With three weeks remaining in the 2019 NFL season, only three
teams have confirmed their participation in the postseason so far.
Two divisions have been wrapped up with the Saints and
Chiefs both locked in while the Ravens have guaranteed themselves a wild card
spot and can secure the AFC North this coming weekend.
This was one of the best weekends of NFL action in recent memory
with upsets, tight finishes and genuinely compelling storylines.
We’ve studied the scores, stats and plays from all 16 games and
found our five key takeaways right here.
1 – Road Warriors
December is a busy time of year for travel and can produce some mixed results, but this past weekend was a successful one for road teams.
teams went 11-3-2 against the spread this week including some big
results in terms of the playoff picture.
The late morning window was extremely profitable for backing
the road team with three of the four visitors favoured in their matchups, starting
with the Chargers who had no trouble swatting away the Jaguars.
In the biggest AFC game of the weekend, Chiefs went into New
England and, with a couple of beneficial calls, came away with a win that keeps
their hopes of a first round bye alive while the Titans stormed home against a
Raiders team that just didn’t have the bodies to keep up.
Pittsburgh also had a big win as a road favourite over the
Cardinals in probably the least surprising result of those games.
Only Dallas, Carolina and Seattle didn’t cover their spreads
with the Seahawks result probably the biggest surprise of the bunch, while the Lions
and Colts both pushed on the spread.
How did such a big swing towards the road teams happen?
For some teams like Cincinnati and Washington, they have
been that bad all season they have to be underdogs by two scores so if their
opponent takes them lightly and they decide to be competitive, they are more
than capable of keeping things close, while the Ravens, Chiefs and 49ers all
won games against other good teams that were probably going to be close anyway.
Of course just because it happened this weekend, don’t
expect that to be repeated next weekend but there’s still a couple of good plays
Buffalo is 5-1 on the road against the spread (with five of
the six games going under as well) and they travel to Pittsburgh to try and
keep the pressure on New England.
2 – The 49ers Are Legit
A lot of attention has gone the way of the 49ers defence this
season, but Kyle Shanahan’s team answered quite a few questions in New Orleans
Thanks to the Seahawks losing (more on that later), beating another
Super Bowl contender in their building, San Francisco is now back in control of
their own playoff fate.
What was a bigger benefit for them was seeing just what that
offence was capable of, matching Drew Brees in a game that became a quarterback
If they get into a similar battle in January, you have to give
the 49ers a chance to match their opponent score for score.
Not that they want to get into a game where both teams are
topping 40 points, as much fun as it would be for us to watch.
Getting a win this weekend against the Falcons is vital with
their final two games coming against the Rams and Seahawks, with the final game
possibly deciding the top seed.
3 – The Chiefs Are Good Enough to Contend
Kansas City’s training staff have been very busy this season
as injuries have kept them from operating at full capacity for most of the
Andy Reid has done a good enough job coaching the side keeping
things rolling with contributions from different areas instead of putting it
all on the arm of Patrick Mahomes.
They were far from perfect yesterday against New England but
it was enough to get them over the line in a clash between two heavyweights.
Yes, there was a bit of luck going their way in the second
half but in games like this, luck can be the deciding factor and they have
managed to win three of their last five against the Patriots, a record not many
teams can crow about.
We know who the Chiefs are, they will blow you out of the
water early and hold onto the lead and with their penchant for fast starts, if
you want a bit of value, back them to lead at halftime and then win the game.
There are some questions about an injury to Mahomes’
throwing hand but it doesn’t seem like too much to worry about long term.
4 – Rams Run it Home
There’s always one team that gets hot in December and
becomes “that team nobody wants to face” in the playoffs.
After 12 weeks of looking pretty average, the Rams have come
to life in the past two weeks with their win over the Seahawks maintaining a
pulse on their playoff hopes.
While they are on the outside looking in for the playoff
picture at the moment, winning out gives them a great chance of finishing as
the sixth seed.
It won’t come easy but there is no reason to think they can’t
put up a similarly dominant performance this weekend against the Dallas Cowboys
who look like stumbling into the playoff picture almost by default thanks to
the rubbish NFC East.
For the most part it’s been a forgettable season for LA but
a strong finish here could give them something to build on for 2020 as well.
5 – Texans v Titans Preview
The best race we’ve got going in the AFC comes from the South
division where it’s looking increasingly likely the Texans and Titans will be
faced with a “win or go home” scenario in Week 17.
For some reason, the NFL’s schedule genius has these two
sides not playing each other until this weekend and then again 14 days later.
It’s worked out pretty well though from a viewership perspective
considering they are tied at 8-5 and whoever finishes as runner up for the
division title will probably miss the playoffs.
There’s a chance for someone to create a margin for error
this weekend in Nashville and the numbers say this should be a really good story
Playing in Tennessee should favour the Titans this weekend with
the last six games going the way pf the home side, and the Titans have gone 4-2
in their stadium with the Texans 3-3 on the road.
You can find a good reason to back the Texans though, their
season has followed a pretty steady pattern of lose one, win the next two and
Having been humiliated by Denver last weekend, this has all
the makings of Texans bounce back, although that pattern does suggest they will
lose in Week 17.
A 1-1 split does favour the Texans in terms of the playoff
race though with the tiebreaker giving them the division, so the Titans have to
hope for their first sweep of the current residents of their former home since
the 2007 season.
Since Ryan Tannehill took over, the Titans have looked like
a much better team offensively, helped by Derrick Henry deciding to be the best
player on the field so you can’t rule anything out.