Feb. 26, 2019
Who Fed It And Who Ate It: Week 14
Quite a week of action, as the anointed elite teams of 2018 either lost or had to dig deep to pull out a win. What stood out?
The Washington Redskins were the recipients of the Ass Kicking of the Week, as the New York Giants shredded the 'Skins depleted roster to the tune of 40-16. Anyone who doubts the veracity of parity in the NFL need only to examine the 2018 Washington Redskins. Over the course of the first half of the season, they were one of the more pleasant surprises as they led their division. In a matter of three weeks, Washington went from front runner in the NFC East to hopelessly outmatched against a rebuilding yet pugnacious Giants team who refuses to lay down. With quarterbacks Alex Smith and Colt McCoy both on injured reserve due to broken legs, the Redskins were left with two players who may have NFL experience, but have been in exile either due to age or chances expended. Starting today was Mark Sanchez, last seen with Dallas in 2016 and starting his first game since 2015 with the Philadelphia Eagles. The rust was evident (6/14 for 38 yards & 2 INT's), so in came Josh Johnson, who has been a career backup, is slated to play in the new Alliance of American Football spring league, and last started an NFL game in 2011. Johnson played about as well as one could expect against an unmotivated defense as he led Washington to two garbage time touchdowns. It's a depressing end to the Redskins season, with injuries devastating the team and leaving fans and people in the organization left wondering what might have been.
The New Orleans Saints won the NFC South by virtue of their win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, while the Kansas City Chiefs earned a playoff berth in large part to their gutsy overtime result over the Baltimore Ravens. Granted, the Chiefs and Saints were pretty much locks to make the playoffs at this point, but how they got there can show their mettle when it counts. New Orleans travelled to central Florida to face the Bucs, a team they have struggled with in recent memory. The Saints would be down 14-3 in the third quarter, staring down a two game losing streak after being upset by the Dallas Cowboys 10 days ago. But a Taysom Hill blocked punt would revitalize the Saints, who would respond with 25 unanswered points to get the result and win their division. Some may discount this, as Tampa Bay has been lackluster this season, but defeating a pesky division rival, especially one that has taken games from them despite being underdogs, is an accomplishment. Ultimately, even if New Orleans would've fallen, they would still be NFC South champs thanks to Carolina's loss to the Cleveland Browns. But the Saints walked through the front door. Now, they jockey for position for the top seed, which they possess right now because of the Rams' loss to Chicago on Sunday Night. In the AFC, Kansas City has been the class of the conference, suffering losses only to the Rams and Patriots this year. They were in threat of posting a third loss, this one by the Ravens, who played KC tough all day. Down 7, Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes led his team down the field for a tying touchdown to send it to overtime, where the Chiefs defense, maligned for much of the year, held Baltimore to a turnover on downs that would end the game. The Chiefs have only earned a playoff berth at this juncture, as the Los Angeles Chargers are only one game behind in their division with a huge game between the two this coming Thursday. If Kansas City can win, which looks good seeing the fact that the game is at Arrowhead Stadium, they should win the AFC West and nearly be a mortal lock for home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. If that's the case, the pressure to cash in will be clear. But seeing the fact that the Chiefs are undefeated at home so far this year, is anyone willing to bet against them come January?
The Dallas Cowboys are now the hottest team going, as they picked up their fifth straight win by defeating the Philadelphia Eagles 29-23 in overtime to take a commanding lead in the NFC East. The Houston Texans had their nine game win streak snapped by the Indianapolis Colts in a key AFC South tilt. So who's got the longest one now? None other than the Dallas Cowboys, who have ripped off five straight, and are 5-1 since acquiring WR Amari Cooper from the Oakland Raiders. Today's win gives America's Team a two game edge over the rest of the NFC East, so barring a collapse, the Cowboys should win the division. Between Cooper offering QB Dak Prescott the ability to stretch the field and RB Ezekiel Elliott gashing defensive fronts, the Cowboys offense has become a dynamic complement to their defense, which has played well throughout the year. While Dallas cannot match the firepower of the Rams and Saints, defense holds a premium in the postseason. If the Cowboys can continue to play at this level to finish the regular season, they will be a sleeper once the playoffs begin. It will all come down to the match up, who travels where and who matches up.