- Greg Cosell at Shutdown Corner8 hrs ago
A week after a loss at New England, when there were plenty of critics questioning Peyton Manning's arm strength, the Broncos' quarterback showed that his arm is just fine.
Manning drove the ball down the field against the Chiefs last Sunday. His arm looked live. Manning has re-invented himself the past couple years with the Broncos, but against the Chiefs it looked like he was back in his Colts' days. This was a different looking Broncos offense than most games this season.
One throw that stood out was Manning's 37-yard touchdown to Eric Decker early in the third quarter. It was a play-action fake off a stretch run to the right, and a designed long throw by Manning over two defensive backs. It looked like back in the day in Indianapolis, when Manning was faking it to Edgerrin James and taking a deep shot to Marvin Harrison.
- Eric Edholm at Shutdown Corner8 hrs ago
The Carolina Panthers have been a different kind of animal since their head coach earned his popular nickname.
"Riverboat" Ron Rivera became such with a new attitude, eschewing his former punt-happy and conservative self with a brand of coaching that embraces going for it on fourth down and leaving no doubt he and the Panthers are going for the win. Since losing at Buffalo earlier this season, the team has gone on an eight-game win streak and has converted 9-of-11 fourth-down chances on the season.
Rivera has been lukewarm to the nickname at best, but he's embracing it — for a good cause. He and his wife, Stephanie, have trademarked the nickname "Riverboat Ron" not to cash in on its popularity but as a way to try to boost his charity work.
They have worked with three charities — the Ronald McDonald House, the Humane Society of Charlotte and the USO of North Carolina — and hope they can make a difference by using the popular moniker, according to the Charlotte Observer.
- Eric Edholm at Shutdown Corner8 hrs ago
You can scrap a lot of the mock drafts you've seen up until this point. (Or read them for sheer enjoyment only.)
A lot has happened recently to alter the landscape for the 2014, namely at quarterback, in recent days and weeks.
The biggest news in regard to players who might be available came with the news that Oregon's Marcus Mariota — a popular top-five projection — would be returning to school for the 2014 season. Good for Oregon, and probably for Mariota. Bad news for the teams picking high, perhaps.
That includes the Houston Texans, whose Thursday night loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars puts them squarely in the running for the top overall pick. Other teams who could land it, including St. Louis Rams (who currently own the Washington Redskins' top pick) and the Jaguars, also will be thinking quarterback prominently.
Another top prospect, UCLA's Brett Hundley, could follow suit and return to school as well, now that Jim Mora has given the school a firm assurance that he'll be back with a six-year extension. Baylor's Bryce Petty also announced that he'd be returning to school, a great development for the Bears and college football.
- Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner9 hrs ago
Photoshop has made our lives easier. No longer do we have to imagine what some of the NFL's best quarterbacks would look like if male pattern baldness struck, because we have the visuals.
Mandatory.com had a fun idea. What would the NFL's best quarterbacks look like with no hair? While we all know Tom Brady won't lose his perfect head of hair, it's still fun to see what it would be like.
Go to Mandatory.com to see all of the top 10. Here's some more of our favorites (although they're all really good):
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- Eric Edholm at Shutdown Corner11 hrs ago
Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy officially ruled out Aaron Rodgers playing Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons, and it's at the point now where we must ask if Rodgers' season is done, too. Because, what's the point of playing Rodgers in Week 15 or beyond, exposing his broken collarbone to further injury?
The Packers must pass four teams just to get into the crowded NFC playoff picture, which likely would require the team winning out. Although there might not be a fearsome defense left on the team's schedule, you can't risk further injury for Rodgers.
There is such a massive gap between Rodgers and any other quarterback the Packers currently have or could possibly acquire as a backup next season, and the last thing you want is Rodgers — who turned 30 this week — going into an offseason rehabbing and not spending as much time preparing for 2014.
- Jay Busbee at Shutdown Corner11 hrs ago
We are football writers and commentators, yes, but unlike some of our brethren, we don't think we're geniuses. Quite the opposite, in fact. So it's not particularly surprising to see that we've been wrong, way WAY wrong, on some of our predictions for this season. In light of the Jaguars' win on Thursday night (they're still alive in the playoff race!) we consider some of the many ways we've missed out and misfired on our predictions for this season.
And hey, speaking of misfiring: we talk a little bit about Tim Tebow, that great football cipher. Sure, he's probably done in the NFL, but what's next? Why did he get so big so fast? Are there any athletes comparable to him in the gulf between fame and achievement? Busbee goes with Danica Patrick, and Frank goes with post-scandal Tiger Woods, because Frank is insane.
Also on the docket: discussion of bad New Orleans pizza, our locks and upsets of the week, and much much more.
- Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner11 hrs ago
Put yourself in the shoes of the Seattle Seahawks.
You won a huge showdown against the Saints on Monday night to improve to 11-1. You lead the Panthers and Saints (with the tiebreaker over both) by two games, and every other NFC division leader by four games. You lead the 49ers by three games in the NFC West, and your final three games are at the Giants, then home to the Cardinals and Rams. You'll be heavy favorites in each game.
So, what exactly is your motivation for this week's game against the 49ers?
The Seahawks are likely going to be the No. 1 seed regardless of what happens this week. Sure, beating a key rival would be nice, but is that enough?
Meanwhile the 49ers are coming into this game with a lot of motivation. They are just a game ahead of Arizona and the Eagles/Cowboys for the sixth seed in the NFC, and are trying to avenge a Week 2 loss at Seattle. The 49ers want to make a statement that they're a team to fear going into the playoffs.
- Eric Edholm at Shutdown Corner11 hrs ago
If Tim Tebow doesn't think the NFL will come calling again, or that it's too soon for a broadcasting career, he has another option.
Italy, apparently, would love to lure Tebow to keep his playing days alive a little while longer.
The free-agent quarterback has been offered a four-month contract by the Milano Seamen of the Italian federation for American football.
Federation president Leoluca Orlando sent word to Tebow's representatives of their interest, which was posted on the federation's website on Thursday. A federation spokesman said that he deal is for $200,000, which was sent Wednesday on the recommendation of a sponsor.
"The offer has been made to his agent and now we're waiting for a response," Seamen president Marco Mutti told The Associated Press. "We would be more than happy to have him."
- Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner12 hrs ago
If the Texans wanted to bury the news about their starting quarterback, they certainly picked the right time to do it.
Less than an hour after announcing coach Gary Kubiak had been fired, owner Bob McNair said that Case Keenum will be the starting quarterback the rest of the season.
McNair: Case is going to be the quarterback, and we're going to give him a chance. He's shown flashes of brilliance & also rookie mistakes.
— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) December 6, 2013
It's an interesting commitment, maybe one that doesn't happen without Kubiak's firing.
As long as Kubiak was coaching and trying to save his job, there would have been the temptation to go with veteran Matt Schaub to win a game or two and save his job. Keenum has been pulled twice in the Texans' last four games. On Thursday night at Jacksonville, Schaub played pretty well of the bench and almost helped the Texans to a comeback win. A late interception sealed a 27-20 Houston loss.
- Eric Edholm at Shutdown Corner13 hrs ago
Losing twice to the Jacksonville Jaguars was the last straw for Gary Kubiak.
The Houston Texans fired Kubiak on Friday morning, team owner Bob McNair announced, mere hours after losing for the second time to the Jaguars — their 11th straight loss this season in a year they entered with Super Bowl aspirations.
“Taking action now instead of waiting allows us the process of finding a new coach,” McNair said at a press conference on Friday. “That process is underway, and those prospects who are not under contract in the NFL are people we can visit with, so we'll start the process.”
Nearly everything has gone wrong for the Texans, who had to claw to win their first two games of the season before dropping their next 11. The Texans benched quarterback Matt Schaub, witnessed the season-ending injury of Arian Foster, made a failed free-agent signing of Ed Reed and saw Kubiak collapse at halftime of a loss to the Indianapolis Colts.