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NFL Matchups - Week WC Recap

Indianapolis Colts vs. Houston Texans

Venue: NRG Stadium(Houston)Sat. 1-5 @ 4:35 pm ESTOver/Under: 47.5

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Indianapolis Colts 21  Houston Texans 7

If looking at the 2018 season objectively for both teams, it’s surprising they both even made it to the postseason. Houston started off 0-3, but finished the season strong to win their division. The Colts started 1-5, yet finished 9-1 to clinch a Wild Card spot and provide for an AFC South matchup in the playoffs. It wasn’t an overly exciting contest on Saturday as both teams combined for just 28 points.

The Colts got out to a big lead in the first half. A touchdown pass from Andrew Luck to Eric Ebron on the team’s opening drive got them going early on and they followed that up with an 11-play drive that resulted in a two-yard touchdown run by Marlon Mack toward the end of the first quarter. Luck would connect with Dontrelle Inman in the second quarter to put the Colts up 21-0 heading into halftime. That would be the extent of their offensive production on Saturday, but it proved to be enough to get the win. The Colts will now head into Kansas City to face the Chiefs on Saturday at 4:35pm ET.

The Texans just didn’t look like themselves on Saturday. They only possessed the ball nine times and five of those resulted in punts, two ended via turnover on downs, one ended with an interception, and another ended with a touchdown from Deshaun Watson to Keke Coutee early in the fourth quarter. Houston was awful on third downs (completing just 3-of-13) and they were penalized eight times while the Colts induced just two flags. After the game it was revealed that DeAndre Hopkins was suffering from a Grade 3 AC sprain in his shoulder, which clearly had an impact on his performance. After rattling off nine straight wins after an 0-3 start, the Texans ended up losing three of their last five games this season. They head into the offseason facing big questions especially on defense as Jadeveon Clowney and Tyrann Mathieu are both pending free agents.

Indianapolis Colts

It was a fairly quiet day for Andrew Luck as the defense stepped up in a big way in this game. Luck finished by completing 19-of-32 pass attempts for 222 yards, a pair of touchdowns, and an interception. Coming into the game he had averaged over 400 passing yards per game in a pair of outings against Houston this season, but on Saturday he didn’t come close to that kind of production.

Marlon Mack had a huge day touching the ball 26 times. On 24 carries he finished with 148 rushing yards and a touchdown while adding two catches for an additional six yards. The passing game revolved around just six players. T.Y. Hilton led all pass catchers with five catches for 85 yards on ten targets. However, Dontrelle Inman and Eric Ebron were the lucky ones to find the end zone. Inman caught all four of his targets for 53 yards while Ebron caught three of his six targets for 26 yards. Chester Rodgers had a quiet, yet productive day. He finished with four receptions for 46 yards. Zach Pascal and Marlon Mack each recorded receptions, but neither made much noise in the passing game.

The Colts defense stepped up to record three sacks and an interception off Deshaun Watson . They held Houston in check to just seven points and 322 yards of total offense. The Colts did lose a couple of key players on defense: Safeties Malik Hooker and Mike Mitchell . Hooker left in the third quarter with a foot injury and Mitchell left with a calf injury. They’ll need both guys healthy and active if they have any hope of containing the explosive offensive of Kansas City next week.

Houston Texans

Deshaun Watson has had better days. It was a difficult day for Watson as his favorite target, DeAndre Hopkins , was dealing with a severe shoulder injury. Watson finished with just 235 passing yards, a touchdown, and an interception but he did lead the team with 76 rushing yards.

Lamar Miller couldn’t get too much going in the ground game. On five carries he totaled just 18 yards. Alfred Blue and D’Onta Foreman didn’t fare much better. They combined for just 11 yards on three carries. Fortunately for Miller he did catch eight of ten targets for 63 yards.

Despite dealing with an injury, DeAndre Hopkins still saw ten targets. The bad news is he could only turn those targets into five catches for 37 yards. Keke Coutee led all Houston pass catchers with 11 receptions on 14 targets for 110 yards and a touchdown. It was a very impressive performance for the rookie wide receiver as he didn’t play at all in December.

The defense was pretty putrid on Saturday. They didn’t record a sack, forced just one turnover, and J.J. Watt contributed just two sacks. The Colts tore the defense up for over 400 yards of offense, but as mentioned above the Texans face some serious personnel questions on defense. They could potentially lose Clowney and Mathieu to free agency, but they could also slap Clowney with the franchise tag. Regardless don’t be surprised if they address issues with their secondary early on in April’s draft.

Seattle Seahawks vs. Dallas Cowboys

Venue: AT&T Stadium(Arlington)Sat. 1-5 @ 8:15 pm ESTOver/Under: 43.5

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Dallas Cowboys 24  Seattle Seahawks 22

The last time these two teams met was in Week 3, when the Cowboys traveled to Seattle boasting a 1-1 record. Like the Cowboys, the Seahawks were trying to find their identity at the time, as many believed that 2018 would be a transition season from their former elite standing. The Seahawks would go on to prove the doubters wrong, as they dominated the matchup from start to finish, featuring a 17 point second quarter. The final score was 24-13 in Seattle’s favor, but little was thought about this matchup, as expectations were relatively low for both teams involved. Fast forward, and both teams would surprisingly go on to not only make the playoffs, but also each collect double-digit wins in the process.

As for the playoff matchup at hand, this previous matchup was not only still fresh in the minds of players, fans, and the media alike, but too were even older matchup memories. The 2006 Tony Romo botched snap was frequently mentioned throughout the week leading up, while the miracle catch by Terrance Williams was also remembered, but far less brought up.

Contrarily to their first meeting this season, Saturday’s matchup was one rather dominated by Dallas from start to finish. While the final score was only separated by two points, the tide of the contest seemed always in the Cowboys favor. The Cowboys possessed the ball for 10 minutes longer than Seattle and outgained them by nearly 100 yards. Their defense held the Seahawks number one ranked rushing attack (over 160 yards per game this season) to a mere 73 yards rushing on Saturday, while they held them to under 300 total yards on the day, despite allowing a 75 yard touchdown drive with just two minutes left to play.

This narrow defeat will end the Seahawks season, while the Cowboys will have no easy task, traveling to Los Angeles to play the Rams this upcoming Saturday. They need just two more wins for their first Super Bowl appearance since 1996.

Cowboys

It was not a particularly good game for Prescott, as he made several mistakes and often missed open receivers, however he came up huge when the Cowboys needed him most. The best example of this was when the Cowboys were down in the fourth quarter, with the ball on a 3rd and 14. On what looked to be a designed QB draw, he spread out the formation, dropped back and then immediately stepped up and took off. He would break free for a big chunk of yardage, and would eventually superman dive for the first down. He flipped over the line to gain and came up just inches short of the goal line, setting up Dallas for the go-ahead touchdown. This was the biggest play of the game and to this point is the biggest play of his young career. In all, Prescott finished 22-of-33 for 226 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He also ran six times for 29 yards and a touchdown.

The real offensive star of the game was Ezekiel Elliott , who carried 26 times for a whopping 137 yards and a touchdown. He added four catches for 32 yards as well. His big run of the day came on an unbalanced line in which he took the designed run and cut it back off the weak side, outrunning the less-manned edge of the line of scrimmage. The run went for 44 yards, set up a touchdown, and was the turning point of the game for the Cowboys offense. This rushing performance by Zeke was the most yards the Seahawks have given up on the ground all season, breaking the previous mark held by… Ezekiel Elliott in Week 3 when he put up 126 against this same defense.

On the receiving end of things, Amari Cooper led the Cowboys with seven grabs for 106 yards. Cole Beasley was third on the team, behind Zeke, with three catches for 28 yards. The only other name worth mentioning was Michael Gallup , who caught only two balls for 18 yards, however he scored on a goal line fade in the second quarter.

In terms of injuries, Allen Hurns suffered one of the most gruesome ones you will ever see, as he dislocated his ankle early on in the first quarter. After the play, his foot was pointing in the complete opposite direction as he writhed in pain on the field. In the replay, you could see his foot completely detach from his ankle, as his shin bone even scrapped the turf independently. It was horrifying. It should go without saying that his season is over. Cole Beasley also injured his ankle in this one, but will likely play next week. His status should be monitored though.

Seahawks

Aside from the Seahawks final drive, in which they went 75 yards for a touchdown, Russell Wilson had a very underwhelming performance. He finished the game with 233 yards and that one touchdown, while he ran for 14 yards and another score earlier in the game. For all of the talk about how he was the edge that the Seahawks had over the Cowboys in the game, he didn’t really play like it.

The Seahawks entered the game with the number one rush offense in football, as they averaged over 160 rushing yards per game during the regular season. On Saturday however, Dallas stifled them, just 73 yards and a mere 3.0 yards per carry. Chris Carson – a hot fantasy pick all week long – was held to just 20 yards on 13 carries (1.5 yards per carry), while Rashaad Penny led the team with 29 rushing yards. This was the real difference in the game, as Seattle had no clue how to play offense without their top ranked rushing attack.

In terms of receiving, Tyler Lockett led the Seahawks to the tune of 120 yards on four receptions. He and Russell Wilson kept their streak alive of a perfect passer rating together, while Lockett even took advantage of Byron Jones – an All-Pro selection this season. Other names of note were Ed Dickson (four catches for 42 yards) and Doug Baldwin (three catches for 32 yards). Backup running back J.D. McKissic caught the Seahawks only touchdown on the day, as he finished with two catches for 13 yards and that score.

On the injury front, Seahawks safety Neiko Thorpe injured his shoulder in the first half and never returned. The injury must have been a serious one, as Seattle was in a do-or-die situation.

Los Angeles Chargers vs. Baltimore Ravens

Venue: M&T Bank Stadium(Baltimore)Sun. 1-6 @ 1:05 pm ESTOver/Under: 41.5

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Los Angeles Chargers 23  Baltimore Ravens 17

Like the Colts, the Chargers decided to follow suit and make for a pair of AFC wild card teams to move on to the next round. For a large majority of this game the Chargers were in control and Lamar Jackson looked awful. The Chargers held a 12-0 lead at halftime and that grew to 23-3 with just over nine minutes to go in the fourth quarter. It was an awfully sluggish game especially early on for the Ravens who fumbled on three of their first eight offensive plays.

Lamar Jackson struggled to get anything going on offense in the first three quarters. He had just 38 passing yards up until that point, but in the fourth quarter he exploded for 156 passing yards and two touchdowns. Unfortunately the comeback effort fell just short as he lost a fumble late in the fourth quarter to put the game away for Los Angeles. Baltimore enters the offseason with questions swirling around their starting quarterback position as well as whether the team will bring back head coach John Harbaugh.

For Los Angeles, they’ll travel to New England next Sunday to take on the Patriots. It’ll be the Chargers’ fourth road game in the last five weeks.

Chargers

Los Angeles wasn’t without their own struggles Sunday afternoon. Philip Rivers threw for only 160 yards and rushed for 15 yards. He failed to find the end zone for just the second time all season. In fact, in two games against the Ravens he failed to throw a single touchdown.

The running game for Los Angeles certainly had its struggles on Sunday. As a team, on 33 rushing attempts, they finished with just 89 yards. Melvin Gordon finished with 40 yards and a touchdown while Austin Ekeler added 29 yards on the ground. Ekeler did add four catches in the passing game, but for just 14 yards. Melvin Gordon did leave briefly in the first half with a left knee injury but he was able to return. You can expect to see Gordon land on the Chargers’ injury report later this week as he’s no stranger to knee injuries and Los Angeles may limit him in practice.

With Rivers throwing for just 160 yards, the pass catchers for Los Angeles didn’t contribute too much. Mike Williams led the team with two catches for 42 yards, while Keenan Allen caught four of just six targets for 37 yards. Antonio Gates caught all four of his targets for 35 yards. No other pass catcher finished with more than 15 yards. Don’t be too surprised to see Hunter Henry active for next week’s game against New England. He’s been out all season after tearing his ACL during OTA’s back in May, but reports are surfacing that he could play next week.

The Chargers defense had a very solid game against the Ravens with exception to the last two minutes of the game where they dropped back into prevent defense and let Baltimore claw their way back into it. It helps that Baltimore’s offense was only on the field for a little over 26 minutes, which is the exact opposite of what their game plan has been lately. The Chargers forced three turnovers, collected seven sacks, and held Baltimore to just 17 points and 229 total yards of offense.

Mike Badgley continues to be a nice little mid-season find for the Chargers. He converted on five-of-his-six field goal attempts and the only one he missed was blocked in the second half.

Ravens

There isn’t too much to report on for Baltimore considering they had just three points heading into the fourth quarter. But the rally helped pad the numbers for a few players Sunday afternoon. Lamar Jackson finished with 194 passing yards and a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns. However, he did throw an interception and fumbled three times, one of which was lost on the final offensive play of the game for the Ravens. Jackson also led the team with 54 rushing yards. It was beyond frustrating at times for Baltimore’s offense. Jackson struggled to move the ball down the field through the air through three quarters and it was a mystery why John Harbaugh didn’t turn to former Super Bowl MVP, Joe Flacco , when they desperately needed to get back into the game.

Gus Edwards and Kenneth Dixon were kept in check on the ground. Edwards rushed for 23 yards on nine carries and Dixon finished with 13 yards on six carries. However, Dixon did lead the team in receiving yards with three catches for 53 yards.

Speaking of the Baltimore pass catchers, Michael Crabtree turned in a productive, albeit fluky day. His production came late in the fourth quarter with a pair of catches for 38 yards and two touchdowns on just four targets. Willie Snead finished with three receptions for 50 yards on six targets and Mark Andrews had three catches for 31 yards.

To be fair to the Ravens defense, they weren’t terrible on Sunday. They only allowed Los Angeles to score one touchdown, but unfortunately the Chargers put up 15 points in field goals alone. Baltimore still managed to force a turnover, block a field goal, and they held the Chargers offense to just 243 yards of offense.

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Chicago Bears

Venue: Soldier Field(Chicago)Sun. 1-6 @ 4:40 pm ESTOver/Under: 41

   Weather

Philadelphia Eagles 16  Chicago Bears 15

24 hours after the fact, it appears that this one is going to be remembered as the Cody Parkey game, as he missed what appeared to be a relatively easy 43-yard game-winning field goal with just seconds left on the clock. Twitter is still roasting him, while the veteran kicker was viciously booed off of his home field. As is often the case in our knee-jerk reaction society, what appeared to happen isn’t exactly the whole story. After further investigation, the replay shows that his kick was blocked by Eagles lineman Daeshon Hall . His fingertips altered the trajectory of a kick that likely would have been otherwise good from distance. In a losing effort, it is easier to blame a single kicker, rather than an entire franchise that went the whole season underachieving on offense. That is the real story of the Bears season… They boasted a historically good defense, while their “young” offense got a pass all season. In this game, they failed to capitalize more than three points on back-to-back interceptions that their defense forced in the first half. That is where they really lost the game. Instead of blaming the kicker, look more at the missed opportunities.

As for the Eagles, they somehow continue to make this Nick Foles thing work. His numbers weren’t that great, but when they needed a scoring drive, he delivered in the clutch. If he gets by the Saints next week, you’d have to imagine that a conversation is going to be had about his long-term future. It is not an indictment on Carson Wentz , but rather this inexplicable magic surrounding Nick Foles . The team has an undeniable confidence with him under center… It also helps that the team got significantly more healthy down the stretch of this season, but we will assuredly continue with the mystical narrative as the playoffs continue.

Eagles

As I mentioned already, Foles wasn’t particularly impressive in this one, but his final drive of 12 plays for 60 yards and a touchdown can’t go unnoticed, as he left Chicago with under a minute to put together a counter game-winning drive. He finished the day with 266 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions.

On the ground, Darren Sproles led the Eagles, as much as he could, with 21 yards on 13 carries. Wendell Smallwood added 20 yards on his eight carries as well. Josh Adams saw just one carry for two yards on the day.

In the receiving department, Alshon Jeffery caught six passes for 82 yards, as he paced the Eagles offense. Zach Ertz caught five passes for 52 yards, while his backup Dallas Goedert caught a touchdown pass on two catches for 20 yards. Golden Tate caught the other touchdown, finishing the day with five catches for 46 yards and Nelson Agholor finished with three for 32.

On the injury front, Philly appeared to have left the game in as good of health as possible in a playoff matchup. That will be huge for next week, as they will need all hands on deck when headed into the SuperDome to play the Saints.

Bears

In his first taste of playoff football, Mitchell Trubisky was pretty solid. He finished the day with 303 yards and a touchdown. The disappointing part of his game on Sunday however was that even after back-to-back Eagles possessions in the first half that ended in interceptions, the Bears offense could muster just three points going the other way. This ineptitude was critical in the Bears one point loss.

On the ground, the Bears had a tough time. As a team, they managed just 65 yards rushing. Jordan Howard led the team with a mere 35 yards on 10 carries, while Tarik Cohen saw just one carry for zero yards! They had to resort to Taylor Gabriel gadget plays to get anything going, as he took two carries for 20 yards on the day. His long carry was 21 yards, meaning that his other touch went for -1 yards. This offensive ineptitude was also critical in the Bears one point home loss.

In the receiving department, Allen Robinson was the true star. He led the game with 10 catches for 143 yards and a touchdown. His long was a catch of 45 yards that would go on to set up a Bears field goal scoring drive, while his most clutch play came on a 25 yard grab that would set up the a potential game-winning field goal attempt. The kick would be blocked, but Robinson did his job. He had a great playoff performance on Sunday. Taylor Gabriel finished second on the team with 37 yards on four catches, while Joshua Bellamy and Anthony Miller each finished with 34 yards. Allen Robinson scored the only touchdown for Chicago.

In terms of injuries, the Bears were also lucky enough to leave the game without losing anyone. While that is a positive, they don’t have any more games this season, so it isn’t as big of a deal as you might think.

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Means (Achilles) was placed on injured reserve Thursday, Mike Kaye of NJ.com reports.
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The Chargers claimed Vollert off waivers Thursday.
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Whittaker worked out for the Saints on Thursday, Josh Katzenstein of The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports.
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Smith was spotted at OTAs with his leg heavily wrapped Thursday, Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic of The Athletic reports.
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Robinson (ankle) participated in OTAs on Thursday, Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com reports.
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Banjo (knee) wasn't present at OTAs on Thursday, Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com reports.
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Erving underwent surgery to repair a shoulder issue during the offseason and didn't participate at OTAs on Thursday, James Palmer of NFL Network reports.
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Nicholson (personal) returned to team OTAs on Thursday, Peter Hailey of NBC Sports Washington reports.
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