Tag Archives: week 15

Week 15: Oakland Raiders 15 Kansas City Chiefs 0- The Post Game Breakdown

The Oakland Raiders win their final home game of the year in a shutout of the Kansas City Chiefs.  The Chiefs managed only 17 yards of offense in the entire first half, they were out-gained  in terms of first downs, 12-0, and it wasn’t until 5:37 in the 3rd quarter when they moved the chains for the first time.  The biggest disappointment for Kansas City was the fact that they could not run the ball.  They managed only 10 yards rushing and did not look good during any facet of the game.  Well, scratch that.  Dustin Colquit had a nice game punting the ball.  He averaged 51.9 yards/punt and boomed a 71 yarder… that’s about all the Chiefs fans can feel good about.

For Oakland, they had a nice game on offense (in terms of moving the ball).  They racked up 385 yards and 21 first downs while holding the ball for 40:06.  That is the epitome of playing keep-away in the NFL.  Unfortunately, a score of 15 points usually means that there were a ton of field goals kicked.  Case in point; Sebastian Janikowski had a very busy right foot on the day.  He kicked through five field goals and missed another totaling six on the afternoon.  This is very problematic.  The Raiders inability to punch the ball into the end zone is something that has haunted them all season long.  One area of concentration for this team as they close out this season is to find a way to be more efficient when it comes to the red zone.  They need to be scoring touchdowns, not field goals.  Oakland could have buried the Chiefs 30-0 if they had converted a couple of drives into seven points instead of three.  The game was really not all that close, but the score would indicate that it was.  The Raiders are lucky they were playing Kansas City this week, and not some other team.

The Chiefs simply do not execute on offense.  They could not run the ball, they were dropping passes, and making dumb mistakes (i.e. Ryan Lilja not snapping the ball on a fourth down and goal situation and causing the team a delay of game penalty).  Granted, Dwayne Bowe was unable to play in this one, but somebody else has got to step up for this guy.  One area of focus for Kansas City is to find another wide receiver, along with a quarterback during this off-season.  Last year they thought that Johnathan Baldwin was going to be the guy, but he just has not grown into the player that they thought he would be quite yet.  They simply do not have a big, play-making wide-out to complement Bowe in the passing game.

All and all, the story of this game was the running game for the Oakland Raiders.  They have struggled so many times this season with regards to this and it was a welcome breath of fresh air to see it gel in this contest.  Mike Goodson did a great job spelling McFadden as he also ran for almost 100 yards.  The Raiders are better than the Chiefs; but just about every single team in the NFL is.  At the end of the day, Oakland fans can feel good about being able to run the ball, or bad about not converting on scoring opportunities.  Either way, there is something that can be taken out of this game despite the lack of action within it.

Advertisements

Week 15: Minnesota Vikings 36 St Louis Rams 22- The Post Game Breakdown

Adrian Peterson strengthens his case for both the Most Valuable Player and Comeback Player of the Year honors with another jaw-dropping performance in the Show Me State on Sunday.  This beast ran for 212 yards and one touchdown as the Vikings keep their playoff hopes alive with a crucial win.  Their defense played pretty well and the offensive unit was able to piece together one of its best games of the season.  Bill Musgrave had it working with an excellent balance of run and pass plays, along with some great play designs and unpredictability.  Christian Ponder was solid, hitting on 17/24 pass attempts for 131 yards.  Sam Bradford tried to match Peterson’s monster game with a career high 377 yards through the air (with three touchdowns).  Steven Jackson became just the 27th player in NFL history to eclipse the 10,000 yard-rushing mark with his 73 on the ground.  St Louis did not roll over after trailing 30-7 at halftime, but the Vikings proved to be too much at the end of the day with a two score win.

Besides Adrian Peterson, the best thing the Vikings had going for them in this game was their pass-rush.  They were able to wrestle Bradford to the ground four times and got in his face with great consistency.  Sam hardly got a chance to scan the field and was hurried into some inaccurate passes.  Everson Griffen had a huge game, contributing to the Vikings season-high 36 points with a pick-six in the fourth quarter.  Blair Walsh was amazing in this one, hitting on all five of his field goal attempts; three of them from over 50 yards.  This game is the very definition of a team effort for the Vikings; they played great during all three phases in this one and were very deserving of a win.

Much is to be said about the Rams’ comeback attempt in this one.  They trailed by as many as 26 points in the third quarter and came pretty darn close to forcing the Minnesota sideline to sweat a little bit.  They brought it inside the red-zone with less than 80 seconds left, but then failed to convert on fourth down, which ended the game for St Louis.  It was very admirable to see the Rams fight until the bitter end for Jeff Fisher.  It can be very deflating to let an opposing running-back run for over 200 yards while trailing by three scores.  However, Bradford showed some courage and made some nice throws down the stretch while bringing his team to within striking distance.  At one point, the game was 33-22.  That is a deficit that could easily be comeback from.  So, hats off to Rams offense for not quitting and making a game out of something that looked to be a blowout at halftime.  This shows that the team has a lot of character and heart, which will bode well for them as the team goes forward into next season.

The Minnesota Vikings do have it stacked against them in their final two games of the year (at Houston and vs. Green Bay), but they have themselves in a position where they can make the playoffs if they win out.  Since the Bears dropped to 8-6, the Vikings are now tied with them.  Minnesota does hold the tie-breakers as well (with a better division record).  If they are able to squeak into the playoffs, then they will have earned it.  All any Vikings fan can hope for is to see their team play with heart, poise, and a little bit of swagger.  They showed all of the above in this game and are looking like a team on the raise as the season nears its conclusion.

Week 15: Cincinnati Bengals 34 Philadelphia Eagles 13- The Post Game Breakdown

The Cincinnati Bengals lucked out big time this week.  Why?  Well for starters, it is not too often that a team can turn the ball over twice, commit 11 penalties for almost 100 yards, and surrender six sacks and still win the game by 21 points.  None of the Bengals numbers were pretty the other night (except for BenJarvus Green-Ellis and AJ Green).  As an offense they could only muster 249 yards and there were a lot of dropped passes.  As Brad Nessler and Mike Mayock were quick to point out, Dalton was playing super-conservative with the football and he failed to hook up with any wide receiver besides AJ Green.  The Bengals’ QB only threw for 127 yards and was completing less than 50% of his passes.  These numbers simply do not add up… until discovering that the Eagles turned the ball over five times.

Let’s first start off with the positives for Philly: their offensive line seemed to return to 2011 form with the constant pressure they were able to get on Andy Dalton.  Brandon Graham had a monster game with 2.5 sacks, plus a forced fumble.  Trent Cole was playing possessed and seemed unblock-able at times.  The corners Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie held their ground (especially Asomugha, who did not let up a reception outside of the numbers).  Lastly, the Eagles offensive line played surprisingly well.  Nick Foles was sacked only once and he had a clean pocket for a majority of the game.  Part of this was due to good offensive game-planning by Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg; implementing a lot of screens and quick passes.  That was the positive, now on to the one negative: TURNOVERS!!!  This is the most frustrating thing for Eagles fans and players because it is nothing that can be helped by acquisitions during the off-season.  The talent is definitely on this team; the ball security is not.  There was a stretch in this game where the Eagles had turned the ball over four times in five plays.  That is almost unthinkable.  There is no way a team can win a game if they turn the ball over like that.  This contest should not have been a blowout because the Eagles’ defense was playing very well.  But at the end of the day, the turnover margin killed the Eagles again.  It is hard to single one player out because not one guy turned the ball over more than once.  This one turned into a laugher when it should have been a very close game ’til the end.

Cincinnati is able to keep its playoff dreams alive with a win in Philly.  Now the team will turn from despising the Cowboys to rooting for them this Sunday.  If they can beat the Steelers, then things will look a little bit better for the Bengals.  They also luck out in the sense that they basically get a little BYE before playing their most important game of the year (in the Steel City).  A win next week would almost guarantee the Bengals a playoff spot.  So, the Bengals luck out this week.  It is not too often that you draw an opponent that hands you a football game.  That is what the Eagles did, and the rough season continues for Philadelphia.

Week 15 Diagnosis: Preview and Final Score Predictions for all 16 Games

Cincinnati Bengals @ Philadelphia Eagles

In the season finale of Thursday Night Football, the Bengals find themselves in a must-win game against the Eagles.  Before last week’s games went final, nobody would have thought that Philly had a fighting chance in this game.  Cincinnati leads the NFL in sacks and the scotch-tape offensive line of the Eagles has been one of their major weaknesses this season.  Also, practically their entire offense is injured; that normally spells trouble.  The Eagles had lost eight straight games and were on the verge of dropping their ninth when Nick Foles pulled off a beautiful 2 minute drill and lead his team back from a two score deficit to win on the final play.  At about the same time, the Bengals relinquished their two-score lead to the Cowboys and lost the game courtesy of a Dallas field goal, also on the final play.  Before this game, Cincy was looking like it was ready to go on a run and they were playing really well.  Their momentum was crushed with last Sunday’s loss.  Even so, they can get back on the train if they are able to pick up a win in Philly on Thursday.  This will be easier said than done.  As an interesting little nugget, the Eagles have not dropped a game during Week 15 since 2001.  Philadelphia does not frequently lose home games in December either.  Therefore, the Bengals will have their work cut out for them.  This time when these two teams meet, it will probably not end up in a tie like it did in 2008.  It is likely that the Eagles add another win to their record given their impressive late-season statistics and the fact that Cincy has to travel on a short week to a hostile environment.  This one should be close throughout, but the Bengals will come up on the short end of the stick.

Philadelphia 24, Cincinnati 21

 

New York Giants @ Atlanta Falcons

This is a game between two teams that seem to have their eyes on the NFC Championship this season.  It is also a rematch of the Wild Card game from last season, however this time around it will be played in the dome.  Matty Ice does not lose in the dome.  The Falcons are a perfect 6-0 at home this season and have beaten some decent teams at home.  This probably does not phase New York since they have developed the reputation for being road warriors.  Unfortunately for the G-Men, they will not be able to rely on starting in Atlanta territory on 75% of their drives like they did last week against the Saints.  Matt Ryan can be lights out at home as well.  With this porous Giants’ secondary, this could spell trouble.  Look for the Falcons to go to the air to pick up big chunks of yardage en route to a solid win at home.  Besides, the Giants usually have a typical December setback.  This could be that game.

Atlanta 28, New York 20

 

Denver Broncos @ Baltimore Ravens

With Jim Caldwell becoming the new defensive coordinator, the Ravens could be willing to run the ball a lot more with their talented backfield duo.  Yards have been hard to come by through the air against this Broncos’ defense as of late.  Quarterbacks are completing a very low percentage of deep balls against them, and Joe Flacco loves to go deep.  Plus, the Ravens entire defense is banged up.  It is tough enough to play Peyton Manning with a fully healthy defense; it is an entirely new obstacle to overcome when you don’t have a bunch of your key players.  The Broncos present a ton of match-up problems as well on offense.  The only way the Ravens have a chance in this one is if they can successfully trade points with the Broncos.  This will not happen and the Ravens will drop their third straight.

Denver 38, Baltimore 24

 

Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears

If the Bears don’t come out motivated to earn a win in this one, then they will never do so at all this season.  A Green Bay win would lead to a lockup of the division in their favor.  A Chicago win won’t lead to a division championship right away, but it could after the outcomes of games during Week 16 and 17.  If nothing else, a win at home versus the Pack will almost guarantee the Bears a Wild Card spot.  Jay Cutler should be good to go in this one, so that will not be a problem.  What will be is the Chicago run defense.  Lately, teams have been able to scamper for nice handfuls of yardage against this unit.  Why is this so important for the Packers?  Well, since their win against Minnesota, Green Bay seems to have found a running attack.  This bodes very well for the Green and Gold; it helped them out quite a bit during their 2010 run at the Super Bowl.  The Packers should try to exploit this weakness and stick to the ground and run between the tackles.  Running outside against the Bears may not be a good idea with Charles Tillman waiting to punch the ball out.  The key to this game will be each team’s offensive line play.  Each has allowed a bunch of sacks to their quarterbacks this season.  With the return of Clay Mathews, the advantage of a pass rush would have to go to the Pack.  Cutler may have a tough day if he is able to live in the backfield.  Anyways, the Packers should win this one and their second straight division title simply because they seem to be becoming more balanced with regards to their play calling.  Their defense has also been stepping it up lately and if they can contain Brandon Marshall like they did Calvin Johnson last week, this game could become elementary.

Green Bay 23, Chicago 16

 

Washington Redskins @ Cleveland Browns

One way or another, this game will become a battle of rookie quarterbacks (with the Redskins offering up either RGIII or Kirk Cousins to face the Browns’ Brandon Weeden) and running backs (Alfred Morris vs. Trent Richardson).  Believe it or not, Cleveland is riding a three game winning streak while the Redskins boast four straight wins.  The ‘Skins have looked good on offense throughout this entire year with RGIII.  If he is a scratch, this game could become an issue for Washington.  They do need this game badly because if they triumph here, they can close out the season against Philadelphia and Dallas.  Wins in both of those games plus this one could be enough to land them in the playoffs.  No matter who the Redskins send out at QB, they will be leaning heavily on their rushing attack.  The Browns will be able to attack through the air against this 31st ranked pass defense.  Expect them to do so as they try to build up some momentum for next year.  With the anticipation that this game will come down to a defensive battle, it is only fitting to select the team that can play better defense.  As of right now this is the Browns (and as a bonus this game will be played in Cleveland).  Pat Shurmur’s team should pull this one off on the strength of a boatload of Phil Dawson field goals.

Cleveland 22, Washington 14

 

Indianapolis Colts @ Houston Texans

This is the first time of many that Andrew Luck will get a crack at the Houston Texans in his career.  Houston is coming off of a disappointing and disturbing loss to New England in Foxboro.  They may return home mad at themselves and ready to pound the living daylights out of someone, or they could come in and play rather lethargically as if the air was just let out of their balloon.  The Colts have something to prove as well; they want to show that they can compete with the big-boys of the division and that they are worthy of playoff competition this year.  A Houston win will solidify their spot atop the AFC South perch and an Indy win could make things a little interesting down the stretch.  The Texans should come out firing after being held to a meager 14 points on Monday night.  Luck can keep up if this game turns into a track meet, but it is only appropriate to go with a veteran (in Schaub) over a mistake-prone rookie in these types of games.  Each defense is struggling, so it will be up to the offenses to even the odds.  At this point, the Texans hold a slight edge in that category given their ability to run and throw the ball.  Houston should bounce back and lock up their division in the process.

Houston 30, Indianapolis 28

 

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Miami Dolphins

The Chad Henne bowl will be on display in Miami this weekend.  He will be gazing at a shadow of himself in Ryan Tannehill.  Miami is pretty much dead in the water given their recent loss to San Francisco.  Jacksonville has been dead for a long time now… so there will not be much to play for in this game.  With this in mind, it will be the Jaguars who manage to swallow their pride and take the road loss.  Henne has not looked as explosive as he was ever since the Jags last win vs. Tennessee.  This will lead to a get-well game for Miami’s defense.

Miami 17, Jacksonville 7

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New Orleans Saints

Two weeks ago these two teams seemed to be in serious playoff contention.  Now in Week 15, each seems to be left on the porch with losing records.  Both are coming off of equally disappointing losses to NFC East squads and will be looking to vent their frustration on one another.  There is almost no reason to not expect this game to turn into a shootout.  Two of the worst pass defenses in the league will be on display and each quarterback will be looking for some vengeance after not playing at the top of their games last weekend.  Running against the Bucs defense is becoming impossible to do, so the Saints will have to rely on Drew Brees to carry the team… again.  This usually does not bode well for New Orleans.  Also, these two have split the season series for four consecutive years.  Since the Saints have already won, look for Tampa Bay to pick up their seventh win of the year here and continue to add to the misery that has turned out to be the 2012 New Orleans Saints.

Tampa Bay 43, New Orleans 30

 

Minnesota Vikings @ St Louis Rams

The psychic who predicted that this game would turn out to be very important for a reason other than the determination of who gets the first round draft pick next season should win a gold medal.  Essentially, this will become a playoff game since the loser will find themselves on their couches during the real postseason.  This one is also rather difficult to predict as well.  The Rams do a good job at shutting down what other teams do best.  In this case, it will require them stopping A.P.  The Vikings generally do a nice job at preventing big plays and pass coverage.  Since the Rams do not present the big issue of an explosive offense, the Vikes can rest easy.  The reason why this game is going to go to Minnesota is because of number #28 in the backfield.  This beast is chasing history and will inch even closer to a 2,000 yard season with another 100+ yard performance in St Louis.  The Rams do not play their best ball all the time when it comes to opponents outside of the NFC West either.

Minnesota 27, St Louis 20

 

Detroit Lions @ Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals do not have an offense.  It does not matter what their defense is able to do, their offense will not be able to help them in any way.  After turning it over eight times and losing 58-0 in Seattle last week, it is easy to understand why the Lions should run away with this one.  The fact that they are playing in Arizona helps, but it will not lead to the Cards snapping their nine-game losing streak.

Detroit 38, Arizona 3

 

Seattle Seahawks @ Buffalo Bills

After their rout of Arizona last week, one has to wonder if this Seattle team has what it takes to actually make a run at a Super Bowl.  They have a great defense, a solid rushing attack, and a rookie quarterback who just gets it.  There is not much else that a team needs to have success in this league.  The one problem with Seattle is the fact that they do struggle on the road from time to time.  Will this be a game where that happens?  Probably not, but it would not be surprising.  The biggest story of this game will be the fact that Marshawn Lynch is returning to Buffalo for the first time since they cut ties with him in 2009.  He should get the ball in his belly at least 20 times and run like a monster as he looks to place a guilt-trip on the Bills.  Russell Wilson will not have to do much in this one, his surrounding cast will handle the deed for him.

Seattle 23, Buffalo 10

 

Carolina Panthers @ San Diego Chargers

It is crazy to think that each of these teams are coming off of wins versus Pittsburgh and Atlanta respectively, but this is true.  It is also a proven fact that if Carolina and San Diego do not turn the ball over, their teams win games.  Cam Newton is looking more and more like himself over the last few games and he has not turned it over since the Panthers lost to Tampa Bay.  Philip Rivers may have discovered gold in wide-out Danario Alexander.  The two of them hooked up for a couple of scores against Pittsburgh last week.  Cam Newton and Greg Olsen are developing the same kind of rapport on their side of the ball as well.  In addition, both of these defenses can play well at times.  Overall, we are looking at two teams that have the ability to shock a tough opponent on any given Sunday.  With this in mind, there will be no shock with whoever picks up this win.  The Panthers will win this one though because it is more likely that Philip Rivers will make an extra turnover rather than Newton who (as mentioned above) is playing safe with the ball as of late.  Panthers win… barely.

Carolina 17, San Diego 16

 

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys are like an old car battery: they do work well at times but could self-destruct at any given moment.  Plus most people are counting on them to die out eventually.  Throughout the years this would have been an appropriate metaphor, but this season is looking a little different since Dallas has not lost in December yet.  Tony Romo is having a great year and is just piling up the yardage (much like a car with this old battery).  The one downside to the Cowboys’ game is the fact that the team cannot run the ball.  Things do not look to get any easier against the Steelers this week.  Pittsburgh will be playing with some possible added motivation; if the Ravens lose to Denver, then the Black and Yellow would have an opportunity to pull even with them in a win in Big-D.  Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr have been struggling recently and will have their hands full with a bunch of wide receivers that love to stretch the field.  The Cowboys have been beat deep more than a couple of times this season as well.  Pittsburgh may head outside of its game a little bit if they decide to attack deep throughout this one.  Their defense should be able to shut down a Dallas WR corp that will be without Dez Bryant in this one.  There is just too much to like about the Steelers in this matchup.  Their strengths will take full advantage of the Cowboys’ weaknesses and help them win this game.

Pittsburgh 20, Dallas 10

 

Kansas City Chiefs @ Oakland Raiders

Which team is worse?  That is the real logic behind this pick.  It is very tempting to pick the Chiefs since they have been playing better as of late.  Jamaal Charles could gash the Raiders for a couple of long scores as well.  However, that 30-7 loss they suffered at the feet of the Cleveland Browns really makes it hard to roll with Kansas City in this situation.  Oakland was able to hang around in their game against Denver last week as well, so they probably have more of a fighting chance than do the Chiefs.  The Raiders should triumph here simply because Kansas City does not provide any reason for people to believe they can win.  At least Oakland hung tough against Denver…

Oakland 20, Kansas City 12

 

San Francisco 49ers @ New England Patriots

If Giants @ Falcons, Packers @ Bears, Colts @ Texans, or Steelers @ Cowboys were not enough to quench a football fan’s thirst for this week, then this game certainly will.  It pits two teams that are arguably the very best in their individual conferences, a great offense versus a great defense, and a surefire hall of famer in Tom Brady squaring off against the up and coming Colin Kaepernick.  This also might be the second consecutive Sunday Night snow game.  What is missing from this game that a normal football fan would want?  Anyways, outside of how good the matchup is, there are specific things that do single out a winner.  For instance, the Patriots simply do not lose in the second half of the season.  They also do not lose at home… ever.  Their one loss over the past two seasons came in Week 2 vs. Arizona this year (which, to this day, is a head-scratcher).  Tom Brady loves playing teams that decide to use man coverage and blitz, which is partially why New England dominated last week against Houston.  San Francisco will present a new challenge entirely.  They can get consistent pressure on a quarterback without blitzing and can play coverage with the best receivers.  The 49ers were built to beat teams like New England.  An effective running game will be much desired as well if the conditions take a turn for the worst.  This would heavily favor the 49ers, who specialize in counters and sweeps.  The Pats defense is fast, but it may not be fast enough to stop the San Fran RBs if they are able to gain the edge.  Colin Kaepernick will prove to be a game-breaker as well.  Brandon Spike, Jerod Mayo, and Dont’a Hightower will be sprinting their tails off all game trying to spy and tackle this man.  Eventually they will wear down and quite frankly, the Patriots don’t have any shutdown cornerbacks as of right now.  The 49ers present the biggest challenge New England will face all year.  For Week 15, San Francisco will seem as though they are the best team in the NFL with a win.

San Francisco 26, New England 24

 

New York Jets @ Tennessee Titans

Somehow, some way, the Jets are still alive in the playoff race.  They have proven that they can win games this season, but that only happens if they form a good ground attack.  If the Jets fall behind then they may be in trouble since they will have to pass the ball (which has been a disaster for them so far this season).  Tennessee gets a home game on a Monday night; this will cause the fans to be very rowdy and they will make things difficult on Mark Sanchez.  Through all of this, it seems reasonable to say that the Jets find some way to win this game.  It may take a return TD, or a miraculous Sanchez comeback, but it is going to happen.  Say what you want about Rex Ryan and his job as a coach.  At least he has his team in a position to make a prayer about the playoffs.  His team will salvage the moment and squeak by Tennessee (who may have some questions at quarterback after this season expires).

New York 16, Tennessee 13

 

Last week was a very busy week for me.  I did not get the chance to post reviews of each game.  I will make sure to get back on that for Week 15 starting on Friday.  Be sure to check back!