Reality is setting in for a number of teams in the playoff race. We’re also seeing our perceptions challenged regarding teams that will be in the playoffs. The New Orleans Saints suffered a surprising loss, while the likes of the Seattle Seahawks had a major course correction that will help them immensely.
Beyond the teams that are in and those that are out, it’s worth paying attention to the letdowns of the day. Several players and units, especially a handful of quarterbacks, really didn’t do themselves justice in Week 14. Here are the big disappointments.
Dan Bailey, K, Vikings
The only good news for Bailey on Sunday was that the 10 points he left on the board didn’t actually make up the difference in the game’s score. The Vikings kicker missed three field goals, including two from inside 50 yards, as well as an extra point, in Sunday’s 26-14 loss. That was a feat that no kicker has accomplished in nearly 60 years, ensuring Bailey’s unwanted place in NFL history. He may be on his way out after this one. It would be hard to call a possible dismissal undeserved.
Taysom Hill, QB, Saints
Sunday’s game was a reminder that despite all the hype, Hill is not Drew Brees. Hill is very raw in terms of his decision-making. Hill only had 65 passing yards in the first half, and he only managed to salvage his numbers once key Philadelphia defensive backs started going down with injuries in the second half. Hill was let down at times by his offensive line, but his decisions under pressure are questionable, and led in part to his two turnovers.
Daniel Jones, QB, Giants
Things were looking so good for the Giants last week. Now they just look bleak. Jones was crushed all day, getting sacked six times before finally being benched for his own good. Part of the problem was due to his offensive line, but some of it was on his slow recognition of pressure and his erratic play in general. The Giants now face an uphill fight to reclaim the top spot in the NFC East. Jones isn’t really consistent enough to be relied on to lead them there yet.
Nick Mullens, QB, 49ers
It’s not entirely clear what Kyle Shanahan sees in Mullens that has him convinced that backup C.J. Beathard would do any worse. Mullens started to fall apart late in the second quarter, when he fell victim to a Chase Young sack, fumbled, and saw Young return it for a touchdown. In the third quarter, he threw a pick-six to Kamren Curl that effectively put the game out of reach. Mullens misses open receivers and commits turnovers. His two turnovers on Sunday accounted for the difference in the game. That’s a no-go from a quarterback.
Las Vegas Raiders defense
The Raiders have faded significantly in the playoff race, and it’s almost entirely because of their defense. Raider opponents have averaged 391.5 total yards per game over the last six contests. Las Vegas has given up more than 400 total yards seven times this season. That continued Sunday, when the Colts put up 456 total yards on the hapless Vegas defense. It was bad enough to get defensive coordinator Paul Guenther fired on Sunday night as the Raiders' playoff hopes flounder.