"Blessings on blessings on blessings". Last weekend seen just about every ProCane reach the endzone or prosper in various forms. The gift of giving continues on the gridiron in week 16 with 4 days of compelling games that have playoff implications.
SPECIAL NOTICE!!!!!! Most of the normal Sunday block of games are being played Saturday (Christmas Eve). There will be two games on Sunday (Christmas) starting in the afternoon. It will also be Thursday Night Football and Monday Night Football’s season finale for both respective broadcast.
NY Giants vs Philadelphia Eagles (Thurs 8:30pm)
Philly will attempt to play Scrooge having been eliminated from the playoff. The Giants occupy the 5th seed in the NFC and would need Dallas to drop their final two games to win the NFC East through tiebreaker and their head-to-head win over dem Cowboys.
Much was made when Oliver Vernon signed a massive $85 million contract, $52 million guaranteed this past off-season. Vernon is thriving in Gotham, with 8.5 sacks on the season, and even though his numbers don't show it, his impact in the defensive run game has been tremendous. With Jason Pierre-Paul removed from the lineup due to injury there will be a bit more pressure on Vernon to produce in the pass rush. Vernon will look to make the day miserable for Eagles tackle Jason Peters, a formidable force among a line that has suffered due with the suspension of Lane Johnson. He may not get to Wentz frequently, expecting him to lockdown his side of the line of scrimmage.
Minnesota Vikings vs Green Bay Packers (1pm Saturday)
Ladarius Gunter is certainly carving a little niche for himself up in Green Bay. It's usually only a matter of time before you "get got" playing DB. A week ago it was cornerback No. 1 Quention Rollins who got torched for 114 yards, according to PFF. The Vikings were pommeled a week ago by Miami alums on the Colts. Both teams need current NFC North leader Detroit to take a loss in the Monday Night finale to Dallas, but the loser here will have a slim chance to make the post-season.
Indianapolis Colts vs Oakland Raiders (4:05 pm Saturday)
Indy remains in the playoff hunt a game back of AFC South leader Houston and Tennessee who pulled out an incredibly clutch W last weekend at Arrowhead Stadium against Kansas City. Phillip Dorsett found the endzone on his lone target of the afternoon. Oakland gave up a TD to speedster Travis Benjamin whose main strength is taking the top off the defense. Look for Luck and Colts recievers to replicate that play using T.Y. Hilton and Dorsett to stretch the coverage vertically as the Colts hold on to wafer-thin playoff aspirations.
Oakland clinched their playoff spot with a win over San Diego and Kansas City taking an L to Tennessee last week. However, since the Chiefs swept Oakland, a tie would cost them home-field advantage.
Clive Walford finds himself in a timeshare with TE teammate Mychal Rivera. Walford’s run-blocking will be utilized as Oakland will look to establish the ground game against Indy’s 20th ranked rushing defense.
Arizona Cardinals vs Seattle Seahawks (4:25pm Saturday)
Another divisional matchup, we expect that big names to show up for this one, which would include the likes of Jimmy Graham. Unless Russell Wilson gets better play from his blockers up front, two targets for Jimmy will continue to trend as they leave eligible pass catchers back to help protect. If Seattle can just get an average performance from the offensive line look for Jimmy Graham to state his case for being snubbed for the Pro Bowl.
Even with some extra protection, it's not a guarantee that Calais Campbell (another Pro bowl snub) will be stopped. Week 15 allowed us to witness Campbell score his first NFL career TD. In addition to the milestone, Campbell added 2 sacks to bump his season total to 6. It's in the realm of possibility that he rack up another 3 on Saturday to tie his personal best of 9 sacks (2013).
Cincinnati Bengals vs Houston Texans (8:25 pm Saturday)
Well it finally happened, a professional football team in the state of Texas made a change at QB. However, it wasn't Tony Romo getting live action for the Cowboys, it was Tom Savage entering the game, breathing life into Houston's offense. After an injury scare last week Lamar Miller declared himself “all right” and ready to go for the Saturdays primetime game that will see the Bengals try to spoil the post-season charge.
This will also be Houston's final regular season home game. Could this be the final home game for Big Vince Wilfork who is 35 years old playing in his 13th year at nose tackle? The prototype of the position known better for his time with the Pats, has been drawing the double team, wrecking havoc in the face of the QB for what will be a Hall of Fame career when Canton calls. There's not much time to be sentimental with Houston trying to hold on to the AFC South lead. Here's to hoping that Vince gets his fair shot to go out with another ring.
Baltimore Ravens vs Pittsburgh Steelers (4:30pm Sunday)
While other rookies are hitting the wall, Artie Burns has been finding his stride late in the season. Two weeks ago he played well in spite of the elements. Last weekend he had 2 pass break ups, allowing just 2 receptions for 23 yards according to PFF.
None of that matters heading into Pittsburgh versus Baltimore rivalry that not only has bitterness between the two franchises, this Christmas gift from the NFL will be for the AFC North division crown. Baltimore is game back of Pittsburgh and with a win will sweep Pittsburgh on the season, owning the tie break.
While he appears to be the odd-man out of the defensive line rotation, Anthony Chickillo aka "Chick" has seen his snap count dwindle. Pittsburgh been trying to find that next pass rusher on a team where 38 year old James Harrison remains the best option, and have spent high draft picks on Bud Dupree and Jarvis Jones.
Greg Olsen (613) surpassed Keith Byars (610) on the NFL's all-time receptions list to take sole possession of 63rd. He sits 9 receptions behind Antonio Brown for 62nd and 11 behind LaDainian Tomlinson and Johnny Morton (624) tied for 60th.
Congratulations again to Greg Olsen. Last week he was named a finalist for the Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award. This week he was voted to represent the NFC in the Pro Bowl. Way to make The U proud!
Lamar Miller and Calais Campbell were named as alternates.
No word on an impending investigation regarding Jimmy Graham being snubbed.
Matchup of the Week
Ravens wide receivers vs Artie Burns
Artie enjoyed his first career interception against Joe Flacco, something he will look forward to repeating as he will see Mike Wallace, Steve Smith Sr and Breshad Perriman line up against him.
Fantasy U Player of the Week
Calais Campbell and Arizona Defense
It’s championship week in most standard leagues. To those of you fortunate enough to make to Fantasy Super Bowl week, congrats. With RB Lamar Miller playing with an ankle injury and TE Greg Olsen dealing with an elbow issue this week’s recommendation in fantasy is on defense. A combination of a bad Seattle o-line and a Cardinals defense that got to Drew Brees last weekend should be a solid choice.
- Ray-Ray Armstrong signs 2-year contract extension to remain with San Francisco 49ers
- Frank Gore’s second 100+ yard game is the first for a Colts RB since Joseph Addai (2007)
- Chick is dealing with an ankle injury and could be limited according to the team.
"This is us though!"— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) December 19, 2016
Frank Gore gives his own victory speech after today's win: pic.twitter.com/NZ2o55lYjv