1. Just for the record: Justin Tucker is a really good real-life football player, too. He can kick the hell out of the ball. But he's a fantasy LEGEND now. If you limped into Monday night sitting on just your kicker and down by like 20 points, you probably thought you were dead in the water. Au contraire.
Tucker booted a ridiculous six field goals, accounting for every single one of the Ravens' 18 points, including the final three when he pushed an impossible-looking 61-yard field goal through the uprights.
Buried. If your league is smart it gives out six points for 60-yard field goals and you picked up major points on that kick. Tucker definitely did.
"My fantasy team is benefiting from it as well so I'm happy about that," Tucker said after the game. "Fantasy owners around the world, I hope you guys appreciate the points as well."
His real-life boss appreciates his kicking skills too. John Harbaugh was amped up after the game and said Tucker almost "ordered" him to let the kicker bomb it from 60-plus yards.
"I said 'Hey, we kicking this?' He said, 'I got it.' He kind of ordered me, almost, to kick it," Harbaugh said. "And then we got him 2 more yards."
Tucker's got the chops to make the case right now. He hasn't missed a field goal since Week 2, having booted 33 consecutive field goals through the uprights.
In a game that was bizarrely exciting despite being pretty terrible, it's fitting that the biggest story coming out of the game was Tucker mashing field goals all over the place.
2. Note to self: win the Super Bowl before signing a monster contract. That way when you're average you won't get criticized. It's been the case with Joe Flacco throughout this entire season. People in Baltimore will tell you he catches plenty of ... flak, but no one's talking about what a bad deal his contract looks like right now.
Obviously that's before Monday night's stats, but it's not like Flacco played well. He was 20 of 38 with 222 yards on the night against a pretty porous Lions pass defense.
Flacco has been nothing more than average this year. And he might not care. But if you're writing the $120,000,000 checks you could potentially be concerned, even if he has a lack of weapons this season.
Flacco said after the game that his knee "feels fine" and "strong."
"It wasn't really bothering me after the initial hit," Flacco said. More probably scared than anything after what I initially felt. It feels fine, it feels strong."
That's huge news for the Ravens.
4. All the things that make Matthew Stafford great -- arm strength, athleticism, willingness to cut the ball loose -- also happen to make him incredibly frustrating as a quarterback.
Ravens rush three, Stafford panics, doesn't allow routes to develop downfield. Again, awful. pic.twitter.com/OQQJTojknI— World of Isaac (@WorldofIsaac) December 17, 2013
5. Ravens defensive backs lay the wood. They were putting some massive hits on the Lions wide receivers. And Matt Elam, who said earlier this week that Calvin Johnson is "old," came up with the game-sealing interception. Megatron was fairly non-Mega on Monday too, ending up with "only" 98 receiving yards.
6. This was a massive game for the playoff picture. First up is the Ravens, who set themselves up to possibly win the division with that victory. They have to beat the Patriots at home next week and beat the Bengals in Cincy in Week 17 to do it. So it's not easy. If they get to 10-6 with a string of wins to close out against potential playoff teams, it'll be very impressive.
7. Detroit holds the tiebreaker over the Bears because they beat Chicago twice in the regular season ... but they're now a full game back. In fact, Detroit dropped below the 7-6-1 Packers after Monday night and they're going to need some help to get in the postseason. Winning out against the Giants and Vikings is a (mildly) safe bet. One of the Packers and Bears will lose since they play. But that's best case 9-7 for Detroit and either 8-7-1 for Green Bay or 9-7 for Chicago. They're rooting hard for the Steelers and Eagles this week.
8. The Dolphins didn't like Monday's game at all. They're now out of the playoffs if they began today thanks to Baltimore holding the tiebreaker over Miami. Even if they manage to win out and beat the Bills and Jets, they need the Ravens to slip up against either the Pats or Bengals in order to steal the No. 6 seed from the Ravens. But there's some extra spice involved here as well ...
9. Miami already beat Cincy this year. Which means that if the Ravens and Dolphins both win out, those two teams and the Bengals would all be 10-6. The Ravens would sneak past Cincy for the AFC North title and the Dolphins would hop the Bengals in the AFC Wild Card race. So that's great news and absolutely terrifying news for Andy Dalton and Co.
The AFC is providing plenty of spice down the stretch.
|Ravens 18, Lions 16|
|C+||Justin Tucker lifts this grade up with an A+++ for his personal grade. Joe Flacco wasn't great and the running game couldn't get rolling (again). Pretty nice effort by the defense, even if they got gifted a few freebies from the Lions.|
|C-||Lot of particularly ugly throws from Matthew Stafford, who ended up completing just 18 of 34 passes and throwing three picks. Calvin Johnson didn't have a monster day. Reggie Bush needed more carries. The defense did a great job in the red zone. The Ravens couldn't score outside of Justin Tucker.|
|Steelers 30, Bengals 20|
|D-||Playing in Pittsburgh is tough but the Bengals just blew a chance to leap up in the AFC playoff seeding. The running game was totally flat and Andy Dalton never pushed the ball down the field.|
|B+||Ben Roethlisberger played a very efficient game and Antonio Brown keeps having a monster season that no one's really noticing. The Steelers defense smothered Cincinnati early and Le'Veon Bell keeps looking better and better for Pittsburgh.|
|Chiefs 56, Raiders 31|
|B+||So now the Chiefs are average on defense and great on offense? I'm so confused. The Raiders aren't very good, but Kansas City still hung a freaking 50 burger on a divisional rival on the road. Jamaal Charles is a fantasy football playoffs GOD.|
|D-||Can't give up 50 points to a team that's run by Alex Smith. It's just unacceptable. Matt McGloin threw four picks and Terrelle Pryor tossed in one of his own. Small moral victory that the Raiders weren't eliminated from the playoffs until December.|
|Panthers 30, Jets 20|
|C-||Santonio Holmes and Co. couldn't back up his "weak link" smack talk. Geno Smith got smothered and the Jets passing game got shut down. They did an alright job containing the Panthers offense but were overmatched most of the day.|
|B-||Not a totally dominant outing you would like to see but they took care of business. (And the Jets added a semi-garbage touchdown.) Cam Newton was efficient, DeAngelo Williams was explosive and the defense roughed up Geno Smith and Co.|
|Packers 37, Cowboys 36|
|C+||Inspiring comeback for the Packers, who suddenly look kind of scary in the NFC if Aaron Rodgers can get back on the field next week. Matt Flynn was overmatched in the first half and carved up Dallas up in the second. Eddie Lacy is a MAN.|
|C-||First half grade: A. Second half grade: F----------------. (Those are minuses.) What a debacle for Dallas, particularly on the defensive end. They only ran the ball six times in the second half and couldn't stop Matt Flynn despite a 23-point lead at halftime.|
|Rams 27, Saints 16|
|D-||So weird how badly the Saints struggle in St. Louis. The Rams just match up well with them, I guess. They got battered and bruised on Sunday and really let the Panthers back into the hunt in the NFC South. Drew Brees was horrible and the running game was nonexistent.|
|B+||Zac Stacy with a statement game for Rookie of the Year on the same day Eddie Lacy made noise (and not long after Keenan Allen did the same thing). Kellen Clemens was efficient and the Rams defense made life miserable for the Saints.|
|Cardinals 37, Titans 34|
|C+||Pretty scary that the Cardinals let the Titans back into this game. Overtime never should've happened. Andre Ellington and Rashard Mendenhall are developing into an interesting little pair of running backs. No INTs for Carson Palmer either.|
|C-||Just your casual 400-yard performance for Ryan Fitzpatrick. Weird, weird game. Kendall Wright is quietly maturing into a very nice option at wide receiver. Meh game from Chris Johnson though.|
|Falcons 27, Redskins 26|
|C-||Nice game from Kirk Cousins against a depleted secondary. The Redskins receivers were actually able to win early but he cooled in the second half. The Washington defense made some plays too but a two-point #YOLO gamble didn't pay off.|
|C||The Falcons keep pushing themselves further and further from Jadeveon Clowney. Not a good game for Matt Ryan or the Falcons secondary but a win is a win I suppose. Pair of tough ones for them the last two weeks.|
|Vikings 48, Eagles 30|
|F||Philly failed its big chance to really put some distance in the NFC East with an easy opponent. The secondary got shredded by Matt Cassel and the offense took too long to get going.|
|B+||With Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart sidelined the Vikings still managed to run the ball extremely well with Matt Asiata. *furiously Googles Matt Asiata* Stunner of a win for Minnesota.|
|Dolphins 24, Patriots 20|
|C-||Tom Brady threw for 364 yards but it took him 55 attempts to do it. He was relatively sharp in the first game without Rob Gronkowski but New England's offense doesn't look dynamic enough with just Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola out there.|
|B-||Heck of a game for Ryan Tannehill. Miami has been doing a great job protecting him the past few weeks, particularly impressive given all their personnel issues. Massive win that -- for the moment -- puts the Fins in the playoff picture.|
|Bears 38, Browns 31|
|B+||Marc Trestman's call to start Jay Cutler looks pretty smart right now: Cutler went 11 of 12 on third down and led the Bears to a critical victory on the road. Alshon Jeffery continues to dominate. The Chicago defense is a major question mark but that's not breaking news.|
|C-||Josh Gordon keeps putting up big stats (albeit in garbage time) and the Browns defense did its best to hold up against the Bears while it could. There's only so much you can do with an offense based on Jason Campbell and Edwin Baker.|
|Colts 25, Texans 3|
|F-||Honestly don't understand how Houston gets worse and worse every single week that goes by. Embarrassing to go into Lucas Oil and not even manage to score a single touchdown against the Colts. Embarrassing.|
|B-||Like taking candy from a baby. Robert Mathis dominated on the defensive end, becoming the Colts' all-time and single-season sacks leader. They put pressure on Case Keenum and ended this game early.|
|Bills 27, Jaguars 20|
|B-||Nice road win for a previously struggling Bills team against the hot Jaguars. Both C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson put up yards and the defense limited Chad Henne and company. Nice moral victory for Doug Marrone.|
|C+||And so the long-shot playoff run dies. The Jaguars are officially eliminated. But they got some nice contributions from young players again, including Jordan Todman and Ace Sanders.|
|49ers 33, Buccaneers 14|
|B+||Colin Kaepernick played well and Michael Crabtree kept working into shape (but what was that stupid penalty?). The defense and special teams helped put the Bucs away late.|
|C-||Couple of nice throws -- including a touchdown to Timothy Wright -- from Mike Glennon but the Buccaneers only felt "in" this game for about 10 minutes or so. They managed to tighten things up and quickly egged.|
|Seahawks 23, Giants 0|
|A-||Not a perfect game, but going on the road and blowing out an inferior opponent is impressive. Russell Wilson was typically awesome, Marshawn Lynch ran well and Richard Sherman feasted on a generous Eli Manning.|
|F||Eli Manning threw five picks (five!) and averaged 5 yards per attempt. The Giants defense couldn't slow down anyone and the running game was nonexistent. Nightmare of a game in front of a home crowd.|