September 26, 2017

Texans 31, Bengals 10

Houston Texans fans had to wait a very long time for their team to make it to the playoffs.  It was worth the wait as the Texans defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 31-10 for their first ever playoff victory.

After a 39-yard field goal by Texans kicker Neil Rackers tied the game at ten with 1:48 remaining in the half, the Bengals weren’t content to go to the locker room with the score tied.  That was a costly mistake.  With 52 seconds remaining, Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton went looking for wide receiver A.J. Green.  His pass was picked off and returned for a 29-yard touchdown by defensive end J.J. Watt.  That play gave the Texans all the momentum they needed and they shut out the Bengals in the second half.

The aggressive Texans defense shut down the Bengals running game and harassed Andy Dalton throughout the game.  Dalton completed 27 of 42 for 257 yards, no touchdowns and he was picked off three times.  As a team, the Bengals finished with just 76 yards rushing.  Starter Cedric Benson had 14 yards on seven carries and a touchdown.  He spent most of the second half on the sideline.  Brian Leonard led the team with three carries for 34 yards and also had six catches for 36 yards.  A.J. Green led the team with five catches for 47 yards.  Most of those catches came in the first quarter and he was held to one catch in the second half.  Linebacker Thomas Howard led the Bengals with six tackles.

For the Texans, quarterback T.J. Yates won the battle of the rookie quarterbacks as he completed 11 of 20 for 159 yards and one touchdown.  Running back Arian Foster had a huge game with 153 yards on 24 carries and touchdown runs of eight and 42 yards.  He also caught three passes for 39 yards.  As a team, the Texans slashed the Bengal defense for 188 yards on the ground.  Wide receiver Andre Johnson made his presence known and led the team with five catches for 90 yards and a 40-yard touchdown.  Linebacker Brian Cushing led the team with eight tackles and one tackle for a loss.  The Texans ended up sacking Dalton four times.

The next game for the Texans will be at Baltimore to face the Ravens on Sunday, January 15th at 1 P.M. Eastern time.  These teams met in week six and the Ravens came away with a 29-14 win.  In that game, Foster was held to 49 yards rushing on 15 carries and the Ravens racked up 400 yards of total offense.  Will things be different when they play next Sunday?  Time will tell.

 

 

All Out Blitz

Arizona Cardinals: Believe it or not, the Cardinals are still in the playoff hunt – now granted they still need the Falcons and Lions to lose both games but they are alive. Though there was some talk that coach Ken Whisenhunt’s job could be in jeopardy early in the season, this finish would seem to indicate that his job is safe…..Speaking of job’s that are safe, QB Kevin Kolb is still considered the Cards starter even though he has been outplayed by John Skelton while he has been dealing with a toe injury and a concussion. The Cards believe Kolb will be fine as soon as he gets an entire off-season with the team.

Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons will clinch a playoff berth with one more win and can still win the division if they win their last two games and the Saints lose both. Now you may think that is farfetched and while I admit it is unlikely, the Falcons do play the Saints on Monday night, and next week the Falcons have a gimme game versus Tampa while New Orleans will play Carolina. It is certainly not out of the realm of possibility, the problem though is that both of the Saints remaining games are at home. It is hard to see them losing twice in the Superdome.

Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens certainly laid an egg versus the Chargers last week, but still control the AFC North thanks to the Steelers loss to the 49ers…..How far the Ravens will go in the playoff might be directly proportionate to how well QB Joe Flacco plays. He has been the definition of inconsistency and certainly needs the help that RB Ray Rice can provide. The running game will open up things in the passing game, especially for WR Torrey Smith who can get behind any safety.

Buffalo Bills: With the emergence of RB C.J. Spiller, what will the Bills do next season with Fred Jackson? Jackson was leading the league in rushing when he went down for the season but Spiller is showing that he might be able to handle the full-time role as well. It’s a good problem to have, especially in today’s NFL where having two solid RBs seems to be a must…..The way QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has played since signing his big contract, one has to wonder if the Bills will cut bait and go in a different direction next season, especially before his bonus kicks in.

Carolina Panthers: If the Panthers can build a defense next season, at least an average one, and add another receiver or two to their current crop, they could be a team to watch…..QB Cam Newton should only get better and the NFC South should be a fun division to play in for years to come.

Chicago Bears: What a disaster this season has been for the Bears. They were well on their way to a playoff spot before losing QB Jay Cutler to a broken thumb and RB Matt Forte to a knee injury. QB Caleb Hanie has just been terrible and cost the Bears any chance they had at a playoff spot…..Josh McCown will start for the Bears versus the Packers on Christmas night and he will do so without WR Johnny Knox who is out for the season after suffering a back injury last week.

Cincinnati Bengals: You have to hand it to WR A.J. Green. He suffered a third-degree separation of his shoulder during the game last week but continued to try to play. The man has heart. His status for this week is unknown as the Bengals need to win out to have a shot at making the playoffs, something that looked like a definite about a month ago. It won’t be easy as they play the Cardinals this week, a team with an outside shot at the playoffs, and then the Ravens who will probably need the game to clinch the AFC North.

Cleveland Browns: We’ve all heard the hoopla surrounding the concussion suffered by QB Colt McCoy and how the Browns handled it. Well, McCoy still has concussion symptoms and Seneca Wallace is likely to start once again…..The NFL did change their concussion protocol once again as there will be a concussion specialist assigned to each team who will be in the booth to make sure that any player who is being treated by the medical staff will be looked at for a possible concussion.

Dallas Cowboys: Here is the situation for the Cowboys and their hopes of winning the NFC East, if they win their last two games versus the Eagles and Giants, they win the division, if the Giants lose to the Jets on Saturday and the Cowboys beat the Eagles later that day, it’s over, if the Giants and Cowboys both lose Saturday, than the Cowboys can clinch with a win over the Giants in Week 17, the Cowboys can also clinch the wild card with a win Saturday, loss in Week 17 if the Falcons lose twice, and the Cardinals lose once, fun fun fun…..RB Felix Jones is dealing with a hamstring injury, should come as no shock as Jones has never been able to stay healthy for any long period of time, Sammy Morris could get more carries than usual, and if the Giants win at 1pm Saturday, Dallas would have very little to play for at 4pm, and may rest Jones for what would be a winner take all game in Week 17.

Denver Broncos: Well QB Tim Tebow finally lost another game, sooner or later the magic run was going to end, but the Broncos are still in good shape and with the Raiders collapsing Denver is still the odds on favorite to win the division, Tebow has gotten better, should be interesting to see what a full off-season can do for him as Broncos GM John Elway announced this week the Tebow will be with the team next season.

Detroit Lions: The Lions are also on the verge of clinching a playoff spot and one win will do, they don’t have much of a running game, and their defense has major holes, but that passing game seems to get more dangerous each and every week as QB Matthew Stafford gains more and more trust in WR Titus Young…..The running game is still a problem as Kevin Smith is still hobbled by an ankle sprain, he will more than likely start this week, question is, can he finish?

Green Bay Packers: Although the Packers won’t have an undefeated season, the loss might be the best thing for them, they are a banged up team suffering two more losses to their offensive line during the game, we all know their defense isn’t very good, if they can’t protect QB Aaron Rodgers and allow them to score at will, than this season may not have a magical ending…..Rodgers has taken some heat for an off week in their loss to the Chiefs in Week 15, but truth is his receivers dropped at least a half-dozen passes, the biggest culprit being TE Jermichael Finley who has had a problem with the drops all year.

Houston Texans: The Texans look like a team that just may be running out of gas, losing a starting QB in Matt Schaub will do that as you can’t keep settling for field goals instead of touchdowns, be surprised if they weren’t one and done in the playoffs…..WR Andre Johnson could certainly help the offense but he won’t play in Week 16, there is a chance however that he could play in Week 17, but once again there could be very little incentive to play him in the final game of the season, his health for the playoffs is much more important.

Indianapolis Colts: Not only will there not be an undefeated team this season, but their won’t be a winless team either as the Colts finally managed to outscore an opponent…..RB Donald Brown had a big game including an 80 yard romp to ice the game late in the 4th quarter, he may be the front-runner to be Colts number one back next season…..Speaking of next season, the Colts are no longer a shoo-in to get the number one pick, which would alleviate all the problems of what to do with QB Peyton Manning…..Speaking of Manning, the Colts announced that he won’t practice with the team for the remainder of the season.

Jacksonville Jaguars: You have to love the season RB Maurice Jones-Drew is having with virtually no passing attack, not sure why defenses don’t put 8-9 guys in the box, not like they have to worry about QB Blaine Gabbert beating them over the top…..

Kansas City Chiefs: What a game by the Chiefs last week in handing the Packers their first loss, coach Romeo Crennel deserves credit for turning this team around, perhaps he will have a chance to get the top job on more than an interim basis next season…..The Chiefs are actually still alive for the division title, now they have to win both and have Denver and Oakland lose both along with San Diego losing at least one of two, but they do play the Raiders this week and Denver next week, so there is a chance.

Miami Dolphins: Whoever is the new head coach of the Dolphins next season will have an interesting dilemma, what to do with RBs Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas?, Bush has proven this season that he can indeed handle the every down role and rush the ball between the tackles while Thomas has yet to prove much of anything, that being said Thomas is the bigger back and he was drafted to be the lead back, probably a good problem to have, but a problem none the less…..WR Brandon Marshall has had a solid season, but it would’ve been so much better if he would stop dropping TD passes, that was two more last Sunday.

Minnesota Vikings: RB Adrian Peterson teased fantasy owners last week by only rushing the ball 10 times, he did get 60 yards on those carries but in the end he may have cost quite a few owners in the playoffs, that being said fantasy owners only have themselves to blame as Minnesota was going to be very cautious with their franchise player, and with New Orleans and QB Drew Brees in town, there was very little chance that Minnesota was going to be able to keep the game close in the second half and not have to abandon the running game.

New England Patriots: With Texans losing last week the Patriots now have the first seed in the AFC, and if they win their last two games will have home field advantage throughout the playoffs, course playing in New England hasn’t helped the Pats in the playoffs the past couple of years…..The Pats defense has been abysmal all season and losing their best pass rusher, DE Andre Carter, for the year due to a quad injury certainly won’t help matters any.

New Orleans Saints: The Saints could finish anywhere from the number two seed to the number five seed depending on how they finish up, they need the 49ers to lose one of their last two games and win out in order to get the two seed and a first round bye, but if they lose out and Atlanta wins out, the Falcons would win the division and the Saints would play the NFC East winner in the first round…..I know QB Aaron Rodgers is almost a shoe in for the MVP but Drew Brees is going to deserve some serious consideration for the year he is having, and the he and the Saints may be the biggest obstacle towards Green Bay going back to the Super Bowl.

New York Giants: Wow, how can the Giants lay an egg in an important division game versus the Redskins?, they just came out flat, QB Eli Manning has taken quite a bit of heat for having a terrible game that included multiple interceptions, but he didn’t get any help from his receivers, specifically Hakeem Nicks who dropped two sure touchdown passes…..Has Osi Umenyiora played his last game for the Giants?, he is still dealing with a sprained ankle and unlikely to play this Saturday versus the Jets, and if the Giants lose, than it would seem unlikely that he would play it what would be a meaningless game for the Giants in Week 17.

New York Jets: The Giants weren’t the only team who didn’t show up last week as the Jets were also lambasted by the Eagles in what was an important game, like Eli Manning, QB Mark Sanchez also wasn’t given much help, as WR Santonio Holmes fumbled one reception that directly led to an Eagles TD, and then had a pass go right through his hands that led to another Eagles TD…..Holmes eventually scored a TD that made the score 28-10 Philly, he then went on to celebrate by standing on the football while doing an Eagle flap, a celebration that instantly drew a flag, a flag that Holmes admitted to later he knew was coming, good to see he cares about the team and not himself, seems to me it would’ve been the perfect time to bench him and send a message, but instead Rex Ryan said he supported his player publicly, not surprised, players take after their coaches and Ryan is out there to say the least.

Oakland Raiders: The Raiders looked like they had turned things around last week versus Detroit after a couple of disastrous road games only to fall apart in the second half when they forgot that WR Calvin Johnson is a really good receiver and you may want to cover him, they aren’t out of the AFC West hunt yet, but another poor outing and their season is done…..RB Darren McFadden is done for the season although the Raiders have yet to admit it, his loss seems to have triggered their downfall, just a big part of their offense.

Philadelphia Eagles: Who would’ve thought the Eagles would still have a chance to win the NFC East and make the playoffs at this point in the season?, now they still need a small miracle but stranger things have happened, it’s a shame it took them so long into the season to figure things out, but if they were able to sneak in, they would be a team that no one wants to play.

Pittsburgh Steelers: I don’t blame the Steelers for letting QB Ben Roethlisberger play Monday night, although he was hobbled, with the Ravens losing earlier in the day the Steelers had a chance to take over the top spot in the AFC, this week however is a different story, they can beat the Rams with or without Ben, but won’t go far in the playoffs without him, time to let him rest for a couple of weeks and get that ankle healthy.

San Diego Chargers: The Chargers are once again going on their late season run, more than likely though it’s a little to little, little to late for both the Chargers season and coach Norv Turner…..The Chargers offense is hitting on all cylinders as the Bolts have fixed their offensive line problems, which has opened bigger holes for RB Ryan Matthews and Mike Tolbert and also given QB Phillip Rivers time to find his receivers down the field.

San Francisco 49ers: How far can the 49ers go in the playoffs?, as things stand now they will likely play the Saints in the divisional round of the playoffs, not the best matchup for SF as their weakness is against the pass, something New Orleans does quite well, although not as well on the road as they do at home, 49ers could be one and done as well…..LB Patrick Willis still isn’t practicing after missing the past two games with a hamstring injury, 49ers may be playing it safe with Willis, wanting to make sure he’s as close to 100% as possible going into the playoffs.

Seattle Seahawks: The Hawks are another team with an extremely outside shot at the playoffs, although they play the 49ers on Saturday which could put those hopes to an end…..The most interesting thing about this game is that RB Marshawn Lynch, who has been one of the hotter backs in the league, will be going up against the SF defense, a defense that has yet to allow a rushing TD all season, drama…..Problem for the Hawks is the way to beat the 49ers is through the air, and QB Tavares Jackson seems to be losing target to throw to each and every week, not they he would inspire confidence anyway.

St. Louis Rams: The Rams season can’t come to an end soon enough and this season may be the last for coach Steve Spagnuolo and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, the Rams will be someone else’s mess next season, a mess that may include the first overall pick in the draft if the Colts could win another game, a pick they could get a bounty for as they already have a franchise QB in Sam Bradford, quite a few needs could be filled.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Talk about a team that has packed it in, the Bucs are the definition…..They have been terribly disappointing this season as QB Josh Freeman, WR Mike Williams, and RB LeGarrette Blount have all taken some serious steps back, the blame could fall on head coach Raheem Morris who at the very least will be forced to make some changes on his staff and may actually be out of a job…..CB Aqib Talib was placed on IR, ending his season. so things are only going to get worse in the TB secondary.

Tennessee Titans: Hard to believe the Titans gave the Colts their first win last week, a loss that may keep the Titans out of the playoffs…..Things may not get much easier for the Titans this week as RB Chris Johnson is hobbled and is once again not at his best, and QB Matt Hasselback seems to be feeling the effects of a long season as he has not been able to finish the last two games.

Washington Redskins: You have to hand it to the Redskins, they haven’t given up on the season, they gave the Cowboys and Patriots a run for their money in the past couple of weeks and then upset the Giants, possibly ending their season last week, perhaps there is a future for this team after all.