Saturday and Sunday game recaps

Saturday and Sunday game recaps

Game Analysis

Saturday and Sunday game recaps


The weekend wrapped up with an overtime win by the Buccaneers over the Cardinals. There were plenty of low-scoring affairs – six different games failed to produce more than 19 points by either opponent. The Cowboys-Eagles tilt developed into a shootout despite Jalen Hurts holding a clipboard and just watching. Cold weather conspired to lower many game scores from expected and that’s likely to repeat for the next two weeks.

The playoffs are coming into focus, but only four teams per division have locked up a playoff spot and a total of six teams are vying to grab a spot in January.

Here’s a quick run-down on who did what in Week 16 of the NFL season.


Buffalo 35, Chicago 13

The Bears led 10-6 in the first quarter and it all went downhill from there. Justin Fields only rushed for 11 yards on seven rushes and threw for 119 yards and one touchdown to Dante Pettis (2-11, TD). The rookie Velus Jones (2-52) and Byron Pringle (2-34) were the leading receivers. David Montgomery started the game out on a hot note with a 28-yard run but only ended with 62 yards on 16 carries. He added four catches for 22 yards. The Bills managed to take away the rushing from Fields and that left the offense unable to move. The Bears drop to 3-12 and head to Detroit for Week 17.

The Bills had most of their success running the ball. Devin Singletary (12-106, TD) and James Cook (11-99, TD) both scored as did Josh Allen (6-41, TD).  Allen threw for just 172 yards and two scores between Gabe Davis (3-45, TD) and Dawson Knox (3-38, TD) while Stefon Diggs was held to only two catches for 26 yards.  The Bills’ run game hasn’t looked better and it is encouraging to see with more potentially bad weather games on the horizon. The Bills rise to 12-3 and play in Cincinnati this week.

New Orleans 17, Cleveland 10

This game was played in minus-23-degree wind chill with gusty winds up to 24 miles an hour, so it was a miracle there was any passing at all. Andy Dalton passed for just 92 yards and one interception. Rashid Shaheen (4-41) and Alvin Kamara (2-34) accounted for all but 17 passing yards. Kamara ran for 76 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown, plus Taysom Hill also scored on his nine runs for 56 yards. It was brutal game to play in and the stands were nearly empty.  The 6-9 Saints head to Philadelphia for Week 17.

Nick Chubb (24-92)   wasn’t enough to keep the Browns on track and Deshaun Watson threw for only 135 yards and one interception. He ran for a touchdown on his three rushes for 24 yards. Amari Cooper (6-72) was the only receiver with more than 18 yards. The Browns jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the second quarter but the Saints did all the scoring for the rest of the game. It was just a horribly cold game but had no moisture other than some light snow on the field. The Browns fall to 6-9 and play at the Commanders this weekend.

Houston 19, Tennessee 14

The Texans are still one game away from clinching the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft but had a setback this week with a win over the Titans. Davis Mills and Jeff Driskel again shared the quarterback duties but combined for only 218 yards and one touchdown to Brandin Cooks (4-34, TD) who had another score called back on a penalty. There wasn’t much offense with Philip Dorsett (3-45) as the top receiver, and Royce Freeman only gained 32 yards on 16 carries while Dare Ogunbowale finished with eight runs for 28 yards. The game smacked of a trap game just as most of the Texans’ weeks start, only this time their opponent couldn’t generate enough offense in the fourth quarter to beat them. The 2-12-1 Texans must wait another week to clinch the 1.01 pick.

Ryan Tannehill is out for the season and the rookie Malik Willis only managed 99 passing yards with two critical interceptions. He ran for 43 yards and a touchdown on his  seven rushes, but couldn’t throw to make the standard comeback win over the Texans. Derrick Henry had four straight 200-yard rushing games against Houston but finally fell short with just 126 yards and a score on 23 carries. The loss is the fifth straight for the Titans who no longer are alone atop the AFC South. They host the Cowboys for Week 17.

Seattle 10, Kansas City 24

Finally – a game without too many surprises. Geno Smith didn’t meet expectations when he passed for just 215 yards and one score despite trailing for the entire game and not scoring until they were down 17-0. The lone touchdown pass to Noah Fant (2-12, TD) wasn’t until the final 2:25 in the game and DK Metcalf (7-81) was the only receiver with more than 45 yards. Replacing Tyler Lockett  didn’t happen with Marquise Goodwin held to no catches on his four targets. Kenneth Walker ran for 107 yards on 26 carries but never scored. The loss drops the Seahawks to 7-8 and they host the Jets this week.

The Chiefs took the win without much trouble. Patrick Mahomes threw for just 224 yards and two scores but ran in a touchdown to help out the many fantasy teams relying on him in their playoffs. Travis Kelce (6-113) was the only receiver with more than 27 yards.  Isiah Pacheco ran for 58 yards on 14 carries and caught a 32-yard pass while Jerick McKinnon ended with three receptions for 31 yards and a touchdown. Other than Kelce, it was a moderate day for all of the Chiefs and a solid win that lifts them to 12-3 to maintain their tie with the Bills for the No, 1 seed.

NY Giants 24, Minnesota 27

A spirited effort by the Giants that just fell short when the Vikings kicked a 61-yard field to win as time expired. Daniel Jones threw for 334 yards and one score to Isaiah Hodgins (8-89, TD). Richie James (8-90) and Darius Slayton (4-79) were both more productive than usual. Saquon Barkley ran for 84 yards and a score on 14 carries and added eight receptions for 49 yards. The Giants tied the game 24-24 with two minutes left to play but couldn’t keep the Vikings from reaching field goal range. The 8-6-1 Giants host the Colts for Week 17.

The Vikings’ offense was effective, but their defense was once again almost their undoing. Kirk Cousins passed for 299 yards and three touchdowns between Justin Jefferson (12-133, TD) and T.J. Hockenson (13-109, 2 TD). No other receivers gained more than 17 yards. Dalvin Cook was held to 64 yards on 14 rushes and added 13 yards on three catches. The Vikings rise to 12-3 and head to Green Bay this week. The Vikings have already won the NFC North and are just playing to keep the No. 2 seed.

Cincinnati 22, New England 18

One of those tales of two halves. The Bengals were up 22-0 at halftime and stuck it into cruise control for the season half. The Pats got a 69-yard interception return for a score and then logged two fourth-quarter touchdowns to draw within four point thanks to Nick Folk missing both of his extra-point kicks  and the Pats failing a two-point attempt. Mac Jones passed for 240 yards and two scores between Kendrick Bourne (6-100, TD) and Jakobi Meyers (6-83, TD) while no other receiver was better than 21 yards. The surprise was Rhamondre Stevenson getting the full load with Damien Harris still out, and yet he only gained 30 yards on 13 runs.  The 7-8 Patriots just wounded their chances for a wild card, and likely will kill them hosting the Dolphins next week.

The Bengals almost got caught mailing in the second half. Joe Burrow ended with 375 yards and three scores with most of that coming in the first half. Tee Higgins (8-128, TD) and Ja’Marr Chase (8-79) were the lead receivers and Trenton Irwin (3-45, 2 TD) was the guy they thought they did not have to cover. Joe Mixon ran for 65 yards on 16 carries and added seven receptions for 43 yards. The Bengals squeaked past to reach 11-4 but almost got caught. The win sends them back home to host the Bills this weekend.

Detroit 23, Carolina 37

Just when the Lions seem to be upper-tier and the Panthers are adrift in a sea of mediocrity, this happens. The Lions’ defense never showed up and they trailed 31-7 in the third quarter before the Lions made it look like a game for the final twenty minutes. Jared Goff threw for 355 passing yards and three touchdowns that all, somehow, ended up with Shane Zylstra (FYI – tight end) who went from one to four career touchdowns. DJ Chark (4-108) and Amon-Ra St. Brown (7-76) would have been happy to just have caught one score. The rushing offense was nonexistent with Jamaal Williams (7-11) and D’Andre Swift (4-12) both of minimal use. The Lions fall back to 7-8 and host the Bears for Week 17.

The Panthers ran wild. D’Onta Foreman (21-165, TD) and Chuba Hubbard (12-125) both blew up though Sam Darnell stole a rushing touchdown. He passed for 250 yards and one touchdown to D.J. Moore (5-83, TD) while Terrance Marshall (2-55) and Laviska-Shenault (3-53) both contributed. It was one of those games that the Panthers have occasionally where they look much better than usual. The Panthers opened the game just tearing off huge chunks of yardage in the run game. The win sends the Panthers to Tampa Bay.

Atlanta 9, Baltimore 17

Ah, the battle of the quarterbacks.  The Ravens led throughout and the Falcons could never get more than a field goal when they crossed midfield. Desmond Ridder passed for 218 yards with Drake London (7-96) accounting for more than twice the yardage of any other receiver. Tyler Allgeier (18-74) and Cordarrelle Patterson (8-17) shared the carries but none of the Falcons reached the endzone in this yawner. While the low score is not surprisingly, it is encouraging that he threw mostly to the wide receivers.  The 5-10 Falcons lost their last four and host the Cardinals for a good shot at getting a win.

The Ravens won even without Lamar Jackson though Tyler Huntley only threw for 115 yards and one score to Demarcus Robinson (1-6, TD) and Mark Andrews (3-45) was the top receiver. The Ravens won thanks to the one touchdown pass and three Justin Tucker field goals. Gus Edwards (11-99) and J.K. Dobbins (12-59) were very effective when they rushed, The Ravens just played ball control and the Falcons never logged a touchdown on the defense. The 10-5 Ravens remain one game behind the Bengals and host the Steelers this week before ending the year at the Bengals.

Washington 20, San Francisco 37

This game was tied 7-7 at halftime but then George Kittle scored back-to-back touchdowns in the third quarter and the rest was just gravy. Taylor Heinicke passed for 166 yards and threw an interception in the fourth quarter. Carson Wentz took over next, and he threw for 123 yards and one score. Terry McLaurin (4-77, TD), Jahan Dotson (6-76, TD), and Curtis Samuel (5-52, TD) all scored and contributed. Brian Robinson ran for 58 yards on 22 carries as the rushing effort faltered. Antonio Gibson was held to ten yards on five carries. The 7-7-1 Commanders desperately need a win to have any hope of a wildcard bid and host the Browns for Week 17.

The 49ers took their win without too much trouble and Brock Purdy was effective throwing for 234 yards and two scores with one interception. George Kittle was the star with six catches for 120 yards and both passing touchdowns. Brandon Aiyuk (5-81) was the only other receiver with more than 21 yards. RayRay McCloud opened the game with a 71-yard touchdown on a sweep while Christian McCaffrey only ran for 46 yards on 15 carries and only caught two passes for 12 yards. He scored a touchdown in the final two minutes to salvage his fantasy value. The 11-4 49ers head to Las Vegas for the weekend.

Las Vegas 10, Pittsburgh 13

The game was every bit as boring as the score suggests, and the Steeler’s final ten points came in the fourth quarter including the game-winning touchdown with only 46 seconds left to play. The Raiders never got on track, and Derek Carr only passed for 174 yards and one score with three interceptions. Darren Waller (4-58) and Hunter Renfrow (4-42, TD) were the best receivers and fantasy owners only got two catches for 15 yards from Davante Adams. Josh Jacobs was little better, running for 44 yards on 15 carries and adding just one six-yard catch. After beating the Patriots last week when they blundered on the final play, the Raiders were back to their struggles and dissension. They fall to 6-9 and host the 49ers this week.

The Steelers didn’t do much better. Kenny Pickett passed for 244 yards and the late score. It was a legitimate winning-touchdown drive he made and that should help with his confidence next time. Pat Freiermuth (7-66) and Diontae Johnson (5-64) were the top receivers and George Pickett (5-57, TD) caught the winning score. Najee Harris (16-53) and Jaylen Warren (6-23) struggled to get much going on the ground and both only caught one short pass. The 7-8 Steelers keep their hopes of a winning season alive and head to Baltimore for this weekend.

Green Bay 26, Miami 20

The difference in this matchup came down to one thing – interceptions. Aaron Rodgers threw one and Tua Tagovailoa had three. Rodgers threw for 238 yards and one score to Marcedes Lewis (2-32, TD). Allen Lazard (5-61) and Christian Watson (6-49) were the top receivers but Watson left with a hip injury. AJ Dillon ran for 36 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries while Aaron Jones only managed 25 yards on six tuns and two receptions for nine yards. The Packers’ defense gave up plenty of yardage but they took advantage of three bad passes to keep the Fins from scoring more. The 7-8 Packers keep their playoff hopes alive and host the Vikings for a very critical matchup.

Tagovailoa passed for 310 yards and a score, and had a great game, other than the three poorly thrown interceptions. Jaylen Waddle (5-143, TD) logged a 84-yard catch and run for a touchdown while Tyreek Hill (4-103). No other receivers managed more than 25 yards. Raheem Mostert (8-45) and Jeff Wilson (9-37, TD) ran well but not often. The Fins led 20-10 at the half but never scored again. The 8-7 Dolphins have lost their fourth-straight game and while they once were atop the AFC East, they are now in jeopardy of missing the playoffs. The Dolphins  head to New England for Week 17.

Denver 14, LA Rams 51

There is rock bottom. And then, underneath that, is losing to the injury-ravaged set of third-stringers known as the Los Angeles Rams after giving up 51 points.  The Broncos ended their five-game losing streak last week and it looks like they are starting a new one. The Rams led 31-6 at the half and tried to coast to their win but still scored 20 more points. This game was exactly what the Broncos did not need.

Russell Wilson passed for 214 yards and one fourth-quarter touchdown along with three interceptions and the Broncos let Brett Rypien take over at the end of the game in time to throw a pick-six that ended the scoring in the lop-sided tilt. Jerry Jeudy (6-117) and Courtland Sutton (5-64) were the top receivers while Greg Dulcich (4-39, TD) snagged the lone touchdown.  Latavius Murray ran for 34 yards on eight rushes and scored the two-point conversion but the Broncos couldn’t get on track with Wilson and Rypien combining for four interceptions and six sacks. The Broncos fall to 4-11 and travels to Kansas City for Week 17.

Baker Mayfield was barely winded while throwing 230 yards and two scores to Tyer Higbee (9-94) which alone would have won the game. Mayfield completed 24-of-28 passes and had a 124.7 QB rating. Cam Akers finally resembled what they expected when they drafted him by rushing for 118 yards and three touchdowns. The defense had a big day against the struggling  Broncos and the offense took their time riding to the big win. The 5-10 Rams play at the Chargers next week but they’ll spend the week basking in the glow of a 37-point blowout.

Tampa Bay 19, Arizona 16 OT

Well, of course they had to go to overtime in this war of the field goals. The Buccaneers pulled out the win with a 40-yard field goal in overtime. They trailed the Cardinals 16-6 but managed the ten points to tie the game. Tom Brady threw for 281 yards and a score but tossed two interceptions, Leonard Fournette was the lead rusher (20-72) and the lead receiver (9-90). Rachaad White ran for 36 yards on his seven carries and caught four passes for 17 yards and the lone touchdown. The Buccaneers rise to 7-8 and yet barely beating a team in overtime that is on their third quarterback isn’t a great sign for the playoffs.

Trace McSorley started the game and threw for 217 yards and one interception.  That mostly went to Greg Dortch (10-98) and Marquise Brown (3-57) while DeAndre Hopkins only caught one four-yard pass as he was eliminated by the coverage. James Conner (15-79, TD) scored on a 23-yard run in the fourth quarter and added seven catches for 41 yards.  The Cardinals’ defense rose to the occasion but the offense under McSorley couldn’t handle the Rams’ defense. They drop to 4-11 and head to Atlanta on Sunday.

GAME-O-THE-WEEK: Philadelphia 34, Dallas 40

Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The highest-scoring game of Saturday was a fantasy-point bonanza. The Eagles led 34-27 with ten minutes left to play but the Cowboys reeled off 13 unanswered points to secure the win. Gardner Minshew was very effective throwing for 355 yards and two scores but tossed two interceptions and lost a fumble. He also ran in a touchdown. DeVonta Smith (8-113, 2 TD) and A.J. Brown (6-103) donated solid fantasy points and the return of Dallas Goedert produced three catches for 67 yards.  Miles Sanders was held to 65 yards on 21 rushes since the rushing couldn’t sustain drives. The Eagles fall to 13-2 and still need one more win to nail down the No. 1 seed. They host the Saints this week which should do the trick.

Dak Prescott passed for 347 yards and three touchdowns for his best effort of the year and he even ran for 41 yards. CeeDee Lamb (10-120, 2 TD) proved more than the Eagles could handle and T.Y. Hilton gained 52 yards on his only catch as a Cowboy.  Ezekiel Elliott only gained 55 yards on 16 carries with a score, while Tony Pollard gained just 19 yards on nine runs but added six receptions for 61 yards. It was a welcomed shootout that rewarded all the fantasy starters and lifts the Cowboys to 11-4. They have clinched the No. 5 seed as the best wild card team barring an unlikely collapse of the Eagles.


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