Sooooo yeah – Week 15 never happened but were back!! And we’ve a bumper blog this week to make up for it.
Its Crunch time at the top of both conferences, as we head into the final two weekends of the season, here’s what we know:
Ravens, Bengals and Browns can all win the division, Steelers join them to ensure all four are in the post-season hunt this late in the season. This is undoubtedly the most competitive division in OOH football, and is mirroring real life with a bit of needling developing between the owners. Can the Bengals stop choking? Can the Browns complete an almighty comeback? Will Al ever be modest?
Patriots might just squeak over .500 and the division in the hunt for Brady’s 5th ring before his imminent retirement. Bills, Dolphins and Jets are trying out their roster depth and scouting the college talent available, with the Jets looking at the #2 pick in the forthcoming draft and in desperate need for a new QB.
Titans require one more win to secure the division. Colts and Jaguars are still in with a shout but this looks pretty much set in stone. Division looks set to be competitive for the lifetime of the league. The big question however is will the Texans be seduced into trading in the off-season after a disappointing first season?
Chiefs have secured a wildcard, require one more win for the division, two more to secure #1 seed. Chargers can still win the division and the #1 seed but require results to go their way. The Raiders’ owner is off to his off-season camp in the Algarve, whilst the Broncos are beginning to acclimatise to the thin Colorado air and to come on stronger next season.
QB – Tom Brady – 3926 yards, 70% completion, 32 TDs, 20 Ints, 280 yards per game, 107.6 passer rating
HB – Melvin Gordon – 1414 yards on 198 carries / 17 TDs / 101 yards per game / 7.1 yards per attempt
WR – Emmanuel Sanders – 1773 yards on 75 receptions / 16 TDs / 126.6 yards per game / 23.6 yards per catch
DEF – Ravens – 3845 yards allowed (3130 pass / 715 rushing) / 197 points allowed / 26 Sacks, 35 Ints, 5 Fumbles
Vikings v Bears in week 17 will decide the division champion, with the other taking the wildcard. Packers are looking forward to their first full season next time around and the Lions are most likely in a corner grumbling about the lack of protection from their o-line, or why the sky is the wrong shade of blue.
This has been the Cowboys division for a long time, with the rest playing for pride and draft position! Cowboys will be hoping to secure the #2 seed heading into the playoffs. Washington look set for the #1 pick in the first OOH draft (eerily replicating last year). Philly and New York are purely looking to the off-season.
Saints have all but secured the division and with it the #3 or #4 seed. Falcons gave them a scare but the loss of Ryan ended their season prematurely. Panthers have produced some good recent results to build on for next, whilst the Buccs will look to use their top five draft position to improve the roster further.
The washed up CB leads the conference and is one win away from the division crown and #1 seed. Week 16 game v the Rams will be an incredible watch and could force everything to the week 17 divisional showdowns. Rams have secured at least one of the two wildcards, whilst the Seahawks and Cardinals are regrouping for next season and the easier schedule it will bring.
QB – Teddy Bridgewater -3524 yards / 68% completion / 24 TDs, 15 Ints / 251 yards per game / 104.3 Passer Rating
HB – Chirs Ivory – 1809 yards on 201 carries / 18 TDs / 129.2 yards per game / 9 yards per attempt
WR – Julio Jones – 1816 yards on 75 receptions / 11 TDs / 129.7 yards per game / 24.2 yards per catch
DEF – 49ers – 4059 yards (3060 passing / 999 rushing) / 239 points allowed / 33 Sacks, 11 Fumbles, 35 Ints
Week 16 Fixtures
NYG v PHI
ATL v CAR
MIN v GB
NYJ v NE
SD v CLE
A battle for the wildcard plays out in Cleveland as the Chargers head east to face the resurgent Browns. Despite being down to their 3rd choice QB, the Browns are rolling on a 5 game win streak, having steamrolled the Cowboys, Ravens, Steelers, Giants and Browns. In Paul Kruger, they have a one man wrecking ball and a win here will throw open the AFC wildcard going into week 17.
The Chargers are coming off the back of a comfortable win v the Raiders, but know that any slip-up now could prove fatal for their playoff chances. Smith has had a decent first year in SD but could be on the block by the end of the season with the infamous wheeling and dealings of SC sure to begin soon.
Prediction: Cleveland keep the momentum rolling and playoff dreams alive with a two score victory over the Chargers
TB v NO
TEN v JAX
WAS v CHI
IND v OAK
ARI v SEA
SF v LA
THE GAME OF THE WEEK WITHOUT DOUBT! The tie the Rams had with the Saints in Week 11 could prove costly to their division crown hopes but a victory here will pile the pressure on the 49ers going into week 17. The Rams have been very quiet this year on the way to their 11-2-1 record and will be hoping they don’t suffer any injuries, after the lost Gurley for a pro-longed period the last time these two met.
The 49ers are on the brink of the division crown and #1 seed, and with the stellar tandem of BLAINE GABBERT AND CHRIS IVORY (Really!), they have laid waste to almost all before them this year. The 49ers are favourite to represent the NFC in this year’s Superbowl, and will be preying simply for no major injuries in the next two weeks
Prediction: Despite taking the game into the 4th with a 1 score lead, the Rams lose by 10 and the NFC West’s division is signed, sealed and delivered to Santa Clara.
CIN v HOU
BAL v PIT
A 2nd tasty division game this week, and another that has playoffs implications. The Ravens have somehow managed to ride their nasty D whilst Ryan Mallet takes snaps under centre, and will need to rely on it once again as they come up against the high powered Steelers offence. Incredibly, the Steelers are still in with a shot of the wildcard despite sitting 4th in their division, so won’t be rolling over and playing dead just yet. The Ravens on the other hand require one win for the division crown and are hunting down the stalling Chiefs for the AFC’s #1 seed.
Prediction: Shock of the week as Big Ben, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell tear the Ravens D apart and leave the AFC North mouth-wateringly poised for the W17 divisional showdowns
DEN v KC
DET v DAL
Week 16 Winners will be……