The regular season has come to a close and the Wild Card Weekend match ups are set. For the first time 12 teams will be playing this weekend in two triple header marathons. This season was unprecedented with minimal offseason, a virtual draft, no preseason, and the postponement of games due to the global pandemic. Through it all the NFL got through the season and we had some great rookie campaigns. Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson was a big play threat, Chargers Justin Herbert solidified himself as a legit pro quarterback, Lions D’Andre Swift had a tough drop week one but bounced back to score 10 touchdowns this season. On the defensive side of the ball Panthers Jeremy Chinn & Chargers Kenneth Murray both broke the 100 tackles mark, and Trevan Diggs proved to be a legit NFL corner with 3 interceptions on the season. These were all great first seasons and these are the guys that didn’t make the postseason. Wild Card Weekend always proves to be a highly entertaining part of the postseason and don’t be surprised if the draft class of 2020 doesn’t play a huge role in their team success.
TOP 5 ROOKIE PERFORMANCES WEEK 17
- RB – Jonathan Taylor – 5’10” 226 – Wisconsin – 2nd round pick (41st Overall) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (W, 28-14)
Game Day Stats: 30 Carries / 253 rushing yards / 2 touchdowns
Sunday was an historic one for Jonathan Taylor. He set a franchise record with 253 rushing yards in a game. Taylor has been on fire in the last 4 weeks with 7 touchdowns and 560 rushing yards. Taylor’s late season push sent him past fellow rookie running back James Robinson and his 12 touchdowns led all rookies. This mega performance, combined with a Dolphin loss, led the Colts to the playoffs.
Performance Rating: 5.0
Next Game: at Buffalo Bills Wild Card Playoffs 1:05pm Saturday
2. RB – JK Dobbins – 5’9” 209 – Ohio State – 2nd Round pick (55th Overall) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (W, 38-3)
Game Day Stats: 13 carries / 160 rushing yards / 2 touchdowns
Big Ten running backs reigned supreme on Sunday. Like Taylor, Dobbins helped his team clinch a playoff berth with a big game averaging 12.31 yards a rush in a route of the Bengals. The former Buckeye has been efficient with his carries and averaged 6.0 yards per on the season. The last six weeks he has found his way into the end zone. JK’s ability to score from anywhere on the field should make him a valuable commodity in the postseason.
Performance Rating: 4.6
Next Game: at Tennessee Titans Wild Card Playoffs 1:05pm Sunday
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
3. QB – Justin Herbert – 6’6” 236 – Oregon – 1st Round Pick (6th Overall)- vs. Kansas City Chiefs (W, 38-21)
Game Day Stats: 22-31 completion / 302 passing yards / 3 passing touchdowns / 1 rushing touchdown
Even though it was not against a full strength Chiefs team, Herbert put together another impressive performance to cap off his record breaking rookie season. Admittedly I did not think Herbert was going to be tough enough to go to a bad team and succeed year one. He definitely made me a believer after some of the shots he took early and got right back up. Herbert also got better every week and you could see he was improving on the little things(picking his spots to run, sliding before contact, and not fading away on throws when under pressure) as the season went on. His 31 touchdown passes is a rookie record and hopefully with a good coaching hire we will see him around this time next season in the playoffs.
Performance Rating: 4.0
Next Game: Team did not qualify for the playoffs
4. WR – Justin Jefferson – 6’4” 216 – LSU – 1st Round pick (22nd Overall) vs. Detroit Lions (W, 37-35)
Game day Stats: 9 receptions / 133 receiving yards / 6 first downs
Jefferson set rookie records in yards receiving passing Anquan Boldin to become #1 on that list. The LSU product managed to have 7 – 100 plus yard games on the season. As the 22nd pick in a receiver rich draft, he was an absolute steal. The 4 receivers drafted before him averaged 57 catches, 660 yards, and 3 touchdowns between them and only mustered 5-100 plus yards combined. The Vikings might have got them another Moss like wide out.
Performance Rating: 3.90
Next Game: Team did not qualify for the playoffs.
5. WR – Chase Claypool – 6’4” 238 – Notre Dame – 2nd Round pick (49th Overall) vs. Cleveland Browns (W, 24-22)
Game Day Stats: 5 reception / 101 receiving yards / 1 touchdown
Claypool finished the season with his second 100 plus yard game of the year. The Notre Dame product has been consistent all year. He gets 4 to 7 catches a game around 60 yards and found a way to find pay dirt in 7 games. He did all this while being the teams #3 receiver. If history has told us anything the Steelers know how to evaluate the wide receiver position.
Performance Rating: 3.85
Next Game: vs. Cleveland Browns Wild Card Playoffs 8:15pm Sunday
DB – Kamren Curl – 6’1” 206 – Arkansas – 7th round (216th overall) vs. Philadelphia Eagles (W, 20-14)
Game Day Stats: 3 total tackles / 1 interceptions / 1 pass breakup
I couldn’t let this one go without a putting a defensive player on here. Curl has had a solid season since being inserted into the starting lineup. The 7th round pick brings a physical presence to the back four, which compliments their impressive front 7. Curl collected his 3rd interception in in 4 weeks to help Washington clinch their first playoff berth since 2015.
Performance Rating: 3.5
Next Game: vs. Tampa Bay Bucs Wild Card Playoffs 8:15 Saturday
Week 17 2020 Draft Class Match up Results:
Washington DE – Chase Young vs. Philadelphia Eagles QB – Jalen Hurts
- I am not going to waste much time on this. Hurts got bench for some strange reason in a 3 point football game. The controversy should not take away from the game Chase Young had. He was all over the place Sunday Night collecting a sack, several hits on the quarterback, and a fumble recovery midway through the 4th quarter.
Winner: Chase Young
Week 17 Throwback Draft Class Match up Results:
Arizona Cardinals QB – Kyler Murray vs. LA Rams QB – Jared Goff
- This one was a no contest Goff didn’t play and Murray did what Kyler Murray continues to be feast or famine and highly inconsistent. Winner: N/A
Rookie Playoff Match ups:
Indianapolis Colts at Buffalo Bills 1:05pm Saturday
- Colts Impact Rookies: RB – Jonathan Taylor, WR – Michael Pittman Jr. , DB – Justin Blackmon, K – Rodrigo Blankenship
- Bills Impact Rookies: RB – Zach Moss, WR – Gabriel Davis, K – Tyler Bass
- Rookie Matchup: K – Rodrigo Blankenship vs. K – Tyler Bass – What we have all been waiting for…….
- Score Prediction: Buffalo Bills win 30-27: Should come down to rookie field goal like God intended it.
Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks 4:45pm Saturday
- Rams Impact Rookies: RB – Cam Akers, DB – Jordan Fuller
- Seahawks Impact Rookies: LB – Jordan Brooks, DE – Alton Robinson
- Rookie Matchup: Cam Akers vs. Jordan Brooks – Young explosive players built for speed. See you in the C Gap boys!
- Score Prediction: Seahawks Win 24-13 – Rams are struggling coming into the playoffs Seahawks are too seasoned and savvy for this addition of the Rams.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Washington 8:15pm Saturday
- Bucs Impact Rookies: OT – Tristen Wirfs, DB – Antoine Winfield Jr.
- Washington Impact Rookies: DE – Chase Young, RB – Antonio Gibson, DB – Kamren Curl.
- Rookie Matchup: Chase Young vs. Tristen Wirfs – Young has been vocal this week. These two will meet up more than a couple of times during this game. They will be vital to their team’s success.
- Score Prediction: Bucs win 24-9 – Washington will struggle to score but key to this game will be the Bucs protecting Brady and Washington to getting to Brady.
Tennessee Titans at Baltimore Ravens 1:05pm Sunday
- Titans Impact Rookies: DB – Kriston Fulton – returning from injury
- Ravens Impact Rookies: LB – Patrick Queen, RB – JK Dobbins,
- Rookie Matchup: LB – Patrick Queen vs. Derrick Henry ’16 – A couple of SEC products. It will be speed vs. power on Sunday. Patrick, you better tackle low or he will find himself on the wrong end of a stiff arm and on highlight shows Sunday night.
Score Prediction: Titans win 27-25 – Tannehill will take advantage of all the attention paid to Henry. Corey Davis and AJ Brown will have strong games.
Chicago Bears at New Orleans Saints 4:40pm Sunday
- Bears Impact Rookies: TE – Cole Kmet, WR – Darnell Mooney
- Saints Impact Rookies: OL – Caesar Ruiz, TE – Adam Trautman
- Rookie Matchup: Cole Kmet vs. Adam Trautman – These two could be wild cards for both offenses.
- Score Prediction: Saints win 28-21 – The possible absence of Alvin Kamara will keep the game close. Drew Brees, like Peyton in his last season, will need to be carried by his defense and run game.
Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers 8:15pm Sunday
- Browns Impact Rookies: OT – Jedrick Wills
- Steelers Impact Rookies: WR – Chase Claypool, LB – Alex Highsmith, OG – Anthony McFarland Jr.
- Rookie Matchup: Jedrick Wills vs. TJ Watt ’17 – Wills in his first playoff game gets to face the NFL sack leader TJ Watt.
- Score Prediction: Steelers Win 34-21: With their first appearance in the playoffs since 2002, the Browns will be facing some serious adversity. The Browns will be missing some key players, coaches, and Head Coach due to Covid-19. Steelers have been here and done that they will be too much to overcome.
Rookie Play of the Weekend:
- Chargers Justin Herbert broke his own rookie record on Sunday for most TD passes (31) in a season.
- Vikings Justin Jefferson broke the rookie record for most receiving yards in a season with 1400.
- Update: My playoff dreams have come true; Colts kicker Rodrigo Blankenship and Bills kicker Tyler Bass will battle in a playoff game this Saturday. Bass narrowly took defeated Blankenship 141-139 during the regular season. No of that matters if you don’t win Saturday though. Here’s to hoping for a 15-12 game all field goals!
Final Rookie League Leaders:
TD Passes: Chargers – Justin Herbert – 31
Passing Yards: Chargers – Justin Herbert – 4,336
Rushing TD: Washington – Antonio Gibson & Colts – Jonathan Taylor – 11
Rushing Yards: Colts – Jonathan Taylor – 1169
Receiving TD: Steelers – Chase Claypool: 9
Receiving Yards: Vikings – Justin Jefferson: 1400
Receptions: Vikings – Justin Jefferson: – 88
Total Touchdowns: Colts – Jonathan Taylor – 12
Total Points: Bills –Tyler Bass – 141
Total Tackles: Panthers – Jeremy Chinn – 117
Tackles for a Loss: Washington – Chase Young – 10
Sacks: Washington – Chase Young – 7.5
Interceptions: Rams – Jordan Fuller, Chiefs – L’Jarius Sneed, Cowboys – Trevon Diggs, & Washington – Kamren Curl – tied w/ 3