Welcome to another installment of my weekly NFL Column. My goal is to watch everything so that you don’t have to. I will present to you the best games to watch back; the craziest moments; the best individual performances and the season-long stat leaders and records. I will also be previewing the upcoming gameweek, too.
If that sounds like something you’re interested in, check in each week.
Not everybody in the UK has the ability to watch almost 20 hours of live NFL every week, but I’ll make sure you don’t miss anything you’d wish you didn’t. Without further delay…
This is what happened This Week in the NFL.
I hope everyone had an amazing Christmas and enjoyed the football. If you missed anything I will make sure that anything worth knowing is covered here. Let’s do this.
Game of the Week
If you can only watch one full game in its entirety, watch this one:
Philadelphia Eagles @ Dallas Cowboys
What. A. Football. Game.
When you gather round and watch football at Christmas time, it doesn’t have to be a crazy game, you can chat with your family and eat chocolate while watching and half paying attention. But that wasn’t possible for this one. When the Jalen Hurts-less Eagles headed to Jerry’s World on Christmas Eve there were fireworks.
This game was epic, and you could barely look away, let alone speak to your family!
Last chance to watch it.
Alright, Spoiler time.
Philadelphia Eagles 34 – 40 Dallas Cowboys
I hope you watched the highlights, but if you didn’t I’ll do my best to express how many individually exciting moments there were.
So, once again, the Eagles were without Jalen Hurts, who is a legitimate MVP candidate. Enter Gardner Minshew, a cult hero for many NFL fans. He was thrust into the starting role in a huge game. And he delivered on the entertainment factor, at the very least. The ex-Jaguar threw for 355 yards with 2 TD’s and 2 interceptions. Those INT’s making up two of a total 5 forced turnovers in the game.
The most impressive turnover of the game was the sole Cowboys interception. On their first drive of the game, Dak Prescott bootlegged out and found breakout defensive end Josh Sweat approaching him. He tried to dump off a pass to the tight end behind him and Sweat made an impressive, heads-up play, jumping up to pick him off, before stiff-arming Dak and running it back for a 40-yard return TD. After that incredibly rough start, Prescott was able to turn it on, with 347 passing yards and 3 TD’s, showing his maturity.
The standout performers in the game were two young wide receivers, Devonta Smith and CeeDee Lamb who each had over 110 yards and 2 TD’s. In the shootout, there were a whopping 74 points scored, and some real highlight plays, especially by those two young stars.
If these two meet again in the playoffs, with Jalen Hurts back healthy, be ready for another Christmas cracker.
Other games to watch back
New York Giants @ Minnesota Vikings
Green Bay Packers @ Miami Dolphins
Upset of the Week
Houston Texans 19 – 14 Tennessee Titans
I think it’s fairly well established at this point that if the Texans win I will automatically write them up as my Upset of the Week (hell, I even gave them one for almost winning recently), but fair play to them, they earned this one. Yes, the Titans have been disappointing this year and didn’t have their starting QB, but the Texans shouldn’t have been winning this one. Derrick Henry has a history of absolutely baptising Houston, but this week he was actually fairly normal in his production. Houston earned this win fair and square, on the back of resilient defense and a clutch TD from Davis Mills at the end. Beautiful stuff.
Winners and Losers
Jacksonville Jaguars (7-8)
Buffalo Bills (12-3)
New Orleans Saints (6-9)
Kansas City Chiefs (12-3)
Minnesota Vikings (12-3)
Cincinnati Bengals (11-4)
Carolina Panthers (6-9)
Baltimore Ravens (10-5)
Houston Texans (2-12-1)
San Francisco 49ers (11-4)
Dallas Cowboys (11-4)
Pittsburgh Steelers (7-8)
Green Bay Packers (7-8)
Los Angeles Rams (5-10)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-8)
Los Angeles Chargers (9-6)
New York Jets (7-8)
Chicago Bears (3-12)
Cleveland Browns (6-9)
Seattle Seahawks (7-8)
New York Giants (8-6-1)
New England Patriots (7-8)
Detroit Lions (7-8)
Atlanta Falcons (5-10)
Tennessee Titans (7-8)
Washington Commanders (7-7-1)
Philadelphia Eagles (13-2)
Miami Dolphins (8-7)
Denver Broncos (4-11)
Arizona Cardinals (4-11)
Indianapolis Colts (4-10-1)
Standout Individual Performers
Marcus Jones, New England Patriots
14 combined tackles including 12 solo tackles. An interception for a 69-yard pick-six. 76 total kick/punt return yards. AND a reception for 15 receiving yards!
I had to get this man up top. There are very few people who almost fill two lines with my breakdown of their statline. Marcus Jones, the 24-year-old CB of the Patriots did so many different things this week it’s kind of unbelievable. First things first, he was incredibly involved at his cornerback position. He recorded a whopping 12 solo tackles and two assists, as well as running back an epic 69-yard pick-six on Joe Burrow. He also served as the kick and punt returner, with 76 total return yards. Then, just for a bit of fun, he also went out on offense and caught himself a 15-yard reception. What a day.
Cam Akers, Los Angeles Rams
23 carries for 118 rushing yards and 3 TD’s, plus 2 receptions for 29 receiving yards.
There are few young football players within the last few years who came into the league with a better opportunity than Cam Akers. Unfortunately, he hasn’t ever really been able to get together a run of games where he’s fully healthy. In 2022, I hoped we’d get to see him realise his potential – and, admittedly not until Week 16 – we did. This week he rushed 23 times, a season-high by some margin. He converted them into 118 rushing yards and a hat-trick. It’s too late for the Rams this season, but some momentum for Akers could go a long way as he heads into his age-24 season next year.
CeeDee Lamb, Dallas Cowboys
10 receptions on 11 targets for 120 receiving yards and 2 TD’s.
The Cowboys lost an epic game last week and this week they won an equally epic one. The most impressive performer in the team was – as it often is – their young superstar wideout CeeDee Lamb. One of the best rising stars in the NFL, Lamb dominated a good Philadelphia defense to the tune of 120 receiving yards on 10 receptions. He also scored twice in the incredibly hard-fought win.
George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers
6 receptions on 8 targets for 120 receiving yards and 2 TD’s.
If I had to pick the most in-form player in the NFL right now I might have to say George Kittle. The Niners TE has been on fire over the last fortnight. Last week he had 93 yards and scored twice, this week he went a little further in an inspired Christmas Eve performance. He was targeted 8 times and pulled in 6 of them, as Brock Purdy continues to surprise. Kittle’s second brace in a row came accompanied by 120 receiving yards, his first time breaking triple digits this season.
DeVonta Smith, Philadelphia Eagles
8 receptions on 12 targets for 113 receiving yards and 2 TD’s.
The Cowboys may have won the game, but I was really impressed by DeVonta Smith’s performance. His chemistry with Jalen Hurts is long-established now, but with Gardner Minshew thrust into the action, Smith still had a great game. Not only did he command 12 targets from the new QB, he was very effective with them. On 8 receptions, Smith pulled in 113 receiving yards and scored twice.
T.J. Hockenson, Minnesota Vikings
13 receptions from 16 targets for 109 receiving yards and 2 TD’s.
The Minnesota Vikings are having quite the year, with Kirk Cousins and Justin Jefferson earning the vast majority of the headlines. However, I think that their addition of T.J. Hockenson will become incredibly important come playoff time. Hock has shown some flashes this season, none moreso than this week. Cousins really made an effort to get him the ball, resulting in 13 receptions on 16 targets – both of which are career-highs. Hockenson proved that getting him the ball would be worth while, by putting up 109 receiving yards and 2 TD’s. Not bad timing, just before the postseason.
D’Onta Foreman, Carolina Panthers
21 carries for 165 rushing yards and a TD.
When a team isn’t lighting it up in the passing game, sometimes it can be all too easy to ignore an offense that is dominating on the ground. The Carolina Panthers have had some crazy production in multiple games this year, with their rushing attack. That attack is being spearheaded by D’Onta Foreman, who this week put up a career-high 165 rushing yards and also scored in their win over Detroit. When you add Chuba Hubbard’s 125 yards and a couple of other cameos, the Panthers had a ridiculous 320 rushing yards on the day. They aren’t having the best year and Detroit’s run-D isn’t exactly the best, but this was still a very impressive performance.
Shane Zylstra, Detroit Lions
5 receptions on 6 targets for 26 receiving yards and 3 TD’s.
I do have to show some love to one Lion, though. Detroit’s rookie tight end Shane Zylstra had a pretty unusual stat line this week. He caught 5 receptions for just 26 yards, not particularly impressive, but he also hauled in 3 TD’s. If he can feast like this in the redzone, he’ll be bound to get more snaps and become more involved in the offense as a whole going into year 2.
Josh Sweat, Philadelphia Eagles
3 combined tackles including 1 solo, for 1.5 Sacks, plus an interception for a 42-yard pick-six.
One of the biggest defensive breakouts of 2022, Josh Sweat is on a tear, this year. The Eagles edge rusher has found an extra gear, elevating alongside the dominant Philly pass rush, which he makes up 25% of. This week he had a pretty epic performance, not only adding 1.5 sacks to his total, pushing him into double digits (now on 11), but also getting an unlikely interception. For a defensive end to get a pick is rare, but to stiff-arm the QB and get a pick-six… That’s just beautiful. Look out for this guy’s name come playoff time.
Cobie Durant, Los Angeles Rams
1 solo tackle, plus 2 INT’s for 100 return yards, including an 85-yard pick-six.
It feels like throughout 2022 there’s been a name every week that I get to mention I’ve never spoken about before. This week we’ve had like 3! Cobie Durant, a man whose name would be better suited playing basketball, made one of the biggest plays of the week on the football field. He had two interceptions in the absolute decimation of the Broncos, the second of which he returned for an 85-yard pick-six to put the final nail in the coffin.
Nick Bosa, San Francisco 49ers
7 combined tackles including 5 solo tackles, 2.0 Sacks and a forced fumble.
A perennial DPOY candidate, San Francisco’s Nick Bosa is an absolute animal. Not only does he now have 17.5 sacks on the season, which is unbelievable, he has only failed to record a sack in two of his 14 performances. This week was no exception. The Niners edge rusher logged 7 combined tackles, 5 of which were solo tackles, including 2.0 sacks. He also forced a fumble on the second sack, for good measure. This man is superhuman, it’s as simple as that.
Danielle Hunter, Minnesota Vikings
7 combined tackles including 5 solo tackles, 2.0 Sacks and a forced fumble.
I couldn’t hype up how crazy Bosa’s week was and ignore a man who had an identical statline. Danielle Hunter of the Minnesota Vikings also put together a big performance with 5 solo tackles, 2 assists and 2.0 sacks including one strip-sack, although the Giants recovered, so Bosa wins out on that one.
Stat Leaders Through Week 16
Passing Yards – Patrick Mahomes KC, 4720
Passing TD’s – Patrick Mahomes KC, 37
Rushing Yards – Josh Jacobs LVR, 1539
Rushing TD’s – Jamaal Williams DET, 14
Receiving Yards – Justin Jefferson MIN, 1756
Receiving TD’s – Davante Adams LVR and Travis Kelce KC, 12
Total TD’s – Austin Ekeler LAC, 16
Tackles (combined) – Foyesade Oluokun JAX, 162
Sacks – Nick Bosa SF, 17.5
Interceptions – C.J. Gardner-Johnson PHI and Tariq Woolen SEA, 6
Week 17 Preview – What to watch
Week 17 Best Games
Buffalo Bills @ Cincinnati Bengals, MNF
Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers, 9:25pm
Miami Dolphins @ New England Patriots, 6pm
Tyler’s Bold Week 17 Prediction
On MNF, the Bills and Bengals will combine for over 70 points.
Week 17 Storylines
Will the Titans or Jaguars rest their starters, as their Week 18 matchup will decide their fate?
Dallas can’t do anything but win out and hope the Eagles trip up. Cowboys @ Titans, TNF
Two birds who have failed to fly this season battling it out for pride / a better draft pick. Cardinals @ Falcons, 6pm
If the Jets lose, Miami will be playing to lock in their playoff berth – can they take the divisional W while Tua is in concussion protocols? Dolphins @ Patriots, 6pm
If Philly win, they clinch the NFC first-round bye, but will they keep Hurts sidelined? Saints @ Eagles, 6pm
Tampa Bay can clinch the division if they beat Carolina at home, Panthers @ Buccaneers, 6pm