This article is part of our NFL Observations series.
That was annoying. Not only did most of the close ATS games swing against me, but the Eagles had the Football Team on the ropes, failed to convert on 4th down, fumbled a snap and for God knows what reason benched the only quarterback that gave them any chance to win. What a farce.
At least my Steak League team, thanks to Marvin Jones, put up a big number and kept me out of costly – and humiliating – double-buyer status.
- Doug Pederson should be in the ninth circle of hell, getting his head chewed on by Lucifer alongside Brutus and Cassius for benching Hurts. Nate Sudfeld had no chance.
- Alex Smith wasn't good, but he's better than Dwayne Haskins, and his comeback will now include a playoff start.
- Derek Henry cracked 2,000 yards, posting the fifth highest rush total of all time. The Titans extended him in his age-26 season after a massive workload in 2019, and so far it's paid off. It's easy to opine on what's smart and stupid based on historical comps, but that every player and situation are unique should be cause for epistemic humility.
- Deshaun Watson had one of the greatest statistical seasons of all time despite playing for a 4-12 team. No other QB in NFL history has thrown for 4800 yards with 8.5 YPA, while rushing for 400. Even without the rushing yards, the list is small: 2011 Tom Brady, 2018 Patrick Mahomes, 1984 Dan Marino, 2016 Matt Ryan and 2001 Kurt Warner, all of whom played in the Super Bowl except for Mahomes who lost in overtime of the AFC title game.
- Brandin Cooks (16-11-166-2) cracked 1,000 yards for his fourth NFL team, a mark he's surpassed every season since 2015 with the exception of a concussion-marred 2019.
- Teddy Bridgewater is fine as a caretaker, but the Panthers asked him to be a playmaker.
- Russell Wilson and DK Metcalf sure cooled down over the last seven games, but the team went 6-1 over that stretch.
- It was bizarre to see Kyler Murray leave a must win game after getting hurt and then return only after it was too late.
- Justin Herbert crushed the rookie passing TD record (31) and scored five rushing TDs too, but missed Andrew Luck's passing yardage record by 38, albeit in one fewer game. Assuming Joe Burrow comes back healthy, the AFC is loaded for the foreseeable future with Mahomes and Watson still only 25, Josh Allen 24, Lamar Jackson 23 and Trevor Lawrence 21.
- Jonathan Taylor (30-253-2) looks like the player I was expecting on my fantasy teams when Marlon Mack got hurt.
- The Raiders have been involved in some bizarre end games of late. First the miracle cover-zero bomb to beat the Jets, then last week's debacle against the Dolphins and this time a two-point conversion for the win (thanks to Broncos coach Vic Fangio bailing them out with an ill-timed timeout.) And Fangio oddly tried a 63-yard game-winning field goal with eight seconds left on the clock, i.e., they could have run another play to get closer.
- I keep mistaking the 2020 Packers for the 2019 version and fading them against the spread. They have the same record, but this year's team is much better.
- Aaron Rodgers likely locked up the MVP award with a four-TD, 10.0 YPA game. It would have been a lot bigger too had Marquez Valdes-Scantling not dropped a perfectly thrown TD pass. Rodgers finishes with the second highest QB rating (121.5) of all time, behind only his own 2011 mark (122.5).
- Sunday was a big win for the Bears in that they qualified for the playoffs with a Cardinals loss, and they established beyond all doubt they need a new QB next year.
- Tom Brady had the quietest 40 TD season of all time. Only nine other players in NFL history have hit that number. Antonio Brown appears fully integrated into the offense too.
- Evan Engram had a perfect pass bounce off his hands for a pick for at least the third time this year, and he also dropped another perfect throw on 2nd-and-25 that would have given the Giants a first down (or close to it.) The Giants picked up his $6 million option for 2021 last April, but if they could get an eighth rounder for him, I'd take it.
- The Giants won the game anyway, thanks to Mike McCarthy not challenging a Dante Pettis trap that put the Giants in field goal range and another monster game (three sacks) for Leonard Williams. Dave Gettleman deserves credit for rebuilding a terrible defense by acquiring Williams and James Bradberry (two top-five-ish players at their positions), dodging the Sam Darnold and Dwayne Haskins bullets, trading Odell Beckham for picks and Jabrill Peppers and picking Darius Slayton in the fifth round. He's done a poor job drafting and signing offensive linemen, and the jury is still out on Daniel Jones, who played well Sunday, but whose pocket awareness might be a fatal flaw.
- Cam Newton had his second best game of the year against the Jets. I'd still give him a shot if I needed a QB, and he were cheap.
- It'll be interesting to see what the Jets do with Sam Darnold and the No. 2 overall pick.
- Justin Jefferson (1,400 receiving yards) broke Anquan Boldin's rookie record, but keep in mind Beckham had 1,305 his rookie season in only 12 games. And Randy Moss had 17 TDs to Jefferson's seven in 1998. Still, I'm man enough to admit I was wrong when I predicted Van Jefferson would outproduce him.
- Adrian Peterson finishes the year fifth all-time in rushing yards and fourth all-time in touchdowns. Frank Gore is more popular, but Peterson was far better.
- I get the Browns are happy they made the playoffs for the first time since 2002, but doing it on a failed two-point conversion from the Mason Rudolph Steelers wasn't especially inspiring.
- I still don't get why the Browns give Nick Chubb (7.7 YPC) 14 carries and Kareem Hunt (3.7) 10. It should be 18 to six, with Hunt getting work on passing downs.
- Tua Tagovailoa seems like a bust. That might be harsh given how little time he's had, but there's not enough of a spark, and the Burrows and Herberts show it right away.
- The Bills handled a contending Dolphins team with ease. They're getting screwed out of the No. 2 seed bye this year (as are the Saints), but like the Saints might be the most balanced team in their conference.