NFL Best and Worst of Week 17

Best: Everyone knew the Patriots would beat the Jags, but to put up a 50 burger is a beat down worthy of recognition. It takes a concerted effort to score that many points in 60 minutes. Even against a bad team. You may be saying, “Oh, it’s just the Jags. It doesn’t really count.” Um, what other team put up 50 points against the Jaguars this season? Nobody. There have only been 4 games this year, and the Patriots have two of them. One was last weeks Cowboys win over Washington, and the other was this week, the Seahawks over the Lions. It doesn’t happen as often as one may think. The Patriots offense looked primed for the post season as they accumulated 471 total yards on offense, with Rhamondre Stevenson rushing for 107 of those yards and running for 2 TDs. Despite Mac Jones being a Rookie of the Year candidate, the identity of the Patriots offense is running the football. The Patriots run game is ranked 8th in total rushing yards and rushing yards per game. Prior to this game, Mac Jones had been in a bit of a slump, and it’s not difficult to light up the Jags, but a good performance was needed to boost the rookie QBs confidence as he looks to lead his team into the post season. They face the Dolphins next week, who have already been eliminated, after a loss to Tennessee. Another dominant win could give Mac the necessary boost to carry his team to the Super Bowl.

Worst: Hey guys! There’s been another Antonio Brown thing! The list of incidents regarding AB is longer than a Derrick Henry run against the Jaguars. Here’s a not-so-quick recap of the events that AB has given us over the years: Forced his way out of Pittsburgh, refused a trade to Buffalo but accepted a trade to the Raiders, threw a tantrum over a helmet, gave himself frostbite, called Mike Mayock a bitch, cracker, and probably some other things, was fined, suspended, then cut buy the Raiders, signed a 1-yr league minimum deal in New England after Tom Brady vouched for him, was accused of sexual assault just a few days later, played one game for New England, then was cut after just 11 days, followed Tom to Tampa after Brady vouched for him a second time, this time to the angrier version of Bill Belichick, Bruce Arians, Arians agrees to sign Brown, but states that he’s on a short leash and one slip up and he’s gone, fought teammates in training camp, won a Super Bowl, re-signed one a 1-yr deal with Tampa again, forged a vaccine card, suspended by the NFL, rumored to get after his suspension, doesn’t get cut Despite Arians being one of the most vocal coaches regarding vaccinations, quits on the team after being down by 2 scores to the NY Jets. That’s a rather long short leash if you ask me. According to Jay Glazer, Arians told Brown to go into the game multiple times, but Brown refused, saying that his ankle was sore, so Arians, being the soft spoken man that he is, told him to get out. I don’t think Arians expected him to leave in the fashion he did. In a tribute to Vontae Davis, the man took off his shoulder pads, threw his shirt and his gloves into the stands, walked/skipped through the endzone in the middle of the game, danced his way to the tunnel laughing and pointing at fans. This is without a doubt the most exciting thing to happen in the Meadowlands all season. Now I’m no psychologist, clearly. I’m a cynical writer. Some people say that he needs medical help because he has these spurts of erratic behavior that seem to come out of nowhere. Some would say that he’s just an arrogant and selfish asshole. But when you have millions and millions of dollars and have been given court ordered therapy and you still act like this? Is it possible that he’s just a terrible person? Yes. Is it possible that he genuinely needs medical and psychological help? Also yes. Both can be true. Both probably are true. His actions should not be excused because he’s had a few head injuries, but we also shouldn’t condemn a man who clearly needs help. This story is ever developing. By the time this comes out more news may have been released. We don’t really have a definitive reason as to why Antonio quit on the team. There’s the rumor that his ankle was sore, but that’s a pretty pore excuse and I believe Antonio has a different story, if/when he gives his side. Despite his multiple on and off the field antics, people may forget that he was the best WR in the NFL for 6 or 7 years. But he will always be remembered for the drama he created everywhere he went.

Best: Remember when people thought Ja’Marr Chase was a bust after dropping all those passes in the preseason? Remember when people mocked him for saying that the white stripes on the NFL footballs made it harder to see? Remember when people ridiculed the Bengals for taking a wide receiver over a tackle? Well now he holds the rookie record for most receiving yards in a season (1,429) and a single game (266) in the Super Bowl era. Joe Burrow had nearly as good a game as he had last week, throwing for 446 yards, 4 TDs and a 148.0 passer rating. Combine that with last weeks win, Burrow has 971 yards, 8 TDs, 0 picks and a 145.6 passer rating in his last 2 games. The Bengals have had back to back dominant wins thanks to these two young stars. Last weeks win over a Ravens team riddled with injuries and backups was expected but still surprising given the historical performance. But to upset the #1 seed and put up similar stats as last week? Maybe the Bengals have actually turned a corner. Right on time, too. With that win, they officially clinched the AFC North, and currently sit at the 3 seed in the AFC, with an outside chance at the 1 seed. They need to win next week in Cleveland, they need Tennessee (#1 seed) to lose in Houston, and KC (#2 seed) to lose in Denver. Like I said, an outside chance, but a chance nonetheless. Possibly one of the most surprising teams of the season, but it all means nothing if they can’t get over the hump of winning a playoff game. They haven’t had a playoff victory since 1991. Most of the active players on the roster haven’t been alive long enough to witness a Bengals playoff win. A long awaited moment. Good luck, Joe. I’m not sure how much longer Bengals fans can wait.

Worst: Trevor Lawrence has not lived up to his hype. At least, not yet, I hope. As a 1st overall pick, you have certain criteria you have to meet in your first year. You don’t have to win 12 games and win MVP immediately, but there are little goals you should make to show that you can make it in the NFL. You have to make good, consistent throws, learn the offense, and win a few games with your skill alone. Lawrence has done none of that. I gave him the benefit of the doubt as he’s had Urban Meyer as his head coach, and he plays in Jacksonville, and he has literally no weapons or playmakers around him. But the 1st overall pick should elevate some players around him. He should make at least one amazing play a game, to make people go, “That’s why he went 1st overall!” I don’t think he’s made 5 amazing plays all season. In the last 9 games, he has thrown only 1 touchdown and 8 interceptions. ONE TOUCHDOWN in 9 games. That’s Mike Glennon stats, and we’ll get to him later. In his pitiful loss to the Patriots, Lawrence was only able to muster 173 passing yards, 1 TD and 3 INTs. Whoever is hired to be the next Jaguars coach, pleeeeeeease put all your effort into developing Trevor Lawrence. Forget the defense, you can fix that after you fix Lawrence. Focus all the cap space on offense. Draft wide receivers, offensive linemen and tight ends. Then, when you’ve protected your future and given him weapons, you can focus on the defense. You have the 1st overall pick in the next draft. Everyone is projecting DEs Aiden Hutchinson or Kayvon Thibodeaux to go first. You do not need pass rushers. You need to develop your QB. Trade back, accumulate more picks and fix your offense. This team will not be fixed in one offseason. If Trevor fails, this team is set back another 5 years, minimum.

Best: The Bears defense looked like the Monster of the Midway again this week. I mean, it was against the Giants but it was still an impressive performance. On the very first play of the game, DE Trevis Gipson strip sacked Mike Glennon and the Bears returned it to the 2-yard line. The following play David Montgomery bulled his way for the score. 7-0 Bears, after just 18 seconds. On the ensuing Giants drive, Tashaun Gipson intercepted a pass that lead to another Bears touchdown, taking a 14-0 lead just 7 minutes into the game. It was a rout after that. But the player of the game for the Bears was definitely Robert Quinn, who recorded his 18th sack on the season, surpassing the franchise record of 17.5, held by the legendary Richard Dent since 1985. It was also his 100th career sack. What makes this moment more impressive is that last year, his first with the Bears, he only recorded two sacks in 15 games. Prior to this season, he had looked like one of the biggest free agent busts in Bears history. Safe to say he’s earned that contract after the monster year he’s had. The Bears defense as a whole only allowed 4 completions on 11 attempts for a staggering 24 yards, had 4 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, recovering 2, a safety and held Glennon to a 5.3 passer rating. If you take into consideration the sack yards, the Giants finished the game with -10 net passing yards. That seems impossible, but never underestimate Joe Judge. The Giants didn’t even try to throw the ball after being down early. 11 pass attempts to 40 rushing attempts is so Joe Judge. Since Judge has been hired, the Giants offensive rankings before 2020 are 32nd in points per game, 32nd in yards per game, 32nd in yards per play, and 32nd in Red Zone efficiency. I’ll remind you that there are 32 teams in the NFL. Just remember Giants fans, according to your front office, he’s coming back next year! Oh, wait. This is the Best column and it’s about the Bears defense. Sorry. It’s impressive that the Bears defense hasn’t given up all year after the disappointing season they’ve endured. Constantly keeping the Bears in games, just hoping the offense starts clicking. The pieces are there on defense, Roquan Smith is possibly the most underrated defensive player in the NFL, it’s criminal that he has yet to voted into the Pro Bowl or an All-Pro. Jaylon Johnson, Robert Quinn, Khalil Mack, and, if they keep him, Akiem Hicks are all still key contributors for that defense. The next Head Coach wont have much to fix on that side of the ball.

Worst: I’m going to rub salt into the Dolphins’ wound. Miami could’ve had a Cinderella season. Starting 1-0, then losing 7 straight games, then winning 7 straight games? Never been done in the history of the NFL. They climbed all the way back into playoff contention, only to lose to Tennessee and be eliminated. That’s gotta sting. To be so far away, then to be so close! Only to lose it all in the end. I thought Tua had turned a corner. I still don’t think he is a good QB, but he was playing good football, protecting the ball, limiting the bad mistakes, mostly. But then he showed his true colors. On a rainy day, he let the ball slip from his hands on a pass attempt that was recovered by the defense, muffed a snap on third and short, and had multiple missed opportunities in terms of open receivers. The offense got nothing done all game. Normally, in a rainy game, you would want to run the ball because the wet ball is harder to catch and throw, as shown by Tua. Tennessee understood the assignment. they had nearly 200 yards rushing. keep in mind Derrick Henry is still out with a broken foot. Donte Foreman blew up the Dolphins D with a season high 132 rushing yards including a 21 yard TD to put his team up two scores early. You have some reason to hope, though, Dolphins fans. Your team was 1-7 and could’ve easily given up. But this team has fight. That’s rare in the NFL. Some of those playoff teams don’t have that. But those teams have something that you don’t, at least most of them do. They have a franchise QB. I’ll Give Tua one more season to prove his talent, but after year three, if you still don’t know if they’re good, they’re not. Look at Sam Darnold, Drew Lock, Mitch Trubisky, Daniel Jones. After their third season, none of them showed consistent improvements. These players will be good backups, but that’s all. I’m not praying for Tua’s downfall, but it is trending that way.

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