Onto week 14. As we approach mid December, this is the time of the year where teams really want to be playing their best football. A slump, or surge, could be the determining factor if a team makes it into the postseason field or not. As one glances at the standings, there is still a LOT left to be determined. Which teams are going to go on that late season surge into the postseason and be labeled “that team that nobody wants to see?” On the other hand, which teams will crumble down the stretch and miss the playoffs entirely? For this week’s Talkin’ Crazy column, I’ll take a stab at what I believe that postseason field will look like for both the AFC and NFC. Before we do that, let’s recap the TNF game & my bold predictions from last week. Was the talk legitimate? Or was I just Talkin’ Crazy?
Rams 17, Raiders 16
Rams top performer(s): Baker Baker, the 98-yard game-winning touchdown maker?! Even if you are a casual NFL fan, or not a fan of the Rams, you have to admit that was pretty magical on Thursday night. A dude who just got into the building TWO DAYS AGO ultimately led a 98 yard game winning touchdown drive for the win, and the throw on the game-winning pass to Van Jefferson was an absolute thing of beauty. As far as other big performances, Cam Akers continues to be the lead dog in this backfield, which is crazy to think after his mid-season trade request. Could he be a viable flex play for the fantasy playoffs? Ben Skowronek had a nice game with 7/89 as well, and Jefferson caught the game winning score as previously mentioned. Raiders top performer(s): Again, I surely thought I would be writing Josh Jacobs and Davante Adams in this spot, just like every week. Well, Jacobs continued to cook with 99 yards rushing and a score. While Adams looked well on his way to having a monster day in the first half, the Raiders completely abandoned the passing attack in the second half. I understand they were winning, but 20 total passing attempts against a poor passing defense? C’MON! Josh McDaniels could be another one and done coach this year as that loss was crippling for the Raiders and their fans who were hoping to sneak into the postseason after their poor start.
Last Week’s (Week 13) Headlines & Bold Predictions
Headline: The Mike White Train Keeps Rolling. Verdict: Legitimate. This was a hell of a game. The Jets went into Minnesota and gave them all they could handle. The Jets have shown this year that they can certainly hang with anyone, thanks to their defense and timely offensive production. They had their chance in the waning seconds of the game, which ended with Mike White throwing his second pick of the game at the 1-yard line with 10 seconds left. While White’s stat line shows no TD passes and 2 INTs, he played pretty decently in this one and was still able to throw for 369 yards, with 162 of them going to Garrett Wilson, who is a star in the making. Up next for the Jets is a tough road test in Buffalo, as the Bills are undoubtedly looking to make up for their loss at the Meadowlands last month. Headline: Deshaun Watson Will Shred His Old Team (Texans). Verdict: Talkin’ Crazy Yes, the Browns won this game. However, Watson’s play was awful. His final stat line was 12/22 for 131 yards and 1 INT with no scores. The Browns won this game thanks to 3 defensive scores. For those that thought Watson would step in and immediately look like the Watson of old, I ask why in the world did you honestly believe that? He wasn’t able to practice with the team for the majority of the season, and he hasn’t played a meaningful football game in 700 days. Some people knew all of these warnings and still thought “nah, screw it, I’m gonna plug him into my lineup!” Well, how did that one work out for you? I expect Watson to be better in the coming weeks, but I think it’s going to be a bit before he returns to the Watson that we were used to seeing in Houston.
Miscellaneous Quick Hits
1. In a game where two teams that are better than their records indicate, I like the Lions to top the Jaguars at home. Additionally, I think Jameson Williams scores in his first game action since he suffered the torn ACL in the BCS National Championship last year. Might have been a week or two early on this, because Williams did not play too many snaps and was targeted just once in the game. The good news for me, however, is that the Lions did win this game, and they won it handily. The Lions have been playing some fantastic ball over the last month, and it’s time you start taking them seriously if you aren’t now. More on them below. 2. After having a sour taste in their mouth about how last week’s game ended, I like the Ravens to cover (-9.5) against the Broncos. Well, I wasn’t factoring in a potential Lamar Jackson injury when doing this prediction (duh!). In what ended up being an ugly game, Tyler Huntley came in and saved the day for the Ravens, winning 10-9. 3. In two of the most highly anticipated games of the week, I like the Dolphins to top the 49ers, and the Chiefs to top the Bengals. Not the best prediction here. Cincinnati has had the Chiefs number lately, and the 49ers show that they are a force to be reckoned with, even without Jimmy G under center.
This Week’s (Week 14 Bold Predictions)
As stated in the intro, this week’s column is going to be a little different. We’ll take a look at where things currently stand regarding the standings. After that, I’ll reveal what I believe the playoff field is going to look like in a month’s time. When the regular season concludes, we’ll take a look back and either laugh hysterically about how wrong I was, or we’ll be semi-impressed. Let’s do this! Current AFC Playoff Standings as of Week 14 1. Buffalo (9-3) first round bye, AFC East winner 2. Kansas City (9-3) AFC West winner 3. Baltimore (8-4) AFC North winner 4. Tennessee (7-5) AFC South winner 5. Cincinnati (8-4) Wild Card 6. Miami (8-4) Wild Card 7. New York Jets (7-5) Wild Card 8. New England (6-6) in the hunt 9. LA Chargers (6-6) in the hunt 10. Cleveland (5-7) in the hunt Final Prediction of AFC Standings: 1. Chiefs (14-3) first round bye, AFC West winner 2. Bills (13-4) AFC East winner 3. Cincinnati (12-5) AFC North winner 4. Tennessee (10-7) AFC South winner 5. Miami (11-6) wild card 6. Baltimore (10-7) Wild card 7. Jets (9-8) Wild Card 8. Chargers (9-8) Just missed I think the Chiefs win out due to their upcoming favorable schedule (Broncos, Texans, Seahawks, Broncos Raiders). Baltimore slips a little bit and allows Cincinnati to win the North as fallout from Lamar’s injury. The Jets squeak in over the Chargers, although both teams have a difficult stretch of games coming up. The Jets play the Bills, Lions, Jags, Seahawks and Dolphins. While the Chargers play the Dolphins, Titans, Colts, Rams, Broncos. Current NFC Standings as of Week 14 1. Philadelphia (11-1) first round bye, NFC East winner 2. Minnesota (10-2) NFC North winner 3. San Francisco (8-4) NFC West winner 4. Tampa Bay (6-6) NFC South winner 5. Dallas (9-3) Wild card 6. New York Giants (7-4-1) Wild card 7. Seattle (7-5) Wild card 8. Washington (7-5-1) in the hunt 9. Detroit (5-7) in the hunt Final Prediction of NFC Standings 1. Philadelphia (14-3) first round bye, NFC East winner 2. Minnesota (13-4) NFC North winner 3. San Francisco (11-6) NFC West winner 4. Tampa Bay (9-8) NFC South winner 5. Dallas (13-4) Wild card 6. Seattle (9-8) wild card 7. Detroit (9-8) Wild card Before all the Giants and Commanders fans come at me I want to talk about their upcoming schedules, which are both equally difficult. The Giants have the Eagles, Commanders, Vikings, Colts, and Eagles again to wrap up the season. The Commanders, after their bye week, have the Giants, 49ers, Browns, and Cowboys. Now, things could certainly change if teams decide to rest their starters if various seeds have already been determined entering the last week of the season. I could certainly see Seattle or Detroit fading down the stretch here as well, but this is a bold prediction article, so let’s get crazy with it.
Miscellaneous Quick Hits of Week 14
1. Joe Burrow gets his first W over the Browns in his career. 2. Lions top the Vikings at home 3. Tyler Huntley does his best Lamar impression and the Ravens win an ugly game vs Pittsburgh 4. Tom Brady goes to his hometown and beats the 49ers 5. Panthers cover (+4.0) vs the Seahawks 6. Herbert tops Tua in primetime Let’s check those receipts next week, and we’ll check these standings predictions after week 18!