Tragedy befell the Philadelphia Eagles and their fans on Sunday when QB Carson Wentz tore his ACL in a win against the Rams. Wentz currently leads all NFL quarterbacks with 33 passing touchdowns, and his superb play had propelled Philly to its first 10-win season since 2014. The Eagles finished the game with Nick Foles under center and he is currently the replacement for Wentz moving forward for the rest of the season and the playoffs.
Philly’s Super Bowl hopes pretty much went out the door with the loss of Wentz, and many have theorized that if they still want a shot they should sign QB Colin Kaepernick. He has been to a Super Bowl already and is the most qualified backup quarterback Philadelphia could ask for. The Eagles have already clinched a playoff berth so they have the time and freedom to figure out a solution for the playoffs, whether it is allowing Foles to lead the team into the postseason or looking for a backup. Either way, Wentz will be sorely missed by the Birds going into the last season homestretch and playoffs.
Sean Payton’s Outburst Costs the Saints
On Thursday Night against the Falcons, the Saints were down late in the game with the defense on the field fighting to keep Atlanta from reaching a first down, which would have gotten the ball back in the capable hands of Drew Brees. That’s when an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty was called against Saints head coach Sean Payton after he ran onto the field attempting to call timeout. The penalty gave Atlanta a first down and allowed the Falcons to run the clock out and win the game.
Payton’s actions were clearly out of line, but this late in the season, in a game that means so much in terms of playoff and division standings, the referee shouldn’t make that call. You can argue that the game wasn’t decided by that call alone, and that it’s on Drew Brees for throwing a costly interception in the red zone just minutes before, but when a call so clearly impacts the outcome of a game like that, it’s hard to not blame the officials for blowing it. New Orleans is still in first place in the NFC South, but they are not far ahead of Atlanta and need to finish the season strong if they want to secure the higher seed in the postseason. All that said, if Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram get back to 100% before the postseason, there is no doubt in my mind that the New Orleans Saints will win the Super Bowl.
Rodgers Ready to Return for the Pack
In his time as a starter for the Packers this year, former UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley went 3-4, but it’s time for the prodigal son, Aaron Rodgers, to step back in for Green Bay. Rodgers has his work cut out for him. With three games left in the season and the Packers currently seeded ninth in the NFC, Rodgers will have to lead the team to three straight wins and hope that both Seattle and Detroit lose a few games, as well as the Falcons, the lowest seeded team in the NFC playoff picture.
The Packers have remaining games against Carolina, Minnesota, and Detroit, and they need to go 3-0 to have any chance of making the playoffs. With the NFC being as good as it is this year, a 10-6 record might not even be enough to make the playoffs. The Packers have the hardest remaining schedule in the NFL, but if there is one man equipped to run the table, it is Aaron Rodgers. Last year, after a Week 11 loss to the Redskins, Rodgers led the Pack to six consecutive wins and took them to the NFC divisional round. Rodgers is one of the most talented quarterbacks to ever play the game of football, and for him to pull off a Packers playoff berth this year would solidify his reputation as one of the sport’s greatest leaders.
Zeroes and Heroes
This week’s Zero is the entire AFC. The AFC currently has two 7-6 teams in the playoff picture, the Chiefs and Bills. If there has ever been an easier path for Tom Brady and the Deflatriots to take into the AFC championship game, God can strike me down where I stand. Any conference in which Joe Flacco has a chance of leading a team into the playoffs after passing for 28 yards in a full game against the Jaguars (and in which he has two games against the Cleveland Browns every year), has no claim to respectability. The AFC is an absolute joke with just two teams that could be considered real Super Bowl contenders in the Patriots and Steelers.
Simply for beating the Patriots on Monday night in such satisfying fashion, I am awarding my prestigious Hero of the Week award to Smokin’ Jay Cutler and the Miami Dolphins. Cutler outshined con-man vegan loser Tom Brady with over 260 passing yards and three touchdowns, while Brady threw two interceptions to the same damn player. The Dolphins spayed and neutered the Patriots offense, forcing seven three and outs and allowing just 25 total rushing yards. They might have nearly lost the game by scoring zero points and punting the ball three times in the fourth quarter, and they might not be the safest bet to make the playoffs this year at the ten seed with a 6-7 record, but for this week we’ll allow the Dolphins to live it up as the heroes of the NFL.