1) Last week I wrote about the Chicago Bears giving the blueprint on how to stop the Los Angeles Rams, but also wondered if any other teams had the defensive talent to pull it off. The Philadelphia Eagles may not have beaten the Rams as dominantly as the Bears did a week ago, but they slowed L.A.’s rushing attack and got after quarterback Jared Goff, and held on for a 30-23 win that made the top and bottom of the NFC playoffs more interesting.
The Bears are now a game back of the number two seed in the NFC, and the Eagles (7-7) are a half game behind the Minnesota Vikings (7-6-1) for the 6th seed with a long shot still going for the NFC East title.
2) Philly is still alive for their division because the Dallas Cowboys laid an egg against the Indianapolis Colts by getting shut out 23-0. Andrew Luck wasn’t spectacular at QB, but Marlon Mack rushed for the most yards in his career 139 on 27 carries, with 2 TDs, and their defense has started to come around. The 8-6 Colts are still on the outside of the AFC playoff race, but if they can sneak in they have a complete team that could get a win or two.
3) At 6-7-1 the Cleveland Browns are still alive for a playoff spot, but even if they miss out, that team is in good position to compete for the post season for the next several years. They have a young core of talented players on both sides of the ball and the rest of the AFC North has to be a little wary of what they’re building.
4) The New York Giants took running back Saquon Barkley in the 2018 NFL Draft instead of getting a quarterback to replace Eli Manning — which in hindsight looks like a good move because Barkley is an electrifying talent — but they’ll surely get a QB this offseason, right?
“Yeah, I want all our players to be back,” Giants head coach Pat Shurmur said a day after his team lost to the Tennessee Titans, 17 to 0. “I believe experience matters.”
There’s no way he’s talking about the 37-year old Manning though is he?
Yep, Shurmur believes that Manning has “years” left as a starting QB in the NFL, saying that, “Eli playing QB I think gives us the best chance to win.”
Manning isn’t playing quite as bad as we all seem to think (he’s completing a career high 65.9% of his passes), but not having a legit back up plan beyond Kyle Lauletta seems like a bad idea.
5) And speaking of the Titans, what’s up with Derick Henry?
In his last two games he has 50 carries for 408 yards (8.16 ypc) and 6 TDs. Tennessee is 8-6, winners of three straight, but in the 8th seed. They have a winnable game up next against the Washington Redskins, and they close out the 2018 season hosting the Colts.
6) The 8-6 Baltimore Ravens are hanging onto the 6th seed in the AFC, and they’ve won four of their last five games behind QB Lamar Jackson. He hasn’t been very good at passing the ball as a rookie, but he has 427 yards rushing in his 5 starts.
He’s been impressive enough that the Ravens are expected to move on from Joe Flacco this offseason.
7) Miami Dolphins’ running back Frank Gore is out for the rest of the season with a sprained foot, and at 35-years old his career is winding down.
He’s currently fourth all-time in rushing yards with 14,748 in 14 seasons, and is that enough to get the 5 time pro bowler into the Hall of Fame?
8) This play almost cost the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football.
The Saints really fumbled it in the end zone for a touchback— SB Nation (@SBNation) December 18, 2018
But Carolina Panthers’ QB Cam Newton couldn’t get the ball downfield accurately in their final drive. His shoulder looks bad and they should probably shut him down now that they’re 6-8.
9) The Jacksonville Jaguars are the most disappointing team in football.
10) Leonard Floyd had a slow statistical start to his 2018 season, but he was coming off a season ending knee injury in 2017, and he broke his hand this preseason. Even though he was sackless for so long, I thought he was doing a lot of small things to help the Bears win games.
I tweeted out his splits on Monday, but check these out and let me know if you think he wasn’t hampered early on.
In his first 7 games he had 17 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 QBH, 1 PD, and a FF, but in the last 7 games Floyd has 23 tackles, 7 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, 9 QB hits, 2 passes defended, and 1 Int for a TD.
He’s also played well in the six games against the Packers in his career with 18 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 5 TFL, 9 QBH, 1 FF and 1 recovery that he returned for a TD.
The Bears have to decide on his fifth year option this spring, which will be around $13M, so should GM Ryan Pace pick it up?
I say yes.
And check this celebration out.
I totally missed this sack celebration by Leonard Floyd near the end of the game to the GB sideline. "Your time is up...." #Bears pic.twitter.com/4l64FNR1o5— Zack Pearson (@Zack_Pearson) December 18, 2018
11) Since the Bears are on fire this year, I’m cranking the Ten Thoughts up to Eleven because I had to share this latest gem from their social media team.
It's a beaut, Clark!#DaBears pic.twitter.com/6uAgysyPNq— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) December 18, 2018
And you can now get your own Club Dub T-Shirt from our friends over at Breaking T.