Within the spirit of the vacation season, and since Saturday’s video games are going to rely within the standings, we as soon as once more mix my Sunday FreakOut weekly evaluation column and Soccer Issues weekly preview column…
1. Your Sunday FreakOut: Saturday Version, for the Browns-Packers tilt…
Baker Mayfield Is Enjoying for His Job the Subsequent Two Weeks: The Browns are going to examine in on the big-name quarterbacks this offseason, and possibly the second-tier names too (actually, this season, Jimmy Garoppolo has outplayed Mayfield considerably). And if Mayfield performs like he did on Saturday, it’s not even a tough determination. You can really take subject with three of the 4 interceptions—two have been blatant penalties (whereas it was an unwise and late determination on the deep ball for Donovan Folks-Jones within the second quarter, it’s not markedly totally different than this play) and one his receiver fell down. However Mayfield was late, with the incorrect ball location and velocity on that throw supposed for Landry, he was equally late and too mild on his contact on a crosser to Austin Hooper that ought to have been picked, and all through the sport his ball location simply wasn’t there. At this level, the Browns want Sunday and Week 17 to go chalk (Bengals over Ravens and Chiefs over Steelers in Week 16, then Rams over Ravens and Chiefs over Bengals in Week 17), and Cleveland must win in Pittsburgh after which beat the Bengals at dwelling to get to the postseason. That’s the one method it turns into a greater than 50/50 likelihood that Mayfield is again in 2022.
An Atrocious Displaying from Alex Kemp’s Crew in Inexperienced Bay: Which has grow to be one thing of an evergreen assertion, however the bottoming out of a pair different crews in 2021 has typically made Kemp’s group tolerable, in a “unhealthy however not disastrous” method. There are missed calls each sport (and there many on this sport), and infrequently missed calls are away from the ball, or don’t actually have an effect on the play a technique or one other. However not often do you see a missed name on a blatant penalty dedicated on an supposed receiver. Nearly by no means do you see a crew miss two of them in a single sport. If we’re suspending disbelief, the game-ending decide was—possibly—sufficiently subtle to evade detection, particularly with Donovan Folks-Jones initiating some contact. However this one, within the second quarter, is solely mind-blowing. Rasul Douglas is aware of he’s been beat, and follows his false step by simply giving the penalty.
This Packers D Is Having Some Rocky Moments: Final week, in failing to regulate to a reasonably easy offense operated by Tyler Huntley, was a little bit of a crimson flag. On Saturday, it took a very hands-off officiating crew, a shaky quarterback and a substitute kicker for Inexperienced Bay to flee, they usually had two red-zone protection busts—one was the rookie Eric Stokes getting misplaced after staring into the backfield, the second was as a result of they didn’t get lined up appropriately and Rasul Douglas was caught in no-man’s land—and have been fully unable to cease the Browns’ floor sport (albeit, an excellent floor sport). This protection collapsed beneath Mike Pettine’s steerage every of the previous two NFC title video games. Joe Barry has finished a stable job this 12 months, particularly with so many alternative components within the lineup, however the final two performances have been regarding.
This Purple-Zone Zero Blitz: My greatest guess is that each gamers weren’t presupposed to go right here—and judging by the response of Richard LeCounte, he felt the identical method, as a result of if that was the plan, then the plan was to go away the rookie security singled up on Davante Adams within the crimson zone.
Browns Resort to the Blitz: When this group was rolling early within the season, it was the defensive entrance 4 making it work, permitting a back-seven that’s a piece in progress to have the additional physique. On Sunday they needed to resort to blitzing Aaron Rodgers a number of too many instances, which is a foul signal with regards to how they really feel about Myles Garrett’s well being, Jadeveon Clowney’s absence, and the power of the remainder of that move rush.
Aaron Rodgers’s Mangled Left Pinky Toe: Can’t really feel too good after getting stepped on twice, by very giant males, on Saturday. He’s clearly efficient regardless, however it will be good to get him shifting higher, and threatening a few of these second-reaction performs, by the point the postseason rolls round.
A Crushing 5 Days, Even by Cleveland Requirements: They’d have received the Tuesday sport if that they had wherever close to a full complement of gamers. They could have received on Saturday if not for a shaky kicker, a number of missed alternatives by the quarterback and some missed calls by the officers. And, consequently, the Browns have to win out (at Pittsburgh and vs. Cincinnati) and get assist to win the AFC North.
Aaron Rodgers Surpasses Brett Favre: In profession landing passes as a Packer. However City Meyer followers have to attend one other week for Matt LaFleur to surpass him in profession losses as an NFL head coach (together with postseason), as the 2 stay tied at 11.
2. And your Sunday FreakOut: Saturday Version, for the Colts-Cardinals late sport:
The Cardinals Want a Holder: With punter Andy Lee out the Colts began the sport with Colt McCoy. After a missed 51-yarder and missed PAT for Matt Prater, they turned it over to Ryan Winslow solely to have Prater doink the highest of the appropriate upright on a possible go-ahead kick from 41.
Carson Wentz Must Construct Off This Fourth Quarter: For the majority of the sport (and for a second straight Saturday evening), Frank Reich was managing round his quarterback. Wentz, for probably the most half, did what was requested of him within the first half, however he was scattershot within the third quarter. It was honest to surprise simply how a lot they might belief him, particularly on every week after they have been down 4 offensive linemen and misplaced Jack Doyle, a key piece within the run sport, early on. However Wentz delivered the game-clinching landing, and on the form of second-reaction play that should have had Reich’s coronary heart in his throat. Wentz doesn’t need to be a superhero, however regular sport administration, plus an occasional play made, is sufficient to put the Colts within the Tremendous Bowl dialogue.
Jonathan Taylor’s Yeoman Responsibility: It wasn’t simply 80% of the offensive line lacking, however Indy additionally misplaced Jack Doyle, who’s been a key piece to their run designs, within the first quarter. His numbers weren’t eye-popping, and two lengthy runs do a number of heavy stat-line lifting, however that was robust sledding over 27 carries.
A Neat Punt Return!:
What High quality Crew Would the Cardinals Beat Proper Now?: It was fairly clear the 7–0 begin was a mirage even because it was unfolding; the Cardinals have been placing up mind-blowing numbers in fourth-down and red-zone effectivity on either side of the ball, fumble-recovery charge, Kyler Murray had gone from subpar downfield passer (statistically) his first two seasons to on tempo to shatter the single-season mark for downfield completion proportion, and opposing kickers have been leaving extra factors on the board in opposition to them than in opposition to another group. Now, they’re 3–5 over their final eight, together with losses to: Lions, Panthers, Packers’ apply squad, COVID-stricken Rams, and now a Colts group that was with out Darius Leonard, 4 beginning offensive linemen and the tight finish who helps gas their run sport. DeAndre Hopkins is out, Kliff Kingsbury continues to be trying to find solutions, and it’s robust to
Usually, that is the spot the place we decide up with our frequently scheduled programming, the weekly Soccer Issues preview column. Nevertheless, there’s not an entire lot to say about this week’s video games; with all of the COVID/reserve listing gamers, it’s exceedingly tough to determine what to anticipate. That, and it’s Christmas evening and I already needed to write Energy Rankings this week, so discuss with that for many of my takes. This week’s we’re doing a truncated Issues…
3. Sure, it is going to be fascinating to see how Sean McDermott (an exceedingly salty Sean McDermott, final time we noticed him in a Payments-Patriots setting) and his protection reacts in a sport the place, not solely will they need to take care of the Patriots run sport once more, however the Patriots may additionally make the most of the ahead move.
However extra fascinating shall be how the Patriots strategy Josh Allen for the primary time in a impartial climate sport since he metaphorically burned Foxboro to the bottom final December. Allen has some points coming into this one—his left foot sprain suffered in Tampa two weeks in the past was clearly an points final week in opposition to the Panthers, and he’ll be with out Cole Beasley and Gabriel Davis on Sunday.
Groups have had success in opposition to Allen with a mush-rush/comfortable zone mixture this season, however Allen ripped New England’s zone-heavy protection to items final 12 months. The assembly earlier this season didn’t inform us something; it is going to be fascinating to see what Invoice Belichick has within the works this time.
4. I used to be going to guide this week’s column with Bruce Arians and the phrases of a tragic, small man. Arians made the choice to provide yet one more likelihood to the man who did all this and this and a number of different stuff and by no means confirmed even the slightest little bit of contrition earlier than Arians group acquired him, after which acquired a pretend vaccination card (not precisely a heat-of-the-moment mistake) and, as just lately as three weeks in the past, was attempting to color himself as a sufferer on his teammate’s dopey podcast, and Arians is attempting to assert that, regardless of all proof on the contrary and regardless of the a cartoonish degree of enablement from Arians and the remainder of his group (which is stunting any progress—and even want for progress—Brown is perhaps able to making as a human being), Brown is “working exhausting at it.”
But it surely’s the vacation season. Subsequent week we’ll dissect Arians’s parting with what little dignity he had left. For now, Merry Christmas everybody!
5. Women and gents . . . Vince Guaraldi Trio!
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