Sunday’s slate of NFL action proved a couple things. First off, the Baltimore Ravens and Miami Dolphins simply don’t pass the “eye test.” They lost by a combined score of 60-7 in a week where both needed to win in order to prove their worth in the AFC. Instead, both Baltimore and Miami pretty much crapped the bed in every possible way.
The Ravens turned the ball over four times and committed nine penalties in an ugly 41-7 home loss to the New England Patriots. This loss clinched the AFC North for the Cincinnati Bengals and disabled Baltimore’s ability to clinch a playoff spot. Baltimore had won four in a row prior to its Week 16 loss, but all four wins came against teams that are currently under .500. In total, Baltimore has two wins against teams that currently have a winning record and are just 6-4 against teams with a losing record.
That’s just not going to get it done.
Super Bowl MVP from a season ago, Joe Flacco, has been downright atrocious as of late. He threw three more interceptions against New England and has now thrown 20 on the season. He has now thrown six interceptions compared to three touchdowns over the course of the last three games. The Ravens rushing attack has also been horrible this year. They average a league low 3.1 yards per attempt. Hell, Tyrod Taylor was their most impressive “running back” on Sunday. Think about that for a second.
On the same note, Miami completely crapped itself on Sunday. It tallied 103 total yards and six first downs in a 19-0 shutout loss to the last place Buffalo Bills, a game that it needed in order to control its own destiny for a playoff spot. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who left the game briefly due to injury, was hit 10 times and sacked seven times in the game. Running back Lamar Miller was the Dolphins leading rusher with eight yards on three attempts, while the Fins converted just two of 14 third down attempts in the game.
Yeah, it was pretty damn ugly.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the San Diego Chargers took care of business against their division rivals in the form of the Oakland Raiders on Sunday. While it wasn’t terribly impressive, San Diego has now won three in a row and four of its last five. This five-game stretch has been daunting as well. San Diego has wins over both the Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos during this span. Those two wins are more impressive than anything we have seen from Baltimore and Miami on the season. With a win against the Kansas City Chiefs and losses by both Baltimore and Miami next week, the Chargers will defy common logic by earning the No. 6 seed in the AFC playoffs.
And we should all be rooting for it.
Who really wants to see Baltimore or Miami go up against one of the top-three teams in the AFC come January? That doesn’t promise to be a stellar football game. Battle tested and prepared to continue its hot streak, San Diego is a team that no one in the AFC wants to see make the playoffs. Philip Rivers is arguably having the best season of his career, while both Ryan Mathews and Keenan Allen are playing stellar football at the skill positions.
However unlikely it might be, if the Chargers get into the playoffs they stand a much better shot of making a run than Baltimore and Miami. It really is that simple. And I am all about good postseason football, not mediocrity.