- Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner54 mins ago
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith has been criticized for just being a game manager, but now the Chiefs face life without him in Week 17.
Smith will not play on Sunday against the San Diego Chargers due to a lacerated spleen according to Chiefs trainer Rick Burkholder, via B.J. Kissel of KCChiefs.com. Chase Daniel will start on Sunday. The Chiefs need to win to stay alive for a playoff spot. The Chargers clinch a wild-card playoff spot with a win.
According to Kissel's report, Smith suffered the injury on a third quarter hit last week against the Steelers. It was a three-centimeter laceration that wasn't bleeding much but was enlarged. Burkholder told the Kansas City media that it could get worse if Smith took a hit and the laceration expanded, via Kissel. Smith had discomfort on Tuesday but thought it was a bug going around. The injury generally takes six weeks to heal, Burkholder said, so presumably Smith wouldn't return for the playoffs if the Chiefs make it.Sun, Dec 2810:00 AM PSTSan Diego at Kansas CityPreview Game
- Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner1 hr ago
Through Week 16, you can usually count on NFL teams being fairly motivated. That can change in Week 17.
Which teams are resting starters because their playoff spots and seeds are set? Who is fighting for their playoff lives, or at least a division title and home game? And which teams are worried about their flights to the Caribbean to start vacation on Monday?
Just because a team has nothing to play for doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t get a great effort. The best example might be 2004, when a Buffalo Bills team alive for the playoffs played a Pittsburgh Steelers team that was 14-1, had the No. 1 seed wrapped up and sat multiple starters. Led by their backups, the Steelers won 29-24 at Buffalo. The Steelers’ young players played like it was a playoff game because they wanted to make an impression. Among the Steelers’ stars that day? Unknown running back Willie Parker and backup linebacker James Harrison. So you never know.Sun, Dec 285:30 PM PSTCincinnati at PittsburghPreview Game
- Eric Edholm at Shutdown Corner4 hrs ago
Things have gone a bit sideways at quarterback the past six weeks for the Arizona Cardinals.
The Cardinals have reportedly switched courses again, opting to start Ryan Lindley again at quarterback in Week 17 against the San Francisco 49ers, after head coach Bruce Arians had initially said it would be rookie Logan Thomas.
But there might be a good reason why they made that move.
In addition, the Cardinals are now worried about the status of Drew Stanton for the playoffs. Stanton had replaced starter Carson Palmer for two stretches this season, including after Palmer's ACL injury, but Stanton also went down with a knee injury in the rematch against the Rams in Week 15.
Now, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport is reporting that Stanton's availability for the postseason is in question.
#AZCardinals QB Drew Stanton’s infection was discovered Wednesday, believed to be caused by an outside medical treatment. Status in doubt.Sun, Dec 281:25 PM PSTArizona at San FranciscoPreview Game
- Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner22 hrs ago
The Arizona Cardinals have reportedly decided that Ryan Lindley is still their best option at quarterback, which should say plenty about rookie Logan Thomas.
Thomas was slated to start in Week 17 after Lindley was wholly ineffective against the Seattle Seahawks last week. Lindley has 225 career attempts with no touchdowns and eight interceptions, the most passes without a touchdown in NFL history. The thought was that things couldn't be any worse with Thomas.
Except, after seeing Thomas in practice, the Cardinals decided that things could in fact get worse.
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic reported that after a poor practice on Wednesday for Thomas, the team has decided to start Lindley. Given how bad Lindley has been every time we've seen him play in the NFL, one can only imagine how awful Thomas' practice must have been for the Cardinals to already pull the plug on that plan.
- Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner23 hrs ago
On Marshawn Lynch's two signature runs he has had a similar celebration: Jump into the end zone while turning and grabbing your crotch. Probably didn't take much time to choreograph.
The NFL wasn't impressed. The Seattle Seahawks back was fined $11,050 for what the league deemed unsportsmanlike conduct for the inappropriate gesture at the end of his 79-yard run against Arizona, which is one of the NFL's top plays of the year. Pro Football Talk broke the news of the fine. That play drew comparison's to his famous "Beastquake" run against he Saints in the playoffs at the end of the 2010 season, and Lynch ended that run in similar style.
- Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner1 day ago
The NFL has dominated Thanksgiving for nearly as long as the league has been operating. It doesn’t take the same approach to Christmas.
There are very few things the NFL will change its plans for, but Christmas Day is one of them. In its 95 th season, the NFL has held just 17 games on Dec. 25. Since the NFL extended the regular season to late December and Dec. 25 falls on a Sunday, the NFL moves a bulk of the games to Saturday. That happened in 1994, 2005 and 2011.
Before that, the NFL would move playoff games to Monday if Christmas fell on a Sunday. There were wild-card playoff games on Monday, Dec. 26 in 1983 and 1988, and a pair of divisional playoff games on Monday night to avoid Christmas in 1977. In 1955 and 1960 the NFL moved its championship game to Monday because it was supposed to land on a Christmas Sunday. Imagine the 21st century NFL moving a Super Bowl to Monday, just to avoid playing on Christmas.
- Jay Busbee at Shutdown Corner1 day ago
There comes a point for every NFL team that's pretty bad when they have to make a choice: just how bad do we want to be? Granted, the NFL isn't like the NBA, where tanking can get you a franchise-changing player, but when you've got the opportunity to hold the first pick in a stocked draft, how much are you willing to do to get it?
The Tennessee Titans face such a choice, and head coach Ken Whisenhunt understands that his fans' desires and his team's desires may not run in the same direction. The Titans want a victory, the fans want the opportunity to pick up a player who could get them many more victories down the road.
"From a fan's perspective, I understand that, but you want to win. That's what you're geared in to do," he said. "That's why we're in this business. We're trying to do that. I don't worry as much about that until the season's over, but I certainly respect their feelings on that."Sun, Dec 2810:00 AM PSTIndianapolis at TennesseePreview Game
- Jay Busbee at Shutdown Corner1 day ago
It's been a lively couple of days for Giants punter Steve Weatherford. First, he spent a solemn hour before practice Tuesday visiting a precinct of the New York Police Department to offer support in the wake of last week's tragic shooting of two officers.
“What they do for us on a daily basis, I know it doesn’t get enough credit,” Weatherford said, according to the New York Daily News. “People don’t say ‘Thank you’ enough for the times that they don’t need the police because everything is under control and everybody is safe. It’s a very thankless job, and I just wanted to go there and really just tell them ‘Thank you for doing what you do for us, for putting your life in danger on a daily basis to afford us the safety and security so we can sleep peacefully at night,’ and ‘I appreciate everything that you do.’”
- Jay Busbee at Shutdown Corner2 days ago
So this is Alex, and he's a hardcore Seahawks fan. He's also the fortunate recipient of a pretty sweet gift from the team: a signed helmet. Alex is overcome with emotion, exactly the way the rest of you ungrateful types ought to be when you get gifts.
The home video is VERY long and VERY home-video-ey; the good stuff starts at about the 2:30 mark, but we've excerpted it right here for you:
Congrats to Alex, and nice work, Seahawks. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everyone.
(Helmet tip: SB Nation)
And keep up with Jay over on Facebook, too.Sun, Dec 281:25 PM PSTSt. Louis at SeattlePreview Game
- Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner2 days ago
The New England Patriots have nothing to play for on Sunday, with the No. 1 seed in the AFC already locked up.
Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, on the other hand, has plenty to play for. Specifically, if the Patriots rest starters and he doesn't play, a $1.25 million escalator clause in Wilfork's contract that is tied to playing time might not be triggered.
Tom Curran of CSNNE outlined a pretty interesting case. Wilfork's reworked contract included a lot of incentives, including large ones tied to playing time. Playing 70 percent of the snaps and making the divisional round of the playoffs is the last step toward triggering an entire $2.5 million escalator clause, of which he has earned $1.25 million already. The Patriots are guaranteed to be in the divisional round of the playoffs and Wilfork has played 74.1 percent of the snaps according to SportingCharts.com, via CSNNE.Sun, Dec 2810:00 AM PSTBuffalo at New EnglandPreview Game