12 thoughts on “2020-2021 NFL: Week 15

  1. Chargers-Raiders

    I was happy to see Mariota play, and he did fairly well, until the INT and another terrible pass that came very close to be intercepted. The Raiders run defense was better, but their secondary had some lapses, especially in OT. Sickening.

    1. Two years in a row, last year and this year, the Raiders look like a legitimate playoff team and then are horrible in a stretch and poof they are out of it.

    2. I was skeptical they were a legitimate playoff team. If you watched only portions of their game, missing out the bad, boneheaded plays, they could look really good. But they consistently have a handful of big lapses or errors. To have a game where that doesn’t happen is a surprise.

      Another thing: Their defense has been consistently bad for a long, long time. It’s one reason I have had great difficulty watching and being enthusiastic about the team. And they have been bad in the three levels of the defense for a long time as well, even when Mack was on the team, the DL was a weak overall. It would be less bad if the Raiders were strong in at least one of these areas. It’s kinda impressive, in a negative way. I don’t know how other Raider fans endure this.

      I was feeling more hopeful when Gruden fired Guenther and replaced him with Marinelli. I’m still hopeful, even though the Raiders secondary stunk, and run defense collapsed at the end of the game. I’m hopeful the DL and run defense will improve at least.

      1. If I could eliminate 2-3 plays on offense, I think I would enjoy the offense more and think of them more highly.

        With the defense, I’d have to eliminate more plays. Is it not at all difficult to watch their defense, especially given that they’ve been so bad for so long?

        I want to say that for most of the 80s, and probably 70s, the defense was consistently really good; physical, too. That might have continued in early 90s, but at some point it started to decline–not being as good in the previous decade. And then in the 2000s, it got really, really awful. I mean, if we look at the longest streak of awful defenses, the Raiders have to be in there, I would think–particularly in the last twenty years. Who are the other contenders? The Browns?

  2. Panthers-Packers

    The Packers offense looked really good, particularly in terms of balance, in the first half. They ran well and did a good job of mixing in the runs.

    The Panthers defense did a lot better in the second half, though. The front four got good pressure on Rodgers.

    Overall the Panthers played valiantly, I thought.

  3. Chiefs, Saints

    Mahomes was pretty unbelievable. His offensive line wasn’t great in pass pro and Mahomes just made play after play. Everyone is consistently saying that it’s the Chief’s year this year, but I’m not as confident as most. This offense is not as good as last year’s because of that o-line. The Saints with Michael Thomas probably win this game.

    I think both the Colts and Titans can beat the Chiefs in a playoff game. I’m not high on the Steelers winning a game against the Chiefs, but TJ Watt could have a field day against this Chiefs’ o-line.

    1. The thing about Mahomes and the Chiefs–it seemed like large yardage situations meant very little; they made overcoming them seem easy at times.

      Count me in as someone who thinks they have the best chance of winning the Super Bowl. Their OL is shaky at times, but they have a solid run game, and Reid has shown a willingness to use it and can skillfully mix it in with the passes. They can be explosive and solid at ball control. They weren’t that team in ’18, they got better at this balance in ’19. With Helaire-Edwards, a powerful back for his size, they may be better at this balance.

      On the Saints side, I wouldn’t say they probably would have won with Thomas. They missed him for sure. But given that he didn’t play I found the Saints game plan frustrating–specifically they didn’t run the ball much. Their offense reminded me of the Seahawks, when they were more one-dimensional. Specifically, they’ll have one good run, and then quickly go back to passing. Teams have shown you can run on the Chiefs, which was another reason to emphasize the run more.

    2. A few more things I forgot to add about the Chiefs chances to win the Super Bowl:

      First, there are no dominant defenses in the league. This opens the door for a pass-first offensive oriented team (although the Chiefs are fairly balanced as an offense and a team.) There are several good-to-very good ones. (The Saints would be in there.) Some of them can have dominant games, but then they’ll look merely good or even less. In other words, they’re not consistently dominant or great, which, to me, is a strong sign you’re not. Consistency is a hallmark of greatness.

      Second, while I pick the Chiefs, there are 5-7 teams that could also win. And if any of win, it would not be a big surprise or upset.

      1. Your last comment, “… there are 5-7 teams that could also win. …it would not be a big surprise or upset.” is the same feeling I have. I get from a lot of pundits that if given the choice between the Chiefs or the rest of the field, they would take the Chiefs. If having to bet money on one team, I think I would lean the Chiefs, but I definitely wouldn’t take them over the field.

        You called him Helaire-Edwards. That’s what old people would do. Hahaha Anyhoo, Edwards-Helaire could be out part of the playoffs, even with the Chiefs having a bye, because he incurred a high-ankle sprain, which could be a 4-6 week injury in most cases. I think Bell is more valuable, because he seems more reliable in short yardage situations.

    3. That’s a bummer to hear about Edwards-Helaire (“Old man take a look at your life…), although if I’m honest I don’t feel too bad. Having Bell helps, but if they can’t get E-H back for the playoffs, that’s a big loss in my view.

  4. Bengals-Steelers

    The details of this game are already hazy, but even after the game, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. Here are some general impressions:

    The Steelers offense look really anemic, struggling to convert on third down in the firs half. Oddly, their run game eventually looked lively at some point, but that didn’t seem to help them that much.

    I was surprised by the Steelers’ lackluster run defense, particularly since they were facing a backup QB. I would think this would have been a higher priority for them.

    I felt reluctant to rate the Steelers highly throughout most of the season, but I’m a little surprised by this performance. One of the reasons for this was that Big Ben looked shaky and I thought he might get worst at the end of the season. But his performance didn’t seem to be enough to explain the recent losses, but maybe I’m not seeing something. Also, their OL has showed signs they weren’t as good as previous years, but then at other times they looked like they did in the past. Maybe the truth is their not as good. Then again, this doesn’t seem like the problem. The problem might be their front seven is not as strong (They lost Bud Dupree) as it was in the beginning. I have no idea.

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