TEXANS 43, JAGUARS 37
TRIUMPH: This entire game was an offensive anomaly. I'm just going to let the stat lines speak for themselves:
Chad Henne: 16-33, 354 yds, 4 TD, 0 INT (in relief of injured Blaine Gabbert)
Matt Schaub: 43-55, 527 yds, 5 TD 2 INT
Jalen Parmele: 24 carries, 80 yards (he had 15 career carries prior)
Justin Blackmon: 7 receptions, 236 yds, 1 TD
Andre Johnson: 14 receptions, 273 yds, 1 TD
Garrett Graham: 8 receptions, 82 yds, 2 TD
TRAGEDY: I know I mentioned prior to the game that I expected the Jags to play it at least reasonably close, but the way that the Texans' defense and running game performed was stunningly flat. Arian Foster had averaged over 100 yards and a touchdown per game against the Jags in his career, and managed just 77 yards and no scores on 28 carries in this one. The Texans' defense had allowed more than 17 points or 325 total yards just twice this season (against the actually-good-at-offense Packers and Broncos), and yet gave up 37 points and 458 yards to the offense ranked last in the league in yardage and scoring. So naturally I started the Texans' defense in two fantasy leagues.
TREND: What did I tell you last week about my boy Cecil Shorts? Well, I actually told you nothing about him being my boy, but with his 81 yards and a touchdown today, he continues his nice little run. He has at least 74 yards in 6 of 10 games this year (and touchdowns in 5 of those 6), with 4 of those 6 in the past five games. In fact, he has the fourth-most receiving yards in the NFL in the past five weeks, behind some guys you may have heard of: Calvin Johnson, Vincent Jackson, and Andre Johnson.
TRAIL MIX: This is actually the first game in NFL history in which there were three scoring drives in overtime. It doesn't take much, incidentally, because the new overtime rules that allow even two scoring drives started this season, but in fifteen such games, this is the first one in which both teams kicked a field goal, and then the winning team scored again.
PATRIOTS 59, COLTS 24
TRIUMPH: In a game that they lost by 35, it's hard to really toot the horn of the Colts' defense. However, in a context that New England generally uses to bludgeon opponents via the ground game, the Colts actually managed to hold New England running backs to just 68 yards on 24 carries. By comparison, the Pats had averaged 34 carries for 187 yards (5.4 ypc) in their previous three games in which they won by 20+ points. This coming from an Indy squad that's 22nd in the league against the run even after Sunday. It's the little victories, people.
TRAGEDY: I'm going a little off the board here, but what happened to Aaron Hernandez' breakout season? In the offseason, he signs the big contract, and then there's all sorts of buzz that he's becoming a top target for Brady, and now he's "that guy" that is always listed as Questionable but never plays. In the three games in which he's played any significant amount, he's had no fewer than 7 targets and 5 receptions, and he would be on pace for 90 receptions for 760 yards and 10 touchdowns if he played every game at that pace. With the injury to The Gronk this week, Hernandez' return will be imperative for the Pats to continue to be enough of an offensive juggernaut to offset their shaky defense.
TREND: It really is a shame that Gronkowski didn't make it out of this game, because he's having another incredible season. In the 26 games since the start of last season, he has had at least 70 yards and a touchdown in half of them, and 8 of those 13 have been 100+ yard performances. Calvin Johnson, as a point of contrast, has had 11 and 12, respectively.
TRAIL MIX: Fun fact: the game between these two teams last year was between an 0-11 Colts team and a 9-3 Patriots team, and the Pats only won by 7. Dan Orlovsky threw for 350 yards. ANDREW LUCK IS WORSE THAN DAN ORLOVSKY. Don't say I didn't warn you.
FALCONS 23, CARDINALS 19
TRIUMPH: I'm going to go ahead and give this distinction to the whole Cardinals team. They had lost five straight, were on the road, and had to deal with an 8-1 Falcons team that just lost their undefeated season to a division rival, so they were probably none too happy. They had their third-string quarterback play most of the game, and he went 9-for-20 for 64 yards and no touchdowns. And they only lost by 4! This is just as impressive as their win over the Patriots in which Kevin Kolb went 15-of-27 for 140 yards and they had just 3.2 yards per rush.
TRAGEDY: Matt Ryan had a rough day at the office, you might say. He had his worst completion percentage of the season, his second-worst yards-per-attempt, his second game this season with zero touchdowns... oh, and five interceptions. His Total QBR was his worst since Week 5 of 2011 in which he lost to the undefeated Packers. He did, however, manage to scrounge up 300 passing yards, which he has failed to do in five games this year.
TREND: The Falcons have not yet had consecutive home or away games, which means that they have been on the road in odd-numbered games and at home in even-numbered games. In home/even-numbered games, Roddy White averages 7 receptions for 117 yards and 0.8 touchdowns, while Julio Jones averages 3 receptions for 54 yards and 0 touchdowns. In road/odd-numbered games, White averages just 5 receptions for 72 yards and 0 touchdowns, while Jones averages 6 receptions for 93 yards and a touchdown. I talked about a similar on/off trend with Matthew Stafford last week, but this one is much more reliable.
TRAIL MIX: LaRod Stephens-Howling has had some sneaky-good performances as the third-stringer for the Cards, but hasn't been very good otherwise. He has two games with 20+ carries, 100+ yards, and a touchdown, but has a combined 57 yards on 25 carries in his other two starts.