FMIA Wild-Card Weekend: 49ers Survive, Cowboys Crumble, Bills Dominate In Opening Of NFL Playoffs

NFC Wild Card Playoffs - San Francisco 49ers v Dallas Cowboys
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Saturday will be the 50th start of Jimmy Garoppolo’s San Francisco career. He will be at Lambeau Field, trying to beat the once and probably future MVP in the second weekend of the NFL playoffs.Whatever happens, it’ll be hard to beat this 49er’s 49th start for drama, for lows, for highs, for triumph, for agonizing [more]

FMIA Week 18: ‘Sometimes You Get A Sense.’ Ben Roethlisberger And The Steelers Crash NFL Playoffs – Barely!

NFL: JAN 09 Steelers at Ravens
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I don’t root for outcomes. I root for stories. While watching the end of Pittsburgh-Baltimore, I thought: After the last seven days, with the gauzy Ben Roethlisberger Monday night goodbye, and Carson Wentz spitting the bit and the Colts losing a gimme to Jacksonville, and opening the playoff door for the Steelers, and the Steelers [more]

FMIA Week 17: The Unfortunate Irrationality Of Antonio Brown And The Improbable Revival Of The Rams

Los Angeles Rams v Baltimore Ravens
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In the locker room when one of the most dramatic games of this or any NFL season had ended, Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians told his players—all except the most famous former one, Antonio Brown—how proud he was of them.“You’re either with us or against us,” Arians said after the Bucs outscored the Jets 18-0 [more]

FMIA Week 16: How Colts Overcame Covid On Christmas. Plus The Most Important Win Of Josh Allen’s Life

Buffalo Bills v New England Patriots
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NFL 2021, in Omicronland:Last Friday, a robotic NFL Films camera in the Indianapolis Colts quarterback room caught the unvarnished real of this NFL season. NFL Films for the first time is doing an in-season “Hard Knocks” show on HBO every Wednesday night, and this debut series is with the Colts. Last Friday, a few hours [more]

FMIA Week 15: Omicron Forces NFL To Change Course As Playoffs Near

New Orleans Saints v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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It’s crazy to top this column with this #%&@#$ virus again, but I promise it will be brief.Nobody is clicking on this column to read about this pervasive, crazy, very mild variant of Covid-19. “I swear to you I’m not sick, at all,” said one of those players who has tested positive, and who is [more]

FMIA Week 14: George Kittle, 49ers Climb Aboard The NFL Roller Coaster Where ‘Every Game’s A Playoff Game’

San Francisco 49ers v Cincinnati Bengals
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CINCINNATI — “That was a damn playoff game out there,” said George Kittle, still fired up in his John Lennon yellow-tinted sunglasses, in the tunnel of Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday night, an hour after Niners 26, Bengals 23. Overtime.“I mean, every game’s a playoff game these days, right?” he said.We’re in the final month of [more]

FMIA Week 13: ‘Seven Shots’—How T.J. Watt And Steelers Kept Playoff Hopes Alive By Stopping Ravens Late

Baltimore Ravens v Pittsburgh Steelers
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With the flightiness of NFL greatness (outside of New England), one of the sport’s oxymoronish phrases is “enduring rivalries.” There is only one that truly endures at the highest level of the game, year after year. Ray Lewis comes, Hines Ward goes. Billick/Cowher out, Harbaugh/Tomlin in. It never changes. The games I’ve covered in this [more]

FMIA Week 12: The Top 10 Teams In The NFL Right Now, And Who Has The Best Shot To Be This Year’s Bucs

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When the calendar turns to December, we should know the lay of the land in the NFL, right? Of course.Take last year. After 12 weeks, the Steelers were 11-0, the clear number one team in the league. Tampa Bay, on a two-game losing streak with some internal grousing about the dysfunctional offense making the rumor [more]

FMIA Week 11: The Best RB Playing In The NFL Put On An Old-School Show; 10 Things To Love About Wild Sunday

Indianapolis Colts v Buffalo Bills
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There was still time for the Bills to come back Sunday in sleety Orchard Park, N.Y., down 24-7 to the Colts early in the third quarter. Indianapolis had the ball, first down at the Buffalo 31, and coach Frank Reich loved this play-action call, and he called it. Incomplete. Penalty. The Colts got pushed out [more]

FMIA Week 10: The Day The Chiefs’ Slump Ended? Patrick Mahomes: ‘I Don’t Know If There Was Ever Doubt’

Kansas City Chiefs v Las Vegas Raiders
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The key for Patrick Mahomes to be Patrick Mahomes again? To not think the sky is falling.“The last few weeks,” Mahomes said after playing like Mahomes again Sunday night in Kansas City’s 41-14 rout of the reeling Raiders, “motivated me more to come in and work and practice even better. I mean, whenever you’re not [more]

FMIA Week 9: Deep Breaths At NFL’s Midseason, Or Overreaction Monday? Who Knows After Another Wild Week

Las Vegas Raiders v New York Giants
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The consolation for the Raiders after stinking up the Meadowlands on Sunday? The NFL day was filled with good teams stinking on Sunday. Buffalo not scoring a touchdown against the Jaguars. Dallas getting smoked at home by Denver. (When I say “smoked,” I mean down-by-30 smoked.) Colt McCoy slapping around the Niners [more]

FMIA Week 8: Big Day For The Bench And Backups—Trevor Siemian Helps Slay The Dragon In The Superdome

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v New Orleans Saints
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This is what I really love about the NFL: West Virginia Big 20, 85 Delta Go.I love it because it’s absolutely preposterous. Trevor Siemian, who hasn’t been an NFL starter for four years, throwing to Kevin White, who hasn’t caught an NFL pass in three years. Siemian, who is rarely asked to throw deep, throwing [more]

FMIA Week 7: Road Wins At Ravens, Steelers? Joe Burrow’s Bengals Are Scary, And It’s Not Even Halloween

Cincinnati Bengals v Baltimore Ravens
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I know what I’d be thinking if I were either Mike Tomlin or John Harbaugh today.Uh-oh.The Bengals were competitive with Andy Dalton, but did the power teams of the AFC North ever really fear the Bengals of the past decade? No. How do you fear a team that never got out of the wild-card round [more]

FMIA Week 6: Confident Cowboys, Dangerous Dak And The Top 12 Quarterbacks In The NFL Right Now

Dallas Cowboys v New England Patriots
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What an outlier this week was. So many crummy, non-competitive games. Average margin of victory Sunday: 16.5 points. Just three one-score games in the early, late and night windows. Really just one outstanding game (Dallas-New England), then a bunch of interesting stories:• Win one for Bisaccia! The Raiders, post-Gruden (still seems weird to type that), [more]

FMIA Week 5: Bills Thump Chiefs On The Night It All Changed In The AFC

Buffalo Bills v Kansas City Chiefs
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There was a play Sunday night in the rain in Kansas City that encapsulated the 2021 version of Josh Allen perfectly. If you stayed up till midnight, you saw it. Bills up 31-20 at the Chiefs’ 24-yard line, driving for insurance, seven minutes left in the game. Allen took off running up the middle, his [more]