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The Seattle Seahawks’ 10-game winning streak against
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the San Francisco 49ers came to a disappointing end Quinton Jefferson Color Rush Jersey , as the now 4-10 Niners beat their rivals 26-23 in overtime to deny the Seahawks a playoff berth for at least one week. Yes, there was bad officiating, but also sloppy play, sloppy weather, and other factors that contributed to Seattle’s demise.But when you look at what has happened around the league this week... maybe it was inevitable?Week 15 started off with the Kansas City Chiefs losing to the Los Angeles Chargers on the game’s final offensive play, blowing a 28-14 lead and thus the AFC West. As it turns out, a Chiefs win would’ve clinched the #1 seed in addition to the division (more on that later). It was the Chargers’ first win against the Chiefs since Week 17 of the 2013 season, when a first-team Chargers side had to beat a second-string, Chase Daniel-led Kansas City squad in overtime just to make the playoffs. A great time for the Chargers to snap a nine-game losing streak vs. KC, and they could end up as the #1 seed in the AFC if all breaks right for them.Saturday night, the Cleveland Browns’ feint playoff hopes were kept alive courtesy of a 17-16 win over the Denver Broncos, whose head coach Vance Joseph ought to be fired for this mindlessness. It was Cleveland’s first win over the Broncos since 1990. Two iterations of the Browns have had 11 cracks at Denver over a near-three decade span, but couldn’t beat them. Denver’s fading playoff hopes, which took a hit when they had their own loss to the 49ers last week, are done now. At the same time as the Seahawks-49ers, the Pittsburgh Steelers held off the New England Patriots for a pivotal 17-10 win, when a loss would’ve momentarily knocked them out of the playoffs. It snapped a five-game losing skid against the Patriots for Mike Tomlin’s bunch, marking his first win over New England since 2011. It’s also the first time since 2002 that the Patriots have lost consecutive December games. New England might very well fail to get a first-round bye, and as alluded to earlier, a Steelers win was what the Chiefs needed to clinch the #1 seed in the AFC... except they didn’t beat the Chargers, so their playoff seeding is still up in the air.Sometimes “shit happens,” and I think that’s an apt description for Week 15. A lot of long droughts all just ended within a 72-hour span Tom Johnson Color Rush Jersey , and you just have to move on and look at the next opponent. When the Seattle Seahawks face the Arizona Cardinals in 2019, it’ll be interesting to see if Byron Leftwich is still the offensive coordinator for Steve Wilks. That is, if Wilks is even still the head coach.Since firing offensive coordinator Mike McCoy in Week 8, the Cardinals offense has shown no progress. In fact, the team has been twice as bad as any other offense over the last six games per FootballOutsiders, who has them as posting the third-worst DVOA on that side of the ball dating back to 1986. The only offenses that were worse?The expansion 2002 Houston Texans and the 1992 Seahawks. Which you probably already knew.The ‘92 Seahawks are the second-worst offense by DVOA, meaning that if the ‘18 version pitches a shutout and forces some turnovers and whatnot, maybe they can finally move a spot down the list. Shutting down Leftwich’s offense won’t be hard if the Cards play like they have over the course of this season.Arizona is 32nd in points, yards, yards per pass attempt and yards per carry. From FO, the Cardinals only have one positive game all season ... barely:The Cardinals offense is -43.2% in weighted DVOA (more emphasis on recent games) and 31st place is at -24% for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Yes, that gap is as big as it looks.They’ve scored five touchdowns in the last four games: two touchdown runs by Chase Edmonds in a win over the Green Bay Packers, a David Johnson run in the first quarter against the Atlanta Falcons, and then a garbage time throw by Mike Glennon in the fourth quarter in a game they lost 40-14, and a pass from Larry Fitzgerald to David Johnson in a blowout loss to the LA Rams last week.In those four games, rookie Josh Rosen has zero touchdowns and three interceptions. Five weeks ago was Rosen’s last touchdown, a 25-yard throw to Fitzgerald in a 45-10 loss to the LA Chargers.In the last five games, the Cardinals are 31st in total yards, yards per play, net yards per pass attempt, and 30th in passer rating. They’ve scored just three third quarter touchdowns all season long. They have eight touchdowns in their three victories and six of those have come against the San Francisco 49ers, who rank 23rd in DVOA on defense. The two others came against the Packers Rasheem Green Color Rush Jersey , who are 26th. Three came against the Raiders, who are 30th. Six of their touchdowns are one or two-yard runs by David Johnson.They surprisingly took a 14-0 lead against the Chicago Bears in Week 3 with Sam Bradford at QB. The Bears won 16-14.So what does Arizona do next?If the Cardinals lose this Sunday, it’ll secure them the first overall pick next year. Debates will probably go on for a bit: take defensive end Nick Bosa out of Ohio State, the consensus top player in the draft right now, and improve a pass rush and defense that also needs help. Or take an offensive lineman, which almost certainly would come after trading down. Is it okay to take a defensive player when you have the worst offense in the NFL and need to do a better job of protecting the QB you just drafted in the first round?I think the answer will probably be that yes, it is okay. It is extremely difficult to find a franchise left tackle outside of selecting one in the first round of the draft, but not impossible, as the Seahawks proved with Duane Brown.But the Cardinals will still need to find replacements on the offensive line. It seems likely that left guard Mike Iupati and right tackle Andre Smith won’t be back, though they save nothing by releasing Iupati. They signed right guard Justin Pugh to a big free agent deal and he missed more than half the season with a torn MCL. They’ve got left tackle D.J. Humphries on the fifth-year option and rookie Mason Cole at center.They’ve still got a projected $63 million in cap space per Overthecap.com.Meanwhile, Fitzgerald is a free agent and two questions surround him: does he still want to play in the NFL and if so, does he still want to play for the Cardinals? His next contract, even if it’s only one year, could possibly be his last. There’s little hope for Arizona to get back to the playoffs next season, though not impossible. Would he at least like to take a higher percentage shot with the team he chooses?There’s little else of note at the receiver position other than Christian Kirk, a second round pick now on IR with a broken foot. So it is likely that the team will also need to focus the draft and free agency on upgrading the receiver position.So that’s help at offensive line, help at receiver, and possibly seeking a receiving weapon at tight end that they also lack. Johnson is the running back they’ve chosen to build around next to Rosen at quarterback having given him a $39 million extension in the offseason. None of which will matter if the coaching staff doesn’t do better and that’s where Leftwich may find himself on the outside looking in. Not that these problems are necessarily his fault either — he inherited that position midseason, what else was he supposed to do — but the team seems to just be getting worse. A bigger shake-up could be necessary and coordinators are hired and fired so frequently in the NFL that it wouldn’t be long before his next opportunity either way.It may even benefit him to get a different opportunity anyway, unless Arizona has a monumentally good offseason.
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