A Fourth Quarter Sports Christmas: NFL Naughty or Nice List
I hope everyone has enjoyed their Christmas mornings with all their family and friends. I know I have! It’s always good to reminisce about the memories of Christmas morning.
Hopefully Santa has given you what you wanted from your list, whether you have been naughty or nice. We at Fourth Quarter Sports are also giving you a gift. That gift is…
Our own “naughty or nice” list for every team in both the National Football League and the National Basketball Association.
Of course we have to include a Christmas themed photo of everyone’s favorite rookie, QB Baker Mayfield from the 7-7-1 Cleveland Browns.
We’ll talk about Mayfield and the Browns later, but first, let’s talk about the best team in the NFL over the past two decades and their not so good division!
AFC East Division: Dan Piersma
New England Patriots:
Nice: AFC East
Being in the AFC East has been really nice for the Patriots for the last decade. The Patriots have won the division for each of the last 10 years. As long as Tom Brady is the QB, they should continue to win the division. Well, that and all the other teams in the division have far more issues.
Naughty: Brady’s Decline
Here’s a quick question to all the young athletes who want to be the next Tom Brady. Do you imagine yourself doing it as long as he has? The man is 41 years old and still playing at the top of his game. Or maybe not, he hasn’t really been playing as well as all the Patriots fans have hoped for. He has relied on the running backs a lot more this year than in the past, and we could also give them a piece on the nice list, as long as they are healthy.
Nice: Running Backs
To think Lamar Miller left Miami for Houston. The Dolphins were wondering who’s next. They traded Jay Ajayi last year to the Eagles and finished the season out with Damien Williams and Kenyan Drake. This year Drake was the featured back, but when he struggled and had a hard time to get things going, veteran RB Frank Gore would step up. When Gore got hurt, Ballage stepped up, and that’s the nicest thing this Dolphins team has going for them.
Naughty: Lack of Star Power
The Dolphins will probably not be in the playoffs this year because of their recent two-game losing streak has dropped them from 7-6 to 7-8, while other teams around them, including the Browns, have jumped them in the standings. They don’t necessarily have a big star who gives them the big WOW factor or attention they lack from the fans.
Nice: Josh Allen
The Bills have had problems with who their QB is going to be. Although they did have Tyrod Taylor there as a constant QB from 2015-2017, they decided to trade him to the Cleveland Browns. Taylor had a good career with the Bills, but just didn’t have the help he needed to help him. Taylor’s stat over three years with the Bills can be found here. But the Bills knew a pay raise was coming for Taylor and they traded him to Cleveland.
With that trade, it opened up the chance for them to draft their future QB, which was Josh Allen at seventh overall. Now I know Allen’s numbers aren’t as great as we all thought they would be, but he has done a lot of what he had to do to get the team on the winning side of things. Unfortunately, the Bills record doesn’t show it either, but several teams like the Minnesota Vikings, Jacksonville Jaguars, Detroit Lions and New York Jets have felt the wrath of Allen this season. He and the Bills have won three of their last seven games and look to finish with six wins this season.
Naughty: QB Protection
Allen was thrown into the starter role late into week one after the team got blown out by the Baltimore Ravens. In that game, he got sacked three teams. In fact, he has been faced with trying to scramble from the opposing defense. In 11 games this season, Allen has been sacked 27 times and fumbled the ball eight times. If the Bills want to have any success in the future, they will need to find a way to protect their QBs. It was the same way with Taylor, and that is something we don’t want to see. Let’s hope the Bills can learn to protect their young QB, who has already missed games with an injury.
New York Jets:
Nice: Sam Darnold
Darnold was the third overall pick in the 2018 draft, and he was the first of all the rookie QBs to start an NFL game. That game was week one of the season, where he overcame an interception on his first NFL throw that was taken for a pick six, joining the likes of Hall of Fame Brett Favre as one of three QBs to do so. He has had a subpar season with plenty of room to grow. In 12 games this season, Darnold has thrown for 2,698 yards and 17 touchdowns, which I would say isn’t that bad, but the 15 interceptions do look bad. Fortunately, Darnold seems to have left the INTs in the training room with his injury that kept him out three games. Since his return, he has thrown for 764 yards, six touchdowns and ONE interception. That has been against pretty tough defenses.
Naughty: Very Inconsistent Defense
Speaking of tough defenses, the Jets are one of those teams who can be tough when they want to be. They just have to be more consistent. The Jets have totaled 13 interceptions and 14 fumbles this season. The 14 fumbles, although it’s great, only led to seven fumble recoveries. If the Jets as a whole would’ve been more consistent, they might have been able to win more games.
AFC North Division: Kevin Dannaher
Nice: Steelers Offense
Once the Steelers lost one of the complete running backs in the NFL, I think everyone expected a big dip in offensive production. However, Big Ben, Antonio Brown and Juju Smith-Schuster have all shouldered an increase in workload. James Conner has held his own by averaging over 100 scrimmage yards per game. With a collective effort, the Steelers offense has managed just fine without Bell.
Naughty: Le’Veon Bell
Speaking of Bell, he is the No. 1 thing on the Naughty list for the Steelers. Just look at the situation here. Although there were rumors, most people did not expect Bell to sit out the whole season. What made it worse, was the fact that the Steelers will not be able to trade him and ultimately lose him for nothing. Bell is arguably one of the best players in the NFL, and it has taken a turn for the worst. Even to the point where this unprecedented situation has other Steelers players speaking out about their former teammate.
Nice: Lamar Jackson
Jackson is sitting high atop the Ravens’ Nice List. He is 5-1 as the starter, with the lone loss coming in overtime against the Kansas City Chiefs. In almost every game, he has done just enough to put his team in the position to win. Jackson has also helped with the Ravens’ top five rushing attacks, and getting an assist from the No. 1 defense. The running attack and the defense could also be in contention as well, but in the NFL, the quarterback usually gets the blame for losing, so I’m giving Lamar Jackson credit for winning.
Naughty: Joe Flacco
As a Ravens fan, it pains me to write this, but Joe Flacco. The former playoff magician and Superbowl MVP is now receiving his hefty paycheck to sit on the bench. He was 1-4 in his last five games as a starter, and the offense was struggling. The 66 million dollars left on his contract will make a buyout a big headache if the Ravens don’t find a trading partner.
Nice: Entire Browns Roster
After not winning a game last year, everyone on this Browns roster should make the Nice List. Yet, Baker Mayfield is by far the most important name. He has looked every bit like a franchise quarterback. Along with Nick Chubb and Jarvis Landry, the Browns’ offense seems to be potent at every position for years to come. I think Browns fans can breathe a sigh of relief because they have found their first franchise quarterback in almost three decades.
So the Browns have a promising offense, but the defense is on the Naughty List. This season the Browns’ defense has ranked below average in almost every single category. They do have a defensive rookie pro bowler in Denzel Ward, but other than that, many players have actually regressed from last year. The good news about allowing the third most yards and second most rushing touchdowns, is they can pretty much only improve from here.
Nice: Joe Mixon
Santa wasn’t so kind to the Bengals this year, but one player certainly on the list is Joe Mixon. As one of the more underrated backs this year, he has continued to produce despite not much help from others on his team (See Bengals Naughty List Below). This season, Mixon’s efficiency and workload have both increased. The past three games alone, the Bengals have given him an outrageous 79 touches, and he has still produced. The Bengals have a lot of questions that need to be answered, but starting running back is not one of them.
If there was a Bengals Naughty List MVP, Andy Dalton might be a contender. He has played just well enough to fool the Bengals into trusting him, but also poorly enough to prevent them from having any postseason success. This may seem harsh, but Dalton has sub-par averages throughout his career, including complete collapses in the playoffs. This season he remained slightly below average until he was put on IR for a torn ligament in his thumb. Another year with Andy Dalton, another underwhelming season for the Bengals.
AFC South Division: Joel Deering
Nice: WR DeAndre Hopkins
Hopkins makes the nice list for the Texans this year for not only being the best receiver, but for bailing them out of a couple of close games. Some examples were when he made an incredible play against the Dallas Cowboys in overtime, ultimately giving them the win and Week 15 against the Jets when he made a great catch to put the Texans up late in the game. If it wasn’t for Hopkins bailing them out a few times, this team would not be 10-5 or leading the AFC South.
Naughty: Offensive Line
The offensive line of the Houston Texans gets a lump of coal because they’ve allowed the most sacks to their QB of any team in the league (56). Imagine what Deshaun Watson could do if he’s consistently given time to throw. It’s pretty amazing what he’s been able to do with little to no time. This offensive line will need to find a way to better protect their QB as they head into the playoffs.
Nice: QB Andrew Luck
Santa drives the sleigh. Andrew Luck drives the sleigh that is the Colts. Would the Colts be 9-6 with a chance to make the playoffs if Andrew Luck wasn’t healthy again and playing at a high level? No. Look at what they were last year without him. Luck has careers highs in completion percentage and passer rating this season. He also has his second highest TD total of his career. Without Andrew Luck, the Colts would not be enjoying the success they are this year. Luck has been very nice to Indianapolis this year.
Naughty: Andrew Luck’s receiving options outside of T.Y. Hilton and Eric Ebron.
T.Y. Hilton has 1209 receiving yards and six TDs this season. Eric Ebron has 690 receiving yards and 12 TDs. Their next leading receiver is Chester Rogers, who has 453 yards and two TDs. Outside of Hilton and Ebron, Luck hasn’t found a consistent receiving threat. Nobody has really stepped up. It’s a good thing Luck is having a great year. The Colts need to get more production from their third, fourth, fifth receiving options to help out their elite QB.
Nice: Top five scoring defense
The defense for the Titans currently ranks second in points allowed per game (18.0). It’s because of their defense they’ve been able to get to 9-6 with a chance to make the playoffs. They’ve consistently held opponents to low scoring totals, giving their offense a much easier time. If their defense hadn’t played so well this entire season, the Titans wouldn’t be anywhere near where they are right now.
Naughty: RB Derrick Henry
How can Derrick Henry be on the naughty list after the recent stretch of games he’s had? Well, before those great games, Henry hadn’t rushed for more than 58 yards in a game all season long! That’s why he makes the naughty list. If Henry had been running the ball how he’s been running recently, the Titans would have been a much better and more consistent team. Henry might be able to get himself off the naughty list if he can carry the Titans to the playoffs.
Nice: The Defense, excluding CB Jalen Ramsey
19.7 points per game. That’s the average amount of points the Jaguars are giving up defensively. That currently ranks them fifth in the NFL. This team has had one of the better defense’s throughout the season, only this year it hasn’t translated into wins because the offense has been so bad. Overall, this defense has been very good to the Jaguars this season. CB Jalen Ramsey is the exception.
Naughty: CB Jalen Ramsey
When you’re a player who consistently runs his mouth, talking trash about everyone you possibly can, it’s not going to land you on the nice list. Ramsey has repeatedly said several players are ‘trash’ or some other kind of word meaning he thinks they suck. On top of that, we’ve seen Ramsey get beat by several receivers who he claimed he would shut down. Maybe if Jalen Ramsey can learn to close his mouth and let his play do the talking, he can land himself on the nice list next year.
AFC West Division: Adam Hatlan
Nice: DEs Von Miller and Bradley Chubb
Miller and Chubb have combined for their 26.5 sacks. These two alone have kept the Broncos in so many games. If it wasn’t for the lack of Case Keenum’s passing ability, the Broncos might have had a better record.
Nonetheless, the Broncos struck gold with the Chubb pick and have the best pass rushing tandem in the NFL. You don’t agree, Name a better duo. I dare you!
Naughty: Vance Joseph
Is Vance Joseph going to be the Bronco’s head coach much longer? Already in his second year with Denver, there are constant rumors about his job status. They just seemingly don’t know what to do with the talented players on the team. If it wasn’t for rookie RB Phillip Lindsay, they probably wouldn’t have scored as much as they did – no wonder they are 6-9 on the year. He will need to ignore rumors and finish strong with hopes of returning next season.
Kansas City Chiefs:
Nice: Patrick Mahomes
There is no one else on this Chiefs team more deserving than the second year QB playing like an MVP. Of course, we owe some credit to coach Andy Reid for taking the chance on him in the first round of the 2017 season. Mahomes only played in the Chief’s season finale that year, but has since torn up the league. They are one of the NFL’s best offenses, and Mahomes is a top candidate for Most Valuable Player. They are also standing in first place in the AFC over both the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers, who many of us thought were going to be the AFC representative. But honestly, need I say more?
Naughty: Kareem Hunt
I don’t think there’s really more that needs to be said here. If you managed to miss the news about Kareem Hunt and his situation, you could check it out here. But how the Chiefs’ supporting cast of Spencer Ware and Damien Williams have been able to feel, it is great for their offense. Williams has helped take a lot of pressure off Mahomes as they find themselves in shootouts.
Nice: Bunch of first-round picks
The Raiders had high expectations entering into the season. That was until new head coach Jon Gruden came out of retirement and started to make the big moves, like trading away star defensive lineman, Khalil Mack, for two future first-round picks (2019 and 2020). They also traded star WR Amari Cooper for another 2019 first-round pick after Cooper repeatedly struggled. The Raiders now have three first-round picks for the 2019 draft, so let’s see what Gruden and the Raiders plan to do with it.
Naughty: No Job Security
Who’s next? The Gruden regime is losing coaches and front office personnel as quickly as the Trump White House – a franchise with no direction. Remember when this team was a Super Bowl contender just two years ago? Seems like a long time ago. How long until they start playing in Vegas?
Los Angeles Chargers:
Nice: Rivers’ MVP season
Philip Rivers and the Chargers have been playing well this season, as Rivers is one of the MVP candidates on the season for the way he has been playing. At 11-4 and tied with the Chiefs for the top record in the AFC, Rivers has led the Chargers back into the playoffs for the first time since 2013. It’s also the first time in the city of Los Angeles, and Rivers’ 4,132 yards for 31 touchdowns and 10 interceptions are no joke. Not to mention that he has received a lot of help from both RB’s Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler.
Their biggest problem is the problem they have been dealing with for many years now. That problem is inconsistency. It’s nice to see the Chargers have made it back to the playoffs, but at what cost? In their last game against the Baltimore Ravens, they couldn’t find the end zone. Rivers only threw for 181 yards and two interceptions. Gordon tried his best to help with the teams only touchdown, as they lost 22-10 and only had 232 yards of total offense. So what Chargers team will we see in the playoffs?
NFC East Division: Joel Deering
Nice: Rookie LB Leighton Vander Esch
Back in April when the Cowboys drafted Leighton Vander Esch in the first round of the NFL Draft, Jerry Jones and company took the heat for selecting an LB over a WR. It would have been easy for them to give in to the pressure of drafting a WR, but instead, they decided to fill a need in an area that has plagued them for years.
That area is at LB. Starting LB Sean Lee has been one of the best LBs in the NFL throughout his career, but that’s when he’s on the field. Lee has never played 16 games in a season in his career. The Dallas defense was pretty solid with Lee, but without him, they seemed always to fall apart. Enter Vander Esch. Vander Esch was drafted to back up Lee in case he went down, which he did, again. Vander Esch has now started ten out the Cowboys’ 15 games, racking up 131 tackles, seven pass deflections, and two INTs along the way.
Leighton Vander Esch makes the nice list for the Dallas Cowboys this season. It’s not just because he’s exceeding everyone’s expectations, but also because he’s made some big-time plays that have led to victories.
Naughty: Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan
While everyone loves to blame Dak Prescott, the injured offensive line or whoever else they may hate on the Dallas Cowboys’ roster (everyone), the real reason for the offense’s struggles this season is because of Scott Linehan. Several weeks ago I watched a video from Good Morning Football about the Cowboys and their offense. In this video, Kyle Brandt said something along the lines of “the Dallas Cowboys offense looks like it’s from the 1920s.” In other words, he was saying the Cowboys are too predictable on offense.
Scott Linehan hasn’t installed much creativity into this offense. I believe with the right offensive coordinator; the Dallas Cowboys could thrive offensively. Scott Linehan just isn’t letting his players play to their strengths. Arguably Dak Prescott’s best attribute is his ability to run the ball. In their shutout loss to the Colts, Prescott didn’t have a single carry. That’s unacceptable for a QB who can do what he does with his legs. Don’t get me started on the rest. Scott Linehan deserves a lump of coal for his play calling this season.
New York Giants:
Nice: Rookie RB Saquon Barkley
The second overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft has more than proved his worthiness of being number two. The rookie RB has already shown he’ll be one of the best RBs in the league for a long time. He’s a constant threat to an opposing defense. On the season, Barkley has totaled 1,198 rushing yards and 10 rushing TDs. He’s currently third in the NFL in rushing yards, behind only Ezekiel Elliott (1st) and Todd Gurley (2nd). That’s good company.
Barkley has established himself as far more than just a runner. He’s totaled 87 receptions for 688 yards and four TDs as a receiver. That brings his total yards to 1,886 and total TDs to 14. While being third in rushing yards, Barkley is also fourth in receiving yards among RBs. This kid can do it all and will do it all for a long time in this league. He’s given Giants fans something to look forward to.
Naughty: QB Eli Manning
Eli Manning is not a good QB anymore. He’s just not good. He gets on the naughty list for that, but that’s not the entire reason. The main reason why Eli Manning gets on the Giants’ naughty list this season, is because somehow he’s done enough for the Giants to think he’s got more good years left in him. I don’t know what he’s doing or saying to them to make them think that, but I don’t see it. I’m not sure how he’s convincing the front office to keep him around, but he’s doing it, it’s naughty. Eli Manning needs to go.
Nice: TE Zach Ertz
TE Zach Ertz has been incredible this season for the Philadelphia Eagles. He’s totaled over 100 catches and 1,000 receiving yards this season. Ertz has become just the fourth TE in NFL history to catch 100 passes. The other three guys are Jason Witten, Tony Gonzalez, and Dallas Clark. Ertz has been a playmaker for this offense all season.
In a season where the Eagles have suffered a Super Bowl hangover the majority of the year, Zach Ertz is one of the few players on this team who has not. He’s dominated almost every game he’s played in. He’s been the definition of consistency this season.
Naughty: The entire team
While Zach Ertz hasn’t had a Super Bowl hangover, pretty much the rest of the Eagles’ roster has. They haven’t been playing with the same determination they were when the dominated their way through the playoffs last year to win the Super Bowl. I’ve already stated it’s because Carson Wentz was back. The team just hasn’t seemed to play as well with him in the lineup because they expect him to make up for their mistakes. If they would have played like they did against the Rams and the Texans the entire season, they could be one of the top teams in the NFL. Instead, they find themselves still needing help to make the playoffs.
Nice: RB Adrian Peterson
This team drafted RB Derrius Guice to be their workhorse in the running game back in April. Unfortunately, Guice was hurt before he got any real NFL action. The Redskins later signed veteran RB Adrian Peterson. Many believed Peterson didn’t have much left in the tank, but he’s proven he’s got more to give. Peterson may not be one of the top rushers in the NFL this season, but he’s been more than the Redskins could have asked for.
On the season, Peterson has 1,042 yards and seven TDs. His average yards per rush is 4.2. You could easily argue that if Peterson wasn’t there for the Redskins this season, they may not have been the team who was once leading the NFC East. It’s hard to find a bright spot for the Redskins amongst everything that’s happened this year, but Adrian Peterson has definitely been a good boy.
Naughty: QB Mark Sanchez
Mark Sanchez. The guy famous for the butt fumble with the Jets? Yeah, that guy. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, he steps in for the Redskins because of injury and pretty much blows any shot they had at making the playoffs. In his one start with the Redskins, Sanchez completed just 42.9% of his passes for 38 yards and two INTs before being pulled out in a game in which they lost 40-16….. to the Giants. His passer rating was 10.7. That’s just flat out bad. I don’t know if Josh Johnson would have helped the Redskins earn a victory over the Giants in that game had he started, but he’s played much better than Sanchez.
NFC North Division: Adam Hatlan
Nice: Khalil Mack
The Mack trade with the Raiders has helped the Bears go from worst to first real quick! The Bears’ defense was already decent, but adding an explosive player like Mack to the team… Look at opposing QB’s. Mack’s addition has made the Bears one of the top defensives in the league and has helped them capture the division title for the first time since 2010. Let’s not forget about the innovative, offensive-minded head coach in Matt Nagy, who helped second-year QB find his way this year.
Naughty: Road Record
Though the Bears are 11-4 this season, they will likely have to go through both Los Angeles and New Orleans if they want to make it to Atlanta for the Super Bowl. They have already beaten the Rams in Chicago, but playing the Rams in Los Angeles is a bit tougher with all the noise at the Coliseum. The only way the Bears can avoid having to go to just New Orleans is if the Rams lost their season finale against the San Francisco 49ers. But, a 4-3 road record (as of Week 16), with losses to the (surprisingly) bad Packers (5-8-1), Dolphins (7-8) and Giants (5-9) doesn’t look good for the Bears, especially when they have struggled to win the four games they have.
Nice: Kirk Cousins
It’s nice to have a QB that is at least better than the trio the Vikings had last year. Cousins’ numbers aren’t too bad as he managed to complete a career-high over 70% of his passes. He is also looking to eclipse the 30 touchdowns mark for the first time in his career with over 4,000 passing yards. Not bad for $84 million. *cough*
Naughty: OC John DeFilippo
The hiring and eventual firing of offensive coordinator John DeFilippo. DeFilippo tanked as OC, and hurt his chances of getting a head coaching job. According to reports, he refused orders from head coach Mike Zimmer to run the ball more, which in turn, ‘ran’ him out of town. Ironic.
Green Bay Packers:
Nice: A top-10 pass defense
This was a pass defense that was led by the emergence of rookie Jaire Alexander. Alexander has the make-up to become a top corner in the league. He’s definitely one of the few bright spots this season. Let’s not forget that the Packers’ defense as a whole played pretty well, it was just the injuries and mistakes on offense that slowed them down.
Naughty: Back-to-back years missing the playoffs
The past two seasons haven’t been all that great for the Packers, missing out of the playoffs both times. Last year was forgiven because QB Aaron Rodgers got hurt and missed a lot of games, half the season to be exact. But this year, it was the injuries to the receiving core and just simple mistakes by other players. Both WRs Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison have been over more than half the games this season, which in turn made it bad for Rodgers because he had to rely on the other guys like Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown. Who? Yeah, that’s what I said when I spoke to a Packers friend of mine. But hopefully, next year everyone will return healthy and the Packers can be back in the playoffs with a new head coach might I add.
Nice: Kerryon Johnson
There hasn’t been many nice things for the Lions this season. In fact, there’s been more naughty. But the one nice thing is having a running back that can get you 100 + yards in a game. And if we know anything about the Lions, that’s been a problem for them.
It’s been five seasons since a running back of the Lions has done so. This season thanks to Kerryon Johnson. He has done it twice this season in the 10 games he played. His season stats: 641 yards and 3 touchdowns off of 118 attempts. On the passing side, he has 32 catches for 213 yards and 1 touchdown. Unfortunately, he got injured and has missed the last five to six games.
The Injured Reserve 11-Man could probably be the reason why the Lions haven’t had much success this season. They traded away No. 1 WR Golden Tate to create more room for WRs Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay and RB Kerryon Johnson.
Unfortunately, Jones and Johnson got hurt and were placed on the IR. Now you see why the Lions are so bad this year. If not, let me add some more names like Ezekiel Ansah and Da’Shawn Hand who are two of the teams primary defensive player. So hopefully when everyone comes make next year, we could see a better Lions team.
NFC South Division: Aman Huda
New Orleans Saints:
Nice: RB Duo (Kamara and Ingram)
The Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram Partnership have been entertaining to say the least. The drafting of Kamara has to be surreal as in his first season, he’s lead Saints to top of the NFC with 12 wins and just two losses. According to USA Today, Kamara has been involved in 16 touchdowns and has caught 77 receptions worth over 600 yards! Kamara, along with Mark Ingram and Drew Brees have lead Saints to massive victories such as their 19-43 victory over the Washington Redskins or their game-changing 45-35 domination of the Los Angeles Rams.
Naughty: Brees Slacking
Drew Brees can’t be slacking when the Saints think they are comfortable. This was displayed in the Saints’ shocking 13-10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 14. In that game, the defense performed their best, both the offense clearly didn’t. In the first half of that match, the Saints only managed to earn 57 yards, and Brees completed the game with just 127 yards. Going into the playoffs, the Saints cannot afford poor performances like these and will need to improve the receiving ability against difficult opponents.
Nice: RB Chris McCaffrey
McCaffrey has worked really hard for the Panthers, and as a result, he broke the Panther’s record for most yards in the first quarter. It is important to get a lead first in order to have the game in one’s favor and McCaffrey at times does just that for the Panthers.
Naughty: QB Protection
Sacks lead to losses. The amount of yards teams can lose from their quarterback being sacked can be disastrous. That’s why the offensive line is there. Except for Carolina apparently. In the Panthers’ last match against rivals Falcons, the Falcons’ defense challenged Newton nine times, four of those leading to sacks. Along with that, the Panthers’ offensive line has repeatedly caused fouls, including three false starts in that last game.
Nice: WR Julio Jones
Jones was already regarded as one of the best in the league, but this season, he’s flaunted his wings stronger than ever before. The first half of the season was quite the dry period for him, struggling to make himself useful for the Falcons. However, putting his record receiving yards to use, Jones has found seven touchdowns in the latter half of the season. In 15 games, Jones has amassed over 1500 yards and seven important touchdowns.
Naughty: Falcons Defense
You don’t even need statistics to get an idea of how poor the Falcons’ defense has been this season. The main reason behind this is a large number of injuries the Falcons have had to face this season. Even those who aren’t injured haven’t played to their full potential. CB Robert Alford so far has performed 47 tackles compared to last year’s 68 or 2016’s 61 tackles.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
Nice: Ryan “Fitzmagic” Fitzpatrick
Well, miracles don’t always happen, but when they do, they involve magic. In Tampa’s case, Fitzmagic. This year, he’s completed seven percent more passes than last season at 67%. Along with that, he proudly has 2,366 yards to his name, which is 2123 more than last season, resulting in 17 touchdowns. And despite not winning every game Fitzpatrick played, he did help the Bucs get close in some matches, such as their 35-38 encounter against the Giants.
Naughty: Jameis “The Other QB” Winston
Tampa Bay’s other quarterback, Jameis Winston wasn’t too successful against Dallas last week, but that may not be his fault fully. Winston was sacked three times and gave away a fumble. Due to this, Tampa’s offense wasn’t as strong as it should’ve been and Tampa fell to defeat, having been eliminated from playoff contention.
NFC West Division: Dan Piersma
Los Angeles Rams:
During the offseason, the Rams had one thing on their mind. That one thing… Superbowl and they created the best defense in the league by adding several veterans like Sam Shields, Marcus Peters, Aquib Talib, and Suh. Don’t forget that they still have Aaron Donald as well. They did all this to win games and win the Superbowl. They have been having a tough time lately though as they try to clinch a first-round bye and a possible rematch with two teams that have beaten them once already this season, Chicago Bears and Philadelphia Eagles.
Naughty: Jared Goff’s Inconsistency
That win can only happen if Goff plays well. During those two losses, Goff looked like he was playing for Jeff Fisher again. Having eight turnovers (7 Ints and 1 fumble), Goff somewhat got things back to normal against the Cardinals. But if it wasn’t for Goff’s inconsistency on those two games, we would be talking about a completely different scenario for the Rams.
Nice: Russell Wilson’s Stellar Play
Wilson just never seems to give up on the Seahawks fans. With the Seahawks likely the 5th seed in the NFC playoffs, it should feel real nice, especially after missing out on them last year. And Wilson has managed to find ways to win games despite several players missing games or just not having a season, like Doug Baldwin.
Naughty: Doug Baldwin injured season
Baldwin’s injured season started in the first half of their week game. He missed three games and then came back from the injury but never could get things going to where he and the Seahawks would like. He has been coming along pretty well over the past few weeks, so hopefully he can keep this going into the playoffs and knock out the Cowboys again.
San Francisco 49ers:
Nice: TE George Kittle
Kittle has been one of few bright spots for the 49ers this year. He has had a Pro Bowl season with three different QBs. He will continue to be one of the top tight ends for the next few years regardless of who’s throwing him the ball.
Naughty: QB Jimmy Garapolo
One of the three QBs that was throwing to Kittles was Jimmy G. That is, of course, until he got injured and placed on the IR list. That was very unfortunate for the Niners because I believed that he could’ve had a great season as a full tine starter. But hopefully, he can return next season and lead the Niners team into a playoff spot.
Nice: CB Patrick Peterson
No matter how old he is, Peterson is still a defensive force. He has helped the Cardinals win or have a chance to win several games this season. Unfortunately, the team just isn’t that good against the run and teams tried to avoiding throwing it Peterson’s way while they decided to run with it instead. That and the offense was so bad that other teams had short yard to get a touchdown.
Naughty: QB Josh Rosen
The biggest reason why the offense was so bad was because of rookie QB Josh Rosen. I mean he was placed in a bad situation to being with, so you should’ve known there wasn’t going to be much of what we have seen out of the other rookie QBs this season. I still that he could be a good QB, he’ll just need to learn when to give up in a play instead of trying to make something out of nothing.
So I hope everyone has enjoyed our “naughty or nice” list of all the NFL teams. Sorry for length of the article, some of us had more to say than others, but nonetheless, I hope you all have a great Christmas and a Happy New Year!