Aaron Rodgers returned early from a broken collarbone to try and lead the Packers to the playoffs, but he threw three interceptions and Green Bay lost. How rare was a 3-pick game for Rodgers? He didn’t have a multi-interception game this season; it was his 1st three-interception game since November 8, 2009 against Tampa Bay.
The Cincinnati Bengals have quit on the season, not that you needed any stats to convince you. But in the last two weeks, against the Bears and Vikings, the Bengals have converted just four 3rd downs. That’s 4-for-26. AJ Green is healthy. Andy Dalton is a veteran QB. It’s no surprise Marvin Lewis is “walking away.”
The Eagles are still the #1 seed in the NFC, and they just could secure home field advantage in the playoffs. But some cause for concern: They just gave up 6.2 yards per play to the pathetic New York Giants, but somehow managed to hold on for victory. Last week, the Rams put up 6.8 yards per play against the Eagles. Philadelphia won both, but it’s not the way you want to be trending heading into the playoffs.
For weeks now I’ve been prattling on about the Jacksonville Jaguars, and how they’re a legit contender in the AFC. As 11-point favorites, they coasted at home against Houston, 45-7 Sunday. The most interesting aspect of the two games against the Texans: Jacksonville outscored Houston 74-14 this season in two games. And they also had 14 sacks in two games of TJ Yates, Deshaun Watson and Tom Savage.
I said on my radio show Saturday that five teams could win the Super Bowl right now, and the New Orleans Saints were one of them. The problem, of course: The Jets just gashed the Saints defense for 124 yards, including 4.4 yards per carry, and that’s got to be troubling given the Falcons are up next week, and they could see the NFL’s 4th leading rusher, Todd Gurley, in the playoffs. Or perhaps there’s a rematch with the Carolina Panthers, who are 5th in the NFL in rushing yards per game.
Jimmy Garoppolo, the franchise QB the 49ers stole for a mere 2nd round draft pick, has gone 3-0 as a starter on the 49ers. San Francisco’s season over/under for wins was 4.5. After 11 weeks they were 1-10. Now they’re 4-10. Garoppolo passed for 381 yards, including another clutch 4th quarter game-winning drive and San Francisco beat the Titans. Garoppolo has increased his yards and QB rating in each game, and he’s only been in Kyle Shanahan’s system for a couple months.
You’re sick of my thoughts on the Steelers/Patriots finish, but here’s one more: Statistically, Pittsburgh outplayed New England by every measure. Pittsburgh was 10-of-16 on 3rd down (62.5%). The Patriots were just 3-of-9. The Steelers averaged more yards per play (6.6 to 6.4), more yards per rush (4.6 to 4.1) and more yards per pass (8.4 to 7.6). The Steelers ran more plays, had the ball for nine more minutes and did everything humanly possible to win that game – without their MVP candidate for three quarters. That being said, no, I don’t think they can win a rematch in New England in January.