A Look at the Top Ten Takeaways From This Weekend in the NFL
|Date & Time||Monday December 21, 2015, 12:00 PM (EST)|
|Location||Unknown Location Unknown Address|
|TV Channel||Stream live sports and ESPN originals on-demand on ESPN+ for only $4.99 a month. Sign up now!|
For the third week in a row, it’s tough to be a Colts fan. On the other hand, for three weeks running, it’s been great to be a Seahawks fan. More on both of those things in this morning’s column. We’ll get Monday started off right with the top ten takeaways from Week 15 in the NFL.
1. Something’s gotta give in Indianapolis.
As the Colts are set to miss the playoffs for the first time in the Andrew Luck era, current head coach Chuck Pagano will almost certainly be out of a job come Black Monday. If I have my way, GM Ryan Grigson will also be ousted. I never thought I’d see the day when the Colts’ D carried the team, but the offense has been able to do exactly nothing for the past month. You’d think Tony Romo was at the helm this December. I look for big changes in Indy before 2016 kickoff.
2. The Seattle Seahawks could take it all.
After a rocky start to the year, Pete Carroll’s team has started clicking on all cylinders. They’re playing the best ball in the league right now, even with Marshawn Lynch and Thomas Rawls both sidelined. I look for Russell Wilson and his cohorts to once again make a deep playoff run and maybe even take it all…if they can get past Arizona.
3. The referees are to blame for the OBJ/Josh Norman situation.
Sure, there’s blame to go allllll around for the issues that went down between OBJ and Josh Norman yesterday afternoon. Norman started it, Beckham continued it, and the refs did nothing to stop it. As per the league’s rules, the world’s most superhuman receiver should have been ejected at some point during Week 15’s antics. He wasn’t which, in my mind at least, means the refs shoulder the bulk of the blame for the mess that has the entire internet abuzz.
4. The Denver Broncos’ defense is shooting itself in the foot.
For two weeks in a row, Denver’s “historic” defense has had horrific second halves. Last week, they lost a gimme to the Raiders and this week, they managed to give-up 21 second half points to the Steelers. Ware, Talib, and their crew need to rally if the team is to make a deep playoff run, especially with the Cincinnati Bengals on-deck for next week. There’s even a chance they could lose their division (keep reading) if they don’t pull it together.
5. The Kansas City Chiefs could win the AFC West.
The AFC is an absolute mess this year. Somebody had to say it. With Denver’s two consecutive losses and Kansas City’s eight consecutive wins, the Chiefs stand to head into the playoffs on a 10 game winning streak (their final two opponents are both under .500 on the season). If the Broncos continue dropping games like they have been, there’s even a chance the Chiefs could win the AFC West outright. Who saw that coming? Anyone?
6. The Buffalo Bills are out of playoff contention.
Following yesterday’s loss to the Washington Redskins, the Bills are officially out of the postseason for the 17th straight year. This is a hard pill to swallow for the Rex Ryan-led team that went into the year with high expectations all around. While I certainly don’t look for Ryan to be out of a job just yet, I think changes will have to come next season if he wants to stick around for the long haul. These days, there’s too much talent on this Buffalo roster for them to consistently miss the playoffs.
7. Teddy Bridgewater had a breakout performance.
The Vikings, for obvious reasons, rely extremely heavily on their running game. You would too if you had Adrian Peterson on your team. In yesterday’s rout of the Bears, however, Bridgewater put-up breakout numbers, throwing for 231 yards and a career-high four touchdowns. If this offense can get both it’s passing and running games going heading into the playoffs, they could go further than anyone is expecting.
8. The Carolina Panthers will not win the Super Bowl.
Chalk this one up to bold predictions, people. I’m no Carolina fan, but credit where credit’s due, they’ve managed to become just the fourth team in NFL history to go 14-0. I don’t think, though, they’ll oust the 1972 Miami Dolphins as the only team to not only have an undefeated regular season, but an undefeated postseason too. My reasons? The Arizona Cardinals and the Seattle Seahawks. I think either of these on-fire west coast teams can manage to beat Cam Newton and Co. in Charlotte.
9. The Pittsburgh Steelers are a true threat in the AFC.
As I’ve mentioned, the AFC is a complete debacle. “Competitive” would be the politically correct term, but I call ‘em like I see ‘em. That said, Ben Roethlisberger and Co. have emerged as a legitimate threat in this conference. They’ve now beaten both Cincinnati and Denver (not to mention their complete rout of the once-touted Colts). I’d watch out for the black and gold if my team was still in contention.
10. Kirk Cousins and his receivers are starting to click.
Cousins, who had thrown just one touchdown per game in 11 of the last 13 contests, went off yesterday, throwing for 24 points. Cousins connected with Jordan Reed twice, Pierre Garcon once, and DeSean Jackson once. If he can continue to click with his receiving corps, the Redskins might not be as pathetic a playoff team as most NFL fans are expecting.