NFL Week 15 features not one, but two primetime games before Sunday’s craziness. Typically at the end of the season the NFL will have a game or two on Saturday night, and that’s the case both this week and next week.
On Thursday night we have the 6-7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers facing the 5-8 St. Louis Rams. Both teams are in the NFC Wild Card hunt, but are both two games back behind the Seahawks and Vikings, who currently have the #5 and #6 seeds at 8-5.
The Buccaneers have a really talented, young team, but they haven’t been able to put together a string of victories yet to show that they can win consistently. Their longest win streak this season is two games, and they dropped a very disappointing game last week to the Saints, 24-17.
Rookie quarterback Jameis Winston has been very impressive this season, throwing 18 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He has two great weapons at receiver in Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson, each with 3 touchdown receptions. Running back Doug Martin has 1,214 rushing yards this season and 5.1 yards per attempt. The Bucs also have the league’s 11th ranked defense and the 8th ranked run defense. Linebacker LaVonte David is Fantasy Football Today’s second-ranked linebacker, only behind Carolina’s Luke Kuechly. David has 118 tackles (67 solo) on the season, with two sacks and a fumble.
Despite the talent on both sides of the ball, the Rams have had an extremely disappointing season. The team traded Sam Bradford to the Eagles for Nick Foles, and Bradford has played much better than Foles this year. Foles has just over 2000 passing yards with 7 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions this season. Rookie running back Todd Gurley is currently 4th in the NFL in rushing yards with 975. Gurley has 8 touchdowns on the year and is quickly showing that he can be one of the league’s top running backs for years to come. The Rams top receiver, Tavon Austin, is a burner and has big play potential, but only has 386 receiving yards on the season and 4 touchdowns. A lot of that has to do with the Rams lack of consistent quarterback play.
The Rams have a talented defense featuring last season’s defensive rookie of the year Aaron Donald. However, this unit ranks 19th in total defense. There have been plenty of games where this unit has been on the field a lot due to the offense’s struggles, and opposing teams have been finding ways to move the ball on them all season long.
Also, if you notice, this is the 4th NFL “Color Rush” game of the season where both teams wear absolutely hideous uniforms in which the jersey, pants, socks and cleats are all the same color. This week’s match-up features a battle of condiments, as ketchup takes on mustard. This reminds me a little of the “Hot Dog Race” at Camden Yards during Orioles games on the Jumbotron. Hopefully the referees will be wearing all green uniforms just so we don’t leave relish out.
Seriously, where does the NFL come up with all of these horrible ideas? Do they enjoy torturing our eyes? Why mess with the traditional layout, where one team wears its colored jersey and the other wears its white jersey? Just leave it alone, guys.
On Saturday night, the 8-5 New York Jets go into Jerry World to take on the 4-9 Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys have not been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs yet but would need to win out and have a ton of help from other teams to make the postseason. It is also still possible for them to win the NFC East, as they are only two games behind the rest of the division.
Without Tony Romo, the Cowboys have only been able to win one game. Matt Cassel has certainly been better than Brandon Weeden, but has still thrown 6 interceptions and only 5 touchdowns in the seven games he’s played in. Dez Bryant has not been himself either since returning from foot surgery. He has played in eight games this season and has 27 catches for 351 yards and 2 touchdowns. Since there is a very slim chance the Cowboys would make the playoffs, there was question as to whether Dez would play the rest of the season, but according to reports he will, unless he gets hurt.
The Cowboys defense ranks 9th in the league and 4th in passing defense. There is certainly a lot of personality along the front seven, with Rolando McClain and Greg Hardy playing linebacker for Dallas.
The Jets currently have the #6 seed in the AFC and just need to win out to make the postseason. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has been playing great football recently. Last week Fitz threw for 263 yards, 3 touchdowns and no interceptions. Running back Chris Ivory is ranked 5th in the NFL in rushing yards with 914 and 7 touchdowns. The Jets also have two great receivers in Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. Marshall is 5th in the NFL in receiving yards with 1,187 and 11 touchdowns.
Number 5 seems to be the Jets’ lucky number as they are ranked fifth in the NFL in total defense. They have the #1 ranked rushing defense and surprisingly the 19th ranked passing defense. With Darelle Revis manning the secondary, you would think that they would be ranked higher, so I find that a little disappointing.
Out of the two games, I think the Thursday night game will be much closer. Tampa Bay and St. Louis should play a relatively close game. I do not think either the Buccaneers or Rams will make the postseason. If one of those teams did, it would be the Buccaneers, but right now it looks very unlikely that any of those teams will. I think the Jets will walk over Dallas and come away with an easy win. They have to keep winning to make the postseason and I think everyone in Dallas is feeling pretty defeated with how their season is going.
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