Well drop through and hop over the fence onto the field ’cause we’re going streaking. It seems that nearly every good team in the NFL is on a winning streak, the wheat rising up off the threshing floor of football madness. Philly has won eight straight, as have the Saints. The Patriots and Vikings are both at six, while the Steelers have rattled off five in a row. The best teams to lose this week were the Rams (who were on a four game streak) and the Seahawks (who barely fell short against Atlanta). Do streaks mean anything? Heck if I know. But it does seem to require a certain quality team to rattle off four or more wins in a row, so maybe it is a good indicator. Obviously teams need to rattle off three or four wins to take home the Lombardi Trophy, so in-season streaks might be a decent proxy for the ability to go on that sort of run. Something to investigate… later. Now, on to the superlatives.
Biggest Winner – Minnesota Vikings
With a 24-7 win over the Rams on Sunday, the Vikings took control of the NFC’s 2 Seed, and a two-game lead in the NFC North. The Rams were leading the league in scoring coming in, so defensive coordinator George Edwards will be pleased with holding them to 7. It was an all-around dominant performance, with Case Keenum tossing for 280 yards to solidify his starting role. Latavius Murray looked rugged and raw, going for 95 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 6.3 yards per carry. Now Minny hits the road for three tough ones, visiting Detroit, Atlanta, and Carolina.
Biggest Loser – Kansas City Chiefs
In one of the weakest showings of any team all season, the Chiefs sputtered all night as they fell 12-9 to the lowly Giants. Alex Smith threw two interceptions, and Travis Kelce tossed one too on a badly executed double pass. It’s really unforgivable to not get in the end zone given the weapons at KC’s disposal: Kareem Hunt, Tyreek Hill, Kelce, etc. The loss drops Andy Reid’s team to 6-4, and to the 4 Seed in the AFC. This makes it very unlikely the Chiefs have a shot at a first-round bye. They will still win their weak sauce division, but this team has revealed itself to be no contender.
Rookie Watch – Samaje Perine, Washington Redcards
There’s a lot to love about Perine. His name is pronounced PEE-rine. He was a fourth round pick. He’s listed at 5’10” and 236 pounds on CBSSports.com, which means he’s probably 5’7” and 245. And the latest reason – his 126 yard, one touchdown performance against the Saints. From a fantasy perspective, he’s now primed to go ham (not C.J.). “Fat” Rob Kelley and Chris Thompson (see below) are now both KO’d for the season, meaning the backfield is Perine’s. There will be ample opportunities to score, as Cousins and the Washington attack move the ball like crazy. Buy now.
Sleeper Awakens – Kenny Stills, Miami Dolphins
The young receiver out of Oklahoma feels like he’s been in the league for a decade. Originally groomed as a Drew Brees deep threat in New Orleans, he’s now finding a home in Miami with a pretty sad offense. But he makes it work. Apparently he caught nine TDs last season (on just 42 receptions), and he’s back at it again. He went nuclear in Week 11, shredding the Bucs defense for 180 yards and a TD, despite the combo of Jay Cutler and Matt Moore at QB. He’s now got five TDs on the season and is on pace to break his receiving yards record of 931 in a season. The kid can ball.
Dominating Performance – Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers
Who among us thought the Chargers had a 54 point game in them? I don’t see a lot of hands raised. Rivers was chuckin’ all day, and he had his boy Allen running wild in the Buffalo secondary. Allen caught 12 balls for 159 yards and two touchdowns, securing all but one of his targets. He was simply everywhere, dazzling with increasingly difficult catches. He’s a big reason the Chargers have even an outside shot at the playoffs.
Most Devastating Injury – Chris Thompson, Washington Redcards
Thompson, who had turned into one of the better multi-use running backs in the league in his fourth season, is now done. His right fibula fractured on a huge collision involving two Saints defenders and his quarterback, Kirk Cousins. He needs surgery on the leg, so Washington is now without its top two rushers, Thompson and Rob Kelley. While the team isn’t exactly a Super Bowl favorite, they’ve got an outside chance to snag a Wild Card spot, and at the very least, Thompson is a hugely impactful fantasy guy.
0-10! The Browns can DO this. I truly believe. They’ve got just two home games remaining, vs. the Packers and Ravens. DeShone Kizer will continue to do things at quarterback that somewhat resemble what other people do at quarterback. Josh Gordon is apparently back at practice, angling to get reinstated. Our surprise contender Denver is worth keeping an eye on, as they “gained” a game on the Giants who pooped their way to a 12-9 win against the Chiefs. I wonder if there’s a way to bet against the Browns? What odds would you take on them going 0-6 to finish the year win-less? I might go even.
Image Sources: Brad Rempel/USA TODAY Sports, Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports, Brad Mills/USA TODAY Sports, Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports, Jake Roth/USA TODAY Sports, Chuck Cook/USA TODAY Sports, Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports