Just 1 week left of the regular season. First season in NFL history where a game was played on everyday of the week. How 2020 is that?
Lots of talking points and storylines as we head in to the final week and the business end of it all, but what were the takeaways from last weekend’s action?
The Full10Yards Crew are here with your weekly reminder in our takeaways article.
Big Time Games, Big Time Players, Big Time Performances
Many of you were biting at those nails as your fantasy stars were trying to win you championships. But for those teams in and amongst the playoff seedings, fans, coaching staff and the players themselves were willing on every yard gained and every touchdown scored.
In the crunch games, when you need your stars to perform, there were a couple of standout performances in week 16.
Step forward Alvin Kamara, Tom Brady, Davante Adams and Ben Roethlisberger.
On Xmas Day, Alvin Kamara gave Saints fans and Fantasy managers the best Christmas present possible, a 6 Touchdown, 172 yards from scrimmage type of present.
Kamara found paydirt from the 1,3,5,6,7 and 40 yard lines to tie an NFL record for 6 Touchdowns in a single game which goes all the way back to the 1920s (Ernie Nevers of the Chicago Cardinals). His contributions alone was enough to see off Minnesota 52-33 and keep the Saints in the hunt for the #1 seed.
Talking of the #1 seed in the NFC, The Green Bay Packers combination of Aaron Rodgers/Davante Adams kept red hot in the frozen tundra of Lambeau field. Adam and Rodgers connected 11 times against the Titans, with Adam finding the endzone yet another 3 times and had 142 yards on the day through the air in the snow.
It’s the 2nd time this season Adams has scored what us Brits like to call a hattrick and is the 3rd player in NFL history to have 100+ receptions and 16+ rec TD in a season (Cris Carter/Randy Moss). If Adams can repeat the feat vs Chicago he’ll join Jerry Rice and Randy Moss as the only players to have 20+ receiving TDs in a season.
Staying in the NFC, Tom Brady said “hold my beer” to Alvin Kamara as he just took 1 half to dismantle a sorry Detroit Lions defence. Only playing 2 quarters, Tom Brady’s 1st half was the 2nd time since at least 1991 that a player had 340+ pass yards, 4+ pass TD, and 0 INT in a single half. The other one? Also Tom Brady, in the 1st half of a Week 6, 2009 59-0 win vs the Titans.
What a way to celebrate becoming only the 4th non specialist player to reach 300 career games. Still has another 40 to reach that record though.
Finally, we say hats off to Ben Roethlisberger. For all of the recent disparaging on the Steelers and their credibility to win the AFC North aided by an 11-0 start, they grabbed victory from the Jaws of defeat in their game against the Colts. After going 17 points down in the 3rd Quarter, the Steelers signal claler orchestrated a comeback with dimes to Diontae Johnson, Eric Ebron and Juju Smith-Schuster to claim victory and win the AFC North title. Ben finished with 34 completions from 49 attempts, 342yards and 3TDs. He’ll now be rested as it’s been confirmed Rudolph is just a week late on Christmas this year.
As we head in to week 17, some of the players at each of the skill positions will be keeping a close eye on the summit of their respective yardage leaders.
Some players have bonuses on contract and will be fighting for every yards to sit atop the summit of passing, rushing or receiving ladders for 2020.
Last year’s rushing title went down to the wire with Derrick Henry snatching his crown off of Nick Chubb.
Who is in the reckoning this year?
You’ll notice that there aren’t many rushers and receivers to break the 1000 yard marker yet, which isn’t too surprising considering the year we have had. There are a few more players that should reach that milestone and you can bet your bottom dollar, those within reaching distance of their respective summits will play til the final down in the final regular season games.
Tom Tampa’s with the record books again
Having spent 20 years setting NFL records in New England, Tom Brady broke two more on Saturday as Tampa Bay blew the Detroit Lions out of the water in a 47-7 rout.
By just taking the field, Brady became just the fourth non-kicker or punter to make 300 regular-season appearances, joining George Blanda (340), Jerry Rice (303) and Brett Favre (302). Brady, currently 12th on that all-time appearance list, should pass Rice and Favre early in 2021 but he’ll need to achieve his ambition of playing till at least 45 to get anywhere near Blanda’s total.
With his second touchdown pass of the night, TB12 also set a new franchise record in his first campaign in Tampa: 34 passing TDs in a season, pipping the previous high of 33 set by Jameis Winston last year (along with almost as many interceptions). The 27-yard pass also gave the receiver, Mike Evans, a new personal best of 13 TD receptions in a season. Brady’s half-time stat line read 22-of-27 for 348 yards, 4 TDs and 0 INTs, and his 36 touchdown passes so far are good for equal third in the league. The team’s half-time totals of 410 total yards and 34 points against Detriot were also franchise records.
Those first 30 minutes (Brady was rested for the second half, it was that much of a walkover) signalled just the second time a player has ever notched 340+ passing yards, 4+ passing touchdowns and no interceptions in one half. And the other? No points for guessing that was Brady too, when he and the Patriots went nuclear in a 59-0 demolition of the Titans in 2009.
Brady has reset the benchmark in West Florida, with the 10-5 Buccaneers punching their post-season ticket for the first time since 2007. The win ends the NFL’s second-longest play-off drought, with at least a Wild Card place secured a day after the New Orleans Saints secured the NFC South crown again.
It’s also telling that Brady has extended his run to 12 consecutive play-off campaigns, just a week after the former teammates he left behind in Boston flopped out of January football contention.
Montgomery is now a monster of the Midway
Back from the dead, and from the failed Nick Foles experiment at QB, there is a storm brewing in the Windy City.
The Chicago Bears started 5-1 then lost 6 straight, but now with one week to go, following thee consecutive wins by the incredibly consistent and surprising leadership of Mitch Trubisky, David Montgomery (426 yards rushing in December after 463 in his first 10 games) and Allen Robinson – all of whom have led their team in yardage for the past 5 weeks, Da Bearz can punch a ticket to the playoffs with a win against the Packers next Sunday or a Cardinals loss.
Second year RB David Montgomery’s form, not quite that of King Henry, has been pivotal, as Trubisky has been able to play to his strengths by using play action and staying mobile in the pocket.
Khalil Mack remains a huge threat on defense, and with Green Bay wanting to secure the #1 seed the Bears v Packers will be an absolute must watch in Week 17. Can the Bears pull off the upset?
Haskins ‘stripped’ of employment in Washington
The likes of the Cleveland Browns and Tennessee Titans may have been on the losing end of the score-line last weekend, but as we all know there was only one real definitive loser, and that is the currently unemployed QB Dwayne Haskins.
On Monday Haskins was released from the Washington Football team having stunk up the joint for three and a half quarters of a potential division winning loss to the Carolina Panthers. Haskins breached Covid protocols the week before, being pictured with strippers without a facemask. His Washington career is horrific reading – 16 games, 13 starts – 2,804 yards, 12 td and 14 interceptions, but most telling 3-10 on his starts, including 2-5 this season. Haskins will be missed about as much as 2020 will be by the planet.
For Coach Ron Rivera, who has battled cancer this year, he at least does not have to fight his conscience as he did the right thing releasing the latest D.C. draft bust. P.S – Backup Taylor ‘probably the best QB in the world’ Heinicke had more combined offensive yards in 7 minutes in the 4th quarter than Haskins managed in over 50.
Going into Week 17 and a ‘win and in’ game at least Washington fans will no longer have to suffer the statuesque Haskins lining up under center.
Please sir, can we have some more (Football)?
Week 17, when dreams can stay alive but also die.
The Colts and the Cardinals are two teams that still have Super Bowl aspirations, but they need a bit of a helping hand.
For the Colts, whose loss to the Steelers could prove terminal to their season, need help from any of the teams that they share a record with coupledd with a victory in week 17 vs the Jaguars.
The Titans are no sure thing against the Texans and the Dolphins face a tough task against Miami so it’s not all looking bleak.
The Cardinals however, need a win vs the Rams and also need a Chicago loss against Green Bay. Those are far from certain.
Unfortunately, like every year, there will be winners advancing and the losers going back to the drawing boards. Whichever teams do miss out, they’ll feel sick that the NFC East is send a team to the playoffs…
Leaving the “Least” ’til last
So our present to greet us in 2021? A sunday Night Primetime football game courtesy of the NFC East.
The winner of the earlier NFC East battle between the Cowboys and Giants will be watching nervously hoping that the Jalen Hurts led Philadelphia Eagles can do them a huge post christmas favour by beating the Washington Football Team.
Whether it’s Alex Smith or Taylor Heinicke at QB, Football Team fans must be glad that Dwayne Haskins wont be captaining the ship.
Heinicke has dotted all around the league including a brief visit to the XFL earlier in the year. The journeyman quarterback is a job that many more books should be written about with their trials and tribulations enough to fill multiple novels. If Heinicke can lead Washington to the post season in week 17, maybe they’ll do just that!
Cincy breaking bad streaks at last
In six short days, the Cincinnati Bengals have doubled their tally of wins this season: they beat the Steelers on Monday and then saw off the Texans 37-31 in Houston on Sunday, despite starting both games as major underdogs.
Third-string QB Brandon Allen, returning from a knee injury, threw for a career-high 371 yards, with 2 TDs and 0 INTs, earning a passer rating of 126.5 in just his seventh career start. His 20-yard TD throw to Tee Higgins in the far corner of the end zone was a particular toe-tapping delight, and the O-line kept him sack-free despite JJ Watt’s best efforts.
Having broken a couple of hoodoos related to playing their divisional foes on Monday Night Football, Cincy seem to have acquired a taste for ending unwanted streaks, and busted quite a few against the Texans:
- This was the first time for over two years that the Bengals have won twice in a row. Their last consecutive victories date back to Weeks 4 and 5 in 2018.
- This was the first win in a one-score game in the Zac Taylor era; in his two seasons as an NFL coach, he’d previously gone 0-15-1 in close contests.
- This was the first road win under ZT and the first time the Bengals have won away from Paul Brown Stadium since a 37-36 victory at Atlanta in September 2018. The 20-game winless streak lasted two years, two months and 27 days.
OK, so none of these streaks should have lasted anywhere near as long as they did, but to end them without the likes of Joe Burrow, Joe Mixon, Tyler Boyd, DJ Reader and several other key players was impressive. They leaned on Samaje Perine (136 total yards, 2 TDs) and Gio Bernard (131 total yards) for some pass-catching RB action, while rookie wideout Tee Higgins was just a yard shy of a 100-yard outing. Alex Erickson (88 yards) also filled in well for Boyd in the slot.
Defensively, Cincy weren’t great; David Johnson turned back the clock with a 128-yard game that left the run defence chasing shadows. There were times when it took multiple players to finally bring the Houston ball-carrier down while on his TD run, Darren Fells just carried a couple of defenders into the end zone with him. But the positives outweighed the negatives and for the first time in the Zac Taylor era, the Bengals flew home with that winning feeling.
Having looked locked-on for the #3 pick a week ago, the Bengals are now a four-win team and now sit fifth in next year’s draft order. A sizeable chunk of the fanbase will undoubtedly be furious that the wins are taking them out of range for drafting the top college OT prospect, Penei Sewell, next year. But if ever there was a team that just needed to win a couple of games for the sake of morale and confidence, it was Cincinnati.
Watt are you playing at?
The Houston Texans haven’t had much to cheer about this season, except perhaps the firing of Bill O’Brien.
Currently sitting at 4-11, 3rd in the AFC South, would have the 3rd overall pick as things stand, but they gave that away to Miami. Their only wins have come against detroit, New England and worst team in the league Jacksonville Jaguars (x2).
JJ Watt, one of the beacon lighters not only for the franchise, but the local communities too had some stern words to say after the Houston defeat to the Bengals in week 16.
It’ll be interesting to see the team and player reaction on the field in week 17 when they have a chance to play spoiler vs the Titans.
The worry for the fans is that there doesn’t seem to be too much light at the end of the tunnel considering opponents in the division, draft picks upcoming and levels of current talent on the team.
JJ himself could possibly play his last year or 2 of his career elsewhere as he goes in search of some post season success.