This week around the NFL we discuss if Kirk Cousins can get to the playoffs and what teams the Patriots and Cowboys aren’t looking forward to facing. Also, Cleveland can’t lose and what coaches are on the hot seat. Welcome to our weekly NFL mailbag.
What teams do the New England Patriots and Dallas Cowboys not want to see in January? -Sharon J. (Keokuk, IA)
Currently both the Patriots and Cowboys are leading the AFC and NFC, respectively, and with only five games left both are on pace to enter the playoffs as the number one seed. Come January and playoff time, there is one team in both divisions that each of these teams hopes it doesn’t have to face. However, come February an additional one is included, each other.
For Dallas, it’s the Atlanta Falcons. Talk about a shoot-out, the Falcons post the highest rated offense in the league and the Cowboys offense poses multiple problems for Atlanta. The Falcons defense continues to improve and Atlanta could win by outscoring whatever they allow.
New England obviously fears no one, but the Oakland Raiders would present some unique matchup challenges for the Patriots. Also, Khalil Mack has developed into a dominate pass rusher who could frustrate Tom Brady if given the opportunity.
Can Kirk Cousins lead the Washington Redskins back to the playoffs? -Earl M. (Fredericksburg, VA)
If the playoffs started today, yes, because Washington would be in as the six seed. However, five games remain and Washington currently posts a 6-4-1 record. The final stretch run includes home games against Carolina and the Giants, but road games with Arizona, Philadelphia, and Chicago could lead to only a few more wins.
While the tie may assist in potentially being the reason Washington gets into the playoffs, Cousins’ play down the stretch will ultimately be the deciding factor. Can he? Yes, he’s capable as they would currently be in if the season ended today. Will he? That’s another question.
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With the NFL season winding down, what coaches are feeling the heat? -Roy R. (Annandale, MN)
The NFL has seen a few assistant changes since the beginning of the season, but no head coach has been relieved of their duties … yet. As the season winds down there are a handful of current head coaches who won’t be roaming the same sidelines in 2017. Following are five who could be seeking employment elsewhere next season, listed in order of insecurity.
- Jeff Fisher, Los Angeles Rams
- Gus Bradley, Jacksonville Jaguars
- Hue Jackson, Cleveland Browns
- Chip Kelly, San Francisco 49ers
- Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals
Cleveland will not lose this week, but will they win in 2016? -Matthew L. (Parkersburg, WV)
In a word, no, but their best chance to win comes following the bye week against Cincinnati. An in-state rivalry against a struggling Bengals team will be the most opportune moment since a Week Eight matchup against the New York Jets.
Following the Browns face the Bills, Chargers, and Steelers, traveling to both Buffalo and Pittsburgh.
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