Chops316 Monday Morning Quarterback: 2019 Week 15
The fifteenth Sunday of the 2019 NFL season is in the books so here are the different thoughts and opinions I have on various things I witnessed this past weekend. At this point we know most of the teams who will make the playoffs, but how they end up being seeded is still up in the air. There's a huge advantage to getting that first round bye, let alone home field advantage.
Just remember I am a Dallas Cowboys fan and I'm extremely biased. Feel free to agree or disagree about anything mentioned here. All comments are welcome.
Where the hell have these Boys been?
Holy smoke I didn’t see this coming. The Rams had turned their season around and beat up the Seahawks last week. The Cowboys have been a pitiful excuse of a football team the last month. No matter, the Cowboys finally pulled out of their funk in a 44-21 beatdown of the Rams.
You want to know how bad things have been going for Dallas lately? They screwed-up the coin toss. The frickin' coin toss! The Cowboys won the toss. They had two choices: defer to the second-half or receive. They came up with a third choice saying we’ll kick. That choice would give the Rams the ball first in each half. Referee Walt Anderson asked Dak Prescott a second time if that was his choice. Given a second chance, Prescott said Dallas would defer. Apparently Anderson didn’t hear him and proclaimed the Rams would get the opening kick-off in each half.
The replay officials later overturned Anderson’s ruling, saying the Cowboys got it right on their second chance and would receive the second-half kick-off. They could have stuck with the initial call since Dallas did make a mistake at first, but I guess since Anderson gave them a second chance the league officials decided they would go with it.
I guess if you goof up the coin toss you have nowhere to go but up. And I’ll be damned, it was the last mistake the Cowboys made all day. Maybe they should screw up the coin toss every week!
I’ve been yelling for head coach Jason Garret to get canned for several years now, but Garrett and his staff deserve credit for putting together a proper game plan to beat the Rams. Last year in the playoffs Los Angeles racked up 270 rushing yards against Dallas so the defense played to stop the run. Going by the final stats I’d say they were successful, the Rams ran for 22 yards on 14 carries. It’s no secret that the best way to stop the Rams is to put the ball in QB Jared Goff’s hands.
Dak Prescott leads the NFL in passing yards. That offensive strategy has not helped Dallas win. So against the Rams the Cowboys ran the ball. And then they ran it some more. It worked. Zeke Elliott had one of his best games of the season (24 carries, 117 yards, 2 TDs) and backup RB Tony Pollard was even better: 12 carries, 103 yards, 1 TD. For once Dak didn’t have to carry the load on offense and he passed with efficiency: 15/23, 212 yards, 2 TDs.
It was the most complete game the Cowboys played since they whooped up on the Eagles earlier this season. Now with a 7-7 record, they win the NFC East if they beat Philadelphia again this week. I don’t really care if Dallas makes the playoffs or not since they won’t go very far, but winning against the Eagles is always fun.
The Eagles beat the Redskins 37-27 to keep up with the Cowboys in the NFC East, but they aren’t looking good heading into the big game. They needed overtime to beat the Giants and a last second TD to beat Washington. They are barely scraping by some of the worst teams in the league. That being said, Dallas has been so disappointing this season the Eagles can still win the division if they beat the Cowboys.
Give me a T for Texas, a T for Tennessee
In a battle for AFC South supremacy, the Texans held on to defeat the Titans 24-21. Houston now has a one game lead over Tennessee with two games left to play, with a tiebreaker in their back pocket to boot.
This was a close, hard fought matchup that could have gone either way. The biggest play of the game occurred in the second quarter. The game was still scoreless as the Titans drove the ball down to the Houston 5 yard line. On first and goal, Tennessee QB Ryan Tannehill threw a pass to WR Anthony Firsker but Houston safety Justin Reid nailed Firsker and popped the ball loose. Houston LB Whitney Mercilus plucked the ball out of the air and returned it to the Tennessee 12 yard line. The Texans scored a TD two plays later and completely stole momentum.
Houston added another TD to take a 14-0 halftime lead. Tennessee fought back in the second half to tie the game at 14, then the teams traded TDs until Houston K Ka’imi Fairbairn (what a name) kicked what turned out to be the winning field goal with three and a half minutes left to play.
This was a huge win for Houston, especially coming off of last week’s embarrassing loss to the Broncos. QB Deshaun Watson played well (19/27, 243 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs), but his two INTs were killers. Both came in the red zone. RB Carlos Hyde had one of his better games on the year (26 carries, 104 yards, 1 TD) and topped 1,000 rushing yards in a season for the first time in his 6 year career.
Tannehill’s fluky INT ended up being too much to overcome, but he still had a nice game for the Titans: 22/36, 279 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT. His favorite target, rookie WR A.J. Brown, had another big game (8 catches, 114 yards, 1 TD) and continues to be a rising star. RB Derrick Henry’s nagging hamstring injury may finally be catching up with him as he had a pedestrian afternoon: 21 carries, 86 yards.
Houston now has the division lead, but these two teams face off again in two weeks. The Texans face Tampa Bay next week and that can be a tough matchup depending on how generous Bucs QB Jameis Winston is feeling about handing out picks. The Titans have a brutal matchup next week against New Orleans, but the game is in Nashville and the Saints aren’t always the same team on the road. Houston has the edge, but the race for the division title isn’t over.
Where the Buffalo roam
It has taken 20 years, but the Buffalo Bills have finally hit double digit wins in a season again with their 17-10 victory over the Steelers on Sunday night.
Last week’s shootout between the Niners and Saints was fun, but I prefer to watch two defensive squads hammer the hell out of each other. Football is supposed to be a violent game. And this game was a defensive struggle, neither team’s offense could do squat.
The difference in this game was turnovers. Buffalo intercepted Pittsburgh QB Duck Hodges 4 times while the Steelers only picked off Buffalo QB Josh Allen once. That right there is the story of the game.
The Steelers struggled to run the rock (15 carries, 51 yards) so rookie Hodges was forced to carry the offense. He moved the ball through the air (23/38, 202 yards, 1 TD) but those 4 INTs just destroyed any momentum the Steelers offense created. Well that is what happens when you rely on a third-string QB to be your hero.
Josh Allen didn’t do much in the air (13/25, 139 yards, 1 TD) or on the ground (4 carries, 28 yards, 1 TD) yardage-wise but he punched in a few scores and only turned the ball over once. At least he got support on the ground from RB Devin Singletary: 21 carries, 87 yards.
At 10-4 the Bills have clinched a Wild Card spot, but they shouldn’t stop there. They only trail New England by one game in the AFC East and the two teams meet each other this Sunday in Foxborough. If the Bills win, and that isn’t far-fetched if you have seen the Patriots recently, the two teams would be tied for first heading into the final week. Yes it still possible for the Bills to win the division. Go Buffalo!
The Steelers fell to 8-6, but their playoff hopes are still alive. They currently hold the final Wild Card spot in the AFC since they hold the tiebreaker over the Titans. If they win out they are in. That isn’t going to be easy since their last game is against the Ravens. However if the Patriots slip up and Baltimore has already clinched the #1 seed in the AFC they might rest some starters in the last game. We’ll see.
Don’t screw up now!
The Week 15 schedule didn’t offer a lot of big time matchups. Most of the teams fighting for a playoff spot or seed were heavy favorites over weaker opponents. Their mission this week was simple: don’t screw up. But we all knew somebody would. It’s the nature of the NFL. Any given Sunday as they say. The San Francisco 49ers proved it to be true as they fell to the Falcons 29-22. What the hell San Fran!
I guess the 49ers were due for a letdown after two big games against the Ravens and Saints. But they had this game under control and let it slip away in the final ten minutes after taking a 19-10 lead.
Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan used to be the offensive coordinator in Atlanta and apparently his old boss Dan Quinn remembered his tendencies well. San Fran TE George Kittle was strong (13 catches, 134 yards) but he is essentially matchup-proof. The rest of the Niners offense struggled. QB Jimmy Garoppolo looked good when he targeted Kittle, but when he targeted anyone else his numbers were brutal: 9/17, 66 yards, 1 TD.
The Falcons ran the ball OK (20 carries, 89 yards), but WR Julio Jones was the star of the team. Like Kittle he had 13 catches for 134 yards (weird huh?) but he also hauled in 2 TDs, including the game winner in the final seconds.
This is a painful loss for the Niners. One week after taking the #1 seed in the NFC, they not only gave it back but also ceded the NFC West division lead to the Seahawks. They fell from a #1 seed to #5 even though at 11-3 they are still tied for the best record in the NFC. Ouch.
All is not lost for the NIners. They still have a game left with the Seahawks and if they win out they will win the division. Also they hold the tiebreaker over the Saints and the Packers so if they can reclaim the #1 seed. But they have to win out.
Taking care of business
The 49ers dropped the ball on Sunday, but many other playoff contenders took care of business to keep the playoff picture interesting.
We know NFL defenses can’t stop Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes, now we know Mother Nature can’t stop him either. Despite the blustery conditions, Mahomes lit up the Broncos (27/34, 340 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT) as the Chiefs stomped the Broncos 23-3. Not even a blizzard can stop head coach Andy Reid from dialing up the passing plays.
The Chiefs are 10-4 and have already won the AFC West. The #1 seed is only possible if the Ravens drop their last two games, so that isn’t happening. The #2 seed is still possible, especially if Buffalo knocks off the Patriots this week.
The Green Bay Packers haven’t looked especially dominant lately, but they keep on winning. With their 21-13 win over the Bears they improved to 11-3, tied for the best record in the NFC. The tiebreakers are convoluted right now, currently the Packers are the #2 seed in the NFC behind Seattle. They have a chance at the #1 seed, but they will need to win out.
And they better keep winning if they want the NFC North Division title as the Vikings rolled over the Chargers 39-10 to move to 10-4. The Vikings offense wasn’t really that impressive, but the defense forced seven turnovers. Dammit Chargers, I know that it’s the season of giving but c’mon.
The Vikings have nearly locked up the final Wild Card spot, they only need one win or one Rams loss to clinch. They can still win the division, but not only would they have to beat Green Bay this week, they also need the Packers to lose their finale against the Lions. Yea, just be happy with a wild card Minnesota.
Seattle’s 30-24 win over the Panthers not only gave them back the NFC West division lead, but also moved them to the #1 seed with tiebreakers. Seattle leaned on their stars QB Russell Wilson (20/26, 282 yards, 2 TDs), RB Chris Carson (24 carries, 133 yards, 2 TDs) and WR Tyler Lockett (8 catches, 120 yards, 1 TD) to beat the Panthers.
The big matchup between the Seahawks and 49ers in Week 17 will not only settle the division but also possibly the #1 seed. The loser will get a Wild Card, but lose home-field advantage and a first-round bye. Massive stakes in that game.
The Saints roughed up the Colts 34-7 to improve to 11-3. Despite being tied for the best record in the NFC, tiebreakers are not currently their friend as they are the #3 seed right now. They can’t fall any lower even if they lose out since they have already clinched the NFC South. Yet they can move up if Green Bay loses a game and Seattle wins the NFC West. It’s confusing as hell. Anyway congrats to Drew Brees for taking over the all-time passing TD lead from Peyton Manning. At least for now, Tom Brady is still only 2 TD passes behind him.
Speaking of Tom Brady, the Patriots rebounded from last week’s defeat to beat the Bengals 34-13 and improve to 11-3. Don’t get too excited New England fans, the offense still looks like crap. The Pat’s defense forced five turnovers and scored a TD to make the score look good. Brady was unimpressive again (15/29, 128 yards, 2 TDs) but for a change the running attack bailed him out with RB Sony Michel (19 carries, 89 yards) and RB Rex Burkhead (6 carries, 53 yards, 1 TD) leading the way.
Still the Patriots couldn’t even crack 300 yards of total offense against the lousy Bengals defense. What will they do next against the top notch Buffalo defense? The Patriots are currently the #2 seed in the AFC, but if they lose to Buffalo they might have to settle for a Wild Card Spot.
Around the League
In fitting fashion, the Raiders dropped their final game in Oakland to the Jaguars 20-16. I don’t give two shits about the game but I do feel terrible for the Oakland faithful. With all the money every team in this league generates through national television contracts and revenue sharing there is absolutely no good reason for any team to relocate. It’s greed at its worst.
Boo hoo Mark Davis. So the Oakland Coliseum is a dump. Build a better place to play you cheap bastard. You’ve had everything handed to you in life on a silver platter, yet you gleefully spit in the face of the very fans who have helped provide you with said silver platter to make even more money. Disgraceful. Not only for him, but also the NFL. I hope he dies before the Raiders play one game in Las Vegas. Yup, I’m that mean.
Jameis Winston became the first QB in NFL history to throw for more than 450 yards in back-to-back games as he tossed for 458 yards in leading the Buccaneers to a 38-17 win over the Lions. What are the Bucs going to do with Winston after the season is over? He is capable of great performances, he is also a freakin’ turnover machine. He has 24 interceptions and 12 fumbles on the year. Woof.
Meanwhile the Lions have announced head coach Matt Patricia will return next season in lieu of his 9-20-1 record. Lets just assume the Lions will drop the next two games left on the schedule as well. Team owner Martha Ford did stress however she expects the Lions to be a playoff contender next year. I don't why she'd expect that, she's bringing back the same jabronies who have run this franchise into the ground. They should have just stuck with Jim Caldwell.
Remember all the pre-season hype over the Browns? Man, talk about as dead as Dillinger. The Cardinals thrashed Cleveland 38-24. With a 6-8 record the Browns are mathematically still alive for the playoffs (Hahaha, it requires more math than sending someone to the moon) but have been realistically out of it since the Titans kicked their ass in Week One.
It’s reported multiple Browns players are begging other teams to acquire them from Cleveland. Sure, what NFL team isn’t hungry for underperforming players who have obviously given up on their season before it’s over. Instead of trying to fight for their slim playoff hopes, this team just rolled over and died.
Last week the NFL fined Ravens CB Marcus Peters $14,000 for drinking a beer with fans after he jumped into the crowd in the final seconds of the Buffalo/Baltimore game. Ironically that was probably the total amount of money those fans spent to purchase the beers.
This kind of garbage makes me hate the NFL. For a league that has been built on selling beer, either in the stands or on the TV by advertising, they shouldn’t be so concerned when a player celebrates a little with the fans. Oh yea, that’s right. I forgot the NFL doesn’t give one shit about its fans. Ask Oakland.
Don't forget that Thursday night football is over, but we have three games on Saturday. That includes the Bills traveling to New England against the Patriots. A Buffalo victory would be great, but the Pats are veterans of big time December games and I doubt they'll go down easy.
Let me know your thoughts on Week 15.