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NFL rankings, the rise of Tua and the Dolphins, Deshaun Watson’s return

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It’s time to begin regarding the Miami Dolphins as honest-to-goodness Super Bowl contenders and their quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa, as a top league MVP candidate.

The Dolphins have won 4 straight games since Tagovailoa returned to their lineup after missing two games due to concussion he suffered during a September game in Cincinnati. They lead the rugged AFC East with a record of 7-3, putting them a half-game ahead of the Recent York Jets and Buffalo Bills. They’re only a half-game behind the Kansas City Chiefs for the AFC’s top playoff seed.

And Tagovailoa is maybe the most important reason.

“The entire team within the last month has taken an unbelievable jump in accountability, how they prepare and the way they only go about doing their jobs,” Coach Mike McDaniel said after the Dolphins’ 39-17 triumph at home Sunday over the Cleveland Browns. “[Tagovailoa] is one in every of the major reasons that that is happening. He has really come into his own skin with reference to being a frontrunner on the quarterback position. Guys are rallying around him. He’s demanding a typical and holding himself at an incredible high standard.”

Tagovailoa has thrown 18 touchdown passes and only three interceptions; he’s the NFL’s top-rated passer. The Dolphins lost their Sept. 29 game against the Bengals by which Tagovailoa was taken from the sphere on a stretcher and transported by ambulance to a close-by hospital. They lost to the Jets and the Minnesota Vikings within the two games he subsequently missed. They’re 7-0 within the games he has began and finished.

Tua Tagovailoa is suddenly thriving, and the Dolphins are relevant again

Wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle have been superb. But Tagovailoa has made all of it work.

“Tua is playing very, very high-level football,” McDaniel said Sunday. “It’s phenomenal to look at him commit to the method. It’s the third game in a row where I didn’t feel a high or a low from him. … It’s a few team. And all of their production has to do with a team working in concert in order that they will get those numbers.”

It wasn’t so way back that Tagovailoa was thought to be the frustration of the 2020 draft class of quarterbacks, having been outperformed by the Bengals’ Joe Burrow and the Los Angeles Chargers’ Justin Herbert. The Dolphins and their owner, Stephen Ross, were penalized before the season for tampering with Tom Brady, a possible substitute for Tagovailoa.

But Tagovailoa could change into the primary of the quarterbacks in his draft class to win an MVP award. And possibly he could possibly be the primary to win a Super Bowl, if the Dolphins proceed to play at this level.

They’re on a roll now, with five victories of their past six games. They’re the front-runners for the No. 1 seed within the AFC now that the Bills have struggled to 2 straight losses.

The catch by Justin Jefferson was otherworldly. The OT win over the Bills was fascinating. However the Vikings have little time to savor their accomplishments; the Cowboys, Patriots and Jets are up next.

The Dolphins can enjoy their bye week, after which they get to play the Texans Nov. 27. Things get serious after that, with the 49ers, Chargers and Bills on the schedule to start December.

Their loss to the Commanders was deserved. The offense committed 4 turnovers. The defense allowed a dozen third-down conversions. The Eagles sealed their fate by committing a silly penalty.

They aren’t going away. Brian Daboll has taken them past respectable, straight to legitimate playoff team. Saquon Barkley leads the league in rushing and resembles the player the Giants drafted him to be.

Quarterback Deshaun Watson is moving closer to creating his regular season debut for the Browns.

He became eligible Monday to resume practicing with the team, under the terms of his 11-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy based on allegations of sexual misconduct.

Deshaun Watson suspended 11 games, fined $5 million under settlement

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said last month that Watson had, to that time, complied with the necessities for his prospective reinstatement, which included a stipulation that he undergo an expert evaluation and treatment plan. Watson is eligible to play in a Dec. 4 game at Houston against the Texans, who traded him to the Browns in March.

The Browns had hoped to play well enough with Jacoby Brissett filling in at quarterback to still have meaningful games following Watson’s return. It’s not looking particularly promising in that regard. Their record dropped to 3-6 with Sunday’s defeat to the Dolphins. They face the Bills and Tampa Bay Buccaneers of their final two games before Watson is eligible to play.

Nathaniel Hackett was hired because he’s a supposed offensive genius. However the Broncos have scored 20-plus points in a game only twice this season.

They arrive at their bye with six losses of their past seven games. They should play higher down the stretch to strengthen the notion that they’re making progress under Doug Pederson.

They’ve not managed to stay relevant on the sphere without Deshaun Watson.

There was a head coach within the Raiders-Colts game Sunday who looked completely overmatched. It was Josh McDaniels, not Jeff Saturday.

It now not appears there’s much probability that Davis Mills actually is the reply at QB.

Irsay, for now, gets last word

It was just one game, and there aren’t any guarantees the coaching change Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay made last week will proceed to repay as handsomely because it did Sunday.

But Irsay, at the least for one week, was in a position to have the ultimate word after so many observers criticized and mocked his decision to fireplace Frank Reich and hire Jeff Saturday, the team’s former all-pro center who never had coached above the highschool level, because the Colts’ interim coach. The Colts beat the Raiders, 25-20, on Sunday in Las Vegas after making a midseason quarterback switch from Sam Ehlinger to Matt Ryan.

Irsay said in a video made just before he left Las Vegas that he, Ryan and General Manager Chris Ballard had given a game ball to Saturday.

“Hey, within the land of gambling … here we’re,” Irsay said. “But to me it was never of venture. I do know Jeff has the correct stuff, and he’s a really special guy, special leader.”

Three officiating controversies

This NFL season actually has been relatively devoid of major officiating controversies, aside from an abbreviated burst of angst over some debatable roughing-the-passer calls. There have been a trio of issues within the just-completed Week 10 games, although none erupted right into a furor.

The league acknowledged the replay official within the booth for the Vikings’ epic extra time triumph Sunday over the Bills erred by not stopping the sport for a review of a diving catch by Bills wide receiver Gabe Davis along the sideline in the ultimate minute of regulation. Davis appeared to lose control of the ball on the turf, and the play must have been ruled an incompletion.

With the clock under two minutes, Vikings Coach Kevin O’Connell couldn’t challenge Davis’s catch. It was the responsibility of the replay official to stop the sport and order the review. That didn’t occur, and the play was ruled a catch, helping the Bills to tie the rating with a field goal within the closing seconds of regulation. Even so, the Vikings prevailed in the additional session, 33-30.

“It could have been reversed to an incomplete pass because he didn’t maintain control of the ball after he hit the bottom and the ball touched the bottom out of bounds,” Walt Anderson, the NFL’s senior vice chairman of officiating, told a pool reporter.

Sunday night, San Francisco 49ers Coach Kyle Shanahan questioned the ejection of Niners linebacker Dre Greenlaw for successful on Herbert during a victory over the Chargers in Santa Clara, Calif.

The league’s officiating department in Recent York ordered the ejection after the officials penalized Greenlaw for lowering his head to deliver the hit. It was legal for Greenlaw to hit Herbert helmet to helmet, on condition that Herbert was running with the ball on the time and due to this fact was not thought to be a defenseless player, under the principles. However the strategy of lowering the pinnacle to deliver successful is prohibited, and, in response to Anderson, the league also ruled the hit was late.

“He was already down by contact,” Anderson told a pool reporter. “That definitely plays into taking a take a look at the actions taken by the defender. … [We] felt just like the actions he took were flagrant in nature, and that was the explanation for the disqualification.”

The Philadelphia Eagles’ loss Monday night to the Washington Commanders included a missed face mask call against the Commanders as Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert fumbled. That isn’t reviewable.

The Eagles had loads of other issues in a mistake-filled performance; the missed call didn’t necessarily determine the consequence. Still, it was the form of glaring officiating blunder that intensifies efforts — and maybe prompts offseason rule-change proposals — to make all personal fouls (or all calls) reviewable.

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