Taking a look back: NFL Week 14

A look back at Week 14 in the NFL:

1. The takeaway from Week 14 is that the Super Bowl race is now wide open. Just a week ago, Philadelphia was the NFC favorite, but the loss of CarsonWentz means the odds are against them. Pittsburgh and New England were the AFC favorites and one of them may make it, but the Steeler defense isn’t the same without Ryan Shazier. And the New England offense has been sluggish the last two weeks. The Patriots led Buffalo only 9-3 at halftime two weeks ago and lost to Miami last week as the Patriots went 0-11 on third down and Tom Brady threw two picks. Jacksonville, likely to be the third seed, has possibly the best defense in the league, but an inconsistent quarterback in Blake Bortles even though he has played well the last two weeks. San Diego, which started out 0-4 but is 7-2 the last nine games, could wind up the fourth seed. In the NFC, Philadelphia has the best record at 11-2, but Wentz injury opens the door for the 10-3 Vikings and the 9-4 Rams, Saints and Panthers and the 8-5 Falcons and Seahawks. Of those seven teams, one will be left out of the playoffs. In a year without a dominant team, it’s anybody’s guess which teams will wind up in the Super Bowl.

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Owners’ bizarre decision to make Goodell a seven-year lame duck is a mess

As if the NFL didn’t have enough problems, it now has a lame-duck commissioner.

In effect, Roger Goodell became a lame duck Wednesday in Dallas when NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart announced Goodell will leave the league when his five-year extension expires after the 2023 season.

And Lockhart said, according to Pro Football Talk, that Goodell will get no post-retirement payments after he leaves, and while he can continue to use the league’s plane service, Goodell will pay for the reduced rates as he does now for private travel.

Lockhart also said that Goodell’s new contract is performance-based and that “some owners will have some involvement in the oversight as we look at these things (like the CBA and TV deals) in the next seven years.’’

In effect, they’ve also clipped Goodell’s wings, with some owners (Jerry Jones?) having oversight.

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Taking a look ahead: NFL Week 14

A look ahead to Week 14 in the NFL:

1. The first two picks in the 2016 draft, the Los Angeles Rams’ Jared Goff and the Philadelphia Eagles’ Carson Wentz, meet for the first time Sunday to start what could be a classic rivalry over the next decade. And the stakes are high for both teams with the Eagles at 10-2 and the Rams at 9-3. This is the Eagles’ second game in a row on the West Coast, so they practiced in California after the loss in Seattle rather than fly back to Philadelphia. Wentz and the Eagles’ high-flying offense were held to 10 points in a 24-10 loss to Seattle. Wentz threw an interception and lost a fumble into the end zone in that game and will be looking to bounce back.

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Garoppolo trade already looking like a risky decision by Belichick

All it took was one game to get the Jimmy Garoppolo hype machine ignited.

San Francisco general manager John Lynch even said in a radio interview on KNBR that was reported by the San Francisco Chronicle that if he had Garoppolo as his quarterback in Tampa Bay, Lynch would have five Super Bowl rings instead of one.

The Chronicle reported that Lynch then laughed, and it was obvious hyperbole, but Lynch probably would have won more than one Super Bowl in Tampa Bay with a good quarterback.

In the 1999 NFC title game against St. Louis, the Tampa Bay defense held the Greatest Show on Turf to 11 points but lost 11-6 because they didn’t have a good quarterback or offense.

Still, even Lynch said that the game winning drive Garoppolo led against Chicago was just one game and they have to “pump the breaks’’ on the hype for the young QB.

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Taking a look back: NFL Week 13

A look back on Week 13 in the NFL:

1. The Steelers rallied from an early 17-0 deficit to beat Cincinnati 23-20 on a late field goal of 38 yards by Chris Boswell to remain tied with the New England Patriots at 9-2 for the best record in the AFC. The two teams meet a week from Sunday. But the victory was overshadowed by a spine injury suffered by Steeler linebacker Ryan Shazier in the first quarter. Shazier underwent surgery after returning to Pittsburgh and his season is apparently over and there are fears his career could end. The game also featured several illegal hits including one by JuJu Smith-Schuster on Vontaze Burfict that knocked him out of the game. Smith-Schuster was suspended for a game. The Bengals’ George Iloka also was originally suspended for a game but the suspension was overturned on appeal. The two teams have a history – Burfict knocked Antonio Brown of a playoff game last week and he was sidelined the following week when the Steelers were eliminated by the Patriots. Clearly, the rivalry needs to be toned down.

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