Hopin' against hope...
By: Jimbo X
Arizona Cardinals (10-2)
Season Point Differential: (+150)
With a 27-3 blowout of the Rams, the Cardinals climb their way back to the top of Power Rankings charts. With 356 yards and two touchdown passes, Carson Palmer continues to impress, as do standout receivers John Brown and Michael Floyd, who combined for 227 receiving yards in Sunday's stompin' of St. Louis. The Cards' D also shined in the contest; they allowed the Rams to rack up just 146 receiving yards and held their rushing attack to a paltry 66 yards.
Cincinnati Bengals (10-2)
Season Point Differential: (+138)
The Bengals 37-3 beatdown of in-state arch rivals Cleveland was about as dominant a performance as we've seen from any team all season. Going 14 for 19, Andy Dalton wrapped up the contest with 220 yards and two touchdowns, as running back Jeremy Hill (98 yards, one TD) and receiver A.J. Green (128 yards, one TD) did their part to make fantasy football players happy. While Cincy did let Cleveland rack up a suspiciously high 230 yards in the air, none of those passes went anywhere near an end zone ... as the final score probably indicated.
Carolina Panthers (12-0)
Season Point Differential: (+130)
In an homage to last year's Baylor/TCU shootout, the still-unbeaten Panthers decided to play "Tecmo Bowl" against the Saints, ultimately finishing a thriller 41-38. Pretty much ensuring he gets this year's MVP nod, Cam Newton collected FIVE touchdowns in his 331-yard day, which was buttressed with and additional 49 scrambling yards. Other offensive standouts included Jonathan Stewart (82 yards, one TD), Greg Olsen (129 yards on nine carries) and Ted Ginn, Jr. (80 yards and two TDs.)
New England Patriots
Season Point Differential: (+128)
Just how good can Tom Brady be without Edelman and Gronk? Apparently, not as good, judging from the Pats' unfathomable 35-28 loss to the Eagles on Sunday afternoon. Going three and two on the TD-to-INT ration, Tom Terrific concluded the contest with 312 yards on 29 completions (plus a rare scrmbling TD), with no-names James White (115 yards on 10 receptions), Dannt Amendola and Scott Chandler all reeling in TD passes. The run game, however, looked a bit sluggish, with the Pats accumulating just 103 yards and allowing Philly to collect 128.
Kansas City Chiefs (7-5)
Season Point Differential: (+81)
The red hot Chiefs continue to roll, this time dropping 20 points on the Raiders in the fourth quarter for an improbably come from behind victory. Alex Smith had smaller stats than normal (162 yards passing, 23 yards rushing and three touchdowns overall), but the K.C. D came up in a big way late; they intercepted Derek Carr no less than three times, complete with a game sealing Tyvon Branch pick six in the final quarter.
Seattle Seahawks (7-5)
Season Point Differential: (+76)
Like a Mac truck, the Seahawks took a long time to rev up, but now that their figurative engine is cranked, they are looking ALL shades of 2013 right now. In a 38-7 slaying of the Vikes, Russell Wilson went 21 for 27, with three touchdown passes, for 274 yards, plus another 51 yards rushing with a TD on the ground. The 'Hawks D absolutely dominated Minnesota; they limited A.P. to just 18 yards on eight carries, and factoring in yards lost to sacks, Terry Bridgewater wrapped up the affair with only 94 passing yards.
Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5)
Season Point Differential: (+71)
In a 45-10 rout of the Colts, Big Ben posted 364 yards and four touchdowns, as Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant combined for three touchdowns and 232 receiving yards. DeAngelo Williams finished the contest with 26 carries and 134 yards - a sum that eclipses Indy's total number of rushing attempts by eight and their total rushing output by 104 yards.
Denver Broncos (10-2)
Season Point Differential: (+59)
Brock Osweiler is 3-0 as the Broncos' starting QB, leading Denver to a facile 17-3 win over the Chargers on Sunday evening. Brock finished the game with 166 yards, a one-to-one TD to INT ratio and 16 completions; the Broncos' run game, led by Ronnie Hillman with 19 rushes and 56 yards, outgalloped San Diego 134 yards to 93.
THE PLAYOFF HOPEFULS
Green Bay Packers (8-4)
Season Point Differential: (+51)
Down 17-0 at halftime, the Packers engineered an unlikely comeback against the Lions last Thursday night, with Aaron Rodgers shocking Detroit with a game-winning Hail Mary pass to Richard Rodger (no relation, in case you were wondering) to give the Pack the "get outta' here" 27-23 victory. Combined, Rodgers the passer finished the contest with 273 yards and two touchdowns (plus a rare rushing score) while Rodgers the catcher wrapped up the affair with 146 yards on eight catches ... plus one of the most exciting touchdowns in recent pro football history.
New York Jets (7-5)
Season Point Differential: (+47)
It took OT, but Ryan Fitzpatrick and company were able to hold off the G-Men for a 23-20 victory over the weekend. In the Battle of New York (which was technically in New Jersey), the Fitz had 390 passing yards and two touchdowns, with receivers Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker tag teaming for 232 yards and a score. Meanwhile, the Jets' D kept the Giants' run game grounded, holding their NFC rivals to just 74 rushing yards on 24 attempts.
Atlanta Falcons (6-6)
Season Point Differential: (+22)
The Falcons dropped their fifth game in a row Sunday, with yet ANOTHER late pick by Matt Ryan allowing Atlanta's adversary to mount a come from behind victory. Matty Ice had 269 yards on the day, going one to one on TDs to INTs thrown, while the run game was limited to no scores just 64 yards on 18 carries. The run defense also looked pretty crappy in the 23-19 loss to the Bucs, as the Dirty Birds let Doug Martin and his supporting staff collect two touchdowns and 166 yards on the ground.
Buffalo Bills (6-6)
Season Point Differential: (+18)
T-Mobile was tremendous in the Bill's 30-21 win over the surging Texans. Buffalo's pigskin-slinger finished the contest with three touchdowns and 211 yards on only 11 completions, hitting three different receivers - including yardage leader Sammy Watkins (109 on only three catches) - for scores. Buffalo also got 'er done on the ground, with LeSean McCoy rumbling for 112 yards on 21 touches.
New York Giants (5-7)
Season Point Differential: (+11)
Eli's 297 passing yards wasn't enough to lift the Giants over the Jets this weekend. In a 23-20 overtime loss, New York (NFC) kept New York (AFC) limited to just 90 rushing yards, but they totally lost the air war, letting Fitzpatrick toss the rock for 390 yards. Even in defeat, however, I suppose the Giants can take some solace in another outstanding game from Odell Beckham, Jr. - the hyper-talented wideout finished the game with 149 yards and a touchdown on only six receptions.
Minnesota Vikings (8-4)
Season Point Differential: (+6)
Yowzers, the Vikes got their asses handed to them by the Seahawks on Sunday. In a crushing 38-7 loss, the boys in Purple produced one score - a special teams sprint from Cordarrelle Patterson - while the running and receiving units finished the game with a combined 149 yards. Adrian Peterson was completely neutralized by the Temple of Boom; he concluded the contest with no touchdowns and an amazingly low 18 yards on eight rushes.
Houston Texans (6-6)
Season Point Differential: (-11)
Brian Hoyer – 293 yards, three touchdowns and an INT – had a good day, but his offensive heroics weren’t enough in the Texans’ 30-21 loss to Buffalo. Receivers Cecil Shorts and DeAndre Hopkins finished the game with 179 combined yards and a TD, while Houston’s rushing attack accumulated 126 yards (but no end zone visits) on 26 carries.
Baltimore Ravens (4-8)
Season Point Differential: (-19)
Sure, Baltimore may be way out of playoff contention at this point, but that doesn’t mean they can’t play spoiler a time or two and increase their stock for next season. Of course, to do so, the original recipe Browns are going to have to put in a more inspired performance than they did in their 17-15 loss to the Dolphins last Sunday. Matt Schaub’s 308 yard day may have been three and a half times Ryan Tannehill’s output, but you know what Ryan Tannehill didn’t do, either? Lob two interceptions, including a signature Schaub pick six.
THE MIDDLE OF THE PACK
Philadelphia Eagles (5-7)
Season Point Differential: (-24)
In what has to be the upset of the year, the Eagles stunned the Pats 35-28 over the weekend. Although Sam Bradford only posted 120 yards, 12 out of his 14 completions resulted in sprints to the endzone. The rushing game didn't produce any scores, but it kept the ball rolling with some special teams heroics from Darren Sproles and ESPECIALLY a 99-yard INT return for Malcolm Jenkins helping Philly close the gap.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-6)
Season Point Differential: (-27)
Jameis Winston had 18 completions for 227 yards in the Bucs' 23-19 win over the Falcons. Going one and one on touchdowns to interceptions thrown, he also posted another 15 yards scrambling with an additional score on the ground. With 95 yards and a solo TD on 25 touches, not only did have Doug Martin have more scores and yards than the Falcons run game, he even had more carries.
Washington Redskins (5-7)
Season Point Differential: (-29)
Kirk Cousins’ 219 yard day wasn’t enough to help the Redskins overcome a 19-16 Dallas win on Monday. DeSean Jackson (80 yards on six catches) hauled in the only TD for Washington, with a Dustin Hopkins missed field goal being the game’s deciding factor. The Skins are still in pole position in a rotten NFC East, but with games against Chicago, Buffalo and Philly – not to mention a repeat showdown against Dallas in Week 17 – their good fortune can reserve itself in a hurry.
Oakland Raiders (5-7)
Season Point Differential: (-30)
The Raiders had a 20-14 lead against the Chiefs heading into the fourth quarter Sunday, and then, they imploded. K.C. would go on to score 20 unanswered points en route to a 34-20 win; Derek Carr had one of his worst showings of the season, plunking three costly interceptions - including a game-closing pick-six - even though he did outthrow Alex Smith, 283 yards to 162.
Chicago Bears (5-7)
Season Point Differential: (-39)
Jay Cutler has had better days than Chicago’s 26-20 loss to the Niners Sunday. He had 202 yards and an interception, ultimately going 18 for 31 with no touchdowns. The run game – led by Matt Forte, who wrapped up the contest with 84 yards and a TD – was slightly more impressive, but the defense just phoned it in. I mean, seriously, what kind of front seven problems are you having when THE BLAINE GABBERT is able to chalk up 75 yards scrambling?
Indianapolis Colts (6-6)
Season Point Differential: (-46)
Matt Hasselbeck looked pretty lackluster in the Colts' 45-10 loss to the Steelers on Sunday night. Completing just 16 passes, his final tally was 169 yards, one TD and two INTs. No running back or receiver for the Colts had more than 45 yards, while Indianapolis' D let the Steelers drop 522 total offensive yards on them.
Tennessee Titans (3-9)
Season Point Differential: (-51)
Marcus Mariota went 20 for 29 in the Titans’ 42-39 win over divisional foes Jacksonville, concluding the contest with 268 yards, three touchdowns and a solo INT. Moreover, Mariota outran the entire Jacksonville offense, producing 112 yards and a touchdown on nine carries when Jags rushers combined only mustered 81 yards on 21 attempts.
Dallas Cowboys (4-8)
Season Point Differential: (-54)
No Romo? No problem! Matt Cassel managed to finally win one with the ‘Boys, as he led the Silver and Blue to a 19-16 Monday night victory over arch rivals Washington. Although Cassel had 222 yards, the only end zone excursion for Dallas came in the form of a Darren McFadden scramble – all other Cowboys points were the result of Dan Bailey field goals and uno extra point kick.
ANXIOUSLY AWAITING THE DRAFT
Miami Dolphins (5-7)
Season Point Differential: (-60)
The Dolphins decided to give their offense the day off against the Ravens, as Miami QB Ryan Tannehill made just nine completions for 86 yards and a solo TD strike. The Fins looked good on both sides of the run game; they managed to accumulate 137 yards on the ground while limiting Baltimore to only 94 rushing yards.
Detroit Lions (4-8)
Season Point Differential: (-62)
Whatever unrealistic playoff dreams Detroit had heading into Week 13 officially went out the window when Aaron Rodgers lobbed a 61-yarder to Richard Rodgers as time expired on Thursday night. Falling to 4-8 after the heartbreaking 27-23 loss, the Lions will now spend the remainder of their 2015 campaign struggling to break even ... which, really, has pretty much been the case for the Lions since the AFL merger.
Jacksonville Jaguars (4-8)
Season Point Differential: (-66)
Well, Blake Bortles had a heck of a game against the Titans. However, despite his 322 yard, FIVE TOUCHDOWN performance, it wasn’t enough to put the Jags over the top, as they ultimately succumbed 42-39 in a high scoring affair that, effectively meant nothing. Having Allen Robinson on your fantasy team must have felt pretty great though; he had three touchdowns and 153 yards on only ten touches.
St. Louis Rams (4-8)
Season Point Differential: (-68)
The Rams just imploded against Arizona over the weekend, barely producing 200 yards of total offense in a feeble 27-3 loss. Nick Foles completed 15 passes for 146 yards and an INT, while the Rams running back committee posted a lackluster 66 yards on the day. Oh, and their defense didn't do diddly, as they let the Cardinals outpass them for 349 yards and an additional 175 rushing.
San Diego Chargers (3-9)
Season Point Differential: (-77)
Philip Rivers' 202 passing yards (just 179, if you factor in the four times he got sacked) had little bearing on the outcome of Sunday's contest against Denver. In a 17-3 loss, the Chargers failed to visit the end zone once, with no running backs or receivers surpassing the 55-yard mark. Oh, and they fumbled the ball no less than four times, producing two costly turnovers.
New Orleans Saints (4-8)
Season Point Differential: (-81)
In the best game of "NFL Blitz" seen since the heyday of the Sega Dreamcast, the Saints came *this close* to ending the Panthers unbeaten streak. Alas, some late theatrics from Cam Newton and Co. clinched a 41-38 victory. At least New Orleans got you some fantasy points: Drew Brees finished the game with 282 yards and three TD passes while Mark Ingram, Brandin Cooks, Brandon Coleman and Benjamin Watson all collected at least one score in the contest.
San Francisco 49ers (4-8)
Season Point Differential: (-113)
Let's hear it for THE BLAINE GABBERT, everybody! San Fran's new leading man had 196 yards and a TD pass on 18 completions, and not once did he lob the rock into the open arms of any Bears' defenders in the Niners' 26-20 upset win. Even more impressive? The Notorious B.L.A.I.N.E. also had 75 rushing yards ... and with it, yet another score on the go.
Cleveland Browns (2-10)
Season Point Differential: (-131)
Woo boy, the Browns got their asses kicked on Sunday. In a demoralizing 37-3 loss to Cincinnati, third string QB Austin Davis had 230 yards, an INT and no touchdowns while the run game sputtered out, producing just 68 yards on 19 rushing attempts. And as you'd imagine from a team that lost by 34 points, the defense played - to put it mildly - utterly shit-tastic.