NFL Week 15. “Embarrassing” and “humbling”. Two words that sum up losing to the New York Jets, according to Sean McVay, writes Matthew Carolan.
The Rams are now second place in the NFC West, and as for the Jets’ chances of a number one pick in the draft? That luxury now belongs to Jacksonville.
The Jets find new ways to fail
Imagine being so incompetent that your team cannot even succeed at being the worst team in the league. There are a number of ways to fail. One way is to lose all your games. Sure, that is bad for team morale and the overall culture of a franchise, but it does end in reward. Going into Week 15, the Jets were 0-13 and in prime position to pick Trevor Lawrence in the NFL draft.
Another way to fail is, in this circumstance, by winning. Now, because they won a game, they sit at 1-13 and have lost the number one pick to Jacksonville, who get a higher pick due to their strength of schedule.
Beating the LA Rams, who are statistically one of the most balanced teams in the NFL (with a top-five defense), is really shocking. The Rams have now lost their spot as division leaders in the NFC West, with Seattle overtaking them.
There is still a chance that the Jaguars win another game this season. If they manage to do so, then the Jets will reclaim the number one pick. That said, Trevor Lawrence will hardly be enamoured by the prospect of playing for either of these teams.
Are Buffalo the NFL’s second-best team?
The Kansas City Chiefs are the best team in the NFL. That thought is universal. However, deciding who the second-best team in the NFL is trickier.
In terms of records, there are three teams with 11 wins; Pittsburgh, Green Bay and Buffalo. Then there are a few teams with 10 wins; Tennessee, Cleveland, New Orleans and Seattle. But are any of these teams better than Buffalo?
No team outside of Kansas City with double-digit wins has a better strength of victory (SoV) than Buffalo (.451). This is important to note when reviewing a team like Pittsburgh. For 11 weeks they were undefeated, yet many were dubious about their abilities, and that can be attributed to their lacklustre SoV (.425). Similarly, it is hard to have much belief in Green Bay since they have not had many statement wins (spare an early-season win in New Orleans, perhaps).
With Green Bay, they will probably capitalise on their relatively easy schedule to get the number one seed in the NFC, and that means any team that wants to make it to the Super Bowl has to go through Green Bay.
The Bills have won their last four games by an average margin of 15 points and are on a roll. Even when you examine their losses this season, there is sound rationale behind it. Losing to Kansas City is no great shame. The Titans can be difficult on their day, and they were unfortunate to lose to Arizona because of some Kyler Murray magic.
There are a few AFC teams that would beat anyone from the NFC, but it is Buffalo who are the cream of the crop after Kansas City.
Kyler v. Jalen was a fun glimpse into the future
Philadelphia Eagles fans must be wondering 'what if' right now. What if they had given the keys to Jalen Hurts in Week 1 of this NFL season? Would they be better off? For sure. Would they be a good team? They would be a better team. But above all else, they would be a fun team.
Kyler Murray is a great player to watch. He is widely considered to be one of the most promising quarterbacks in the league. Like Lamar Jackson, he represents the quarterback of the future in that he is as likely to gain yards with his elusive ability to extend plays as he is to pick out a receiver with a pass. Hurts fits the bill in that regard too.
The Eagles and Cardinals game was one of the best from Week 15. The two quarterback's stat lines convey just how offensively enthralling it was:
- Kyler Murray | 27/36 for 406 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Eight carries for 29 yards and one touchdown.
- Jalen Hurts | 24/44 for 338 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. 11 carries for 63 yards and one touchdown.
Starting Jalen Hurts gives us a glimpse into how the Eagles can, once again, be relevant, but it also demonstrates an exciting future for the league with more dynamic quarterbacks entering the league.
More Mahomes magic
Kansas City v. New Orleans. For some, a Super Bowl preview. There was a point in the first half when the Chiefs went 14-0 up. Tony Romo suggested the Saints had not put a foot wrong, but still found themselves down by two scores. Why? Well, because of Patrick Mahomes. It is almost a weekly discussion now; how do you stop him?
We see his genius every week. When he found Hill in the end zone for a touchdown, Romo highlighted Mahomes’ use of eye movement to shift the defensive backs. He never fixated on where Hill was but was constantly aware of the two pivots he made on his route. One criticism of some quarterbacks in the league is that they ‘stare down’ their receivers, but that is something in which Mahomes is rarely guilty.
On other plays more traditional to Mahomes’ style, he keeps his eyes downfield while evading defensive pressure and then jets off with his pace or waits for a receiver to get open. There is always an out, and more often than not, he will find a player open.
Romo alluded to the strategy that the Saints would keep defensive backs deep throughout so that the only way Mahomes would beat them was with a bit of magic. Unfortunately for the Saints, Mahomes always produces a bit of magic.
Written by Matthew Carolan.
Read last week's 'Shocked, Not Shocked' right here.