2018-2019 NFL: Week 16

Sat
Redskins-Titans
Ravens-Chargers

Sun
Buccaneers-Cowboys
Vikings-Lions
Falcons-Panthers
Texans-Eagles
Giants-Colts
Bengals-Browns
Bills-Patriots
Packers-Jets
Jaguars-Dolphins
Bears-49ers
Rams-Cardinals
Steelers-Saints
Chiefs-Seahawks

Mon
Broncos-Raiders

26 thoughts on “2018-2019 NFL: Week 16

  1. I’m curious to see the Ravens-Chargers and Steelers-Satints games.

    I don’t think I’ve fully recovered from the way loss and the way the Seahawks played. I’m dismayed by the penalties, especially on the OL. I had flashbacks from previous years. This upcoming game has to the potential to be just as bad, if not worse. If Fluker doesn’t play, the third string guard will have to play. (Simmons, the second stringer, got hurt and is on IR.) That was Ethan Pocic, who had a crucial holding call in OT. What I worry about is the effect a weak RG has on the RT, Germain Ifedi. He’s not a great player to begin with, but I think he becomes more vulnerable when the guard next to him is not as good. They’re going to be facing Dee Ford, Chris Jones, and Justin Houston.

    I’m also hearing that at least one starting safety is not going to play. If both don’t play and Fluker is unavailable, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Chiefs blow out the Seahawks. (It could happen if everyone is healthy too, but that’s not something I’d expect.)

    Edit

    Some additional comments.

    Steelers-Saints

    Like the game against the Panthers, I’m interested in seeing the effectiveness of the Saints passing game, especially in the spread formations. If the Saints struggle again, against a defense that traditionally doesn’t defend the spread very well, I will conclude there’s a serious problem with the Saints passing attack.

    If that’s true, then the Saints chances rest on their run game and defense. I’m skeptical that both can be good enough, especially the defense. It’ll be interesting to see how the Saints defense fares against the Steeler offense.

    Chargers-Ravens

    It’ll be interesting to see if the Chargers can slow down the Ravens run game. Here’s something I didn’t realize: The Chargers lost Corey Liguet and Denzel Perryman to injuries. I don’t think Brandon Mebane has been playing, too. Those are some big losses.

    It will also be interesting to see how well Jackson plays from the pocket and how the Ravens defense fares against the Charger offense.

  2. You think the Chargers have been looking good? I guess so because you have them right up there with all the other teams. I thought overall they look pretty flat, like they did against the Chiefs. Yes they have some key injuries, but even before Gordon and Keenan Allen went down I didn’t think they were playing to their potential. Although Keenan Allen may have been playing injured for a while.

    1. There aren’t any great teams, and among the best teams, there isn’t one that is head and shoulders above the rest. The Chiefs might be the best, but the Chargers beat them despite not having key players. (Chiefs didn’t have Watkins and Hill, although Watkins seems like he’s done very little this year. Watkins is either the most overpaid, overrated player, or the most effective decoy of all time.) The way they came back and won was really impressive. If they fall behind and come back against the Ravens, that will be something.

      By the way, if you’re playing the Ravens, don’t you think you just sell out to stop the run and force Jackson to beat you with arm? You can give him time in the pocket just don’t let him run, and make him make precise throws to beat you.

      1. Yeah but that’s what teams try to do to Navy and Army. I think the full back dive is effective because everyone on the edges need to stay home and not overcommit to any one player. But eventually teams will figure them out.

        Are you saying teams should drop both safeties in the box? Man that’s a huge risk… I doubt Lamar is that bad a passer that defenses could resort to that. Actually Lamar could throw decently at Louisville. He might not be able to figure out NFL defenses, but he could beat defenses with no safeties, I’m guessing.

        1. Even teams that incorporate option offense do so in a complementary fashion, almost like a wrinkle. My theory is that NFL DCs and defenses are too good for offenses to make the option game central. Remember when the wildcat was a thing? I recall that Parcells wanted to make this a central part of the offense. (I think they even drafted one a running QB from West Virginia.) But it never stuck. Teams still use it, but more as a change-up. My guess is that defenses haven’t had enough time to catch up to what the Ravens are doing. But, as you say, they will.

          Are you saying teams should drop both safeties in the box? Man that’s a huge risk… I doubt Lamar is that bad a passer that defenses could resort to that.

          I don’t know about the specific way to go about forcing Jackson to pass, but I would do that. Also, on obvious passing downs, take away his first option–make him go through his reads; and again make him throw accurate passes. As for his passing the first time I saw him, he had some really horrid throws. He looked better recently, but he still had some ugly throws. Part of this has to do with his mechanics, I think.

          By the way, I don’t think taking away the run and forcing him to pass is as much of a risk as letting the Ravens run the ball in the way that they have. It seems like they consistently get 5 or 6 yards every time they run.

  3. Redskins-Titans

    Both teams grounding and pounding. AP looked good, Titans run defense didn’t look great. Josh Johnson played a solid game, until the INT at the end. I also want to say that while the Titans run blocking was good, they looked overwhelmed against the pass rush. Mariota went out, but Gabbert played good enough to win.

    1. I thought the Ravens dominated this game. Chargers was able to stay in it for a while, but the Ravens consistently move the ball. I’ll add that the Ravens passed a decent amount of times and Lamar did more damage in the air than on the ground. This Raven team is for real, I think. Yes they are gimmicky, but they have the talent to surround that gimmick to be good or maybe even really good.

  4. Chiefs-Seahawks

    I was really pessimistic going into this game, especially after the way the team played against the 49ers–AND the fact that they would be without their starting free safety, RG, and RT. At one point they lost their starting LG, too. I know the Chiefs defense hasn’t been good all season, but I don’t get why. Chris Jones has been a monster, and Ford has been good as well, and Houston still can do damage. The Chiefs were depleted in the secondary, but I wouldn’t think that would impact their run defense that much. And I feel like they didn’t play terribly–Wilson and the Lockett and Baldwin just made some great plays.

    Two things stick out in mind. First, with 4 minutes in the game with a 3 point lead, the Seahawks play rather aggressive. Then again, a 3 point lead is almost like a tie, especially against the Chiefs offense, so maybe the way the Seahawks played wasn’t that aggressive. Still, there were so ballsy plays–specifically so of those deep passes they completed. My sense is that this is consistent with the Pete Carroll’s take what the defense gives you approach. If they’re going to play you one-on-one and dare you to throw deep, you can’t be afraid to do that. (In the Super Bowl against the Patriots, on the last drive, I think they threw three deep passes in a row–hitting on the third one, one of the greatest catches I’ve seen in the playoffs.) I really think this the approach you have to take, and this has to be something you practice and do all the time. It’s critical because in the playoffs and Super Bowl, you’ll likely face a defense that takes away things. You have to be able to exploit where the opposing defense is vulnerable; that has to be part of your MO.

    The second thing is the way the defense contained the Chiefs offense for the most part, limiting their explosive plays. They did this without their starting free safety and their starting strong safety was questionable for this game as well.

    One last thing. I thought Patrick Mahomes played well. I don’t think he had any turnovers, and when he scrambles he’s as dangerous as Wilson, if not more so. (He had some errant passes, but it didn’t seem like a high number, not for a rookie.)

    Steelers-Saints

    The game is a blur for me, but the main thing that sticks out for me is my irritation with the Steeler’s offense and play calling. They’re basically a run-and-shoot/Air Raid type of offense. I think they mixed it up a little better as the game progressed, but not that much.

  5. I thought that long pass was a mistake. I don’t think so because it was aggressive, I just thought it wasn’t a smart move. It was even more of a gutsy move because of the down and distance. That pass happen on 2nd and 12 (or somewhere close to that). A back-shoulder throw would have been better in this situation. Maybe that long throw is Wilson’s forte and the back-shoulder isn’t, that would make it more acceptable, but even then a back-shoulder throw has to be twice as likely to be completed than a long throw. Not to mention a methodical drive would have kept Mahommes off the field.

    You mentioned the NE Super Bowl, but the Seahawks were behind in that game. Unless we are thinking of different situations.

    Yes, to beat the Chiefs you have to limit big plays. But Seattle was able to do that because of one man, Wagner. I think his ability to contain Kelce without much help, allows Seattle’s defense try and contain the receivers. A lot of teams will try and limit the Chiefs big plays as well, but will get beat down with passes to the RBs and Kelce.

    I thought the Steelers dominated the game, and the Saints got lucky to get the win. I felt like the Saints offense struggled in spurts, whereas the Steelers offense was effective for most of the game. I thought Ben played badly down the stretch though, but the killer (even though it didn’t lead to Saints points) was the fumble by Ridley. That drive could have put the game out of reach or at least put all the pressure on the Saints offense.

    1. Maybe that long throw is Wilson’s forte and the back-shoulder isn’t, that would make it more acceptable, but even then a back-shoulder throw has to be twice as likely to be completed than a long throw.

      My sense is that Wilson (and most QBs) throw back-shoulder throws to bigger WRs. For example, Wilson will throw it to David Moore, who is good at jump-ball, box-out type of situations. I can’t remember a time when Wilson has thrown a back shoulder to Lockett. And Wilson and Lockett have been great all year on these deep passes.

      Not to mention a methodical drive would have kept Mahommes off the field.

      You mean, go for a shorter throw via a back shoulder pass? The one thing I wanted to know is that the defense was doing. I heard Brock say that the Chiefs went to a cover zero (although I’m not sure if he meant on that particular throw). If that’s true, Russ often will throw deep in that situation, and off the top of my head, he stats in this situation are unreal (and this goes back to at least his second year). It’s foolish to blitz Wilson in a cover zero situation. By the way, I believe in the 2013 Divisional game against the Saints, the Saints were done and they cover zero blitzed. Wilson throw a long pass to Baldwin. (That didn’t seal the game, though.)

      You mentioned the NE Super Bowl, but the Seahawks were behind in that game. Unless we are thinking of different situations.

      That was the situation. But when you think about, a 3 point lead against the Chiefs, when they had three time outs, with four minutes left, is like a tie at least. If they’re selling out to stop the run in a cover zero situation, you can sort of understand this move. Plus, my sense is that the deep ball is the focal point and strength of their passing game. They don’t run a lot of intermediate passing routes. The intermediate crossing routes seem pretty rare. There’s some good and bad to this in my opinion. It matches up perfectly in the run game, but if your run game is shut down, then I think you’d like a stronger intermediate and short passing game.

      But Seattle was able to do that because of one man, Wagner.

      You actually saw that? I didn’t really watch the secondary to see if that was going on. One thing I heard in today’s talk radio is that Akeem King and McDougal did a good job of covering Kelce, especially in the second half. Brock Huard also said that the priority was taking away Hill. However they did it, limiting both those players seemed to be a goal, and it worked fairly well. (And what they gave up in exchange was running yards.)

      I thought the Steelers dominated the game, and the Saints got lucky to get the win.

      If I had to choose who was in control, I would say the Steelers, too. However, in the early part of the game, they seemed really predictable and the Saints were just pinning their ears back–and having success. As the game went on, I think the Steelers OL became more dominant (and/or the Saints front four got tired). Even if the Steelers were predictable, it didn’t matter because the Steeler OL could give Roethlisberger time.

      The turnovers were huge. Ridley’s was huge, the the one at the end was big too (obviously).

      1. One thing I forgot to add. Instead of a back shoulder throw, I wish they would have some better, easier intermediate routes. Relying on go balls in this situation just seems like a difficult to pass to complete–even if Russ is great at it. Then again, watching the clip again, the Chiefs blitz–they double the short route to the TE and leave the two corners man-to-man on Lockett and Baldwin (Baldwin seemed to have his man beat, too), with no safety help. Given all that, it seems like the go ball makes sense–or a back shoulder or a some comeback route. It is a a little nerve wracking to rely on these throws.

        On another note, I really the way Chris Carson runs and the improvement in the run blocking in general. Totally my kind of football, and it’s been fun to watch.

        1. Yeah I was just using the back shoulder throw as an example of something they could have done. But in those scenarios (ie: down and distance, time on the clock, and opponent), Seattle has to have a better option than a long throw, imo. Seattle should have a go-to play in that situation which is practiced till it’s second nature.

          So while I agree it was an amazing play and an amazing throw, there was some luck involved, because the defender just missed the ball. If the defender tips the ball, the narrative on this play, due to the play call, would be completely different.

          1. The narrative would definitely be different as in negative. Would that narrative be correct, though–as in, the call was wrong? While I’d like a safer throw, I am a little ambivalent. I went back and watched the all-22. The one thing I forgot to mention is that the DBs are all up on the line of scrimmage. Would a good rub concept work well, or something else that leads to a safer pass? If this were earlier in the game, would this be a bad call? I tend to think not. If the play failed, it seems worse because of the circumstances. And it would seem worse if the Chiefs got the ball back and won the game. But does that make it the wrong call? I’d be interested in hearing what a better throw would be, given the defense the Chiefs played.

            By the way, the things you mentioned that could go wrong on the deep ball, could also occur on a back shoulder throw. But a 7-10 yard back shoulder is probably easier than a bomb.

            The other factor, here, though is your approach to the drive. Do you think attempting to run the clock out is the better move than trying to score? Carroll said he told Schotty he wanted to be aggressive, given who they were playing against. In other words, he seemed to think that failing to run out the clock posed a bigger risk than failing to score. Or, that he was more confident his team could score than his team could run out the clock. The other factor is that the Chiefs would likely anticipate that the Hawks would get conservative (i.e., run the ball and eat up the clock), and that would likely leave them vulnerable to more aggressive passing.

            In short, I’m ambivalent about the call, and not certain if there is one that is vastly superior.

      2. That last catch by Baldwin was unreal. He’s been playing injured as well.

        One other thing that I think is a little worrying. The Chiefs DBs aren’t great, but they actually played good coverage on several of the key throws. It’s just that Wilson and Baldwin and Lockett made better plays. That’s how good teams do it, but it makes me wonder if they can get separation consistently.

  6. Dallas, Tampa

    Tampa is a decent offensive team, with a lot of receiving weapons. Dallas plays a soft middle of the field and tries to punishes you with hits, and Tampa was able to take advantage of that. I think Vander Esch had like 16 tackles or something like that, and most in the middle of the field. That being said, Dallas dominated this game for the most part and Tampa was able to stay in it because of Dallas’ defensive penalties. I think Dallas had like 5 penalties on third down that led to first downs. The one penalty on Dallas defense for delay of game was ridiculous. I’m not sure if the ref got the call wrong, but no one on the broadcasts explained what happen.

    1. I didn’t really get to watch this game because, for some reason, game pass didn’t allow me to watch it in condensed version.

      How did Prescott look? I’m assuming he did a better job of protecting the football (since they won).

      1. The game script was a little weird because of Tampa’s two turnovers (one a defensive TD and the other put Dallas in a first and goal situation). Tampa dominated TOP especially in the first half because Dallas’ defensive touchdown. I didn’t think Dallas’ D played that badly, but they allowed Tampa to move the ball. That being said, Tampa’s offense is good if not very good (top five) and Dallas did a good job limited big plays.

        Reid,

        Would you rather Seattle face Chicago (a team they lost to this year) or Dallas (a team they beat this year) in the wildcard game? At this point it looks like a Cowboy, Seahawk match up.

        1. I’d rather see the Cowboys. My understanding is that if they played the Cowboys they’d likely have to play the Rams next. If they played the Bears, they’d likely have to play the Saints. Given those two choices, I’d prefer the Cowboy-Rams route.

          If the Seahawks played the Bears which teams could play against the Cowboys?

          1. I’m pretty sure your thinking of the playoffs is off. They reseed after the wildcard games (higher seed will always get the lowest seeded team left). So there is no automatic who you will play in the second round. I just have this thing about beating a team twice in a year and I think it happens less times than not. So if my premise is correct, Seattle should want to play Chicago.

  7. So there is no automatic who you will play in the second round.

    Right but my guess is that this is the likeliest scenario. But this is something I heard from at least one Seahawk fan. I never really investigated whether this claim was accurate or not, though.

    But just looking at playing the Bears in Chicago or the Cowboys in Dallas, the Bears seem like the tougher challenge–because of their defense and the weather conditions. If the Cowboys defense plays their best game, they could be really formidable, too. And I don’t like the Seahawks defense against run first offenses. But I think part of my not wanting to see the Hawks go to Chicago is my aversion to seeing the offense struggle, particularly the OL. It’s one of the most disturbing and frustrating things for me to see as a fan. It’s one of the reasons I had a hard time recovering from the 49er loss. I the last few seasons has traumatized me a bit.

    1. So the options are Seattle (most likely), Minnesota, and Philly. So if Minnesota wins this week, they are in, they lose and Philly wins, Philly is in. Based on my logic of beating a team twice in a season, I would definitely choose Seattle as my first choice. My next choice would be Minnesota, since Dallas didn’t only beat Philly once, but twice this year already.

      But all those aside, I think those three teams are pretty equal. I’m guessing Philly would be the worst with Foles (but he seems to be playing well). The Ringer podcasts (and maybe I heard it somewhere else) was saying Cousins has been awful. The person was saying that he was just not reading the defenses correctly and although guys were getting open he wouldn’t throw the ball or throw it late or to the wrong guy. The person insinuated (at least how I took it) that Cousins was panicking and was to the point that he was imagining pressure.

      1. The Ringer podcasts (and maybe I heard it somewhere else) was saying Cousins has been awful.

        I think he’s struggled a bit, and I think he got the jitters against the Seahawks. But I don’t think it’s his fault. The Vikings looked way better against the Dolphins, but that’s not saying much. In general, I think I would be less fearful of them because their OL is vulnerable. The thing is, if their defense plays to their potential, they can beat anyone.

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