2018 NFL Week 15
Faint heart never won fair maiden. I believe it was Shakespeare who said that. Or Niles Crane. Actually, I’m almost positive it was Niles Crane. No matter, he’s just as intelligent as Shakespeare.
Anyway, the Chargers showed nerves of steel on Thursday night. They pulled off an improbable comeback against the Chiefs, erasing a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter on the road. With just four seconds left in the game, Philip Rivers hit Mike Williams to pull the Chargers within a point of a tie.
A more cowardly head coach – like me — would have kicked the extra point to even the score and then take his chances in overtime. Nossir, not Anthony Lynn.
“I was coming off [for the extra point] and go to OT and hopefully win the coin toss and Coach Lynn said, ‘Hey let’s go win it right now,’” Rivers said in his televised postgame interview.
Smart move. Especially against a Chiefs defense that isn’t exactly the ’85 Bears. Rivers found Williams again in the end zone for the two-point conversion and the Chargers flew out of Kansas City with a huge victory.
We’ve seen a few head coaches go for the win in similar situations on the road this season and they fell short. It’s nice to see it work out for someone and it couldn’t have happened to a better team. The Bolts are peaking at the right time and have a realistic shot at the No. 1 overall seed in the AFC.
Can you imagine the Chargers hosting playoff games in that soccer stadium they call home? Will we see a flood of “new” fans? Or will it be just another pseudo road game?
I want that to happen in the worst way.
(Discuss this on BSL Board here.)
NFL’S TOP 10
1) Saints – They proved me wrong by winning on the road against the Bucs last week, but there are things to worry about. The Saints don’t have a receiving threat past Michael Thomas and while people make a fuss about their running game, it hasn’t been the dominant force it was last season. Let’s see how they fare over the coming weeks as they play the Panthers twice with a game against the Steelers sandwiched in the middle.
2) Chargers – Am I being a prisoner of the moment? Perhaps. However, you can’t argue with their depth on both sides of the ball. Remember, they won on Thursday despite being without WR Keenan Allen and their top two running backs. And safety Derwin James is an absolute beast. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him get an All-Pro nod.
3) Rams – Ugh, speaking of prisoner of the moment, it’s hard to stay positive about this team after watching what happened to them in Chicago. That was about as bad a performance as possible, and I went into that game expecting a loss. It’s not a big deal to be on the losing end, but you want to at least be competitive. They weren’t.
4) Chiefs – Football is a fickle business. One day, people are marveling at Patrick Mahomes’ ability to throw a no-look pass. Just a few days later, people are pointing out that he couldn’t get a first down late that could have iced the game. The Chiefs are still the top seed in the AFC, but will that last? Their next game is at Seattle, which isn’t a hospitable place for teams in December.
5) Bears – As dominating as their defense was on Sunday night, their offense kept the Rams in the game. They’re a tough out at home, but I don’t see them traveling well in the postseason. Let’s see how strong their defense is when they don’t have a loud crowd and brutal cold behind them.
6) Patriots – HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. I’ve been watching Gronk failing to tackle Kenyan Drake on a loop all week. Come on, everybody, find a Patriots fan, point at them and laugh.
7) Cowboys – Another team that’s peaking at just the right time. If they can get past the Colts this weekend – and that won’t be easy – they have two relatively easy games against the Bucs and Giants left. An 11-5 finish would be impressive considering where they were just a few weeks ago.
8) Texans – They can brush off that loss to the Colts that ended their nine-game winning streak. They still have a two-game lead in the division and have winnable games against the Jets, Eagles and Jaguars in front of them.
9) Seahawks – I can’t get enough of watching this revamped team. They line up with six offensive linemen on a surprising number of snaps and just get after it. They know what they do well and they stick with it. If they reach the playoffs, they could end up facing the Rams again at some point. I don’t think they’ll lose to L.A. a third time.
10) Steelers – They’re a mess. That’s all I have to say about that.
WHAT’S THE CHATTER?
Uhhh, ok: The Raiders are looking for a new general manager after firing Reggie McKenzie and standard operating procedure says the team must follow the Rooney Rule when finding candidates. Makes sense, right? Well, owner Mark Davis says the rule isn’t “necessary” for the Raiders since the first hired he ever made was McKenzie, who is African-American.
“I didn’t realize what color he was. He had red hair and freckles. I don’t work like that.”
OK, right on. I think we’re done here. Let’s move on.
Book your tickets: Grab a bottle of vodka and follow me. Brace yourselves, because the 2020 NFL Draft will be held in … wait for it … LAS VEGAS!! I’ve never given much thought to attending a draft because the entire experience doesn’t strike me as something I need to see live. After all, if you break it down, the draft is absolutely nothing. Just a bunch of people sitting in an auditorium and every few minutes, someone announces a name. And then people cheer or boo, even though nobody has any idea if these incoming rookies can play.
But, I’ll go to a draft in Las Vegas. Anyone want to take odds on how many picks I’ll witness before I pass out?
Make the right choice: Oklahoma Sooners QB and Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray has a decision to make. Either declare for the NFL Draft or go and play pro baseball. By the way, he was a first-round draft pick of the Oakland A’s and signed a $4.6 million contract. And while there’s a way to get out of the deal if he decides he wants to play football, he needs to smarten up. He’s a small guy – granted, with considerable speed – but he’s not built like Baker Mayfield. He looks more like Pat White, who you may recall had a wonderful college career at West Virginia but couldn’t last at the pro level. Baseball money is guaranteed and the A’s will give him every chance to succeed. Go that way.
Easy money: Veteran wide receiver Brandon Marshall signed with the Saints a month ago. He was released on Wednesday having never appeared in a game. Man, I’d kill for a job like that. In fact, my football dream as a young man wasn’t to play in the NFL and win a Super Bowl, it was to be a backup quarterback for 12 years. Rake in big money compared to a normal person and I wouldn’t have to actually subject my body to physical punishment. I want to be Chase Daniel.
Too late, dude: Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill, who is dealing with an ankle injury, says he’ll play on Sunday “unless something crazy happens.” Too late! That last-second lateral-filled touchdown was the nuttiest thing that has happened and will happen this season. I keep watching the replay and I’m still confused. Seriously, what the hell WAS that?
Carson Wince: Sorry, I stole that nickname from Skip Bayless. However, he’s right in this case. The Eagles quarterback is having back issues and if the team is smart, they’ll put him on the shelf for the rest of the season and make sure he’s 100 percent for 2019. It’s not worth risking further injury for what has fast become a lost season.
WHAT TO WATCH IN WEEK 15
Texans and Jets: This game is one to keep an eye on, even though there are more compelling matchups in Sunday’s early window of games. The Texans are fresh off having their nine-game winning streak snapped and are ahead of the Colts by two games with three remaining. They can’t afford to stumble on the road.
Browns at Broncos: Meh, at least Baker Mayfield is playing.
Packers at Bears: Green Bay has three games left to make a run. The Packers can make a strong start if they can get a win over a Chicago team fresh off its biggest win of the season.
Dolphins at Vikings: Two teams in the thick of the playoff hunt. The Vikings just fired their offensive coordinator, which means they’re in desperation mode. That doesn’t usually lead to good decisions this late in a season.
Titans at Giants: Odell Beckham Jr. says he’d love to play spoiler. Here’s his chance. The G-Men are at home and are 4-1 since starting the season 1-7. I like their chances for an upset win here.
Buccaneers at Ravens: Will the Lamar Jackson train keep rolling? I say yes, and with every passing snap comes another nail in Joe Flacco’s Baltimore coffin.
Seahawks at 49ers: The matchup itself isn’t a big deal as the Seahawks should roll to a fairly easy victory. But a win here will cement Seattle as a playoff team and that shouldn’t be brushed aside. Pete Carroll and John Schneider deserve raises for what they’ve accomplished this season.
Patriots at Steelers: Would have been nice to see this game a few weeks ago, before Pittsburgh became a dumpster fire. But alas, here we are. This should still be entertaining, despite Bill Belichick dominating Mike Tomlin head to head.
Eagles at Rams: Seriously, the Eagles should really, really consider not playing Carson Wentz. It would be a big help for the Rams, who need to shake off that ugly loss with a blowout win. Come on, do Uncle Sid a solid.
Saints at Panthers: Isn’t this great? Most of the Week 15 games have some type of playoff implication and this one is no exception.
Currently a Mobile Editor at Yahoo, Saraf spent 5.5 years (Oct. 2010 - Feb. 2016) working for FOX Sports as an NFL Editor and Writer. Prior to that, Saraf worked for CBS Interactive for 4.5 years (May 2006 - Oct. 2010) as a Staff Editor.