December songs, no longer I sing...
By: Jimbo X
New England Patriots (10-1)
Season Point Differential: (+135)
Even after tasting their first loss of the season in a wild, woolly and snowy overtime Sunday nighter against the Broncos, the Pats are still arguably the most complete team in pro football. Lest we forget: Mr. Brady still has more yards than anyone in the League (3,600, for those counting at home) with the second most completions, the second most passing yards per game, the fifth highest yards per pass average, THE absolute most touchdown passes lobbed and the NFL's highest passer rating. Plus, there is this guy on the team named Gronk. I hear he's really good or something.
Carolina Panthers (11-0)
Season Point Differential: (+127)
Arizona Cardinals (9-2)
Season Point Differential: (+126)
Losing Chris Johnson - who was on pace for a 1,500 yard season - is a huge blow to the Cards, as evident by their narrow 19-13 win over the Niners on Sunday. Alas, the rest of the running back committee looks pretty solid, in particular rookie David Johnson, who will be Carson Palmer's go-to-man for the remainder of the season. The question now is can the Golden Ginger actually make it an entire 16-game schedule without getting injured?
Cincinnati Bengals (9-2)
Season Point Differential: (+104)
After a pair of disappointing, super-close loses to Arizona and Houston, the Bengals bounced back in a big week this past weekend, absolutely clobbering the Rams 31-7. Andy Dalton went 20 for 27, ultimately racking up 233 yards and three touchdown passes. Meanwhile, A.J. Green looked all shades of pimp, as he strolled for two touchdowns on just six catches, and the Cincy D locked down the Rams potent rushing attack, keeping Tavon Austin and Todd Gurley limited to just 82 combined yards.
Kansas City Chiefs (6-5)
Season Point Differential: (+67)
In K.C.'s hard-fought 30-22 win over Buffalo, Alex Smith had two touchdowns, 255 yards and went 19 for 30 on pass attempts. As impressive as that was, two other offensive weapons had even more spectacular showings: running back Spencer Ware finished the game with 114 yards and a solo TD on 19 carries, while Jeremy Maclin posted 160 yards and an end zone visit on just nine receptions.
Green Bay Packers (7-4)
Season Point Differential: (+47)
After a strong start, it looks like the Packers are losing steam fast. In their 17-13 loss to the Bears Thanksgiving night, A-Rod had 202 yards and went one-for-one on touchdowns to interceptions. Though Eddie Lacy - 105 yards on 17 carries plus another 34 yards receiving with a TD - looked outstanding, hardly anybody else on the Green Bay O did anything noteworthy. Factor out Lacey, and the team posted just 72 yards rushing and roughly 170 passing.
Denver Broncos (9-2)
Season Point Differential: (+45)
Was a star born in Colorado this weekend? No, I am not talking about Brock Osweiler, although his 270 yards on 23 completions was mighty impressive. Instead, I'm talking about halfback hero C.J. Anderson, who scampered in the powder for 113 yards and two touchdowns -- including a 48-yard game winning gallop that secured Denver's 30-24 overtime victory over the formerly undefeated Patriots. And if that wasn't enough offensive firepower for Denver? Emmanuel Sanders also has 113 yards on six carries - averaging out to about 19 yards per catch.
Seattle Seahawks (6-5)
Season Point Differential: (+45)
In a rematch of Super Bowl XL, Russell Wilson absolutely exploded, posting FIVE touchdown passes in an exciting 39-30 win over the Steelers. While Jermaine Kearse kept fantasy footballers happy with his two touchdown, 47-yard day, the real MVP had to have been Seattle wideout Doug Baldwin, who torched the Pittsburgh secondary for 145 yards and THREE touchdowns on only six receptions.
THE PLAYOFF HOPEFULS
New York Jets (6-5)
Season Point Differential: (+44)
Ryan Fitzpatrick had arguably his best showing of the season in the Jets' 38-20 win over the Dolphins. He went 22 for 37, racking up 277 yards and an impressive four touchdowns -- including two of which landed in the more than capable mitts of Brandon Marshall, who wrapped up the affair with 131 yards on nine catches.
Minnesota Vikings (8-3)
Season Point Differential: (+37)
Give A.P. the ball, and wondrous things will happen. That is evident in the Vikes' 20-10 win over the spiraling Falcons last Sunday, as Peterson completely smashed Atlanta's O-line for 158 yards and two touchdowns. With rushing production like that, Terry Bridgewater - 20 for 28, 174 yards and no touchdowns - can afford to have an off-day or two.
Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5)
Season Point Differential: (+36)
While Big Ben had a staggering amount of yardage - 456 yards on 36 completions - he only lobbed one touchdown pass and posted two interceptions (which is far better than Landry Jones, who posted more interceptions than completions in the contest.) While the Steelers rushing attack sputtered out with a feeble 58 yards, they can at least take some pride in the footwork of receiver Markus Wheaton, who closed out the game with an incredible 201 yards (plus a TD) on only nine catches.
Atlanta Falcons (6-5)
Season Point Differential: (+26)
Oh boy. After a hot start, the Falcons are fading fast, and Matt Ryan's lackluster performance in Atlanta's 20-10 loss to Minnesota might just be the first domino in an organizational chain reaction. Although his stats were solid enough - a touchdown, 22 for 31 and 230 yards - he also lobbed two costly interceptions, including a red zone INT that more or less sealed the Falcons' fate with a wet, sloppy, Minnesotan tongue kiss. So, uh, who is the Falcons' backup QB, by the way?
New York Giants (5-6)
Season Point Differential: (+14)
Of course Eli and Odell were spectacular - they always are. Alas, despite their impressive in-tandem performance - the younger (and still playing) Manning had 321 yards and two touchdowns, while Beckham, Jr. had 142 receiving yards and a score - the Giants' rushing attack never got revved up. In their 20-14 loss to the Skins, New York's combined running back corps accumulated just 33 yards on 13 runs, with Washington's Alfred Morris literally outproducing the G-Men's rushing total six fold.
Buffalo Bills (5-6)
Season Point Differential: (+9)
T-Mobile put in a great showing - 21 for 38, 291 yards and three touchdown passes - but it wasn't enough to lift Buffalo over the Chiefs, who succumbed to Kansas City 30-22 on Sunday. Just in case you forgot, Sammy Watkins is a hell of a receiver; he had 158 yards and two touchdowns on just half a dozen receptions. Had McCoy and Taylor not had those costly fumbles, the Bills might just have had enough gas in the tank to pull of the win in this one ... but alas, that wasn't the way the cookie crumbled that afternoon.
Houston Texans (6-5)
Season Point Differential: (-2)
Brian Hoyer produced two touchdowns and finished the Texans' 24-6 stompin' of the Saints with 205 yards and 21-for-27 completion rate. With solid performances by the likes of back Alfred Blue (16 carries, 77 yards and a score) and receiver Ryan Griffin (four receptions, 72 yards and a TD), the Texans now find themselves on the verge of a wildcard berth - and perhaps even a shot at taking the AFC South crown from the Colts. Speaking of...
Indianapolis Colts (6-5)
Season Point Differential: (-11)
Matt Hasselbeck partied like it was 2005 over the weekend, as the 40-year-old back-up Qb slung the rock for 315 yards and two scores in the Colts 25-12 win over the surging Bucs. While Donte Moncrief had more yardage, T.Y. Hilton was the fantasy stud, racking up two touchdowns and 95 yards on six catches. Alas, the run game was a non-factor, as Indy wrapped up the contest with a miserable 27 yards on 26 rushing attempts.
THE MIDDLE OF THE PACK
Oakland Raiders (5-6)
Season Point Differential: (-16)
The Raiders snapped a three game losing streak with a 24-21 comeback win over the Titans. Derek Carr posted 303 yards and three touchdowns in a turnover-heavy game that saw Amari Cooper and Seth Roberts team up for two touchdowns and 228 receiving yards. The run defense also looked much improved, as they held the Titans to only 44 yards on 18 carries.
Baltimore Ravens (4-7)
Season Point Differential: (-17)
No Flacco, no problem! Despite Matt Schaub living up to his "Pick Six" namesake - sure as sugar, he indeed lobbed an INT returned by a Cleveland defender for a score - the Ravens special teams unit saved the day on an improbable blocked field goal that saw Will Hall break out a 64-yard scorcher to give Baltimore a thrilling 33-27 win. The Ravens may be virtually eliminated from playoff contention, but hey! There's always the Browns to beat up on, I reckon.
Washington Redskins (5-6)
Season Point Differential: (-26)
After the Redskins' 20-14 win over hated rivals New York, they now sit in pole position of the wacky (if not underwhelming) NFC East. Kirk Cousins had one of his best games of the year, tossing the rock 302 yards and completing 20 of 29 passing attempts. Oh, and the defense came up big, too, as the Skins capitalized on three Giants' turnovers, including two costly interceptions tossed by Manning the Younger.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-6)
Season Point Differential: (-31)
Jameis Winston looked decent in the Bucs' 25-12 loss to the Colts, finishing the affair with 245 yards, a touchdown, and interception and a 20-for-36 completion rate. Alas, Tampa Bay's potent rushing attack experienced the pro football equivalent of erectile dysfunction, as the Doug Martin led run game accounted for 132 yards and no touchdowns.
Philadelphia Eagles (4-7)
Season Point Differential: (-31)
Mark Sanchez ha 199 yards (just 159 if you factor in the 40 yards lost from being sacked six times) and two touchdown in the Eagles disastrous game against the Lions on Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, his two touchdown passes were nowhere near enough in the one-sided drubbing, as Matt Stafford and pals smashed Philly 45-14 ... complete with Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson hooking up for three touchdown passes.
Chicago Bears (5-6)
Season Point Differential: (-33)
Jay Cutler didn't have outlandish stats - 200 yards, one TD, 19 for 31 on passing attempts - but by golly, the Bears got the run game rolling where the Packers did not in their close 17-13 win over Green Bay last Thursday. Jeremy Langford - despite having only half as many yards as the top Packers rusher Eddie Lacy - nonetheless found end zone were GB couldn't, and Alshon Jeffery - 90 yards on seven catches - certainly kept the aerial game a' movin'.
St. Louis Rams (4-7)
Season Point Differential: (-44)
Although Nick Foles' 228 yards rivaled Andy Dalton's 233, the Rams QB couldn't convert those yardage into end zone excursions. In fact, Nick Foles was pretty much the Bizarro Andy Dalton, chucking three interceptions and no touchdown passes while his rival lobbed three TDs and only a single INT. A team glutted with so much rushing talent as St. Louis has no excuse for posting just 94 yards in a game, either.
Tennessee Titans (2-9)
Season Point Differential: (-54)
Despite their 2-9 record, the Titans are a much more competitive squad than their states indicate. Case in point? They almost beat the Raiders on Sunday, but thanks to a dumb red-zone penalty, they gave Derek Carr and company enough time to mount a last second come-from-behind drive. In the 24-21 heartbreaker, Marcus Mariota was a model of inconsistency; despite lobbing three touchdown passes, he also tossed two interceptions, including a game-clinching pass to Nate Allen.
ANXIOUSLY AWAITING THE DRAFT
Dallas Cowboys (3-8)
Season Point Differential: (-57)
Give it up for Tony Romo, everybody! In his awe-inspiring performance against the Panthers on Thanksgiving, he finished the game with 106 yards on 11 completions, with an astounding three interceptions - two of which were returned by Carolina defenders for touchdowns. Backup Matt Cassel played slightly better, but not by much - his paltry 93 yard, one TD day had little bearing on Dallas' embarrassing 33-14 defeat.
Detroit Lions (4-7)
Season Point Differential: (-58)
The Lions victory parade continues, their latest being a dominant 45-14 annihilation of the Eagles on Thanksgiving. Matt Stafford had 337 yards in the contest, with FIVE touchdown passes - three of which were reeled in by Megatron, who finished the game with 93 yards on eight receptions. Detroit's defense also looked freakishly good: not only did they limit the Eagles to just 68 yards rushing, the rolled back Philly's total passing yards to just 159 after sacking Mark Sanchez no less than half a dozen times.
Miami Dolphins (4-7)
Season Point Differential: (-62)
First, the good. Ryan Tannehill had a tremendous day, posting three touchdowns and accumulating 351 yards on 33 completions. Jarvis Landry, similarly, looked outstanding with 165 yards and an end zone visit on 13 catches. The downside? In their 38-20 loss to the Jets, the Fins posted an abysmal 12 yards of rushing offense, with Jay Ajayi "leading" the squad with approximately 18 feet of forward movement.
Jacksonville Jaguars (4-7)
Season Point Differential: (-63)
Blake Bortles had 329 yards and two touchdown passes in the Jags 31-25 loss to the Chargers. Interestingly, Jacksonville both outpassed and outran San Diego in the contest, but I suppose the passing touchdown differential tells you all you need to know: Jacksonville, two, San Diego, four.
San Diego Chargers (3-8)
Season Point Differential: (-63)
Well, Philip Rivers had a hell of day against the Jaguars, lobbing the rock 300 yards for four touchdowns -- including two zipped to Antonio Gates, who I actually didn't know was still playing. Alas, even in a 31-25 victory, the Bolts defensive woes made themselves glaringly apparent - they let Black Bortles rack up 329 yards, while T.J Yeldon and pals outran them 102 yards to 79.
New Orleans Saints (4-7)
Season Point Differential: (-78)
The Aints continue their sloppy play, falling to Houston in a 24-6 rout over the weekend. Drew Brees, as always, had big numbers (228 yards), but he failed to lob any end zone passes and he was the source of two costly turnovers. The run stalled as well, with the lethargic Saints racking up a puny 50 yards in the trenches by contest's end.
Cleveland Browns (2-9)
Season Point Differential: (-97)
San Francisco 49ers (3-8)
Season Point Differential: (-119)
Believe it or not, THE BLAINE GABBERT actually outpassed Carson Palmer in San Fran's shockingly close 19-13 loss to the Cardinals over the weekend. Even stranger, the Niners' running back crew almost outran Arizona as well, as Shaun Druaghn led all players in rushing yards during the contest. The difference maker? The red and gold coughed the ball up twice, including a pivotal INT tossed to Tyraann Matheiu that almost resulted in a pick six.