NFL Quick Hits: Week 16
Let's go over my immediate reactions and takeaways from week 16 of the NFL season:
AFC Playoff Race
I can't believe the Steelers lost to the Jets. Seriously. You kind of controlled your own destiny, especially with the Titans having a few tough games in a row.
Now, the Titans losses are more forgivable. They lost to the Texans and Saints -- both formidable teams, and both under some seriously dubious circumstances where one singular play turned the tide.
The Jets however have nothing to play for. Their defense and offensive line are made of paper mache. The Steelers defense is good, but who seriously wants to see that offense in the playoffs. If the Steelers somehow manage to make it in, they are an assured "one and done"
Now the Titans have a pretty clear path: win and in. They can also get in with the Steelers and Colts losing, but I'm sure the team would prefer to close the regular season with a road victory over a bitter rival.
Oddly, the Raiders still have a chance to get in if they win, the Titans and Steelers both lose, Indianapolis beats Jacksonville, and if either the Bears, Lions, Chargers, or Patriots win. WOOF.
NFC Playoff Race
Five of the six teams are set: Saints, Seahawks, 49ers, Packers, and Vikings. The only thing yet to be determined is what seed each will have. You can take a look at all those scenarios here.
The only race to get in that is left is the NFC East contest.
The week 16 clash between the Eagles and Cowboys was a major player in what needs to happen this week.
The Cowboys could have put it all to rest, but then they, you know, "Cowboys'd it up". They just needed to win.
Yeah, well this extremely talented team yet again let everyone down. Yes, Dak Prescott is dealing with injury, but at a certain point you need to ask does Dak really that good of a quarterback. Everyone was singing his praises early in the season when he was putting up numbers against JV teams, but does he really deserve that massive contract in the offseason?
Also, you have to think Jason Garrett is done after this season, even if the Cowboys limp into the playoffs. Jerry Jones is delusional if he keeps Garrett around.
The Eagles on the other hand are having kind of the opposite season to the Cowboys in terms of trajectory. A team that was in turmoil for most the season is warming up at the right time, and now the Eagles control their own destiny.
I don't like the Eagles' chances too much if they make it in, but you could argue the way they closed the season makes them more deserving than the Cowboys.
Here's who we're giving the honors to this week:
Offensive Player of the Week: Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints
Michael Thomas' Twitter handle is "@Cantguardmike". How fitting.
Thomas' game against the Titans saw him break Marvin Harrison's single season reception record.
Before I get to the game itself, I would like to say that I don't get the hate Thomas is getting in regards to the record.
A lot of people are saying the record is not impressive, because the Saints essentially throw him short little passes, which pads his stats.
First point here: Thomas' yards per catch is not much lower than what Harrison's was during his record-breaking season (Harrison: 12.0 yards/catch, Thomas: 11.6 yards/catch), and Thomas' yards per target is actually higher (Thomas: 9.6 yards/target, Harrison: 8.4 yards per target).
This short pass criticism also doesn't hold up to his fellow receivers this season. Thomas' yards per catch is pretty much smack dab in the middle of the league, but his yards' per target is in the league's top 20. So no, Thomas is not a typical deep threat, but neither is most of the league's other receivers.
Also, many people are crticizing the record because Drew Brees is Thomas' quarterback.
Yeah, and Marvin Harrison had Peyton freaking Manning. Not to mention that Thomas only had Brees for about half the season, and Harrison had Manning for the whole thing.
Back to week 16, Thomas could not be guarded, grabbing 12 catches for 136 yards and a touchdown.
Thomas makes it all look so easy. The Titans secondary is not a stingy unit overall, but they are nothing to shake a stick at either. I would even venture to say that Drew Brees is slightly looking better than he normally would at his age because Michael Thomas.
You're seeing it in New England. The productivity of Tom Brady, a similarly aged quarterback to Drew Brees, is drying up in large part due to lack of weapons around him.
Meanwhile, Drew Brees has the best wide receiver in the league to throw to (and of course Alvin Kamara).
Even if Drew Brees retires soon, I don't think Thomas' production will dip any time soon.
Runners Up: Lamar Jackson (20/31 for 238 yards and three touchdowns, 103 rushing yards vs. Cleveland), Daniel Jones (28/42 for 352 yards and five touchdowns vs. Redskins), Saquon Barkley (189 rushing yards. 90 receiving yards, two total touchdowns vs. Redskins), Kenyan Drake (166 rushing yards, two touchdowns vs. Seahawks), Miles Sanders (79 rushing yards an a touchdown, 77 receiving yards vs. Cowboys), Aaron Jones (154 rushing yards, two touchdowns vs. Vikings), Julio Jones (Ten catches for 166 yards vs. Jaguars), Tyler Boyd (Nine catches for 128 yards, two touchdowns vs. Patriots), Mark Andrews (Six catches for 93 yards and two touchdowns vs. Browns)
Defensive Player of the Week: Chandler Jones, EDGE, Arizona Cardinals
I've outlined Union-Endicott grad Chandler Jones' season here, but I'll say it again: It's a shame Jones isn't getting more buzz, because if he has another game like he had against Seattle, he will break Michael Strahan's single-season sack record.
Six tackles, four sacks and two forced fumbles put him at 19 sacks on the season, meaning another four tackles would place Jones above Strahan's 22.5-sack record.
Jones was all over the place against Seattle, and he harassed Russell Wilson all game long, which is no small feat.
Rookie of the Week: Miles Sanders, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
Yes, Daniel Jones had some big stats, but A) It was against the Redskins and their horrific defense, and B) It was a nothing game that only served to pad stats.
Miles Sanders performed as a trusted offensive piece in the Eagles biggest game of the year.
He did his damage both rushing and receiving, for more than 150 total yards.
In a season that has been marked by Carson Wentz not being able to rely on his offensive weapons, having a steady hand like Sanders is invaluable.
Runners Up: Daniel Jones (28/42 for 352 yards and five touchdowns), Dre'Mont Jones (Five tackles, 2.5 sacks vs. Lions), DeAndre Baker (Ten tackles vs. Redskins), Sean Murphy-Bunting (Four tackles, a sack, a forced fumble vs. Texans), CJ Gardner-Johnson (Eight tackles, forced fumble, fumble recovery vs. Titans)
Best Uni Matchup of the Week: Jaguars vs. Falcons
Week 16 was an odd, but welcome week in the world of NFL uniforms: In my opinion, there was not a single terrible uniform matchup, with most of them being some sharp looking clashes.
Seriously, picking one is reeeeeeeeeeeally difficult.
If I have to choose one though, I'll go with the Jaguars vs. Falcons, mainly because it really snuck up on me.
Going through the matchups, I knew the Steelers/Jets, Cowboys/Eagles, and Packers/Vikings would look nice, but the Jags and Falcons? In theory, not a nice looking game.
I'm sure there are some people who disagree, but MAN did I love how this game looked.
What set it over the top was the teal pants for the Jaguars. The black helmet, white jersey, and teal britches is a combo the team should do more.
The way that combo contrasted with the instantly recognizable Falcons red was absolutely sublime.
Definitely and unexpected success in my eyes.
Runners Up: Steelers vs. Jets, Cowboys vs. Eagles, Packers vs. Vikings
Most Barfy Uni Matchup of the Week: Ravens vs. Browns
Like I said above, no real complaints over the uniform clashes.
If I had to chose one though, I would go with the Ravens vs. Browns.
No complaints about the Ravens. Their uniforms were solid.
The Browns mono-turd uniform set is one of the more poor sets in the league.
Kind of fitting though. It sums up the Browns' season perfectly.
Runners Up: None
*All stats are from ESPN.com, unless otherwise noted