January 2, 2023, 7:39 pm
Colts 10, Giants 38 (Giants -5.5 covered, O39)
Key Postgame Stories
The Giants completely dominated the Colts to clinch their first playoff berth since 2015. Daniel Jones played phenomenally, and the defense didn’t allow anything to Nick Foles and the Colts’ offense. The Giants now have nothing to play for in Week 18 as they prepare to take on either the Vikings or the 49ers on the road in the Wild Card round.
Daniel Jones: Jones is heating up at the perfect time. He played his best game of the season on Sunday, completing 19-of-24 passes for 177 yards and two touchdowns while adding 11 carries for 91 yards and two touchdowns. Jones made nearly every throw while accounting for four total touchdowns in what may be his most memorable game as a Giant so far.
Richie James: James had yet another game where he led the Giants in receiving. James caught seven passes for 76 yards and a touchdown. James fits this offense very well, as he’s a low air-yard/high YAC receiver. This is perfect for someone like Jones, who is extremely accurate in short-yardage throws. The playoffs will be a great test to see how sustainable James’ play really is.
Saquon Barkley: If you knew the Giants would put up 38 points before this game, most people would assume Barkley had an amazing day. Instead, Barkley rushed the ball just 12 times for 58 yards and only caught two passes for -5 yards. The Giants didn’t need to use Barkley a lot, and this game got out of hand fast, leading to 14 carries for backup running backs. Saquon will be just fine moving forward.
Darius Slayton: The days when people assumed Slayton is the best fantasy receiver for the Giants is over. This marks the third straight game where he’s been outperformed by both Richie James and Isaiah Hodgins. Slayton is a good deep threat, but this offense just doesn’t throw deep. It will be interesting to see what the Giants do with their receiver room this offseason.
Saints 20, Eagles 10 (Saints covered +6.5, U42)
Key Postgame Stories
This is the worst that we’ve seen the Eagles offense play all year. Gardner Minshew was fine, but the Saints were able to control the ball on offense and make stops when it mattered on defense. Nonetheless, this Eagles offense should look much different once Jalen Hurts is healthy and starting.
DeVonta Smith: Smith was Gardner Minshew’s favorite target on Sunday, catching 9-of-13 passes for 115 yards. Although he didn’t find the endzone, he produced for fantasy managers who trusted him in their fantasy championships. Smith has been the clear number-two receiver when Jalen Hurts has been healthy, but as more teams make stopping AJ Brown a priority, it will be interesting to see if Smith shifts to being the most targeted receiver in this offense.
AJ Brown: Brown only caught 4-of-9 targets during this game, but he made the most of it. Brown hauled in 97 yards and a touchdown, the bulk of which came on a 78-yard touchdown. Marshon Lattimore won a lot of matchups against Brown, but he still is one of the best receivers in football moving forward.
Miles Sanders: Sanders was efficient when he touched the ball, but he only saw 12 carries for 61 yards. Sanders is more involved when Hurts is playing since the Eagles are usually playing with leads, but they were playing from behind for the entirety of this game. Sanders also didn’t see a target in this game, leading to a poor fantasy performance in the championship round.
Chris Olave: The Saints only attempted 24 passes in this game, and Rashid Shaheed and Juwan Johnson combined for 13 of those targets. Olave caught 4-of-5 targets for just 42 yards. The Saints controlled the ball and didn’t have to throw the ball downfield, much to the detriment of the rookie receiver. Olave remains one of the best rookies in football, and has a very bright fantasy future ahead of him.
Panthers 24, Buccaneers 30 (Buccaneers covered -3, O40.5)
Key Postgame Stories
This was a very fun game from start to finish, and the Buccaneers came out on top, clinching the NFC South. Both quarterbacks played tremendously, but the difference was Mike Evans and his historic fantasy performance. The Buccaneers offense is heating up just in time for the playoffs.
Tom Brady: Brady played a near-perfect game on Sunday, completing 34-of-45 passes for 432 yards and three touchdowns. The bulk of this production came from Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, as they combined for 327 yards and three touchdowns. Brady has been playing well as of late, and he’s looking scary heading into the playoffs.
Mike Evans: Evans was the top player in the fantasy championships this week. Evans was unstoppable, catching 10-of-12 targets for 207 yards and three touchdowns. He was torching the Panthers’ defensive backs all day, and Brady had perfect placements on deep balls. Evans is quietly one of the best receivers of his generation, and he clearly has a lot left in the tank moving forward.
Sam Darnold: Darnold played one of his best games of the year on Sunday, completing 23-of-37 passes for 341 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. He also added 20 yards on the ground. Darnold was fighting for a playoff spot, but he also was showcasing his abilities for a shot at a starting job next year, and this game could go a long way towards that end.
DJ Moore: Moore is one of the most underrated receivers in the NFL, but he’s suffered from inconsistent quarterback play. Moore caught six of his ten targets for 117 yards and a touchdown on Sunday against a solid Buccaneers secondary. Moore has blazing speed and great ball skills, and he could take a huge step forward if paired with a good quarterback in the future.
Leonard Fournette/D’Onta Foreman: This was a very disappointing game for both starting running backs. Foreman was playing very well as of late, but he turned 13 carries into just 25 yards while not catching a single pass. Fournette was also coming off a good game last week, but he played terribly in this one, carrying the ball ten times for 28 yards while catching four passes for 19 yards. This appears to be more of a running back by committee for both teams, and they will likely both go in a different direction next year.
Browns 24, Commanders 10 (Browns covered +2, U41)
Key Postgame Stories
I will never understand why Ron Rivera decided to start Carson Wentz with a shot at the playoffs on the line. The Commanders shot themselves in the foot all day, and now they’ll be forced to watch the playoffs from home. The Browns deserve a ton of credit, though, especially DeShaun Watson.
Amari Cooper: Cooper caught three of his four targets for 105 yards and two touchdowns. Cooper looked to have a much better relationship with Watson than in past weeks, and that is very exciting moving forward. All of his catches were downfield, which was a huge change of pace from earlier this season.
DeShaun Watson: Despite attempting just 18 passes, Watson played his best game as a member of the Browns. He only completed 50% of his passes, but he threw for 169 yards and three touchdowns while adding 31 yards on the ground. Before his suspension, Watson was one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in the NFL, and games like this give Browns’ fans reason for optimism in the future.
Kareem Hunt: What happened to Hunt? Hunt was very involved last year, but he has completely disappeared in 2022. He was an absolute disaster, and this game sums up why. Hunt carried the ball twice for no gain while catching a pass for -1 yards. Hunt likely won’t be back with the Browns next year, and it will be interesting to see if he’ll get a chance at a starting job anywhere.
Terry McLaurin: This was a very disappointing end to another solid fantasy season for McLaurin. Carson Wentz did him no favors as he caught two of five targets for 25 yards. McLaurin is a great receiver, and hopefully, the Commanders will do right by him and get him an above-average quarterback for the first time in his career.