No Country for Old Men: Older, Franchise Quarterbacks in the NFL Have to Hang it Up

Cam Newton and the New England Patriots were one point away from tying the Buffalo Bills at ten points each until kicker Nick Folk missed the extra point. After that kick, the Bills played the Patriots like a playoff team and bludgeoned them.

Newton was pulled in the middle of the third quarter, throwing for 34 yards and sacked twice for 20 yards. That’s a finish of +14 yards for the reigning 2015 league MVP. Newton hasn’t looked right since he caught COVID-19, and it’s fair to ask has that affected his play.

All of this is important because Newton said at the beginning of December that he isn’t done playing and has a lot to prove. Anyone who’s watched Newton since he contracted COVID, knows he has nothing left to prove. Minus the upcoming Sunday game, Newton came back to start 14 games and was critical to the Patriots not being worse than the New York Jets. His foot injuries seem to have taken a toll, and he’s a shell of that 2015 greatness.

Bill defensive lineman Quinton Jefferson (90, white) sacks Cam Newton (1, blue) in the first half of Week 16’s Monday Night game. This was one of two times Newton was sacked.

None of this is to antagonize him for clinging onto his starting spot. In fact, it’s the opposite. There are at least a half dozen starting quarterbacks holding teams back from playing at their best, and it’s time for them to retire or step down. Think about it this way; if this was a politician who served a state/country over 25 years, citizens would want a fresh face. It’s the same with sports, the only difference is sports wins championships.

Starting quarterbacks who need to retire

  • Drew Brees – Probably 95% of football fans (outside of Louisiana) agree with this one. Brees is not the same player he was even five years ago. There are valid reasons why Brees should retire. To start, he’s had issues throwing deep passes consistently. Early this season, New Orleans had the fewest yards per pass (just over five yards). It’s not much better heading into 2021. The final clue was the number of broken ribs Brees sustained mid-November against the San Francisco 49ers. With close to a dozen ribs out of place and a punctured lung, he came back a month later to play. Brees is an icon in New Orleans and a relic of the culture change he and coach Sean Payton brought to a losing franchise. That’s a problem. He’s a relic, not a quarterback who can carry a team to a championship. The Saints have to find a young quarterback in the offseason.
  • Ben Roethlisberger – The Steelers are a mess even with a comeback win against the Indianapolis Colts last Sunday. In order to see where the Steelers and Roethlisberger are, watch game-tape of December 21st’s Steelers-Bengals game. Roethlisberger, who’s one of the 2004 drafted quarterbacks on this list, struggled to throw downfield. Yes, he threw well in Lucas Oil Stadium the following Sunday, but Pittsburgh was down double-digits in the second half and Indianapolis made few second half adjustments. The focus for the Steelers offense is to get the ball out of Ben’s hands at record speed, hoping his receivers catch the passes and make plays after. It’s not sustainable. Whoever the sixth seed heading into wild card weekend is, that team has the advantage of shutting down a rapid fire offense with few answers when contained. Mason Rudolph isn’t the solution long-term, so the Steelers must look in free agency and the draft for their future.
  • Philip Rivers – The other 2004 drafted quarterback is on a one year $25 million deal with the Indianapolis Colts. Rivers’ odd throwing motion has shown the downside of his career. He’s made efforts to get the Colts’ best receiver T.Y. Hilton the ball the past month and a half, but there may not be enough tape for general manager Chris Ballard to consider re-signing him this offseason. Along with his throwing motion, his lack of mobility outside the pocket and lack of game winning drives against playoff opponents says Rivers is likely to go within the next few years, if not after this season. Unlike the other two names above, Rivers can call it quits before he plays like a shell of his former self.
  • Cam Newton – Newton was hit a lot during his tenure in Carolina, and those hits took a toll. His lis franc injury was enough to not play a season and a half, which is why New England took a chance on him with a small contract. There aren’t many talented receivers in New England (outside of Julian Edelman) and COVID-19 possibly affected him before the Patriots played Kansas City. It’s evident he is not comfortable and nowhere near the top threat even three years ago. Despite him saying he has much to prove, there’s nothing left he has to do almost ten years in the NFL.
  • Alex Smith – the Comeback Player of the Year winner is a great story after a year and a half out of the NFL for breaking his leg and an infection right after. If we take emotions out of this, Smith is the fifth quarterback on this list who’s 35 years or older who’s been in the playoffs multiple times. The Washington Football Team needs to find a franchise quarterback, which is on the list of things the franchise faces in the upcoming years. While Smith brings stability, how can we be sure Taylor Heinicke, Kyle Allen, or an outsider such as Mitchell Trubisky or Brandon Allen isn’t the answer if they don’t have opportunities to prove themselves?
  • Matt Ryan – Last year might have been the last good year we see from the tenured Atlanta Falcon quarterback. Despite a fantastic receiving core and a solid offensive line, Ryan has yet to throw 20 or more touchdowns this season. The Falcons are a punchline for choking games, but Ryan isn’t a game-changer like he was middle last decade. At 35, it’s best he retire before his career ends sour.
  • Matthew Stafford – The eye-opening one on here and understandably so. He has two years remaining on his contract and could get traded to a team that needs a quarterback such as New Orleans, San Francisco or Pittsburgh. Stafford’s been consistent enough to keep the Detroit Lions competitive most of the seasons he’s played. There are some things that warrant him being in this category. His injury list is longer than most starting quarterbacks. Last time he finished a season healthy, he threw 21 touchdowns. His offensive line has been better this season, but he still takes sacks he shouldn’t go down on, an issue most of his career. Adding to his decision making, consider quality play against winning teams. He can get to the playoffs, but can he take the extra step with a better roster on all three sides of the ball? At 32, we might have seen his peak since he entered the league in 2009, so it’s possible he has a steady decline.

Just how life is outside of sports, there are exceptions to the rule. 37 year old Aaron Rodgers is the front runner to not just win league MVP this season, but to lead Green Bay back to the Super Bowl. Tom Brady’s the oldest quarterback to start on any team, and he’s looking pretty good despite being 43. Brady winning six championships with no losing seasons in his NFL career is a talent we may not see from anyone else in our lifetime. Andy Dalton and Ryan Fitzpatrick have accepted their 1B/backup roles, helping their teams when needed most.

Alex Smith (11, burgundy) has had a wild NFL career, and his best story is leading the Washington Football Team to a possible playoff berth. However, injuries have been a factor in his career, and there are good reasons why he should retire after this season.

It’s possible that Matthew Stafford, Matt Ryan and Philip Rivers could be great backup/1B options, but there are valid questions and cases on why new quarterbacks should have a chance to start without controversy. Sam Darnold needs a coach who can teach him consistency. Mitchell Trubisky is finally thriving with an offensive coordinator who understands how to use him. Jimmy Garappolo may do well in New England since Bill Belichick knew how to get the best out of him. Sit back and ask how many talented quarterbacks are we not watching the best of week-to-week because they don’t have the chance to show it?


NBA Eastern Conference Playoff Predictions

It’s been a wild 2020. First the NBA season paused until mid-summer, then the Miami Heat went on a tear dismantling the Milwaukee Bucks and edging the Boston Celtics to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals.

The NBA bubble in Orlando won’t be back, yet there won’t be many fans in stadiums due to COVID-19 precautions. The season starts tonight despite these fan restrictions, so it’s time to pick which eight teams in the East have the best chance to make the playoffs.

#1 Milwaukee Bucks

This isn’t a hard one. Giannis Antetokounmpo is the best player in professional basketball and the Bucks have a solid supporting cast. Coach Mike Budenholzer is good in the regular season (post-season is a different story). Milwaukee might lock up the first seed early since there’s enough depth to hold leads or make games competitive. The addition of point guard Jrue Holiday solidifies the Bucks holding onto their number one spot.

#2 Boston Celtics

The Toronto Raptors lost their core depth and height in free agency. As good as coach Nick Nurse is, I don’t see how the Raptors come out on top and retain the number two seed. Boston did add Tristan Thompson in the offseason, a center who has championship experience to compliment Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart.

Jrue Holliday (11, white) is exactly who Milwaukee needs to compliment their two-time Most Valuable Player Giannis Antetokounmpo. Kemba Walker (8, black) looks to return for a full season and play a bigger role in Boston’s rise in the East.

The Celtics have more to work with and look to be the most complete team on paper. Even with injuries, coach Brad Stevens will find ways to keep them a top four seed.

#3 Miami Heat

Outside of teams wearing green, this may be the best team. Miami retains most of their roster from their Finals trip in September. Coach Eric Spoelstra can improve breakout role players Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro. Starting center Bam Adebayo, point guard Goran Dragic and team star Jimmy Butler will be enough for this team to cement the Southeast Division.

What sets this team apart is how they can play as a whole unit, their coaching, and they match up well against dangerous teams such as Brooklyn and Philadelphia.

Joel Embiid (21, blue) has to improve his game like he did in 2018 for the 76ers to go far in the playoffs, especially with Doc Rivers behind the bench. Jimmy Butler (22, red) is the star the Miami Heat needed and wanted. They’ll be the top target in the East since they were conference champions.

#4 Philadelphia 76ers

Doc Rivers is a clear upgrade from Brett Brown at head coach. Dwight Howard as the backup center behind Joel Embiid will be interesting, and shooting guard additions Danny Green and Seth Curry will make this a polar year for the Sixers.

Unfortunately for them, the Heat have shown to be a true contender as they won the East last year, taking out the top two teams of this list. Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris aren’t players to win championships with, but they can take Philly far if there’s a good core who can shoot.

Despite the cons, they’re much better than all but a few teams in the East. Let’s see how long coach Doc Rivers can improve this team.

#5 Indiana Pacers

The Pacers get overlooked because of the drop-off in star talent outside of Milwaukee, but they’re a real playoff threat…if they can win a game. New coach Nate Bjorkgren needs to find ways to win when it matters especially in the playoffs.

Outside of two sweeps the past two playoff appearances, the Pacers have solid players to clinch a five or six seed. Victor Oladipo, Myles Turner, Malcolm Brogdon, Domantas Sabonis and Justin Holiday are a good core Bjorkgren can work with early in the season. Outside of bench players Doug McDermott and Jeremy Lamb, the Pacers have to shoot better from mid-to-long range.

Indiana plays well defensively, something they have to do considering the Bucks and Celtics are the top teams who push them around. Outside their shooting issues, that should play another pivotal part of their season and in the division.

#6 Brooklyn Nets

The team everyone wants to see early and often. The Nets look to be one of the best teams to score and dominate on offense, but defensively a sieve. Coach Steve Nash will have his hands full when the Nets have to defend in close games.

Kevin Durant (in black, left) and Kyrie Irving (right) will be a fiery duo for Brooklyn this season, but will they be a factor in the playoffs?

The returns of Kevin Durant and point guard Kyrie Irving are what basketball fans want to see. Spencer Dinwiddie and Joe Harris provide offensive flexibility and long-range scoring. However, outside of an aging DeAndre Jordan there isn’t anyone who shows they’re a defensive star.

The sky is the limit for the Nets. They could fix the defensive issues by mid-season or crash and burn. Too many questions remain that can’t be answered at once. The sixth seed is fitting since they couldn’t be any worse to start the season.

#7 Chicago Bulls

Coach Jim Boylen deservedly got the boot and was replaced by phenom Billy Donovan. That puts the Bulls and Donovan in a much better spot than the beginning of 2020. Boylen had no idea what to do with the talent in front of him.

Point guard Coby White’s trajectory looks positive going into his second season. Bulls stars Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. will be led and taught by Billy Donovan on how to improve their individual and team games. Markkanen is playing for the right coach and should have a career year.

In order for the Bulls to push back against the Bucks/make the playoffs, they have to open up the play-book on offense. Lauri Markkanen (24, black) and Zach LaVine (8, black) should show that improvement this year.

Otto Porter Jr., Thaddeus Young and Denzel Valentine are good bench players who will help out and play team-first basketball. Donovan didn’t have this much talent to work with in Oklahoma City. The Bulls are ready to take the next steps with a new coach and general manager.

#8 Orlando Magic

A second team has to make the playoffs from the Southeast division…I think. The Magic or the Atlanta Hawks are the best bets to grab the last seed since Washington and Charlotte will probably sink this season. The Magic get the nod for two reasons: they’ve drafted and designed a better roster and they have playoff experience.

The Magic were thrown out of the playoffs by a championship Toronto Raptors team in 2019 and a dominant Milwaukee team in 2020. However, they grabbed one win against both of those teams. They’re not some mediocre team with no stars, they’re still developing like the Chicago Bulls are.

The good thing for Orlando is their added depth behind their starters. Michael Carter-Williams, Al-Farouq Aminu, Terrence Ross and Mo Bamba should keep the Magic in games especially against teams close to getting into the playoffs.

Magic point guard Markelle Fultz signed a three year extension this past weekend. Fultz and the Magic starting five should find ways to get back into the playoffs, even if it’s the last seed.

NFL Week 14 Winners and Losers

Week 14 is almost finished and the number of teams clinching playoff berths are narrowing down. Sunday’s games revealed who’s competing past the first two weeks in January and who’s securing a top-15 draft pick. It’s time to discuss who or what took positive steps toward a playoff run and who’s closer to elimination on the second Sunday of December.

Winners: The NFC East

It’s no secret the NFC East has been the worst division in 2020. However, if sports fans knew the division had the best record in the NFL since Week 11 (with a record of 9-6), what would they think? Thankfully, we’re witnessing a competitive finish.

The New York Giants led the division before Sunday and had a case for not just beating the Arizona Cardinals, but retaining their lead for the rest of December. They’re now looking up as they suffered a lopsided loss and the Washington Football Team beat San Francisco. The Philadelphia Eagles have a spark as Jalen Hurts led the way and upset the Saints in New Orleans. Dallas took care of business in Cincinnati, staying alive in the division race. They play the Giants the last game of the regular season.

Whoever wins the NFC East may not be over .500, but they’ll be favored wild-card weekend. Everyone can breathe a sigh of relief knowing this may not be the worst division in American sports history.

Green Bay Packers

No team won or caught as many breaks like the Packers did Sunday. Matthew Stafford’s rib injury guaranteed a Packers win. The only blemish was the referees, who held both them and the Lions back missing multiple roughing the passer penalties and plays that looked inbounds.

Outside of their divisional win, the Packers are the top seed in the NFC. The Jalen Hurts-led Eagles ran all over the Saints defense and held on for a needed win in their divisional race. Green Bay was surprised by Jalen Hurts when previous starter Carson Wentz was benched last game, but they won because he played in the fourth quarter. The Saints had no answer or gameplan when he ran to extend plays.

The Packers remaining obstacle to locking up the number one seed is if they lose to the Tennessee Titans in Week 16. If they’re able to stop Derrick Henry, they’ll be a hard team to face in the playoffs, especially if they’re the only team with a week off.

Justin Herbert

The Los Angeles Chargers may be out of the playoff race, but their win over Atlanta after being shutout 45-0 is good for confidence. So was the second half rookie quarterback Justin Herbert had.

Another week will go where we hear the Atlanta Falcons choked a lead away. It’s on Matt Ryan to not turn the ball over three times throughout the game. The Chargers had all ten of the second half points, and that’s because the offense capitalized on mistakes.

Herbert threw one of his touchdowns passes to star receiver Keenan Allen to tie the game at 17 in the third quarter. After Michael Davis’ interception on Matt Ryan late in the fourth, the Chargers executed an 11 play drive in 31 seconds. That drive started at the Charger 26 yard line, and the field goal at the end was at the Falcon 25 yard line.

Time management was an issue in LA’s loss to the Bills where they squandered a minute at the end. The rookie quarterback seemed to learn from that botched drive.

Josh Allen’s case for MVP

The MVP race is between Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes at this point, but Josh Allen’s name should be thrown in. I criticized the Buffalo Bills and Allen earlier in the season for not playing superior to their opponents, which was deserved since they struggled. They’re not just 3-0 since their bye week, they’ve beaten all their opponents by ten points or more. One was against the former NFC conference champions last Monday and the other a statement game last night against Pittsburgh.

Quarterback Josh Allen is a big part of that. While the defense is clicking at the right time unlike the first half of the season, Allen is elevating the play of the offense. Last night was the first Sunday night game the Bills were featured in since the Patriots went 16-0. The franchise star threw for 238 yards, two touchdowns, one interception and took one sack against one of the best defenses in the league.

Allen stepped up behind his offensive line to extend plays or run the ball, making the right decisions throughout the second half and had his best performance in a critical AFC matchup this year. He’s yet to have a red-zone interception in his career, something no other elite level quarterback can say.

Add on his 28 touchdowns are second most in franchise history behind the legendary Jim Kelly, and his resume for MVP this year should at least be considered.

Losers: Jacksonville Jaguars

Jacksonville has been competitive in almost all of their 13 losses. They have a carousel at quarterback, and this time Gardner Minshew II gets his starting job back.

Mike Glennon had no answer against the Tennessee Titans. That feel-good story was going to end some time. Coach Doug Marrone will be fired at the end of the season, but the team still plays hard despite winning one game.

It doesn’t help that after the Jaguars lose, the New York Jets find ways to out-do them. Owner Shahid Khan and Jaguars management must be upset they can’t lock in the number one pick for next year’s draft.

The Bengals’ offensive coaches in the fourth quarter v. Dallas

If there was a good case to fire head coach Zac Taylor and his offensive staff at the end of the season, this past Sunday would be it. The Bengals lost a game they could’ve won but bad coaching in the fourth quarter cost them.

Backup quarterback Brandon Allen played well against one of the worst defenses in the league. The Cowboys got a lead early by forcing turnovers on three straight Cincinnati possessions, but couldn’t pull away. Down 20-7, the Bengals had a shot at narrowing the deficit to 6 and had all three of their timeouts.

Allen got hurt in the middle of a 16 play, 70 yard drive that ran almost seven and a half minutes off the clock. It was clear when the Bengals got deep into Dallas’ side of the field he couldn’t throw off one foot, but the Bengals coaching staff didn’t see anything wrong with that. Allen continued to be hit, limp closer to the endzone and the offensive possession grew worse. The drive ended because Taylor decided to go for 6 points instead of three, and Allen threw an uncatchable pass to Tyler Boyd out of bounds. Dallas’ next possession resulted in a Greg Zuerlein field goal and Taylor used all of his timeouts.

Whoever is coach of the Bengals next year is a lame-duck candidate at best. They’ll have a high draft pick, but this was a winnable game against a team still in the playoff race and the coaches couldn’t make a simple substitution. That’s firable.

Bill O’Brien

How good would the Texans have been this season if Bill O’Brien was fired two years ago? The former Houston head coach and general manager traded away many of the prized assets the team gained the second half of last decade. It’s hurt the team much of this season and a blowout loss to the Chicago Bears emphasized all of it.

Quarterback DeShaun Watson was sacked six times and even took a shot to his groin, staying on the sideline until the next possession. His top target was Chad Hansen, who caught seven passes for 56 yards. Hansen was activated only Friday and didn’t fully practice. The second best receiver was second string runningback Duke Johnson.

Interim coach Romeo Crennel did all he could. It’s best to deactivate Watson for the rest of the season so he doesn’t get hurt against Indianapolis or Tennessee. Watson does all he can and has the Texans at second in the league in passing. He has little help on the offensive line, one of the many mistakes O’Brien made regressing the franchise.

J.J. Watt isn’t coming back next season and Crennel, who’s in his early 70s, should retire. This is Bill O’Brien’s legacy. Hopefully he won’t be a head coach any time soon.

San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers had a week they’ll want to forget. Losing Monday night to an AFC East-leading Bills team is tolerable. The offense laying a dud against the Washington Football Team ended their season.

Nick Mullens is a great quarterback in garbage time, just not in critical situations. Statistically, he was better than both Washington quarterbacks. Still, he’s the reason San Francisco lost. Multiple turnovers, sacks, and a touchdown thrown only when trailing by 16 points is bad football.

The Rams, Cardinals and Seahawks all won in Week 14. That singles out the 49ers as the first team in the NFC West to be eliminated from the playoffs. With salary cap issues looming this upcoming offseason, it could be a long 2021 for San Francisco.

NFL Week 13 Winners and Losers

Week 13 is almost finished and the number of teams that will head to the playoffs is narrowing down. Sunday’s games revealed who’s competing for a playoff spot heading into December and who’s securing draft space early. It’s time to discuss who or what took positive steps toward a playoff run and who’s in a bigger hole on the first Sunday of December.

Winners: Lions Interim Coach Darrell Bevell

In his first game as a head coach, Bevell did something previous coach Matt Patricia couldn’t do in almost three seasons: beat the Chicago Bears.

The Lions offense played a great game, scoring five touchdowns with a balanced running and passing attack. Quarterback Matthew Stafford threw for 402 yards and led a comeback with under 2:30 remaining in the game. The Lions defense gave up 30 points to a woeful Bears offense, but they forced a critical turnover under two minutes to play.

Detroit may have won their last game of the season and Darrell Bevell might not return as head coach or offensive coordinator, but it’s clear he wasn’t a problem when Patricia was in charge. That will land him a better job in the offseason.

Baker Mayfield

The Cleveland Browns offense played one of their best games this season, and it starts with the quarterback. Mayfield played like he did his rookie season, throwing the ball aggressive and confident. When the first half ended, Cleveland led by a whopping 31 points against a Tennessee team that ran over Indianapolis their last game.

Mayfield’s four touchdowns showed audiences how good he can be. His second touchdown to Kendall Lamm proved he’s reading open receivers and the field better in short yardage situations. His third score to Donovan Peoples-Jones shows head coach Kevin Stefanski trusts Mayfield to lead when opponents keep games within ten points.

The Browns have three solid wins over playoff contending teams and can trust their quarterback to deliver when it matters. They’ll put up a fight in the playoffs.

Jalen Hurts

Anyone tuned into CBS’s telecast of the Eagles-Packers watched Philadelphia’s starting quarterback Carson Wentz struggle for almost three quarters. Coach Doug Pederson’s Eagles resemble fellow coordinator Matt Nagy’s Chicago Bears on offense; bad offensive line, can’t run the ball and the quarterbacks are hit so much they can’t make fast reads. Jalen Hurts is a breath of fresh air for the Eagles offense.

Hurts sparked an Eagles comeback against the Packers in the fourth quarter yesterday. If it wasn’t for Packer’s runningback Aaron Jones’ spectacular 77 yard touchdown run, the Eagles might have extended the game to overtime.

Audiences saw Hurts used as a gadget player, someone who creates or runs non-quarterback plays to extend offensive possessions. After a real performance in one half by the rookie, Doug Pederson (more on him later) has a decision to make on who starts next week.

Trevor Lawrence

Let’s be honest on the New York Jets. They’re 0-12 not because the players are useless no-names, they’re 0-12 because Adam Gase is a complete stumblebum who can’t coach or develop players. This team was on a decline before he got the job in 2019.

If you watched the Jets within the last three weeks, you know the more Gase isn’t involved with the offense, the better they are. Gase’s job is to make sure this failure of an organization clinches the number one pick to draft Lawrence.

There are good pieces on offense to use once Lawrence comes in. The offensive line was built from the inside to out, especially on the left side with Mekhi Becton and Cameron Clark. Josh Adams and La’Mical Perine have shown they can be used regularly to set a tempo early in games. Jamison Crowder, Breshad Perriman, Braxton Barrios and Denzel Mims are a good quartet of receivers, even if they need to further development with a good head coach.

Once the Jets secure the number one pick in the draft, find a head coach with a working brain and draft Trevor Lawrence, we’ll be having a positive conversation about the Jets heading into the 2021 season.

Losers: Brian Schottenheimer, Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks Offense

What an atrocious game-plan by the Seahawks offense. Russell Wilson looked like a middle-round draft pick. Wilson’s MVP campaign is officially done as the Seahawks took a horrendous home loss to the New York Giants.

Wilson was sacked five times, but the offensive line wasn’t the main problem. Wilson couldn’t hit open receivers (taking an intentional grounding penalty in the middle of the game), couldn’t read a field (never saw a wide open six foot Freddie Swain at one point), took five sacks trying to spin out of a New York pass rush that was effective because he couldn’t read the field, and turned the ball over twice in both second and third quarters.

Opposing defenses are locked in as Seattle throws the ball downfield. This change creates more opportunities for the offense to target the middle of the defense and potentially take more time off the clock. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer has yet to take advantage of this and adapt his scheme. The tight-ends aren’t used enough, the runningbacks aren’t carrying the ball to control rhythm on drives, and receivers like Tyler Lockett (who narrowly escaped serious injuries yesterday) have disappeared without reason.

Seattle’s only home loss of the season is due to the offense having its worst game in the Russell Wilson era. The defense is much improved as the Giants scored 17 points with under 200 yards passing given up, but the loss drops them from the second seed and division leader to fifth seed in the NFC and second place behind the Los Angeles Rams. That’s maddening.

Houston Texans Offense

DeShaun Watson desperately needed Will Fuller V yesterday and it showed. Watson took five sacks against an aggressive Indianapolis defensive line, including a safety that gave the Colts a six point lead in the fourth quarter.

Watson threw one interception and 341 yards, but with his main targets being Keke Coutee and Chad Hansen, that won’t be enough for Houston to go downfield and create deep-pass plays. Texans offensive coordinator Tim Kelly has a lot to look at these next few weeks, because running the ball can only do so much before opponents start to play seven men at the line or all-out rush the quarterback.

Doug Pederson

It’s understandable Pederson’s choice of starting quarterback Carson Wentz the past month came in part with the awful division the Eagles are in, Wentz’s contract, and injuries on offense. The latter hasn’t been an issue the past three weeks, and Wentz still can’t read a field or throw the ball away under pressure.

Pederson should’ve made a change after the Giants split the series. Philadelphia lost by five and six points in their previous two games and trailed by 20 before Wentz was benched. The Giants have the tie-breaker and look to be the hot team in the NFC East ready for a playoff run.

If the Eagles don’t make the playoffs this year, it’s because head coach Doug Pederson left his starter in too long and put the right quarterback into the starting role when it didn’t matter.

Washington Football Team

The Washington Football Team dealt with a flex game featuring an undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers team. They got additional rest after blowing out the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving, but they’ll be playing behind the rest of December in return.

The New York Giants win in Seattle wasn’t just bad for the Seahawks, it’s bad for the Football Team’s playoff chances since the Giants have the tie-breaker in the division. The Giants could lose one of their last four games and Washington would have to win the rest of theirs in order to tie a team that swept them.

Head coach Ron Rivera was brought in to change the culture top to bottom and he’ll do that this decade, but losing the divisional race this way is a bitter pill to swallow.