CFL Week 16

Highlights from around the Canadian Football League in Week 16.

Halifax mayor impressed by group looking to bring CFL team to city

Halifax mayor impressed by group looking to bring CFL team to city

CFL in Halifax

Business group looks to score CFL franchise for Halifax

CFL says it has had discussions with group looking for Halifax franchise

NFL Owners Push Back Against Jerry Jones

Cowboys owner and habitual line stepper Jerry Jones finally went far enough to earn the legal equivalent of a hand slap from his fellow owners.

Jones’ war against commissioner Roger Goodell, which was detailed in a Peter King report last week, seems like it will not end until he manually tosses the commissioner’s proposed contract extension into the burn pit.

On Wednesday, the New York Times reported that NFL owners on the compensation committee in charge of Goodell’s contract “said that they were unhappy with Jones because he had circulated a three-month-old document with details of (salary and health benefit) requests from Goodell that Jones ‘personally knows to be an outdated, historical artifact of no relevance whatsoever in the context of these lengthy negotiations.’”

The reported added that, “if Jones was really concerned about the health of the league,” he wouldn’t “threaten to sue the league and its owners if he does not get his way.”

All of this frustration was bottled in a formal letter, which was provided to Jones’ attorney. Jones, as King reported, had previously threatened to sue if Goodell’s contract was finalized.

A few years from now, 2017 could be looked at by NFL fans as a lost season, or perhaps the beginning of the end. Amid a ratings decline due to changing consumer habits and a brutal rash of injuries to the league’s brightest, fantasy football-type stars, there has been constant infighting and politicking at the highest levels of ownership. The focus on all this legal posturing has undoubtedly placed a cloud over the on-field product.

Once an escape from the harsh realities of both American and office politics, football has become American and office politics. Other than the wonks who live for this type of soulless verbal tennis, there seems to be a line of fans out the door who just want to go back to the way things were.

On the same day that Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott and the NFLPA withdrew its lawsuit, a formal recognition that the six-game suspension will be served, some of the NFL’s owners are hoping that they can begin the process of ending another drawn out fight. Will Jones accept losing twice in a row?

Not getting this newsletter in your inbox yet? Join The MMQB’s Morning Huddle.

HOT READS

NOW ON THE MMQB: Jenny Vrentas with a heartwarming look at a young cancer patient using robotics to meet his Jets heroes ... Andy Benoit goes deep into that Case Keenum/Jared Goff showdown we all marked on our calendars back in September ... Robert Klemko gets Mike Martz to rethink Sean McVay.

LATER TODAY ON THE MMQB: Albert Breer's stacked notebook ... comprehensive coverage of Thursday Night Football ... and more!

PRESS COVERAGE

1.

He received a lot of replies

2. Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis is bringing the heat on rookie receiver John Ross, telling the world that Ross let down the team.

3. It's never too early to look at the playoff picture, especially if you're a Bills fan and your team has just decided to bench Pro Bowl quarterback Tyrod Taylor.

4. ?The fumble through the end zone has been a silent killer in the NFL this season. The Ringer has some solutions to fix what they call "the dumbest rule in football."

5. Tashaun Gipson is enjoying not being a member of the Browns and talked about it this week ahead of Jacksonville's matchup with the winless franchise. But did he poke the sleeping (turnover-prone) bear too hard?

6. Brett Hundley may still be a young starter, but he can talk in platitudes with the best of them.

7. In a truly wild twist, the highly-successful rocket scientist defensive coordinator of the New England Patriots has figured out a way to make his defense good again.

8. Tarik Cohen has just five carries for three yards over his last three games. What's happened to the one-time rookie stud in Chicago?

9. Ahead of this week's Dolphins-Bucs matchup, the Miami Herald looks at the toll a bye-less season has taken on both teams.

10. The epic CFL limbo celebration has raised an important question in Dirk Koetter's Buccaneer locker room: How the hell are we going to beat that?

Have a story you think we should include in tomorrow’s Press Coverage? Let us know here.

THE KICKER

In a victory for search engine optimization enthusiasts everywhere, USA Today managed to get Katy Perry, a Detroit Lion and American Idol in the same headline. Check in tomorrow for my piece on Donald Trump commenting on LeBron James Arthur memes after the Leonardo da Vinci auction.

Question? Comment? Story idea? Let the team know at talkback@themmqb.com

NFL Owners Push Back Against Jerry Jones

Cowboys owner and habitual line stepper Jerry Jones finally went far enough to earn the legal equivalent of a hand slap from his fellow owners.

Jones’ war against commissioner Roger Goodell, which was detailed in a Peter King report last week, seems like it will not end until he manually tosses the commissioner’s proposed contract extension into the burn pit.

On Wednesday, the New York Times reported that NFL owners on the compensation committee in charge of Goodell’s contract “said that they were unhappy with Jones because he had circulated a three-month-old document with details of (salary and health benefit) requests from Goodell that Jones ‘personally knows to be an outdated, historical artifact of no relevance whatsoever in the context of these lengthy negotiations.’”

The reported added that, “if Jones was really concerned about the health of the league,” he wouldn’t “threaten to sue the league and its owners if he does not get his way.”

All of this frustration was bottled in a formal letter, which was provided to Jones’ attorney. Jones, as King reported, had previously threatened to sue if Goodell’s contract was finalized.

A few years from now, 2017 could be looked at by NFL fans as a lost season, or perhaps the beginning of the end. Amid a ratings decline due to changing consumer habits and a brutal rash of injuries to the league’s brightest, fantasy football-type stars, there has been constant infighting and politicking at the highest levels of ownership. The focus on all this legal posturing has undoubtedly placed a cloud over the on-field product.

Once an escape from the harsh realities of both American and office politics, football has become American and office politics. Other than the wonks who live for this type of soulless verbal tennis, there seems to be a line of fans out the door who just want to go back to the way things were.

On the same day that Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott and the NFLPA withdrew its lawsuit, a formal recognition that the six-game suspension will be served, some of the NFL’s owners are hoping that they can begin the process of ending another drawn out fight. Will Jones accept losing twice in a row?

Not getting this newsletter in your inbox yet? Join The MMQB’s Morning Huddle.

HOT READS

NOW ON THE MMQB: Jenny Vrentas with a heartwarming look at a young cancer patient using robotics to meet his Jets heroes ... Andy Benoit goes deep into that Case Keenum/Jared Goff showdown we all marked on our calendars back in September ... Robert Klemko gets Mike Martz to rethink Sean McVay.

LATER TODAY ON THE MMQB: Albert Breer's stacked notebook ... comprehensive coverage of Thursday Night Football ... and more!

PRESS COVERAGE

1.

He received a lot of replies

2. Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis is bringing the heat on rookie receiver John Ross, telling the world that Ross let down the team.

3. It's never too early to look at the playoff picture, especially if you're a Bills fan and your team has just decided to bench Pro Bowl quarterback Tyrod Taylor.

4. ?The fumble through the end zone has been a silent killer in the NFL this season. The Ringer has some solutions to fix what they call "the dumbest rule in football."

5. Tashaun Gipson is enjoying not being a member of the Browns and talked about it this week ahead of Jacksonville's matchup with the winless franchise. But did he poke the sleeping (turnover-prone) bear too hard?

6. Brett Hundley may still be a young starter, but he can talk in platitudes with the best of them.

7. In a truly wild twist, the highly-successful rocket scientist defensive coordinator of the New England Patriots has figured out a way to make his defense good again.

8. Tarik Cohen has just five carries for three yards over his last three games. What's happened to the one-time rookie stud in Chicago?

9. Ahead of this week's Dolphins-Bucs matchup, the Miami Herald looks at the toll a bye-less season has taken on both teams.

10. The epic CFL limbo celebration has raised an important question in Dirk Koetter's Buccaneer locker room: How the hell are we going to beat that?

Have a story you think we should include in tomorrow’s Press Coverage? Let us know here.

THE KICKER

In a victory for search engine optimization enthusiasts everywhere, USA Today managed to get Katy Perry, a Detroit Lion and American Idol in the same headline. Check in tomorrow for my piece on Donald Trump commenting on LeBron James Arthur memes after the Leonardo da Vinci auction.

Question? Comment? Story idea? Let the team know at talkback@themmqb.com

NFL Owners Push Back Against Jerry Jones

Cowboys owner and habitual line stepper Jerry Jones finally went far enough to earn the legal equivalent of a hand slap from his fellow owners.

Jones’ war against commissioner Roger Goodell, which was detailed in a Peter King report last week, seems like it will not end until he manually tosses the commissioner’s proposed contract extension into the burn pit.

On Wednesday, the New York Times reported that NFL owners on the compensation committee in charge of Goodell’s contract “said that they were unhappy with Jones because he had circulated a three-month-old document with details of (salary and health benefit) requests from Goodell that Jones ‘personally knows to be an outdated, historical artifact of no relevance whatsoever in the context of these lengthy negotiations.’”

The reported added that, “if Jones was really concerned about the health of the league,” he wouldn’t “threaten to sue the league and its owners if he does not get his way.”

All of this frustration was bottled in a formal letter, which was provided to Jones’ attorney. Jones, as King reported, had previously threatened to sue if Goodell’s contract was finalized.

A few years from now, 2017 could be looked at by NFL fans as a lost season, or perhaps the beginning of the end. Amid a ratings decline due to changing consumer habits and a brutal rash of injuries to the league’s brightest, fantasy football-type stars, there has been constant infighting and politicking at the highest levels of ownership. The focus on all this legal posturing has undoubtedly placed a cloud over the on-field product.

Once an escape from the harsh realities of both American and office politics, football has become American and office politics. Other than the wonks who live for this type of soulless verbal tennis, there seems to be a line of fans out the door who just want to go back to the way things were.

On the same day that Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott and the NFLPA withdrew its lawsuit, a formal recognition that the six-game suspension will be served, some of the NFL’s owners are hoping that they can begin the process of ending another drawn out fight. Will Jones accept losing twice in a row?

Not getting this newsletter in your inbox yet? Join The MMQB’s Morning Huddle.

HOT READS

NOW ON THE MMQB: Jenny Vrentas with a heartwarming look at a young cancer patient using robotics to meet his Jets heroes ... Andy Benoit goes deep into that Case Keenum/Jared Goff showdown we all marked on our calendars back in September ... Robert Klemko gets Mike Martz to rethink Sean McVay.

LATER TODAY ON THE MMQB: Albert Breer's stacked notebook ... comprehensive coverage of Thursday Night Football ... and more!

PRESS COVERAGE

1.

He received a lot of replies

2. Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis is bringing the heat on rookie receiver John Ross, telling the world that Ross let down the team.

3. It's never too early to look at the playoff picture, especially if you're a Bills fan and your team has just decided to bench Pro Bowl quarterback Tyrod Taylor.

4. ?The fumble through the end zone has been a silent killer in the NFL this season. The Ringer has some solutions to fix what they call "the dumbest rule in football."

5. Tashaun Gipson is enjoying not being a member of the Browns and talked about it this week ahead of Jacksonville's matchup with the winless franchise. But did he poke the sleeping (turnover-prone) bear too hard?

6. Brett Hundley may still be a young starter, but he can talk in platitudes with the best of them.

7. In a truly wild twist, the highly-successful rocket scientist defensive coordinator of the New England Patriots has figured out a way to make his defense good again.

8. Tarik Cohen has just five carries for three yards over his last three games. What's happened to the one-time rookie stud in Chicago?

9. Ahead of this week's Dolphins-Bucs matchup, the Miami Herald looks at the toll a bye-less season has taken on both teams.

10. The epic CFL limbo celebration has raised an important question in Dirk Koetter's Buccaneer locker room: How the hell are we going to beat that?

Have a story you think we should include in tomorrow’s Press Coverage? Let us know here.

THE KICKER

In a victory for search engine optimization enthusiasts everywhere, USA Today managed to get Katy Perry, a Detroit Lion and American Idol in the same headline. Check in tomorrow for my piece on Donald Trump commenting on LeBron James Arthur memes after the Leonardo da Vinci auction.

Question? Comment? Story idea? Let the team know at talkback@themmqb.com

Stampeders shrug off losses ahead of CFL West final versus Eskimos

CFL Simulation: Esks, Argos heavily favoured to play in Grey Cup

The Toronto Argonauts and Edmonton Eskimos are heavy favourites to play in the 105th Grey Cup presented by Shaw, according to CFL Simulation.

O’Leary: The Western Semi through the eyes of the best bear in the barn

CFL.ca's Chris O'Leary placed himself in one of the most rabid environments in the CFL, taking his chances with the wild, bear costume-wearing crew in section 143 of Investors Group Field on Sunday.

O’Leary: The Western Semi through the eyes of the best bear in the barn

CFL.ca's Chris O'Leary placed himself in one of the most rabid environments in the CFL, taking his chances with the wild, bear costume-wearing crew in section 143 of Investors Group Field on Sunday.

O’Leary: The Western Semi through the eyes of the best bear in the barn

CFL.ca's Chris O'Leary placed himself in one of the most rabid environments in the CFL, taking his chances with the wild, bear costume-wearing crew in section 143 of Investors Group Field on Sunday.

O’Leary: The Western Semi through the eyes of the best bear in the barn

CFL.ca's Chris O'Leary placed himself in one of the most rabid environments in the CFL, taking his chances with the wild, bear costume-wearing crew in section 143 of Investors Group Field on Sunday.

O’Leary: The Western Semi through the eyes of the best bear in the barn

CFL.ca's Chris O'Leary placed himself in one of the most rabid environments in the CFL, taking his chances with the wild, bear costume-wearing crew in section 143 of Investors Group Field on Sunday.

O’Leary: The Western Semi through the eyes of the best bear in the barn

CFL.ca's Chris O'Leary placed himself in one of the most rabid environments in the CFL, taking his chances with the wild, bear costume-wearing crew in section 143 of Investors Group Field on Sunday.

O’Leary: The Western Semi through the eyes of the best bear in the barn

CFL.ca's Chris O'Leary placed himself in one of the most rabid environments in the CFL, taking his chances with the wild, bear costume-wearing crew in section 143 of Investors Group Field on Sunday.

O’Leary: The Western Semi through the eyes of the best bear in the barn

CFL.ca's Chris O'Leary placed himself in one of the most rabid environments in the CFL, taking his chances with the wild, bear costume-wearing crew in section 143 of Investors Group Field on Sunday.

O’Leary: The Western Semi through the eyes of the best bear in the barn

CFL.ca's Chris O'Leary placed himself in one of the most rabid environments in the CFL, taking his chances with the wild, bear costume-wearing crew in section 143 of Investors Group Field on Sunday.

O’Leary: The Western Semi through the eyes of the best bear in the barn

CFL.ca's Chris O'Leary placed himself in one of the most rabid environments in the CFL, taking his chances with the wild, bear costume-wearing crew in section 143 of Investors Group Field on Sunday.

O’Leary: The Western Semi through the eyes of the best bear in the barn

CFL.ca's Chris O'Leary placed himself in one of the most rabid environments in the CFL, taking his chances with the wild, bear costume-wearing crew in section 143 of Investors Group Field on Sunday.

O’Leary: The Western Semi through the eyes of the best bear in the barn

CFL.ca's Chris O'Leary placed himself in one of the most rabid environments in the CFL, taking his chances with the wild, bear costume-wearing crew in section 143 of Investors Group Field on Sunday.

O’Leary: The Western Semi through the eyes of the best bear in the barn

CFL.ca's Chris O'Leary placed himself in one of the most rabid environments in the CFL, taking his chances with the wild, bear costume-wearing crew in section 143 of Investors Group Field on Sunday.

O’Leary: The Western Semi through the eyes of the best bear in the barn

CFL.ca's Chris O'Leary placed himself in one of the most rabid environments in the CFL, taking his chances with the wild, bear costume-wearing crew in section 143 of Investors Group Field on Sunday.

O’Leary: The Western Semi through the eyes of the best bear in the barn

CFL.ca's Chris O'Leary placed himself in one of the most rabid environments in the CFL, taking his chances with the wild, bear costume-wearing crew in section 143 of Investors Group Field on Sunday.

O’Leary: The Western Semi through the eyes of the best bear in the barn

CFL.ca's Chris O'Leary placed himself in one of the most rabid environments in the CFL, taking his chances with the wild, bear costume-wearing crew in section 143 of Investors Group Field on Sunday.

O’Leary: The Western Semi through the eyes of the best bear in the barn

CFL.ca's Chris O'Leary placed himself in one of the most rabid environments in the CFL, taking his chances with the wild, bear costume-wearing crew in section 143 of Investors Group Field on Sunday.

No clear favourite in CFL West final between league-leading Stamps, surging Esks

CFL Players Do Limbo To Celebrate A Touchdown And The Party's On

Even after relaxing its rules on touchdown celebrations, the NFL’s got nothing on the Canadian Football League.

CFL Players Do Limbo To Celebrate A Touchdown And The Party's On

Even after relaxing its rules on touchdown celebrations, the NFL’s got nothing on the Canadian Football League.

Patriots Dominating the AFC, Again

The Patriots' 41-16 Sunday night victory in Denver was boring in the most impressive way possible. After a three-and-out on the opening possession, New England was on the receiving end of a muffed punt and then proceeded to dominate in every phase over the remaining 58 minutes and 30 seconds. The special teams stole the show (in typical Bill Belichick fashion), as Dion Lewis returned a kickoff 103 yards, Rex Burkhead blocked a punt, and they even caught Denver in a late substitution on a punt, picking up a first down. Of course Tom Brady was Tom Brady as well, completing 73.5% of his passes, throwing three touchdowns and no interceptions while generally staying away from the Broncos' vaunted corners.

On defense, the Patriots weren't great on third down (Denver converted 8 of 15 opportunities), but they didn't give Brock Osweiler any easy plays, and the rest of the team put together such a lead that Vance Joseph had to turn away from what was a successful rushing attack. The bottom line? New England's fifth straight victory was its most complete. And it comes with seemingly few capable challengers to the AFC throne.

The NFC has four teams with at least seven wins while the AFC has two: New England and Pittsburgh. The Steelers hardly looked like a title contender against a depleted Colts squad, the black and gold offense still failing to live up to the talent at Ben Roethlisberger's disposal. And who else could be in the mix in January? The Jaguars pulled out a home win over the Chargers but a series of after-the-play flags nearly cost them the game, while the Titans barely held off the Bengals. The Chiefs, off this week, are on a three-game losing streak, and the Raiders' season could be dealt a death blow next week against the Pats in Mexico City.

There was a time earlier this season when it seemed like New England might even have to deal with intradivisional competition for the first time in a decade. (No really, there was.) At this point, what else would the Patriots have to do to prove they're still far and away the class of the AFC? Who would they have to prove it against?

Not getting this newsletter in your inbox yet? Join The MMQB’s Morning Huddle.

HOT READS

NOW ON THE MMQB: Peter King speaks to Case Keenum ... Jonathan Jones explains what went wrong for the Cowboys ... Gary Gramling recaps the day while freaking out ... and more.

LATER TODAY ON THE MMQB: Andy Benoit focuses on Brett Hundley and the Packers ... Jones reports from Monday Night Football ... and more. Stay tuned.

PRESS COVERAGE

1. Falcons 27, Cowboys 7. Without suspended running back Ezekiel Elliott (and, perhaps more importantly, injured left tackle Tyron Smith), Dallas's offense ground to a halt (233 total yards) in Atlanta. Adrian Clayborn set a Falcons record with six sacks in the victory, picking on Smith replacement Chaz Green. Dallas also lost linebacker Sean Lee to a hamstring injury, allowing the Falcons to pull away in the second half. Both of these teams are now 5-4, squarely in the second tier of NFC contenders for the time being.

2. Patriots 41, Broncos 16. You have to search far and wide for a positive in Denver. Emmanuel Sanders had 137 yards receiving, I guess. But otherwise, Vance Joseph's first season has gone from bad to worse.

3. Vikings 38, Washington 30. Case Keenum threw two interceptions in the second half to keep Washington in the ballgame, but the QB threw four touchdowns first, earning a road win and probably another start, even with Teddy Bridgewater active again.

4. Steelers 20, Colts 17. Pittsburgh rallied for 11 fourth-quarter points to earn the W in Indianapolis. But the 7-2 Steelers still leave with questions about their talented offense, which ranks 18th in points per game and struggled for most of this one against a depleted Colts defense. Antonio Brown only had 47 receiving yards, though JuJu Smith-Schuster had another big game: 97 yards and a score on five catches.

5. Titans 24, Bengals 20. A 100% healthy Marcus Mariota threw for 264 yards and ran for 51 more. More notably, he led a 12-play, 73-yard drive to go ahead with 36 seconds left. Tennessee stays atop the AFC South, though it now heads to Pittsburgh for a Thursday nighter. In the loss, Cincinnati linebacker Vontaze Burfict was ejected for making contact with an official.

6. Saints 47, Bills 10. The Saints march (sorry) on. Drew Brees only threw for 184 yards as New Orleans racked up 298 on the ground, handing Buffalo its first home loss of the season and its second straight embarrassment.

7. Packers 23, Bears 16. Brett Hundley earned his first win despite Green Bay losing its top two running backs to injury on the road, thanks in part to a regrettable Chicago challenge in the first half that turned a Bears first-and-goal situation into Packers' ball.

8. Rams 33, Texans 7. They started slow, but L.A. ultimately outgained Houston, 443-283, and forced four turnovers (all from Tom Savage) in moving to 7-2.

9. Jaguars 20, Chargers 17 (OT). This game was wild. Jacksonville seemed done after a Blake Bortles interception with 1:33 left in the game, but the Jags got the ball back 30 seconds later, and ex-Chargers kicker Josh Lambo hit a 34-yarder to tie the game in the final moments, thanks in part to a Joey Bosa roughing the passer penalty that moved the ball into the red zone. In overtime, it was Philip Rivers who threw a pick, setting up another Lambo make—this time for the victory.

10. Lions 38, Browns 24. Cleveland was actually leading in the third and tied in the fourth, but Detroit scored 14 points on two of Matthew Stafford's three touchdowns to pull away, leaving the Browns as (spoiler alert) the only winless team left in the league. The result also made a first-half gaffe, when DeShone Kizer (who otherwise had one of his best games) cost the team points by audibling to a QB sneak with no timeouts left, all the more painful. At least Cleveland can hang onto this: The Detroit team it just played turned its fortunes around by drafting Stafford following an 0-16 season.

11. Buccaneers 15, Jets 10. In a battle of beleaguered QBs playing their former teams, Ryan Fitzpatrick's Bucs edged Josh McCown's Jets. Really, it was the Tampa defense that won the day, holding the visitors to less than 150 yards until late into the fourth quarter (a McCown touchdown pass with 28 seconds left made the game seem closer).

12. 49ers 31, Giants 21. C.J. Beathard, Kyle Shanahan, John Lynch, and the new Niners got their first win Sunday. Meanwhile, pressure ratchets up for New York coach Ben McAdoo.

Have a story you think we should include in tomorrow’s Press Coverage? Let us know here.

THE KICKER

NFL celebrations have been fun this year, but clearly we still have a lot to learn from the folks north of the border.

Question? Comment? Story idea? Let the team know at talkback@themmqb.com

Patriots Dominating the AFC, Again

The Patriots' 41-16 Sunday night victory in Denver was boring in the most impressive way possible. After a three-and-out on the opening possession, New England was on the receiving end of a muffed punt and then proceeded to dominate in every phase over the remaining 58 minutes and 30 seconds. The special teams stole the show (in typical Bill Belichick fashion), as Dion Lewis returned a kickoff 103 yards, Rex Burkhead blocked a punt, and they even caught Denver in a late substitution on a punt, picking up a first down. Of course Tom Brady was Tom Brady as well, completing 73.5% of his passes, throwing three touchdowns and no interceptions while generally staying away from the Broncos' vaunted corners.

On defense, the Patriots weren't great on third down (Denver converted 8 of 15 opportunities), but they didn't give Brock Osweiler any easy plays, and the rest of the team put together such a lead that Vance Joseph had to turn away from what was a successful rushing attack. The bottom line? New England's fifth straight victory was its most complete. And it comes with seemingly few capable challengers to the AFC throne.

The NFC has four teams with at least seven wins while the AFC has two: New England and Pittsburgh. The Steelers hardly looked like a title contender against a depleted Colts squad, the black and gold offense still failing to live up to the talent at Ben Roethlisberger's disposal. And who else could be in the mix in January? The Jaguars pulled out a home win over the Chargers but a series of after-the-play flags nearly cost them the game, while the Titans barely held off the Bengals. The Chiefs, off this week, are on a three-game losing streak, and the Raiders' season could be dealt a death blow next week against the Pats in Mexico City.

There was a time earlier this season when it seemed like New England might even have to deal with intradivisional competition for the first time in a decade. (No really, there was.) At this point, what else would the Patriots have to do to prove they're still far and away the class of the AFC? Who would they have to prove it against?

Not getting this newsletter in your inbox yet? Join The MMQB’s Morning Huddle.

HOT READS

NOW ON THE MMQB: Peter King speaks to Case Keenum ... Jonathan Jones explains what went wrong for the Cowboys ... Gary Gramling recaps the day while freaking out ... and more.

LATER TODAY ON THE MMQB: Andy Benoit focuses on Brett Hundley and the Packers ... Jones reports from Monday Night Football ... and more. Stay tuned.

PRESS COVERAGE

1. Falcons 27, Cowboys 7. Without suspended running back Ezekiel Elliott (and, perhaps more importantly, injured left tackle Tyron Smith), Dallas's offense ground to a halt (233 total yards) in Atlanta. Adrian Clayborn set a Falcons record with six sacks in the victory, picking on Smith replacement Chaz Green. Dallas also lost linebacker Sean Lee to a hamstring injury, allowing the Falcons to pull away in the second half. Both of these teams are now 5-4, squarely in the second tier of NFC contenders for the time being.

2. Patriots 41, Broncos 16. You have to search far and wide for a positive in Denver. Emmanuel Sanders had 137 yards receiving, I guess. But otherwise, Vance Joseph's first season has gone from bad to worse.

3. Vikings 38, Washington 30. Case Keenum threw two interceptions in the second half to keep Washington in the ballgame, but the QB threw four touchdowns first, earning a road win and probably another start, even with Teddy Bridgewater active again.

4. Steelers 20, Colts 17. Pittsburgh rallied for 11 fourth-quarter points to earn the W in Indianapolis. But the 7-2 Steelers still leave with questions about their talented offense, which ranks 18th in points per game and struggled for most of this one against a depleted Colts defense. Antonio Brown only had 47 receiving yards, though JuJu Smith-Schuster had another big game: 97 yards and a score on five catches.

5. Titans 24, Bengals 20. A 100% healthy Marcus Mariota threw for 264 yards and ran for 51 more. More notably, he led a 12-play, 73-yard drive to go ahead with 36 seconds left. Tennessee stays atop the AFC South, though it now heads to Pittsburgh for a Thursday nighter. In the loss, Cincinnati linebacker Vontaze Burfict was ejected for making contact with an official.

6. Saints 47, Bills 10. The Saints march (sorry) on. Drew Brees only threw for 184 yards as New Orleans racked up 298 on the ground, handing Buffalo its first home loss of the season and its second straight embarrassment.

7. Packers 23, Bears 16. Brett Hundley earned his first win despite Green Bay losing its top two running backs to injury on the road, thanks in part to a regrettable Chicago challenge in the first half that turned a Bears first-and-goal situation into Packers' ball.

8. Rams 33, Texans 7. They started slow, but L.A. ultimately outgained Houston, 443-283, and forced four turnovers (all from Tom Savage) in moving to 7-2.

9. Jaguars 20, Chargers 17 (OT). This game was wild. Jacksonville seemed done after a Blake Bortles interception with 1:33 left in the game, but the Jags got the ball back 30 seconds later, and ex-Chargers kicker Josh Lambo hit a 34-yarder to tie the game in the final moments, thanks in part to a Joey Bosa roughing the passer penalty that moved the ball into the red zone. In overtime, it was Philip Rivers who threw a pick, setting up another Lambo make—this time for the victory.

10. Lions 38, Browns 24. Cleveland was actually leading in the third and tied in the fourth, but Detroit scored 14 points on two of Matthew Stafford's three touchdowns to pull away, leaving the Browns as (spoiler alert) the only winless team left in the league. The result also made a first-half gaffe, when DeShone Kizer (who otherwise had one of his best games) cost the team points by audibling to a QB sneak with no timeouts left, all the more painful. At least Cleveland can hang onto this: The Detroit team it just played turned its fortunes around by drafting Stafford following an 0-16 season.

11. Buccaneers 15, Jets 10. In a battle of beleaguered QBs playing their former teams, Ryan Fitzpatrick's Bucs edged Josh McCown's Jets. Really, it was the Tampa defense that won the day, holding the visitors to less than 150 yards until late into the fourth quarter (a McCown touchdown pass with 28 seconds left made the game seem closer).

12. 49ers 31, Giants 21. C.J. Beathard, Kyle Shanahan, John Lynch, and the new Niners got their first win Sunday. Meanwhile, pressure ratchets up for New York coach Ben McAdoo.

Have a story you think we should include in tomorrow’s Press Coverage? Let us know here.

THE KICKER

NFL celebrations have been fun this year, but clearly we still have a lot to learn from the folks north of the border.

Question? Comment? Story idea? Let the team know at talkback@themmqb.com

Patriots Dominating the AFC, Again

The Patriots' 41-16 Sunday night victory in Denver was boring in the most impressive way possible. After a three-and-out on the opening possession, New England was on the receiving end of a muffed punt and then proceeded to dominate in every phase over the remaining 58 minutes and 30 seconds. The special teams stole the show (in typical Bill Belichick fashion), as Dion Lewis returned a kickoff 103 yards, Rex Burkhead blocked a punt, and they even caught Denver in a late substitution on a punt, picking up a first down. Of course Tom Brady was Tom Brady as well, completing 73.5% of his passes, throwing three touchdowns and no interceptions while generally staying away from the Broncos' vaunted corners.

On defense, the Patriots weren't great on third down (Denver converted 8 of 15 opportunities), but they didn't give Brock Osweiler any easy plays, and the rest of the team put together such a lead that Vance Joseph had to turn away from what was a successful rushing attack. The bottom line? New England's fifth straight victory was its most complete. And it comes with seemingly few capable challengers to the AFC throne.

The NFC has four teams with at least seven wins while the AFC has two: New England and Pittsburgh. The Steelers hardly looked like a title contender against a depleted Colts squad, the black and gold offense still failing to live up to the talent at Ben Roethlisberger's disposal. And who else could be in the mix in January? The Jaguars pulled out a home win over the Chargers but a series of after-the-play flags nearly cost them the game, while the Titans barely held off the Bengals. The Chiefs, off this week, are on a three-game losing streak, and the Raiders' season could be dealt a death blow next week against the Pats in Mexico City.

There was a time earlier this season when it seemed like New England might even have to deal with intradivisional competition for the first time in a decade. (No really, there was.) At this point, what else would the Patriots have to do to prove they're still far and away the class of the AFC? Who would they have to prove it against?

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NOW ON THE MMQB: Peter King speaks to Case Keenum ... Jonathan Jones explains what went wrong for the Cowboys ... Gary Gramling recaps the day while freaking out ... and more.

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PRESS COVERAGE

1. Falcons 27, Cowboys 7. Without suspended running back Ezekiel Elliott (and, perhaps more importantly, injured left tackle Tyron Smith), Dallas's offense ground to a halt (233 total yards) in Atlanta. Adrian Clayborn set a Falcons record with six sacks in the victory, picking on Smith replacement Chaz Green. Dallas also lost linebacker Sean Lee to a hamstring injury, allowing the Falcons to pull away in the second half. Both of these teams are now 5-4, squarely in the second tier of NFC contenders for the time being.

2. Patriots 41, Broncos 16. You have to search far and wide for a positive in Denver. Emmanuel Sanders had 137 yards receiving, I guess. But otherwise, Vance Joseph's first season has gone from bad to worse.

3. Vikings 38, Washington 30. Case Keenum threw two interceptions in the second half to keep Washington in the ballgame, but the QB threw four touchdowns first, earning a road win and probably another start, even with Teddy Bridgewater active again.

4. Steelers 20, Colts 17. Pittsburgh rallied for 11 fourth-quarter points to earn the W in Indianapolis. But the 7-2 Steelers still leave with questions about their talented offense, which ranks 18th in points per game and struggled for most of this one against a depleted Colts defense. Antonio Brown only had 47 receiving yards, though JuJu Smith-Schuster had another big game: 97 yards and a score on five catches.

5. Titans 24, Bengals 20. A 100% healthy Marcus Mariota threw for 264 yards and ran for 51 more. More notably, he led a 12-play, 73-yard drive to go ahead with 36 seconds left. Tennessee stays atop the AFC South, though it now heads to Pittsburgh for a Thursday nighter. In the loss, Cincinnati linebacker Vontaze Burfict was ejected for making contact with an official.

6. Saints 47, Bills 10. The Saints march (sorry) on. Drew Brees only threw for 184 yards as New Orleans racked up 298 on the ground, handing Buffalo its first home loss of the season and its second straight embarrassment.

7. Packers 23, Bears 16. Brett Hundley earned his first win despite Green Bay losing its top two running backs to injury on the road, thanks in part to a regrettable Chicago challenge in the first half that turned a Bears first-and-goal situation into Packers' ball.

8. Rams 33, Texans 7. They started slow, but L.A. ultimately outgained Houston, 443-283, and forced four turnovers (all from Tom Savage) in moving to 7-2.

9. Jaguars 20, Chargers 17 (OT). This game was wild. Jacksonville seemed done after a Blake Bortles interception with 1:33 left in the game, but the Jags got the ball back 30 seconds later, and ex-Chargers kicker Josh Lambo hit a 34-yarder to tie the game in the final moments, thanks in part to a Joey Bosa roughing the passer penalty that moved the ball into the red zone. In overtime, it was Philip Rivers who threw a pick, setting up another Lambo make—this time for the victory.

10. Lions 38, Browns 24. Cleveland was actually leading in the third and tied in the fourth, but Detroit scored 14 points on two of Matthew Stafford's three touchdowns to pull away, leaving the Browns as (spoiler alert) the only winless team left in the league. The result also made a first-half gaffe, when DeShone Kizer (who otherwise had one of his best games) cost the team points by audibling to a QB sneak with no timeouts left, all the more painful. At least Cleveland can hang onto this: The Detroit team it just played turned its fortunes around by drafting Stafford following an 0-16 season.

11. Buccaneers 15, Jets 10. In a battle of beleaguered QBs playing their former teams, Ryan Fitzpatrick's Bucs edged Josh McCown's Jets. Really, it was the Tampa defense that won the day, holding the visitors to less than 150 yards until late into the fourth quarter (a McCown touchdown pass with 28 seconds left made the game seem closer).

12. 49ers 31, Giants 21. C.J. Beathard, Kyle Shanahan, John Lynch, and the new Niners got their first win Sunday. Meanwhile, pressure ratchets up for New York coach Ben McAdoo.

Have a story you think we should include in tomorrow’s Press Coverage? Let us know here.

THE KICKER

NFL celebrations have been fun this year, but clearly we still have a lot to learn from the folks north of the border.

Question? Comment? Story idea? Let the team know at talkback@themmqb.com

Edmonton Eskimos' C.J. Gable (39) and quarterback Mike Reilly (13) celebrate Gable's winning touchdown against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers during the second half of CFL football Western semifinal game action in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017. (John Woods/The Canadian Press via AP)

Edmonton Eskimos' C.J. Gable (39) leaps over Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Taylor Loffler (16) for the winning touchdown during the second half of CFL western semifinal football action in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017. (John Woods/The Canadian Press via AP)

Edmonton Eskimos' C.J. Gable (39) leaps over Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Taylor Loffler (16) for a winning touchdown during the second half of CFL Western semifinal game action in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017. (John Woods/The Canadian Press via AP)

Edmonton Eskimos' C.J. Gable (39) and quarterback Mike Reilly (13) celebrate Gable's winning touchdown against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers during the second half of CFL western semifinal football action in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017. (John Woods/The Canadian Press via AP)

CFL

Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback Matt Nichols (15) passes to Timothy Flanders (20) against the Edmonton Eskimos during first-half CFL football Western semifinal game action in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017. (John Woods/The Canadian Press via AP)

Edmonton Eskimos' Brandon Zylstra (83), Adarius Bowman (4), Joel Figueroa (61) and Derel Walker (87) celebrate Bowman's touchdown against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers during first half CFL western semifinal football action in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017. (John Woods/The Canadian Press via AP)

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