AROUND THE NFL

We’ll let Will Brinson of CBSSports.com fill us in on the playoff picture:

 

The top seed in the NFC is going to be a massive advantage. Not because the Rams have a great home-field advantage, but because taking away the Saints’ home-field advantage is the surest way to beat them. And now the Saints are in perfect position to secure home-field throughout the playoffs thanks to a Monday night victory in Charlotte, an ugly 12-9 win over the suddenly 6-8 Panthers.

 

New Orleans (12-2) is a full game up on the Rams (11-3) in the standings, but the Saints have an extra half game because of their head-to-head tiebreaker over the Rams. Which means a Saints win against the Steelers next week in New Orleans would lock up home field throughout in Week 16 and make the Saints’ Week 17 game against the Panthers meaningless (Carolina isn’t eliminated yet but is pretty close).

 

In a week that saw the Rams fall and the Patriots fall and the Chiefs fall, the Saints might very well be the biggest clear-cut contender left standing. The Bears are great too, but New Orleans is in a class by itself.

 

Maybe most telling about this year’s setup for the Saints — this would be the first time the Saints had home field throughout the playoffs since 2009, if they can manage to clinch. If you don’t remember what happened that year, the Saints were a mauling NFC behemoth running through the competition.

 

Drew Brees and Sean Payton would engineer a historic Super Bowl run, toppling Peyton Manning and the Colts and bringing joy and a sense of relief in the post-Katrina world to the city of New Orleans.

 

The Saints offense hasn’t been perfect the last three weeks, but they just emerged from a three-game road trip 2-1, with both of those wins over division rivals. They looked ugly against the Cowboys, but that’s alright. This is a battle-tested team capable of winning in multiple ways. If they get home field, look out.

 

Here’s how the rest of the NFL playoff picture looks, as well as a snapshot of some games that could impact what it looks like after Week 15 and beyond.

 

AFC: Who’s in

1. (x) Kansas City Chiefs (11-3)

The Chiefs loss to the Chargers on Thursday spices things up across the board. Kansas City can win out and still clinch the No. 1 seed as well as the AFC West. But if the Chiefs slip up again (they have the Seahawks on the road and the Raiders at home left), the Chargers could steal the top seed, as could the Patriots or Texans. The AFC looked over a week ago and now turmoil abounds.

 

2. Houston Texans (10-4)

The Texans came out strong against the Jets on Saturday night before New York jumped up and made things interesting. The Texans closed strong, though, and they are a star-laden team that can create some issues for teams.  

 

3. New England Patriots (9-5)

The Patriots saw their dreams of a first-round bye potentially go up in smoke on Sunday afternoon when the Steelers took care of them in Pittsburgh. Tom Brady got the ball in the red zone, trailing by four points … and threw an interception. Then New England got the ball back trailing 17-10 and couldn’t pull off the comeback. The defense struggled to slow down the Steelers late, Gronk looked mortal and Brady missed several big throws when it mattered. The Patriots probably have to go on the road in the second round and won’t get a bye unless Houston drops a game.

 

4. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5-1)

The Steelers won a CLOSE one against the Pats on Sunday afternoon in Pittsburgh, a game that felt like an incredible thriller and could be a preview of a future playoff matchup. The Steelers didn’t blow out the Pats by any stretch, but they put together impressive play on both sides of the ball and made big plays in huge spots to save their playoff lives. Pittsburgh hasn’t won the division, but it’s likely to make it as a wild card at this point at minimum. 

 

5. Los Angeles Chargers (11-3)

The Chargers shocked the world with a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns against the Chiefs, clinching a playoff berth, giving hope to the Philip Rivers MVP campaign and keeping alive the possibility of an AFC Championship Game in the StubHub Center. Los Angeles is as dangerous as it comes in the AFC right now: drawing them as a four seed in the wild-card round is a nightmare.

 

6. Baltimore Ravens (8-6)

Baltimore looked like it was going to get out-physicaled by the Buccaneers for stretches of Sunday’s game, but eventually just ponied up and ran the ball down Tampa’s throat. Gus Edwards and Lamar Jackson looked lethal in various aspects and the Ravens just kept fighting for yardage and first downs. We’ll see how they look against the Chargers, but this is an interesting team over the last few weeks. They’re finding their groove in a different way — win out and they can take the AFC North.

 

AFC: Who’s out

7. Indianapolis Colts (8-6): What a performance by the defense on Sunday — the Colts shut out the mighty Cowboys, silencing their five-game winning streak and keeping Indy’s hopes of winning the division and making the postseason as a wild card. They’re going to need some help, but the Colts would be a dangerous team to see come into someone’s stadium as a wild card. Indy holds the tiebreaker over the Titans based on their head-to-head matchup.  

 

8.  Tennessee Titans (8-6): Tennessee put a stranglehold on the Giants in nasty New Jersey December weather, shutting down Saquon Barkley and snuffing out the Giants playoff hopes. Derrick Henry put on another show, rushing for 100 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The Titans are behind the Colts based on their head-to-head record, but the teams do play in Week 17 again. 

 

9. Miami Dolphins (7-7): That probably does it for the Dolphins, who were playing pretty far above their head for the last few weeks. This is a well-coached team that keeps finding ways to play close games but it got smashed by the Vikings — credit where credit is due, Miami was down 21-0 in the first quarter and actually clawed back into the game before losing by nearly 30 points and giving up nick sacks of Ryan Tannehill. Miami has to win out and needs a lot of help from other teams to make the postseason. 

 

10. Cleveland Browns (6-7-1): The Browns’ dream of winning the AFC North died despite a win in Denver on Saturday, as both the Ravens and Steelers won. Technically the Browns can still make the postseason as a wild-card team: they have to win out, the Titans and Colts both have to lose in Week 16 and then the Colts and Titans, who play each other in Week 17, MUST TIE. Good luck with that. Seriously, good luck. I’d love it to happen.

 

NFC: Who’s in

1. (y) New Orleans Saints (11-2)

The Saints snuck out a 12-9 win in Charlotte that gives them a leg up on chasing the No. 1 seed.

 

2. (y) Los Angeles Rams (11-3)

The Rams got manhandled by a defense on the second straight Sunday night, raising questions about Sean McVay’s offense and bringing into play the idea they might not land the bye, should they continue to struggle. Los Angeles should be fine, and they’ve already clinched their division, but this is not how you want to go into the postseason.

 

3. (y) Chicago Bears (10-4)

What a win, in the biggest possible spot. The Bears were Eagles fans on Sunday night, and are hoping to chase down a first-round bye after the Rams loss.

 

4. Dallas Cowboys (8-6)

The Cowboys finally took an L, and it wasn’t a pretty one, with former Cowboys assistant Matt Eberflus engineering a game plan that absolutely dominated Dak Prescott and Co. The Cowboys hadn’t been shut out since 2003 and now have a little bit less wiggle room in their pursuit of a division title (although it should end up happening — they’re not losing out and the Redskins aren’t winning out, right …?).

 

5. Seattle Seahawks (8-6)

The Seahawks lost to the 49ers on Sunday afternoon in overtime, so credit to Vegas for making the 49ers just a 3.5-point dog, because that line STUNK and the 49ers never looked like they were getting blown out. The Seahawks are still in very good shape to make the playoffs: nine wins will get it done most likely, and they have the Chiefs at home next week and the Cardinals at home the week after that.

 

6. Minnesota Vikings (7-6-1)

The Vikings got MAD about losing to Seattle so they came out and smashed the ball down the Dolphins throats, running for 200+ yards and unleashing Dalvin Cook for the first time all year. If that’s the Minnesota team we see the rest of the year, they’re going to be dangerous.

 

NFC: Who’s out

7. Philadelphia Eagles (7-7): The Eagles stunned the world and stunned the Rams on Sunday night, taking care of business on the line of scrimmage and putting tons of pressure on Jared Goff. Philly’s playoff hopes are very much alive now, and of course it’s happening with Nick Foles at quarterback. The Eagles have the tiebreaker over the Redskins by virtue of their head-to-head record.

 

8. Washington Redskins (7-7): The Redskins somehow went into Jacksonville and beat Cody Kessler with Josh Johnson. If they can get to eight or nine wins, Jay Gruden might deserve some low-end chatter for Coach of the Year. And they do have division-winning hopes still alive, as well as a shot at the wild card.

 

9. Carolina Panthers (6-8): The Panthers brought out a kitchen sink game against the Saints on Monday night but it wasn’t enough to pull off the win and now the Panthers are all but eliminated. They need to win out and have a lot of things break their way.

 

Legend:

(x) – clinched playoff berth

(y) – clinched division

(z) – clinched first-round bye

(*) – clinched home-field advantage

 

NFC NORTH

 

GREEN BAY

The knee injury that sidelined RB AARON JONES after his fourth carry on Sunday at Soldier Field has resulted in a season-ending trip to IR.

– – –

For some reason, Ryan Clark of ESPN thinks that the Packers are interested in (and should be) in 67-year-old Nick Saban as their head coach.

 

Speaking with Mike Greenberg about the Packers — who have been eliminated from playoff contention and fired coach Mike McCarthy this season — Clark said:

 

“If you’re Green Bay right now, you sell the [farm]. You sell the [farm]. You send everybody to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and you try to get Nick Saban to leave Alabama and become the coach. When you look at quarterback-coach relationships — Sean Payton and Drew Brees, Bill Belichick, Tom Brady — there is mutual respect and accountability there.

 

“There is no one who can hold Aaron Rodgers more accountable than Nick Saban. If he asks for $10 million, you give it to him. Nothing left to prove in Tuscaloosa. He’s the guy you need.”

 

As Greenberg pointed out, maybe Clark is able to shed light on Saban’s potential mindset since the former NFL safety and Super Bowl champion played for the 67-year-old coach back when they were both at LSU.

 

Knowing the best anyone can do here is speculate, is this even an offer Saban — who’s currently the highest-paid college coach and making $8.3 million a year, according to USA TODAY Sports — would consider?

 

Clark continued:

 

“I wouldn’t leave a school that put a statue of while I was alive either, but for Nick Saban, there’s nothing else to prove there. It’s time to take on another challenge, and this is a guy who loves challenges. (The Packers) have an all-time great quarterback — why not go get the all-time greatest coach in college football history?”

 

The DB thinks the Packers do have a college head coach on their short list, but it’s not Saban.  The unanimous choice as Big Ten Coach of the Year, Pat Fitzgerald, was hired at Northwestern by Packers President Mark Murphy.  Tom Silverstein of the Green Bay Press-Gazette put this list together a couple of weeks ago, and Fitzpatrick was on it.

 

The Packers are almost certainly going to pursue a head coach with an offensive background. They have had just one defensive head coach (Ray Rhodes) in the last 31 years and he lasted one year.

 

There are two directions the Packers probably will consider.

 

One is to hire someone with NFL head-coaching experience and the other is to hire one of the young, up-and-coming offensive minds that have become all the rage in the NFL.

 

The Packers will be looking for someone who brings a cutting-edge offense with him, but it’s possible that one of the former head coaches applying for the job would have an offensive coordinator who fits that description on his staff.

 

Here are some of the offensive coaches who might draw Green Bay’s interest:

 

» New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels: His name is brought up any time there’s an opening, but he burned a lot of bridges when he accepted and then backed out of the Indianapolis job last year. He also had a disastrous 28-game stint with the Denver Broncos in 2009-10, finishing 11-17 and making several controversial decisions.

 

» Los Angeles Rams quarterback coach Zac Taylor: Just 35 years old, Taylor has come up through the NFL ranks, starting out on Packers interim coach Joe Philbin’s staff and winding up in Los Angeles where he was assistant wide receivers coach in ’17 and quarterbacks coach this year. Taylor is former Packers coach Mike Sherman’s son-in-law and a former Nebraska quarterback.

 

Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley: Designer of one of college football’s most dynamic offenses, Riley’s name has been linked to the NFL a lot. He will be focused this month on his team’s appearance in the national championship playoffs and might put off the NFL until then. Oklahoma will undoubtedly spend a lot to keep him.

 

» Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll: He spent seven years with the Patriots learning on Bill Belichick and went on to be a quarterbacks coach (Jets) and offensive coordinator (Cleveland, Miami, Kansas City) before returning to New England as an offensive assistant and tight ends coach for three years. Last year, he was co-offensive coordinator at Alabama and moved on to Buffalo this year.

 

Among the NFL and college head coaches whom the Packers might consider are:

 

» Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald: It’s almost a lock the Packers will contact Fitzgerald, who came up through the ranks on the defensive side of the ball but has a high-octane offense. Murphy was athletic director at the school and surprised many people when he picked Fitzgerald to coach the team when Randy Walker died of a heart attack before the 2006 season. Fitzgerald has helped establish the Wildcats as a football contender, taking them all the way the Big Ten championship game Saturday against Ohio State. In 13 seasons, he has 95 wins and has led Northwestern to eight bowl games.

 

» Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh: A decision hasn’t been made on Harbaugh’s fate, but he could definitely be on the street. Harbaugh is known for hard-nosed defensive-oriented football teams and would need to bring a qualified offensive coordinator with him who can coach Rodgers. Harbaugh, like McCarthy, is a Super Bowl-winning coach.

 

» Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh: John’s brother has been to the Super Bowl, too. His San Francisco 49ers lost to the Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII. The Packers are aware of Harbaugh’s offensive ingenuity. His 49ers knocked them out of the playoffs twice. Harbaugh is not easy to manage and tends to wear out his welcome quickly. He has not had the success at Michigan many thought he would have.

 

» Stanford coach David Shaw: A number of teams have been interested in Shaw, but he hasn’t been willing to leave the Cardinal. Shaw has said being an NFL coach is not a career goal. It probably would take a special job for him to leave and maybe the chance to coach Rodgers would be it.

 

The two most likely in-house candidates would be offensive coordinator Philbin, who has been named interim coach, and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine. Philbin was head coach of the Miami Dolphins from 2012-15 and Pettine was coach of the Cleveland Browns from 2014-15.

 

We don’t know why the offensive/defensive history of coaches hired in the 70s would be determinative.  Presumably Murphy is a key figure in the hire – and he played safety. And when he was at Colgate, he hired a defensive-oriented coach in former linebacker Dick Biddle.  And then he hired Fitzpatrick.  Defense should get its due in the hiring process.

 

NFC EAST

 

PHILADELPHIA

The Eagles want their fans to make like Antifa.  Jimmy Kempski of PhillyVoice.com:

 

During the Philadelphia Eagles’ loss to the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday, while the officials were trying sort out the opening kickoff fumble caused by safety Malcolm Jenkins (that they eventually botched in grand fashion), there was an odd image shown on the live telecast.

 

That was Jenkins sitting on the sidelines, as shown above, wearing a ski mask, despite the game being played indoors at a room temperature setting.

 

Huh? What’s that all about? Well, the ski mask appears to be the 2018 team’s new symbol of motivation, as Rodney McLeod led a defensive huddle with a ski mask as the centerpiece of his speech against the Los Angeles Rams Sunday night.

 

@JClarkNBCS

 Rodney McLeod leading Eagles defensive huddle with a ski mask… To steal this game

 

“They’ve already got the script written”#FlyEaglesFly

 

 “That’s something we started two weeks ago,” McLeod said. “It’s kind of been motivating the guys. It’s just a mentality we’ve been having. When we go out there, we put the mask on. We’re out there for business, and to take what’s ours.”

 

“If that means getting wins, if that means taking the ball, making plays, anytime someone makes a turnover they put the mask on.

 

Recap: Jimmy Kempski talks Wentz injury, bad officiating and more in Eagles chat

“We say it’s robbing season. It’s thievery. Hopefully the fans come out next week and wear the masks with us in the stands. That’d be cool. It’s just something to motivate us as a defense, and the entire team. Guys are kind of rallying behind it, and you see us making plays these last two weeks, so it’s working.”

 

The Eagles did force three turnovers in each of the last two weeks against the Rams and Cowboys, so maybe McLeod is right that the ski mask is the answer.

 

Last year, of course, Eagles players donned dog masks after the team’s divisional round playoff win over the Atlanta Falcons, a game in which they were home underdogs. Lane Johnson said his buddy ordered the masks for him on Amazon, and soon after, Earth’s supply of dog masks ran out as Eagles fans quickly bought out the globe’s stock.

 

For quick reference, you can buy ski masks for around $8. Please behave though, OK?

 

NFC SOUTH

 

ATLANTA

NFL Network is hearing that Coach Dan Quinn will be back next year, but that after that all bets are off.  Kevin Patra of NFL.com:

 

When a team enters the season with Super Bowl aspirations and craters, missing the playoffs completely, winds of change generally blow through the organization.

 

So it is with the 5-9 Atlanta Falcons. Coach Dan Quinn’s job is safe, but the rest of his staff could be in jeopardy of losing jobs.

 

NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported Tuesday on Up To The Minute Live that Quinn is expected to make significant changes to the Falcons coaching staff.

 

“At this point…it sounds like a strong possibility that there will be significant changes to coach Dan Quinn’s coaching staff,” Pelissero said. “Now, owner Arthur Blank has already said publicly he does not think Quinn is the problem. My understanding is Dan Quinn, who got a contract extension through 2022 just last summer, absolutely is going to be back. But this is a possibility here that he could end up cleaning out both of his coordinators — that’s offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian and defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel. It would not be a surprise if they overhaul things on both sides of the ball.”

 

Sarkisian has been under fire from seemingly the moment he took over for Kyle Shanahan in Atlanta last year. The Falcons offense struggled mightily in the red zone in 2017 and rarely seemed in rhythm. The offense improved slightly this season under Sark, and remains in the top 10 in yards (9th) and scoring (10th).

 

With the explosive playmakers across the board in Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Tevin Coleman, and first-round rookie Calvin Ridley, however, the Falcons expected more.

 

Atlanta’s offense has had a choppy season, highlighted by a five-game losing streak in which it didn’t surpass the 21-point mark a single time.

 

We can’t blame Sarkisian for offensive line injuries and struggles, players inexplicably fumbling countless times in scoring position, or injuries to top back Devonta Freeman. We can blame him for unbalanced and head-scratching play-calling at times. Alas, Sark seemed destined to be axed as one fall man if the Falcons missed the playoffs.

 

Pelissero offered one former offensive coordinator to watch in Atlanta: Darrell Bevell, who Quinn worked with previously in Seattle.

 

“If indeed ‘Sark’ is out, one name to keep in mind is former Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell,” Pelissero said. “He knows Quinn well from their days together in Seattle. Bevell, I’m told, was actually in the building in Atlanta this past spring doing some work with the coaching staff. He stayed in close touch with Dan Quinn, knows the type of offense they want to run. It would not be a huge departure in terms of their running game, although certainly there would be some different things he would bring to the table schematically as they try to get the MVP from a couple years ago — Matt Ryan — and all those weapons back on track.”

 

As for Manuel, he came over from Seattle with Quinn in 2015 and worked as the secondary coach before being elevated to defensive coordinator in January 2017. Despite the relationship it appears Quinn might decide to move on from Manuel, which could come with the head coach reassuming a bigger ownership of the defense.

 

 

CAROLINA

The behavior of QB CAM NEWTON in the final seconds of Monday’s first half gnaws at Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

With 34 seconds left in the first half on Monday night, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton ran up the middle for a first down. The clock was running, and he should have either called timeout immediately or hurried the offense back to the line. That’s not what he did.

 

Instead, Newton got up, walked toward the end zone, made a first down signal, and then slowly walked back toward the line of scrimmage, stopping to exchange words with Saints linebacker Alex Anzalone. The Panthers finally called timeout with 23 seconds remaining before halftime.

 

Newton had wasted 11 seconds, and two plays later he threw an interception in the end zone. It’s impossible to say what would have happened if Newton had managed the clock better, but it seems likely that the Panthers wouldn’t have called a pass into the end zone if they had had more time at that point.

 

So while the biggest question surrounding Newton pertains to the health of his shoulder, it’s also fair to question his decision-making. A quarterback in his eighth NFL season should be better at managing the clock than Newton was late in the first half on Monday night.

 

 

TAMPA BAY

The DB knows from experience that the Glazers can fire people in bunches.  Their ManU coach has been dispatched by Twitter with a quote unattached to any specific human.

 

Manchester United confirmed the departure of manager Jose Mourinho on Tuesday after their 3-1 loss against Liverpool in the Premier League on Sunday.

 

The Red Devils announced the decision to part ways with the 55-year-old on their official website and via Twitter:

 

A statement read:

 

“Manchester United announces that manager Jose Mourinho has left the club with immediate effect.

 

“The club would like to thank Jose for his work during his time at Manchester United and to wish him success in the future.

 

“A new caretaker manager will be appointed until the end of the current season, while the club conducts a thorough recruitment process for a new, full-time manager.”

 

Mourinho—who was given a two-year contract extension in January—leaves United sixth in the Premier League table after 17 games. They are 19 points behind league leaders Liverpool and have picked up just seven wins.

 

The decision means a new man will be in charge for the remainder of the campaign, starting with the trip to Cardiff City in the Premier League on Saturday. The Red Devils are looking to keep in touch with the top four in the table and progress in the UEFA Champions League—they will play French giants Paris Saint-Germain in the round-of-16 after the draw on Monday.

 

Mourinho started life at Old Trafford in reasonably strong fashion, winning the UEFA Europa League and EFL Cup in his first season.

 

6th in a 20-team league at the midway point.

 

Still alive in the UEFA Champions League.

 

Gone.

 

AFC NORTH

 

PITTSBURGH

Whatever is wrong with his ribs, QB BEN ROETHLISBERGER says they are not cracked.  Josh Alper of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger missed much of the second half of the team’s Week 14 loss to the Raiders with injured ribs, but he returned to play against the Patriots in last Sunday’s 17-10 win.

 

Before that game got underway, Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reported that Roethlisberger was dealing with cracked ribs. During a Tuesday appearance on 93.7 The Fan, Roethlisberger denied that was the case.

 

“I have no idea where that came from,” Roethlisberger said, via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “My wife texted me before the game and said, ‘Did you hear about this?’ I’m in the locker room. I don’t know where that guy gets his information from, so we’re not going to give him any credence on this show.”

 

Roethlisberger did not divulge his exact condition, but said “we’re all dealing with a lot of pain this time of the year” and gave credit to the medical staff for getting him ready to face New England last Sunday. Roethlisberger will have to deal with the Saints’ surging defense this weekend as he tries to keep the Steelers pointed toward the postseason.

 

AFC EAST

 

NEW ENGLAND

The Patriots did something very un-Patriot like – they held onto TE ROB GRONKOWSKI when the old Bill Belichick would have shipped him out without remorse.  Or so says Damien Woody, quoted by Jaclyn Hendricks in the New York Post:

 

Former Patriots offensive lineman Damien Woody believes his old team may have buyer’s remorse about Rob Gronkowski this season.

 

Taking to Twitter on Monday, Woody, 41, who played for New England from 1999 to 2003, addressed the would-be blockbuster trade the Patriots contemplated earlier this year, which involved shipping the Pro Bowl tight end to Detroit. Gronkowski threatened retirement, blowing up the potential deal.

 

“Remember when Bill tried to trade Gronk to Detroit this past offseason? He knew that Gronk was a shell of himself,” Woody, now an ESPN analyst, tweeted a day after the Patriots’ 17-10 loss to the Steelers.

 

Gronkowski had two receptions for 21 yards and zero touchdowns during Sunday’s outing. He has scored three touchdowns this season and has failed to create the separation that Tom Brady is accustomed to, as he has struggled through back and ankle issues.

 

Woody, also a former Jet, then added his insight into the inner workings of coach Bill Belichick, tweeting: “Bill likes to get rid of guys early than late. He sees him a lot more than any of us so Bill clearly knew what’s up.”

 

Following New England’s loss in Super Bowl LII back in February, Gronkowski pondered hanging up his cleats for good. He made it clear to the Patriots’ brain trust he only wanted to catch balls from Brady.

 

Though the Patriots remain in first place in the AFC East, they’ve dropped their last two games, including a last-minute blunder — which also involved Gronkowski — against the Dolphins on Dec. 9.

 

Before the season, the Patriots reworked Gronkowski’s contract, adding $4.3 million in incentives, including $1 million in per-game roster bonuses, per ESPN.

 

 

THIS AND THAT

 

 

AIKMAN RATINGS

With two weeks to go, we have a virtual tie in the Aikman Combined Ratings compiled by Sports Radar with the Bears edging ever so slightly ahead of the Saints.

 

The Chargers remain 3rd in the Aikman Combined, followed now by the Colts who jumped to 4th after their shutout win over the Cowboys.  Dallas fell from 12th to 19th with the loss.

 

The Chiefs have opened up a lead of nearly 5 points over the Saints and, at 101.2, are solidifying their bid to become the first team ever to record a mark of over 100 on offense. 

 

Chicago continues to dominate on defense followed by the Vikings.  The Titans have moved up to 3rd following their shutout of the Giants.

 

2018 Aikman Combined Ratings Through Week 15

Rank

Record

Team

Combined

Off

Def

Off

Def

Combined

1

10-4-0

Chicago Bears

166.0

85.1

80.9

22

3

25

2

12-2-0

New Orleans Saints

166.0

96.4

69.6

7

11

18

3

11-3-0

Los Angeles Chargers

161.3

92.7

68.5

6

8

14

4

8-6-0

Indianapolis Colts

160.9

90.3

70.6

8

10

18

5

8-6-0

Seattle Seahawks

160.5

89.8

70.6

19

19

38

6

8-5-1

Pittsburgh Steelers

158.9

91.0

67.9

4

9

13

7

11-3-0

Kansas City Chiefs

158.5

101.2

57.3

1

31

32

8

8-6-0

Baltimore Ravens

157.7

87.3

70.4

11

1

12

9

11-3-0

Los Angeles Rams

157.6

92.1

65.5

2

20

22

10

7-6-1

Minnesota Vikings

156.5

80.8

75.8

15

4

19

11

8-6-0

Tennessee Titans

155.5

80.5

74.9

27

7

34

12

9-5-0

New England Patriots

153.2

88.7

64.5

5

23

28

13

5-8-1

Green Bay Packers

153.0

86.8

66.2

10

15

25

14

10-4-0

Houston Texans

152.0

84.1

67.9

14

14

28

15

6-8-0

Denver Broncos

151.2

82.9

68.3

18

25

43

16

6-8-0

Carolina Panthers

150.7

87.7

63.0

12

16

28

17

6-7-1

Cleveland Browns

150.7

83.9

66.8

16

29

45

18

7-7-0

Philadelphia Eagles

150.5

82.6

67.9

17

27

44

19

8-6-0

Dallas Cowboys

150.0

79.0

71.0

21

5

26

20

7-7-0

Washington Redskins

149.2

78.7

70.5

28

18

46

21

5-9-0

New York Giants

145.8

79.6

66.1

20

21

41

22

5-9-0

Detroit Lions

143.5

79.2

64.3

24

13

37

23

5-9-0

Atlanta Falcons

143.4

88.6

54.8

9

24

33

24

4-10-0

Jacksonville Jaguars

141.5

71.8

69.7

26

6

32

25

6-8-0

Cincinnati Bengals

141.1

86.5

54.6

25

32

57

26

7-7-0

Miami Dolphins

140.0

76.2

63.9

29

30

59

27

5-9-0

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

139.4

84.1

55.2

3

28

31

28

5-9-0

Buffalo Bills

138.9

72.0

67.0

31

2

33

29

4-10-0

New York Jets

138.5

70.2

68.3

30

22

52

30

4-10-0

San Francisco 49ers

137.9

78.0

59.9

13

12

25

31

3-11-0

Oakland Raiders

135.5

77.6

57.9

23

26

49

32

3-11-0

Arizona Cardinals

132.7

70.7

62.0

32

17

49

NFL Average:

149.9

83.6

66.3

 

 

Aikman Offense Ratings Through Week 15, 2018

Aikman

NFL

Team

AER

1

1

Kansas City Chiefs

101.2

2

7

New Orleans Saints

96.4

3

6

Los Angeles Chargers

92.7

4

2

Los Angeles Rams

92.1

5

4

Pittsburgh Steelers

91.0

6

8

Indianapolis Colts

90.3

7

19

Seattle Seahawks

89.8

8

5

New England Patriots

88.7

9

9

Atlanta Falcons

88.6

10

12

Carolina Panthers

87.7

11

11

Baltimore Ravens

87.3

12

10

Green Bay Packers

86.8

13

25

Cincinnati Bengals

86.5

14

22

Chicago Bears

85.1

15

3

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

84.1

16

14

Houston Texans

84.1

17

16

Cleveland Browns

83.9

18

18

Denver Broncos

82.9

19

17

Philadelphia Eagles

82.6

20

15

Minnesota Vikings

80.8

21

27

Tennessee Titans

80.5

22

20

New York Giants

79.6

23

24

Detroit Lions

79.2

24

21

Dallas Cowboys

79.0

25

28

Washington Redskins

78.7

26

13

San Francisco 49ers

78.0

27

23

Oakland Raiders

77.6

28

29

Miami Dolphins

76.2

29

31

Buffalo Bills

72.0

30

26

Jacksonville Jaguars

71.8

31

32

Arizona Cardinals

70.7

32

30

New York Jets

70.2

NFL Average:

83.6

 

Aikman Defense Ratings Through Week 15, 2018

Aikman

NFL

Team

AER

1

3

Chicago Bears

80.9

2

4

Minnesota Vikings

75.8

3

7

Tennessee Titans

74.9

4

5

Dallas Cowboys

71.0

5

19

Seattle Seahawks

70.6

6

10

Indianapolis Colts

70.6

7

18

Washington Redskins

70.5

8

1

Baltimore Ravens

70.4

9

6

Jacksonville Jaguars

69.7

10

11

New Orleans Saints

69.6

11

8

Los Angeles Chargers

68.5

12

22

New York Jets

68.3

13

25

Denver Broncos

68.3

14

27

Philadelphia Eagles

67.9

15

14

Houston Texans

67.9

16

9

Pittsburgh Steelers

67.9

17

2

Buffalo Bills

67.0

18

29

Cleveland Browns

66.8

19

15

Green Bay Packers

66.2

20

21

New York Giants

66.1

21

20

Los Angeles Rams

65.5

22

23

New England Patriots

64.5

23

13

Detroit Lions

64.3

24

30

Miami Dolphins

63.9

25

16

Carolina Panthers

63.0

26

17

Arizona Cardinals

62.0

27

12

San Francisco 49ers

59.9

28

26

Oakland Raiders

57.9

29

31

Kansas City Chiefs

57.3

30

28

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

55.2

31

24

Atlanta Falcons

54.8

32

32

Cincinnati Bengals

54.6

NFL Average:

66.3

 

PRO BOWL ROSTERS

This just in as we go to press – the Pro Bowl rosters:

 

Patrick Mahomes’ MVP-caliber season is getting the Pro Bowl treatment.

 

The Kansas City Chiefs’ second-year wunderkind is among the starters for the 2019 Pro Bowl in Orlando, Florida. Mahomes leads a contingent of six Pro Bowl selections for the Chiefs, whose representatives in the January classic include wide receiver Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce.

 

Fresh off punching their ticket to the postseason with a comeback win over the Chiefs, the resurgent Los Angeles Chargers have a league-leading seven Pro Bowl selections, including Philip Rivers, Melvin Gordon and Keenan Allen.

 

The Chiefs and Pittsburgh Steelers each have six Pro Bowl selections and the Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, New Orleans Saints each have an NFC-leading five Pro Bowlers.

 

The 2019 Pro Bowl takes place at Camping World Stadium in Orlando on Jan. 27 at 3 p.m. ET. Check out the position-by-position and team-by-team rosters below:

 

AFC PRO BOWL ROSTER BY POSITION

 

OFFENSE

 

Wide receiver: DeAndre Hopkins*, Houston Texans; Tyreek Hill*, Kansas City Chiefs; Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers; Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers

 

Tackle: Taylor Lewan*, Tennessee Titans; Alejandro Villanueva*, Pittsburgh Steelers; Eric Fisher, Kansas City Chiefs

 

Guard: David DeCastro*, Pittsburgh Steelers; Marshal Yanda*, Baltimore Ravens; Quenton Nelson, Indianapolis Colts

 

Center: Maurkice Pouncey*, Pittsburgh Steelers; Mike Pouncey, Los Angeles Chargers

 

Tight end: Travis Kelce*, Kansas City Chiefs; Eric Ebron, Indianapolis Colts

 

Quarterback: Patrick Mahomes*, Kansas City Chiefs; Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers; Tom Brady, New England Patriots

 

Running back: James Conner*, Pittsburgh Steelers; Melvin Gordon, Los Angeles Chargers; Phillip Lindsay, Denver Broncos

 

Fullback: Anthony Sherman*, Kansas City Chiefs

 

DEFENSE

 

Defensive end: J.J. Watt*, Houston Texans; Myles Garrett*, Cleveland Browns; Melvin Ingram, Los Angeles Chargers

 

Interior lineman: Geno Atkins*, Cincinnati Bengals; Jurrell Casey*, Tennessee Titans; Cameron Heyward, Pittsburgh Steelers

 

Outside linebacker: Von Miller*, Denver Broncos; Jadeveon Clowney*, Houston Texans; Dee Ford, Kansas City Chiefs

 

Inside linebacker: C.J. Mosley*, Baltimore Ravens; Benardrick McKinney, Houston Texans

 

Cornerback: Xavien Howard*, Miami Dolphins; Jalen Ramsey*, Jacksonville Jaguars; Stephon Gilmore, New England Patriots; Denzel Ward, Cleveland Browns

 

Free safety: Derwin James*, Los Angeles Chargers; Eric Weddle, Baltimore Ravens

 

Strong safety: Jamal Adams*, New York Jets

 

SPECIAL TEAMS

 

Kicker: Jason Myers*, New York Jets

 

Long snapper: To be named by coach.

 

Punter: Brett Kern*, Tennessee Titans

 

Return specialist: Andre Roberts*, New York Jets

 

Special teamer: Adrian Phillips*, Los Angeles Chargers

 

NFC PRO BOWL ROSTER BY POSITION

 

OFFENSE

 

Wide receiver: Julio Jones*, Atlanta Falcons; Michael Thomas*, New Orleans Saints; Adam Thielen, Minnesota Vikings; Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers

 

Tackle: Tyron Smith*, Dallas Cowboys; Terron Armstead*, New Orleans Saints; Trent Williams, Washington Redskins

 

Guard: Zack Martin*, Dallas Cowboys; Brandon Brooks*, Philadelphia Eagles; Trai Turner, Carolina Panthers

 

Center: Alex Mack*, Atlanta Falcons; Max Unger, New Orleans Saints

 

Tight end: Zach Ertz*, Philadelphia Eagles; George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers

 

Quarterback: Drew Brees*, New Orleans Saints; Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams; Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

 

Running back: Todd Gurley*, Los Angeles Rams; Saquon Barkley, New York Giants; Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys

 

Fullback: Kyle Juszczyk*, San Francisco 49ers

 

DEFENSE

 

Defensive end: Cameron Jordan*, New Orleans Saints; DeMarcus Lawrence*, Dallas Cowboys; Danielle Hunter, Minnesota Vikings

 

Interior lineman: Aaron Donald*, Los Angeles Rams; Fletcher Cox*, Philadelphia Eagles; Akiem Hicks, Chicago Bears

 

Outside linebacker: Khalil Mack*, Chicago Bears; Ryan Kerrigan*, Washington Redskins; Anthony Barr, Minnesota Vikings

 

Inside linebacker: Luke Kuechly*, Carolina Panthers; Bobby Wagner, Seattle Seahawks

 

Cornerback: Kyle Fuller*, Chicago Bears; Patrick Peterson*, Arizona Cardinals; Darius Slay, Detroit Lions, Byron Jones, Dallas Cowboys

 

Free safety: Eddie Jackson*, Chicago Bears; Harrison Smith, Minnesota Vikings

 

Strong safety: Landon Collins*, New York Giants

 

SPECIAL TEAMS

 

Kicker: Aldrick Rosas*, New York Giants

 

Long snapper: To be named by coach

 

Punter: Michael Dickson*, Seattle Seahawks

 

Return specialist: Tarik Cohen*, Chicago Bears

 

Special teamer: Cory Littleton*, Los Angeles Rams

 

AFC PRO BOWL ROSTER BY TEAM

 

Baltimore Ravens (3): ILB C.J. Mosley*, FS Eric Weddle, G Marshal Yanda*

 

Cincinnati Bengals (1): DT Geno Atkins*

 

Cleveland Browns (2): DE Myles Garrett*, CB Denzel Ward

 

Denver Broncos (2): RB Phillip Lindsay, OLB Von Miller*

 

Houston Texans (4): OLB Jadeveon Clowney*, WR DeAndre Hopkins*, ILB Benardrick McKinney, DE J.J. Watt*

 

Indianapolis Colts (2): TE Eric Ebron, G Quenton Nelson

 

Jacksonville Jaguars (1): CB Jalen Ramsey*

 

Kansas City Chiefs (6): OT Eric Fisher, OLB Dee Ford, WR Tyreek Hill*, TE Travis Kelce*, QB Patrick Mahomes*, FB Anthony Sherman*

 

Los Angeles Chargers (7): WR Keenan Allen, RB Melvin Gordon, DE Melvin Ingram, FS Derwin James*, ST Adrian Phillips*, C Mike Pouncey, QB Philip Rivers

 

Miami Dolphins (1): CB Xavien Howard*

 

New England Patriots (2): QB Tom Brady, CB Stephon Gilmore

 

New York Jets (3): SS Jamal Adams*, K Jason Myers*, RS Andre Roberts*

 

Pittsburgh Steelers (6): WR Antonio Brown, RB James Conner*, G David DeCastro*, DT Cameron Heyward, C Maurkice Pouncey*, OT Alejandro Villanueva*

 

Tennessee Titans (3): DT Jurrell Casey*, P Brett Kern*, OT Taylor Lewan*

 

NFC PRO BOWL ROSTER BY TEAM

 

Arizona Cardinals (1): CB Patrick Peterson*

 

Atlanta Falcons (2): WR Julio Jones*, C Alex Mack*

 

Carolina Panthers (2): ILB Luke Kuechly*, G Trai Turner

 

Chicago Bears (5): RS Tarik Cohen*, CB Kyle Fuller*, DT Akiem Hicks, FS Eddie Jackson*, OLB Khalil Mack*

 

Dallas Cowboys (5): RB Ezekiel Elliott, CB Byron Jones, DE DeMarcus Lawrence*, G Zack Martin*, OT Tyron Smith*

 

Detroit Lions (1): CB Darius Slay

 

Green Bay Packers (2): WR Davante Adams, QB Aaron Rodgers

 

Los Angeles Rams (4): DT Aaron Donald*, QB Jared Goff, RB Todd Gurley*, ST Cory Littleton*

 

Minnesota Vikings (4): OLB Anthony Barr, DE Danielle Hunter, FS Harrison Smith, WR Adam Thielen

 

New Orleans Saints (5): OT Terron Armstead*, QB Drew Brees*, DE Jordan Cameron*, WR Michael Thomas*, C Max Unger

 

New York Giants (3): RB Saquon Barkley, SS Landon Collins*, K Aldrick Rosas*

 

Philadelphia Eagles (3): G Brandon Brooks*, DT Fletcher Cox*, TE Zach Ertz*

 

San Francisco 49ers (2): FB Kyle Juszczyk*, TE George Kittle

 

Seattle Seahawks (2): P Michael Dickson*, ILB Bobby Wagner

 

Washington Redskins (2): OLB Ryan Kerrigan*, OT Trent Williams

 

* Indicates starter

 

Three teams did not have anyone selected – Buffalo and Oakland in the AFC, Tampa Bay in the NFC.

 

There were four rookies who made it – G Quenton Nelson of the Colts, S Derwin James of the Chargers, RB Phillip Lindsay of the Broncos, Seahawks P Michael Dickson, Browns CB Denzel Ward and RB Saquon Barkley of the Giants.  LB Darius Leonard of the Colts seems like an omission to the DB.  Nick Shook of NFL.com has Leonard on his list of 12 snubs.

 

The 2019 Pro Bowl rosters were revealed Tuesday night on NFL Network. Congratulations to the players who received the honor! As for those who didn’t? Well, certain omissions appear particularly unfortunate. Nick Shook identifies a dozen Pro Bowl snubs:

 

1) Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Dallas Cowboys

This one is the most glaring of all, though a lot of the blame is due to this position receiving just two slots on the team. It’s difficult to jump Luke Kuechly or Bobby Wagner, but it’s hard to argue with Vander Esch’s contribution to the Cowboys. The rookie’s play (especially in the absence of Sean Lee) has directly benefitted a Cowboys team that has made a late-season surge to the top of the NFC East. Vander Esch’s impact was on full display in a crucial road win over Philadelphia back in Week 10, and he hasn’t slowed down since. One would think he’s first in line to take an alternate slot on this roster.

 

2) Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints

It was always going to be tough to crack the elite class of running backs on the NFC roster. The league’s top three rushers — Ezekiel Elliott, Todd Gurley and Saquon Barkley — are the ones who ended up on the squad. Kamara’s total rushing yards don’t stack up next to the aforementioned trio, but his 12 rushing touchdowns sure do, especially when considering he’s splitting time with Mark Ingram. This one isn’t an egregious oversight as much as it’s a numbers issue, and unfortunately, Kamara is on the outside looking in.

 

3) Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers

McCaffrey’s tale is similar to that of Kamara, though his improvement as an every-down back was crucial to the Panthers’ early-season success. McCaffrey’s versatility has made Carolina’s offense much more productive, but he suffers from his team’s victory drought that has persisted since the Panthers had their doors blown off by the Steelers on “Thursday Night Football” more than a month ago. It’s unfortunate, but McCaffrey isn’t going anywhere and will be a prime candidate for this honor in the seasons to come.

 

4) Desmond King, CB, Los Angeles Chargers

King is part of a very well-rounded, effective defense that already features one deserving Pro Bowl DB in rookie safety Derwin James. But King’s absence is an oversight. Cleveland’s Denzel Ward has enjoyed an excellent rookie season and justified the Browns using the No. 4 pick on him in the 2018 draft, but King is arguably the most effective member of a defense that ranks eighth in the league in passing yards allowed per game. He’s tied with Ward in interceptions (three each). The biggest difference between the two corners comes in overall Pro Football Focus grades: The site ranks King second among all cornerbacks in the NFL — behind only Stephon Gilmore — while Ward comes in at No. 12. Again, Ward is deserving of the honor, and has one more pass breakup than King, as well as a blocked field goal to his name, but King’s team is headed to the postseason with a lot of credit due to him. Frankly, both should be in over Jacksonville’s Jalen Ramsey, but this is also sometimes a popularity contest, and we know where Ramsey ranks in that category.

 

5) Darius Leonard, LB, Indianapolis Colts

The rookie linebacker has been an on-field force for the Colts this season. He leads the NFL in tackles with 146 — 22 more than the next man on the list, Carolina’s Luke Kuechly. It’s also the most tackles by any rookie through 13 games in NFL history. In addition, he’s second among rookies with seven sacks and he has four forced fumbles, an interception and seven passes defensed. In only a handful of games, he’s emerged as one of the NFL’s most feared defensive players for a team that has been surging over the second half of the season. Leonard had a one-word response to his Pro Bowl snub:

 

Darius Leonard

@dsleon45

 Wow

 

6) Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Evans is a stellar receiver playing on a bad team, but that shouldn’t diminish his accomplishments. The 25-year-old has caught 74 passes for 1,328 yards and five touchdowns, and owns the largest yards-per-catch average (17.9) of any of the league’s top pass catchers. Even more impressive, Evans has done so while catching passes from two quarterbacks, thanks to Tampa Bay’s back-and-forth game played with Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Buccaneers are far from postseason play and they’re probably heading toward a coaching change, but Evans’ season shouldn’t be lost in the shuffle.

 

7) Chandler Jones, DE, Arizona Cardinals

There are a few possible choices from the league’s top defensive ends and outside linebackers who racked up double-digit sacks and didn’t make the list, but most are due to playing alongside a player who did make it (Chris Jones, Bradley Chubb, etc.). Frank Clark racked up 12 sacks, but didn’t make it (Pro Football Focus’ ranking of Clark as the No. 29 edge rusher brings some sense to this.) Jones, though, has followed up his league-leading sack mark in 2017 (17) by recording 12 more in 2018 as part of a defense that’s been on the field far too often. The theory of increased opportunities producing better numbers could apply here (and for Tampa Bay’s Jason Pierre-Paul, the first Bucs defensive lineman to break 10 sacks since Simeon Rice), but allow us to use Jones as a patron saint of snub. He and a handful of other edge rushers could make a claim for the spot owned by Demarcus Lawrence, who currently has 8.5 sacks (but ranks fifth among edge rushers, per PFF).

 

8) Andrew Whitworth, OT, Los Angeles Rams

Whitworth received his due credit last season, his debut with the Rams after spending the first 11 seasons of his career in Cincinnati. His arrival directly impacted Los Angeles’ turnaround under Sean McVay, and he hasn’t slowed in his second campaign in the City of Angels. Whitworth currently ranks seventh among all tackles in the NFL, per PFF, serving as a crucial part of an offense that has spent the majority of the season putting up big numbers en route to a second straight NFC West crown. The three tackles who made it ahead of Whitworth (Terron Armstead, Tyron Smith and Trent Williams) are all deserving, but this feels like a mistake — or, at the very least, an oversight.

 

9) Ryan Ramczyk, OT, New Orleans Saints

If we’re making any changes to the Pro Bowl in the future, the number of O-line selections needs to be at the very top of the list. Three picks each for guard and tackle is not enough when two of each start for every team in the NFL. If we had four tackles and four guards, Ramczyk probably has to duke it out with Whitworth to make this list, but both are deserving. Ramczyk’s teammate, Terron Armstead, deservedly took home one of these spots on the squad, so it makes sense why he wouldn’t also land on the roster. But the Saints are tied for first in the NFL in sacks allowed with just 16 all season. PFF backs up this case, ranking Ramczyk third in the NFL, behind just Armstead and Green Bay’s David Bakhtiari. It’s safe to say we’ll be seeing him on this roster in the future.

 

10) T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts

Hilton’s resurgence in Indianapolis has been a massive part of why the Colts have turned things around in their first year under Frank Reich. Hilton’s rapport with Andrew Luck has been on display on a weekly basis, landing Hilton at No. 15 in receiving yards on just 67 receptions (recorded in less than a full campaign, as he missed two games early in the season). Hilton ranks ninth in the NFL in receiver grade, per PFF. Of the eight ahead of him, only one other receiver — New York’s Odell Beckham Jr. — didn’t make the Pro Bowl. It’s a tough cut to make, but Hilton would be a great candidate for a proposed fifth roster spot.

 

11) Adrian Peterson, RB, Washington Redskins

Sure, it sounds crazy, but look at the numbers: Peterson, at the ripe age of 33, has rushed 221 times for 923 yards and seven touchdowns as the bell-cow back for a Redskins team that finds itself at 7-7 with two games to play. His yards-per-carry average (4.2) doesn’t jump off the page, and I’ll give you that, but considering the fact Peterson might not have landed a job anywhere without an unfortunate injury to rookie Derrius Guice, his production should be seen as a significant achievement. It’s not 2,000 yards, but it’s damn impressive and is at least worth an alternate selection near the end of a Hall of Fame career.

 

12) Wil Lutz, K, New Orleans Saints

As of four days ago, Lutz led the league’s kickers in Pro Bowl voting. He tied Hall of Famer Morten Andersen’s franchise record for most consecutive field goals made Monday night against the Carolina Panthers with his 25th successful boot in a row. He’s currently third in the NFL in total points scored this season, behind Texans kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn and Rams running back Todd Gurley. And somehow, Giants kicker Aldrick Rosas usurped him in the 11th hour to take the honor. Now, Rosas has enjoyed a good season too, making 28 of 29 field goals and 25 of 26 extra points. Lutz, meanwhile, is 27 of 28 on field goals and 46 of 47 on extra points. One kicker is playing for a leading Super Bowl contender, while the other is a bright spot in a season that’s largely been dim for his team. Consider this a product of East Coast bias, I suppose.

 

13) Justin Tucker, K, Baltimore Ravens

Tucker is the all-time best in terms of field goal accuracy, and his missed extra point (which cost the Ravens a game) was so stunning, it spread like wildfire via social media in the immediate moments after the ball sliced wide of the goal post. Tucker has made 28 of 30 field goal attempts and has missed just the one extra-point attempt. And he lost out not to Houston’s Ka’imi Fairbairn, who also has a strong case for the crown thanks to a solid latter portion of the season, but New York’s Jason Myers, who has made 31 of 33 field goal attempts and missed three of his 28 extra-point attempts. In a 29-22 loss to Houston this past Saturday, he missed two PATs, directly affecting the outcome of the game. This decision is a head-scratcher, to say the least.