When the Bills announced that they would sit some of their defensive starters and play Matt Barkley at some point in this game, there was sudden speculation that Josh Allen wouldn't play at all. Allen, as it turned out, made the start, which looked like a very dubious decision in the early stages of the afternoon. Allen was sacked on the opening drive and then was intercepted when Byron Jones made a great play to jump the route.
The Bills put Allen at risk for getting hurt or having his confidence diminished versus a tough Miami defense. However, that didn't happen, as Buffalo tore Miami apart after that. Allen led three touchdown drives in the opening half. Add in a punt return touchdown by Isaiah McKenzie, and the Bills held a 28-6 lead heading into intermission.
Buffalo finally pulled Allen to start the third quarter, leaving Matt Barkley to play the entire second half. The Dolphins had a golden opportunity to lead a comeback, despite a 22-point deficit. They drew to within 28-13 via a Myles Gaskin touchdown, but that's all the Dolphins could muster before garbage time. Tua Tagovailoa heaved a pick-six because DeVante Parker fell down to give the Bills a 35-13 lead. Tagovailoa was lucky to escape without another interception when a Buffalo defender dropped a pass, but it didn't matter because a high throw of his in the red zone resulted in another pick.
Tagovailoa compiled nice yardage - 35-of-58, 361 yards, one touchdown - but three picks ruined Miami's playoff chances. Ryan Fitzpatrick normally would have entered the game to potentially save the day, but he was missing because of a minor illness.
Despite falling down to cause an interception, Parker posted a solid stat line. He caught seven passes for 116 yards, with all but one catch coming in garbage time in the second half. Mike Gesicki (5-47) also did his damage then.
Gaskin scored, as mentioned, and he had a solid PPR outing overall. He rushed for only 20 yards on seven carries, but caught five passes for 47 receiving yards.
The best fantasy running back in this game wasn't Gaskin; it was someone named Antonio Williams, who had a huge second half with the backups. He rushed for 63 yards and two touchdowns on just 12 carries, as Zack Moss (3-8) and Devin Singletary (3-7) didn't do much.
Playing only a half, Allen still did well for those who used him on DraftKings. He went 18-of-25 for 224 yards, three touchdowns and the aforementioned interception.
Like Allen, Diggs played a half. He caught seven passes for 76 yards. He trailed only Gabriel Davis on the stat sheet, as Davis caught two passes for 107 yards and a score. John Brown (4-72) also found the end zone, returning from his lengthy absence.
Buffalo's most prominent scorer was McKenzie. In addition to the punt return touchdown, he also snatched two touchdowns from Allen, catching six balls for 65 yards in the process.
Ravens 38, Bengals 3
The Ravens are great at crushing bad teams. Since the amazing win over the Browns on Monday night, they've pummeled the Jaguars and the Giants. They made it three for three, as they ripped apart the Bengals to assure themselves a playoff spot.
This was complete domination by the Ravens. If the final score isn't an indication, you can look at the net yardage, which the Ravens won 258-62 in the first half. They also won the time of possession by 14 minutes - prior to halftime! The Bengals achieved just three first downs in the opening half, which paled in comparison to Baltimore's 13.
The Ravens were able to win with great defense and a strong rushing attack. They generated 161 rushing yards in the first half alone. Cincinnati, meanwhile, had a laughable 24 rushing yards and 38 passing yards in that span.
If you think those numbers are impressive, you haven't seen anything yet. The Ravens closed out this game with 404 rushing yards. Yes. Four hundred and four rushing yards! The Bengals didn't even crack 200 net yards overall!
The leader in the rushing clubhouse for the Ravens was J.K. Dobbins, who exploded for 160 yards and two touchdowns on just 13 carries. He broke free for a 72-yard score in the second half to help those numbers. Gus Edwards chipped in with 60 yards on 12 attempts.
Lamar Jackson, meanwhile, nearly gained 100 rushing yards of his own. He scrambled 11 times for 97 rushing yards to go along with his passing numbers (10-of-18, 113 yards, three touchdowns, one interception.) His pick was tipped at the line of scrimmage.
Two of Jackson's scores went to Marquise Brown, who snatched five balls for 41 yards. Miles Boykin also scored on his lone catch of 43 yards.
There's not much to say about the Bengals. Their lone big play in the first half, a 41-yard catch by Tee Higgins, was negated by a penalty, and adding injury to insult, Higgins hurt his hamstring on the play. He didn't log a single reception for that reason. In fact, no Cincinnati player logged more than 21 receiving yards. Brandon Allen completed only six of his 21 passes for 48 yards and two picks. One of his interceptions, which occurred in a rare trip into Baltimore territory late in the game, was one of the worst throws you'll ever see.
Browns 24, Steelers 22
All the Browns needed to do to reach the playoffs was beat the Steelers' backups. Pittsburgh sat numerous players, including Ben Roethlisberger, T.J. Watt, Cameron Heyward, Maurkice Pouncey and Joe Haden, among others. Cleveland was a double-digit favorite for this reason, so of course it was going to prevail without much resistance.
It certainly looked that way when the Browns opened a 10-0 lead, thanks to a 47-yard Nick Chubb touchdown run. However, the Browns stopped moving the chains after that, holding just a 10-6 advantage by intermission. Baker Mayfield saw way more pressure than he should have, considering the strength of his offensive line versus the Steelers' backup front seven. Untimely sacks ruined many drives, while the Steelers hit enough big plays to put themselves in position to kick two field goals.
Mayfield continued to take sacks, but Cleveland's defense finally bailed out Cleveland's offense, snatching an interception which occurred because Mason Rudolph was hit as he released the ball. This helped the Browns eventually establish an eight-point lead, which was threatened by one final drive from the Steelers. Rudolph hit JuJu Smith-Schuster for a 2-yard touchdown, but the two-point conversion failed, allowing the Browns to sneak away with a win and their first playoff appearance since 2002.
Mayfield went 17-of-27 for 196 yards and a touchdown. This was not the performance he needed to have to soundly beat the Steelers, and frankly, he's very lucky that Pittsburgh decided to sit its starters. Mayfield took too many bad sacks, going down four times despite Watt's absence.
Mayfield's lone touchdown went to Austin Hooper, who caught four passes for 37 yards. The only players to finish ahead of him on the stat sheet were Rashard Higgins (2-55) and Jarvis Landry (5-51).
Chubb scored on the aforementioned 47-yard run early in the game, but didn't have any other highlights. He finished with 108 yards on 14 carries, while Kareem Hunt (10-37) disappointed once again. Hunt, for some reason, saw one target, which he converted for four yards. Cleveland not using Hunt as a receiver out of the backfield is baffling.
The Steelers used their primary running backs in this game, but didn't get anything out of them, as both James Conner (9-37) and Benny Snell (3-10) struggled.
Rudolph didn't have a bad game outside of his interception. He went 22-of-39 for 315 yards, two touchdowns and the pick. The drives were very inconsistent, but Rudolph was able to make some big plays because of the talent at his disposal.
And speaking of that talent, Claypool capped off his rookie year with five catches for 101 yards and a touchdown. Smith-Schuster (6-65) also scored. Diontae Johnson didn't find the end zone, but he caught three balls for 96 yards.
Vikings 37, Lions 35
This game meant nothing except for draft positioning, but no one told that to the offenses, which were generating touchdown drives all afternoon. Viewers of this game saw big play after big play in a Week 17 shootout.
Despite this, the key play in this game was a defensive stop. The Vikings had a goal-to-go situation right near the goal line in the fourth quarter. Down 31-29, the Lions' beleaguered defense just needed one stop to give themselves a chance to win. They stuffed three Minnesota runs, and on fourth down, a Detroit player broke through Minnesota's offensive line and sacked Kirk Cousins. It wasn't a big hit; just a routine tackle to bring down the quarterback. Yet, the official threw a yellow flag and called the Lions for roughing the passer. It was perhaps the worst roughing-the-passer call in NFL history, but Detroit couldn't do anything about it. Two plays later, Cousins sneaked into the end zone to go up eight.
The Lions still had a chance to tie. Stafford led the team down the field with ease for one of his many scoring drives, with D'Andre Swift plunging into the end zone after a Stafford-to-Marvin Jones touchdown was overturned. The two-point conversion failed, however, and the Lions couldn't get off the field as Minnesota ran out the clock.
Cousins had a brilliant game, scoring four touchdowns overall. He was 28-of-40 for 405 yards and three passing touchdowns in addition to his rushing score. This was an incredible performance, but keep in mind that the Lions had countless injured players, particularly on defense. Cousins still took some bad sacks, though he was bailed out by a horrendous call on one of them.
Justin Jefferson had a huge day as well, breaking the Vikings' rookie receiving-yardage record, previously held by Randy Moss. Jefferson caught nine of this 12 targets for 133 yards. Adam Thielen (4-57) didn't do much in comparison.
Alexander Mattison, starting for Dalvin Cook, also had a monstrous afternoon. He rushed for 95 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries, and he also caught three passes for 50 receiving yardage and a second score. Cook caught tons of flak for his sluggish performance versus Atlanta earlier in the year. It helped that he wasn't down by three scores in the early stages of this game!
The Lions had more rushing yards than the Vikings despite Mattison's performance. Swift, who scored the aforementioned touchdown, gained 54 yards on 12 carries. Adrian Peterson outgained him, thanks to a 38-yard burst. He finished with 63 yards and a score on seven attempts.
Stafford also had a solid stat line, going 20-of-31 for 293 yards, three touchdowns and an interception at the beginning of the second half, which set up a field goal for the Vikings.
Marvin Jones was the best fantasy producer of them all. He reeled in eight of his 11 targets for 180 yards and two touchdowns. He nearly had a third score, but replay review showed that he dropped the ball at the last second. Quintez Cephus (2-51) also scored, while T.J. Hockenson (3-25) disappointed.
Giants 23, Cowboys 19
The Cowboys had been the luckiest team in the NFL entering this game, accumulating a ridiculous 10 turnovers against the Bengals, 49ers and Eagles. It seemed like their positive mojo would continue in this contest, as they had some good fortune in the early stages of this win-and-potentially-in scenario versus the Giants.
The worm should have turned for the Cowboys' turnover trend, as Andy Dalton was very close to throwing two interceptions in the first half. He tossed a pick, but had it negated by a penalty, and then he had another potential interception dropped on a very inaccurate throw to Amari Cooper. Meanwhile, Dallas collected another turnover when Wayne Gallman fumbled the ball in his own territory. This set up a Dallas field goal.
However, despite this great fortune early in the game, all Dallas could do was connect on field goals. Greg Zeurlein drilled three of them, but this wasn't enough to even have the Cowboys remain within single digits of the Giants, who assembled three opening-half drives to give themselves a 20-9 lead at the break.
Despite the halftime deficit, the Football Variance Gods tried their hardest to continue to get the Cowboys into the playoffs. Dallas intercepted a Daniel Jones tipped pass, which Ezekiel Elliott converted into a touchdown. The Cowboys had a chance to take the lead, as a promising Giants drive was ruined by a phantom illegal crack-back block. Dallas led a drive deep into Giants territory, but the New York defense came up with a big play to stop Andy Dalton.
All the Giants needed to do was run out the clock at that point, and they did when Gallman zipped past the first-down marker. However, he fumbled when he could have just sealed the victory by going to the ground! It appeared as though the Cowboys had recovered, but a lengthy replay review showed that Gallman had the ball while on the ground, preserving the win for the Giants. And just like that, Dallas' good luck finally ran out.
Jones did well to move the chains on most drives, as he went 17-of-25 for 229 yards, two touchdowns and the aforementioned interception. He showed more mobility than he did in the previous week, scrambling nine times for 17 rushing yards.
Sterling Shepard had a huge performance. He scored on an early 23-yard rushing touchdown, and he was able to add to that with a massive receiving total, as he caught eight of his 10 targets for 112 yards and another score. Dante Pettis (2-43) also scored, while Darius Slayton (2-22) had a disappointing end to his sophomore campaign. He would save his energy for some Twitter rants later that evening.
Gallman, who lucked out by not being charged with a fumble at the end, ended up with 65 yards on 11 carries. He actually outgained Elliott, who was limited to 42 yards on 14 carries to go along with his previously mentioned touchdown.
Hilariously, Dalton out-rushed the overweight Elliott, scrambling seven times for 48 yards. Dalton really struggled as a passer in the opening half - he as 11-of-20 for 99 yards with two dropped picks at halftime - but he picked up his play late to finish 29-of-47 for 243 yards and an interception.
Dalton's primary target was Dalton Schultz, who snatched seven of the 10 passes thrown to him for 70 yards. Gallup (4-49) and Cooper (6-41) were robbed of touchdowns, while CeeDee Lamb made five grabs for 43 yards.
Buccaneers 44, Falcons 27
The Buccaneers didn't need to win this game to reach the playoffs, but they could clinch the No. 5 seed in the NFC with a victory. This was important, as it would allow Tampa Bay to battle the NFC East divisional winner in the opening round.
Tampa prevailed, but it was a Pyrrhic victory in that Mike Evans was lost with an injury. Evans dropped a touchdown, and replay showed that his leg hyperextended on the play. It's unclear how long Evans will be sidelined, but the Buccaneers have so many weapons that they can overcome his absence.
We saw proof of that in this game. Not that the Falcons are the greatest measuring stick, but the Buccaneers still scored 44, as Antonio Brown stepped up in Evans' absence. Brown caught 11 of his 14 targets for 138 yards and two touchdowns. He's going to be extremely important for the Buccaneers, especially if Evans can't return anytime soon.
Brown wasn't the only Tampa receiver who thrived, as Chris Godwin caught five of his seven targets for 133 yards and two touchdowns. Godwin nearly had a third score, but a great catch of his was spoiled by him having only one foot inbounds.
As you can guess, Tom Brady's stat line was spectacular. Brady went 26-of-41 for 399 yards, four touchdowns and an interception. The pick wasn't even his fault; a Scotty Miller drop popped into the arms of an Atlanta defender.
Ronald Jones made his return from a minor illness, and he ran well. He gained 78 yards and a score on just 12 carries. Leonard Fournette (5-13) did nothing.
The Falcons didn't run nearly as well. Except for a 62-yard burst from Brian Hill (9-94), Atlanta barely picked up any yardage on the ground. In fact, the poor running was responsible for Atlanta's red zone ineptitude early in this game. On one red zone sequence, the Falcons gave Todd Gurley (9-18) two runs. One went nowhere, and the second was fumbled. The third down was a terrible pass to Ito Smith. Even worse, Hill lost a fumble as well later in the game, which appeared to be returned for a touchdown until replay review showed that the defender was down by contact after scooping up the turnover.
Atlanta kept this game close for a while, thanks to Matt Ryan. The veteran went 29-of-44 for 265 yards and two touchdowns. Some poor play-calling betrayed him, as did some poor pass protection as a result of Alex Mack's absence.
Calvin Ridley had a disappointing showing, considering the matchup. He caught eight passes, but for only 52 yards. He finished behind Russell Gage, who hauled in nine balls for 91 yards and a touchdown. Hayden Hurst (4-28) also scored.
EDITOR'S NOTE: I'm so glad Charlie Campbell covered this game so I wouldn't have to write about it. Thanks, Charlie!
This game had no meaning outside of draft positioning, but it easily could be the final game for each starting quarterback with these teams. Cam Newton is not expected back with New England, and Sam Darnold could be traded by the Jets. This game won't help Darnold's trade value, as Newton improved the Patriots' record to 7-9 on the season.
Newton took a designed run up the middle on the opening drive of the game and charged down the field for a 50-yard gain. He finished the drive by finding James White for a short touchdown pass. Over most of the rest of the first half, both offenses would get some drives started before critical sacks killed a scoring opportunities for each team. Darnold got the Jets moving late in the second quarter with an 18-yard pass to Daniel Brown, which led to a 15-yard completion to Ty Johnson before Darnold hit Chris Herndon (7-63-1) for a 21-yard touchdown to tie the game at halftime.
Darnold hit Breshad Perriman on the run for a gain of 53 toward the start of the third quarter, and a few plays later, Josh Adams plunged into the end zone. New England tied the game at 14 thanks to Newton making a few completions and using his legs. The Patriots closed out that drive with wide receiver Jakobi Meyers catching a reverse that he then lofted the ball downfield to Newton for a 19-yard touchdown. Promptly, Darnold had a pass sail off the mark to J.C. Jackson for his ninth pick of the year. That set up the Patriots just past midfield, and early in the fourth quarter, Newton found Devin Asiasi for a 26-yard score. New England expanded its lead to 28-14 when Newton found Sony Michel wide open on the backside of a play and Michel darted into the end zone from 31 yards.
Late in the fourth quarter, Darnold moved the Jets into enemy territory, but he threw an interception in the end zone because he failed to see safety Jonathan Jones undercutting the route. That pick clinched the win for the Patriots.
Newton completed 21-of-30 passes for 242 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for 79 yards on 11 carries and caught a touchdown pass. It was a vintage Newton performance, and if he had played like that all year, he would be back with the Patriots for 2021.
Michel had 76 yards on 16 carries plus took three receptions for 60 yards and a touchdown.
Meyers caught six passes for 68 yards to go with his 19-yard touchdown pass.
In what could be his final game with the Jets, Darnold completed 23-of-34 passes for 266 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.
Perriman led the Jets in receiving with three receptions for 84 yards.
EDITOR'S NOTE: One of the announcers in this game said that Jon Gruden called last week's Hail Mary from Ryan Fitzpatrick the worst play in which he's ever been involved. That's saying a lot, considering he was victimized by the Tuck Rule!
If the Raiders had fielded just an average defense this season, they would have made the playoffs. Still, they improvemed, finishing the year at 8-8 after a losing record in the previous three seasons. They got to their eighth win, as Derek Carr out-gunned Drew Lock despite Las Vegas creating a plethora of turnovers. Denver, meanwhile, improved its draft positioning by losing this game, so it wasn't all bad for the Broncos.
The Broncos moved down the field on their opening drive with Lock picking apart the vulnerable Las Vegas defense, but they had to settle for a field goal. The Raiders responded with Carr hitting Nelson Agholor for 57 yards inside the Broncos' 10-yard line. An offensive pass interference took away an Agholor touchdown, and the Raiders settled to tie the game at three. Denver quickly got in position for more points with a 17-yard pass to Tyrie Cleveland, a 20-yard run from Royce Freeman, and a 29-yard pass to Tim Patrick. A Raiders penalty gave the Broncos a free first down after a few stops, and Lock found Troy Fumagalli for a touchdown.
Darren Waller fumbled the ball away and the Broncos recovered at the Raiders' 39, but Denver missed a long field goal. Las Vegas took advantage with a drive that ended when Waller redeemed himself with a phenomenal catch for a 28-yard touchdown. Late in the second quarter, Carr used Theo Riddick on a few receptions to move into Denver territory. Carr threw a beauty to Bryan Edwards for a 26-yard score and a 17-10 lead at halftime.
Early in the third quarter, Lock led a field goal drive to cut the Las Vegas lead to four. A deflected pass off the hands of Waller was intercepted by the Broncos to give Lock possession around the Raiders' 40. A back-shoulder throw to Noah Fant moved the ball inside the 20, but the drive stalled and Denver settled for a field goal to make it a one-point game.
The turnovers continued when Henry Ruggs took a hard hit and fumbled the ball away. This time, the Broncos were able to avoid the three-pointer thanks to Melvin Gordon charging into the end zone from 10 yards. The two-point conversion to Jerry Jeudy was good, and the Broncos took the 24-17 lead just a few seconds into the fourth quarter.
The turnover streak continued when Kareem Jackson picked off Carr, which set up Denver for more points, but this time the Raiders forced a punt. Las Vegas started a drive with a completion to Edwards and got the ball to Waller to cross midfield. Waller moved the ball closer, and Josh Jacobs exploded for a 28-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 24.
With less than seven minutes remaining, Lock hit Jeudy on a deep crossing route, and he exploded down the field for a 92-yard touchdown. The Raiders had one more chance with just under two minutes remaining, and Carr quickly moved the ball close to the end zone with a 37-yard completion to Zay Jones and 32 yards on two passes to Waller. On fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line, Jacobs powered into the end zone to cut the Denver lead to 31-30. Jon Gruden went for two, and Carr threw a rope to Waller to put the Raiders up 32-31 with 24 seconds remaining. A 63-yard field goal attempt was then blocked by Maxx Crosby, which clinched the win for Las Vegas.
Carr completed 24-of-38 passes for 371 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Jacobs ran for 89 yards on 15 carries with two touchdowns.
Waller had a fumble, tipped a pass for an interception, and had a bogus pass interference penalty in a rough game, but he led Las Vegas in receiving with nine catches for 118 yards and a score.
Lock completed 25-of-41 passes for 339 yards and two touchdowns. He wasn't picked.
Gordon ran for 93 yards on 26 carries and a touchdown.
Jeudy caught five passes for 140 yards and a touchdown.
Packers 35, Bears 16
The Packers had the No. 1 seed in their sights when they had some horrible news in the week leading up to this game. All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari tore his ACL, which meant Green Bay would be missing two offensive linemen in this game and the playoff run. It's been one contest, but so far, so good for the Bakhtiari-less Packers.
"Good" is a major understatement, as Aaron Rodgers didn't fire a single incompletion in the opening half. He was 10-of-10 for 155 yards for three touchdowns heading into the break, which included a 72-yard bomb to Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Rodgers should have thrown a second deep score to Valdes-Scantling, but the speedy receiver dropped the ball in the third quarter. This was Rodgers' first incompletion of the afternoon.
Rodgers finished a near-perfect 19-of-24 for 240 yards and a quartet of scores. He was nearly intercepted twice on the same drive in the second half, but this was his lone blemish in this game.
Speaking of Valdes-Scantling, he led the Packers with 87 yards and a touchdown on just two catches. Davante Adams (6-46) also found the end zone, as did Robert Tonyan (2-18) and someone named Dominique Dafney (1-13). Suffering succotash.
Aaron Jones didn't do much overall, but he managed to sneak into the end zone as well. He gained 42 yards and a touchdown on just 11 carries. He also caught four passes for 43 receiving yards.
David Montgomery was the leading rusher in this game, but it didn't seem like that would happen when he suffered an injury on the opening drive. Montgomery, however, missed just a couple of plays, and he ended up with 69 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. His score actually occurred on that very same drive. Montgomery was also a big producer as a receiver, catching nine passes for 63 receiving yards.
The only Bear with more receiving yards than Montgomery wasn't Allen Robinson, who was smothered by Jaire Alexander as he caught just two passes for 37 yards. That distinction belonged to Darnell "Mad Eye" Mooney, who snatched 11 of his 13 targets for 93 yards. Cole Kmet (7-41) lost a fumble that set up a Green Bay touchdown.
Speaking of turnovers, Mitchell Trubisky completed most of his passes, going 33-of-42 for 252 yards and an interception. However, he was extremely fortunate that he wasn't intercepted three times, with Green Bay dropping a pair of potential picks, including one in the end zone.
Colts 28, Jaguars 14
It's incredible that this game was actually in doubt. The Colts jumped out to a huge lead, as they were up 20-0 late in the second quarter. The lead would have been even greater had a Jonathan Taylor touchdown not been wiped out by a Jared Veldheer face mask penalty.
Then, something weird happened. The Jaguars began scoring and playing good defense! We haven't seen this in weeks, but I can confirm that it did occur. They had a quick touchdown drive right before halftime and then scored once again in the third quarter. It was a 20-14 game for what seemed like an eternity, but Taylor broke free for a long run to put Indianapolis up two scores in the final minutes.
Taylor was a monster in this game. He rushed for a ridiculous 253 yards and two touchdowns on 30 carries, and don't forget about the score he lost on the Veldheer penalty. Taylor struggled earlier in the year, but he really turned the corner. He should be in store for a huge 2021 campaign.
Taylor wasn't the only Indianapolis running back who was productive. In fact, Nyheim Hines led the team in receiving with six catches for 50 yards, edging out Zach Pascal (2-41). T.Y. Hilton didn't accumulate much yardage - three catches, 27 yards - but he scored an early touchdown.
Philip Rivers was pretty mediocre in this game, as it seemed like he really missed left tackle Anthony Castonzo. Rivers was 17-of-27 for 164 yards, one touchdown and an interception on an underthrown deep pass. Rivers completed just seven passes after halftime, thanks to rare Jacksonville pressure bothering him.
Amazingly, Mike Glennon outplayed Rivers despite not having James Robinson or D.J. Chark at his disposal. I'm not sure how it happened, but it did. Glennon went 26-of-42 for 261 yards and two touchdowns.
Both of Glennon's touchdowns went to Laviska Shenault, who hauled in six of his nine targets for 68 yards and two touchdowns. He was outgained only by Chris Conley (7-87).
Dare Ogunbowale started in favor of Robinson. He ran for 50 yards on 14 carries versus a tough Indianapolis ground defense.
Chargers 38, Chiefs 21
The Chiefs didn't play most of their starters, so it wasn't a surprise that this ended up being such a lopsided result. The Chiefs engineered a couple of early touchdown drives, but this game belonged to the Chargers, who punted only twice in this game.
Justin Herbert was battling a skeleton crew Kansas City defense, but he managed to notch many rookie records in the wake of this performance. He went 22-of-31 for 302 yards and three touchdowns. He also sneaked into the end zone. He nearly had a fourth aerial score, but he threw behind Jalen Guyton early in the game. Still, Herbert was excellent to close out his terrific rookie year.
Mike Williams led the Chargers in receiving with six catches for 108 yards. He also drew an interference flag in the end zone. Donald Parham (3-37) also scored by impressively juking a defender. Austin Ekeler found the end zone as well. He caught six passes for 33 receiving yards. Ekeler didn't run very much - seven carries, 18 yards - so it's a good thing that he did his damage as a receiver out of the backfield.
Justin Jackson led the Chargers in rushing, gaining 72 yards on nine carries, thanks to a 34-yard burst. Kalen Ballage (13-36) scored a touchdown.
There's not much to say about the second-string Chiefs. Chad Henne went 23-of-32 for 218 yards and two touchdowns, while Darwin Thompson logged 110 total yards and two touchdowns (45 rushing, 65 receiving.) Byron Pringle (4-52) found the end zone as well.
Saints 33, Panthers 7
Believe it or not, this was a close game, despite what the final score says. That may sound odd, given that the Saints won by 26 points, but this was a tight affair for most of the afternoon. The Saints outgained the Panthers by just 27 net yards, and they averaged only 0.1 more yards per play. And no, this was not the byproduct of garbage time.
Both teams moved the chains well in between the 20s. The difference was what happened once the two squads entered the red zone. The Saints converted with touchdowns, while the Panthers couldn't even get field goals because they committed so many turnovers. Carolina was guilty of three give-aways in the red zone alone!
Teddy Bridgewater was at fault for most of this. Again, he did a great job in the 20s, but he turned into an interception machine deep in New Orleans territory. Following a dropped pick-six, Bridgewater forced a pass into the end zone and didn't see Malcolm Jenkins, who snatched the pick. He later threw a pass right to a defender on a horribly inaccurate attempt. Had the Panthers converted in the red area, they would have had the lead over New Orleans in the third quarter. Instead, this suddenly became such a lopsided score that Bridgewater was benched in favor of Phillip Walker, who promptly heaved a pass behind his receiver to set up a New Orleans touchdown. The Saints turned the take-away into a touchdown to go up 26-7.
Bridgewater was a mess, going 13-of-23 for 176 yards and two interceptions. He's looked good at times this year, but this will leave a bad taste in the mouths of those involved with the Panthers heading into the offseason.
Drew Brees, meanwhile, did well despite not having any of his running backs at his disposal. He did a great job of keeping the chains moving by completing most of his passes. He went 22-of-32 for 201 yards and three touchdowns.
Brees' top option with Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara sidelined was Emmanuel Sanders, who caught nine balls for 63 yards and a touchdown. He celebrated his eighth catch, as it netted him a $500,000 bonus.
Elsewhere in the receiving corps, Marquez Callaway caught three balls for 51 yards, but suffered an injury. Jared Cook (4-43) also scored.
With no running backs in his way, Ty Montgomery gained 105 yards on 16 carries, but didn't do much in the passing game (1 catch, 2 yards) despite being a former receiver. He also didn't find the end zone, as Taysom Hill (7-41) vultured a touchdown.
The Panthers didn't have their top runners either, allowing Rodney Smith to make the start. Smith gained 40 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries.
Two Carolina receivers eclipsed the century mark, though neither found the end zone because of Bridgewater's incompetence. Curtis Samuel snatched seven balls for 118 yards, while D.J. Moore caught five passes for 101 yards. Robby Anderson (3-40) disappointed.
Titans 41, Texans 38
The Texans played like crap against the Bengals last week, prompting J.J. Watt to go on a tirade during the post-game press conference. He pleaded for his teammates to put forth more effort, and they certainly did in this game. They battled the Titans to the bitter end, enough to seemingly force overtime.
Things looked bleak for the Texans when they were down 24-9 early in the third quarter, but that's when Deshaun Watson began torching Tennessee's beleaguered pass defense. Watson generated 203 passing yards and three touchdowns in the second half alone, as he shredded Tennessee's secondary mercilessly. It helped the Texans' cause when Derrick Henry fumbled while bursting through a wide-open running lane.
Houston slowly but surely erased Tennessee's lead and went up 35-31 in the fourth quarter. Ryan Tannehill, however, took over as a runner, appearing to scramble in a touchdown to take the lead. A penalty negated the score, but Tannehill managed to score on the ground once again later in the drive to go up 38-35. Watson responded with a game-tying drive. With less than a minute remaining in regulation, this game would seemingly head for overtime.
Tannehill didn't get the memo, however. He hurled a 52-yard bomb to A.J. Brown to move into field goal range. It was up to backup kicker Sam Sloman to drill the 37-yarder to win the game, and he did so by doinking the ball off the upright. With the win, Tennessee claimed the AFC South.
While Tannehill's running was mentioned, the star for the Titans was none other than Henry. He fumbled, but that was his lone mistake, as he rushed for 250 yards and two touchdowns on 34 carries. In doing so, he finished the year with 2,027 rushing yards, good for fifth all time in single-season history. The day could have been even better for Henry, as he had a touchdown called back due to a bogus holding call.
Tannehill, meanwhile, didn't have the best passing stats despite the bomb to Brown. He went 18-of-27 for 216 yards and a touchdown. However, he scored twice on the ground, rushing for 38 yards on seven scrambles.
Brown, amazingly, was responsible for nearly all of Tannehill's passing yardage. He caught 10 of his 11 targets for 151 yards and a touchdown. Corey Davis was next on the stat sheet with five grabs for 39 yards. He had a horrible afternoon because of two drops.
Despite Brown's colossal stat line, he wasn't even the leading receiver in this game! That was Brandin Cooks, who reeled in 11 of his 16 targets for 166 yards and two touchdowns. He nearly caught a third score, but one of his feet barely scraped the sideline. Keke Coutee almost broke the century mark as well; he caught six balls for 90 yards.
Thanks to his amazing second half, Watson was able to go 28-of-39 for 365 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. The pick was an ugly pass in the early stages that set up a Tennessee field goal.
David Johnson also had a nice stat line. He rushed for 84 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries, and he caught three passes for 36 receiving yards. Johnson out-produced DeAndre Hopkins on this day, which means Bill O'Brien was somewhere shouting, "I told you I made a great trade!" Let's not tell O'Brien that Johnson dropped a potential touchdown.
Rams 18, Cardinals 7
Kyler Murray entered this game with an injury, so it wasn't the greatest surprise when he limped into the locker room following the first drive again. He wasn't seen until the fourth quarter, so it was up to someone named Chris Streveler to quarterback Arizona to victory.
Streveler threw a touchdown in the early stages following a Rams interception, but that was all the scoring Arizona did in this contest. Murray tried his hardest to will his team to victory with a pair of drives in the fourth quarter when he was finally able to return to action following a two-and-a-half-quarter absence, but his injury, combined with the Rams' fearsome defense, prevented Arizona from reaching the playoffs.
The Rams, meanwhile, won't know if they'll have Jared Goff available for their first round matchup against the Seahawks. However, John Wolford played well in relief. Wolford, or as he's known on this Web site, Wolflord, did a good job of moving the chains. In watching tape of Wolflord ahead of Week 17, I characterized him as a Kyler Murray clone who is slower and has a weaker arm. Wolflord ran around like Murray, scrambling six times for 56 rushing yards. And aside from some ugly throws in the early stages - he began 1-of-5 with a pick - he made some accurate passes to keep the chains moving all afternoon. The Rams won the time-of-possession battle by nearly 16 minutes, thanks to Wolflord's efficiency.
Wolflord finished 22-of-38 for 231 yards and an interception. He didn't throw a touchdown, but nearly did, as Robert Woods drew an interference flag in the end zone.
Speaking of Woods, he caught four passes for 36 yards. He was close to the team lead in receiving, with that distinction belonging to Cam Akers, who caught four passes for 52 yards. Van Jefferson (4-50) was also close to the lead.
As for Akers, he struggled as a runner, mustering just 34 yards on 21 carries. He lost a fumble near the goal line when he foolishly tried to switch the ball to the other hand as he was being tackled.
The Cardinals didn't have much success rushing either. Kenyan Drake was limited to just 36 yards on 10 carries. With Murray unavailable for most of the game, Arizona simply couldn't keep the chains moving on the ground.
Murray ended up 8-of-11 for 87 yards. It was a rough way to end his injury-plagued year. Hopefully his small stature doesn't mean he'll be injury-prone throughout his career.
At the very worst, Arizona needs a better backup for Murray because Streveler was a mess. He went 11-of-16 for 105 yards and a touchdown, which doesn't sound that bad until you dig deeper. Streveler threw an interception off his back foot into triple coverage, and he was also strip-sacked. He was fortunate his teammates recovered the loose ball, but he wasn't so lucky when he held the ball too long in his own end zone, resulting in a hold that was ruled a safety.
You have to feel for DeAndre Hopkins, who had to deal with Streveler's incompetence and Jalen Ramsey's great coverage throughout the afternoon. Hopkins caught only four of his 10 targets for 35 yards. On one sequence, an offensive pass interference negated a 40-yard reception, and then he was so frustrated that he was flagged for unsportsmanlike penalty. This resulted in a first-and-35 for Arizona, which only got worse once Streveler took a sack.
Seahawks 26, 49ers 23
The Seahawks had a chance to secure the No. 1 seed with a victory and losses by the Packers and Saints. Green Bay and New Orleans didn't cooperate, but Seattle decided to play its starters for the full 60 minutes anyway.
Despite this, Seattle struggled to prevail. The 49ers led entering the fourth quarter, 9-6, despite missing nearly all of their starters. They were down six starters on offense and seven on defense. That didn't end up mattering, however, because they were able to put tons of pressure on Russell Wilson. Missing two offensive linemen, Wilson was constantly being harassed. This led to many rushed throws, which would explain why the Seahawks were just 4-of-12 on third down, and why they lost the time-of-possession battle by five minutes.
Wilson, however, had a nice fourth quarter to lead his team to victory. He hooked up with Tyler Lockett twice to push the Seahawks to victory.
The final stats, however, weren't very good. Wilson ended up going 20-of-36 for only 181 yards and the two scores. This was not a good look for Seattle, but the team is expected to have a healthier offensive line in the playoffs.
Lockett did the most damage in the receiving corps. He snatched 12 of his 14 targets for 90 yards and two touchdowns. D.K. Metcalf, conversely, struggled. He caught just three of his nine targets for 21 yards. He was guilty of a drop in the red zone.
Chris Carson rushed for 44 yards on 11 carries. He also caught two passes for 39 receiving yards.
With Raheem Mostert out again, Jeff Wilson Jr. once again handled the workload for the 49ers. He had a nice game, rushing for 76 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries.
Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk were out as well, yet C.J. Beathard still did a decent job. He went 25-of-37 for 273 yards and a touchdown. That said, a chunk of that yardage came in garbage time once the Seahawks established a 26-16 lead in the fourth quarter.
Kendrick Bourne led the 49ers in receiving with five grabs for 76 yards, followed by George Kittle (7-68) and Richie James (3-66).
Redskins 20, Eagles 14
I often criticize teams that don't tank, so I would sound hypocritical if I didn't at least commend the Eagles for tanking. Moving from ninth to sixth in the 2021 NFL Draft is a huge deal. As you can see in the 2021 NFL Draft Wide Receiver Prospect Rankings, the Eagles can probably obtain Devonta Smith with that choice.
That said, integrity was compromised by Doug Pederson's actions because this game involved playoff implications for the other team. The Giants were counting on a Philadelphia victory, but in a 17-14 affair, Pederson benched Jalen Hurts in favor of Nate Sudfeld because he "wanted to see Sudfeld." In other words, he wanted a better draft pick, and was willing to decide which team would claim the NFC's fourth seed by losing intentionally.
Hurts wasn't lighting up the scoreboard or anything. He was 7-of-20 for 72 yards and an interception to go along with two rushing scores (8 scrambles, 34 rushing yards). However, he was victimized by countless drops and poor blocking. Despite the poor passing stats, he gave the Eagles a chance to win the game. Sudfeld, on the other hand, had no shot. His first possession, which included a wasted timeout, was capped with an interception that looked like a punt. Sudfeld's second possession saw him lose a fumble on a bad snap. His next drive featured a horrible sack he took for a loss of 14 yards. His final chance included an abysmal pass thrown into the ground. The throw was so bad that Al Michaels remarked, "Oh, what is that?"
Sudfeld finished 5-of-12 for 32 yards and two turnovers. He certainly did his job to help the Eagles obtain the No. 2 receiver in the 2021 NFL Draft. Of course, they wouldn't need a wideout had they selected Justin Jefferson over Jalen Reagor like they were supposed to, but that's another story.
Speaking of Reagor, he caught only one pass for 15 yards. He also dropped a pass, which was not a surprise. Only one Philadelphia receiver logged more than 16 receiving yards: fellow bust J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (2-40). Zach Ertz (3-16) didn't do much.
Boston Scott started with Miles Sanders sidelined. He rushed for 65 yards on 15 carries.
The Redskins had more success moving the chains on the ground, as Antonio Gibson gained 75 yards on 19 tries. J.D. McKissic, meanwhile, had a rough performance. He caught five passes but for only 30 receiving yards. He also had a drop that resulted in an interception.
Speaking of that pick, that was one of two interceptions Alex Smith threw in this game, with the other occurring because he didn't see a linebacker. Smith went 22-of-32 for only 162 yards and two touchdowns otherwise. It was nothing but checkdowns from the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year.
Smith's touchdowns went to Terry McLaurin (7-40) and Logan Thomas (3-37). Cam Sims led the team in receiving with five grabs for 43 yards.
For more thoughts, check out my updated NFL Power Rankings, which will be posted Tuesday morning.