Sunday Update – #NFL #NFCWildCard

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Sometimes playoff football shows you something you’ve never seen before — and that you won’t soon forget. That was certainly the case in Minnesota on Sunday, as the Seahawks beat the Vikings, 10-9, after kicker Blair Walsh missed a go-ahead 27-yard field goal in sub-zero temperatures.

That’s what you call “icing the kicker.”

It was -6 at kickoff, the third-coldest game in NFL playoff history, and the weather certainly played it’s part throughout the contest as the Seahawks were down 9-0 going into the fourth quarter and Russell Wilson unable to continue his hot streak in the frigid temps. Things finally didn’t get going until it seemed they were falling apart: Wilson was trying to check to a new play in the fourth and center Patrick Lewis snapped it too early, sending the ball flying 20 yards past his quarterback. Wilson did the only thing he could do, which was try to make the best out of a bad situation, and managed to pick up the ball and scramble before finding Tyler Lockett for a 35-yard gain setting up first-and-goal.

Doug Baldwin scored two plays later on a throw from Wilson, Baldwin’s 12th touchdown in the last seven games. Wilson’s 13 career playoff passing touchdowns ties Dan Marino for the second-best mark through four seasons……

Continue Reading: MIN K Blair Walsh misses would-be GW chip shot.

  • Seattle’s victory at Minnesota was the first of its kind
    • From Elias: Seattle rallied for 10 points in the fourth quarter on Sunday for a 10-9 victory at Minnesota. The Seahawks were the first team in NFL history to win a road playoff game in which they failed to score in the first three quarters, following 40 such losses.
  • Carroll is the postseason Comeback Kid
    • From Elias: The Seahawks’ victory was Pete Carroll’s fifth playoff win after his team had trailed by more than eight points. That is now the highest such total for any head coach in NFL history. Prior to Sunday’s game, Carroll shared the mark with Bill Belichick, who tied Carroll’s total of four when the Patriots overcame a 10-point Seattle lead to win the Super Bowl in February.
  • A game decided by the kickers
    • From Elias: For the fourth time in this century, an NFL playoff game pitted the league’s rushing champion against its passing leader (each of them won by the high-rated QB’s team). ButAdrian Peterson and Russell Wilson both struggled in sub-zero temperatures at TCF Bank Stadium, while Seattle’s kicker provided the game-winning points and Minnesota’s went from hero to goat in a matter of minutes.
    • Blair Walsh gave the Vikings a 9-0 lead heading into the fourth quarter, and in so doing he became the first player in NFL history to kick two field goals of 40 yards or longer in a playoff game played at 20 degrees or below. We’ll have more on that shortly; for now we will note that Walsh’s field goals measured 22, 43, and 47 yards.
    • But it was Walsh’s counterpart, Steven Hauschka, who gave Seattle a 10-9 lead with a 46-yard field goal with 8:04 to play. That became the game-winner when Walsh pulled a 27-yard attempt wide left with 22 seconds to play. Only three other players kicked a game-winning field goal as long as Hauschka’s in the fourth quarter of a playoff game: Adam Vinatieri, who did it twice, (including a 48-yarder as time expired against the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI), Matt Bryant, and Gary Anderson.
    • Kicking in the kind of weather that Walsh and Hauschka encountered on Sunday is difficult at best. There have been 39 playoff games for which the temperature at kickoff was 20 degrees or colder. The longest field goal in any of those games was 48 yards, by Vinatieri for the Patriots in the 2004 AFC Championship Game at Pittsburgh.
    • As for Walsh, his 27-yard miss was the shortest on a potential go-ahead field goal in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter of an NFL playoff game. That distinction previously belonged to Hall of Famer Jan Stenerud, who did it in one of the most famous games in NFL history. On Christmas Day 1971, Stenerud missed three field goals in Kansas City’s 27-24 double-overtime loss in a first-round playoff game at Miami. His 31-yard attempt with 35 seconds to play would have given the Chiefs a victory.

PackersRodgers

After months of offensive stagnation, the Packers rediscovered their offensive identity Sunday. They lit up Washington for a 35-18 playoff victory, earning the chance to take on the Cardinals in the divisional round.

Though the game ended with a Green Bay blowout, it started far differently. Washington shut out the Packers through the opening 21 minutes while producing 11 points of its own. Despite making his first start in the postseason, Kirk Cousins threw the ball all around the yard, connecting with Jordan Reed for multiple large gains.

Cousins nearly gave Washington a 9-0 lead in the first quarter, but wideout DeSean Jackson foolishly failed to extend the ball over the goal line.

Jackson’s error proved to be the turning point in the game, as the Packers held Cousins and the offense to just a field goal on that drive. When the Packers offense finally caught fire in the second quarter, the lead was easily surmountable.

Unsurprisingly, it was Aaron Rodgers who led the charge for Green Bay. From the start of the second quarter onward, Rodgers completed 20 of his 29 passes for 199 yards and two touchdowns, good for a 111.1 rating. Rodgers’ receivers also stepped up their play, with James Jones hauling in seven passes, most of them contested, for 81 yards. Even the much-maligned Davante Adams made two big plays — an acrobatic sideline reception on third down and a touchdown — before exiting with a knee injury……

Continue Reading: Packers suddenly have a potent offense again.

  • When Green Bay got rolling, Redskins had no answer
    • From Elias: The Packers scored four touchdowns and a field goal on five consecutive drives to turn an 11-0 deficit to a 32-18 lead, then added a late field goal for a 35-18 victory at Washington. The Redskins have played 35 postseason games since 1970; this was the first time during that span that an opponent scored on more than three consecutive drives.
  • The visitors rule Wild Card Weekend
    • Green Bay’s victory completed a sweep by the visiting teams of the weekend’s four first-round games. The home-field advantage in the playoffs simply isn’t what it once was. For the first 12 years of the 12-team format (1990-2001), home teams went 35-13 (.729) in the first round. But over the last 14 seasons (2002-15), since the format change to eight division champs and four wild-card teams, home teams are 30-26 (.536) on “Wild Card Weekend.”
    • By way of explanation, from 1990 to 2001 there wasn’t a single first-round game in which the road team had a better won-lost record than its host. But that was the case for 20 of 56 first-round games since 2002, including two of four games this weekend: Houston (9-7) hosted Kansas City (11-5), and Washington (9-7) hosted Green Bay (10-6).

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#NFL Week 17 – United Stats of America – Elias Sports Bureau

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Age is no obstacle for NFL’s rushing champion

Adrian Peterson, who turned 30 years old in March, won the NFL rushing race when Doug Martin fell 16 yards short of Peterson’s total heading into the Vikings’ Sunday night game at Green Bay. Peterson is the third player in league history to lead the NFL or AFL in rushing yards in his 30s. The only other players to have done so were Marion Motley in 1950 (at age 30) and Curtis Martin in 2004 (31).

Ryan gains sweet revenge against the Jets

The Bills defeated the Jets, 22-17, and that result, combined with Pittsburgh’s victory at Cleveland, denied the Jets a spot in the postseason. Thus, Rex Ryan became the first head coach in NFL history to help keep a team that he had head-coached in the previous season out of the playoffs by beating that club, head to head, in the season’s final week.

Additionally, Ryan is the first NFL head coach in 85 years to sweep a two-game season series against a team of which he was the head coach in the previous season. The last to do so was Jack Depler, a player-coach with the Orange Tornadoes in 1929 who bolted to coach the Brooklyn Dodgers a year later. The Tornadoes moved from East Orange, New Jersey to Newark in 1930, enduring a 1-10-1 season that included a pair of shutout losses to Depler’s Dodgers: 32-0 at Ebbets Field and 14-0 on the infield of the Newark Velodrome.

nullMarshall makes a great first impression

Brandon Marshall finished the season with 1502 receiving yards, breaking Don Maynard’s team record that had stood since 1967. Notably, Marshall fell six receiving yards short of the NFL record for a player in his first season with a team-any team, that is-a mark that Marshall himself set with the Bears three seasons ago.

Marshall and Eric Decker scored touchdowns in the same game for the ninth time this season, tying an NFL record. The only other teammates to score TDs in the same game nine times in one season were Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith with the Cowboys in 1995.

Brown caps season with another spectacular game

Antonio Brown caught 13 passes for 187 yards and a touchdown in the Steelers’ 28-12 win at Cleveland. For most players, even some great ones, that would be a “career game.” Consider that Tony Gonzalez never gained even 150 receiving yards in one game; Cris Carter never had a 170-yard game; and neither Larry Fitzgerald nor Hines Ward ever had as many receiving yards in one regular-season game as Brown did on Sunday.

But that was Brown’s fourth-highest total this season, following games of 195 against the 49ers, 284 against the Raiders, and 189 against the Broncos. Brown is the first receiver in NFL history to reach the 180-yard mark in four games in the same season.

nullSung to the tune of you-know-what: “Peyton never subbed before”

Peyton Manning made the first relief appearance of his career and he made it count, engineering the Broncos’ rally in a 27-20 come-from-behind win over the Chargers to clinch the top seed in the AFC playoffs. Manning has started 265 regular-season games; this was the first in which he came off the bench. That’s a record of sorts. The last player to start even 200 games before his first game as a substitute was the Raiders’ Hall of Fame guard, Gene Upshaw. Upshaw started 207 games before his first appearance as a sub in 1981.

Carolina ends a great season with a noteworthy victory

The Panthers walloped the Buccaneers, 38-10, to finish their season with a 15-1 mark. It was the largest season-ending victory posted by any of the seven teams that won at least 15 games. The only other club among that group that won its season finale by at least 20 points was Chicago in 1985. The Bears finished their regular season with a 37-17 win at Detroit. Carolina’s head coach, Ron Rivera, was a linebacker on the 1985 Bears.

nullWatt captures sacks title with three in season finale

J.J. Watt sacked Blake Bortles three times in Houston’s 30-6 victory over Jacksonville, to pass Khalil Mack of the Raiders as the NFL leader for the 2015 season. Watt became only the second player to lead the NFL in sacks twice within his first five years in the league. He previously led the league as a second-year pro in 2012. The other player to do so was Reggie White in 1987 and 1988, his third and fourth seasons in the NFL.

It should be noted that Watt’s three sacks on Sunday were enough to catch and pass Mack, but not enough to lead his team in sacks in its win over the Jags. That distinction goes to Whitney Mercilus, with three-and-a-half sacks of Bortles. Over the last four seasons, only one other pair of teammates had at least three sacks each in the same game: Chris Long and Robert Quinn of the Rams in a loss to Seattle in 2013.

Seahawks end season with rout of powerful Cardinals

The Seahawks made a bold season-ending statement with a 36-6 victory at Arizona, crushing a Cardinals team that had a 13-2 record coming into the game. It was the fourth-largest margin of victory in NFL history against a team with a record at least 10 games above the .500 mark. The largest was a 41-0 victory by the Boston Patriots at San Diego on the final week of the 1961 AFL season. The Chargers had a 12-1 mark prior to that game. One week later, San Diego lost the AFL Championship Game to the Houston Oilers, 10-3.­­

nullCousins’ fast start dooms Cowboys

Kirk Cousins threw three touchdown passes to give the Redskins a 21-0 lead in the first quarter and Washington rolled to a 34-23 win at Dallas. Only one other player has thrown three first-quarter touchdown passes in a game against the Cowboys: Randall Cunningham in a memorable 46-36 Vikings win at Texas Stadium on Thanksgiving Day 1998. Cunningham’s early TD passes all covered more than 50 yards. He connected with Randy Moss for first-quarter TDs of 51 and 56 yards and with Cris Carter for a 54-yard touchdown. For good measure, Cunningham found Moss on a 56-yard scoring pass in the third quarter.

nullEagles’ Thurmond asks the Giants, “Hey, remember me?”

Walter Thurmond recovered a fumble by Eli Manning in the third quarter and returned it 83 yards for a go-ahead touchdown in the Eagles’ 35-30 win over the Giants. Thurmond, who played two games for New York in 2014, became the first ex-Giants player to score a second-half game-winning TD against the team since Bobby Hammond did it for the Redskins in 1980, scoring on a 7-yard pass from Joe Theismann in the final minute of a 23-21 victory.

It was yet another blown opportunity for the Giants, who lost nine of the last 18 games in which they led in the second half. New York has lost six of the last nine games against the Eagles in which it led at some point after halftime, dating back to 2009.

Chiefs turn season around, finish with 11-5 mark

Kansas City extended its winning streak to 10 games, capping its season with a 23-17 win over the Raiders. The Chiefs, who lost five straight games after winning their season opener, finished with an 11-5 mark, the best in NFL history by a team that suffered five consecutive losses during the season. The previous record was the Jets’ 10-6 mark in 1986, when they lost their last five games after a 10-1 start.­

nullBengals’ Hill snaps drought with long TD run

Jeremy Hill flashed rarely-seen breakaway ability, running 38 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter of the Bengals’ 24-16 win over the Ravens. That was Hill’s longest run from scrimmage by far this season, snapping a streak of 232 carries for less than 20 yards.

Pats lose second straight intradivision game

The Dolphins finished the season with a 6-10 mark, defeating the Patriots, 20-10, to snap New England’s streak of 20 consecutive wins against teams with a record at least five games below .500. Combined with a 26-20 loss to the Jets last week, it marked the first time that New England lost consecutive games, both to divisional rivals with Tom Brady at quarterback. It’s also the first time that a team head-coached by Bill Belichick lost its last two games of a season since 1991 and 1992, Belichick’s first two seasons as an NFL head coach (both with Cleveland).

Bears end historic season with home loss to Lions

With a 24-20 loss to Detroit, the Bears finished the 2015 season with a 1-7 record at Soldier Field. That is the team’s worst home record, whether based on winning percentage or games below .500, in any of its 96 seasons in the NFL. By either of those standards, the Bears suffered their previous worst home records at Wrigley Field in 1969 and at Soldier Field in 1973 (1-6 in both seasons).

New Colts QBs lead team to win over Titans

With Andrew Luck, Matt Hasselbeck, and Charlie Whitehurst all injured, Josh Freeman and Ryan Lindley each threw a touchdown pass in the Colts’ 30-24 win over the Titans. Over the last 25 seasons, only one other pair of teammates both threw a TD pass in the same game in which each was making his team debut. Andy Dalton and Bruce Gradkowski did it in the Bengals’ 2011 season opener.

Source: Elias Says: Sports Statistics – Stats from the Elias Sports Bureau

What You Need To Know For Wednesday, Dec. 30 2015

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1.

Degenerate Me

Last weekend was a monster for us junkies, despite what looked like insane violence on many football fields – or is it because of it? (shrugs shoulders)  Only the wetheads worry about blood on the grass during times like these, when the football gets better each week and the money you pillage from suckers, lines your pockets like fine silk.  The best being yet to come, except for maybe place like Cleveland and San Francisco who are more like bloated dead bodies floating along the ethereal abyss.

Playing with House-Money has always been risky – however, last week was swimming with sharks.  Many high-altitude rollers got eaten alive on Sunday – those that survived were clubbed like baby seals, causing an eruption of fear and grief in homesteads from coast to coast.  Strong men wept, and women hurled themselves savagely down dirty stairwells in filthy towns like Boston and Cleveland – Cripes, even in the frozen snow out here in the Rockies.

But me?  My own luck was splendid, as the Marquis used to say, as I repeatedly fleeced and humiliated two of the cruelest and most depraved degenerates in America, the infamous McCutcheon brothers from Pittsburgh.  T’was wonderful.  The arrogant swine got exactly what they deserved – a massive public beating they will never forget.  They came out here with huge wads of ca$h and revenge in their hearts for the losses they suffered last year in the very same bunker – where their doom is a constant companion.  It’s even worse during bowl-season.

2.

C’Ya Chipster

Good luck Chipster – your 1st lesson as a professional was a hard one.  You found out that going 10-6, 10-6 and 6-9 don’t mean much in Philly.  Never you mind that the Eagles have no idea how to win, because they haven’t since…….ummm, hold on, it’s right here in my notes….oh yeah, 1960.  It was 20 years later since they returned to play for a title, and another 24 until the next one – losing both – so it’s likely not until 2024 that they contend anyway.

Besides looking for another job in the #NFL – Tennessee, maybe? – you have to deal with Screamin’A dustin’ off an old narrative; as he did appearing on Mike and Mike this morning telling a classic Screamin’A story about a time he was “stopped on the street” by some Eagles players who came up to him and started talking about Chip Kelly.  Sensationalism!

The point is – you had all the control Chip and made some shaky decisions and never quite won enough to earn the cache you need.  Just remember, Bill was run out of Cleveland and it also took awhile in Foxboro before he became the man he is today – You just keep it 100 Chipster and if it doesn’t work out here, you’ll have your pick of places in college – like Baton Rouge if Les doesn’t change.

+ GOODBYE, MR. CHIP: PHILLY FIRES KELLY – Read More

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3.

(Can’t) Hold That Tiger

The Tigers wrapped up a very memorable, drama-filled football season with a record-setting 56-27 win over Texas Tech in the Advocare Texas Bowl, and it sure does feel good. One could argue that last night’s game doesn’t mean a whole heck of a lot, but after losing three of the previous four bowl games, and enduring a three-game losing streak in the month of November, it’s nice to head into the offseason on a high note. With last night’s win, the Tigers ended the season 9-3, and let’s not forget that this would have almost certainly been a 10-win season had the season-opener against McNeese State been played.

Source: Dandy Don’s LSU Recruiting and Sports News – LSU Football and More!

4.

Today in History

On December 30, 1978, Ohio State University (OSU) makes the decision to fire its 65-year-old football coach, Woody Hayes, one day after Hayes punched a player on the opposing team near the end of the Gator Bowl.

Source: OSU fires coach Woody Hayes for attacking an opposing player – Dec 30, 1978

5.

Out of Chaos Comes Order

Social issues are a minefield for athletes.  Michael Jordan was never going to be confused for Kareem when it came to social justice and attitudes.  No one is, and athletes that came after never wanted to jeopardize their image to their corporate masters – just as players today are more conscious of their “brand” then they are at times with their play.

Yet, Lebron speaks out after advocates ask him to strike games to honor Tamir Rice – is this what we want our athletes to do when every social crisis occurs?  Read more here.

Source: LeBron Speaks Out After Advocates Ask Him To Strike Games To Honor Tamir Rice

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6.

The More You Know

Week 17 – Situational Trends

By Week 17 Vegas knows which teams are truly bad. In the last five years, home underdogs of a touchdown or greater in the last week of the regular season have gone 1-33 SU and 14-20 (41%) ATS.

  • Games Matching this Criteria: Browns (+10) vs. Steelers and Dolphins (+9) vs. Patriots.

The Cardinals and Chiefs are on fire each having won nine straight games. The last 30 teams to win that many games in a row went 22-8 straight-up in their next matchup but 12-17-1 (41%) against-the-spread.

  • Games Matching this Criteria: Chiefs (-6.5) vs. Raiders and Cardinals (-4.5) vs. Seahawks.

Tom Brady and the Patriots don’t lose often but when they do, New England typically wins (40-10 straight-up) and covers (34-16 against-the-spread – 68%) the next week.

  • Games Matching this Criteria: Patriots (-9) at Dolphins.

  • ATL -4 vs. NO The Falcons are 7-3 against-the-spread in their last ten games as home favorites against the Saints.
  • AZ -4.5 vs. SEA Carson Palmer is 7-1-1 against-the-spread at home with Arizona against non-divisional opponents but 3-3 ATS vs. the NFC West.
  • BAL +7 @ CIN In the last five years, AFC North teams that have been underdogs of a touchdown or greater to the Bengals are 0-5 straight-up and 1-3-1 ATS.
  • BUF +3 vs. NYJ The Bills are 8-2 against-the-spread in their last ten home games against the AFC East.
  • CAR -10.5 vs. TB Cam Newton has never lost as a touchdown or greater favorite, he is 11-0 straight-up and 6-5 ATS.
  • CHI -1 vs. DET The Bears are 2-7-1 against-the-spread in their last ten games against the Lions.
  • CIN -7 vs. BAL The Bengals are playing for a bye in the AFC. All-time, teams that have been favored by a touchdown over the Ravens are 5-1 straight-up.
  • CLE +10 vs. PIT Cleveland has lost eight straight as double-digit underdogs against AFC North rivals but the Browns went 5-3 ATS in those games.
  • DAL -3 vs. WAS The Cowboys are 1-5 against-the-spread at home this year and are now 3-11 ATS the last three years when Tony Romo doesn’t start.
  • DEN -7.5 vs. SD Denver is 3-6-1 against-the-spread in its last ten home games as touchdown or greater favorites.
  • DET +1 @ CHI Detroit is 2-18 straight-up in its last 20 games as road dogs against the NFC North, the Lions went 9-10-1 ATS in those games.
  • GB -3 vs. MIN The Packers can clinch the NFC North with a win, Aaron Rodgers is 18-4 straight-up (14-7-1 ATS) vs. the division as a home favorite.
  • HOU -6.5 vs. JAX The Texans clinch the AFC South with a win, Houston is 15-7 straight-up all-time as a home favorite against the division.
  • IND -6 vs. TEN Indy needs a win (plus a lot of help) to make the playoffs. The Colts are just 3-4 straight-up (3-4 ATS) in home games this year.
  • JAX +6.5 @ HOU The Jags have been road dogs in 13 straight games vs. division opponents. Jacksonville went 8-4 ATS in its previous 12 games.
  • KC -6.5 vs. OAK KC has won nine straight (including four in a row vs. the AFC West) and is 7-2 against-the-spread during the winning streak.
  • MIA +9 vs. NE The Dolphins have been underdogs to the Patriots in 25 straight games, Miami went 11-13 ATS in the previous 24 contests.
  • MIN +3 @ GB The Vikings can clinch the NFC North with a win but Minnesota hasn’t won in Green Bay since 2010 and is 1-4-1 ATS in its last six games in Lambeau.
  • NE -9 @ MIA New England clinches home-field advantage with a win, the Pats have won 18 straight as touchdown favorites vs. the AFC East ( but are only 6-10-2 ATS)
  • NO +7 @ ATL This is the fifth straight division game in which the Saints have been underdogs, New Orleans covered the previous four.
  • NYG -3 vs. PHI The Giants are 2-8 ATS in the team’s last ten home games against the Eagles.
  • NYJ -3 @ BUF The Jets can clinch a playoff berth with a win against the Bills but New York has lost and failed to cover in four straight vs. Buffalo.
  • OAK +6.5 @ KC The Raiders are 14-6 against-the-spread in the team’s last 20 road games against division rivals.
  • PHI +3 @ NYG Philly is 8-2 against-the-spread in its last ten road games as underdogs against division opponents.
  • PIT -10 @ CLE Big Ben has been a double-digit road favorite seven times in his career and failed to cover in each game (including losing outright last week).
  • SD +7.5 @ DEN Philip Rivers has won six of his last ten trips to Denver and the Chargers went 7-1-2 against-the-spread in those games.
  • SEA +4.5 @ AZ In Russell Wilson’s career, the Seahawks following a loss in the regular season are 11-6 against-the-spread the next week.
  • SF +3.5 vs. STL The 49ers have been home dogs to the Rams 11 times. San Francisco is 3-8 straight-up and 5-5-1 ATS.
  • STL -3.5 @ SF The Rams aren’t favored on the road often (just 10 times in the last ten years), but when they are St. Louis covers (7-3 ATS).
  • TB +10.5 @ CAR The Bucs have lost six straight as double-digit dogs to divisional rivals but Tampa Bay went 3-3 against-the-spread in those games.
  • TEN +6 @ IND The Titans have failed to cover in seven straight road games against division rivals (1-6 straight-up as well).
  • WAS +3 @ DAL The Washington professional football team is 8-2 ATS in its last ten trips to Dallas.

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

10 takeaways from #NFL Week 15

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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

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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

What You Need to Know to #WIN this Weekend

Not sure who started it, but thanks a lot guy.  All week we had to hear the nonsense of “should Leonard Fournette sit out”, etc., and blah blah blah.  Seriously, it’s stupid, and all so the needle can move.  This isn’t Golf, and he isn’t Clarett or Clowney.  According to my sources, here are the facts:  Leonard wants to win a Heisman, and Leonard wants to win a National Championship.  He does not have any interest in sitting out, he wants to play.  However…..

It got me thinking and you all know how dangerous that can be, so keep reading.  I do not want to see it happen, nor believe it will, but what if…After this year, Leonard Fournette left LSU, and went to play in the Canadian Football League?  He would be paid, a lot.  It would be a needle-mover, similar to Herschel Walker joining the USFL, instead of the NFL, but with more Karmic Justice.

The Canadian team that signed him would receive a huge boost in notoriety and revenue.  The Canadian league itself would see a boost in ratings.  The story would be colossal!  Finally, a young man, with that kind of talent, doing things on his own terms, and the best of all of it – after that one year up north – he becomes a free-agent.  Not a draft pick.  A Free Agent. Leonard could then sign with any NFL team he wanted – the slurping of jock-strap tea from NFL teams would be insane.  He would be in charge, not the league.  It’s the kind of revolutionary possibility that could set the example for future college athletes – without ever having to worry about playing for Cleveland – they decide where to work, just like every other person in America.  Take that Goodell, Viva La Revolucion!


I have not had a lot of time recently, to go into great detail, the picks for this weekend – all because of a now sentient and mouthy A.I. calling itself DC*3PO – so I’m just gonna give you its picks and go from there while we make some more improvements that you should check out:

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They said it could never happen.  They said in this day and age, the obstacle was too high.  Yet, here we are.  The NFL has gone an entire month without an arrest.  Not since 2009 has the league gone thru such a period of tranquility.  Never before have women and children felt more at peace.  In a landmark poll – women and children said they feel 33% safer than last month.  Truly a monumental accomplishment.

Hooray! It’s decorative-gourd season and now everything will have the delicate flavor of pumpkin jammed into anything consumable for 2 months, all while we prepare ourselves for the festive onslaught, known as Kwanza – Anyone want to give Josh Scobee a hug?  How about Mike Tomlin?

In last nights overtime loss to the Ravens, (23-20) Tomlin faced 4 important 4th downs and he blew them all – like an addict needing a sandwich.  The Ravens overcame a 13-point deficit to defeat the Steelers in Pittsburgh. Did you know, the Steelers came into the game having won 57 consecutive home games when leading by more than 10 points, (during the regular season) – it was the second longest current streak of its kind behind New England’s 68 straight.  It’s also the 13th time that the Ravens and Steelers have played a game that has been decided by three-or-fewer points since the 2005 season. That’s by far the most games between any two teams over the last 11 seasons.

Also, a well-deserved and late shout-out to the Raiders who refuse to paint the 50, in the middle of the field, gold.  Now, some have said it was out of respect to the A’s and baseball.  I think it is an old-fashioned middle finger salute in honor of the Head-Raider, Al Davis.  Take that NFL, and here’s one for you 49ers and your fancy new stadium that will host Superbowl 50 – it’s all out of order.


DiRTCanon A.I.DC*3PO’s NFL Bonanza

Last Sunday our A.I. became self-aware and recently it gave itself a name: DC*3PO.  So what was previously an exercise in fun, has now become serious business – DC*3PO has been talking a lot of smack.  I guess we need to start playing some action music, because IT. IS. ON!

First off, we’ll give DC*3PO’s picks along with any trends for those teams – as a starter here are 2 interesting trends for 0-3 and 3-0 teams:  all teams that start 0-3 AND are Home Favorites the next week are 8-20-1 ATS, and that might spell trouble for the Saints.  Conversely, all time, teams that start 3-0 and are Home Favorites the next week are 39-25 ATS – that means Bengals, Broncos, Cardinals, and Falcons should be in your teaser…Now on to the games.



TRENDS (pk): This is the Dolphins third trip across the pond to play at Wembley Stadium, Miami is 2-0 against-the-spread in London.  In all London games, the designated away team has been favored in 9 of 11 games and are 6-5 (55% ATS).

DC*3PO Sez: Miami wins the game 21 – 16.  



TRENDS (IND -9):  In the last two years, following a loss by three or more touchdowns, the Jags are 1-5 against-the-spread the next week.  In the Andrew Luck era, the Colts as home favorites against the AFC South are 6-2 ATS.

DC*3PO Sez:  Jacksonville beats Indy 24 – 23. 



TRENDS (BUF -5):  In the Eli Manning era, the Giants following a Thursday night game are 4-0-1 against-the-spread.  The Bills are 7-3 against-the-spread in their last ten games as home favorites of less than a touchdown.

DC*3PO Sez:  New York 26 – New Jersey 25


TRENDS (TAM +3):  The Panthers, in the Cam Newton era, are 7-5 ATS on the road against divisional rivals.  The Buccaneers are 6-14 ATS in their last twenty games as a home dog following a loss.

DC*3PO Sez:  Tampa Bay wins by 3, 22 – 19.


TRENDS (CHI +2):  Oakland hasn’t been favored on the road since 2012. The Raiders are 0-3-1 ATS all-time in Chicago as a favorite.  The Bears have covered just two of their last ten games as home underdogs.

DC*3PO Sez:  Chicago wins 27 – 26.8.


TRENDS (WAS +3):  All-time, the Eagles as road favorites against the NFC East are 20-12-2 (63% ATS).  All-time, the Redskins as home dogs to the Eagles are 5-9-1 against-the-spread.

DC*3PO Sez:  Philly wins a close game 20 – 18.6


TRENDS (CIN -3):  All-time, following a loss and as a road underdog the Chiefs are 58-39-1 (60% ATS).  This is the sixth time Cincinnati has started the season 3-0, the Bengals went 1-4 ATS in the next game the previous five years.

DC*3PO Sez:  Kansas City wins the game 27.8 – 22


TRENDS (ATL -5):  In the JJ Watt era, the Texans as road underdogs are 4-14 straight-up.  This is the fifth time Atlanta has started the season 3-0, the previous four occasions the Falcons were 1-3 ATS in the next game.

DC*3PO Sez:  Houston loses, 19.2 – 26.


TRENDS (SD -7):  The Browns are 7-3 ATS in their last ten road games against the AFC West.  In the Philip Rivers era, the Chargers as home favorites of a touchdown or more are 24-16 (60% ATS).

DC*3PO Sez:  closer than the experts think, SD 25 – CLE 22


TRENDS (SF +9):  Aaron Rodgers as a road favorite of a touchdown or more is 4-8 ATS.  The 49ers haven’t been home dogs of 7 or more points since 2007, San Francisco covered that game.  The 49ers didn’t just cover, San Francisco won outright 21-19 as 7 point dogs in Week 16 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

DC*3PO Sez:  Green Bay wins but does not cover – GB 26 – SF 24.6


TRENDS (DEN -7):  The Vikings are 10-5-1 against-the-spread with Teddy Bridgewater as the starter (equivalent of a full season).  Peyton Manning has started 3-0 six other times in his career, he was 5-1 ATS in the next game.

DC*3PO Sez:  Denver 19.2, Minnesota 17.6


TRENDS (AZ -6):  All-time, the Rams as underdogs against division opponents are 39-54 (42% ATS). With Carson Palmer, the Cardinals are favorites of three or more points are 6-1-1 against-the-spread.

DC*3PO Sez:  Arizona covers, 26.4 – 19.6


TRENDS (NO -4):  Brandon Weeden has lost his last nine starts and is 0-9 ATS in those games.  The Saints once-dominant home field advantage is gone, New Orleans has lost six straight inside the Superdome.

DC*3PO Sez:  Dallas 25 – Saints 24.8


TRENDS (SEA -9):  Matthew Stafford as a road dog of a touchdown or more is 0-12 straight-up and 2-9-1 ATS.  The Seahawks, in the Russell Wilson era, are 16-7-2 against-the-spread as home favorites.

DC*3PO Sez:  Detroit wins 23.4 – 21.6


Let us know where you lean and what games you think DC*3PO has right or wrong – as for the upcoming Daily Fantasy contests – be sure to check out our Lineup Analyzer and if you think you are better than us, then prove it – let us know your Player-I.D. and we will send you an invite.  Need help, let us know – Fantasy Sports is evolving, let us Teach you how to #win!

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