NFL Week 18 Recap

This week leaves everything in the balance: the final week of the regular season, with many seeds still up for grabs and teams chomping at the bit for the last two spots. Unlike other recaps, which are presented in chronological order, this one will be organized based on relevance to the playoffs. With that said, let’s get the unimportant games out of the way quickly.

 

Buccaneers 17, Falcons 30

It’s a meaningless game for both sides. The Bucs have already locked up a playoff berth and home field in the first round, while Atlanta is just looking to see what they have in Desmond Ridder. If today was any indication, the Falcons have a pretty bright future with him. Ridder skied the ball all day long, and the Falcons cruised to victory to give closure to the season. It comes with the asterisk of being against a backup defense, but they’ll take what they can get down there.

 

Panthers 10, Saints 7

Two teams with stout defenses and terrible offenses that are both out of the playoffs. It was expected to be a horrible game, and it turned out to be such. The poor fans in attendance should demand a refund for their time, as nothing they witnessed can be called football. Instead, it was a freak show demonstrating how bad the NFC South is. Carolina just gave themselves a worse draft pick, and nothing else happened here.

 

Chargers 28, Broncos 31

The Chargers should sound the alarm. They lost to the Broncos. And this wasn’t even with their backups in; Herbert played for most of the game, and the 1st team defense got most of the reps today. Russ Wilson proved that he was… kinda sorta worth that massive deal by torching that injury-riddled chargers D to market himself for next year. It doesn’t matter for LA in the long run, though, as they had locked up the #5 seed either way with this game.

 

Texans 32, Colts 31

Most people glancing at this game would brush it off as a meaningless match between two terrible teams with no relevance to their lives. However, for us, this is a golden matchup. Yes, my friends. None other than THE SEASON FINALE OF TANK BOWL!!!

This game brought forth every ideal that Tank Bowl represents. Indianapolis would fail harder for everything the Texans did to fail in this game. The first overall pick must be earned; it cannot be given. In this affair, both trash heaps would race as far down the desolate warehouse of Lucas Oil Stadium, stopping for nothing in the art of trying to hand the other victory. Indianapolis had the lead late, though. Everything was going according to plan for the Texans. Down to a 4th and 20 with one minute left, a hail Mary was all that stood between them and the First Overall Pick. But Indy has a few tricks up its sleeve. They conveniently plant a double agent in the endzone to muff the hail Mary, causing a touchdown for the Texans. Even better, Houston chose to go for two, and they got it. Oh, so now they show up? Not any other time, but here on this random Sunday when it would only hurt them in the long run? This team lost at losing. They can’t even tank right. They’ve ruined it. They’ve ruined it all! Now they must watch what happens in Chicago.

 

Vikings 29, Bears 13

This game is probably the least meaningless out of the five covered thus far. On the line is a chance for the Bears to secure infamy and for the Vikings to solidify a date with the Giants for next week. Fortunately for the Bears, Justin Fields was told to hit the pine today. Nathan Peterman, the Bills legend himself, got the start. The Bears may have lost this game in a blowout, but they have won a different, much more important prize. THE FIRST OVERALL PICK! Congratulations on your tank bowl. Step forward and receive your free Anderson- or whoever you desire.

Our first stop in the playoff picture takes us to the #1 seed in the AFC, which is still up for grabs. Kansas City can clinch it with a win, but Buffalo still has a shot if the Chiefs lose.

 

Chiefs 31, Raiders 13

Unfortunately, that last scenario will not happen, as the Chiefs figured out how to finish off the opponents they should crush. The rest of the game was a brief lesson in Japanese imperialism: completely dominating the opponent, committing countless war crimes, and infiltrating the civilian ranks with those of your own. Okay, Kansas City, we get it. You want the #1 seed. Take it! Arrowheads fly as the Chiefs get a much-needed bye week to regroup for whoever comes out of the Wild Card.

 

The next stop takes us to the AFC South. This one is self-explanatory. Tennessee and Jacksonville: win or go home.

Titans 16, Jaguars 20

If Tennessee wins, it’ll be more difficult for them, as they have elected to start Josh Dobbs again. I would be incorrect if I said it was a terrible effort against the Jags. The defense did a solid job, capitalizing on the Jags’ miscues and imposing their will physically, keeping the Titans in the game. However, the same cannot be said about their offense, which resembled 11 parking cones instead of a competent unit most of the game. Three turnovers by the offense, one leading to the go-ahead touchdown. It’s the perfect ending to a season of incredible disappointment for Tennessee. The Titans have missed the playoffs.

Eliminated: Tennessee Titans

What a disgrace. From having the world in their hands at 7-3 to losing seven in a row to choke away the division. Hopefully, this losing streak will result in some much-needed change in Nashville.

If you’re in Duval, you know darn well what this means. The Jags have made it back to the playoffs.

Playoff Bound: Jacksonville Jaguars

This is honestly an outstanding job by the Jags. They went from 3-7 and looking down the barrel of another lost season to rebounding to win five of six to win their division and knock off the longtime stalwart. This team competed in one of the first Tank Bowls, and now they’re competing in January. It’s a testament that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to, regardless of the odds. They’re interesting going into next week. Really interesting.

 

Our next stop takes us to the AFC North, where chaos and unprecedented are the names of the game. Cincy can avoid all the confusion with a win, although they’ve technically locked up the division already. However, if they somehow lose to Baltimore and they wind up playing each other in the wild card round, the location of the playoff game would be determined by a coin toss.

Ravens 16, Bengals 27

If the Ravens are to pull this one out and make the almighty coin flip a reality, it will be much more complicated since backup Tyler Huntley is also out for this game. This means they must rely on their new golden goose, Anthony Brown. Oh boy. This is the point in Baltimore’s plan where everything dies. Cincinnati barely had to maintain a pulse to win this game. That’s how abysmal the Ravens were on the offensive front. And even worse, thanks to this loss, they no longer get the luxury of facing the AFC South champion in the playoffs. They get a rematch at Paul Brown Stadium against the Bengals next week. Lord have mercy.

 

The next stop on the docket is the 7th seed in the AFC. The Patriots have the easiest path with a win-and-clinch scenario but face a tall task in a rejuvenated Bills squad looking for someone to beat up on. Miami can clinch if the Patriots lose by beating the Jets. If New England and Miami lose, the Steelers can sneak in with a win over Cleveland. The Patriots get it via tiebreaker if all three teams at play lose.

Browns 14, Steelers 28

Don’t tell Pittsburgh, but there is still a shot that they can make it in. Far from playing down to their competition, the Steelers marched onto the field and owned the NFL’s equivalent of a penal colony for 60 straight minutes. Cathartic justice for Deshaun was the name of the game, as he was as inept as ever and gifted the Steelers golden opportunities. Now Pittsburgh must wait for the Jets and Buffalo to do their part.

 

Jets 6, Dolphins 11

It certainly was anticlimactic in a game that means a lot to the Dolphins. Due to injuries and ineptitude in the case of the Jets, the quarterback battle for this fine matchup is… Joe Flacco versus… Skylar Thompson. If that doesn’t spell awful football, I don’t know what does. Fortunately for Miami, they could barely beat the injury-riddled team starting their third-string quarterback to improve their chances and knocking out Pittsburgh.

Eliminated: Pittsburgh Steelers

This was a rebuilding year. That cannot be denied. However, the Steelers’ push to a winning record should be admired. Next year, they’ll be better. I’m looking forward to it. At least Tomlin avoids a losing season.

 

Patriots 23, Bills 35

It all comes down to this for New England. With Miami’s win, the Pats needed to win to stay alive. Unfortunately, they were not only running into the Bills but a Bills team somehow even more motivated than usual, thanks to Damar Hamlin’s miraculous recovery. New England would keep it close for 40 minutes, but by the time the 4th quarter rolled around, the dam broke, and Buffalo imposed their will just like the last three times they’ve played. This is when a reality sets in for the Bostonians. They will be out of the playoffs again.

Eliminated: New England Patriots

Too inconsistent. That’s what I’d call the Patriots. A team that would smoke the likes of Detroit and Cleveland with their third-string quarterback in but then falls apart against the eventual Tank Bowl champion, the Bears. Another lost year for Belichick, who isn’t getting any younger.

By process of elimination, the Dolphins are the last men standing. They limp into a playoff spot that no one wanted to win.

Playoff Bound: Miami Dolphins

Congratulations, Miami. You barely secured the final spot after starting the year 8-3. Now you get the privilege of playing the part of the sacrificial lamb next week in Buffalo, especially if Tua isn’t playing. Showtime.

 

The next stop on our tour involves the #1 seed in the NFC. This one gets a bit complicated, as the team that controls their destiny here still hasn’t clinched their division. The NFL has done us a solid by flexing the games relevant to this to the 4:25 window for maximum drama. Philadelphia controls their destiny with win-and-clinch but will face a scrappy Giants team looking to play spoiler. If the Eagles lose to New York and the Niners win, San Fran gets the #1 seed. Add a Dallas win to that scenario, and the Cowboys get the NFC East and the #2 seed. If Philly and the Niners somehow lose, the Cowboys can get a first-round bye with a win over the Commies.

Cowboys 6, Commanders 26

If the Cowboys knew they still had a shot at the #1 seed this week, they certainly didn’t show it. Dallas walked into the Commies’ FedEx landfill and laid one of the most enormous eggs the nation’s capital has seen since their hockey team in game sevens. Dallas got utterly owned by a third-string quarterback, which raises serious questions. Super Bowl contenders, god, they might not even make it out of the first round. This team will get slaughtered by Brady next week if everything doesn’t go right for them. How Bout Them Cowboys?!

 

Cardinals 13, 49ers 38

It’s a bittersweet moment for the Cardinals and the NFL, as this was JJ Watt’s last game. The 49ers didn’t get the memo. They are selfish and need to solidify claims to future legitimacy so that they will show no mercy. However, the Cardinals win another special prize. The 2022 Injury Bowl! Be careful with it, Arizona. It’s fragile. Kingsbury and Keim are likely around next season, so we can only lament another lost season.

 

Giants 16, Eagles 22

Let me skip the whole whoop and buzz. The Eagles have clinched the NFC East thanks to the Cowboys’ loss. They still have the #1 seed to play for, so they kept their starters against a Giants team with nothing to play for. Their defense did its job by shutting down Davis Webb for most of the game. Unfortunately, their offense laid a massive egg for the second week in a row with Jalen Hurts playing. They better get their act together for two weeks from now, or else it might be one-and-done for them. They clinch the #1 seed, but a pretty weak one.

 

Our final stop on this tour is the last playoff spot to be locked up; the 7th seed in the NFC. The teams at play are the Seahawks, Lions, and Green Bay. Seattle plays in the earlier window and does not control their destiny, but it can knock out Detroit with a win over the Rams. Green Bay is win-and-in regardless of what happens with Seattle, but if the Seahawks lose, Detroit can complete a remarkable return to prominence by beating Green Bay to secure the #7 seed. If all three teams somehow tie, the Seahawks make it in via tiebreaker.

Rams 16, Seahawks 19 (OT)

Seattle must take care of business to stay alive. They did just that against the Rams. It looked a little hairy thanks to the Rams’ defense getting the better of Geno Smith throughout the game, but Seattle overcame the Rams thanks to sheer defensive will. The Seahawks survive to scoreboard-watch the Packer game, but the Lions aren’t so lucky.

Eliminated: Detroit Lions

I know they made a furious surge back to relevance, but this is where my sympathies end. Do you want to make the playoffs, Detroit? Don’t give up 37 points to the Carolina Panthers. Try again next year, do not pass go, and do not collect your first playoff win in 50 years. It was nice knowing you.

Lions 20, Packers 16

If there’s any sympathy to be had for the Lions, it’s because they can still play spoiler and bring joy to us all by knocking Green Bay out of the playoffs. It was looking dicey earlier in the game, but it was all over when the offense started humming in the 2nd half. The Lions weren’t playing for anything other than team pride, so the riskier stuff from the back of the playbook went on display today. It paid off in spades. Green Bay had no answers for any part of Detroit’s game plan in the 4th quarter. The entire game felt like one big party for Detroit… and for the Seahawks watching on their couches clinching a playoff berth.

Playoff Bound: Seattle Seahawks

Congratulations, Seattle. You get the privilege of getting beat like a drum by the Niners next week. However, as they say, you have a shot if you make the dance. The Seahawks are hoping to let the world know this.

This means misery for the Cheeseheads, who have missed the playoffs for the first time in four years.

Eliminated: Green Bay Packers

A horrible start, followed by a 5-game winning streak and hope abounds, only to falter in a primetime home game to your little brother to the south. Detroit should be the one playing spoiler. They are beginning to rise and replace Green Bay on the NFC North totem pole. This might be the last time Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb play at Lambeau. What a shame.

Source: NFL.com

 

The football gods love a good feast. Black Monday is their holiday. Let us lament those in the coaching and executive ranks that have fallen this season.

Matt Rhule (Panthers HC, 2020-2022)

He looked good at the time of his hire. He had done yeoman’s work at Temple and Baylor, and many Panthers fans thought he would do the same in Carolina. Unfortunately, he did the opposite. Baffling playcalling and decision-making, his awful two-QB system, and the stereotypical College control freak wholly overmatched at the pro level. However, I don’t feel bad for him at all. In part due to that ridiculous contract that Tepper will have to buy out and also because Nebraska threw a dump truck full of cash at him just weeks after his firing. He’ll do better back at the collegiate level.

Frank Reich (Colts HC, 2018-2022

This one had been overdue for a while. It’s not a statement about Reich’s style. He was a good coach. Unfortunately, he was past his expiration date with the Colts. Reich’s coaching had worn off, and the inability to find a franchise quarterback ultimately doomed him. He’ll get another chance somewhere else.

 

Jon Robinson (Titans GM, 2016-2022)

This one is a bit of a mixed bag. For one, he did a good job reviving the Titans from the worst team in football to a perennial playoff contender. However, these past few years, he’s made some awful decisions that have led to the Titans spiraling down the drain. His magnum opus was the AJ Brown trade, where he shipped off a generational talent at the Wide Receiver position to draft a guy that doesn’t come close to Brown in terms of potential. However, I don’t know how much I can fault him for his firing. It doesn’t seem like the sacking was due to his job but rather due to a power struggle with Vrabel turning sour. He’s going to get another shot somewhere else.

 

Nathaniel Hackett (Broncos HC, 2022-2022)

When a coach gets fired before even completing a season with a new team, somebody screwed up big-time. Hackett came in with massive red flags from the beginning. He had managed god-awful offenses in Buffalo and Jacksonville before getting carried by a two-time MVP in his previous Green Bay role. His stint with the Broncos only proved the haters and pessimists right. The Hack was utterly overmatched, managing the worst offense in the league and being so bad at clock management that he had to hire an assistant to help him with it. That assistant ended up becoming the interim head coach. It’s no secret that The Hack was on thin ice after the first few weeks. Still, Denver’s complete inability to generate any offense caused George Paton to pull the trigger early and fire him after the Christmas Day fiasco against the Rams. Now watch them get Sean Payton next year.

Lovie Smith (Texans HC, 2022-2022)

We knew this guy was a placeholder, but to fire him after one year? Is it his fault that he had no talent to work with and his bosses were hellbent on tanking? Heck, he had Houston hanging in there with contenders by the end of the year! This decision and David Culley’s firing last year prove this organization’s backwardness. They will begin the hunt for their 5th head coach in 4 years—truly great asset management. As for Smith, he’ll probably get an opportunity in the coordinator ranks. Bears fans are already clamoring for a return to Chicago so he won’t be out in the cold for very long.

 

Kliff Kingsbury (Cardinals HC, 2019-2022)

This was one that people could see from a mile away. Kingsbury was another example of a hot coaching prospect going to the NFL level and failing to rally his men. It’s funny how having Patrick Mahomes as your college quarterback can boost your potential. With Kingsbury at the helm, the Cardinals had abysmal second-half collapses every year. In Kingsbury’s career with Arizona, the Cardinals won four games in December or January. Four out of a potential Seventeen. That’s alarming and damning of his style of coaching. He got carried by Kyler last year, and he’s probably going to get another shot somewhere because he had coffee with Sean McVay in a past life. What a waste. The Cardinals are an organization in need of a total overhaul. Now watch them hire from within and learn nothing.

 

Todd Downing (Titans OC, 2021-2022)

Oh, so now you fire this guy? Not when anything could have been done, but after the season ends, when you need a scapegoat? Take a long walk off a pier Tennessee. May you never win that pathetic division again and get owned by Jacksonville for the next decade!

 

Mike LaFleur (Jets OC, 2021-2022)

If you had told me after the Jets beat the Bills in week nine that this guy would not only be fired at the end of the year but hated by most of the fanbase, I would have chucked you in a straightjacket. Yes, the quarterback carousel didn’t help, but LaFleur didn’t do himself any favors. Ridiculously predictable playcalling. Hugely over-reliant on the run game, and Garrett Wilson, check downs and draw plays on 3rd and long—a complete and total hack on offense. Hopefully, the new offensive coordinator will have the talent to work with next year.

This is a very underwhelming Black Monday. The 7th seed is the reason why. Maybe we shall see more coaches fall come playoff time. I’M LOOKING AT YOU, McCARTHY AND STALEY.

 

And so concludes another whimsical year of NFL football. There were epic chokes and games that will be remembered forever… for differing reasons. I want to thank the NFL for such a season of wonders to cherish. I want to thank the Mirror and our editors for giving me an audience to post this recap every week. And, most of all, I’d like to thank you, the reader. The demand for these recaps, not only from within the school but outside it, is the primary reason I didn’t stop posting these after week five. Next year, I’ll be there.

NFL Week 17 Recap

This week, everything got upended, from playoff eliminations to battles for the last few spots. This week had it all. Let’s get into it.

 

Cowboys 27, Titans 13

Dallas has got to be one of the luckiest teams in the history of professional sports. To look awful and exposed, yet still stumble their way to a win in their millionth primetime game of the year is evidence of such. They lucked out by facing the Titans without King Henry or Ryan Tannehill and still struggled, only putting up points due to the refs throwing them life jackets at every turn in the form of a constant stream of flags against Tennessee. Speaking of whom, they’re still not out of the playoff hunt. Next week’s match in Jacksonville will decide the winner, regardless of what happens between the two teams. Great, we have to watch these guys in primetime yet again. Wonderful.

 

Saints 20, Eagles 10

Remember the magic of week 15 last year? When a battered, weary Saints team marched into Tampa Bay and utterly owned Tom Brady for 60 minutes? New Orleans remembered the formula from that game and chose to execute it to perfection against a Philly team without their starting quarterback. This formula involves general offensive ineptitude complemented by roughly five shades of defensive heroism by the Battalions of Bourbon Street. New Orleans can check those boxes off with pride. Philly had no answers for their defense, and Minshew looked like he was back with Jacksonville today. Unfortunately, while defeating arguably the best team in the NFL, the Saints reach an inevitable fate and are eliminated from playoff contention.

Eliminated: New Orleans Saints

Sure, the coaching and schematics are god-awful under Dennis Allen, but can you hoist much of the blame on him for this? Like last year, New Orleans had nearly every single playmaker get injured by week five and were a shell of themselves for the rest of the year. You’re done when you’re forced to start the Red Rifle for ten games in 2022. It won’t get any easier this offseason. Their first-round pick is the property of Philadelphia. Woof.

 

Bears 10, Lions 41

Okay, so last week was a fluke. The Lions’ offense is back to scoring at will, this time against a Bears D that has given teams like the Bills and Eagles fits so far this year. Their defense dominated all day long, admittedly after a shaky start, and managed to contain Justin Fields. Detroit gets some more momentum for their surprise playoff push and now gets a match at Lambeau for a chance at a playoff berth. A world in which Detroit is in the playoffs. I don’t think I could exist in such a timeline.

 

Jaguars 31, Texans 3

It’s a meaningless game on both sides; the Jags won’t gain or lose ground in the division regardless of the outcome, and the Texans have been eliminated for a month now and would only benefit from losing. To build momentum for next week, Jacksonville brought out their A-game to this matchup and quickly rolled over the Tank of Tanks on their way back to .500. Now they must run back home for a division showdown next Saturday night with the Titans for all of the 4th seeded marbles. It now becomes must-watch football. Buckle up.

 

Cardinals 19, Falcons 20

Two teams past their prime, riddled with injuries, are both out of the playoffs. There are only two words that could do such a game justice. That’s right, TANK BOWL!

This game lived up to many of the ideals that Tank Bowl represents. Both teams were in the giving spirit today, exchanging turnovers, defensive collapses, and general ineptitude and sloppiness. Unfortunately, one team had to win, and the Falcons embarrassed a team that was a Super Bowl contender a year ago. Arizona, however, knew the true prize in the tank brigades. With their glorious loss on that fine afternoon, they move up to the 4th overall pick with a chance to move up to 3rd should some hilarious hijinks occur involving the Chargers and Denver.

 

Colts 10, Giants 38

This game was more of a relief to Giants fans. They finally played up to their potential. For the first time in a long while, the G-Men obliterated an inferior opponent for 60 minutes. Daniel Jones had the best game of his career, and the defense ate all day. Yes, it was against the Colts. Yes, they are awful. Yes, hanging 38 on them is not the most impressive feat. However, the Giants achieve far more than a win here. They also clinched their first playoff berth since 2016. Well done, lads.

Playoff Bound: New York Giants

To say I’m impressed with what Daboll has done down in the Big Apple is an understatement. The guy has completely turned the team around and has them firing on all cylinders. Extensions are now in the works for Daniel Jones and Saquon. Maybe they’ll win a game, unlike the last time they were in the postseason. Pro tip: Avoid boat parties.

 

Browns 24, Commanders 10

In a curious move, Taylor Heinicke has been benched after the last three games, and Carson Wentz is back in the saddle against a top-tier defense in Cleveland. It’s an odd move in a must-win game for Washington. Unfortunately for them, the Browns’ defense removed the curtain from the imposter and revealed that Carson Wentz was, indeed, Carson Wentz. It was ugly for the Commies’ offense today. Three picks, ten total points, and getting stifled by a bottom-feeder. The few fans the Commies had left were booing on every 3rd down stop. The cost of this bungling of a winnable game is severe. The Commanders have been eliminated from the playoffs.

Eliminated: Washington Commanders

We need to talk about Ron Rivera. I get he’s getting up there, but how is he not aware that his team could be eliminated in a given week? It sounds like he didn’t plan around it at all. Guess what? The worst-case scenario happened. This and the announcement of their mediocre mascot, “Major,” make the Commies organization one of the laughingstocks of the week. It serves their owner right.

 

Broncos 24, Chiefs 27

Kansas City has looked highly mortal these past five weeks or so. They’ve won in an incredibly unconvincing fashion against opponents they should be crushing. Wouldn’t you guess it? The same thing played out this week against the Denver Broncos. I mean, I think you could say they won in the end. KC continues to dance through the raindrops regarding their past few games and keep pace for the #1 seed. Denver has more of a sour taste in their mouths.

 

Dolphins 21, Patriots 23

In what has become a broken record over the past few years, the Dolphins marched into Foxboro for a critical game and got utterly owned by Belichick and his band of merry men. Further misfortune for Miami came with roughly the 4th concussion of the year for Tua. Teddy Bridgewater was chucked into play before we realized that he is indeed made of glass. It quickly got ugly after that. Skylar Thompson does not inspire confidence. Once in contention for the #1 seed at 8-3, the team has lost five straight and fallen to the point where they no longer control their destiny. But who took their spot? Oh god… New England. Buffalo, you have one job next week. Get it done.

 

Panthers 24, Buccaneers 30

Behold! The tank division championship. Carolina is coming off an impressive win, marching into Tampa Bay to face a team that has been dancing through the raindrops these past few weeks. Unfortunately, they just ran out of gas in this game. It was all over as soon as Tampa took the lead in the 4th quarter. Carolina, you tried. You were our only hope to prevent Brady from an undeserved home playoff game. I’m proud of them, in a way.

Eliminated: Carolina Panthers

Not going to lie: I’m impressed with what Steve Wilks did in the interim position. He got dealt a horrible hand but still kept his team in playoff contention. They made Tampa sweat a little. That’s admirable.

Unfortunately, due to all the rest of the teams being eliminated, the Bucs are the last men standing by the process of elimination. Take your undeserved home playoff game and get out of my sight.

Playoff Bound: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Unfortunately, it’s a lose-lose situation as they probably face Dallas in the wild card. One of those teams’ insufferable fans must be dealt with afterward. I shudder to think what could happen if the Cowboys won.

 

Jets 6, Seahawks 23

Two longshot playoff hopefuls in front of the Twelves to prove their metal and stay alive for the playoffs. Unfortunately, one of these teams forgot to come out of the locker room. The Seahawks looked like they were in prime form. Mike White took another beating in the pocket as the sieves the Jets call linemen did him no favors. Seattle wasn’t that great on offense either, but they barely needed to maintain a pulse to win this game. They stay alive for the playoff hunt and can make it in with some help next week. The same can’t be said about their opponent.

Eliminated: New York Jets

This was one of the Jetsiest years I’ve seen from them. The season went from shocking promise to another buttfumble by losing 5 of 6. There is some upside, however. That defense is stacked. Unfortunately, they have to get their QB situation sorted out, or it will be another rough ride next year. Are you sure you’re not holding the team back, Zach? Go ahead, continue taking no accountability in press conferences. Ever wonder why the O-line gets worse when Wilson’s under center?

 

Rams 10, Chargers 31

The Chargers continue their incredibly weak closing schedule by facing a team that all but gave up three weeks ago. Oh, so the Chargers struggled for three quarters but won. Who cares? The grass is green. This happens to them every week. They have many questions going into the playoffs and will likely face the Jacksonville team that steamrolled them in week 3. For Spanos’s sake, I hope they lose.

 

Vikings 17, Packers 41

This is what happens when the Vikings have to face a team with things called “offensive firepower,” “drive,” and “momentum.” Complete and utter slaughter. If you saw the score of this game, you’d think the clock got turned back to last year. Minnesota overconfidently marched into Lambeau and got wrecked. The Packers toyed with them all game long. It was that much of a beatdown. And after a 3-8 start, Green Bay has won 5 straight and controls their destiny for the postseason next week. God help us all. The insufferable nature of Cheeseheads will doom us all.

 

49ers 37, Raiders 34 (OT)

Derek Carr will not be starting these last two games in what could be considered a surprise move for the Raiders. He has been benched by Josh McDaniels for… Jarrett Stidham. Carr has withdrawn from the team in a noble move to avoid distraction. His time as a Raider is likely over. It’s a shame. He didn’t deserve this.

Let’s see whom Stidham faces in his first career start, the 49ers. Surprisingly, he balled out in his first start against one of the best defenses in the league. Of course, San Fran came back to win in the end, but at least it’s a slight bow to wrap over toxic sludge. Speaking of which, the Raiders are out of the playoffs.

Eliminated: Las Vegas Raiders

The only surprising part of this is that it took this long for this team to be eliminated. They’ve learned nothing from the Gruden hire and will be spinning the tires for a few more years, at least. The worst part for them is that if Carr leaves, they will be employing a disgruntled superstar in Davante Adams. Remember, the only reason why he signed here was because of his connection to Carr back at Fresno State. They’re a package deal. If Carr leaves, Adams will want to follow.

 

Steelers 16, Ravens 13

This is AFC North Football at its finest. Two teams doing battle on a Sunday Night. Offensive ineptitude. Points are a rare commodity. Luckily, Pittsburgh was able to pull out, in the end, thanks to a solid final drive and stay alive for both Tomlin’s winning season and a potential playoff berth. That’s three straight wins for them now. I’m impressed.

 

Bills @ Bengals

At this point, all I care about is Damar Hamlin’s health. The score of this game doesn’t matter. I don’t even care that this somehow benefits Kansas City. Hamlin should be the only concern on anyone’s mind following this game. He’s still in critical condition as I write this.

 

Remember, I said there were multiple laughingstocks of the week. WE HAVE A TIE! The second winner is Skip Bayless for making an ignorant, insensitive tweet about Hamlin and then getting flamed for it all week. It’s deserved.

 

Playoff picture

Clinched AFC Clinched NFC
Eliminated from playoff contention

Next week will leave everything in the balance. There are a lot of seeds up for grabs, and a couple of playoff spots for the mediocrity in each conference to fight over.

The #1 seed in the AFC will not be resolved this week. That Cincy game was necessary for this, but that’s an afterthought. This afterthought also includes the AFC North title, as Cincy controlled it by a game going into that fateful match.

What isn’t an afterthought is the AFC South title. It’s pretty simple. Tennessee and Jacksonville play each other for all the marbles. Win and in, lose and go home. Surprisingly, this game is on a Saturday night, aside from the usual primetime slot on Sunday Night.

Another thing up for grabs is the 7th seed in the AFC. New England has the most straightforward path with Win and In but will face a tall task whenever they have to play Buffalo. Miami needs a win over the Jets and a Buffalo win. The Steelers need to win, and for the Dolphins and Patriots to lose.

In the NFC, the #1 seed is very much up for grabs. Philly has the easiest path; win and in. If Philly loses and San Fran wins, the Niners get it. Minnesota is out of the picture, but you know who isn’t? Dallas. If Philly and San Fran both lose and the Cowboys win, Dallas gets the #1 seed. If Philly loses and Dallas wins, regardless of the Niners’ game against Arizona, Dallas would win the division. Otherwise, the Cowboys are the five-seed and have to face Tom Brady.

For wild cards, the Cowboys and Giants control the first two slots. However, the 7th seed is wide open. Green Bay vs. Detroit is an important game for this and has been flexed into primetime. Green Bay’s path is easiest; win and in, or rather, win and get blown out by San Fran. Seattle has the next-easiest path. A win and a Green Bay loss. Meanwhile, Detroit can bring joy to us all with a win and a Seattle loss. If the Packers and Lions somehow tie, Seattle makes it in with a win or tie.

It’s going to be a fun season finale. Buckle up.

Mallaro in for Morris: Coaching “Line Change” Planned for Next Season

Coach Mark Morris ’77

Coach Steve Mallaro ’06

The Northwood prep hockey team will have a new coach for the 2023-24 season. Coach Mark Morris ’77 will retire at the end of the current season, according to an unattributed statement posted to the school’s website and social media feeds earlier today. Current assistant coach Steve Mallaro ’06 will take over as head coach. The Mirror will have more on this story in early February after students return to campus following the extended winter break.

The school’s statement is below:

Head Hockey Coach, Mark Morris ’77 to Retire – Steve Mallaro ’06 to Become Northwood’s New Head Coach

After one of the most distinguished careers in American hockey history, with extraordinary success at the prep, collegiate, and professional levels, Northwood’s Mark Morris will retire at the end of this season.

His successor will be the current Assistant Coach, Steve Mallaro. Both Morris and Mallaro are Northwood alumni, graduating in ’77 and ’06 respectively. In Morris’s first stint as Northwood’s Coach, Mallaro served as Captain of the first Northwood hockey squad to win forty games.

An outstanding defenseman at Colgate University, Morris played professionally for the New Haven Nighthawks and the Dallas Black Hawks before joining the coaching ranks as an assistant to Charlie Morrison in 1984. After serving as Saint Lawrence Assistant Coach from 1985-88. He was named Head Coach at Clarkson in 1988; in that role he led the Golden Knights to over 300 wins. After serving as an assistant coach on the Vancouver Canucks and Saginaw Spirit, he returned to Northwood for two years before taking the reins of the AHL’s Manchester Monarchs, and again won over 300 games. Before rejoining Northwood in 2021, he was an assistant for the Florida Panthers and Head Coach at Saint Lawrence University. In his most recent two years at Northwood, he has won over 60 games in just a season-and-a-half. Last year he was honored with a spot on Northwood’s Fullerton Wall, named after legendary coach, Jim Fullerton

His replacement, Steve Mallaro, says of Mark, “I follow in the ranks of many remarkable coaches and people. When Mark recruited me as a player in 2004, I knew I was in for a great experience. Mark’s mentorship in those and these more recent years showed me how much he cares about the development of players as people. His success stems from his charismatic leadership. He brings value and values every day. He has asked for my best and empowered me to give it. Having been married within the last year, I have also learned much from him about being a husband and father. I have been fortunate to have him in my life.”

Coach Mallaro also brings impressive experience as a player and coach. After captaining Northwood in 2006, he moved on to SUNY Oswego where he was twice named to the All-Conference team and voted Captain of the 2011 squad. After a year of professional hockey, he served as a graduate assistant coach at Manhattanville College, Assistant Men’s Coach at Suny Brockport, and Head Coach at King’s College before accepting the head coaching job at Albany Academy. In 2021, he joined the Northwood staff as an assistant to Coach Morris, who says of him, “Steve was the first person I thought of when I returned to Northwood. He models the qualities any player or parent would want in a coach responsible for a young man’s development as a player and person. As a player, Steve was all about team, the glue guy, a leader on and off the ice. As a coach, his example and loyalty to his alma mater are constants. Trustworthy and caring, he is a calming presence in conversation or while instructing. Steve studies the game and works tirelessly to better our program. He will continue to recruit quality individuals and maximize their hockey skills and personal strengths.”

Headmaster Mike Maher said, “Northwood has been blessed with some extraordinary coaches in the last ninety years. In his time here as a student and coach, Steve Mallaro has demonstrated that he is ready to follow in the footsteps of Hall of Famers like Jim Fullerton and Charlie Holt and other great mentors like Coach Morris. We are thrilled to have him on board.”

Commentary: Garvey on Hamlin Injury

Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin is removed from Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati in an ambulance on Jan. 2 as his teammates kneel at the bottom left of the image. (Schetm via Wikimedia Commons)

Damar Hamlin, a safety for the Buffalo Bills, is in critical condition after collapsing during a game in Cincinnati. The 24-year-old suffered cardiac arrest after being hit, but medical personnel restored his heartbeat. The NFL postponed the game. Gus Garvey, The Mirror’s NFL reporter, has this commentary.

I’m going to make one thing very clear from the beginning here. Yes, this was a huge game with massive implications for the playoffs. Yes, it was competitive. But none of that matters anymore. No part of last night’s game matters, and that’s because the worst-case scenario played out on a football field last night.

In regards to the game, it has been postponed indefinitely. I don’t know when it will be played, if at all. I will write a recap this week for any of you wondering. It will be out today or tomorrow. None of that is relevant right now. The only thing that matters right now is Damar Hamlin.

With 6 minutes left in the first quarter, he was hit in the chest area while making a tackle on Cincinnati’s Tee Higgins. He got up from it and immediately collapsed to the ground, where he remained for over 40 minutes. Suffering cardiac arrest, it took a while for medical personnel to restore his heartbeat. He was loaded into an ambulance afterward and rushed to UC Medical, one of the best hospitals in the country.

At this point, no one cares about the game. The only thing football fans, and at this point, the country and perhaps the world, care about is if Damar Hamlin is okay. They’ve already attempted to show solidarity, too. During his time with the Bills, Hamlin has developed a tradition of holding toy drives for children in need. During the game, he had an active fundraiser out for the drive. His goal was to raise $2,500. The charity has raised over $3 million since he collapsed on the field. That’s heartwarming. In a sport where the fan bases are as large and hardcore, the fact that everyone immediately came together in solidarity for Hamlin is very inspiring.

What isn’t inspiring is the NFL’s response to this tragedy. In particular, the decisions made about the game resuming. Please explain, Roger Goodell: HOW ON EARTH DO YOU EXPECT TWO TEAMS WHO JUST WATCHED A BROTHER ALMOST DIE ON THE FIELD TO SUIT BACK UP AND START PLAYING IN FIVE MINUTES? Please explain how the league didn’t immediately cancel the game and left the players and fans in limbo for over an hour!

Last night proves again that the NFL doesn’t care about its players’ well-being. Sure, Mr. Goodell, you didn’t make the call to give the players just five minutes to recover. Sure, there’s a process for canceling a game. WHY IS THERE EVEN A PROCESS TO BEGIN WITH? The fact that it took both head coaches yelling at the refs – twice – about how both sides were physically and mentally unable to play football is damning to the mindset and culture of the Shield as a whole.

The NFL and Football as a sport received a massive black eye last night, and it may get even worse depending on what happens with how the conclusion of the game is handled and, more importantly, Hamlin’s recovery.

Football is a brutal game, and Hamlin experienced the worst-case scenario. My thoughts are with him and his family. They don’t deserve this. No one does.

NFL Week 16 Recap

Jaguars 19, Jets 3

At this point in the season, we all realize that the Jets had been punching above their weight all year. They look horrible. That defense is good, but when the offense packs all the punch of a feather, it spells doom for New Jersey. Combine this with the rain and facing a Jags team that’s won 3 of its last 4, and the Jets are dead on arrival. The Jags’ offense was terrible, too, but I wouldn’t be concerned. That defense has given far better quarterbacks fits this year. Zach Wilson can get his O-line all the scooters he wants, but they won’t get any better. The Jets need Mike White back, and they need him back now.

 

Falcons 9, Ravens 17

The Ravens’ cakewalk midseason schedule continues in earnest as their team gets injured and injured some more. This week? Atlanta. In Desmond Ridder’s second career start, he looked just as raw and undeveloped as last week. Sure, he showed some flashes, but Atlanta’s offense had all the life of a tumbleweed for most of the game. Speaking of tumbleweeds, Greg Roman’s jackknife offense was trodden out onto the field again. Seventeen points against one of the worst defenses in the league. Truly elite stuff. Even the Broncos would frown at that kind of ineptitude. Take this undeserved playoff berth and get out of my sight.

Playoff Bound: Baltimore Ravens

This team screams one-and-done. Harbaugh and Roman are on such thin ice that cracks are already beginning to show. Enjoy getting obliterated on the road to a team like KC or Jacksonville.

On the other side of the pendulum, Atlanta gets more predictable misery. They are once again out of the playoffs.

Eliminated: Atlanta Falcons

This season was so Falcons I could honestly copy-paste anything said about them over the past few years and it would be very close to accurate. A brief blip of hope at 4-4, only to sputter and collapse into the pits of despair yet again. Arthur Smith deserved so much better than this. What a shame.

 

Lions 23, Panthers 37

This is the part of the season where Detroit has a wave of hope smacked out of them by a vastly inferior opponent. Winning 6 of 7 sounds good. Nope, a Panthers team is ready to smoke your remains and serve them buffet-style at the community table. Remember that Lions D from earlier in the season that imitated a sieve on the field? We had a throwback performance today. Carolina’s run game had free real estate all game long. Over 300 yards on the ground for a dominating performance. Sam Darnold was incredibly efficient as well. Unfortunately for Detroit, their strong run of form will likely be all for not as they get thrust back into the meat-grinder of the 7th seed for the playoffs.

 

Seahawks 10, Chiefs 24

It seems the Seahawks have regressed to the mean as well. A 6-3 start followed by losing 5 of 6, exposing the many flaws of both their team and structure. Pete Carroll can only reincarnate Geno Smith’s career for so long. Sooner or later, the piper will come to collect his dues. Against weaker opponents, Seattle can dance through the raindrops, but against the Chiefs, there was no chance. Oddly enough, the defense won the day for Kansas City. It might have something to do with the conditions, but for a day, the defense looked as dominant as it was in the Alex Smith era. That’s impressive.

 

Saints 17, Browns 10

In the tundra of the Dawg Pound, a special event is taking place. TANK BOWL!

Yes, I know these teams traded their first-round picks this year, but I’m not choosing logic over memes. This game exemplified every ideal that Tank Bowl represents. Horrific offensive play coupled with stout defense and bad conditions. This is what Tank Bowl is all about. Fortunately for Cleveland, New Orleans realized that losing would only help Philadelphia and scored 17 whole points. It was enough to get the job done. Imagine Cleveland thinking they were a quarterback away from competing. Sounds hilarious. Now they won’t have their first-round picks for the next two years. No one feels bad for them. Maybe Deshaun can get a few massages in the elimination room.

Eliminated: Cleveland Browns

This is karma. Straight karma. The Browns traded their soul for a high-risk quarterback who promptly got suspended for half a season, and they won’t be able to get out of it. Unloading a dump truck of money onto Watson doesn’t help, either. The Browns are a colossal waste of oxygen. Sink the organization into lake Erie. Knowing Cleveland, they’d also find a way to screw that up.

 

Bengals 22, Patriots 18

Cincinnati is on a tear. After last week’s comeback against Tampa Bay, they went into New England and owned a team with many question marks for all of one half. After halftime, it felt like something was just… off. Perhaps it was Belichick trolling them with his shenanigans. More likely, it was probably the Pats’ defense adjusting. The offense did as well, putting up 18 unanswered points. It is here that the Pats realized that they suck and fumbled everything away on Cincy’s 10-yard line with a minute left and the game on the line. The Bengals win a nailbiter, and now they must gear up for arguably the biggest game of the year at home in primetime against the Bills. Does someone have a Joe Burrow voodoo doll for rent? Just asking for some friends. Oh, and I almost forgot: Cincy has made it back to the playoffs.

Playoff Bound: Cincinnati Bengals

It looked shaky after a 0-2 start and huge question marks. They answered them. Unfortunately, they still have the undead corpse of Baltimore to contend with in the AFC North. Their upside in the postseason is, well… last year. However, if every part isn’t clicking, their floor could be meteoric in terms of calamity and damage.

 

Giants 24, Vikings 27

This was hyped to be the best game of the one o’clock window, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. A Giants team was hanging tough with one of the best teams in the conference vying for home field in the playoffs. The G-men started to hit back as Minnesota surged to an early lead. Down the field they went, time and time again, finally tying the game with a minute left at 24. Unfortunately, this is where an old enemy of the Giants re-emerges; super-long field goals. Their kicker had even booted a 63-yard winner on them in a past life. It happened again on the road and to the Minnesota Vikings. This team runs kickers’ careers into the ground so fast you could call them a sander. Fortunately, the G-men can still clinch a playoff berth with a win next week. Even better, they’re playing the Colts. They’re not going to screw this up… are they?

 

Bills 35, Bears 13

I’ve been saying it for weeks, and this game proves it: the Chicago Bears are much better than their record suggests. They’ve been able to hang with legit contenders all season in games their opponent has overlooked. This game, much like the Bears’ record, was much closer than the final score indicates. Despite the Bills dominating the stat sheet, Chicago was always able to stay within a score or two for three quarters, thanks to the wind trolling Tyler Bass and some very untimely turnovers on the part of Josh Allen. Fortunately, the Bears’ offense is something out of a horror movie. They cannot move the ball in crucial situations. It doesn’t matter if Allen throws the ball directly to a defender in prime field position. The Bears will only get a field goal. Once the Bills woke up in the 4th quarter and started running up the score, it was all over. Buffalo clinches the AFC East with this win. However, they are aspiring for things much bigger than this. Next week is huge. I’ll leave it at that. I might be separating that game, regardless.

 

Texans 19, Titans 14

Tennessee, you lost to the Texans. It wasn’t even on some last-second play or fluke bounce; it was a blowout by tank standards. They were brutalized, gored, rammed, battered, banished to Hades, resurrected, banished to Hades again, and then chased around by Hellhounds. About five times over. Malik Willis could do nothing. They made legendary tank commander Davis Mills look competent. How on earth do you do that? Even worse, the once plump cushion they sat on in the AFC south has shrunk to something resembling a dollhouse pillow. Jacksonville is now winning the division via a tiebreaker. Tennessee is on the outside looking in for the first time this season. It serves them right for being all but a free win on teams’ schedules these days. It doesn’t get any easier, as they play Dallas next week. The team resembles their stadium; old, decrepit, and crumbling from the inside out. Enjoy watching Jacksonville play in January.

 

Commanders 20, 49ers 37

A game projected to be an outright slaughter turned out as such. Washington, this is why you had to take care of business last week against the Giants; this was going to happen. Taylor Heinicke can’t do much against average defenses to begin with. Now face him against the #1 unit in the country, and he gets wholly exposed. The Niners’ defense is skilled, smart, and runs like cheetahs. There was no mercy for Washington. San Fran keeps its hopes for the #2 seed due to this win, and they have the tiebreaker over Minnesota as things stand right now. Things could get interesting.

 

Eagles 34, Cowboys 40

This game said much more about the Eagles than it did about Dallas. Sure, the Cowboys may have hung 40 on Philly thanks to Gardner Minshew’s propensity for turnovers, but with their backup quarterback, Philly was able to maintain the lead for a good portion of this game. Dallas may have won, but Philly should be proud of themselves. They can lock up the #1 seed with a win against the Saints next week, giving Jalen Hurts a critical bye week to get healthy for the playoffs. I’m intrigued. Cowboys fans will be forever insufferable due to this win. They have now won five straight at home against Philly.

 

Raiders 10, Steelers 13

Fifty years ago, one of the greatest moments in NFL history happened. The Immaculate Reception. On this anniversary, it’s only fitting that the Steelers and Raiders played each other. Franco Harris, the recipient of the reception, was set to be retired by the Steelers before this game, but he tragically passed away days before the game. This game was a throwback to 1970’s era football. Low-scoring, with punts and turnovers aplenty. Pittsburgh won thanks to an 80-yard final drive led by Kenny Pickett and maintains their slim playoff life thanks to this win. Meanwhile, the Raiders experience more turmoil as McDaniels benches Derek Carr for existing incorrectly in his system. Their playoff hopes are all but dead.

 

Packers 26, Dolphins 20

This game was a tale of two halves and was a microcosm of the season for both teams. We got what we expected in the first half: Miami cruising out to an early lead as Green Bay came out flatter than a map. The second half brought about the style of play that both teams are beginning to conform to. Miami was sputtering and turning over the ball, and Green Bay is easing back into the picture, thanks to a stout defense and ridiculous luck. Aaron Rodgers is getting another shot, isn’t he? God help us all.

 

Broncos 14, Rams 51

It’s just what everyone needed while under the tree opening presents. A CHRISTMAS TANK BOWL!!!!

They subjected kids to this game. That’s honestly appalling. The Broncos limped into this one and were massacred at the hands of one of the worst teams in the league. Russell Wilson being brought back into action only exacerbated their issues. Look at how far he’s fallen this year. He’s gone from being the celebrated culinary artist of the Seahawks to being roasted by Patrick Star on the Nickelodeon broadcast. The Rams got the message that losing this tank bowl would only help Detroit and decided to play spoiler by beating the stuffing out of a Broncos team that probably wishes the season ended after week 3.

Fortunately for the Broncos, they finally did the thing their fanbase had been clamoring for since week 1. The Hack has been deservedly fired, not even a full year into his massive contract. Sure, you could blame the complete collapse of all the players in his system and a ridiculous amount of injuries, but Hackett did himself no favors. Horrible clock management, playcalling the worst offense in the league, wasting one of the best defenses in recent memory, a 4-11 record, and averaging 14.3 points per game. It got so bad that he had to hire an assistant to help with clock management. Speaking of which, he’s the new interim coach. The Hack was so bad in Denver that he achieved Urban Meyer levels of incompetence. Denver’s season has been a trainwreck, and they have even more egg on their face thanks to this venture blowing up in their faces. Seattle laughs in the background and revels in the top 5 picks they’ll have for the next two years.

 

Buccaneers 19, Cardinals 16

The script for Tampa’s last few games has been so overused that the pages are starting to fall out. They look horrible for three quarters and then magically turn it on, in the end, to come back against a struggling opponent. Tom Brady is lauded as a genius and leader of men, and the Bucs continue to defy the odds and limp into a must-win game against Carolina next week. Arizona gets more predictable misery and the announcement of JJ Watt’s retirement. If this is truly it, it was an incredible career. I’m not even salty over that wild card game, either. We’ll see him in Canton in 5 years.

 

Chargers 20, Colts 3

This game just felt like a blur with everything else happening in the sports realm. LA, sticking to their narratives, proceeded to look horrible and mortal for most of the game, only winning because they had the fortune of facing Jeff Saturday. Indy gets more coal in their stocking, as well. Their postseason hopes are officially dead.

Eliminated: Indianapolis Colts

This team is a glue factory. Quarterbacks go there to die, and they are a clown show at the top. Sell the team, Irsay.

Meanwhile, the Chargers drunkenly stumble their way into playoff position.

Playoff Bound; Los Angeles Chargers

This team has massive holes, including at head coach, but hey, they made it. They will be exposed in due course.

 

Do I even need to announce the Laughingstock Finalists this week? I think we all know who it is. It’s the Denver Broncos, and that decision is pretty self-explanatory. What a disaster at Mile High.

NFL Week 15 Recap

What a crazy week it was in the NFL, especially for the Patriots’ QB Mac Jones. Gus Garvey has our recap. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

This week was when all of the drama happened. Playoff clinchers, eliminations, epic chokes, laughing at the Cowboys, it was all enveloped in this gauntlet of a weekend. Grab the popcorn; it’s recap time.

 

49ers 21, Seahawks 13

For the longtime Niners fans reading this, you might be familiar with a little-known narrative to the rest of the league: The Niners are snakebitten in Seattle. No matter how good or bad either team is, San Fran always manages to collapse in front of the twelves leading to a Seahawk victory. In the last 19 years, they had only won there four times. Fortunately for Santa Clara, a savior has descended from the heavens to help them with this plight. His name is Brock Purdy. In the elements, in front of the Twelves, Purdy played a solid, efficient game to lead to a Niner victory. They overcome their demons with this win. They receive an early Christmas present: Several fumbles by the Hawks leading to free points for the Niners. Oh, and there’s also a division title in there somewhere, too.

Playoff Bound: San Francisco 49ers

Not gonna lie: this was a darn good job by Shanahan and company. The entire offense has dealt with the equivalent of being broken on the wheel this year, and they still found a way to win a division title. You can thank the Rams for falling apart, but these guys earned their spot. They’re very interesting going into January.

Colts 36, Vikings 39 (OT)

A quick disclaimer before this begins: Yes, I understand this game’s significance. It is my job to attempt to do it justice in a normal-length segment. Don’t cancel me for disrespecting it or something like that. Deal? Good.

Minnesota is such an inconsistent team this year. They will come out and obliterate teams like the Bills and Patriots. Then, these massive eggs will be laid, and no one will know what happened. The newest example was their scrum with the Indianapolis Colts. A broken team led by Jeff Saturday marched into their house and flat-out imposed their will for an entire half. 33-0 by intermission. At halftime, you could hear a pin drop inside US Bank Stadium. There’s no way they blow this. Even the Colts couldn’t pull off something this absurdly inept. Wait… Colts, what are you doing? Why are you bending over backward? They prolapse all over the field in the 2nd half and let Minnesota tie the game to send it to overtime. At this point, I want to ask one question: Who is this year’s dealer? Can any team in the league gain any consistency? Is this punishment for complaining about the lack of parity in the Brady vs. Manning era? Oh, we’ve got parity. We’ve got more than we could have ever wanted. With enough said, Minnesota drives the length of the field and boots home the game-winning field goal. The largest comeback in NFL history is worthy of a special reward, Skol army: A playoff berth.

Playoff Bound: Minnesota Vikings

I’m not sold on this team yet. The close wins are impressive, but they’ve shown themselves as mortal. This team still has a negative point differential. Watch them win the Super Bowl and make me eat a gigantic bag of manure. It would be par for the course, given how this year has gone.

 

Ravens 3, Browns 13

The Ravens stink. Their record is inflated thanks to fantastic luck and terrible opponents. They completely fall apart when they have to face a team with even something resembling a competent defense. Cleveland was beatable. Deshaun Watson is still trying to ease back into regular play, and their offense imitated a stagnant pond for most of the game. Baltimore couldn’t capitalize. Cleveland rolls by them on their tanks of glory as the Ravens are finally ousted from their perch atop the AFC North. It was a good run for these guys. They’ll probably make the playoffs, but I have severe doubts. Enjoy being a 1-and-done.

 

Dolphins 29, Bills 32

This was one of those games where one team just had to lose because both were that good on both sides of the ball. I’ll admit, it was looking dicey for the Bills at points in this game. They did their patented third-quarter thing of doing nothing on offense except turn the ball over, which Miami capitalized on to take an 8-point lead going into the 4th quarter. However, if there’s anything to learn from this year, the lead is far from secure. Cue a four-play touchdown drive by the Bills and a leap from SuperAllen to tie the game at 29. Then, an omen from the heavens finally touched down in Orchard Park: The snow. It had been rumored to be on the way all game, and football fans were as interested in when the blizzard would start as the game’s outcome. The snow turned out to be Miami’s version of a Japanese fisherman. Pinned deep in their territory, they could do nothing in it. They had to give the ball back to Buffalo. Everyone knows what happens next. Josh Allen methodically leads the Bills down the field, and Tyler Bass kicks the game-winning field goal. Miami may have lost, but they should be proud of themselves. They ran into a Bills team hungry for revenge and not only kept it close but almost pulled off the upset. Buffalo, meanwhile, can celebrate for a day. They have clinched a playoff spot.

Playoff Bound: Buffalo Bills

I have serious questions about the sustainability of the defense without Von anchoring the D-line, but they’re finding ways to win the close ones this year. That newfound aspect of this team cannot be denied. They have grit, tenacity, and resilience, so they’re still going to the Super Bowl. However, I must warn them. If they break my heart again this year, I’ll have something special cooked up for them. Please don’t, Buffalo. For both the city’s sake and my general well-being.

 

Eagles 25, Bears 20

They may not look it, but the Chicago Bears are better than their record suggests. They may already be eliminated from the playoffs, but they play with heart, hunger, and drive. They still have things to play for, including team pride, player development, and perhaps some jobs. Unfortunately, this is where we realize that this will to win has them going up against not a complacent cupcake of an opponent but the best team in the league. While keeping up with the Eagles for a while, Chicago couldn’t close them out when they needed to. That’s been the season’s story for them, keeping it competitive for three quarters and then being unable to finish. Philly, meanwhile, gets one more game before their guaranteed home playoff game at the Linc comes to fruition.

 

Lions 20, Jets 17

Who could have seen this coming at the beginning of the year? Lions vs. Jets being one of the biggest games of the week? For playoff seeding? Are you kidding me? After beating Minnesota last week, Detroit faces the most formidable defense they’ve had to play. And they passed the test. It was less due to their offense than their defense. The Jets could do nothing all day. It also didn’t help that a certain… other quarterback was forced in for New York due to Mike White’s injury. He performed as advertised, routinely chucking the ball to the other team and making turnovers at a rate that would make Famous Jameis proud. Detroit gets back to .500 with this win. I must say, this is a nice little stretch they’ve put together. I’m intrigued to see if they can finish the deal. The goal is their first playoff win in a half-century, nothing too significant.

 

Steelers 24, Panthers 16

Yes, both teams are technically still in the hunt and have things to play for, but the memes are why I write these recaps. From the doldrums of Carolina, the game that took place can only be described with two words. TANK BOWL!

This game was a bit more watchable than the previous iterations of tank bowl, if only because the offenses showed up in the first half. Both teams still have many things that they can earn with a win. Carolina for a chance to upend Tampa and win the worst division in football. The Steelers for their delusional false hope and a fleeting gasp at getting Tomlin another winning season. However, in the 2nd half, the Panthers had an epiphany. They understood the rules of the game. Cue a complete collapse on offense leading to endless opportunities for the other team. The Steelers will take the gifts and capitalize on them, tanking is not in their dictionary, and they still have to keep the false hope kindled for the Yinzers. Carolina loses the game but wins the tank. Only three more games until they can blow it up all over again. Call this karma for Rock Hill or something.

 

Chiefs 30, Texans 24 (OT)

I don’t understand this game sometimes—case in point, the Chiefs’ match against Houston on Sunday. Kansas City would spend most of the game flexing their might, dominating on the stat sheet but remaining tied to Houston on the scoreboard. The whole game just felt like a comedy reel. The Texans were sitting there laughing while KC kept self-destructing on offense. Mahomes and company were so inept that this game went to overtime. Yes, THE CHIEFS going into overtime with Houston. It was here that KC realized that they were playing the Texans. Cue their high-end talent coming to save the day with a touchdown. I have several choice words in response to that, though. Run. Run as fast as you can out of the stadium, Chiefs. You got fortunate in this one. Now take this undeserved division title and get out of my sight.

Playoff Bound: Kansas City Chiefs

With Mahomes at QB, I know anything is possible, but this team seems much more mortal than the Chiefs teams of the past. They will be exposed in due course. Perhaps in a snow game in Buffalo or by losing to the Bungles again.

 

Falcons 18, Saints 21

Two trash heaps congregate in the Superdome for a showdown of suck. Prepare yourselves for a tank bowl!

Yes, I know these two teams are technically still in the playoff hunt due to how bad their division is, but let’s be honest: this had to be designated as such. It’s the only way to explain how bad both teams were at playing football today. Atlanta was giving 3rd round pick out of Cincinnati Desmond Ridder his first career start today. He showed how raw he was when faced against a Saints defense that’s given far better quarterbacks than he fits this season. The Falcons’ defense also did its part by making Andy Dalton look godlike. Atlanta continues their downward spiral after a surprising start, and the Saints get false hope for a division title. They’ll be destroyed in the postseason, but the memes will be glorious if they make it in.

 

Cowboys 34, Jaguars 40 (OT)

After their scare against the Texans, the Cowboys travel to the humid wasteland of Florida, where they face a Jags team coming off a shellacking of the Titans. So far, the Cowboys are imposing their will on the hapless denizens of Jacksonville. A 27-10 lead in the 3rd quarter should be game over, right? Wrong. In a scenario entirely foreign as of late, the Jags stormed back to make it a game when they looked dead in the water. They even took the lead going into the 4th quarter. This is where Dallas’s offense finally wakes up and drives down the field to retake the lead. It is now 34-31 with two minutes left. What does Trevor Lawrence do? Run off for a significant gain, into field goal range, and then fumbles the ball right into the hands of a Cowboys defender. You might think this is game over, but no, sir, those boys in blue have yet another trick up their sleeve. Cue a three-and-out and a collapse on defense to allow the Jags back into field goal range to send the game to OT. Even worse, Jacksonville won the overtime coin toss. It’s okay; they stuffed the Jags and can win with a field goal. What do they do instead? Throw a pick-6 to lose the game. I couldn’t dream up a more Cowboys ending if I tried. A golden opportunity to escape yet another close game with a win, only to sizzle and burn right into the swamps of Duval. The Cowboys lose precious ground to Philly, and the Jaguars can still win their division. Say it with me, everyone! HOW ‘BOUT THEM COWBOYS!!!! God, this team is trash. It’s alright, Dallas. At least you made the playoffs.

Playoff bound: Dallas Cowboys

Just like last year, their upside is tremendous. With that defense plus all the talent they have on offense? However, their floor is, well, this game. I wouldn’t look down there. Cautious optimism is vital with this group.

 

Cardinals 15, Broncos 24

From the doldrums of Mile High, we get yet another glorious spectacle. TANK BOWL!

With Kyler Murray done for the year and their playoff odds dwindling, it would be wise for the Cardinals to focus on the tank bowl standings for the rest of the year. They may not need help at the QB position, but a potentially game-changing defensive talent could fall into their laps in the draft. Denver, meanwhile, is representing Seattle thanks to gambling everything on Russell Wilson. Speaking of Chef Russ, he didn’t play thanks to his concussion from last week, blessing us with another Brett Rypien sighting. Matched up against Arizona’s Colt McCoy, the name of this game was awful offenses and even worse defense on the part of the Cardinals. Do you want to know how bad it was? Denver scored over 20 points. For the second straight week. Their offense might finally be waking up, but it’s too little, too late. All they can do now is give Seattle a worse draft pick. As well as knock the Cardinals out of the playoffs, that too.

Eliminated: Arizona Cardinals

They might be good someday; if they ever get a defense. Or an offensive line. Or a coaching staff and executives that aren’t total hacks. Kyler’s injury only exposed the flaws of this team to the mainstream. They have a lot of work to do. Unfortunately, they extended Kingsbury and Keim before the season. Well done, lads.

 

Patriots 24, Raiders 30

The Patriots might be done. Their run last year might have been attributed to the fact that no one had adjusted to Mac Jones yet. They started adjusting in the final weeks of last year, and now everyone’s adjusted this year. Mac has been thoroughly exposed. He is a checkdown magnet held back by talentless receivers and inept coaching. This game against the Raiders proved as much. If you’re having trouble breaking through Las Vegas’s defense, that’s a good sign that your relevant days are over for this season. Even then, the defense kept them in it long enough to force overtime. There’s no way the Pats screw this up. No way. That was until they pulled off what is quite possibly the worst play in NFL history.

In a tie game, with 3 seconds left and no timeouts, instead of a hail mary, the Patriots chose to hand the ball off to Rhomandre Stevensen to run out the clock and force overtime. However, with no time left and 3 Raiders converging on him, Rhomandre chose to lateral the ball to Jacoby Meyers. This is where the magic truly begins. Probably believing the Pats were already losing, Meyers, a high school quarterback, threw it 10 yards in the wrong direction, trying to get it back to Mac Jones. Unfortunately, Chandler Jones (no relation) of the Raiders caught it, stiff-armed MacCorkle, and ran it back for a Vegas touchdown. Raiders win, and the entire state of Massachusetts wants Jacoby Myers tarred and feathered for his treasonous act. The Patriots’ playoff hopes take a significant hit due to this game.

I’m not even introducing the Laughingstock finalists this week. Mac Jones is the laughingstock of the week. No ifs, ands, or buts. For more analysis on why this is, we are bringing in a special guest to analyze why: Mr. Aaron Garvey.

1) he never even attempted to make a play on the ball. He just stood there, with his feet in cement, watching the ball come toward him, and never appeared to move to try and catch the ball.

2) There’s no offensive or defensive pass interference in such a scenario. It is a fumble, and as we know from all fumbles like this, it’s no holds barred, do what you have to do to get the ball. He could have very easily just tackled the guy. There are no rules about offensive or defensive interference; he could have tackled him before he caught the ball. Even if Mac isn’t going for the ball, he could be a defender. He could even be an illegal defender because it’s a fumble. You can do all sorts of nonsense when there’s a fumble.

3) As soon as the ball gets caught, he gets pancaked and driven into the stadium’s foundation! How is it that in this many years of playing football, Mac Jones has no idea how to make a tackle, especially when his coordinator is a defensive coordinator, and he should be able to teach his players how to make a tackle? So that’s why Mac Jones is the laughingstock of this play. And this play is arguably the worst play in NFL history. So if you’re the laughingstock of the worst play in NFL history, you’re the laughingstock of the week.

 

Titans 14, Chargers 17

Two mediocre and overrated teams enter the arena, and only one may escape with a win. Early on, it was looking to be the Chargers. The offense had done enough to take the lead, and the defense kept with their form from last week by suffocating the Titans’ offense and their King Henry, even going as far as injuring Ryan Tannehill for a series. Up 14-7 with 6 minutes left, a miracle happened. The Charger defense remembered the narratives and valiantly broke open to allow Ryan Tannehill to lead a game-tying touchdown drive on a bum ankle to tie the game with 30 seconds left. However, this is where the Chargers’ high-end talent comes into play. Herbert gets them into field goal range with one play to Mike Williams, setting up a game-winner from Dicker the Kicker. The Chargers win and keep their playoff positioning afloat, while the Titans get thrust into a dogfight for the AFC South. The Jags are only a game back now. And they have the tiebreaker. Things could get very interesting in Tennessee. Grab the popcorn.

 

Bengals 34, Buccaneers 23

Better late than never, Tampa. I admit I had concerns about you, but this is a relief. Completely suffocating the Cincinnati Bengals for the first half. The offense is finally doing things with the ball that don’t involve deflating it. The defense has regained its form from last year. So much so that the Bengals, one of the highest-scoring teams in the league, didn’t score a point until the final play of the half. A 17-3 lead at halftime for the Buccaneers. Things looked to be in cruise control. What happened instead? 4 turnovers in the 3rd quarter. A Bengals team put up thirty-one unanswered points in the 2nd half. The same Bengals offense that looked washed in the first half. It’s panic time, Tampa. Thanks to how bad their division is, they’ll still get a home playoff game, but I’m not sold on their prospects in the postseason. Now watch them be the team that gives Dallas a playoff win. I shudder to think about how insufferable Cowboys fans will be if that outcome happens.

 

Giants 20, Commanders 12

The last meeting between these two left us with a sour taste: a tie, one of the worst aspects of the NFL’s scoring system that should be abolished. Tonight, we shall have the winner- and it’s the Giants. It’s nothing on the Commies’ defense. They played a gusty, intense game and deserve little blame. The main culprit of this primetime letdown is the offense. Taylor Heinicke may have a champion’s swagger, confidence, and competitive spirit, but he lacks one critical part of a true franchise QB: talent. An average quarterback like him can only do so much against a stout defense like the Giants, and it showed. Two turnovers and red zone ineptitude on the part of the Commies made the difference. Yes, the refs may have helped with this, but Washington still had their chances and failed. It’s too bad. If a different person owned them, the Commies would be one of the most likable teams in the league. Now they get thrust back into the mosh pit for the 7th seed, with Detroit and Seattle chomping at their heels. Buckle up, Commies.

 

Rams 12, Packers 24

On Monday Night Football, we got a special reward. A HEAVYWEIGHT TANK BOWL!!!!

The Rams and the Packers in a tank bowl match. Go back and look at my season preview; you’ll see I did not have this planned for this year. But yes, their records both point to incredible tanking, so yes, it is a tank bowl. Green Bay still foolishly thinks they can make the playoffs, so they beat the stuffing out of the Rams in primetime to give them at least some false hope going into next week. Oh yeah… the Rams. Let’s say we’ll have a new Super Bowl champion this season. Get out.

Eliminated: Los Angeles Rams

This happens when you go all-in for a championship—a brief blip of success followed by a dark age that is hard to recover from. Want to know how hard it’ll be? No first-round picks until 2027. Detroit and Jacksonville, thank you for the bounty.

Much Activity Planned for Students During Extended Break

A group of students will climb Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania during a January LEAP Course. (Photo: © Sergey Pesterev / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0)

The first Semester will be over in less than two weeks, and we will commence the holiday break. During this period, the F.I.S.U. World University Winter Games will be held in Lake Placid from 12-22 January 2023. There will be more than 2,500 participants from over 50 countries. As a result, Northwood students and faculty will take a longer break and return to campus at the end of January.

The extended break allows international students to return home after a busy year. From mid-January, special off-campus programming and L.E.A.P opportunities are planned, and several sporting teams are traveling to various locations for competition. Students are so excited to participate in these activities.

The U17 and U19 Soccer teams are traveling to Puerto Rico to compete in the Next Level Winter Invitational Cup. Teams from all over South and North America will come to participate in this high-level competition. The team will stay in Puerto Rico from January 23rd to the 29th. The team will tour Puerto Rico for the first few days and participate in several cultural activities before the competition starts. Christopher Green, a sophomore at Northwood, said, “I am really looking forward to going home and spending quality time with my family over Christmas. I am also looking forward to the Puerto Rico trip because I can’t wait to embrace Puerto Rican culture.”

“I’ve never been to Puerto Rico, so I am super excited to visit a new place in the world as well as catch up with my teammates after a long break,” said Hamish Riddell ‘26.

The Hockey teams also have exciting schedules and will look to add to their stellar performances so far this season. The Prep team will start their journey at Merrimack College for the True Cup challenge during the first weekend of January. The boys will meet back up in Buffalo for a training camp before heading to Detroit, MI for a PHC League event, followed by the MacPherson Tournament hosted by St. Andrews College in Aurora, ON.

The Varsity team will report to Salem, NH on January 12th as that will be their home base for an eight-day period where they’ll play games against Bridgton Academy, The Holderness School, The New Hampshire Monarchs, Avon Old Farms, and Salisbury. Then they return to Lake Placid for a slate of home games during the last weekend of January.

The Girls Hockey team will begin their January in Wellesley, MA for a showcase league event, followed by a short stint in Chazy, NY, a few games at St. Lawrence University before making their way to Philadelphia and Minnesota for the final two weekends in January. All teams are excited about what’s shaping up to be a great experience!

The L.E.A.P program offers a variety of courses. There will be 4 L.E.A.P programs, including an exhibition to hike Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, an exotic adventure to Saint Lucia, an art intensive in New York City, and voluntary work for the exciting F.I.S.U. Games. Mrs. Fagan, the coordinator of L.E.A.P, stated, “These L.E.A.P courses are for students who are not competing with their sport. All the courses are exciting, and the students will have an amazing experience.” An extremely exciting course offered this winter break is the Kilimanjaro adventure. This will be the first time in Northwood history that students will stand on top of one of the seven summits. The summit of Kilimanjaro is just below 20,000 feet (about the length of 60 city blocks)!

The overwhelming feeling is that the Semester and flown by so fast, and everyone is looking forward to the holiday break to reunite with family and friends. Happy holidays

Update on Northwood Soccer Alumni in College

With the College Soccer season over after Syracuse defeated Indiana in a tight penalty shoot-out to win its first College Cup, we thought it was worthwhile to review the seasons of Northwood alumni plying their athletic talents on the College stage.

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Class of 2022 

Kendin Basden – Kenyon College (Div. 3)

Kendin appeared in 12 games for a total of 150 minutes this season with the Owls finishing the season with a 19-2-1 record.

 

Colter Cheney-Seymour – SUNY Plattsburg (Div. 3)

Played 13 games, recording 274 minutes of action. Made his collegiate debut versus Castleton on Sept. 7 and scored his first career goal against the Spartans. Played a season-high 51 minutes versus St. Lawrence on Oct. 25.

 

Connor DeAngelis – Lafayette (Div. 1)

Connor is yet to see game time with the Leopards.

 

Liam Doyle – Stanford (Div. 1)

Appeared in 20 games, including five starts for a total of 750 mins with five goals and two assists. Stanford came second in the Pac-12 behind Washington and lost to UNC Greensboro on penalties in the round of 16 in the College Cup. Doyle scored some cracking goals this season with his trademark bend.

 

Sebastian Green – Notre Dame (Div. 1)

He played in all 17 games as a defender and midfielder in his first season with the Fighting Irish, who finished the season with an 8-7-2 record overall and 3-4-1 in the ACC conference.

 

Aristide Gry – UNC – Chapel Hill (Div. 1)

Did not see any action this season.

 

Slater Loffredo – Brandeis University (Div. 3)

Played 11 games, including three conference games, with the Judges finishing the season 6-8-2 and 1-6 in the conference to finish 8th.

 

Pablo Obrador – Coastal Carolina (Div. 1)

Played 69 mins over six matches off the bench as the Chanticleers finished the season 5-5-6 overall and 2-1-5 in the conference finishing in 5th place.

 

Iu Pentinat – Coastal Carolina (Div. 1)

The Spanish GK played 16 mins in 1 match for the season.

 

Tomas Restrepo – Omaha Nebraska (Div. 1)

Tomas played in 5 games for a total of 76 mins with 1 goal as the Mavericks finished the season 8-6-2 overall and 5-2-1 in the conference to finish in 3rd position.

 

Calem Tommy – North Carolina State (Div. 1)

Tommy featured in 17 games, including nine starts for the Wolfpack for a total of 885 minutes and two goals and three assists. The Wolfpack finished the season as the wooden spooners in the strong ACC.

 

CLASS OF 2021

 

Arnezha Astwood – Omaha Nebraska (Div. 1)

Appeared in 12 games for a total of 517 mins this year as a Sophomore, having played in 14 games for a total of 782 mins in his Freshman year.

 

Jalen Commissiong – University of Connecticut (Div. 1)

Featured in 3 games for the Huskies, including two starts for a total of 137 mins this season.

 

Alvaro Garcia-Pascual – Coastal Carolina (Div. 1) / Marshall

Garcia-Pascual was named first-team All-Sun Belt after finishing the regular season as one of the top scorers in the conference. His ten goals are tops in the conference, as are his points per game (1.47) and goals per game (0.67) averages. Alvaro appeared in all 16 games, playing 1068 minutes. After an impressive season, Alvaro has signed with Marshall for 2023.

 

Andrew Mazza – Bucknell (Div. 1)

Played 59 mins over four games in the 2021 season.

 

Kenji Mboma Dem – Omaha Nebraska (Div. 1)

After being named to the All-Summit First team in 2021, Kenji started 16 games for 1198 minutes with six goals and eight assists this season.

 

Luc Mikula – Coastal Carolina (Div. 1)

Started and played 90 mins in 14 games plus two from the bench for a total of 1338 minutes for the season.

 

Calil Neme Filho – St Lawrence (Div. 3)

Did not make an appearance in 2021 and was not on the roster this season.

 

Luke Smith – Omaha Nebraska (Div. 1)

Featured in 14 games, including 12 starts for a total of 995 mins with one assist.

 

Marc Wharfe – Rider (Div. 1)

Marc transferred to Rider and played in 7 games for 207 minutes this season.

 

CLASS OF 2020

 

Ryan Combe – University of Vermont (Div. 1)

Transferred from Akron to play 12 games and 399 mins this season.

 

Lucas Rodriguez – Colgate University (Div. 1)

Played a total of 32 mins in 3 games.

 

Mateo Rodriguez – Cornell University (Div. 1)

After a promising freshman season with 739 mins in 12 games, Mateo played 90 minutes in one game this season. Cornell had a great season, making it to the 3rd round of the College Cup before losing to a late Syracuse goal. Cornell finished 2nd in the Ivy League to Penn.

 

Eitan Rosen – Boston University (Div. 1)

After making the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll, Eitan played in 18 matches, including 14 starts for 1090 minutes.

 

Bernados Simoes – Trinity College (Div. 3)

Starting GK in all 15 games for 1307 minutes.

 

Jonathan Sinclair – UNC Chapel Hill (Div. 1)

Did not see any action this season.

 

Marcelo Suarez – Hobart & William Smith (Div. 3)

Transferred from UC San Diego and played in 15 games this year for the Statesmen, starting in 5 for a total of 574 mins.

 

CLASS OF 2019

 

Christos Athanasiadis – Azusa Pacific (Div. 2)

Transferred from Saint Mary’s College of California and featured in 2 games for 43 minutes.

 

Cory Booth – Hope International (NAIA)

Did not see any action and is not on the roster.

 

Vicente Castro – Northwestern (Div. 1)

Castro featured in 9 games for 563 minutes, including one goal and three assists for the season.

 

Diego Dutilh – Creighton (Div. 1)

Diego managed 281 mins coming off the bench in 14 matches as Creighton continued its stellar year, reaching the semi-final of the College Cup, losing in a close match to the eventual winners Syracuse.

 

Mark Keiffer – Colgate (Div. 1)

Did not see any action in his first three years and was not on the 2022 roster.

 

Prince Loney-Bailey – James Madison (Div. 1)

The Dukes missed winning the Sun Belt Championship, beaten by National #2 ranked Kentucky 0-2. Prince appeared in 11 games, including 5 starts this season for 515 minutes.

 

Pedro Paggi – Luther College (Div. 3)

Played in 20 matches for a total of 461 mins in 2019 for the Norse but is no longer on the roster.

 

Inaki Rodriguez – Michigan (Div. 1)

Saw action in 15 matches with 13 starts this season, with two goals and one assist in 947 mins of playing time. Two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree (2020, 2021).

 

Alex Schalkwyk – Darthmouth (Div 1)

Featured in 14 games, including ten starts for a total of 464 mins with three goals for the Big Greens. Dartmouth finished 4th in the Ivy League with a 3-4 tally in the conference.

NFL Week 14 Recap

Raiders 16, Rams 17

Well, this is a laugh. The Raiders have stifled the Rams and their new toy in Baker Mayfield for three quarters. The defense has been dominant, and the offense has done enough. With 3 minutes left, they kick back and relax. Unfortunately, this is where they were wrong. Seriously, a 4th quarter comeback? Another one? The scriptwriters outdid themselves on this one as the Rams got within a score, and then Baker Mayfield, who hadn’t been on the Rams for even three days, led a 98-yard drive to win the game. Now there’s the Raider defense we’ve known and mocked! It’s so fun that the memes are back. I don’t have to get creative anymore.

 

Vikings 23, Lions 34

A red-hot Detroit team hosting a Minnesota squad that has rattled off two straight against legit contenders. You couldn’t have a better atmosphere for Detroit to get their statement win. Their offense, once again, looked unstoppable against a stout D, and the defense seems to be finally getting its act together. However, the Vikings had their chances and failed. Justin Jefferson had over 200 yards on the day, and they still lost. Fortunately for the purple people eaters, any win in the next few weeks will clinch a playoff berth via a division title. Detroit, though, seems to be peaking at the right time, and with a softball schedule coming up, they could make some serious noise. Watch out. The NFC, the scorned bridesmaid in the rearview mirror, is closer than it appears.

 

Ravens 16, Steelers 14

There is only one way I can do this game justice. AND IT’S BY BRINGING BACK THE INJURY BOWL!

Both teams started the game decimated on the injury front. The Steelers were missing about half their offense, and the Ravens were missing a certain QB in the final year of his contract. But the fun doesn’t end there! Kenny Pickett was knocked out of the game, and Tyler Huntley followed suit in the 4th quarter. The situation got so bad for Baltimore that they had to bring in third-stringer Anthony Brown. The Steelers still couldn’t capitalize. Like most of their losses this year, the Steelers had a winnable situation on their hands and completely screwed it up. That optimism Yinzers were feeling after winning 3 of 4? Yup, that’s long gone now. Baltimore continues to defy the odds on its way to a first-round playoff elimination.

 

Browns 10, Bengals 23

Deshaun Watson’s first career start in 2017 was at Paul Brown Stadium. 5 years, 30 assaults, and a tarnished reputation later, he returns to that hallowed ground, this time as a division rival. The Bengals had other plans. Cincy’s defense continued its remarkable form from the past few weeks by suffocating yet another opponent into the ground. It also doesn’t help that Watson’s throwing mechanics are rusty due to a lack of massaging. The Bengals are looking scary. The offense needs no explanation, but if the defense can keep holding its own like this, another super bowl run might not be out of the question.

Jets 12, Bills 20

The pounding of the rain on a cold, unforgiving field: the start of a story usually only told in old NFL films content from the 70s. In the wind and elements of the Ralph, the Jets put on a vintage performance. By vintage, I mean what has been their norm for most of the past 40 years. Complete and utter offensive ineptitude was on the menu. Where do I even start? Overly conservative play calling. An offensive line decimated by injuries that led to Mike White running for his life all game. The Bills’ defense was treated to a feast for 60 straight minutes. Turnovers, sacks, and third down stops all day long. All the Bills’ offense had to do was score some points and hold onto the ball, and they did just that. While the elements played a part, this game showed that Buffalo is versatile. They can win by hanging 40 on opponents and strangling teams to death on defense. With this win, they maintain control of the #1 seed due to a tiebreaker over Kansas City. And next week? A certain team from the south gets to be on the other end of home-field advantage for a change. I bet the Bills will be looking forward to this one. Confiscate all the heaters, Buffalo. Just an idea.

 

Texans 23, Cowboys 27

Oh dear lord, the Cowboys are playing down to their competition on a grand scale. The Houston Texans marched into Jerryworld, and flat-out imposed their will for 50 straight minutes. They are going to upset Dallas and shake up the NFC playoff picture. Say it with me, everyone! HOW BOUT THEM COWBOYS!!! Wait, they didn’t win? What do you mean they didn’t win? Their defense sucks, and they can’t stop Zeke? Oh, joy. I know Dallas is puffing their chests in pride thanks to that final drive, but I have some choice words in response to that. Oh boy, you beat the Texans. Congratulations, you won against an openly tanking team that’s already been eliminated from the playoffs that was playing its backup quarterback. Forgive me if I need more than this to call them contenders. Houston, go jump off a pier. You had one job, and you failed.

 

Eagles 48, Giants 22

It’s at this point that many of us realize that the Giants’ record was vastly inflated due to terrible opponents and good luck. Exhibit A: their match against the Eagles. They got blown out in every conceivable metric. Horrible turnovers, offensive ineptitude, the defense imploding like the Hindenburg, and general doom-and-gloom were on the menu in Jersey today. Philly laughs in the background as they clinch the first playoff berth.

Playoff Bound: Philadelphia Eagles

Philly has assembled one of the best seasons in their recent memory to get another crack at January football. This team is stacked and will be a force come January. However, that division is going to be a bloodbath. Hopefully, they can get it done.

Jaguars 36, Titans 22

The Jaguars have heard tales of King Henry from their predecessors. Stories of his rummaging over their fine defense over the past few years have left Jacksonville bloodthirsty for revenge against the tyrant King of the Titans. They took it out this week. Against the Titans, in their own house, Jacksonville laid such a heavy beating on the Titans that it probably put a few more cracks into Nissan Stadium’s decomposing foundation. Trevor Lawrence had another great game, handing Tennessee their third straight loss as they fall into the pits of despair in terms of playoff seeding. Even worse, they haven’t clinched anything yet. They’re 7-6, but I wouldn’t rule out them losing and giving the division to Jacksonville. Knowing how this season has gone, that could happen.

 

Chiefs 34, Broncos 28

Broncos Country, Let’s Die! Denver enters this game dead in the water. Kansas City marched into their house and imposed their will for the first part of the game. So much so that they had jumped out to a 27-0 lead. However, something incredible happened. The Broncos finally began to have the offensive production they were hyped to have before the year. They scored points. They scored a lot of them. So many that they were able to make it a 1-score game in the 3rd quarter. But the fun ends there. KC woke up for a drive and took another two-score lead, and then the football gods decided to ruin the moment by injuring Russell Wilson. This was when all hope was lost. Brett Rypien doesn’t inspire confidence as Russ does. He throws a pick and allows KC to run out the clock. The Chiefs looked horrible, but they kept pace with the Bills as they battle for the #1 seed. As for Denver? They finally showed life on offense today. The cost? Playoff elimination.

Eliminated: Denver Broncos

Complete and utter failure. All those moves in the offseason, and they somehow did worse than last year. Russ looks washed, The Hack can’t call plays properly, or coach for his life, and they wasted that outstanding defense yet again. It might be time to break out the medicinal weed again, Broncos Country. You’re gonna need it.

Panthers 30, Seahawks 24

Carolina has lowkey impressed me these past few weeks. They’ve seen an NFC South wide open for the taking and have fought hard to claw back within a game of Tampa Bay. Going into Seattle in front of the Twelves was arduous, but Carolina jumped out to an early lead and never looked back. Or it’s because the Seahawks don’t have that overachieving spirit they had at the beginning of the year. They might be done. They’re currently out of a playoff spot after losing 3 of 4 and sitting at 7-6: panic time, Emerald City. Next week, you get the Niners. Yeah.

 

Buccaneers 7, 49ers 35

The GOAT headed into Santa Clara hungry for blood with a chance to make a statement. Unfortunately, he met a quarterback that even he could not best. That man’s name was Brock Purdy. Mr. Irrelevant relegated Tom Brady to irrelevance as the Niners instilled a spirited beating on him. Purdy had one of the best coming-out parties in recent memory, tossing 3 TDs as the Bucs defense decided to go back to early season mode and could not stop a tumbleweed. Unfortunately, you can’t just win by saying you have Tom Brady anymore. Welcome back to the mosh pit, Buccaneers. I hope you enjoy it.

 

Dolphins 17, Chargers 23

The Chargers are coming off an embarrassing loss to a bottom-feeder and are now facing a true contender at home in the Miami Dolphins. They made it look easy. Oh, so NOW you play up to your potential, LA? It’s about time! The offense was stymied as usual, but the star of the show tonight was the Charger defense. You know, the one that’s been broken on the wheel five times over on the injury front this year? They kept Miami and their offense in check all game long. Or that could be because the Dolphins are just soft and can only win by roasting their opponents to death at home. Seriously, you’re using propane heaters in 60-degree weather inside a dome? What will happen when you’re buried in a foot of snow in Buffalo next week? Seriously, Miami, get your act together. The last thing you need is a collapse after the run of form you guys have had. The Chargers win, and Kansas City still hasn’t clinched the division. Twenty-eight other fan bases are cheering as a result.

 

Patriots 27, Cardinals 13

We get a special prize in a Monday night throwdown in the desert. INJURY BOWL!

Both teams had their collective playoff hopes and team health sacrificed to the football gods on this glorious evening. The opening salvo of this match of pain and suffering would be catastrophic: A torn ACL for Kyler Murray on a non-contact play. With Colt McCoy in at quarterback, there was no chance for Arizona. But the fun doesn’t end there! Rondale Moore is out for the year. Byron Murphy and Rashaad Coward are dealing with stingers. The Patriots would keep their distance, but injuries also hampered them: a concussion for Davante Parker. Jack Jones, Ramondre Stevensen, and Isaiah Wynn also suffered injuries. The Patriots scored half their points on defense. That’s how bad it was for Arizona. As the winds of playoff elimination get ever closer, Cards fans can only lament ownership’s idiocy for extending Kingsbury and Keim before the season. Well done, lads.

Finally, it’s time for our LAUGHINGSTOCK OF THE WEEK!

This week, we have five nominees. They are:

  • Jerry Tillary, for getting a taunting penalty after a 3rd down sack, keeping the Rams’ final drive alive.
  • The Houston Texans, for blowing the game on the final drive and letting the Cowboys win.
  • The Miami Dolphins, whose schematics somehow made Brandon Staley look like a genius.
  • The Legion of (ka)Boom, for imploding and getting torched by Sam Darnold.
  • And the Arizona Cardinals, just for being the Arizona Cardinals.

And the winner, whose choice may or may not have been influenced by the fact that I’m a fan of a division rival, is none other than the Miami Dolphins! If you’re struggling to put up points against a Chargers D with all their good players injured, there’s a problem. Just wait until they play in the snow next week.

NFL Week 13 Recap

Bills 24, Patriots 10

If there’s any doubt as to the fact that the Patriots are doing things wrong, I present this game as evidence: it was one of the worst games of the year for the Pats. I knew delegating playcalling to Patricia and Judge was a colossal mistake, and this game proves it. Against a Bills defense that has looked highly mortal these past few weeks, they looked very…deflated. The Bills could sit back, run the ball down the Pats’ throats, and secure the win to go to 9-3. New England isn’t dead yet, but next week’s tilt with the Cardinals is a must-win at this point. So much for all eight eastern teams making it in.

Unfortunately, Buffalo received their hard blow later this week. Von Miller was carted off the field during the Detroit game and was diagnosed with a torn meniscus that, if the recovery went well, could have him back by week 17 or 18. Unfortunately, their worst fears were confirmed when they opened up his knee for exploratory surgery. Von Miller did tear his ACL. He’ll be out for the rest of the year at minimum, and the Bills’ defense just took a huge blow. It is imperative that the offense gets back up to speed, especially with a tough couple of games coming up against the Jets and Miami. Heal up soon, Von. Bills Mafia is counting on you.

Packers 28, Bears 19

Two teams are circling the drains. The only thing either is suitable for anymore is TANK BOWL! Aaron Rodgers is making his first appearance in a Tank Bowl today. Something tells me he’s unfamiliar with the rules. Remember, the goal of Tank Bowl is to lose the game to secure a higher draft pick. Rodgers didn’t get the memo- or it could be because facing the Bears unlocks the Genghis Khan mode we haven’t seen out of him in a good few years. It doesn’t matter what weapons he has; it doesn’t matter how big of a lead Chicago jumps out to; he will forever subjugate Soldier Field to be his glorified second home. Justin Fields tried to keep up, but the Packers’ defense adjusted to stop him, and Green Bay surged for 18 points in the 2nd half to maintain a faint pulse in the season. Chicago wins the tank bowl, and they also win another dubious prize. They are the first team eliminated!

Eliminated from playoff contention: Chicago Bears

If there’s any silver lining for these guys, they finally have something resembling an offense, and they’ll have a high draft pick next April to bolster their ranks for another go-around. I trust this new management group to manage these assets to keep the wheels of the rebuild moving.

 

Steelers 19, Falcons 16

You thought you got a break from terrible football, didn’t you? Prepare yourselves for the next event. ANOTHER TANK BOWL!

Pittsburgh traveled to Atlanta in a battle of mediocre football teams. Pittsburgh would maintain a distance from their adversary throughout the game, but it still felt dangerous. Despite the Falcons clawing back in the end, Pittsburgh has now won two straight against bad teams, and the false hope has returned to the Yinzer faithful. It’s crazy to think, but they’re only two games below .500. Kenny Pickett is developing, and Tomlin still has a shot at avoiding a losing season. Atlanta, meanwhile, wins both the tank bowl and the right to maintain playoff contention thanks to playing in the NFL’s tank division. You’ve gotta love it.

 

Jets 22, Vikings 27

Minnesota has flaws, but they mask them very well by playing great situational football. This game against a scrappy Jets team looking for a true statement win under Mike White. White himself played a solid game and deserves little criticism. What won the game for Minnesota wasn’t the Jets’ mistakes but their defense clamping down and making six red zone stops in the 2nd half. They have flaws that might bite them come playoff time, but they’re 10-2. If it weren’t for a certain team from Philly, they’d have a first-round bye. Who saw this at the beginning of the year?

 

Jaguars 14, Lions 40

The Lions continue their remarkable run of form with one of their best wins over the past few weeks. A bunch of battered, fatigued Jaguars marched out onto Ford Field and ritually sacrificed for 60 minutes. It was destruction on both sides of the line of scrimmage as Detroit hung 40 points on the Jags’ defense. It got so bad that Detroit mercifully injured Trevor Lawrence to ensure they would be lorded over. This is legitimately the most excited Detroit has been about this team in half a decade. I hope they can ride this momentum to the playoffs. It’ll be a slim shot, but never say never with this team.

 

Titans 10, Eagles 35

You thought last week was rough, Titans fans? Meet the Eagles. They will peck you apart for 60 minutes in front of a rabid crowd at the Linc, as this game was no contest. There’s nothing more I need to say about this game than Philly regained their form, and Tennessee reinforced their candidacy for the traditional AFC south one-and-done in the playoffs.

 

Browns 27, Texans 14

The return of Deshaun to Houston can only mean one thing. TANK BOWL!

How many of these are we going to have this week? Two is enough for a week, goodness. The storylines surrounding this game were all around Deshaun and his return. He was as rusty as everyone thought he would be as he played horribly all game against the worst team in the league. Fortunately, the Texans’ offense sucked as well. The Brownies scored most of their points with two defensive touchdowns and a special-teams touchdown. Houston’s Cleveland pick gets a little worse, and the Texans also receive an inevitable reward.

Eliminated from playoff contention: Houston Texans

A deliberately tanking team out of the playoffs? Shocking. I’m more surprised it took this long for them to be finished. Long live the tank, I guess.

 

Commanders 20, Giants 20 (Super tie)

This game had a bit of everything: efficient offenses in the first half, clutch plays in the second half, and utter boredom and defensive lockdowns in overtime. All this leads to a profoundly embarrassing… tie. Can’t the league get rid of these? Make them play sudden death or a kicker shootout like the NHL. Now we can watch them do it again in two weeks. Wonderful.

Do you know what else is wonderful? Dan Snyder was found complicit by the Feds of partaking in a toxic work environment within the Commanders’ organization for the last 14 years and counting. In simpler terms, his days as Commies’ owner are numbered. Hallelujah.

 

Broncos 9, Ravens 10

Baltimore is falling hard. The inability to produce any offense should be a cause for great concern. Even worse, Lamar Jackson got injured in the 2nd quarter, leading to the imitation of Lamar in Tyler Huntley seeing his first action of the season… to poor results. Fortunately for the Ravens, they are playing the Broncos. They will score no more than 9 points on offense, so all Baltimore needs to do is maintain a pulse, and they will win this game. Even then, they did it incredibly unconvincingly at the last minute. That Lamar injury could be devastating to the team, though. Isn’t nearly losing to the Broncos enough pain and frustration? To gauge the Baltimore Faithful’s rage, we go to a corresponding Ravens fan for his take on this great match. Let’s give him a few words.

 

Dolphins 17, 49ers 33

If things couldn’t get worse for the Niners on the injury front, Jimmy Garropolo was carted off the field midway through the second quarter with a foot injury. This means that San Francisco was forced to play 7th-round pick Brock Purdy for the majority of this game. He was fine, but what would win the day for San Fran, just like last week, was the defense. They were a brick wall of scarlet and gold all game long, holding one of the most potent offenses in the league in check for 60 minutes. It also helped that Tua couldn’t get off a throw due to sustained pressure, and Purdy was able to keep their offense moving just enough. A hard-fought win is the result. Miami, tough luck, but this loss could be critical for playoff seeding.

So they’re saying it’s a broken foot for Garropolo, and he’ll be out for the season. Man, this team can’t catch any breaks, can they?

 

Seahawks 27, Rams 23

Seattle has had a rough go these past few weeks. With the Germany game and last week’s barnburner loss to the Raiders, their playoff contention status has been called into question these past few weeks. Fortunately, they had the perfect antidote to their woes. The Rams. They may be the defending champs, but they just put Matt Stafford on IR, effectively shutting him down for the season. This means the Seahawks get to face John Wolford at quarterback. Seahawks, enjoy your free win. It may have come at the last minute, thanks to a Geno Smith bailout drive, but a win is a win, especially in the NFC. With this win, they also end a 4-game losing streak to the Rams in LA. This is how you know things are messed up this season.

 

Chargers 20, Raiders 27

Don’t look now, but Las Vegas is starting to creep back into the playoff mix. Ever since Derek Carr cried in the press conference after the Colts game, they have been on a tear and taking no prisoners. After winning two straight in overtime, it’s time for them to ascend back into the AFC playoff picture. Next up? The Chargers. They have been dancing through the raindrops this season, winning despite their shortcomings, but this is Vegas’s time now. The score is deceiving. The Chargers got owned on both the scoreboard and time of possession. Maybe Josh McDaniels is turning a corner. Who knows? As for now, though, they’ve won three in a row. It might be time for Raider Nation to hop back on the bandwagon.

 

Chiefs 24, Bengals 27

Patrick Mahomes may seem immortal, but he has one significant shortcoming; he can’t beat the Cincinnati Bengals. Cincy seems to have Mahomes’s number every time they play him. Their defense played lights out today and did their job to keep the Bengals offense on the field long enough to control time of possession and burn out the clock. The Bengals get the statement win they’ve been looking for this year, and KC gets their third loss. Do you know what that means? With this and the Dolphins’ loss, we have a new #1 seed in the AFC. THE BUFFALO BILLS, BABY! BRING ON THE TABLE-SMASHING AND DRUNK TAILGATES! THE BILLS ARE GOING TO THE SUPER BOWL! DO NOT DENY IT! THIS IS A TEAM OF DESTINY! Cincy has experience helping the Bills with playoff positioning. This wouldn’t be the first time Buffalo has been Bengals fans.

 

Colts 19, Cowboys 54

I’ll admit, it was looking iffy at the start. Indianapolis was playing hard, and Dallas’s offense was stifled for the first part of this game. It took roughly until halftime, though, for the Cowboys to realize that they were playing the Colts and not a legit opponent. It quickly got ugly after that. 33 points in the 4th quarter put this game out of reach and then some, and Indianapolis had its season given a death blow in the form of the smugness of Cowboys fans across the country. I feel for anyone that had to deal with them that night. Think of the poor children.

 

Saints 16, Buccaneers 17

Tampa sucks so much this year. I don’t know if it’s Brady being rickety and old, the pieces around him being replacement-level, or the coaching being terrible. I think it’s a mix of the three. Father time takes no prisoners, and he’s catching up with the Buccaneers fast. With enough said, they were letting the Saints, yes, New Orleans, utterly dominate them for 55 minutes. A 16-3 lead with the ball and 5 minutes to play should be game over. Unsurprisingly, the Saints were revealed to be hacks, and Tampa returned to win. Since they’ve been so predictable this year, I should get a checklist together on what to expect from the TB12 comeback drive. Step one is the opposing team self-destructing on offense: Conservative play calling, lousy luck and situational awareness, the odd turnover, and just general ineptitude. The second component is a dubious call or two by the refs to ignite a spark underneath the Bucs’ offense. Once that kettle’s heated up, then it starts to hum. The opposing defense will help with that by going into soft zone prevent when Brady has been eating it for breakfast his entire career. They can only watch as Tom dinks and dunks his way down the field, picking the defense apart. And finally, the kill shot. A pass three yards past the line of scrimmage leads to the wide-open receiver who does all the work and scores. Everyone hails Brady as a hero and a savant as the losing team is left scratching their heads, wondering how the reaper got them yet again. It sucks to suck, New Orleans. I’m mad we got robbed of the ultimate tank division thanks to Tampa being back to .500.

 

Laughingstock of the week

It’s the end of the week, so I think it’s time I crown this edition of Laughingstock of the Week! (trademark pending).

This week, we had four nominees. They are:

The New England Patriots, for trusting Matt Patricia and Joe Judge to run the offense.

Dan Snyder. There isn’t much else that needs to be said on this front.

The Tennessee Titans, for firing their GM in a power-play maneuver and giving Mike Vrabel total autonomy over roster moves.

And the Saints’ defense, for clocking out 5 minutes early and allowing Brady to come back on them in a game New Orleans was dominating.

And the winner, by order of my uneducated decision, is none other than Dan Snyder! Covering up and partaking in workplace harassment for 14 years and dodging a subpoena: that’s a surefire way to get the Feds to crack down on you. Maybe the next owner will stop strong-arming Landover for a new stadium.

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