Updated: Jan 23, 2019
What a wild ride Sunday was. From, what some would say, an egregiously missed call, to a 4th quarter with four gut-wrenching lead changes, Sunday most definitely lived up to the hype. And while the results might have not been what the majority of us expected, we can all say we were fortunate to get two amazing games between the best teams the NFL has to offer.
There were a couple of takeaways from Sunday's games which we found to be relevant heading into next year.
1.) TODD GURLEY vs CJ ANDERSON
Of course, I'm not stating that CJ Anderson is on equal footing with Gurley, I think it goes without saying that Todd Gurley is the better all-around talent. But we've seen time and time again across the league, the better player is not necessarily the one seeing the field most often. For Todd Gurley to have contributed so much to this team for the past three years, to now be relegated to just 46% of the offensive snaps during the most pivotal moments, one's got to imagine what's going through his mind ahead of the upcoming Superbowl matchup. His post-game comments surely didn't help in quelling any fears of potential locker room turmoil, but this should be something we keep our eyes on. I predict once Gurley gets back to full health, he should slide right back into his workhorse duties to start next season, especially considering the record-breaking contract he was given last year.
2.) THE SAINTS NEED MORE PLAYMAKERS
Get this: the Saints went from averaging 37.2 points per game from weeks 1 - 12, to just 19.7 points per game from week 12-NFC Championship. That's an absurd drop off of 53% of offensive production, seemingly overnight. Even after a bye week, the Saints couldn't put it all together again. Of course, scoring dropped league-wide around weeks 10-12, but nowhere close to the margin of decline experienced by Drew Brees. Without getting into the obvious decline in play from Brees over the latter half of the season, the question needs to be asked: Does Sean Peyton need more weapons on offense? It's an absurd question, especially considering a roster full of names like Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas and... oh wait, I think that's as far as the list goes. As creative as Sean Peyton's play-calling has been, the team hasn't been able to execute well enough. Mark Ingram has been a force in the downhill running game, but he hasn't contributed nearly as much aside from incredible pass protection and one or two big runs a game. The high hopes we had for Cameron Meredith came crashing down early in the season. Ted Ginn hasn't been able to stretch the field for Brees after returning from injury, and Tre'Quan Smith has been too quiet aside from his big game against Philly. Keep an eye out on the Saints to possibly sign a complimentary receiver, and maybe even a running back (pending Mark Ingram's contract situation) once free agency starts.
3.) KANSAS CITY'S OFFENSE IS RIDICULOUSLY EFFICIENT
In an agonizing, painful AFC title game, we saw the pinnacle of old-school football, with the New England Patriots possessing the ball for more minutes (44) than Kansas City had offensive plays (43). And even despite a slow start, Kansas City managed to score 4 touchdowns in the matter of about 20 minutes that they did have the ball. This isn't new either. If you've watched football this season, you've seen the explosions on offense Kansas City can have. Patrick Mahomes has sustained an incredible 8.6% TD per pass attempts ratio through the entire season, and it seems like he's just getting started. For anyone that has played fantasy for the last 2 years, you know how Tyreek Hill exploded in 2017 after a respectable 2016 season. There were fears that his stats would inevitably regress to the mean coming into this year, but he replicated similar effiency in 2018. My thought is that Mahomes and Hill will continue to elevate each other to anomalous stats next year and beyond. This offense is going to be one you definitely want a piece of, come the 2019 season.