10 Things We Learned from #NFL Week 16

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A lot was decided around the NFL during the second-to-last weekend of regular season action.

The Minnesota Vikings clinched a playoff berth in the NFC while the New York Jets inched closer to a postseason spot themselves by virtue of a curious decision from the New England Patriots.

Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Steelers blew a golden opportunity against an injury-riddled Baltimore Ravens team.

On the other hand, Brandon Weeden led his Houston Texans (yes, that’s a thing) to a blowout win over the Tennessee Titans to pretty much lock up the AFC South.

Here are your top-10 takeaways from this weekend in the NFL.

1.

New England Patriots overthink it in big loss to the New York Jets

Bill Belichick’s career as a mad scientist is by now well known. An evildoer to those who goes up against him, this future Hall of Fame head coach actually found a way to get in his own way on Sunday.

The seen was about as surreal as it gets. Heading into overtime against the Jets in New Jersey, the Patriots (obviously) won the toss. Instead of electing to receive the ball and give Tom Brady an opportunity to win the game, New England decided to kick off.

Making matters even more interesting, the Patriots believed they could choose what direction they kicked. NFL rules clearly state otherwise heading into overtime.

New York proceeded to drive down the field 80 yards on five plays en route to a game-winning touchdown pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Eric Decker.

It was one of those things you just don’t see. Coach Belichick and the Patriots getting in their own way during a pivotal moment in a game.

It also set the Jets up perfectly to earn a playoff spot. With a win over the Bills in Buffalo next week (or a Steelers loss), they will earn their first playoff appearance since the 2010 season.

2.

Green Bay Packers absolutely crushed by unstoppable force in the desert

How can a team with an opportunity to clinch a division title and inch closer to a first-round bye in the playoffs perform the way Green Bay did in Arizona on Sunday? It really is unfathomable.

The Cardinals sacked Aaron Rodgers eight times, forced four turnovers and allowed a total of 77 passing yards. In fact, Green Bay racked up 178 total yards while converting 5-of-17 third-down opportunities in the team’s 38-8 loss.

Defensively, the Packers didn’t do much better. Rookie running back David Johnson racked up 127 yards on 12 touches before Arizona decided to call off the dogs before three quarters had even been completed.

By virtue of this loss, Green Bay now heads into a Week 17 game with Minnesota still looking to clinch the NFC North title. If not, the team might have to open the season on the road against what is suddenly a red-hot Washington Redskins team.

Yeah, it was a brutal loss all the way around.

For the Cardinals, it could not have been more spectacular. They head into Week 17 with an opportunity to earn home-field advantage throughout the playoffs after winning their ninth consecutive game.

They do so as the hottest team in the NFC and as a near unstoppable force. After all, Arizona has won nine consecutive games by an average of nearly two touchdowns.

Let that sink in before picking any other team to come out of the NFC.

3.

About those Seattle Seahawks

Playoff positioning was the only thing at stake for Seattle as it hosted the suddenly resurgent St. Louis Rams on Sunday. Though, said positioning was pretty darn important.

With wins in their final two games, the Seahawks could have clinched the fifth seed in the NFC. This means that they would have headed to D.C. to take on an eight or nine win Washington Redskins team.

Seattle now finds itself as the likely sixth seed, which would force it to play in either Green Bay or Minnesota in the wild card round. No one wants to play in those stadiums as a road team in January.

Sunday’s 23-17 loss to the Rams was a mix of fluky action and some tremendous struggles from the home team.

On the second half drive that saw St. Louis take a two-score lead, the Rams recovered two ridiculous fumbles en route to a touchdown — the last of which was pure hustle on the part of center Tim Barnes.

Outside of that, Seattle turned the ball over three times, including a Russell Wilson fumble deep in St. Louis territory late in the final stanza.

That was the fluky. Now on to the struggles.

Without the services of both Marshawn Lynch and Thomas Rawls, running backs combined for 21 rushing yards on 16 attempts.

Meanwhile, Seattle’s vaunted defense failed to get to Case Keenum for a single sack on the afternoon. That enabled the Rams to come away with a win despite the fact that their journeyman quarterback threw for a whopping 103 yards.

In reality, Seattle needs to play better football if it is going to win even one postseason game.

Considering what we saw in the five weeks prior to Sunday’s performance, we know Pete Carroll and Co. have the talent to do just that. We just don’t know if they will be able to show consistency on both sides of the ball in order to get it done.

4.

Pittsburgh Steelers blow it against hapless Baltimore Ravens team

Pittsburgh lost a game to a team that started Ryan Mallett under center, Baltimore’s fourth starting quarterback this season.

In doing so, Mike Tomlin and Co. find themselves on the outside looking in when it comes to the AFC playoff picture heading into Week 17.

It was pretty much a disaster from the get go. Pittsburgh capped off a promising opening drive by failing to convert on a fourth and one from Baltimore’s 25.

It then proceeded allow Mallett to lead the Ravens down the field on a 15-play, 75-yard touchdown-scoring drive to give the Ravens a 7-0 lead.

Baltimore wouldn’t look back. It added two field goals — one immediately following a Ben Roethlisberger interception — to take a 13-3 lead into the half.

After some drama in the second half, Pittsburgh simply couldn’t get out of its own way in a disheartening 20-17 loss to its division rivals.

Heading into Week 16, Pittsburgh had one of the two wild card spots in the AFC on lock down. By virtue of its loss and the Jets win, Mike Tomlin and Co. need some major help to even make the playoffs.

If the Steelers fail to get said help, 2015 would go down as a disastrous season for the franchise.

There’s no reason why a team with this much talent, especially on offense, could possibly fail to make the playoffs. And in the end, that failure is squarely on Tomlin’s shoulders.

5.

Clueless in Santa Clara

What? Seriously, what the heck is Jim Tomsula talking about here? We really would love to know what the follow up question was to this dumpster fire of an answer.

Less than two hours before, the San Francisco 49ers were penalized for coming on to to the field too early in the third quarter. That’s about as amateur as it gets.

Down just 20-17 at the half against the Detroit Lions, San Francisco found itself outscored 12-0 in the final two quarters to drop its 11th game of the season.

To make matters more disturbing for those of us looking for a silver lining, the 49ers coaching staff completely screwed the pooch once again.

After racking up 122 yards on 20 carries in the first half, San Francisco attempted just three runs in the second half. Those three runs went for a combined negative one yard as the team was shut out in the final two quarters.

Talk about adjusting out of a sound game plan to create a mess we have seen too many times from San Francisco’s sideline this season.

As much as some of us wanted to defend Tomsula earlier in the year, it’s readily apparent that the 49ers’ coaching staff is simply in over its head.

With one game remaining in what has been a disastrous season in Santa Clara, it will be interesting to see if we start hearing rumors of some dramatic changes within the team’s front office and coaching staff over the next several days.

Simply put, it’s become rather embarrassing for one of the most historic franchises in the NFL. What happens from now on will tell us whether the ownership group is okay with it.

6.

Inspired Atlanta Falcons end Carolina Panthers pursuit of perfection

Cam Newton and Co. had to be feeling good heading into Atlanta Sunday afternoon. After all, the Panthers had just obliterated Atlanta 38-0 two weeks prior.

What ended up happening was one of the most surprising outcomes of the NFL season thus far.

Atlanta held Newton to 142 yards through the air without a passing touchdown en route to a 20-13 take down of the Panthers at home on Sunday.

It was a banner defensive performance by the Falcons defense in a game that kept the team’s playoff hopes alive for just a few minutes.

While Atlanta will not be playing meaningful January football after a 5-0 start to the season, coming out victorious against the previously undefeated Panthers gives them something small to build off of heading into the offseason.

For the Panthers, this loss doesn’t mean a whole heck of a lot. They are still in the driver’s seat for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

They also don’t have to go through said playoffs with the distinction of being an undefeated regular season team — something that would have added a bit more pressure to a team without a ton of playoff experience and with minimal margin for error in a stacked NFC.

7.

Washington Redskins prove to be the class of the east

Kirk Cousins threw another four touchdowns en route to a division-clinching win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Saturday night.

More than anything else, the fact that this division is wrapped up prior to Week 17 is rather interesting.

It tells us a story of a Redskins team that’s in its own class when it comes to the NFC East.

Whether this translates to playoff success is anyone’s guess. Entrenched in as the No. 4 seed in the NFC, Washington has nothing to play for against the Dallas Cowboys next week, meaning that it could very well head into the postseason with an 8-8 record.

As it is, Washington is right there among the hottest teams in the NFL right now.

And in reality, the Redskins’ turnaround has more to do with quarterback play than anything else. Cousins has now thrown eight touchdowns compared to zero interceptions over the past two games and boasts a 20-to-3 split since consecutive two-interception performances back in mid October.

If Cousins is able to keep up this ridiculously high level of play, Washington stands a decent chance of advancing beyond the wild card round.

That’s only magnified by the fact that he’s combined for 20 touchdowns and just two interceptions at home on the season.

This was all made possible by a 38-24 win over a Philadelphia Eagles team that headed into Saturday night controlling its own destiny in the NFC East.

Putting up that performance in front of a national audience on the road against a division rival is mighty impressive. It also might change our opinion of the Redskins heading into the playoffs.

8.

Frank Gore turns back the clock in helping Indianapolis avoid elimination

The Indianapolis Colts simply needed to win a game in order to even have a shot at the AFC South title. Turning back the clock some, the 32-year-old Gore did everything in his power to lead the fledgling team to a huge win against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.

Gore’s 37-yard touchdown run midway through the first quarter put Indianapolis up eight. He then added an 11-yard scoring scamper late in the second quarter to give the Colts a two-score lead heading into the half.

Despite struggling to score in the second half, Indianapolis held off a hapless Dolphins team 18-12 to head into Week 17 with a small chance to save what has been a lost season up to this point.

The Colts would need 10 different things to break their way from here on out to earn that trip to the playoffs. This leaves the team with a 0.03 percent chance of playing football beyond next week.

But at least for one day, Gore showed everyone why he still has something left in those tires.

9.

Minnesota Vikings force do-or-die game for NFC North title

Following a 38-17 dismantling of the Chicago Bears last week, Minnesota headed into Week 16 with an opportunity to win the NFC North. That still remains the case after a second consecutive blowout win, this time by the score of 49-17 against the New York Giants.

Finding his way back after struggling over the past three games, Adrian Peterson netted 104 yards and a touchdown on 22 attempts.

Meanwhile, Teddy Bridgewater put up yet another stellar game in what was a tremendous overall performance from the Vikings.

It was the defense that did the heavy lifting here, though. Minnesota forced three Eli Manning interceptions, including a pick-six by Harrison Smith late in the second quarter to blow the game wide open.

With both sides of the ball playing great football, Minnesota now heads to Green Bay to take on a struggling Packers team with a chance to earn an unlikely division title.

If it’s able to do that, some unlucky team will have to play outdoor football in Minnesota in January — proving that home-field advantage may in fact be of utmost importance for the surprising Vikings.

10.

The Kansas City Chiefs keep winning

It wasn’t pretty by any stretch of the imagination. Kansas City held off a game Cleveland Browns team at home Sunday for its ninth consecutive win, clinching a playoff spot in the process.

In fact, the game hung in the balance with Cleveland’s final drive stalling with the team down by four inside the Chiefs 35-yard line.

But at the end of the day, Kansas City found a way to get the job done. Not only did Andy Reid’s squad clinch a spot in the postseason after a one-year hiatus, it put the pressure on the Denver Broncos to win Monday night.

It also proved to the rest of the AFC that it could win a game playing less-than-stellar football. That’s a huge bonus for a team that could possibly find itself playing playoff football in the midst of a whopping 10-game winning streak.

The biggest factor Sunday was a lack of mistakes from the Chiefs. They turned the ball over just one time while committing five penalties in the 17-13 win over a last-place Browns team.

This performance won’t be good enough come January. It, did however, add another layer to what we have seen from the Chiefs over the past two-plus months.

In this, Kansas City proved itself worth to be mentioned among the top teams in the NFL.

Source: Top 10 takeaways from NFL Week 16 action

#FanDuel #NFL Week 12 Retrospectacle: Injury Bug Bites Tight End Position

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Forget Black Friday. It was a dark and dreary Sunday for fantasy football‘s top tight ends, as both Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham were carted off with knee injuries. They say injuries are a part of the game, but we sure wish they weren’t.

Graham has already been ruled out for the season with a torn patella tendon, while the New England Patriots hope for the best from Gronk’s tests this week.

We might get some bargains from their potential replacements, but FanDuel players have to hate seeing their premium tight ends—if Graham was one still—go down.

The reports on Gronk’s injury early Monday morning were promising, as the Boston Herald‘s Jeff Howe observed Gronk moving around in the locker room without any noticeable trouble or pain, walking out of the stadium “without crutches or barely even a limp.”

“He’s the best tight end in football,” Brady told Howe. “It’s so hard to see these guys get hurt like this. I always have a lot of respect for players who play this game because you risk a lot to play. I think a lot of times, that gets overlooked because you sacrifice a lot. I think guys sacrifice their bodies. It’s hard to see your friends get taken down like that. It’s part of the sport. We understand that. I have a lot of respect for the players who take the field.”

Despite the optimism, if Gronk were to miss at least some time, you can turn your FanDuel plays to Pats backup Scott Chandler ($5,300). He caught a season-high five passes Sunday night for 58 yards and a touchdown for 14.3 FanDuel points.

The Graham loss is a lot more troubling, and not just because of its season-ending severity. The backup, Luke Willson ($4,800), has had only sporadic moments of fantasy football success. He will be a full-timer now, though, as The Seattle Times‘ Bob Condotta reported.

“Everybody loves him,” Willson told Condotta of Graham. “Great guy in the locker room and extremely hard worker, for a guy with his talent to see him work as hard as he does is pretty cool and you don’t ever want to see that happen to anyone on the NFL, let alone a guy like Jimmy.

“I know Jimmy, he is probably down right now, but what I have gotten to know of him these past six, seven months he will attack this rehab and be back next year.”

The news wasn’t all bad for FanDuel players. We review the Sunday studs, in addition to the duds, and what those performances mean to one-week fantasy players going forward in our Monday Week 12 Retrospectacle.

Factoid Tweet of the Week

Studs

WR Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks (35.5 FanDuel points)—The game has really opened up for him of late (6-145-3 Sunday) and his FanDuel price ($6,200) is only creeping up. The matchup at Minnesota for Week 13 isn’t favorable, but you have to trust he is the clear-cut, go-to man with Graham down.

QB Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks (35.2)—He has eight touchdowns and over 600 yards passing since Marshawn Lynch (hernia) was officially ruled out. It is a shame Graham won’t be around for this stretch run out of Wilson, whose price is a reasonable $7,800, even if the aforementioned matchup is difficult.

RB Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings (31.7)—At least we have one trustworthy running back worth the FanDuel premium ($9,100). Peterson (29-158-2 rushing) faces those Seahawks and their No. 5-ranked run defense. A healthy Peterson is worth the price against anyone, especially since he dominates his team’s touches.

WR Sammy Watkins, Buffalo Bills (30.8)—We will consider it the FanDuel video jinx. After being featured here (see video below) amid his outrageous first half (6-158-2), Watkins disappeared without a catch after the intermission. The takeaway here, more than Watkins’ periodic excellence, is the Chiefs secondary is one to take advantage of. They have been dead last in fantasy against wideouts, per FFToday.com.

WR Markus Wheaton, Pittsburgh Steelers (30.6)—We figured Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant would be marginal plays against the Seahawks on the road, but we didn’t figure it would be because Wheaton would dominate across the middle. Wheaton was Ben Roethlisberger’s hot hand, going for 9-201-1. While you can love Wheaton’s $6,000 price for Week 13, you have to consider Brown and Bryant the wiser plays still.

WR Brandon Marshall, New York Jets (29.6)—Few could have imagined he would average nearly one touchdown per game with the historically woefully quarterbacked Jets franchise. Marshall’s 9-131-2 proves he is 100 percent after being banged up midseason. At $8,100, he draws the New York Giants secondary in Week 13. Lock him up.

WR Jarvis Landry, Miami Dolphins (29.4)—He capitalized on Darrelle Revis’ (concussion) absence with 13-165-1, a performance that might get us to stop calling him a poor man’s Odell Beckham. Landry looks golden at $7,400 against the suspect Baltimore Ravens secondary next week.

RB C.J. Anderson, Denver Broncos (29.3)—That was a big-time performance (15-113-2 rushing and 4-40 receiving) that likely handed him his feature-back role back. Notably, Anderson isn’t yet priced as an elite back ($6,800) and draws the worst team in fantasy against running backs, per FFToday.com, in Week 13, the San Diego Chargers.

QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, New York Jets (29.18)—This 277-4 performance has to inspire you if you’re looking for a $7,500 bargain quarterback play for Week 13 against the Giants. Fitzy at least has some elite targets to throw to in Marshall and Eric Decker ($7,200).

QB Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers (28.9)—He shows he should not be buried (300-4), even if his Chargers’ playoff hopes and his FanDuel price of $7,600 are down. You cannot play him against the Broncos’ No. 1-ranked defense next week, though.

WR Jeremy Maclin, Kansas City Chiefs (26.5)—There have been some lean weeks of late, but Maclin’s 9-160-1 revival sets him up nicely against a suspect Oakland Raiders secondary (fourth-worst against the pass). His price ($6,500) for that matchup is almost too good to be true.

WR Seth Roberts, Oakland Raiders (26.3)—His 6-113-2 is a sign of things to come, especially if you like the $5,400 value against the Chiefs secondary that made Watkins look like Hall of Famer Andre Reed.

QB Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills (26.24)—This performance (291-3) made him look like the bargain FanDuel start he was early in the year, but you cannot love him (even at $7,400) for Week 13 against the resurgent Houston Texans.

K Adam Vinatieri, Indianapolis Colts (15.0)—They are much more of a field-goal threat without Andrew Luck (kidney) right now and Vinatieri is priced to play at $4,700, which is tied for just 15th on the FanDuel kicker board for Week 13.

Cincinnati Bengals Defense (17.0)—They generally don’t get much love, but the Week 13 matchup against the Cleveland Browns on a short week has their price up to $5,100. They still might be worth it after their dismantling of the St. Louis Rams on Sunday.

Duds

RB Lamar Miller, Miami Dolphins (2.8)—You shouldn’t have played him against the Jets’ No. 1-ranked run defense, but if you went contrarian you are kicking yourself after his five carries for just two yards. Things should be looking up going forward, especially as his price is trending down at $6,700.

RB Todd Gurley, St. Louis Rams (3.5)—We probably should grant the rookie a dud pass. This is his first single-digit FanDuel performance since taking over as the starter. The matchup for Week 13 against the Arizona Cardinals (No. 4 vs. the run) shouldn’t excite anyone, though, especially at $8,400.

RB Frank Gore, Indianapolis Colts (4.7)—The Tampa Bay Buccaneers limited him to 24 yards on 19 carries—19! Wow, Gore is finally showing his age. Week 13 is at the Pittsburgh Steelers and their No. 7-ranked run defense. No thanks, even at $6,200.

WR Michael Floyd, Arizona Cardinals (1.9)—We thought his being announced as active Sunday was good news. Nope. One catch for 14 yards and a lot of ticked-off FanDuelers. The only good thing to come from this was his priced dropped under $6K at $5,900 for Week 13.

WR Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos (4.1)—The Broncos might not miss the old Peyton Manning (foot) amid this two-game win streak and overtime victory over the previously unbeaten Patriots, but Thomas does. He caught just one of his team-high 13 targets from Brock Osweiler. There isn’t a price low enough to trust Thomas right now—definitely not at $7,600.

Source: NFL Week 12 Retrospectacle: Injury Bug Bites Tight End Position

Weekend Update: #NFL Week 9 Edition

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1. It was Supposed To Be Different:

You said this year would be different after starting 2015 the same way you started 2014 – the only thing different is you beat Atlanta and not sure how that happened.  Sure, one particular play or tip did not cost the Saints the game – it’s everything.  Even history is stacked against this team – Does anyone remember the last time the Saints beat a rookie QB?  Tim Couch, first year back for the Browns – hail mary – I remember that one the most because it cost me a 15 team $50 parlay in Vegas, and that was the only way I could have lost!!! I did and so did the Saints.  The Saints lost to RG3 and his 1st game at home.  Lost to Jameis Winston already, at home – and now Marcus Mariota!  How do you still have a job Rob Ryan?  When does it end?  Brandon Browner can you go more than one series without a penalty?  You made Mariota look like he’s ready for Canton and he just lost his coach!!!  I hope we do not play the 49ers, because I’m not sure I could handle losing to Blaine Gabbert.


Mariota stakes his claim to looming NFL stardom

Marcus Mariota passed for 371 yards and four touchdowns, including a 5-yard toss to Anthony Fasano in overtime, to give the Titans a 34-28 win at New Orleans. But the most impressive number on Mariota’s record on Sunday was a zero in the interceptions column. It was the second game this season in which Mariota threw four TDs and no INTs, matching the total of all other rookie quarterbacks since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. The only other rookie QBs with even one such game during that time were Trent Edwards of Buffalo (2007) and Robert Griffin III of Washington (2012).

Incidentally, both of Mariota’s tours de force were accomplished on the road. His first game with four TDs and no interceptions was Tennessee’s season opener at Tampa Bay. The only other rookies to do so in a road game were Ray Buivid of the Bears (1937), Mickey Slaughter of the Broncos (1963), and Greg Cook of the Bengals (1969).


Another signature game for Newton in Panthers’ win

The Panthers improved to 8-0 with a 37-29 victory over the Packers, as Cam Newton ran for one touchdown and passed for three others. It was the fifth time that Newton threw at least three TD passes in the same game in which he himself scored a touchdown. That’s one short of the highest such total in NFL history, a record set by Tobin Rote and matched by Billy Wade, Jack Kemp, and Steve Young.  Can we also stop with the Cam Newton MVP talk – he has the same numbers as Xerxes, look it up – he is not any better than before this year – he’s just on a team that is undefeated.


Packers’ own perfect record succumbs to a pair of other undefeated teams

Green Bay’s record now stands at 6-2 following a pair of losses to undefeated teams: Denver last week and Carolina this week. Only three other teams in NFL history faced consecutive unbeaten and untied opponents with at least six wins each: Detroit in 1934, Pittsburgh in 2004, and Indianapolis this week and last, same as Green Bay.AltX.Logo.white

Against all odds, the Steelers won both of those games, against New England and Philadelphia, and they did it with a rookie quarterback. Those were Ben Roethlisberger’s fifth and sixth starts in the NFL.

The 1934 Lions won their first 10 games by a combined score of 215-27. But Detroit ended the season with three straight three-point losses: 3-0 to the Packers, and then 19-16 and 10-7 to the Bears, who finished the season with a 13-0 record (but lost the title game).


Brown & Williams post gaudy numbers in Steelers’ win

Antonio Brown caught 17 passes for 284 yards-both team-record totals for one game-and DeAngelo Williams gained a total of 225 yards (170 on 27 carries and 55 on two pass receptions) in the Steelers’ 38-35 win over the Raiders. It was only the third game in NFL history in which teammates both gained at least 200 yards from scrimmage. Clem Daniels and Art Powell did it for the Raiders in 1963; Brian Westbrook and Kevin Curtis did it for the Eagles in 2007.


Blount is key to Patriots’ victory

LeGarrette Blount was the star of the Patriots’ 27-10 win over the Redskins, gaining 129 yards on 29 carries. Over the last 10 seasons, only one other New England player rushed the ball that many times in a regular-season game: Jonas Gray, who gained 201 yards on 37 carries against the Colts last November. Of course Blount set a team postseason record with 30 carries in the AFC Championship Game last January, gaining 148 yards and scoring three touchdowns.


Patriots tie NFL record for quarter-by-quarter scoring

By scoring in all four quarters of its victory, New England tied an NFL record of scoring in 31 consecutive quarters. That mark was set by the Colts in 2005 and previously equaled by the Rams, who did it spanning the 1999 and 2000 seasons.


Veterans help Colts spoil Broncos’ perfect record

Peyton Manning still has not won a game and in his return to Indianapolis needed 284 passing yards and one victory to surpass Brett Favre’s all-time record totals in those categories. Manning fell three yards and one win short, as the Colts denied him both marks-at least for the moment-and handed Denver its first loss of the season, 27-24. Some notes on the game:AltX.Logo.white

This was the fifth time that the Colts faced a team that was undefeated and untied with at least seven wins, and it was their first victory in such a game.

Frank Gore carried the ball 28 times, his highest total in one game since 2011. Gore was the oldest player in Colts history with that many carries in one game, and he was the oldest to do so for any team since Ricky Williams in 2009.

Adam Vinatieri kicked a tie-breaking 55-yard field goal with 6:13 to play. At age 42, Vinatieri was by far the oldest NFL player to kick a game-winning FG that long in the fourth quarter or overtime. Matt Bryant previously held that distinction, having kicked a 55-yard game-winner for the Falcons in 2012 at age 37.


Jacksonville extends a very specific losing streak

Blake Bortles fumbled the ball away in the fourth quarter as Jacksonville drove for a potential go-ahead touchdown, and the Jaguars lost to the Jets, 28-23. That was the Jags’ 21st consecutive loss in a road game against a team with a winning record. Dating back to the 2008 season, that is now the second-longest such streak in NFL history. But get this: The Jaguars are only halfway to the record. Over a span of 15 seasons from 1990 to 2004, Cincinnati lost 42 straight road games in which its opponent had a winning record at the time of kickoff.


Bills score from distance in win over Dolphins

The Bills defeated the Dolphins, 33-17, in a game that featured three long touchdowns by Buffalo: a 44-yard pass from Tyrod Taylor to Sammy Watkins and runs of 48 yards by LeSean McCoy and 38 yards by Karlos Williams. It was only the second game in team history in which two different players scored rushing TDs of 30 yards or longer. The first was played 51 years ago, and the touchdowns were scored by Cookie Gilchrist (60 yards) and Bobby Smith (37) in a victory over the Houston Oilers (Nov. 1, 1964). Gilchrist was the AFL rushing champion that season, and that was his only 100-yard game of the year (139 yards).


Gabbert a winner in first start for NinersAltX.Logo.white

Blaine Gabbert started in place of Colin Kaepernick and threw two touchdown passes in the 49ers’ 17-16 win over the Falcons. Gabbert hadn’t started a game since 2013, hadn’t won since 2012, and had lost his last 10 starts for Jacksonville. During the NFL’s expansion era, dating back to 1960, only two other quarterbacks snapped a personal losing streak of 10 or more starts with a victory in their first start for a new club: Steve Bartkowski for the L.A. Rams in 1986, and Charlie Batch for the Steelers in 2005.


Zuerlein kicks a second field goal of 60-plus yards

In a game billed as a matchup of great breakaway runners old and new, Adrian Peterson ran for 125 yards and Todd Gurley for 89 yards as the Vikings defeated the Rams, 21-18, in overtime. But it was a kicker-in fact, the kicker for the losing team-that made headlines, as Greg Zuerlein kicked four field goals, including a 61-yarder.

Zuerlein, who kicked a 60-yard field goal against Seattle three seasons ago, became only the second player in NFL history with two FGs of 60 yards or longer. The other is Sebastian Janikowski.

Clear as Mud

The Past is a statement, the Future a question.  Hopes rise and dreams flicker and die.  Love plans for tomorrow and the widowed think of yesterday.  Life is beautiful and living is hardship.  The sound of music flows down a dark street.  Like a tornado ripping thru your home and granting passage to a whole new world of colorful possibilities, only to realize it was all a delusion from the concussion you suffered because you rode your bike without a helmet – Ive seen it a hundred times.  Then the New Year began for the NFL.

Within 30min yesterday, the day moved from rumor and innuendo to surrealistic glee.  It was like watching a live chicken being dropped in a snake pit.  So with emancipated joy NFL GM’s traded away talent, signed perishable goods and threw fanbases off their bandwagons.  The Chipster trading Nick Foles for Sam Bradford and further having fans asking “whats up with that?”  The thing for me about Chip is this, he’s gonna succeed or drown doing it his way and you have to admire that.  Chip is channeling his inner Sinatra and good for him, but it’s hard to have faith in his conviction that X’s and O’s are better than Jimmy’s and Joe’s – scheme is cool Chipster, but players win titles.


Frank Gore, (#EagleForLife) gets cold-feet marrying Philly and agrees to sign with Indy so he can play once again with Andre JohnsonIndy also signed Trent Cole – Chipster?  Detroit replaces $uh (who still has not signed) with Ngata, in a trade with Baltimore.  Jake Locker retires?! 4 years into the league and what, the pressure of being a backup is too much?  Expect Jake to follow another Tennessee QB – Vince Young – and attempt a comeback down the road.

But the piece-de-resistance – is Mr. Stay-Puft himself.  You know the guy, his name is Jimmy, but plays like Jane on God’s Army – He acts like a WR, dreams of being a WR, but plays TE better than he played basketball – he tries to remind us of his hoop-dreams everytime he dunked a goal-post.  He has talent, but watching the league catch up to his limitations the last two years you realize the Saints never wanted to pay him that kind of lettuce for a guy who plays basketball better than he blocks.  That’s the statement that was made by the Saints yesterday – that and $$$ – but mostly having a guy on your roster that burned bridges with his contract talks, angering the Pope in the process, and wilting like a hothouse flower in big moments – jimmy’s down.  Jimmy wanted it to be basketball all time and anytime he was touched, wanted a foul called.  The Ginger Drake is just like Brie – appears tough on the outside, but with minimal effort, exposes a soft inside, best experienced with several crack-ahs.  So, goodbye Jimmy Graham – thanks for the memories – in your place we will have an actual WR run your routes, that is difficult to rub out, takes a hit and knows how to block – his name is Marques Colston……his name is Marques Colston……his name is Marques Colston……


 

Going undefeated in any conference is adamantium – going all the way is mythical.  Only a handful teams have done the wire-to-wire:

  1. 1956 San Francisco Dons, 29-0
  2. 1957 North Carolina Tar Heels, 32-0
  3. UCLA Bruins, 30-0
    1. 1964
    2. 1967
    3. 1972
    4. 1973
  4. 1976 Indiana Hoosiers, 32-0

and since 1976 a few teams have been undefeated, never to become mythical:

  1. 1979 Indiana St Sycamores 29-0
    1. lost to Michigan St in championship game
    2. Bird v Magic I
  2. 1991 UNLV Runnin’ Rebels 30-0
    1. lost to Duke in the Final Four
  3. 2004 St. Joseph’s Hawks 27-0
    1. lost in quarter-finals of A-10 conf.tournament
  4. 2014 Wichita St Shockers 34-0
    1. lost to Kentucky in round of 32

The point of this is to show Karmic Responsibility.  It’s a real disease that infects morons and idiots, with the greatest impact felt upon the teams they claim to root for.  We have seen an exponential increase of afflictions in recent years – i.e., dope#1 gets a tattoo on his foot with the Nationals winning the World Series this year – in March! – The Nationals are out.  We’ve seen lots of other dopes get tattoos (or other nonsense) for their team, so they can claim forever to the sycophantic brigade of idiots that HE knew it, CALLED it and got the tattoo to prove it – BEFORE it happened.  Al Bundy just got a tattoo to show the guys in No Ma’aM the game he had, when he scored 4 touchdowns

So where am I going with this? Kentucky.  The Blue-blooded program still haunted by Christian Laetner – the program whose fans believe it’s their divine right to be kings of the hardwood, regardless of how seldom they win it all – have misused their Karmic Responsibility.  Kentucky Uber Alles they claim and yet the team prints shirts 31-0, more to go – then fans launch a shirt into the atmosphere to mock the gods.  A mouth-breather gets a new license plate that says 40-0.  Even Calipari got involved by saying they might put the Lakers in their tournament bracket.

Oh how we forget Prometheus and the eternal torture – You do not lampoon winning titles – the gods will smite thee as they have always done – or have you forgotten 1992.  Your failure, Kentucky fan, gave rise to Duke!  That is your eternal-anchor, worn forever around your blue-blooded neck and still you shun your Karmic Responsibility to remain humble until after victory is quenched.

Mouth-breathers and knuckle-dusters are exposed on the digital-ether for eternity, like a flag-burner – we know who you are and what you’ve done.  Violators of sports-patriotism rise up from the muck and gain upright mobility, only to be slaughtered like the swine they are – it’s the Law of Mogis .  For Kentucky, they have the talent to win – they have the height – the length – the defensive wizardry – however they are susceptible to any team that has athletic big men and a team that rebounds for fast-break points.  Kentucky has improved shooting the ball, but the Karmic Wheel O’Justice spins for thee and the Gods demand their sacrifice – it will happen and in the worst way Kentucky fan.


 

Conference tournaments are in full swing and soon Selection Sunday secedes to Madness!  Again you will have a chance to earn more than you know what to do with – unless you have Mike Tyson tastes – by picking the perfect bracket – in the Billion-Dollar-Bracket Challenge.  Odds of getting a perfect bracket are 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 – that’s quintillion.

We will not claim we can help you with that – if we could, we would not assist you – but, we have been testing and tweaking our formulas in the conference tournaments, and so far we are in the 78% range of picking the winner SU – 63% against the spread.  So if you saw what we did for the college football bowl games and our overall gambling skills – for entertainment purposes only – you know this is where you need to be, to help fill out your brackets and show that jerk at the office he’s a poseur and couldn’t pick his nose with a 24k nose picker…Just don’t geaux and get a tattoo that reads “office pool winner 2015” or make t-shirts, because clearly you are who we talk about – YOU ARE THAT GUY.

In closing, do you ever remember when a few weeks of NBA basketball was this much fun to watch?  Maybe it’s more fun seeing your bankroll grow like ours has that really improves the flavah.  We work hard so you don’t have to — Play and win, it’s that simple.

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Monday Dregs

This, and others like it sprung up around Detroit earlier last week as Suh approached NFL free-agency.  Not sure what they are trying to say.  By spelling his name with a dollar sign, are they trying to intimate that he values money more than loyalty?  I do not remember the Lions attempting to re-sign him or slap him with the franchise tag, and yet where is the outrage over dropping Reggie Bu$h to save $$$ – so where is the loyalty in that Detroit Fan?

If you believed that Detroit mismanaged this process two years ago, you can not fault Ndamukong Suh for leaving.  Word is, Suh has agreed in principle to take his talents to South Beach for $60m guaranteed.  That’s 6yrs @ $114m!  That’s QB money!!!  Florida has no state income tax!  We should all have Suh’s agent because if this contract is real, then it means that after the $40m guaranteed he got on his first contract – that totals a $100m guaranteed, in two contracts!  That’s baseball money and for a position that does not dominate the outcome of games played.

Ndamukong Suh is a good football player, but what games do you remember him dominating like he did at Nebraska?  Any idea on the Greatest DT of all time?  Any names jump out?  I’m not talking about guys that played inside and out, because Suh does not.  He does not play D-end because he is not fast enough, nor does he have the technique – let alone deserve JJ Watt money.  That’s the point tho – He is being paid like JJ Watt.  Do you remember Suh scoring touchdowns or making plays that had his name in MVP conversations?

The Dolphins made a splash that swims well with the fans, but this contract is going to end up as a financial noose, because Suh is more Haynesworth than Watt.  $uh is good, not great and in no way relevant to a team’s overall success – he is the 5th cheese in the 6-cheese pizza.  So to those that spent all that scratch on those billboards, be thankful.  Because here is a list of defensive players better than Suh, that deserved a $100m – notice how many played inside and out!

  • Deacon Jones
  • Reggie White
  • Mean Joe Green
  • Alan Page
  • Howie Long
  • Bruce Smith
  • Merlin Olsen
  • Randy White
  • John Randle
  • Jerome Brown

 

It has been a frenzied week for the NFL and potential free agents.  Peyton restructures, Marques Colston restructures, Jarius Byrd restructures, all so the Saints could resign Mark Ingram – 6 decent games his entire career and the Saints make him the priority and talk of trading Curtis Lofton – the only linebacker we’ve had since Vilma Fett!  Arm-chair general managing is the new normal and you have to wonder if more “actual” GM’s just need to sit back, pour a drink, eat some cherry nibs and cheetos – because there is no way Ingram over Lofton makes any sense.  Our defense isn’t good enough to want too mirror the Falcons.

But what also happened is there is a lot of movement, or rumors of movement, as usual this time of year.  Remember when Eagles fans went bonkers for signing CB Ngamdi Asou…Asug…Awsumwah…whatever his name was – and Vince Young (making a comeback because he’s broke) proclaimed the Eagles as the best team and winning the Superbowl.  Im not sure about you, but I remember Ngamdi leaving more WR’s open than a 5yr old does the front door.

So we have Reggie Wayne being the last Manning-Colt to turn the lights off on that chapter and hopefully getting another chance to contend.  Jeremy Maclin is rumored to be headed to the Chiefs – guess he’s used to dead-armed QB’s throwing him the ball and I’ll guarantee right now, he will score more touchdowns than all the 2014 Chiefs WR’s combined!!!  Randall Cobb is supposed to come back to the Pack.  LeSean might actually sign a contract extension to STAY in Buffalo – prompting us to look back at the end of that extension with thoughts of: “remember when Shady was….”  Of course Darrelle Revis is considering the offer from the Chiefs, because he won his ring and can get paid – plus, look who the QB’s are in that division – its about legacy – and the money – it’s really about the money – Revis Island has a high standard of living.

Obituary

San Francisco, we take the time to remember your past accomplishments back in the 80’s and early ’90’s.  Guided by the Legendary Bill Walsh you won Superbowls, you had iconic games and players.  Then after the George Seifert experiment, you had Steve Mariucci and then….um…..some other guys.  At one point, you had some ginger QB that ran around and threw the ball.  I’m not sure but there’s a fuzzy period in there where you guys weren’t very good.  You then hired Jim Harbaugh and became closer to your famed past glory (3 back-to-back-to-back NFC Championship games) – but hubris or arrogance allowed you to remove the coach responsible for that resurgence.

Well now you can relive those fuzzy/hazy-san francisco-bay-kinda days again with coach what’s-his-name: featuring players like – that guy, and some other dude.  The heart of the team, Frank Gore is leaving for Philly.  Management signed Jerome Simpson – seriously, Jerome Simpson.  Patrick Willis would rather retire and you are shopping for trade partners to take Xerxesone simply does not trade for Xerxes, Xerxes trades you.  Leaving coach what’s-his-name with so much talent that you’ll contend for a top 10 draft pick for the next five years.  the Forty-Whiners are going to be looking across the bay at Oakland (while they’re still there) with envy.  Fans will wish they were Raiders fans – solidifying the region as the most cross-dressing fan base in the country.  Seeing this house burn down makes you thankful that the worst thing your team has done is resign Mark Ingram and “consider” trading Lofton for cap room.  Every fan that used to share a division with those clowns-by-the-bay are smiling.


Are the Raptors falling off or is Westbrook having a legenwait for itdary stretch of games.  It could be both, and for Russell Westbrook securing his 5th triple-double in 6 games – this time by the 3rd quarter, has you thankful the season is so entertaining.  Just look at the MVP race with 4 worthy candidates: Steph Curry, Westbrook, Harden (with his own triple-double Friday night against Detroit) and Lebron – with Lebron the least likely to win, for validation on the kind of season we are witnessing down the stretch.  For perspective Oscar Robertson averaged a triple-double for an entire season in ’61-’62, for the Cincinnati Royals – averaging 30.8pts, 12.5 rebounds, and 11.4 assists – also setting the mark for most triple-doubles in a season with 41.  Wilt Chamberlain recorded the only double-triple-double – 22pts, 25 rebounds and 21 assists.  With all the attention on how well Westbrook is playing right now – keeping the Thunder ahead of the Pelicans for the 8th seed – you wonder if it makes sense for Durant to hurry back.  Considering his recent string of injuries and their frequency, is it better to make him sit instead of the risk versus the reward of the 8th seed?

Russell Westbrook

Steph Curry

James Harden


 

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