We all made it through week 16. Well, only some people at least. All of the playoff teams in the NFC are decided, the only thing that can change is the NFC North champion which will be decided Sunday night between the Minnesota Vikings and the Green Bay Packers. Also, the number 1 seed is still up for grabs, If the Cardinals win and the Panthers lose, the Cardinals will steal the number 1 seed from Carolina. It’s nice having a general outlook on the playoff picture in the NFC a week before the season ends, especially since all of the teams are locked in. On the other hand, the AFC still has some work to do in week 17. In order for the Steelers to go to playoffs, they must defeat the Browns and hope Rex Ryan can beat his former team, the Jets. If the Patriots win against Miami, then they will claim the number 1 seed in the AFC. If New England loses, then that opens the door for the Broncos to claim that spot if they beat the San Diego Chargers. The Colts have a very long 10-part equation which gives them a very slim of chance of winning the division. The Texans have the AFC South pretty much locked up, they control their own destiny at this point. If Houston wins, they are in the playoffs.
I think the Jets should receive a lot of credit this week considering the circumstances. If they didn’t defeat the Patriots in overtime, then their chances of making the playoffs would almost be non-existent. The fact that the Jets stepped up to the occasion against the division leading Patriots, who were boasting an impressive 12-2 record and a number 1 seed in the AFC, is impressive and deserves all of the recognition and credit in the world.
The Eagles have officially fired Chip Kelly. The sports world has been shocked since the news broke that the third year coach out of Oregon was fired one game before the season ended. Kelly tallied 26 wins and 21 losses in his three year stint in Philadelphia, which is a very decent start to a coaching career. What got him fired was that he took over the Eagles organization and brought in specific players to bring the Eagles to the playoffs. His plan didn’t exactly work out and Philly couldn’t even bring themselves to win their disastrous division. It was a great (almost) three years for the Oregon coach but as we learn time and time again, never make a guarantee that you can’t follow through on. R.I.P. Philadelphia Eagles Chip Kelly, you may be missed. 2013-2015.
Now, on to more important matters. The studs and duds of the NFL in week 16. These players either performed at levels that exceeded expectations or failed to meet them last week. Stats alone are sometimes not enough to put a particular person in this article, it can be a variety of different things. These things include performance in prime time, pressure, or how that person helped fuel or bring down their team to a loss. So here they are, the studs and duds of the NFL.
Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins: Jordan Reed is one of the leagues most versatile and talented tight ends. His career has been riddled with injuries before and even missed two games earlier this season due to injury. Fortunately for him, Sunday was one example of why he should be mentioned as one the leagues elite at the position. Reed would put up monster numbers against the Eagles defense. The Redskins tight end would reel in 9 of his 11 targets to gain 129 yards and also add on 2 touchdowns. Reed continues to get numerous looks from quarterback Kirk Cousins and the duo seem unstoppable as they just clinched the Redskins their first division title since 2012. Likely to be rested next week before the playoffs, Reed probably won’t produce too much next week against the Dallas Cowboys.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, New York Jets: Ryan Fitzpatrick has been a very consistent quarterback for the Jets this season. He has also acquired a large fan base along the way, sporting his grizzly beard throughout the season. It was his performance on Sunday that put him in the category as a top 10 quarterback. Against the 12-2 Patriots, Fitzpatrick was 26 for 41, threw for 296 yards and threw for three touchdowns. These are not stats that jump off the page at you but it’s how he led his team to victory under the circumstances that landed him as a stud this week. The Jets are desperately fighting for that last playoff spot with the Steelers. They were also facing arguably the best team in the NFL who also happens to be in their division, they faced the Patriots and eventually went to overtime where he led his team down field and score the winning the touchdown. It was a great week for Fitzpatrick and it didn’t go unnoticed.
Tim Hightower, New Orleans Saints: Sunday, Hightower proved that he can take over for injured Mark Ingram. Hightower would rush the ball on 27 attempts and use those carries to good use, piling on 122 yards on the ground, which averages out to 4.5 yards per carry. The Saints RB also added 2 touchdowns on the day against the Jaguars. Hightower was also utilized in the passing game as well. He had 3 receptions that went for 47 yards. The Saints season may be over but they earned a much needed win against a thriving Jaguars team and it was helped in part from the California native. Hightower has had his share of fame in the NFL and also experienced his downs in his career but he may have found something that can get him back on track as a starter in the NFL.
Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers: Just like I mentioned last week, Newton would not appear in this article because of his continuous and consistent elite playing ability week to week, but I also mentioned that he would only appear in this if he was a dud. This week, he was in fact, a huge and major disappointment. Newton posted his worst numbers of the season. He was 17/30, threw for 0 zero touchdowns and only threw for 142 yards against the division rival Falcons. He did rush the ball 7 times for 46 yards and even rushed for a touchdown on the first drive of the game. That was his only highlight of the game, and if you think those stats look bad, here is how his final drive of the game went. The Panthers were working from behind with time running out in the 4th quarter and Newton took a sack and fumbled the ball that was recovered by the Falcons to inevitably, end the game, and end the Panthers perfect season. Cam and the Panthers are still 14-1 but I’m sure they will not forget the embarrassing play they produced on Sunday against Atlanta.
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers: Yet, another disappointing week for an elite QB. Roethlisberger had arguably the worst game of the season in the Steelers week 16 loss to the Ravens. Completion wise, he had a decent day, 24 for 34, but the veteran quarterback would not throw a single touchdown and would give away two interceptions to the Ravens shaky defense. Even worse, Big Ben barely threw for 200 yards, only throwing for 215 on the day. It was the 2nd to last week of the season and the Steelers needed to win on Sunday to give themselves an even better chance at making the playoffs as a wildcard. The Jets, who won on Sunday, have the edge on the Steelers now since Pittsburgh lost and now control their own destiny next week. The Steelers now have to hope that the Jets lose their season finale and that they win their final game against Cleveland. Roethlisberger needed to step up this week and because he didn’t, the Steelers may miss out on the playoffs this year. Ben Roethlisberger is undoubtedly a dud this week.
Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: It’s hard to believe that a running back who scores a touchdown can find himself a dud for the week but on Sunday, that was exactly the case for Tampa Bay RB Doug Martin. The “Muscle Hamster” started the game off very well with a four yard touchdown run, but didn’t do that much afterwards. the fourth year running back rushed the ball a total of 17 times for 49 yards, a measly 2.9 yards per carry. He was only available in the pass game once for one reception that would go for 6 yards. Unfortunately, Martin would fumble the ball twice that would both be recovered by the Bears. The Bucs only lost by 5 points and losing two possessions that quickly in the game was detrimental to the Buccaneers on Sun day. Martin is a fantastic running back and this game was a mere bump in the road on the season. Fortunately, Tampa Bay was out of playoff contention already and this game didn’t mean too much to the Bucs season. Martin landed as a dud this week and as we have seen before, it is very easy to bounce back from a bad week.
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