Minnesota Vikings: Dalvin Cook, RB
The Minnesota Vikings found themselves in yet another excruciating loss, falling to the L.A. Rams 30-23 at home. Unfortunately, Dalvin Cook did not suit up after testing positive for COVID-19 last Thursday. He is unvaccinated so he’ll be forced to quarantine for at least 10 days. The Vikings are set to play the Green Bay Packers in Week 17 and Cook may be allowed to play, pending two consecutive negative tests this weekend.
Los Angeles Rams: Jalen Ramsey, CB
The Rams got a taste of the holiday weather when they traveled to Minnesota for their Week 16 matchup against the Vikings. Despite the offense giving up three turnovers, L.A. held the Vikings to two successful conversions on third down and forced one interception.
All eyes shifted towards Jalen Ramsey and Justin Jefferson, as two of the most of elite athletes faced off for the first time in the NFL. Jefferson was quoted saying he circled this game on his calendar because it would cement himself amongst the league’s top receivers. Ramsey ultimately got the best of Jefferson allowing 24 yards on three receptions while guarding him on 21 routes. The superstar corner finished the game with one pass defended and seven total tackles. The Rams now advance to 11-4, reaching the top of the NFC West for the first time this season.
Los Angeles Chargers: Derwin James, SS / Asante Samuel Jr., CB
The Chargers traveled down south to Houston, Texas to face a young, underwhelming Texans squad in what should’ve been a great momentum win. In recent weeks their defense hasn’t been able to stop a parked car; giving up a career-high 252 yards to rookie QB Davis Mills, 149 yards to veteran RB Rex Burkhead and 24 fourth quarter points. L.A. left the lone star state with a 41-29 loss and are now tied with the Las Vegas Raiders at 8-7 for the second seed in the AFC West.
After passing multiple medical checkups, Derwin James was considered fit to play but head coach Brandon Staley decided it was best to keep James on the sideline and play it safe. James will likely suit up for next weeks matchup against the Denver Broncos and the hamstring issues should no longer trouble the star safety. Asante Samuel Jr. was a participant in the game for the first time since the Chargers Week 11 win against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The rookie ended the ball game with two passes defended and three total tackles. Although L.A. has had some struggles as of late, they should be getting some key pieces back from the injured list just in time for a playoff run.
Baltimore Ravens: Devonta Freeman, RB
Baltimore went into Week 16 tied with the Cincinnati Bengals for first place in the AFC North; the late season matchup between both parties definitely had a playoff feel. The Ravens were forced to play veteran QB Josh Johnson after both Lamar Jackson and Tyler Huntley were ruled out. While it looked like an entertaining game in the first quarter, Joe Burrow decided to have the game of his life, putting up 31 first half points and torching the Ravens secondary for 525 yards.
Running back Devonta Freeman received just six carries on the evening which was quite surprising since Johnson hadn’t taken many reps with the offense. Freeman’s soundless performance collected 17 yards on the ground and three in the air. The Ravens now sit at second placed in the AFC North after losing their fourth straight game of the season.
Denver Broncos: Ronald Darby, CB
The 2021 NFL season is coming to a close and the AFC playoff race has seen one of the tightest gaps in recent memory. In a much needed win the Denver Broncos had three scoreless quarters while losing to the Raiders 17-13. They are currently outside the playoff picture, two games behind a wild card spot.
Their offense was dreadful yet again, as QB Drew Lock couldn’t find any success in the red zone and RB Javonte Williams was held to 12 rushing yards. Defensive back Ronald Darby seems to have found a great marriage with defensive coordinator Ed Donatell, having great success in his system. Darby concluded Sunday’s game with one pass defended and six total tackles. While their defense has shown some promising plays the Broncos will need to figure out their problems within the QB room if they want any chance at competing in the AFC.