From an angry Aaron Rodgers to a Rodgers-castoff in Baltimore, Breakout Live examines the top players poised for a breakout game in Week 13 in the NFL.
We haven’t heard much from Montgomery since Aaron Rodgers got him banished to Baltimore for fumbling on an ill-advised kickoff return against the Rams in Week 7. Fast-forward to Week 13. Who would’ve ever thought Ty Montgomery would move to a more dynamic offense than he was in in Green Bay? Lamar Jackson has created buzz across the league as Mike Vick 2.0. This will be Jackson’s first road game and he’ll need to throw to keep up with the prolific Matty Ice-led offense in Atlanta. Montgomery saw 11 touches last week and looks to see many more on the turf in Atlanta, as this one figures to be a back and forth up and down the field affair where Jackson is hitting Montgomery who was drafted as a WR in a number of ways.
Freeman entered this season with a lot of fanfare as a 3rd-round pick out of Oregon. He was slated to become the Broncos bell cow until local product and undrafted Phillip Lindsay badly outplayed him. Freeman started off Week 1 with a respectable 15 for 71, showing vs. Seattle numbers he would never reach again in both carries and yards. The Bengals offer a choice matchup for the Broncos ground game, and while Lindsay is sure to get his, Freeman is better suited to grind the clock in a game that should be over relatively quickly with Jeff Driskel pulling the trigger for the Bengals, not to mention the pile of injuries and the Hue Jackson effect that makes not-so-good teams worse. Expect career-highs in carries and yards for Freeman this Sunday.
The Cooper Kupp replacement has seen limited usage throughout his brief 2-year career in Los Angeles. However, when he plays, the old line Buddy Ryan famously used of Cris Carter once upon a time applies to Reynolds: All he does is catch touchdowns. Reynolds has 13 catches this season and cashed 3 of them for scores. In college, Reynolds was a touchdown machine and holds the single season record for TDs at Texas A&M. The Los Angeles Rams inside on turf conjures the St. Louis Rams’ “Greatest Show on Turf” talk, if only for a week. Darius Slay is likely to to draw Brandin Cooks leaving Woods and Reynolds to do damage. Reynolds is the freshest of the Rams receivers and probably has the most left in the tank after the scintillating game with the Chiefs, plus he has to be the most excited finally getting his long awaited chance to show everyone what he has off his career best 6-80-1 against the Chiefs.
Uh-oh. Aaron Rodgers is upset and feeling slighted. We all saw what he did to the NFL when he came into this league with a giant chip on his shoulder for falling into the 20s on draft day. This week Rodgers took a lot of questions about his struggles and heard all the talk about them. Randall Cobb, who should be back for the first time since New England, is more excited about how Rodgers is going to take out his frustrations on the Cards than he is about being back on the field. Here’s a stat on Aaron Rodgers you’ve likely never heard: the last time he didn’t throw at least 4 touchdown passes in a single game was 2009. This season he has zero 4-touchdown games and has only thrown 3 TDs twice. Expect that streak of 4 touchdown passes to continue after Sunday is over. Instead, he may throw 5, 6, or 7. No one likes Dr. David Banner when he’s angry, and the Cards sure won’t like seeing an angry Rodgers at Lambeau.
Joe Montana had Dwight Clark; Brett Favre had Mark Chmura; Peyton Manning had Dallas Clark; and Baker Mayfield has David Njoku. It’s fun watching quarterback/tight end tandems blossom before our very eyes. Njoku has been dealing with a knee injury for weeks but continues suiting up for the Browns. He put up a score and 63 yards, doing most of his damage early vs. Cincy while the game was still a game. This Sunday the sledding is much more difficult vs. a Texans team riding an 8-game winning streak. However, the Texans give up the 6th most points to the TE position. In a game with playoff implications for both teams, Mayfield will have to get the ball out quickly vs. Watt, Clowney and company. That does well for Njoku in a game that has playoff implications for both teams. Get ready another for another early chapter in the budding legend that will one day be known and Mayfield to Njoku.
People like to talk about Lamar Jackson and what he brings to the field with his speed and run ability. Josh Allen doesn’t get enough credit for what he brings to the table in that regard. Allen finished in the Top 10 for rushing in Week 12 with 99 yards last week vs. Jacksonville. This week he sees Miami’s 29th ranked rushing defense. Beyond being a tough man to corral, he’s also able to air it out with his incredible arm strength. Robert Foster has been a bit of a revelation the last couple of times out. If Miami is somehow able to keep Allen in check on the ground, don’t be surprised if he hits another deep ball to Foster who is hard to keep up with his 4.41 speed and has his biggest day through the air vs. a Miami team that has looked out of it since New England destroyed them in Week 4.
Gronk was back for the first time in almost a month vs. the Jets and came back in style with a patented Gronk grab in the end zone at the Meadowlands, looking like the Gronk of old instead of old Gronk we’ve seen so far this season. This week the Patriots face a formidable Vikings defense that is a shell of itself outside in the elements opposed to the cozy confines of the dome they call home. Still, the purple can generate pressure, causing Brady to need to get the ball out quick and in rhythm. This a huge game for both sides, and when games of this magnitude roll around, it’s when Brady looks for Gronk just as he did on the winning drive vs. KC in Week 8. Also, if there is a weak spot on the Vikings D, it’s against the TE position, although it’s not really a weakness more than it is they’re excellent vs. the run and wide receivers. Gronk hasn’t enjoyed a 100-yard game since Week 1 and has but two touchdown catches on the season. A 100-yard game with 2 touchdowns sounds about right for the Tide Pods pitchman on Sunday.
If I told you Jones has a sack in 7-straight games, would you believe me? He does. In one of the NFL’s least talked about big stories, Chris Jones is having a monster season for the Kansas City Chiefs. Perhaps it’s because of Patrick Mahomes and the circus offense or the fact that Kansas City’s defense ranks among the worst in the league, or both, but Jones simply hasn’t gotten his due. This week is Raiders week. The records don’t matter in this hate fest between these long time rivals. If Derek Carr had a tough time getting up off the turf against the Seahawks in London, just wait until he meets the detestation Jones brings. Jones pasted Rosen and Goff, amassing 2-sack games in back-to-back weeks. He’ll need 3 or more to truly break out, and don’t be surprised if he gets that or more in Oakland on Sunday.
The Steelers and Chargers haven’t seen each other since Week 3 of the 2015 season when Michael Vick was the starter for Pittsburgh and the Chargers were still in San Diego. Brown was a non-factor in that one with only 45 yards. AB was kept relatively in check in Denver while the Broncos refused to let Brown beat them, instead allowing JuJu Smith-Schuster to run roughshod to the tune of 13 for 189 and a score. The Chargers won’t try the same tack after seeing what happened with Smith-Schuster. It’s difficult to believe, but Brown’s biggest game this season was his 117-yard performance in Jacksonville that featured a 78-yard bomb. This just feels like another Carolina Panthers entering the lions den in Pittsburgh for the Chargers. An angry Steelers team and Antonio Brown being held down the previous week is a recipe for an AB84 explosion on Sunday Night Football.
When you score your first career touchdown on Thanksgiving and break out the Michael Scarn touchdown celebration, you know there’s something special inside such a player. Mr. Irrelevant from the 2018 draft should be very relevant vs. Philadelphia on Monday night. Quinn has 9 catches over his last two after posting none over the first 10 weeks of his career. Philadelphia doesn’t have a secondary at this point; it’s more like a third- or fourth-dary with all the injuries they’ve suffered. Colt McCoy remarked this week he was going to rely on Trey Quinn more going forward. The only real question is what will Quinn do to top his Michael Scarn touchdown celebration in front of another national audience on Monday Night Football.