Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas NFL Games Review

Yes, there were only two games throughout the NFL today, even though this was the last Sunday in December. That, of course, is because it is Christmas Sunday.

At least the two games were very interesting, with tons of playoff ramifications for all the teams involved in the two games. 

Both were AFC divisional showdowns, and in both, the visiting team faced possible elimination with a loss. The first featured the visiting Baltimore Ravens at the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the second had the defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos visiting the Kansas City Chiefs.

Let's see how it went:

Pittsburgh 31, Baltimore 27 - Okay, I have to admit that while this was pretty much the outcome I expected, it was not the one that I wanted. Frankly, it's a bit tiring to watch the AFC North, and has been for many years now. The Broncos and the Bengals are consistently unimpressive, and that even includes the Bengals recent slate of playoff seasons, which just happened to end this year. Pittsburgh has gone to Super Bowls in recent years, while the Bengals, despite having made the playoffs six of the prior seven seasons, have a grand total of zero playoff wins dating back to the 1990-91 season. Back then, Sam Wyche was still the head coach,Boomer Esiason was still the quarterback, and Icky Woods was still the running back. That is how far you have to go back to remember the last time that the Bengals were seriously relevant in the AFC playoffs, because they never, ever win the truly big games. Sure, they somehow came close against Pittsburgh last January, but that almost exception still proved the rule that they just cannot do it. And the Browns are even worse, having not qualified for the postseason since the 2002 season, and not having won a playoff game since the 1994-95 season, when someone named Bill Belichik was their head coach. That leaves the Ravens as the only serious contender outside of the dominant Steelers, and although Baltimore has enjoyed success, they have traditionally just not been able to beat Pittsburgh with any degree of consistency. Admittedly, my major problem with Pittsburgh is their quarterback, who does not even deserve to still be playing in the league, based on his conduct off the field. That is why I am tired of them and their success, and actively route against them. Yet, admittedly, they usually win, and did so this season again, as well. One more come from behind win to capture the division title for - who else? - the Steelers. Yawn! Anything else on?

Kansas City 33, Denver 10 - The Broncos could feel the season slipping away as they entered into this game. Denver started off the season with an impressive 4-0 start, and looked every bit the part of a defending champion that was playoff bound. But then they lost a couple in a row, and looked human. Still, they were sitting pretty at 7-3 just about a month ago, one game behind Oakland, and tied with the Chiefs for second, when KC and Denver met at Mile High. KC won, and the Droncos never seemed to be the same after that loss. Since then, Denver has won only one game, and that was to lowly Jacksonville. They had lost three of four, and their flickering playoff chances rested on certain scenarios that required their getting help, but they first needed to help themselves by winning. They did not, as KC jumped ahead early, and then essentially wore the defending champs down as the game. Alex Smith had a decent day, completing 25 of 36 pass attempts for 244 yards and one touchdown, as well as one interception. He also ran for a touchdown, and his stability and leadership helped KC in this victory. The defense for the Chiefs effectively shut Denver down, Kansas City had already locked up a playoff spot going into this game, but the win allows them to stay right on the heels of Oakland, who are a game ahead, but without their young star quarterback. The Raiders will visit Mile High next weekend, and if Denver does KC a favor by beating them, then the Chiefs could win the division, and pick up a playoff bye in the process, by beating the Chargers at San Diego.

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