Weekly recap

NFL Week 16: Good, bad and ugly

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers should have an advantage. Photo credit: Andy Lyons

Week 16 brought more meaningful football. It's amazing to see that there are teams out there that looked to be dead in the water, but still have a shot at the playoffs. Here are my observations:

The Good

-The Packers are going to be a tough out in the playoffs, and it's not for the reason most think. Sure Aaron Rodgers is a perennial All Pro quarterback, but that defense is stout. Between Za'Darious Smith, Preston Smith, Jaire Alexander, and others, that defense is the real deal. If they get homefield advantage, it'll be tough to go to the Frozen Tundra in January and win.

-The Cardinals may be 5-9-1 after their improbable 27-13 win over the Seahawks, but there are several bright spots. Outside linebacker Chandler Jones sacked Russell Wilson four times to bring his league leading total to 19. Running back Kenyan Drake (acquired in a midseason trade from the Dolphins) has proven to be one of the keys to their offense with another near 200 yard multi-touchdown performance. Rookie quarterback Kyler Murray is the next in line to prove great athletes playing quarterback can work at the NFL level.

-Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is 42 years old, has played 20 seasons in the NFL, and is firmly in the G.O.A.T. conversation at the quarterback position. Despite his status and all the accolades, he still ran out on a reverse and threw a block. Not a typical quarterback flailing sissy block, but a hit'em low take out the knees type block. Always good to see the fire of guys like that on those plays.

The Bad

-Not often do I say winning is a bad thing, but in the case of the Giants: WHAT THE HELL ARE Y'ALL DOING?!? Why would you win a game against a division rival that'll be picking ahead of you now in the draft? They went from the driver's seat for the #2 overall pick to #5. If Ohio State defensive end Chase Young declares, which I fully expect him to, he would've filled a huge need for the Giants. Now the Skins may get him at #2. That is if the Bengals don't take him #1.

-With two interceptions next week against the Falcons, Bucs' quarterback Jameis Winston will be the inaugural member of the 30/30 club: 30 touchdowns and 30 interceptions. That's the most awesomely terrible stat line I've seen in quite some time. Not only does a quarterback have to play and start enough games, but he has to stay in games and continue to fling it. He's also 92 yards away from 5,000 on the season. I fully expect him to achieve both, as well as be back in Tampa next year as the starter.

-The Browns "clinched" another losing record with their 31-15 loss to the Ravens. They came into the season as the sexy pick because of their offseason player acquisitions. Acquiring talent doesn't equate to wins. Head coach Freddie Kitchens may be on his way out after one season; so may Odell Beckham Jr is you believe the rumors. Baker Mayfield has seemingly regressed and taken this franchise's chances at emerging from the doldrums with him.

The Ugly

-The NFC East Trash Bowl took place as the Eagles bested the Cowboys 17-9. They are now 8-7 and in control of winning the division and the #4 seed in the heavy NFC. Whoever wins this division will be the worst team in the NFC playoff bracket considering all the others will have at least 10 or more wins and have been far more competitively consistent all year. Salt in the wound: Eagles' tight end Zach Ertz fractured a rib in the win and they're already down several pass catchers.

-The Panthers are now 5-10 after suffering their seventh straight loss in a 38-6 thrashing at the hands of the Colts. Panthers' defensive tackle Vernon Butler was ejected for throwing a punch and gave Colts' fans the finger as he left the field. Their tight end Greg Olsen then tore into how poorly they've been playing in a locker room media scrum postgame. All of this and they have an MVP candidate in Christian McCaffrey aka "Dairy Sanders." (Shot out to Gino McGee in Bias Sports Talk FB sports page for the nickname.)

-MLB free agent pitcher Rich Hill and his wife were arrested after an incident at Gillette Stadium before the Patriots game. Hill's wife apparently tried to enter the stadium with an unapproved bag, was denied and told to leave. When she refused, police arrested her. When Hill tried to prevent her from being put in the car, he too was arrested. Not a good look for a guy who's spent 14 years in MLB. They were also fined $500 each.

Week 17 is setting up to be the big finale of the season the NFL envisioned when they decided to change the schedule to make division games the last games of the season. The flex scheduling also allows the league to place games in similar time slots that involve teams vying for playoff seeding. It'll end in a Sunday Night Football matchup that pits the 49ers against the Seahawks for the NFC West crown and a first round bye on the line. The loser gets to face the NFC East winner on the road. I'm fired up for next week already! Aren't you?

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

Boston's two grand slams in the first two innings were too much for Houston to overcome in ALCS Game 2. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

After a win in ALCS Game 1 that had the prototypical fingerprints of this Astros team all over it, Houston returned to Minute Maid Park on Saturday, hoping to take a dominant 2-0 series lead if they could grab another victory. The Red Sox dashed those hopes very early, though, scoring eight runs across the first two innings to build the lead they would hold on to even the series.

Final Score: Boston 9, Astros 5

ALCS Series (Best of Seven): tied 1-1

Winning Pitcher: Nathan Eovaldi

Losing Pitcher: Luis Garcia

Houston met with disaster to start Game 2

You couldn't have drawn up a much better start for the Red Sox or a worse one for the Astros in Saturday's ALCS Game 2. Luis Garcia met early disaster in the top of the first inning, allowing a leadoff double, then got two outs while issuing two walks to load the bases. That brought up Boston's designated hitter, J.D. Martinez, to the plate, and he delivered a crushing blow to Houston, launching a grand slam to put the Red Sox up 4-0 before Houston could even get to the plate.

After a scoreless bottom of the inning by his offense, things got worse for Garcia in the top of the second, as after issuing a four-pitch walk to start the frame, he would become the center of a meeting at the mound with trainers, ultimately leaving the game with an injury. Houston opted to bring in Jake Odorizzi for the emergency call to the bullpen, but things did not start well for him either. He would put two of his own batters on base with two singles, then gave up the second grand slam in as many innings, this one to Rafael Devers to double Boston's lead to 8-0, doubling down on Houston's disastrous start to the game.

Odorizzi rebounded with a 1-2-3 third, but with one out in the top of the fourth allowed a solo homer to Kiké Hernández, his third homer of the series so far. He would still get the job done of eating up a few innings, finishing the fourth, and retiring Boston in order in the fifth, giving Houston just four more innings to cover with the rest of their relievers.

Astros get a few runs back

Over that span, Houston did trim the lead by three runs, getting an RBI double by Kyle Tucker and a two-RBI single by Yuli Gurriel in the bottom of the fourth, making it a six-run game at 9-3. Their next reliever was Blake Taylor in the top of the sixth, and he would keep the score where it stood by sitting down the three batters he faced that frame.

The Astros threatened again in the bottom of the sixth, getting two singles to put two aboard, but would come out empty, sending the game on to the seventh, where Taylor would remain on the mound. He faced three more batters, getting two out while allowing a single before Yimi Garcia would come in to get the third out.

Red Sox even the series as it shifts to Boston

Garcia returned in the top of the eighth, getting through that inning despite a walk and hit by pitch, stranding both runners. Boston's bullpen kept Houston from getting any closer in the bottom of the eighth, then Ryne Stanek came in for the Astros in the top of the ninth. Stanek allowed a leadoff double, but with a groundout and double play, held the score at 9-3. Yuli Gurriel and Jason Castro did their part to keep the Astros alive in the bottom of the ninth, each hitting solo homers to make it 9-5, but that's as close as they'd come, dropping Game 2 to tie the series at one game apiece.

Up Next: The ALCS now moves to Boston for the next three games after a day off on Sunday, with Game 3 on Monday at 7:08 PM Central. While the Astros have named Jose Urquidy as their starter, the Red Sox have not yet determined theirs.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome