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Stadium Food Power Rankings: Week 14 Recap

Stadium Food Power Rankings: Week 14 Recap


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Updates on The Daily Meal's quest to find out which NFL teams have the best stadium food

So far in The Daily Meal's Stadium Food Power Rankings, we have seven wins and four losses in our predictions.

You may have heard, football and food lovers, of our Stadium Food Power Rankings series, the battle to find out which NFL teams have the best stadium food. Instead of a coin toss, we're flipping burgers. Instead of flags, we're counting health code violations. And instead of referees... well, there's us.

Each week we feature at least one marquee matchup of two NFL rivals. Prior to game day, we assess the food offerings available at each team's stadium, measure them against a select list of criteria, and decide which franchise does a better job of keeping their fans satisfied… gastronomically speaking.

So far, our results have matched up with the games' seven out of eleven times. Here's the breakdown:

(Win) Week 8: Indianapolis Colts vs. Tennessee Titans
(Win) Week 9: Denver Broncos vs. Cincinnati Bengals
(Win) Week 10: New Orleans Saints vs. Atlanta Falcons
(Loss) Week 10: Detroit Lions vs. Minnesota Vikings
(Win) Week 11: Carolina Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
(Win) Week 11: Houston Texans vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
(Loss) Week 12: New England Patriots vs. New York Jets
(Win) Week 13: Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens
(Loss) Week 13: San Francisco 49ers vs. St. Louis Rams
(Win) Week 14: Arizona Cardinals vs. Seattle Seahawks
(Loss) Week 14: Kansas City Chiefs vs. Cleveland Browns

This week, our matchup will feature the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears. Stay tuned for who we think will take the win.

And don’t forget to give us feedback! We’re judging based on the following criteria, and we take our food matchups seriously: Unique Items/ Variety/Presentation; Cleanliness/Preparation/Health Code Violations; Allergy-Minded Options; Healthy/Organic Options; and Most Popular Items.

Tyler Sullivan is The Daily Meal's assistant editor. Follow her on twitter @atylersullivan.


Patriots slide down NFL Power Rankings in Week 14

The Ravens held off the 49ers in the rain in Baltimore. Lamar Jackson didn’t post his usual superstar numbers but still did enough in poor conditions. The Patriots, meanwhile, fell short in Houston, as both the offense and defense had issues. The Seahawks move up after taking down the Vikings in Seattle. Here’s a look at the rest of the NFL Power Rankings heading into Week 14:

1. Baltimore (10-2) – Lamar Jackson killed the final 6:28 of game clock with a 12-play drive before leaving it to Justin Tucker to beat the Niners with a 49-yard field goal as time expired. Perfection.

2. Seattle (10-2) – Pivotal game, home field, national TV audience, does Russell Wilson ever lose those games?

3. San Francisco (10-2) – They may have lost the battle with the Ravens. But in some ways, limiting Lamar Jackson and that offense on the road, they won the war.

4. PATRIOTS (10-2) – How bad does the offense look? Tom Brady is now being compared with Bears bust Mitchell Trubisky.

5. New Orleans (10-2) – After Thanksgiving win over the Falcons locked up NFC South, Saints have had extra time to prepare for showdown with 49ers, a game that could determine NFC’s top seed.

6. Green Bay (9-3) – They must have felt right at home in the snow at MetLife Stadium. Thirty-one points seemed way too easy.

7. Kansas City (8-4) – They have to be encouraged by the fact they can blow out an opponent with a pedestrian version of Patrick Mahomes.

8. Houston (8-4) – Statement win over the Patriots. Bill O’Brien finally one-upped mentor Bill Belichick on his sixth try.

9. Minnesota (8-4) – Not that anyone is counting, but Kirk Cousins is now 0-8 on Monday night.

10. Buffalo (9-3) – The NFL has recognized the Bills as being legitimate. Why else would the league flex their Week 15 game with the Steelers? It’s their only prime-time game of the season.

11. L.A. Rams (7-5) – They had a 180-degree turnaround from their previous game. Where was that team against the Ravens?

12. Tennessee (7-5) – Whenever Derrick Henry rumbles for 100 yards, it’s automatic, Titans win. They’re unbeaten every time he hits triple digits on the ground.

13. Pittsburgh (7-5) – Devlin “Duck” Hodges is the first undrafted rookie quarterback in the NFL to win each of his first two career starts going back 32 years. He’ll need a bigger streak for the Steelers to make the playoffs.

14. Dallas (6-7) – They’re in first place in the NFC East, but winless against teams with a winning record, with Thursday night’s Bears loss the latest. Hardly the recipe for success in the postseason.

15. Indianapolis (6-6) – They’ve gone from the top of the AFC South, to barely hanging on to a playoff spot. An unreliable kicking game is finally catching up.

16. Oakland (6-6) – If the Raiders thought they were ready to challenge in the NFC West, think again.

17. Philadelphia (5-7) – They keep losing, but haven’t lost much ground in the playoff chase in the division. Crazy.

18. Chicago (7-6) – Mitchell Trubisky actually looks the part of a bonafide NFL quarterback when he plays against the Lions. Add on the Cowboys, too. Let him run, and suddenly, he doesn’t look like the worst No. 2 overall pick ever taken.

19. Carolina (5-7) – Being overwhelmed by a two-win team while clinging to scant playoff hopes didn’t do Ron Rivera any favors. No surprise the pink slip followed.

20. Cleveland (5-7) – Not sure what was worse, Freddie Kitchen’s fashion sense, or being beaten by a third string quarterback who goes by the name of “Duck” in return grudge match with the Steelers.

21. L.A. Chargers (4-8) – Eight losses by seven points or fewer. The latest? A pass-interference penalty against cornerback Casey Hayward that killed the Bolts after they’d tied the game in the closing seconds.

22. Tampa Bay (5-7) – Signs of progress last week. The defense rocked and Jameis Winston didn’t throw an interception.

23. Denver (4-8) – Drew Luck, the seventh starting quarterback the Broncos have used in three seasons, showed some promise. They’ll take it. Maybe seven proves their lucky number.

24. Jacksonville (4-8) – During a blowout loss, the Jags might have unearthed a valuable but costly piece of information: the offense is better with Gardner Minshew as opposed to $22 million a year man Nick Foles.

25. Arizona (3-8-1) – Not one positive takeaway from being throttled by the Rams last week. This was as bad as it gets for any team.

26. Atlanta (3-9) – At least it was fun watching Younghoe Koo and the Falcons perfectly execute three onside kicks in Thursday’s home loss to the Saints, including one that was wiped out by penalty.

27. Detroit (3-7-1) – David Bough’s first career completion was a 75-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Golladay. The undrafted rookie quarterback was an instant hit. Then the Lions defense showed up and spoiled the party.

28. N.Y. Jets (4-8) – Forget the three-game winning streak. They’ve now helped two winless teams get off the schneid.

29. Miami (3-9) – They’re 3-2 in their last five games, and scoring with trick plays. What happened to the real Dolphins? Brian Flores, what have you done?

30. Washington (3-9) – Have they stumbled upon a legitimate running game? Derrius Guice and Adrian Peterson seem to think so. They combined for 228 yards and 3 TDs last week.

31. N.Y. Giants (2-10) – Eight straight losses. The case continues to build against Pat Shurmer.

32. Cincinnati (1-11) – Fabulous week for the Bengals. They win, to avoid a winless season. And still hold the lead in the race for the No. 1 pick in the 2020 draft.


Seattle Mariners Have Sold 18,000-Plus Toasted Grasshoppers At Home Games This Year

Baseball season is back and wild ballpark foods are finding their way into stadiums across the country. From cheeseburgers with nachos and pulled pork on them in Texas, to hot dogs on burger patties in Los Angeles, all the way to chicken funnel cake sandwiches in Arizona, we thought we’d seen it all.

But in Seattle, the Mariners might have taken the (funnel) cake with their offering of toasted grasshoppers at all Mariners home games.

While that may sound a bit repulsive to some, Mariners fans are flocking to Poquitos, the stand that sells the toasted treat, in droves.

This week the Mariners actually RAN OUT of grasshoppers and had to place an emergency order to meet demand. We’re not even a full two weeks into the season and the stand has sold roughly 18,000 grasshoppers already.

In case you’re curious, the grasshoppers are toasted in a chili-lime salt and can be picked up for just $4.

And while it may seem strange to you, toasted grasshoppers are actually a common snack in many parts of the word, including in Mexico and Central America where they’re called “Chapulines.”

Currently you can only grab the crispy critters at Mariners games, but they might just start making appearances at stadiums around the country based on early returns from Seattle.


Big Ten power rankings: Purdue climbs, Nebraska falls and Rutgers stays in basement

If the latest Big Ten power rankings are any indication, Rutgers has a chance to make a big move up heading into its conference opener.

At 1-2 following a win over Morgan State and losses to Washington and Eastern Michigan, the Scarlet Knights finished non-conference play one win off most fan's expectations.

But Big Ten play represents the start of a new season for a Rutgers team universally picked to finished last in the East Division this fall.

Nati Harnik | AP Photo

One thing is for certain: the opener Saturday at Nebraska appears winnable. Although Rutgers opened as an 11-point underdog for the 3:30 p.m. kickoff in Lincoln, Neb., the Cornhuskers are coming off a surprising 21-17 defeat at home to Northern Illinois on Saturday.

With the exception of Nebraska and Illinois, every other Big Ten team won this past weekend.

Here are the Big Ten power rankings heading into Week 4:

Rutgers posted its largest shutout victory in 39 years, whitewashing Morgan State, 65-0, on Saturday. Rutgers improved to 14-0 all-time against teams from the MEAC, winning by a combined 623-88 score. Up next: Saturday, 3:30 p.m., at Nebraska.

Big Ten Network | YouTube.com

Jasen Vinlove | USA TODAY Sports

The Illini had a chance to make a big statement, playing at a nationally ranked South Florida team on national TV last Friday night. But Illinois was no match, falling behind 37-9 after three quarters before falling 47-23. Up next: Bye Sept. 29, 8 p.m., vs. Nebraska.

Northern Illinois had the distinction of becoming the first non-Power-5 Conference team to win in Lincoln, Neb., since 2004, improving to 4-1 against Big Ten foes under fifth-year coach Rod Carey. Nebraska has now lost two of its first three games for the second time in three years under Mike Riley. Up next: Saturday, 3:30 p.m., vs. Rutgers.

The Wildcats bounced back from a blowout loss to Duke, as Clayton Thorson threw for a career-high 370 yards and two touchdowns and Justin Jackson rushed for three scores in a 49-7 thrashing of Bowling Green. Up next: Bye Sept. 30, vs. Wisconsin.

Due to the effects of Hurricane Irma, the Hoosiers had their game against Florida International get canceled. Up next: Saturday, 3:30 p.m., vs. Georgia Southern.

L.G. Patterson | AP Photo

The Boilermakers' surprising start under rookie coach Jeff Brohm continued with a 35-3 rout of Missouri on the road. Purdue, which played well in defeat to Louisville in Week 1 and Ohio in Week 2, has a single digit as its Big Ten power ranking for the first time in recent memory. Up next: Saturday, 4 p.m., vs. No. 8 Michigan.

The Spartans had a bye this past weekend. Up next: Saturday, 8 p.m., vs. Notre Dame.

Give P.J. Fleck credit for one thing: the former Rutgers wide receivers coach certainly has a knack for creating a buzz. His latest trick was having the Goldy mascot's face attached to their helmets and allowing the team to wear all gold for the first time since 1974. "If we can't celebrate the national champion mascot, celebrate our student body in one of the greatest cities in America, then why are we doing it?" Fleck said following a 34-3 triumph on Saturday. Up next: Bye Sept. 30 vs. Maryland.

The Terps were idle this past weekend. Up next: Saturday, 3 p.m., vs. UCF.

Matthew Holst | Getty Images

The Hawkeyes aren't flashy, but they have an identity, rushing the ball 59 times (compared to 27 pass attempts) and holding a 21-minute edge in time of possession in a 31-14 triumph over North Texas. With the win, Iowa completed a 3-0 record in non-conference play. Up next: Saturday, 7:30 p.m., vs. No. 4 Penn State.

As head coach at Rutgers, Greg Schiano’s teams compiled a 13-2 record against the triple-option offensive attacks of Army and Navy. Schiano continued his success Saturday, directing a defensive gem as the Buckeyes topped the Black Knights, 38-7.

“He's an energy guy,’’ Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said of Schiano, who coached from the sideline for the first time since his arrival in Columbus last year. “He's coached against this offense for many, many years, I wanted him on the sideline for energy and to make adjustments. And we'll reevaluate for if he's going to stay down there."


NFL Week 8 Recap and News: NFC playoff chase, Tua’s debut, Lamar Jackson, Belichick, and more

PFN’s Mike Tanier returns with his Week 8 NFL Recap, with news and notes on Tua’s debut, Lamar Jackson’s struggles, and more from Sunday.

This week, we were given our first taste of multiple bad weather games, watched some down to the wire finishes, and witnessed the continued dominance of some of the upper-tier teams in the NFL. NFL Week 8 Recap is here to bring you all the news and notes you need to get caught up on another action-packed slate of games. This week, we highlight the NFC playoff chase, hand out our Studs ‘n’ Duds awards, discuss the New England Patriots and their losing record, the debut of Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, and begin to dissect what is happening with Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens.

The Seattle Seahawks made short work of the San Francisco 49ers. The New Orleans Saints gutted out a tough overtime win against the Chicago Bears. The Philadelphia Eagles proved they are the best team in the NFC East in the worst possible way, while the Green Bay Packers were beaten by a familiar foe: themselves. Week 8’s action helped sort out the true contenders from the wannabes in the NFC, and NFL Recap is here to restack the conference and look down the road at what the upcoming schedule holds.

The NFC Playoff Chase: Buccaneers and Seahawks lead the way

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-2)

The Buccaneers enter Monday night very literally in the same position the New England Patriots held in the AFC for the last 20 years or so. And yes, it’s pretty annoying to everyone but lifelong Bucs fans. (And no, your brother-in-law wearing the Tom Brady jersey with the tags still on it does not qualify as a lifelong Bucs fan).

2. Seattle Seahawks (6-1)

MVP frontrunner Russell Wilson plus All-Time Underrated Team receiver Tyler Lockett plus mismatch nightmare DK Metcalf plus a scattering of still-dependable veteran defenders like Bobby Wagner equals a team capable of beating anyone in the NFL if they can produce more than two pass pressures per week.

The Seahawks face a string of middleweights over the next month (Buffalo Bills, Los Angeles Rams, Arizona Cardinals, Philadelphia Eagles) before their schedule suddenly gets Big Apple easy, and they should get safety Jamal Adams back soon. They have a very good chance of being around 11-3 entering the final stretch of the season.

3. New Orleans Saints (5-2)

It’s a good thing the Saints prevailed in overtime after what appeared to be a game-ending fumble by Bears TE Cole Kmet was negated due to forward progress election week is going to be hard enough without having to hear Sean Payton whine about unfair officiating.

Payton has done a fine job manufacturing offense and overtime victories while Michael Thomas has been in his mystery timeout box, and the Taysom Hill package doesn’t look nearly as silly when the Saints are fresh out of wide receivers and need to do anything possible to keep opponents off-balance. Thomas could theoretically be back for next week’s rematch against the Buccaneers. Let’s see if the Saints can seize control of the NFC South and blow out the tires of the Tom Brady bandwagon.

4. Green Bay Packers (5-2)

Yes, the run defense has all the stopping power of yellow caution tape. But the offense grounded to a halt after the first quarter for the second time in three games, Matt LaFleur mismanaged his timeouts late in the game while the Packers still had a chance, and his response to the 25 mph winds was all over the place (field goal attempts are bad, but deep shots on 4th-and-long are good?).

The Packers are starting to lose games in all-too-familiar ways: getting gouged on the ground, over-reliance on Davante Adams, etc. We’ve seen this story before, and it ends with a playoff loss.

5. Chicago Bears (5-3)

The Bears are a .500-caliber all-defense/no-offense team that has found its level in back-to-back losses to the Rams and Saints. There isn’t much to say about them that you did not already suspect. Next week’s matchup with the Tennessee Titans will expose one of the teams as utter pretenders with an inflated record. It probably won’t be the Titans.

6. Arizona Cardinals (5-2)

Good enough to beat anyone, bad enough to lose to anyone.

7. Los Angeles Rams (5-3)

4-0 against the NFC East, 1-3 against everyone else. ‘Nuff said.

8. San Francisco 49ers (4-4)

Remember last week, when it appeared that the 49ers were getting healthy and turning the corner? Those were simpler times.

9. Philadelphia Eagles (3-4-1)

The Eagles are the 49ers (a zillion injuries, a quarterback with more ups and downs than a baby goat on a trampoline), but with a far easier schedule and a coach who refuses to adjust for the fact that he no longer has Super Bowl talent to work with. The Eagles should have won 42-3 instead of 23-9 against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, but Doug Pederson refuses to scale back his offense to emphasize the run, and Carson Wentz keeps trying to score three touchdowns on one play and throwing interceptions (or fumbling) as a result.

That said, the Eagles may get some key contributors back after their bye, and a 7-8-1 final record should be good enough to win the NFC East outright. And then maybe they will unleash Jalen Hurts for a little Foles Playoff Magic. That makes just as much sense as the concept of Foles Playoff Magic.

10. Detroit Lions (3-4)

Sunday was the Lions’ annual Super Bowl: The game where they are 3-3 or 3-3-1 and can finally prove they are legitimate contenders! They have lost their little Super Bowl in every season since 2017. Feel free to ignore the Lions until Thanksgiving, and then ignore them again until Matt Patricia is fired.

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI – NOVEMBER 01: Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrates with Demarcus Robinson #11 after a 26-yard touchdown against the New York Jets during their NFL game at Arrowhead Stadium on November 01, 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

The Tennessee Titans went from slight favorites to heavy favorites, then got stunned in an upset at the hands of the Cincinnati Bengals. The New England Patriots slid from slight underdogs to serious underdogs before losing to the Buffalo Bills. The Dallas Cowboys-Philadelphia Eagles spread fell off a table then the Eagles lost their minds.

NFL Week 8 saw some wild swings in the point spreads of many games, and NFL Recap just cannot resist getting in on the (100% legal in our jurisdiction) action when lines start boogying up and down. Here are the results, some insights into the lines and the games, and a few lessons learned from another rough week of trying to beat the house.

San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks

Reasons for the shift: The line dropped from -6.5 to the -3.5 range early in the week, soon after the public began reacting to the Seahawks’ wild Sunday night loss. It then dipped suddenly in the horse before kickoff, probably because of some late sharp action on the 49ers.

NFL Recap’s play: We jumped on the Seahawks once we saw the line drop safely beneath “oh we goofed off all game and needed a last-second field goal to win” range. This wasn’t our first Seahawks rodeo, folks.

Final Score: Jimmy Garoppolo played poorly before exiting with an ankle injury while Russell Wilson delivered another MVP-caliber performance in a 37-27 Seahawks rout.

Lessons Learned: 1) Never trust Garoppolo in a big game 2) the only time the Seahawks can be counted upon to have a normal Sunday is when you put money on them having an abnormal Sunday.

New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills

Reasons for the shift: Stephon Gilmore’s injuries Bill Belichick’s late-week talk-radio pity-party may also have been a cue for a few wagerers.

NFL Recap’s play: Sensing that the Bills would get a case of the yips, we were seduced by a +188 Patriots money line instead of the spread.

Final Score: The Patriots covered in a 24-21 loss but missed an opportunity to win outright when Cam Newton fumbled in the red zone in the final seconds (see this game’s own Recap segment).

Lessons Learned: 1) Never get seduced by a money line when you can get 4.5 points, and 2) these are not the Patriots we’ve watched for a generation, and we all need to stop thinking of them as such.

Tennessee Titans at Cincinnati Bengals

Reasons for the shift: The Bengals starting offensive line was hobbled for most of the practice week with various injuries.

NFL Recap’s play: We grabbed the Titans -6.5, eliminating the possibility of a push. Seriously, if a tie is like kissing your sister, a push in a Titans-Bengals game is like a hug from a spinster aunt or something.

Final Score: The Bengals capitalized on an early Titans interception and a missed field goal, plus general flatness, to get the ball rolling on a 31-20 upset.

Lessons Learned: No idea. But the Bengals are now 6-2 against the spread in 2020, while the Titans are 2-5.

Los Angeles Chargers at Denver Broncos

Reasons for the shift: The opening lines were posted as early as 7 PM Eastern last Sunday when the Chargers were still in a nip-and-tuck battle with the Jacksonville Jaguars, and the snowflakes had not yet settled on the Kansas City Chiefs blowout of the Broncos.

NFL Recap’s play: We felt like the Chargers were a little undervalued. We also wagered this game purely for the purposes of this article.

Final Score: The Chargers took another big lead — 24-3 midway through the third quarter in this case — before losing 31-30 on a Drew Lock touchdown pass to rookie KJ Hamler on the final play of the game.

Lessons Learned: The Chargers have now blown double-digit leads against the New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Broncos, and they also let the Jacksonville Jaguars get back in the game against them after taking a 16-0 lead in Week 7. The Chargers are basically the Falcons with a slower fuse adjust your wagers accordingly.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens

Reasons for the shift: CBs Marlon Humphrey (illness) and Jimmy Smith (Achilles) appeared on the Ravens mid-week injury report both ended up playing. But the line dipped rapidly after opening, mostly because it was out-of-whack in the first place.

NFL Recap’s play: An undefeated team, plus more than a field goal, in a divisional battle on a blustery day? Yes, please.

Final Score: Steelers 28, Ravens 24. See the separate Recap segment on this game below.

Lessons learned: Don’t overthink a gift of a spread.

Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles

Reasons for the shift: Andy Dalton (concussion) was ruled out on Friday, forcing the Cowboys to start a quarterback most East Coast bettors assumed was some kid they found making calzones on the boardwalk in Ocean City, New Jersey.

NFL Recap’s play: Oh no, we weren’t touching this madness.

Final Score: Carson Wentz and the Eagles played like they took part in a pregame salvia ritual, but Cowboys third-string quarterback Ben DiNucci only appeared to know about five plays and only two of them were downfield passes. The Eagles slowly bumbled their way to a 23-9 victory.

Lessons Learned: There’s an old adage about betting on a team whose quarterback is making his first NFL start because the public overreacts in the other direction, causing unwarranted 11-point spreads. That adage does not impact third-stringers coached by Mike McCarthy.

New York Jets at Kansas City Chiefs

Reasons for the shift: There wasn’t much of a shift, but how can NFL Week 8 Recap not talk about a 20-point spread in an article about spreads?

Recap’s play: Say what you will about the Jets, but on most weeks, they appear perfectly capable of backdoor-covering a 20-point spread with a meaningless late touchdown or two.

Final Score: The Chiefs futzed around and allowed the score to stay close in the first half, then piled on a pair of second-half touchdowns to force a 35-9 Jets surrender.

Lessons Learned: OK, so Chad Henne replaced Patrick Mahomes with 10:58 left to play. That’s the ideal recipe for a backdoor cover, right? So guess what Adam Gase did? He handed off and just let the clock run on two (2) Jets possessions. Sure, Gase doesn’t care about the spread. But pride? Dignity? Effort? ARRRGH.

(It’s one thing for Gase to be an awful coach, but it’s another to cost NFL Recap money. We’re gonna remember this, Mister Googly Eyes.)

GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN – NOVEMBER 01: Dalvin Cook #33 of the Minnesota Vikings runs the ball during the second quarter of the game against the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field on November 01, 2020 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Dalvin Cook and the Minnesota Vikings offensive line made the Green Bay Packers defense look like a pile of pillows. Bobby Wagner turned into a one-man Legion of Boom. And a Chicago Bears receiver proved that if football doesn’t pan out for him, he’ll never have a career in boxing. All that, plus the Indy Not-So-Special, in the Week 8 edition of NFL Recap’s Studs ‘n’ Duds.

Stud: Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings

Cook returned from a groin injury to go 30-163-3 as a rusher and 2-63-1 as a receiver. To be fair, however, backup Alexander Mattison would probably have also racked up 200 total yards against a Packers run defense so soft that you could use it to tuck in a toddler.

Dud: Javon Wims, WR, Chicago Bears

Here’s everything wrong with Wims’ attempt to play Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! against New Orleans Saints cornerback C.J. Gardner-Johnson in the Bears’ 26-23 overtime loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday:

  • Fighting in football is stupid
  • Especially when you are fighting about something which happened several plays ago, so you have to cross the field to pick the fight
  • Extra-especially when you are a no-name rando with 26 receptions in three years who could be cut in a heartbeat and instantly forgotten
  • Sucker-punching someone in the helmet is only slightly smarter than punching a concrete wall.
  • Wims’ subsequent palm strike to Gardner-Johnson’s face looks like something you would see from the tiny tiger’s yellow belt class at your local dojo.
  • When you punch your opponent twice in the face, and he is still just staring at you in confused annoyance, the fight is over, whether you realize it or not.

Enjoy your suspension, pal. Maybe we will see you when it’s over. But probably not.

Stud: Frank Reich, Head Coach, Indianapolis Colts

The best thing about Reich’s attempt to recreate the Philly Special against the Detroit Lions (whose head coach, Matt Patricia, was the Patriots defensive coordinator who got snookered by the play in Super Bowl LII) is that Reich didn’t really try to recreate the Philly Special. Trey Burton, who threw that legendary Super Bowl touchdown to Nick Foles, just took a direct snap and swept left for a two-yard touchdown to punctuate a 41-21 Colts victory. Sure, Philip Rivers was lined up as a wide receiver, and there was some end-around action, but the rest took place in the theater of Patricia’s mind as his Lions’ defenders got fooled by fakes that didn’t really happen.

Dud: Jared Goff, QB, Los Angeles Rams

Goff threw two interceptions and was strip-sacked twice. He also threw three passes, which should have been intercepted: Eric Rowe was so busy planning the touchdown celebration after jumping one route in the third quarter that he could not quite secure the catch, sparing Goff further humiliation in a 28-17 loss to the Miami Dolphins. J immy Garoppolo’s ugly performance on Sunday will get more attention in the NFL news circles, but Goff played worse, against a weaker opponent, with fewer injuries to his surrounding cast.

Thud: Ronnie Stanley, Baltimore Ravens

The latest NFL news from ESPN’s Adam Schefter: Stanley is lost for the year with an ankle injury he suffered in Sunday’s loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, just days after signing a $98.75 million contract extension. Stanley is one of the best offensive linemen in the league, and his loss will impact the AFC balance of power.

And now for the NFL Week 8 Recap Awards…

Defensive Player of the Week

The Seattle Seahawks have been desperate for some pass rush in recent weeks, so veteran Pro Bowl linebacker Bobby Wagner came through with two sacks (one of them after blowing up two blockers), three tackles for a loss, and four hits on the San Francisco 49ers quarterbacks in a 37-27 victory. All the Seahawks need to do now is get some pass rush from actual pass rushers.

Offensive Line of the Week

Multiple injuries forced the Cincinnati Bengals to patch together an offensive line of sixth-round pick Hakeem Adeniji, waiver pickup Shaq Calhoun, benched former starter Billy Price, actual starter Alex Redmond, and backup-to-Bobby-Hart (so you know he ain’t exactly Orlando Pace) Fred Johnson. This group of utter unknowns helped the Bengals rush for 118 yards without Joe Mixon and held the Tennessee Titans sackless in a stunning 31-20 upset victory. Imagine how good Joe Burrow will be when he is no longer getting his blockers from the same temp agency that supplies Carson Wentz with his receivers.

Special Teamer of the Week

Let’s give two awards this week: One to Seahawks kick gunner Cody Barton who walloped 49ers return man Dante Pettis to force the fumble which turned that game into a laugher, and another to Dolphins mighty mite return man Jakeem Grant for the 88-yard punt return that put the Rams in crisis mode in their upset loss.

Best Supporting Actor in Someone Else’s Highlight

The Vikings offensive line didn’t quite earn Offensive Line of the Week, but let’s honor Garrett Bradbury, Dakota Dozier, and Brian O’Neill for their work on Dalvin Cook’s 50-yard screen pass touchdown. All three linemen just sort of dive in the general direction of Packers defenders, who then explode on contact and disappear. But there’s no reason to waste any serious collisions on Packers defenders when they are always so eager to hit the deck.

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – OCTOBER 25: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots looks on during a game against the San Francisco 49ers on October 25, 2020 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

The Buffalo Bills tried their best to lose to the New England Patriots on Sunday. But the Patriots just stink too darn badly. And with Sunday’s muddy 24-21 Bills victory coming on the heels of Bill Belichick’s revelatory talk-radio comments entering Week 8, NFL Recap senses a crisis of character in Foxboro: The “Patriots Way” has lost its way, and the greatest coach of all time has suddenly become part of the problem.

NFL Week 8: Patriots vs. Bills News & Recap

Heavy rain and 17-25 mph winds at Bills Stadium made passing difficult, though passing is difficult for the Patriots every week nowadays. While the Patriots mixed handoffs, zone-reads, and some pop-gun passing as they always do in 2020, the Bills also took an arch-conservative approach on offense, with Josh Allen attempting just 18 passes for 11 completions, 154 yards, and an ugly interception to J.C. Jackson.

The interception and the jittery game plan (what’s the point of having a quarterback who can throw a football across a zip code if a little rain turns you into a 1950s college team?) were only two telltale signs that the Bills were playing scared against their nemesis. There were others, including the fact that the Bills defense made Damien Harris (16-102-1 rushing) look like Walter Payton in the second half, allowed a Rex Burkhead rushing first down on 3rd-and-10 at one point, and had trouble stopping the mighty Cam Newton-Jakobi Meyers pitch-and-catch combination. But Allen and the Bills running game kept converting in the red zone to pull ahead each time the Patriots managed to tie the game.

When Newton fumbled at the Bills 19-yard line with 37 seconds to play, it created a convenient narrative for Patriots fans looking for a predictable scapegoat: The team played hard all day despite the absences of Stephon Gilmore, Julian Edelman, and others, but that selfish, preening, [insert the worst thing you heard in a political commercial this weekend here] Newton ruined it for Belichick’s gutsy backups and no names.

NFL Recap wants nothing to do with that noise. Anyone looking to point fingers for the Patriots 2-5 start needs to start by pointing to the guy in the hoodie.

What the Patriots 2-5 start means

ESPN Patriots reporter Mike Reiss transcribed Bill Belichick’s comments about the team’s slow start on a Sirius radio interview on Saturday with former Patriots assistant Charlie Weis, and you won’t read a more comprehensive litany of excuses this side of Adam Gase’s burn book. As far as pity parties to the media go, Belichick’s complaints about how the Patriots were hamstrung by cap constraints, opt-outs, and injuries registered 9.5 kilokarens on the Ryan Fitzpatrick Woe-is-Me scale.

Some of Belichick’s lamentations are valid, of course. But the Patriots didn’t enter the 2020 season in particularly bad cap space, and teams like the Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers don’t want to hear anyone crying rivers over a few injuries.

But the most revelatory thing about Belichick’s remarks is the lack of accountability. The Patriots stink this year because Jarrett Stidham was a bad draft pick that the team pretended was a good one, they haven’t developed a decent receiver since Edelman, and they’ve spent several recent drafts playing four-dimensional chess instead of grabbing the best available players. The Patriots are bad because Belichick and his staff made multiple mistakes while basking in “unassailable genius we aren’t worthy to criticize” accolades, then hoped Newton could spackle over the issues the way Tom Brady did.

Belichick’s message after every loss should be about how he needs to do his job (to paraphrase a favorite Patriots slogan), not about cap constraints. It’s troubling that he went from decades of grunting and grimacing at the media to airing his grievances the moment the Patriots started really losing.

NFL Recap has no patience for any Brady-vs.-Belichick debates. Nothing that happens this season changes the fact that Belichick is a Mount Rushmore NFL coach. It’s just time for him to start talking and acting like it when things aren’t going the Patriots’ way.

What’s next for the New England Patriots?

The Patriots can’t possibly lose to the New York Jets, can they? Probably not. But the fact that we have to pause and think about it for a moment speaks volumes about how far they have fallen.

MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA – NOVEMBER 01: Tua Tagovailoa #1 of the Miami Dolphins celebrates his first NFL touchdown on a three-yard pass to DeVante Parker #11 against the Los Angeles Rams during their game at Hard Rock Stadium on November 01, 2020 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)

Sometimes, a rookie quarterback looks tremendous in his NFL debut. Often, he looks lost and unprepared. And occasionally, as Tua Tagovailoa did in a 28-17 Miami Dolphins victory over the Los Angeles Rams in Week 8, he just hands off a lot while the opposing quarterback commits a bajillion turnovers. Tua threw for just 93 yards and one touchdown on 12-of-22 passing, but while Sunday’s win only taught NFL Recap a little about the Dolphins’ (probable) quarterback of the future, it revealed much more about the Dolphins themselves.

Week 8 Dolphins vs. Rams Game Recap

Tagovailoa’s first NFL dropback ended in a strip-sack by Aaron Donald. And if you tweeted, “Welcome to the NFL, rookie!” immediately after it happened, great for you, because you are the only one who thought of that!

Tagovailoa continued to struggle on his next few drives, misfiring on a deep shot to Preston Williams and leading DeVante Parker too far upfield on what should have been a routine receiver screen. His best throw of the afternoon landed in TE Mike Gesicki’s hands along the left sideline, but defender Darious Williams broke up the play.

Fortunately for the Dolphins, Jared Goff picked Sunday’s game to be Mister Bumbles. A Christian Wilkins interception gave the Dolphins the ball at the Rams 33 yard line at the end of the first quarter, and Tua connected with Durham Smythe and Jakeem Grant on short passes before finding a sliding Parker in the middle of the end zone for his first NFL touchdown pass.

Then, things got silly. Goff got strip-sacked by Emmanuel Ogbah to set up a 78-yard recovery touchdown by someone named Andrew Van Ginkel, who may have been Brian Wilson’s songwriting collaborator on Smile. Grant returned a punt 88-yards for another touchdown. Another strip-sack (by Shaq Lawson) and return (by Kyle Van Noy) set up a Myles Gaskin touchdown to give the Dolphins a 28-7 lead before halftime.

After that, Tagovailoa had little to do but hand off the ball, dump a few passes into the flat, scratch his head when the Dolphins tried a few Wildcat wrinkles, and watch the Rams fail to come back.

What does the Dolphins’ victory over the Rams mean?

Remember how the NFL news and rumblings around how the Dolphins were allegedly divided by the decision to bench Ryan Fitzpatrick for Tagovailoa? Divided teams don’t force four turnovers (it could easily have been six) and return punts for touchdowns against opponents with 5-2 records, folks. So send that narrative where it belongs (you may have to flush twice). Sunday’s win was a lot like the Dolphins’ turnover-happy Week 5 victory over the San Francisco 49ers if they keep manufacturing wins by making opposing quarterbacks look silly, we’ll have to stop writing off each case as an isolated incident.

As for Tagovailoa, he whiffed badly on some routine passes, and a pair of doomed Wildcat misadventures (a stuffed 3rd-and-1 direct snap to Gaskin, some over-engineered malarky involving seventh-round pick and former Navy option QB Malcolm Perry) revealed that Tua might not be working with a wide-open playbook just yet. But if you want to make a young quarterback comfortable, give him good field position and the lead. That’s just what the Dolphins did.

As Benjamin Allbright reported for Pro Football Network last week, the rumblings and news around the NFL were that Tua may be getting early starts so the Dolphins can determine whether they need to use the first-round pick they received from the Houston Texans in the Laremy Tunsil trade on another quarterback. If Sunday’s debut was indeed a kind of hedged bet, then it worked out in the Dolphins favor: They got a chance to evaluate Tua against a tough opponent without shattering his confidence and came away with a win.

NFL News and Week 8 Recap: What’s next for Tua Tagovailoa and the Miami Dolphins?

The Dolphins face the Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Chargers, Denver Broncos, and New York Jets over the next four weeks. So the defenses grow progressively weaker (give or take) as the month goes on. That should give Tagovailoa an opportunity to show steady improvement. It should also give the Dolphins lots of chances to build their Wild Card portfolio.

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – NOVEMBER 01: Defensive end Isaiah Buggs #96 of the Pittsburgh Steelers tackles quarterback Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens on fourth down late in the fourth quarter at M&T Bank Stadium on November 01, 2020 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Lamar Jackson nearly engineered a late Baltimore Ravens comeback victory on a soggy Sunday afternoon at M&T Bank Stadium. But the fact remains that Jackson was a big reason why the Ravens lost 28-24 to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 8 and are now both stuck in second place in the AFC North and losing ground in the battle for a top playoff seeding. With a tough slate of opponents on the upcoming schedule, it’s time for some straight talk about Jackson’s erratic, inconsistent, and sometimes troubling follow-up to his 2019 Most Valuable Player campaign.

NFL Week 8 Recap: Breaking down the Ravens vs. Steelers matchup

Lamar Jackson threw a wobbly pick-6 to Steelers LB Robert Spillane on the third play from scrimmage. He then led a drive full of crisp throws (and one roughing penalty at the end of a short scramble) to tie the game on a pinpoint pass to Miles Boykin. The rest of the afternoon progressed more-or-less in the same manner, with Jackson looking like an MVP again on one drive, but like the guy your father-in-law swears is going to be run out of the league in three years on the next.

Jackson finished the game with two interceptions which led directly to Steelers touchdowns (his second pick gave them the ball on the Ravens 18-yard line, setting up a Ben Roethlisberger touchdown to Eric Ebron), a third would-be interception that Joe Haden couldn’t quite haul in after jumping a route before halftime, and two lost fumbles deep in Steelers territory, one of them when trying to convert on 4th-and-3 at the 2:00 warning.

Jackson also threw for 208 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 65 yards, and he drove the Ravens to the Steelers 23-yard line in the waning seconds. His performance was not a disaster by any means. It just wasn’t nearly enough against the still-undefeated Steelers.

What Lamar Jackson’s erratic performance means for the Ravens

NFL Week 8 Recap doesn’t like suggesting that Lamar Jackson and the Ravens offense has been “figured out” because we don’t want to end up on the same side of any debate as the sort of people who protest tattoo parlor mask mandates. But this is what “figured out” looks like in the NFL.

No, Jackson hasn’t been turned into Tim Tebow, and he probably never will be. But opponents aren’t getting taffy-pulled by all the option fakes on first down as often as they did last season. Once the Ravens are in unfavorable down-and-distance situations, opponents are sitting back and waiting for Jackson to dump the ball over the short middle of the field.

Jackson, for his part, is throwing more wobbly non-spirals than he did last year, messing up the timing and accuracy of his passes and making life tougher for his receivers. His deep accuracy has also been spotty. Jackson ranked 23rd in the NFL in Football Outsiders’ passing DYAR metric entering Sunday and is probably going to go down a few spots once the Week 8 numbers are done brewing. Instead of expanding his passing repertoire with the additions of new receivers and the development of Boykin and Marquise Brown, Jackson has taken a step back.

None of this is a problem when the Ravens are facing an opponent like the Cincinnati Bengals or Washington Football Team: Jackson still provides plenty of big plays, and the Ravens roster is too top-to-bottom talented to be threatened by lower-tier opponents. But this season’s losses to the Steelers and Chiefs find them once again thumping their heads against a Super Bowl ceiling.

The Ravens will crush an opponent if a game goes according to script, but they’re in trouble if the opponent has lots of speed and talent on defense, builds a substantial early lead on offense, or otherwise forces the Ravens to do things they aren’t great at.

Throw in the likely long-term loss of left tackle Ronnie Stanley (leg) just days after NFL news broke of him signing a reported $98.75-million extension, and the Ravens have one more reason to be concerned that Jackson and their offense, while certainly good enough to coast into the playoffs, are not up to Super Bowl snuff.

NFL Week 8 Recap and News: What’s next for Lamar Jackson and the Ravens?

The Ravens visit the Colts in Week 9, then visit the New England Patriots, host the Tennessee Titans and visit the Steelers. That’s three tough opponents plus the Patriots, who still have A) a fine defense and B) Foxboro juju.

Jackson and the Ravens won’t have any weaklings to push around or breaks to figure things out for a month. This is the point at which players who are destined to be all-time greats take a step forward and define who they really are. Jackson could very well do that. But he has a lot of work to do to make that happen.


Keyshawn Johnson, Jay Williams, and Zubin Mehenti begin the hour wondering how players will react to the hire of Chris Doyle and if the situation will go away if the Jags begin to win. Tim Hasselbeck joins the show to talk about the Pro Day of Trevor Lawrence and if it could hurt him at all.

Keyshawn Johnson, Jay Williams, and Zubin Mehenti begin hour two still unpacking the hire of Chris Doyle by Urban Meyer. Jeremy Fowler joins the show to discuss the pro day of Trevor Lawrence and could the Eagles select a QB at 6? Anthony Herron joins the show to discuss how things were when he was at Iowa.


Cowboys drop to No. 11 in AP NFL power rankings ahead of Thanksgiving game vs. Bills

12:03 PM on Nov 27, 2019 CST

NEW YORK — Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens just keep on rolling.

The surging Ravens, who have won seven in a row, retained the top spot in the latest AP Pro32 poll. Baltimore routed the Los Angeles Rams 45-6 on Monday night to move to 9-2 on the season.

The Ravens earned 11 of the 12 first-place votes for 382 points in balloting Tuesday by media members who regularly cover the NFL.

The Buffalo Bills (8-3), off to their best start through 11 games in 23 years, have inched up to No. 9. The Bills will get a nationwide audience on a short week as they head to Dallas to take on the Cowboys on Thanksgiving. The Cowboys (6-5) dropped to No. 11 after losing to the Patriots. Despite the setback, the Cowboys still lead the NFC East.

“The New England loss marks the beginning of the end for Jason Garrett as head coach unless this team makes a deep playoff run,” said Alex Marvez of Sirius XM.

The Patriots (10-1) received the other first-place vote for 366 points to stay in the No. 2 spot.

“(Coach Bill) Belichick in control of every facet as special teams whip Cowboys,” Fox Sports’ John Czarnecki said of New England’s 13-9 victory.

Below is the full Associated Press Pro32 NFL Power Rankings, as voted on by a 12-member panel, with first-place votes in parentheses. Total points are based on 32 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 32nd-place vote:


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From The Ground Up - Ep. 14 | Series Finale Trailer

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NFLN: Maxx Crosby details road to sobriety, taking the next step in Year 3

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Kolton Miller: 'I'm gonna do whatever I can to help this team & do my job'

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Kolton Miller on signing a multi-year contract extension, relationship with Andre James & Richie Incognito

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Raiders Tavern & Grill opens at M Resort Spa Casino

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Yannick Ngakoue brings 'I don't quit' mentality to Raiders' defense

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NFLN: Expanded strength of schedule rankings for every NFL team in 2021

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2016 NFL Power Rankings Week 15: The Streak Is Over

NFL Week 14 has seen it’s Sunday come and go, and once again things were exciting. The Seattle Seahawks were supposed to be the team that everyone feared in the NFC, but then they laid an egg against the Green Bay Packers.

The Atlanta Falcons had to play against a supposedly tough defense without their top two receivers. Instead of panicking and falling apart, they dropped 42-points in the first three quarters before taking their foot off the brake.

Their win coupled with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeat of the New Orleans Saints set up an exciting finish in the NFC South as those two teams are tied up. Also tied up is the AFC South as both the Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans were able to secure close games to move to 7-6.

All this excitement went on throughout the first rounds of games before we all were tortured with the mistake-fest of a game between the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants. Both teams were turnover prone and had a thing for dropping passes. Which is how the game ended.

With all the dust settled, outside of the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens game on Monday Night Football, we can now look at how each team stacks up in our weekly NFL Power Rankings.

Dec 11, 2016 Cleveland, OH, USA Cleveland Browns quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) spikes the ball after scoring a touchdown during the second half against the Cincinnati Bengals at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Bengals won 23-10. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

No. 32 Cleveland Browns (32)

It’s called the “Factory of Sadness” for a reason. The Cleveland Browns can change whatever position they want and the result will be exactly the same, a loss.

On Sunday they were at home, rested off a bye week, and facing a team with a losing record in the Cincinnati Bengals. They also had their initial starting quarterback on the field again as Robert Griffin III was back after suffering an injury in Week 1.

This was the best chance they had all season to get a win. Instead, they laid yet another egg on the field. A 23-10 loss puts them at 0-13 on the season.

Cleveland was held scoreless in the first half as the Bengals took a 20-0 early lead. The second half was all about Cincy just trying to run out the clock and get out of the cold, snowy weather.

RG3 was absolutely awful in the game and only got over 100-yards passing thanks to a few last second passes as the Bengals allowed them to catch a few to kill the clock. On the day Griffin was 12-of-28 yards passing for 104 yards and a turnover.

With questions about whether or not there will be a franchise type quarterback available in the 2017 draft, the Browns are looking worse every day for not drafting Carson Wentz.

Dec 4, 2016 Chicago, IL, USA San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) warms-up before the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports

No. 31 San Francisco 49ers (31)

The first half San Francisco 49ers looked like the team that used to be a threat in the NFC. The second half San Francisco 49ers looked like the unit that’s lost 12 in a row now. They were rolling all over the New York Jets for 30 minutes. Yes, it was the New York Jets so that’s nothing to brag about. It was also the New York Jets with Bryce Petty at quarterback, again the brags should subside.

Even against a bad team though, they looked like a cohesive unit and they may have finally snapped their losing streak. Then their 17-3 halftime lead was cut to 17-6 in the third. No worries right? Still a lead. Still against the Jets.

Then the fourth quarter came and the Niners collapsed. They gave up 11 points in the final 15 minutes and went scoreless for the whole second half.

It’s time to admit a couple of things. One Chip Kelly is a horrendous coach. Two, Colin Kaepernick is not a winning quarterback. It looked like the two were a perfect fit for one another, but in all honesty they both are just destined to be searching for jobs next season. Neither will have an easy time with that.

Dec 11, 2016 Jacksonville, FL, USA Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley watches the action during the second half of an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings at EverBank Field. The Vikings won 25-16. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

No. 30 Jacksonville Jagurs (30)

Blake Bortles leads the NFL in interceptions this season. That’s not the best stat to lead in, but at least the Jacksonville Jaguars have one player who can say he’s the best in the league at something.

Well on Sunday, Bortles didn’t protect his lead in that category as he played an interception-free game, but still wasn’t able to lead his team to a win. Now 2-11 for the season it seems apparent that head coach Gus Bradley is done after this season, if not before.

His tenure has been laced with terrible seasons and poor defense. The second part of that equation is the most troubling as Bradley was a defensive coordinator in Seattle before coming to Jacksonville and was supposed to fix that side of the ball.

The team as a whole needs a lot of work, but there’s so much young talent on the team that has failed to meet expectations and that often falls on the coach. While the players should also be held accountable, it’s easier to switch out the coach and see if he can work with this core before entering full-on rebuilding mode.

Well, can you call it a rebuild if the build was never complete?

Oct 20, 2016 Bagshot, United Kingdom Los Angeles Rams general manager Les Snead at practice at the Pennyhill Park Hotel & Spa in preparation for the NFL International Series game against the New York Giants. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

No. 29 Los Angeles Rams (28)

How did the Los Angeles Rams respond to all these reports of dysfunction in their ranks of executives? By proving that any dysfunction that goes on behind the scenes is nothing in comparison to the dysfunction they put out there for all to see.

This team is a complete mess on the field. They are 4-9 after head coach Jeff Fisher made it seem like 7-9 was just not going to happen this season. Well at least he was kind of right. There’s no way this team will win three more games. After watching them Sunday it’s mind-boggling that they’ve somehow mustered up four wins in 13 tries.

The defense is all of a sudden a joke. The offense has no weapons. Their coach is absolutely clueless. This team is a straight dumpster fire. Thanks to recent extensions to the survivalist of a coach in Fisher and the general manager Les Snead, their ineptitude has no hopes of ending soon.

It used to be a joke that July 9 was Jeff Fisher’s holiday because of how many 7-9 seasons he had. It may start to look more like his holiday can become a spring thing. I really feel bad that the fans of Los Angeles waited so long for football to come back, and yet they still have to keep waiting.

December 11, 2016 Santa Clara, CA, USA New York Jets running back Bilal Powell (29) is congratulated for scoring the game-winning touchdown during overtime against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi

Maybe Bryce Petty can play quarterback at the highest level. The second-year quarterback has gotten some extensive playing time this season and after a rough start, he had a decent second half against the San Francisco 49ers.

He finished with an impressive 23-of-35 stat line with 257 yards. He had no touchdowns, but he also didn’t throw an interception on the day. This doesn’t mean he’s the next starting quarterback for the Jets. It probably only means he’s a decent backup in this league.

What New York has to figure out is if they believe in 2016 second-round selection, Christian Hackenberg. The Penn State product needs to be given some time to see if he can be the guy going forward or if they need to keep looking.

They could have a decent chance of landing one in the draft, assuming they have their eye on anyone coming out of the NCAA this offseason. With a record of 4-9, they could be drafting extremely high. Especially considering that they needed a fourth quarter come back to be able to beat the 1-12 49ers.

Other bright spots in their most recent win included a defensive shutout in the second half and running back Bilal Powell running for 145 yards and two touchdowns.

Dec 11, 2016 Detroit, MI, USA Chicago Bears quarterback Matt Barkley (12) hands the ball off to running back Jordan Howard (24) during the first quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Sure seems like it doesn’t matter who plays quarterback for the Chicago Bears. As long as it isn’t Jay Cutler, they have a shot to win games. Again Matt Barkley got the start and again he did all he could to help his team out. He has looked much better than many expected and finished Sunday’s game with 212 yards passing with a touchdown and no interceptions.

The first-year starting quarterback (by way of injuries to Cutler and his backups Brian Hoyer and Connor Shaw) completed 20-of-32 passes, but again saw several catchable passes fall to the turf. He doesn’t look like he is going to be the franchise guy that will win a Super Bowl, but his presence keeps them from overreaching in an upcoming draft that’s less-than-inspiring in the quarterback department.

Speaking of drafts, one position they look set on is running back. Jordan Howard was effective yet again as he rushed for 86 yards on just 13 carries. He’s turned into a dependable player that could be counted on for years to come.

A lot of improvement is needed in Chicago for sure as they sit 3-10 on the year, but at least they’re not the Browns.

Dec 11, 2016 Orchard Park, NY, USA Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan (right) and his brother assistant head coach/defense Rob Ryan look on from the sideline during the second half against the Pittsburgh Steelers at New Era Field. The Steelers beat the Bills 27-20. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Well Rex Ryan is one step closer to getting to his projected season total. The Buffalo Bills head coach seems destined to hover around 8-8 or 7-9 and after a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers his team is now sitting at 6-7 on the year.

Every time they look like they have a shot at anything, they fall apart. Back-to-back wins got them to 6-5, but then they dropped their next two. The problem is they win against teams like the Jaguars and Bengals, but then falter when playing winning teams like Pittsburgh or the Oakland Raiders, who beat them in Week 13.

Ryan always talks a big game, but he never produces anything. His first couple of seasons as the New York Jets coach saw him get to the AFC Championship game, but it’s been nothing but empty promises since then. Outside of him there will also be some serious questions about retaining quarterback Tyrod Taylor.

He shows glimpses of being gifted, but often misses the mark and at times holds the ball way too long. On the bright side, the Bills are facing the Cleveland Browns next week and then they get the Miami Dolphins without quarterback Ryan Tannehill and then finally the New York Jets.

They still can get to 9-7. Or they could be the one team the hapless Browns beat this season. Who knows.

Dec 11, 2016 Philadelphia, PA, USA Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (11) talks with head coach Doug Pederson during the second quarter against the Washington Redskins at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

No. 25 Philadelphia Eagles (24)

This one was a back-and-forth game but the Philadelphia Eagles were unable to get it done against a divisional opponent. They lost to the Washington Redskins by a score of 27-22, but they missed several opportunities to play spoiler to the ‘Skins playoff hopes.

With an early 3-0 lead the Eagles marched down the field on a seven-play drive that covered 77 yards. On the final play of that drive, rookie quarterback Carson Wentz threw a terrible pass that missed tight end Zach Ertz, but landed in the hands of Washington safety Deshazor Everett.

The end zone interception hurt, but it wasn’t the only mistake by the team. Later in the game, running back Darren Sproles broke free on a punt return which resulted in a long score. That one was called back thanks to a block in the back call on the return.

Despite leaving all those points on the board, they still were in it at the end. After going up 22-21, the Eagles gave up their lead yet again, but had a shot for a game-winning drive. Instead, Wentz was hit and fumbled the ball at the Washington 14 with less than 30 seconds to go in the game.

They were close enough to go for the win, but again let it slip through their grasps. It’s been a tough season for the Eagles. But at least Chip Kelly is gone.

Dec 11, 2016 Charlotte, NC, USA San Diego Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa (99) gets helped off the field during the second quarter against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

No. 24 San Diego Chargers (22)

No team has suffered as much loss this season as the San Diego Chargers this year. Well, sure the Cleveland Browns still haven’t won, but the Chargers just keep losing players at an alarming rate.

Heading into the game Sunday they had 15 players on the injured reserve. The biggest names among that list would have to be wide receiver Keenan Allen and running back Danny Woodhead. Both are vital to their offense, and both have been sorely missed.

The one player limiting the sting of their loss so far has been second-year running back Melvin Gordon. The former first-round pick has 992 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns on the season. He has looked much improved this season after a rough rookie year. Sadly, he was carted off the field during their latest loss with what is being called a hip injury. It didn’t look good when it happened, and it is starting to feel unfair that the Chargers keep losing talent.

The sting didn’t stop there however. Their first-round pick this season defensive end Joey Bosa, also left the game Sunday. He was taken out with a neck injury.

Bosa has been great for the defense, recording 5.5 sacks on the season after ending a holdout and missing some time due to a hamstring issue. The future looks bright for the Bolts with their young talent, but this just isn’t their season thanks mainly to health problems.

Dec 11, 2016 Indianapolis, IN, USA Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) throws a 35 yard touchdown pass to wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (not pictured) against the Houston Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium. Houston defeated Indianapolis 22-17. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

No. 23 Indianapolis Colts (23)

You know for someone who is supposed to have a photographic memory, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck sure doesn’t remember what he’s seeing in the film room.

He already had 63 career interceptions in this his fifth-season and added another two on Sunday. They were both incredibly ugly interceptions as well. On one he seemed like he didn’t even see Texans safety Quintin Demps. On the other he held the ball for an eternity before defensive end Jadeveon Clowney drilled him and he laid up a floater for safety Andre Hal.

Of course, Luck isn’t the only one to blame for the loss or the 6-7 record. Their roster is full of skill-players but no one to do the dirty work. They have no real talented offensive linemen and their defensive line is a complete mess.

Their defense as a whole isn’t any better and they were only in this game thanks to Houston being incompetent on offense. A couple of turnovers and bad defensive plays gave Houston short fields all day, but they couldn’t close the deal. They were held to five field goals, which allowed the Colts to make the game look closer than it should have.

Dec 11, 2016 Charlotte, NC, USA Carolina Panthers strong safety Kurt Coleman (20) intercepts a pass in the fourth quarter against the San Diego Chargers at Bank of America Stadium. The Panthers defeated the Chargers 28-16. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

No. 22 Carolina Panthers (26)

The Carolina Panthers are a shell of what they were a season ago. After going 15-1 and heading to the Super Bowl, they’ve completely fallen apart now as they sit 5-8 on the season.

On Sunday they did get the win, but they looked less than impressive in the outing. Quarterback Cam Newton won the MVP award last season, but this year he’s been just bad. In their latest win he was a pathetic 10-of-27 passing for just 160 yards and threw another interception.

So far this season he has just 2,614 yards with 14 touchdowns and eight picks. His completion percentage is a low 54.7 percent. He’s playing bad, and it’s hard to say why.

On defense, they look like they miss Josh Norman at corner more than anyone thought. The latest absence of Luke Kuechly at linebacker has also played a part in their struggles, but he should be back soon.

A lot of times teams that lose in the Super Bowl struggle the next season, but Carolina is looking worse than most do. There needs to be some serious tweaks in the offseason and some soul searching by the leaders of this team. They’re too talented to have a losing record.

Dec 11, 2016 Miami Gardens, FL, USA Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) attempts a pass in the game against the Miami Dolphins during the second half at Hard Rock Stadium. The Miami Dolphins defeat the Arizona Cardinals 26-23. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

No. 21 Arizona Cardinals (21)

Carson Palmer looked bad in this one. The Arizona Cardinals quarterback was 18-of-33 passing and had just 145 yards. He also threw two picks as their once feared passing game has been grounded. They now sit at 5-7-1 and will not have a double-digit winning season for the first time in head coach Bruce Arians tenure in the desert.

This season they were supposed to put it all together. They had their trio of receivers in Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown and Michael Floyd. They had their star running back David Johnson. They even added some pass rushing after realizing that was their one weak spot last season.

Yet, something just hasn’t worked out. It’s not fair to pin it all on the quarterback, but a lot of times that’s what happens. Palmer hasn’t been as efficient this season as he was in past years working with Arians, and the team may look elsewhere in 2017.

One possibility could be seeing if current Dallas Cowboys backup Tony Romo wants to head over to Phoenix for a chance to show what he’s made of. His career may be winding down, but he could be an upgrade over Palmer and may be exactly what this team needs to get over the hump.

Dec 11, 2016 Tampa, FL, USA New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton looks on against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the New Orleans Saints 16-11. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

No. 20 New Orleans Saints (18)

On Nov. 27, the New Orleans Saints offense was amazing. They put up 49-points and people were remembering how good they were during their magical Super Bowl run following the 2009 season.

Since then they have scored 24-points in two weeks. The latest outing included a safety which aided them in getting a whole 11-points. That means this once-explosive offense was responsible for nine points in an NFC South showdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Never did that seem possible out of an offense led by head coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees. Whether it’s age on Brees, or just the league figuring out Payton, the magic is gone in New Orleans.

The Saints are now 5-8 on the season and in danger of having their third-straight losing season should they drop just one more game. In most cases this would lead to a call for some jobs, but the Saints seem like they want to keep trying to get Payton and Brees to find their fire one last time.

It’s probably not going to happen as the 37-year old Brees may be nearing the end. There’s still too much rebuilding around him to do. This team still struggles to protect him and their defense is nothing to get excited about.

Dec 11, 2016 Cleveland, OH, USA Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) waves to fans as he runs back to the locker room after the game against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Bengals won 23-10. Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

No. 19 Cincinnati Bengals (21)

It’s not like a win against the Cleveland Browns is anything to celebrate this season, but the Cincinnati Bengals did take of business quickly on Sunday.

It took just two-and-a-half minutes for the Bengals to take the lead. On the opening drive quarterback Andy Dalton hit tight end Tyler Eifert for a 14-yard touchdown. It was the first of two first-half touchdowns for Eifert.

Sandwiched between that was a touchdown rush by running back Jeremy Hill. A missed extra-point was their only blemish on the first half as they were up 20-0 at the break. In the second half they just allowed the clock to run down as they planned to just leave the Dawg Pound with a win.

Dalton finished with 180 yards, but was an efficient 20-of-28 passing with two touchdowns and no picks. Hill finished the day with 25 rushes for 111 yards and his one score. On the year the Bengals are now 5-7-1.

Their season now is all about getting above .500 for their own pride since they would need a miracle to win the AFC North. Sunday was at least a step in the right direction if they hope to go into the offseason with some hope for the future. It was also a good step for head coach Marvin Lewis who is now coaching for his job in all likelihood.

Dec 11, 2016 Jacksonville, FL, USA Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph (82) celebrates scoring a touchdown with quarterback Sam Bradford (8) in the second half against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field. The Vikings won 25-16. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

No. 18 Minnesota Vikings (20)

After a disheartening loss to the Dallas Cowboys last Thursday Night the Minnesota Vikings looked poised for a big day. They were headed to Jacksonville to take on the porous Jaguars and even had some extra rest thanks to the early game last week.

In the end they got the win, but it sure wasn’t pretty. Trailing 16-12 in the fourth quarter, the Vikings needed a 13-point finish in that quarter to win the game. They are now 7-6 on the season and quarterback Sam Bradford is now 6-6 as the starter for the Vikings.

For his career, he is now 31-43-1 as the starting quarterback. While attaching a winning record to a quarterback isn’t always fair, the fact is mediocrity follows Sammy Sleeves wherever he goes.

That average-at-best skill level of his makes the trade of a first round pick for him look worse every time he steps on the field. Excuses are made for Bradford at every turn, but he rarely throws the ball more than five yards downfield and is holding the team back.

Also, the loss of a first round pick will hurt them in the future as well. Imagine how much worse it will look if the Eagles use that pick on someone like running back Leonard Fournette just as Minnesota needs to look at replacing Adrian Peterson.

Dec 11, 2016 Indianapolis, IN, USA Houston Texans safety Andre Hal (29) reacts after defeating the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Houston defeated Indianapolis 22-17. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

After winning in Indianapolis for the first time in 13 tries last season, the Houston Texans decided they wanted to do it again this year. This one was a tight contest, but in the end the Texans walked out with a win, 22-17.

The win keeps them in first place, as a tie-breaker with the Tennessee Titans is the difference. Houston has been anything but perfect this season, but they’re winning the most important games, the AFC South contests.

They’re 4-0 on the year in divisional games now and two of their final three games are against divisional opponents. Sweeping the Colts was huge, and next week they can try and do the same thing against the 2-11 Jacksonville Jaguars.

From there they face the Cincinnati Benglas (5-7-1) in another game they should be able to win. The schedule makers must have foreseen how things would shake out this season, because as fate would have it, the final game after those two will be the Houston Texans heading to Nashville to take on the Tennessee Titans.

That game could very well be what decides the division once and for all between these two teams. The Texans control their own destiny now thanks to their latest win. They just need to hope their offense finally gets it together because they struggled to finish drives this week, settling for five field goal attempts.

Dec 11, 2016 Nashville, TN, USA Tennessee Titans running back DeMarco Murray (29) runs for a short gain in the second half against the Denver Broncos at Nissan Stadium. The Titans won 13-10. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

No. 16 Tennessee Titans (17)

The Tennessee Titans are a scary football team. Late in the year the best recipe for success is running the ball and no one has the three-punch combo that these guys possess. The star running back is DeMarco Murray, who put up another solid performance in their win over the defending Super Bowl Champions, the Denver Broncos.

Murray rushed 21 times for 92 yards and had the team’s lone touchdown of the game. His backup is rookie Derrick Henry. The 2015 Heisman Trophy winner from Alabama would be a starter for almost any other team in the NFL, but instead just serves as a bruising change of pace back.

On Sunday he was effective as well with 42 yards on 12 carries. The third option they have running is their quarterback, Marcus Mariota. He ran for 38 yards on eight carries Sunday and was able to use his legs to make up for an ugly day passing.

Mariota was an ugly 6-of-20 passing for just 88 yards. They proved they’re a great team though by winning despite having a poor outing on offense. Their defense recorded three sacks and recovered two fumbles in their upset win. They now have a shot to win the AFC South as they’re tied for first place with the Houston Texans at 7-6.

Dec 11, 2016 Miami Gardens, FL, USA Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (right) celebrates with Dolphins quarterback Matt Moore (left) after defeating the Arizona Cardinals at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

A dream season in Miami could be coming to an end. After a rough start to the year, this unit found a way to put it all together. They lost in Week 13, which ended their six-game winning streak.

The loss to the Baltimore Ravens was ugly and it could have been the kind of game that destroyed a team’s confidence. Instead, they bounced back and came out on fire against the Arizona Cardinals.

A 14-point fourth-quarter by the Red Birds threatened them getting back in the win-column, but that’s not what the worry is. The worry instead is what they will do moving forward because they lost starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill to a torn ACL in this game. His backup, Matt Moore, did come in and played well.

He was 3-of-5 passing for 47 yards and led them down for the game winning field goal. However, Moore is a step down from what Tannehill had finally blossomed into over the last couple of months of the season.

The good news is they’re now 8-5 and can still make the postseason. They will just have to lean a lot more on their running game and defense should they be able to get in.

Dec 11, 2016 Philadelphia, PA, USA Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) after the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Washington defeated Philadelphia 27-22. Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

No. 14 Washington Redskins (13)

Running back Chris Thompson got free for a 25-yard game-winning touchdown and outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan got a strip-sack on Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz in their latest win.

The 27-22 victory over Philadelphia was a strong team effort and they kept fighting back no matter what was thrown at them. Quarterback Kirk Cousins has put together a great season with the franchise tag being placed on him.

With his pending free agency right around the corner, the team is going to have a big decision to make. Do you trust Cousins for the long haul? Because if so, he will command somewhere in the $100 million range over the next five or six seasons. Then there’s the risk of letting him go and not having a suitable replacement.

There would be just one thing worse than not having a franchise quarterback. That would be watching the guy you deemed unworthy of being a franchise quarterback winning elsewhere while you don’t have one.

Someone will give Cousins that huge deal. For anyone who doesn’t believe that, see Brock Osweiler. For Washington the question is will they be the ones to do it. Perhaps a postseason appearance could help them make up their minds.

Dec 11, 2016 Nashville, TN, USA Denver Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak (C) leaves the field after the game against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium. Tennessee won 13-10. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Maybe both teams from last season’s Super Bowl won’t even make the post season. The Denver Broncos (8-5) are much better than the Carolina Panthers (5-8) this season, but they are still in danger of missing the playoffs after dropping two of their last three games.

This weekend was especially tough as they managed a season low of just ten points on the day. Their defense stayed strong, but the 13 points Tennessee put up was too much for the offense to overcome.

Quarterback Trevor Siemian did all he could as he threw for 334 yards and a touchdown, but it was all on him in this one. He had to throw the ball 51 times on the day as their running game was just flat out non-existent.

Newly acquired running back Justin Forsett ran just 17 yards on six carries and rookie Devontae Booker added one more yard on three carries. This team needs some upgrades on offense. They are good at moving the ball, but not efficient enough to get points equal to the yardage. Ironically they could be sitting at home watching the guy they let walk in free agency play in the post season.

Brock Osweiler and the Houston Texans are looking like they could wrap up their division. Wonder if John Elway will still keep making fun of his former player.

Dec 11, 2016 Green Bay, WI, USA Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) passes the ball in the first quarter during the game against the Seattle Seahawks at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

No. 12 Green Bay Packers (15)

Well, Aaron Rodgers may not have told us all to R-E-L-A-X, but he did say the team could win out. After falling to 4-6 on the year, the Green Bay Packers starting quarterback expressed confidence in his team despite others losing it.

“I feel like we can run the table, I really do,” Rodgers said per Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. “The offense is starting to click a little bit more we’ve just got to put together a game where we’re more consistent from the first snap to the last. We’ve been, I think, getting closer to that. We’ve really been clicking, at times, in the last few games.

“But it’s going to be important that we get going early. We had three three-and-outs to start the [Redskins] game, but overall on the season, we’ve done a better job of limiting our three-and-outs we’ve been sustaining drives pretty well.”

Maybe after a couple wins some were buying it, but after thoroughly throttling the Seattle Seahawks, there are more believers.

Green Bay is a dangerous group that most NFC teams probably secretly wish would just stay home this post season. With the way they’re playing on both sides of the ball right now, that’s not looking too likely.

Dec 4, 2016 Baltimore, MD, USA Baltimore Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta (88) celebrates with quarterback Joe Flacco (5) and wide receiver Mike Wallace (17) after scoring a touchdown during the second quarter against the Miami Dolphins at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

No. 11 Baltimore Ravens (11) — Play Monday Night

It would be much appreciated if someone could please explain exactly who the Baltimore Ravens really are.

Maybe their game on Monday Night Football will help explain it. Currently the team sits at 7-5 and they’ve had some serious ups and downs this season. They won close games against poor teams like the Cleveland Browns and Jacksonville Jaguars. They also lost to another less-than-average group this season in the New York Jets.

Then they also hung tough with some very good teams. They lost by a point to the Oakland Raiders, four points to the New York Giants and hung with the Dallas Cowboys until the fourth quarter.

Defense is the reason they find themselves in games. Offense is the reason they dropped some close ones and struggled to close out the bad ones. This past week though they put it all together. Quarterback Joe Flacco had 381 yards and four touchdowns. Two of those went to tight end Dennis Pitta, who finally looked healthy and ready to produce.

Now they head to Massachusetts to face the New England Patriots. Still considered by most the best team in the AFC, the Pats will be a huge test for Baltimore. They will either prove that they’re contenders or they will be exposed as pretenders.

Dec 11, 2016 Tampa, FL, USA Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) celebrates to the fans as he runs off the field after they beat the New Orleans Saints at Raymond James Stadium. Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the New Orleans Saints 16-11. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

No. 10 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10)

Since losing to the Atlanta Falcons in Week 9, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been one of the best teams in the league. Sunday was their fifth-straight win as they stayed tied for the NFC South with those very Falcons who handed them their last lost.

A lot of the credit goes to second-year quarterback Jameis Winston, as it should. He’s developed into a solid pro under head coach Dirk Koetter’s tutelage.

He and Marcus Mariota of the Titans went one and two overall in the NFL Draft next season and neither have disappointed. These two both got big wins on Sunday and are in the thick of their divisional races. It’s exciting to see young talent break out.

However, Winston isn’t the only talented young player the Bucs have. His favorite target is wide out Mike Evans, who is developing into one of the best receivers there is. Defensively they have young talent all over the place. In recent years they’ve netted stars like linebacker Kwon Alexander, cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III and defensive end Noah Spence.

Paired with veterans like defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and corner Brent Grimes they’re becoming a force on that side of the ball. So much so they held Saints quarterback Drew Brees and company out of the end zone en route to a 16-11 win on Sunday.

Dec 11, 2016 East Rutherford, NJ, USA New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) looks to pass against the Dallas Cowboys during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Has anyone else noticed that Eli Manning is quite possibly the luckiest quarterback in the history of the NFL? This guy throws some of the dumbest passes ever, but it never seems to hurt him.

In their 10-7 win over the Dallas Cowboys he threw one interception and lost two fumbles. However, he could have easily had three more interceptions. Safety Barry Church dropped two passes thrown directly to him and linebacker Justin Durant had another go through his hands.

Now the team is sitting at 9-4, and they are the only team to beat the Dallas Cowboys, but eventually Manning’s luck has to run out. Right?

Maybe not. The guy is still heralded as an “elite” quarterback thanks to plays like receiver David Tyree catching a ball with his head and former Patriots receiver Wes Welker dropping passes thrown directly to him.

In the end, the Giants are a good team and they find ways to win despite having Eli slinging it around like a mad-man with no concern for what colored hat the ball is sailing towards. And on Sunday night, that defense which they overhauled this offseason looked like the real deal. If they keep pressuring quarterbacks like that and playing blanket coverage, they will be tough to beat.

Dec 11, 2016 Los Angeles, CA, USA Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) celebrates with tackle Ryan Schraeder (73) after throwing a 64-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter against the Los Angeles Rams at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

What happens when the highest scoring team in the NFL meets a team trying to dispute reports of tension between their coach and management? A 42-14 blowout is what happens.

The Atlanta Falcons made a mockery of everything the Los Angeles Rams stood for as a football team on Sunday with the huge win. At one point, Atlanta was up 42-0 and they simply just didn’t try in the fourth quarter. Making their win even more impressive was them doing this damage with both receiver Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu out of action due to injuries.

Even with the depleted unit, quarterback Matt Ryan was on fire. While most may have thought they would lean on their running game without their top receivers, Ryan picked apart the Rams.

He completed 18-of-28 passes for 237 yards and tossed three touchdown passes. That was even with starting running back Devonta Freeman managing six yards on six carries and his backup, Tevin Coleman, adding just 36 on eight carries.

Atlanta is one of the best teams in the NFL right now, and they would have their division wrapped up if not for the sudden turnaround by their divisional rivals, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The two teams are sitting at 8-5 and ready for a showdown to claim the NFC South as the season winds down.

Dec 11, 2016 Green Bay, WS, USA Green Bay Packers defensive end Mike Daniels (76) tries to bring down Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) at Lambeau Field. Mandatory credit: Jim Matthews/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via USA TODAY NETWORK

Depending on what day you watch the Seattle Seahawks play, your opinion of the team may vary greatly. They have put up some amazing games this season, and then they’ve put up some stinkers.

This weekend against the Green Bay Packers, it was a stinker. Quarterback Russell Wilson had arguably his worst day as a pro. If not his worst personal day, it was his most lopsided loss according to Sheil Kapadia of ESPN.

But there’s no brushing aside this loss. A couple of weeks ago, after a 14-5 defeat to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, players said the adversity was something they needed. Given the Seahawks’ track record and their 40-7 win over the Carolina Panthers last week, that seemed reasonable.

Now though, for the second time in three weeks, Seattle has been thoroughly outplayed. This was the first time during the Carroll/Wilson era that the Seahawks lost by more than 10 points.

He threw five interceptions against a Packers team that isn’t known as a defensive powerhouse.

Speaking of defensive powerhouses, the ‘Hawks didn’t look like one whatsoever without stud safety Earl Thomas patrolling the defensive backfield. Without their star safety, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw for 246 yards and three scores

No. 6 Pittsburgh Steelers (7)

Thanks to the Baltimore Ravens having to play the New England Patriots on Monday Night Football in Foxborough, this could be a very fruitful week for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Their seven-point win in the snow filled Buffalo Bills stadium moved them to 8-5 on the season and they now own a half-game lead against those Ravens. Should Baltimore fall to the Patriots, Pittsburgh will be all alone in first place in the AFC North.

It’s been tougher for them than expected, but they’re starting to look like themselves again now that running back Le’Veon Bell is playing out of his mind and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is fully healthy. That doesn’t mean there won’t be bumps.

Big Ben proved that this weekend as the weather conditions affected his throwing. He threw three picks and no touchdowns on the day. What makes them so scary as a team though, is that didn’t stop them.

They were able to lean heavily on their workhorse Bell and the running back rushed for 236 yards and three touchdowns. He toted the ball an impressive 38 times and reminded people that the Steelers can still beat people with a power running game any time they want to.

Dec 11, 2016 Detroit, MI, USA Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) celebrates after scoring the game winning touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Chicago Bears at Ford Field. Lions win 20-17. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

There’s not a Detroit Lions fan on the planet with full-grown fingernails. This team loves close games, evidenced by them being involved in a one-score outing every week until their win on Dec. 4 against the New Orleans Saints.

Surely, that 15-point win must have done something to make them turn into a tea that runs away from people. Not exactly. This weekend they returned to their nail-bite inducing ways against the lowly Chicago Bears.

A touchdown with less than four-minutes remaining was needed and the defense then had to hold as Chicago tried to march down the field in an attempt to tie things up. They were unable to get in range for a field goal try and Detroit won, 20-17.

MVP-candidate quarterback Matthew Stafford wasn’t brilliant on the day as he threw a couple of picks to just one touchdown, but that could have been thanks to discomfort. He suffered an injury to his throwing hand early in the day and wore a glove to help pad the sore spot.

He switched the glove out several times throughout the game as it obviously kept bothering him. Still, he was able to do just enough and their improving defense did their part to keep them in first place in the NFC North.

Dec 8, 2016 Kansas City, MO, USA Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) reacts during a NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It’s funny how quickly a narrative can change. After leading a franchise back to prominence, a bad showing on Thursday Night Football trumps it all. Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr has led his team to ten wins on the season with just three losses.

Those three losses have now been at the hands of the Atlanta Falcons and the Kansas City Chiefs twice—both are winning teams. Carr went 17-of-41 passing in the second loss to their divisional rivals, the Chiefs, and now has his MVP credentials being questioned. Which is crazy because he is still leading a team without a good defense to the post season while putting up phenomenal numbers.

In 13 games, Carr has 3,492 yards with 24 touchdowns and just five interceptions. He still has not had a game with more than one interception thrown and twice has thrown four touchdown passes in a single game.

Oakland still has a shot to win the AFC West, but did relinquish control to the Chiefs this week. While that does hurt, they’re light years ahead of where many thought they should be this season and Carr is still an MVP-worthy quarterback in 2016.

With the Chargers, Colts and Broncos left on the schedule, they have a real shot at getting to 13 wins. They already have notched wins against the Broncos and Chargers this season and the Colts defense looks very inviting for this Raiders offense.

Dec 8, 2016 Kansas City, MO, USA Kansas City Chiefs strong safety Eric Berry (29) pursues the play during a NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs defeated the Raiders 21-13. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

No. 3 Kansas City Chiefs (4)

The Kansas City Chiefs are a scary football team. Their defense has been great all year, surrendering less than 20-points per game. Their specialty is getting after opposing quarterbacks.

While the numbers haven’t been there in terms of sacks, they do come at opposing quarterbacks with defensive Tamba Hali as well as linebackers Dee Ford and Justin Houston. Ford has already hit 10 sacks on the season in a breakout season.

His emergence has been huge since the team has been without Houston for all but four games this season. That fact is what makes them so scary. They’ve been holding teams to such a low scoring total while not even being at full strength.

With all three pass rushers playing, they can stop anyone. Detractors will point to their offense, which is in the bottom third of almost every single category. Yet, that seems like it has changed some.

A couple of weeks ago they went toe-to-toe with the Denver Broncos and pulled out an overtime comeback win. This past week they had a 21-point second quarter which led to their 10th win on the year. The biggest weapon they have is rookie receiver/return man Tyreek Hill.

The rookie was responsible for two of their touchdowns on the day, one as a receiver and one as a return man. His explosion makes them a serious threat come playoff time.

Dec 11, 2016 East Rutherford, NJ, USA Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) runs with the ball during warm ups before a game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Not too long ago the Dallas Cowboys offense looked absolutely unstoppable. Now they’re starting to struggle. Over the last couple of games they’ve managed just 24-points, including a mistake-riddled Sunday Night Football game in which they had just seven points.

After scoring early on a wide open touchdown pass to receiver Terrance Williams, they completely fell off the tracks. Quarterback Dak Prescott seemed shaken by the cold weather and the Giants defense made him look like a rookie for the first time since the opening day game in which New York also beat Dallas.

Now at 11-2 on the season, they fall out of first place in our NFL Power Rankings for the first time in a while. Also for the first time, it’s because of their offense they are being criticized instead of their defense.

Suddenly next week’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is huge for Dallas. They went from looking like they could lock up home field advantage, to worrying if they may lose the NFC East to the Giants if they drop a couple more games.

That could happen as they face the 9-4 Lions after their game against the 8-5 Bucs. They then finish off the season against NFC East foe Philadelphia, a team they had trouble with earlier in the season.

Dec 4, 2016 Foxborough, MA, USA New England Patriots wide receiver Chris Hogan (15) celebrates with quarterback Tom Brady (12) after catching a touchdown during the second quarter against the Los Angeles Rams at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

No. 1 New England Patriots (2) — Play Monday Night

The New England Patriots had a mini-bye last week as they played against the Los Angeles Rams, a team in disarray. Their 26-10 win seemed like a let down because of how much better New England is than L.A., but a win is a win.

Now they will host the 7-5 Baltimore Ravens on Monday Night Football. The Ravens were on fire last week as they stopped the Miami Dolphins win streak. Quarterback Joe Flacco threw all over the Dolphins defense, but the Pats are much better in that department. They also own a much more efficient offense.

Which they will need against the Ravens stout defensive groups. It all makes for a great game in the bright lights. The outcome matters less to New England though as they pretty much have the AFC East in hand with their record of 10-2.

It feels like forever ago that quarterback Tom Brady was suspended, Jimmy Garoppolo was injured and the team was worried about who would be under center should anything happen to their third-string rookie Jacoby Brissett. Now they’re running away with their division yet again and they are one of the favorites to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. Again.


Bengals at Browns: Highlights, score and recap

Andy Dalton threw two touchdown passes to help the Cincinnati Bengals beat the Cleveland Browns 23-10 at FirstEnergy Stadium in Week 14 and improve to 5-7-1. Cincinnati’s defense chipped in with three sacks and an interception as the Browns lost their 13th-straight and moved a step closer to 0-16 infamy.

Dalton and the Bengals got their offense rolling early against the Cleveland Browns. In fact, Dalton directed three-straight touchdown drives.

Two of those marches ended with Dalton hitting Tyler Eifert on scoring passes. The tight end reeled in 14- and five-yard touchdown grabs.

A one-yard plunge from running back Jeremy Hill was sandwiched in between Eifert’s scores. The Bengals built a 20-0 lead at the break thanks to their balanced attack.

Robert Griffin III helped the winless Browns show some fight in the third quarter. RG3 went over from a yard out before Cody Parkey kicked a field goal as Cleveland ran up10 points.

A 44-yard field goal from Mike Nugent helped the Bengals retake the initiative in the fourth quarter. Nugent made up for yet another missed PAT earlier with what proved to be the game’s final points.

Hill carried six times once the Bengals got the ball back to help Cincy kill the clock and ice the contest.

Three Stars

1. Tyler Eifter

The Bengals have needed pass-catchers to step up with premier wide receiver A.J. Green on the shelf. Eifert duly obliged this week, after snagging five passes for 48 yards, including a pair of touchdowns in the red zone.

Big No. 85 was clutch whenever Dalton needed a play. He worked over the middle of the Browns defense and made the most of his targets.

2. Jeremy Hill

When it comes to feeble run defenses, the Browns are about as soft as it gets. So it’s not surprising Hill was able to run wild this week.

The plodding, straight-ahead runner battered his way to 111 yards and a score on 25 carries. Most of those yards were gained between the tackles, as Hill routinely lowered his head and wisely targeted the vulnerable middle against Cleveland’s front seven.

Hill was also aided by strong blocking that not only made nose tackle Danny Shelton a non-factor, but also got hats on the Browns’ talented linebackers.

This is the level of production the Bengals have needed out of Hill all year, but rarely gotten.

3. Geno Atkins

He hasn’t really been himself for most of this season, but Geno Atkins turned the clock back in Week 14. Turned it back to a time when he was arguably the most dominant 3-technique pass-rusher in the NFL.

Atkins sacked Griffin twice and spent the game splitting double teams and causing havoc. The Bengals rely on this kind of pressure from their defensive front every week.

Atkins and Co. have been inconsistent, but this was more like it from Cincy’s monster in the middle.

Cleveland’s D actually boasts excellent linebackers in Jamie Collins, Demario Davis and Christian Kirksey. But nose tackle Danny Shelton and the line can’t keep these playmakers clean.

Next Week

The Bengals host another division rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers, in Week 15. It’s a road trip for the Browns against the Buffalo Bills.


Titans at Chargers: Highlights, score and recap

On Sunday, the Tennessee Titans will travel to San Diego to take on the Chargers, in what should be one of the better matchups of the week. San Diego is coming off a tough road loss to the Denver Broncos last week, as they just did not have enough to beat their divisional rival. Tennessee destroyed the Jacksonville Jaguars, dominating their fellow AFC South opponent on both sides of the ball.

The Chargers are one of the harder teams to predict in the NFL, as they have really be in every game they have played this season. Their biggest bugaboo has been letting games slip away in the end, which has resulted in them being in last place in the tough AFC West. Quarterback Philip Rivers continues to be one of the better signal-callers in the game, despite leading an offense that has been decimated with injuries

San Diego lost star wide receiver Keenan Allen to a torn ACL in Week 1, and they have a few banged up wideouts in this one as well. Tyrell Williams and Travis Benjamin are both listed as questionable, and stud rookie tight end Hunter Henry has been ruled out. It will be up to Melvin Gordon to shoulder the load if Williams and or Benjamin cannot go on Sunday.

Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota has been playing some of the best ball in the league as of late, and is fresh off a two touchdown game in which he completed over 80 percent of his passes. In fact, over the last four weeks, Mariota is completing nearly 70 percent of his passes, while throwing for ten touchdowns against one interception. He should be able to move the ball through the air against a suspect San Diego secondary.

Highlights

Highlights will be posted throughout the game

Three Stars Prediction

1. Marcus Mariota

Expect a big game out of Mariota, who has established himself as one of the best young quarterbacks in the league. He is playing incredible football lately, and has really done a nice job making things happen with a less than stellar receiving corps. Tight end Delanie Walker is out this week, but Mariota should be able to find other players to step up.

2. Melvin Gordon

The San Diego Chargers receivers are all banged up, which means it should be a heavy dose of Gordon on Sunday. Gordon has become a very reliable back for the Chargers, and has shaken off the bust label from a year ago. He has the full trust of Rivers and the coaching staff, and could reach the end zone a couple times against the Titans.

3.DeMarco Murray

One big reason for the development of Mariota in his second season has been the play of running back DeMarco Murray. Murray is showing the kind of workhorse ability that he did in his best season in Dallas, and it is causing defenses to respect the run. Expect a big day out of Murray tomorrow, as San Diego struggles to stop the run consistently.

The San Diego Chargers are favorites tomorrow, but this game could really go either way. The Bolts are listed as a four-point favorite against the Titans, and the over/under is set at 47. Expect a ton of points in this one.

Next Week

The Titans will head back home to host Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. The Chargers will stay at Qualcomm, as they take on Miami in another AFC matchup.


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