- Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner2 hrs ago
When the Carolina Panthers met the New Orleans Saints a couple weeks ago, nothing went right for the Panthers.
The Saints dismantled them in a 31-13 win. Carolina's chances of winning the NFC South seemed to slip away that night. Then the Rams blew out the Saints last week, and the Panthers were right back in the hunt.
They'll need to beat the Saints to keep their hopes of winning the division alive. A Saints win clinches the title and a first-round bye in the playoffs.
So what can the Panthers do to flip that result from the first meeting? Well, the first step is waking up in Charlotte instead of New Orleans on Sunday.
The Saints' home-road splits are amazing. They are 7-0 at home, just about unbeatable with their crowd bothering the opposing offense and letting Drew Brees change plays at the line of scrimmage. On the road, New Orleans is 3-4 with losses to losing teams like the Jets and Rams.
Carolina is 6-1 at home, the only loss coming in Week 1 against the Seahawks, unquestionably the best team in the NFL this season. The Panthers lost that game 12-7 after DeAngelo Williams fumbled inside the 10-yard line late in the fourth quarter.
- Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner2 hrs ago
Buffalo Bills quarterback EJ Manuel has never been injury prone. That's what is making his rookie season so frustrating.
Last week, Manuel suffered his third knee injury of the season. He will not start on Sunday against the Dolphins as a result, the Bills announced. Thad Lewis will get the nod.
He injured himself last week at Jacksonville. The team decided he couldn't move well enough to protect himself against the pass rush and didn't want to risk further injury.
It's been maddening for Manuel.
“Tell me about it,” Manuel said, according to the Bills' website. “When it happened in the game I just kind of said to myself, ‘Is this really happening again?’ I just taped it up and kept playing, but the onset after something like that happens it’s going to get stiff and sore on you. It’s a part of (the game), but nonetheless I’ll get a chance to play against New England and finish the season strong.”
- Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner2 hrs ago
Dr. Patrick McKenzie has to be feeling a lot of pressure.
McKenzie has been the Green Bay Packers' team doctor since the early 1990s. He has many people hoping he clears quarterback Aaron Rodgers for action.
The Packers need Rodgers back. They will win the NFC North if they win their final two games, and are a much better team with the former MVP under center. Rodgers has expressed many times he wants to return from a broken clavicle. There's no more football-mad state than Wisconsin is for the Packers. Bears fans and Lions fans have a significant interest in Rodgers' playing status. If Rodgers is cleared to return, the entire NFL playoff picture changes.
But McKenzie isn't ready to take that step.
After practice on Wednesday, Packers coach Mike McCarthy said that Rodgers still hasn't been cleared for action. Green Bay, which is a half game behind Chicago in the NFC North, plays Pittsburgh on Sunday.
- Anwar S Richardson at Shutdown Corner3 hrs ago
The Washington Redskins' season is two games away from being over.
So is the career of Redskins linebacker London Fletcher.
He announced his retirement during a press conference on Wednesday.
“I’m about 99 percent certain that this will be my last season in the National Football League,” Fletcher said. “I got to leave at least one percent, just in case I change my mind. But it’s really just about having another conversation with my wife, but just thought with this being the final home game, this being Dallas Cowboy week, an opportunity to go out with a bang and get the fans riled up and say thank you to them and beat the Cowboys. What better way to end it?”
With a win against New York Giants in the season finale on December 29?
Cousins on @LFletcher59: "We would love to have him walk off that field for the last time--if it will be his last time--with a victory."
— Washington Redskins (@Redskins) December 18, 2013
Report: Robert Griffin III’s father is urging the Washington Redskins to hire Baylor coach Art BrilesFrank Schwab at Shutdown Corner5 hrs ago
The Washington Redskins, Mike Shanahan and Robert Griffin III haven't won many games this season, but they've been incredibly productive in leaking stories to the media about each other.
The latest comes from Jason Cole at Bleacher Report. In this episode of the NFL's most melodramatic soap opera, multiple team sources want the world to know that Griffin is stubborn and his father is meddling.
The most startling revelation in the story is that Griffin's father has been telling owner Daniel Snyder to hire Baylor coach Art Briles. Griffin, the Redskins' quarterback, played for Briles in college.
"In recent weeks, according to two sources close to the situation, the elder Griffin has politicked Snyder to hire Baylor coach Art Briles, who coached the younger Griffin to a Heisman Trophy, to replace Shanahan," according to the Bleacher Report story.
Stories like this are harmful in a few ways, but that's probably the point.
- Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner6 hrs ago
It's good to be Russell Wilson right now.
He's a rising NFL star, and the quarterback of a Seattle Seahawks team that is the favorite to go to the Super Bowl in February.
It's also good to be a Russell Wilson fan, at least if you're a frequent flyer in Seattle.
According to King 5 in Seattle, any Alaska Airlines passenger in Seattle wearing a Russell Wilson jersey will get priority boarding. That will go for the rest of the Seahawks' season, so it might last a while.
Wilson was named a spokesman for Alaska Airlines this week.
— Russell Wilson (@DangeRussWilson) December 17, 2013
- Anwar S Richardson at Shutdown Corner7 hrs ago
Somebody thought it was necessary to ask Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz the question, even though the answer was obvious.
Detroit has lost four of its last five games, and Stafford has been in a slump during that stretch. He has thrown 10 interceptions and nine touchdowns in that stretch. Stafford failed to throw a touchdown during a loss against Philadelphia, and threw three interceptions in Monday's defeat against Baltimore.
One reporter was adventurous enough to ask Schwartz, who is snarly on a good day, if he has considered benching Stafford.
Schwartz was actually cordial, but his answer was “no."
“I haven't considered making a change," Schwartz said. "Matt's our quarterback. He's going to remain our quarterback, and he's going to play well for us. I think the first thing you look at is it's all about the team, and we haven't played well enough around him at other times. I mean, there were some times we dropped some passes, there were some times where we cut guys loose or got beat in protection. Other times he could make a little better throw and we just need to be better around him.
- Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner7 hrs ago
The feud between Seattle and San Francisco has quickly become one of the most heated in the NFL.
Most of the conversation between fans comes back to 49ers fans reminding Seahawks fans they've never won a Super Bowl. The 49ers haven't won a Super Bowl in almost 20 years, but they do have five in franchise history. Seattle is 0-1 in Super Bowls in its history.
To reinforce the point, 49ers fans have raised enough money to put up a billboard in Seattle with a picture of five Lombardi Trophies with Dwight Clark's famous catch in the NFC championship game in January of 1982 in the background, with the caption, "How many do you have?"
The group needed $7,000, and had raised over $8,700 as of Wednesday morning. Project manager Aasheesh Shravah said the surplus money will be donated to Seattle Children's Hospital, ESPN.com said.
- Anwar S Richardson at Shutdown Corner20 hrs ago
There are many ways to look at the NFL, but the easiest - and most tedious – method to figure out what is going on is by examining the numbers.
Here is a numerical look at the league heading into Week 16:
2 – Teams in league history have finished 11-5 and missed the playoffs (1985 Broncos and 2008 Patriots). Arizona (9-5) could become the third, according to AZCentral.com.
4 – Loses by the Detroit Lions in their past five games. Detroit was previously 6-3 and atop the NFC North, but are now 7-7 and in third place.
6 – Wins by the Cincinnati Bengals at home and no loses. Cincinnati will host the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. New Orleans (7-0), New England (7-0) and Seattle (6-0) are also undefeated at home.
11 - Straight seasons without a winning record by the Oakland Raiders. Oakland’s last winning season occurred during its 2002 Super Bowl year.
13 – Victories by Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo in December and January. Including the postseason, Romo also has 21 loses.
- Eric Edholm at Shutdown Corner1 day ago
Here's an early look at some of the key storylines in Week 16's biggest games:
South showdown highlights Saints road struggles
The NFC South comes down to Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium: It’s the rare situation where both teams control their own destinies for the division title, and the winner will have an excellent shot at the No. 2 seed in the NFC.
And it’s clear heading into Sunday’s game against the Panthers that they need to buck some serious road trends to feel good about their situation. Drew Brees doesn’t play as well away from home, the offensive line is far less sturdy and the defense can’t create pressure without blitzing. They make far fewer big plays on offense away from home, and they give up more big plays on the road.
The Panthers, meanwhile, are far stronger in their home digs. They are 6-1, with the one loss a Week 1 setback to the Seattle Seahawks by only five points. The Panthers have outscored opponents 190-83 at home and haven't allowed more than 20 points in a game. The Saints are 3-4 away from home and have been outscored 162-112.