After some wild weeks, the football world felt normal again. Der Bryant scored against the Giants, Pittsburgh won, Cleveland found a way to lose to a 1-13 team, and Atlanta choked in the final minute. All that and more as we wrap up the second to last week of regular season action.
Baltimore Ravens 27- New York Giants 13
The Giants have looked like they may have been heading in the right direction at a few points this season, but Sunday afternoon certainly was not one of them. Lamar Jackson and the Ravens had their way; racking up 147 yards in the first quarter, taking full advantage of the talent discrepancy between the two squads. The game proved that there’s still some fight left on this Baltimore team, who now control their own playoff destiny, but it also confirmed that the Giants are still a far cry away from being a team that scares anyone.
New York Jets 23- Cleveland Browns 16
Someone should tell Adam Gase that the season started 16 weeks ago and winning now is just shooting the team in the foot more than anything else. With their second consecutive win, the Jets have eliminated themselves from the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes, meaning I guess the rebuild will be centred on Sam Darnold? As he has all season, Darnold shows flashes of an ability to be a legit NFL quarterback, but the question remains of what can he be with no talent around him in an organization that has shown complete ineptitude in developing their QBs. As for the Browns, their playoff hopes-and their pride-took a massive hit, especially considering it was a Baker Mayfield fumble that all but handed New York the win.
Chicago Bears 41- Jacksonville Jaguars 17
Fear not Jaguars fans, Superman is on his way. He has long flowing hair, is named Trevor Lawrence, and will save you from your quarterback woes. What he can’t do however, is fix that defence. But for the Jags to have any shot at being competitive even with their incoming generational talent of a QB, someone is going to have to come in to revive Sacksonville…and fast. Credit where credit is due to Mitch Trubisky, who is playing for the team’s playoff hopes as well as a new contract. Trubisky has the Bears a win away from the playoffs after having been benched for ineffectiveness earlier this year. Regardless of what happens in the Windy City with regards to January football, a house cleaning is most definitely in their future, the question is whether or not Trubisky goes out with the bathwater.
Kansas City Chiefs 17- Atlanta Falcons 13
It wasn’t pretty, nor was as convincing as it should have been, but the Chiefs have officially clinched the AFC and the lone bye that comes with it. In their quest to repeat as champs, Kansas City has checked off every box, exceeded every milestone, and even eclipsed last year’s record, yet they still look like a beatable football team. Don’t get me wrong, more often than not they look like a machine, but it’s nail-biting results like this one that sow the seed of doubt in many watching from the outside about how viable a repeat Lombardi is. KC only escaped an overtime date with the lowly Falcons because of a last-minute missed field goal by Pro-Bowler Younhoe Koo.
Cincinnati Bengals 37- Houston Texans 31
Once Joe Burrow went down, nobody gave the Bengals a shot at winning another game in 2020, yet here they are with their second straight victory. Perhaps not as shocking as when they took down the Steelers on Monday Night Football, but you can’t tell me that you were expecting Brandon Allen to give Deshaun Watson and Co a run for their money. The Bengals got a complete performance out of every guy on their roster, the same cannot be said of the Texans, as evidenced by J.J. Watt’s post game monologue…
Pittsburgh Steelers 28- Indianapolis Colts 24
It was shaping up to be the best case scenario for the Colts, and an absolute nightmare for the Steelers. Indy galloped to a 21-7 lead at the half after Big Ben could not get anything to work for his offence. It really did look like Pittsburgh were going to lose their fourth straight and need to make the playoffs via the Wild Card. And then the second half happened. The Colts scored an early field goal, but that was it for them. The Steelers offence suddenly remembered how to play and made erasing a 17-point deficit look relatively easy. The win finally clinched the once 11-0 Steelers the AFC North ahead of a divisional matchup against the Browns next week. As for Indy, their playoff hopes were certainly impacted, but they’re not out yet.
Carolina Panthers 20- Washington Football Team 13
As if Dwayne Haskins’ week couldn’t get any worse (he was served a $40k fine for violating COVID-19 protocols before being stripped of his captaincy) his abysmal performance caused him to be benched, and put his team’s playoff hopes in jeopardy. Head Coach Ron Rivera was asked about the team’s 2019 first round pick and his answer was one of dejection and despair, saying, rather bluntly, that he just wants to see “improvement.” Safe to say that that improvement likely won’t be happening under Rivera. Alex Smith should return for next week’s pivotal matchup against the Eagles, but regardless of who is under centre, the Football Team need to beat the Eagles to make the postseason as winners of the NFC Least.
Los Angeles Chargers 19- Denver Broncos 13
For every step forward Drew Lock takes, he appears to follow it up with a massive leap backwards. Today was the backwards movement. The quarterback threw two interceptions and no touchdowns, though he did run one in. If he is to be the solution to the Broncos’ QB void, he’s going to need to find some consistency at some point. A team who has found their QB of the future is LA in Justin Herbert, though they must find him a new head coach if they expect him to lead them anywhere.
Dallas Cowboys 37- Philadelphia Eagles 17
By some miracle, the Dallas Cowboys have a legitimate shot at making the playoffs despite the calamity of a season they’ve had. Granted, they don’t control their own destiny, but if they beat the Giants next week and Washington loses to Philly, then Andy Dalton will have brought the Cowboys to the promised land. With their pummeling of Jalen Hurts and the Eagles, Dallas officially eliminated Philadelphia from playoff contention. And if you hadn’t caught on to how bad this division was, just think about how it took until Week 16 for a 4-10-1 team to officially be eliminated…
Seattle Seahawks 20- Los Angeles Rams 9
8 days ago the Rams sat atop the NFC West. Today, they’re clinging to a playoff spot by the skin of their teeth. Meanwhile the Seahawks clinched the NFC West and are still in the conversation to win the NFC. Seattle seems to have figured out their defensive issues for the most part and Wilson is back to playing like a top tier QB, unlike Jared Goff. The Rams’ starting pivot suffered a broken thumb in the loss, which in part explains his sub-par play. It also means that as of right now he is unlikely to play in his team’s must-win Week 17 matchup against the Cardinals. If Goff is a no-go then the burden will likely fall on John Wolford (take a second to Google him) to out duel Kyler Murray. The Rams can also make the playoffs if the Bears lose to the Packers.
Green Bay Packers 40- Tennessee Titans 14
It was textbook December football at Lambeau Field as the teams faced off on a snow covered field, and it became apparent very quickly that the visitors were from the South. Whether it was the snow or not, Derrick Henry had a quiet night and without their King, Tannehill and the Titans didn’t seem to know what to do. Contrast that with the electric chemistry between Aaron Rodgers and Devante Adams and you have a recipe for a blowout, which is exactly what we got. The Titans are still on top of the AFC South due to having the tiebreaker over the Colts, but they’re going to need to win next week to guarantee their participation in playoff football.
That’s all for the second to last Sunday in the NFL regular season. While we have some clarity on division winners, the wild card spots have gotten even more jumbled, setting the stage for some thrilling action in Week 17.