NFL Week 16 Recap: 5 Things I Think

We’ll try to keep it short this week . . .

1- The NFL is going off the reservation with scheduling here at the end of the season

We’re treading into unfamiliar territory this year in terms of NFL scheduling. This holiday weekend featured the first time the NFL played more than one game on three straight days. I find it strange that they elected not to play a Sunday night game on Christmas Eve, but opted to play Monday Night Football on Christmas Day. Additionally news broke yesterday that there would be no Sunday Night Football in Week 17 either. I don’t remember that ever happening in my life. A statement from the league said that it was to avoid having a game on Sunday night that had no playoff implications based on results from earlier in the day. This is a very “European soccer” type move which I find surprising from the NFL. They also shifted the schedule around so that teams competing for the same playoff spot would be playing in the same window. This means that there will be seven games at 1pm and nine games in the 4pm slot (absolutely unheard of!), which sets up the best day of NFL Redzone viewing one can imagine.

2- If you want to make the playoffs, you have to do more than scoreboard watch

There were three teams who entered Sunday with playoff hopes and lost as favorites: Jacksonville, Dallas, and Detroit. These situations are very different, but all three teams failed to show up in some way or another. A brief word about each:

Dallas: I cut Dallas the most slack because they really had no business being favorites in this game. Somewhere along the line the Cowboys kinda embraced  the idea that if they could just get Zeke back they would start winning again and I think that fostered some complacency. Zeke played on Sunday, but the offense was still stinky and Dallas played its way right out of the playoffs. Jerry Jones has said that Jason Garrett’s job is safe, but this team is supposed to be winning now.

Jacksonville: The Jags would obviously have benefitted from a win, but the loss to the red hot 49ers really doesn’t cost them too much since the Titans lost as well. They’re well positioned to host a Wild Card playoff game in a couple weeks and I think that may be where their focus lies. The loss on Sunday was a step back, but nothing that stops them from reaching their ultimate goal.

Detroit: This is by far the worst of the three. Playing a Bengals team that laid down the last two weeks against NFC North foes (33-7 versus the Bears, 34-7 at the Vikings), Detroit should have been a shoe in. Instead they looked sluggish and made a ton of sloppy mistakes. I have never been a big fan of Jim Caldwell and I think this season should absolutely cost him his job. Shame on the players too. Your season was on the line and you just didn’t show up.

3- Green Bay fans already know this, but Brett Hundley has got to go

For the second time in their last three home games the Packers were shutout. The Vikings (and Ravens too) have a good defense and the loss is not a surprise, but you have to be able to get some points on the board in today’s pass-happy, offense-friendly NFL. The audition was a flaming disaster and now it’s time for someone else to come in as Aaron Rodgers’ understudy.

4- The Browns clinched the top draft pick by losing again on Sunday

In an act of holiday charity I picked the Cleveland Browns this week and, surprise surprise, they crapped their pants. I’ll write more about the game in my AAR tomorrow, but the loss means that they get to draft first for the second straight year, something no team has done since . . . the Browns did it in 1999-2000. Reports surfaced that UCLA star QB and projected top five draft pick is considering staying in college for another year (and foregoing MILLIONS) in order to avoid being drafted by Cleveland. Next up for the Browns is equalling the 2008 Detroit Lions who also went 0-16. They can do this by being themselves next Sunday at Heinz Field against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Also LeBron lost to the Warriors today. Merry bleeping Christmas, Cleveland.

5- I hope the Bucs bench Jameis or the league fines him or something

Jameis Winston had a melt down as his team lost to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. We’ve talked at length about his maturity issues here on SportsIntel so I won’t go into it here, but I would just like to reiterate that this guy shouldn’t be a team captain until he can grow up. Check out the link and tell me you want that guy as a “leader’ on your team. Embarrassing behavior from a professional football player.