Taking a quick rundown of the Sunday NFL games with a fantasy perspective.
MIA 26, BUF 56
The Dolphins needed to win this and get help to reach the playoffs and neither of those happened. This game not only said that the Bills were the best team in the AFC East but also that is likely to continue for a few more years. Tua Tagovailoa threw 58 passes for 361 yards and a score, but also three interceptions. Devante Parker (7-116) was the only notable wideout which was true the entire year. Mike Gesicki (5-47) and Lynn Bowden (8-44) contributed. Myles Gaskin (7-20, TD) and Salvon Ahmed (6-29, TD) never had enough carries to matter. The 10-6 Dolphins miss the playoffs, but greatly exceeded expectations in the process.
Josh Allen threw for 224 yards and three scores and eventually let Matt Barkley pass for 164 yards and a touchdown. Gabriel Davis (2-107, TD) and Stefon Diggs (7-76) led the group while John Brown added four catches for 72 yards and a touchdown. Isaiah McKenzie (6-65, 2 TD) added an 84-yard punt return for a score that totaled three touchdowns during a seven-minute stretch of the second quarter. Antonio “who? Williams ran for a team high 63 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries in the fourth quarter. The 13-3 Bills own the No. 2 seed and host the Colts this week in the Wild Card Round.
BAL 38, CIN 3
This really wasn’t as close as the score suggested. The Ravens scored in all sorts of ways, but mostly it was Lamar Jackson throwing for only 113 yards but three touchdowns, and he gained 97 yards on 11 rushes. Marquise Brown (5-41, 2 TD) and Miles Boykin (1-43, TD) did better than when you dared to start either this season. J.K. Dobbins blew up for 160 yards and two scores on just 13 carries while Gus Edwards gained 60 yards on his 12 carries. Even Mark Ingram (9-39) was allowed to play. The Ravens head to Tennessee for the Wildcard Round.
In a sign that things should change, the Bengals’ Brian Allen completed 6-of-21 for 48 yards and two interceptions, ending with the ultra-rare 0.0 QB rating. Trayveon Williams ran for 74 yards on four carries thanks to a 55-yard carry. HC Zac Taylor’s second season ends with his team going into hiding in a home game. It appeared that most of the Bengals’ players ended the game while stuck in traffic a few miles away from the stadium.
PIT 22, CLE 24
The Browns had to win this home game and nearly didn’t with the Steelers scoring two touchdowns over the final six minutes and missing on a two-point play that could have tied the game with a minute left. Mason Rudolph threw for 315 yards and two scores with Chase Claypool (5-101, TD) and Diontae Johnson (3-96), and JuJu Smith-Schuster (6-65, TD) as the top receivers. James Conner (9-37) and Benny Snell (3-10) continue to astound the fantasy world with such bad rushing behind a good offensive line. The 12-4 Steelers already won the AFC North.
Baker Mayfield passed for 196 yards and one score but Rashard Higgins (2-55) and Jarvis Landry (5-51) were the best receivers, and Landry added a three-yard touchdown run. Austin Hooper caught the lone passing score on his four catches for 37 yards. Nick Chubb was the difference-maker with 108 yards and a score on 14 carries while Kareem Hunt was limited to 37 yards on ten runs and only caught one pass for four yards. The win gets the 11-5 Browns a wild card.
MIN 37, DET 35
The Vikings won their final meaningless game but the Lions put up a great fight in their meaningless game. Kirk Cousins passed for 405 yards and three touchdowns and ran in a fourth score. Justin Jefferson (9-133) became the best rookie wideout ever but Adam Thielen was held to only 57 yards on four catches. With Dalvin Cook out, Alexander Mattison did a fine imitation by running for 95 yards and one score plus he caught three passes for 50 yards and a second touchdown. The 7-9 Vikings end like they started – a potent offense and a missing defense.
Matt Stafford was banged up, and maybe he’s gone by next year, but he threw for 293 yards and three touchdowns that were divided between Marvin Jones (8-180, 2 TD) and Quintez Cephus (2-51, TD). D’Andre Swift finished his rookie season with 12 rushes for 54 yards and one score, plud three catches for 16 yards. And yet they still gave Adrian Peterson seven carries to gain 63 yards and one score in what may have been his final season. The 5-11 Lions enter into a postseason on the lookout for a new set of coaches.
NYJ 14, NE 28
The Jets wind down their bad season with Josh Adams (11-47, TD) and Ty Johnson (11-45) sharing the rushing load. Sam Darnold ends the year with 266 yards and one score, but with two interceptions. Breshad Perriman (3-84) and Chris Herndon (7-63, TD) were the best receivers and Jamison Crowder (4-31) ends with a whimper. Herndon caught a touchdown in the last two games after a season of being ignored. The Jets finish 2-14 on the season and get ready to clean house for the next set of disappointing coaches to come on board.
Cam Newton looked like a real quarterback again, throwing for 242 yards and three touchdowns and rushing for 79 yards as well. Jakobi Meyers (6-68) and rookie tight end Devin Asiasi (2-39, TD) were top receivers while Sony Michael ran for 79 yards on 11 carries and caught three passes for 60 yards and a touchdown. James White (4-31, TD) also scored as a receiver. The Patriots end up 7-9 on the season with a chance to see what civilian life in January is all about.
DAL 19, NYG 23
The Cowboys’ season mercifully ends with a whimper when Andy Dalton threw an intercepted lob into the endzone with only 1:24 left to play to secure the loss. The team was led by Dalton Schultz (7-70) and Michael Gallup (4-49) as the top receivers and that alone says they had no business in the playoffs. Ezekiel Elliott only gained 42 yards on 14 rushes but scored once and caught three passes for 19 yards. Andy Dalton led in rushing with seven runs for 48 yards which is another way to say that the Cowboys have no business in the playoffs.
Daniel Jones threw for just 229 yards and two scores with one interception. Sterling Shepard caught eight passes for 112 yards and one score and ran in a touchdown as well. Unfortunately, he just used up all of his good-luck points. Dante Pettis (2-43, TD) was credited with the other touchdown though it wasn’t clear that he actually caught it but it was never challenged. Wayne Gallman ran for 65 yards on 11 carries and was oddly not used much. The Giants end 6-10 and now get to be uset for the next seven months that the Eagles threw their game to deny the Giants the division.
ATL 27, TB 44
This was actually a close game until the final eight minutes when the Buccaneers scored two touchdowns. Tom Brady ended with 399 yards and four touchdowns between Antonio Brown (11-138, 2 TD) and Chris Godwin (5-133, 2 TD). Mike Evans (3-46) suffered a hamstring injury and left the game early. Ronald Jones (12-78, TD) did not seem hampered by his finger surgery. The Buccaneers end 11-5 and receive that valuable No. 5 seed that will face the NFC East winner.
The Falcons end their nightmare 2020 season without a head coach and a 4-12 record. Matt Ryan passed for 265 yards and two scores with Russell Gage (9-91, TD) and Calvin Ridley (8-52) as the top receivers. Brian Hill ran for 94 yards on nine carries thanks to a 62-yard jaunt while Todd Gurley only managed 18 yards on his nine rushes. The Falcons hung in until the fourth quarter but they missed Julio Jones yet again and the offense was never quite good enough to keep up with what their defense gave away – and that’s how they started the season.
NO 33, CAR 7
Missing Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara don’t matter – as long as you are playing the Panthers. Ty Montgomery ran for 105 yards on 18 carries while Drew Brees passed for 201 yards and three scores. Emmanuel Sanders (9-63, TD) and Jared Cook (4-43, TD) were the top receivers and Taysom Hill ran for 41 yards and a score on his seven carries. The Panthers scored in the first quarter and then never again. The 12-4 Saints lock down the No. 2 seed and will host the Bears.
The Panthers never got going. With both Christian McCaffery and Mike Davis out, Rodney Smith took the start and gained 40 yards and a touchdown on ten carries. Teddy Bridgewater and P.J. Walker combined for 271 yards and an impressive five interceptions. Curtis Samuel (7-118) and D.J. Moore (5-101) were the top receivers but this game was over by the second quarter. HC Matt Rhule’s first season ends at 5-11 but next year – Christian McCaffery!
GB 35, CHI 16
The Packers had little trouble nailing down the No. 1 seed since the Bears only kicked three field goals after the first quarter. Aaron Rodgers passed for 240 yards and four touchdowns but the top receivers Marquez Valdes-Scantling (2-87, TD) and Davante Adams (6-46, TD) were only moderately successful. Aaron Jones only ran for 42 yards and a touchdown on his 11 carries. The Packers secured their Round one bye.
Mitchell Trubisky was held to 252 yards and one interception. Darnell Mooney (11-93) was the best receiver since the Packers’ cornerbacks blanketed Allen Robinson (2-37) and Anthony Miller (2-13). Montgomery ran for 69 yards and a score on 22 rushes and caught nine passes for 63 yards. The Bears have to hit the road and play at the Saints this week.
LV 32, DEN 31
This was an entertaining and hard-fought game that went down to the final seconds. The Raiders trailed 24-31 until they scored a touchdown with only 27 seconds left to play and then went for two points and succeeded on a pass to Darren Waller. The Broncos completed a 25-yard pass to Jerry Jeudy with defensive delay of game also enforced to reach the LV-45 yard line where their 63-yard kick with nine seconds left was blocked.
Derek Carr passed for 371 yards and two scores with two interceptions. Darren Waller (9-117, TD) was about all that mattered. Nelson Agholor (1-57) caught one long pass and the rookie Bryan Edwards (2-51, TD) finally caught his first NFL touchdown. Josh Jacobs (15-89, 2 TD) never caught a pass. The Raiders squeaked out a win and at 8-8 avoided a losing season.
Drew Lock threw for 339 yards and two scores, but Jerry Jeudy (5-140, TD) was the only receiver with more than 50 yards and his 92-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter accounted for a huge chunk of the offense. Melvin Gordon (6-93, TD) ended with four catches for 17 yards. The Broncos finish their 5-11 season with a heartbreaker despite more points and yardage than they usually produced.
TEN 41, HOU 38
Great game and another heartbreaker for the Texans. Ryan Tannehill passed for 216 yards and one score to A.J. Browm (10-151, TD) as the only receiver with more than 39 yards. Derrick Henry ran for 250 yards on 34 rushes with two touchdowns as he became the eighth NFL player to rush for over 2,000 yards in a season. The win secured the AFC South title with an 11-5 record and the Titans will host the Ravens this week.
The Texans may be only 4-12 but Deshaun Watson played yet another outstanding game, making do with whatever he had. He passed for 365 yards and three touchdowns with Brandin Cooks (11-166, 2 TD) and Keke Coutee (6-90) as the top receivers. David Johnson ran for 84 yards and a score on his 14 carries and he caught three passes for 36 yards. The Texans could be one of the top-seeded teams if they could just play their own defense every week.
JAC 14, IND 28
The Jaguars made this feel like a real game. Mike Glennon passed for 261 yards and two scores to Laviska Shenault (6-68, 2 TD) while Chris Conley (7-87) took his turn as the top receiver in the always-changing rotation. Dare Ogunbowale (14-50) didn’t add much but caught four passes for 22 yards. The Jaguars ended with a 1-15 record and can help Trevor Lawrence find an apartment just as soon as they get a new batch of coaches.
Remember Marlon Mack? No one else does. Jonathan Taylor ran for 253 yards and two scores on 30 carries like he was back at Wisconsin. Philip Rivers threw for only 164 yards and one score to T.Y. Hilton (3-27, TD) but Nyheim Hines (6-50) was the top receiver. The Colts cruised to this win behind the rushing of Taylor but won’t be facing the No. 29 ranked defense versus running backs in the playoffs. They head to Buffalo for the Wild Card Round.
LAC 38, KC 21
Have to like any meaningless game that cranks out 59 total points. Justin Herbert used the fact that most of the Chiefs were not playing to throw for 302 yards and three scores even without Keenan Allen around. Mike Williams (6-108, TD) was the only wideout with more than one catch. The backfield was a three-way mess between Justin Jackson (9-72), Kalen Ballage (13-36, TD), and Austin Ekeler (7-18) but at least Ekeler added six catches for 33 yards and one score. Herbert should be a lock for the Offensive Rookie of the Year and this game did nothing to hurt his chances. The Chargers end 7-9 on the season.
Chad Henne threw for 218 yards and two scores in this Chiefs-Lite version of the offense that was without their star players. Darwin Thompson used the occasion to run for a career-best 45 yards and a score on 14 carries plus was the leading receiver with seven receptions for 65 yards and a second touchdown. The Chiefs opted to rest all of the running backs other than Thompson. The Chiefs end 14-2 and take this week off as well.
ARI 7, LAR 18
The Cardinals were bounced out of the playoffs with this loss but losing Kyler Murray for most of the game made it impossible against the Rams defense. All combined, the Cards passed for 192 yards and one score with one interception. Dan Arnold (3-46) and DeAndre Hopkins (4-35) were as good as it got, despite Hopkins fielding ten targets. Kenyan Drake (10-36) did little with his minor role as the offense sputtered even when Murray was healthy to start the game. They end 8-8 but lost tie breakers to the 8-8 Bears for the No. 7 seed.
The Rams played without Jared Goff and John Wolford threw for only 231 yards and no scores with one interception. He added 56 yards on six runs as the leading rusher. Cam Akers played through his high-ankle sprain but only gained 34 yards on 21 carries plus was the leading receiver with 52 yards on four catches. The 10-6 Rams end with the No. 6 seed that plays at the Seahawks this week.
SEA 26, SF 23
The Seahawks held off the 49ers for this close win and trailed 16-6 in the fourth quarter. Russell Wilson only threw for 181 yards and two scores to Tyler Lockett (12-90, 2 TD) while DK Metcalf was held to only 21 yards on three catches. Both scores were thrown in the fourth quarter when Wilson finally came to life. Chris Carson ran for 44 yards on 11 carries and caught two passes for 39 yards in this defensive matchup. The win secured the NFC West and the Seahawks host the Rams on Saturday.
C.J. Beathard threw for 273 yards and one score while Kendrick Bourn (5-76) and George Kittle (7-68) were the top receivers with Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuels out. Jeff Wilson (20-76, TD) made a case for more work next season and added three catches for 12 yards and a second touchdown as well. The 6-10 49ers wind down a season that saw their roster decimated by injury from the start and their season results exceeded expectations,
WAS 20, PHI 14
That will be a memorable game for Washington, and maybe the Eagles, but definitely the Giants who watched the game knowing that if the Eagles won, the Giants took the division and host a playoff game. But the defensive matchup saw the Eagles go for it on fourth-and-four at the Washington four-yard line. Instead of kick a tying field goal. And they were unsuccessful. But then, with 12:35 left to play, they got the ball back and benched Jalen Hurts and sent in Nate Sudfeld so he could end the game with five-of-twelve completions for 32 yards and one interception. And a lost fumble. And they looked like HC Doug Pederson figured “screw the Giants, I’m throwing this.”
Hurts was not much better, but he ran for 34 yards on eight rushes with both touchdowns scored by the Eagles. Boston Scott ran for 65 yards on 15 rushes but none of the receivers had any success. Pederson said that he still wanted to win but wanted to get Pederson some playing time when, you know, they were still close and a No. 3 quarterback might be just the thing the game needed. Very odd way to end the 2020 regular season but maybe that is appropriate.
Alex Smith only threw for 162 yards and two scores with two interceptions. Terry McLaurin (7-40, TD) and Logan Thomas (3-37, TD) did the scoring because there isn’t anyone else on the Washington roster that ever merits getting targets. Antonio Gibson ran for 75 yards on 19 carries but only caught one short pass. The Washington Football Team host the Buccaneers on Saturday.