When dreams die hard...
By: Jimbo X
Arizona Cardinals (12-2)
Season Point Differential: (+176)
Drubbing the Eagles on Sunday night 40-17, Carson Palmer had 274 yards and a solo TD, with top receiver Michael Floyd collecting five passes for 70 yards. Of course, the star of the show had to have been running back David Johnson, who finished the game with three touchdowns and 187 yards on 29 touches.
Season Point Differential: (+171)
In a fisticuffs-filled nail biter against the Giants, Cam Newton recorded 340 yards and FIVE touchdowns, as the Panthers won their 14th game in a row at the Meadowlands. While standout receivers Ted Ginn, Jr. (two touchdowns and 84 yards on six catches) and Greg Olsen (one TD and 79 yards on six receptions) looked terrific, you also have to give some credit to Carolina’s potent rushing attack, which churned up 171 yards on 29 touches. Oh, and guess who was responsible for a meager 100 of those yards on the ground?
New England Patriots (12-2)
Season Point Differential: (+166)
It was definitely an “off-day” for the Pats on Sunday, as they easily rolled over Tennessee 33-16. Tom Terrific finished the affair with two touchdowns and 267 yards on 23 completions, with no name receivers Brandon LaFell and James White out-producing Gronk in total yardage (but he still had a TD, so no worries.) The New England secondary also looked really good, as they intercepted Zach Mettenberger twice and sacked Marcus Mariota thrice for negative 32 yards.
Cincinnati Bengals (11-3)
Season Point Differential: (+135)
The lowly Niners made it a much closer contest than it should have been, but Cincy still managed to sneak out of Santa Clara with a 24-14 win. Offensively, AJ McCarron didn’t do much, but his 192-yard, one-touchdown day was good enough to propel the Bengals over San Fran. Although the team as a whole only produced 68 yards on the ground, Jeremy Hill was still able to produce 31 yards and two scores, which more than made up the difference in the contest.
Seattle Seahawks (9-5)
Season Point Differential: (+122)
Russell Wilson’s hot streak continues, as he passed for 249 yards and three touchdowns in the ‘Hawks 30-13 win over the Browns. Jermaine Kearse had 110 yards on seven catches, while Tyler Lockett and Doug Baldwin united for 100 yards and two scores on nine carries. Halfback Christine Michael (84 yards on 16 carries) also looked good, and the defense completely shut down Cleveland, allowing them no more than 94 yards rushing and just 136 passing.
Kansas City Chiefs (9-5)
Season Point Differential: (+108)
Having won eight games in a row, the Chiefs continued to look tremendous in their 34-14 win over Baltimore. While Alex Smith’s numbers are relatively low (171 yards and one TD), his completion percentage is just insane, having connected on 21 out of 25 attempts against the Ravens. The rushing attack (led by Charcandrick West, with 76 yards on 16 carries) and the potent defense, as they have done for two months straight now, simply handled the rest en route to a facile 20-point victory.
Pittsburgh Steelers (9-5)
Season Point Differential: (+91)
Big Ben, as always, had some big numbers up against Denver, compiling 380 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions in a 34-27 slugfest, which ultimately tilted in favor of the men in black and yellow. The rushing game for Pittsburgh was non-existent (they had 23 yards on 17 carries) but yeah, they’ve got some straight up pimps in the receiving corps; Antonio Brown had two touchdowns and 189 yards on 16 catches, while Martavis Bryant wrapped up the game with 87 yards on 10 catches.
Green Bay Packers (10-4)
Season Point Differential: (+82)
A-Rod had one TD, one INT and 204 yards on 22 completions in the Packers’ 30-20 win over the Raiders. James Starks had 51 yards on the ground on nine carries, while top receiver James Jones finished the contest with 82 yards and a touchdown on six receptions. Alas, it was defender Daemarious Randall who proved the hero of the day, as his pick six off Derek Carr gave Green Bay all the wiggle room they needed to emerge victorious.
THE PLAYOFF HOPEFULS
New York Jets (9-5)
Season Point Differential: (+72)
Ryan Fitzpatrick finished the Jets’ 19-16 win over Dallas just a yard shy of 300 passing. He really did a good job shooting the ball around, as no less than five Jets’ receivers concluded the game with at least 49 aerial yards. There wasn’t much to say about the run game (which produced only 73 yards), but the defense looked stellar, collecting four interceptions off the Cowboys quarterback carousel.
Denver Broncos (10-4)
Season Point Differential: (+49)
Minnesota Vikings (9-5)
Season Point Differential: (+24)
Terry Bridgewater had 231 yards and four touchdowns in the Vikes’ 38-17 win over the Bears. Moreover, he went 17 for 20 on completions, with Jerick McKinnon and Stefon Diggs combining for three scores and 131 yards on seven receptions. Although A.P. only had 63 yards on 18 carries, it really wasn’t that big of a deal - thanks in no small part to all of the padding Minnesota’s aerial attack provided its running back corps.
New York Giants (6-8)
Season Point Differential: (+15)
Despite a furious late comeback, Eli and the Giants just couldn’t overcome the Panthers, as they dropped Sunday’s contest 38-35. Manning had one of his best games of the season, hitting four separate receivers on four touchdown passes for a total 245 yards. While the game will forever be remembered for Odell Beckham Jr.’s punchiness (resulting in a one-week suspension), the G-Men’s run game shouldn’t be overlooked: Rashad Jennings looked like a stud in the contest, collecting 107 yards and a touchdown on 16 rushes.
Buffalo Bills (6-8)
Season Point Differential: (+5)
Atlanta Falcons (7-7)
Season Point Differential: (-10)
Virtually eliminated from playoff contention, the Falcons’ 23-17 win over the Jaguars on Sunday keeps their meager postseason dreams alive for another week, at least. After dropping six in a row, Atlanta bounced back, with Matt Ryan collecting 246 yards and a TD on 22 completions. Top receiver Julio Jones had 118 yards on nine receptions with a score, while leading rusher Devonta Freeman wrapped up the game with 56 yards and a score on 25 touches.
Washington Redskins (7-7)
Season Point Differential: (-16)
Houston Texans (7-7)
Season Point Differential: (-26)
With 150 passing yards, the Texans hardly looked that much better than the Colts on Sunday. Alas, Houston’s rushing attack made all the difference in their 16-10 win, as they managed to triple Indianapolis’ total rushing yardage for the afternoon. The top two standouts for the Texans? Receiver DeAndre Hopkins (94 yards on eight catches) and running back Alfred Blue, who finished the game with 107 yards on 20 carries.
THE MIDDLE OF THE PACK
Oakland Raiders (6-8)
Season Point Differential: (-37)
Derek Carr had 276 yards, two touchdown passes and two INTs in the Raiders’ home loss to Green Bay. While Amari Cooper shined with two scores and 120 yards on six receptions, the Raiders run game, despite outyarding the Packers’ ground attack, failed to net any end zone pilgrimages. Alas, that pick-six lobbed to Damarious Randall sealed the team’s doom, officially dashing their playoff chances in the process.
Jacksonville Jaguars (5-9)
Season Point Differential: (-37)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-8)
Season Point Differential: (-42)
Jameis Winston had 363 yards and two touchdowns in Thursday night’s 31-23 loss to the Rams. Although the Bucs’ run defense ultimately cost them the game, at least they can take pride in at least two outstanding offensive performances; Doug Martin had 91 yards on 18 rushing attempts, while wideout Mike Evans collected 157 yards on nine receptions.
Philadelphia Eagles (6-8)
Season Point Differential: (-44)
Sam Bradford went two-for-two on touchdowns-to-interceptions thrown, as the Eagles succumbed to the Cardinals on Sunday evening 40-17. Stats-wise, Bradford had a hell of a day - 361 yards on 28 completions is nothing to scoff at - but he also lobbed a costly pick six and turned the ball over on a fumble. This receiving corps is pretty solid, though, as evident by Jordan Matthews and Zach Ertz tag-teaming for two scores and 227 yards on 17 combined catches.
St. Louis Rams (6-8)
Season Point Differential: (-53)
In what very well could be the last NFL regular season game played in St. Louis in quite a while, the Rams made the Missouri faithful smile with a 31-23 win over Tampa Bay. Case Keenum had 234 yards and two touchdown passes on 14 completions, with Todd Gurley and Tavon Austin teaming up for 80 yards and two scores on 25 runs. With no shots at the playoff, I guess the big question now is how good will Kenny Britt and Jared Cook look in L.A. blue and gold next season?
Detroit Lions (5-9)
Season Point Differential: (-61)
Matt Stafford has 254 yards and three touchdowns in the Lions’ 35-27 win over the Saints. Impressively, the former UGA QB went 22 for 25 on pass attempts, with Eric Ebron and Golden Tate combining for two scores and 124 yards on 10 catches. Oh, and the run game looked great, as we, with Ameer Abdullah and Joique Bell uniting for 148 yards and two touchdowns on 17 rushing attempts.
Chicago Bears (5-9)
Season Point Differential: (-63)
With 231 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, Jay Cutler played fairly well. Alas, his Bears still dropped their Sunday contest against Minnesota, 38-17. The run game - or lack thereof - was a big factor in Chicago’s loss. On twenty carries, they produced just 94 yards, with none of them crossing over into enemy end zone.
Baltimore Ravens (4-10)
Season Point Differential: (-68)
Jimmy Clausen went two for two on touchdowns to interceptions thrown, finishing the 34-14 loss to K.C. with 281 yards on 26 completions. There is not much to talk about concerning the run game (leading rusher Terrance West had only 35 yards on seven carries) but there are some bright spots on the receiving corps - namely, wideout Kamar Aiken, who had 128 yards and a solo TD on eight receptions.
ANXIOUSLY AWAITING THE DRAFT
San Diego Chargers (4-10)
Season Point Differential: (-68)
Dallas Cowboys (4-10)
Season Point Differential: (-78)
Do you think the Cowboys’ faithful miss Tony Romo? In the Cowboys’ 19-16 loss to the Jets over the weekend, the tandem of Kellen Moore and Matt Cassel combined for 176 yards, one touchdown and FOUR INTERCEPTIONS. With a crappy pass defense that allowed almost 300 yards, it’s no wonder why Dallas lost this one - even if Darren McFadden (100 yards on 16 rushes) is playing way better than anyone thought he would.
New Orleans Saints (5-9)
Season Point Differential: (-82)
Although Drew Brees had 341 yards and three touchdowns, New Orleans still succumbed to the Lions on Monday night, dropping a close one 35-27. Although there were some bright spots on the receiving side of things - Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead, combined, had 190 yards and a touchdown on 20 catches - the rushing game just tanked; when the clock struck triple zeroes in the fourth, the Saints had only accumulated 69 rushing yards on 18 attempts.
Miami Dolphins (5-9)
Season Point Differential: (-83)
If you are looking for someone to blame on the Dolphins’ 30-14 loss to the Chargers over the weekend, I assure you, there is plenty of it to go around. Ryan Tannehill underperformed, with no touchdowns in a 216 yard day, while the rushing attack posted a feeble 44 yards on 19 carries (despite two touchdowns, including one from the Tanner himself.) Defensively, this team is getting scorched on the deep pass, and their offense is way to butterfingery; in their latest loss, both Rashad Jones and Ryan Tannehill let the pigskin slip from their hands, giving San Diego scoring opportunities that should have never arisen.
Indianapolis Colts (6-8)
Season Point Differential: (-87)
With 140 yards after sacks, the Colts looked downright anemic passing the ball in their 16-10 loss to the Texans over the weekend. As bad as their aerial game was, however, their rushing attack was even worse, as they could only muster a paltry 50 yards on 19 runs.
Tennessee Titans (3-11)
Season Point Differential: (-90)
How many great receivers are there in the NFL with the surname Beckham? While OBJ may be getting all the attention (and following Sunday’s game against Carolina, for all the wrong reasons), Tennessee’s Dorial Green-Beckham has quietly posted some impressive numbers all season long. Case in point? He had 113 yards on six receptions in the Titans 33-16 loss to New England, reeling in six out of nine balls lobbed his way. It’s a lost season for Tennessee, to be sure, but at least there is some talent there to work with for the 2016-17 campaign.
Cleveland Browns (3-11)
Season Point Differential: (-134)
Johnny Manziel had a day to forget on Sunday, as his lackluster 161 yard, one-TD and one-INT apiece day concluded with a bruising 30-13 loss to the Seahawks. Offense-wise, this team was stifled something fierce; the top rusher had just 46 yards, while the top receiver collected a paltry 39. Either that’s a testament to how great Seattle’s resurgent defense is becoming, or a clear-cut sign that there needs to be some major offensive adjustments ahead of the 2016 season.
San Francisco 49ers (4-10)
Season Point Differential: (-137)
The Error of Comedies at Levi’s Stadium continued Sunday, with San Francisco QB Blaine Gabbert tossing the rock for 295 yards and one touchdown. Sounds like a pretty decent showing, no? Well, that’s only if you overlook the four times he was sacked and the THREE interceptions he gently presented to Cincinnati’s defenders. With 55 yards on the day, the 49ers rushing attack was every bit as flaccid as the passing game - frankly, the plug can’t get pulled on this knee-slapper of a season soon enough.