Patriots 27, Steelers 24— NFL needs to fix its catch rule; it lacks common sense, but lets be real- Steelers could’ve kicked a FG on the next play and gone to OT. They gambled on the last play and it blew up on them the same way it blew up on Seattle in their Super Bowl loss to NE.
Steelers converted 10-16 on 3rd down, outgained Patriots 413-360; they had 63 penalty yards, New England had 4 penalty yards. Four. This was the 3rd time in their last five games that New England had either one or two accepted penalties. Go figure.
Patriots are now 13-2 vs spread coming off their last fifteen losses.
Rams 42, Seahawks 7— Rams scored five TDs in this game, none on scoring drives longer than 47 yards; LA won field position by 24 yards, ran ball for 244 yards and totally dominated Seahawks’ offensive line. This was the Rams’ biggest game since 2003, and they came up huge.
Rams haven’t clinched anything yet, but they look to be headed to the #3 seed in NFC. As for the Seahawks, Pete Carroll has to get them ready to play in Dallas Sunday- they’ll need help to make the playoffs, but they ain’t dead yet. Carroll has a lot of coaching to do this week.
Jaguars 45, Texans 7— Jacksonville is in the playoffs for the first time in 10 years, outgaining Houston 464-186 in this game. Jaguars won seven of last eight games, are right now the #3 seed in AFC- they visit Chargers, Titans in last two games.
As for Houston, games like this get coaches fired, but O’Brien/Watson were a potent combo when the rookie QB was healthy. Will be interesting to see if Texans bring O’Brien back in 2018, seeing how they’re 1-7 in their last eight games.
Cowboys 20, Raiders 17— In what was basically an elimination game between storied franchises, Dallas survived, thanks to winning a 4th down measurement by a millimeter, and then when Oakland QB Carr fumbled trying to stretch the ball over the goal line in the last minute- the ball went into the end zone for a touchback.
Favorites are 13-0 SU this week (Chiefs/Rams closed as pick ‘em), 10-2-1 vs spread.
Eagles 34, Giants 29— Eli Manning passed for 434 yards, but Philly won for 11th time in last 12 games, with two short TD drives of 20-18 yards. Eagles clinch a first-round bye in the playoffs; they were outgained 504-331 here, but they won field position by 11 yards and Nick Foles won his first start this season- he is 21-16 as an NFL starter. Philly is now 9-2 in its last 11 games vs the Giants in the Garden State.
49ers 25, Titans 23— Niners won four of last five games after an 0-9 start; Garoppolo is first QB since Ben Roethlisberger to win his first five NFL starts. Titans-Bills-Ravens are in 3-way tie for the two AFC Wild Card slots- the last two weeks are going to be fun.
Titans close with Rams/Jaguars at home; Ravens close with Colts/Bengals, Buffalo plays New England and Miami. Six of last eight Tennessee games were decided by 5 or less points.
Next summer, 49ers will be a fashionable Cinderella pick in the NFC- the media loves John Lynch, the 49ers’ new GM. And now SF has its quarterback of the future.
Panthers 31, Packers 24— Broken collarbones take 12 weeks to heal, whether its Aaron Rodgers’ collarbone or your collarbone or mine. He came back in eight weeks, was 26-45/290, with 3 TD’s, 3 INTs. You throw three INTs, you usually lose.
Carolina has won six of its last seven games; they close with the Bucs/Falcons. With Green Bay pretty much out of it now, do they play Rodgers the last two games, or let his collarbone heal fully and let Brett Hundley play the last two games?
Speaking of the Panthers, 81-year old owner Jerry Richardson will sell the team after news got out that he has paid off a few Panthers’ employees after they were harassed by Richardson, who has had a heart transplant and is the only NFL owner who also played in the league.
Steph Curry tweeted that he is interested in buying into the Panthers.
Vikings 34, Bengals 7— Minnesota clinches the NFC North by clubbing a disinterested Bengals team that will have a new coach next season. Cincy was outscored 67-14 in their last two games.
It is easy to criticize Marvin Lewis because he never won a playoff game (0-7) in Cincinnati, but he is also 123-119-3 as coach of the Bengals. Cincinnati’s three coaches before Lewis combined to go 52-124 from 1992-2002.
Wonder what odds you could’ve gotten in August for Case Keenum as NFL’s MVP?
Bills 24, Dolphins 16— Tennessee’s loss to the 49ers is a big boost to Buffalo’s playoff chances; Bllls were +3 in turnovers here, allowed only one TD in Miami’s three red zone drives and now they are 8-6. Miami came to western New York on a short work week and now they’ve been outscored 144-54 in their last four road games.
Home teams are 7-1-1 vs spread in AFC East divisional games this season.
Buffalo might want to practice clock management; they led 24-6 in 4th quarter, but Miami had the ball with 0;35 left near midfield, down 24-16, in what would’ve been an epic choke by Buffalo, which was snapping the ball with 0:10-0:20 left on play clock with 7-8 minutes left in the 4th quarter. Need to milk that play clock for every second you can when you’re protecting a 4th quarter lead.
Saints 31, Jets 19— Saints/Carolina are tied atop NFC South, but Saints swept Carolina. so they control own destiny. New Orleans has rematch with the Falcons this week; they’ve won their last six home games. Jets lost seven of last nine games. Saints had 7 plays of 20+ yards; they have 41 in their last six games.
Redskins 20, Cardinals 15— Hard to win when you don’t score a touchdown; Arizona is only team this week not to score an offensive TD- they had ball in the red zone six times, kicked five FG’. Cardinals ran 80 plays to Washington’s 47, but only gained 286 yards, completing only 16-41 passes. Washington was out-rushed 497-192 in its last three games.
Ravens 27, Browns 10— Baltimore won four of last five games; they’re in 3-way tie for two AFC Wild Cards, but right now, they’re odd team odd. Good news is that they close with couple of lame duck coaches, playing Colts/Bengals to finish season out.
Baltimore had a 17-yard edge in field position, as Browns are now 1-29 the last two years- they are 3-11 vs spread this year. From sounds of things, USC’s coaches should be happy Cleveland is so terrible; USC QB Sam Darnold doesn’t want to play there, may stay in school another year.