Week 16: Lions Limp to the Finish Line, Osweiler Benched

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The Detroit Lions have been a pleasant surprise this season. Their nine wins are tied for the third-most in the NFC, and they’re leading the NFC North as we go to press. As good as they’ve been, their loss last week puts them in danger of missing the playoffs, which would be disappointing given how close they’ve come.

 

Lions Juggle with Playoff Fate

The Detroit Lions’ fantastic season could all be for naught. While they’ve won nine games already, it feels like their momentum has slowed after losing to the New York Giants last Sunday. They fell from second seed to fourth in the NFC and are getting dangerously close to missing the playoffs altogether.

This week, they’re up against the Cowboys in Dallas, and after that, they host the hard-charging Green Bay Packers in Week 17. The Lions’ once-promising season could be disastrous if they lose their final two games and miss the playoffs.

 

Osweiler Benched, Fans Cheer

Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler has been an unmitigated disaster this season. By the second quarter of the Houston vs Jacksonville matchup last Sunday, Osweiler had thrown two interceptions. Coach Bill O’Brien, and the fans, had clearly had enough. O’Brien benched Osweiler for Tom Savage, and the fans exploded with cheers.

While Savage saved the Texans last week against Jacksonville, he may not be an adequate solution at quarterback. A former fourth-round pick, Savage has never been considered a starter, but Osweiler has performed so poorly (16 interceptions in 14 games) that the Texans feel cornered. With a solid defense and running game, they’re simply lacking a steady hand at quarterback to get to the playoffs.

 

Denver in Distress

After losing three of their last four games, the defending Super Bowl champions are in danger of missing the playoffs. They’re fresh off a 16-3 loss to the New England Patriots, which culminated in a post-game locker room shouting match that pitted the offense against the defense. The defense, which ranks fourth in points per game allowed and first in net passing yards, feels like they’re doing their part. The offense, on the other hand, has struggled all season, ranking 27th in rushing and 21st in points per game. The Broncos are currently in ninth place in the AFC and with matchups against the Kansas City Chiefs (-3.5) and Oakland Raiders still to come, they’ll have a tough time making the playoffs.

 

Important Injuries

Janoris Jenkins (NYG): The Giants’ top cornerback took a blow to the back in the first quarter last week and was unable to return. He participated in a limited practice yesterday and is questionable for Thursday.

Julio Jones (ATL): Jones has had a couple of weeks off to recover from turf toe. The Falcons are optimistic that he’ll be back in action this week.

Darius Slay (DET): Hamstring problems cost Slay two games earlier in the season and it looks like the injury has cropped up again. The Lions’ top cornerback had to leave last Sunday’s game and is in danger of missing Sunday’s affair in Dallas.

 

*Odds as of December 21, 2016