December 28, 2021
Week 16 of the NFL season is in the books, and although we have no new obituaries this week, the remaining teams in the playoff hunt have narrowed.
9) Vikings (7-8): After their loss to the Rams Week 16, the Vikings are on life support, as their season will pretty much be over with one more loss. That'll probably come on Sunday Night Football on the road against the Packers, so we'll save our best Vikings vitriol for next week.
Also, I demand this in Philly next year.
8) Saints (7-8): A look at the Saints' depth chart heading into their Week 16 game against Miami:
The reality of the NFL right now is that teams that have the best COVID precautions in place have competitive advantages.
Last week: 7
7) Eagles (8-7): It's crazy to me that there is a realistic chance of the Eagles clinching a playoff berth Week 17, and resting starters Week 18. Here's what needs to happen:
Updated #Eagles playoff scenarios following #MNF.— Deniz Selman (@denizselman33) December 28, 2021
Eagles can clinch next week with:
1. a win (#PHIvsWAS) +
2. MIN loss (#MINvsGB) +
3. SF win (#HOUvsSF) or NO loss (#CARvsNO)
Complete clinching scenarios/standings/schedule attached below.#FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/u65RwLGt8l
Meanwhile, the Cowboys, who were thought to be candidates to rest starters Week 18, might need that game.
Obviously, first and foremost, the Eagles have to play better against Washington this upcoming Sunday than they did in the first half against the Giants Week 16. But the path is there.
Last week: 8
6) 49ers (8-7): It's rare that you see anyone on NFL Network be this critical of an individual player, but Jimmy Garoppolo's performance on Thursday night was more than worthy of heat that it attracted.
If Trey Lance had started all season, would this team be worse than 8-7? I'm guessing... no?
And with 15 games under his belt, would he be better by now than Garoppolo. I'm guessing... yes?
With Garoppolo, this team has no shot in the playoffs. Maybe they would have after a full season playing Lance.
Last week: 6
5) Cardinals (10-5): On Christmas night, Kliff Kingsbury orchestrated one of the most bizarre game management sequences I've ever seen. With 4:16 left to play, the Cardinals were beginning a drive at their own 9 yard line, down by nine points and in need of two scores.
They slowly meandered into Colts territory, with the ball at Indy's 35 yard line, with a stopped clock, 2:22 remaining, and one timeout left. At that point, if they had kicked a field goal, they could have kicked off, gotten a stop, and had more than a minute to go to score a TD. The Cardinals' kicking game had struggled throughout the game, but in desperation mode, who cares? And when you have a kicker like Matt Prater where distance doesn't matter, that felt like the clear play. But, whatever, the drive continued.
The Cards then drove down to the Indy 10 yard yard line, and for some insane reason, kicked a field goal ON THIRD DOWN! Lol, what?!? You didn't want to at least take one more shot into the end zone? After a drive that took almost three minutes off the clock, THAT'S where you decided to save a little extra time and take the three points? That decision is just... 🌌🤯🌌.
So they kicked the field goal, couldn't recover the onsides kick, and game over. The Cardinals have lost three straight, and have gone from a likely 1 seed to not even winning their division.
I'm beginning to think Kliff Kingsbury isn't the brilliant tactician many thought he was.
Last week: 4
4) Rams (11-4): Of course, with the Cardinals' season quickly swirling down the toilet, the Rams are the biggest beneficiaries, as they are now one game up in the NFC West after a four-game winning streak.
If the season ended today, the Rams would actually be the 3 seed over the Bucs. That would likely mean a date with the 49ers, a team that has beaten them in five straight matchups.
Last week: 5
3) Buccaneers (11-4): The Buccaneers have clinched the NFC South, and even though they have two easy games left against the Jets and Panthers, and are thus likely to finish 13-4, they only have a two percent chance of landing the 1 seed in the NFC, according to fivethirtyeight.com.
Why? Well, the Bucs would have to win their last two games, the Packers would have to lose their final two games (vs. MIN, at DET), and even then Tampa would still need additional help.
As such, Bruce Arians has a decision to make about resting starters... now, especially given that the Bucs recently lost Chris Godwin for the season with a torn ACL and Shaq Barrett for the rest of the regular season with a sprained MCL and ACL.
For what it's worth, Arians said the starters will play Week 17, and then they'll make a decision prior to Week 18.
Last week: 2
2) Cowboys (11-4): Uh oh. The Cowboys' offense came back to life in Dallas' 56-14 stomping of Washington Sunday night, and the playmaking defense made life miserable for Taylor Heinicke. If the Cowboys are able to put it all together like that in the postseason, they are legitimate Super Bowl contenders.
Last week: 3
1) Packers (12-3): This is a perfectly reasonable tweet that a lot of Packers fans took exception to if you read the quote tweets:
The Packers needing to hang on for dear life to beat 2 covid-afflicted teams (BAL & CLE) by a combined 3 points is why betting markets aren't very high on them relative to public perception— Computer Cowboy (@benbbaldwin) December 26, 2021
In the Packers games I've seen this year, they have not been that impressive. They're holding the top spot here, of course, because they have the best record and are firmly in the driver's seat for the 1 seed, but the Cowboys and Buccaneers have better rosters.
Last week: 1
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