by NFL Gimpy
Attention AFC teams: someone please make a move for the 6th wild card spot. Does anyone but the top 5 teams in the AFC want a playoff spot? The Steelers are holding on by default. How bad has it gotten? The Browns are somehow mathematically in the hunt at 5-8. It requires some crazy things to happen, but let’s take a look at how teams who were in the hunt and how they’ve fared recently in order to allow this to be technically possible.
- Steelers: At a 6-3 record after 10 weeks, they’re currently 7-6. They are 1-3 in the past 4 weeks with losses to the Chargers, Ravens, and Browns.
- Bengals: After a solid 4 game winning streak, the Bengals were poised to take a 1 game lead over the Steelers for the 6th spot. They allowed the Cowboys to score 10 points in the final 7 minutes, including a last second FG, to lose at home.
- Chargers: After a 4-4 start, the Chargers dropped 4 straight before pulling off the upset in Pittsburgh.
- Dolphins: Another team with a 4-4 start, they’ve dropped 4 of their last 5, including an embarrassing 37-3 loss to the Titans where they simply forgot to show up. A win over the Seahawks shows this is a team with potential when they remember it’s gameday.
So please, Bengals or Steelers, step up. The competition has made sure that it’s a 2-horse race unless both of you completely choke (which actually isn’t an unreasonable event). Here’s how the two teams finish up their season.
Steelers: @ Cowboys, vs. Bengals, vs. Browns
Bengals: @ Eagles (Thursday), @ Steelers, vs. Ravens
If the Steelers win the Week 16 game, all they’ll need is a win against the Cowboys or Browns and via the head to head tie breaker (they’ll be 2-0 against the Bengals) the Steelers get in. If the Bengals win, it gets much, much more interesting in the event of a tie. The second tie breaker for this scenario is best winning percentage in division games. At the moment, the Steelers are 2-2 and the Bengals are 1-3. With a Bengals win, they’re both 2-3. It’s very possible the Ravens will have nothing to play for in Week 17 while the randomly on fire Browns could be fighting for a respectable record. If you want an interesting Week 17, root for the both teams to have the same result in Week 15 and a Bengals win in Week 16.
Then again, if you really want it to be interesting…
Browns schedule: vs. Redskins, @ Broncos, @ Steelers. Current division record is 2-3. Win out at 8-8 and we could have a 3-way tie where the Browns some how get a wild card spot. Mind=blown. But of course, Mark Sanchez will probably get hurt/benched and Tim Tebow somehow leads the Jets into the playoffs and NFL fans everywhere attack their ear drums with Q-tips to avoid hearing Tebow mania.
The NFC needs to send good luck cards to the San Francisco 49ers. Why? Because the Seattle Seahawks can’t have a home playoff game. They’re currently 6-0 at home. Their list of victims include the Packers, Patriots, and Bears; 3 playoff teams. The offense is performing at a much higher level than they were when they beat the Packers and Patriots. Excluding the 58-point destruction of the Cardinals, they were averaging 25.2 points per game over their previous 5. During their first 7 games they only topped that number once. Undefeated at home and drastically improved on offense from when you beat 3 of the top 7 or 8 teams in the NFL.
What’s scary is that the Seahawks are still very much in contention for the division. The 49ers are 9-3-1 and the Seahawks are 8-5. The two teams play in Week 16. Who do the 49ers play in week 15? The New England Patriots. Lose that game and on the road against the Seahawks and all of the sudden, assuming the Seahawks beat the Bills, Week 17 will mean the Seahawks are not only a win away from the division, but possibly a 1st round bye.
Think about that. At 11-5 they could easily be the NFC West Champion. Giants lose 1 of their next 3, no tie breakers needed. If the Packers lose 1 game in their next 3, they’ll be 11-5 and via the hail mary mishap, Seahawks get the #2 seed via tie breaker over them (they already hold the tie breaker over Chicago if the Bears win out and take the division). This is a terrifying proposition for the NFC, especially given that no one is afraid of the Falcons with home field.
My team isn’t going to the playoffs and the Seahawks are one of those teams I want to see make some noise. If the 49ers lose to the Patriots next week, look out NFC.
MAQB Year of the Rookie QB
Andrew Luck: 16/34 196 yards 1 touchdown 2 interceptions. 5 rushes for 7 yards and 4 sacks for 25 yards. QB Rating of 50.6 and a win.
Robert Griffin III: 15/26 246 yards 1 touchdown. 7 rushes for 34 yards and 3 sacks for 24 yards. QB Rating of 102.4 and a win with help from Kirk Cousins (2/2 26 yards 1 touchdown. 1 rush for a 2 point conversion to tie the game).
Ryan Tannehill: 17/33 150 yards 1 touchdown. 3 rushes for 25 yards and 2 sacks for 17 yards. QB Rating of 74.1 and a loss.
Brandon Weeden: 17/30 217 yards. 1 rush for 15 yards and 3 sacks for 19 yards. QB Rating of 79.4 and a win.
Russell Wilson: 7/13 148 yards 1 touchdown 1 interception. 3 rushes for 12 yards and 1 sack for 7 yards. QB Rating of 88.0 and a win.
Nick Foles: 32/51 381 yards 2 touchdowns. 3 rushes for 27 yards 1 touchdown and 6 sacks for 43 yards. QB Rating of 98.6 and his first career win.
Ryan Lindley: Don’t care. Not even bothering. Sorry Fitz. I will add I bet the Cardinals would happily trade Michael Floyd for Russell Wilson right now. Nick Foles too, but they took CB Jamell Fleming over him in the 3rd round.
Andrew Luck is making me nervous lately. Too many interceptions and a poor completion percentage. Technically his one interception yesterday should have been overturned because his knee was down, but it doesn’t excuse the poor decision. A sack wasn’t the end of the world in the 2nd quarter down 10-7, Andrew. You’re smarter than that. Play the situation. An interception on 4th down with a minute to go and you’re down by 4? OK, chuck it up and pray. Not there. The Colts are a virtual lock for the 5 seed at this point given how poorly teams competing for the 6 seed are playing. But, outside of an “any given Sunday” type scenario, I don’t think the Colts will win a playoff game. Still, for them to get there is an incredible achievement and a lot of that has to go on the shoulders of Luck, even with his inconsistent play as of late.
As NFL.com writer Daniel Jeremiah said on twitter, RG3 must have the strongest knee ligaments known to man. The fact that he didn’t tear anything may mean he’s actually a superhero like the ones on his socks. He may miss a game or two with the injury, but that’s best case scenario given that his knee bent the other direction. RG3 was having a really good game before he went out and had the Redskins in a good position to tie it and Kirk Cousins finished the job. A lot of credit to Cousins for coming off the bench cold and pulling off the win. He didn’t need to do anything in overtime thanks to a great punt return and a stupid offsides penalty by the Ravens, but he needed to make 3 plays to send it to overtime and he made all 3.
Ryan Tannehill hasn’t done much of note lately. He isn’t playing poorly, but he isn’t blowing any doors off either. The Dolphins have quietly faded since their 4-3 start and are a few pieces away from competing. It is very concerning that the Dolphins didn’t put up a touchdown until the 4th quarter. Tannehill has a lot to improve on but I think he’ll get there. He certainly looks better overall than Jake Locker and Christian Ponder, first round picks from the year before. He’s light years better than Mark Sanchez, but that’s not saying much.
When they don’t turn the ball over, Brandon Weeden and the Browns are a very respectable team. With 1 or fewer turnovers, the Browns are 4-3 this season. When they limit their mistakes, they’re a competitive team. The defense has been stellar the past few weeks. During their current 3-game winning streak, they’ve only given up 38 points, an average of less than 13 per game. The offense has only turned the ball over 4 times in that span. Certainly it’s not rocket science that teams who don’t turn the ball over do well, but bad teams lose even with no turnovers. The Browns aren’t a bad team. I said this team could be 8-8 and I got laughed at by many. While 8-8 isn’t likely, I don’t look like a complete idiot with hindsight.
Russell Wilson: Not much to say about Russell since this game was so lopsided. You don’t see 58-0 games too often. Wilson attempted a lot of throws beyond 15 yards, so that explains why his completion percentage is a bit supbar, but with only 13 attempts, it doesn’t mean much. Wilson is completing 63% of his passes so far this season, so no worries there. The most important part of his performance is that his team beat an inferior opponent with plenty of room for error. Given that the Falcons lost to a previously 3-win Panthers and the Ravens have lost 2 straight to teams barely over .500, it’s good to see a team winning games they’re supposed to win. As I mentioned earlier, this is not a team you want to see get a home playoff game. Dare I say, they’re a legit Super Bowl contender right now and the play of Russell Wilson is a big part of it.
Nick Foles, welcome to the club of Rookie QBs with a victory. Foles had a Wilson/Luck-esque game against the Bucs. Down 21-10 in the 4th quarter, Foles led back-to-back touchdown drives, including a game winner with no time on the clock. He received no help from the running game (13 carries for 2 yards from RBs). Foles still has a long way to go, but this was an impressive performance. He called the play for the game winning touchdown himself. That’s confidence. Foles was getting hit all day long and he never lost his cool. That’s one hell of an ability that has broken many QBs. Whether he could take that for an entire season remains to be seen.
With an incredible come from behind victory on the road, Nick Foles earns his first ever MAQB Rookie of the Week Clipart Certificate. Nick, since this is new to you, I’ll remind you of the procedure. I need a blank, signed check for shipping and handling sent to me. You can DM me via twitter and I’ll give you my address.
Overpaid/Underpaid Players of the Week
Overpaid: DeAngelo Hall, CB, Redskins.
Yesterday on twitter I pondered giving this award to the entire Arizona Cardinals. Even God hims…er Larry Fitzgerald had a drop that led to an interception. When Fitz makes a mistake like that, it’s a baaaaad game. But, allow me to steal from Jimmy Bama (@jimmy_beast) at Blogging The Beast because he wrote how badly Hall played far more insulting than I could:
DeAngelo Hall is terrible. He was beaten for two TDs today. On one of those TDs he was looking in the backfield, and Anquan Boldin beat him over the top. Hall tried to grab a hold of him, but he couldn’t even do that, as Boldin broke free and made the easy TD catch. On another play later in the game, Boldin made a catch, and Hall was basically running down the field alongside Boldin trying to pull the ball out, while making no attempt to tackle him. Boldin simply held on tight to the ball and took the yards Hall was allowing him to take. Awful football. Hall is lucky the Skins won today, or he would be viewed as a major goat in this game. Instead, Skins fans remain euphoric, and are breathing sighs of relief that their QB is OK.
Ouch. Remind me not to ask Jimmy to critique my blog. Hall is a $6 million per year CB and those are mistakes you expect out of a 7th round, 2nd year player playing safety for the Eagles.
Underpaid: Danaraio Alexander, WR San Diego Chargers.
The Chargers pulled off a shocking upset of the Steelers on Sunday and Alexander was a huge part in that. Alexander was considered a high end talent in college, playing at Mizzou opposite of Jeremy Maclin. Injuries derailed part of his college career and led to him being undrafted headed into the NFL. He ended up playing for the St. Louis Rams but again struggled to stay healthy and didn’t make any team in 2012 up until the Chargers signed him in October.
How has Alexander repaid them? 33 receptions on 51 targets (65% completion) for 555 yards and 5 touchdowns in the past 6 games. He had 7 catches for 88 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Steelers yesterday and both scores were different plays. The first was a double move. Alexander came back, the DB bit hard, then he went over the top for the score. The second was a jump ball where he used his 6’5 frame and high point the ball. For a guy the Chargers pulled off the street in mid-October, Alexander is putting up Pro Bowl level numbers in that time. That 6-game span prorated over 16 games would be 88 catches for 1480 yards and 13 touchdowns. There are approximately 37 NFL teams who would take a WR with that level of production for his salary right now. I could be off on that number, it may be more than 37, I believe the Los Angeles Rams/Cardinals?Raiders may be interested.
Alexander, take your meager $460k and use 10 cents to send a text message to Jeremy Maclin, your teammate at Mizzou who was a first round pick. Let him know you have the same amount of touchdowns as him despite not seeing the field until late October. I’m sure he’ll appreciate that.
-I said this on twitter yesterday, but Super Bowl caliber teams don’t get blown out against 3-win teams in December. The NFC may be the better conference, but the 3 best teams right now are the Patriots, Texans, and Broncos. After them is a pile of garbage, but they are the best.
-Why do I say teams like the Ravens are garbage? 2 losses, including one to Charlie Batch. They just fired offensive coordinator Cam Cameron with 3 games to go. Yeah, that’s a team you’re comfortable calling a Super Bowl contender. 2 losses and a fired OC in December. That just screams “championship,” right?
-Matt Stafford, thanks for the laugh. Stafford had a ball slip right out of his hands with no pressure around during a throw. His fingers weren’t even on the laces. The ball came right out and fatguy Mike Daniels took it to the house. It completely turned the game around for the Packers, who were down 14-3 at that point. The Lions didn’t get a touchdown after that and lost by 7 points. This is a prime example of one play changing momentum in a game.
-Jake Locker finally had a day where his accuracy wasn’t a big problem. He made up for that with awful decision-making. Jake threw a pick-6 while he was standing in his own end zone. The defender was in perfect position to jump the route and Jake still threw it. It was an easy 3-yard walk into the end zone for Cassius Vaughn. The Titans lost by 4. Even when Locker completes 63% of his passes, he still finds a way to make you question if he’s a starter at this level.
-I didn’t watch a single snap of the Buffalo-St. Louis game. I don’t think I missed much.
-If I’m the Vikings, I have to consider a new direction at QB in the offseason. The way rookies have played this season, there’s no excuse for Ponder right now. He has the best RB in football dominating 8-man fronts and he can’t even top 100 yards passing?
-I went up against the Seahawks defense in fantasy this week. They got my opponent 41 points. I’m somehow up by 17 points and my opponent has Matt Schaub left. I have Arian Foster in another league and I’m rooting for the Texans since like the rest of the world I hate Tom Brady, so feel free to hand the ball to Foster in the red zone please. I wish you no ill Matt, just that Arian gets all of the touchdowns running the ball. You’re a QB, you know your job is to win. Just win without throwing any touchdowns.
-There is no QB in the NFL with a shorter memory than Eli Manning. He can throw an interception so stupid even Mark Sanchez and Ryan Lindley would laugh. Then he’ll turn around and lead a perfect drive for a touchdown. I swear Eli is 60% genius 40% brain dead. The 60% simply comes out in January.
-Congrats to the Jets for being 7 points better than the Jags on offense. That’s an accomplishment for Sanchez to put on his resume. Sanchez is guaranteed $8.5M next season. Think about how many other players deserve that money over him.
-I normally don’t pay attention to college basketball until February, but with no hockey I’m watching a lot more. It’s enjoyable, but it’s just not the same. I can never get fully into a sport where there any type of contact involves a foul usually. On the bright side, my alma mater, Pitt, has a very underrated team this year. Ask Michigan if Pitt should be unranked after Pitt nearly pulled off the upset. If you ask Duquesne who’s better, Pitt or #15 Georgetown, they’ll tell you Pitt.
Monday Night Prediction:
I’m rooting for the Texans, but the Patriots are playing much better right now and the Patriots are at home. This is a big matchup. If the Texans win, they have a 2 game advantage for home field advantage over everyone and would need to lose 2 of their last 3 in order to possibly lose that. If they lose, they only have a 1 game advantage and the Patriots would own the tiebreaker. It’s a must win for the Patriots if they want a shot at a first round bye. Given that it means that much more and they’re at home, I’m going with the proven winners in Tom Brady and the Patriots.