As the season comes to a close, 10 of the 12 playoff-bound teams have been set, but what about the Tennessee Titans? Well, the Houston Texans clinched up the AFC South on Saturday in a moral victory over a four-turnover Jameis Winston performance in Tampa Bay. Meanwhile, the Green Bay Packers officially clinched the NFC North with a 23-10 win over Minnesota on Monday night. Do you like that? Preston Smith sure does.
— Lily Zhao (@LilySZhao) December 24, 2019
All Philadelphia has to do is defeat the New York Giants, and they’ll be all but guaranteed to host a playoff loss to either the San Francisco 49ers or Seattle Seahawks in the wild card round. Tom Brady still has the keys to the AFC East kingdom, clinching his 11th consecutive division title over the actually good Buffalo Bills.
But the sixth seed in the AFC still remains a wide-open race. And by wide open, it’s between three teams that probably all will see an early playoff exit when they all but face the Kansas City Chiefs on a Sunday afternoon. It’ll be Sunday since the Texans are kings of the ESPN Saturday outing.
If you’re looking for a perhaps competitive game to watch; however, fans best be cheering for the Tennessee Titans to pick up the victory, or it could be a game that should be deemed unwatchable. Even with Tennessee making the postseason push, it still shouldn’t give them contention hopes anytime soon.
Give credit to John Robinson and Mike Vrabel’s turn-around in the second year of their marriage. With the trade of Ryan Tannehill, the former Dolphins quarterback has been a focal point to the team’s success. Going 7-1 for half of the season, the 30-year-old gunslinger produced average numbers, but still managed to keep the Tennessee Titans in the eyes of the public outside of the Music City.
Then back-to-back losses put the team in fear of missing a postseason berth for the second-straight season.
Both Houston and Tennessee Titans struggled to find a rhythm with their passing game in Week 15. Tannehill threw for 279 yards and two touchdowns, but also coughed up an interception. Meanwhile, Deshaun Watson was an even 2-of-2 in touchdowns and interceptions and relied heavily on the run game in the second half.
A Carlos Hyde touchdown and Ka’imi Fairbairn did the job to give Houston a 24-21 victory. Derrick Henry also rushed for only 86 yards on the day.
— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) December 22, 2019
The Titans held their own against NFC South New Orleans Saints. Even without a former Heisman in the backfield, the Titans managed to tally 397 total yards of offense, 20 more than the team that picked up the win. Tannehill looked the part of a playoff-caliber quarterback with 272 passing yards and three touchdowns.
Houston will host Tennessee on Sunday with a chance to clinch the third seed in the postseason. Should they double down on victories against the Titans and Kansas City should lose to the Los Angeles Chargers, they would hold the tiebreaker thanks to a Week 6 victory at home.
And don’t expect Bill O’Brien to be holding back like other playoff teams. His starters will be out on the field in front of the home crowd for the regular-season finale.
“Anytime we take the field, based on what we’re all about, we’re about trying to win,” O’Brien said, via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.
After being inactive today, Titans’ RB Derrick Henry is expected to return for next Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Texans, per source. Tennessee will be vying for a playoff spot next Sunday, no matter what happens today.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 22, 2019
But the Titans should have back a healthy Henry in the backfield. Houston will likely be without their serious threat in Will Fuller, the human medical wonder who continues to find a way to impress for half a season. Throw it all in the mix, and you have a pretty comparable matchup.
The Pittsburgh Steelers defense has impressed, but neither Duck Hodges or Mason Rudolph look to be the answer at quarterback after Sunday’s loss to the New York Jets. The Oakland Raiders are finding ways to stay alive, but are they really that impressive of a team?
If you want a serviceable playoff game that will feature a persistent team, fans should be rooting for the Titans to win Sunday afternoon. That, or hope, both Pittsburgh and Oakland drop the ball. Either way, only one team is going to make things interesting for Kansas City or Houston in the postseason.
Happy Holidays you Two Minute Warning lovers. God, can you believe the year is coming to an end? It feels like yesterday we began this little blog series, and now, it’s almost time to call it quits for the future.
Some teams have been good little franchises while others deserve a nice lump of coal in their stockings following a bad weekend of football. Granted, not everyone can be a playoff team, but how can some teams be that bad with the talent surrounding their staff? Let’s spin our dreidels or unwrap the news surrounding the stories heading into the final week of the NFL season.
And Christmas might have come early for the fans up in Seattle.
If you haven’t been paying attention to the news today because you actually have a life outside of football, Marshawn Lynch is back in the NFL. After the loss of both Rashaad Penny and Chris Carson to season-ending injuries, the Seahawks re-signed the veteran running back to help make a postseason push in their run game.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 24, 2019
They also signed Robert Turbin so congrats Rob, but you’re the underline in this news flash.
Lynch became a star in the league during his time in the Emerald City. After a brief career in Buffalo, the former top 15 selection finished four of his five and a half seasons with over 1,000 yards and 51 career rushing touchdowns. Best known for his love of Skittles and breakaway runs, “Beast Mode” led the offense to a pair of Super Bowl appearances and a victory during the 2013 season.
Although the signing is more so due to his knowledge of Pete Carroll’s offense, Lynch will provide veteran leadership in a depleted backfield for the season finale against San Francisco. The game has been flexed to Sunday night due to the atmosphere surrounding both rosters. The winner of the game will not only claim the top spot in the NFC West but also be the path all the way throughout the playoffs.
Plus, c’mon… Lynch is returning to Seattle, and the team will have a chance to clinch home-field advantage with a legend of the franchise. Best believe if they a yard away, you’re handing the ball off to No.24 as many times as it takes for him to score.
Marvin, move over for Michael
Remember when Michael Thomas was the consensus No.1 receiver prospect coming out of Ohio State, and he still fell to the second round? Every general manager should be fired or at least have their owner force them to take a lap and think about what they’ve done. Not just because he’s been great, but he’s already one – if not the best wide receiver in the NFL.
History for Michael Thomas.
His 144th catch this season sets a new NFL record, passing Marvin Harrison (143 in 2002). pic.twitter.com/hOKFX4E6ow
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 22, 2019
And on Sunday, he proved that by surpassing Marvin Harrison, who was just named to the NFL’s Top 100 list. Against the Titans Tennessee, Thomas broke Harrison’s 143-yard reception in a single season. He’d finish with 145 catches on the year should the team elect to sit him this upcoming weekend.
“We got the victory,” Thomas said. “We’re trying to play and go to a championship right now. At the end of the season, we’ll look up and see all the things we accomplished. But right now, we’re focused on one common goal, and that’s a championship.”
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) December 22, 2019
Thomas broke the record even without Drew Brees for six games this season. With Teddy Bridgewater taking control of the team at the start of the year, the fourth-year wideout finished with 42 catches to keep on the pace of his historic season. If that wasn’t enough, Thomas is now the fastest receiver in NFL history to reach 400 receptions and the most receptions and receiving yards four years into his career.
Sometimes talent has flaws. I’d love to see the notes that didn’t make Thomas a sure-fire first-round player. Congrats Mike on a job well done.
OBJ’s browned out
In honor of the news, I thought I’d write a little poem: Once upon a time at the start of the season, fans across the NFL believed in the Browns, found in Cleveland. With their offensive coordinator now running the show, John Dorsey gave Baker Mayfield a new toy to bestow. He was quick as a while and shined every day. He’s was a top-five receiver; let’s call him “OBJ.”
Odell Beckham Jr was flagged for throwing up the Little Rascals gang sign 😆 pic.twitter.com/5MlG1upz2I
— NFL Retweet (@NFLRT) December 22, 2019
Beckham shined in the lights of the Big Apple, making jaw-dropping plays and looked impossible to tackle. With a young quarterback and back with his friend, the two Bayou Bengals were set to conquer the land. But as Week 16 came to crushing defeat, OBJ and Freddie in the Kitchens couldn’t handle the heat.
The two butted heads and quick as a flash, OBJ kicked a bench, a decision quite brash. The two were on the sidelines, screaming loud alright, while a 7-9 season was clear as insight. The regression of Mayfield made Beckham ashamed, as it stands, he only has three touchdowns to his name. Frustration is brewing, and someone is fired. Will Beckham be gone, or will Kitchens expire?
Odell Beckham Jr. is clearly upset with Freddie Kitchens.
— Everything Cleveland (@EverythingCLE_) December 22, 2019
It’s a lost season for the Browns, a team full of wonder. So many personalities that fought in their slumber. But hey OBJ, you shouldn’t frown you see, there’s plenty of GM’s who heard you say, “please come get me.”
And if you hated this story, then please hush your mouth. Much like Browns’ fans, expect OBJ to want out.
Race for the tank
You couldn’t make this game up even if you tried. Imagine seeing a team wanting to tank actually look competent while a team hoping to find success now be blessed with the first overall pick.
— NFL (@NFL) December 22, 2019
That was the case for the Miami Dolphins and Cincinnati Bengals Sunday in Hard Rock Stadium. After going up 28-6 in the third quarter, Brian Flores and the Dolphins did all they could to remain in the race for the first overall pick, allowing the Bengals to score 29 unanswered points in the span of 18 minutes.
By going so far as allowing Andy Dalton to waltz in the end zone after time expired, this game would need to go to overtime to decide which roster stunk more. Then again, it’s best to never bet against the Bengals this season, isn’t it?
— Dolphins en Español (@LosDolphins) December 22, 2019
As time expired in overtime, a 37-yard Jason Sanders field goal secured the Dolphins their fourth win on the year and the Bengals the No.1 pick in the 2020 draft. Even after the game, Bengals coach Zac Taylor tried to find a silver lining in a lost season without giving away his excitement to draft his quarterback of the future.
“That,” Taylor said, “is the full range of emotions.”
With the chance to find the permanent starter for Taylor’s offense, the Bengals should just hand Roger Goodell the card now with Joe Burrow’s name on it. The current Heisman Trophy winner is a native of Ohio and would love to be the first overall pick.
Even the Bungles could mess this pick-up…. right? Oh, please be right.
- The Vikings rushed for a total of 57 yards without this man right here.
— NFL (@NFL) September 15, 2019
Yes, Dalvin Cook is going to be the reason Minnesota does anything this postseason.
- Listen, I get being frustrated at a loss, but Jalen Ramsey took things to a new level Saturday with his comments on rookie safety Taylor Rapp blowing the coverage against the 49ers.
Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey after losing 34-31 to the Niners. pic.twitter.com/euSiIYoqab
— Lindsey Thiry (@LindseyThiry) December 22, 2019
Granted, Rapp was out of position, but who publicly throws a teammate under the bus like that.
- Can we all agree that the promise of the Arizona Cardinals is going to pay off? Yes, the team will likely finish with five wins, but hey, Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray are must-see television on a weekly basis.
Kyler Murray is a magic man and Larry Fitzgerald is a BAD MAN! 😤
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) December 22, 2019
- Things I love – fat man touchdowns. That’s it. That’s the parting shot.
Big man touchdown in Miami. 1st round pick DT Christian Wilkins.pic.twitter.com/fL6LiVRW1L
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) December 22, 2019
- So who is Daniel Jones? Literally, is he a good quarterback? Games like Sunday would say he can be if a good staff surrounds him.
5 FOR 5.
PUT SOME RESPECT ON DANIEL JONES' NAME. pic.twitter.com/BB1hYX1rsd
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) August 8, 2019
Jones finished with 352 passing yards and five touchdowns against Washington. He’ll need to be more consistent, but the Dave Gettleman pick is looking at least somewhat content heading into the end of the season.
- Rule No.1, draft the best player available when on the board. The Browns probably did at the time with Myles Garrett. The Bears did not with Mitchell Trubisky, and Patrick Mahomes threw shade in the Windy City after scoring a touchdown against the team in the second quarter.
Patrick Mahomes counting the amount of people drafted ahead of him is so cold. pic.twitter.com/0P3S4Jmsqd
— David Prince (@bydavidprince) December 23, 2019
- Sing it choir! And please Jerry Jones, let this be the end of the Jason Garrett era.
Are the Cowboys going to the playoffs? pic.twitter.com/25Rr5oSgGp
— NFL Memes (@NFL_Memes) December 23, 2019
- Greg Ward was a quarterback for Houston, who transformed into a wide receiver. He was waived by the Eagles six times before a brief stint in The AAF (RIP old job) before coming back. He’s now the team’s top target and perhaps will make a name for himself in the playoffs.
Greg Ward down the sideline for 38 yards! #FlyEaglesFly
— NFL (@NFL) December 22, 2019
- Dear Raiders fans, it’s not over yet. As we mentioned earlier, Gruden and his staff could be going to the postseason. Here’s what needs to happen.
Hard as it is to believe, the Raiders have a path to the playoffs. Here’s what would have to happen in Week 17:
🏈Raiders beat Broncos
🏈Ravens beat Steelers
🏈Texans beat Titans
🏈Colts beat Jaguars
If those four things happen next Sunday, the Raiders make it as a wild card.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 23, 2019
Also, Drew Lock had a pretty decent game, throwing for 192 yards and a touchdown so no pressure. No pressure at all.
- Last but not least, no matter what you celebrate, enjoy your holiday season. Be blessed to spend time with your family and have a wonderful day off with those you love. A toast to you and yours from myself and mine. Happy Holidays PFN family, and to all a good night.
Cole Thompson is the Lead NFL writer for Pro Football Network. Follow him on Twitter at @MrColeThompson.