THE NFL REPORT

The good, bad and ugly: Big wins for Eagles, Panthers and a lot of injuries and rough stuff

Carson Wentz of the Eagles played well before a season-ending injury. Eagles Team Web site

The playoff picture is clearer now. Seed jockeying is taking place. Late season upsets could disrupt, or possibly end a team’s season prematurely at this point. Teams around this point of the season are what their record says they are. Some perform according to that record, others play spoiler because their season hasn’t gone according to plan.

The Good

-In the heavyweight fight between the Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles, the Eagles came out victorious 43-35. This was a great game between the #1 (Jared Goff of the Rams) and #2 (Carson Wentz of the Eagles) overall quarterback picks of a year ago. The Eagles now are in the driver’s seat for the #1 seed in the NFC, but will have to go the rest of the way with backup Nick Foles since starter Wentz was diagnosed with a torn ACL.

-In what was sure to be a semi-emotionally charged game because of what happened last week, the New York Giants fell to the Dallas Cowboys 30-10. Giants quarterback Eli Manning made another start, but was overshadowed by Cowboys’ second year quarterback Dak Prescott. Prescott went 20/30 for 332 yards and three touchdowns. Prescott proved he can, in fact, carry the Cowboys without star running back Ezekiel Elliott. Sure the Giants were 2-10 entering the game, but they’re still an NFL team going against a heated division rival.

-Rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky led the Chicago Bears to a 33-7 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. Trubisky went 25/32 for 271 yards and a touchdown. Some will discount this as an OK performance over a bad team at the end of the season, but he’s shown flashes of being something special every so often. I expect good things from this kid, provided the Bears organization surrounds him with the proper pieces.

The Bad

-The Carolina Panthers beat the Minnesota Vikings 31-24. Vikings quarterback Case Keenum will undoubtedly be pointed to as the reason for the loss because he was responsible for all three of the Vikings turnovers (2 interceptions and a lost fumble). However, the Vikings stingy defense gave up 216 yards on 36 carries for a 6 yard per carry average. Really hope this isn’t the impetus to a quarterback change because Keenum is the one of the main reasons the Vikings are 10-3.

- The Cleveland Browns camethisclose to ending their winless streak. They fought hard and gave the Green Bay Packers all they could handle, but eventually gave up a 21-7 lead and lost in overtime 27-21. The Packers tied it up with 17 seconds left when Brett Hundley found Davante Adams in the endzone. That duo hooked up again in overtime as Adams took a wide receiver screen to the house. The “Factory of Sadness” continues in Cleveland.

-The New England Patriots were upset by the Miami Dolphins 27-20 in a bit of a shocker. The Patriots have been one of the best teams in the league this year, while the Jay Cutler-led Dolphins have been a disappointment. The biggest tell-tale stat of the game was the fact that the Patriots didn’t convert a third down all game!

The Ugly

-The Buffalo Bills/Indianapolis Colts game was extremely hard to watch. The teams squared off in blizzard-like conditions. Wearing their red color rush uniforms, the Bills were somewhat easy to keep track of. The Colts all-white was like camouflage against the reported 6-11 inches of snow. The game was tied at 7 at the end of regulation and mercifully ended in overtime with a LeSean McCoy touchdown run.

- The New Orleans Saints lost star rookie running back Alvin Kamara to a concussion on the opening possession of the game. They also lost guard Senio Kelemente (filling in for the injured Andrus Peat) and three defensive starters in the 20-17 Thursday night loss to the Atlanta Falcons. After the game, Saints quarterback Drew Brees spoke about the displeasure of Thursday night games. Now that one of the faces of the league is speaking out against it, let’s see what’ll happen. Don’t expect any changes until the next round of negotiations for television contracts is up.

-The Jacksonville Jaguars beat the Seattle Seahawks 30-24 in what some might call a mild upset. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson threw three interceptions, but that wasn’t even the worst part of the game. Towards the end of the game, Seahawks defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson was ejected for throwing punches. On the very next play, Seahawks defensive end Quinton Jefferson was tossed after another kerfuffle. On his way to the locker, an uber-classy Jags fan threw a beer on him which Jefferson took exception, and attempted to go after said idiot. Security prevented another “Malice in the Palace” incident, but this kind of behavior from fans has to stop.  

Some things are a part of life we simply can’t avoid. Some, however, are events we can do without. Hearing Carson Wentz tore his ACL was rough. It’s a similar feeling to playing Duck Hunt when the duck gets away because you’re a terrible shot (but you refuse to cheat by putting the gun too close) and the duck flies off, only to see that stupid dog laughing at you. The Eagles looked like the clear cut favorite to come out the NFC, and possibly take home the Lombardi Trophy, but that’s life. Injuries are as a part of football as the ball itself. Some are preventable, most are unavoidable. There’s always going to be injuries, idiot fans, unfavorable weather conditions, bad/good teammates. It’s what teams/players/coaches are able to do in spite of those circumstances that prove them worth their weight and then some. Just like normal life for us regular folk.

*Bonus: A play coaches should show their kids was Eagles linebacker Mychal Kendricks fighting off three Rams offensive lineman to run down Todd Gurley on a screen pass and stop him from scoring. Seeing him keep his balance, not give up on the play, and make the play is something kids these days could learn from. “It ain’t over, till it’s over!”- Yogi Berra  

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Houston now focused on postseason

Altuve and Correa homer, Astros drop final regular-season game

Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

With no playoff impact at stake if the Astros won or lost the game, Houston took Sunday's final regular-season game as a chance to get their lineup a few more at-bats before shifting focus to Tuesday's first game of the post-season. Here is a quick recap of the game against the Rangers:

Final Score: Rangers 8, Astros 4.

Record: 29-31, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Wes Benjamin (2-1, 4.84 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Chase De Jong (0-1, 14.73 ERA).

Houston's main bats get a final tune-up

Knowing they'd only have a couple of at-bats to work with, some of Houston's big bats took advantage, starting with Jose Altuve. He crushed a pitch in the top of the first, a solo homer to put the Astros in front 1-0. After the Rangers tied the game 1-1 in the bottom of the second, Altuve started the third with a walk before moving to third base on a Michael Brantley single, which improved Brantley's season average to .300.

Aledmys Diaz would pick up the RBI on a groundout to score Altuve, putting Houston back in front 2-1. In Correa's last at-bat in the top of the fourth, he extended the lead to 3-1 with a solo home run of his own.

Rangers hand Astros a loss to end the regular season

After getting the early run against Chase De Jong, the Rangers would put together a big inning against him in the fourth. After two one-out singles, Rougned Odor would give Texas their first lead of the day on a three-run homer to make it 4-3.

De Jong would continue to struggle in the inning, getting just one more out while loading the bases, prompting a move to the bullpen to bring in Nivaldo Rodriguez to try and eat up more innings. The Rangers greeted him with a two-RBI single to extend their lead to 6-3 before ending the fourth. Odor would hit his second home run of the game in the bottom of the fifth, a solo shot to make it a four-run lead at 7-3.

Rodriguez allowed another run in the bottom of the seventh, making it 8-3. Diaz, who drove in a run earlier, would account for another RBI in the top of the eighth, getting Houston's third solo homer of the day. That would make it an 8-4 game, which would go final as the Rangers would win the regular season's last game.

Up Next: Houston's first game of the playoffs will be on Tuesday, with the start time and opponent TBD while the rest of today's games wrap up, and the schedule is announced. Regardless, the Astros are expected to begin that best-of-three series with Zack Greinke (3-3, 4.03 ERA).

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