The biggest story of this past weekend was without a doubt the aftermath of the Odell Beckham Jr. vs. Josh Norman. The two days since the game have been filled with reactions, hot takes, and updates to the situation. Yesterday reports broke that Panthers players were threatening Odell Beckham pregame by swinging bats and directing slurs at him. Look, no one will ever know for sure what was said before the games, but what seems to be for sure is that there is more to this story than what occurred during the game Sunday.
I am glad the NFL suspended OBJ one game, granted I would have gone two games, and happy he did not win his appeal. Some people thought that Norman deserved a suspension because he also engaged in some of the fighting that occurred on Sunday. While it does take two to tango, that blatant hit by Odell Beckham was disgusting. For those who somehow haven’t seen the play yet or don’t have a great memory, Odell purposely located Norman downfield and then actually ran after him. Odell then intentionally launched his helmet against the helmet of Norman.
It was blatant head-hunting and probably should have warranted an ejection, or at the very least a benching. The league had to come down hard on Beckham, especially in a week in which Concussion hits the theater. This type of behavior from one of the league’s best and most visible players can’t be tolerated. Odell needs to know better, especially with so many kids looking up to him.
One interesting thing to be on the watch for will be if either Mike Evans or Julio Jones have similar complaints about Norman after playing against him. If they do, it will be worth watching Norman a little closer to see if he is perhaps more of a Richard Sherman like guy. All in all, Beckham completely deserved that suspension, as that kind of action has no place on a football field.
Now, lets look at my top 10 teams through week 15:
- Carolina Panthers– hard to put any team at the top spot besides the only undefeated team in the league. Cam Newton is running towards an MVP trophy, something that I did not think would happen 10 weeks ago but here we are. They are going to need to find a balance between going for 16-0 and staying healthy for the playoffs, but each of their last two games is winnable.
- New England Patriots– If Gronk and Edelman are healthy, this is my pick to come out of the AFC. Brady has had a great year, and the defense has been playing well. Belichick will have this team ready for the postseason. There are only a team or so that should scare this team in January.
- Pittsburgh Steelers– This may be an overreaction, but I don’t think so. This team could be peaking at the right time, and their offense is terrifying. Think about this: If Le’Veon Bell was healthy this offense would be even better. They have one of the best QBs in the league, and the best receiver. The other two receivers on the team are nothing to be sneezed at. Sure the defense is not the best, but this offense can put up enough points usually so it does not matter. This team is one to watch come playoff time.
- Arizona Cardinals– Arguably the most complete team in the NFC(I have my worries about the Panthers). Carson Palmer is playing some great football, and David Johnson may be a good NFL back. The defense needs to find a way to replace Mathieu, but it is still one of the better defenses in the league. This team would be my pick to win the NFC if the playoffs that started today.
- Seattle Seahawks– Did we write the Seahawks off a year or two early? They returned to the top spot in overall DVOA this week. If they end the year in first, that would be the fourth straight year they have done that. This Seattle team is pretty dang good. Wilson is playing very well, and is actually throwing the ball well. Could Jimmy Graham be a Ewing theory candidate? It is worth looking into the numbers. Seattle is going to be a tough out in January.
- Cincinnati Bengals– Boy they appeared to miss Andy Dalton on Sunday against the 49ers. THE 49ERS FOR FRICKS SAKE!! Jeremy Hill’s two touchdowns really helped them out. Their game next week against the Broncos has a lot of meaning because neither of these teams should want to play the Steelers in the first round. This game will go a long way in deciding who gets that first round bye, in fact if the Bengals win they clinch it. The Bengals might be a contender in the AFC, but they are going to need to Dalton back.
- Denver Broncos– Brock Osweiler may actually be two different people. He is a pretty good QB in the first half, did you see some of those throws he made in the second half? But in the second half, the numbers show a QB who may not keep his starting job once Peyton is healthy(I have no idea what should happen once he is healthy, I guess you go back to Peyton if he is 100%). Like I just said, this game is crucial for both teams, the Broncos are a game behind the Bengals for the #2 seed. If the Broncos can recover from last week’s disappointment, they should be able to beat the Bengals.
- Green Bay Packers– This is the 7th straight year the Packers have earned a playoff berth, yet this team feels less dominating than in years past. It does not feel like the Packers are a 10 win team, they just have not been the same. Either way, this team is still going into January with Aaron Rodgers, and that is something just about every other team wishes they could say.
- Kansas City Chiefs– I really want to put this team higher, and I thought about putting them as high as 6th, but I don’t have a stellar feeling about this team even though they have won eight straight games. It’s just that the Chiefs have not beating the most impressive seven teams(they played the Chargers twice in the last 8 games), in fact the record of the last seven teams they have beaten is 44-54. If you throw in the browns(they play the Raiders again week 16), then the combined record of the teams they played in their final 10 games would be 47-65. It’s not that winning 8 straight isn’t impressive, they just did not beat the type of teams they might face in the playoffs.
- New York Jets– I did not realize that the Jets clinched their first winning season since 2010. I forgot how quickly their collapse happened. Did I spend like 5 minutes watching awful Mark Sanchez picks and the butt fumble to realize why they hadn’t had a winning season? You’re gosh darn right I did. Mark Sanchez was the gift that kept on giving, granted Matt Cassel has taken that spot in today’s NFL. I’m off track now, but this Jets team needs some luck to make the playoffs, as they could be without a spot if the Chiefs and Steelers win out.
There are six AFC teams in my top 10. Coming into the season I thought the NFC was by far the better conference, but it appears I was wrong. Granted, my main point was still right, the AFC still has the worst teams in the league. Yeah I am talking about you Cleveland and Tennessee. But after the top three teams in the NFC there is a drop. The AFC has arguably.
Here are my final week 15 NFL thoughts:
- Shout out to anyone who picked the Texans, or anyone besides the Colts, to win the AFC South. Hopefully you put money on it.
- It is worth saying again: What Odell did is not cool, and he basically acknowledged as much in his apology. Glad he was suspended
- Try and see Concussion this next upcoming week. It is getting good reviews, and will probably be more entertaining to people than the frontline special(which I also need to see).
- If the Steelers can get to the 5 seed in the AFC, how much could/will they obliterate the Texans by? They could win by 30, but I do not know how much they would win by. I just know there is no way the Texans would win that game.
- This is a yearly dilemma many sports fans go through. My Bears are currently 5-9 and would hold the tenth pick if the season ended today. So as a fan, do I want them to lose the next two games for the best possible pick, or root for them to win, but destroy their draft position. I lean towards win each year, but if the Bears could get Jaylon Smith in the draft it would be a match made in heaven. I still lean towards win, but I don’t think I will be heartbroken if the Bears lose either of their next two games(well at least visibly).
non NFL thoughts for the week:
- Good for Steph and the other NBA stars to make that video about gun violence. Even if you don’t agree with the message, it is a good thing to see athletes getting involved in things that are not sports.
- Dear Bulls, WHAT THE HELL! Something needs to change, but man do I not have a clue what it is.
- Belated congrats to Patrick Kane on his point streak. Anytime you get halfway towards a record held by Gretzky you have done something special.
- Is there something wrong with the Nationals. That is like four straight players that have either declined to go to Washington, or have roadblocks with the acquisition. Also, please get rid of Papelbon. I’ve said it since September: F*ck that dude.
- Also, the St. Louis Cardinals sound super salty about Jason Heyward leaving. Heyward also had a good reason for leaving. What team in baseball has a brighter next few years than the Cubs? None… that’s how many. The Cardinals are getting older. Sure they have a good farm system, but that does not translate into MLB talent. To the point that he wanted to be the leader of the team, he is one of the more veteran players now. He can also opt out and hit free agency in three years. Chicago was the best place for him to go. The Cardinals need to STFU.
Ted Van Green(@TVG_5)
Spark Sports NFL Analyst/Contributor