Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady's Shiny New Year

Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Tom Brady
Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Tom Brady
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Week 17 - In this overstuffed NFL Week 17 edition of Walkthrough...

  • The New England Patriots overcome their own offense yet again on their way to victory;
  • The New York Giants and Detroit Lions demonstrate how far they have come in one year;
  • Cameron Jordan makes life hard on Gardner Minshew, who makes clinching home-field advantage much harder for his Philadelphia Eagles;
  • Blaine Gabbert proves that while not all heroes wear capes, at least one of them rides a Jet Ski;

and much more. But first...

Tom Brady in the playoffs? Aaron Rodgers one win away from the playoffs? Isn't it now 2023? Aren't these grouchy old quarterbacks supposed to be toast? Shouldn't they have ceded the stage to (searching NFC standings for a worthy also-ran), er, Desmond Ridder or someone?

The playoffs may still be Rodgers-free: the Seattle Seahawks clinch the final NFC berth with a win and a Packers loss to the Lions next week; the Lions clinch with a win and a Seahawks loss. But the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in, thanks to Tom Brady's three-touchdown performance against the Panthers in Week 17.

It all goes to show that changings of the guard in the NFL rarely go smoothly. The Commanders can surge for a few weeks, then fade for want of a half-decent quarterback. The Panthers can play the second half of their season with pride, but pride only goes so far with Sam Darnold at quarterback and no Jaycee Horn in the secondary. Jared Goff and Geno Smith at their absolute best can do little more than make their teams the rivals of Rodgers or Brady during at their late-career ricketiest.

There's one boogeyman in the NFC playoffs in Brady. Rodgers could make it two. How confident are you in Brock Purdy? A banged-up Jalen Hurts? Dak Prescott, who needs two first-half turnovers (yes, tireless Dak apologists, only one of them is typically his fault) to get warmed up? LOL Kirk LOLOL Cousins ROTFL?

Cowboys, Eagles, and 49ers fans who aren't afraid of the boogeymen aren't telling the truth. And Vikings fans have been lying to themselves for four months. The NFC playoff picture is much more complicated than it looked about a month ago. And legendary quarterbacks rarely fade away without a fight.

Game Spotlight: Green Bay Packers 41, Minnesota Vikings 17

What Happened: The Vikings faced a real opponent, which meant it was time to get their overrated purple fannies pummeled again.

Oh, that's not fair. The Giants were a "real" opponent, right? And the Bills, of course, in that historically fluky comeback affair. Are the Patriots real? Maybe; we'll get to them in a moment.

You get the idea: the Vikings had one of those games where they played like the Houston Texans' scout team in the first half, and the cosmos didn't shift into auto-assist mode for them in the second half.

Josh Metellus blocked a punt to give the Vikings the ball at the Packers' 1-yard line in the first quarter, but they settled for a field goal. From then on, it was all Packers: a Keisean Nixon kickoff return touchdown (he returned one 93 yards in Week 16), a Darnell Savage pick-six, three more Kirk Cousins turnovers, 152 rushing yards from AJ Dillon and Aaron Jones, and lots of evidence that the Vikings are poised to humiliate themselves in the postseason.

Justin Jefferson removed his helmet in disgust after a second quarter interception and accidentally clocked an official with it. No Vikings loss is complete without someone completely losing their composure in a way that reminds us that they haven't really engineered all of this season's comebacks by remaining cool and collected under pressure.

What it Means: The difference between the Eagles, Cowboys, and Vikings (you know the drill with the Purdy Little Niners):

  • The Eagles are an excellent team currently in a slump due to Jalen Hurts' injury.
  • The Cowboys are a very good team that is occasionally self-destructive.
  • The Vikings are a below-average team that experiences occasional power surges, benefits from Jefferson's semi-regular heroics, and got almost preternaturally lucky a few times.

In other words, the default setting for the Cowboys and Eagles is "good," while the default setting for the Vikings is "mediocre." The playoffs have a knack for restoring teams to their factory defaults.

The Packers have been one of the NFL's best teams over the last three weeks, with their defense and (surprise!) their special teams picking up the slack when their offense has started slowly. They're poised to be the official Team No One Wants to Face in the NFC playoffs.

What's Next: A must-see Lions-Packers showdown at Lambeau and a season-ending Vikings self-esteem workshop against the Bears in Soldier Field.

Game Spotlight: New England Patriots 23, Miami Dolphins 21

What Happened: The Patriots manufactured another injury- and penalty-fueled slopfest of a win in Foxborough.

Sunday's victory was a lot like the Patriots' losses to the Raiders (in Vegas) and Bengals over the last two weeks: a defensive touchdown (by Kyle Dugger, just as in Week 15), some follow-the-bouncing-ball plays, a few "drives" by Mac Jones and the offense which were mostly coverage lapses and pass interference, a comeback after a flat first half. This week, however, no one did anything stupid late in the game, though Matt Patricia tried his darndest by calling what appeared to be a "just get sacked, Mac" play on fourth down with a nine-point lead.

Teddy Bridgewater (finger) got knocked out of the game when trying to make a tackle at the end of Dugger's interception return. Skylar Thompson made things semi-interesting with a late touchdown but could not move the offense for most of the fourth quarter. The Dolphins face an all-too-familiar quarterback dilemma entering Week 18.

What It Means: The Patriots deserve the seventh seed in the AFC playoffs. Nothing less, but absolutely nothing more. They can clinch it by beating the Bills or via some daisy-chain scenarios.

The Dolphins were without Tua Tagovailoa, Terron Armstead, Xavien Howard, and Bradley Chubb on Sunday, so it's tempting to blame the latest chapter of their five-game losing streak on injuries. It's more accurate to blame the whole streak on the Dolphins' inability to adjust to any sort of adversity this year, from Tua's injuries to opponents figuring out ways to partially neutralize Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle.

The Patriots know how to scratch out wins. The Dolphins have been searching helplessly for a Plan B since the start of December.

What's Next: The Patriots host the Bills and the Dolphins host the Jets: two important games, three playoff hopefuls, one truly good team. (Late edit: this was written before the Jets were eliminated. Poor, poor Jets.)

Week 17 Whip-Around Coverage

Observations and insights from around the league during the NFL's penultimate Sunday.

Phony MinshewMania has Bitten the Dust

The Eagles beat themselves with offensive line penalties and got outmuscled in both trenches in short-yardage situations in their 20-10 loss to the New Orleans Saints. Most distressingly, however, Nick Sirianni and Shane Steichen made the mistake of trusting Gardner Minshew to execute a pass-heavy game plan.

Minshew absorbed five sacks in the first half as the Saints climbed out to a 13-0 lead; the Eagles ran the ball just twice and failed to pick up a first down in the half. Sirianni and Steichen returned to the run in the third quarter for a field-goal drive (a touchdown run by Kenneth Gainwell was negated by a tacky holding penalty), then it was back to the all-Minshew attack. A.J. Brown brushed a defender aside for a 78-yard catch-and-run to cut the Saints lead to 13-10, but the next two Eagles drives stalled before Minshew uncorked a disastrous pick-six to Marshon Lattimore. Minshew was slow to get rid of the ball, threw a few wild pitches, and demonstrated the limits of his wishful-thinking elusiveness throughout the game.

Jalen Hurts will now likely return, 100%-ready-or-not, to help the Eagles salvage the top seed in the NFC playoffs against a Giants team with nothing to play for. In a few weeks, the Eagles' back-to-back holiday-season losses may be a fading memory. But if anyone writes a sentence in an offseason article along the likes of "Gardner Minshew deserves a chance to be the starter for the Jets/Raiders/Texans," close your browser window, delete your history, reformat your laptop, pour some memory-cleansing vodka shots, and do everything else you can to ensure that such foolishness does not infiltrate your mind.

Don't Sleep on Seattle

It's tempting to look at the box score of the Seattle Seahawks' 23-6 victory over the New York Jets and assume that they benefited from a bunch of Jets turnovers. Mike White did throw two interceptions and had a fumble, but the fumble came on the final play before halftime and had no real impact on the game, while his second interception came while trailing big in the fourth quarter.

The Seahawks got big plays from their running game (including a 60-yard rush by Kenneth Walker to open the game) and passing game to turn one White miscue into a 17-3 lead by early in the second quarter. That tilted the field enough to play ball-control offense while the Jets became increasingly one-dimensional. Jets turnovers were as much a result of the Seahawks' success as a cause. Furthermore, Jets receivers mishandled a few catchable passes, including a Garrett Wilson drop on fourth-and-4.

The Seahawks could present a fun challenge to a division-winner if they slip into the playoffs. The Jets are not fun in any way, and they need to face the reality that not all of their problems in the second half of the season stemmed from bad quarterback play.

Tom Brady is a Better Quarterback than Sam Darnold

Who knew?

Sunday's 30-23 victory over the Carolina Panthers was a 2022 Tampa Bay Buccaneers victory like any other, only more so. The Panthers took a 21-10 fourth-quarter lead but could not hold it, mostly because there was no one to cover Mike Evans (10-207-3) with Jaycee Horn injured. Darnold was due for a turnover spree, and he delivered with two turnovers in his own territory and an interception near the goal line. Brady had some senior moments, but Evans and Chris Godwin were always open for him.

Brady and the Bucs did the NFL world a favor by clinching the annoyingly unpleasant NFC South: we can all safely ignore Panthers-Saints and Buccaneers-Falcons next week. The Panthers, in particular, are much more interesting now that we can focus on their coaching search and rebuilding project instead of slim Darnold-fueled playoff hopes. And no one should ever be forced to watch a Falcons game.

Brock Purdy vs. Jarrett Stidham was the Cotton Bowl we Deserved but Never Got

Walkthrough did not get a long look at the San Francisco 49ers' 37-34 overtime victory against the Raiders. A quick scan of the highlights and gamebook show Davante Adams earning triple time—coming back for an underthrown bomb, shaking wide-open on a scramble, etc.—to make Stidham look effective, while Josh McDaniels schemed up some 12 personnel passing opportunities with Andrew Waller back. Purdy, meanwhile, continues to benefit from YAC in ways that would make even Jimmy Garoppolo blush; the Raiders have defenders who can run and defenders who can tackle, but only Maxx Crosby can do both. The 49ers looked a little vulnerable on defense, but it's not like any of the NFC division-leaders look invincible right now. This game should be a hoot as a Tuesday morning film session.

If McDaniels and the Raiders use this close call to talk themselves into Stidham (two interceptions and a fumble) as a long-term quarterback option, then they deserve to battle the Broncos for last place in the AFC West until the end of the decade.

The New York Giants and Detroit Lions Have Come Such a Long Way

The Giants clinched the sixth seed in the NFC playoffs with a 38-10 win over the Indianapolis Colts. Daniel Jones managed the game well, with two passing touchdowns and two more touchdowns on 91 rushing yards, while rookie edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux appeared to be all over the field in the first half.

It was an impressive Giants victory, but the Colts played their part with more of Jeff Saturday's signature hungover-substitute-teacher coaching techniques. Saturday called a timeout on fourth-and-1 from the Giants' 5-yard line in the first quarter, then kicked a field goal. Nick Foles threw a pick-six before getting knocked out of the game in favor of Sam Ehlinger, who would probably struggle to make a USFL roster. Matt Ryan, meanwhile, remains a political prisoner of whatever is going on behind the scenes in Indy.

This time last year, the Giants were the team whose coach embarrassed himself and the organization in unique and unprecedented ways each week. So the Colts should look to the Giants as role models, and the Giants and their fans should be thrilled with how far Brian Daboll has taken them.

The Lions remained in the playoff chase with an impressive 41-10 drubbing of the Chicago Bears. The Lions took care of their business on both offense and defense but got an assist from a sputtering opponent. Justin Fields rushed for 109 yards in the first quarter to lead the Bears to 10 early points, so Matt don't-call-him-Nagy Eberflus and his staff decided to abandon Fields' designed-running threat altogether so he could go 7-of-21 spraying passes to Byron Pringle and N'Keal Harry.

Like the Giants, the Lions got an opportunity to gauge just how far they have come on Sunday.

A Wentz is a Wentz is a Wentz and Hence, it Never Makes Sense to Count on a Wentz

Dear Washington Commanders,

In the wake of Carson Wentz's utterly in-character three-interception performance in a 24-10 loss to the Cleveland Browns which kneecapped your playoff hopes, here is a subtle suggestion:

Sam Howell. Sam Howell. Sam Howell. Sam Howell. Sam Howell. Sam Howell. Sam Howell. Sam Howell. Sam Howell. Sam Howell. Sam Howell. Sam Howell. Sam Howell. Sam Howell. Sam Howell. Sam Howell. Sam Howell. Sam Howell. Sam Howell. Sam Howell. Sam Howell. Sam Howell. Sam Howell. Sam Howell. Sam Howell. Sam Howell. Sam Howell. Sam Howell. Sam Howell. Sam Howell. Sam Howell. Sam Howell. Sam Howell. Sam Howell. Sam Howell. Sam Howell. Sam Howell. Sam Howell. Sam Howell. Sam Howell. Sam Howell. Sam Howell. Sam Howell. Sam Howell. Sam Howell. Sam Howell. Sam Howell. Sam Howell.


Fans everywhere of football and meritocracy.

Around the League

Some notes on the Sunday morning news dump.

Raiders Plan to Shop Derek Carr in the Offseason.

You don't say?

Giants Plan to Offer Multi–Year Contracts to Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.

Maybe it's something like two years at $16 million with incentives for Barkley and two years at $40 million for Jones, like-it-or-lump-it. Otherwise, this sounds like a John Mara-level "our commitment to continuity at all costs is what made us great once"-level feat of roster-building incompetence.

Jets Have No interest in Trading Zach Wilson, Also Per RapSheet.

Translation: Jets have no interest in further tanking Wilson's trade value, which would currently net them a conditional seventh-round pick sometime after the events of Mad Max: Fury Road.

Trey Lance Had a Second Surgical Procedure on his Ankle.

Trey Lance, sadly, will never be more than an urban legend.

Monday Night Football Will Start Later than Usual to Accommodate the Rose Bowl.

The Bengals-Bills game will start at 8:30 p.m, not 8:15, which will place kickoff at around the 5:45 mark of the third quarter of the Rose Bowl as opposed to the 6:30 mark, because college football games are too long. Walkthrough will fall asleep in the middle of the first quarter of MNF instead of the end of the first quarter like we usually do.

Week 17 Awards

Defender of the Week

Cameron Jordan sacked Gardner Minshew three times to keep the Saints' ultra-slim playoff hopes alive and force the Eagles to play meaningful football in Week 18.

Honorable Mention: Cleveland Browns safety Grant Delpit intercepted Carson Wentz twice, but Wentz interceptions only earn half credit here in Walkthrough.

Offensive Line of the Week

David Bakhtiari is back (again) at left tackle for the Packers, and it showed on Sunday as the Packers racked up 163 rushing yards and allowed just one sack. So let's hear it for Bakhtiari, Elgton Jenkins, Josh Myers, Jon Runyan Jr., and right tackles Zach Tom and Yosh Nijman, plus all the backups who finished the game. Strike up the imaginary band, fellas:

Walkthrough is pretty sure that's air bass drum Myers is playing, not triangle. If not, the Sons of Walkthrough are marching band pit percussionists, so there will be triangle shaming in this space.

Special Teamer of the Week

Keisean Nixon is a former Raiders special teams gunner who came along with coordinator Rich Bisaccia in the offseason. He had returned just six kickoffs in three NFL seasons entering 2022. Nixon now leads the NFL with 30.0 yards per kickoff return and has won back-to-back Walkthrough special teams honors. Watch out for these Packers, folks.

Honorable Mention: The Buccaneers' victory over the Panthers got wobbly late in the fourth quarter, and a bad punt snap nearly gave the Panthers great field position while down by just six points. But Tom Brady pushed that little button on his belt buckle that makes reality bend to his wishes, and punter Jake Camarda was inhabited by the ghost of Sammy Baugh:

Best Supporting Actor in Someone Else's Highlight

Someone fetch the fire extinguisher for Panthers cornerback CJ Henderson please?

Uh-oh. Maybe fetch some aloe-based burn cream too.

Never mind. Just grab one of those whisk brooms that are used to sweep the ashes out of fireplaces.

Burn This Play (Patriots Edition)!

Overheard on the Patriots sideline on Sunday.

BILL BELICHICK: We're facing fourth-and-4 at the Dolphins' 29-yard line. Imma send in the field goal unit so we can take a 12-point lead and take a late Dolphins field goal out of the equation.

MATT PATRICIA: Don't do it, Coach. I have the perfect play for this situation.

BELICHICK: Are you sure? The Dolphins are out of timeouts. We have been making conservative decisions all year to cover up for your feeble offense. Heck, maybe I will just punt.

PATRICIA: No! Hear me out. We empty the backfield.

BELICHICK: Well, that sounds risky. Mac Jones isn't exactly Cam Newton.

PATRICIA: And we motion Tyquan Thornton to the right so we flood that side of the field with four receivers.

BELICHICK: Sounds like we are making things easy for the defense.

PATRICIA: And we roll Mac right, too.

BELICHICK: We ARE making things incredibly easy. But you'll send someone deep, right? Worst comes to worst, Mac can just arm punt.

PATRICIA: Well, Kendrick Bourne will run a clearing route, but Jones will be looking to get the ball to one of three receivers bunched near the sticks along the right boundary.

BELICHICK: Three receivers in the same place? That sounds like a bad design concept.

PATRICIA: Oh, don't worry sir. You see, Mac will be rolling directly into the teeth of a blitz, resulting in a sack.

BELICHICK: Isn't a sack worse than a missed field goal in this situation?

PATRICIA: I'm gonna need you to get all the way off my back on that, sir.

BELICHICK: Oh well, you're the fake offensive coordinator, Matt! Run the play and maybe we'll get roughing the passer or pass interference, our two most reliable methods of gaining yardage.

PATRICIA: You got it, Coach! There's no way this play will backfire and give the Dolphins a slight chance at a late comeback.

Burn This Play (Bears Edition)!

The Lions decided to rush zero defenders with five seconds left before halftime while leading the Bears 24-10. A wise tactic: the last thing the Lions needed in that situation was Justin Fields scramble magic. The Bears surely knew they won't face much pass rush, so they sent everyone into the end zone for a Hail Mary, right? Wrong:

Check out those "route" "concepts." The Bears are hoping to execute some sort of mesh in the middle of the field, but to what end? They had zero timeouts; even if someone caught the ball in the middle of the field and ran straight to the sideline, time would have expired. And NOBODY runs a deep route, which might at least have cleared out some space.

Remember plays like this when the Bears organization starts signaling that Fields is the problem, not the solution.

Burn This Play (BCS Semifinals Edition)!

Walkthrough has reached the age and/or level of semi-permanent insobriety that we walk into rooms and immediately forget why we entered them. Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy is too young for such issues, yet he triggered a Philly Special at the goal line, only to forget that he was supposed to run a route into the end zone and decided to do a little sightseeing instead.

McCarthy's leisurely stroll into the flat aside, starting this play with two receivers to the right just makes it more likely that one of them stays home, and McCarthy ventures out of the pocket so early that TCU cornerback Josh Newton (24), in zone coverage anyway, spots exactly what is going on.

The signature Philly Special was full of subterfuge to hide the fact that the ball was going to Nick Foles. Modern versions of the play practically come with flashing TRICKERATION billboards. Get some new ideas, you copycats.

Rando of the Week

Blaine Gabbert and his brothers raced out on Jet Skis to rescue a family when their tourist-adventure helicopter splash-landed and sank near the Davis Islands on Thursday.

That was an absolutely true sentence about a thing that happened in the final days of the Year of Our Lord 2022, and it involved Gabbert, Real American and the most forgotten of the forgotten backup quarterbacks, during a week when many of his peers were preparing to make emergency starts. (Hey, Mark Davis' finances and Jim Irsay's moodswings count as "emergencies."

Thank heavens it was Gabbert performing the rescue.

  • Tom Brady would have rescued everyone in his Bradycopter, but then invited the family to stay with him, have dinner, play some ping-pong, please, this house is so big and empty.
  • Aaron Rodgers would have splashed water from his speedboat on the desperate family, then explained Social Darwinism to an appreciative Joe Rogan on next week's podcast.
  • According to every single member of the Denver Broncos, Russell Wilson would have raced from his corner office to his parking space and drove off to do an outstanding job rescuing the family, and they stand behind Wilson 100%.
  • Dak Prescott would eventually rescue the family, but not before crashing his Jet Ski twice.
  • Josh Allen would use the tiny wings on his heels to fly over the waves like Namor to rescue the family. Five hundred feet from shore, however, he would needlessly hurl them into the mouth of a nearby shark.
  • Justin Herbert would not make it off the pier because Joe Lombardi forgot to gas up the Jet Skis, but Film Snob Twitter assures me Herbert can lift a helicopter out of the water with one hand and doesn't have to prove that he can do so to anybody.
  • Kyler Murray would be out there as soon as he completed a few more levels of Jet Ski Simulator.
  • Kirk Cousins would wait until the helicopter was completely submerged before sending Justin Jefferson to the rescue. After Jefferson swam out to carry the family back one at a time, Vikings fans would claim Cousins deserves a medal.
  • Carson Wentz is an accomplished Jet Ski driver. Seriously. Walkthrough covered the guy for years; folks love to Jet Ski around those lakes up in North Dakota. So he could handle a rescue just fine. Are … are Blane Gabbert and Carson Wentz the same person? That would explain so much.
  • Matt Ryan was the helicopter.
  • Deshaun Watson holds his hand out to a drowning person. "Eh, no thanks. I'll take my chances with the sea instead."


104 comments, Last at 06 Jan 2023, 12:06am

#1 by johonny // Jan 01, 2023 - 11:58pm

Look who caught up with Miami in record but Brian Flores and the Steelers. Is there any doubt Ross chose poorly in the Flores/Grier power struggle. 


If Miami wins next week and squeaks into the playoffs Grier can claim some sort of progress and likely survive to produce more bland seasons of flawed rosters. If they lose, Ross will likely offer Sean Payton whatever farm he refused to offer last off-season. Payton will likely still not take it.

Points: -1

#3 by KnotMe // Jan 02, 2023 - 2:59am

Well if I understand it right, all Miami needs is:

1:  Buffalo to beat the Patriots.  Apparently Buffalo can't be eliminated from the bye week so they will play their starters...so they will win since its waaay past hurricane season and the Pats have yet to finish closer than 14 points with out one.


2: Miami needs to beat a Jets team that has nothing to play for and (checks box score) tried to get a spark by sticking Zach Wilson in a Mike White costume. This didn't work. 

Honestly, pretty much a lock for such a complex scenario 

Points: 2

#27 by NYChem // Jan 02, 2023 - 9:26am

Regarding point 1

I don't understand the NFL's Saturday scheduling. The jags/titans is fine, but we don't know the importance of the chiefs raiders game until after MNF tonight, but let's say bills win. They and the chiefs will both be 13-3, and the bills have something to play for against the pats. Unless the raiders win. Then the game is meaningless, the bills have home field clinched, they can rest Allen et al and the phins and steelers hopes are dashed.

Well not exactly, but it's really weird that the chiefs and bills (and/or bungles) would not be playing concurrently in that situation. 

Points: 1

#42 by Tutenkharnage // Jan 02, 2023 - 10:55am

Yeah, I didn’t get this, either. No idea what the league was thinking with that one. 

Points: 0

#72 by Run dmc // Jan 02, 2023 - 2:30pm

The league is thinking: Patrick Mahomes = Mo Ratings, Mo Money.

Points: 1

#37 by RickD // Jan 02, 2023 - 10:31am

"Nothing to play for"?

The Jets likely could knock the Dolphins out of the playoffs.  As a fan of divisional rivalries, you can bet that will give them motivation.

The question for the Dolphins is: what QB is going to take on that Jets' defense?  Skylar isn't going to cut it.  Bridgewater may have a broken finger on his throwing hand.  And Tua really shouldn't play again until August. 

As a Pats fan, I have to say, though, backing into the playoffs is a very unappealing possibility.  Should the Pats lose in Buffalo (highly likely), I'd be willing to convey the #7 seed to the Jets, should they beat Miami.  Not terribly interested in a first-round beatdown at the hands of Buffalo, KC, or Cincy. The less I have to see of Matt Patricia's offense, the better.

Points: 1

#43 by johonny // Jan 02, 2023 - 10:57am

On point 2, Miami will be llikely playing with a 7th round pick at QB and the Jets defense isn't horrible. The Jets destroyed Miami once this year already. 

Points: 0

#2 by St00EEe // Jan 02, 2023 - 2:24am

OMG, HAHAHA, you got me at the end! 

I finally came to this site two days ago because I kept seeing FO get referenced in other articles because most of those articles were getting their data and metrics from here. I finally visited and glad I did, I honestly thought this would be like a lot of other data site with little content otherwise. But honestly, I am new to sports, so a lot of numbers just comlicates things for me, but after spending the last couple days on here and taking the time to read how everything works, I am starting to be able to follow along with what everyone is talking about. You guys really put the bigger sites like Rotogrinders, FantasyLabs, etc to shame when it comes to the amount of work put into not just your data but all the work put into writing up Articles under News & Analysis.

Anyways, so glad I decided to visit FO and give it a shot. Glad I got the membership benefits along with it, well worth it all. I would pay twice the amount.

Points: 17

#47 by cyntar2000 // Jan 02, 2023 - 11:15am

I wouldn’t go as far to say I’d be willing to pay double, what I think StOOEEe was trying to say is…*kicks a giddy StOOEEe under the table*

Points: 1

#4 by TimK // Jan 02, 2023 - 3:09am

Foles did a great job in the original Philly Special of faking his double-take that the snap had even happened when he was talking to his OL. A bemused glance inside, stand still for a split-second, and only then he gets moving for his route. That is enough to get everyone following ‘their man’ whilst whoever was spying the QB is probably looking at the person who the snap went to… actual trickery is good for trick plays, otherwise you end up with wacky formations for the sake of it (and that rarely ends well).

Points: 3

#5 by Arson55 // Jan 02, 2023 - 5:26am

Wow. This might be the best thing Tanier has ever written: "Josh Allen would use the tiny wings on his heels to fly over the waves like Namor to rescue the family. Five hundred feet from shore, however, he would needlessly hurl them into the mouth of a nearby shark." I literally burst out laughing upon reading it. Amazing visual.

Points: 8

#13 by BlueStarDude // Jan 02, 2023 - 8:09am

Thanks for pointing it out—almost missed it because I was still rolling on the floor laughing at the Dak comment.

Points: 2

#6 by Raiderfan // Jan 02, 2023 - 6:55am

“the Raiders have defenders who can run and defenders who can tackle, but only Maxx Crosby can do both.”

Who are these Raiders who can tackle, and why have they not been playing?

”I'm gonna need you to get all the way off my back on that,”

Sometimes reading your stuff is super easy, barely an inconvenience.

Points: 6

#7 by theslothook // Jan 02, 2023 - 7:22am

A while back there was a debate raging about whether the Giants were better off long-term being a bad win loss record team.

Playoff births coming from nowhere are fun and all and I don't want to label them valueless, but the problem is they lead to uncomfortable questions like should the Giants be extending Jones and Saquon Barkley? If the Vikings are a mediocre team masquerading as a two-seed, then the Giants are living in the a less fancy part of that same neighborhood.

Being bad in year one of a new coach has it's virtues. It brings clarity. Unless you are coach Hackett saddled with expectations and clearly over your head as a decision maker, year one is a chance to clear out dead wood and start to build your vision. Instead, any step back will look horrible for this Giants regime and thus you get trapped into this conundrum. Letting Jones walk likely makes them worse next year. Paying even decent prices for players you really shouldn't be committing to long-term is a suboptimal in the short run but especially in the long run.

Sad as it sounds, in terms of championship equity, the Giants truly would have been better imo being a 4 win team.

Points: 0

#9 by Run dmc // Jan 02, 2023 - 7:47am

Theoretically every team that doesn't win the Super Bowl would be better off if they had won 4 games. 

The point is good head coaches win. If the Giants had won 4 games this year, would you be as optimistic about Brian Daboll being a good NFL Head Coach?

Points: 8

#11 by theslothook // Jan 02, 2023 - 7:58am

I'm not arguing the Giants wont win the SB therefore it was all a waste. I am not even arguing that a mediocre team should be trying to tank and avoid the postseason because they won't win the SB anyways. For example, I think the Lions are absolutely better off when making the playoffs.

I just think this particular giants team has a lot of conundrums that come with making the playoffs.

Yes, I am impressed with Daboll. I thought this was the least talented team in football when the season began. Clearly he has done much better than his predecessor. But this is still a bad team. DVOA says they're 23rd in the NFL, albeit not counting their recent drubbing over the national embarrassment that is the Indianapolis Colts. Calling them mediocre is being extremely charitable. And whatever benefits Daboll brings, It's hard to bet on being a winner when you're 23rd in DVOA

Also, unfortunately they and the Vikings are exactly the kind of teams you would expect next year to take a major step back in the win total column. If they let Barkley and Jones walk, It becomes even easier to take that bet. And then if that happens, everyone is going to label the giants underachievers and a disappointment. This is a complete opposite effect you get when a coach sucks in your one and overachieves in year two.

The problem with making the playoffs is you're now forced into this ugly optics situation where moving on from Jones and Barkley looks a lot worse than if they had been a four-win team. 

Points: 3

#20 by IlluminatusUIUC // Jan 02, 2023 - 9:15am

I can't speak to the New York media situation, but in Buffalo lucking into a drought-busting playoff spot bought Sean McDermott a lot of leash. He needed it to escape the criticism for trading away the pick that become Mahomes. 

Points: 4

#100 by Mike B. In Va // Jan 04, 2023 - 8:50am

...and yet he only needed one down year to recover to being a playoff team - after ditching practically the entire drought-busting roster, including the starting QB. The Bills weren't going to pick Mahomes anyway.

If there's a lesson there, it's "if you think you know who your QB is, do what it takes to get him." The Giants may be making noises, but their GM knows better.

Points: 0

#102 by KnowGuruz // Jan 05, 2023 - 7:24pm

You clearly dont know what your talking about. I have to wonder about clowns like you. Do you seriously think you know better than Daboll? Ppl in the know new that was a HR signing and to take THAT team to the playoffs? I cant fathom literal losers like you who are like ' well we shouldve lost'....Im not even a Giants fan but the 2 players you mentioned? They deserve to get paid

Points: 0

#105 by Aparicio11 // Jan 06, 2023 - 12:06am

Wrong site. I think you are looking for “Bleacher Report”

Points: 0

#8 by thok // Jan 02, 2023 - 7:36am

As a 49er fan who has seen this team make two deep playoff runs with Jimmy G as QB, I'm not particularly worried about Brock Purdy or the NFC old guard.  The Niners will have issues with Patrick Mahomes if they meet him in the Super Bowl and there's always a possibility of an any given Sunday fluke, but this will be a fun ride.

Points: 4

#48 by rh1no // Jan 02, 2023 - 11:18am

I was able to watch the 49ers for the first time this season, and I was impressed by Purdy. No, he didn't look like the second coming of Joe Montana, but he wasn't some Weekend at Bernie's passer being (completely) propped up by Shanahan's system. He made good decisions. He fed the ball to his playmakers. He even hit some nice passes in tight windows. That's not easy for a first year passer ... especially one drafted in the seventh round.

The 49ers may not have a world-beater at QB, but they might be the most complete team in the NFL. I think they're the favorites to win the NFC.

Points: 0

#51 by Raiderfan // Jan 02, 2023 - 12:09pm

Sorry, but I do not think there exists a world where a team that gave up 34 points to a. stidham led team can be the favourite to win anything.

Points: 1

#60 by Ben // Jan 02, 2023 - 1:11pm

I didn’t watch any of the game, but that’s what shocked me the most about the final score. There’s been a lot of talk about how good the 49ers defense is, and then that happens??

Points: 0

#64 by big10freak // Jan 02, 2023 - 1:31pm

Not dismissing the game outright, but I have seen many a good D late in the season have a game where you just scratch your head on what the blank happened.


The 1997 Packers finished 3rd in defensive DVOA, but a Colts team that finished 3-13 put up 41 points and almost 500 yards on GB in game 11.  With Paul Justin at qb!


I am sure others here can think of other examples.  The Niners have a really good defense as shown over the course of the season.  One blip doesn't change that fact

Points: 5

#104 by KnowGuruz // Jan 05, 2023 - 7:30pm

Wait a minute. You didnt watch Purdy until the Raiders game?

And yet your complementing him.

Thats crazy he was below average in that game, missed many throws downfield, checked the ball down when guys were open for long gains...The issue is Kyle Shanahan isnt getting enough credit. Hes clearly coach of the year 

Points: 0

#10 by big10freak // Jan 02, 2023 - 7:54am

Bit surprised that FO has not done an article about Keisean Nixon


For those not aware Nixon replaced Amari Rodgers, third round pick who was an abject disaster as a returner.


Leads the NFL in return attempts despite starting midseason.  Nixon returns EVERYTHING.  

Since game 10 he has more than 100 kickoff return yards in 7 of 8 games.  He had 95 in the other game.

He has had a 50 yard or greater return I think now in 4 straight games.

Keisean Nixon Stats, Height, Weight, Position, Draft, College | Pro-Football-Reference.com


He's a marvel



Points: 3

#19 by PackerPete // Jan 02, 2023 - 9:14am

Nixon has had some great returns. The TD against the Vikings was a Moses Up The Middle. The Viking cover team spread apart like the Red Sea. Nixon had a 10 yard gap with only the kicker to beat. The kicker made a tackle attempt that would have made Mac Jones proud, but sadly, no one else on an NFL roster. 

The Packer defensive stand after the blocked punt to the one yard line followed by Nixon's TD return set an early tone. With Nixon's emergence, it's getting easier for Bisaccia to justify the first million of his $2 million salary.

The 12-3 Vikings were 3.5 point underdogs against the 7-8 Packers. I read in Peter King's article this morning that the 12-4 Vikings are a 1 point favorite on the road against the 3-13 Bears. The bookies certainly have no faith in Minnesota.

Points: 1

#22 by big10freak // Jan 02, 2023 - 9:19am

Nixon didn't ever run at top speed on that return.  By his own admission he looked around and 'shifted down' to reduce a chance of aggravating his groin injury.


That nobody on the Vikes was even in the rear view mirror at the end as he crossed the goal line is crazy.  What happened to everyone??  Did Lazard play ST and knock EVERYONE down??

Points: 3

#46 by AFCNFCBowl // Jan 02, 2023 - 11:10am

To be fair, the oddsmakers might be anticipating the Vikings resting starters. I doubt the Vikings would be essentially a PK against the Bears, even they aren't that bad.

Points: 1

#58 by anthonytwotimes // Jan 02, 2023 - 12:57pm

Without their luck this season, they are an under .500 team. They are bad. 

Points: 0

#12 by big10freak // Jan 02, 2023 - 8:02am

Apparently Za'Darius Smith ran to the clubhouse immediately after the game having nothing to do with any of his former teammates.  Smith was very upset at the beginning of the 2021 season when not named a captain, and by all accounts has held that grudge to this day.


And fwiw there remain a lot not so quiet talk that Smith basically sat out the last quarter or more of the 2021 season when he could have gone in silent protest (if that is the word) 


Man, that's some serious grudge holding



Points: 0

#14 by theslothook // Jan 02, 2023 - 8:11am

I hope somewhere Jim Irsay is watching this season unfold in the aftermath of firing Frank Reich.

I love Jeff Saturday as a player so I'm not throwing any shade his way when I say this set of weeks that have come really shouldn't have been a shock to anyone but I guess Jimbo himself. Usually a team that fires their coach midway gets a little boost in motivation. It's a sad twisty of irony to see The exact same problems that plagued Frank Reich only become magnified under Saturday's watch while the rest of the roster that Frank Reich plugged as best he could have sprung leaks everywhere. Squint hard enough and this quarterback carousel really is no different than the Bears two years ago.

They say when you have two quarterbacks, you have no quarterbacks, so what does it say when you're shuffling between three like the Colts are?

Points: 1

#24 by PackerPete // Jan 02, 2023 - 9:20am

The Colts biggest problem might be Jim Irsay. He never in a zillion years would have found a way to own an NFL franchise except for inheritance. After listening to him talk a few times this season and his hiring of the team's announcer as interim coach, I'd say the Colts fans have a long term problem. 

Points: 1

#35 by Will Allen // Jan 02, 2023 - 10:20am

And the only reason he inherited was because his father stole enough money from the taxpayers of northern Illinois, back when 16 million could buy an NFL franchise. Unlike some heirs, Jim Irsay had no training from a parent who was a competent manager of businesses.

Points: 3

#49 by serutan // Jan 02, 2023 - 11:51am

To build on what Will said, the scary part is up to the present time he's been a much better owner than his father. But the last couple of years seem to be indicating that might be changing.

Points: 2

#62 by Ben // Jan 02, 2023 - 1:23pm

Yeah, over the years, for the most part, he didn’t intervene to much in the football decisions, which is what you generally want from an owner. Recently, it seems he has been getting more involved, and this train wreck is the result. 

I never thought Reich was the major problem (though, admittedly he may not have been part of the solution either). Since his firing, everything the offense has managed to look even more incompetent and even the defense is regressing. I don’t see how Chris Ballard is getting a pass here. They have a talented RB, LB, and DT on this roster, and that’s basically it. This team is a long way from contending.  

Points: 1

#15 by andrew // Jan 02, 2023 - 8:48am

The Vikings in this game, scored their first garbage points of the season, two touchdowns after being down 41-3.   In their other 3 losses, vs Philadelphia and Dallas they never scored after the first quarter, and vs Detroit their last score made it a one score game in the 4th quarter.

On the flip side, if you define garbage scores as score when trailing by enough that the game is a foregone conclusion..... the Vikings have not allowed a single garbage point this season.   The closest was their game vs Miami when the Dolphins scored a TD down 14 with under 2 minutes left, but that made it a one score game. I couldn't find a hard and fast definition of "garbage time" but that seems to not qualify.


Points: 0

#18 by IlluminatusUIUC // Jan 02, 2023 - 9:10am

Well this year's Vikings now hold the all time comeback record, so it's hard to say when a loss becomes a foregone conclusion. But I take your point. 

Points: 1

#25 by PackerPete // Jan 02, 2023 - 9:23am

The Vikings haven't led by enough to allow garbage points with, what, eleven one-score wins? Other than the opener against the Packers and the second half against the Colts, the Vikings haven't dominated anyone and they've taken real beat downs in their four losses. Not a good precedent going into the playoffs.

Points: 1

#40 by andrew // Jan 02, 2023 - 10:41am

There really isn't any precedent for it.     We just look at the next worst teams but most. of those opened on the road.    Your worst playoff losses in history (which includes the Vikings loss in the NFCCG in 2000, albeit after a home win) were on the road.  

The Dolphins loss to the Jaguars in 1999 was also after one win.   The Raiders 51-3 loss to the Bills was also after a playoff win.

Given that they are probably locked into the Giants first game and we just saw that they could well lose but I wouldnt expect a blowout.   The two teams have had some interesting playoff games.   If the Niners had lost they would be maybe facing the Packers and would probably open as a home underdog.

Minnesota probably shouldn't even play starters next week.   The 49ers won't lose to the Cards and even if so would they even want that? 

They would have lost anyway but when Schlotman went down on that failed drive from the 1 and they were forced to use the third string center, I knew they were doomed.   Then O'Neil also went out.   They really need a week off to get healthier, and week 18 (17th game) is their best bet.

Points: 1

#16 by big10freak // Jan 02, 2023 - 9:10am

Aaron Jones had a very good day yesterday.  14 carries for 111 yards.  Put him over a 1000 yards rushing for the season with a current AVE/Carry of 5.3.  Every season fans gripe about Jones lack of use, but then again the young man is a hair over 28 but with over 5000 rush yards to his credit and three seasons of more than 1000 yards rushing.  And unless something goes amiss will finish this year with his second season over 1500 yards from the line of scrimmage.


This season is a bit odd in the lack of use near the goal line.  Jones can go inside as well as outside along with being a good pass catcher.  Why GB doesn't go to him more in the red zone is a curious thing

Points: 2

#29 by PackerPete // Jan 02, 2023 - 9:29am

Jones was used near the goal line two years ago when he had 14 TDs. He runs between the tackles better than Dillon does. During my 63 years, only Ahman Green was a better runner than Jones for Packer backs, and Jones is a better receiver than Green. Jones is fun to watch.

Points: 2

#30 by big10freak // Jan 02, 2023 - 9:38am

Are you referring to 2019?   He had 16 rush TDs and 19 overall


But yes, Jones has been great for GB.  Though no Packer rb not even Jim Taylor could match Green in short yardage.   Ahman was incredible in either finding that small opening or just making one.  

Points: 1

#31 by theslothook // Jan 02, 2023 - 9:43am

Ahman looked so amazing in 03, it was hard to understand what happened to his career thereafter. I was fairly young in my NFL fandom and so in pure retrospect, i just assumed that was mostly driven by the offensive line as Naji Davenport looked good in relief and the entire league seemed to produce good rushing offenses that year. Maybe it's injuries that's to blame?

Points: 0

#17 by Will Allen // Jan 02, 2023 - 9:10am

I expected the Packers to score at least 35 , with 40+ a nonsurprise, but to be honest, with 14 from returns, I would have pegged it 45+.

As to the Vikings offense, when their 2nd string center was carted off on their 2nd play, I was 95% sure they wouldn't score 20. When their best o-lineman, O'Neill, went down 5 minutes later, I was 100% sure. It was hilarious to here Romo say that O'Connell should tell Cousins, on the road with a 3rd string center, who likely had zero practice reps, to can snap count variation, and just go on one or two, since executing the snap was now so challenging. Cousins was trying not to get killed, as having the Packers successfully jump the snap every other play would likely result in. Not for the 1st time, it became apparent to me that competent center play is the most underrated factor in a successful offense.

Points: 6

#21 by big10freak // Jan 02, 2023 - 9:17am

The refs were letting guys play yesterday.  Both lines were holding though not blatantly while the secondaries were pretty much permitted to do whatever.  Jefferson definitely was roughed up while Watson was clearly held or interfered with multiple times which made both qbs attempts at shot plays pretty pointless.  

Points: 0

#26 by Will Allen // Jan 02, 2023 - 9:26am

Alexander blatantly pulled Jefferson down by the jersey the first time Jefferson was targeted, and Nance praised Alexander for great coverage. There's a reason I prefer to watch games with the volume muted if I'm watching alone. The Vikings were doomed anyways, but they aren't beating anybody if PI and holding Jefferson goes uncalled; it's about 50% of their offense.

Points: 4

#52 by jmaron // Jan 02, 2023 - 12:11pm

The Packers and Vikings both seem like teams in decline phase to me - I don't mean this year - I mean a general trend over the last 5 years or so. The Vikings built a really good defence and had a good enough offence to be a decent team, but the defenders got old and the offence is getting worse as Theilen, Cook and Cousins decline with age. 

GB's run has been a long one, obviously due to a great QB. But Rodgers is not the player he was. Maybe Love is really good and takes over the way Rodgers did for Favre, we'll see, but I think Detroit is a team on the rise. Not sold on Fields yet, but he might be Hurts 2.0. I could see this division flipped with Det and Chic being the leaders of the division for next 3+ years. 



Points: 1

#55 by big10freak // Jan 02, 2023 - 12:39pm

Regarding GB's future the 2022 draft is looking to be pretty good.  Both first round picks have shown promise,  Watson is a legit receiver with plus, plus speed, Doubs also looking good, Zach Toms has filled in at both tackle spots and guard with no serious dropoff in performance relative to the starter, and Engabare sets a good edge while pushes the pocket on pass attempts.  If the team can hang onto Nixon as a returner for 2023 the biggest concerns I have are with 12 and the team retaining Joe Barry.  Otherwise I think the roster looks to be in decent shape


And the team has already stated they are keeping Love.  I don't think Love can ever be anything than 'ok'.  But if 12 either collapses or joins some cult JL is at least serviceable in my estimation.  

Points: 0

#57 by dank067 // Jan 02, 2023 - 12:54pm

If Rodgers comes back, the Packers are plausibly a better team next year. They have a lot of young players contributing now and can still make a few roster moves before they completely cap themselves out. It would just be a short blip up before it goes down in the end, but if the NFC still sucks... ugh, why am I talking myself into it. If a concussed Tua hadn't thrown three balls straight to them on Christmas we're probably back to talking about whether it's possible to trade Rodgers. They could lose by two touchdowns to the Lions next week.

Based on how they approached this past offseason, it kind of seems like the Vikings are committed to trying to stay competitive rather than tear it down. If they draft well they can probably continue to compete for the North over the next few seasons, but I doubt it will be very interesting.

The Lions have enough pieces in place already to be tempted to sign a veteran QB to try to win now, but to me they are exactly the type of situation (especially with their offense) that if you drop in a rookie QB and he turns out to be decent that you can have a very, very high ceiling for 4-5 years. If the rookie sucks it will be disappointing, but if you hand someone like Derek Carr a market rate contract, it may just end up playing out like the current iteration of the Vikings. That said, the Rams winning a few games recently might make it harder for Detroit to actually draft a QB high this year.

The Bears roster is a black hole. I don't know if a team this bad can be re-built in one offseason. Also, I don't know what else they can really do on offense right now given the limitations at OL and WR, but Justin Fields has taken multiple seasons' worth of hits this year and that's just not sustainable. He took some huge shots yesterday and I think the reason they largely stopped calling designed run plays for him was because he was hurt.

Points: 5

#67 by Joey-Harringto… // Jan 02, 2023 - 1:43pm

I don’t see how Derek Carr is that much of an upgrade over Jared Goff (even if Goff is likely to regress from his career-best performance this year), especially since you’ll have to give up draft capital for him.

“the Rams winning a few games recently might make it harder for Detroit to actually draft a QB high this year.”

The ironic thing is that the Lions will be torn rooting for playoff hopes vs draft position in the Rams-Seahawks game.   The worst case scenario is the Rams somehow winning, yet the Lions losing to the Packers.

Points: 1

#70 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 02, 2023 - 2:08pm

Which, of course, will happen.

The Lions need a defense, not a veteran QB.

Points: 3

#92 by LionInAZ // Jan 03, 2023 - 12:10am

Yes, the Lions need a defense, but I think they need more middle round players than 1st rounders.

Points: 0

#23 by Will Allen // Jan 02, 2023 - 9:19am

Oh, and if Bradbury doesn't get back, and O'Neill stays out, there's no way the Vikings are beating anybody in the 1st playoff game at home, because they likely will need to score close to 30 to win, given how bad the Vikings defense is.

Points: 0

#28 by big10freak // Jan 02, 2023 - 9:26am

Any pass rush yesterday came from Hunter.  Smith was a non factor.  MN needs both contributing to protect that secondary.  

Points: 0

#33 by Will Allen // Jan 02, 2023 - 10:02am

It's an incompetently coached defense, which is kind of notable, given that in addition to Donatell, there are two more guys with long experience as coordinators. It's not quite at Cottrellian levels of malfeasance, but it's a long ways from decent.

Points: 0

#32 by big10freak // Jan 02, 2023 - 9:49am

And I will post again that with each game it appears more and more likely that Barry will keep his job. 

Pretty low bar when the DC is praised for scheming to cover the opponent’s all world receiver.  


Points: -1

#56 by DisplacedPackerFan // Jan 02, 2023 - 12:52pm

I hate that I think you are right. Barry really needs to go. The scheme is still weak, some luck driven tipped ints and a few great individual plays, like Clark's strip sack and Douglass's int a few weeks ago, is not sustainable and without all the turnovers the defense still sucks.

Really don't want it to save his job.

Points: 0

#59 by dank067 // Jan 02, 2023 - 1:07pm

The thing is that even if they replace Barry, I'm pretty sure LaFleur still wants the same scheme/general approach to defense. The scheme looks better elsewhere, like in Denver and LA last year, but why? If it's because the Packers roster isn't good enough, replacing the DC may not do much to help. If Barry just did that poor of a job implementing the scheme or the assistant coaches weren't coaching guys up properly, ok, but I'm assuming we'd be looking at a similar pool of DC candidates and assistant coaches as last time around. I'm pessimistic.

Points: 0

#61 by big10freak // Jan 02, 2023 - 1:23pm

I am firmly in the camp that Barry is the core issue.  I see the individual play of Alexander, Clark, Gary, aided by solid/plus veterans like Preston Smith/Douglas and now with an infusion of younger talent like Walker/Wyatt/Engabare.  These guys are all winning individual matchups which is the 'only' reason the defense is accomplishing anything.  


If Barry could add 'anything' of substance this defense at minimum would be top 12 by DVOA.  


Case in point.  It should not have taken an injury to get Dean off the field.  The offensive counterpart was Royce Newman who the coaches yanked after six games.  Dean was equally awful on the defense and yet every week there he was taking the bulk of the snaps.  


Or in the macro a coordinator needs to recognize the talent, align the talent, motivate the talent.  I don't think Barry can recognize talent unless it's super obvious or he's forced to use someone.  I don't think he can align the talent meaning setting guys up to succeed.  His own dbs despise the soft zone and yet until very late in the season that was the staple coverage.  Kenny Clark should be moved around the line with Slaton taking nosetackle snaps.  Again the vast majority of the season Clark was at nose so Lowry and Reed could spin their wheels.  


As for motivating the only reason the D has perked up is that by chance GB won some games so the playoff opportunity seemed to get guys energized.  I think every Packer fan heard the rumors that the D had given up on Barry and begun to do their own thing from Alexander freelancing in coverage to Kenny taking like 5-6 weeks off making a business decision about his body.  So I have no confidence that it is Barry getting these guys ready to play.  This is all the players.


If Matt is paying attention he would know these things and not allow any short term positive blip sway his judgement based over almost two years of subpar output. 

Points: 1

#65 by BigRichie // Jan 02, 2023 - 1:36pm

Everyone schemes "to cover the opponent's all world receiver." Difference here being that, unlike so many other defenses this season, the Packers schemed and (this time) succeeded.

Some low bar. You are starting to really, really reach in your arguments against Barry.

Points: 0

#69 by big10freak // Jan 02, 2023 - 1:50pm

Sigh.  I have explained in greater detail in other threads along with a post in this discussion.


I do not agree with Matt who regularly puts the subpar results on a lack of consistent player execution.  I am not absolving the players.  But I do believe the output is ultimately a reflection of management and that responsibility lies with Barry.  This is year two of substandard results per all available assessments.


In any business that's more than enough to make a determination that a separation is appropriate.



Points: 0

#78 by BigRichie // Jan 02, 2023 - 4:38pm


If you want to be taken seriously, writing 'so what they shut down Justin Jefferson?? LOW BAR!!!' is the exact wrong way to go about it.

When it comes to Packer DC Barry, I'm certainly inclined to believe whatever is the opposite of what you write. (when you pull crap like that)

Points: -1

#84 by dank067 // Jan 02, 2023 - 6:25pm

Do you actually think Barry is doing a good job? Explain. I really enjoyed yesterday's win but it's one good defensive performance in a season of pretty poor ones. (And Week 1 was awful, especially in retrospect.)

I'm pessimistic that replacing Barry will fix the defense just because I think there are some fundamental issues with their underlying scheme/approach independent from Barry, their talent level on that side of the ball might be a little overstated, and that the position coaches (as well as the head coach and GM) all bear responsibility for who is getting playing time and how talent is being developed. But big10 is making a perfectly sound argument that Barry is ultimately accountable for their issues on defense.

Points: 0

#87 by BigRichie // Jan 02, 2023 - 7:53pm

Nothing to explain, as I made myself very clear.

You and big10 KNOW! that Barry stinks. Ergo, when they shut down Justin Friggin' Jefferson! that becomes a "low bar". Because, you see, Barry stinks. Which makes it a "perfectly sound argument".

I have no particular opinion on how Barry is doing. When big10 calls shutting down Justin Jefferson a "low bar", and you call that "a perfectly sound argument", well ... Why should I consider whatever else you have to say on the matter?

Points: 0

#34 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 02, 2023 - 10:16am

Tomlin has dragged himself back to .500. He’s like a Terminator.

Points: 6

#36 by Will Allen // Jan 02, 2023 - 10:25am

I haven't watched the Steelers this year until yesterday. Pickett may be a good qb.

Points: 0

#38 by RickD // Jan 02, 2023 - 10:34am

He's raw, even for a rookie, but he does look like he has potential.

Josh Allen has ruined it for those of us who want to dismiss QBs after their rookie seasons.

Points: 2

#41 by johonny // Jan 02, 2023 - 10:48am

Good coach with good staff run by a good front office. 

Points: 1

#39 by RickD // Jan 02, 2023 - 10:41am

That play...

At least once per game, Matt Patricia finds a way to get me to scream at the TV.  When, clearly, the plan is to turn over the ball on downs, why does he design a play where Mac Jones will run backwards 10 yards, first?

'Let the defense fight for those 10 yards!  Arrgggh!

As to Mac - stop running backwards!  You never escape the sack.  You're not mobile. 

There was a three-play sequence in the first half of

  • 1st down: Mac runs backwards 9 yards to get sacked, creating 2nd and 19.
  • 2nd down: Rhamondre nearly makes the 1st down, gaining 18 yards.
  • 3rd down: Mac runs backwards 11 yards to get sacked, pushing the Pats out of FG range.

I know the coaching is bad and the line is inconsistent, but Mac isn't helping his cause when he does things like this.  Brady was immobile, but he recognized that and would take 3-5 yard sacks.  It makes a difference.

Points: 5

#44 by poplar cove // Jan 02, 2023 - 10:57am

I'm not an Aaron Rodgers fan because I'm a Lions fan but he ended up getting the last laugh out of all those crying about the vaccine last year considering nobody in the NFL cares anymore about COVID (thankfully)

Points: -14

#45 by theslothook // Jan 02, 2023 - 11:06am

Not that it would matter in the slightest to him, but i for one lost a lot of respect for him as a person. Say what you want about Kyrie Irving, at least he was honest and brave enough to face the music of his actions. Rodgers intentionally mislead people then turned around called it a witch hunt.

Points: 14

#63 by RickD // Jan 02, 2023 - 1:24pm

"Thankfully nobody in the NFL cares about COVID."

I never in my life would have imagined this country could devolve into this. 

COVID: kills over a million people

Popular response: Let's ignore it! 

Points: 11

#50 by serutan // Jan 02, 2023 - 11:54am

the Lions got an opportunity to gauge just how far they have come on Sunday.


    Another measure is that if Cincy wins tonight, the Lions will probably be on Sunday Night Football.

Points: 2

#93 by LionInAZ // Jan 03, 2023 - 12:18am

If the game weren't at legendsry ref home-cooking venue Lambeau Field I might agree with you.

Points: 0

#53 by DocPossum // Jan 02, 2023 - 12:12pm

Correction: The Bills are hosting the Patriots.

The Bills visited the Pats after Thanksgiving and easily rolled them with their run game and a few great Josh Allen plays.

Points: 2

#68 by Lost Ti-Cats Fan // Jan 02, 2023 - 1:48pm

It's unlikely to be any better for NE in the re-match.  NE's D is vulnerable to mobile QBs; see not only the first game against BUF, but also the loss to CHI when they couldn't get the Bears off the field on 3rd down as they had no answer to Fields' scrambling.

Maybe they get lucky and Allen throws a few pick sixes, but that's not much of a plan.  Counting on a Matt Patricia led offense to outscore the Bills isn't much of a plan, either.

Seems to me the main question for week 18 is can Miami outscore the Mike White Jets?  That seems like a coin toss to me.  If the Dolphins flounder, can PIT avoid flopping against CLE?  

Overall, I'd give MIA about a 45% chance of sneaking in, PIT a 40% chance, and NE about a 15% chance of either winning or backing into the playoffs. 

Points: 0

#76 by IlluminatusUIUC // Jan 02, 2023 - 3:26pm

If the Chiefs get upset on Saturday, the Bills may have little to play for. If Buffalo wins tonight, a Chiefs loss clinches the 1 seed. If Buffalo loses to Cincy, the chance of the 1 seed is all but gone, so they may choose to rest Allen, Poyer, and a few others to get a pseudo bye. 

Points: 0

#66 by Joey-Harringto… // Jan 02, 2023 - 1:38pm

The Bears’ coaching staff should get more heat for leaving Fields in when the game was essentially over, and he was getting creamed on on every other play.  I know they lost two starters, but that was the worst offensive line performance I’ve seen this side of the 2016 Vikings.

Points: 2

#71 by Will Allen // Jan 02, 2023 - 2:10pm

Sam Bradford was unbelievably good that year. It convinced me that poor coaching and injury derailed what could have been an outstanding NFL career.

Points: 1

#77 by BigRichie // Jan 02, 2023 - 4:29pm

"unbelievably good"?!?

Will, after 6 mediocre seasons Sam in '16 dinked his way to a record high completion %. Along with a low yards per attempt, and a very, very low yards per completion.

That's not even an outstanding single season. And it's far and away his best.

Points: 0

#83 by Will Allen // Jan 02, 2023 - 5:30pm

You have zero appreciation with regard to how good the qb had to be, to have that offense finish 16th by DVOA, with absolutely zero blocking (free agents off the street were replacing the last free agents off the street who were injured), receivers and running backs injured. It was a great performance.

Points: 2

#89 by BigRichie // Jan 02, 2023 - 8:25pm

Adrian Peterson could complain a lot, in that the O-line certainly torpedoed his numbers. Bradford could complain a decent amount, but no more. QBs determine sacks more than the O-line. And with his short passing game, Sam actually didn't take all that many that year.

Sure, the Vikings' O-line that year was trashed. Bradford was the perfect QB for it, in that he always threw the quick short pass. But he didn't do it because of his O-line. That's the way Bradford played his entire career. Including a '15 Eagles team which the year before he arrived had won 10 games. It's who Sam was and ever would be, regardless of what O-line and receivers you gave him. He was a limited quarterback whose strengths and weaknesses did equip him well for the particular challenge he did face in '16.

Points: 0

#90 by Will Allen // Jan 02, 2023 - 10:39pm

Peterson started 3 games before he was hurt. His backup lasted 6 games. Diggs was hurt in the 4th game, hobbled through 7 more starts, then was done. Thielen was available for about 6 games. There was nothing for him to work with,  given, especially the non-existence of an offensive line. It was an outstanding performance to qb that group to a 16th ranked DVOA.


Points: 2

#95 by Harris // Jan 03, 2023 - 11:00am

I have spent years trying to convince Will that Bradford was a gutless bum who would throw behind the sticks on 3rd-and-inches. This is a losing battle, friend.

Points: 0

#96 by theslothook // Jan 03, 2023 - 11:06am

In his defense, sometimes QBs can play well over a stretch lasting even a season. So both can be true.

Points: 0

#97 by Will Allen // Jan 03, 2023 - 11:51am

I can only comment on the one year I watched him closely. The last thing he was that season was gutless.

Points: 0

#98 by jmaron // Jan 03, 2023 - 12:07pm

Bradford took horrendous hits, he didn't seem to have self preservation skills. 

Points: 0

#73 by Legion // Jan 02, 2023 - 3:01pm

The Belichick/Patricia dialogue didn’t even mention that they ran all that to the SHORT SIDE of the field. 

I think Patricia misunderstood what flooding a zone means. 

Points: 4

#85 by MJK // Jan 02, 2023 - 6:30pm

You also left out the bit where they line up in shotgun without even the pretense that they might run the ball…

Points: 0

#74 by Legion // Jan 02, 2023 - 3:06pm

Brock Purdy would rescue the family after rescuing Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo from their broken jet skis.

Points: 3

#80 by TomC // Jan 02, 2023 - 5:01pm

Thanks to FO today, my earworms have gone from Mr. Plow to Mr. Ed, with a brief stop on London Calling.

Points: 0

#86 by young curmudgeon // Jan 02, 2023 - 7:32pm

"Phony MinshewMania has Bitten the Dust"  Always appreciate a Clash reference.  Here's another:

He's in love with Mac Jones, whoa

He's in love with Marcus Jones, whoa

He's in love with Jonathon Jones, whoa

But he don't like his boring team, No.

Points: 0

#94 by liquidmuse3 // Jan 03, 2023 - 9:57am

The Pitch Meeting reference at the end! Well played, Tanier.

Points: 0

Save 10%
& Support Mike
Support Football Outsiders' independent media and Mike Tanier. Use promo code TANIER to save 10% on any FO+ membership and give half the cost of your membership to tip Mike.