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Sunday, December 10, 2023

Dolphins’ climb continues; Josh McDaniels feeling the heat: 3 up, 3 down


Week 10 was a wild one, as they tend to be the deeper into the NFL season we get. Here are my stock up and stock down picks following Sunday’s action. 

3 Up

Miami Dolphins offense

The Dolphins offense is a buzzsaw right now, cutting through opposing defenses with relative ease. Miami’s offense has scored over 30 points in three straight games, as quarterback Tua Tagovailoa moved to a perfect 7-0 in games he’s started and finished Sunday’s victory over the Cleveland Browns

The Dolphins are a multi-dimensional offense, featuring the best pair of wide receivers in the league with a complimentary rushing attack. Offensive play caller and head coach Mike McDaniels schemes up successful throws for Tua, who’s playing far better than anyone who doesn’t own a Dolphins jersey thought. He’s making accurate throws that allow Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle to sprint through opposing defenses. 

With defenses keying on the passing game, the Dolphins run game has taken off. They controlled the line of scrimmage while rushing for 195 yards on Sunday. They made the Browns defense look silly at times. It’s hard to see who or what can slow down the Dolphins offense right now. They are simply on a roll. 

KaDarius Toney 

When the Kansas City Chiefs traded for the New York Giants former first-round receiver, I was skeptical about his usage in the Chiefs offense. Their offense is no more or less difficult than most, as the West Coast offensive verbiage lays out his exact route. However, the Chiefs one is complex with formations, motions, shifts and options once the ball is snapped. Patrick Mahomes tends to “struggle” with new receivers until they get comfortable with each other’s movements. Plus the Chiefs already had a deep receiver room, including second-round draft pick Skyy Moore, who was not getting many touches.   

Well, I was proven wrong on Sunday as Toney appeared fully integrated into the offense against the Jacksonville Jaguars.  He had four receptions for 57 yards and found the end zone for the first time in his professional career. Now, these results aren’t Earth-shattering, but they are important nonetheless. The Chiefs were without Mecole Hardman from the kick and lost JuJu Smith-Schuster early in the game. 

The Chiefs needed Toney to step up. Also, Toney’s speed and quick twitch is the closest they have to replacing Tyreek Hill in this offense. The Chiefs have seen a heavy dose of man coverage this season, which has shut down the passing attack. Toney is the receiver who can beat man coverage, and if he continues to shine in this offense, the Chiefs’ attack will only get better. 

Giants’ playoff chances

Toney’s old team, the New York Giants, are back in the win column with a 21-13 win against the Houston Texans. I must reiterate, the Giants are not particularly good. They are extremely well-coached, tailor the schemes to the players and play tough football. They’ve eliminated the mistakes from Daniel Jones, which keeps the chains moving and the opponent with fewer scoring opportunities. The Giants currently sit at 7-2, the third-best record in the NFC conference. 

The Giants have the Lions, Colts, and two against the Commanders as upcoming games they should win. Even if they split those, plus fail to win games where they are underdogs, those nine wins should get them into the playoffs. It’s enough for a playoff spot. Yes, the Giants will be a playoff team. 

3 Down

Buffalo Bills

The Bills stepped onto their home turf for the opening kickoff against the Minnesota Vikings sitting atop the AFC conference at 6-2. Josh Allen, who entered day to day with an elbow injury, unexpectedly started the contest, which turned into a Game of the Year candidate. The Bills went up 27-10 and appeared to be cruising to a win against the seven-win Vikings. Not so fast. The Bills blew the 17-point advantage, which included an ill-timed  Allen interception, and an even worse botched center exchange as the Bills were attempting to run out the clock. After the overtime loss, the Bills not only dropped out of first place in the conference but into third place in their division! 

Vikings force Josh Allen to fumble at the goal line, score WILD TD vs. Bills

The Minnesota Vikings forced Josh Allen to fumble at the goal line and use the timely TD to eventually pick up a 33-30 OT victory.

The Bills have more issues beyond their current rankings in the AFC East. They had not scored a second-half touchdown since their Week 6 win at Kansas City. That’s six quarters of second-half football with no offensive touchdowns.  

Allen has oddly reverted back to throw some silly interceptions, and there’s no explanation as to why. Maybe it’s the elbow, but I doubt it. Speaking of the elbow … Anytime I hear about a UCL ligament in the elbow being stressed it’s worrisome. I know a football throwing motion is far different than baseball, and quarterbacks can play through them, but this isn’t a nothing injury. It could flare up at any time. Also, if Allen isn’t practicing that takes away opportunities to sync with receivers and his protection unit. The Bills are trending down. I didn’t think I’d have written this just a month ago.

Josh McDaniels 

If the Las Vegas Raiders head coach doesn’t have his access to the facility removed before you all read this article I’d be surprised. Last season, the Raiders made the playoffs after Jon Gruden was fired as head coach. The Raiders added two All-Pro impact players, Davante Adams and Chandler Jones, and retooled other positions on the roster. However, the Raiders are a dumpster fire after losing to the Colts on Sunday to drop their record 2-7 under the first-year coach. 

The Colts had an interim coach in Jeff Saturday, a first-time play caller, and had not looked anywhere near a decent team recently. None of that mattered on Sunday. The Colts rushing game gashed the Raiders and Matt Ryan was good enough. The Colts allowed only 308 yards to the Raiders offense, the side of the ball that McDaniels specializes in. 

The Raiders are just a bad football team and McDaniels does not appear to inspire them to play well. 

Los Angeles Rams

The defending Super Bowl champs season is done after this week, which I doubt anyone believed would be the case heading into this campaign. It’s just been a disaster. Offensive line injuries, regression from Matthew Stafford and poor running back play has made the Rams the least efficient offense in the NFL. Now the Rams’ best offensive weapon, Cooper Kupp, left the field during Sunday’s loss to the Arizona Cardinals with an ankle injury. There’s no cavalry coming to save this team. They are toast for 2022. 

Read more from around the NFL:

Geoff Schwartz played eight seasons in the NFL for five different teams. He started at right tackle for the University of Oregon for three seasons and was a second-team All-Pac-12 selection his senior year. He is an NFL analyst for FOX Sports. Follow him on Twitter @GeoffSchwartz.

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