We’re heading into the final four weeks of the season. As a handful of mediocre teams scramble for the final playoff spots over the coming Thursdays, Sundays and Mondays of the NFL season, we can take a moment to look back and see what we learned from Week 13.
THE EAGLES AREN’T INVINCIBLE
The game was billed as the Philadelphia Eagles‘ first big test, and if that was true, they failed. The Eagles (10-2) dropped their first game since Week Two with a 24-10 loss to the Seattle Seahawks last Sunday.
The problem with Philadelphia’s 10-2 record is that of the teams they’ve beaten this year, only one has a winning record, the Carolina Panthers. The best record among the rest is 6-6. That mark is also shared by the Kansas City Chiefs, the other team to knock off the Eagles. That means facing teams with a .500 or better record, they’re 1-2. The loss to New Orleans knocked them down to the No. 2 seed in the NFC with the Minnesota Vikings (10-2) taking over the top spot.
10-2 heading into Sunday’s game against the Rams. What’s your Big Question? Ask now and our writers will answer this week. pic.twitter.com/Kj1OlPmsJp
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) December 6, 2017
What does that mean the rest of the way? Well, honestly, it all comes down to what the Eagles can do when they travel to the Los Angeles Coliseum Sunday to take on the L.A. Rams (9-3). Los Angeles is easily the best team remaining on Philly’s slate and the winner of this one sets up a first round bye at least. The Rams opened up as a two point favorite.
After the Rams, Philadelphia will play at the Giants (that’s a win), then finish up the season hosting the Raiders (6-6) and the Cowboys (also 6-6). At the beginning of the season, any Eagles fan in the world would have taken a 12-4 or 11-5 record. Now it would have to be a devastating disappointment.
PLAYOFF AND DIVISION CLINCHING SCENARIOS ON THE TABLE
After Week 13, we have plenty of opportunities for teams to either clinch a playoff spot or an outright division title. Here’s where we sit.
New England Patriots
A win gives the Patriots the AFC East title, their 10,784th in a row. They can also win the division with a loss and a Buffalo Bills defeat.
Thanks to a little fourth quarter magic and some help from the refs, the Steelers are still in control of the AFC as the current top seed. If they win Sunday, they’ll clinch the AFC North. If they lose and the Bills lose too, they’ll still secure a playoff spot, but not the division.
Alright, here’s where it gets muddy. If the Jaguars win, they only clinch a playoff spot if the Bills also lose and the Dolphins lose/tie, the New York Jets lose/tie, the Chargers lose/tie and the Chiefs and Raiders don’t end in a tie. So, they’ll more than likely have to wait a week.
With a win over the Rams Sunday, the Eagles will clinch the NFC East. If Philadelphia loses and the Cowboys lose too, they’ll still be division champs.
Minnesota clinches the NFC North with a victory Sunday. If they lose, they can still take the crown with a Lions loss/tie and a Packers loss/tie.
Los Angeles Rams
The Rams have already clinched their first winning season since 2003, which is kind of astounding. On top of that, they can secure a playoff berth with a win over the Eagles, Lions loss/tie and a Packers loss/tie and a Cowboys loss/tie along with a Panthers loss and a Falcons loss. Yeah, all that has to happen to clinch. So, like the Jags, the Rams are waiting a week to celebrate.
New Orleans Saints
New Orleans can clinch a playoff spot with a victory Sunday along with a Panthers loss/tie and a Cowboys loss/tie. The can trade out a Lions loss/tie for the Cowboys there and still make it. Don’t relax, it gets more complicated than that. If they win, there is a scenario where they clinch with a Lions loss/tie and a Packers loss/tie, even if the Cowboys win. There are also some tiebreaker scenarios on the table, but the reality is, the Saints are waiting at least one more week to make their official postseason plans.
WE ARE STUCK WITH ROGER GOODELL
In spite of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’ heroic defiance of his fellow NFL owners, it looks like the league will be cursed with the worst commissioner in sports for at least another five seasons. According to ESPN, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has signed a five year contract that will pay him a staggering and absolutely undeserved $200 million.
Here is the memo that went from the compensation committee to NFL owners on Roger Goodell’s new contract. pic.twitter.com/VS2t62WYdc
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) December 6, 2017
According to Adam Schefter, most of the money comes from bonuses and Goodell’s base salary is in the “single digit millions,” the poor guy.
“Our Committee unanimously supports the contract and believes that it is fully consistent with ‘market’ compensation and the financial and other parameters outlined to the owners at our May 2017 meeting, as well as in the best interests of ownership,” the NFL’s Compensation Committee released in a letter. “… e are pleased to report that there is a nearly unanimous consensus among the ownership in favor of signing the contract extension now.”
“Nearly,” they write.
Needless to say with Goodell still in charge, the negotiations for the next collective bargaining agreement with the NFLPA will be a shitshow.
SHAZIER AND BURFICT CASUALTIES OF RIVALRY
For whatever reason, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger says that games between his team and the Cincinnati Bengals always get ridiculously violent. After Pittsburgh’s 23-20 win over the Bengals Monday night, the local hospital attendance and NFL suspensions doled out since shows he’s right.
Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier remains hospitalized after suffering a back injury Sunday. Shazier spent a couple of days in a Cincy hospital, but was moved today to a facility in Pittsburgh. He’s been tested for a spinal injury.
“He (Shazier) will continue tests and evaluations before his medical team provides any further updates on his condition,” the Steelers said in a statement. “We again want to thank the doctors and staff at UC Health’s University of Cincinnati Medical Center for the excellent care Ryan received while at that facility.”
For those concerned just got off the phone with 50. He’s in good spirits already making progress! God has him. Keep praying keep believing in faith. Never thought I’d say this but #Shalieve lol
— Mike Mitchell (@iammikemitchell) December 5, 2017
At least for Shazier the injury didn’t come from a dirty play. The same can’t be said for Cincinnati linebacker Vontaze Burfict, who went out with a concussion after a crack back block from Pittsburgh widout JuJu Smith-Schuster. Smith-Schuster was suspended one game for the hit. Burfict is now in the NFL’s concussion protocol.
Bengals running back Joe Mixon was injured by taking a knee to the head in the game and Adam Jones injured his groin. Safety George Iloka was originally suspended a game for a hit on Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown in the end zone, but had that reduced to a $36,464.50 fine.
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