We’re almost through 15 weeks of the regular season. Tonight’s clash in Cincinnati will bring the week to an end, leaving just two games left for every team in the 2020 NFL season. Where does the time go? This is also a crucial time in fantasy, as most everyone is completing their semi-final matchup. Did you get what you needed to make the championship? Do you need a Monday night miracle? We’ll look at the options in a minute, but first let’s consider what we learned from the rest of Week 15.
Mitch Trubisky Might Not Be Done in Chicago
When Trubisky was benched for Nick Foles in Week 3, it seemed to write a finish to his Bears’ career. But, then a funny thing happened. After he came in when Foles got injured, Trubisky and the Bears’ offense started to pick it up. It didn’t lead to wins right away, but now the Bears are 7-7 and in position to push for a playoff in the final two weeks. There are still plenty of questions for Trubisky and the Bears, but the decision on whether to keep him feels a little less certain than it did in October.
The Jets Don’t Know How to Lose
The Jets went winless for 14 weeks of the NFL season, putting the team in prime position for the top overall pick. All that changed yesterday as the Jets unveiled an explosive offense and upstart defense at exactly the worst time, beating the Los Angeles Rams 23-20 and elevating the hapless Jaguars to the top overall pick. Was it all part of the plan? Realizing Trevor Lawrence might well stay in school over playing for the Jets, did the team decide to make its own decision easier? Hard to say. But for Jets fans, it was a first win in the 2020 season, and it was crushing for fans.
The Patriots’ Run is Over
Officially it ended with a loss to the Dolphins on Sunday. The Patriots were eliminated from the playoffs, while the Bills won the AFC East, the first time a team aside from the Patriots has won the division in 11 years. The Patriots have often seemed lost this season, as the Cam Newton experiment has fallen short. The Patriots were perennial contenders for more than a decade, now they’ll be left to wonder where they go from here all off-season.
Now on to the Monday Night preview.
Pittsburgh Steelers (11-2) at Cincinnati Bengals (2-10-1)
The Steelers were 11-0, but have since lost two straight. The first was a surprise against the Washington Football team. The second was an unfortunate slip up against the Buffalo Bills. In both, the team has struggled with drops from receivers and sloppy play. All of it has knocked them from the top spot in the AFC to the second seed, and left some questions as they try to right the ship. The Steelers need a win, and need to stay ahead of the Bills if they want to hold on to even the second seed in the AFC. But fortunately they have a perfect get well game on Monday night against the Bengals, a team that has been ravaged by injuries.
The Bengals weren’t winning a lot of games, but they were fun to watch with rookie QB Joe Burrow. But when he was lost for the season with injury, even that fun watch element has disappeared. The team at first turned to Brandon Allen, but now he’s out with an injury as well. All that means Ryan Finley gets the start against a fired up and stout Steelers’ defense. From a fantasy perspective, those hoping for a miracle from a Bengals’ offensive player face some long odds.
Johnson has struggled with drops and was even benched in Week 14. I expect him to be fired up and produce big tonight. I like Ben Roethlisberger as a QB2 and Juju Smith-Schuster, Chase Playpool and Eric Ebron as decent plays as well. I’m less bullish on James Conner, who is banged up and may well split with Benny Snell.
For the Bengals, if you’re hoping for a miracle, for some reason my gut says Tee Higgins might be the best option. But, in reality, I’m fading all my Bengals. You may not have many better options than Higgins and Tyler Boyd, but lower expectations.
Prediction: The Steelers win, by a lot.
Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.