Season in Review – Tennessee Titans

By James Fotheringham (@nflhypetrain)

Next up in our review series is the Tennessee Titans.


Before the season the Tennessee Titans were one of those teams that nobody really thought much about. They were “just a team” who were too good to be bottom of the pile in the AFC South, but behind the Texans and Colts. When Andrew Luck announced his retirement, hopes grew, but the prospect of DeShaun Watson on offence, JJ Watt on defence and strong teams in other divisions, making the playoffs via a wildcard look difficult.


The Personnel:


The Coaching team lost OC Matt LaFleur to the Packers which led to Arthur Smith being promoted from the TE coach role. Otherwise, nothing changed. Mike Vrabel was HC, Jon Robinson GM and Dean Pees DC.

On Defence the team had 5 rookies in the final roster, but mostly the team was led by veterans Jurrell Casey, Kevin Byard and Logan Ryan with developing stars Rashaan Evans, Harold Landry and Jayon Brown all stepping up. Kenny Vaccaro and Malcolm Butler began their 2nd seasons at the Titans while Cameron Wake joined from Miami.

On Offence the team added AJ Brown in the 2nd round of the draft to pair with Corey Davis (taken in the 1st round last year). They also grabbed Adam Humphries from Tampa Bay and retained Delanie Walker for another year. Walker went down very early and so Jonnu Smith and Anthony Firkser shared to load. Ryan Tannehill joined from Miami so act as backup to Marcus Mariota (who started the season with a rather short leash). The Running back duo of Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis were retained while the offensive line was improved by the addition of Roger Saffold from the Rams to join Jack Conklin, Taylor Lewan and co. Henry and Lewis were okay in 2018 but Henry only just scraped over 1000 rushing yards and his utilisation stopped him from reaching his full potential. A lot of experts doubted he’d be able to become elite but as the season unfolded, he exploded.


The Regular Season


Cast your minds back to the conclusion of week 6. The Titans had just been shutout 16-0 by the Denver Broncos to drop to 2-4. The Bills, Jags and Colts had each got the better of them and wins away against the Browns and the Falcons were the only high points. Marcus Mariota was struggling and the team as a whole only scored more than 20 points in 2 games (those in which they won) and had 3 games scoring 7 points for fewer.

During and after the loss in Denver the Titans switched QB and put Ryan Tannehill under centre and that decision was key in turning around their season. They went on to in 6 of their next 7 games to move to 8-5 and in a fight with the Texans for the AFC South. In 10 starts and 2 relief games, Tannehill would complete 201 passes for 2,742yds and 22TCs with only 6INTs. A 117.5 passer rating and completion percentage over 70% was a revelation for the Titans while he was also able to rush 43 times for 185 yards and 4TDs. This support and change in playing style caught teams off guard and gave Derrick Henry the room and licence to run.

Image Credit – Chipermc, Wikimedia

Tannehill made the team a passing threat and brought relevance to the likes of 2nd round pick AJ Brown, 2018 1st rounder Corey Davis and the Delanie Walker replacements at TE in Jonnu Smith and Anthony Firkser. Brown grew throughout his rookie season and became a serious big play threat. Even more so when Henry got into his stride. Brown managed to break the 1000yd reception plateau with 1,052 on 52 receptions, with many of them being more than 20yards. 8 TDs made him an invaluable asset and he was ably backed up by Davis and Humphries.

Dion Lewis was largely ineffective all year. With enough good passing options Lewis was left as more of a backup and a decoy while Derrick Henry ran the show. Henry never had more than 3 targets, so all his work was done on the ground, but after 9 weeks he had only had one game with over 100 rushing yards. Fantasy owners weren’t feeling to need to trade for him and even though the team was improving, nobody could foresee what was coming. In week 10 at home to Kansas City, Henry had 188 rushing yards on 23 attempts and his first multiple TD game of the season. Up to that point he’d had 644 yards and 6TDs in 9 games. This game was the turning point as the 35-32 win (mostly on Henrys back) was the start of a 4 game win streak in which Henry would amass 641 scrimmage yards and 7TDs and each of the 4 games would see him rush for over 100 yards. It was an incredible run which made them the form team going into their crunch divisional game against the Texans.  

Image Credit – Walker Kinsler, Wikimedia

The week 15 head to head was critical as it effectively decided whether then Texans would win the division or whether the Titans would overhaul them. With the Steelers currently in the wildcard spot, whoever lost would be in a scrap to make the post-season. The Texans were off form, totally the opposite to the Titans but DeShaun Watson and co secured a 24-21 win. the Titans were left scrapping with the Steelers for the final wildcard and a loss to the Saints (with Derrick Henry missing from the line-up) the following week proved not to be critical as the Steelers loss to the Jets gave Tennessee the jump on them based on strength of opponent. The Titans then had a simple “Win and in” game against the already playoff bound Texans. An easy 35-14 win against a below strength Houston sealed the deal. A 9-7 record and with the 2nd wildcard spot they’d go in as the 6th seeds in the AFC.


The Post-Season


If seeing the Patriots lose the Dolphins and fall into the Wildcard round (much to the benefit of the Chiefs) wasn’t surprising enough, then what happened at Gillette Stadium certainly was. Very few analysts gave the Titans a chance. They squeaked in on the last day as the final wildcard, have Ryan Tannehill as their QB and weren’t a top 5 defence. Meanwhile the Patriots have Brady and Edelman, a top 3 defence and Belichick in control. 

In the regular season Derrick Henry totalled 1,505 rushing yards on 303 attempts and a (tied) league leading 16TDs. In the post season, he looked unstoppable. He had 34 attempts for 182 yards and a TD against the Patriots, while the defence stifled an increasingly annoyed Patriots offence. Ryan Tannehill only completed 8 passed (from 15 attempts) for 72 yards and a TD but that was all he needed. Anthony Firkser caught the 12 yard pass in the first quarter before Henry took in in from the 1 yard line just before half time to see the Titans into a 14-13 lead. A stalemate second half was finally broken when Logan Ryan picked off Brady with 9 seconds left and took it to the house to cue wild celebrations nationwide.  

Image Credit: Will Newton/Getty Images

The upset against the Patriots was incredible and many anti-Patriot fans were quick to get behind them, but very few people would have said they had a chance against the top seed Baltimore Ravens and Lamar Jackson. Once again, the Titans proved the world wrong. Derrick Henry again would star with 30 rushes for 195 yards at 6.5yrds per carry. He did get a TD, but it was neither rushing, nor receiving. A 3 yard loop ball to Corey Davis on a trick play was probably the moment where the game was won. The defence held, what some argue was the most potent offence in the NFL, to just 12 points while on offence Ryan Tannehill got them over the line without really doing much.

Tannehill only completed 7 passes, but 2 of those were touchdowns. First to Jonnu Smith to set the tone early and then followed up by Kalif Raymond as they took a 14-0 lead. 2 Field goals for the Ravens brought them back into it but the trick play from Derrick Henry to Corey Davis took the wind out of the Ravens. Only minutes later Tannehill was rushing the ball in himself and at 28-6 with less than 20 minutes to go, it was over. The Ravens would get one back through Hayden Hurst, but it was too little too late.

The AFC Championship game against the Chiefs wasn’t the matchup expected on most people’s brackets, but with the Titans on form and Patrick Mahomes being Patrick Mahomes, it was going to be fun to watch. A heavy run offence vs a heavy pass offence and in the end, despite the Titans taking 10-0 and 17-7 leads, the Chiefs did what they have done so often, and scored a succession of TD’s to swing the balance in their favour. A Greg Joseph field goal and a Derrick Henry 4 yard TD run gave the Titans a perfect start to the game. The response from Mahomes to Hill kept it tight but the 10 point lead was restored when lineman Dennis Kelly caught a pass from Tannehill when labelled as an eligible receiver. Another trick that worked a treat.

After that, it became the Patrick Mahomes show. 4 TD’s in 12 game minutes including a short pass to Hill, a dazzling run, a rush from Damien Williams and a 60 yarder to Sammy Watkins finished off the Titans. At 35-17 with 7:33 left on the clock it was a mountain to climb. Tannehill did get another TD to Firkser but with the team behind, he was being forced to throw more. He had 209 yards and 2 TDs with no INTs but with Derrick Henry limited to under 70 rushing yards the Chiefs got the job done and would go on to the Superbowl.


Conclusions


At no point in the season did anyone truly think the Titans would be in the AFC Championship game. They just kept surprising people and after years of not realising his potential, Derrick Henry has finally shown how elite he can be. No shadow from Demarco Murray, no split responsibilities with Dion Lewis and a QB that is capable of running and providing an alternative which keeps the opponents guessing.

It’s hard to say what they need to concentrate on in the off season since the only thing that stopped them was the brilliance of Patrick Mahomes. They had a good young secondary who are learning fast, a pass rush which maybe could use a fresher set of legs (but are still playing to a high level) and some good special teams’ players. On offence, if Henry stays healthy and the likes of Davis and Brown keep developing and the Smith/Firkser combo can evolve into the long term replacements for Delanie Walker then it’s hard to suggest what else they can do. The O-Line is great, and Ryan Tannehill has been a revelation. The big decision is whether the Titans see him as their future. Tannehill is a UFA this off season and it will depend on contracts and cap space whether he returns. I’d be very keen to keep him on as low level deal as he is willing to take if I was the GM. The foundations of something great are there. I’d like to see Tannehill to AJ Brown for another year.

New Orleans Saints v Tennessee Titans
Image Credit: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

After the loss to the Chiefs Dean Pees announced his retirement (again) and so the team will need a new defensive co-ordinator next season. Their defence was a big reason why Derrick henry was able to be so dominant. There is still room for improvement as they gave up 20+ points on 8 occasions in the regular season and they need to figure out a way of stopping Mahomes, but the signs are positive and maybe a the new DC can tip them over than edge.

It will be interesting to see how they cope next season with the new weight of expectation and teams targeting Henry and Brown, but if you are a Titans fan then this has been a season to remember and you have some exciting times ahead. #TitanUp      

Season In Review – Seattle Seahawks

By Tim Monk (@Tim_MonkF10Y)

Today in our Season Review, we take a look at losing divisional rounders, the Seattle Seahawks. In a tough division where even whipping boys Arizona spiced up their offence, the Seahawks are a staple of the NFL playoffs over recent years, but let’s find out why they couldn’t make it past the Packers…


Entering the season


Varying opinions amongst the NFL community on how well the Seahawks would do this after possibly overachieving last year.

Pete Carroll was entering his 10th year as a Seattle Seahawks coach and Brian Schottenheimer was retained as OC despite the heat he got from their exit in the playoffs last season.

Big splash play was made for Jadeveon Clowney to help generate some pass rush and the Seahawks were hoping he was able to find some of his old disruptive form. They brought over Ziggy Ansah from the Lions too. The signing of Josh Gordon didn’t quite work out as well.

The running back room was a bit up in the air with 2nd year player Rashaad Penny expected to be more involved but lead back Chris Carson was the man he had to usurp. The Seahawks added DK Metcalf, the marmite of the 2019 draft to their WR core to go with star player Tyler Lockett. The defence had more new faces after the likes of Earl Thomas leaving so a lot of change in the organisation.


During the season


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Image Credit: Lindsey Wasson/Getty

The Seahawks stumbled across the line vs the Bengals at home in their first game and the 12s were certainly anxious as to what that result meant. Those fears were surpressed though as they stormed to an 8-2 record, including back to back overtime wins against Tampa and San Francisco with their only losses coming against the Saints and the Ravens.

Seattle went 3-3 after their bye with the 3 losses coming in the division and the loss of both Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny towards the end of the season that led to their demise. Retread at running back Marshawn Lynch helped them get past Philadelphia in the Wildcard round of the playoffs, a game further than last season.

The Seahawks once again made it to January, but once again they fall well short of the Championship game. Despite having a possession to win in Lambeau, a costly 3rd down sack meant a punt and then the defence, couldn’t stop the Packers from closing it out. One could argue the Seahawks were fortunate that the Eagles were down to Josh McCown at Quarterback too in the Wildcard Round.

Image result for dk metcalf
Image Credit: Steven Bisig/USA TODAY Sports

2nd Round rookie DK Metcalf had a decent opening season with 900 yards and 7 TDs and showed a bit more versatility than the critics were giving him coming out of College which helped see him fall all the way to #64 overall in the draft. Tyler Lockett continued his form over from last year too, with over 1000 yards on 82 receptions and 8 TDs. The combination of Will Dissly early on prior to injury and Jacob Hollister saw a decent production come from the tight end position too. Expect that to continue in to 2020.

On the defensive side of the ball, no Seahawks mustered more than 4 sacks, which was a concern coming in to the season hence why they made the move for Clowney prior to the season.

Offseason outlook

It’ll be interesting what the Seahawks do with offseason acquisitions Clowney and Ansah as they are unrestricted FA in 2020 (the franchise tag is not an option with Clowney due to the term of the contract with Clowney at signing).

They’ll have to check on the statuses of the running backs and decide what to do with that skill position, especially with some talented RBs coming through in the next couple of years.

Generating a pass rush and being a bit stingier on defence will probably be the priority, adjustments and additions to the offensive line will probably go a long way too considering the pass rushes with teams in their division.

They’ll have $60m to achieve this all with, but with Russell Wilson tied up now for a while, at least they wont have to focus on that.

Going in to next season the Seattle Seahawks will….be the Seattle Seahawks. Playoff and Super Bowl contenders.

House-call Hardman: The Chiefs Secret Weapon.

By Alex Lewis (@alexlewis226)

The Kansas City Chiefs have one of the most stacked offences in the league, if not the most stacked.

Asking someone to name off their weapons would be like asking the Army to name all of theirs; they’d get half-way through and you’d already know that you were going to lose.

Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Travis Kelce, Damien Williams; the list goes on and they really do seem as dangerous on paper as on the grass of the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami where they will face up against the equally impressive San Francisco 49ers for a shot at the Lombardi Trophy.

But despite all the big names on their roster, and despite all the first-round picks on the 49ers defence, there is a certain name you should be looking out for as soon as that ball is kicked off on the 2nd February.

Mecole Hardman.

A second round pick out of Georgia this last year, Hardman’s explosive rookie season has seen him go to the pro-bowl as a returner, and as I’ll explain, may take him to Super Bowl MVP.


Return to sender


Hardman’s impact as a return specialist has been incredibly impressive in just his rookie season.

You can expect the Pro-Bowler to attempt to affect field position and even cause some danger to the end-zone in Miami as Hardman has a serious chance to be the first player since Devin Hester to return the opening kick-off of a Super Bowl for a touchdown.

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Stan Szeto/UAS TODAY Sports

The Chiefs not only lead the post season in return yards with 247, but also post the highest average return of any team that featured in the Championship round.

The 49ers gave up 148 kick return yards to the Minnesota Vikings in the Divisional Round, so the possibility of breaking a big runback is there for Hardman who ranked highly in all returning statistics this season.


A helpful alternative


Mecole Hardman’s fairly lowkey status may also be of huge assistance as he shoots to become the Chiefs main Super Bowl weapon.

With Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce likely to be doubled by the 49ers defence, there is space for an alternative threat to emerge for Andy Reid’s offence.

Image result for mecole hardman travis kelce tyreek hill
Abbie Parr/Getty

Hill will be in crosshairs come game time after his performance in the AFC Championship meaning that he may see coverage rolled his way by Niners DC, Robert Saleh.

And as for Kelce, well you can expect to see him struggle in Florida as well, as the 49ers gave up just 552 receiving yards to Tight Ends in the regular season, the fewest of any team.

Kelce suffered a similar fate vs the Tennessee Titans as he saw chips and bracketing galore in an attempt to slow him down, which worked.

These techniques used by opposing DC’s to prevent the Chief’s main weapons often give up some space to players like Hardman to make a name for themselves, or indeed Sammy Watkins who ended up over 100 receiving yards last time out.


Slotting into place


Both at the University of Georgia and indeed as a Chief, Hardman has done much of his business from the inside the hashes.

37% of his season has been spent trying to take advantage of the slot and the people who defend it, and it has been fairly successful as Hardman collated 6 receiving touchdowns in his debut campaign.

Image result for mecole hardman lined up
Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

This week he is likely to face up against Slot Cornerback K’Waun Williams who had a good game against the Green Bay Packers and specifically Allen Lazard.

The challenge for Williams this week is the incredibly rapid Hardman, who times in over a quarter of a second faster over 40 yards (4.33 to 4.58) than Williams and posts far higher agility and speed scores, per PlayerProfiler.

The 2019 49ers defence for all its dominance, have given up 50+ yard and one touchdown receiving games to both Tyler Lockett of the Seattle Seahawks and Pharaoh Cooper of the Arizona Cardinals.

Of all the players to have returned against the Niners, interestingly these two post the hights snap share in the slot, 50% and 67% respectively, all of which could be pointing to an area of small weakness for Andy Reid to try and use.


Rushing to conclude


If I hadn’t already convinced you to back Hardman at the Hard Rock, then just give me one last chance.

Any college football fans will probably recall, the 2017 National Championship between Alabama and Georgia, but what you might not remember is Mecole Hardman having over 130 all purpose yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Image result for mecole hardman georgia vs alabama
Jamie Squire/Getty

Apart from preventing concerns that Hardman struggles to perform when the lights are bright and the pressure is on, his rushing touchdown in that game on a Jet Sweep leads me to my bravest prediction.

Andy Reid often takes advantage of trick plays like Jet Sweeps and motions from his receivers like Tyreek Hill’s first touchdown of the Championship game.

He has only rushed Hardman four times this season, preferring Hill for this duty, which if I’m not mistaken, is setting us up for an attempt or two in the big game for number 17.

Hardman may just end up with a rushing touchdown to match the 150 all purpose yards and a receiving touchdown that i’ll be betting on him to have.

Season In Review – New Orleans Saints

By Dave Moore (@davieremixed)

This is the first team up in our new article series, “Season in Review”, is the New Orleans Saints.

We will go through EVERY team in the NFL and take a look back their season and what the future holds for each team.

The New Orleans Saints, the Bridesmaids of the NFC Championship game from the past few seasons and they were once again a front runner for the Vince Lombardi Trophy in 2019. How did it all pan out? We break it down here:


entering the season


After New Orleans’ second crushing playoff defeat in as many years there were legitimate questions to be asked about whether this team could put it all together again to go one step further and play February football.

Even more concerning was the apparent fading of Drew Brees’ star as post-Thanksgiving 2018 he was poor. Was it a blip or the stunning drop-off we saw from Peyton Manning a few years prior?

The expectation for the Saints would’ve been to go one further and appear in their second ever Super Bowl but with the Falcons seemingly healthy again after an injury-struck 2018 and Christian McCaffery turning in an impressive rookie year it looked for all the world like it’d be a very, very competitive NFC South.

Image result for max unger
Image Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty

A huge factor heading into the new season was the retirement of Center, Max Unger, this was a player who was a figurehead of one of the most impressive offensive lines in the game, with the signing of free agent Nick Easton and the drafting of Erik McCoy in the 2nd Round of the 2019 Draft it seemed far from certain who #9 would be taking snaps from come Week 1.

The other major change for the Saints came in the skill positions as we said farewell to Mark Ingram II who left in free agency to join Baltimore but welcomed in Latavius Murray and Jared Cook from the Vikings and Raiders respectively. I think there was quite a shock when Ingram left and Saints fans weren’t exactly enamoured with Murray as his replacement given the chemistry between Alvin Kamara and Ingram had been a huge part of the near-perfect 2018 season. However, Ingram did have fumbling issues and perhaps it was Payton’s way of trying to freshen up the team.

Jared Cook was a definite upgrade at the Tight End position after Ben Watson left in the off-season and after a few swings and not-quite-misses-not-quite-hits at securing a solid WR2 behind Michael Thomas, it was definitely a sign that the Saints meant business. Especially given that they had never replaced Jimmy Graham since he was traded to Seattle.


During the season


There were so many stories around the Saints in the regular season it is hard to get your head around them all. How about Week 1, Monday Night Football at home to the Texans? The Saints kick a 47-yard field goal to go 27-21 up with 50 seconds to play. Vintage late drive from Drew Brees to seal the game? Not quite. Deshaun Watson uncorks a couple of bombs which result in Kenny Stills of all players taking the ball into the endzone just 13 seconds after the Saints had kicked that field goal! 28-27 and that’s a stunner for the Superdome. But wait…Here comes that vintage late drive…Sort of. The Saints work it to field goal range and Wil Lutz uncorks a bomb of his own to send a 58-yarder through the uprights as time expired. The Saints don’t do anything simply do they?

That would prove to be the case in Week 2 in what was already highlighted on the schedule as The Revenge Game. On the road in Los Angeles. After that non-call just eight months prior that ended the Saints season and allowed the Rams to go and roll over for the Patriots a fortnight later. Surely this is where New Orleans lay those ghosts to rest? Well…

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Image Credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty

This is where the Saints lose without scoring a touchdown. This is where Aaron Donald bursts through that much vaunted offensive line, gets to #9 who, whilst throwing a pass has his throwing thumb broken/ligaments torn/completely busted. Out goes Brees, in comes Teddy Bridgewater. The Saints lose 27-9 and despite there being a strip sack from Cam Jordan returned 87 yards for a touchdown being denied because the refs had blown the play dead there could be no real complaints from New Orleans. They were beaten. Revenge will have to wait for another season.

So you lose your star Quarterback for 6-8 weeks who, by the way, was not showing any issues that plagued him toward the end of the season. You’ve got six games before your bye week. You have to go on the road to Seattle, host Dallas and go to Chicago alongside some easier games against the Bucs, Jaguars and Cardinals. Hope for 4-2? Expect 2-4? Settle with 3-3?

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Image Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty

Nope. Somehow the Saints go 6-0 with Teddy BridgeH2O under center for the first five. They did it in different ways, too. They score 2 twice on D/ST in Seattle, kick 12 points to win 12-10 against Dallas (their first win since 1998 without reaching the endzone). BridgeH2O threw for 300+ against Tampa, they ran all over Chicago and the Defense held Jacksonville to a pair of field goals.

This was a stunner for the NFC as for so long the Saints had been the team that would have to score 30 just to keep themselves in the game as their D would regularly crumble. Now you’ve got them winning games without Drew Brees? Meanwhile in the NFC South, the worries of their divisional rivals putting up more of a fight this season proved to be something of an unfounded concern as they all flopped spectacularly. The South was the Saints’ to lose and even by the time the Bye arrived in Week 9, the Saints were 8-1 and eyeing another Bye Week in January.

So in true New Orleans fashion they get blown out by the Falcons in the Superdome 26-9. This proved to be little more than a flesh wound as they won their next three (all divisional) games no problem. The big one was hosting the 49ers in Week 14 to essentially decide who gets that first weekend of January off.

It was a classic. A 48-46 victory for the 49ers on a time-expiring field goal. Another heartbreaker in the Dome but this time there were no contentious final plays. It simply came down to which team had the ball last would win and it broke San Francisco’s way. George Kittle proved once again magnificent he is and Emmanuel Sanders stuck 157 yards and a score on the Saints.

George Kittle
Image Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

What was getting lost amidst all the MVP talk surrounding Lamar Jackson was that Michael Thomas was setting record after record and was arguably in with a shout for MVP. The man did nothing but catch balls all year round and by the time the 49ers had left New Orleans in Week 14, he was on pace to break the single-season record for catches (143, Marvin Harrison).

Indeed, two weeks later on the road against the Titans he caught a pass at the one-yard line for 144 and then followed it up with catch 145 for a touchdown. Michael Thomas was the star for the Saints this year.

New Orleans closed out the season with a 42-10 blowout win over the Panthers to finish 13-3 but as luck would have it, those losses would come back to haunt New Orleans as they finished outside of the top two seeds for the playoffs. An absolute stunner for a team with that record to be playing Wildcard Football but with the 49ers and the Packers both having better inter-conference records the Saints wound up looking at hosting Minnesota then going on the road to Green Bay and then in all likelihood to San Francisco if they wanted to be playing in Miami come February 2nd. It’d be possible, but very difficult.

Lo and behold, the Saints laid an egg against the Vikings as they lost 26-20 in overtime. A scarcely believable result but yet again New Orleans found a new way to blow it in January. They barely deserved to get the game to OT as the Vikings completely outplayed them from first to last. What is a real kicker for the Saints is that the next week the Vikings – much like the Rams in the Super Bowl – turn up the next game and just stink the place out against San Francisco.

Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph held on to a 4-yard touchdown pass from Kirk Cousins to upend the New Orleans Saints, 26-20, in overtime.
Image Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

There are so many unanswered questions from the post-season. What would the Saints been like in Lambeau in January? Would we have seen another classic between New Orleans and San Francisco in the NFC Championship game? What would Kansas vs New Orleans looked like in Miami? We’ll never know.

The stars of the season – Thomas aside – came mainly from the other side of the ball, Cameron Jordan, Vonn Bell, rookie Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and most of all, Demario Davis. The OLB played magnificently all season and was rightly named to his first ever Pro Bowl. After Brees went down in Week 2, Davis essentially became the leader of the team and after #9’s return they shared these pre-game leadership duties. A real testament to a player who has come on leaps and bounds since leaving the Jets in 2018.


offseason outlook


Going forward for the Saints, there are decisions to be made at Quarterback.

Sean Payton, Drew Brees, Saints
Image Credit: Clutchpoints.com

Theoretically they could wind up without Brees, Bridgewater and Go-Go-Gadget Taysom Hill on the roster as they’re all free agents (although the only way Brees leaves is if he retires). It is hard to see a world in which all three of these players are on the team come September but if Brees takes another team-friendly deal and Bridgewater fancies his chances of replacing him in 2021 – if not before – then it is possible.

The offensive line will need shoring up as Andrus Peat was a real weakness in the defeat against the Vikings after injuries took their toll up front on both sides of the ball. Look for New Orleans to perhaps draft a Guard.

Another major issue – as ever – is a WR2. Tre’Quan Smith hasn’t done enough. Ted Ginn Jr isn’t getting any younger and it is doubtful he’ll be brought back. Deonte Harris seems to be restricted to Special Teams for now. The Saints will pick at #24 in the first round. I suspect they may use it on a wide-out who can stretch the field because that is the one singular limitation of Michael Thomas is that he isn’t the player that’ll rip off 50+ yarders and it is important to note that he doesn’t need to be that player but New Orleans do need someone else to do that.

New Orleans has roughly $12.4 million in cap space and will likely need to make room for a Marshon Lattimore contract extension that he richly deserves. However, there is the question of Alvin Kamara. In 2018, Kamara was incredible for the Saints but was something of a flop this season by comparison, especially in the scoring column as he went over ten weeks without finding the endzone. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays going forward as he is still on his rookie contract and by all rights, hasn’t done enough in 2019 to demand Ezekiel Elliott money. He becomes a UFA in 2021 so it’s potentially a prove-it season for the running back. Definitely a key thing to watch going forward.

Best Bets – NFL Championship Round

By Tim Monk (@Tim_MonkF10Y) and Adam Walford (@touchdowntips)

So here we are down to 2 games for Championship Weekend. all 4 teams now just one game from the big one in Miami on the 2nd February. This is of course a set of matches that were played out in the regular season.

Tennessee @ kansas city (-7.5) – O/U 53


TIM:

The Titans have the opportunity to beat all 4 AFC divisional winners in a row here and with the way they are playing, it will take a brave person to take KC on the 7.5 spread, especially with the hook going the Titans way. that being said, the Chiefs were the first team to win a game by more than 20 points after trailing by 20 points.

The Chiefs are the explosive, chunk play and most exciting team whilst the Titans have been plucky but effective in executing their gameplans which has seen them knock off Baltimore and New England in their back yards.

How will this game pan out I hear you cry!

Both these teams offences can exploit the opposing defences; Kansas City ranked 26th in the Regular season in terms of rush yards given up per game (128) and gave up 94 against DeShaun Watson and Carlos Hyde last week, so a small improvement if you want to be picky. Ryan Tannehill isnt asked to do much with his legs but can scamper for the first down but if it ain’t broke, dont fix it. Expect a lot of Derrick Henry once more as the Titans will look to sustain drives, score first and chew the clock whilst trying to force a turnover on defence. The KC offensive passing game goes up against a Titans pass D that gives up 255 yards per game on average, which ranked 24th in the regular season. The 2 games in the post season has a higher watermark than that, but don’t forget that the Baltimore yardage and some of the New England yardage through the air was because those teams were trailing. The Titans D has 3 INT in their 2 playoff games, including that pick 6 in Foxborough.

Both these teams are top half in the league when it comes to scoring offence and scoring defence and truly is a fascinating game to see which style comes out on top. It could very well be team with last possession wins the game and for that reason you would have to take the Titans on the handicap if you must bet on that market. The total points line of 53 is a bit high for me to take the over but considering the offences match well against the opposing defences, i wouldn’t want the sweat of backing the under. The Titans will want to keep the score down, keep it close. They wont win in a shootout style game this time around (the regular season game ended up with 67 points).

If you want to get creative, your edge may be in the Ryan Tannehill markets.

Ryan Tannehill’s 2 post season games has seen him muster a measly 160 yards COMBINED through the air! whilst I can see a bit more in the passing game this weekend due KC’s explosiveness and putting up points, causing the Titans to potentially chase, I am certainly flummoxed as to why his line is generally around the 236.5 mark with redzone sticking their neck out with 245.5. If the game plays out how i think it will, there is no chance he gets near that line, so I like Tannehill to throw for under 245.5 passing yards. His pass attempts line 29.5 and his completions line is 17.5. BOTH of those lines would have gone under in the last 4 straight games. Take the under 29.5 pass attempts.

Staying with Ryan Tannehill, his rushing yards line is 19.5 with Redzone, which he has only managed to do once in his last 7 matches. Derrick Henry’s line is around 106.5 for what it’s worth…something which he has surpassed by a fair distance in 6 of his last 8 games. You can even get 99.5 rushing yards as the line on Redzone if you want a bit of overs action. DT for the Chiefs Chris Jones has been absent from practice all week with a calf injury, which could prove pivotal in this game.

I fear that with the Ryan Tannehill lines, it’s a trap and the bookies are begging you to take the unders and that they see the Kansas City Chiefs being too much of a juggernaut that the Titans actually have to throw and take away Henry. I am not going to overthink it and going to trust what I have seen thus far over the last month or so and feel the Titans will stick to their plan and be able to execute just as effectively as they have done to get to where they are now.

Bets: 2pts – Under 245.5 passing yards Ryan Tannehill (20/23 Redzone), 2pts – Ryan Tannehill pass attempts under 29.5 (5/6 B365). 1pt – Under 19.5 rush yards Ryan Tannehill (20/23 Redzone). 1pts – Over 99.5 rush yards Derrick Henry (20/27 Redzone).

ADAM:

Find my full preview for the AFC at http://www.tdtips.com/afcTitle2019

Bets: 2pts stakes – Jonnu Smith o2.5 receptions – 5/4 (365), Ryan Tannehill o1.5 passing TDs – 5/4 (365) 1 pt stakes on Tannehill anytime TD scorer – 6/1 (365), Mecole Hardman anytime TD scorer – 4/1 (WillHill)


Green Bay @ san francisco (-7.5) – o/u 46.5

TIM:

This game is a bit more straight forward.

The Packers lost the previous meeting in the regular season by a whopping 29 points and there is nothing telling me that this game’s result will turnout any differently.

Whilst the 7.5 is not great when taking favourites, I would be surprised if the 49ers don’t cover this. Sticking to my principles of never taking -7.5, therefore that is no bet. If you wish to take the -7/6.5/6 and pay the shorter odds, that’s where I would rather go SF -6 is currently 8/11. There is a tell on the team individual totals too with SF having a line of 27.5 and GB having 18.5, implying there is a 9pt handicap spread.

I don’t mind the unders here either but I think it’ll be close and I’ve already told you how I feel about under sweats.

Getting into the finer details, Raheem Mostert seems to have been given as much as a focused role you are going to get in the 49ers backfield, commanding double digit touches over his past 6 games. It was strange to see Tevin Coleman get the touches he did last week. His rush yards line at Bet365 is 50.5, something which he has also achieved in each of his last 6 games (even if just barely). Take Mostert to make it a 7th consecutive game over 50 rush yards. With George Kittle and Kyle Juszczyk (perhaps one of the most underrated guys in the league!) helping set the edge and blocking downfield, it has been a joy to watch Kyle Shanahan deploy this offence.

There are not many outcomes or gamescripts I can find that pave a way to a Packers win but if they did, it will involce quick passes, targeting the other side away from Richard Sherman. Kwon Alexander however, is a big part of the defence at linebacker, cancelling out screens and anything fancy over the middle. The ferocious pass rush plus for the 49ers plus maybe a bit of bootlegging for Aaron Rodgers did make the Over 12.5 rush yards appeal.

Bets: 3pts San Francisco -6pts (8/11 William Hill) 1pt – Over 50.5 rush yards Raheem Mostert (5/6 Bet365) 1pt – Aaron Rodgers over 12.5 rush yards (5/6 Bet365)

ADAM:

Find my NFC preview at http://www.tdtips.com/nfctitle2019

Bets: 2 pt stakes on Kendrick Bourne o20.5 receiving yards – 5/6 (Will Hill), Over 5.5 sacks – 10/11 (365), 1pt stakes on Kendrick Bourne anytime TD – 3/1 (888), Jamaal Williams anytime TD – over 4/1 (Redzone)

Good Luck with whatever you’re on this week and thanks for listening/reading/being you.

Adam and Timothy

F10Y 2019 Divisional Playoffs takeaways

by Lawrence Vos (@F10YRetro and @NFLFANINENGLAND)

DID that really just happen?

Photo caption: Rantsports.com

Not sure if I had too much coffee over the weekend and started hallucinating but I swear I just watched an NFL game where the road team went 21-0 by the end of the first quarter, then allowed their opponents to score 28 in the second, before allowing a further 23 second half points, resulting in a 20 point loss. That doesn’t happen in the real world does it? That’s a Madden score when your cousin has unlocked a cheat code after playing possum for a quarter. Believe it or not it was what happened when the Houston Texans travelled to K.C. to take on the Chiefs on Saturday. Not all playoff loses have the same magnitude or embed the same emotional scars, but this game will take a lot of recovery time for the Texans, especially QB DeShaun Watson and head man Bill O’Brien, who will have to take it right on the chin (where incidentally a small family of sparrows have nested).

King Henry looking for more than the rushing crown

Photo credit: David Boclair (SI)

It’s pretty much in the can that Lamar Jackson will win the NFLs Most Valuable Player award for his incredible season, 13 wins in 15 starts and his destruction of the QB single-season rushing record, but in the cold light of day the most valuable player in the entire league is not a Ravens one. Titans RB Derek Henry, with help from a superb offensive line, are all still alive in the playoffs, and will not be daunted by a third consecutive road playoff game. Baltimore’s 14-2 record and number one seed meant nothing on Sunday as Henry ploughed, slashed, pummelled, drove, and executed his will over the Ravens, becoming the first RB in NFL history to have three consecutive 180+ yard rushing games. Already the newly anointed owner of the 2019 NFL rushing crown, and unlikely to get the regular season MVP award, the man with a beavers tail sticking out of his helmet is 120 minutes away from winning a Super Bowl MVP.

4th and own goal 

Photo credit: Billie Weiss/Getty Images

When you enter the playoffs having gone 8-8 of 4th and 1, and the opportunity arrises to go 9-9 on these plays in a home playoff game that you are losing, but only by a TD, then its understandable to be brave. On their own 45 Coach Harbaugh decided to make s statement in the opening play of the second quarter. Problem was Lamar Jackson didn’t get any kind of exquisite block, and he was stuffed for no gain. On the very next play the Titans dialled up a miracle and Kalif Raymond picked up the receiver, or to put it another way the receiver connected with the ball. That two play series effectively ended the game there and then as the Titans didn’t need the last two touchdowns to win – they had the W when they went 14-0 up. Unlike some other AFC team that melted worse than that flying white guy in Raymond Briggs The Snowman the Titans defense stayed strong all game. 

By the time the Ravens packed their playoff bags they managed to fail to convert their second, third and fourth 4th down conversions. 

Miami motivation for revolutionary Ryan

Photo credit: Jeremy Brevard – USA TODAY Sports

There is no doubt about it, stats lie. You can make a series of stats paint a masterpiece or a dirty protest, depending on the contextual angle you adopt. Let’s look at Titans QB Ryan Tannehill’s passing output in Tennessee’s two playoff games. In two full contests Tannehill has passed for 160 yards on 15 of 29 completions and thrown an interception. In those same three contests Tannehill has thrown three touchdown passes, gained two wins (his first playoff victories) and thrown the single most important touchdown in the 2019 playoffs. When the former Dolphins passer struck gold, following a Ravens failed 4th and 1, and hit Kalif Raymond (pictured above) for his first post-season catch of his career, it was single-handedly the point the air came out of the Ravens magnificent ambition balloons. After that completion, with just 7 seconds gone in the second quarter, Tannehill only competed three more passes all game, as King Henry and the Titans defense locked down the W. Ryan is now one game from going back to Miami to play in the Super Bowl. Just let that sink in.  

RETRO – The under 100 club 

Photo credit: Malcolm Emmons – USA TODAY Sports

Throwing for under 100 yards as the starting QB (playing the vast vast majority or all snaps) and winning in the playoffs is nothing new. Back in 1974 Terry Bradshaw  the Pittsburgh Steelers signal caller won the AFC Championship against the Raiders and then Super Bowl IX with passing performances of 96 and 96 yards (17 of 36). It gets better/worse as two quarterbacks played every offensive snap of their respective victories whilst managing to throw for under 35 yards. The first time this occurred was unsurprisingly in the 1970s as Bob Griese led the Dolphins to a 27-10 win by going 3-6 for 34 yards. The second time this happened was incredibly in 2010 by none other than Joe Flacco. He led the Ravens to a 33-14 Wild Card win against the New England Patriots. Flacco’s stat line that day was 4 of 10 for 34 yards and 6 runs for 5 yards. 

Can you Adams and Eve it the Pack are back

Picture credit: Clutchpoints.com

The Green Bay Packers have been criticised as the worst 13-3 team ever, barely mustering wins week after week. Now they are the 14-3 Packers after another just about good enough performance against the Seattle Seahawks. One Packers star to shine brightly was WR Davante Adams who led all Divisional Games receivers with 160 yards, on 8 catches. His two touchdowns were the difference makers in the game, and the first time he has caught a pair of six pointers in the post-season. We know the Seahawks secondary is not the finest, after the dissolution of the Legion of Boom. One former legionnaire, the not shy Richard Sherman, now with the San Francisco 49ers, will be licking his lips as he waits for Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams to travel over to the West Coast for the NFC Championship.

A-ROD on the brink of a TITLE SHOT

Picture credit: Jflanland.blogspot.com

Wrestling fan and Packers QB Aaron Rodgers wants a chance to pin down his second Super Bowl ring, and after forcing the Seahawks to tap out he is one game away from a title shot. Rodgers will now enter his fourth NFC Championship this weekend, having won his fifth Divisional round playoff contest. He did suit up in the 2007 NFC final but this was in the third year of the apprenticeship he was serving under Brett Favre, and he didn’t get on the field. Rodgers has faced the Bears, Seahawks and Falcons in the conference championship games, and in the three games scored 21, 20 and 21. In his 18 playoff games Rodgers threw his lowest amount of completions (16) in the home win at the weekend, but that doesn’t really matter when you convert 9 of 13 third downs. In his 15th season Rodgers is easily the oldest starting QB left with a shot to lift the Vince Lombardi trophy, can he dial one up from the top rope or will he be suplexed into submission by Bosa and co. ?

GOLD RUN – CAN I HAVE A ‘W’ PLEASE BOB

Photo caption: Cbssports.com

Amongst all the bonkers momentum shifts, mind bending play calling and chaotic turnovers that took place in the Divisional Playoffs there was one team that emerged from the battlefield like Bruce Willis in Unbreakable, mildly perspiration but without a scratch or a bruise on their collective bodies. The San Francisco 49ers looked calm and composed, and with the exception of a late second quarter interception by Jimmy Garoppolo, ruthless in their efficiency. When you hold Dalvin Cook and the impressive rookie Alex Mattison to a team total of 21 yards, execute six sacks, and don’t allow a second half point, you become the Super Bowl favourite. For a team that had not made the playoffs from 2014-2018 this was a statement win and also Jimmy G’s first as a starting QB. He already has two Super Bowl rings without taking a single snap in either big game. Staying in California the Niners now remain the only #1 seed still alive. As someone who lived through a significant period of time of San Francisco dominance, including watching four Super Bowl wins, I’m not sure I can deal with another Gold Run. Might be time for me to take a ‘P’.

RETRO – Divisional playoffs 50 burgers

Photo credit: Stephen Jaffe/AFP/Getty Images)

Following the Chiefs firing up the playoffs grill and cooking a 50 burger (51) on the Houston Texans I was curious to see who had served up a similar culinary treat in the Divisional round of the playoffs in the Super Bowl era and scored over half a century. Surprisingly Mahomes and co. were the fifth team to exceed 50 points in the final eight stage (see below). Just imagine being a Jaguars fan 20 years ago as your team went up 41-0 in the first half, in only their fifth season of existence. This was a team that also went 24-0 up early, but unlike the Texans they didn’t take their foot off the playoff points pedal. The opposing QB that day – none other than Hall of Famer Dan Marino.

Jaguars beat Dolphins 62-7 (January 2000) 

Raiders beat Oilers 56-7 (December 1969) 

Cowboys beat Browns 52-14 (December 1967) 

Redskins beat Rams 51-7 (January 1984) 

Chiefs beat Texans 51-31 (January 2020) 

Thanks FOR THE MEMORIES

Picture credit: Halilsrealfootballtalk.com

Two big requirement announcements this week, one inevitable, and one on the Andrew Luck scale of shock. Happy trails to TE Antonio Gates who leaves the NFL with the most touchdown catches in league history for his position. Gates was an outstanding route runner, sticky handed and a favourite of Philip Rivers for many years. Gates only won 5 playoff games in his career and bizarrely only scored post-season touchdowns in his first and last of 12 playoff games. The much more surprising news was the retirement of Luke Kuechly the outstanding Carolina Panthers LB. The 9th overall pick of the 2012 has called it a day after 8 seasons, 1,092 tackles and one Super Bowl appearance. Kuechly may have announced his retirement but he does have to make one more decision, does he suit up one last time with his team mate Christian McCaffrey for the 2020 Pro Bowl?

F10Y Retro Recap – 1987 Divisional Playoffs Vikings @ 49ers

by Lawrence Vos (@F10YRetro & @NFLFANINENGLAND)

With just hours to go before the first of four fascinating NFL Divisional Playoff games its time to turn back the clock and take a visit to Candlestick Park and a truly memorable contest between the two teams that open up this weekend’s four game slate……

January 9, 1988.

The 1987 NFL season was a strange one, a player strike meant one game (Week 3) was lost from the 16 game regular season schedule, and Weeks 4-6 were played by a vast majority of unknowns and ‘scabs’ – starters who crossed the picket lines. 

Photo credit: AP

One of the biggest names to cross the picket line was San Francisco 49ers QB Joe Montana, who played in and won two strike games. 

The 49ers finished the regular season with the NFLs best record winning 13 of 15 contests, earning the NFC #1 seed and a home Divisional Playoff game. 

Their playoff opponent the Minnesota Vikings limped into the post-season as the #5 seed Wild Card team with an 8-7 record, having lost three of their last four regular season contests. 

The Vikings travelled to New Orleans for their Wild Card game, facing a team that finished 12-3 courtesy of Coach of the Year Jim Mora. Heavy underdogs the Vikings came away with an epic 44-10 upset win, in what was the first Saints playoff game in their 21 year history. 

The win set up a second road playoff game for the 50-1 outsiders all the way across the country, in California, against a team that featured four All Pro’s (QB Joe Montana, WR Jerry Rice, DT Michael Carter and S Ronnie Lott). 

Ronnie Lott – Photo credit: Chatsports.com

The game started slowly as both teams exchanged first quarter field goals. Both teams defences were enjoying the soggy conditions as drives stalled. 

It was the Vikings who scored the first touchdown, set up by a huge Wade Wilson scramble that put Minnesota at the 49ers 7 yard line. On first and goal Wilson found TE Carl Hilton a yard outside the end zone as he beat Ronnie Lott to get the score. Hilton was double happy as he dropped a potential score on the opening drive of the game for Minnesota.

The Vikings extended the lead to 10 with a second Chuck Nelson FG, having had a first and goal drive stall after three consecutive runs. 

Just under a minute later the relentless Vikings pass rush was rewarded when Joe Montana was intercepted on a medium depth pass to WR Dwight Clark by Georgia Tech rookie safety Reggie Rutland (who subsequently changed his name to Najee Mustafaa), who took the ball 45 yards to pay-dirt and a 20-3 half-time lead. 

Roger Craig dropped a late first half touchdown catch and 49ers K Ray Wersching missed a 26 yard field goal as momentum had completely disappeared from the heavily favoured home team.

The 49ers did manage to exact some early revenge in the second minute of the second half, defensive back Jeff Fuller picking off Wade Wilson and returning it 48 yards for San Francisco’s first TD of the game. Fuller would go on to suffer a career ending spinal injury in 1989, after picking up his second Super Bowl winners ring. 

Any thoughts of a comeback were quickly quashed as Wade Wilson recovered his composure to lead a touchdown scoring drive to #84 WR Hassan Jones, completing a 5 yard pass on 3rd and goal in the red painted end zone. The TD was the first that 49ers CB Don Griffin had allowed all season. 

Down by 17 49ers head coach Bill Walsh made the bold decision to bench Montana and bring in backup Steve Young to try and find a spark. 

Photo credit: nfllistsblog.wordpress.com

With excellent starting field position Young hit RB Roger Craig on his first pass for 30 yards. On second and goal Young’s 10 yard rushing score was called back for holding. Following a 7 yard completion Young scrambled left on a deliberate run play and dived into the left corner of the end zone for the score. 

The Vikings were clearly unfazed as they extended their lead late in the 3rd and early in the fourth with two additional field goals. 

Young gave hope to the 49ers fans with a drive that ended in a hair-raising 16 yard touchdown pass to TE John Frank. (Frank went on to become an otolaryngologist, a head and neck surgery specialist. Frank has performed over 2,000 hair transplant operations and opened a hair clinic in New York in 2006.)

In the final minute Nelson kicked his fifth successful field goal and that was it, an earth shattering 36-24 upset win for the Minnesota Vikings. 

Minnesota travelled to Washington, their third consecutive road playoff game, for the NFC Championship. Redskins CB Darrell Green broke up a Vikings pass in the end zone on the final play of the game to prevent the Vikings from tying up the game, as Minnesota fell 17-10. 

Fast forward to 2020 and we have history repeating itself as the lowest seeded NFC team the Minnesota Vikings, fresh off an upset Wild Card win against none other than the New Orleans Saints, face the #1 NFC seed San Francisco 49ers. 

Photo credit: Sportingnews.com

For Kirk Cousins and the Vikings fans they will certainly ‘like that’ history is clearly on their side. 

Enjoy the game tonight – and if the Vikings get the upset victory you read it here first on the Full 10 Yards.

Full10Takeaways – Week 16

By Tim Monk (@Tim_MonkF10Y)

  • Michael Thomas broke the total receptions in a season record with 1 game to spare as he surpassed Marvin Harrsion’s 144 receptions with his 12 catch effort against the Titans. Thomas will look to extend his 145 catches on the season against the Panthers in week 17.
  • Talking of reception records and the Panthers, Christian McCaffrey broke his own receptions record by a RB with 15 (!) catches against the Colts taking him to 109 on the season, making him the only Rb to do it twice, and he’s done it in consecutive seasons.
  • Staying at RB, Saquon Barkley had a career day both in terms of rushing yards (189) and yards from scrimmage (279) against the Redskins who moved to the current #2 seed.
  • Dion Dawkins became the only player from the Buffalo Bills to catch a touchdown pass in each of the past 2 seasons. He plays Tackle…
  • Jameis Winston tied the season record for pick 6s with 6 and is on course for a 30 TD/ 30 INT season, which would be a league first. He nearly had the pick 6 record all to himself on the 2nd series, but that was called back/ Still has a game against the Falcons to clinch that.

cowboys grounded…

Dak Prescott, Zeke Elliot and the Dallas Cowboys laid a big time egg at Lincoln Financial field, now needing a minor miracle to see any January football this season.

It beggars belief that the Cowboys are able to turn up to games and play as if they’ve been wearing blindfolds all week in the film room. They were smacked 17-9 against a Phildelphia team who had no real weapons at WR, Zach Ertz not playing portions of the game and have struggled all season.

The playcalling was as mind-boggling as ever; the crucial 4th and 8 playcall a fade to Michael Gallup taking a shot at the endzone, one of the lowest % plays available in the playbook. Blake Jarwin only targeted once, Amari Cooper in and out of the game just epitomising the problems they Cowboys have had on the sidelines this season.

Image Credit Brian J Gore.

To add the cherry on top, the Cowboys chartered flight was grounded to mechanical/technical issues leading to a 3 hour delay…oh the irony.


a few things left to clinch…

Week 17 will serve up a treat with the #1 seed in the NFC still there for the taking, culminating in SNF where the NFC West clash between the 49ers and the Seahawks could not only determine the division winner, but homefield advantage and the coveted #1 seed. The Saints and Packers are also hoping to secure that #1 seed too!

In the AFC, things aren’t as juicy but the number 6 seed needs deciding and the Titans with a win will secure it whilst the Steelers will be hoping for a slip up from them coupled with a win against the Ravens who are resting players.



With Chris Carson done for the season and CJ Prosise out with a broken arm, Beast Mode may be once again activated as Marshawn Lynch and the Seahawks are both open to the running back joining his former team to help them in the post season.

Wild Card Playoffs - New Orleans Saints v Seattle Seahawks
Image Credit: Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

The former Bill and Raiders running back enjoyed some big plays as a Seahawk in the post season including that huge run vs the Saints back in 2010. Maybe, just maybe they’ll get another chance to give to him him on the 1 yd line after all.