compiled by Andrew Potter
Each Sunday, the FO staff sends around emails about the games that each of us are watching. We share information about the games that the rest of the group might not be watching, ask questions, and keep everyone else informed about which games they might want to tune into (if they can).
On Monday, we compile a digest of those emails and produce this feature. By its nature, it can be disjointed and dissimilar to the other articles on the site.
While these emails are generally written with Audibles in mind, they do not represent a standard review of all the games each week. That means we aren't going to cover every game, or every important play. We watch the games that we, as fans, are interested in watching, so your favorite team's game might not be covered to your fullest desires or even at all. (If you are a Seahawks or Patriots fan, you are probably in luck; if you are a Lions fan, not so much.) We have no intention of adding new authors solely to cover every game on a given Sunday, nor will we watch a different game from the ones that we're personally interested in watching just to ensure that Audibles covers every game.
Pittsburgh Steelers 22 at Cleveland Browns 24
Bryan Knowles: A bit of an odd scheduling decision from the NFL this week. The only thing that will definitely get decided in the early window is the race for the second seed in the AFC, with both the Bills and Steelers getting their games out of the way early. Of course, without a bye week on tap, that's not a particularly meaningful matchup. You could make an argument that the No. 2 seed still matters in the NFC this year, guaranteeing you miss Tom Brady and the Bucs, but in the AFC, it's all much of a muchness.
The Steelers are resting their starters; it looks like Josh Allen and company are going to at least start against Miami. I think I wouldn't let Josh Allen or Ben Roethlisberger anywhere near the field, considering the specific situation.
Bryan Knowles: The Steelers backups (the Ironers?) picked up a first down but fizzled out, having to punt away to the Browns. Still, they had pinned Cleveland inside their own 20, so there are worse outcomes, right?
Well, enter Nick Chubb. A few plays into the drive, Chubb unleashes a 47-yard touchdown run to give them the lead, vaulting them over the Dolphins and into the No. 6 seed at the moment. Cleveland wins and they're in; they're probably ecstatic that the Steelers are opting to rest.
Rivers McCown: The Chubb run was outstanding and showed off his upper-level vision -- he stuttered Minkah Fitzpatrick out of position near the sideline after he got past his blockers, and ran right past him back to the field after the setup.
Scott Spratt: I was getting excited when the Browns left their offense on the field for a fourth-and-4 from their 30-yard line. But turns out they were just hard-counting and trying to get the Steelers to jump offsides -- which they didn't.
Bryan Knowles: A third field goal brings this to a 10-9 Browns lead. Cleveland has just 14 yards on their last three drives, ending in a pair of punts and the end of the first half. I think the Steel Reserves will have to find the end zone at some point if they want to win this one, but the Browns aren't really taking care of business, either -- and if they lose, the Dolphins will slip back into the playoffs, regardless of whether or not Tua Tagovailoa can bring them back against the Bills.
Bryan Knowles: Cleveland responds with their longest drive since the first quarter -- and probably their best, considering most of that first drive was just one huge Nick Chubb run. The big play on this drive was a run as well, but it was a Baker Mayfield scramble, which is not generally something you expect to see. That picked up 30 yards, got the Browns into the red zone, and led to an Austin Hooper touchdown and a 17-9 Browns lead. Game's far from over, but the Browns needed that.
Bryan Knowles: On the Steelers' ensuing drive, Mason Rudolph throws a back-breaking interception to M.J. Stewart. That gave the Browns the ball in the red zone, and Jarvis Landry rushes the ball in to give the Browns what appears to be an unassailable 24-9 lead.
Combined with the Ravens win and the Dolphins loss, that would lock the Browns into the sixth seed. And the Steelers into the third seed. Rematch next week, anyone?
Bryan Knowles: I'd LOVE to see the numbers on this. Up eight points, the Browns faced fourth-and-7 from the Pittsburgh 35 -- a 53-yard field goal to go up two scores with 3:41 left in the game. Instead, they decided to go for it and failed, and now Pittsburgh has the ball...
Aaron Schatz: Bryan, EdjSports' model preferred a field goal by a slim 0.2% GWC.
Bryan Knowles: Oh, Pittsburgh gets the ball back, and DOES get the touchdown, but both the two-point conversion and onside kick fall short, so Cleveland clings to a two-point lead; a first down will end it.
Vince Verhei: Steelers try an onside kick down 24-22. Ball bounces right to Carlson for Cleveland, and he just has to sit on it ... and he nearly screws it up! It is ruled that the Browns recover the ball in the pileup, but that was very close to an all-time Browns moment. Steelers still have three timeouts so this isn't over-over yet.
Scott Spratt: Stephen Carlson was my first guess as to who would lead the Browns hands team. Not sure what you were thinking there, Vince.
Vince Verhei: I was thinking "I have no idea who Carlson is, I'll look up his first name later."
Dallas Cowboys 19 at New York Giants 23
Vince Verhei: I'm watching the potential NFC East silver medal game here in hopes that the Giants will somehow make the playoffs, so the Seahawks can somehow avenge their most embarrassing loss of the year. (All of this is a long shot, but I need some rooting interest here.) So far, so good: Giants take the opening kickoff and march 76 yards in only six plays. Four of those plays picked up first downs, the last a touchdown on a Sterling Shepard end around. Note that the Cowboys are so badly fooled on this play that the Giants have offensive linemen running downfield trying and failing to find someone to block.
The @Giants start hot.
Sterling Shepard runs for the 23-yard TD! #TogetherBlue
-- NFL (@NFL) January 3, 2021
Vince Verhei: Giants lead 6-3 at the end of the first quarter as the offenses have gone cold since New York's opening possession. The Dallas points came on a six-play, 7-yard drive (not a typo) after they recovered a botched handoff between Daniel Jones and Wayne Gallman. The Cowboys have run three plays on third down: two sacks and a dropped interception. They also had a third-down interception wiped out on a defensive penalty. Ezekiel Elliott has gone to the sidelines favoring his thigh, but it looks minor.
Aaron Schatz: Dallas defense clearly a little overhyper. Have already gotten a couple of unnecessary roughness penalties.
Bryan Knowles: I had the Giants winning this game. I did NOT have the Cowboys coming out as flat as they have; that really surprises me. They're under 100 yards of offense in the half; they might slide just over in the last 15 seconds here, but this has been a putrid offensive performance. I guess telling Andy Dalton this was essentially a playoff game didn't pay dividends.
The Giants have 7.5 yards per play to Dallas' 3.2, but that's slightly flattering to New York; the big difference is that they've hit their big plays and the Cowboys just haven't. Dante Pettis just caught a 33-yard pass for a score, and if you had told me that Dante Pettis would be relevant to the playoff picture in Week 17 of 2020, I would never have believed you.
The game's not quite over, with the Giants holding on to a 20-9 lead at halftime, but you can see over from here.
Aaron Schatz: Notable players of the first half include the Giants' depth cornerbacks past James Bradberry who are doing an excellent job covering the Cowboys receivers. Michael Gallup, CeeDee Lamb, and Amari Cooper have combined for five catches, 53 yards. Daniel Jones underthrew a deep shot to Darius Slayton at one point but had plenty of arm zip finding 49ers refugee Dante Pettis in the end zone near the end of the second quarter. Cowboys do get into field goal range right before the half so we are at 20-9 Giants.
Vince Verhei: Daniel Jones throws two touchdowns in the second quarter, a short one to Shepard and a long one to Dante Pettis, who I did not realize was even on New York's roster until he was in the end zone. The Cowboys are very lucky this is even 20-9, because it doesn't feel even that close. Dallas is scratching and clawing just to get field goals. Their first came after a turnover; their second after a give-up draw on third-and-long (pretty conservative for a team that was down 13-3 at the time); and their third after they got the ball back with 45 seconds and three timeouts left and still settled for a 57-yard kick at the gun. The Giants haven't converted a third down yet, but it hasn't mattered because they've been so effective on first and second down -- they have 16 first downs and they're averaging 7.5 yards per play.
Should add that Elliott has been moving in and out of the lineup, but he has been quiet -- 27 rushing yards at the half, plus one catch for 9 yards.
Vince Verhei: Game's not over yet -- Evan Engram tips a Jones pass into the air for an interception. CeeDee Lamb gets a 21-yard catch-and-run down the sideline. Amari Cooper's apparent touchdown is replay-reviewed and ruled down at the 1, but no matter -- Elliott plunges in from there and it's a 20-16 game.
Aaron Schatz: Andy Dalton hurt his left hand. It's not his throwing hand but he just handed off to Ezekiel Elliott on a right-side run with his right hand instead of his left because he's hurt.
Aaron Schatz: Giants cornerbacks are covering the Cowboys receivers well enough to get coverage sacks. Giants have five sacks now, pretty much all coverage, including two straight third downs that ended drives.
Aaron Schatz: Dante Pettis just trapped the ball in a 10-yard "catch" on third-and-16. The Cowboys did not challenge so the Giants were able to get a 50-yard field goal to make this 23-19. A challenge probably overturns that and forces a fourth-and-16 punt instead of trying a 60-yard field goal.
Bryan Knowles: Considering Cody Parkey has not attempted a field goal longer than 50 yards this season, that's close enough that the specific identity of the kicker is probably enough to swing the decision.
Vince Verhei: Fourth-and-2 at the Giants 34, Dalton fakes a handoff and dashes for 11 yards. Cowboys now have a third-and-1 at the 14 at the two-minute warning, down 23-19.
Aaron Schatz: After another coverage sack, Andy Dalton just launched it to the end zone with Leonard Williams in his face, and rookie Xavier McKinney picks off a wounded duck. Giants have a 23-19 lead with 1:15 left although Dallas does have all three timeouts remaining.
Bryan Knowles: Oh my, Dallas absolutely imploded inside the 10-yard line. Sack for 10-yard loss, drop, interception in the end zone, see ya.
Vince Verhei: The Cowboys got a first-and-goal, but on first down, Leonard Williams was unblocked for the sack; on second down, Lamb dropped a wide-open pass in the middle of the field; and on third down, Williams pressured Dalton again, and Dalton threw a rainbow into the end zone for an easy interception for Xavier McKinney. Cowboys still have three timeouts, so this isn't over yet.
Bryan Knowles: ...Wayne Gallman gets the game-ending first down, but he FUMBLES. They're saying the Giants recovered, but THAT'S gotta be reviewed.
Vince Verhei: OH GOOD GRAVY. Wayne Gallman runs for a first down on second-and-5 and if he goes down it's a Giants win, but the ball comes free and Dallas gets it!
But after discussion, it is ruled that Gallman recovered the ball on the ground and he was down by contact. This is going to be reviewed and the season for both teams hangs in the balance.
This certainly has been a loser-out 2021 NFC East game.
Scott Spratt: I'm not sure what this tweet says, but probably something like "as long as Wayne Gallman doesn't drop this ball for no reason, the Giants are going to win this game."
-- NFL Brasil (@NFLBrasil) January 3, 2021
Dave Bernreuther: Dalton's extremely ill-advised heave to the end zone -- while rolling left and without much command at all -- leads to a third-down interception that makes me and my (Dallas fan) company wonder much more loudly: why didn't Dallas go for two when they scored to make it 20-16 near the end of the third quarter? If they had, Dalton probably just eats it or tosses that one out of bounds, and it's an easy field goal to tie.
Bryan Knowles: The replay makes the call on the field of Gallman recovering look better than it did in live action. Man, is Gallman lucky; he would have been destroyed forever had the Cowboys recovered the ball and went on to win the game.
Baltimore Ravens 38 at Cincinnati Bengals 3
Bryan Knowles: A win gets the Ravens into the playoffs, but it still isn't decided whether that would give them the fifth seed or the sixth seed -- they can also sneak in with losses elsewhere, but it's always nice to punch your own ticket.
A Devin Duvernay run gets the Ravens into the red zone, but they're held to a field goal when all is said and done. Still, with a 3-0 lead, that's enough to vault the Ravens over the Dolphins here in the early going and into the No. 5 seed. And we'll see how long they can hold that.
Bryan Knowles: I would not want to play the Ravens in the postseason; they seem to be firing on all cylinders, and at just the right time. I get it's against Cincinnati, but Baltimore is looking very, very good so far. There are four minutes left in the first half, and the Bengals have run 10 plays. That is not an ideal number of plays.
If you pencil in the current 17-0 lead as a Ravens win -- and I think that's more than fair at this point -- that gets Baltimore into the postseason as the fifth or sixth seed, depending on what happens in Miami/Buffalo. One playoff berth down, it appears...
Rivers McCown: I wouldn't necessarily call myself "surprised" if the Ravens went on a postseason run but their last five games were against the Jaguars, Giants, Cowboys, Browns, and Bengals. The Browns are probably a more game team than DVOA portends on the surface for a few reasons, but that's five teams under 21st in DVOA. I'm skeptical that the run means a lot given that they're a team built to bully with positive game scripts.
Scott Spratt: You are right, Rivers, that their recent opponents have not been world-beaters. But I think it's fair to look at the Ravens as the best statistical team in football for the last two years that had an out-of-character three-week slump this year that was caused largely by their COVID absences.
Rivers McCown: I agree that the Ravens are a very strong team, which is why I said it wouldn't surprise me if they went on a run.
At the same time, unless they jump out to a bunch of 10-0 leads, I think they've proven that they have problems throwing from a negative game script. So just because they're passing well the last five games against bad teams doesn't exactly get me any more excited about them as some kind of sleeping juggernaut.
Miami Dolphins 26 at Buffalo Bills 56
Scott Spratt: Josh Allen is starting this game, possibly motivated by his proximity to setting the Bills' single-season passing yards record. But Byron Jones doesn't need a backup quarterback to make a fantastic interception. Watch the footwork to secure this catch in bounds after he tipped it to himself.
What a pick by Byron Jones pic.twitter.com/SXYY1GUO8z
-- Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) January 3, 2021
Bryan Knowles: I do not get why Josh Allen is in this game -- he has already taken a big sack. He'll be playing in a big game next week, take him out!
The Dolphins can't do much with the ensuing drive, and settle for a Jason Sanders field goal, which puts them back atop the AFC wild-card heap. If they win today, they're the No. 5 seed; their odds of doing so increases dramatically the second the Bills starters take the pine.
Scott Spratt: Woah, Bills punter Corey Bojorquez just punted the greatest coffin corner punt I've ever seen.
Buffalo Bills punter Corey Bojorquez with what might be the best punt I've ever seen pic.twitter.com/sHIndRHxZK
-- Preston Penn (@TheRealPres10) January 3, 2021
The Dolphins won't love starting at the 1-inch line with a bottom-10 run-blocking offensive line by adjusted line yards.
Vince Verhei: I'm so happy we got video of that punt. It was fantastic.
Scott Spratt: Allen just set the Bills passing yards record, but he's still in the game. I'm not sure if the plan is to let him finish the drive or the quarter like would happen in a preseason game back in the day, whether they want to target the Colts I guess as a playoffs matchup, or whether they just want to knock the division-rival Dolphins out of the postseason.
Bryan Knowles: That great Bills punt ends up with them getting the ball back at midfield, winning the field position game. As you say, Scott, Allen is still in the game, and he leads the Bills right down the field for the score and the lead. That, at the moment, would knock the Dolphins out of the playoffs entirely, with the Ravens, Browns, and Colts all sliding up a seed into the wild-card positions. I'm surprised the Dolphins didn't stop the game to congratulate Allen on breaking the Bills' passing record, and then carry him off the locker room. You know, in celebration.
Scott Spratt: Did anyone else just see Stefon Diggs flossing on the sidelines? He had a seriously advanced technique where he was hitting two gaps at the same time. Best hands in football?
-- Courtney Theriault (@cspotweet) January 3, 2021
Bryan Knowles: Before I clicked the link, Scott, I assumed you were talking about the dance. The reality might be weirder.
Scott Spratt: Haha, and I didn't know that was the name of a dance! I'm learning all kinds of things in this game.
Scott Spratt: Well, Matt Barkley had his helmet on ready to go in for Josh Allen. But I guess he can wait until the second half since Isaiah McKenzie just returned a punt for a touchdown, his third total for the game. The Bills are up 21-3 now, and the Dolphins don't even have access to FitzMagic today.
Bryan Knowles: Buffalo's special teams might end Miami's playoff hopes all by themselves. Isaiah McKenzie just took a punt back to the house, and it's a 21-3 Bills lead.
The Miami offense does not seem to trust Tua Tagovialoa, and Ryan Fitzpatrick is unavailable today. I think the fish might well be cooked.
Aaron Schatz: At one point Miami was threatening to rank among the top special teams ever in DVOA history. Then four straight negative games Weeks 13 to 16. Then Isaiah McKenzie punt return touchdown today.
Bryan Knowles: For the record, even if they lose to Buffalo, the Dolphins will still earn a playoff berth if either Cleveland or Indianapolis loses. But it looks like they may be backing their way into the postseason, if that.
Scott Spratt: Wait, Josh Allen came back in? This is just mean-spirited.
Aaron Schatz: I don't understand the Buffalo strategy of sitting their best defensive starters while playing Josh Allen and their starting offense for the entire first half. But it has worked and it looks like the Dolphins are going to lose the AFC game of musical chairs with the score now 28-6 after a John Brown touchdown catch.
Scott Spratt: Tua looked like he might have some of his own FitzMagic when he started the second half with five straight completions to quickly get into the red zone. But the Dolphins landed on a fourth-and-goal from the 4-yard line. Fortunately, they went for it, and Josh Norman's defensive holding penalty gave the team a new first down that Myles Gaskin converted with a run. The Dolphins have cut their deficit to 28-13 early in the third quarter.
Scott Spratt: After watching the first Matt Barkley drive for the Bills, I'll say I think the Dolphins comeback bid is very much alive.
Bryan Knowles: And after watching the ensuing Tua Tagolaivoa drive for the Dolphins, I think I'll say that the Dolphins comeback bid is very much dead -- an immediate pick-six to Josh Norman on an ugly, ugly ball.
Scott Spratt: Oof, yeah. That's a comeback-ender. Although I think DeVante Parker caused that by falling down.
Wasn't Tua's fault because the WR fall down but a pick-6 by Josh Norma.pic.twitter.com/U0mxhMUweu
-- Pro Football Network (@PFN365) January 3, 2021
Atlanta Falcons 27 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 44
Bryan Knowles: Uh-oh. Mike Evans drops a touchdown pass and immediately goes to the ground holding his knee. He tried popping back up, but immediately went right back down. I know the Bucs are pretty full of receivers at the moment, but you don't want to lose Mike Evans just before the playoffs.
Bryan Knowles: Mike Evans did, in fact, end up carted off the field; that's something to monitor as we enter the playoffs.
Possible replacements for Evans include Scotty Miller and Antonio Brown. And, indeed, on the ensuing drive, both Miller and Brown were standing in basically the same spot in the end zone, both wide open. Brady just tossed it in their general direction; Brown came down with it to give the Bucs a 17-3 lead. This one's getting out of hand early for the Falcons.
Scott Spratt: I just saw the Mike Evans injury, ugh. Did they play the Outback Bowl in the Bucs' stadium just yesterday? That seems kind of crazy for turf-condition purposes.
Bryan Knowles: This game was on the verge of being over halfway through the second quarter with Tampa Bay taking a 20-3 lead and Atlanta floundering. Since then, however, Tampa Bay hasn't been able to find the end zone, and Matt Ryan is making a game of this -- Atlanta marched 75 yards down field on the first drive of the second half, Ryan hitting Russell Gage for a couple big plays, including a touchdown to cut the lead to 23-17. You'd still think Tampa Bay pulls this out, but if they don't, then the fifth seed is in jeopardy, and with it, the soft matchup against the NFC East champ. Brady and the Bucs have to get going.
Vince Verhei: I'm not watching this game, but I see that Atlanta just kicked a field goal on fourth-and-goal from the 3 while down by six points late in the third quarter, and I want to go on the record as saying BOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
Bryan Knowles: And now make it a 10-point deficit for Atlanta, Vince, as the Bucs march down the field and score again, making it 30-20, Buccaneers.
You don't pull off upsets by kicking field goals, Falcons! I mean, I suppose no team in the league knows more about losing winnable games than the Falcons this year, but still!
Carl Yedor: On the other hand, if you're Atlanta, those sorts of suboptimal in-game decisions likely give them a better shot at the No. 3 pick in the draft. The guys on the field obviously don't care, as Matt Ryan hits Hayden Hurst for a 1-yard touchdown on fourth-and-goal. That makes it 30-27, and Tampa Bay will have to continue to sweat this out.
Bryan Knowles: And, finally, the Buccaneers look to have put this one away. The fourth quarter so far has been two 75-yard touchdown drives, both of which featured one huge play (Brian Hill rushing for 62 yards for the Falcons; Brady hitting Chris Godwin for 47-yards for the Buccaneers). That means we're still at a 10-point Bucs lead, but there's only four minutes left now rather than 12. Advantage Tampa Bay, and it looks like they'll have the fifth seed locked up.
New Yorks Jets 14 at New England Patriots 28
Tom Gower: While this game is currently 7-7 at the half, a friend pointed out that with a Jets win today, The Inevitable Firing of Adam Gase has a chance to put him in exclusive company: that of NFL head coaches who won the final three games of their career. The prototypal example of this is, of course, the winner who goes out on top. In the Super Bowl era, the lone actual case of that is Bill Walsh (and even he went back and coached Stanford again afterward). Most coaches stick around and either retire after a playoff loss (like Tony Dungy) or have a down season. But even looking at the Super Bowl era, Walsh is not the only example. As far as I can tell, these are the current members of the group Gase is looking to join:
- Doc Alexander (1926 NYG)
- Ralph Jones (1932 CHI)
- Ray Flaherty (1942 NYG)
- Ed Hughes (1971 HOIL)
- George Allen (1977 WAS)
- Neill Armstrong (1981 CHI)
- Bill Walsh (1988 SF)
(Yes, this assumes Gase never gets a head job again. But not every twice-failed head coach gets a third chance!)
Scott Spratt: Wide receiver Jakobi Meyers is continuing his tryout to be the Patriots quarterback in 2021. If memory serves, this 19-yard touchdown was nearly identical to the one he threw a few weeks ago.
The #Patriots used converted QB, WR Jakobi Meyers as a passer and he finds Cam Newton for the touchdown.
Meyers has 2 TDs on 2 pass attempts this year, they went for 43 yards.pic.twitter.com/J8oHOtYwGy
-- Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) January 3, 2021
Bryan Knowles: That means Myers has two touchdown passes and zero touchdown receptions in his career. That has to be a unique statline for a receiver, unless you count Joe Webb.
Tom Gower: The Patriots win, 28-14. Adam Gase cannot ride into the sunset with a three-game winning streak. Alas.
Minnesota Vikings 37 at Detroit Lions 35
Scott Spratt: Tracy Walker just sacked Kirk Cousins on fourth down at the goal line and was penalized for some reason.
This was flagged for roughing the passer. Horrendous. pic.twitter.com/c1tA7j89Ao
-- Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) January 3, 2021
This game doesn't have playoff implications, but the win probability swing on that call has to be enormous.
Scott Spratt: The refs have become the story of this game after just overturning a Marvin Jones touchdown even though the ball never hit the ground. I'm completely baffled. It was called a touchdown on the field.
Marvin Jones TD Overturned pic.twitter.com/lp8EzQ1JmR
-- Main Team (@MainTeamSports) January 3, 2021
Green Bay Packers 35 at Chicago Bears 16
Scott Spratt: Cordarrelle Patterson is the greatest kickoff returner ever for his returning prowess. But he just showed his savvy by sliding out of bounds before he touched the Packers kickoff. Assuming they don't overrule this via challenge, the Bears are going to start this game from their 40-yard line.
Scott Spratt: I didn't remember the specifics of how Tavon Austin busted in the NFL. But after watching him fumble a kickoff return after minimal contact on a tackle, I'm thinking it may have been the fumbling. He had 22 career fumbles entering today in just 99 games. He doesn't even have 700 career touches (combined rushing, receiving, and returning).
Bryan Knowles: Aaron Rodgers is really good, but the Bears' defense isn't really making things hard for him so far. Rodgers is 10-for-10 for 155 yards and a trio of touchdowns, and he has open receivers basically wherever he's looking. I mean, no one should be this open.
-- NFL (@NFL) January 3, 2021
Scott Spratt: Did Roquan Smith end up leaving the game, Bryan? I saw him down and getting checked out earlier, but I haven't been locked into that game.
Bryan Knowles: He did, Scott. He's questionable to return, but hasn't come back yet.
Bryan Knowles: Matt Nagy has called for field goals of 27 and 30 yards against the Packers. The exact situations make each individual call somewhat justifiable -- this most recent one makes it a one-score game, for example -- but the Packers are still leading 21-16. At some point, when you get that deep into enemy territory, you have to go for the knockout. Fourth-and-goal from the 2 should be a go!
Arizona Cardinals 7 at Los Angeles Rams 18
Aaron Schatz: John Wolford just threw his first-ever NFL regular-season attempt directly to Jordan Hicks of the Cardinals. But quarterback Chris Streveler is coming in for Arizona because Kyler Murray was shaken up after a sack.
Bryan Knowles: CFL versus AAF action today, apparently! CFL takes the early lead, which would, as the scores currently stand, knock the Bears out of the playoffs. If Mitchell Trubisky can't beat out John Wolford or Chris Streveler...
Aaron Schatz: Well, Mitchell Trubisky isn't facing Wolford or Streveler today. He's facing the Packers. That's not fair to him at all.
Bryan Knowles: You're right, of course, Aaron, though that's not how the media will cover it!
But, for the moment, all is calm in the windy city. A 14-play, 60-yard drive isn't the epitome of efficiency, but picking up two third downs and a fourth on your way to an opening touchdown ain't nothing. Bears take a 7-0 lead after eating up half the first quarter.
Scott Spratt: It didn't help Trubisky that Nick Foles saddled him with five losses in his seven starts.
Aaron Schatz: It's now 7-3 Arizona. The Rams made it downfield and got six shots at the end zone thanks to a DPI call on third-and-goal, but they also got not one, but two false starts to move them back. Ended up with a field goal. Drive showed the way John Wolford can do things that Jared Goff can't. He had runs of 13, 11, and 9 yards, two scrambles and a read-option.
Bryan Knowles: Crazy play at the goal line over here. First-and-goal at the 2, the Rams give the ball to Cam Akers. He's hit in the backfield and fumbles, and the Cardinals pick it up and are tackled in the end zone. At the moment, the ruling on the field is that Akers' momentum was not stopped, so it's a fumble, and the Cardinals player who recovered it got out to the 1, so forward progress prevents the safety, but that's a bizarre sequence.
Aaron Schatz: The Rams end up getting the safety a couple of plays later on a holding penalty against Justin Pugh.
Bryan Knowles: When you get a backup-versus-backup showdown under center, the result often depends on which reserve passer makes the bigger mistake. Well, that goes to Streveler at the moment -- with the Cardinals in range for a long field goal and possibly more as the second quarter expired, Steveler throws a pick right to Troy Hill, who turns on the jets and returns it 84 yards for a score.
That makes it a 12-7 Rams lead at the half and, at least for the moment, would leave the Cardinals sitting at home in January.
-- NFL (@NFL) January 3, 2021
Aaron Schatz: John Wolford is outdueling Chris Streveler right now in Los Angeles. Streveler threw a near-pick-six that Jalen Ramsey dropped and then followed it up with an actual pick-six that Troy Hill snagged, scoring by winding through the Cardinals offensive players and finally outrunning some out-of-breath offensive linemen. It's 12-7, but the bigger gap is in yardage: 61 (2.5 per play) for Arizona and 189 (4.8 per play) for the Rams. The Cardinals only scored because Wolford gift-wrapped them a pick on his first pass and they got the ball in the red zone and didn't have to go far. One surprise, with two inexperienced, mobile quarterbacks: each team has only one sack so far. There has been a good amount of pressure but the quarterbacks are getting rid of the ball or taking off to run.
Aaron Schatz: You can see the difference between the playcallers in this game, I think, not just the difference between the backup quarterbacks. There have been a couple of big third downs now where Wolford is finding a tight end wide open in the space in Cover-2 on good play calls by Sean McVay.
Bryan Knowles: To be fair, McVay has had the whole week to plan for Wolford; Kingsbury thought he'd have Murray today. But yeah, nothing is coming easy for Streveler; nothing's really being schemed up for him.
Bryan Knowles: Drama in Los Angeles, as Kyler Murray is coming limping off the bench to try to spark an Arizona comeback. Woah.
Aaron Schatz: I wonder why the Cardinals called a zone read given Murray's ankle, and I wonder why Murray kept it. That seemed like an unnecessary invitation to get another Aaron Donald shot at their injured quarterback.
Aaron Schatz: Murray moves the Cardinals down the field by finding open guys that Streveler just couldn't find. But he stalls at the goal line, moving backwards with an ill-advised read-option followed by a sack. Arizona tries the field goal to make it a one-score game but the Rams block it! So it's still 18-7 Rams.
Scott Spratt: For all you NFC West watchers, is it possible that John Wolford is better than Jared Goff? Wolford avoids some of Goff's driving-killing sacks with his mobility, and Goff is close to neutral in passing DVOA the last two seasons.
Vince Verhei: Scott, I don't know if Wolford is better than Gofford or not, but I highly doubt it. That said, coming into today, I thought the most entertaining possible outcome for this Rams season was Wolford leading the Rams to a playoff win, leading to an offseason of Goff-vs.-Wolford debate. Now that I know the Rams are playing the Seahawks in the first round, I find that idea much less entertaining.
Seattle Seahawks 26 at San Francisco 49ers 23
Vince Verhei: One of Jonathan Vilma's keys to this game for San Francisco was -- I am not making this up -- "Beathard outplays Russell." I mean, I agree, if C.J. Beathard outplays Russell Wilson, they will win. But if they're relying on that to happen, well, I don't like their odds.
Scott Spratt: You could have talked me into Jeff Wilson out-playing Russell Wilson. Not so much C.J. Beathard.
Carl Yedor: This game kicks off in Arizona while the Cardinals are in Los Angeles due to the situation in Santa Clara County, where Levi's Stadium is located. The stadium aesthetic is, to put it bluntly, weird with how quickly they had to get things set up after the Fiesta Bowl (beyond the lack of fans). There is 49ers signage surrounding the field, but that's about as close to a normal home game vibe as it gets. The logos from the Fiesta Bowl sponsors are still pretty visible, and the end zones are just blocks of red covering up the college team names.
Seattle gets one first down on its opening drive but get no further before having to punt. San Francisco can't even manage that, as Kyle Juszczyk gets stuffed on third-and-short.
Bryan Knowles: Carl, you're 100% right that the end zones look awful. I know they weren't expecting an NFL game here the day after a bowl game, but still. Eef.
That has been the most interesting thing about this game so far -- one big Chris Carson catch-and-run is about all we've had offensively so far, as the game opened punt-punt-punt-punt. The Seahawks broke that pattern with a field goal at the end of the first quarter, and have a 3-0 lead -- which, as the Packers haven't scored yet and the Panthers just tied the game back up with the Saints, would give Russell Wilson and company the NFC bye week as things currently stand.
Vince Verhei: Still 3-0 here at the end of one. This isn't quite as ugly as last week's Seahawks-Rams game -- Seattle had a pretty good drive going before it stalled in the red zone -- but it's another defensive slugfest. Beathard is not outplaying Wilson so far -- the 49ers have had three drives, all punts, with one first down and 29 total yards.
Carl Yedor: Seattle gets on the board first with a Jason Myers field goal. A checkdown in the face of pressure to Chris Carson provided the big chunk on that drive. San Francisco appears to be making a concerted effort to bring extra guys to heat up Wilson on passing downs, and Seattle looks to be incorporating Rashaad Penny a healthy amount early with Carlos Hyde unavailable. The Seahawks coaches are definitely excited to have Penny back, and depending on how he looks this week and during the playoffs, it could potentially alter their approach to how they handle Chris Carson's impending free agency. 2020 has been a mostly lost season for Penny because of his recovery from a torn ACL sustained last year, but it's possible he provides a spark this month. This sort of conversation is DEFINITELY not what you want to be discussing in regard to a former first-round pick at the end of his third season, but it is the world in which we live.
Carl Yedor: A couple of milestones on Seattle's next field goal drive. DK Metcalf breaks Steve Largent's single-season team record for receiving yards in a season, and five plays later, Tyler Lockett breaks a record jointly held by Doug Baldwin and Bobby Engram for the most receptions in franchise history. Seattle has made a concerted effort to get Lockett involved today, as his seven catches are his most in a game since Week 11. It's unclear whether he has been dealing with some sort of nagging injury lately, but he hasn't exceeded 70 yards in a game since his 200-yarder against the Cardinals in prime time.
The defense has been holding up its end of the bargain today, forcing another three-and-out. Jonathan Vilma compared them to the 2013 unit on the broadcast, which requires a bit of pumping the brakes, but they have definitely been playing much better as of late. After giving up record-setting numbers early in the year, they're up to 16th overall in defensive DVOA. With how poorly they started the season, that's definitely an accomplishment.
Vince Verhei: Seahawks lead 6-3 at halftime and it's barely more exciting than that sounds. San Francisco has 95 yards of offense -- 45 of them on one deep Richie James catch. They only have three first downs all day. They're actually outgaining Seattle in yards per play, 4.0 to 3.3, though of course that's skewed by the James catch. Seahawks have been content to get Lockett and Metcalf their records and don't seem eager to do much else. With the Packers and Saints leading, this game is starting to look meaningless, and I am pondering my first Sunday nap since August.
Bryan Knowles: The Seattle offense is really laying an egg today -- just 3.1 yards per play and a significant lack of explosiveness. I think we're watching the next Lions head coach in Robert Saleh; he has really had to stand on his head to produce a very good defensive unit despite all the injuries San Francisco has suffered this year.
Vince Verhei: Niners go up 9-6, sandwiching a pair of field goal drives around a Seahawks three-and-out. Yes, I'd be surprised if Saleh was not a head coach somewhere next year.
Bryan Knowles: Odell Kittle Jr. (OK, maybe a slight exaggeration, but man, I missed Kittle being healthy this year):
KITTLE!!!! CATCH OF THE YEAR!!! pic.twitter.com/M5KGaTT2wf
-- Willie Phistergash (@Phistergash) January 3, 2021
Vince Verhei: Following yet another Seattle three-and-out, the 49ers drive 73 yards in 11 plays for a touchdown that makes it 16-6. Biggest play was Beathard hitting Kendrick Bourne for a conversion on fourth-and-3, then Jeff Wilson running in the score. With the Saints pouring it on against Carolina, the Seahawks don't have much to gain today and they may as well pull their starters. But no, Russell Wilson and company are still out there following the kickoff.
Carl Yedor: I'm not sure if Seattle is intentionally saving plays designed to beat the types of soft, two-high/quarters coverages they have been seeing late in the year for the playoffs or if their offensive philosophy is simply that they are going to run the ball against those looks on early downs, but that type of approach has had a negative effect on the offense for most of the second half of the season. They have played some tough defenses lately (five of their last eight have come against teams in the top 10 in defensive DVOA), but they also had a real stinker against the Giants where they managed 10 offensive points. Now down 16-6, they're going to have to open things up if they want to try to come back, though they may not have much to play for.
Aaron Schatz: It's actually an interesting question how hard the Seahawks should try. Are they satisfied with the 3 seed, or do they want to kick the Packers down to the 3 seed ... they would give the Saints home-field advantage but keep themselves from having to play outdoors at Lambeau in January, theoretically in the second round.
Carl Yedor: Definitely a good point, Aaron. I'm not sure who Seattle matches up better against between Green Bay and New Orleans. Additionally, if Seattle were to get up to the 2 seed, they would avoid having to play the Rams defense again. Yes, they managed to beat the Rams last week, but Los Angeles has the best pass defense among Seattle's potential opponents for next week.
Vince Verhei: So the Seahawks didn't get the help they need, they're still losing today anyway, and now they've got injury concerns. Jarran Reed out with an abdominal injury, Jamal Adams left after taking a shot to the shoulder, and now Rashaad Penny has limped off.
Bryan Knowles: This is vintage Seahawks offense -- that being coming alive only in the fourth quarter. Seattle had 95 yards through the first three quarters, but just put together touchdown drives of 75 and 85 yards, scoring on fourth down on their last attempt to take a 19-16 lead with 2:20 left in the game.
How many times have we seen this script before?
Vince Verhei: Just wrapping up the final 15 minutes here: Lockett got to 100 catches on the year and put Seattle ahead with a pair of touchdowns; Benson Mayowa strip-sacked Beathard to set Seattle up in the red zone; Alex Collins (signed off the practice squad yesterday) runs in a touchdown; 49ers get a garbage-time touchdown on a pass to Jeff Wilson, but fail to recover the onside kick; and the Seahawks inexplicably run a SHOVeLL pass to David Moore before kneeling out the clock. Final result will look better than they did for most of the day. Now all eyes turn to Jamal Adams and his status for next week. Could be a big deal for Seattle whether their playoff game next week is on Saturday or Sunday.
Jacksonville Jaguars 14 at Indianapolis Colts 28
Bryan Knowles: You have to like the Colts' odds to make the playoffs now; "just beat the Jaguars" seems like a fairly favorable draw in a must-win game. They take an early lead on a T.Y. Hilton touchdown for the 7-0 lead -- and, technically, the lead in the AFC South title, as Tennessee has yet to take a lead over Houston. Colts fans are huge Deshaun Watson fans today.
Bryan Knowles: Alright, here's an interesting dilemma for Colts fans (if not the Colts themselves). Indianapolis is easily handling the Jaguars; it's 17-0 and Jacksonville is averaging less than 3 yards per play. Do you switch off the Colts game and watch Titans-Texans? I mean, you're in the playoffs either way with a win here, but with this one basically a foregone conclusion, maybe you want to spend more of your day hoping Tennessee struggles.
Scott Spratt: Philip Rivers' gunslinger mentality is keeping the Dolphins' playoff hopes alive! He just dramatically underthrew T.Y. Hilton for an interception on a drive that looked likely to end in points for the Colts.
#Colts QB: Philip Rivers underthrows T.Y. Hilton.
Ends with a Interception. pic.twitter.com/dMSl5Eifah
-- Lawrence Owen NFL (@Colts_Law) January 3, 2021
The Jags open the fourth quarter with the ball and an opportunity to take a lead with seven points.
Tennessee Titans 41 at Houston Texans 38
Bryan Knowles: Deshaun Watson just threw his seventh interception of the year; Amani Hooker undercutting the curl route and setting up a Titans field goal. Even with that pick, though, Watson can still set a career-low for interceptions; he had eight as a rookie in only six starts.
Bryan Knowles: I'm going to say "backup quarterback as the personal protector" should be a big sign that a fake punt is in the offing. Titans missed it.
Texans fake punt with A.J. McCarron as a punt protector pic.twitter.com/vhgCrYMb4z
-- Rivers McCown (@riversmccown) January 3, 2021
Tom Gower: Titans lead 17-9 at the half. Tennessee's pass rush has gotten to Deshaun Watson a couple of times, leading to one of Houston's three field goal attempts. Another featured a David Johnson missed catch for a score; the third featured a Brandin Cooks near-touchdown, where replay failed to overturn what Gene Steratore charitably described as, paraphrased, "the close ref had the best view of it, so you shouldn't be surprised they didn't overturn the call of incomplete" just because there seemed like there might be a smidgen of grass between Cooks' (white) shoe and the sideline chalk.
Fortunately for the Titans' chances of winning the division, the other side of the ball features Tennessee's offense against the Houston Texans defense. A Derrick Henry negative run on second-and-10 (a multi-OC Titans love) and false start killed one drive and a drop by a wide-open Corey Davis forced them to settle for the field goal after the aforementioned Hooker interception, but the other two drives were chunks of yards ending in six points, kind of my baseline expectation for the matchup.
Vince Verhei: It's annoying to watch Titans-Texans games because I can never tell if the long Derrick Henry touchdown run I'm watching is live, a replay from earlier today, or a replay from a prior game.
Bryan Knowles: Henry needs just 94 more yards to hit 2,000. I know what I'm rooting for the rest of the way.
Bryan Knowles: Another fourth-down decision that'll get debated all week, depending on what happens here. The Titans faced a fourth-and-11, up three points, from the Houston 37. Rather than attempt the long field goal, they went for it -- and Ryan Tannehill got sacked 11 yards behind the line, meaning the Texans started with the ball just on their own side of the 50. From there, it doesn't take long for Watson to drive the Texans downfield (helped by an unnecessary roughness call), and all of a sudden, the Texans are back on top, 35-31, and the Colts are in first place in the division.
Scott Spratt: As Deshaun Watson takes the lead on a touchdown pass to Pharaoh Brown, I have to wonder if Bill O'Brien had one thing right: Watson can make it work with absolutely anybody at receiver.
Aaron Schatz: I wonder if the Titans went for it on that fourth-and-11 because their kicker is on the COVID list and they're using a backup kicker.
Scott Spratt: Derrick Henry did get to 2,000 rushing yards this year. DH2K.
Aaron Schatz: Ryan Tannehill threw a dropped pick in the end zone but Tyrell Adams of Houston couldn't hold onto it. Next play, read-option, Tannehill saunters into the end zone all by himself to take a 38-35 lead.
Tanny Touchdown Dots
-- Seth Walder (@SethWalder) January 4, 2021
Looks like the Titans will win the AFC South.
Aaron Schatz: Did I say the Titans would win the AFC South? Uh, that's still up in the air. Deshaun Watson gets a big YAC pass to David Johnson then finds Keke Coutee on the sideline for 29 yards to put Houston into field goal range. They stall from there but Ka'imi Fairbairn hits a 51-yarder and it looks like we're going to overtime at 38-38.
Aaron Schatz: Oh, I'm sorry, did I say we're going to overtime? Somehow the Texans let A.J. Brown get way past the deep safety when the safety jumps a shorter crossing route and the Titans somehow get 54 yards with 18 seconds left and now they're in field goal range.
They turned A.J. Brown loose. What. pic.twitter.com/7mPP2afWUv
-- Rivers McCown (@riversmccown) January 4, 2021
Aaron Schatz: The backup kicker Sam Sloman hit the field goal! The 37-yarder doinked off the right upright and bounced through and the Titans win the division. Crazy ending.
Bryan Knowles: Doink! And through! Extra style points to win the division!
Scott Spratt: Too bad the Titans won't draw the Browns next week. It could have been a doink-off between Sloman and Cody Parkey.
-- Billy Heyen (@BillyHeyen) January 4, 2021
Scott Spratt: I take it back. The Titans-Ravens rematch is way more fun.
Tom Gower: Mike Vrabel mentioned after the game that he didn't think 55 was within Sam Sloman's range. That was what I expected when he made the decision, and going with your best unit rather than punting and hoping your awful defense would stop Houston was a perfectly reasonable thing to do. As I tweeted at the time, the bad thing about that play was Tannehill taking an 11-yard sack, not the decision to leave the offense on the field.
What a crazy second half. The Titans were up 31-15 with less than five minutes to play in the third quarter, and the situation felt pretty comfortable. But the defense didn't do anything (of course), Henry fumbled on the first play, the defense didn't do anything on a short field, the fourth-down decision we've been discussing, the defense didn't do anything on a longer but still relatively short field, and the Texans had a 35-31 lead. Then the Titans converted four third downs and overcame two touchdowns called back due to penalty to take the lead, the Texans tied it with a field goal, and, shocking me, the Titans elected to let Ryan Tannehill actually try after they got the ball with just 18 seconds left in regulation. It's the perfect time to fake-try with a handoff to Derrick Henry, who'd had the expected monster day. But Tannehill got to throw one up to A.J. Brown, who had played play a huge role on the previous touchdown drive, displaying his strong hands in contested-catch situations, and they managed to scheme up single coverage putting Brown and Corey Davis to the same side as the Texans went with quarters coverage. Sam Sloman's kick drifted right, but hit the upright favorably and banked in.
I'm not going to do the research tonight, and probably not even at all, but you don't see many games where a team scores on eight consecutive possessions, as Houston did the last eight times they had the ball, and loses. That we're not surprised about the relative success of both offenses against both defenses says a fair amount about both teams. Right now, one team's season is over and I'm just happy the one I root for gets to play next week, at home.
Rivers McCown: Here is my final recap of the season. I now hate football, though I might love it again in a few weeks. I'll get back to you.
New Orleans Saints 33 at Carolina Panthers 7
Scott Spratt: The Panthers answered the Saints' opening score with a Rodney Smith one on the goal line. But on the previous play, Teddy Bridgewater took a shot on his surgically repaired leg on a scramble that set the team up on the 1-yard line. I don't think the injury is serious, but it's possible that P.J. Walker makes an appearance today.
Scott Spratt: Teddy Bridgewater has thrown two interceptions in the end zone today, and by my count, the Panthers have thrown six interceptions in the red zone this season. That latter number leads the NFL and explains at least a chunk of the Panthers going 3-8 in single-score games this year. The silver lining is that a loss here would put the Panthers in a good spot to potentially land one of the big four college quarterbacks in the 2021 draft.
Bryan Knowles: And, indeed, here comes P.J. Walker. That'd be a Bridgewater benching, and just raises the odds Carolina goes quarterback in the draft.
Bryan Knowles: Hilarious moment in the Saints/Panthers game. Emmanuel Sanders came into today eight receptions short of an incentive in his contract, one that would give him $500,000.
Well, he was apparently keeping track, because after catching his eighth pass, he had a little mini-celebration on the field. Good for him!
Washington Football Team 20 at Philadelphia Eagles 14
Scott Spratt: The Eagles tipped their hands to their interest in winning this game in sitting Dallas Goedert, DeSean Jackson, Miles Sanders, and other key starters. But Giants fans still must be lamenting Washington's quick start to this one. That started with a 15-play, 91-yard drive that Alex Smith capped with a touchdown pass to Terry McLaurin. And Washington quickly returned to the brink of the red zone and connected on a field goal after safety Kamren Curl intercepted a pass that Zach Ertz never even saw as he fought for position in heavy traffic. Washington is up 10-0 with about two minutes left in the first quarter.
Tom Gower: The thing about Washington's opening drive is that we have seen how their offense works -- Alex Smith throws short, shorter, and shortest. We even named a stat after him because of it! My quibbles with the stat aside, it's a known strategy for how they play. And yet, they converted multiple third downs short of the sticks with yards after catch, a couple of them with minimal contest by the Eagles defenders. I know, Philadelphia's sitting a bunch of guys and the back seven wasn't great even at its best, but that's performance art by Jim Schwartz.
Scott Spratt: Trying to trick Chase Young with a zone read or RPO play may not be the right approach. I don't think there's anything Jalen Hurts could have done on this play that wouldn't have resulted in a tackle for a loss.
Chase Young doesn't care for your read-option plays. He's just gonna blow up the mesh point pic.twitter.com/cYZ7ltzFh2
— Mark Bullock (@MarkBullockNFL) January 4, 2021
Bryan Knowles: Philly bringing back a little of that Super Bowl trick play spirit, letting Greg Ward throw a pass. The completion to Travis Fulgham was the Eagles' biggest play of the game so far, if you exclude Washington penalties. It does eventually lead to a touchdown, so we may have a game after all.
And Scott, that defensive line is terrifying. Having a team with a losing record in the postseason is suboptimal, but getting to see more of Chase Young and friends at least gives Washington a draw.
Bryan Knowles: Wait, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside is allowed to make a contested catch? That's news to me!
Philadelphia takes the lead after Hurts finds Arcega-Whiteside blanketed on third down; 'twas a hell of a catch. Hurts runs the ball in himself and it's 14-10 Giants -- err, Eagles. Same thing tonight.
Aaron Schatz: A little surprised by how much the pressure us getting to Alex Smith without Fletcher Cox or Derek Barnett around. The Eagles aren't blitzing either.
Scott Spratt: Marcus Epps just made a crazy interception. He caught the pass at the same time he crashed into J.D. McKissic, the intended target.
WHAT AN INT FROM MARCUS EPPS 🤯pic.twitter.com/TYSNWcPFRx
— The Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) January 4, 2021
That sets the Eagles up with a short field where a touchdown would regain them a lead late in the third quarter. The Eagles may be resting players, but they could definitely win this and put the Giants in the playoffs.
Aaron Schatz: Eagles pass up the field goal to go for fourth-and-goal, but in that whole red zone appearance Hurts just couldn't find anyone open and the fourth down was no different. He ended up running around and then short-hopping a receiver who was covered anyway, and Washington will get the ball back.
Bryan Knowles: Joe Judge said, before the game, that the Giants would "let Sunday night take care of itself." I assume the alternative would have been to wrestle the playsheet away from Doug Pederson and call the game-tying field goal there!
Aaron Schatz: I take it back. The receiver he short-hopped was open, as shown on replay. Hurts just made a bad throw under pressure.
Bryan Knowles: ... Nate Sudfeld is coming in? For ... what reason?
Aaron Schatz: Let the record state that the EdjSports model favored going for it on the fourth-and-4 by 2%, although that's small enough to probably consider it a toss-up decision.
Washington gets about 30 yards, then has to punt. And Nate Sudfeld is coming into the game for the Eagles to replace Hurts.
Scott Spratt: What's the motivation for bringing in Nate Sudfeld? Isn't Jalen Hurts the quarterback the Eagles need to evaluate for the future?
Bryan Knowles: I guess there's an argument for getting some film on Sudfeld in case you want to bring him back as QB3 in 2021, but, I mean, they re-signed him this year without the need for extra film, so I don't even know.
Rivers McCown: I love when the NFL tries to engineer this schedule so, so tightly so the final game matters and then the teams involved decide that Nate Sudfeld should play.
Bryan Knowles: Rivers, I think this is the absolute perfect send-off to this year's NFC East. I commend both teams for living up to their reputation, and present them with the proper soundtrack to their performance.
Aaron Schatz: This is just hilarious. I don't know what's funnier, Nate Sudfeld's fumble or the Eagles jumping offsides on the hard count when Washington had fourth-and-1 to ice the game.
Vince Verhei: There could be no more appropriate way for the 2021 NFC East to be decided than on the stupid fake hard count stuff that never works.