QB injuries top the list of things affecting playoff teams
So, never before has Mr. Irrelevant become more relevant to an NFL season. Brock Purdy, the last player taken in the last draft (hence the Mr. Irrelevant), makes his first NFL start next week as first-place (NFC West) 49ers oppose Tom Brady and the first-place (NFC South) Buccaneers.
This past Sunday against the Dolphins, having lost Jimmy Garoppolo to a broken foot that will require surgery, he’s done through the remainder of the season, an injury to Trey Lance, too, means to the hopes and dreams of one of the top Super Bowl picks rest on the shoulders of a 22-year-old, who was the 262nd pick in the draft.
Purdy played his college ball at Iowa State, and was a four-year Cyclone starter. He twice eclipsed 3,000 yards, and twice was first-team All-Big-12. If you watched him Sunday against the Fins, it was obvious he can play the QB position. Purdy finished 25-of-37 (210 yards, two touchdowns, one interception). With him at quarterback, the 49ers outscored Miami, 30-10 (final 33-17).
It's an overreaction to say the 8-4 Niners are cooked without Garoppolo. It's a roster filled with skill players to spare, led by a defense that's one of the best in football. However, it's folly to suggest things aren't changing. Only two of the five teams left on the regular-season schedule have winning records as of now. In the playoffs, however, everyone will be good.
Against Jalen Hurts, Dak Prescott, Kirk Cousins and Brady, Purdy is going to have a tough time keeping his wits about him.
As per Super Bowl odds, Purdy and the rest of the Niners at 10-1 (+1000) to win the title.
Jackson Injures Knee
It's nothing against Jimmy Garoppolo, but while his injury isn’t season-ending to the 49ers, an injury to Lamar Jackson would be to the Ravens. Coach John Harbaugh says that the injury that knocked him out of Sunday’s game against the Broncos is not season-ending, so the quarterback and team are happy.
Harbaugh has said it's days, maybe weeks, but nothing longer. Jackson's absence could move the needle in the AFC, thus relegating the Ravens to a wild-card spot in the playoffs, They’re currently tied with the Bengals in first place at 8-4, the two teams are on a Week 18 collision course. As fans, what we can hope is everyone is healthy, and a division title is at stake for the season-ending matchup.
Tyler Huntley relieved Jackson, leading the Ravens to a no-so-pretty 10-9 win over the not-so-pretty Broncos. Huntley will start if Jackson can't go. Baltimore has the Steelers, Browns, Falcons and Steelers again before that final game Jan. 8th in Cincy.
Cowboys Lose Brown
With a Christmas Eve game looming against the Eagles, then the possibility of a rematch with Philadelphia in the playoffs, Dallas is going to spend the rest of the season shorthanded on defense. Sunday night, they lost cornerback Anthony Brown to a torn Achilles.
The lateness in the season-ending injury, makes the beginning of next season questionable regarding seventh-year pro. Brown had started all 12 Cowboy games, including Sunday night’s eventual rout of Indianapolis. He has nine interceptions in his career.
Taking his place is rookie fifth-rounder DaRon Bland, who has three interceptions this season.
Watson’s Unimpressive Return
The vitriol that many expected to accompany Deshaun Watson back to Houston in his return to the NFL never materialized, and neither did his All-Pro level of football. The Browns won, 27-14, utilizing their special teams (punt return) and defense (fumble recovery, interception) to get all three of their touchdowns. Watson ended looking far less impressive than Jacoby Brissett had in Cleveland's first 11 games this season.
Watson was 12-of-22 (131 yards), a terrible interception in the end zone. He was rusty, his timing was off, and he wasn’t good. He is going to get better, perhaps losing the robotic element to his game that previously wasn’t there.
At least through one game, Watson didn’t come close to justifying the backlash.
If you think 5-7 Cleveland can effectively run the table, they are at 28-1 (+2800) to win the AFC North, according to NFL odds.