For the remainder of the season, Leonard looks at the week that was in the NFL and gives us the good, the bad, and the ugly from the league.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
It seemed like the whole world was against Kansas City this week. QB Patrick Mahomes was intercepted 3 times this week, a rare multi-turnover game for Mahomes. He bobbled a snap early and was sacked for a loss of 30 yards. TE Travis Kelce had 136 yards through the air with a score, WR Mecole Hardman was untouched on his 67-yard punt return TD and WR Tyreek Hill found the end zone twice. Kansas City overcame a 10 point deficit to clinch not only the AFC West but their 3rd straight season of at least 12 wins. They’re the best team in the NFL and they showed by Sunday.
GREEN BAY PACKERS
Another time who clinched a playoff berth Sunday was the Green Bay Packers. The Packers are in firm control of the NFC North division. They secured the NFC’s #1 seed after the New Orleans Saints fell to the Philadelphia Eagles. 2 men that have been on a mission for Green Bay are QB Aaron Rodgers and WR Davante Adams. Rodgers, who is the leading candidate for MVP in my opinion, has thrown for nearly 3700 yards, 39 touchdowns to only 4 interceptions. He’s been an absolute surgeon carving up defenses all season. WR Davante Adams has just under 1150 receiving yards with 14 scores of his own. Things are rolling in Green Bay and fans should be excited about the playoffs.
Remember when the Bears were 5-0? Aw, good times. The Bears this week looked a lot like the Bears at the start of the season. QB Mitchell Trubisky lit up the Houston Texans defense with 267 passing yards and 3 passing touchdowns. RB David Montgomery had 113 on the ground, including an 80-yard rush. WR Allen Robinson had 123 yards through the air off of 9 catches. The Bears ended their 6-game losing streak and have kept themselves alive in the playoff race. At 6-7, there’s still a chance for Chicago to grab the final seed but they have no more for error.
LAS VEGAS RAIDERS
You gave up 44 points last week. Your defense continues to disappoint and let you down. Now at 7-6, your ice when it comes to making the postseason is getting thinner. You haven’t allowed under 20 points since Nov. 1st. If your defense doesn’t get it together, you could see a ton of changes in the off-season.
Arguably the most disappointing team this season, the Falcons have underperformed in just about every aspect. QB Matt Ryan threw 3 interceptions, RB Todd Gurley had 19 total rushing yards and outside of receivers Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage, no one else had over 15 receiving yards. While I’ll cut them a bit of slack, they did miss 4 starters in that game, they lost to the also underachieving Los Angeles Chargers. Remember when the Falcons boasted an offense in which every starter was a former first-round pick? That sums up their season perfectly. All the talent but they still lack productivity. When Anthony Lynn comes back and beats your team, you know you deserved to lose. At least Younghoe Koo looks good.
QB MIKE GLENNON
Benched again, huh? Seems to be a yearly tradition at this point. Glennon completed 13 of 23 passes for 85 yards and an interception before the Jaguars benched him for Gardner Minshew. Glennon, a career backup, couldn’t even throw 100 yards for a team looking to just end their year. On the bright side, the Jaguars have almost guaranteed themselves the rights to any QB prospect not named Trevor Lawrence.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS KICKER DAN BAILEY
He didn’t make a single kick last week. Not even one. In a pivotal game for both teams but more so for the Minnesota Vikings, Dan Bailey failed them. He had 4 kicking opportunities and didn’t take advantage of any of them. There must’ve been a mixup with the Vikings’ footballs, they must’ve accidentally gone down to Tampa Bay with the Texas Longhorns footballs because every kick he took was hooking left or right.
Someone should’ve handed this guy a recipe, maybe he would’ve made one then. Bailey singlehandedly cost the Vikings 10 points. This loss may prove to be fatal as the Vikings have an uphill battle to get to the postseason now.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS RUN GAME
We all knew this team was too good to be true but this offense is stagnant. RB James Conner rushed for a putrid 18 yards on Sunday, averaging 1.8 a carry. Conner hasn’t had a 100-yard performance since mid-October. These struggles put pressure on the offense by forcing them to be one dimensional. There’s not even a clear #2 back behind Conner with both Benny Snell and Anthony McFarland looking like duds. The defense is the heart and soul of the Pittsburgh Steelers but if their running game can’t develop, the offense will continue to struggle and the defense will eventually cave in. Pittsburgh needs to get a more consistent ground game or they could see themselves as a #1 seed one and done.
NEW YORK JETS
Another week, another loss. That makes the New York Jets officially 0-13. A 40-3 blowout courtesy of the Seattle Seahawks. Why is Adam Gase a head coach again? Why is 37-year-old Frank Gore getting a bulk of the carries? One step closer to Trevor Lawrence I guess? Get out your paper bags Jets fans, 0-16 appears to be around the corner. Days after relieving DC Gregg Williams of his duties, the defense failed to show up. K Sergio Castillo also couldn’t get points on the board as he went 1 for 4 on the day. A sweet taste of revenge for former Jet and current Seahawk SS Jamal Adams as he helped the Seahawks dominate his former team. The Big Apple will have quite the off-season it seems.