Chargers coach Brandon Staley says he never felt his job was in jeopardy as his team was whizzing away a 27-0 lead in that Wild Card game against the Jaguars. I would describe that as a stunning lack of self-awareness.
The Cowboys are taking a humane but rational approach in dealing with placekicker Brett Maher’s struggles. There has been no knee-jerk. Maher is still the kicker and has received support from Mike McCarthy, special teams coach John Fassell and teammates. But Dallas Wednesday signed journeyman kicker Tristan Vizcaino to the practice squad. Vizcaino bumped around a little with the Chiefs and Cardinals this year, and spent the part of 2020 offseason with the Cowboys. Here’s the plan. Vizcaino is available if Maher struggles in practice Thursday and Friday. Yeah. Maher needs to knock ‘em through today and tomorrow. “Trust but verify.”
The biggest single reason (there were many) the Cowboys dominated the Bucs is that Dallas completely eliminated the Tampa Bay running game. That is an unrealistic expectation heading into Sunday’s game against the ‘Niners. SF can run the ball on Star Wars Stormtroopers. This is a whole ‘nuther deal.
Key player for Dallas? Pollard. He’s going to have to pop some big plays. Because I guarantee you that Deebo and McCaffrey will.
One more reason to love Joe Burrow. You know how players and teams are always trying to portray themselves as the underdogs, even when they’re not? You know, the whole lame, eye-roll inducing, “Nobody respects us” song and dance? Burrow is taking a complete opposite approach as his Bengals get ready to go to Buffalo. “We’re not underdogs.” Even though they are in the eyes of national sports books. The Baby Faced Assassin is a hoot, in an always calculating way.
Like pretty much all eight billion people on Earth, I have sometimes been critical of Kirk Cousins. But he’s taking WAY too much crap following the Vikings loss to the Giants. Yeah, I know, he checked it down short of the sticks on that late fourth down. But I also know that Cousins was the best thing the Vikes had going for them in that game. Go back and look. He made phenomenal throws, many of them looking right down the gun barrel. He took a horrendous beating and never flinched. Cousins did not get Minnesota beat. That unit on the other side of the ball they loosely call a “defense” did.
How good was Cousins? He was almost as good as Daniel Jones, who turned in one of the greatest single-game quarterbacking performances in recent league history. I wish I had the stones to pick the G-men to upset the Eagles. I don’t. But Philly has to be more than a little nervous.
Think about this. Eight teams are left standing. Three of them are from the NFC East. Then think about this. If the Commanders can get their QB situation settled, they absolutely can make the postseason in 2023. That roster is otherwise impressive.
I have no issue with those who maintain the Chiefs are the best team in the league. And there’s no doubt Mahomes will be the NFL MVP. But they’re not invulnerable. They are surprisingly shaky in the red zone, both offensively and defensively.
As wonderful as Super Wild Card weekend was, the divisional round is my favorite Saturday and Sunday on the NFL calendar. Eight teams, each of which either earned a first-round bye or has already won a playoff game. All eight think they’re gonna grab the Lombardi. Seven of them will be wrong.