Category Archives: Week 13, 2016 Season

Week 13 of the 2016 Season

Week 13 Recap: Washington Redskins @ Arizona Cardinals

NFL: Washington Redskins at Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals defeated the Redskins 31-23 from the fourth of December.

Final: Arizona 31, Washington 23

The Arizona Cardinals improve to 5-6-1 after Patrick Peterson intercepted an errant Kirk Cousins pass late in the game, downing the Redskins.  There was good quarterback play taking place in this game despite woeful performances by both injury-riddled offensive lines.  Here’s how it all played out.

The Redskins defense was victimized by two players on defense: Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson.  These two players have carried the Cardinals’ offense all season long and certainly continued that trend on Sunday.  Fitz now has 1,104 catches in his brilliant career and sits all alone behind Jerry Rice and Tony Gonzalez in third place on the all-time reception list.  Fitzgerald hauled in ten balls for 78 yards and made a couple of key conversions, including one late in the game that allowed the Cards to march down the field and score the go-ahead touchdown.  David Johnson was a man on fire yet again for Arizona as he recorded 100+ yards from scrimmage in his twelfth straight game.  He ended the afternoon with 27 touches for 175 yards and two touchdowns (one rushing, one receiving).  He was nearly uncoverable out of the backfield and did have opportunities to make a couple more grabs if the ball was delivered accurately.  This was a bit of a problem at times because the offensive line for Arizona continued to be an issue.  The interior was getting shoved backwards and the Redskins were getting pressure even on three step drops.  Luckily, Carson Palmer showed some of his best mechanics so far this season and was good with his feet, able to move out and make some decent throws.  Other tosses were inaccurate because he was not able to escape the pressure.  On the Cardinals’ final scoring drive of the game, Bruce Arians showed some guts by calling a run play on a fourth and one, inside of their own territory with less than four to play.  The call payed off with a 17 yard rush by David Johnson.  Later on, on a third down try, he let Carson Palmer take a shot for the end zone, and the veteran quarterback delivered the goods by dropping a perfect pass into the waiting arms of J.J. Nelson in the end zone for a 42 yard score.  The Cardinals were playing to win the game, and they were able to do just that.

Washington Redskins v Arizona Cardinals
Action from Sunday’s matchup between Arizona and Washington.

Conversely, the Washington offense held its own.  They were in a tough spot versus the league’s top defense on the road, and they did not look atrocious despite missing their best offensive player in Jordan Reed.  Kirk Cousins was great on the afternoon making quick reads and finding open men when he was afforded the time to pass.  This was the key, though, because there were a lot of occasions where he could not stand comfortably in the pocket and pick out his best option.  His best throw of the game came right at the beginning of the third quarter where he hooked up with DeSean Jackson on a 59 yard bomb.  This lead to a Rob Kelley score later on.  The 59 yarder was one of the rare times that Cousins had all day to throw.  The Redskins suffered injuries to their center John Sullivan and their right guard Spencer Long.  Arizona brought a ton of corner blitzes and spread the line out.  This allowed some men to run free on the interior and take shots on Cousins.  There was not much room for Washington to maneuver on the ground either as the Cardinals blitzed those looks as well.  It came down to the Redskins’ players beating their man coverage.  They did not do so on many occasions as the ball rarely went in the direction of Patrick Peterson who was all over DeSean Jackson for a majority of the game.  Jameson Crowder did not have a reception until the third quarter of play and without Jordan Reed to make plays in the middle of the field, Kirk Cousins was heavily reliant on quick hitches to the outside, which is not necessarily Washington’s game.

NFL: Washington Redskins at Arizona Cardinals
Kirk Cousins throwing the ball against Arizona from 12/4/16

This has already been touched upon quite a bit, but the Arizona defense was a huge reason why the team was able to keep their playoff hopes alive.  They were tremendous in man coverage when Kirk Cousins did have time to throw the ball and they were blitzing very frequently.  Deone Bucannon and Markus Golden shined as each made plays at the line of scrimmage all game long.  Golden recovered a fumble and ran it back deep inside of the Redskins’ territory late in the game that set up one go-ahead score.  Bucannon was excellent help in stuffing the run game and made some great open field tackles.  Tyvon Branch was a bit of a liability in coverage, and he was the guy who got beat deep by DeSean Jackson.  Otherwise, the secondary for Arizona was strong even without Tyrann Matheiu to help them out.  The Cardinals were just as aggressive without him and really got after a hobbled Washington offensive line.

The Redskins on defense found out what a lot of teams have already seen this season: the Arizona offense is run through the production of two guys, David Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald.  Fitzgerald had a lot of catches, but nothing terribly explosive.  The true challenge was with Johnson out of the backfield, something the Redskins have shown to struggle doing all season and that is covering running backs.  Their interior line was good and they held up well against the run.  Johnson himself did break some tackles and got on to the second level, but for the second straight week the Redskins’ held a potential #1 running back in the league to less than 100 yards rushing, which is not bad.  Washington did a great job at limiting explosive plays from the Cards until late in the game when J.J. Nelson grabbed his long touchdown.  Josh Norman was more of an impact player around the line of scrimmage as he was brought on CAT blitzes quite a few times and had a nose for stuffing the ball carriers.  He had a bad holding penalty later in the game that did extend an Arizona drive, however, and was not overly dominant in covering Larry Fitzgerald.  Bashaud Breeland actually had one of his better games in coverage for most of the game having primary assignments with Michael Floyd throughout.  He was beat on a touchdown pass, but Larry Fitzgerald drew him away from his primary receiver, so it is hard to blame him for that.

In the end, this turned out to be a signature win for the Cardinals.  They got back to their roots and were aggressive on both sides of the ball.  This was important for them since they are a squad whose identity is built on taking risks and this “W” is something that they can look back on for the rest of the year.  With this victory, they now jump above the Eagles and the Saints in the NFC Wild Card standings and now have a head to head win over the Redskins.  They will be heading on the road to the Dolphins next week trying to continue a late season renaissance.  The Redskins have a chance to bounce back with a struggling Eagle team next on their schedule.  That game will be on the road.

Larry Fitzgerald
Larry Fitzgerald is now third on the all-time receptions list with 1,104 following this weekend’s game.

The Skinny:

  • Arizona’s defense clamped down in the waning moments of the game when Patrick Peterson intercepted Kirk Cousins’ pass late with :41 to go, sealing a win for the Cardinals and keeping their season alive.
  • David Johnson had his twelfth straight game with over 100 yards from scrimmage while Larry Fitzgerald moved into third place all time with 1,104 receptions.  Arizona’s offense continues to run through these two players almost exclusively.
  • Carson Palmer had his best game since Week 2 versus Tampa Bay, throwing for 300 yards and three touchdowns without an interception.  He did all of this despite another poor performance from his offensive line and showed his best mobility of the season.
  • Washington’s offensive line suffered a couple of big injuries to the center and guard position and the Cardinals exploited that with blitzes.  Kirk Cousins was under pressure all game and was off the mark with a lot of his throws.
  • Until J.J. Nelson’s 42 yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, the Washington secondary did hold up well due to the amount of pressure they were able to get on Carson Palmer.  The Redskin “D” did not hold when it counted most as they gave up that bomb late in the fourth quarter and allowed a fourth down conversion earlier on the drive.
  • The middle of the field was not as prosperous for the Redskins without Jordan Reed in the game.  Outside throws were contested by the Arizona corners and Kirk Cousins did not have much of a running game to work with.  The Washington offense was handicapped and exposed by a good defense.

2016 Season: Week 13 Preview

It is already December as the 2016 season hits its final leg which means that Week 13 is going to post a lot of do or die games.  Teams like Los Angeles, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Green Bay, Buffalo, San Diego, and Carolina face must-win situations because a loss would likely sink their entire campaign.  Who will be the winners of the fifteen contests this weekend?  Find out below!snow-field

Last Week: 11-5

Season: 95-82

Thursday, December 1st, 8:25 e.t.

Dallas Cowboys (10-1) @ Minnesota Vikings (6-5)

The thirteenth week of the season gets kicked off with a dandy of a game.  Dallas takes its ten game winning streak on the road to a tough place in Minnesota against a desperate Viking team scratching and clawing to get into the big dance.  Normally I would take the team most needing of a win at home on a Thursday night, but both teams will have had a full week to rest up for this game so that edge goes out the window.  I really have a hard time picking against the Cowboys in this situation because of what they can do on offense and what the Vikings can’t do: protect their quarterback and run the ball.  I think that the ‘Boys will take the win on the road and keep rolling on Thursday.

Dallas 27, Minnesota 16

Sunday, December 4th, 1:00 e.t.

Denver Broncos (7-4) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9)

Denver is coming off of a heartbreaking loss in overtime against the Chiefs that came after their defense coughed away an eight point lead at the end of regulation.  Now, if you can believe this, they find themselves on the outside of the playoff bubble with the #7 seed.  It’s not like they are in horrible shape, but a road loss to the Jags would really clip their wings.  I can’t see this happening given Jacksonville’s struggles to throw the ball.  The Broncos should get back on track with a nice road win.

Denver 23, Jacksonville 10

Philadelphia Eagles (5-6) @ Cincinnati Bengals (3-7-1)

The Bengals played Baltimore tough on the road a week ago, but in the end it was clear that their injury riddled team just didn’t have enough talent to stand up to a rugged Raven defense.  This week the team draws a desperate Philadelphia team whose defense was pretty close to embarrassed by a surgical Aaron Rodgers on Monday night.  Look for the Iggles to play with a chip on their shoulder here.  Carson Wentz could have a nice day against a poor Cincinnati secondary.

Philadelphia 25, Cincinnati 13

San Francisco 49ers (1-10) @ Chicago Bears (2-9)

This is a hard game to call because both teams are bad, but each did look somewhat competent a week ago, albeit in losses.  I was going to lean towards the Bears at home, but it is going to be hard for them to stop San Fran’s running game.  Then again, the Niners have been more than bad at stuffing the rush themselves.  It will come down to quarterback play in what looks to be inclement weather.  I think I like Colin Kaepernick over Matt Barkley, even though Barkley had his moments a week ago.

San Francisco 17, Chicago 15

Miami Dolphins (7-4) @ Baltimore Ravens (6-5)

The Dolphins, after looking like the worst team in football after September, have ripped off six straight wins and are among the hottest teams in the league currently.  Sunday they will hit the road to Baltimore and face a very stingy Raven defense.  I like this unit to slow down Jay Ajayi and put pressure on Ryan Tannehill, who I am still not sold on.  Almost losing at home to San Francisco is not a good look for the ‘Phins and I can see their offense being frustrated on the road in Baltimore.

Power Pick of the Week: Baltimore 20, Miami 13

Kansas City Chiefs (8-3) @ Atlanta Falcons (7-4)

One of the best games of the week will go down in Atlanta and we see the gritty Chiefs taking on the high flying Falcons.  On Sunday night, the Kansas City defense was lights out in the first half when their pass rush was creating havoc, but as soon as it slowed Trevor Seimian shredded them.  Atlanta has a better offensive line than does Denver and a better QB to boot.  The Falcons should not have much trouble winning this game at home against a Chief team that may be a little lucky to be sitting at 8-3 right now.

Atlanta 34, Kansas City 28

Detroit Lions (7-4) @ New Orleans Saints (5-6)

This has potential to be the most exciting game of the week because it pits two teams that are always playing close, nail-biting contests.  It also features two poor pass defenses and two good gunslingers.  Points should flood the scoreboard on Sunday but I predict more on the side of the home team.  The Saints have played much better on “D” lately and the Lions have problems stopping people with their passing defense.  Drew Brees could throw for 375+ yards at home.

New Orleans 39, Detroit 35

Los Angeles (4-7) @ New England Patriots (9-2)

Jared Goff got off to a fast start on the road in New Orleans but was shut out in the second half against that middling (at best) defense.  The Patriots are in the same boat as their weakness this season has been their pass “D”, but I think they will be fine in this contest.  I could just copy and paste my synopsis from last week’s Saints/Rams game here because I think this game will go the same way.  I don’t see Goff being able to hang points with Tom Brady on the road.

New England 42, Los Angeles 28

Houston Texans (6-5) @ Green Bay Packers (5-6)

The Packers saved their season with a dominant win on the road over Philadelphia in a game where Aaron Rodgers looked like the Rodgers we have all come to know.  Heading home to host a dumpster fire of an offense in Houston should net good results for the Pack.  If Houston doesn’t pressure #12, they will get picked apart.  I like Green Bay to begin a small roll here.

Green Bay 37, Houston 20

Sunday, December 4th, 4:05 e.t.

Buffalo Bills (6-5) @ Oakland Raiders (9-2)

Okay, so I think that the Raiders have a very good team, but for whatever reason I continue to pick against them every week, and I keep getting burnt.  I was going to pick the Billikens to take a road win in an upset this week, but I think that Derek Carr (injured finger and all) could have a nice day against a very thin secondary.  The Oakland run defense is also stiffening up and that is the lifeblood of Buffalo’s game.  I might change my mind on this one, but for now I am going with the Raiders to get to 10-2.  Crazy, right?

Oakland 26, Buffalo 24

Sunday, December 4th, 4:25 e.t.

Washington Redskins (6-4-1) @ Arizona Cardinals (4-6-1)

Can I just say that I hate ties?  Just wanted to throw that out there.  Both of these teams have been caught up in those dreaded deadlocks and I just thought it was necessary to point out my hatred for them.  Now that we got that out of the way… the Redskins were in the game versus Dallas on the road on Thanksgiving.  A lot of people would pick them to blast the Cards who have not been the same team on offense, but I am smarter than that.  I think that the Arizona secondary can give Kirk Cousins headaches with blitzes and I see their offense waking up a bit against a, at times, challenged Washington defense.  I’ll take the Cardinals at home.

Arizona 30, Washington 23

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-5) @ San Diego Chargers (5-6)

The Buccaneers are coming off of back-to-back upset wins on the road over Kansas City and at home over Seattle.  Their defense has been one of the biggest factors to that as they held both of those teams to a combined 20 points on offense.  Keeping the third highest scoring team at bay could be a struggle on the road though as Philip Rivers knows how to throw up points.  I think you will see a well played game on both sides, but I will give an underrated defense in San Diego the benefit of the doubt on this one.  They will be the difference here.

San Diego 30, Tampa Bay 27

New York Giants (8-3) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5)

The Giants have won five straight games, but they haven’t been facing the most quality of opponents over that stretch, and that will change on Sunday when they head to Pittsburgh to take on a Steeler team primed to make a run at the playoffs.  This looks like it will be a nice springboard game for Mike Tomlin and company to start building some steam down the stretch.  The way the Giants’ offense has looked lately has me wondering if they will even crack the 20 point barrier in this game.  I think the Steelers will have no problem doing that at home.

Pittsburgh 36, New York 17

Sunday, December 4th, 8:30 e.t.

Carolina Panthers (4-7) @ Seattle Seahawks (7-3-1)

If only this game were being played in Carolina, then it may have been more interesting.  Alas, it will be taking place in the Emerald City.  The Seahawks are the only team in the league that has not lost a home game this year and that will not change with Carolina coming to town.  It is very hard to beat Seattle two straight weeks as they have the most complete team in the league in my opinion.  With the Panthers’ problems running the ball, I just can’t see them pulling off a major upset on the road.

Seattle 34, Carolina 17

Monday, December 5th, 8:30 e.t.

Indianapolis Colts (5-6) @ New York Jets (3-8)

The Jets played the Patriots close last week, but I was not very surprised by that since they usually do.  This week should be a much different tale with Andrew Luck looking like he is ready to come back and play.  The Colts will have had a full ten days rest after dropping hard at home on Thanksgiving to the Steelers.  I like that to fuel them to a nice win.  Luck should not have any issues picking on what has turned out to be a very weak New York secondary.

Indianapolis 33, New York 16

Week 13 Bonus Predictions

Sure Bet of the Week (9-2): Pittsburgh over New York

Upset of the Week: San Francisco over Chicago

Offensive Player of the Week: Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks

Defensive Player of the Week: Khalil Mack, LB, Raiders

Rookie of the Week: Jordan Howard, RB, Bears

Best Quarterback: Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers

Best Running Back: David Johnson, RB, Cardinals