Ian Evans NFL Week 16 Love/Hate Weekend Recap
Well well well…..just like that the end of the season is finally upon us. Week 16 of the NFL season had many surprises, upsets, and even blowouts that caused quite the stir in the NFL world. From teams' playoff hopes dying to teams still hanging on by a thread, Week 16 provided just enough drama to keep the upcoming and last weekend of the season incredibly intriguing. I mean, who would’ve thought that the Bengals would get their first win on the road since 2018. And who also would have thought that the Dallas Cowboys of all teams would STILL be eligible for the playoffs!!! My oh my Week 17 can’t come quickly enough. But before the last week is upon us, let’s recap the best and worst from Week 16. Let’s get into it.
Love: Alvin Kamara Loves Christmas
Photo Courtesy: Chuck Cook/USA TODAY Sports
If you own Alvin Kamara in fantasy, Christmas was definitely the most wonderful time of the year for you. Alvin Kamara CARRIED the New Orleans Saints to a 52-33 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Christmas Day. He rushed for 155 yards on 22 carries and rushed for…..wait for it……SIX touchdowns. I mean WHAT?!?!??! The Vikings could not contain Kamara has he simply had a field day. It was like Kamara was playing Madden on rookie mode and was doing whatever he wanted against the defense. For those who were playing against Kamara in fantasy, my thoughts and prayers are with you and who knows, maybe you’ll win it next year. With a dominant performance from the Pro-Bowl running back, the Saints are now 11-4 and will look to win another in the season finale with the Panthers in Week 17.
Hate: Depleted Browns Fall to Jets
Photo Courtesy: Justin Rocke/USA TODAY Sports
Ok. The Browns have some leeway here, but it was still weird to actually watch. The leeway comes from the fact that the Browns didn’t have top Jarvis Landry, THREE other wide receivers, and rookie left tackle Jedrick Wills due to COIVD issues. But it was still weird watching playoff teams lose to a horrible Jets team. Mayfield threw for 285 yards on 53 passes, connecting on 28 of them. Nick Chubb underperformed as well as he only rushed for 28 yards even though he did account for one of the two Browns touchdowns. Ultimately, instead of applying more pressure on the AFC North-leading Pittsburgh Steelers, the 10-5 Browns must win to have their wildcard hopes stay alive. With the loss, they are clinging onto the last spot in the AFC playoff picture. Who must they win to secure the spot…..the Steelers, in Pittsburgh...
Love/Hate: The Jags are on the Clock
Photo Courtesy: Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP
So I guess the Jacksonville Jaguars have won the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes. With their blowout loss to the Chicago Bears, losing 41-17, the Jaguars have secured the number one pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Seeing that they need a quarterback, Trevor Lawrence could fit Jacksonville’s system very well. At 1-14, they really have no care in the world about winning a football game and are already looking forward to next season. So why is this is in the hate category? I know that fans want the Jags to lose, but LITERALLY cheering for another team to beat you at home is something I would never do. It was interesting hearing Duval County cheer for the Bears almost every time they scored. Well, hopefully, Lawrence can be the change Jacksonville needs because if he isn’t all that cheering for the other team to beat you on your home field would have amounted to absolutely nothing. Jaguars fans have one more game this year to cheer for the opposing squad as they take on the 10-4 Indianapolis Colts in Indy. They already have the first pick, so what are we doing for Week 17? We want them to spoil Colt's chances? Or do we just let them have it? Let me know.
Hate: Indianapolis Blows Lead to Pittsburgh
Photo Courtesy: Joe Williams/USA TODAY Sports
Talk about squandered opportunities, the Colts had a chance to apply pressure on the Tennessee Titans but decided to do otherwise. The Colts were up 24-7 with roughly 3 minutes left in the third quarter. Every sign, trend, and occurrence in this game leaned towards a Colts victory. However, the Steelers weren’t done just yet. For a defense that has been praised all year, it choked under pressure. Of Pittsburgh’s next five drives, three of them ended in touchdowns. The Steelers scored 3 touchdowns back-to-back-to-back in the span of 5 minutes to score 21 unanswered. It was honestly shocking watching Big Ben, who has had a rather lackluster year with the Steelers, account for all three touchdowns down the stretch. The Colts could not respond as Indianapolis suffered a tough loss 28-24 against the Steelers, falling to 10-5.
With a win, the Colts would have been the leaders of the AFC South. The Colts are 8 seed looking in and are desperate for a playoff spot now. Multiple scenarios have to go their way in order to make the playoffs now. Good thing they have the horrid Jacksonville Jaguars at home in Week 17. But for the rest of the AFC picture, their playoff hopes are in the hands of other teams. If they held off the Steelers' comeback, they would be in the driver's seat right now. However, their hopes are hanging by thin threads. May the odds be ever in the Colts' favor.
Love: Tom Brady Shreds Lions defense
Photo Courtesy: Nic Antaya/Getty Images
If you thought that wrapping paper was the only thing that was being torn, ripped, and shredded during the holiday season, you would be wrong. This also means you didn’t see Tom Brady play against the Detroit Lions on Boxing Day. Tom Brady led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a blowout 47-7 victory at Ford Field to help them improve to 10-5. Brady only missed five passes on 27 attempts as he threw 4 touchdowns and racked up 348 yards through the air. 4 receivers caught touchdown passes and 11 different receivers caught passes. Talk about sharing the wealth and giving gifts during the holiday season, Brady was gifting wideouts catch after catch on Saturday afternoon. Sitting at the 5 seed the Buccaneers have secured a playoff spot even if they do lose on Sunday against the Falcons. Tom could have honestly done more damage, but Arians wisely pulled Brady and put in Blaine Gabbert to lessen the damage. The Buccaneers are looking scary once again and at the perfect time too. But can they continue this dominance in the playoffs? Only time will tell.
Hate: Dwayne Haskins
Photo Courtesy: Patrick Semansky/Associated Press
I was one of those people who had a lot of faith and hope in Dwayne Haskins. Maybe that faith was blind as he has had a severely disappointing NFL career so far. From violating COVID health and safety protocols to abysmal performances under center, it is clear that Haskins is not ready to lead a team as the franchise quarterback. In a game that the Washington Football Team needed to win, Haskins was benched for a practice squad quarterback. Haskins went 14-28 with 154 yards and 2 interceptions as the offense struggled mightily the entire game. What was his QBR? 4.1. Yikes. The only touchdown that was actually thrown by the backup, Taylor Heinecke, but it clearly wasn’t enough as the Carolina Panthers won 20-13. I honestly thought that when Haskins was stripped of his team captain status that he would play better. But it clearly was not the case. He was later released Monday afternoon by the Washington Football Team. Hopefully, he gets another chance to prove himself. But because of his play, Washington must win in Philadelphia to secure the top spot in the NFC East. Good thing Alex Smith is back.
Love: Playoff Drama Intensifies
For many playoff-hopeful teams, many fates hang in the balance. And Week 17 will decide which teams want a spot in the 14-team playoff format more than others. Let’s see. The Browns could lose the last spot in the playoffs if they lose. The Ravens need to win in Cincinnati to secure their playoff spot after they won a crucial game against the Giants. The Dolphins ended the Raiders' playoffs dreams by winning in Las Vegas. And oh yeah, every team besides the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC East is still very much so alive. Did I mention that Jared Goff is injured and Kyler Murray will play with an injury on Sunday with playoff spots on the line for both teams? Week 17 is going to be wild. Here is where the standings are after 16 weeks:
x- clinched playoff birth
z- clinched division
*-- clinched division and bye
1. z- Green Bay Packers (12-3)
2. z- New Orleans Saints (11-4)
3. z- Seattle Seahawks (11-4)
4. Washington Football Team (6-9)
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-5)
6. Los Angeles Rams (9-6)
7. Chicago Bears (8-7)
8. Arizona Cardinals (8-7)
9. Dallas Cowboys (6-9)
1. *-- Kansas City Chiefs (14-1)
2. z- Buffalo Bills (12-3)
3. z- Pittsburgh Steelers (12-3)
4. Tennessee Titans (10-5)
5. Miami Dolphins (10-5)
6. Baltimore Ravens (10-5)
7. Cleveland Browns (10-5)
8. Indianapolis Colts (10-5)
As you can see, there are many scenarios in place for many teams to make the playoffs. There are honestly far too many to add to this article. But one thing is clear. Almost every game in Week 17 is a must-win game, meaning every game is a must-watch. For NFL fans, Christmas didn’t last one day, it will extend into the New Year as we are gifted a drama-filled Week 17. This should be fun.
-Ryan FitzMagic’s unreal completion