A Look at the Top Ten Takeaways From This Weekend in the NFL
|Date & Time||Monday December 28, 2015, 12:00 PM (EST)|
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It’s hard to believe the 2015 NFL regular season is drawing to a close next week. Week 16 was an intriguing one, with a few shocking upsets (hello, Ravens and Rams) and some games that went just as expected. This morning, we’ll run through the top ten takeaways from this weekend in professional football.
1. The Arizona Cardinals look unstoppable.
Early in the season, before Jordy Nelson’s injury and the apparent decline of the Packers’ offense, I liked them to win it all. After yesterday’s absolute rout by the Cardinals, though, I don’t know that anyone can stop Bruce Arians’s team. This week, we’ll get a preview of what I believe will be the NFC Championship when the Red Sea takes on the Seattle Seahawks. More on that Wednesday.
2. The Carolina Panthers are beatable.
Everyone knows how I feel about Cam Newton (Bama grad, remember?), so I must say I was thrilled to see the Panthers finally add a 1 to their loss column yesterday afternoon. Losing to the faltering Falcons, however, should concern Carolina fans. If the Panthers did indeed peak too early, I don’t see them having much chance of beating the aforementioned Cardinals should they meet in the postseason.
3. The Indianapolis Colts need a miracle.
It was too little too late when the Colts finally got some semblance of offense going yesterday afternoon against the Dolphins. The team no longer controls its destiny and needs a minor (make that major) miracle to make the playoffs. Their current odds of seeing any action in the postseason? 3300-1. There’s always next year.
4. The Seattle Seahawks must play more polished ball.
It would appear that the Seahawks got tired of looking like a Super Bowl contender yesterday during their surprising loss to the St. Louis Rams. The team played sloppy ball, racking-up three turnovers (which killed them) and failing to sack Case Keenum even once. If Pete Carroll wants his club to make a deep playoff run, they’ve got to focus on fundamentals heading into January.
5. The Pittsburgh Steelers utterly blew it.
The Steelers had a shot to lock-in one of the AFC’s wildcard spots yesterday afternoon. Instead, they lost by a field goal to a Ravens team that is on it’s fourth starting quarterback of the year. The word “inexplicable” comes to mind, particularly after the team’s recent wins. Now, rather than being a shoo-in for the postseason, Steelers fans have almost as little hope as we do in Colts Nation. Sorry, folks. I feel for you.
6. Kirk Cousins is playing at a ridiculously high level.
After a brief stint in October when he appeared to have forgotten how to play football, Cousins has turned things around in Washington, making the Redskins one of the hottest teams in the league right now. Over the past two games, Cousins has thrown eight touchdown passes and zero interceptions. As the NFC East winners, the ‘Skins now have the chance to make a playoff run. I don’t see them going deep, but if Cousins can keep playing like this, they may surprise us all.
7. The Minnesota Vikings should take the NFC North.
I don’t know about you, but I love ending the season with division games. Case in point: Week 17’s match-up between the Vikings and the Packers for the NFC North crown. The Pack, as evidenced by their blowout loss to the Cardinals, is struggling. The Vikes, on the other hand, are coming-in hot and should be able to win, securing an unexpected home-field advantage. In January. In Minnesota. Yup.
8. The Kansas City Chiefs are still quietly winning.
As I’ve mentioned a few times recently, the Chiefs are just winning…and winning…and winning. During yesterday’s (albeit ugly) win over the Browns, they secured their ninth win in a row and clinched a playoff berth. Playing like they did yesterday won’t get the Chiefs very far in the postseason, but the opportunity is there if they choose to take it.
9. Blake Bortles remains a roller coaster.
Bortles’s season has been something of a roller coaster ride, which continued yesterday, when he threw for four touchdowns and clocked 368 yards. Those impressive numbers, though, mask play that is sometimes befuddling and sometimes downright frustrating. If the Jaguars are to contend in the AFC South (which isn’t too hard to do, honestly), their quarterback needs to learn to play more consistently this offseason.
10. The Cleveland Browns once again need a quarterback.
This should be Believeland’s mantra at this point. Heading into draft season, the Browns organization is once again in need of a quarterback who can actually play football. Their offensive roster really isn’t bad, with Gary Barnidge and Travis Benjamin both having excellent seasons and Alex Mack still serving as one of the best centers in football. That said, Johnny Manziel and Josh McCown neither one have franchise potential. Time to go back to the drawing board, front office.