Photo Credit: NFL.com
Without trying to sound like a broken record, the final 4 or so weeks of the season is always the most exciting! We’re down to the nitty gritty, and one of my favorite websites is back up again! Head over to the Playoff Machinehttp://espn.go.com/nfl/playoffs/machine where you can pick the final 4 weeks to see what the Playoff matchups would be.
- I have the Packers and Vikings tied for record entering their Week 17 matchup, which could bring the entire division down to that final game in Lambeau.
- The Broncos vs Bengals Week 16 matchup will determine who gets a first round bye
- I have quite the change in seeding for the AFC, with the Patriots pulling the #1 Seed (at 3 now), and the Steelers leapfrogging the Jets.
- The NFC is pretty much the same, with the Packers winning the division, Seattle and Minnesota flipping Wild Card spots, and the Eagles taking the East.
Shootout in the Bayou:
In a game with 11 TD’s and no FG’s, it’s safe to say that the defenses took the weekend off on Sunday. There were 4 lead changes in the 4th quarter alone, and Cam Newton needed to have his 2nd 5 TD game of the season to hold onto their undefeated season. There were 54 first downs, 831 yards of offense, and 79 points scored. This was literally a game where whoever had the ball last would win. The Panthers scored with 1:05 left in the game to take the lead, and the rest is history.
Patriots Shocked Again:
As if losing their undefeated season to a backup QB isn’t bad enough, the Patriots just lost to a 4-7 team in a game full of mistakes. The Eagles scored 3 TD’s on defense or special teams, and they needed each one of those to knock off the 10-1 Patriots. Eagles had a blocked Punt return, a 99 yard INT return, and a Punt return for a TD. Still, the Patriots actually had a shot of coming back, and scored twice within the last 5 minutes and had the ball again but couldn’t convert a 4th down. Even with back to back losses and a ton of injuries, the Patriots are still a very dangerous team. If it takes 3 special teams TD’s to take them down, that’s a team I don’t want to see in the Playoffs.
With the Panthers victory, they are ¾ of the way to only the 3rd undefeated season (regular), and would have a shot at besting the ’72 Dolphins. Is anybody else surprised that we haven’t heard from Mercury Morris yet?!?! Anyway, it would seem that the biggest enemy of Carolina is themselves, and if they want to rest players once they clinch. Otherwise they have a 6-6 Falcons team who is fading, then a 5-7 Giants team, that same 6-6 Falcons team (who could be 6-8 by that time), and then finish with the 6-6 Buccaneers. The Panthers have already clinched their division, clinch a first round Bye with a win, and have the potential of clinching home field advantage this week (pending tiebreakers). If that happens, it’s tough to roll the dice and go for an undefeated season when you can rest your players for an unprecedented 4 weeks.
- The Patriots went from the #1 Seed (first round bye and home field advantage) to the #3 seed over the weekend
- The Packers 1st round in the playoffs should be awesome! It’ll either be the Vikings (great division rival) or the Seahawks (great recent rivals, NFC Championship re-match)
- Blaine Gabbert is 2-2, with the only losses coming to the hot Seattle and Arizona teams
- Brock Osweiler is 3-0
- Matt Hasselbeck is 4-1, while Andrew Luck is 2-5
- Dallas QB’s other than Romo are 1-7
Stolen Stat of the Week:
In 15 seasons together, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have lost a total of 15 games in Foxboro
Stolen Stat of the Week #2:
Apparently, Thursday night’s 61 yard miracle was the longest successful Hail Mary in NFL history
Stat of the Week #3:
There were 8 missed extra points on Sunday. There were 8 missed extra points in the entire 2014 season.
Stat of the Week #4:
2 divisions have the 1st place team either at or below .500 (AFC South and NFC East)
Stat of the Week #5
Saints became the first team in NFL history to return an Extra Point for a TD (awarded 2 points, granted that’s a new rule this season). That’s a 3 point swing in the game, since the play resulted in a 16-13 lead, instead of a 14-14 tie.
Stat of the Week #6:
More proof that the extra point rule is working wonders, ¾ of the way through the season, the Steelers broke the NFL record for most 2 point conversions in a season.
Stat of the Week #7:
Cam Newton is 6th in the NFL in Passing TD’s, and 4th in the NFL in Rushing TD’s
Stolen Stat of the Week #8:
Including college, Brock Osweiler has only started in 18 games since he graduated high school
Stat of the Week #9:
Larry Fitzgerald entered the season as #20 on the all time receptions list. 15 games into the season, he’s up to #10 (passing the likes of Torry Holt, Andre Reed Randy Moss, and Hines Ward) and became the 12th person to catch 1000 balls. Granted he’s had an amazing season, but let’s assume he averages the same 7.4 receptions per game through next season. That puts him at 1145, which would be #3 on the all time list (only at age 33), and only 400 shy of Jerry Rice. He’s always been a top receiver in the league, but he kind of snuck up on this record.
Nickname of the Week:
Monday Night Moron- given to DeSean Jackson for another bonehead play on MNF
As I mentioned last week, I find it very interesting that previews for the movie Concussion are playing in and amongst commercials for live NFL games. There’s an interesting article on MMQB (Here:http://mmqb.si.com/mmqb/2015/12/09/nfl-retired-players-watch-react-to-concussion-movie-will-smith ), where they pre-screened the movie in front of ex-NFL players. It’s a fairly powerful article, and I feel like the movie could be pretty disturbing. I have the sneaking suspicion that this movie is going to create quite the wave in the NFL. Players will retire (which is fine, it’s their prerogative), but I think that this movie will actually visualize the effects of the game. Don’t be surprised if players cite this exact film for the reason for leaving the game.
Awesome picture during the Pearl Harbor rememberance week around the league. (Photo Credit: NFL.com)
Games of the Week:
Bills at Eagles: Both teams scrambling to get in the playoffs, and it’s LeSean McCoy’s return to Philly
Steelers at Bengals: Their last matchup was a tight but goofy interception-fest.
Patriots at Texans: The Texans are hot, and the Patriots have lost 2 in a row. Could make it 3 on the road