While recognizing that Jed York is not Joe Namath, here are my quick slants from the early Week 16 action from around the league.
1. The Jets’ loss to the Bears has to be sobering for Rex Ryan. Cornerback Antonio Cromartie was abused and the team didn’t get any pass rush on the Bears of all teams. Even when the Jets blitz, they don’t get there. With an inconsistent running game, what is this team’s identity?
2. Chicago, meanwhile, is one win away from clinching a playoff bye. It’s impressive they can win a shootout despite a poor effort from their defense. (Although the Bears D stopped the Jets the last quarter and a half.)
Despite Jay Cutler’s pick six, Chicago’s offense is peaking at the right time. They would absolutely love to end the Packers’ season next week in Green Bay. (Assuming the Giants don’t end it this week.)
3. I already wrote why Sunday’s loss was a fitting capper to the Mike Singletary era. (Whether he coaches another game or not, he’s done.) The 49ers were disorganized, and changing quarterbacks midway through the fourth quarter of a close game just shows how indecisive Singletary was.
4. The Rams were sloppy too on Sunday, but we have to give credit to defensive end Chris Long for a huge strip sack of Alex Smith in the fourth quarter. No defensive player has meant more to their team than Long. He’s a legitimate Defensive MVP candidate.
5. Next Sunday’s Rams-Seahawks game will decide the NFC West winner, regardless of what Seattle does against the Bucs. St. Louis’ offense — especially the line — is having major problems. Sam Bradford looked better when running the hurry up against San Francisco. Look for more of that next week.
6. Don’t underrate the importance of Baltimore’s win in Cleveland. It gets them in the playoffs, but more importantly keeps them alive for a playoff bye and AFC North title. The Browns made too many mistakes, but they out-gained Baltimore Sunday. They remain dangerous.
An “A” game from Cleveland could give Pittsburgh problems next week and possibly hand Baltimore a division crown. (The Ravens host the Bengals.)
7. The Jaguars are not out of the playoff race after their loss, even if the Colts win in Oakland. The Jaguars could still get in if they win next week against the Texans and the Colts lose to the Titans.
8. With that said, the Jaguars don’t deserve to go to the playoffs. They have made late season collapses a trend and they’ve played poorly in back-to-back weeks. There is no excuse for losing to a banged-up team like the Redskins at home. David Garrard’s overtime interception was the worst decision by a quarterback all day.
9. This is Groundhog day for the Jaguars. At 8-7, they are barely better than average. Is Garrard and Jack Del Rio the duo to take them over the top? I would think both guys are safe next year, but owner Wayne Weaver has tough decisions to make.
10. Rex Grossman averaged under five yards-per-attempt, so let’s hold off with the “Rex proved the Shanahans right!” stuff.
11. Chad Henne is making life easier on Miami’s decisions makers. They have to get another quarterback in there to try to take his job. Up 3 late in the game, Henne tried to throw an interception. The Lions dropped it. So Henne just threw an interception on the next play. He lost a fumble the next possession to complete the Dolphins implosion.
12. This loss against the Lions is the type that could cause Dolphins owner Stephen Ross to take a hard look at the entire football operations staff, down to the head coach.
13. Conventional wisdom is that playing at Kansas City would be the easiest road game for a possible AFC Wild Card team. (As opposed to San Diego or Indianapolis. ) We’re not so sure. Kansas City’s 34-14 win over Tennessee was yet another reminder the Chiefs are a different team at Arrowhead Stadium. They are 7-0 at home now and will be the division champ with a win over the Raiders next week.