th down ball. Net -14 points off board. Both should have been caught by Bear’s top WR’s. Falcons got conservative late instead of playing to win.
* Falcons missing 4 defensive starters
* Bears opening drive, miss FG, after miss passes by Mitch
* Great deep route for Ridley, 60 yards, leads to Falcons TD - misses EXP
* Another drive by Bears. Trubisky forcing it, leads to FG.
* Ridley ate Bears up.
* Best play of day for Mitch was a run for 50 yards.
* Bears got regular pressure on Matt Ryan.
* Mitch overthrowing guys downfield to end the half pissed HC off.
* Then a pick by not reading defense right leads to a Falcons FG and Mitch being benched.
* Robinson TD was caught by both DB and allen Robinson, but as Robinson rolled, the DB pulled it away. So, Touchback / Pick on Foles. Instead of points.
* Foles second drive 3 n out.
* Atlanta got conservative, running it 4 straight plays beginning of 4th quarter. Leads to conservative FG try miss.
* 4th n goal from the 17, Foles pin point TD but dropped, could of had 2 INT on that drive too.
* So far Bears had 2 TD taken away by Robinson/Miller, no fault of Foles.
* Foles TD, he just gives his players a chance to make plays, unlike Trubisky.
* Falcons missed tackles turns to Allen Robinson TD
* Miller TD catch easy by Foles on a post.
What did we learn: Texans struggle against the run, Watson still holds ball instead of getting rid of it, taking terrible sacks, and Bill still makes calls that cost his team, time and again. Steelers are the Steelers, and a mobile QB that can neutralize that front is their achilles heel. Note to NFL teams — STOP RUNNING IT UP THE MIDDLE ON PREDICTABLE DOWNS, ESPECIALLY AGAINST THE BEST RUN DEFENSE IN THE NFL.
* 3 and out for Hou to start
* JuJu single handedly got Pitt down into Hou territory on two 3rd down plays. Showing how important he is. Get FG on drive.
* Watson had some nice protection on 1st Hou TD and Watson finding the open guy
* Watson takes dumb sack instead of throwing ball away
* Hou still runs up middlee but stopped every time.
* Watson moving in pocket neutrilizes Pitt’s front, and found guys down field to get up 14-3
* Hou struggled to stop the run once again
* Ebron great catch for TD on 3rd and goal from 10.
* JuJu wide open TD, zone, missed picking him up. Terrible coaching.
* Watson right down field TD to answer before the half, 21-17.
* 2H - Pit goes for it on 4th and 1, gets it.
* 4th and inches terrible call on all fronts, WR runs into DB and gets PI call on overthrown deep ball no less. Leads to FG.
* 1st possession in 2H, Bill runs ball twice up middle for 3 total yards. A play that never worked to begin with.
* 2nd and 5 on the next drive, I started screaming in my head, “don’t run it, don’t run it,” and they ran it up the middle for no yards. 3rd down, sack on Watson.
* 3rd drive, Houston runs ball on 1st down. -1 yards. 2nd down throws it, and 12 yards. Imagine that.
* Big pass play by Watson, runs it on 1st down again in pitt territory and loses 5 yards, so Watson throws pick downfield on 3rd and 15.
* Nice runs for Steelers against Texans, right down field, TD.
* Watson takes sack on 1st down, holding ball again instead of getting rid of it, loses 11 yards. Unacceptable.
* Pitt gets ball and runs out clock.