A game of inches


Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) passes under pressure from Dallas Cowboys defensive end Demarcus Lawrence (90) on Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017 at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, Calif. (Rodger Mallison/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS)

Story by TJ Wall, staff writer

This week in the NFL was a roller coaster of emotions due to all of the crazy outcomes. Here’s what you need to know:

Rock beats scissors, scissors beats paper, paper beats the Raiders:

The Dallas Cowboys faced off against the Oakland Raiders in a thriller on Sunday night. However, despite their best efforts, the Raiders came up short with a final score of 20-17.

The Cowboys were in the lead with a score of 10-0 at the half. However the Raiders came back with 10 points of their own right after halftime.

With 4 minutes and 45 seconds left in the third quarter, the Cowboys were facing a fourth down with 11 yards to go on their own 24 yard line. Despite the fact that teams in the NFL usually never go for a first down under these circumstances, the Cowboys did by running a fake punt with the punter, Chris Jones, running for the first down marker. Later that possession, the Cowboys’ quarterback Dak Prescott ran in a touchdown making the score 17-10.

Afterwards, the Raiders quarterback Derek Carr threw a touchdown pass to their receiver Michael Crabtree, making the score tied at 17.

With about five minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Cowboys faced yet another fourth down where Dak Prescott ran a quarterback sneak. However, because of the uncertainty of whether he made it past the first down marker or not, the referees had to bring out the chains. The ball was so close that the referee had to use a folded piece of paper to help make a judgement call, and that call was in favor of the Cowboys. This was a key factor in the Cowboys’ victory because this allowed them to continue downfield and score a field goal, making the score 20-17 with about a minute and 45 seconds left.

Derek Carr and the Raiders just needed a field goal to tie it up. However, due to a 55 yard pass interference penalty on the Cowboys, the Raiders had time to score a touchdown and win the game. A few plays later, Derek Carr attempted to run for the endzone. Unfortunately, he fumbled the ball in the endzone and it rolled out of bounds which resulted in a touchback, giving the ball back to Dallas and basically ending the game.

While the Cowboys’ playoff hopes are slim, there’s still a possibility. But one thing is for certain: this victory was a key victory for Dallas and the game next week versus the Seattle Seahawks will be even more important.

He caught it, he dropped it, wait, what?:

The Pittsburgh Steelers, who were the number one seed in the AFC, faced off against the number two seed in the AFC, the New England Patriots.

This game was a shootout as expected and went back and forth the entire time.

The Steelers ended up losing 27-24, and once again, the all-too-common controversial catch rule was to blame.

Ben Roethlisberger had one drive to get the team down field and score a touchdown and it only took two plays to do so. However, on the second play, which was originally ruled a touchdown pass to Steelers’ tight end, Jesse James, the debate on whether or not James actually caught the ball came about. After a closer review by the referees, the previously-ruled touchdown catch was overturned, taking away the touchdown that most likely would have won the game for the Steelers. Two plays later, a pass was tipped and intercepted by Patriots’ defender Duron Harmon, which killed all hope for a Steelers victory.

The Steelers and the Patriots are still the top two teams in the AFC,  and if they meet up again in the playoffs, you should expect to see another great showdown like the one this week.

The underdogs prevail:

The Jacksonville Jaguars and the Los Angeles Rams are two teams that, at the beginning of the season, were expecting improvement, but both could not have foreseen their current success.

The Jaguars, coming off of a 3-13 record, stand now at a respectable 10-4. A big reason for this improvement has been the Jaguars’ defense. Jacksonville’s defense consists of an amazing secondary featuring Jalen Ramsey and AJ Bouye and is ranked top in the league. Without their defense, the Jaguars would still be the same team they were last year rather than being a legitimate threat in the postseason.

The Rams are also doing exceedingly well this season. With a new head coach in Sean McVay, Rams’ quarterback Jared Goff has improved tremendously, and their offense, featuring players such as running back Todd Gurley and receivers Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods and Sammy Watkins, is working very efficiently. Additionally, the Rams defense is ranked number five in the league. With a team as complete as the Rams, how could you not be a contender?

Playoff Picture:


  1. New England Patriots (11-3)
  2. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-3)
  3. Jacksonville Jaguars (10-4)
  4. Kansas City Chiefs (9-5)
  5. Tennessee Titans (8-6)
  6. Buffalo Bills (8-6)

In the Hunt:

  1. Baltimore Ravens (8-6)
  2. Los Angeles Chargers (8-6)
  3. Oakland Raiders (6-8)
  4. Miami Dolphins (6-8)

My Prediction:

I believe that if the standings work out that the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New England Patriots will meet up in the AFC Conference Championship. However, this time around, the Pittsburgh Steelers will pull out a win.

Bold Prediction:

The Jacksonville Jaguars will defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New England Patriots and make it to the Super Bowl.


  1. Philadelphia Eagles (12-2)
  2. Minnesota Vikings (11-3)
  3. Los Angeles Rams (10-4)
  4. New Orleans Saints (10-4)
  5. Carolina Panthers (10-4)
  6. Atlanta Falcons  (9-5)

In the Hunt:

  1. Detroit Lions (8-6)
  2. Seattle Seahawks (8-6)
  3. Dallas Cowboys (8-6)

My Prediction:

I believe that if the seeding plays out correctly, the Minnesota Vikings and the Los Angeles Rams are the best two teams in the NFC and should meet up in the conference championship, I would put my money on the Minnesota Vikings but only by a small margin.

Bold Prediction:

If the Dallas Cowboys are somehow able to make it into the playoffs, they will win the NFC and move on to the Super Bowl.