Biggest Meltdowns of NFL Week 16
Week 16 has come and gone. The playoff pictures are coming into greater clarity. Five of the six playoff spots in the NFC are already claimed, the last one being determined by the NFC East division title matchup next week between the Cowboys and Giants, or the “No no no, I don’t want to win this division” bowl as it’s also being called. The AFC has four playoff teams determined as only the last wild card and the West division champion have yet to be determined. If theBengals and Broncos both win next week, they’ll punch their ticket to the playofffs, and if you had predicted that when these two teams squared off in their Week 2 24-22 Mediocre-off, then take your things and leave, because we don’t take kindly to liars in these parts. This week, we count off the biggest meltdowns of Week 16, complete with playoff implications!
5. The Broncos fall victim to the Angels in the Outfield Hypothesis
In the delightful Disney movie, “Angels in the Outfield,” a young man prays for the hapless Anaheim Angels to win the American League pennant in order to reunite his family. The boy gets his prayers answered and a team of actual angels is dispatched to help the baseball Angels turn things around and need just one win to capture the pennant…and the angels suddenly go AWOL and Anaheim suddenly have to find it in themselves to win a game because as it turns out, God has a rule against directly interfering in games that determine a title, whether they be division, conference, or otherwise. It’s nice to know God draws some lines, I suppose.
Enter the 2011 Denver Broncos, who looked as hapless as the Danny Glover led Angels as they stumbled out to a 1-4 start with Kyle Orton under center. Enter Tim Tebow, who has looked less than funda,mentally stellar during his tenure has put together a number of seemingly miraculous comebacks in driving the Broncos to a 7-1 record through his first eight starts and a mad dash into first place of the AFC West. However, in the last two weeks, with an opportunity to put away the race for the West, including a chance to clinch the division this week, the Broncos, and Tebow especially, have seen their magic run out and been blown out in back to back games against the Patriots and Bills. This latest loss in Buffalo was worse than usual as Tebow abandoned his usual strength of ball control, throwing four interceptions, two returned for touchdowns, as Tebow helped to snap the Bills seven game winning streak in a 40-14 laugher. I’m sure Tebow just felt bad for Buffalo. Everyone else does.
4. Maybe the Jets should hold off on some of those guarantees
Rex Ryan loves to talk about how good his team is, and leading up to the Battle for New York, he took every opportunity to practice that skill. The war of words between the Giants and Jets grew to a fever pitch on Sunday and it was the Giants who did most of the playing. The Jets had worked themselves into the playoff picture by getting back to a run-oriented attack and allowing Mark Sanchez to work off the play-action pass, which had helped minimize his mistakes. That all went out the window on Sunday, as Sanchez attempted 59 passes, completing 30, and throwing two interceptions. Despite all that, the Jets were still in the game late in the fourth quarter as a Sanchez touchdown run pulled Gang Green to within 20-14. However, that’s when things fell apart for Rex Ryan’s boisterous crew. Sanchez would get sacked in the end zone on the next Jets’ possession for a safety and then the Jets would fail to recover an onside kick attempt on the ensuing free kick…giving the Giants possession on the Jets’ 19-yard line. Four plays and nine seconds later, Ahmad Bradshaw barreled his way into the end zone for his second touchdown to seal the win for the Giants. The Jets now find themselves on the outside of the playoff picture needing a win next week against Miami and three other teams to lose just to have the opportunity to come up short on their guarantees of a Super Bowl win in the playoffs for another consecutive year. Ryan after the loss was humbled, going so far as to admit that the Giants were the better team this year…but he wasn’t humbled enough to not talk to Bradshaw after the game and provoke him into threatening to punch Ryan in the mouth. He is still Rex Ryan, after all.
3. Kansas City special teams not nearly special enough
The Chiefs entered this week coming off last week’s surprising perfection-ending performance against the Green Bay Packers nursing slim hopes of making back to back playoff appearances. The firing of Toddy Haley and interim tenure of Romeo Crennel had started off better than anyone could have hoped and it kept the dream alive of maybe making a run at winning the AFC West. Instead, they left Sunday mathematically eliminated by the Oakland Raiders after getting two Ryan Succop field goals blocked, one as regulation expired, in a 16-13 overtime loss. The loss caps a disappointing season for the Chiefs in which they took a definite step back from their division-title 2010 campaign, losing starters Jamaal Charles, Tony Moeaki, Eric Berry and Matt Cassel to season ending injuries along the way. All that’s left for the Chiefs now is to play spoiler to division rival Denver, something I’m sure Chiefs quarterback and former Denver castoff Kyle Orton will have little trouble finding motivation for.
2. The Colts are unstoppable! Just a little late…
Two weeks ago, it was a foregone conclusion that the Indianapolis Colts would be the number one pick in next season’s draft, taking Andrew Luck as the heir apparent to Peyton Manning, and being set at quarterback for another 15 years. However, after back-to-back comeback wins by Dan Orlovsky (Dan Orlovsky?!?), the Colts are now tied for the worst record in football with the St. Louis Rams. On Sunday, Orlovsky led the Colts down the field and found Reggie Wayne for the Colts only touchdown of the day with under a minute to play. At this pace, the Colts will play themselves into the second pick in the draft, where they’ll take something unexciting, like offensive tackle or something. You ruin everything Dan Orlovsky!
1.The Dolphins forgot they were the Dolphins, figured it out for the second half
The Miami Dolphins have been tough to figure out this season. One of the last teams to win a game this season, they’ve been a formidable opponent over the second half of the season, winning five of seven games going into Sunday’s matchup against New England and making impossible things seem possible; like Reggie Bush being a legitimate running back in the NFL, or Matt Moore not being the worst option at quarterback for your team. However, going 5-2 in your last seven games is only good enough to make you 5-9 when you drop the seven games before your mini-streak. On Sunday, the Dolphins played like their season has gone, just in reverse order: great to start (17-0 halftime lead) and god-awful to finish (outcored 7-27 after halftime) to drop their record to 5-10 and regain sole possession of last place in the AFC East. Make sure to keep Dolphins fans in your thoughts during the upcoming draft as they will undoubtedly see Moore’s mild success late in this season as a reason to keep him around as the long term answer at quarterback. Plus, Chad Henne and his Chad-Pennington-shoulder will be back, meaning the Dolphins have two starting quarterbacks! Or at least that’s what the GM will tell himself as he picks up a backup cornerback instead of Landry Jones. On the bright side, Phins fans, it’ll set you up nicely for the Matt Barkley sweepstakes in 2013…after you go 2-14 next season.