Apologies all! Real life took over last week and I didn’t get around to reviewing week 14. But I’m back for week 15 to witness my very own 49ers score a result against the Seahawks, Nick Foles make a comeback to beat a Superbowl favourite team and the Jaguars record possibly their most disappointing loss of the season.
Chiefs 28 – 29 Chargers
Starting off with an upset, though the Chargers might have proved that they could shed their underdog name in recent weeks. This was a great result for the LA team and possibly proved that they are a clutch team. Despite Philip Rivers throwing two interceptions the Chargers defence were able to hold the electric Mahomes to just 243 yards and two touchdowns (a quiet day for one of the MVP favourites). The lack of a running game in Kansas is also becoming an issue following the ban of Hunt. For the Chargers, Mike Williams proved to be the go to man catching two touchdowns. Anthony Lynn must have balls of steel to go for the two point conversion to win the game but it worked, and it puts the AFC West back into a state of flux.
Jets 22 – 29 Texans
The Texans got back to winning ways and despatched the hapless Jets to another loss in a disappointing season that will likely see Todd Bowles leave his post. The Texans didn’t have it all their own way though with Sam Darnold having one of his best days in the NFL. The rookie QB threw for 253 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions as well as rushing for 35 yards. The defence though had no answer for Deshaun Watson who completed 22 of 28 passes for 294 yards and two touchdowns. The second year quarterback is looking really dangerous heading into the end of the season and this is a team no one would like to face in the playoffs.
49ers 26 – 23 Seahawks (after overtime)
This was a big win for the 49ers who haven’t beaten the Seahawks in ten matches until this week. This young offense is looking better with each match under the guidance of Kyle Shanahan. Quarterback Nick Mullens continues to show that he’ll be a worth backup once Jimmy Garoppolo is back fit and a receiving corps including Dante Pettis and George Kittle could become even better next year. The Seahawks suffered from a franchise record setting penalty yardage count which really cost them the match. 14 penalties and 148 yards gifted to any team is probably enough to see you lose a match.
Broncos 16 – 17 Browns
A really poor night for the Broncos offense where Case Keenum threw two interceptions and the running game never got going against a stout Browns defense. Nick Chubb had another 100 yard game and Baker Mayfield was solid, if not spectacular. The Broncos had the opportunities to win the match but were unable to convert those opportunities with only five success from 14 third down attempts. Jabrill Peppers was the star of the show for the Browns defence recording a sack and the game winning interception.
Falcons 40 – 14 Cardinals
Urgh this Cardinals team is poor. The offensive line is poor. The play calling is better since Byron Leftwich took over as offensive coordinator but it’s still not great. The quarterback is young and whilst showing some good skills, lacks consistency and the defence is leaking. Rosen threw 13 completions from 22 passes for 132 yards and two interceptions including a pick six from returning linebacker Deion Jones. Tevin Coleman had a good game with 145 yards on the ground and a touchdown. It could have been even closer to 200 yards and two touchdowns though a 44 yard touchdown run was ruled out. Still, I guess they didn’t really need it in the end.
Bills 14 – 13 Lions
Two poor teams that will be happy to see the back of the 2018 season. This game wasn’t won on the back of Josh Allen’s running but his passing instead. Accuracy remains an issue as he completed 50% of his passes (13 from 26 for 204 yards and a touchdown) but with a few more decent receivers added in the offseason he could be very productive next year.
Bears 24 – 17 Packers
25 completions from 42 attempts, 274 yards, no touchdowns and an interception. You’d expect more from Aaron Rodgers in a game where the Packers playoff hopes were extinguished. On the flip side, the Bears head into the playoffs as NFC North winners for the first time since 2010. With this defense, they’ll be very hard to beat, after all, Kahlil Mack can even sack quarterbacks with his back turned to them! Offense still needs some work and Nagy should use Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen more, the two running backs have the ability to take the Bears a long way into the playoffs. As for Green Bay, they have less wins than Cleveland and a lot of work to do in the offseason.
Bengals 30 – 16 Raiders
Derek Carr deserves better. He’s playing well and the Bengals are a poor team at the moment playing without their No.1 receiver and starting quarterback. Carr’s offensive line needs improvement, his receiving corps needs improvement, his running backs need improvements and most of all – the defence he’s playing with needs improvement. A pass rusher would be a good start. But second on the list should be a run stopper as Joe Mixon tore through the Raiders for 129 yards and two touchdowns. There’s a lot of work to do for both these teams, for the Bengals, there’s some tough decisions to come as to who is best to take this team forward.
Colts 23 – 0 Cowboys
It’s not often that the Cowboys draw a blank but against the Colts they had no answers to a defence that is playing greater than the sum of its parts. For once this season, the Colts weren’t leaning too heavily on Andrew Luck. Instead, Marlon Mack carried the load and was able to rush for 139 yards and two touchdowns against a defence that had previously been playing well. Zeke and Dak couldn’t get the job done on the night with the Colts taking away Amari Cooper with the star receiver only grabbing four passes for 32 yards. If this is a recipe to beat the Cowboys then the rest of the NFC Playoff teams should take note.
Vikings 41 – 17 Dolphins
New offensive coordinator not taken long to make an impression in Minnesota and he’s taken note on Mike Zimmers desire to utilise the running game. 220 yards on the ground for the Vikings with Delvin Cook having a career night with 136 yards and two touchdowns. Asking Kirk Cousins to throw less and lean more on the running game could see this team progress far in the playoffs if the defence can get back to form – and with more rest, that’s a distinct possibility. For the Dolphins, their slim playoff hopes took a big hit and whilst Kalen Ballage was able to rush for 123 yards, his quarterback wasn’t able to maintain the high standards he’d set himself in previous games.
Giants 0 – 17 Titans
The Giants crashed to earth and were unable to get past an ever improving Titans defence that restricted star running back Saquon Barkley to just 31 yards. Marcus Mariota only had to pass for 88 yards as running back Derrick Henry had another big night with 170 yards from 33 attempts and two touchdowns. Henry is showing the form that made him a second round pick and a favourite of the Alabama crowd. Stop Henry and you can probably stop the Titans, but he’s a big man to stop.
Jaguars 13 – 16 Redskins
Oh my that’s a bad loss. Against a team with injuries galore, a fourth choice at quarterback and playing at home? Come on Jaguars, you should be winning matches when the odds are stacked in your favour. The 2017 championship game sure does feel a long time ago now. Head coach, Doug Marrone must be fearing for his job now as the Jaguars slip to 4-10.
Ravens 20 – 12 Buccaneers
It’s all about the running game and a good defense for the Ravens these days. It’s a recipe that’s served them well and delivered them two Superbowls so who am I to argue? The Ravens notched up 242 yards this week on the ground and held the Bucs to just 241 total yards. Jamies completed just 13 passes out of 25 attempts and 157 yards and an interception on a day where he looked like the Jamies of old, which is not strictly fair given the calibre of defence he was up against.
Steelers 17 – 10 Patriots
I spent most of this match pretty convinced that the Patriots would win sooner or later but for once it wasn’t to be as the Steelers hung on and kept alive their chances of winning the AFC North. Both quarterbacks are likely to head to the Hall of Fame in the future but neither had a night to remember with both throwing for over 200 yards but equally turning the ball over. The difference maker was in the running game and without James Conner, the Steelers were able to find production through Jaylen Samuels who carried the ball 19 times for 142 yards.
Rams 23 – 30 Eagles
Not many people saw this one coming. With Carson Wentz ruled out for the rest of the season, Superbowl MVP Nick Foles made a comeback to the starting lineup. But it wasn’t his heroics that won the game, the Eagles seemed to take the loss of their franchise quarterback as an indicator to go back to running the ball more often. The numbers weren’t amazingly high but they did enough on the 30 run attempts to secure the win. For the Rams, they need to figure out what’s wrong and get back to the form they held before their bye week. Quarterback Jared Goff has looked off these last few weeks and head coach Sean McVay’s playcalling seems to be getting more desperate with Todd Gurley only rushing the ball 12 times on the night. With a running back that good, they need to feed him the ball more and take pressure off of Goff who was asked to pass a whopping 55 times.
Panthers 9 – 12 Saints
In the final game of week 15, the Saints were able to overcome their NFC South rivals and condemn the Panthers to their sixth successive defeat. It’s a defeat which all but ends any faint glimmer of hope the Panthers had of another playoff appearance. Cam Newton has now been ruled out for the rest of the season with an obvious injury to his shoulder which needs investigation and fixing. Second year star Christian McCaffrey became the first player to have 50 yards running, passing and receiving in a match since 1985, the great Walter Payton being the last player to achieve such a feat. The Saints showed that they’re able to grind out a match and could now face four home games on the bounce should they make it to the Superbowl, providing they win one of their two remaining regular season fixtures.