New contributors also emerge in bowl practice. We want to know which teams benefited from the time off the most and are likely to be fresh. Some rosters will be in the best shape they’ve been all year, while other teams will be missing key players who played a huge role in the team’s success.
Don’t forget about Detroit in that desperate NFC playoff mix, given it is currently ahead of both Green Bay and Dallas in the pecking order at No. 8. The Lions will get a fight from the Bears early thanks to Jordan Howard’s continued strong running. Eventually, though, Matthew Stafford will get the ball in the fourth quarter with a chance to put it away, back in the confines of his home dome.
The Steelers will be questioned about doing it against their primary foe in the AFC, a Patriots team that will try to match their 11-2 record on Monday night in Miami. The Steelers host them in Heinz Field next Sunday, and they’re on pace to meet again somewhere in the AFC title game.
The Steelers will have the emotional motivation of playing for the still-hospitalized Ryan Shazier, as they did against Baltimore … but they’ll also be playing without his very crucial presence, which was clearly missed Sunday.
Clearly, quarterback was the sore point. The Browns notoriously passed on Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson, so there was DeShone Kizer Sunday … playing very well, the best he has all season. Until, of course, he wasn’t. The wild alley-oop heave for the overtime interception that cost the Browns the game was his season in a nutshell.
Every time Deshaun Watson puts up video game-like stats for the Texans and Carson Wentz delivers a win for the Eagles, it happens.
While Watson and Wentz are looking like long-term franchise quarterbacks in the NFL, everybody keeps bringing up the team that traded out of its opportunity to draft either QB — the Browns.
Uninterrupted has a 13-minute documentary on suspended Browns receiver Josh Gordon’s drug use and attempted rehab. Gordon begins by listing some of the substances he has abused—alcohol, Xanax, cocaine, marijuana, codeine, cough syrup, and methazine. Cleveland.com rounded up some moving takeaways from the piece.
An endorsement for those in deeper leagues, LeVert is struggling badly from the field with just 36.8 percent of his shots going in so far, marked by shooting 19.3 percent from beyond. But I also see him shooting 4.3 3-pointers and playing 28.4 minutes, evidence a positive correction could be on the way for his shooting and scoring rates. More than anything, I think LeVert is a talented prospect and could eventually find his stride on this fast-paced and fantasy-friendly Nets scheme.
The Bucs parted ways with a talented but troubled player who was in the final year of his contract and unlikely to remain in Tampa after free agency. The Patriots’ pass coverage ranked No. 30 in the NFL at the time, and their secondary had been crushed by injuries. Talib helped the Patriots to a division title in 2012 and earned 2013 Pro Bowl honors after signing a one-year contract to remain with the team. He moved on to the Denver Broncos in 2014. The Buccaneers used the fourth-round pick to draft defensive lineman William Gholston, who remains a part-time starter.