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Ten Thoughts on the NFL

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NFL: New England Patriots at Cleveland Browns Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

1) Did anyone expect the Detroit Lions to pull out a win on Sunday Night Football in their NFC North championship game against the Green Bay Packers. It was a close game, but Aaron Rodgers is a playoff tested leader that has his team on a serious roll, and the Lions have been squeaking by all season long.

In his last 7 games, Rodgers has thrown for 2,018 yards, while completing 69.7% of his passes, 18 touchdowns and zero interceptions, for a 120 passer rating. The Pack have won their last 6 games and they host the New York Giants on Sunday.

I’ll take Green Bay to win, 24-17.

2) The Lions loss meant a trip to Seattle to play the NFC West champion Seahawks on Saturday night. In the Seahawks last 7 games they’ve gone W, L, W, L, W, L and W, but winning in Seattle in the postseason is tough. Russell Wilson and the Seahawks are 7-3 in the playoffs the last 4 years.

My pick, Seattle 24, Detroit 13.

3) Saturday’s AFC Wildcard game has the Oakland Raiders traveling to play the Houston Texans. Both teams have QB issues, with the Raiders missing starter Derek Carr and possibly missing #2 Matt McGloin and the Texans will be forced to go back to Brock Osweiler after Tom Savage left with a concussion on Sunday.

Regardless on who starts at QB for either team (and it looks like Oakland rookie Connor Cook will be making his first ever start vs Houston’s Osweiler), I see a defensive struggle with the Raiders winning 16-13.

4) The early game on Sunday pits the wildcard Miami Dolphins and the AFC North champion Pittsburgh Steelers. The Stelers are just too explosive on offense to lose to the ‘Fins, so give me the Steelers in a rout, 33-10.

Miami head coach Adam Gase is hopeful that his starting QB, Ryan Tannehill, can make a return from his knee sprain, but it doesn’t sound like he’ll risk it if Tannehill isn’t 100% ready.

Gase said he needs to be comfortable with his quarterback’s mobility and the knee’s integrity before even considering putting Tannehill in a game.

“I need to know where he’s at,” Gase said. “I’m going to have to see him practice. I’m going to have to feel really good about this.”

Even if Tannehill suits up, I’m still going with the Steelers.

5) The Dallas Cowboys allowed quarterback Tony Romo to shake some rust off in their season finale, just in case they need him in the playoffs, and he looked pretty good on his lone drive of the game. He went 3 of 4 for 29 yards and a TD, so we should expect a ton of trade rumors this offseason surrounding QB needy teams.

6) Another QB that could be on the market is New England’s Jimmy Garoppolo. Reports have the Patriots seeking at least a 1st and a 4th rounder in trade, but I have to wonder... If the Pats are willing to move on from a 25 year old QB with starting QB Tom Brady less than a year from 40 years old, does that say something about their faith in Garoppolo?

Maybe New England believes that Brady indeed will play til he’s 50, or maybe the Pats trust their scouting staff so much that they think finding another quality QB isn’t a big deal.

I actually like Garoppolo better than the quarterback prospects in the 2017 NFL Draft, but New England’s willingness to move on does give me pause.

7) One more QB that potentially could be on the trade market is Buffalo’s Tyrod Taylor. At 27 years old with 6 years of professional experience, you know what you’re going to get in Taylor, and that’s not as scary as the unknown a rookie prospect brings.

Ken touched on the possibility of the Chicago Bears adding Taylor here, but where ever Taylor ends up he’ll continue to be a solid starting QB. Check out his numbers from the last two seasons. He’s started 29 games in 2015 and 2016, completing 62.6% of his passes, 209 passing yards per game, 37 touchdowns, 12 interceptions and a passer rating of 94.2. His mobility is a plus so you have to factor in his nearly 40 yards rushing per game and his 10 TDs on the ground.

8) Wide out Steve Smith is retiring after a 16 year career that saw him make 5 Pro Bowls. His 14,731 receiving yards are 7th all time, his 1,031 receptions are 12th all time and his 81 receiving TDs are tied for 26th all time.

Do you guys think he’s a Hall Of Famer?

I think he eventually gets in, just not as a 1st ballot guy.

9) Dave Toub, former Bears special teams coach and current Kansas City Chiefs special teams coach, has seen his profile rise of late. He is set to interview for the head coaching vacancies in San Diego and Denver.

Most Bears’ fans enjoyed what Toub brought to the Bears during his 9 year run in Chicago and I know I’ll be rooting for him to succeed.

10) With the Bears missing the postseason for the 6th straight year, I thought I’d share this little nugget that I came across while reading this SB Nation article that has one of the weirder titles I’ve ever seen.

There will be six new teams in the playoffs this year, which is an improvement over the four that appeared last year, and the five the year before that.

Rebuilds take time, but occasionally they jump up and end before you expect it. The Lions came out of nowhere to snatch a wildcard. The worst division in football last season, the AFC South, only had one team with a losing record in 2016. The 2nd worst division in football in 2015, the NFC East, also only had one team finish below .500 and they had two playoff teams.

With 9 wins in the last two years, the Bears have been a disaster, but the offseason is a time for hope. Every fanbase that cheers a loser hopes that next year is the year their team turns it around.

And every year a team or two, or three or even six like in 2016, does end up turning things around.

11) As we begin our offseason coverage of the Bears here on Windy City Gridiron, let me thank you guys for making us what we are. I enjoy interacting with you guys and I feel we have the strongest and most knowledgeable group of writers that we’ve ever had. We have a very vocal and active community that sets us apart from the other Bears’ sites on the interwebs.

But let me remind you guys that our comment threads aren’t a place for you to act out and attack people that disagree with your thoughts. We can debate, just don’t make things personal. We have a set of community guidelines that you all agreed to when joining WCG, so for those that pulled a tl;dr on our rules, here’s a shortened version. Don’t act like a jackass.

Happy New Year!!!