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Contender or Pretender?

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It truly feels bass ackwards to do a 2MD after a Ravens game, but given the Thursday night crowning of the Kings of the AFC North?

We’ll just have some fun with this week’s 2MD, shake it up a bit, and enjoy a 10-day stretch between games.

We typically start with a look around the league, but today? Let’s try something a little different that I like to call “contender or pretender.” I think it’s pretty self-explanatory, so let’s take a look at the eight fringe teams and where they stand:

Houston Texans (8-5)

Pretender.

Yea, I’ll start with some controversy. The Texans face the Titans twice over the final three weeks (great job, NFL schedule-makers!), and share an 8-5 record with Tennessee right now. Tennessee looks complete – a thriving offense and a solid defense – while Houston has a dazzling (albeit inconsistent of late) offense, and a dying duck of a defense. Look for the Titans to sweep Houston and knock them clean out of AFC South contention.

Buffalo Bills (9-4)

Contender. 

That Bills defense is NO JOKE and I’d love not to see them again. They’ll nab a Wild Card spot, but I’ll take it a step further – they can make some noise and find themselves advancing out of the Wild Card Round (vs Tennessee) and giving their opponent a fight in the Divisional Round too (Kansas City, whom they’ve beaten already).

Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5)

Contender. 

Hate to say it, but the Texans’ shortcomings will be the reason the Steelers make the playoffs, not because the Steelers are worthy, or due to some Goose guy (I know it’s a Duck). Pittsburgh will lose to Buffalo on Sunday, keeping the Bills in the 5th spot, and Pittsburgh in the 6th. 

Tennessee Titans (8-5)

Contender. 

See note above under Texans, but also how about Ryan Tannehill looking like a real QB once he got a shot outside of Miami??? I would say I called this, but it’s not documented outside of a bar napkin likely in a landfill somewhere off 40 in Baltimore County…

Cowboys (6-7)

Contender.

Don’t get me wrong: the Cowboys are a team on the decline that look like they’ve accepted defeat already, but the Eagles just put Alshon Jeffrey on the IR, and they’re already anemic as it stands. If Dallas wins the NFC East at 7-9, I wouldn’t be shocked at all.

Eagles (6-7)

Pretender.

Can we blame Carson Wentz for some of this mess? Where’s Nick Foles to come save the day in Philly? Can you name two wideouts on this team? Doug Pederson has a mess on his hands…

Vikings (9-4)

Pretender.

Call me old fashioned, but I don’t trust a December version of Kirk Cousins. Two big games against two stout defenses (Packers, Bears) could spell trouble for Minnesota…

Rams (8-5)

Contender.

I’m sure the NFC doesn’t want to see the Rams sneak into a Wild Card spot but it’s happening! Games against the crumbling Cowboys, anemic Arizona, and what could be a huge game against the 49ers might be enough to sneak the Rams in at 9-7.

About The Other Night…

Shawn Hubbard/Baltimore Ravens

A 42-21 victory in which the Ravens clinched their 2nd consecutive AFC North title, and what a night it was for Lamar Jackson, as he broke the single-season rushing record for a quarterback, previously held by a guy who jumped off the Lamar bandwagon in the offseason to devote his affection to Kyler Murray, only to jump back on the LJ Train once he took off this season (real fans don’t forget, Mike Vick). 

While the victory was sweet, the record for Lamar was amazing, and knowing the Ravens truly need just one more win to lock up the top seed in the AFC is just flat out mind-blowing? This one stat absolutely blew me away.

Lamar Jackson (W1-7): 7G, 136/215 (63.3%) 1,650 yds (12.1 ypc), 11 TD, 5 INT, 83 carries, 576 yds (6.94 ypa) 3 rush TD

Lamar Jackson (W8-14): 7G, 109/155 (70.32%) 1,239 yds (11.4 ypc) 22 TD, 1 INT, 76 carries, 527 yds (6.93 ypa) 4 rush TD

Not only did Lamar Jackson improve from 2018 to 2019, he’s shown within the 2019 season he continues to improve with time, and quite frankly? That should have 31 other franchises terrified of what the future holds for Lamar and his Ravens…

Best of the Rest

With the Ravens’ victory Thursday night, Flockers have all weekend to enjoy NFL football, completely worry free. Still, there are a few games worth diving into for Week 15, some focusing on playoff hopefully, and others… well, others are just for shits & giggles.

Broncos @ Chiefs

Sun 1 pm. 

Should the Chiefs fall to the Broncos at Arrowhead on Sunday, the Ravens would immediately lock up a 1st-round bye in the playoffs. That alone should be enough reason to root for horseface Elway one time, and one time only.

Texans @ Titans

Sun 1 pm. 

The Titans are on the outside looking in, but tied with the Texans at 8-5. The winner takes over the AFC South title… at least for now as these two teams face off in Week 17 once again. 

Browns @ Cards

Sun 4:25 pm.

Remember in August when everybody was obsessed with Kyler Murray and Kliff’s Air Raid offense? Remember the clamoring for the Browns as slam dunk AFC North winners and a true Super Bowl contender? Instead, this Week 15 matchup is just two short ass QBs that both came up short in ’19… and I love it.

Bills @ Yinz

SNF 8:20 pm. 

Matchup of the two current AFC Wild Card placeholders. Should Buffalo win, they improve their chances of locking down the 5th seed, while potentially moving Pittsburgh out of the 6th seed. That’s what I’m rooting for (as if I’d ever cheer for the Steelers).

Rank Em!

I only have 2 more 2MD’s until Christmas, so let’s get festive, Flockers!

Top-5..er 2 Christmas Debates Settled.

2. Real Tree vs Fake Tree Debate.

It’s always real tree. Smells better, true tradition, and if you’re too lazy to water a tree and vacuum up some needles in January then that’s truly sad.

1. “Die Hard is a Christmas movie!” Debate.

Let me ask you this… what determines a Christmas movie to be a Christmas movie? If you said ‘takes place during Christmas’ and ‘mentions Christmas’ then suddenly thousands of movies can be added to the fold… let’s put it this way: is Trading Places with Eddie Murray and Dan Akroyd a Christmas movie just because Akroyd dresses in a santa suit and shows up to a Christmas party at one point in the movie? I rest my case.

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