Who Fed It And Who Ate It: Week 16

By Curtis Clayton
Dec. 24, 2018

16 weeks of highs and lows, streaks and droughts, and the 2018 regular season is heading to a barnburner of a finish. Many playoff berths have been clinched, but there are some open spots. Let's look....

In the AFC.... The New England Patriots have won their tenth consecutive AFC East crown, setting a new NFL record in doing so. This incarnation of the Pats have been the least impressive since the early 2000's, but is anyone betting against them, save fans directly opposed?... The Houston Texans have qualified for the playoffs, even with the loss against a frantically surging Philadelphia Eagles club trying to win their own way in on the NFC side of the ledger. The Texans have the talent to make a deep postseason run, but they have looked vulnerable as of late. Can they come alive with the lights on bright?

Meanwhile, in the NFC... It took a little extra time, but the Dallas Cowboys have won their third NFC East title in five years and are locked in as the 4 seed. While many are predicting either Los Angeles or New Orleans as favorites to win the conference championship, Dallas can be dangerous depending on who they match up against. We'll have a better idea of their chances once the bracket sets in stone.... One place that is set is the New Orleans Saints will be the NFC's 1 seed, ensuring that the only time they leave the comforts of the Superdome to play a game this winter will be in Atlanta to play in the Super Bowl. They have all the tools. It's a matter of taking care of business.... With the NFC West crown already claimed, the Seattle Seahawks have clinched a wild card berth. Between the playoff experience that head coach Pete Carroll and quarterback Russell Wilson and the play of this particular team, this could be a very dangerous team to draw on the senior conference bracket.

The Pittsburgh Steelers, by virtue of their 31-28 loss to the Saints, find themselves on the outside of the AFC playoff picture. The Steelers, in an uncharacteristic second half of the season slump, are in an ugly spot. Their loss in New Orleans, which was Pittsburgh's fourth loss in their last five games, coupled with the Baltimore Ravens victory over the LA Chargers on Saturday, have left the Steel City Stalwarts at 8-6-1, a half game behind the 9-6 Ravens. Due to today's results, Pittsburgh has only one path to the playoffs, and that is winning the division. To win the AFC North, the Steelers must defeat the Cincinnati Bengals & the Ravens must lose to the resurgent Cleveland Browns. Otherwise, the Steelers stay home in January. Seeing the fact that crazy things happen in Week 17, nothing is impossible, so will the football gods provide their favor to the Black and Gold?

In the Ass Kicking of the Week, the Arizona Cardinals were thumped by division winner Los Angeles 31-9 as reports surfaced that Cards head coach Steve Wilks will be sacked at season's end. With the current state of each of these teams, this result is of no surprise. The Rams, trying to win a first round bye, came back after a tough loss to the Chicago Bears one week earlier. As for the Cardinals, they are ending Year 1 of a rebuild, a rough one to be sure. But given reports released this morning, it's possible that Cards brass did not think it would be this bad, and Wilks is being held liable as a result. If those reports are true, it could also be a course correction, as future of the franchise, QB Josh Rosen, may be better served with a coaching mentor who could work with him directly. This could be done with Wilks in place, as his defensive pedigree would complement a passing understudy, but the likes of the Rams' Sean McVay and the Bears' Matt Nagy who are both head coach and offensive play caller may have changed the calculus. It looks like we'll find out in about eight or nine days time.