Talk of tanking in professional sports is at an all-time high it seems. At least from the media. The talk has picked up in recent years due to a number of professional franchises making “worst to first” moves in relatively short times by using the draft to rebuild.  During the rebuilding phase, it became quite obvious that management/ownership was making it hard for their teams to win. Hence, they get higher picks in the drafts.

Judging by Week 14 in the NFL last week, I do not think there is any tanking going on in the NFL this season. All three of the bottom teams won. Oakland and San Francisco came into the day tied for the fewest wins in the league, with both at 2-10. The Raiders upset AFC Central leaders Pittsburgh. The 49ers took care of a Denver team that was making a push to make the playoffs. The Jets were right behind at 3-9 (along with Arizona) and they rallied to beat the Bills. 

NFL By The Numbers

1.1- Mark Sanchez is back. Due to injuries to its top two quarterbacks, the Washington Redskins were forced to start Sanchez. The quarterback rating for Sanchez at home against the New York Giants was 1.1.  Productivity that low is virtually unheard of. Sanchez was 6-of-14 for 38 yards with two interceptions, and was sacked five times. The Redskins lost, 40-16.

30 – For the first time in 30 games under Sean McVay, the Los Angeles Rams didn’t score a touchdown in a 15-6 loss to the Chicago Bears. While no longer looking like a Super Bowl contender, the Rams were held to 214 yards and Jared Goff threw a career-high four interceptions.

69 – The Dolphins beat the Patriots with a 69-yard play with no time left on the clock, and that’s the longest game-winning touchdown with :00 in NFL history. I hope you saw the play live or the highlight.

170 – Saquon Barkley had his best game as a professional, lighting up the Redskins for 170 yards on just 14 carries. There’s an outside chance Barkley rushes for 1,500 yards as a rookie. He’s currently at 1,124 with three games left. Under the ‘Did you Know’ category, did you know that Eric Dickerson has the rookie record at 1,808 yards.

Kenyan Drake races for the game-winning score.

199 – The Indianapolis Colts won its sixth straight game on Sunday. The star of the game was T.Y. Hilton who caught nine passes for 199 yards. After a 1-5 start, the Colts are now in playoff contention with a 7-5 mark.

210 – Greg Kittle, a tight end for San Francisco accumulated 210 receiving yards last week against Denver. As unreal at it sounds, he did all of his damage in the first half, and didn’t catch a pass in the 2nd half. The record for receiving yards by a tight end in a game is 214. I looked it up and Shannon Sharpe did it for the Denver Broncos.

217 – Another 200 number. Cooper topped Kittle by catching 10 passes for 217 yards and three scores for Dallas. It’s the most receiving yards by any NFL receiver in a game this season. The Cowboys have turned their season around since adding Cooper in a mid-season trade and are now in first place in the NFC East.

Did Los Angeles Really Need Two Teams?

The Los Angeles Chargers beat the Cincinnati Bengals 26-21 on Sunday to improve to 10-3 on the season. The Chargers are a legitimate Super Bowl contender and half their seats are empty during home games in their temporary stadium that holds less than 50,000 fans. I have to believe that if the Chargers were still in San Diego and were 10-3, loyal Chargers fans would sell out games and get what they deserve. But no, another rich owner had to bolt out of town.

Panthers Lose Again

The Carolina Panthers lost their fifth straight game.  After losing to last place Tampa Bay two weeks ago, the Panthers fell this week to lowly Cleveland. Carolina has taken a 6-2 record and a near-guaranteed playoff spot and turned it into a sub-.500 record, and have all but played themselves out of the playoff race.

The Panthers were their own worst enemy on Sunday. Time and time again they shot themselves in the foot and gave the game away at the end when Cam Newton threw an interception on the final drive to seal the game for the Browns.

The Panthers are now 6-7 and are desperately searching for answers to salvage what was once a promising season. They’re still mathematically alive in the playoff hunt, but with two of their next three games against the division-leading New Orleans Saints, it looks like it’s only a matter of time before they’re officially eliminated.