The seventeenth and final Sunday of the 2020 NFL regular season is in the books so here are the different thoughts and opinions I have on various things I witnessed this past weekend. Finally the regular season has ended as we prepare for playoff football. Now that the Cowboys are finished disappointing me this season I am ready to just enjoy the games and see what team comes out on top. If your favorite team is still alive I wish you good luck.
Just remember I am a Dallas Cowboys fan and I'm extremely biased. Feel free to agree or disagree about anything mentioned here. All comments are welcome.
The New York Giants put the Dallas Cowboys out of their misery by defeating them 23-19 to officially knock them out of the playoffs. I always hate seeing Dallas lose, but the Giants did me a favor because the Cowboys weren’t going to beat anyone in the playoffs. This turd of a season needed to end.
In the first half the Cowboys drives ended with FGs while the Giants scored TDs to take a 20-9 lead. Dallas got a gift turnover in the 3rd quarter when Giants TE Evan Engram let a pass go right off of his hands and it was picked off. Dallas took advantage of the short field when Zeke Elliott punched the ball into the endzone for his first TD in over a month to cut the score to 20-16.
The Cowboys kicked a FG in the 4th quarter to get within one point and momentum was clearly on their side. Then head coach Mike McCarthy killed it. Good Grief.
The Giants faced a 3rd and 16 at the Dallas 42-yard line when QB Daniel Jones connected with WR Dante Pettis for a 10-yard gain. Or did he? Despite the call on the field, replays showed Pettis clearly trapped the pass on the turf and the catch should have been overturned. It was obvious to everyone except Mike McCarthy who refused to throw a red flag to challenge the call.
This was a pivotal moment in the game. If McCarthy challenges and the call is overturned the Giants punt instead of trying a 60-yard FG with their shaky kicker. The Cowboys would only be down one point and a FG would give them the lead. Instead McCarthy decided the call was too risky to challenge and possibly lose a time-out, so he stood there and watched the Giants kick a 50-yard FG to extend their lead to 4 points. Now the Cowboys would need a TD to take the lead.
McCarthy’s decision was so stupid I lost it and my TV had to endure a brutal barrage of obscenities. It was clear the catch wasn’t made. Of course there is always the possibility the replay officials blow the call too, but still it made no sense not to challenge. The risk was low and the reward was super high. Dallas was struggling to score TDs all day and the difference between a one point deficit and a four point deficit was massive.
McCarthy’s excuse for not throwing the red flag was he was afraid of losing a time-out. Jesus H. Christ. The Cowboys had all three time-outs in their pocket and nearly seven minutes left on the clock. The clock wasn’t their enemy at this point, the scoreboard was. Yet McCarthy would rather stand there and watch the Giants extend the lead rather than challenge a very obvious bad call.
I wasn’t shocked by what happened next. The Cowboys drove the ball deep in the red zone when their drive stalled, just like they had done all day. Instead of kicking a FG to take the lead, the Cowboys were forced to go for the TD and QB Andy Dalton threw a horrible INT in the endzone. Despite Dallas having all their time-outs, the Giants were able to burn the last minute and a half of the clock for the win.
Mike McCarthy is getting crucified in the media today and he damn well deserves it. He has made dumb game management decisions all season long and this was just the latest one. The Cowboys finished the season 6-10. I need a long offseason to recuperate.
The Giants didn’t play great, but they were good enough to beat Dallas and knock them out of the playoff race. The Giants improved to 6-10 and still had a chance to win the NFC East depending on the result of the Washington/Philadelphia game. Spoiler alert: Giants fans aren’t happy today.
Thanks for the Tank
The Philadelphia Eagles can’t do anything right. All season long they tried to win but usually lost. On Sunday night they tried to lose, but nearly won. So head coach Doug Pederson had to pull out all the stops in the most obvious tank job in NFL history. Congrats Eagles, you finally managed to lose to the Washington No-Names 20-14.
Doug Pederson is being vilified for his actions, but he shouldn’t be. It was in the best interest of the Eagles franchise to lose this game and he did what he had to do to make that happen. A lot of teams tank games in the NFL for their own best interests. New York Giants fans are doing the most bitching today because a Washington loss would have put them in the playoffs. Well boo hoo Giants fans. Your team sucks, no 6-10 team should ever make the playoffs. Try winning more games next season assholes.
Here was the situation heading into this game. Washington needed to win to grab the NFC East crown and a playoff spot, otherwise the Giants would win the division. The Eagles were already knocked out of the playoffs, their main concern was next year’s draft pick. With a win the Eagles would get the 9th pick, a loss would give them the 6th pick. There is a ton of value in the difference between those draft slots.
So why would the Eagles try to win, to hurt themselves? Even this train wreck of a franchise isn’t that stupid. So they placed a bunch of starters on the injured list with minimal injuries. The idea was to weaken the team without being too obvious about it. At some point in time every team in the league has done this.
The problem for the Eagles was Washington isn’t a very good team either. The No-Names ran out to a 10-0 lead early, but quickly fell apart. In the 3rd quarter the No-Names held a slim 17-14 lead when the Eagles drove deep into Washington territory. Facing a 4th and goal from the four-yard line, the normal thing to do would be to kick a FG to tie the game. Except the Eagles goal was to lose. Instead they tried to score a TD and failed.
The Eagles were in desperation mode now. Despite QB Jalen Hurts (7/20, 72 yards, 1 INT) having a terrible game, Washington is so bad the Eagles had to fight to not take the lead. Desperate times call for desperate measures, Pederson benched Hurts for 3rd string QB Nate Sudfeld.
Sudfeld is a third stringer for a reason, he stinks. Sudfeld (5/12, 32 yards, 1 INT, 1 fumble) was even worse than Hurts and Washington held on for a 20-14 win. Washington improved to 7-9 and won the NFC East.
The Eagles fell to 4-11-1 and claimed the 6th draft slot. Now they are fielding criticism for not doing everything they could do to win when a playoff spot for other teams was on the line. The sanctity of the game if you will. I call bullshit. There is only one thing held sacred by the NFL and that is money. The Eagles benefited from losing so they lost. This goes on all the time. The issue that made this look bad is Washington struggled to win a game the Eagles were handing them. Just another fine day in the NFC (L)East.
The Rest of the NFC
The #1 seed in the NFC was claimed by the Green Bay Packers when they defeated the Chicago Bears 35-16. The Packers could have won by more, WR Marquez Valdes Scantling dropped an easy TD bomb.
The Packers looked like a top seed on Sunday. They went into Chicago and scored plenty against one of the top defenses in the league. QB Aaron Rodgers (19/24, 240 yards, 4 TDs) cemented his MVP case with another big game. The Packers finished the season 13-3 and the road to the Super Bowl will run through the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field for the NFC. That is bad news for the rest of the conference.
The Bears loss dropped them to 8-8, but Sunday wasn’t a total bust for Chicago. They backed into a Wild Card spot when the Los Angeles Rams beat the Arizona Cardinals 18-7. The 10-6 Rams advance while the 8-8 Cardinals will watch the playoffs from home like the rest of us.
The Rams were in trouble heading into this game without injured QB Jared Goff. Yet they caught a break when Arizona QB Kyler Murray got hurt early in this game. Murray came limping back into the game in the 4th quarter to try to start a rally, but he was unable to do so on one leg. Still you have to admire his courage in coming back in the game was he was in obvious pain.
Murray’s injury turned this game into a battle of the backups and the difference was the Rams backup John Wolford (22/38, 231 yards, 1 INT) made less mistakes than Cardinals backup Chris Streveler (11/16, 105 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT). Streveler was sacked for a safety and threw a pick-six. The Rams stumbled through the final part of the season but qualified for a Wild Card anyway.
The Packers victory knocked the New Orleans Saints and the Seattle Seahawks out of contention for the top seed, but both teams still took care of business by winning. The Saints in dominating fashion and the Seahawks in much, much less dominating fashion.
The Saints were missing most of their running backs due to Covid but still managed to run all over the Carolina Panthers 33-7. RB Ty Montgomery had rushed the ball only once the entire season before Sunday and lost four yards on the carry. He did better against Carolina: 18 carries, 105 yards. Drew Brees (22/32, 201 yards, 3 TDs) handle the rest for the easy win. The Saints finished 12-4 and claimed the #2 seed in the NFC.
The Seahawks needed a 4th quarter rally to beat the injury ravaged San Francisco 49ers 26-23. Neither team could do much on offense through the first three quarters as the Niners held a 9-6 lead heading into the final quarter. Then suddenly the two offenses exploded for a combined 5 4th quarter TDs in a wild finish. Russell Wilson (20/36, 181 yards, 2 TDs) wasn’t sharp most of the afternoon, but came alive when the game was on the line. Seattle improved to 12-4 and hold the #3 seed in the NFC.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had secured a Wild Card spot last week, this week they maintained their position as the #5 seed by thrashing the Atlanta Falcons 44-27 and finishing the season 11-5.
The Bucs finished the year against bad defenses and used the opportunity to finely hone the offense. QB Tom Brady (26/41, 399 yards, 4 TDs, 1 INT) looked good again throwing to WR Chris Godwin (5 receptions, 133 yards, 2 TDs) and WR Antonio Brown (11 receptions, 138 yards, 2 TDs).
Tampa got a scare early in the game when WR Mike Evans left the game with a leg injury. MRI on Monday showed no structural damage and he is considered day-to-day. The idiots in the media were all popping off about how the Bucs were dumb not to rest their starters when they had already clinched a playoff spot. Sure, they had a spot but not a final seed. By winning the Bucs face the No-Names next week. If they had lost they would have been going to Seattle. Which team would you rather face in the playoffs?
Over in the AFC
Heading into Week 17 the Kansas City Chiefs had already sewn up the top seed in the AFC so they decided to rest most of their starters, which explains why they lost to the Los Angeles Chargers 38-21.
Most people think the Chiefs were smart to rest so many starters, I think they were dumb. With the #1 seed KC already has a bye next week. By sitting out this game those players will go nearly three weeks without seeing game-time action. Rust will set in, ask the Ravens about last year.
The Chiefs are notorious slow starters in the first place, throw in several weeks worth of rust and KC might find themselves in a big hole that even they can’t dig out of. That’s what happened to Baltimore last year.
Now I can hear you guys groaning. Hey Chops, what makes you so much smarter than these NFL coaches? I’m not, I look at the facts. A lot of teams in the last 20 years or so have rested their starters before a bye in round one. One team never rested their starters before a bye, not even for a quarter. That team was the New England Patriots. Hmm, interesting.
There were many different scenarios as to who was going to claim the final playoff spots in the AFC heading into Sunday. The Buffalo Bills simplified it for everyone by smashing the Miami Dolphins 56-26.
Knowing the Steelers were resting stars, Buffalo had to be confidant they were going to lock up the #2 seed regardless if they won or lost this game. Head coach Sean McDermott decided to play his regulars (until the game was completely out of hand at least) and continue to build on their momentum. And boy did they.
QB Josh Allen (18/25, 224 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT) was excellent again, the defense forced four turnovers and the special teams chipped in with a punt return for a TD. All around dominance by the Bills, who improved to 13-3 and secured the #2 seed in the AFC.
The Dolphins were playing for their playoff life in this game, but couldn’t slow down the Bills at all. Now they can enjoy the postseason like the rest of us in the comfort of their own homes. Tough pill to swallow that a 10-6 team could miss the extended playoffs, but the AFC was brutal this year.
QB Tua Tagovailoa (35/58, 361 yard, 1 TD, 3 INTs) didn’t have Fitzmagic to bail him out of this mess as Ryan Fitzpatrick was on the Covid list. Tua didn’t have a bad rookie season, but he hardly looked like the franchise QB the Dolphins thought they drafted. It will be interesting to see what Miami does with the #3 pick (courtesy of the Houston Texans) in next year’s draft.
The Dolphins loss in Buffalo created a win and you’re in scenario for the rest of the AFC’s contenders. And they all took advantage by winning.
The Baltimore Ravens crushed the Cincinnati Bengals 38-3. Ever since they got past the team’s Covid debacle, the Ravens started playing like the team they were last season by dominating with running and defense. The Ravens rushed for a staggering 404 yards against the Bengals.
RB J.K. Dobbins (13 carries, 160 yards, 2 TDs) led the ground assault. He got help from QB Lamar Jackson (11 carries, 97 yards) who threw the ball a few times as well: 10/18, 113 yard, 3 TDs, 1 INT. The Ravens improved to 11-5 and locked up the #5 seed.
The Cleveland Browns qualified for the playoffs for the first time in 18 years by beating the Pittsburgh Steelers 24-22 in Cleveland. Typical of the Browns, it wasn’t easy despite the fact that Pittsburgh rested several key starters.
RB Nick Chubb (14 carries, 108 yards, 1 TD) blasted through the Steelers defense. QB Baker Mayfield (17/27, 196 yards, 1 TD) was steady in the air and on the ground: 6 carries, 44 yards. Cleveland had to survive a big 4th quarter comeback by Pittsburgh, but they held on to improve to 11-5 and claim the #6 seed.
Having already claimed the AFC North, the Steelers decided to rest some guys ahead of the first week of the playoffs. They nearly won the game anyway. That’s a good sign since the 12-4 Steelers hold the #3 seed in the AFC, meaning they get a home game next week against the #6 seed. Namely the Cleveland Browns.
The Tennessee Titans locked up the AFC South and the #4 seed by defeating the Houston Texans 41-38 in a wild game. Houston tied the game at 38-38 with less than a minute to go and then proceeded to give up a huge bomb to WR A.J. Brown that let the Titans kick the game-winning FG as time expired.
One thing we have learned is that as the season goes on, Titans RB Derrick Henry gets stronger and more determined. Henry (34 carries, 250 yards, 2 TDs) carried the team on his back and in the process topped 2,000 rushing yards on the season, the eighth player to do so in NFL history. This was the third consecutive game that Henry has topped 200 rushing yards against the Texans. Man Houston, try building a wall or something.
QB Ryan Tannehill (16/27, 216 yards, 1 TD) had a quiet game, but did hit A.J. Brown (10 receptions, 151 yards, 1 TD) with the big play to set up the winning FG. Of course it’s hard for Tannehill to make much noise when Henry is steamrolling.
The Indianapolis Colts regained control of their own destiny when the Bills beat the Dolphins and they took advantage by beating the Jacksonville Jaguars 28-14. It was a redemption game of sorts since the Colts were the only team to lose a game this season to Jacksonville.
The Colts play their best when they run the ball and RB Jonathan Taylor (30 carries, 253 yards, 2 TDs) had a Derrick Henry-like performance against the Jaguars. The Titans win knocked the Colts out of the running for the AFC South crown, yet Indianapolis was able to claim the #7 seed by improving to 11-5. There reward is a trip to Buffalo. Not much of a reward when you think about it.
The day after the regular season ends is known as Black Monday in the NFL because normally several head coaches lose their jobs. A few teams this year got a head start by firing their coaches during the season, but still Black Monday claimed some more jobs.
The Jets kicked off the festivities Sunday night by firing Adam Gase after the team’s loss to the New England Patriots. Why the Jets ever hired Gase in the first place I’ll never know after his unimpressive tenure in Miami. The Jets went 9-23 in Gase’s two seasons at the helm and he looked completely in over his head from the very beginning. I can’t imagine who would even want this job since the Jets have been a mess from top to bottom for a long time.
The Jacksonville Jaguars fired head coach Doug Marrone, a season too late in my opinion. Then again I didn’t know the Jaguars were planning on tanking this year. On that front Marrone was very successful as the Jags finished the season 1-15 and hold the #1 pick (Trevor Lawrence) in next year’s draft.
Marrone guided the Jags to the 2017 AFC title game, but the team quickly went downhill after that. Overall Marrone had a 23-43 record in Jacksonville. There will be plenty of interest in this job with the drafting of Trevor Lawrence on the horizon. Rumors are Urban Meyer is campaigning for the job. Not surprising since he campaigned for the Cowboys job last season.
Anthony Lynn was fired as the head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers after four seasons. Lynn had success early on leading the Chargers to a 12-4 record in 2018. Yet the last two season have been painful as the Chargers lost game after game through questionable decisions and poor clock management. Lynn is a highly regarded defensive coach, but guiding an entire team seems beyond his skillset. This will be a highly coveted job after the exciting performance of rookie QB Justin Herbert this season.
John Elway decided to retain Broncos head coach Vic Fangio, but opted to fire Denver’s GM. Who just happened to be John Elway. What? Elway will remain the president of operations, but he has stated he will hire a new GM to build a roster. For Broncos fans sake I hope Elway the president is better than Elway the GM. This team has slid downhill fast since they won the Super Bowl five years ago.
It's hard to fathom the regular season is over already, but I am excited the playoffs are ready to start. Nearly as excited as I was to see the Cowboys season finally end. Good riddance!
I'll make a post later this week with some playoff predictions. Please try to contain your excitement. Thanks for reading and feel free to leave any comments below with your thought on Week 17 or the upcoming playoffs.