Takeaways From Pack9s Fall Scrimmage Win Over Duke

Every week this NFL season, we will celebrate the electric plays, investigate the colossal blunders, and explain the inexplicable moments of the most recent slate. Welcome to Winners and Losers. Which one are you?


Winner: The Other Josh Allen

In a league with over 1,700 players, there are sometimes similarly named guys. In the 2021 draft, the Jets picked running back Michael Carter and cornerback Michael Carter II, who played against each other at UNC and Duke. Safety Roy Williams and wide receiver Roy Williams were both top-10 picks in the early 2000s, and were briefly teammates in Dallas. Everybody who played fantasy football in 2008 tried to trick someone into trading for running back Adrian N. Peterson. But doubles don’t happen often with quarterbacks, who tend to have quarterback names like “Colt” or “Dak” or “Kyler.” But Sunday, Bills quarterback Josh Allen squared off against Jaguars edge rusher Josh Allen, just the second matchup between a quarterback and a defensive player with the same name since the AFL/NFL merger in 1970.

Over the course of 60 minutes of football, this went from a funny quirk to the defining aspect of the strangest game of the NFL season. The Bills entered Sunday as the highest-scoring team in the NFL, 15-point favorites over the 1-6 Jaguars. Neither team scored 15 points in the game. Jags Josh dominated Bills Josh, making a series of massive plays as the Jags won the lowest-scoring game of the season, 9-6.

Josh Allen intercepted Josh Allen:

JOSH ALLEN PICKED OFF BY JOSH ALLEN

(via @nfl)pic.twitter.com/LnkBcE2xZX

— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 7, 2021

Josh Allen sacked Josh Allen:

HISTORY!

Josh Allen sacked Josh Allen

(via @NFL)pic.twitter.com/ehMuzocBAT

— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 7, 2021

Josh Allen recovered a Josh Allen fumble:

JOSH ALLEN RECOVERS A JOSH ALLEN FUMBLE.

Did that just happen?! @JoshAllen41_

: #BUFvsJAX on CBS

: NFL app pic.twitter.com/M03DfbpD4L

— NFL (@NFL) November 7, 2021

The game was a nightmare for announcers—here is a direct transcript from the Bills radio feed, where it quickly became clear that calling Bills Josh Allen “Josh” was woefully insufficient.

“Pressure coming again, Josh in trouble … gets rid of it, fires it down the middle, picked off, intercepted by Josh Allen. Josh Allen of the Bills is picked off by Josh Allen of the Jaguars. Josh Allen of the Bills threw a horrible pass, under pressure again, and Josh Allen of the Jaguars was sitting there waiting for it.”

The Bills came into Sunday averaging 32.7 points per game; the Jaguars were allowing 29.0 points per game. Somehow, this awful defense playing this explosive offense resulted in the Bills scoring six points, their first time without a touchdown since a meaningless Week 17 game in 2019. The only possible explanation is that Bills Josh simply could not function in the presence of his Looper.

Jags Josh is a quality player—he made the Pro Bowl in 2019—but this was indisputably the greatest game he’s ever played. That interception was the first of his career, that fumble recovery was the first of his career, and he finished with a career high in tackles, four of which were on Josh Allen. Simply put, Josh Allen feasted on Josh Allen, soaring to new heights when given the opportunity to destroy his Other.

In his seminal 1919 essay “The Uncanny,” Sigmund Freud explored the unsettling nature of “doubles.” Throughout history, people have told tales about doppelgängers, reflections, clones, and evil twins, a trend that continues in modern horror movies and TV shows. Why are we so disturbed by the idea of doubles? Why is it so terrifying to imagine a version of ourselves whom we cannot control? Monsters may be frightening, but there is nothing more terrifying than our fear of our own failures. Sunday, Josh Allen faced Josh Allen. And isn’t that the scariest thing anybody could ever have to deal with?

Winner: The Manning-cast Curse

Every week, they pick the brains of various football-related guests, including some active NFL players. Last Monday, Josh Allen (of the Bills) joined the Mannings to talk about how he plays against zone and the time he drank all of Peyton’s beer and failed to recognize Chad Henne. Sunday, Josh Allen lost. We’ve already explained that this was probably because of his crippling fear of his fellow Josh Allen—but it may have been because of his Manning-cast appearance.

The Mannings have had six active NFL players join as guests this season: Allen, Travis Kelce, Russell Wilson, Rob Gronkowski, Matthew Stafford, and Tom Brady. All six have lost their next games. It would be strange enough for any set of six players to go 0-6 in any set of games—the odds of a completely average team losing six straight games are 1 in 64, or roughly 1.5 percent. But these players are on good teams! These five teams are a combined 26-11 in games not affected by the Manning-cast Curse, a 70.3 winning percentage. The odds of a team that wins 70.3 percent of its games going 0-6 is roughly 0.07 percent—1 in 1,400. The supposed “Madden Curse” has been myth-busted many times, and was never particularly well defined—but week after week, the Manning-cast guests defy the odds by losing.

I’ve learned a lot of things about football from watching the Mannings this year, but here’s the most interesting fact they’ve taught us: The most important time of any game week for NFL players is Monday night between 8 and 11 p.m. Eastern. If they are occupied in any way during this period, they are completely doomed. Clearly, the Mannings know this, and are trying to cement their legacy by distracting the game’s greats every week. Curses aren’t real: This is strategic scheming by a man who knows football better than just about anybody on the planet, and his brother.

Loser: Robby Anderson

Finally, Robby was free. He’d escaped the monster who had threatened to kill his NFL career, and it seemed like things had turned a corner.

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