The day has finally come. This will be the final Sunday of the football year where all 32 NFL clubs are in action. For some, the regular season lost meaning a long time ago. For a select few, today is the final chance to RSVP for the impending postseason.
For the Miami Hurricanes players who will move on from Miami’s Pinstripe Bowl loss, draft preparation is getting underway. With the East-West Shrine Game, the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl and the Reese’s Senior Bowl all taking place next month, the grind to go ProCane will be exhausting. The Hurricanes will be fairly represented this postseason, and we’ll get into that next week when the playoff field is confirmed.
Indianapolis Colts (9-6) vs Tennessee Titans (9-6)
For both of these teams, a win means that you’re in as the sixth spot in the AFC playoff seeding. After beginning the season 1-6, Indianapolis has won eight of their last nine games. Behind the arm of Andrew Luck and the emergence of RB Marlon Mack, the Colts’ offense’s balanced approach has aided them down the home stretch. Indy’s defense has produced moments of brilliance, holding opponents to 344.6 yards per game.
Yet, the luck of the horseshoe has been with ProCane DE Al-Quadin Muhammad and the Colts’ defense lately. During an incredible run, AQM has been able to stop opposing runners in their tracks with five tackles-for-loss. In a win-and-in scenario, the Colts are going to need to sell out to slow down the Titans rushing game. After all, it ranks __ in the NFL.
Speaking of ground games, there’s nobody more productive at RB in the league than Tennessee RB Derrick Henry. Averaging 4.5 yards-per-carry on the year and having scored eight touchdowns in the last four games, Henry is a runaway train with plenty of track left. However, the Colts have limited Ezekiel Elliott (87 yards, 0 TDs) and Saquon Barkley (2.0 YPC, 43 yards) over the past two games.
New York Jets (4-11) vs New England Patriots (10-5)
The Patriots won the AFC East division for the tenth straight season last weekend by beating out the Buffalo Bills. A Patriots’ win and losses by Houston and Kansas City would lock New England at the second seed in the AFC.
For the Jets, it’s all about the draft. Yet, one position that Gang Green should feel good about entering the offseason at is tight end. ProCane Christopher Herndon has been a revelation on offense for the J-E-T-S, providing excellent production in his rookie year. The effort that Herndon brought to his run blocking, partnered with good hands, has endeared the Georgia native to fellow rookie QB Sam Darnold. The pair will need to rely on one another against a New England defense that will use this game as a final tune up before hosting a wildcard game next weekend.
Cleveland Browns (7-7-1) vs Baltimore Ravens (9-6)
The Browns were officially eliminated from the playoffs a couple weeks ago. However, after going winless in 2017, a win against the Ravens today would provide the franchise with their first season over the .500 mark since 2007. A win over the Ravens would also open the door for the Steelers to climb back into the playoff picture. On the other side of the field, Baltimore needs a win to secure a spot in the postseason. As some of you will remember, the team was in a similar situation last season and lost to the Bengals in the games closing moments.
For ProCane RB Duke Johnson Jr. and TE David Njoku, the Ravens represent a tough final exam to the 2018 season. In week 16, both Njoku and Johnson combined for nine receptions, 127 receiving yards and a touchdown. When both of these team’s met earlier in the season, the duo caught seven receptions for 76 receiving yards, with Johnson rushing for 35 yards. Cleveland won the first matchup 12-9 in overtime. If Browns’ QB Baker Mayfield can limit mistakes against an opportunistic defense, the Browns have a chance to end the Ravens’ season once and for all.
Cincinnati Bengals (6-9) vs Pittsburgh Steelers (8-6-1)
We all need some help sometimes. That’s certainly the case for the Steelers today. Even with a win over the Bengals, the Black and Yellow squad will need a loss from the Ravens or a tie between the Colts and Titans to continue their season into the winter. The Bengals have played the final month of the regular season without stars QB Andy Dalton and WR AJ Green. The Bengals’ offense has had a bump in their run production since QB Jeff Driskel lined up under center. Combine Driskel’s ability to scramble with RB Joe Mixon’s noticeable improvement, and the Bengals have the pieces to spoil the Steelers’ holiday celebrations.
LB Anthony Chickillo did not receive his usual snap count on defense in last weekend’s loss to the Saints. Against the Bengals, expect to see the former Hurricane defensive end get after Driskel in a must-win game for Pittsburgh. Chick has 21 tackles, fourTFL and a sack in 2018. Chick’s ProCane teammate, CB Artie Burns, remains an insurance policy in case of injury at the position.
Fantasy ProCane of the Week
The highest graded rookie tight ends in the NFL. pic.twitter.com/JK4mtZupbH— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) December 26, 2018
For most of the fantasy football playing community, last week was championship weekend. For those who play in two-week championship games, this selection is just for you. Herndon may be a rookie who has been inconsistent throughout the season, but he did catch seven receptions the last time the Jets played New England. It’s a flier, but with no risk, there’s no reward.
News and Notes
Gore Gives Back
Despite suffering a season-ending foot injury, the future Hall of fame RB was still able to bring some holiday cheer to the South Florida community. Gore celebrated his 9th annual toy drive last weekend, helping to provide toys for the less fortunate this Christmas.
Celebrate the holidays by donating a toy to the Frank Gore toy drive on December 22! #HappyHolidays #ToyForJoy pic.twitter.com/6hvjKigkQA— Xavier L. Suarez (@XavierLSuarez1) December 20, 2018
We are getting closer to the start of the Frank Gore Christmas toy giveaway in the Grove pic.twitter.com/LPy4ncXg3r— Miami PAL (@MPD_PAL) December 22, 2018
Swoope-ing Back in Indy
After being cut being cut by the Colts last month, TE Erik Swoope was signed to Indianapolis’ practice squad this past week. Swoope was a member of the New Orleans Saints for about a day before the team released him earlier this month.
IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT THE U!