Around the League: 5 Big Stories in the NFL This Week
It has been a tremendously busy week in NFL headlines, from a Pro Bowl running back getting waived by the best team in the AFC, to the Packers firing their Super Bowl-winning head coach, to the tightening playoff race, and…oh, yeah…there’s a big home game for the Cowboys coming up this weekend against the rival Eagles. Let’s start with the Cowboys on our list of “5 Big Stories in the NFL This Week”:
Ron Jenkins via AP
Sunday’s Eagles-Cowboys Game Will Have 1st Place on the Line
The Eagles’ 28-13 win over the Redskins in Philly on Monday Night Football means the Eagles (6-6) have pulled into a second-place tie in the NFC East with the Redskins (6-6). The Eagles are only one game behind the Cowboys (7-5) entering Sunday’s huge game at AT&T Stadium. Sole possession of first place is on the line for the Cowboys. Because the Cowboys beat the Eagles in Philly four weeks ago, a Cowboys win this coming Sunday would give the Cowboys a sweep of the Eagles and the head-to-head tiebreaker, not to mention a two-game lead in the NFC East with only three more games to play after this weekend.
Michael Perez via AP
Another Bad Break for the Redskins at QB
The Redskins not only lost to the Eagles on Monday, they also lost another quarterback to a fractured leg.
Colt McCoy, the former Texas Longhorn who took over as the starter two weeks ago after first-teamer Alex Smith suffered a broken leg on November 18th, left Monday night’s game in the second quarter with a fractured right fibula, just above the ankle.
McCoy was hurt when he scrambled, planted his right leg into the turf, then tumbled to the ground with his leg moving swiftly and whipping into Eagles Safety Malcolm Jenkins’ thigh. McCoy remained in the game for two more plays, then after a brief visit to the sideline, was taken for X-Rays which confirmed the fracture. McCoy is out for the remainder of the season.
Mark Sanchez, the former Cowboys’ backup to Dak Prescott in 2016, is now the Redskins’ starter. He’s been with the team for two whole weeks. The Redskins had a tough time mustering any offense on Monday with their only touchdown coming on a 90-yard touchdown run by Adrian Peterson in the second quarter. It was the lone highlight for Peterson who, even with the 90-yard score, finished with less than 100 yards rushing.
The Redskins will have to sign another quarterback this week to add depth. Although they are 6-6, the injuries continue to mount. They are not out of the playoff hunt, but things are looking dim.
As for the last-place team in the NFC East, the Giants pulled a huge upset on Sunday by beating the leaders of the NFC North, the Chicago Bears (8-4), in overtime by a score of 30-27. Wide Receiver Odell Beckham Junior caught a touchdown as well as threw a touchdown pass in the surprise win which improves the Giants’ record to 4-8.
Packers Fire Head Coach Mike McCarthy
Green Bay parted ways with Head Coach Mike McCarthy on Sunday afternoon shortly after a 20-17 home loss to the dreadful Cardinals. The Packers had a chance to send that game into overtime, but kicker Mason Crosby barely missed a 49-yard field goal attempt as time expired.
Mike Roemer via AP
Would the Pack have kept McCarthy another week or two if Crosby’s kick were good and the team went onto victory in overtime?
The timing of McCarthy’s firing is what struck many observers as curious. The Packers have not been playing well this year and there have been reports of tension between star QB Aaron Rodgers and McCarthy. Rodgers and McCarthy were together in Green Bay for 13 seasons. However, Rodgers did not know that McCarthy was going to be fired, and the team said that he was not consulted on the decision to get rid of the coach who is also the offense’s play-caller.
Mathematically, the Packers (4-7-1) are still in the playoff hunt, but the team is judged to have underachieved this year because Rodgers has been healthy and played each game.
McCarthy won a Super Bowl with the Packers and led the team to the postseason 9 times the past 11 seasons. He also took them to four NFC Championship Games. But the Packers’ management decided that Sunday was the right time to fire him and not let him finish the season. Joe Philbin, who used to be the head coach of the Miami Dolphins, takes over as the interim head coach. McCarthy has already been linked to the Browns’ head coaching job which is currently being held on an interim basis by Gregg Williams who is also the Browns’ defensive coordinator.
Kelvin Kuo via AP
Star Running Back Kareem Hunt Waived by Chiefs
Kareem Hunt is a dynamic running back and multi-purpose weapon in a potent Chiefs’ offensive attack. But a TMZ video released this past weekend showed him shoving and kicking a woman in a Cleveland hotel hallway back in February. He was not charged with a crime, but when the video surfaced, the Chiefs released Hunt not only for the incident, but for also lying to the team about what happened early that morning back in Cleveland.
Now the NFL is in hot water for not even questioning Hunt about the incident during the league’s so-called “investigation” of Hunt’s actions.
Because Hunt was waived by the Chiefs, he went through the waiver system and any other team could have claimed him and added him to their roster. But because of the nature of the incident, and because the NFL placed him on the Commissioner’s Exempt List, no team claimed him. He is now an unemployed free agent. Other incidents are now coming to light, including an alleged altercation at a nightclub in downtown Kansas City last January in which a 38-year old man suffered a broken rib and broken nose. According to a police report, the victim alleges Hunt was part of a group that assaulted him, but no criminal charges were filed and there is no video of the incident (at least not yet).
Playoff Picture Starting to Take Shape
Only one NFL team has clinched a division championship: the NFC West’s L.A. Rams (11-1).
Elsewhere in the NFC, the Saints (10-2) have a four-game lead over the Panthers (6-6) in the NFC South.
Paul Sancya via AP
The Bears (8-4) remain in 1st place in the NFC North with the Vikings (6-5-1) fighting to stay in the playoff hung. The aforementioned Cowboys (7-5) and Eagles (6-6) have first place on the line this Sunday in the NFC East.
In the AFC, the Patriots (9-3) have a 3-game lead in the AFC East over the Dolphins (6-6). The Texans (9-3) have won nine-straight games and lead by 3 games in the AFC South over the Colts (6-6) and Titans (6-6). The Steelers (7-4-1) are clinging to a ½ game lead over the Ravens (7-5) in the AFC North, and the Chiefs (10-2) are just one game up on the Chargers (9-3) in the AFC West.