Willo's stock report: Week Twelve
Thanksgiving is just around the corner, so you know what that means! The season is nearly over! For fans of pretty awful teams, such as myself, this is a Godsend (sans the fact we’re being trotted out on Thanksgiving Night). But for fans of teams of whom are good, this is it. The business end is here.
It’s about to get tight. Games suddenly mean more. You’re counting your sides fixtures weeks ahead to see where you can realistically drop one, and where you can’t afford an L. God I miss it. QUINNY! WHY? WHY MUST YOU DO THIS TO ME?!?
Here’s the stock report.
Let it be known; the hottest team in the league right now isn’t one at the very top. They’ve had some downs among their considerable ups, and they are absolutely cooking. The Baltimore Ravens are at 9-2, and are here to stay.
In the last Monday Night Football game at the Los Angeles Coliseum, the Ravens travelled west with an MVP front runner under centre, a running game that won’t quit, and a defense that is utterly dominant on its day. They completely and totally dismantled the Rams in every facet, cementing themselves as THE team to beat heading into the playoff season. To give you an idea just how dominant the Rams were here is the win probability graph from that game, courtesy of @LeeSharpeNFL.
I’ve been full of praise for Lamar Jackson this season, but it really is vindicating to see how some sections of the NFL media are trying to rewrite the history they penned pre-2018 draft. Anyone who argues there was no talk of Lamar being converted into a wide receiver perpetuated that talk. The Ravens are legit. Lamar is legit. And they’re threatening to go all the way.
Speaking of teams on fire, the Seattle Seahawks are verging on finishing 2019 with the second best record in the NFC, and being forced into a wildcard spot. On Sunday, they marched down to Philadelphia, and didn’t give the hosting Eagles a single sniff of a chance.
For a player with league MVP title aspirations, Russell Wilson had a pretty standard day, by his standards. 200 yards, a touchdown, and an interception is usually nothing to write home about. However, on the ground, 2018 first rounder Rashaad Penny made good on his incredible talent, driving 14 carries for 129 yards and a touchdown of his own.
The saying in proper football is that finding ways to win, even when you’re not playing well, is the hallmark of champions. That might have been a watershed performance for the Seahawks as we enter the back end of the season. They might just be something special.
Keep an eye on
Make no mistake; at the start of 2019, there was no place in the league for Ryan Tannehill. Especially not as a starter. The one time first round pick suffered a great deal in a pretty poor Miami Dolphins set up, but he was, ultimately, better than the reputation that preceded him. He was a fine player. Not one of the best, but certainly not one of the worst. A pretty good back up, some would say.
The Titans elected to bench their 2015 2nd overall pick in Marcus Mariota following a 16-0 loss to the awful Denver Broncos in mid-October and, since taking the starting job, Tannehill has led the Titans to a 4-1 record, and is playing absolutely lights out in a pretty average side. Hosting the Jaguars on Sunday, the Titans just rolled them over, and Tannehill was right in the heart of the action. Missing on only 4 passes, and notching up over 250 yards through the air (and another 40 on the ground), the 31 year old looked every bit back to his best.
Is Tannehill the long term answer at Tennessee? Who’s to say. But he’s certainly writing Mariota’s P45 with every down he plays. It’s difficult not to be made up for a guy who held such promise only a few years ago.
A slight dip
I’ve talked a lot about the Oakland Raiders in this thing, to the point where I suspect a few of you might accuse me of being a closet member of Raider Nation. I assure you that this isn’t the case. I would never. Though I would be lying if I said I hadn’t developed something of a soft spot for them as a result of this. But, guys, come on. This was a gimmie. A mist win, at that. You blew it.
The New York Jets suck. I’m not even gonna dress it up. They’re just awful. So for a team with genuine post-season aspirations, especially one with a pretty rough five week stretch on the horizon, this was the perfect opportunity to catch up a game on the division leading Chiefs, and really cement themselves as a contender. Losing 34-3 is an absolute joke.
Maybe our expectations were unnecessarily raised because of how well they’d done until now. Maybe we just underestimated the Jets (ahahahahahahahaha). The reality is now that that result has put the Raiders on the ropes. They can’t afford a hit like that again, else they’ll be knocked out.
I spoke previously of how the QB Class of 2015 was on its way out, but we need to talk about the class of 2016. Picks one and two in particular. The top two guys have gone one further than their 2015 counterparts and gotten their second contract. It’s increasingly difficult to argue that either Goff or Wentz is a substantial improvement on Winston or Mariota, mind. After this weekend, there might actually be a case that the 2015 guys could improve the teams of the 2016 guys.
I’m absolutely not saying that Goff and Wentz are bad Quarterbacks. I am saying that neither Goff, nor Wentz, are particularly good Quarterbacks. In an offense led by one of the brilliant offensive minds in the league, Jared Goff hasn’t thrown a touchdown in the entire month of November, and has more interceptions than he has touchdowns on the season. It’s easier to be less harsh on Wentz, given the amount of injuries across that Philly offense, but Seattle were no good on Sunday, and he helped gift wrap them a W.
As the season starts to wind down, looking at how the respective careers of these guys has played out, I find myself asking; did Los Angeles and Philadelphia jump the gun here? Are both teams going to be in a position to win every season with these guys in the long term. Unfortunately, I’m not sure the answer will be well received by either fanbase.
Sell sell sell!
Moving us on nicely: the Los Angeles Rams are officially done. RIP the Rams. You had a good run, but it’s OVER. I’m sorry, I don’t make the rules.
Weird to be declaring this about a side who are 6-5, and still alive for a wildcard run? Yes, absolutely. I fully expect this to come back to bite me. But you cannot open the doors to your own home, lose 45-6, and still be considered a playoff contender.
There is plenty of talent on this Rams side, and they have enough time to turn it around. Will they? Probably not. Cardinals twice, Seahawks, Cowboys, and the 49ers in their final 5 games. Can they even afford to lose one of those games? Is 10-6 even enough for a wildcard in the NFC this season? Maybe not. Either way, I don’t back them to do it. Sell it all.
Image credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports, Shane Roper-USA TODAY Sports, Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports