Chops316 Monday Morning Quarterback: 2019 Week 16
The sixteenth 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. The Christmas season is here and some teams found wonderful gifts under the tree while others were given a lump of coal. And if you are a Cowboys fan like myself you looked in your stocking and discovered Santa left a dump in there for you.
Just remember I am a Dallas Cowboys fan and I'm extremely biased. And disgusted these days. Well at least I was. Then I got a bunch of Christmas cookies from family and friends so I'm feeling a little better. Also the fact that as I sit here typing this post I am stuffed to the gills with pierogies isn't hurting matters.
Feel free to agree or disagree about anything mentioned here. All comments are welcome.
Just when you think the Cowboys can’t get any lower they travel to Philadelphia and get beat up by an injury-depleted Eagles squad 17-9. What a disgrace.
If you watched Dallas play at all the past several weeks it is obvious QB Dak Prescott is not healthy. Until recently he was completing his passes at a career best percentage, now he is missing targets all over the field. Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz was apparently paying attention. He stacked the box with 8 or 9 defenders all day daring the Cowboys to beat them through the air. His strategy worked. RB Zeke Elliott struggled to find running room in the loaded box (13 carries, 47 yards) and Prescott missed open receivers (25/44, 265 yards). The Cowboys WRs did little to help bail out Prescott by dropping 6 (!) passes.
After running wild all over the Rams last week, you would think the Cowboys staff would realize the Eagles would do their damnedest not to let that happen to them and plan accordingly. They didn’t and it showed.
The Eagles offense is missing a ton of starters, but they still have QB Carson Wentz. Wentz wasn’t spectacular, still he made enough plays to put some points on the board for Philadelphia: 31/40, 319 yards, 1 TD. Not bad since the Eagles were missing their top 3 WRs and TE Zack Ertz was injured early in the game. TE Dallas Goedert (9 catches, 91 yards, 1 TD) stepped up his game to be Wentz’s most reliable target.
How ironic Dallas Goedert was the guy who starred for Philly. In case you don’t know, he is named Dallas because his parents are huge Cowboys fans. Goedert claims his parents have been converted to Eagles fans, but they probably are just telling him that.
The Cowboys had a golden opportunity to win the NFC East and blew it. Sure some injuries hurt their cause, but that is no excuse against a team as banged up as the Eagles. The Eagles still found a way to win by changing up the game plan on defense. The Cowboys stuck to the same old shit that hasn’t worked since Week Three.
The silver lining for Cowboys fans is this has to be the final nail in the coffin for head coach Jason Garrett. 9 and ½ years of disappointment has been more than enough. So much talent and opportunity has been wasted under his leadership. Or lack thereof.
Strangely enough the NFC East is still undecided. If the Eagles beat the Giants next week they take the division. The Giants are looking feisty lately and took the Eagles to overtime a few weeks ago. If the Eagles lose and the Cowboys beat the Redskins then Dallas will win the division. If both lose the Eagles are in the playoffs. Wouldn’t shock me if they both lose. It would be a fitting ending to one of the most embarrassing season for the NFC East in a long time.
The Battle for the #1 seed in the NFC
Four teams in the NFC entered Week 16 with identical 11-3 records to lead the conference. Three of them left with a 12-3 record. The other one, well let’s just say they had better days this season.
The 49ers needed a fourth quarter comeback, but they managed to beat the Rams 34-31. After getting shellacked by Dallas the Rams playoff hopes were all but dead, still they came into this game ready to fight. QB Jared Goff had a surprisingly good day against the stout San Fran defense (27/46, 323 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT), however his one pick was returned for a TD right before halftime. The loss eliminated the Rams from the playoffs.
Niners QB Jimmy Garoppolo on the other hand mostly had a game to forget (16/27, 248 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs), but connected with WR Emmanuel Sanders for a huge 46 yard gain on third and sixteen during the Niners final game-winning field goal drive.
The Saints marched into Tennessee and fell into a 14-0 deficit before righting the ship to defeat the Titans 38-28. RB Alvin Kamara ran for 2 TDs, his first scores since Week 3. QB Drew Brees (27/38, 279 yards, 3 TDs) played well and WR Michael Thomas broke the NFL record for receptions in a season with another huge performance: 12 catches, 136 yards, 1 TD.
This game meant little for the Titans playoff chances so they decided to rest RB Derrick Henry, who has been nursing a hamstring injury for weeks. QB Ryan Tannehill continued his career resurrection in Tennessee (17/27, 272 yards, 3 TDs) yet without a strong running attack the Titans couldn’t match the firepower of New Orleans.
The Packers traveled to Minnesota Monday night and claimed the NFC North Division by defeating the Vikings 23-10. QB Aaron Rodgers is not playing up to his usual lofty standards (26/40, 216 yards, 1 INT) but he was able to lean on the ground attack. RB Aaron Jones has taken a giant leap forward this season and Monday night was no different: 23 carries, 154 yards, 2 TDs.
Without their top 2 running backs, the Vikings offense was MIA. Kirk Cousins couldn’t do it on his own (16/31, 122 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) and as a team the Vikings could only muster up 139 yards of total offense. Woof. Three takeaways by the Vikings defense set up their scores and kept Minnesota in the game.
The Seahawks were the conference leader who laid an egg this week, losing at home to the Cardinals 27-13. After losing RB Rashaad Penny for the season last week, RBs Chris Carson and C.J. Prosise were injured this week. With a decimated ground game Russell Wilson was forced to shoulder the load and he bombed: 16/31, 169 yards, 1 TD. His top WRs couldn’t get open, Tyler Lockett was held to one catch for 12 yards while D.K. Metcalf was shutout.
The Cardinals lost QB Kyler Murray to injury in the third quarter, but this game was all about RB Kenyan Drake. Drake has played great since escaping Miami at the trade deadline and he ran all over Seattle: 24 carries, 166 yards, 2 TDs.
Now without their top three RBs, Seattle is desperate. On Tuesday they lured RB Marshawn Lynch out of retirement. They better hope Lynch has some beast mode left in the tank or they will get knocked out of the playoffs in a hurry.
Meanwhile in the AFC
Not much changed in regards to the playoff teams and seeding in the AFC this week. The Ravens defeated the Browns with ease 31-15 to improve to 13-2 and lock up the #1 seed.
Ravens QB Lamar Jackson continues to be great (20/31, 238 yards, 3 TDs, 17 carries 103 yards) as the Baltimore running game rolled over the Browns. As a team the Ravens carried the rock 40 times for 243 yards, a 6 yards per rush average.
Cleveland QB Baker Mayfield was OK (20/33, 192 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT) but he received no help from the running game and has proven all season he can’t carry this team on his own. The Browns dropped to 6-9, another losing season. So much for all the hype.
The Patriots have looked bad lately yet we all know this team can put thing back in proper order quickly in December. They did just that Saturday night in a 24-17 win over the Bills. QB Tom Brady broke out of his recent slump to have his best performance in weeks: 26/33, 271 yards, 1 TD. RB Sony Michel carried the ball 21 times for 96 yards to give Brady some ground support. The Patriots are 12-3 and currently hold the #2 seed.
The Bills have been good all year, but they still aren’t able to take the next step up. QB Josh Allen (13/26, 208 yards, 2 TDs) had an up and down game. He looks great when completing passes, but he misses a lot of throws. The Patriots defense bottled up the Bills running game (23 carries, 96 yards) enough to hold them in check. Buffalo needs a big running attack to control the clock and move the ball, they didn’t get it this week. At 10-5 Buffalo is locked into the #5 seed.
The Chicago Bears were already eliminated from the playoffs before Week 16 and they played like it as the Chiefs stormed into Chicago to beat the Bears 26-3. The Chiefs got a big lead early and went into cruise control since the Bears weren’t putting up much of a fight. QB Patrick Mahomes made it look easy: 23/33, 251 yards, 2 TDs, 1 rushing TD. Mahomes looked capable of doing much more but with the big lead head coach Andy Reid dialed things back. The Chiefs are now 11-4 and currently hold the #3 seed.
The Texans didn’t play very well, but due to the generosity of QB Jameis Winston they were able to top the Buccaneers 23-20 to win the AFC South Division. Winston threw four INTs (he’s got 28 on the season) to help set up a few easy scores, including a pick six. The Texans needed all the help Winston was willing to give them as QB Deshaun Watson had a poor game (19/32, 184 yards, 1 INT) and RBs Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson combined for only 31 yards on 19 carries. The Texans are 10-5 but very banged up. They are currently the #4 seed and likely to stay there.
We have a Tank Bowl Winner!
Did you ever wonder what would happen if two of the worst offenses in the NFL faced off against two of the worst defenses in the NFL? Well wonder no longer my friend, we now know the answer: a thrilling overtime shootout!
The team that tried to tank but failed, otherwise known as the Miami Dolphins, took down the team that doesn’t try to tank but usually does, also known as the Cincinnati Bengals, 38-35 in overtime. It was nice of both of these losers to pretend that they actually care.
The Dolphins raced out into a big lead in this game 28-6. But they are the Dolphins after all and let the Bengals score 23 points in the fourth quarter to knot the score up at 35-35 as regulation ended. Then since Miami realized they already blew the #1 draft pick in 2020 they decided to say the hell with it and won the game with a field goal in overtime.
This was a battle of the QBs as Ryan Fitzpatrick (31/52, 419 yards, 4 TDs, 1 INT) outdueled Andy Dalton (33/56, 396 yards, 4 TDs) to will his team to victory.
The Bengals are now 1-14 and have clinched the top pick in next year’s draft. I think I can speak for the entire nation as I tell LSU QB Joe Burrow we will keep you in our prayers. Good luck in Cincinnati!
The Dolphins improved to 4-11 and have officially failed the art of tanking. It’s looking like a #4 pick at best for Miami. I mean as long as they don’t do something stupid like beating the Patriots next week. Nah, the game is in New England. We all know the Pats only lose to the Dolphins in Miami.
Next week’s playoff scenarios
Please bear with me as I try to make sense of all the various playoff scenarios we have coming up in Week 17. Or don't and go back to enjoying the holiday. Most of the teams have already been decided, but at the same time most of the seedings are still up in the air. Let’s see if I can figure this out without my head exploding. Remember the top two seeds of each conference will get a bye for round one of the playoffs.
I’ll start in the AFC. One thing we know for sure, with their NFL best 13-2 record the Ravens have wrapped up the AFC North and the #1 seed in the conference. Head coach John Harbough has already announced he will sit most of his starters this week against the Steelers. That could be a mistake. They already have a first round bye so his guys will be out of competition for a long time. Rust may settle in and they might come out slow in their first game back. Tony Dungy did this all the time when he coached the Colts and Indy lost several of their first playoff games despite being big home favorites. We’ll see.
The Patriots are the AFC East champs and hold the #2 seed right now. They will clinch it with a win against the Dolphins. This team desperately needs a bye and a home game in the playoffs. Even if they lose (I’m not sure if there is enough Fitzmagic for that to be possible) they’ll still be #2 if the Chiefs lose or tie against the Chargers in Kansas City. Hmm, I’m thinking the Patriots better win if they want that bye. If they lose and KC wins the Pats will be the #3 seed.
The Chiefs have won the AFC West and are sitting with the #3 seed currently. They can move up to #2 and get the sweet perks if they win against the Chargers (very likely) and the Pats lose to the formerly tanking Dolphins (very unlikely). They can fall to #4 if they lose and the Texans beat the Titans. The Texans are beat up and might rest guys since they have no shot at a bye. I’m thinking the Chiefs stay right here.
The Texans are the AFC South winners, which gives them the #4 seed right now. They can only move up to #3 since they hold the tiebreaker over KC. I doubt KC will lose to the Chargers and the Titans are still fighting for a playoff spot so a win for the Texans is going to be tough. This team has a lot of injuries and little to play for since they can’t get a bye or move down.
With their 10-5 record, the Buffalo Bills have locked up the #5 seed in the AFC. They can’t move up or down regardless if they win or lose against the Jets. Most likely they will be headed to Houston to start the playoffs.
The #6 and final seed in the AFC is still undecided with three teams having a chance to claim it. The Titans have the most direct route of claiming the seed, if they beat the Texans they are in the playoffs. If they lose they can still make it if the Steelers lose and either the Raiders or Colts lose. To save everyone a lot of trouble they should just beat the Texans and make it easy on all of us.
The Steelers screwed up big time by losing to the Jets and now need help to make the playoffs. First they have to beat the Ravens, who will be resting a lot of guys. If they don’t they are out. Even if they win they are still out if Tennessee knocks off the Texans.
I swear I am not making this up: the 7-8 Oakland Raiders can still make the playoffs. Wow! They need a miracle. First they must win in Denver. OK that’s possible. Then they need the Titans and the Steelers to lose. Less likely, still possible. But that’s not enough. They also need the Colts to beat the Jaguars so Oakland will get some kind of weird strength of schedule tiebreaker. This is strange. The Colts have already been eliminated but their game could possibly effect the playoff race.
I don’t know Raiders fans. All four outcomes are certainly feasible, but will all four actually occur? Good Luck.
Let’s move on to the NFC. The #1 seed is still very much up for grabs with three teams still in the running for the top spot.
The Niners currently hold the #1 seed and they haven’t even clinched their division yet. Wild. Anyway they have the easiest path to number one, beat the Seahawks this week and they take both the NFC West and the #1 seed since they hold tiebreakers over both the Saints and Packers. However if they lose they drop all the way to the #5 seed and won’t even get a home game, let alone a bye. Man this is crazy. They can be sitting at home relaxing the first week of the playoffs or heading to Green Bay or New Orleans.
The Packers currently hold the #2 seed but can move either up or down depending on what happens this week. The Packers have a creampuff matchup against the woeful Lions coming up. If they beat the Lions (let’s assume they will, sorry Mikey) they can claim the #1 seed if the Seahawks beat the 49ers. If the Niners win and Green Bay wins they will stay at #2.
Even if there is some kind of miracle and Detroit actually beats the Packers, Green Bay will still be #2 if the Seahawks beat San Fran and New Orleans loses to the Panthers. However if Green Bay loses and the Saints win, the Packers will fall to #3 no matter who wins the NFC West.
The Saints are the NFC South champs and the current #3 seed. They can’t move to #1, but could move to #2 and still get a bye. They can’t fall any lower. Follow me here. If the Saints beat the Panthers, the Niners beat Seattle and the Packers beat the Lions then New Orleans will be #2. If the Saints lose they can still be #2 if the Seahawks win and the Packers lose. The Saints will stay at #3 if the Seahawks and Packers both win.
The Eagles lead the NFC East right now and hold the #4 seed. They can’t move up no matter what happens. If they beat the Giants they win the NFC East keep the #4 seed. If they lose to the Giants and Dallas beats the Skins, the Cowboys will win the NFC East and claim the #4 seed. So win and they’re in, lose and they could be in or out. Dallas can only make the playoffs if Philly loses and they win.
The Seattle Seahawks are currently in 2nd place in the NFC West and hold the #5 seed. Depending on the outcome of Sunday’s games, they could move up into the #1, #2 or #3 seed. The NFC East winner is locked into #4 and Seattle can’t fall lower than #5.
Buckle in because this is going to be a wild ride. First of all the Seahawks have to beat the Niners to move up. If they lose they’ll stay at #5. If they win and both New Orleans and Green Bay lose they will be #1. Hmm not likely. If Seattle wins and New Orleans beats the Panthers while the Packers lose to Detroit they will be #2. Hmm, I can’t see the Packers blowing that game. If Seattle wins and both Green Bay and New Orleans win they will be #3. That could happen. It all depends if the Seahawks can beat San Fran. With their running back issues I think they’ll stay at #5.
The Vikings are 10-5 and hold final Wild Card Spot in the NFC with the #6 seed. Win, lose or draw against the Bears they can’t move up or down. They should just forfeit the game and enjoy the holiday.
Man, with Christmas here and being pressed for time I swore to myself that my MMQB post would be a short one this week. I failed as bad as the Cowboys. And trust me that is bad. I'm pretty sure this is my longest post of the season. That's what happens when I start ranting against Dallas, get caught up in the wonderful world of NFL tanking and try to make heads or tails of the current NFL playoff picture. Dammit.
Anyway I started this post on Christmas Eve and now it is well into Christmas morning. The fat guy in the red suit isn't here yet, probably because he is not getting any of my cookies. C is for Cookie and that's good enough for me.
Thanks for reading, I sure do appreciate it. I hope you and your family have a terrific Christmas. Let me know your thoughts on Week 16.