2020 Dynasty/Fantasy Week 9 Game Analysis: Chiefs 33, Panthers 31
I take notes during the live watch. I re-watch the game on tape looking for hidden clues to report on. Here are my notes/takes on what I saw and how it related to FF 2020. I write anywhere from 1,000-3,000+ words on each game, and I must move fast to get to all of them through the week…so, please forgive any typos/grammar.
The Carolina Panthers are my favorite team in football.
Well, they are supposed to be my favorite team for 2021 and beyond. It’s like I made a reservation in advance. The Buffalo Bills are my 2020 team…I’m was just using them to get Carolina in 2021. I didn’t realize, until watching this very game…that Carolina was my favorite team already. It happened right before my eyes all these weeks and I couldn’t see it until now. This was one of the best coached, brilliantly schemed games of 2020…the Panthers just went toe-to-toe with the Chiefs and missed a last second win by a wide right, NFL record setting attempt field goal attempt (had the distance but bled right).
I thought this would be a year the Panthers got better as the season progressed and everyone would then like them as a sleeper team for 2021. They’re ahead of schedule. They’ve been giving very good team fits all season, playing them down to the wire since Week 1. They almost pulled a shocker here. Get ready to bet them as ‘over’ on win totals for 2021 and as NFC South champs as well.
In this game, the Panthers were beautiful. Going for it on 4th-downs, smartly…in fact the very first drive they took the ball into the red zone and were in a spot were 9,999,999 out of 10,000,000 football coaches would have taken a 4th & short easy field goal on the very first series to get the lead and make some kind of statement that they scored first, like it would matter vs. KC – when the real statement for settling for a field goal really is…is ‘we came to try and not lose by too much’. The Panthers went for it on 4th-down instead…and scored a TD – that was a real statement.
KC answered with a field goal. And then Carolina drove right down again but the drive stalled midfield and they pulled an excellent fake punt for a first down, and that led another TD – a shocking 14-3 Panthers lead into the 2nd-quarter. The thing was…Carolina seemed to have all these specific situational plays and situations ready to go and didn’t hesitate. They played to win the game in their preparations all week…and they all knew it/were prepared because they ran those critical plays with ease, with confidence. My gripe about NFL coaches is they play things so safe that when they do ‘go for it’ at times their teams freeze up because they’re not practiced to do such ‘radical things’. Not Carolina…not here. Carolina led 17-14 at the half.
KC got it together in the 3rd-quarter and jumped ahead 26-17…and then we’re all thinking the cute Panthers story is over, and now the big boys were in control…but the Panthers answered right back …the KC answered right back…and then Carolina answered right back – all this back and forth happening in the 4th-quarter.
33-31 KC with 1:55 left and Carolina kicking off post-their TD. This should’ve been the time the superior Chiefs got the 1st-down and then ran the clock out and left Carolina hanging. But the Panthers defense bowed up with a huge stop and got the ball back with 1:26 to try and get into field goal range for the win.
Down the field Carolina went but KC made a huge stop (incomplete pass) with 0:02 left, with Carolina trying to get closer for a field goal. On the last play, the Panthers lined up for a 67-yard (NFL record) field goal and the win…Joey Slye had the distance, but it drifted right quickly and ‘ball game’.
The Chiefs won but it honestly felt like the Panthers won. I think even the Chiefs would admit that. It wasn’t just a lucky, close loss mortal victory – it was a lesser roster, young team and rookie head coach playing a game better than their superior opponent and left knowing they should’ve won but that ‘they belonged’. This game, this loss is the catalyst for the Panthers to be a dominant force for years to come. Matt Rhule is going to be known as the one of the, if not the single best coach in the NFL in the years ahead…and he’s bringing this thing in months/a year+ ahead of schedule.
Carolina catches Tampa Bay next week, off the Bucs rebound game from their Saints egg on SNF…so probably another loss. Then three winnable games and then a tough ending stretch at GB, at WSH, NO finish. Carolina could’ve been a playoff team with a better schedule, but they are likely to finish with 6-7 wins this year and are my favorite for the NFC South from 2021 to 2025 at a minimum.
The Chiefs sneak away to (8-1) and go into their bye week. After their bye they have at LV, at TB…a revenge game and a going to be very much hyped game. If the Chiefs win those two games, they could go (15-1). I’m sure they’ll trip up somewhere and end up (14-2) and still be a #1 seed in the AFC. The #1 seed is SO important ion 2020…only one bye given in each conference this year…the other six playoff qualifiers have to play that first weekend (seeds #2-7).
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- First, we gotta talk about Curtis Samuel (3-13-0, 9-105-1/9).
You know where I’ve been with Samuel since the preseason, the summer, the spring, and back for 2-3 years. He’s like one of the faces of FFM…meaning, me proclaiming him a hidden star, and everyone getting excited initially, then it stumbling, and me complaining about his usage, and you getting tired of hearing about it, but I wouldn’t stop, and you’d get more annoyed and want me to just ‘give it up’, but I went down with the ship on him early in the season – it wasn’t working (FF production), so I had to cut him and move on. I was the last to leave the party…reluctantly…sadly.
Now, I’m extra enthused to have gotten back in early -- because this is not just a little hot streak he’s been on because of schedule or someone else got hurt and he slipped in – no, this is Curtis Samuel being so good at football he has forced the Panthers to make use of him. He’s forced Teddy to make him his most trusted throw. He’s forced the coaches to use him at tailback anywhere on the field.
Ron Rivera…Norv Turner…couldn’t see it. Had no real plan. Matt Rhule is going to be a great head coach because he’s not the typical idiot head coach that is blind to things working outside of the initial plan – when Rhule saw what Samuel was doing, he gave into it…started planning with/for it. No one has ever done that with Samuel. Credit O-C Joe Brady who should be an NFL head coach any time he wants…because he was talking about Samuel’s pop weeks beforehand – that they needed to get Samuel the ball because things happen. Usually, that’s the kiss of death for a player (when the coaches say things like ‘we gotta get him the ball’…it means they have no real plan to, or they wouldn’t even have to make the statement). But it wasn’t the kiss of death here…it was the breath of life.
Watching the way Curtis Samuel has developed is why I am a lifelong Panthers fan…for now.
Watching how Curtis Samuel has ‘taken’/seized this opportunity has made me a proud papa. This isn’t a blip, that I see…this is real and has room to run from here. I’ve said for years – Samuel is a legit, top NFL WR talent…not just a cute speedster…but a real WR. A tough technician WITH great speed. PLUS, he’s a legit tail back that could handle 5+ carries with his WR work.
The new Carolina regime has figured this out.
Carries + catches in a game in Samuel’s last four games: 9, 7, 8, 10. There’s not many WRs who have their hands on the ball that often, and none where 1-2 of the touches are goal line carries as a tail back.
I’m so happy for Samuel, and so happy for all of us who got back into this ahead of the crowd.
He’s a strong WR2 the rest of the season…I think. I hope. I’m still PTSD that they’ll take this away from him, but from what I see – they aren’t. They are still figuring out all the ways to use him.
-- I’m sure glad they eased Christian McCaffrey (18-69-1, 10-82-1/10) back into the lineup and split him with Mike Davis (1-3-0, 5-34-0/6) in his return game! Hey, the insiders said it was so…can’t we trust them?
Ummm, no…right back to a heavy workload and then some -- 10 targets in this game. You know why he was right back in heavy? Carolina tries to win games with their top players…thus CMC touches the ball 28 times, Samuel 12, Robby 9 times.
Mike Davis had some numbers, but it was later when CMC hurt his shoulder and could play the last few minutes. Otherwise, Davis was in for like a play per series, roughly.
-- Hey, Mike Davis (1-3-0, 5-34-0/6) got more touches in this game than ‘the great’ Le’Veon Bell (4-8-0, 1-0-0/1.
You thought I was delusional sticking by Curtis Samuel all this time…but I think you’re delusional if you thought Bell was going to become the main starter and have Cinderella story finish this season in KC.
Now, you’re stuck. Bell on a bye Week 10…and, what…he’s going to learn the offense more and become the main starter Week 11? You still sticking with that line of thinking? After this game…and all of Bell’s KC games…you don’t have the guts to start Bell Week 11. So, even if you’re right…you won’t use him until Week 12. Good luck with that.
It’s simple math happening here. Clyde Edwards-Helaire (5-14-0, 3-20-1/5) was a fledgling RB2 for KC pre-Bell…and now you split that output into two parts and expect two RB1-2’s?
You got a better shot at that happening with the Tampa Bay duo then the KC duo, but the RoJo-Fournette split is now dying as well.
Indy is running an RBBC. The Patriots always have. The Eagles would like to, but no one is ever healthy. When you get into RBBC’s with two or more healthy RBs – you get nothing but FF pain and angst, like with the Chargers RB rotation the past 3-5 games. RBBC RBs are FF death. Rare RBs left for FF that are talented, play in a good offense, and have no threat from the depth chart for main carry touches. When you get one of those guys you need to hold on.
We also need to include fear of RBs where ‘the mobile QB takes away too much RB goodness’ situations like Buffalo and Baltimore.
You’re stuck holding Bell for the next two weeks…and if another 33% snap count split in Week 11…you’ll be faced with dumping Bell for something more pressing/hopeful.
With CEH…you got the 2/3rds share guy who was an RB2 before…now, is an RB3 with some upside.
Hey…in critical times, I’m seeing Darrell Williams (1-3-0/1) pop up more and more. He looks better/more effective than Bell…who looks old and slow every KC week I’ve seen him. Williams played one less snap than Bell in this game.
-- I finally get a game where Tyreek Hill (9-113-2/18) sees 18 targets…and this is all I get? I mean, Mahomes missed Hill for about 3-4+ more catches and 150+ more yards and 1-2 more TDs in this game. It was on the brink of epic, but all we got was ‘great’.
I found a way to complain about a 30+ point game from my WR…making me a real fantasy owner!!
-- I’m taking my projections up on Teddy Bridgewater (36-49 for 310 yards, 2 TDs/0 INT). I didn’t think he could go to a next level this fast…new offense, strange surroundings, etc., but credit him and credit the Carolina coaches.
Now, can we go back to the 2014 NFL Draft when every analyst said he was a bad prospect because he had a bad Pro Day, because Mike Mayock said he did and then everyone just copied it. The bad press made Teddy fall in the draft…and Blake Bortles and Johnny Manziel were taken before him.
Hey, don’t tell me the NFL scouts don’t know their craft better than all of us. I mean the 2014 QB draft was their shining moment (of idiocy). Only seven years later, and we finally discover Teddy WAS the best QB prospect from this draft – better than Derek Carr or Jimmy Garoppolo.
So happy for Teddy…he has earned his moment in the spotlight. And he gets better every week. He’s only 28 years old. He’s got a few more years in him. Carolina will likely draft his replacement in 2021 or 2022.
-- Will CAR DE Brian Burns (3 tackles, 3 QB hits) please stop hitting QBs so much without getting sacks!!! Burns had three games with 3 QB hits registered in his last six games, but only 2.0 sacks to show for it. Eventually, he’s going to start ringing them up.
Also, eventually, the Panthers are going to be a good+ fantasy DST of the future. Why? Because Matt Rhule will make it so. He has a good young base to work with that are also getting better and better each week.
I bet Carolina will be a sneaky DST play discussion Weeks 11-14: DET, at MIN, bye, DEN.
Snap Counts of Interest:
25 = CEH
19 = Le’Veon Bell
18 = Darrell Williams
81 = DJ Moore
69 = Robby
60 = CSam
59 = CMC
26 = Mike D