#FanDuel #NFL Week 15 Retrospectacle: Cam Newton Again the Apple of Fantasy Eyes

name of site - hunter thompson style

As much as root for your fantasy players, sometimes you have to be an anti-team player. We are not talking about being an Odell Beckham Jr. bad seed here. We are talking fantasy football. It’s not personal; it’s business.

You want huge stats and players still competing to win games and post huge numbers in fantasy crunch time. You root against the team, even as you root for the player—well, as least some of us do.

Cam Newton’s ($9,300) legendary NFL Week 15 performance against the woeful New York Giants defense was outstanding, but Newton’s season-long owners could have used a Panthers loss—especially if you play your fantasy football Super Bowl in Week 17. That is because the Panthers might be tempted to take the foot off the gas pedal with their one huge star in the final week.

The good news is Newton appears to be a full go for Week 16 at the Atlanta Falcons since the Panthers still need one more victory or Arizona Cardinals loss (the Cards play after Newton’s Panthers next Sunday).

Great players make great plays and great quarterbacks make even mediocre players good. This is Newton’s 2015 in a nutshell.

Sure, it was just the torched New York Giants secondary he took advantage of, but he did it legendarily, becoming the first player to pass for 300 yards, rush for 100 yards and throw five touchdowns in a game.

Newton has been a clear fantasy MVP, too. He was just a lost fumble away from being the highest-scoring player on FanDuel this week. We break down all the studs and duds in FanDuel’s NFL Week 15 Retrospectacle, analyzing what these performances mean going forward.

 

Studs

RB David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals (42.9 FanDuel points)–Welcome to fantasy stardom Mr. Johnson. Not only does he play in the NFL’s No. 1 offense, but he does a bit of everything: Short yardage (two short TDs), long runs (a 47-yard beast mode TD) and pass receiving (4-44) for 229 total yards, four receptions and three TDs. He is the late-season breakthrough Devonta Freeman was in the early season.

The best news of all, Johnson’s price was only marginally raised to $7,300. Who cares if Andre Ellington ($5,200) might take some snaps and touches, Johnson is going to be a popular pick in NFL Week 16 FanDuel contests against the Green Bay Packers. He is going to potentially be a fantasy first-rounder in season-long formats in 2016.

WR Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers (38.9)—It is the performances in the toughest matchups that set fantasy players apart from the pack. In this case, Brown is in his own galaxy—one far, far away. His 16 catches for 189 yards and two touchdowns came against the NFL’s No. 1 defense, No. 1 pass defense and the No. 1 team in fantasy against wideouts. Did you know, the Denver Broncos had allowed just two touchdowns to fantasy wideouts all season? Brown ($9,300) is unstoppable at any FanDuel price when Ben Roethlisberger ($8,900) is healthy.

QB Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins (35.86)—A great supporting cast is finally healthy and Jay Gruden’s system is fully operational like a Death Star, as Cousins went 319-4 passing and added a rushing score. A matchup against the woeful Philadelphia Eagles secondary looks tempting Saturday night, especially at the $7,500 price. You should love all of the Redskins’ FanDuel values in that one.

RB Danny Woodhead, San Diego Chargers (33.0)—The matchup against the Miami Dolphins was just too good, apparently. Woodhead isn’t much of a rusher (8-10-1), but he is Philip Rivers’ favorite target in the Chargers’ injury-ravaged season, going 6-50-3 as a pass receiver. You can like Woodhead ($5,900) at his price and at the Oakland Raiders on Christmas Eve, but you should love running backs against the Dolphins—next of which is the Indianapolis Colts’ Frank Gore ($6,000).

QB Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota Vikings (32.94)—Scoff at Bridgewater’s rare 231-4 passing and 4-17-1 rushing performance Sunday against the Chicago Bears all you want, but the reality is the Giants cannot stop anyone at quarterback or wide receiver right now. Bridgewater ($6,600) is going to move a lot of FanDuel GPP players up the ladders Sunday night with another big performance.

WR Emmanuel Sanders, Denver Broncos (31.50)—One of the rags-to-riches tales of NFL Week 16, Sanders ($7,500) rebounds with a 10-181-1 performance against an exploited Steelers secondary. His Monday Night Football matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals is not overly favorable, but it does give you an opportunity for some fantasy MNM (Monday night magic).

QB Brock Osweiler, Denver Broncos (30.74)—As much as this was Osweiler’s ($6,800) best FanDuel performance of his career, the losses are piling up now. Anyone who believes Osweiler should start over Peyton Manning ($6,500) is foolish. We wouldn’t bank on Osweiler in FanDuel contests at the Bengals next Monday night.

QB Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills (27.3)—After some midseason fantasy struggles, he has put together four strong weeks consecutively. This one included 235-2 passing, 9-79 rushing and a two-point conversion. His greatest achievement is making a fantasy star out of Sammy Watkins ($7,700)in those four games. That should not be understated, considering where those two were at one point this season.

WR Amari Cooper, Oakland Raiders (27.0)—Speaking of burgeoning young fantasy receiving stars, Cooper ($7,300) went over 1,000 yards receiving—the first Raider to do since Randy Moss. Cooper won’t get 6-120-2 against an underrated Chargers secondary Thursday night, but his price is still in the playable range.

QB Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks (26.56)—He has alternated five touchdowns and three touchdowns in each of the past five games, going 249-3 passing and 5-49 rushing against the Cleveland Browns, making next Sunday against the St. Louis Rams a five-touchdown performance to come. Don’t stress about his $8,800 FanDuel premium, the offensive onus is squarely on Wilson’s capable shoulders since Marshawn Lynch (hernia) went down.

WR Jordan Matthews, Philadelphia Eagles (25.9)—We thought these performances would be far more frequent this season, but both Matthews ($6,400) and Sam Bradford ($6,300) are trending up with prices staying low. Both are strong buys Saturday night against the Washington Redskins’ secondary in a must-win game for the Eagles in a battle for the NFC East title.

WR Sammy Watkins, Buffalo Bills (25.6)—As much as we ponder what he might be with a better quarterback and more wide-open offense, the past four weeks have been outstanding regardless of the extenuating circumstances. Watkins ($7,700) is peaking at the right time for fantasy owners, catching six of his nine touchdowns in the past four games. We don’t love him against the Dallas Cowboys (quietly given up second-fewest TDs to wideouts) in Week 16, though.

QB Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars (25.28)—Lost in the other huge weeks of the premium (and rushing) quarterbacks is Bortles’ 297-1 passing and 6-44-1 rushing effort against an Atlanta Falcons defense that has been tougher on fantasy quarterbacks than you might realize. Bortles ($8,200) next draws a NFL Week 16 dream matchup at the New Orleans Saints and a defense-less shootout against Drew Brees ($8,200). This should be a bonanza for Bortles and all of his targets to the tune of 400-4. He will easily be the most-played quarterback in GPPs.

QB Eli Manning, New York Giants (25.2)—He was an outstanding contrarian play against the tough Panthers defense, registering four touchdown passes, but we cannot see the same against the Minnesota Vikings next Sunday night, especially if Odell Beckham Jr. ($8,700) serves a one-game suspension for his Josh Norman antics.

Kansas City Chiefs Defense (21.0)—Two things prevail here: 1. The Chiefs defense ($5,400) is for real amid an eight-game winning streak; 2. The Baltimore Ravens are a defense matchup dream for FanDuel players. Steelers Defense ($4,800) next week, anyone?

K Stephen Gostkowski, New England Patriots (17.0)—The Pats got up early and put it into cruise control, which was great for Gostkowski’s FanDuel owners. The matchup at the New York Jets next Sunday is not a favorable one, but you could see it being a field-goal/defensive struggle more than most Pats games.

 

Duds

QB Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans (-0.72)—His negative FanDuel score means you or I would have been a better start this week. Hopefully a promising rookie season doesn’t have to come to this bitter end. He hopes to play again before the end of the season.

RB Javorius Allen, Baltimore Ravens (-0.2)—The poor guy has faced an uphill battle down the stretch, facing the Seattle Seahawks and the Kansas City Chiefs the past two games. Next the Pittsburgh Steelers run defense. Yuck, you cannot use him for that one.

RB DeMarco Murray, Philadelphia Eagles (0.3)—Instead of crying about his usage earlier this season, perhaps he should storm in the coaches or owners office crying uncle. His fantasy owners would appreciate that, because he is not getting anywhere with how he has handled his Eagles situation. Just two carries for three yards. Worthless.

RB Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers (2.3)—So much for that progress the Packers have made with the resurgent Lacy. He was stuffed for 23 yards on 11 carries. Forget him even at a mere $6,300 against the Arizona Cardinals defense next week.

WR A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals (4.2)—His second half with A.J. McCarron against the Steelers in NFL Week 14 gave us hope he would be immune to posting subpar numbers with a backup quarterback under center. Nope. Green managed just one catch. You cannot play him against the Broncos secondary, even if it was abused by Brown and the Steelers.

RB LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills (4.2)—Fantasy made a lot more sense when McCoy was with the Eagles and Murray was with the Dallas Cowboys. Can we just go back to those days? Calgon take us away.

Source: NFL Week 15 Retrospectacle: Cam Newton Again the Apple of Fantasy Eyes

Tyrann Mathieu injury, Odell Beckham Jr., Panthers, #NFL Week 15 – The MMQB w/Peter King

name of site - hunter thompson style

“How you feeling?” someone asked Bruce Arians a few minutes before 1 this morning, as the Arizona Cardinals’ buses left Lincoln Financial for the airport in Philadelphia, and the long flight west.

You kidding? He’s great! Got to be! The Cardinals just demolished the Eagles 40-17 on national television, clinching the team’s first NFC title since 2009—and setting a record for the 96-year-old franchise for wins in a regular season (12). Arians did it a short drive from his hometown of York, Pa., and against one of the teams that spurned him when he was dying to be an NFL head coach. Sunday was a big night, and this coaching lifer had to be on Cloud Nine. Or Cloud 12.

“I’m melancholy,” the coach of the NFC West champions said.

There’s a story there.

* * *

The physical play between Odell Beckham Jr. and Josh Norman crossed the line on multiple occasions during Sunday’s game.

Photo: Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire

Quite a day in the NFL:

• The most electric receiver and best cornerback in football faced off in New Jersey, and a UFC fight broke out.

• The Broncos, who’d owned the AFC West all season, now could be one loss away from being the conference’s sixth seed.

• Grown men wept on the field in San Diego—and not because they were sentenced to play for the 4-10 Chargers. (I’ll write the lead to my Tuesday column on the end of days, possibly, in St. Louis and San Diego on the heels of their final home games. Thanks in advance for your patience.)

• The Texans, 0-13 at Indianapolis in their history before Sunday, finally won there, behind a quarterback who wasn’t good enough to play in Cleveland or to back up in Dallas. And now Houston’s playoff life will depend on one Brandon Weeden. “Crazy day, crazy month, crazy year,” he said from the scene of the crime Sunday.

• The Jets could win their final six games, beat the reigning Super Bowl champs, finish 11-5 and miss the playoffs. Easily.

• Washington wins the NFC East by winning Saturday night. Philadelphia wins the NFC East by winning its last two games.

• Regular-season wins for New England the last four years: 12, 12, 12, 12 (and counting).

• Kansas City is amazing. First team to lose five in a row then win eight straight in one season. (Wherever do they find these silly records?) Average margin of victory in the eight straight wins: 17.5 points. And 3-11 Cleveland and 6-8 Oakland come to Arrowhead for the last two regular-season games, so the Chiefs have a heck of a shot to extend that win streak to 10 straight. With a possible first-round playoff game at Houston, it’s quite possible that Kansas City could carry an 11-game winning streak into a divisional game at Cincinnati or Denver.

• Pittsburgh’s three-headed wideout monster (Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, Markus Wheaton) caught 32 passes in the win over Denver. How often have the fifth and sixth seeds in a conference playoff been the biggest threats to No. 1? This could be that year, with Kansas City and Pittsburgh the kryptonite to New England.

• Speaking of hot wild-card teams: Seattle has won five in a row, and Russell Wilson—statistically and in every other way—is the best he’s ever been. How can you be better than 19 touchdowns and no interceptions and a 143.6 passer rating over five games?

There’s a lot going on. The Giants might be wise to work on one game plan with maniacal Odell Beckham Jr. in it and one with him out of it. Concussion opens this week. You should see it; it’s important. Three teams in eight days are preparing to say goodbye to their cities forever, and some fans are into the love-in of it all, and some want vengeance. And did I mention Brandon Weeden is relevant again?

But we start on the bus in south Philly, with Bruce Arians’ favorite player in trouble………(continue reading)

Source: Tyrann Mathieu injury, Odell Beckham Jr. Panthers, NFL Week 15 | The MMQB with Peter King

10 takeaways from #NFL Week 15

name of site - hunter thompson style

How is that for some drama-filled NFL action?

The New York Giants mounted an amazing comeback attempt against the Carolina Panthers with a backdrop of tempers flaring on both sides.

Meanwhile, the Arizona Cardinals clinched the NFC West title after obliterating the Philadelphia Eagles on the road Sunday night.

In the AFC, the Pittsburgh Steelers may have changed the playoff race on a dime with a 17-point comeback win against the Denver Broncos.

Staying in that conference for a second, a Buffalo Bills loss to the Washington Redskins guaranteed that Rex Ryan’s squad will miss the playoffs for a 17th consecutive season. It also gave Washington a clear path to the NFC East title.

These are among the top 10 takeaways from Sunday’s Week 15 NFL action.

A frustrated Odell Beckham Jr. should face a suspension

It’s understandable that this talented young New York Giants receiver would be frustrated going up against one of the top corners in the NFL in Josh Norman of the Carolina Panthers.

It’s not understandable to react in a manner that shows him in a classless way.

What we do know now is that the NFL believes Beckham Jr. should have been ejected from the game. It remains to be seen what the league office will do during the week, but all options should be considered to be on the table here.

On a micro level, this could end up being really bad news for a Giants squad that needs a ton of help in order to win the NFC East. If it is forced to take on the Minnesota Vikings without its top receiver, that could be the end of the line for New York’s playoff aspirations.

More than this, the spats between Beckham Jr. and Norman, which resulted in five personal foul penalties, was a black eye for a league that has had too many of them in recent months/years.

For that, Beckham Jr. — as the unofficial face of young players around the NFL — should be ashamed.

Time to take the Kansas City Chiefs seriously

Following a blowout 34-14 win over the hapless Baltimore Ravens, Kansas City has now won eight consecutive games. And at 9-5 on the year, the Chiefs find themselves in control of their own destiny as it relates to the fifth seed in the AFC.

This is big for numerous reasons. First off, if the Chiefs are able to maintain this seeding, they would take on the winner of the AFC South in the wild card round of the playoffs.

Considering how bad that division has been, Kansas City might very well have an easy road to the divisional round of the playoffs.

The other thing to look at here is what could be a potential wild card game in the AFC that could see an Andy Dalton-less Cincinnati Bengals host the sixth seed. What’s so big about that is that Kansas City could find itself taking on the Denver Broncos in the divisional round.

Not to put the carriage before the horse, Kansas City still has two games remaining — each against a team that is currently under .500 on the season.

This scenario also includes the possibility that Kansas City could win the AFC West outright should the Denver Broncos do them some favors in the final two weeks of the season.

If the Chiefs are able to take care of business in those two outings, they will head into the playoffs with a 10-game winning streak.

Based solely on what we saw Sunday against Baltimore, there’s a good chance this will happen.

Alex Smith had a workmanlike 21-of-25 day with 171 yards as the Chiefs avoided turning the ball over for the sixth time during this eight-game winning streak. Meanwhile, Kansas City forced two turnovers itself to bring its eight-game differential to plus 18.

Washington Redskins look to be NFC East favorites

Kirk Cousins compiled a perfect quarterback rating en route to a four-touchdown outing against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. It was the team’s sixth win in its past seven home games, a span of games that has seen Cousins throw 19 touchdowns compared to zero interceptions.

Now one game up on both Philadelphia and New York, the Redskins control their own destiny in the division. Though, the team is going to have to find success on the road in order to wrap this mediocre division up. With just one road win on the season, Washington closes out the season in Philadelphia and Dallas.

As it relates to Sunday’s performance, the rest of the team helped Cousins put up a statement against a Bills squad that needed a win in order to remain alive in the AFC playoff race. Alfred Morris and Matt Jones led a rushing attack that went for 123 yards on 27 attempts.

Meanwhile, the defense did just enough to fend off a second half Bills rally that saw the team put up 25 points en route to bringing a 21-point halftime deficit down to 11 at the end of three.

It wasn’t a tremendous performance from Washington’s defense in a 35-25 win, but that unit held on two huge possessions midway through the fourth quarter to put the game away.

Indianapolis Colts and Jacksonville Jaguars blow golden opportunities

Indianapolis lost at home to a Brandon Weeden-led Houston Texans team. It’s highly unlikely you need us to repeat that sentence, but here goes. Indianapolis lost at home to a Brandon Weeden-led Houston Texans team.

That pretty much sums up just how bad the Colts have played this season. It also came in a game that could have sent the team into sole possession of first place in what has been a horrible AFC South this season.

Instead, Indianapolis now finds itself one game back with two remaining. The Colts were also eliminated from wild card contention, meaning the division title is the team’s only path to the playoffs.

With the second season now looking like a long shot, the larger question here is whether Chuck Pagano will be back next year. Based on Sunday’s performance in particular, that also seems like a long shot.

You simply can’t lose at home against a team that was led by a third-string quarterback that found himself picked up off the street just earlier this month. Excuses surrounding Andrew Luck’s injury are one thing. Not coming to play in an important game is a completely different thing.

Taking on an Atlanta Falcons team that had lost six of its past seven heading into Sunday’s action, the Jacksonville Jaguars also blew a golden opportunity.

With a win at home, Gus Bradley’s squad would have found itself one game back in the AFC South with two games remaining.  Instead, it is on the verge of being eliminated from playoff contention following a game it had every opportunity to win.

The biggest play in this one came in the second quarter with the clock winding down to halftime. With Jacksonville driving down to Atlanta’s one-yard line, Blake Bortles threw an ill-time interceptions into the hands of Falcons safety Kemal Ishmael, who proceeded to return the ball 84 yards down to the Jaguars 16.

This came with Atlanta up 14-3 and the Jaguars threatening to make it a one-score game. Instead, the Falcons opened up a 17-3 lead heading into the half and didn’t look back.

As good as Bortles has been this season, these types of mistakes have been too common. It’s also the difference between earning a playoff spot and finishing below .500.

Jacksonville surely does have a bright future, but it doesn’t appear to be there quite yet. That much was evident on Sunday.

Another season without playoff football in Western New York

By virtue of their loss to the Washington Redskins on Sunday, the Buffalo Bills will miss the playoffs for the 17th consecutive year.

It’s a harsh reality for a team that headed into the season with high expectations and a confident mentality under first-year head coach Rex Ryan.

And in reality, there isn’t a whole lot pointing to the Bills finding a way to rebound from this near two-decade long span of mediocrity.

To be sure, there is a ton of talent on this team. Tyrod Taylor has proven himself to be a legitimate starting quarterback in the NFL — something Ryan himself hasn’t had since Mark Sanchez’s first couple seasons in New York.

There is also a ton of talent at wide receiver, especially second-year player Sammy Watkins. Heck, LeSean McCoy has proven himself worthy of a potential Pro Bowl spot at running back this year.

On defense, the Bills boast a really good young secondary and a front four that should continue to perform at a relatively high level.

Still, there seems to be something missing here. The past several weeks were defined by close losses and an uncharacteristically bad defense. Prior to that, the Bills’ struggles were mainly summed up by injuries and a lethal amount of penalties.

The talent is surely here for Buffalo to contend for a playoff spot. But something larger needs to change moving forward. This is something Ryan and Co. will have to figure out prior to taking the field next September.

Ship righted in Minnesota

It took Adrian Peterson leaving the game for a bit due to an ankle injury for Teddy Bridgewater to finally break out of his year-long slump Sunday against the Chicago Bears.

He completed 17-of-20 passes for 231 yards with a career-high four touchdowns in a dominating 38-17 home win.

It was the first time all season that Minnesota’s offense ran through its quarterback rather than the future Hall of Fame running back.

It also tells us a story of an offense that could be looking at more balance heading into the final two weeks of the season — something that will be a necessity when all is said and done. It’s rather simple for the Vikings to get into the playoffs. If they are able to win one of the final two games, they are in.

More than this, Minnesota isn’t completely out of the NFC North race. It takes on the Giants next week before squaring off with the Green Bay Packers to close out the regular season. If the pieces all into place here, Minnesota could very well earn the division title.

Antonio Brown is a freak of nature

Following a 16-catch performance against the Denver Broncos on Sunday, Brown has now caught 245 passes in his past 30 games. Yes folks, that’s an average of over eight catches per game. He’s also caught 70 percent of the whopping 165 passes thrown in his direction this season.

It doesn’t take a genius to realize that Brown is playing at a level we have rarely seen as it relates to NFL receivers. On Sunday against a top-ranked Broncos defense, that was magnified to a T.

And in reality, Pittsburgh needed every one of those catches — including a game-clinching first-down reception late in the fourth quarter — to complete what was an amazing 17-point comeback to put his team in a position to control its destiny in the AFC playoff race.

Brown isn’t going to break the single-season reception record unless he finds a way to nab 24 receptions over the final two games. This doesn’t discount the fact that he’s been a historical figure for Pittsburgh over the past two seasons.

It just remains to be seen whether that will be enough to get his team in the playoffs in what has proven to be a remarkably good AFC this season.

Cam Newton: NFL’s MVP

The Carolina Panthers survived an incredible comeback attempt by the New York Giants to remain undefeated on the season. They are now just the fourth team in NFL history to start a year 14-0.

With two more wins, the Panthers will earn a bit of history by being only the second team to go through a 16-game regular season with a perfect record.

To be clear: Newton is the primary reason for what has been one of the most-surprising seasons for a team in the recent history of the league.

With five more touchdown passes on Sunday, Newton has reached that plateau in three of his past five starts and has now compiled 40 total touchdowns compared to just 10 interceptions on the season, including a 19-to-1 split over the past five games.

It’s not a coincidence that Carolina is averaging a league-best 32 points per game, including nearly 40 points over the past four games.

We can talk about Russell Wilson’s recent run of excellence. We can also include New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in the conversation. Heck, both J.J. Watt and Josh Norman might deserve some consideration on the defensive side.

None of them have done more with less than Newton. After all, Ted Ginn is his No. 1 receiver on the outside and Michael Oher has been tasked with protecting his blindside.

Despite all this, Newton has his Panthers two games from perfection in a season that seemed to have mediocrity written all over it. That’s the true representation of most valuable.

Carolina needs to watch out for those western teams

Arizona and Seattle have both clinched playoff spots. They are coming off a week of action which saw them outscore their opponents by a combined 40 points.

Arizona has now won eight consecutive games by an average of 11 points per outing. Meanwhile, Seattle has won five consecutive by an average of 20 points since losing to the Cardinals back in Week 10.

Outside of Carolina and Kansas City, these are the two hottest teams in the NFL. They also boast some of the best all-around talent in the league.

While the Panthers will likely avoid having to play Arizona until the NFC Championship game if both teams were to advance that far, they might have to host Seattle in the divisional round of the playoffs. That would be a less-than-ideal scenario for the unbeaten Panthers.

Not that any of this really matters. Cam Newton and Co. know full well that the road to Santa Clara and Super Bowl 50 will run through Carolina.

It’s now all about continuing to take care of business on the field and not worrying about those squads breathing down their backs. If that happens, the Panthers will be just fine when all is said and done.

Playoff picture taking shape

Six spots, two in the AFC and four in the NFC, have been wrapped up heading into Week 15. Outside of one final wild card spot and the NFC East, playoff positioning is the only drama remaining in the NFC.

Meanwhile, it’s possible we could be looking at tiebreakers making the decision as it relates to the two wild card spots in the AFC.

Here’s what we do know right now.

The Arizona Cardinals, Carolina Panthers and New England Patriots have all clinched division titles. Meanwhile, the Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks and Cincinnati Bengals have locked up playoff spots.

In the ultra-competitive AFC, the Pittsburgh Steelers hold the tiebreaker over the New York Jets for the sixth and final playoff spot.

Winners of eight in a row, Kansas City has a clear hold on the fifth spot. It can also earn the AFC West title with wins in the team’s final two games and help from the Denver Broncos, who have not clinched a playoff spot themselves quite yet.

There is actually a scenario in play here that could exclude the Broncos from the postseason. This would require the Jets winning out with Pittsburgh finishing in a virtual tie with a Denver team that loses one of its final two games. If that were to happen New York would make it in over the Broncos.

Head spinning yet?

Just wait until Week 16 action. Washington travels to Philadelphia for a chance to wrap up the division against an Eagles team that actually still controls its destiny in the NFC East following its blowout loss to Arizona on Sunday.

The Jets host New England in a game it must win in order to remain viable in the AFC playoff race.

Meanwhile, Green Bay travels to the desert to take on a Cardinals team that’s looking to wrap up a first-round bye. A win here by the Packers and they could in fact remain alive for said first-round bye.

Then on Monday night, Cincinnati heads to Denver to take on the Broncos in a game that could decide the No. 2 seed in the AFC — a game that could also help Kansas City earn what would be one of the most shocking division titles in recent NFL history.

Stay tuned. It’s going to be an absolute blast.

Source: Top 10 takeaways from Sunday’s Week 15 action

Weekend Update: #NFL wk15 – United Stats of America

name of site - hunter thompson style

Before we throw at you all the stats from Sunday’s football games – here are all the David Johnson highlights from last night because, Holy Cow was that kid a one man wrecking crew! (h/t Elias Sports Bureau)

NFL – Panthers stay perfect in dramatic fashion

Despite blowing a 28-point lead in the second half, the Panthers remained undefeated on the season after defeating the Giants, 38-35. Graham Gano kicked a 43-yard field goal on the last play of the fourth quarter to preserve Carolina’s streak. The only other players in NFL history to help their teams extend a season-opening winning streak of 10-plus games with a game-ending scoring play were Garrett Hartley (2009 Saints) and Mason Crosby (2011 Packers). Both Hartley and Crosby kicked game-ending field goals to lift their teams’ records to 12-0.

NFL – Newton strengthens MVP case with superhuman effort

Cam Newton was the star as always for Carolina – the MVP candidate threw five touchdown passes while also leading the team with 100 rushing yards. Newton is the first player in NFL history to pass for five or more touchdowns while producing at least 100 rushing yards in the same game. Previously, no player had run for even 50 yards in a 5-TD game.

With the victory, Newton improved to 17-3 in December in his NFL career. Only two other active quarterbacks won at least 17 of their first 20 starts in December – Philip Rivers won 19 of his first 20 such starts for the Chargers, and Tom Brady went 17-3 through 20 December starts for New England.

NFL – Historic day for Bridgewater

Teddy Bridgewater threw four touchdown passes – one in each quarter – for the Vikings against the Bears and ran for another score early in the fourth quarter in Minnesota’s 38-17 victory at TCF Bank Stadium. Bridgewater’s performance versus Chicago calls to mind the very first game ever played by the Vikings in the NFL. On Sept. 17, 1961, Fran Tarkenton threw four TD passes and ran for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter to lead the Vikings to victory at home against the Bears (sound familiar yet?). Bridgewater and Tarkenton are the only two quarterbacks with a “4-and-1” game in franchise history.

Bridgewater, who completed 17 of his 20 passes, also became just the second player in NFL history to run for a touchdown and throw for four or more TDs while completing at least 85 percent of his passes. In the Browns’ final game of the 1964 regular season, Frank Ryan completed 12 of 13 passes (good for 92 percent), throwing for five touchdowns and running for another against the Giants.

NFL – Steelers throw everything into comeback win

Ben Roethlisberger completed a season-high 40 passes in leading Pittsburgh to a 34-27 comeback victory over the Broncos. Antonio Brown was the main target for Roethlisberger, leading the team with 16 receptions, 189 receiving yards, and two touchdowns. Brown, who caught 17 passes in a win over the Raiders on November 8, became the first player in NFL history with two games of 15-or-more receptions within a single season.

Besides Brown, only four Steelers players caught passes on Sunday – Martavis Bryant (10),Markus Wheaton (six), DeAngelo Williams (five), and Heath Miller (three). The Steelers’ victory marked the first time since 1933 – when the NFL first tracked receiving statistics for individual players – that a team had 40 or more receptions in a game with no more than five players catching a pass. Tom Brady and the Patriots had the previous high – Brady completed 38 passes to five receivers in Week 12 of last season against the Lions.

NFL – McCarron’s first win is a clincher for Bengals

The Bengals clinched a spot in the postseason on Sunday after defeating the 49ers, 24-14. AJ McCarron was efficient in his first NFL start, completing 15 of 21 passes including a touchdown in the second quarter. That helped Cincinnati overcome a weak running performance – the Bengals gained 68 yards on 36 carries, an average of just 1.9 yards per rush. In the last 20 years, only one other quarterback earned a win in his first NFL start despite his team averaging less than two yards per rush. Max Hall led the Cardinals to victory over the Saints in his first start in 2010 to make up for a sub-par rushing attack (1.7 yards per run). Arizona was aided that day by three field goals by Jay Feely and two defensive touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

NFL – Cousins heroic at home

Kirk Cousins completed 22 passes – including four touchdowns – for 319 yards in the Redskins’ 35-25 victory over the Bills. If only Washington had more home games – Cousins led the Redskins to a 6-2 record at FedExField this season, and his passing numbers at home (2170 yards, 16 TDs, 2 INTs, 117.0 rating) are much better than his road numbers (1455 yards, 6 TDs, 9 INTs, 74.6 rating). Cousins now owns the franchise single-season records for most passing yards at home, surpassing Jay Schroeder, who passed for 2111 yards at home in 1986. Cousins’s completion percentage at home (74.7 percent) is the highest single-season mark in home games in NFL history by a player who threw at least 75 passes at home.

NFL – Brady, Patriots post 12th win

The Patriots stayed atop the AFC standings by defeating the Titans, 33-16. New England, which improved to 12-2, has won at least 12 games in each of the last six seasons. Bill Belichick is the second head coach in NFL history to win at least 12 games in six consecutive seasons, joining Tony Dungy, who had 12 or more wins in each of his last six seasons with the Colts from 2003 to 2008.

Tom Brady threw two touchdown passes in the Patriots’ win, bringing to 201 his total of touchdown passes at Foxborough Stadium. The only other player to throw at least 200 TD passes in one stadium was Brett Favre, who finished with 214 touchdown passes at Lambeau Field.

NFL – Perfect 10 for Baldwin

Tis the season for Doug Baldwin – the Seahawks wideout scored two more touchdowns on Sunday, helping Seattle defeat Cleveland and extend the Seahawks’ winning streak to five games. Baldwin has caught multiple touchdown receptions in each of his last four games – three versus the Steelers in Week 12, two at Minnesota Week 13, three at Baltimore last week, and two on Sunday against the Browns. Baldwin’s 10 TD receptions are tied for the most in NFL history in a four-game span. That mark was set by Bob Shaw in 1949 (L.A. Rams) and 1950 (Chicago Cardinals), and matched by Art Powell of the Raiders (1963-64) and Jerry Rice (1987).

NFL – Johnson runs wild over Eagles

Cardinals rookie David Johnson scored rushing touchdowns in each of the first three quarters of Arizona’s blowout victory over the Eagles. Johnson, who finished with 187 yards on the ground, is the first player – rookie or veteran – in Cardinals history to total at least three rushing touchdowns and 180 rushing yards in a single game. The 187 yards by Johnson are the most by any Cardinals rookie in a game since Ottis Anderson ran for 193 yards in his NFL debut in 1979. That was Anderson’s highest yards total in any one game of his 14-year NFL career.

NFL – Jones all over Falcons record books

Julio Jones caught nine passes for 118 yards and scored his first touchdown in six games to help the Falcons snap their six-game losing streak in a win over the Jaguars. Jones, who leads the NFL with 118 receptions and ranks second behind Antonio Brown with 1544 receiving yards, is now the franchise leader for most receptions in a single season. Roddy White held the previous record for Atlanta, having caught 115 passes in the 2010 season. Jones, who established a Falcons single-season record with 1593 receiving yards last season, is one of three players in NFL history to produce 100 receptions and 1500 receiving yards in back-to-back seasons. The other two to do so: Marvin Harrison (2001-02) and Andre Johnson (2008-09).

NFL – Defense shines for Chiefs

The Chiefs defense scored as many touchdowns as the offense in their 34-14 victory over the Ravens. Tyvon Branch returned a fumble 73 yards for a score in the first quarter, and Marcus Peters brought back an interception 90 yards to cap the scoring in the fourth quarter. The last team to score touchdowns on a fumble return and an interception return, each of 70-plus yards, in the same game was the Steelers; they had a 77-yard fumble-return TD and an 82-yard interception-return TD in the fourth quarter of a victory over the Vikings in October 2009.

NFL – K.C. extends fourth-quarter shutout streak

The Chiefs, who allowed 77 total points in the fourth quarter through their first nine games of the season, have not allowed a single point in the fourth quarter in their last five games. That’s the longest streak of that kind this season and the second-longest streak for the Chiefs in franchise history. Kansas City shut out its opponent in the fourth quarter in six straight games to close the 1968 season.

NFL – Weeden leads comeback win for Texans

After T.J. Yates left with an injury, Brandon Weeden completed 11 of 18 passes in relief, including a go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter to give the Texans a 16-10 victory over the Colts. Weeden is the first quarterback in just over three years to come off the bench in his first game for a team and throw a go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter. The last to do that was Greg McElroy, who relieved Mark Sanchez and completed a one-yard pass for a touchdown in the fourth quarter of the Jets’ 7-6 victory over the Cardinals in December 2012.

NFL – Houston snaps schneid in Indy

The win for the Texans was their first ever in Indianapolis – Houston had been 0-13 in road games against the Colts entering play on Sunday. Hopefully, the Vikings coaching staff took some notes, as Minnesota is still winless in Indianapolis (0-10). The Vikings’ mark at Indy now stands as the biggest current “0-fer” in road games for one franchise against another.

NFL – Huge day for Woodhead

Danny Woodhead became the first player this season to score four touchdowns in a game in the Chargers’ 30-14 victory over the Dolphins. Woodhead scored all four of San Diego’s touchdowns – three on passes from Philip Rivers and one on a two-yard run. The last time that a team had four or more touchdowns in a game that were all scored by a single player was Week 16 of the 2008 season – DeAngelo Williams scored all four of the Panthers’ touchdowns in a road loss against the Giants. The last Chargers player prior to Woodhead with such a game was LaDainian Tomlinson, who had two games of that kind for San Diego (2005 and 2007).

Woodhead, who turned 30 years old in January, is the oldest player to score four touchdowns in an NFL game since Terrell Owens scored four while with the Cowboys against the Redskins in 2007, just 19 days before his 34th birthday.

NFL – Peppers climbing all-time sacks list

Julius Peppers had 2½ sacks against Derek Carr in the Packers’ 30-20 victory in Oakland, and they were big ones for him. Peppers now has 135 sacks for his career, and moved into the top ten in that category since the NFL began recording sacks for defensive players in 1982. He nudged John Abraham and DeMarcus Ware, who had been tied for 10th place at 133½, out of the top ten.

Source: Stats from the Elias Sports Bureau