Was it just me, or were there more snooze-fest matchups than normal this weekend? There seemed to be an abundance of “who cares” during Week 15. Thank God for gambling, because some of those games were unwatchable.
Let’s get into it.
*All futures odds found at mybookie.ag
Pass: The San Diego-Los Angeles Super Chargers of Carson
After Stephen A. Smith broke Twitter last Thursday with his impeccable NFL insight, the Chargers went on to make a case for the AFC’s best team. I don’t know how they did it without Hunter Henry on the field, but they managed to take down a Thursday night road victory against the division leader. Things were looking bleak early on, but much like the Steelers’ game a couple of weeks ago, the Chargers got their shit together and flipped the switch late.
They have nutted up late in games this season, and they finally found a fucking kicker! Phillip Rivers is still throwing picks, some things never change-but the difference this year is they are finishing more crucial drives in the end zone. With injuries to Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler entering this one, the 3rd and 4th string running backs stepped up. Jackson and Newsome gave the Chargers offense a spark on the ground. Keenan Allen went down early on as well, but Mike Williams picked up the slack and had himself a night.
We can’t bury the lead here though. Anthony Lynn made the call to go for the win on the 2-point conversion with 0:04 left on the clock. If they get it, people praise the stones that it takes to make that call. If they miss it, those same people are shouting about how horrendous the decision was to not kick the extra point for the tie. Anthony Lynn, of all people, knows the extra point was not a given. There wasn’t a red jersey in sight as Mike Williams snagged the 2-point conversion and gave the Chargers a playoff berth.
Next Saturday against the Baltimore Ravens, the Chargers anticipate a return from Gordon, Ekeler, and Allen. With this defense finally at full force, bringing back these monsters on offense could really make this a scary team.
Chargers Futures odds: Super Bowl +750, AFC Champ +330
Fail: The Kicker from The Replacements Plays for Seattle
Sebastian Janikowski is the real-life kicker from the movie The Replacements, Nigel Gruff. During the first quarter of the Seahawks/Niners game, he missed an extra point on the team’s first TD of the day. Okay, shit happens. Even though kickers missing extra points is one of the most infuriating things to watch, we can give this dude a free pass from time to time. (Apparently only against the Niners this year.)
The real fun began on the ensuing kickoff. As the last line of defense, Janikowski decided that contact was no longer part of his job description. The 260 lb. kicker ducked out of bounds and gave one of the greatest “fuck this” efforts of all-time. I couldn’t tell if he was too drunk to make the tackle, or if he was just letting the grease balls in the stands know that he got the message to throw the game. Either way, Seabass won the “I Put Out My Cigarette for This?” award for the season.
Janikowski may have single handedly fucked over Seattle backers in Week 15, but with this NFC playoff picture shaping up the way it is, the Seahawks are still sitting in a decent spot moving forward.
Seahawks Futures odds: Super Bowl +3300, NFC Champ +1600
Pass: The Minnesota Vikings
First things first, shout out to Kevin Stefanski. This dude got the nod to take over offensive play calling when the Vikings shit-canned DeFilippo last week. As the new OC, it was obvious early in the game that Dalvin Cook was going to be big. When you put up 41 in your first game as OC, it’s going to turn some heads. The only blemish, on an otherwise flawless day, was the Kirk Cousins pick-6 in the first half. (Showing that he’s still Kirk Cousins.) This unit looked like the dominant offense we saw so often last season in that stadium.
The offense wasn’t the only unit that looked dominant though. The defense had a near perfect day too. The only knock was a 75-yard TD run to start the second half, but aside from that, Miami had very little to work with. Ryan Tannehill was sacked 9 fucking times. Minnesota looked like a completely different team than the one we saw six days prior in Seattle. If they can keep this up, they might be a dangerous team in that wide-open NFC playoff race. I’ll be taking a peak at their team total next week against Detroit.
Honorable mention of someone that passed the eye test goes to Kalen Ballage of the Dolphins. Even though Minnesota’s defense shoved it, Ballage came in for the injured Frank Gore and looked strong. His 75-yard Touchdown was the only bright spot for this offense. ‘Tis the season for guys low on the depth chart to show that they belong, and Ballage definitely helped his stock moving forward.
Vikings Futures odds: Super Bowl +3300, NFC Champ +1600
Fail: NFL Scheduling
I’ve already sold my soul to the NFL all day Sundays, Thursday nights, and Monday nights. If they want to buy my Saturdays too, they need to bring it harder than that. Houston at the Jets was just another confirmation that the Texans don’t deserve a playoff home game. And for the night cap, we got the pleasure of seeing all the Browns believers give the ol’ “I told you so.” Can we stop with these scenarios that the Browns make the playoffs? They aren’t a playoff team, quit reaching for story lines.
If that wasn’t enough, they graced us with two goddamn late games on Sunday afternoon. We get it, the NFL wants to pump up this tired Steelers vs Patriots rivalry before Brady and Rape-lisberger leave the league. But give us more than Seattle at San Francisco in the same time slot. I understand Pittsburgh and New England is a strong ratings draw, but if you cover up the names of these teams, it’s honestly a mediocre matchup.
If Week 15 taught us anything, it’s that we know nothing. The futures market has some interesting numbers available. I’m not sold on the top seeds on either side, so there may be some value with these deeper teams. Could we have another ’07 Giants type of season?
Here’s to everyone taking money from their bookie this weekend. Maybe spend some of that money on a top shelf bottle for Christmas Eve with the in-laws.