Thursday, December 24, 2015

Cohen's Corner NFL Week 15 Takeaways

Week 15 may have ended a couple days ago, but there is still plenty of fallout from this insane week in the National Football League thanks in large part to the antics of Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and Carolina cornerback Josh Norman. So much so that it once again brings up the integrity of the league into question, something that is becoming an annual and weekly occurrence. More on that in a minute. Meanwhile, Week 15 provided us with a handful of answers to the playoff picture as things begin to crystalize for January.

Let's look back and look forward.

1) The Beckham Fiasco Highlights the NFL's Dying Credibility: By now everyone knows what happened on Sunday at MetLife Stadium between Odell Beckham Jr. and Josh Norman. The two spent much of the afternoon trash-talking and pushing and shoving one another that it took away from what was a really excellent game to watch between the Giants and Panthers.

Beckham was suspended for his actions, justly so, since nobody should launch themselves at any player during the course of a game the way Beckham did. His actions were immature and selfish. That being said, so were the actions of Norman and practice squad player Marcus Ball. Both players have been accused of threatening Beckham before the game, and the Panthers were seen passing a bat around the field while making those threats.

While Beckham's suspension is justified, Norman and Ball should also be suspended. In fact, the Panthers and coach Ron Rivera should be fined for allowing the team to even walk onto the field with baseball bats. There is no place for threats and weapons on a football field ever. This moment speaks to the dying credibility of the NFL in general. Players such as Beckham and Norman have been trumped up as two of the best at their position, and when both players spent the afternoon fighting, the officials did nothing to break it up and eject both players from the game. Perhaps the NFL has Brady-itits, a fear of punishing star players for their own irresponsible actions because they will run to the players union for support. The moral decay by the players in the NFL is a total disgrace. From Ray Rice to Adrian Peterson and now this disaster, it will take a League and commissioner who cares about the image of the sport to change things. Until then moments like Sunday's Giants-Panthers game will continue.

2) The Giants gave up on their coach with that performance:While the Beckham nonsense played a lead roll in Sunday's game, the Giants were trailing 35-7 at one point in this game before making a great comeback. The Giants were so putrid early in this one that they looked like a team that gave up on their head coach, Tom Coughlin. Coughlin is on thin ice down the stretch here, and there is very good chance the Giants will miss the playoffs. Coughlin's inability to control this team is too apparent, and sadly his time is coming to a close.

3) The Steelers not only beat the Broncos but may have eliminated the Jets from the playoffs: Trailing 27-10 at the half, the Steelers put together a dominant second half surge and beat back the Broncos 34-27 in Pittsburgh on Sunday. The win sent the Steelers to their ninth win, lifting them over the Jets for the final playoff spot in the AFC. If the Steelers, Jets and Chiefs all finish with the same record, then Pittsburgh and Kansas City will be in the postseason. The Steelers win the tie-breaker with the Jets based on strength of schedule and quality of opponents.

As for Gang Green, after their sloppy effort in Dallas last Saturday, they now have to get set for the top seeded Patriots at the Meadowlands. The Jets chances of making the playoffs are not good.

4) However, the Broncos are no guarantee to make it to the playoffs, either: There is a back door for the Jets to get in, if they are so lucky. That back door involves the sinking Denver Broncos. The Broncos (10-4) are now no guarantee to make the playoffs, having lost a potential tie-breaker based on conference win percentage to the surging Chiefs IF both teams end up tied. If Denver were to lose one of their final two games (vs. Cincinnati and San Diego) then the Jets could get into the playoffs IF they win out. Complicated I'm sure, but there is a chance.

5) The Redskins Will Win the NFC East: The Redskins are just one win away from winning the NFC East. The team that nobody picked to win the division when the season started has been tremendous at home this year (6-2 to be exact) having been led by the red hot Kirk Cousins. Cousins was left off the Pro Bowl ballot at quarterback this year, but his numbers say he should be there, completing nearly 70 percent of his passes. He threw four touchdowns against Buffalo, and has stabilized a rather unstable position in DC. The Skins need to win in Philadelphia on Saturday to finish it off. Not an easy task, but with a division title at stake, expect the Redskins to play with added motivation to take care of business.

6) Rex Ryan joins the hot seat in Buffalo: After the Bills 35-25 loss to the Redskins on Sunday, word is starting to swirl around Buffalo, NY that Rex Ryan is in trouble. Reported initially by George Willis of the New York Post, Ryan told his players that if things don't improve, there will be "drastic changes." Sounds like there is a lot of pressure on good ole Rexy after another year of broken promises. Told ya' Buffalo.

7) Chip Kelly needs to be fired, period. Speaking of the coaches hot seat, the Eagles really need to think about parting ways with Chip Kelly. His team looked like they surrendered against the Cardinals on Sunday, and have lost four of their last six to put themselves on the outside looking in. This was team that was favored to win the division and it has been a total disaster. There is even speculation that running back DeMarco Murray wants out. Fire Kelly. Trade Kelly to Tennessee. Just get him out of town, Eagles.

8) Have the Chargers played their last game in San Diego? What about the Rams? Looks like
either the Chargers or Rams, or even both franchises played their final games in their respective cities of St. Louis and San Diego this past week. Both teams are hellbent of getting to Los Angeles in 2016.

St. Louis owner Stan Kroenke has been planning to build a stadium in Carson, California for some time now with little interest in keeping the Rams in St. Louis. Meanwhile the Chargers had an agreement with the Raiders to move together to a shared stadium in LA.

While that talk is still possible, the Raiders movement has quieted down somewhat. There are now reports that the NFL owners want to see the Rams stay in St. Louis, and would favor an owner for owner trade. According to NBC Sports, Kroenke would trade the Rams to Chargers owner Dean Spanos, with Spanos getting the Rams in return. The Rams would stay in St. Louis, while the Chargers, a long time resident of San Diego, would pack up and head for Hollywood.
While this seems to be the lesser of many evils, just the idea of the Raiders and Chargers moving in together and the Raiders becoming an NFC team is enough to make one sick, I hate the fact that San Diego could lose a team that has called that city home for almost five decades.

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