Was that the wildest opening act to holiday break football you have ever seen?
On Saturday, December 17th, a triple header like no other gave form. To students returning home after a grueling semester, employees preparing for the coveted holiday break, and the many in need of a day of relaxation after a strange year, Saturday represented the cozy first chapter of a weekend that was a long time coming. To football fans across the country, Saturday was the first day of one of the most pivotal weekends in football, where emotions are at an all-time high. Maybe, in the cacophony of emotions and moods that define the end of the NFL season every year, we should’ve expected some fireworks.
However, I don’t think anything could have prepared us for this weekend.
The #Vikings released an 8-minute video of the biggest comeback in NFL history from the field level with sideline reactions and audio from the team. Worth a watch.— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) December 20, 2022
From down 33-0, an all-time game.pic.twitter.com/QzdW9aUwis
Josh Allen in a 2 minute drill is the eighth wonder of the world pic.twitter.com/FcNKqwpvCg— Nate Tice (@Nate_Tice) December 19, 2022
On Saturday, amid the world of emotions and drama impacting the world, Houston Texans fans got to see the Minnesota Vikings complete the largest comeback in NFL history, coming back from a 33-0 deficit to beat the disastrous Indianapolis Colts on national television. This may not be vengeance, but it certainly is close!
Then, after a stinker in Cleveland, we got to witness the snow-day version of Josh Allen, who made a great Miami Dolphins team take repeated punishment on the ground as the snow piled on. Finally, a winter game!
Then, as the curtains closed on Saturdays and opened on Sunday, the tsunami crashed:
I simply cannot believe my eyes. Brock Wright with the catch of a lifetime pic.twitter.com/AemQI8UIKh— Nolan Bianchi (@nolanbianchi) December 18, 2022
GAME-WINNING PICK SIX TO BEAT THE COWBOYS— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) December 18, 2022
Rayshawn Jenkins pic.twitter.com/IrfhPpdVGK
Chandler Jones, Jon Jones’ brother, with one of the all-time craziest TDs to win a game (or just TD period) pic.twitter.com/nrv7kSd38N— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) December 19, 2022
Of the 11 games played on Sunday, nine of them were highly contested entering the fourth quarter, six of which basically ended on the final play of the game. Even the Texans, despite everything this year has been, were in prime position to grab their second win of the season against the Kansas City Chiefs in overtime. What kind of miracle weekend was this? One where many teams wished upon a star and saw their dreams, miraculously, come true. Except for Davis Mills, who had to meet his quota of losing the football at the most important moment of the game.
Sometimes, Christmas tradition demands reliving the sharp pains that marked the early disasters of the season. Without the occasional reminder of how things have stayed the same, we are blind to the things that have changed. This Texans team is certainly better than the one that lost to the Bears because of a Davis Mills OT fumble, but it isn’t much better.
Here are my personal power rankings entering Week 16 of the 2022 NFL Season:
- Philadelphia Eagles (13-1) (Last Week: 1) - Justin Fields dashed around the field, and the Bears defense even got some turnovers, but the Eagles offense is inevitable. Haason Reddick being great for his third team in three years is pretty cool, as well.
- Buffalo Bills (11-3) (Last Week: 2) - A cloud of snow enveloped Orchard Park on the night the Bills took on the Dolphins. In the elements, Buffalo grasps victory.
- Cincinnati Bengals (10-4) (Last Week: 4) - Tampa Bay came out hot, but Cincinnati’s defense put the clamps down in the second half and gave plenty of opportunities for Joe Burrow to make Brady feel every second time ticks towards his first losing season as a starter.
- San Francisco 49ers (10-4) (Last Week: 6) - Seattle’s defense may be in a bit of a crisis, but the 49ers’ sure isn’t! Brock Purdy has been the big story, but with a defense this good, they can win it all scoring under 25!
- Kansas City Chiefs (11-3) (Last Week: 5) - Mahomes seems to right any wrong, but this recipe for scaring the Chiefs with some good red-zone pass defense and a few turnovers just keeps showing up. There is a way to slay the beast.
- Minnesota Vikings (11-3) (Last Week:7) - Leave it to the Vikings to find the most unbelievable, thrilling way to have the largest comeback in NFL history. All the opinions everyone shared of them before the game were both true and false during the game and continue to be true and false afterwards.
- Dallas Cowboys (10-4) (Last Week: 3) - Last week, the Texans gave them a scare. This week, the Jaguars used them to leap into playoff contention. What happened to the defense?
- Los Angeles Chargers (8-6) (Last Week: 10) - Mike Williams, Gerald Everett, and Austin Ekeler make up a great three-headed monster for Justin Herbert to pilot. Victories against conference opponents in December puts them in prime position for a playoff spot.
- Miami Dolphins (8-6) (Last Week: 9) - It’s hard to move the Dolphins from this spot after some fantastic football that put them within striking distance. Josh Allen usually has his way with the Dolphins, but Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle offer enough magic to change their fate if a third meeting is their tiding.
- Baltimore Ravens (9-5) (Last Week: 8) - It’s a division loss they should be able to survive, but Baltimore is, again, injured and limping into the final month of the regular season. This didn’t turn out well last year, will they survive it this time?
- Detroit Lions (7-7) (Last Week: 16) - And to think this was the 4th or 5th most exciting game of the weekend! In what was one of the most important December games in both franchises’ recent history, the Lions escaped the Jets sharp defense with a perfect 4th & inches play that send tight end Brock Wright 51 yards downfield to glory so rarely held by Detroit fans.
- Jacksonville Jaguars (6-8) (Last Week: 20) - After over a year of toil, disappointments, and crushing defeats, Trevor Lawrence has finally arrived. Since the Baltimore game, Lawrence has thrown 1186 yards, 11 touchdowns to one interception, completed 67.76% of his passes, and held a passer rating of 112.4. There were stretches of time both this year and last where doubt was shed upon the 2021 quarterback class, carrying many towards higher hopes for little-known Davis Mills. While pining for the diamond in the rough didn’t work out, it’s encouraging to see Lawrence, Justin Fields, and Mac Jones all have success in their second year. At least we don’t have Zach Wilson!
- New York Jets (7-7) (Last Week: 12) - The Jets knew going into this game that scoring wouldn’t be easy with Zach Wilson, so the pressure was on Sauce Gardner, D.J. Reed, and the pass defense to keep a cap on Jared Goff for as long as possible. They did, up until the final minute of the game, where everything came crashing down.
- Seattle Seahawks (7-7) (Last Week: 11) - Seattle’s spiral continues into deep into December. With the wind getting colder and air getting tighter, Geno Smith travels to Kansas City to see if the skid can be stopped before it’s too late.
- New York Giants (8-5-1) (Last Week: 18) - After a tie to the Commanders and an ugly loss to the Eagles, the Giants looks cooked in this matchup. Instead, the defense gifted the giants some crucial turnovers, one returned for a touchdown by Kayvon Thibodeax. They needed a win, and they got one.
- Washington Commanders (7-6-1) (Last Week: 13) - It was a great opportunity for Washington to leap frog New York in the wildcard hunt, putting real juice behind this late-season surge. But, with an offense this streaky, nothing will come easy.
- Las Vegas Raiders (6-8) (Last Week: 19) - This game against the Patriots had all the Raiders calling cards: Getting out to a big early lead, whittling away said lead, wild theatrics throughout the fourth quarter, and more. But then, a twist emerged: victory off of an extremely dramatic, bad lateral pass direct straight towards Chandler Jones.
- New England Patriots (7-7) (Last Week: 15) - I never thought I’d be witness to a Patriots player making one of the strangest, most ill-timed, game-losing decisions I’ve ever seen in my life, but 2022 has been a first time for many things. I like this kind of Patriots team!
- Tennessee Titans (7-7) (Last Week: 17) - Who can the Titans beat, now? This losing streak has put the division title in severe doubt, and with Houston coming up on Christmas Eve, a single victory will become the greatest challenge.
- Green Bay Packers (6-8) (Last Week: 21) - The Packers get the present of wiping away any sort of Baker Mayfield hype on Christmas for the second year in a row, but a strong Detroit team stands to wipe away their playoff spot - unless the season finale stands the carry some drama.
- New Orleans Saints (5-9) (Last Week: 24) - They’re somehow not dead yet, and now fully healthy, the Saints can end up being a pretty scary 8-9 playoff opponent.
- Pittsburgh Steelers (6-8) (Last Week: 27) - A big win for the Steelers finally starting to get returns on their season-long goals to establish the run. The line is looking better and better each week, and holding this Carolina rushing attack so under 100 yards is something impressive, but the loss to Baltimore last week still stings.
- Carolina Panthers (6-8) (Last Week: 22) - With a victory against the Steelers, Carolina would have been in the driver’s seat to win the NFC South. Now, with Tampa Bay losing as well...not much has changed.
- Atlanta Falcons (5-9) (Last Week: 23) - It wasn’t a pretty debut for quarterback Desmond Ridder, and it puts Atlanta even farther away from a division crown that seemed within reach in November. It’s not over yet, but Ridder will need to improve if Atlanta wants to feel optimistic by Christmas.
- Cleveland Browns (6-8) (Last Week: 28) - I guess this victory has to count for something!
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-8) (Last Week: 25) - It’s almost like the hot start doomed them to an even uglier loss. The passing offense is looking better, and they’re fortunate to be in a division where losses mean this little, but these collapses are going to catch up to them in the final divisional matchups.
- Los Angeles Rams (4-10) (Last Week: 26) - Now officially one of the worst defending champions in NFL history, the Rams will be hard pressed to turn this roster into a winner with the dearth of draft picks they now hold. A loss like like could be an impetus for a reset, or more of the same with better quarterback play from Matthew Stafford. Regardless, relying entirely on the health of Stafford is a decision they are now suffering from.
- Indianapolis Colts (4-9-1) (Last Week: 30) - While it pleased me to no end seeing the Colts give up the biggest comeback in NFL history, getting to the 33-point lead before halftime is at least worth some pity points. What a fantastic loss in a season full of them, though!
- Chicago Bears (3-11) (Last Week: NR) - I accidentally omitted the Bears from my rankings last week and counted the Chargers twice, so their rankings - and thus everyone’s else’s - is a tad skewed from last week. However, even though Justin Fields has been making these games interesting till the very end, the Bears seem to be allergic to winning.
- Denver Broncos (4-10) (Last Week: 32) - Is beating the Cardinals good? Is this something that can be considered noteworthy gift of the giving season, a herald of good fortune? Or is it a curse, a malicious acknowledgement made between two sinking ships, entering an underworld of an offseason? Only time will tell.
- Houston Texans (1-12-1) (Last Week: 31) - I won’t sink them to the bottom! You can’t make me! After a performance like that against the Chiefs, how could I? Yes, this Texans team is still bad, benefitted from turnovers and penalties, and ultimately didn’t gain many yards, but were still an overtime fumble away from beating the Chiefs! But, I must admit, I had forgotten about the infamous Davis Mills Fumble that has annihilated the Texans at every positive juncture this season. There’s nothing like playing the hits on Christmas!
- Arizona Cardinals (4-10) (Last Week: 29) - Even though there is plenty of debate to be had here, I don’t think it can argued how sharp of a decline Arizona has exhibited since October. This was supposed to be a playoff team, not competing with the Texans for last place! Houston was expected to struggle this year, but Arizona had no excuse, making this collapse a little more meaningful than Houston’s.
This Saturday, on Christmas Eve, the Texans will fly to Nashville to get a shot at a reeling division leader, a worthy target of a team frantically grasping for the coveted second win of the season. Embracing the dual-quarterback attack, extremely heavy tight end approaches, and anything that’ll increase job retention entering another foggy offseason has led to some near upsets, but, like with so many Texans games this year, lacks closure. In their theatrics, the Texans demonstrate the ghosts of their potential - apparitions of good pass defense, run blocking, and even quarterbacking from Mills - that curse their bog of an ugly season, doomed to their impermanence as we are witnesses to them. Against Tennessee however, these exhilarating performances might just be shocking enough to leave the opponent cooked before season’s end. Good holiday tidings have been scarce for the Texans fans in recent years, but a victory against a rival would certainly make it a merry gathering around the television.
Follow me on Twitter: @FizzyJoe