Week 15 can be remembered for a lot of things. For starters, the controversy to the end of the New England/Pittsburgh matchup. That will be the talk of the NFL for not just this coming week but honestly, depending on how things shake up at the top of the AFC the next two weeks, it will be the talk of the 2017 season.
Week 15 also saw major separation. Jacksonville can make claim to the AFC South. The top five teams in the NFC are virtually guaranteed playoff berths now. It is going to be an incredible NFL playoffs. Anyway, here are my seven observations from Week 15 plus today’s podcast on the Earnestly Speaking Football Show with Kyle Nash aka. The Student Of The Game.
1. The Patriots cannot afford to lose Rob Gronkowski this postseason.
It’s a shame Steelers/Patriots came down to a controversial finish in an otherwise incredible matchup on Sunday. Arguably one of the best games of the season that I have watched and there have been really good ones.
First my opinion on the controversial no-catch: By the letter of the NFL law, it was not a catch. Now, in my opinion, it SHOULD be a catch but your disdain should be toward the NFL rules committee to fix this farce.
Sorry Steeler fans. Wish I had something better to offer.
On with the game.
Unlike last year, the Patriots this time around cannot win the Super Bowl minus Rob Gronkowski in the lineup. He was absolutely incredible on Sunday. nine catches for 168 yards. Tom Brady cannot afford to not have Gronk in the lineup under no circumstance.
Why you ask?
For starters, their defense is not good enough which was evident on Sunday. Marcellus Bennett was a great insurance policy last year but with him on injured reserve, that option is out the window. Plus no Julien Edelman who was arguably their best playmaker down the stretch last season when the team lost Gronk.
2. The Seattle Seahawks are finished.
Technically they are still in the hunt but I am already prepared to wave the white flag. Especially if Atlanta does what they are supposed to do tonight in defeating Tampa Bay to put a stranglehold on the last Wildcard spot. To make matters worse the Seahawks, they close the year at Dallas who by the way insert RB Ezekiel Elliot back in their lineup after serving a six-game suspension before closing the year out vs. Arizona.
By the way, Russell Wilson may not have played well this Sunday but none of this is on him. Seattle isn’t even in the playoff conversation without him. But like I said before the year started, this was a crossroad season for the team. Expect some major changes this offseason.
3. The Chiefs are going to win out.
Kansas City started 5-0. Then proceeded to lose six of their next seven games. If things fall the way I believe it will, they will win their final two games ending in a four-game win streak. The only thing left to be answered will be whether they can be a threat to both New England and Pittsburgh come playoff time.
4. The Jaguars are going to be a problem.
It’s not that they blew out inferior Houston. It’s not only that they clinch their first postseason berth since 2007. It’s that everything is finally coming together. Even Blake Bortles is finding ways to make plays without putting his team at risk.
5. The Cleveland Browns will go 0-16
Here is their remaining schedule:
Week 16: at Chicago
Week 17: at Baltimore
Their best shot at getting ONE win is next week against the Bears. Both matchups, being on the road do not help at all. They won’t beat Baltimore Week 17 since the Ravens themselves are playing for their playoff lives.
6. At least six coaches will likely be gone come Black Monday.
I’m going to write about this in detail later in the week but the vibe feels like there will be lots of coaching turnover come 2018 whether fair or unfair. We already got the obvious one in Ben McAdoo already shown the door. But there are quite a few more who will quit and/or likely be let go from their respective teams. This could be the most active offseason of coaching turnover in recent memory.
7. My updated MVP Rankings
1. Tom Brady – Did you see his game-winning drive? That’s why. The GOAT. Enough said.
2. Carson Wentz – Despite being on injured reserve Wentz played enough games to warrant the discussion.
3. Todd Gurley – The entire Rams offense is predicated on his strengths.
4. Russell Wilson – Only reason he is lower on this list is due to the team fading late.
5. Case Keenum – As I said a few weeks back, Keenum deserves some chatter.