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The NFL playoff field is set!

NFL football fans were on the edges of their seats this Sunday, as the playoff scenario came into focus one game at a time. There were some exciting performances, and the day was capped off by one heck of a showdown in the original home of the Lombardi Trophy itself!

Big Ben and the Steelers are back in another postseason.

In the AFC, the New England Patriots were hoping to secure home field advantage when they went into Miami to take on Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins. it didn’t go as planned as Tom Brady and the Patriots struggled all game and lost 20-10 to the fins. This left them watching the scoreboard, as the Denver Broncos sought to secure the top AFC seed against the San Diego Chargers. Brock Osweiler had done a nice job of holding down the fort, including leading an exciting overtime win against Brady’s crew earlier in the season, and he threw for 262 yards and a score on Sunday–but it was the third quarter return of Peyton Manning that stole the show, as he came in to lead his team to victory as the home crowd cheered. Things just felt different with Manning back under center and healthy again, and the Broncos went into the postseason looking fully intact and like a real threat to go all the way. JJ Watt and the Houston Texans pounded the Jacksonville Jaguars 30-6 to finish 9-7 and win their division, but the Cincinnati Bengals hung on at home against the Baltimore Ravens, winning 24-16 and taking the third seed at 12-4. The 11-5 Kansas City Chiefs took care of the Oakland Raiders in the final NFL  game of the legendary Raiders defensive back Charles Woodson, and the Chiefs will go into the playoffs as the 5th seeded wild card. And the second wild card game was decided in two thrilling games, as the New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers both looked to make the second season.

In Buffalo, Rex Ryan was eager to knock his old team out of the playoffs as the Buffalo Bills tried to beat the Jets for the second time this season. And to start things off, the Bills had the Jets of balance. Ryan Fitzpatrick missed open throws, and the Jets’ offense clearly missed the presence of dual-threat running back Bilal Powell, who was absent due to injury. The Jets righted the ship somewhat, closing to 22-17 in the fourth quarter; they drove all the way down into field goal range, when Fitzpatrick threw a terrible-looking pick in the Bills’ end zone to kill their drive. By the time the Jets got the ball back, it was for a last-second desperation push that came close to working out as Kenbrell Thompkins somehow found a gap up the right sideline and had the ball in his hands! Had he caught it, he might have dodged the final defender and coasted into the end zone. Alas, the ball was jarred from his hands at the last second, and the Jets wound up losing 22-17–the same score by which they had lost to the Bills earlier in the season. Meanwhile, in Cleveland, the Browns tried to play spoiler against Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers. It looked close for a while, especially when the Steelers turned it over with the game still close–but then, as Browns fans have unfortunately come to expect, they turned it right back over and the Steelers took over. They won 28-12, and their sideline was all smiles when the final score of the Jets game was announced, Meanwhile, the rest of the AFC sighed, as a dangerous and experienced playoff team was able to squeeze into the tournament.

Russell Wilson finished another great season in Seattle.

In the NFC, Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers made easy work of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to go 15-1. Unfortunately, they lost cornerback Charles Tillman for the rest of the year to a torn ACL. Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks destroyed the Arizona Cardinals 36-6, roaring into the playoffs on a mission to get back to the big game. And in the Sunday night game, the NFC North was decided in a game that started out slowly but ended in #FanCrazy fashion. The Minnesota Vikings went into Lambeau Field, trying to beat the Green Bay Packers and win the division in the final game of the year. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers struggled to move the ball early on, and uncharacteristically, the home crowd even booed a bit. The Vikings’ defense even ran back a Rodgers fumble the second half that put the home team in real trouble. But then the Packers seemed to remember their old ways, moving the ball up the field and coming to within 20-13 with a few minutes to go. When Adrian Peterson exited briefly due to injury, it looked like the Packers might be set up for another miraculous home win. Then when Cordarrelle Patterson ran a kick back 71 yards only to have a fumble forced by kicker Mason Crosby, it really looked like Lambeau magic was in effect! But then Rodgers threw an interception in the Vikings end zone with just over two minutes to go. But then–on the very next play, the Vikings fumbled a handoff to Peterson and the Packers almost had the ball back in the red zone. AP fought to recover the ball, but in case you thought this one would end without some more drama, the Packers’ defense forced a punt. It came down to a long throw as time expired, and for a second it looked like Rodgers might complete yet another home field Hail Mary…but it was knocked down, and the Vikings secured the North and will go on to host the Seahawks next week.

Next Saturday, the wild card round kicks off with the Texans hosting the Kansas City Chiefs and the led Cincinnati Bengals hosting the Steelers. On Sunday, the Seahawks go to Minnesota and Kirk Cousins and Washington will host the Packers. Who will advance in the first round? Will Brady and Manning face off in the postseason yet again? Will Cam and the Panthers go all the way? Hit us up @Brackethead on Twitter and tell us what you think. If you really want to show your stuff and win stuff while you support your team, head to www.gofancheer.com and download the app to Play, Shout and Win!

May the brackets always bust in your favor,

Brackethead & the folks at FanCheer

The New York Giants rise to the occasion to open December!

Well, football fans, it’s nearing the end of the season and the New York Giants have dug themselves a hole again. Must be time for them to start playing at the top of their game, and that’s just what they did this week.

The Dolphins had no answer for Odell Beckham.

In a Monday Night Football showdown against the Miami Dolphins, the gmen showed the kind of offensive firepower many have waited for them to display all season. Lamar Miller and the fins put up a good fight in their own stadium, with Miller rushing for 89 yards and two scores, but they couldn’t keep up with the passing attack led by Eli Manning, Odell Beckham and the Giants’ passing attack. Manning had one of his best games as a pro, throwing as many touchdown passes as he had incompletions. He went 27 for 31, for 337 yards and no interceptions as he spread the ball around high and low. New starting tight end Will Tye, a local kid drafted from Stonybrook, caught a touchdown pass and is continuing to blend well into the offense. Ruben Randle had a solid game, as did running back Rashad Jennings, who’s been quiet since early in the season.

But the real star of the game, aside from Eli, was Mr. Beckham. The Dolphins just didn’t have an answer for him. He caught seven passes for 166 yards and two scores, and both of his touchdowns were beauties. One was an 84-yarder, on which he dropped a double move and sprung wide open between the hashmarks where Eli hit him right in stride. The other was a highlight-reel hands grab outside the corner of the end zone, where he came out of the break and the ball was right there. There were a few moments where it looked like the touchdown might not stand, but replay upheld the call and Beckham had his first touchdown catch of the day.

Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins attempted a late comeback, and actually made things seem close for a bit. But needing a first down to seal the deal by running out the clock, Eli went to–you guessed it–Odell, who made a diving catch for a first down. This catch was reviewed, as well…but the call was once again upheld, and the Giants engaged the victory formation and ended the night tied for first in the NFC East.

Next week, the Giants face the NFL’s last undefeated team, Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. It looks like a tough task on paper, but Eli and company have some experience pulling off upsets against undefeated teams…I’ll leave it at that. You could make a serious case that if the Giants work their way into the postseason, they’d be a serious threat…but first they have to go through the team that right now looks like the favorite to win the NFC. The Giants will be at home…can they pull it off? Hit us up @Brackethead on Twitter and tell us what you think. If you really want to show your stuff and win stuff while you support your team, head to www.gofancheer.com and download the app to Play, Shout and Win!

May the brackets always bust in your favor,

Brackethead & the folks at FanCheer

Brady vs. Osweiler, vol. 1?

Ladies and and gentlemen, the NFL might have a new budding rivalry on its hands. On a cold, snowy Sunday night in Denver, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots‘ depleted receiving corps took on Brock Osweiler and the Denver Broncos. The Pats were looking to keep pace with the undefeated Carolina Panthers, and the Broncos were looking to stay on course atop the AFC East despite having lost legendary QB Peyton Manning.

Brock Osweiler looked clutch in his first start.

At first it looked like the Patriots would have an easy night, as they took a 14-0 lead on touchdowns to Rob Gronkowski and underrated tight end Scott Chandler. But the Broncos got the running game going, and things changed from there. No points were scored in the third, and the game remained 14-7 going into the last period of regulation. Then both offenses went to work! Brandon Bolden caught a touchdown to jump it off in the fourth, expanding the lead to 21-7 and seemingly putting the Pats in the driver’s seat. But Osweiler brought his team down the field, and CJ Anderson ran one in with lots of time on the clock. Osweiler continued to show poise, leading his team on yet another clutch drive that ended in a Brandon McManus field goal with six minutes to go.

With 2:49 to go, the injury bug bit the Pats once again. On a midrange incompletion, Gronkowski’s knee was struck at a bad angle by a diving defender. He fell to the ground, writhing in pain, and needed to be held down by staff as the trainers examined him. He left the field and was done for the game, and the look on Brady’s face said it all: the Patriots were in trouble. Still, Osweiler was down four points and had to get the ball back and lead one more drive. And that’s exactly what happened! The Pats were forced to punt, and Osweiler led a last-minute march all the way to the red zone. It almost looked like they might not punch it in, but Demaryius Thomas had his shoulder pads grabbed in the end zone and the Broncos had first and goal. Then, on a play that Osweiler reportedly changed at the line, Andre Caldwell caught a beautifully thrown pass in the back corner of the end zone with 1:15 left! 24-21 Broncos…but alas, too much time for Brady. Depleted resources and all, the Patriots’ clutch QB led a drive into Stephen Gostkowski‘s range, and a 47-yarder sent the game to overtime!

The Patriots got the ball first in OT, but Denver’s D held strong. The Broncos it and moved it close to field goal range. On 3rd and 1, CJ Anderson ran to the left side on what looked like a simple play. Then he caught a block and shot a gap, and 48 yards later the fans in Denver were celebrating a huge win! The race for home field advantage is tight once again, as the Pats fell to 10-1 and the Broncos went to 9-2.

What did you think of the Broncos’ new young quarterback? How will the Patriots bounce back from their latest injury? Hit us up @Brackethead on Twitter and tell us what you think. If you really want to show your stuff and win stuff while you support your team, head to www.gofancheer.com and download the app to Play, Shout and Win!

May the brackets always bust in your favor,

Brackethead & the folks at FanCheer

NFL Thanksgiving recap: Favre returns home

In the first game of the day, the Detroit Lions had themselves a great day in their dome. The Lions thoroughly manhandled Mark Sanchez and the Philadelphia Eagles, to the tune of a 45-14 beatdown. Matt Stafford threw for five touchdowns after a somewhat slow beginning, and Calvin “Megatron” Johnson went off, with 93 receiving yards and three touchdown grabs. Looks like he’s healthy again, and the Lions have won three in a row.

Brett Favre returned home to Lambeau to have no. 4 retired.

Under the dome in Dallas, the second game of the day was a blowout as well. The Carolina Panthers defense got off to a quick start, pulling off two pick-sixes against the CowboysTony Romo. Then Cam Newton and the Panthers’ offense got settled in, and the Dallas defense had no answer for them. The final score was 33-14, and it was more decisive than that. The Panthers’ win was their 15th regular season win in a row, a streak which is tied for the longest by an NFC team since the merger. Meanwhile, the Cowboys lost more than a game: they lost quarterback Tony Romo again, this time for the season. Romo was sacked on the last play of the third quarter, and he landed on the same collarbone he broke earlier this season. He reportedly thought it might be broken as soon as he landed, and it seems the Cowboys just don’t have much luck this year.

The nightcap was the only close game of the night, and it came down to the wire. In a surprise turn of events, Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears came back against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field, in a downpour that was at times torrential. An Eddie Lacy fumble turned the tide in the Bears’ favor, and the Bears’ defense hung on for a fourth-and-goal stop with mere seconds to go for a 17-13 win. Packers fans had a brief scare in the second half, as Rodgers took a helmet to his non-throwing elbow and was checked out by team doctors. But he returned to the game, leading his team nearly the length of the field on their last drive before coming up just short. But the real story of the night at Lambeau took place at halftime. With Packers legend Bart Starr in attendance, the Packers brought in legend Brett Favre and retired his famous number 4. The fans were manic with excitement, and the excitement hit a crescendo when Favre and Star shared a few words along with an embrace. For years to come, Packers fans will tell of where they were when Favre’s name and jersey number were officially enshrined in the original home of the Lombardi Trophy.

What are your thoughts and feelings on the legendary Brett Favre? Will the Carolina Panthers actually run the table this season? Can the New England Patriots hold serve and remain undefeated along with the Panthers? Hit us up @Brackethead on Twitter and tell us what you think. If you really want to show your stuff and win stuff while you support your team, head to www.gofancheer.com and download the app to Play, Shout and Win!

May the brackets always bust in your favor,

Brackethead & the folks at FanCheer

Two NFL undefeateds remain!

The week began with something of a thud on Thursday night, as the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans seemed to feel the effects of a short week and slick conditions. It got interesting down the stretch, but the Titans came up just short on their attempt at a comeback win–with the game ending on Marcus Mariota‘s slip and fall amidst a quickly collapsing pocket. Blake Bortles struggled for the second week in a row, as the Jags had some questionable play calls in the red zone and lousy blocking. Not a pretty picture painted by two of the NFL’s promising young quarterbacks.

Thomas Rawls had a HUGE day for the Seahawks on Sunday.

On Sunday, the first round of games held a few surprises. One thing that wasn’t a surprise was the performance of the Carolina Panthers’ Cam Newton, who threw for five scores in a 44-16 pounding of Kirk Cousins and the Washington team. In Philadelphia, football fans saw what might have been the biggest surprise of the week. Tampa Bay’s quarterback Jameis Winston went absolutely bonkers on the Eagles’ defense, throwing five touchdowns at the Bucs won 45-17. There was another surprise in Detroit, as Matt Stafford and the Lions beat the Oakland Raiders in the dome. David Carr and the Raiders’ potent offense couldn’t get anything going all day, and the game-winner came on a gutsy touchdown run by Stafford with minutes to go.

Elsewhere in the early round of games, a couple of matchups went right down the the wire. At Soldier Field, Jay Cutler led the Chicago Bears on a last-minute drive against the Denver Broncos defense, that ended with Jeremy Langford running into the end zone with 24 seconds to go. Unfortunately, the Bears had to go for two to tie, and Langford was stuffed at the line. The Broncos hung on, 11-15, as Brock Osweiler was solid in his first start behind center. Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons came up short in a last-second drive against the Indianapolis Colts, with Ryan’s last-second Hail Mary being picked off short of the end zone. This was another of the week’s surprises, as the Falcons continued to struggle offensively despite being on their own turf and going against a team missing QB Andrew Luck. And Tony Romo returned to the field for the Dallas Cowboys, leading them on a 24-14 win over the Miami Dolphins and proving how valuable he is to his team. The touchdown pass to wide receiver Dez Bryant was, believe it or not, their 50th touchdown as a duo.

In Baltimore, the Ravens‘ defense forced a Case Keenum fumble with .54 seconds to go…in a tie game, at the St. Louis 41. The Ravens got it to the 30 yard line, and Justin Tucker walked it off with a 47-yard field goal for a 16-13 win! It was good news/bad news for the Ravens, however, as quarterback Joe Flacco was lost for the year with a torn left ACL. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the Ravens also lost running back Justin Forsett to a broken right arm. Ouch.

Cam Newton and the Panthers have made it to 10-0.

The late afternoon games were all blowouts. The Green Bay Packers got back on track in Minnesota with a dominant 30-13 win over the Vikings, although Aaron Rodgers and the offense still looked out of sync at times. The Kansas City Chiefs pounded the San Diego Chargers 33-3, and the Seattle Seahawks beat up the San Francisco 49ers 30-13. The Seahawks were led by a breakout performance by Thomas Rawls, who filled in for the injured Marshawn Lynch; Rawls had 255 combined yards from scrimmage, including 209 rushing yards and both a rushing touchdown and a receiving touchdown. And he’s a backup. Wow.

To cap off Sunday night, Carson Palmer and the Arizona Cardinals faced off against Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals. Believe it or not, this game gave us the first 300-yard passer of the afternoon! It came down to a fantastic finish, as well. The two teams traded scores in the final minutes, with the Bengals kicking a game-tying field goal that looked as if it might force overtime. But Palmer and the Cardinals roared back with an impressive drive, getting to within field goal range with mere seconds left. They were about to take a knee and set up a walkoff field goal, when the Bengals were penalized for simulating the snap count: a penalty of half the distance to the goal! This turned a missable kick into a chip shot, which Chandler Catanzaro nailed. The Bengals have lost two in a row now, and the Cardinals are looking dangerous yet again.

The week ended with a big AFC East showdown between Tom Brady and the New England Patriots and Tyrod Taylor and the Buffalo Bills. It was close until about midway through the third quarter, when the Patriots pulled away for a bit; the Bills had a chance at a last-minute drive to tie the game, but Taylor’s shoulder was injured in the waning minutes and the Patriots’ defense held up just long enough for a 20-13 win.

This week brings an extra day of #FanCrazy NFL action, as three games are lined up for Thanksgiving Day! How long will the Patriots and the Panthers stay undefeated? Will the Bengals get back on track? Will Romo stay healthy and lead Dallas back into contention? Hit us up @Brackethead on Twitter and tell us what you think. If you really want to show your stuff and win stuff while you support your team, head to www.gofancheer.com and download the app to Play, Shout and Win!

May the brackets always bust in your favor,

Brackethead & the folks at FanCheer