We have two weeks left of the regular season and there are still a lot of questions to be answered. Some more gaps were filled this week. The Bears won the NFC North, the Chargers will be in the playoffs, and the defending champs stayed alive.
Number Five – Los Angeles Rams
The Rams had a clunker in Week 15 and used a 10 point fourth quarter to make a loss on home turf less painful. Regardless, there are many areas of concern for the Rams.
For the second week in a row, Jared Goff had a less-than-ideal week. He threw an absurd 53 passes, and yet none of them went for six. Part of the problem was LA being in the dark on Todd Gurley’s knee. It doesn’t appear to be anything serious right now, but we’ll find out later this week how true that may be.
Combine that with three LA turnovers (1 interception, 2 fumbles) and you get the Eagles keeping their playoff hopes alive.
Chicago’s win keeps them on the Rams heels for a first-round bye, but I still don’t think they should be too concerned, as they close the season against the Cardinals and Niners.
Number Four – Chicago Bears
Speaking of Chicago, the Bears clinched their first NFC North title since 2010. They showed signs of maturity in stifling another Aaron Rodgers comeback.
Mitch Trubisky was much more efficient in his second week back from injury, completing 20 of his 28 passes for 235 yards and 2 touchdowns. Jordan Howard got most of the work in the backfield with 60 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries.
As I mentioned, getting a first-round bye will require some outside help, but that doesn’t change the fact the Bears have to take care of business. They’ll take a trip to San Francisco this week to take on a team that’s won two straight and just knocked off Seattle.
Number Three – Los Angeles Chargers
If there’s one big takeaway from Thursday night’s game, it’s that Philip Rivers really wants a ring. The comeback that he led was exactly that of someone who wants to be a champion.
Rivers had a rather lackluster night leading up to the crazy fourth quarter. Mike Williams stepped up and caught seven passes for 76 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winning two-point conversion. It’s hard to convince people when it worked, but I loved the play call to go for two, whether it worked or not.
Unfortunately for the Chargers, the injury bug bit them again. As soon as it looks like Melvin Gordon is about ready to play again, Keenan Allen goes down. There’s still a chance he could play this week, but it could be another offensive weapon Rivers and Co. is missing.
The Chargers play a very intriguing Saturday night game this week against the Ravens. The Ravens are still on the heels of Pittsburgh to take the AFC North and the Chargers have to finish with a better record than the Chiefs to win the AFC West.
Despite the win over the Chiefs, I still rank the Chargers lower because the Chiefs are in a much better spot to win the division.
Number Two – Kansas City Chiefs
“If they want to avoid another postseason disaster, the defense has to be fixed.”
That’s a line from my Post Week 3 Top Five. We’ve now seen that three times from the Chiefs this season, but this one was easily the worst.
You can talk about the refs all you’d like, atrocious calls were made all night long on both sides. Leave that child’s play at home. The defense in that fourth quarter was absolutely horrible. On the two-point conversion play, game-defining play, Mike Williams did not have a single soul around him.
Despite what a lot of people are saying, I think Patrick Mahomes has widened the gap as the MVP frontrunner in the last few weeks. There’s a reason the Chargers went for two, rather than overtime, at Arrowhead. Nobody wants to give Patrick Mahomes the ball.
A Chargers loss Saturday would ease the minds of the Chiefs, but it won’t make a game in Seattle any easier. To make things worse, the Seahawks had a clunker against the Niners in Week 15 and still need a win to clinch a playoff spot.
Number One – New Orleans Saints
It didn’t take long, but the Saints have regained the top position.
Despite being back on top, I actually see some glaring concerns with this team.
Either the offense isn’t actually that good, or they’re very inconsistent. Michael Thomas had a meager game with 49 yards on seven receptions. Drew Brees only threw for 203 yards with one pick and no touchdowns against a pass defense that’s in the bottom half of the league.
They nearly avoided disaster with a boneheaded fumble by Tommylee Lewis with less than two minutes left. That’s a fun name.
Of course, you could credit Carolina for playing with their postseason hopes on the line against a big rival, we may get a more realistic gauge in Week 17 if the starters play.
But before that, a matchup at home with the Steelers. Pittsburgh is still clinging on top of the AFC North. Both teams rank in the top-six in run defense so we may get a chance to see Brees get back to his old ways. A win would clinch the Saints the top seed in the NFC.