Another wild weekend in the NFL. If there’s anything you can take away from this year in the NFL, it’s to expect the unexpected. Team is on fire and looking like they will be a playoff darling? Of course, they’ll lose to a terrible team with nothing to play for. Undefeated team looking to make history? Why wouldn’t they lose to a team they just demolished two weeks prior? Hey, by now, we should just expect it… right?
Oakland Raiders 23, San Diego Chargers 20
Let’s be honest… did anyone watch this one? It was Christmas Eve and these two teams aren’t exactly the cream of the crop – to put it nicely. In the final Thursday Night Football game of the year, these AFC West rivals battled for bragging rights. That’s all they really have left to play for if we’re being honest. In true San Diego fashion this year, they kept it close all game before falling apart in the late minutes. Sebastian Janikowski knocked home the game-winning field goals to secure a Raider victory in overtime.
Washington Redskins 38, Philadelphia Eagles 24
You like that! If you’re a Washington fan, at least. Eagles fans? Not so much. Philly got their butts kicked the day after Christmas on primetime Saturday Night Football, for all the world to see. Kirk Cousins lit them up through the air on his way to the NFC East division title in the game that would end up being the final straw for Eagles coach Chip Kelly. The Eagles let Kelly go on the following Tuesday.
Detroit Lions 32, San Francisco 17
When you get this late into the season, the games really fall into two categories: Games that matter and games that don’t. This one falls into the latter. Nonetheless, they played it anyway and San Francisco probably wishes they didn’t. After trailing the Lions by just three points at the half, the 49ers were completely shut out in the second half as the Lions flexed what little muscle they do have, taking advantage of several San Francisco miscues.
Baltimore Ravens 20, Pittsburgh Steelers 17
What? I mean, what can you really say about this other than ask what the heck happened? The Steelers were just rolling over everyone in their path until they ran into a brick wall in the 4-10 Baltimore Ravens. The Steelers looked pitiful as the Ravens shut down their offense seemingly at will. Baltimore made all the big plays and had several key defensive stops in a victory that may have just knocked Pitt out of the playoffs. I guess that’s why they play the game!
Buffalo Bills 16, Dallas Cowboys 6
Is it over yet? That’s what I imagine the Cowboys saying every day now as the season comes to a close. It’s been a long year in Dallas for Cowboy fans, and for the players, it gets even longer when you have to travel to Buffalo at the end of December. In a game dominated by bad football and field goals, Buffalo sealed the deal on a late touchdown scamper from Mike Gillislee.
Chicago Bears 26, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 21
Another match-up of teams with nothing to play for here… but at least this one was decent. The Bears were led by none other than their third string running-back Kadeem Carey on the day. The former Arizona Wildcat scored a pair of touchdowns for the Bears that put the game out of reach. The only reason this one looked close is because the Bucs scored a touchdown on a last second Hail Mary, making the score a little more respectable. Doug Martin had a pedestrian day and will now need a major showing in his final game in order to steal the rushing title for 2015 away from Adrian Peterson.
Atlanta Falcons 20, Carolina Panthers 17
Seeing a trend here? Bottom-dweller upsets unsuspecting juggernaut by a score of 20-17. Much like the Steelers/Ravens game, the Panthers had every opportunity to win this one, but couldn’t get it done. Atlanta just wanted this one more. Carolina was unable make big plays down field like they have all year with Ted Ginn Jr. and Greg Olsen and it cost them the game. With starting running-back Jonathan Stewart sidelined, the Panthers needed extra help from the passing game on Sunday. What they got was Atlanta’s passing game sealing the victory with a spectacular catch from Julio Jones en route to the eventual game-winning touchdown.
Kansas City Chiefs 17, Cleveland Browns 13
This one was a little closer than expected. Kind of. We all sort of knew that KC would roll over Cleveland on their way to their ninth straight win and they did. The Chiefs went up early and jumped out to a 17-3 lead by halftime. They then proceeded to coast through the second half as Johnny Manziel frantically tried to save the game for Cleveland, but ran out of time. Metaphor for his career? Maybe…
Indianapolis Colts 18, Miami Dolphins 12
Another game that hopefully no one was stuck watching. These two teams are bad and their game this weekend only served to confirm that. Frank Gore however did manage to put together one of his best games all year with nearly 100 total yards and a pair of touchdowns. The Colts kept their (slim) playoff hopes alive on Sunday with third string quarterback Charlie Whitehurst at the helm, but they’re going to need some Luck to go any further… See what I did there? I’ll be here all week, folks.
New York Jets 26, New England Patriots 20
No doubt you’ve heard about this one already. The Jets took a late lead in the fourth quarter only to have Tom Brady and the Patriots storm back to tie the game and send it to overtime. After winning the coin toss, the Patriots elected to kick off instead of receiving (for some reason Slater thought he could also choose the direction they would go. Must have been his first day) and then the Jets ended the game six plays later on a Ryan Fitzpatrick touchdown pass to Eric Decker. Hubris? A tactical move gone wrong? A secret plot to keep the Steelers out of the playoffs? We’ll never know.
Houston Texans 34, Tennessee Titans 6
In case you’ve gotten this far without realizing it, Tennessee is the worst team in football and the Texans wanted to make sure you knew that. The Texans, who might be taking people off the street for open tryouts at QB for next week, absolutely demoralized Tennessee this weekend. They are missing their top 2-3 quarterbacks and top running-back (and JJ Watt has a broken hand) and they still walloped the Titans. That’s how bad Tennessee is. The Houston defense dominated all day long and scored a touchdown of their own in this route as they hold onto the AFC South lead for another week.
New Orleans Saints 38, Jacksonville Jaguars 27
Sorry, everyone. There were quite a few stinkers on the board this weekend. At least in this battle of bad teams, they put up some points and made some plays. So if you got stuck watching this one, just know that it could have been worse! Once again, the Jaguars went down early, trailing the Saints 24-6 at the half. But the second half, they came out strong and scored three touchdowns to finish with 27 points. The only thing is, the defense continued to give up points, too. Though they’re getting better, they’re still Jacksonville.
Arizona Cardinals 38, Green Bay Packers 8
This one was supposed to be a good game, but I guess Arizona had other plans. Though the Packers haven’t been quite as good this year, Arizona’s thrashing of them makes a great case for them as the best team in the NFL right now. The Cardinals dominated each and every facet of the game this weekend en route to securing a first round bye in the playoffs. Green Bay will need to pick up the pieces after getting their doors blown off and try to hold onto their NFC North title next week against the Vikings.
St. Louis Rams 23, Seattle Seahawks 17
They did it again! For the second time this year, the not-very-good Rams have beaten the Seattle Seahawks. And it wasn’t really that close. The Seahawks never led in this one as STL scored early and somewhat often to take a 16-3 lead into halftime. The Rams continued to hold that lead in the second half via a Todd Gurley touchdown while Seattle made it close but never really threatened. Another strong team takes a dive in week 16.
Minnesota Vikings 49, New York Giants 17
Well, that escalated quickly. A week after Odell Beckham Jr. tried to star in an MMA match, the Giants got the beat-down of the week. With Beckham serving a suspension for his childish actions the week before, New York sputtered on offense and their defense apparently took the week off while the Vikings ran around, over and through them. They are not in good shape. Meanwhile, in Minnesota, the Vikings will look to continue their roll right through Green Bay as they battle for the NFC North title next week.
Denver Broncos 20, Cincinnati Bengals 17
Another 20-17 game. Told you it was a trend. While we did get a terrific match-up in the final Monday Night Football game of the season, it still wasn’t quite what we expected. Instead of Peyton Manning squaring off against Andy Dalton, we got Brock Osweiler against AJ McCarron. But you know what? It was every bit as good. Just when it looked like Cincy was going to run away with this one in the second half, Brock bore down and gave Denver their first second-half points in almost a month. And not only that, he lead them back to tie the game at 17. After Brandon McManus badly missed (it missed the freaking net) a field goal attempt to win in regulation, he was able to knock home the game-winner in overtime and secure a playoff spot for the Broncos.
Another week in the books and only one more to go! For the regular season that is. But don’t you worry, I’ll be here to recap the playoffs all the way through the Super Bowl as we find out who’s the NFL’s best in 2015. See ya next week!