Taking a quick rundown of the Week 18 Sunday NFL games with a fantasy perspective.
KC 28, DEN 24
The Chiefs had more trouble winning this than expected, but they woke up at the end of the second quarter and played the Broncos evenly, until late in the fourth quarter when the Chiefs’ defense returned a fumble 86 yards for a touchdown to make the difference. Patrick Mahomes threw for 270 yards and two scores but relied on Mecole Hardman (8-103). Tyreek Hill (1-2) made a cameo, and Travis Kelce (4-34, TD) was the first scorer in the game. Derrick Gore (7-30), Darrel Williams (7-17), and Jerick McKinnon (5-24) all shared the backfield but McKinnon added three catches for 26 yards and one score as the most productive running backs. The Chiefs end 12-5 on the season and are the No. 2 seed.
The Broncos stayed in the game most thanks to their backfield. Melvin Gordon (12-110, TD) and Javonte Williams (12-46) handled the rushing with Williams adding two catches for 18 yards. Drew Lock only threw for 162 yards and no scores but had no turnovers. Tim Patrick (6-95) was the only receiver with more than 30 yards and Lock both missed several throws and had other passes dropped. The Broncos’ defense helped keep the game close. Denver ends with a 7-10 record.
DAL 51, PHI 26
The Eagles missed numerous players due to a COVID outbreak, including all the starting running backs and much of the defense. The big win is no surprise even though it was 17-17 in the second quarter before it all unraveled for the Eagles. Dak Prescott tossed five touchdowns along with 295 passing yards. Cedrick Wilson (5-119, 2 TD) enjoyed a career-best performance while Amari Cooper (5-79) and CeeDee Lamb (2-45) all combined for the best receivers. Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 87 yards on 18 carries to log his sixth-straight 1,000-yard season. The Cowboys finished the game inserting all their running back depth for a couple of rushing scores. The Cowboys end with a 12-5 record and become the No. 3 seed.
The Eagles were stripped of players on both sides of the ball and yet put up an admirable fight for the first half. Gardner Minshew threw for 186 yards and two scores between Quez Watkins (5-84, TD) and Tyree Jackson (3-22, TD). DeVonta Smith ended with three catches for 41 yards and ended his rookie year with 96 yards. The backfield saw surprising success while down to only Kenneth Gainwell (12-78, TD) and Jason Huntley (13-51). The Eagles gave it a solid effort with second and third-string players in many spots. Philadelphia finished at 9-8.
PIT 16, BAL 13 OT
There weren’t a lot of fantasy points here and the 29 total points says all you need to know. This plays out well for Steeler fans wanting to see Big Ben one more time. Ben Roethlisberger passed for 244 yards and one score to Chase Claypool (5-37, TD), who was also the leading rusher with 33 yards on three runs. Diontae Johnson (7-51) and Pat Freiermuth (6-53) stayed close to the line of scrimmage so that the passes could reach them. Najee Harris only gained 28 yards on 11 carries and went for 27 yards on his four receptions. The win lifts the Steelers to 9-7-1 and they squeak into the playoffs as the No. 7 seed.
The Ravens had minimal offensive punch in this home game. Latavius Murray ran for 150 yards on 16 carries with a score that was roughly equal to his last eight games combined. Devonta Freeman gained just 21 yards on five carries and left with a rib injury. But Tyler Huntley was held to only 141 passing yards and two interceptions. Mark Andrews (8-85) ends on a high note but none of the other receivers gained more than 28 yards. The Ravens sent the game into overtime with a field goal at 1:13 left to play but they let the Steelers march down the field and win with a 36-yard field goal. The Ravens end at 8-9 and miss the playoffs.
CIN 16, CLE 21
The Bengals already won the AFC North and let Joe Burrow and Joe Mixon sit. Trayveon Williams (9-38) and Chris Evans (7-35) handled the backfield. Brandon Allen threw for just 136 yards and one score to Evans (4-24, TD). Ja’Marr Chase (2-26) played just long enough to get 1,000 yards while Tee Higgins was inactive. This is exactly why fantasy leagues need to end one week before the season does. The Bengals end 10-7 and put their hands in the air like they just didn’t care. They are still the No. 4 seed.
The Browns only ran Nick Chubb nine times for 58 yards and his rib injury from last week was either worse than let on or he aggravated it. He only had one rush after the first quarter and it gained 35 yards at the end of the third quarter. D’Ernest Johnson ended with 25 carries for 123 yards and a touchdown. Case Keenum only passed for 176 yards and two touchdowns. Jarvis Landry (6-75, TD) was the only receiver that gained more than 38 yards. The Browns had the benefit of the Bengals sitting the best players and finish the year at 8-9.
GB 30, DET 37
The Packers had nothing to win but played most of the starters through the half. Aaron Jones was inactive and AJ Dillon ran for 63 yards on 14 carries. Aaron Rodgers passed for 138 yards and two scores, then handed off to Jordan Love who threw for 134 yards and one score with two interceptions. Alan Lazard ended with a great game of 75 yards and two scores on five catches while Davante Adams (6-55) hit the bench in the second half. The Packers end up 13-4 while the entire team gets time off next week as the No. 1 seed.
They had the benefit of the Packers leaving the stadium at halftime, but a win is a win, and with only two of them this year, anything is welcome. Jared Goff ended with 238 pass yards and two scores. Amon-Ra St. Brown puts his final mark on a tremendous rookie campaign with eight catches for 109 yards and a touchdown. Kalif Raymond (4-101, TD) also had a big game that opened with a 75-yard touchdown catch on a trick play thrown by wideout Tom Kennedy. Regardless that they were playing Packers-B, the win felt good and let them wrap up at 3-13-1.
TEN 28, HOU 25
The Titans lock down the No. 1 seed with this win, but do they deserve it? They just beat a 4-13 team by three points. D’Onta Foreman ran for 69 yards on 21 carries and the fans are ready for Derrick Henry to return. Ryan Tannehill passed for 287 yards and four scores but the Titans led 21-0 and let the Texans roar back. Nick Westbrook-Ikhine (4-78, TD), A.J. Brown (4-68, TD), Julio Jones (5-58, TD) and Anthony Firkser (4-56, TD) all had about the same production. The Titans get to kick back this week and take comfort in knowing that they lost their best player at midseason and yet still
feasted on the cakewalk schedule managed to produce a 12-5 record as the No. 1 seed in the AFC.
The Texans never had much rushing success after churning through the league’s has-beens. David Johnson (5-28) was the top rusher while Rex Burkhead (12-24) rewarded the Texans for that contract extension. Davis Mills continues to be the best quarterback no one ever talks about and he passed for 301 yards and three touchdowns with no run support, no Brandin Cooks for most of the game, and marginal receivers. Danny Amendola (7-113, 2 TD) almost doubled his season total (136 yards) and scored twice. Nico Collins (3-67) ends his rookie year on a high note. The Texans end 4-13 with no offensive line or backfield, but Davis Mills and Brandin Cooks as two worth bringing back.
IND 11, JAX 26
Look, there are just some things we are not supposed to understand. We just have to be at peace with ourselves in the chaos. The Colts had everything to win in this game. The Jaguars don’t even have a coach. Jonathan Taylor ran for 145 yards and two scores in Week 6 versus the Jaguars. Now that it really mattered, he only gained 77 yards on 15 rushes and caught three passes for 18 yards. Carson Wentz only threw for 185 yards and one score and was outplayed by Trevor Lawrence. Michael Pittman (6-64, TD) finishes as the only receiver Wentz ever noticed. The disappointing end to the season leaves the Colts at home with a 9-8 record.
This was like shooting an eagle on the 18th hole after hitting the century mark back on the 14th hole. Trevor Lawrence only totaled two scores over the previous nine games and yet passed for 223 yards and two touchdowns with a 111.8 QB rating. Ryquell Armstead (9-52) and Dare Ogunbowale (11-30) led the backfield which alone indicates the sort of season the Jags had. Marvin Jones (7-88, TD), Laviska Shenault (5-62) and Laquon Treadwell (3-24, TD) all contributed to the surprising win. The Jaguars are still just 3-14 but saved their best game for Week 18.
CHI 17, MIN 31
The Bears end their disappointing season with a whimper and expect a new head coach to complain about next year. Andy Dalton took the start and threw for 325 yards and one score, but also two interceptions. Darnell Mooney (12-126) continues to be the little engine that could while Allen Robinson (2-22) continues to be the highly paid… decoy? David Montgomery ends with 72 yards on 20 carries but the Bears gave up the ball twice and Dalton was sacked seven times. The Matt Nagy era ends with a 6-11 season.
The Vikings trailed 14-0 in the second quarter but the Bears ran off and the Vikes controlled the rest of the game. Kirk Cousins threw for 250 yards and three touchdowns, with Justin Jefferson (5-105, TD), Ihmir Smith-Marsette (3-103, TD), and K.J. Osborn (1-21, TD) all scored. Dalvin Cook ran for 79 yards on 14 rushes but the passing offense was enough to take this win. The Vikes end with an 8-9 record and a speculated coaching change to come.
WAS 22, NYG 7
The Giants appear to have just given up. They’ve been non-competitive for the last three weeks versus each NFC East rival. Jake Fromm only threw for 103 yards and one score with two interceptions and a lost fumble. Darrius Slayton (2-29, TD) was the only receiver with more than 22 yards. The Running-Back-Formerly-Known-As Saquon Barkley only gained 30 yards on 11 rushes. The Giants end at 4-13 and is arguably the weakest team in the NFL.
The Washington To-Be-Named-Later won the game mostly with Antonio Gibson rushing for 146 yards and one score on 21 carries. Taylor Heinicke only threw for 120 yards and Terry McLaurin (4-93) was the only receiver with more than 14 yards. This matchup was like two brothers forced to play together by their parents, but at least Washington was the older brother. The Washington Admirals? Cougars? Space Invaders? The No-Names end with a 7-10 record.
SEA 38, ARI 30
Hard to say which teams are good anymore. The Cardinals once looked so dominant but Kyler Murray never really returned from his earlier injury and DeAndre Hopkins never returned at all. Murray threw for 240 yards and one score while Zach Ertz (7-84) and Christian Kirk (2-43) were the best receivers. James Conner ran for 52 yards and a score on 15 carries, plus caught six passes for 41 yards and a second touchdown. The Cardinals opened the game with a fumble recovery for a touchdown but struggled to move the ball against the visiting Seahawks. They end 11-6 on the year and take the No. 5 seed.
The Seahawks end on a high note, winning at the Cardinals with a solid offensive performance, unlike most of their previous games. Russell Wilson threw for 238 yards and three touchdowns, plus rushed a score as well. Tyler Lockett (5-98, 2 TD) and DK Metcalf (5-58) were the top receivers. Rashaad Penny continues his shocking final stretch of the
last four years season, running for 190 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries. The Seahawks finish too little, too late at 7-10.
NO 30, ATL 20
The Saints finally got a monster rushing game from Alvin Kamara (30-146) but lost Taysom Hill midway through and Trevor Siemian had to finish. Fortunately, it was only the Falcons and they combined for 181 yards and three touchdowns. Tre’Quan Smith (5-76, TD) was the only receiver with more than 26 yards. This was the Kamara show and they only threw 24 passes. The Saints miss the playoffs at 9-8.
The Falcons fade continues with only 41 rushing yards between Mike Davis and Cordarrelle Patterson. Qadree Ollison ran in a 19-yard touchdown on his only touch in the game. Matt Ryan threw for just 216 yards and one score to Russell Gage (9-126, TD) while no other receivers scored or gained more than 47 yards. Cordarrelle Patterson started out as a secret weapon but ended with only one catch for one yard and 11 yards on four rushes. The Falcons settle for a 7-10 season.
NYJ 10, BUF 27
This was the game that neither wanted to play. The Jets turned in one of their worst efforts with Michael Carter (9-19) as the top rusher. Zack Wilson threw for just 87 yards and one score. The touchdown was on a 40-yard pass to Keelan Cole and accounted for almost half of the passing yardage in the game. The Jets could not get the offense into gear and the season ends with a 4-13 record while the rookie Wilson gave little reason to expect a leap in Year 2.
The Bills led 13-10 in the fourth quarter and finally went to the bother of winning the game. Josh Allen threw for 239 yards and two scores. He also ran for 63 yards on just five rushes. Stefon Diggs (9-81, TD) and Dawson Knox (3-49) were the only receivers with more than 39 yards. Devin Singletary ran for 88 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries and added two catches for 24 yards and a second score. Zack Moss (5-8) is a nonfactor while Singletary is playing the best of his career. The Bills end with an 11-6 record and remain the No. 3 seed.
SF 27, LA 24 OT
The Rams once again struggled against a good team they should have beaten. They led 17-0 in the second quarter but the 49ers for hot and the Rams only managed one touchdown in the second half versus 24 points for the 49ers. Jimmy Garoppolo threw for 316 yards and one score but with two interceptions. Brandon Aiyuk led the receivers with six catches for 107 yards while Deebo Samuel caught four passes for 95 yards, ran eight times for 45 yards and a score, and even threw a 24-yard touchdown. Assumedly, he is also the backup kicker. Jauan Jennings had a career game with six catches for 94 yards and two touchdowns. Elijah Mitchell ran for 85 yards on 21 carries but had no catches. The 49ers end with a 10-7 record and earned the No. 6 seed.
Matt Stafford threw for 238 yards and three scores with two interceptions. Cooper Kupp ended with seven catches for 118 yards and a score while Tyler Higbee reeled in six passes for 55 yards and two touchdowns. No other receivers gained more than 31 yards. Cam Akers was active but only ran for three yards on five carries and caught three passes for ten yards. Sony Michael gained 43 yards on 21 rushes. The Rams at home could not hold off the 49ers who owned the second half. The 12-5 Rams won the NFC West but drop to the No. 4 seed.
NE 24, MIA 33
The Dolphins have an odd advantage when they match up with the Patriots who scored twice in the final six minutes to draw within 24-27 with 2:53 let to play but Jakobi Meyers lost a fumble in the endzone on the final play in the game. Mac Jones threw for 261 yards and one score, with the top receivers of Hunter Henry (5-86) and Meyers (4-70). Damien Harris (11-37, TD) and Rhamondre Stevenson (4-34) shared the backfield with Brandon Bolden running for a team-high 46 yards and a score on seven rushes and adding two catches for 20 yards and a second score. The loss drops the Pats to 10-7 and gives them the No. 6 seed.
The Dolphins scored on an interception and a fumble recovery to make the difference. Tua Tagovailoa only passed for 109 yards and one score with 38 yards as a rusher. Jaylen Waddle (5-27, TD) was the only notable receiver while Duke Johnson ran for 117 yards and score on 25 rushes to help control the ball. He was the only Dolphin with more than minimal receiving yardage and they won the game on defense. That gave them a winning record at 9-8.
CAR 17, TB 41
No surprises other than the Panthers scored two touchdowns. Sam Darnold passed for 219 yards and both scores with D.J. Moore (7-87) and Ameer Abdullah (9-56) were the top receivers but even Robby Anderson scored on his seven catches for 50 yards. Chuba Hubbard ran for 48 yards on nine carries and caught a two-yard touchdown to open the scoring. Darnold never had a completion longer than 20 yards and every receiver averaged under ten yards. The loss drops them to 5-12.
The Buccaneers took the lead in the second half and never looked back. They scored 24 points in the fourth quarter to slant the scoreboard. Tom Brady passed for 326 yards and three touchdowns with Rob Gronkowski (7-137) and Mike Evans (6-89, 2 TD) taking care of the biggest chunk of the offense. Ke’Shawn Vaughn (10-29, TD) and Le’Veon Bell (3-14) shared the backfield though Bell scored on a one-yard catch. Scotty Miller also ran in a 33-yard touchdown for the final score in the game. The win makes the 13-4 Buccaneers the No. 2 seed.
LAC 32, LV 35 OT
The Raiders led 29-14 midway in the fourth quarter but Justin Herbert mounted a comeback with two touchdowns to tie the game and send it into overtime. It was one of those games where any play could have swung it to either team. In overtime, the Raiders stalled at the LAC 22-yard line and kicked a field goal. The Chargers got their possession and drove to the LV 23-yard line and kicked their field goal to extend overtime. But the Raiders went from their own 25-yard line to the Chargers’ 29 yard line and kicked the game-winning 47-yard field goal as time expired.
The wild part was that if they had tied, both would go to the playoffs as the No. 6 and No. 7 seeds. But if either team lost, they would be replaced by the Steelers. And the Raiders had the ball and could have knelt on it, risked nothing like a turnover or blocked kick and had their ticket punched regardless. But they didn’t. They went for the field goal anyway and sent the Chargers home.
Justin Herbert passed for 383 yards and three touchdowns with Mike Williams (9-119, TD) and Jared Cook (4-80) as the top receivers while Keenan Allen was held to six catches for 52 yards. Austin Ekeler ran for 64 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries and also scored on his five catches for 35 yards. It was a classic last-second loss that the Chargers so often experience. They end above .500 with a 9-8 record but miss the playoffs.
Derek Carr threw for 186 yards and two scores to Hunter Renfrow (4-13, 2 TD) while Bryan Edwards (4-63) and Frank Moreau (2-50) led the receivers. Darren Waller’s return only accounted for two receptions for 22 yards. Josh Jacobs was the best player when he rushed for 132 yards and a score on 26 carries. The Raiders had no turnovers and squeaked out a win that made them 10-7 as the No. 5 seed.