This is why I don’t bet sports.
On a fall Sunday in a week where 19% of the league was on byes, including both Texas teams (how timely for baseball), four one-win teams took the field, their seasons teetering on the brink of utter irrelevance. And they all won.
Granted, they were all at home, and they weren’t exactly playing world-beaters. But Washington and Las Vegas were both at .500, and there are still many so-called pundits that believe the Green Bay Packers are still, well, the GREEN BAY PACKERS. Buffalo, though with a winning record, narrowly escaped an upset bid by the depleted Giants the previous Sunday night and had lost their previous game in London against the Jaguars. That said, they had whipped the Dolphins efore that. Surely, they could make short work of the cellar-dwellers they visited, right?
Not on this given Sunday.
In Foxboro, for the first time in 2023, Mac Jones threw and engineered like he did in college, Bill Belicheck coached like Bill Belicheck used to, and the Patriots dealt Buffalo their second divisional loss. Per Mark Daniels of MASSLIVE.com:
Everyone inside Gillette Stadium was shocked when the Patriots started fast, gained an early lead, and went into the waning minutes of the fourth quarter with a lead over the Bills. Just when it looked like the Patriots were bound for a huge upset, it looked like they would rip everyone’s heart out, again.
Instead, Mac Jones found redemption.
The Bills led, 25-22, for the first time in this entire game with 1:58 left on the clock. The Patriots had one more chance. Jones hits Rhamondre Stevenson for a 34-yard gain to give the Gillette Stadium crowd hope. With 54 seconds left, on third-and-8, Jones hit Hunter Henry for a 14-yard gain at the 25-yard line. Then the Patriots quarterback hit DeVante Parker (9 for eight yards) and Stevenson (for 10 yards) to set up a first-and-goal from the 7-yard line. With 15 seconds left, on second-and-1, Jones dropped back and hit Mike Geiscki for a 1-yard touchdown.
The joy that Jones experienced was counterbalanced by the ugliness surrounding Packers’ quarterback Jordan Love, as USA TODAY’s Lorenzo Reyes chronicled:
Maybe it was time to move on from Aaron Rodgers. But six games into the Jordan Love experiment, the results are rather concerning for the Green Bay Packers. Love is not a rookie quarterback getting his first shot; he is in the middle of his third season after spending a couple years behind Rodgers, one of the game’s greats, with the chance to absorb winning habits. Love ranks 22nd in passing yards (1,263), 28th in QB rating (79.4) and is tied for second in interceptions (seven). His pick Sunday against the Denver Broncos, a heave down the field into double coverage when the Packers needed only a field goal to potentially win the game in an eventual 19-17 loss, was baffling for its lack of situational awareness. It did come on a third-and-20, but Green Bay (2-4) was near midfield and, with the game in Denver, getting into field goal range should’ve been the absolute priority.
And to add insult to injury for Packer backers, of all teams their divisional rival Bears seem to have found a competent quarterback from the most unlikely of resources. CBS Sports’ Shanna McCarriston attempted to explain:
The Bears beat the Raiders 30-12 on Sunday with Tyson Bagent making his first career start at quarterback, filling in for the injured Justin Fields. He completed 21 of 29 passes for 162 yards and one TD and added 24 yards rushing on three carries. If you don’t know much about Bagent, don’t worry, because you are probably not alone. We have you covered with everything you need to know about the undrafted rookie:
Bagent went to Martinsburg High School in West Virginia before attending Shepherd from 2018 to 2022. He became the starting quarterback for the Shepherd Rams as a freshman and in his first game with the team he threw for 518 yards, going 36-for-54 with three touchdowns, putting himself in the record books at the college.
His resume includes being a two-time first-team DII All-American, Mountain East Conference (MEC) Offensive Player of the Week and first-team All-MEC.
He holds the NCAA record for most touchdown passes in a career (159) — a record for all divisions — and holds over 20 school records, including most touchdowns responsible for in a single game (7), most games with 300+ passing yards in a single season (11), most passing yards in a single season (5,000) and most touchdown passes in a career (159).
And he’s leading a team with the same number of wins in 2023 as Jordan Love has coaxed out of the Packers.
Last and arguably least, the New York Football Giants at last found a way to win in New Jersey, and Daniel Jones was nowhere to be found in the process. Tyrod Taylor, for the second week in a row, performed credibly, Saquon Barkley actually scored a touchdown, and the Giants actually scored in the first quarter. A 14-7 escape over the Commanders, a team that even the weakest Giants teams in recent years have been able to beat, may not be quite as shocking a result as what went down among the other one-win teams.
But it beats the alternative, which would be staring into a 1-6 abyss and potentially chasing Carolina for the chance to draft the best of several Pac 12 quarterbacks potentially available. With the Snoopy Bowl and the resurgent Jets awaiting, that may be ultimately where this disappointing season winds up, not to mention the still-strong potential that Jones may prove to be an even bigger bust than Love.
But not on this particular given Sunday.