Yahoo Sports NFL senior writers Kimberley A. Martin, Terez Paylor and Charles Robinson select games this week that will leave us buzzing heading into Monday.
Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals
Cast aside like a used napkin, Hue Jackson now has the chance to show the Browns — and the entire football world! — that he was the unfortunate scapegoat for Cleveland’s rampant dysfunction.
(Because, obviously, he wasn’t given enough time to improve on his team-worst 3-36-1 record.)
It didn’t take Jackson long to land on his feet. His buddy, Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, was quick to hire the longtime offensive coach to be a special assistant focusing on defense, among other things.
Watch out Baker Mayfield!
Perhaps Jackson’s intel will serve as an advantage for the Bengals, who are 0-2 since he arrived and 1-4 in their past five games. Or maybe, his presence on the opposite sideline will give Cleveland added incentive to earn its fourth win — something the organization hasn’t done in four years.
Time will tell if Jackson gets the last laugh against the Browns, but there are sure to be some awkward pregame handshakes and forced smiles on both sides.
Browns at Bengals
Who’s up for more Hue Jackson drama? The Browns’ former coach was just fired by his old team a month ago, only to latch on with the Bengals and his good friend, head coach Marvin Lewis.
To be fair, Jackson had a nice run as Lewis’ offensive coordinator, and he’s well liked in that building. But there has been no shortage of shade thrown his way from the Browns side of things, as quarterback Baker Mayfield responded “No — just no” when asked this week whether Jackson gives the Bengals any advantage.
Unfortunately for Mayfield and the Browns, believing Jackson’s knowledge of their personnel strengths and weaknesses is nothing short of hubris. Jackson was not a good head coach, but as someone who coached this team, he knows the best ways to attack the Browns. Or at least, he should.
If the Bengals don’t win this game going away, it will be an embarrassment for Jackson, leading to more shade. If the Bengals win, Jackson can crow about it privately for a while. Either way, it should make for good TV.
Seattle Seahawks at Carolina Panthers
It’s a game with sizable NFC wild-card implications with quarterbacks who have both been to the mountaintop in their conference. It’s odd to say it, but Russell Wilson and Cam Newton have been massively overshadowed this season by Drew Brees‘ near-perfect season, and the explosion of excitement around Patrick Mahomes and Jared Goff.
Let’s not forget, Wilson has not only been to a pair of Super Bowls, but he took a Lombardi home. As for Newton, it wasn’t long ago when he was the NFL’s MVP and appeared in Super Bowl 50. In short, these are still two extremely good football teams with elite level quarterbacks. And both have teams that should make the rest of the playoff field nervous.
From the standpoint of the bounce coming out of this one, it’s worth watching to see how dangerous these guys can both still be.
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