Things are beginning to get ... interesting.
By: Jimbo X
Carolina Panthers (13-0)
Season Point Differential: (+168)
With just three very winnable games left in the regular season, the Carolina Panthers seem destined to become only the second team in NFL history to go 16-0. If you weren't a believer before, Sunday's crushing 38-0 win over the Falcons turned you into one; MVP-lock Cam Newton had three touchdown passes for 265 yards, while the Panthers defense held Atlanta to just 176 yards passing and 54 rushing.
Arizona Cardinals (11-2)
Season Point Differential: (+153)
Carson Palmer had another stellar showing in the Cards' 23-20 Thursday night win over the Vikes. The former Bengal and Raider wrapped up the game with 310 yards, two touchdowns and an 8.8 yard per pass average, with receivers Michael Floyd and John Brown uniting for 180 yards and two scores. Also looking good? Back-up rusher David Johnson, who collected 92 yards on 19 touches.
New England Patriots (11-2)
Season Point Differential: (+149)
The Texans weren't much of a challenge for Tom Brady and pals, as the Pats easily rolled Houston 27-6 on Sunday night. Tom Terrific went 22 for 30 on pass attempts, concluding the contest with 226 yards and two touchdowns. In his triumphant return, Gronk did what Gronk does, as the best tight end in pro football had 87 yards and a TD on four receptions.
Cincinnati Bengals (10-3)
Season Point Differential: (+125)
...and just like that, the most promising season in franchise history may have just gone out the window. In addition to dropping a pivotal AFC North matchup against the Steelers 33-20, Cincy also lost QB Andy Dalton for the remainder of the season on Sunday. A.J. Green and Giovania Bernard still put up some respectable numbers, but with former 'Bama ball-slinger AJ McCarron - who went two-for-two on touchdowns to interceptions thrown and got sacked three times - behind center, this team's playoff chances have taken unquestionably taken a considerable hit.
Seattle Seahawks (8-5)
Season Point Differential: (+105)
NOW Russell Wilson is playing like a dude who signed one of the fattest contracts in pro football. In Sunday's effortless 35-6 stompin' of Baltimore, the former Baylor standout had five touchdown pases, going 23 for 32 for 32 yards. Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett made fantasy football players VERY happy; combined, they finished the game with FIVE scores and 186 yards on 12 receptions.
Kansas City Chiefs (8-5)
Season Point Differential: (+88)
It wasn't a terribly exciting win, but the Chiefs nonetheless managed to win their seventh in a row when they bested San Diego 10-3 over the weekend. Alex Smith went one-for-one in the touchdowns-to-interceptions department, ultimately concluding the affair with 15 completions for 191 yards. Interestingly, however, the Chiefs rushing attack wasn't that productive; despite registering 150 yards on 25 rushes, no KC back went further than 20 yards on any play, and none of them were able to find the end zone.
Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5)
Season Point Differential: (+84)
In the Steelers' 33-20 win over the Bengals, Big Ben lobbed the rock 282 yards, but despite connecting on 30 of 39 passes, he didn't have a single touchdown throw. Cue Deangelo Williams, who rushed for two scores and had 76 yards on 23 carries, and cue defender William Gay - who registered a 23-yard pick six off AJ McCarran - even harder.
Green Bay Packers (9-4)
Season Point Differential: (+72)
The Packers made life miserable for the Cowboys on Sunday - which is REALLY saying something considering the disaster of a season they've had - in a crushing 28-7 win. A-Rod went 22 for 35, passing two touchdowns and racking up 218 yards at the final whistle. The GB offense really came alive in this one, as Eddie Lacy galloped for 124 yards and a touchdown and Randall Cobb collected 81 yards on eight receptions.
THE PLAYOFF HOPEFULS
New York Jets (8-5)
Season Point Differential: (+69)
The Fitz had one of his best showings of the season on Sunday, as the Jets mangled the Titans 30-8. New York's QB had three touchdowns, 263 yards and 21 completions (plus another 23 yards rushing) while back Chris Ivory (101 yards on 22 carries) and receiver Brandon Marshall (125 yards and a TD on six catches) looked similarly impressive. And give that run defense some credit, too, as they held Tennessee to just 24 yards on the day.
Denver Broncos (10-3)
Season Point Differential: (+56)
Brock Osweiler tasted pro football defeat for the first time ever on Sunday, as the Raiders rebounded from the lowest first half yardage total since the early 1990s to stun the Broncos 15-12. Despite passing for 308 yards, nobody in Denver's receiving corps managed to get a whiff of the end zone, and with just 34 rushing yards, nobody in purple could do diddly on the ground. Oh, and how about that Oakland blitz, Brock?
New York Giants (6-7)
Season Point Differential: (+18)
The elder ... well, technically, ONLY .... Manning in pro ball looked like a dude with two Super Bowl rings in Monday night's 31-24 win over Miami. Eli lobbed the rock for 337 yards on 27 completions, producing four touchdowns and averaging 11 yards per pass. Elsewhere on the field, OBJ had two touchdowns and 166 yards on seven receptions, while back Rashad Jennings broke out 81 yards on 22 carries.
Buffalo Bills (6-7)
Season Point Differential: (+15)
T-Mobile went one for one on touchdowns to interceptions thrown in the Bills close loss to Philadelphia, 23-20, on Sunday. Robert Woods and Sammy Watkins combined for 187 yards and a solo TD on ten catches, while Mike Gillislee was able to pound the rock or a solo rushing score. LeSean McCoy, however, had an underwhelming day: at the final whistle, he had just 74 yards on 20 carries, with nary a single TD run.
Minnesota Vikings (8-5)
Season Point Differential: (+3)
The Vikings put in a solid showing, but it wasn't enough to lift them above Minnesota on Thursday night. In the heartbreaking 23-20 loss, Terry Bridgewater had 335 yards and a solo touchdown, while A.P. rumbled for 69 yards and one TD on 23 carries. Alas, offensive miscues absolutely sunk Minnesota, as they managed to turn the ball over no less than three times.
Atlanta Falcons (6-7)
Season Point Differential: (-16)
The Falcons' free fall continues, this time with their worst loss since 2004. In a humiliating 38-0 loss to divisional rivals Carolina, Matt Ryan went 22 for 34 for 224 yards, only to eat dirt three times for a cumulative loss of 42 yards. Meanwhile, Ryan's offensive weapons didn't exactly shine, either; Devonta Freeman had just 40 yards on 12 carries, while Julio Jones produced 88 yards on seven receptions.
Philadelphia Eagles (6-7)
Season Point Differential: (-21)
Sam Bradford played just all right (23 for 38, 247 yards and a 1-to-1 TD-to-INT ratio) but he was just all right enough help the Eagles overcome the Bills in a tight 23-20 contest. Darren Sproles had 41 yards and a solo TD on seven rushes, while Nelson Argholor had a TD and 62 yards on three catches. Bradford's top target? Zach Ertz, who had 98 yards on five receptions ... which, for those of you not too keen on mathematics, averages out to about 20 yards per catch.
Washington Redskins (6-7)
Season Point Differential: (-26)
The Skins remain in the thick of the NFC East title hunt after barely scrapping by Chicago 24-21. Kirk Cousins had 300 yards and a solo TD on 24 completions (along with another scrambling TD), as top receiver Jordan Reed finished the game with an end zone visitation and 120 yards on nine catches. The Washington run defense also looked pretty good, holding the Bears to just 87 yards on 22 touches.
THE MIDDLE OF THE PACK
Oakland Raiders (6-7)
Season Point Differential: (-27)
Khalil Mack went full-on Howie Long in the Raiders shocking 15-12 win over the Broncos. In the second half, the first round 2014 Draft pick exploded for FIVE SACKS and six solo tackles, as Derek Carr and company managed to finally get their offense rolling after two periods of the worst statistical offensive play in 25 years.
Jacksonville Jaguars (5-8)
Season Point Differential: (-31)
Like Ralphie going to town on Scut Farkus in A Christmas Story, the lowly Jags went apeshit on the Colts, as their traditionally anemic offense exploded for a 51-16 win. Blake Bortles had 250 yards and three touchdown passes, with Denard Robinson (75 yards on 14 carries, with a solo TD) and Allen Hurns (105 yards on three receptions with a single touchdown) taking home the top rushing and receiving honors. Rounding out the points-a-palooza hat trick, Andre Branch posted a defensive score and Rashad Greene returned a 73-yard punt for six on the board.
Houston Texans (6-7)
Season Point Differential: (-32)
New England pretty much shut down Houston's offense on Sunday night. In a 27-6 mugging, the Pats limited the Texans to just 102 yards passing and 87 rushing. Brian Hoyer wen 11 for 22 for 155 yards, while top rusher Jonathan Grimes could muster no better than 53 yards on seven carries. The wideouts did much better, however, with DeAnde Hopkins and Nate Washington combining for 101 yards on just four receptions.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-7)
Season Point Differential: (-34)
In a 24-17 loss to the Saints, Jameis Winston just played sorta' OK. With 182 yards and a solo TD, he finished the game with 18 completions and a downright Satanic 66.6 Quarterback Rating. Unsurprisingly, the Doug Martin-led rushing attack outpaced New Orleans (TB had 115 yards, NO had 87), but it is crystal clear who had the better passing game - Bucs, 182 yards on 18 catches; Saints, 312 yards on 31 completions.
Chicago Bears (5-8)
Season Point Differential: (-42)
Although Jay Cutler had 315 yards and two touchdowns on 19 completions, it wasn't enough to help the Bears get by Washington, who bested them 24-21 in a tight one. Matt Forte had a single rushing score, wrapping up the contest with 45 yards on 10 carries. Receivers Alshon Jeffery and Zach Miller also looked pretty good, with each reeling in a TD and combining for 192 yards on 11 catches.
Baltimore Ravens (4-9)
Season Point Differential: (-48)
The final outcome notwithstanding, Jimmy Clausen played remarkably well in the Ravens' 35-6 loss to Seattle. The back-up QB went 23 for 40 and had 274 yards. Of course, he also lobbed an INT and had no touchdowns, but what do you expect out of a guy with an O-line as shabby as Baltimore's? While the passing game was decent stat-wise (Kamar Aiken and Jeremy Butler, combined, had 162 yards on 12 catches), the rushing game was utter rubbish: at the final whistle, the team had a miserable 28 yards on 14 carries.
St. Louis Rams (5-8)
Season Point Differential: (-61)
You might as well go ahead and give Todd Gurley the year's top rookie honors. In the Rams' 21-14 win over Detroit, the former UGA standout had 140 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries, averaging out to about 9 yards per run. Even with a passing game as anemic as St. Louis', having a player that talented in the backfield is going to make the Rams a serious threat, no matter who they are playing against.
Miami Dolphins (5-8)
Season Point Differential: (-67)
Ryan Tannehill completed 25 of 41 passes, racking up 236 yards and a solo TD pass in the Fins' 31-24 loss to the G-Men on Monday night. Jarvis Landry was a yard short of posting triple-digit yardage, while Lamar Miller looked impressive on the ground with two touchdowns and 89 yards on 12 carries. Alas, Miami's defense just couldn't get things working for them - as evident by those four touchdowns Eli Manning had no problems air mailing past their secondary.
ANXIOUSLY AWAITING THE DRAFT
Detroit Lions (4-9)
Season Point Differential: (-69)
Matt Stafford had a day to forget in Sunday's 21-14 loss to the Rams. Going 30 for 46, he wrapped up the contest with 245 yards, two touchdowns and an INT (oh, and he got sacked four times, too.) Golden Tate, however, did have a pretty good day, statistically-speaking; he finished the game with two touchdowns and 60 yards on nine receptions, having dropped just one of the 10 balls tossed his way.
Tennessee Titans (3-10)
Season Point Differential: (-73)
Despite some big numbers (21 for 39, 274 yards) Marcus Mariota really didn't do much for the Titans, who fell to the Jets 30-8. Weirdly enough, Mariota was the only Tennesee player to catch a whiff of the end zone; in one of the strangest plays of the season, he actually registered a TD as a receiver, on a pass tossed running back Antonio Andrews.
New Orleans Saints (5-8)
Season Point Differential: (-74)
Drew Brees had 312 passing yards and went 31 for 41 on passing attempts in the Saints' 24-17 win over Tampa Bay. Marques Colston was clearly the hero of the day in Nawlins: the longtime Saint collected two touchdowns, despite having about 90 less yards on the day than the teams' receiving yardage leader, Willie Snead.
Dallas Cowboys (4-9)
Season Point Differential: (-75)
In a humiliating 28-7 loss to the Packers, Matt Cassel could do no better than 13 completions (with one INT) as the Cowboys wrapped up Sunday's contest with just 99 passing yards (once you factor in yards lost to sacks, naturally.) While Dallas' run game looked solid - Run DMC had 111 yards on nine carries - their run DEFENSE was doubly terrible, as the Cowboy's porous defensive line let Green Bay accumulate 230 yards and two scores on the ground.
Indianapolis Colts (6-7)
Season Point Differential: (-81)
Although they are still leading the AFC South, the Colts undeniably looked like garbage on Sunday, as they got blistered by Jacksonville 51-16. Outside of a Robert Mathis defensive score and a couple of Vinateri field goals, nobody wearing blue and white could put points on the scoreboard - this, despite Matt Hasselebeck posting 252 yards, with T.Y. Hilton collecting 132 of them.
San Diego Chargers (3-10)
Season Point Differential: (-84)
First, the good. Philip Rivers looked decent on Sunday, lobbing the pigskin for 24 completion and 263 yards. The bad? None of those passes resulted in a touchdown, one was an INT and the Chargers wound up dropping a snoozer 10-3 to the Chiefs. Way out of playoff contention at this point, maybe they're just distracted thinking about all of that moving they'll probably be doing in the offseason?
Cleveland Browns (3-10)
Season Point Differential: (-117)
In a matchup between the two worst teams in the NFL statistically, the Browns managed to outdo the Niners, as Johnny Football was able to put down the crack pipe long enough to toss 21 completions for 270 yards and a touchdown. Receivers Brian Hartline (107 yards on eight receptions) and Gary Barnidge (84 yards on five receptions with a TD) looked solid, as did back Isiiah Crowell, who had 145 yards and two end zone visits on 20 touches.
San Francisco 49ers (4-9)
Season Point Differential: (-127)
THE BLAINE GABBERT played like THE BULLSHIT in Sunday's 24-10 loss to Cleveland.Going 18 for 28, he registered one touchdown but got sacked NINE times en route to losing a fourth of his passing yards. This probably won't surprise you, but by golly, the San Fran run defense is lackluster; at the final whistle, they had let the lethargic Browns post no less than 230 yards on the ground.