NFL 2018 Season - Week 16
 

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Week 12 Takeaways
by Dennis Ranahan

Every year, there are teams that take a long time to get their first win, and there are teams that have their last win weeks before the end of a regular season.

Last year, the Miami Dolphins upset the New England Patriots in a Monday Night Football matchup on December 11, and following that triumph dropped their final three regular season games both straight-up and against the point spread.

Big wins late in a season for a bad football team can often signal the end of success for the year.

Final wins can happen before December too. In 2016, the Los Angeles Rams won at New York against the Jets on November 13, and lost their final seven games both straight-up and against the point spread.

Last week, the Denver Broncos beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in a perfect motivational spot, just like the Dolphins were last December against the Patriots. Was Sunday’s home win over Mike Tomlin’s team a last win of the year for the Broncos?

This is a team that has reached a pinnacle in their rating, and have four of their final five games against teams with losing records, beginning this week at Cincinnati against the Bengals. After a quick start, wins in their first two games and four of five, the Bengals have struggled. They have lost five of six games, including a blowout home loss to the Cleveland Browns last week. The Browns win in Cincinnati snapped a 25 game road losing streak for Cleveland.

Andrew Luck has spun more magic for the Colts in recent weeks than David Copperfield does in a full month on a Las Vegas stage. It also hasn’t mattered if the Colts are ahead or behind at anytime during a game, because when the clock ticks out Indianapolis is leading on the scoreboard thanks to Luck magic.

Perhaps no man on the planet is more misnamed. Andrew Luck is more like Andrew Certain. While the Colts and their fans are reaping the benefits of watching another spectacular quarterback in Indianapolis, his play is enough to make the Colts exciting, but his supporting cast appears short of cashing a championship on Luck’s certain skills.

A dual problem, one that mirrors the one experienced by Dan Marino throughout his career in Miami, is that these two signal callers are so good they are always going to have their teams in the hunt, but never getting over the hump because their rosters couldn’t be stocked with high draft choices. Unless you win the Super Bowl, winning a lot of games without having the team to win it all, is like purgatory in the NFL.

The Colts have rebounded from a 1-5 start that included a loss on the road to the New York Jets six weeks ago. Since the Jets scored that victory over Luck and his Colts, they have lost five games both straight-up and against the point spread.

Indianapolis, on the heels of five straight wins, looks to extend that winning streak and improve their playoff possibilities this week against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

There couldn’t be any more of a mismatch in over and under achieving. The Jaguars were supposed to have a great season with their strong defense and a squad that advanced to the AFC Championship Game last season. But, they have only three wins this season. The Colts, came into 2018 with questions at all positions, including quarterback, with Luck returning from an injury. But, once Luck regained his form, Indianapolis has been on a terror behind his leadership and the work done by first-year head coach Frank Reich. The Colts have exceeded all expectations, and now look to continue their drive to an improbable postseason berth.

The final five weeks of an NFL season have enhanced motivational factors as teams look to earn playoff spots while others find themselves in prime spoiler roles to avenge their bad year.

It’s a great time to cash the point spread results.