Winners and losers from the Divisional Round of the 2019 NFL playoffs

The Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs got underway Saturday night with the AFC’s top-seeded Kansas City Chiefs in action against the Indianapolis Colts. A week off did nothing to slow the Chiefs’ offensive momentum.

Led by Patrick Mahomes, who did not find his first career playoff start nearly as intimidating as the pundits thought he would, the Chiefs jumped out to a 24-7 lead in the first half, and never looked back. The Colts hardly looked ready to play, nothing like the team that rode a 10-1 streak into the weekend. The Chiefs went on to win by a final score of 31-13.

The Cowboys and Rams met in LA for the late game on Saturday night to decide the first of the NFC Championship entrants. The Rams’ running game had no troubles against a usually stout Cowboys defense, and the home team rolled on for a 30-22 win.

On Sunday, the Patriots had no problems running around and through the Chargers, winning 41-28 to lock down their eighth consecutive appearance in the AFC Championship game.

The Saints turned aside the Eagles, sinking their hope of a Super Bowl repeat with a 20-14 win in New Orleans. The Saints will host the Rams there next weekend.

Winner: Michael Thomas

The postseason hasn’t been filled with inspiring performances from offensive skill players. But the Saints wide receiver changed that. He and Drew Brees single-handedly got the Saints offense rolling again after a slow start. His best catch of the day — and there were A LOT of them — was on the Saints’ go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter. Just watch it.

https://twitter.com/NFL/status/1084599206159908864

He finished the game with 171 yards and a touchdown on 12 catches.

Loser: Nick Foles’ magic

You can’t impugn what the guy did prior to this game. The Eagles wouldn’t have been playing this weekend, or last, if Foles hadn’t stepped up as the team’s “closer” again this season with Carson Wentz hurt. But he turned into a pumpkin again, underthrowing his receivers and just unable to get the ball to his receivers when the Eagles needed it the most.

With free agency looming this spring, Foles may have cost himself some money with his performance this week, maybe not much, but enough to notice.

Winner: Time of possession

It feels like we haven’t had a good conversation about time of possession since the early days of the Chip Kelly experience in Philly. This time it was the Saints putting on the clock clinic.

It happened in the third quarter. Trailing 10-14, the Saints got the ball at their own 8-yard line. From there they put together a grinding 92-yard touchdown drive over 18 plays and 11:29 minutes, essentially monopolizing the entire third quarter.

Winner: The Patriots defense

Absent most of the season, the Patriots defense looked like one of the NFL’s most fearsome in the first half of the game. Philip Rivers never had a chance against a pass rush that was previously dormant.

Loser: Philip Rivers’ legacy

He’s got more yards, more touchdowns and fewer interceptions over the course of his career than either Eli Manning or Ben Roethlisberger, but unlike those other two first-round picks from the 2004 draft, he does not have a Super Bowl ring. Instead, he and J.P. Losman have something in common.

Winner: Patriots running backs

The Chargers defense put on a clinic for how to stop a creative running game in last week’s win against the Ravens. Apparently, Patriots OC Josh McDaniels was able to find some holes in their game plan.

Sony Michel rolled up nearly 100 yards and scored three touchdowns … in the first half. He’s the first rookie running back in franchise history to rush for more than 100 yards in a playoff game. He finished the day with 129 yards and three touchdowns on 24 carries.

James White, who led the team in receptions during the regular season with 87, was Tom Brady’s favorite receiver on the day, catching 15 of 17 passes for 97 yards.

The Patriots chewed up the clock with their running backs, leaving little time for Rivers and Co. to put points on the board. It also helped keep the workload light for their defense, and teased out what their game plan might be next week against Kansas City.

Winner: C.J. Anderson

The Rams signed C.J. Anderson in mid-December, when Todd Gurley was dealing with a knee injury. Anderson had been released by both the Panthers and Raiders earlier in the season and was really just supposed to be a warm body while Gurley could heal up.

Instead, Anderson has bulldozed every defense he faced. In two games to end the season, he carried the ball 43 times for 299 yards and two touchdowns — that averaged out to 7 yards per carry. But that was against two of the worst teams in the NFL, the Cardinals and 49ers. Next up was the playoffs — and a Cowboys defense that ranked fifth in the league against the run during the regular season. Last week, they held the Seahawks’ top-ranked rushing offense to just 73 yards on the ground.

Anderson had more than that in the first half alone: 12 carries for 78 yards. Even with a healthy Gurley back in the lineup, Anderson was a force in the Rams’ first playoff win in 14 years. He used his, uh, rotund frame to help the Rams dominate the time of possession and scored what proved to be the game-winning touchdown.

Anderson was the leading rusher with 123 yards and two touchdowns. Plus, he did this:

All the Winners and Losers here

 

 

32 things we learned heading into divisional round of 2018 NFL playoffs

The 32 things we learned heading into the 2018 NFL playoff divisional round:

1. If it seemed the wild-card round was chock full of fresh faces and teams, well, it was. None of the eight clubs competing in the opening round was in action for last season’s wild-card games, and only the Eagles (a No. 1 seed with a bye in 2017) even reached the playoff field a year ago.

1a. But you’ll see largely familiar characters in the divisional round with Philadelphia returning along with the four teams on bye — the Chiefs, Patriots, Rams and Saints, all postseason entries last year, too.

1b. The last team to advance to the Super Bowl after playing on wild-card weekend was the 2012 Ravens, who won Super Bowl XLVII. The next 10 conference champs have all had first-round byes.

2. Gen X-er Philip Rivers, 37, has to be the sentimental favorite to win it all, right? No quarterback in league history has thrown for more yards (54,656) or more touchdowns (374) yet never played on Super Sunday.

2a. And how great (and entertaining) would it be to see Rivers’ Chargers take on the Saints … and former Bolts QB Drew Brees, who kept Philly Riv on the bench for two years?

3. But if you’re into unminted Millennial passers, Patrick Mahomes (23), Jared Goff (24), Dak Prescott (25) and, most certainly, Andrew Luck (29) could ride great story lines all the way to Atlanta, site of Super Bowl LIII.

4. Three quarterbacks made their playoff debuts during wild-card weekend. Deshaun Watson, Lamar Jackson and Mitchell Trubisky all lost.

5. Welp, Matt Nagy, guess you shoulda laid down for the Vikings in Week 17 rather than invite a matchup with the Iggles and your old buddy Doug Pederson.

6. Did anyone else want Eagles-Bears go into overtime (maybe double OT) just to see how NBC would handle its Golden Globes coverage, which began minutes after Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth wrapped?

7. Rough night for Chicago’s Cody Parkey, whose would-be, game-winning field goal attempt from 43 yards hit the upright then the crossbar before caroming into the end zone. No good. Parkey drilled the Soldier Field uprights four times Nov. 1. Uncanny.

8. But if I’ve learned anything this season, it’s that Parkey is about to get a flood of support from kickers throughout the league as he copes with this unfortunate bounce. Bounces.

9. Nick Foles was picked off twice in Sunday’s win over the Bears. The last time he threw multiple INTs in an Eagles uniform, Oct. 26, 2014, Chip Kelly was their coach and Foles had yet to play for the Rams or Chiefs.

9a. The last time Philadelphia played the Saints in postseason, the 2013 wild-card round, Foles was also the quarterback (in a losing effort) — Kelly’s only NFL playoff appearance.

10. Congrats to Eagles WR Golden Tate, who scored the game-winning TD at Chicago, instantly justifying the scrutinized trade deadline deal for him — which cost Philly a third-round pick that appeared awfully expensive given the struggles to integrate Tate into the offense.

10a. Congrats to Eagles LT Jason Peters, RB/KR Darren Sproles and LB Jordan Hicks, who all missed the 2017 Super Bowl run with injuries but tasted a playoff victory Sunday.

10b. Feel for you, Wentz.

11. Was wild-card weekend’s MVP Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley? His unit was on the short end of a 22-10 loss to Baltimore two weeks ago. Sunday, it showed the rest of the league how to contain Jackson — essentially deploying a defense comprised of linemen and defensive backs to shadow, flummox and confuse the rookie.

12. Jackson, who turns 22 on Monday, became the youngest quarterback to start a playoff game in NFL history. He looked like it. Make no mistake, the Ravens don’t win the AFC North without Jackson’s heroics in the second half of the season, when he went 6-1 as the starter. But Bradley and the Bolts provided a blueprint to stopping him and a fresh reminder that, though Jackson remains an elite athlete and highly effective with the ball in open space, he’s got a long, long way to go to be a fully-formed pro quarterback. He was sacked seven times, picked off once and fumbled thrice, losing the ball on his team’s final possession.

13. Who figured on Chargers rookie K Mike Badgley outperforming Ravens all-pro Justin Tucker? Badgley set a Bolts’ postseason record with five made field goals, while Tucker was 1-for-2 on three-point tries. Tucker missed five FGs this season, three against L.A.

14. Who figured on Chargers FB Derek Watt making a longer playoff run this season than brothers J.J. and T.J.?

15. The Chargers haven’t beaten Tom Brady since 2005. Rivers is 0-7 head-to-head against TB12, including two losses in postseason.

15a. But Sunday, the Chargers became the only team in the league to win eight times on the road this season. A visit to Foxborough, daunting as it is, won’t phase them.

16. The last time Rivers appeared in a playoff game at Gillette Stadium, the 2007 AFC Championship Game, he played on a torn ACL.

17. Baltimore’s second-ranked run game, which had averaged nearly 230 yards in Jackson’s seven regular-season starts, was limited to 90.

Full List Here

By: Nate Davis

 

Phil Rivers In Concussion Protocol

Written by Jeremy Bergman at NFL.com

Philip Rivers’ consecutive starts streak is in jeopardy.

The Los Angeles Chargers quarterback was placed into concussion protocol Monday, coach Anthony Lynn told reporters, one day after the Bolts fell to the Jacksonville Jaguars in overtime. Lynn said he saw “nothing at all” from Rivers after the game to indicate he had suffered a concussion.

It’s unclear when Rivers suffered the head injury. On his final play of the game, Rivers threw a deep interception to Jags corner A.J. Bouye and then proceeded to deck Bouye out of bounds to prevent a game-winning pick-six. Rivers was not sacked by the self-proclaimed “Sacksonville” defense but did take five QB hits. Rivers finished with 235 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in the 20-17 loss.

The 35-year-old has not shown up on the injury report this year and has not displayed concrete signs of physical deterioration. In fact, he hasn’t missed a game since taking over the Chargers’ starting role from Drew Brees in 2006. The Chargers ironman has started 185 consecutive games, the second-best active streak behind draft mate Eli Manning (208) and the fourth-best all time.

If Rivers can’t go against the Buffalo Bills next Sunday, it’s likely that longtime backup Kellen Clemens will fill in. Former Bills quarterback Cardale Jones is also on the roster.

For a 3-6 Chargers club teetering on the verge of elimination from playoff contention, Rivers’ health will be something to monitor.

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Philip Rivers Ain’t Retiring Any Times Soon, But Will Be A HS Coach When He Does

Posted At Sporting News by Sporting News.com

The Chargers have been down and out for the past couple of seasons, but don’t expect Philip Rivers to give up on them yet.

The 35-year-old quarterback still has three years left on his contract, and he intends to keep playing as long as he has something left to give.

“I don’t want to hang on at the end and just be a guy that’s hanging on. But if I still feel like I can help a team and I enjoy it the way I do and more importantly, if the team feels that I can help them. … I don’t see myself shutting it down any time real soon,” Rivers told ESPN.

In the past two seasons the Chargers have only won nine games, and Rivers has led the league in interceptions twice in the past three years. However, he has also thrown for more than 4,000 yards in four consecutive seasons.

Chances are, the Chargers plan on hanging on to Rivers and his cannon arm as the team makes the transition to Los Angeles, something Rivers is excited about.

“I’m excited about the challenge and the newness and the unknown that’s going to come with being in a new community and playing in a new stadium,” he said. “But we’re going to still have that bolt on my helmet, and I’m excited about what’s ahead.”

And what are Rivers’ plans when he does decide to retire? To coach high school football, specifically his sons’ team.

“There’s something about that 15- to 18-year-old boy, the time of their life that you can really impact them, not only on the field but off the field and still get the competitiveness that I love,” he said. “I can’t imagine ever not having a team, being a part of a team trying to win a game. Hopefully a handful of years down the road that’s where I’ll be.”

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Start’Em, Sit’Em for Week 6 of NFL Season


Written by David McCracken at Bleacher Reports.com

It’s Week 6, which means it’s officially time to freak out over your team’s record.

You’re not out of the playoff hunt yet, but the time to start making the right decisions begins now. Week 5 saw a lot of breakout performances from the likes of Marcus Mariota, SammieCoates and Jordan Howard. It also saw a lot of duds—I’m looking at you, John Brown.

The waiver-wire pool of talent is shallow at this point in the season, so as a fantasy owner, relying on your bench’s talent is a must. Here, we’ll examine the top fringe players who should be in your starting lineup in Week 6 as well as those who deserve to ride the bench for another week.

Start ’em: Marcus Mariota, QB, Tennessee Titans

We’ve been waiting for a breakout game from Mariota, and we finally got it. Scoring his first rushing touchdown of the season in Week 5 against the Miami Dolphins, the second-year signal-caller out of Oregon showed his versatility as a multidimensional quarterback.

Throwing for 163 yards isn’t much to brag about, but combined with his 60 rushing yards and four total touchdowns (three pass, one rush),Mariota shined.

Going up against the Cleveland Browns in Week 6 should be a cakewalk for Mariota, as Cleveland has given up the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks so far this season, according to Yahoo Sports.

Furthermore, just look what Tom Brady did to the Browns this past weekend. I’m not saying Mariota is Brady by any means, but you have to feel that Mariota can at least throw for a couple of scores and scramble around for 30-plus yards against a subpar defense, right?

Give Mariota the keys to your offense this week.

Sit ’em: Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego Chargers

It’s not even Philip Rivers’ fault. injuries, bad coaching and plain bad luck have ruined the Chargers’ season already. Rivers is a top passer in the NFL; not many fans or pundits will argue with that. But once Keenan Allen and Danny Woodhead went down for the season, it was time to be realistic.

Who was he going to throw the ball to?

Antonio Gates is a shell of himself. His touchdown against the Oakland Raiders on Sunday was nice, but he looked past his prime for the first three quarters of that game. Travis Benjamin is a nice option on the outside, but he is nowhere near being a No. 1 receiver on a good football team.

While he scored an impressive 28.36 points against the Raiders, he will not have that same type of success against the division rival Denver Broncos, who have given up the seventh-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season, according to Yahoo Sports.

Start ’em: Ryan Mathews, RB, Philadelphia Eagles

It’s easy to point the finger at Ryan Mathews as the reason the Eagles lost their first game of the season to the Detroit Lions this past weekend after his ill-timed fumble, but Mathews actually had a pretty good fantasy day despite turning over the ball in the dying moments of the game.
His 11.50 points could’ve easily been 13.50 had it not been for that fumble. With 42 rushing yards, 33 receiving yards and a score, Mathews is a dependable and versatile back every team needs in fantasy, whether it be in the flex or No. 2 running back slot.

Give Mathews a chance to redeem himself and be the reason why you win your matchup in Week 6. After all, the Eagles are playing the Washington Redskins, and Mathews is projected to score 10.46 points.

Sit ’em: Matt Jones, RB, Washington Redskins

For those who drafted Matt Jones high this year, there is still time to make amends by putting him on your bench, where he belongs.

Jones is the picture of inconsistency for fantasy tailbacks. Two weeks ago, Jones looked like a stud, scoring 19.80 points against the Browns. However, he followed up that performance with a forgettable 3.60 point outing in Week 5.

Jones fumbled in the second half against the Baltimore Ravens, but he didn’t show much ability to rack up points before the turnover. In Week 6, Jones will be facing the Eagles, who not only give up the sixth-fewest points to opposing running backs but also will likely make this a high-scoring affair, leaving running backs who can’t catch that well by the wayside.

Don’t drop Jones, but don’t start him either.

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