Week fourteen was highlighted by close games and season injuries to starters. Seven games were decided by a touchdown or less in Week 14. All but one of those games had playoff implications as the season nears its end.
Speaking of playoffs, the Arizona Cardinals, Carolina Panther and New England Patriots, secured their playoff positions. The Cardinals defeated the Vikings 23-20 on Thursday Night Football and have the NFC West in wraps. The Panthers clinched a playoff berth along with a first-round bye destroying the Falcons, 38-0. Carolina has secured the NFC South. The New England Patriots defeated the Houston Texans, 27-6 to clinch a playoff berth and a first place finish in the AFC East for the seventh straight season.
Injuries have destroyed the likes of players such as Peyton Manning of the Broncos, Big Ben and Le’Veon Bell of the Steelers, Andrew Luck of the Colts, Marshawn Lynch, Jimmy Graham and Thomas Rawls of the Seahawks, Colin Kaepernick of the 49ers, Jamaal Charles of the Charles, Justin Tuck of the Raiders, Dion Lewis and Julian Edelman of the Patriots, Cameron Wake of the Dolphins, Joe Flacco and Terrell Suggs of the Ravens, Andy Dalton of the Bengals and Arian Foster of the Texans to name just a select few. Both Rawls and Dalton were injured this week and were ruled out for the season.
The Kansas City Chiefs and Arizona Cardinals have won seven straight games defeating the San Diego Charges and Minnesota Vikings respectively. Here’s my favorite play:
One team remains undefeated: The Carolina Panthers at 13-0.
- Carolina Panthers (13-0): Picture perfect game for the Panthers as they beat up the practice-squad caliber Atlanta Falcons, 38-0. Carolina handed Atlanta their first shutout since 2004, while securing the NFC playoff No. 1 seed along with a first-round bye all in the process. “Super Cam” passed for 265 yards and three touchdowns in the win.
- Arizona Cardinals (11-2): Close call at home for the Cardinals but they came through in crunch time defeating the Vikings 23-20. Mr. Clutch (Dwight Freeney) gets the game ball as his strip-sack fumble erased all chances for Minnesota and secured a Cardinals playoff berth and first-place finish in the NFC West. Arizona was lead by Carson Palmer passing for 310 and two scores in the W.
- New England Patriots (11-2): The Patriots got to channel their frustration and a little more with a 27-6 beat down of the Texans on Sunday Night Football. New England clinched a playoff spot along with the NFC East, thanks to a stout that sacked Brian Hoyer five times along with picking off the Texans twice. Another shout out goes to the return of Rob Gronkowski, who’s welcome back party included hauling in four catches for 87 yards and a Gronk-spike touchdown in the win.
- Cincinnati Bengals (10-2): Yes, we know this Bengals team all too well. Another loss in a huge division game for Cincinnati as they feel 33-20 the Steelers a home. The Bengals can win all the games in the world, but when it come to the “deciding” game the Bengals looked more like house cats against Pittsburgh as Andy Dalton broke his thumb and was out early and A.J. McCarron looked like a backup throwing two interceptions, one being a pick-six for the loss.
- Denver Broncos (10-3): 310 total yards and zero scores. That just about sums up the Broncos offense Sunday. Denver rushed for just 34 yards, while coughing the ball up four times and a missed field goal in the loss. Up next: the surging Steelers.
- Green Bay Packers (9-4): Eddie Lacy is the size of an offensive lineman making him a living nightmare for defenses tackle and when Lacy isn’t coughing the ball up, he is a beast. Lacy rumbled for 124 yards and a touchdown in the Packers 28-7 beat down of the Cowboys. Look for Green Bay to rely heavily on the run game heading down the stretch as the Packers passing game is still trying to find its synch.
- Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5): The Steelers flexed their muscles as they took it to the Bengals, 33-20. DeAngelo Williams, the unsung hero for Pittsburgh had a solid outing running for 76 yards and two touchdowns in the win. Plus, who said the Steelers can’t play defense? Because their three interceptions, three sacks and a touchdown was huge for the Steelers. Pittsburgh has won their last four of five. Watch out.
- Kansas City Chiefs (8-5): Ugly win for the Chiefs at home over the Chargers, 10-3. But like they say, a win is a win and Kansas City has been doing a lot of that, taking the last seven. The Chiefs defense is ferocious sacking Phillip Rivers and Co. five times, picking him off once, and providing the goal-line stand to secure the Chiefs win. Offensively, Albert Wilson, the Georgia State alum, scored the game’s only touchdown along with hauling in four catches for 87 yards.
- Seattle Seahawks (8-5): Four straight wins for the Seattle. Two of the wins were against teams the Seahawks will see in the playoffs. So who’s the biggest reason for all the success? That’d be Russell Wilson, who’s passed for 16 touchdowns during the streak. His favorite target has been Doug Baldwin who’s hauled in six of those touchdowns. Seattle annihilated Baltimore, 38-6.
- New York Jets (8-5): The Jets took care of business at home, handling the Titans, 30-8. New York has now slingshotted themselves into the Wildcard, thanks to a solid defense and optimistic offense. The gang green sacked Marcus Mariota five times and picked him off once while the offense was lead by Ryan “lumber jack bearded” Fitzpatrick passed for 263 yards and three touchdowns in the win.
- Minnesota Vikings (8-5): Losers of their last three of four, I don’t believe in the Vikings. This time to the Cardinals, 23-20 in a close one on Thursday Night Football. The Vikings lean too heavily on Adrian Peterson as a running back and do not have enough weapons through the air to sufficiently win most games. Speaking of Peterson he rushed for 69 tough yards and his 100th career touchdown in the loss. As for Teddy Bridgewater, his stats may look well, but he has accuracy issues on passes of 10-yards or more and doesn’t play in system with a full playbook. On the final play of the game, Bridgewater coughed up the ball at the hands of a strip-sacked by Dwight Freeney to loss the game.
- Oakland Raiders (6-7): Did anyone want to remind Khalil Mack that he was a second-year player? Because that man was straight filthy sacking Denver five times as a one-man wrecking ball. Mack tied Howie Long’s record for the most sacks by an individual in a game while his team. Speaking off defense, the silver and black shutdown Denver giving up zero offensive touchdowns in a huge road win defeating the Broncos, 15-12.
- Washington Redskins (6-7): YOU LIKE THAT? Kirk Cousins was beast passing for 310 yards and a touchdown in the Redskins 24-21 win over the Bears. That was Washington’s first road win of the season and it couldn’t have come at a better time as Washington holds off the Eagles and Giants for the NFC East crown.
- Philadelphia Eagles (6-7): In LeSean McCoy’s return to the Philadelphia, Chip Kelly and the Eagles got the last laugh winning a tight one, 23-20. The game ball goes to Darren Sproles who recorded 88 all-purpose yards and a touchdown in the win. The Eagles are one game back from the Redskins for the NFC East title.
- Buffalo Bills (6-7): LeSean McCoy made sure his presence was known on and off the field Sunday. On the field he recorded 109 all-purpose yards in the loss. Off the field, McCoy kissed the Eagles mid-filed logo, refused to shake Chip Kelly’s hand and embraced several former teammates. Perhaps the biggest headline is Tyrod Taylor, as his lone mistake (an interception) secured an Eagles win over the Bills, 23-20.
- Indianapolis Colts (6-7): R.I.P Colts defense. Indianapolis has given 96 points the last two games. Their offense hasn’t been much better as they mustered only 16 points in their 51-16 thrashing against the Jaguars. Matt Hasselbeck is a dinosaur at the quarterback position and for the love of God, I wish the Colts would let him retire.
- New Orleans Saints (6-7): The Saints have had the Bucs number, winning four straight against Tampa Bay on the road. Thank you Drew Brees says the City of New Orleans as he passed for 312 yards and two touchdowns in the Saints 24-17 win. Not only that, but Brees also set a record taking sole possession of third place on the career list of December touchdowns with touchdown passes, passing the likes of Dan Marino. He also tied Peyton Manning for the most career 300-yard games with 93.
- New York Giants (6-7): Eli Manning played like a Giant passing for 337 yards and four touchdowns in a 31-24 win over the Dolphins on the Monday Night Football. But the game ball has to go to Odell Beckham Jr. who dominated the Finds D, hauling seven catches for 166 yards and two touchdowns. New York is now tied with Washington for the NFC East title.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-7): Heartbreaker for the Bucs at home. Largely due to Tampa’s defensive inability to stop Drew Brees and the Saints offense. The Bucs gave up 388 total yards while providing zero pressure on Drew Brees for majority of the game. On the positive, Doug Martin rushed for 81 yards and a touchdown in the Bucs 24-17 heartbreaker at home.
- Houston Texans (6-7): Houston, we do have a problem and it’s your defense. The Patriots essentially did anything they wanted on offense as the Texans surrendered 313 in their 27-6 loss on Sunday Night Football. Plus Houston’s offensive line was non-existent, letting Brian Hoyer get lit up for five sacks. All things considered, Houston’s playoff chances are still alive and well but they must regroup on both sides of the ball for Sunday’s matchup against the Colts.
- Atlanta Falcons (6-7): Remember when everyone thought the Falcon’s were a playoff contender at (5-0)? I don’t. Neither do the Panthers as they brought everyone human in a Falcon uniform back to reality in a 38-0 shutout. It was Atlanta’s first shutout since 2004. Speaking of being shutout, Atlanta might take a deeper look at the quarterback position as Matt Ryan is not the answer. Nine of 16 total picks have been in the redzone this year.
- Jacksonville Jaguars (5-8): 28 straight points by the Jaguars lead to a 51-16 stomping of the Colts at home. The spark: Andre Branch’s 49-yard recovered fumble touchdown. Blake Bortles get the game ball passing for 250 yards and three touchdowns in the win. The Jaguars only trail by a game for the AFC South title. Jacksonville won three games last year.
- Chicago Bears (5-8): The Bears had a solid outing on both sides of the ball, but came up short losing to the Redskins 24-21 at home. The Bears have been awful at home at (1-6). Miscues killed Chicago’s chances including a daily turnover by Jay Cutler fumbling the ball along with a missed 50-yard field goal miss by Robbie Gould securing the win for Washington.
- Louis Rams (5-8): The Rams solely won because Todd Gurley put the team on his back. The St. Louis rookie rushed for 140 yards and two touchdowns in the Rams 21-14 win over the Lions. St. Louis controlled the game through the run game as they rushed for 203 total yards while holding Detroit to just 111.
- Miami Dolphins (5-8): One play can define a game. Leaving Odell Beck Jr. wide open for an easy 84-yard touchdown proved to be the difference as Miami fell 31-24 to New York on Monday Night Football. On the positive, Lamar Miller had himself a night rushing for 89 yards and two scores in the loss.
- Detroit Lions (4-8): M.I.A. Calvin Johnson. Johnson recorded one catch in the Lion’s 24-17 loss to the Rams. Detriot’s defense wasn’t good either especially, against the run as Todd Gurley rushed for 140 yards and two touchdowns in the Lions loss.
- San Diego Chargers (3-10): The Chargers struggled in all facets of the game in their 10-7 loss the Chiefs. On offense, Phillip Rivers threw an interception and struggled with time-management the majority of the game. In addition, San Diego recorded four key drops, all of which, would have secured a San Diego road win. Defensively the Chargers only gave up one big play the lone touchdown off a screen pass on third down.
- Baltimore Ravens (4-9): Phew the season is almost over and the Ravens couldn’t wait more. Baltimore was destroyed 38-6 to Seattle at home. Offensively, the run game struggled rushing for 28 yards and coughing up a fumble. Defensively, the Ravens surrendered five touchdowns to Russell Wilson: ouch.
- Dallas Cowboys (4-9): Matt Cassel is the worst. Poor Dallas. Cassell passed for just 3 yards a clip while throwing an interception in a 28-7 beatdown to the Packers. Dallas couldn’t stop any Green Bay Packer as they were torched for 28 and 435 total yards in the loss.
- San Francisco 49ers (4-9): You’ve reached the very bottom of the NFL when the Browns whoop you. A 24-10 loss to Cleveland was highlighted by an offense that gave up nine sacks and a defense that gave up 203 and two scores to the Browns. There’s always next year, right?
- Tennessee Titans (3-10): The Titans struggled to score as their 19.5 ranks near the bottom of the NFL. Well they didn’t score as the Jets on the road destroyed them 30-8. Tennessee only rushed for just 24 yards and their only score came in trash time. Another busy NFL draft awaits for Tennessee this coming year.
- Cleveland Browns (2-10): Johnny Manziel was the starting quarterback for the Cleveland Browns and look! They won, big surprise-said no one. Johnny Football passed for 270 and a touchdown while Isaiah Crowell rumbled for 145 and two touchdowns in a 24-10 win over the 49ers.