Christmas came and went, and so did week 16. Here are the week 16 NFL storylines that were the biggest gifts to us this weekend.
Week 16 NFL Storylines
Gurley Goes Nuts
Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley has produced an MVP caliber season thus far and should be in serious contention for the award. His body of work overall has been outstanding, however, the numbers he has put up over the past two weeks have been otherworldly.
Two weeks ago against the Seahawks, in Seattle no less, Gurley posted 152 rushing yards, along with three rushing touchdowns. For good measure, he added a receiving touchdown as well.
Gurley followed that up by running up, around and through the Tennessee Titans defense for 118 rushing yards, in addition to 158 receiving yards, and two touchdowns.
To recap, Gurley’s past two-game totals are 270 rushing yards, 186 receiving yards and six touchdowns, three rushing/three receiving. Now that is what you call productivity.
While New England quarterback Tom Brady continues to defy logic and father time, by continuing to play at a high-level despite recently turning 40, what Todd Gurley is doing cannot be dismissed. I don’t say that to imply that his numbers are being ignored, rather, to reiterate that he is having a special season worthy of recognition. Whatever buttons Rams head coach Sean McVay has pushed, have definitely been the right ones. The Rams as a whole are playing in a manner not seen since the “Greatest Show on Turf” days, led by Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, Terry Holt, and company.
Here’s hoping that Gurley avoids injury, so he can continue to put on his weekly one-man wrecking crew show for NFL fans to enjoy.
Seattle Spoils Elliott’s Return
As the Dallas Cowboys prepared to face the Seattle Seahawks, they celebrated the return of running back Ezekiel Elliott, who missed the previous six games due to suspension. The game was in AT&T Stadium with a playoff berth on the line.
Their opponent was coming off a humiliating defeat to the Los Angeles Rams, losing the game in the Emerald City. Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor and cornerback Richard Sherman had been reduced to spectators, as both are on injured reserve.
Everything seemed to be aligned for the Cowboys to get a victory. As ESPN’s Chris Berman says “That’s why they play the games.” Zeke had 97 rushing yards but was unable to find the end zone, as were the Cowboys as a team, as all of their points came courtesy of placekicker Dan Bailey.
Perhaps more damaging was the knee injury suffered by left tackle Tyron Smith. This recurring issue reared its ugly head and forced him out of another game. Regardless of all these factors, the Seattle Seahawks showed up ready to play and earned the victory.
With the Cowboys having been eliminated from playoff consideration with the loss, they now look to 2018. As for Seattle, they live to fight another week, hoping that they are able to earn a ticket to the postseason and have another shot at Lombardi Trophy number two.
Legion Of Been?
The Seattle Seahawks secondary has earned the moniker the Legion of Boom. Their play dating back to 2011 has been stellar. Safeties Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas both play with reckless abandon while delivering bone-rattling hits.
Cornerback Richard Sherman has been at or near the top of the NFL for interceptions and/or passes defended, as his coverage skills have earned praise throughout the league. Beginning last year with Earl Thomas’ broken leg and subsequent retirement talk, things just haven’t been the same for this all-star group. This year saw both Sherman and Chancellor land on injured reserve thanks to a torn Achilles and neck injury respectively.
Playing in the National Football League can be a very unforgiving occupation. While affording one the opportunity to live in a manner very few are able to realize, the toll it takes on ones’ body cannot be understated.
Retired Houston Oilers running back Earl Campbell regularly makes the trip to New York for the awarding of the Heisman trophy, himself a past winner. However, when the other winners in attendance go onstage to welcome the latest member into their fraternity, he routinely foregoes going onstage, remaining in the audience. The years of playing from a young age in Pop Warner, on to a career in the NFL comes at a price.
Perhaps, “payment” is being made by Sherman and Chancellor. Hopefully, they are able to return and perform at the high-level NFL fans, and especially Seahawks fans, have grown accustomed to seeing, if not, will the once fearsome Legion of Boom suddenly be no more.
Jimmy G Does It Again!
San Francisco 49ers – 44, Jacksonville Jaguars – 33.
The Sacksonville . . . er Jacksonville Jaguars entered Sunday’s game with a 10-4 record, having earned a playoff berth for the first time in 10 years. The San Francisco 49ers had the same record . . . in reverse as they were 4-10.
Jacksonville had all the momentum, excitement and postseason plans to look forward to. San Francisco will have a high pick in the upcoming draft. One position they don’t foresee needing to use a pick on is quarterback. Having traded with New England for former Tom Brady understudy Jimmy Garoppolo, it appears the 49ers have their quarterback of the present and future.
Garoppolo led San Francisco to a fourth consecutive win, helping to entrench himself as the man for the starring role in 49er Land. Garoppolo received compliments from Brady himself who commented on Jimmy G’s success on his weekly radio show.
With a new regime in place in the duo of general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan, these two along with Jimmy Garoppolo hope to lay a foundation that will lead to success for all parties involved, as they look to bring another Lombardi Trophy to the Bay.
Monday Night Nightmare
Christmas night 2017, the Philadelphia Eagles hosted the Oakland Raiders in a game that was not for the ages. Neither Oakland quarterback Derek Carr, nor his Philly counterpart Nick Foles were able to reach 140 passing yards.
Oakland did have 137 rushing yards led by running back Marshawn Lynch’s 95, outgaining the Eagles as they were only able to muster 78 rushing yards. The elements weren’t particularly harsh as while it was cold, there have definitely been games played in colder weather.
Plain and simple, this was not must see tv. With the score tied at 10, Philadelphia kicker Jake Elliott booted a 48-yard field goal, giving the Eagles a three-point lead. Desperately trying to get into field goal territory, the Raiders found no success. Faced with fourth down and just three seconds remaining, they began the “lateral drill” which ended with a fumble that was recovered and returned for an Eagles touchdown by rookie defensive end Derek Barnett.
Getting a late Christmas gift in the form of a win, the Eagles had better get the ship righted fast. They close the regular season at home against division foe Dallas, before getting a much needed week off to prepare for a yet to be determined playoff opponent.