1. “King" Derrick Henry reaches 2,000 rushing yards in Titans’ close win over proud Texans.
In the AFC, five teams entered Week 17 with a 10-5 record and only four playoff spots available. One of those spots only two teams could have earned, however. While the AFC East, North, and West were already decided, the South was still up for grabs between the Colts and Titans.
While the Colts already handled their business earlier in the day, the Titans were in a must-win spot facing the four-win Texans. Although many counted the Texans out from the get-go, I had questions.
Sometimes, you need to look deeper and put yourself in someone else shoes. When breaking down this game during the week, I thought of J.J. Watt’s press conference following Houston’s Week 16 loss to Cincinnati.
At one time, Watt was viewed as the best football player on the planet, much like how the consensus views Aaron Donald now. Watt is liked by most around the league and by fans alike. Watt was clearly irritated with how his team has played this season and called them out for it.
On top of Watt’s rant, the Texans also employ Deshaun Watson. Not only is Watson amongst the league’s elite, but like Watt, he holds a ton of weight within the organization. Per reports, Watson will have a say in the team’s upcoming head-coaching hire.
For the rest of the team, many bubble players were playing for their jobs. If not with the Texans, then with another club in 2021. There was no way this Texans team would rollover. And they didn’t.
Although the Titans defeated the Texans 41-38, it took them until the final play to put Houston away.
If you play fantasy football or DFS, this was a game to stack. Watson, Ryan Tannehill, Derrick Henry, David Johnson, A.J. Brown, Brandin Cooks, and Pharaoh Brown all finished as top 12 players at their respective positions in PPR.
This game also clearly hit the Over, but the Titans failed to cover the spread.
While Tannehill did not go-off as a passer, only completing 18-of-27 passes for 216 yards and a touchdown, he did score twice as a rusher, hitting his two-touchdown prop at (+3100).
While Tannehill shined, this game belonged to Henry, who joined the 2k club on Sunday.
Back in Week 13, I wrote an NFL MVP futures article naming Henry as a non-quarterback who could win it. At the time, he had 1,257 rushing yards with six games left to play.
You can read my article here.
Amidst his run to 2000, Henry put up 215+ rushing yards in two different games down the stretch, including Sunday’s Week 17 win in which he went for 250 yards and two scores.
The Texans kept the game close, they even had a lead in the final seconds, but the Titans proved to be too strong, especially when you employ your own version of the triplets and they all ball-out on the same day.
While Brown scored his lone touchdown early, he made the play to put the Texans away as well with everything on the line, stretching the field to put Tennessee in field goal range to clinch the game and the division.
If the Titans can find a defense — they finished the regular season ninth in points allowed (27.4) and fifth in total yards allowed per game (398.3) — they will be dangerous in January.
2. Doug Pederson hands the NFC East title to Washington.
Entering Week 17, there were three teams in play for the NFC East. The Cowboys, Giants, and the Football Team were all in the running. Amidst the 1 p.m. slate, we saw the Giants defeat the Cowboys — thanks to yet another Mike McCarthy severely irresponsible coaching decision — by a score of 23-19. Because of that victory, the Giants were able to watch the scoreboard on Sunday Night Football as if the Football Team lost to the Eagles, it would be New York winning the East in lieu of Washington.
However, while you would think that the three teams that were still alive would ultimately decide the fate of the NFC East, that is not how it shook out. The Eagles, more so, Philadelphia HC Doug Pederson, would be the ones to decide the winner.
By a score of 20-14, the Football Team defeated the Eagles in the 2020 regular-season finale, completing the season sweep.
Entering 2020, the Football Team had (+2200) odds to win the NFC East, one of the biggest longshots to clinch a division this season.
In a game that met the Under, the Football Team was the first team to strike. Alex Smith threw a touchdown pass to Terry McLaurin — both players were not active in last week’s loss to the Panthers — to give Washington the early lead with minutes to play in the first stanza.
After trading scores in the second quarter, one of which, a Jalen Hurts touchdown, the rookie signal-caller would give the Eagles their first lead of the game, logging his second rushing score of the contest.
Hurts’ two-touchdown prop cashed at a cool (+1200).
That Philly lead would not last very long, however. With 20 seconds left in the half, Smith threw his second touchdown pass of the game. This time, it went in the direction of breakout tight end Logan Thomas, a matchup nightmare, especially in the red area.
In the second half, things got interesting. While the first-half total went Over — those who wagered the Over for the game believed they had their bet locked up considering how the first two quarters played out — that was not the case. There would be no points scored again until the fourth period.
After the Eagles failed to score a touchdown off of a Smith interception, which gave Philly the ball in Washington territory, Pederson elected to go for it on fourth down but came away with no points.
While Pederson elected not to kick the field goal and tie the football game at 17, that was not the only bad call the incept head coach made in the second half. With the game still in reach, Pederson benched Hurts in favor of Nate Sudfeld — Carson Wentz was a healthy scratch.
Although Hurts’ removal from the game was warranted — Hurts completed only 7-of-20 passes for 72 yards and a pick while rushing for 34 yards and a pair of touchdowns on eight carries — the rookie still gave the Eagles their best chance to win the game, something Pederson clearly had zero interest in doing.
I also don’t put it all on Hurts. Not only was the Football Team’s defense the gravest challenge Hurts would face to-date, but the Eagles had a plethora of notable names inactive for the contest and they still managed to hang around until the very end. This one was on Pederson and quite possibly, the front office if they were playing for draft positioning.
Sudfeld finished the game completing 5-of-12 passes for 32 yards with two giveaways.
While the Football Team won the NFC East and deserves the national accolades because of the heroic seasons of Smith and HC Ron Rivera, Pederson will be the one who is talked about the most on Black Monday for all the wrong reasons.
Anthony Cervino is an NFL Writer and Betting Analyst for The Game Day. He is also a lifelong NFL savant and self-proclaimed league historian. In the industry, Anthony has excelled in both the fantasy football and sports betting space with fantasy his proverbial bread and butter.
Anthony has made appearances on SiriusXM, amongst other publications. He is also the co-creator of the FF Faceoff (Faceoff Sports Network) and the FF Faceoff Mental Health Podathon partnered with the Hayden Hurst Foundation.
15th most accurate ranker in the FantasyPros ECR for both draft and in-season accuracy (2019)
| 8th most accurate ranker in the FantasyPros ECR for sleepers (2020)
| 13th most accurate ranker in the FantasyPros ECR for in-season accuracy, including 2nd at quarterback and 3rd at tight end (2021).
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