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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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?
The playoffs are here and are accompanied by the usual stresses and pressures that the post-season provides.
This week’s Wild Card Weekend will feature the New England Patriots for the first time since 2009 following their disappointing slip up against the Miami Dolphins in Week 17.
They face a Tennessee Titans team that is built for some cold weather up in Foxborough with a strong rushing game and a quarterback on a hot streak with his receiving corps.
Elsewhere, the NFC East champion Philadelphia Eagles play host to a Seattle Seahawks team that few considered a serious challenger before the season.
The New Orleans Saints will seek out some revenge as they welcome the Minnesota Vikings in the Superdome in an attempt to heal the wounds of the Minneapolis miracle.
The other AFC match-up sees two of the NFL’s youngest quarterbacks face off against each other as Josh Allen leads his Buffalo Bills into battle with Deshaun Watsons Texans.
But who is heading into the 18th week of the season with the weight of the world on their shoulders and who will thrive in the pressure?
Titans @ Patriots
The Patriots made a costly error last week by failing to beat the lowly Dolphins.
It is the sort of situation that Brady and Co. have become infallible in, which may explain why the Dolphins went into the game as 14-point underdogs.
In a year where Tom Brady has been questioned more than ever, registering his lowest ever adjusted QBR score of 55.0 in comparison to Lamar Jacksons 81.7, the Week 17 result continues to heap pressure on the 42-year old to prove he is not done and dusted.
Bill Belichik will also face questions over Miami’s last-ditch winning drive against what was one of the best defences in the league.
The Titans enter the game feeling far less pressure on the table.
Heading into the season out of the playoff picture, with questions marks at the quarterback position and a second-year head coach, things have gone better than many envisaged.
They have also performed well over the odds given their mid-season QB switch and have been helped a long by the thumping downhill power of Derrick Henry in the back field.
PRESSURE IS ON: NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Bills @ Texans
Its AFC East vs AFC North part two as Buffalo head southwards to visit a Texans team still giddy with the news that talismanic edge rusher J.J Watt has returned early from a pectoral injury.
The Texans who sealed up the division a week early, concluded their season with a loss to the division rivals, Titans.
Now the fourth season of six under Bill O’Brien where they have finished top of their division, the pressure will begin to fall on the head coach to deliver some deeper runs into the post-season.
For the Bills, very few coaching staffs can consider to have done more with less.
Sean McDermott has just one pro-bowler on his roster and a quarterback that still has an uncertain ceiling, managing to look more developed to incredibly raw from week to week under centre.
For this reason, there is little pressure on the Bills who probably expected a more mediocre season than this.
Any further playoff progression is just extra credit.
PRESSURE IS ON: HOUSTON TEXANS
Vikings @ Saints
These two franchises are pretty hard to separate when it comes to who’s under more pressure to win.
Both of them have quarterbacks in need of a deep playoff run but for very different reasons.
Drew Brees is a lock for the Hall of Fame but aged 40 and 10 years removed from his Superbowl, the window for a second Lombardi Trophy is gradually closing.
The quarterback of the Vikings, Kirk Cousins, is not fighting to seal his Hall of Fame status but instead just looking to set himself up another big contract once his time in Minnesota expires after next season.
Still attempting to prove himself as one of the leagues elite quarterbacks, Cousins needs some primetime, big-time playoff performances to stack a currently empty CV.
Both teams also have a fairly young core of talented players, giving them both a bigger Superbowl window than some of the other teams in the Wild Card.
Overall the pressure will lie on the Saints though as they try to forget and forgive their acrimonious playoff exits in 2017 and 2018.
PRESSURE IS ON: NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
SEAHAWKS @ EAGLES
How good is Carson Wentz? That’s the real pressure here.
The 2016 second overall pick has played in spells of brilliance, including his MVP trajectory of 2017 before his injury kept him out of the Superbowl run.
The Eagles paid Wentz big in June of last year and are waiting to see some return on that investment in the form of a play-off run.
The North Dakota State alumnus has done a lot alongside an un-experienced receiving corps so far, but whether they can withstand the rigors of playoff football is a new question.
In Seattle, another impressive season for superstar QB Russell Wilson has meant that the Seahawks are in a playoff that many did not predict.
Considered to be a rebuilding year by lots of experienced pundits and commentators prior to Week 1, Pete Carroll’s teams should feel little pressure going into the Wild Card Weekend.
The final bye week but with the Chargers, Chiefs, Vikings
and Cardinals all taking the week off there’s going to be a lot of fantasy
players scrambling for streamers. A lot of benches are reading like an NSYNC
song so you’re going to want to keep your eyes peeled for who other players
drop as you could grab a steal for the fantasy playoffs if you get ahead of the
For this week, here’s a run down of the Sunday games and a
small nudge towards some viable options.
Broncos @ Bills
Two decent defences and two hardly potent offences. Josh Allen still has value due to his legs, Singletary should continue to build on his role and John Brown is usually good for points even in a tough matchup.
The Broncos haven’t been much worse under Allen than they were under Flacco, in many ways they are actually better. The lack of potent receivers hurts them and with Phillip Lindsey questionable, Royce Freeman may not be a bad call in a pinch.
Both defences are very good options.
Giants @ Bears
Bad offence vs mediocre defence compared to a mediocre offence against a decent defence. The Bears DST are the best play here and if Saquon is playing he’s obviously a starter.
I can’t decide if the Giants receivers are worth playing since with Shepard back, Tate in the mix and Slayton there’s a lot of uncertainty. Engram and Ellison are out so they have no real TE which means they would all be playable if it wasn’t the Bears.
The Bears themselves are stuck with Trubisky which means only Allen Robinson has receiving value. David Montgomery and Tarik Cohen are startable but not at the top of the pecking order.
The Giants DST is still a legitimate option this week.
Steelers @ Bengals
I get the sense that last week may light a fire under Mason Rudolph. If only he had some receivers to benefit from it. Juju is out so the load falls on Washington, Johnson and MacDonald. They may well all be relevant, or one could get peppered so it’s a risk, but against the Bengals, I’d be fine with playing any of them and obviously Jaylon Samuels with James Conner out.
The Bengals will struggle against the Steelers defence and I’m even struggling to advise playing Mixon and Boyd unless you really are hamstrung by bye weeks. Steelers DST are a candidate for the #1 DST this week and while many will be advising Cincinnati are a good option, I’m not so sure.
Dolphins @ Browns
The Browns remembered how to win last week, but with their top defenceman missing, their offence still not fully in sync and competition for touches, I can’t say I have high hopes. There’s talent, but it’s not being realised.
The defence isn’t a sure fire thing against the Dolphins who have resurged a bit under FitzMagic and he should have some relevance once more. There are enough pieces missing for Kalen Ballage to be relevant and Devante Parker should be the main receiving threat.
Those struggling at Tight end might have David Njoku as an option but will definitely have Mike Gesicki as a streaming candidate.
Bucs @ Falcons
If Jameis Winston didn’t turn the ball over so often I’d advise avoiding both defences and playing plenty of offence.
Now that Freeman is doubtful and while Winston is throwing his chance at a future starting spot away, I can’t advise using Brian Hill, but I can give the Atlanta defence some love. They’ve picked it up since beating the Saints and they’re on a little bit of a run. Be aware that Matt Ryan is questionable but if he’s good to go again then Julio and Ridley are musts.
The Bucs may have finally figured out how to use RoJo in the run game and keep Evans and Godwin happy. Outside of those 3 and Jameis, it’s hard to see there being enough production.
Panthers @ Saints
Value to be had on both offences and possible the Saints defence. I like Kyle Allen and his receivers this week as well for the obvious CMC.
The Saints should have Brees, Kamara and Thomas all firing, Jared Cook is starting to get more targets and Ted Ginn is a TD dice throw. This might also be a good game to watch.
Seahawks @ Eagles
Now it gets difficult.
Russell Wilson and Chris Carson are locks for starting places (although the Eagles run defence means if you are stacked at RB, he’s not so critical). After that it depends on how you feel. Metcalf, Hollister, Agholor, Jeffrey and even Ertz aren’t sure fire things. Goedert is eating into Ertz share, Jeffrey still isn’t 100% and Agholor is, well, Agholor. Jordan Howard could be back, but the Seahawks aren’t pushovers and he still has to share with Miles Sanders and potentially Jay Ajayi.
It’s a mess which may have points somewhere but good luck predicting who it will be.
Lions @ Redskins
If Matt Stafford was in at QB I’d be enjoying the idea of Marvin Jones, Kenny Golladay and Danny Amendola. As it stands with Jeff Driskel, I like them, but not as much. The RB situation with McKissic and Scarborough will dominate a lot of bye week ruined teams this week and hopefully Scarborough can pull off a similar feat to what Jonathan Williams did for Indy on Thursday night.
The Redskins now have an offensive piece you can consider in Derrius Guice and he and AP are playable against the Lions. McLaurin has got some overhyped projections on some platforms so be careful.
Raiders @ Jets
Oakland are threating a playoff run now. Derek Carr is looking solid, despite the lack of receivers, Darren Waller is a league winner and Josh Jacobs is odds on for ROTY. It’s a mix that will serve them well in Vegas when the move happens, but they may leave Oakland in some style. All of the above are playable, as is Tyrell Williams.
The Jets are a bit of a mess but seem to be on a slight elevation in terms of altitude. The Oakland pass defence is very porous, so the likes of Anderson, Crowder, Griffin and Lev Bell are in the frame. Darnold and Carr are actually good streams this week for those in a pinch.
Jaguars @ Titans
Nick Foles will step up his return this week which could be good news for Dede Westbrook and DJ Chark. Since they have lost 3 starting tight ends the offence has dipped and teams have zeroed in on Fournette and Chark. They are still playable against the Titans but don’t expect a huge haul.
The Titans are better under Tannehill, but Derrick Henry is the only player I’d have confidence in. He does usually dominate the Jags so he could be a very handy DFS option, but beyond that, I quite like both defences here.
Cowboys @ Patriots
Daks back and this time he faces the Patriots defence which has been stellar, although this is the toughest test, they’ve faced not named the Ravens. Dak, Cooper and Gallup are a force, Zeke is Zeke and Jason Witten can pop in when he needs to. It’s potent and it’s effective, the Patriots may struggle to find an answer, much like when they faced Lamar.
The Patriots themselves need Edelman to recover from his shoulder injury otherwise it could be tough sledding.
The Cowboys aren’t the greatest defence, but they are solid enough and the Patriots are not at full strength. They tend to find a way, but Bill doesn’t usually care about your fantasy team anyway.
Packers @ 49ers
The final game sees the Packers and 49ers square off in a matchup between teams who are doing well, but you’re not quite sure how.
Aaron Rodgers is doing enough to win games, despite the lack of receiving talent outside of Davante Adams. Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams have picked up the slack but face a tough test in the 49ers defence. If Adams is covered and Jones is prevented from running, it’s going to be a long day.
The 49ers defence is stout, but the offence is not so stable. If Kittle is fit to play then he also improves the prospects for Deebo Samuel, Jimmy Garoppolo and the running backs. As it stands, Tevin Coleman is a strong starting choice, although the Packers defence isn’t one to write off.
QB – Derek Carr (OAK @ NYJ) – I like both QBs in this matchup but again, the Hype Train is advocating using a Carr… scandalous.
RB – Derrick Henry (TEN vs JAX) – Henry tends to hoover up the Jags, I can’t see him sucking this week.
WR – DJ Moore (CAR @ NO) – It’s a tough week for receivers. I tried not to go obvious so I had to think a bit Moore.
TE – Ryan Griffin (NYJ vs OAK) – Again, I like both TE’s in this game, but with Carr at QB in this list I thought I’d put Griffin to the TE slot.
DST – Steelers (PIT @ CIN) – The Bengals are going to caught up against something as hard as Iron and tough as Steel.
QB – Tom Brady (NE vs DAL) – He will probably find a way to win the game, but Tom terrific isn’t going to be so good for fantasy.
RB – Brian Hill (ATL vs TB) – Freeman may be missing but I don’t think Brian will take them over the Hill this week.
WR – Terry McLaurin (WAS vs DET) – Haskins still isn’t ready, and McLaurin may be fast but he’s more and F1 choice than an A1 choice.
TE – Zach Ertz (PHI vs SEA) – Goedert is eating into his share and it Ertz for his owners.
DST – Panthers (CAR vs NO) – They’ve been good this season and the Saints have been inconsistent, but this is not a week to be cute.
QB – Daniel Jones (NYG @ CHI) – The Bears might just smother Jones in this one. Danny Dimes may lack a few cents here.
RB – Jordan Howard (PHI vs SEA) – A crowded backfield, a return from injury and a decent opposition. Howard you like that? Not very much.
WR – Courtland Sutton (DEN @ BUF) – Tough sledding, especially with an inexperienced QB. I’d not fancy having him Sutt-on my starting line-up.
TE – Jimmy Graham (GB @ SF) – The 49ers defence should crunch the packers. Graham won’t be a cracker.
DST – Jets (NYJ vs OAK) – IF I like the offensive pieces then it’s obvious I’ll hate on the defensive ones. The Jets DST will likely remain grounded.
That’s it for another week. Apologies for the pun level at the end, some of those were terrible. More of the same next week!
The business end of the season is here and the games get more important as the weeks go by. That is even the case for Bengals, Dolphins and Redskins fans as they are on the edge of their seats hoping their teams continue to lose so they don’t have to stay up as long come draft night.
For (pretty much) everyone else, your teams will still be vying for January football and we have some great matchups including Dallas, New England, Green Bay, San Francisco, Baltimore and the LA Rams. So let’s see what’s on the menu for week 12.
AFC South Battle
Thursday Night Football sees one of the games that hold the
The Colts and Texans get it on in Houston in the first game of
week 12 and the Colts must win otherwise the Texans will have a game lead in
the division but also the tiebreaker, thus essentially giving them a 2 game
lead with just 6 games remaining.
The Colts will be hoping that star wideout T.Y. Hilton can
check in to the game after missing the past few weeks with a calf problem
whilst the Texans will be hoping the epitome of boom or bust Will Fuller can return
from a hamstring niggle.
Expect both teams to leave it all out on the field and let’s
all hope that Quenton Nelson gets a legitimate touchdown this week!
The Hippy Hippy Shakes
Dak and his pre match warmup routine head over to Gillette
Stadium in Foxboro for a tasty match in the late window (why are there only 2
games on the late slate btw?!?)
Many are trying to nudge Dak into the MVP conversation
considering how he has overcome the average defence, inconsistent run game and Jason
Garrett captaining the ship.
The Cowboys are in focus over the next 5 weeks, either being
in primetime or on America’s game of the week so we’ll get a real good look at
his credentials to take the end of season award.
His toughest matchup to date awaits him though and will be
fascinating what weapon Bill Belichick tries to take away from the no.1 ranked
offence in the league. It will also be fascinating to see if Garrett and Kellen
Moore try to utilize Dak’s legs a bit more in this one.
Dallas need the win to stay 1 ahead of the Eagles, whilst
the Patriots need the win to cling on to the coveted #1 seed in the AFC.
We don’t need to go back in to detail about what happened on
TNF last week. That being said, it will be intriguing to see the Browns response
to the adversity.
Freddy Kitchens, Baker Mayfield and the Browns have endured
a lot of criticism this season for a varying reasons, and rightly so, but that
can all dissipate if they can make a run (with a favourable schedule) at the playoffs
which starts this week at home to the maybe tanking Dolphins.
Can Baker put a marker down and take the situation by the
scruff of the neck and become the leader that the Browns need him to be, or
will the Browns continue to be plagued by their continuing allegiance to
Do the 49ers Pack a punch?
Whenever you think of this matchup in recent times, you
think of the playoff game between these two in 2012 where Colin Kaepernick
ripped the Packers to shreds and the Fox commentators got rather excited about
No Kaepernick in this game, despite his efforts, but there
is the small matter of the #1 seed potentially up for grabs in this one on
Sunday Night Football.
Jimmy Garoppolo, fresh off his career day last week vs the
Cardinals, travels to Wisconsin to face Aaron Rodgers and the Packers fresh off
their bye week in one of the games of the week. If the Garoppolo and the 49ers
are able to take the W here, it will answer a lot of critics that they still have
chomping at their ankles, despite their record.
A loss coupled with a Seahawks win however, could actually
see the 49ers drop to the #5 seed. Fine margins, high stakes, all reasons we
love late season football.
battle of the birds
Talking of the Seahawks, in another fascinating battle on Sunday, the Eagles host the Seattle who are coming off a bye in the battle of the birds. Whilst there are many birds in the NFL, these two predators will be looking for easy prey on the football field.
Carson Wentz has not been able to show his MVP capabilities much this season, but this matchup poses a chance to get the better of a beatable defence that ranks bottom 5 against the pass in terms of yardage and a defensive line that averages only 1.5 sacks and 3 Quarterback hurries per game.
On the other side, the masterful Russell Wilson was eclipsed by Lamar Jackson in his bye week with regards to MVP consideration, maybe he’ll came and remind everyone not to forget about old Russ.
This game like another few this week, has implications for both divisions and the wildcard race so there is a lot on the line here for both teams.
Late Slate isn’t great, mate
What is up with the scheduling this year?
This Sunday sees just 2 games in the late window. Unfortunately
this isn’t the first time that the Sunday scheduling has seen the entertainment
become very front heavy.
For those in the UK that do not have Sky Sports, the late
window sees us being treated to an absolute classic between…the Titans and
The Eagles/Seahawks game was flex out of Primetime to the
early games. Why?
Seattle are a mainstay in the late slate for the majority of
their home games being on the west coast, so what’s changed?
The one saving grace is that you’ll still be able to watch
the majority of the Patriots/Cowboys game on RedZone because there’ll be no highlights
to show in the Titans game in the late slate, so there is that I suppose. Scott
Hanson will be working hard to find the content filler, that’s for sure.
The Lamar Jackson hype train steam rolls into the Los
Angeles Coliseum on Monday Night Football.
Massive game for obvious reasons, but it can’t be
understated how much more it means for the Rams. Loss here coupled with a possible
SF and/or Seattle wins, could see them be cut too far adrift from the others in
the wildcard race.
Just 10 months removed from the biggest game of them all,
the Rams may even not have the chance of trying to get there once again, with
questions being asked of McVay and his team. Funny how the NFL landscape
changes so quickly.
Week 10 saw shocks, drops and stops as the 49ers tasted their first defeat, the Saints got pummelled by the Falcons and the Browns won!
Here are 10 takeaways from week 10 in the NFL:
Baker Mayfield Feeling More at Home
A first home win of the season for Baker Mayfield emphasised his improved play over the past 3 weeks. Riddled with turnovers and poor decision making the 2nd year QB had tossed 11 interceptions and committed 3 fumbles in the opening half a dozen games of the season. Fast forward 3 weeks and games against good pass defences in New England, Denver and Buffalo and Mayfield has only added 1 takeaway to those numbers.
He looks more decisive in the pocket and his completion rate of 68.4% on Sunday was a season-high. He regularly looked for his top 2 targets in Jarvis Landry and OBJ whilst leaning on a stout run game. The entrance of Kareem Hunt into the offence gives the Browns a new dimension and with a favourable schedule on tap a winning streak is a realistic possibility.
The Browns #6 seed credentials will be key to any such possibilities.
Big Man Rumbling
“Never judge a book by its cover”. The age old phrase that continually catches all of us out. Derrick Henry is a home run hitter! His scamper for 68 yards against the Chiefs on Sunday marked his 4th touchdown run of over 65 yards since 2017 which is the most by any player in the NFL over that span.
His almost customary plunge from 1 yard away was tacked onto his big day as he gashed the Chiefs woeful run defence to the tune of 23 carries for 188 yards with 2 touchdowns. Henry has often been used in a timeshare during his time in the league but Mike Vrabel appears to have figured out that he gets better with more usage.
The only player outside of a few Tannehill scramble to carry the ball on Sunday, Henry is on pace for 1300 yards plus on the campaign for a Titans team that are as unpredictable as the British weather.
Just Win Baby
“Knock on wood if you are with me”. Who would have thought that when Jon Gruden continuously barked those words throughout hard knocks that his Raiders team would be in with a realistic opportunity of competing for a division title?
Thursday night football was a huge victory in the division that put the Raiders right on the heels of the Chiefs. A performance that saw yet another Derek Carr 4th quarter comeback win moved the Raiders to 5-4. Josh Jacobs continues to look like the runaway winner of offensive rookie of the year, scoring the game winner in this one.
Winnable games upcoming against the Dolphins and Jets next on the schedule have the silver and black primed for a late season playoff run. Maybe, just maybe that bloke who used to commentate on Monday Night Football can actually still coach?
You spin me right round baby right round like a record
If you have seen a better spin move this season than the one made by Lamar Jackson on his TD run this weekend you will have either been at the World Yo-Yo championships or at some kind of ice skating Olympic qualifier.
In 2018 we were running out of superlatives to describe Patrick Mahomes, and this season the same is getting said about the Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson, who is now getting MVP type chatter beyond his own appreciative teammates.
Yes this was the 0-9 Bungles L-Jax faced, but if you have not seen the move he made mid-run against Cincy then find it online and start to drool. Fantasy fans were left a little bit sore after the Ravens had such a ridiculous lead they let Lamar sit for the fourth quarter whilst former running QB phenom Robert Griffith III performed mop-up duties.
Talking of RG3 Coach Harbaugh’s decision to line up the former Baylor superstar as a running back in a split-backs formation was a treat, and then watching L-Jax pitch to him on an outside run was masterful.
Falcons D rises from the ashes
It’s supposed to be a Phoenix that rises from the ashes, but after NFL alignment some years ago there is no longer a team in that said city. Instead we have to make reference to another feathered friend that has arisen from the depths of despair.
The Atlanta Falcons beating the 7-1 New Orleans Saints was the biggest upset this season since Darnold and the Jets downed the Cowboys.The Falcons defense had 6 sacks including 2.5 from Grady Jarrett.
This by itself is not headline worthy, but considering the team had 7 sacks all season before this point showed that sticking a rocket in places rockets should not be placed sometimes works. The Saints offense was held without a touchdown and Alvin Kamara the so-called fantasy stud had 74 total yards, including just 24 on the ground.
We all know it’s too late for the Dirty Birds to resurrect their season, but sometimes wins like this can turn around fortunes in the long term. One question to quietly ask is ‘was it right to bring back Brees considering Teddy’s hot streak?’
Anti-tank missiles spotted in Miami
Maybe they are not red hot, but the Miami Dolphins are on the boil after securing their second consecutive win in a season that was supposed to be all about displaying ineptitude not grizzly bearded attitude.
Ryan Fitzmagic may not win another game in Miami but he will forever be remembered for bringing some respect to a franchise that has been written off more than a scrapyard full of old bangers. The contrast in styles between Lamar Jackson’s mesmerising TD run and Fitzmagic’s plough through the field for his score was like chalk and cheese, but both ended up in exactly the same result – six points and the extension of a lead.
Sympathies do go out to the team Miami beat in Week 10 as the Indianapolis Colts are akin to a M.A.S.H. unit, especially at WR, so this was a great time for the ‘Fins to paddle their way to a victory. Miami now have their sights set on at least a third win in Week 17 when they face Tom Brady and the Patriots.
Steel-ing another W
If you listened to the F10Y Week 10 look ahead podcast Lawrence predicted a Steelers win against a Los Angeles Rams team that is looking like a shrivelled balloon, the type you might find on the floor when sweeping up from say a Super Bowl party.
The Steelers are using gorilla glue, frog tape and any other legally sanctioned substance to patch together wins against half-decent opponents and despite the criticism Pittsburgh QB Mason Rudolph is hanging in there. It’s a little reminiscent of Big Ben Roethliberger’s rookie season when he led the team to a 15-1 record despite performances that were not exactly pretty.
The Steelers now boast a four-game win streak, and their first above .500 record of the season. With Cleveland twice, the Bungles and the Cardinals ahead we could be looking at a rather strong 9-4 Steelers team a long time before Rudolph the Kyle nosed reindeer takes to the skies.
Vikings run and plunder a win
He can’t win in prime-time, he has a routine he can’t break, he crumbles under pressure. Three common perceptions of Vikings QB Kirk ‘you like that’ Cousins in big and important games. Three perceptions that were proven to be untrue on Sunday night as Minnesota came away from Jerry’s world having pillaged a big ol’ bag of booty including a big shiny W.
To be fair this was not a game dominated by clutch Cousins passes, as the Vikings ran, ran and ran some more, including one 10 play touchdown drive that was on the ground from start to finish.
The MVP conversation as usual is dominated by special quarterbacks and a dash of Run CMC, but at the pace he is going and the rate he is being fed the ball, don’t be surprised if Dalvin Cook makes a ’late run’ for the NFL’s most valuable player.
The Vikings remain one game behind the Packers in the NFC North, but things can change quickly.
HEY mr wilson!
The Seattle Seahawks dealt the San Francisco 49ers teir first loss of the season. No surprise that current MVP favourite Russell Wilson was the main culprit for the defeat.
In what was a Monday Night Classic, the performance of Russell Wilson may have left the thoughts of “what if” for 49ers fans as Jimmy G on the other side was many classes below the Seahawks signal caller.
The 49ers and Jimmy G had a chance to seal it in overtime where perhaps a better thrown ball to Deebo Samuel on the sideline in stride would have seen a walk off touchdown. The ensuing drive saw Wilson take the Seahawks 40 yards in 81 seconds (no timeouts) to allow Jason Myers’ to score from a 42 yard field goal with 4 seconds left on the clock.
With Full10Yards favourite Tyler Lockett being taken to hospital, I’m sure Russell Wilson will be able to overcome any time that he may miss to add to the long list of adversities he’s been able to overcome in this offence.
It was billed as the second coming of Patrick Mahomes but it was the otehr Quarterback at Nissan Stadium that took the plaudits.
Ryan Tannehill completed his 3rd 4th quarter winning drive this season in just 4 games as the starter. That is only 1 behind the season leaders Josh Allen and Russell Wilson.
The drive, which started with 1:21 on the clock, ended just 58 seconds later with a 23 yard touchdown throw to big off season free agent WR signing Adam Humphries also included a 18 yard scramble on the first play
The decision to bench Marcus Mariota may be a game or two too late and could potentially cost the Titans a playoff berth this season, the redeeming factor though, is that they may not have to go searching for a QB in next year’s draft.
For Tannehill, frequently lambasted at his poor quarterback play, will rightly get the plaudits in this one though, which is an incredible feet considering the jumping Patrick Mahomes was clearly in the spotlight. Questions now turn to Adam Gase, who coached him in Miami, as to why he looked so average in a teal jersey.
Week 9 in the NFL saw the an undefeated team lose, an unsuccessful team win and Houston Texans demolish Minshew Mania in the final game of the International Series in London.
Here’s what else to take away from the weekend’s action.
And then there was one
With the Ravens beating the Patriots on SNF, that leaves just the San Francisco 49ers as the last undefeated team. The 49ers themselves were run close on TNF by Arizona and as well all know, anything can happen on any given Sunday.
With the schedule toughening up slightly down he stretch, it’ll be a tough ask to expect the 49ers to go the distance, but i am sure their main priority will be to clinch the division and a 1st round bye in January.
They’ll be kept honest from here on out as the Seahawks and Rams are not too far back so the pressure will be on all the way to week 17.
Kiss my butt-ker
In a slobberknocker from the early slate, the game between 2 of the better teams in the NFL got in on and the Chiefs were able to come away with the win due to the boot of Harrison Butker.
We all know about the fragility and volatility of kickers, their jobs and reliability but the Chiefs kicker put in a textbook effort that even Johnny Wilkinson would have been proud of.
With his perfect performance of 4/4 on FG (including a 54yard long) and his 2 XPs, Harrison Butker has surpassed HOF Jan Stenerud (356) for the 2nd-most points scored through a player’s first 3 seasons in Chiefs history (trailing only Cairo Santos).
I wonder what price Chicago would pay for him…
Talking of Chicago, there are some real troubles in Illinois. The first half was. not. pretty.
The last time these two met, it was in the divisional round of the playoffs last year (#doubledoink) and ever since that class, it’s all been downhill since.
Mitchell Trubisky had just 2 passing yards at the end of the 1st quarter, the Bears gained their first down INSIDE THE 2 MINUTE warning of the 1st half. Whilst they gained some traction in the 2nd half, if you can call it that (Trubisky ended up with just 10 completions for 125 yards) they were out of sight at that point with no hope of winning the game.
Nagy, Trubisky and even the defence which committed more offsides than a Fillippo Inzaghi masterclass, are all under fire for their performances to date this season.
What made matters worse, returning former Bears Alshon Jeffrey and touchdown scorer Jordan Howard enjoyed a good day on their new teams. They would have gained plenty of pleasure from heaping more misery on their former employers.
For Chicago, they must all be feeling like grizzlys with sore heads.
lockett and load it
With the 12 currently enjoying the prospect of Josh Gordon joining the wide receiving core imminiently, it’s another of their wideouts that is stealing the show.
The Russell Wilson and Tyler Lockett connection is pure poetry in motion and it’s no flash in the pan.
Last season Wilson enjoyed a perfect passer rating when throwing to #16 and it’s easy to see that this has carried forward to this season.
Since the start of last season, Lockett has hauled in 103 receptions from 124 targets, averaging over 14 yards per target and a healthy 83% catch rate. For a team that use a run heavy approah, you could say that Lockett is just as important to the team as QB Russell Wilson and Chris Carson.
Lockett, a former 3rd round pick in 2015 is still searching for his 1st 1000 yard season with the Seahawks but with 615 receiving yards at the half way point, he looks certain to accomplish that achievement. He’s turning into one of the league’s best wide receivers and certainly one of the most reliable.
That will be music to the ears of Pete Caroll, Russell Wilson and the 12 as they make a push for the postseason.
The Tank Continues…..
We have been witnessing a team intent on losing in South Florida for what feels like the entire season. That continued this weekend, but not from the Dolphins themselves who chalked up their first win of the season. The narrative has been that Ryan Fitzpatrick gave them the best opportunity to win and he had himself a nice afternoon, throwing 3 touchdown passes with preseason darling Preston Williams finding the end zone twice.
Surely Adam Gase will be one and done in New York and that should signal the end of his NFL head coaching opportunities for the foreseeable future. The supposed quarterback whisperer oversaw a performance from Sam Darnold that lacked any explosion as short range passing to Jamison Crowder, Lev Bell and Ryan Griffin dominated the game plan. Much optimism in the preseason feels like a distant memory and give me the Dolphins right now to finish with a better record at season end than the men in green.
Same Old Browns
Remind me next year to not buy into any hype. Another Sunday, another defeat for the Cleveland Browns and the likelihood is that you can “stick a fork in them” when it comes to playoff aspirations. A team that has preached the importance of discipline and execution every day of the week, once again fails to deliver that mantra on Sunday. This weekend it was Jarvis Landry and OBJ wearing cleats which violated the leagues uniform policy. Not to be outdone the starting free safety then had a twitter meltdown and threatened to fight and kill anyone who rightly criticized his awful performance.
This is a team that looks lost and unfortunately the captain of the ship appears to be all at sea also. Freddie Kitchens continues to make puzzling play calls and personnel decisions such as having Nick Chubb on the bench for 2 running plays inside the Broncos 5 yard line. That sequence led to a turnover on downs and the Broncos marched the field to all but ice the game. In truth, it never felt like the Browns would do anything other than find another way to lose on Sunday.
Backing Up The Backup
Jacoby Brissett has played so well this season that the Colts haven’t had to mourn the loss of Andrew Luck on the eve of the season too much. Brissett has proven to be a more than capable starter who has marshalled the troops to a respectable position. Check the injury news this week though as he suffered what appeared to be a nasty looking injury when one of his own lineman first stood and then fell on his leg.
The initial look didn’t look good, but there was encouragement that he walked off the field under his own power, and remained on the sidelines throughout. The Colts will be desperate to get him back as soon as possible but will be fearing the worst as Frank Reich explained it could be an MCL sprain. Brian Hoyer came in and looked pretty much as he always does and proved why he was signed to fulfill the role of backup. The Colts will be hoping in a competitive division that they don’t have to play the backup to the initial backup for very long.
Double Dolphins celebrations
Not only did Week 9 witness the Miami Dolphins win their first game of the 2019 season on Sunday, their legendary 1972 undefeated team remain the only squad to go through a whole season without a loss.
Baltimore Ravens second year QB Lamar Jackson not only got the win against the New England Patriots, he managed to personally elevate himself into the running for NFL MVP in the same game. LJax and the dominant running game stomped all over the Patriots for another team 200+ yards on the ground, and three rushing scores.
Mark Ingram went over 100 yards and LJax scored twice on the ground and once in the air. The scorer of the Ravens passing td was none other than Nick Boyle, a backup tight end, and five year veteran of the NFL, who up until Sunday had bizarrely never scored a touchdown.
I hope he didn’t get too excited and throw the ball into the crowd. At his current rate he won’t get another leather souvenir of that type until 2024.
Minshew Mania mangled at Wembley
The 80,000+ crowd on Sunday were treated to plenty of replica moustaches, and even some authentic ones, along with an assortment of bandanas and handkerchiefs wrapped around fans heads as they dressed up in respect of Jacksonville Jaguars rookie QB sensation Gardner Minshew III.
Unfortunately the real Gardner Minshew failed to board the plane from Florida last week as fans were left watching a sixth round rookie perform like a sixth round rookie. Minshew Mania misfired for 60 minutes, including two interceptions, three sacks allowed and two fumbles lost, as the Houston Texans, in large part thanks to two seismic runs from Carlos Hyde, dominated a game that was billed to be a shootout. The 26-3 win for the Texans would have likely been even bigger if their All-Pro DE J.J. Watt would have been playing.
I know its not Halloween anymore but Nick Foles will be smelling blood after Minshew’s misfires. Napoleon Dynamite v Minshew Mania – for the Jaguars starting QB – sounds like an ITV PPV wrestling matchup.
Living up to their Bill-ing as an easy scalp
The Washington Redskins are trying, trying fans patience that is, after a third consecutive game without a touchdown. 0, 9 and 9, points per game, consisting of six total field-goals, is not going to earn Bill Callahan a shot at the permanent head coach position at the end of the season.
This was the first official start for rookie QB Dwayne Haskins, who looked uncomfortable all game once forced out of the pocket by the likes of Bills DE Jerry Hughes. To his credit Haskins lasted the whole game and did not commit a single turnover, which is a positive sign, but without any offense aside from Adrian Peterson and fellow rookie Terry McLaurin to move the sticks the prospects for the team in burgundy and gold look bleak. Even punter Tress Way who was leading the league in punt average had an under par game.
Thankfully the Redskins were on the road, against a Bills fanbase that were aggressively booing their own QB Josh Allen despite his team having an 11 point lead at one point in the contest.
Right now Redskins fans don’t care if they deliver 10 yards of offense per half (incidentally more than the Chicago Bears did in the first half of Week 9) if they get a few more wins.
One for the road…
Chargers now finally plugged in
No-one expected the Packers to lay an egg against Los Angeles this weekend.
Aaron Rodgers and the high flying packers have stormed to an NFC North divisional lead on the back of 4 straight wins.
For the Chargers though, this win puts them at 4-5 and right back in the wildcard hunt.
Mainly down to the dynamic and destructive duo of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, the Chargers defence had it’s way with the Packers offensive line and Aaron Rodgers who turned in a Chicago Bears impersonation in the first half.
Whether the firing of Ken Whisenhunt had anything to do with it, we’ll unlikely to ever find out, but the Chargers, notoriously slow starters, are now giving themselves a chance at playing January football.
For their fans, hopefully it doesn’t take too long to get fully charged.
It’s just about the half way point in the NFL regular season. Depending on your outlook on such things, that’s good or bad.
In this series of articles, we take a look back over those 8 glorious weeks of pigskin action and also project how the 2nd half of the season will play out.
Kansas City Chiefs 5-3
Oakland Raiders 3-4
LA Chargers 3-5
Denver Broncos 2-6
Midseason Grade: B
How has it gone so far?
The offensive juggernaut picked up where they left off. Patrick Mahomes has spread the ball around with ease despite missing Tyreek Hill for most of the 1st half of the season. A trade on the eve of the season for LeSean McCoy had solidified the backfield and Travis Kelce remains the league’s best tight end.
However the achilies heel is once again the defence. In particular it has been the Chiefs inability to defend the run. Only the winless Bengals have given up more yards on the ground and teams have found a formula to beat the Chiefs.
Having tasted defeat in 3 of the past 4 contests the Chiefs will be anxious to get Mahomes back from injury to allow the offence the greatest opportunity to make up for the defensive deficiencies.
Rest of Season Outlook:
The Chiefs are comfortable within the division and the 3 losses they have tasted were against quality opponents. They take care of business in the games that you would expect them to do so. They will not be concerned with regular season record however as they will be concentrating on what they want to achieve in January.
Fixing the run defence will have to be a top priority as the ground game becomes more of a factor as we get towards playoff time. The offence will continue to cause problems for anyone and outside of games with the Vikings and Patriots, the Chiefs will be big favourites in the other contests they have left to play.
Regular Season Record Prediction – 11-5 – Division Winners
How has it gone so far?
The team of hard knocks has very quickly moved on from Antonio Brown to post some decent performances in the first half of the season.
Losses to the Chiefs, Vikings, Packers and Texans are nothing to be ashamed of. Derek Carr has been very accurate, completing over 72% of his passes as he has found himself 2 new best friends. Darren Waller has been a revelation at tight end, he leads the team with 46 receptions,over twice the amount of the next leading receiver.
Josh Jacobs is arguably one of the leading candidates for offensive rookie of the year honours with 620 rushing yards from the 7 games played.
Rest of Season Outlook:
Winnable looking games against the Jets, Bengals and Chargers provide plenty of optimism for the Raiders in the second half of the season.
The impending move to Vegas should hopefully mean plenty of motivation to give the fans over in the Bay area a good send off.
Look out for the continued development of the 2 young playmakers mentioned as the Raiders may have stumbled across a nice young core to develop with.
Regular Season Record Prediction: 7-9
How has it gone so far?
In the conversation for the most underwhelming team of the 2020 season, the Chargers have fallen off massively from where they were last year. The offensive line has been a problem throughout and what feels like the standard injury curse has once again struck. Melvin Gordon backed himself in a contract hold out in a move that appears to have backfired having been outperformed by Austin Ekeler during the campaign.
Mike Williams found the endzone on 10 occasions last campaign but has yet to find pay dirt this time around. In fact Keenan Allen and Hunter Henry are the only 2 skill positions outside of the running backs that have scored a touchdown for the Bolts so far.
Rest of Season Outlook:
Looking for consistency, the Chargers need to stop beating themselves. 2 games against the Chiefs along with difficult looking matchups against the Vikings and Packers make the road ahead look difficult. WIth 5 divisional games still ahead though, with a heavy fair wind the Chargers aren’t quite out of things just yet.
Getting Michael Badgeley back on the field will help also as even if the Chargers get into winning positions the find a way to lose.
Regular Season Record Prediction:7-9
Midseason Grade: D
How has it gone so far?
As you would expect a Joe Flacco led offence to look, a little pedestrian. Ranked just 28th in points scored at just 15.6 per game the defence is keeping the Broncos competitive. That unit ranks 8th in terms of points against so its clear to see where the issues are in Mile High. An 0-4 start has been followed by a 2-2 stretch for a team struggling to establish an identity.
Philip Lindsay is still the most valuable offensive piece but despite his superior production he is stuck in a timeshare with Royce Freeman. Von Miller is having a relatively quiet season with only 4 sacks so far on the campaign.
Rest of Season Outlook:
After criticizing the defensiveness of offensive play calling Joe Flacco has miraculously picked up an injury so Brandon Allen is in at QB. The schedule does not look kind with Vikings, Texans and Chiefs all still to come. The Broncos would have been hoping for more of a boost from Vic Fangio than they have received and this has a feeling of a 1 and done season.
Development of the young wide receiving core will be crucial as the Broncos will hope that Drew Lock will be able to take over this offence in the non to distant future.
Regular Season Record Prediction: 3-13
San Francisco 49ers – 7-0
Seattle Seahawks – 6-2
Los Angeles Rams – 5-3
Arizona Cardinals – 3-4-1
Midseason Grade: A
How has it gone so far?
Without doubt the surprise package of the season, the 49ers are not so much dark horses, but sparkly rainbow unicorns, with the only undefeated record in the NFC. How are they racking up the W’s?
A perfect blend of creative and consistent running and a tough tackling defense led by rookie Nick Bosa and wily veteran CB Richard Sherman. Jimmy Garoppolo has been upright all season and only sacked 11 times. He needs to cut down interceptions (7) but at a nearly 70% completion rate Garoppolo is just fine. The strong running game is led by a three-headed monster of Matt Breida, Tevin Coleman and Raheem Mostert who have combined for over 1000 ground yards already and 10 combined touchdowns.
The receiving unit has been a big letdown, with the exception of All-Pro TE George Kittle, so a mid-season trade for Emmanuel Sanders from Denver was a welcome boost.
Rest of Season Outlook:
The remaining part of the 49ers schedule is much harder than the first half. Two matchups against the Seahawks, plus the Ravens, Saints and Packers. The 49ers will not go 16-0 regardless of however hard they run or tackle.
The two Seahawks games will define the season, and will provide the difference between a division win and a wild-card. Emmanuel Sanders will need to strike up immediate rapport with Jimmy G, as ridiculously his nine touchdown passes this season have gone to nine different team-mates. The return of versatile FB Kyle Juszczyk in the final third of the season will be a big boost.
Regular season record prediction: – 12-4 (and a wild card)
Midseason Grade: B+
How has it gone so far?
The Seahawks have not been convincing in 2019, winning their six games by a combined 32 points, including two one point wins. Regardless Russell Wilson is having a spectacular season, 2,127 yards, 17 touchdowns and just the one int in 8 full games.
Elsewhere the offence has been performing admirably, RB Chris Carson is on track for 1,200-1,300 yards and the mix of veteran WR Tyler Lockett and rookie WR DK Metcalf is providing a winning combination.
LBs Bobby Wagner and K.J Wright continue to play at a Pro-Bowl level and the addition of DE Jadeveon Clowney may not have yielded gaudy sack totals, but he leads the team in tackles for loss and forced fumbles.
Rest of Season Outlook:
The Seahawks have the 49ers clearly in their line of sight, and the two games they face against each other will be box office television both times. It’s all NFC games for Seattle for the rest of the season and six more wins is a realistic target. Seattle and San Francisco should have safely punched their ticket to the post-season by Week 16, so the Seahawks hosting the 49ers in Week 17 will likely determine who wins the division.
CenturyLink Field is no longer a fortress for the Seahawks, but they will use the wet-weather to squeak a W17 win and with it a division title.
Regular season record prediction: – 12-4 (and a division win)
Midseason Grade: B-
How has it gone so far?
It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster for the Rams so far, starting with a three game win streak, followed by a three game crash, before crushing two awful teams.
In the space of three weeks (2-4) L.A. put a beat down on the Saints, scraped past the Browns and then leaked 55 against Tampa. Jared Goff is on pace for 5,000 yards and WR Cooper Kupp is looking like an All-Pro. Kupp’s 220 yard outing at Wembley will take a long time to forget.
Todd Gurley has flattered to deceive, his 7 touchdowns hiding a rather unimpressive season so far. LBs Dante Fowler and Clay Matthews are on pace for double digit sacks. The biggest impact on defense is CB Jalen Ramsey who was traded in from the Jaguars in October. Ramsey is currently undefeated as a Rams star.
Rest of Season Outlook:
The Super Bowl hangover is for real.
A tough run of games against Seattle, Dallas and San Francisco are sandwiched between two contests against the Cardinals. There have been five receiving yardage leaders on the team in eight games, and Todd Gurley has not had a single 100 yard rushing game this year.
Two home MNF games (Chicago and Seattle) will put the Rams in the spotlight, but they are not going to make the playoffs because their offensive line is their weak link, that will cost them dearly in the Winter months.
Regular season record prediction: 9-7
Midseason Grade: C+
How has it gone so far?
Three wins and a tie in half a season is above expectation for a Cardinals team expected to be near the foot of the conference whilst they let rookie QB Kyler Murray settle in to the team.
The three wins were against weak opponents by a combined 10 points. Murray has shown improvement from his first four games, but he has been let down by a poor running game, which now has former Dolphins RB Kenyan Drake moving to Arizona from Miami.
The immortal WR Larry Fitzgerald is still churning away, and with an upsurge in targets could get another 1,000 season under his belt. David Johnson is still underperforming and he has more touchdowns catching than he does rushing.
Rest of Season Outlook:
There are not a lot of winnable games left for the Cardinals in the second half of the season, ending in two tough road-trips to Seattle and L.A. Kyler Murray is going to see better days as the Cardinals move into a new era.
The youth movement will soon takeover throughout the roster, with WRs Christian Kirk, KeeSean Johnson and Andy Isabella making competition healthy of offense. Arizona still need help on the defense and offensive line, but another impactful draft could see them competitive as early as 2020.
One small shoutout to LB Terrell Suggs, coming up to his 38th birthday, as he is still performing at a high level – five sacks, four forced fumbles and 9.5 tackles for loss. Oh and he can act too if you have seen Ballers.