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Todd Gurley and the Rams

Todd Gurley and the Rams

Not only did the Los Angeles Rams finish first in the NFC West with an 11-5 record in 2017, but the team also swept our postseason awards, as chosen by NFL Nation NFC West reporters Alden Gonzalez (Rams), Brady Henderson (Seahawks), Nick Wagoner (49ers) and Josh Weinfuss (Cardinals).

Coach of the Year: Sean McVay, Rams

Considering that McVay is the favorite to be the NFL Coach of the Year, it was a no-brainer that he would earn that honor for the NFC West division. McVay was a unanimous choice here, and why wouldn’t he be? All McVay, who at 30 was the youngest head coach in modern league history at the time of his hire, did in his first season was lead one of the most dramatic turnarounds in recent memory. He took a team that was 4-12 and dreadful offensively a year ago and turned it into a supercharged juggernaut that went 11-5 and won the NFC West. McVay’s influence was most evident in the offense, taking a group that averaged a league-low 14 points per game in 2016 and turning it into a unit (with some key additions at receiver and on the offensive line) that posted 29.9 points per game in 2017. It was the first time in the Super Bowl era an offense went from worst to first in one year.

“It’s just everything he’s done since he got here,” Rams quarterback Jared Goff told reporters of McVay’s impact. “From Day 1, it’s been so impressive. He hasn’t changed a bit. Same demeanor every day and goes about his business the same way, and I think it rubs off on the players and rubs off on me, for sure.”

Along the way, McVay helped Goff erase any premature bust labels and helped running back Todd Gurley emerge as a legitimate MVP candidate. — Wagoner

Offensive Player of the Year: Todd Gurley, RB, Rams

A lot happened when Gurley sprinted 57 yards to the end zone against the Seahawks in Week 15. That score gave Gurley’s Rams a 34-0 lead, putting out of reach a game that gave Los Angeles a viselike grip on the NFC West title. And as Gurley raced past Seattle’s defense for his third of four touchdowns that December afternoon, he also thrust himself into the MVP conversation. Gurley led the NFL with 2,093 scrimmage yards, despite sitting out Week 17 with the division already clinched. He finished second in rushing (1,305) and receiving yards (788) among running backs after being edged out in both categories on the final day. Gurley’s 19 combined rushing and receiving touchdowns were five more than any other player.

“He’s really the centerpiece,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said of Gurley, whose stats might be good enough for him to become the first non-quarterback to win league MVP since Adrian Peterson did it in 2012 with the Vikings.

“That was the last time a back won the MVP, and this year should be the next time,” Rams center John Sullivan, a teammate of Peterson that season, told ESPN.com. “Who knows how it will play out, but look, Todd is the best back in the league. And that’s what Adrian was at that time.” — Henderson

Defensive Player of the Year: Aaron Donald, DT, Rams

Donald missed the first regular-season game, sat out the last one and spent an entire summer in a contractual holdout. He still led the league in pressures and led defensive tackles in sacks, and he might just win NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said Donald is “obviously the best defensive player in the league,” so of course he was voted the best defensive player in the NFC West this season.

“He’s not superhuman,” Phillips said, “but he’s almost unstoppable.”

Despite facing constant double- and triple-teams, Donald registered a career-high-tying 11 sacks in 14 games. (He would’ve had a 12th in Week 16, but the NFL took it away because Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota picked up his own fumble and ran with it.) Donald’s 91 pressures were more than any other player, according to Pro Football Focus, even though it’s significantly more difficult to pressure the quarterback from between the tackles. In a first-round playoff loss to the Atlanta Falcons, Donald registered a season-high 11 pressures, 10 of which came in the first half.

“We’ve never seen anybody pressure the quarterback as much as he does,” Rams edge rusher Matt Longacre said of his teammate. — Gonzalez

Rookie of the Year: Cooper Kupp, WR, Rams

Hollywood wasn’t too big for Kupp. The small-school wide receiver shined as bright as any movie premiere as a rookie for the Rams, who selected Kupp in the third round out of Eastern Washington. Kupp, who played alongside the likes of Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods, led the Rams in receiving with 869 yards. He also led the team with 95 targets and converted a team-high 42 first downs. He was counted on by Goff and McVay from the onset of his rookie season, running 24 routes in his debut in Week 1, which resulted in four catches for 76 yards and a touchdown. He ran 425 routes in 2017, the second most on the Rams.

But Kupp’s impact wasn’t limited. He was second on the team in receptions, yards after catch and receiving yards after contact.

“Regardless of where you come from, I believe in myself coming into this and being able to play at this level, so it’s obviously great being able to help produce. But I think just being a part of this team, having coaches that put you in the right position players alongside you that make this game easy,” he said.

Kupp, who had five touchdown catches, was consistent throughout the season, with at least two catches in every game. His biggest games of the year came down the stretch. He had 116 yards on a career-high eight catches in a Week 12 win over the New Orleans Saints. Two weeks later, in a loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, he set a career high with 118 yards, complemented by a touchdown, on five catches. That included a 64-yard reception — the longest of his career. — Weinfuss

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Buffalo Bills

Buffalo Bills

It was Alabama coach Nick Saban’s decision to put true freshman Tua Tagovailoa on the field in the College Football Playoff National Championship last week, but it was offensive coordinator Brian Daboll’s play call that led to Tagovailoa’s game-winning touchdown in overtime.

Weighed down by an offense that scored only three touchdowns in seven games against playoff teams this season, the Buffalo Bills are hoping to steal some of the Crimson Tide’s magic. Coach Sean McDermott plucked Daboll away from Alabama on Sunday to become Buffalo’s fifth offensive coordinator in five seasons.

Now the Bills must do what Saban did by signing Tagovailoa, who was ESPN’s top-rated recruit at his position: find a quarterback.

That would be a novel development for Daboll, whose quarterbacks in his three previous stints as an NFL offensive coordinator have been Brady Quinn, Derek Anderson, Colt McCoy, Jake Delhomme, Seneca Wallace, Matt Moore, Chad Henne and Matt Cassel.
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Over that span, Daboll’s offenses finished 32nd (Cleveland Browns in 2009), 29th (Browns in 2010), 22nd (Miami Dolphins in 2011) and 24th (Kansas City Chiefs in 2012) in total yards.

Daboll has not worked miracles with any of the quarterbacks he has been given in his NFL career, but the Bills should not ask Daboll to try to turn an average starter such as Tyrod Taylor into something greater.

Buffalo is better off investing the resources in finding the next star at quarterback and seeing if Daboll can help steer the ship. That is what Daboll successfully did in a brief glimpse on a national stage when Tagovailoa replaced Jalen Hurts in the second half of the national championship.

The Bills fired Rick Dennison as offensive coordinator last week after one season on the job. Dennison had a background in coaching offensive lines and had been given full playcalling duties for the first time this past season.

Dennison seemed to overthink short-yardage and red-zone situations and struggled to get Taylor to push the ball downfield, frustrating fans by dialing up plays that ultimately resulted in check-down passes to fullback Patrick DiMarco or backup running back Mike Tolbert.

It is only one playcall, but Daboll showed a more aggressive streak when he had Alabama’s receivers run “Seattle” — four vertical routes — on second-and-26 in overtime. Tagovailoa had just taken a first-down sack and Daboll could have played it more conservatively to try to match Georgia’s field goal on the previous possession. But the gamble to go for the end zone paid off, with Daboll collecting the sixth championship ring of his career.

The Bills could benefit from Daboll’s experience at Alabama, as well as his five Super Bowl titles as an assistant coach for the New England Patriots. But in order for Daboll to prove himself as an effective NFL offensive coordinator in his fourth try, he will need a quarterback.

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — In the wake of an ESPN report that detailed friction between coach Bill Belichick, quarterback Tom Brady and owner Robert Kraft, Belichick said Monday that it was “absolutely” his intention to return as coach of the New England Patriots in 2018.

Belichick’s answer in a conference call with reporters came after ESPN’s report said that “those interviewed describe a palpable sense in the building that this might be the last year together for this group.”

The ESPN report said Belichick received a mandate from Kraft to trade quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, and that Belichick was “furious and demoralized, according to friends.”

Asked about the reported mandate, Belichick said Monday, “I haven’t read the article. I’ve already commented at length about that situation. Nothing has happened since then. So I don’t have anything to add to it.”

Belichick also responded to whether the characterization that he was “furious and demoralized” was accurate. “First of all, I don’t really know what you’re talking about; I haven’t read the article,” he said. “I don’t know what that refers to. Look, I know we’ve been through this before. I know you want to report on things that are inaccurate and unattributable. I’m not really interested in responding to all those random, and I would say in a lot of cases, baseless comments.”

The Patriots host the Tennessee Titans on Saturday night in the AFC divisional round of the playoffs.

Later Monday, in his weekly interview on sports radio WEEI, Belichick was asked how he would describe his relationship with Brady and Kraft.

“Great. Great. Eighteen years with Tom, and [19] with Robert. It’s been great,” Belichick said. “I appreciate everything Robert has done for me, the opportunity he’s given me, the support. And I’ve been pretty lucky to have Tom as the quarterback for 18 years, playing for 17 years. He’s a great player to coach, and he’s done a lot for this team, and he’s been a huge help to me personally. I have a great relationship with both Robert and Tom. And I would throw in there, since I was part of the article, I feel like I have a good professional relationship with Alex [Guerrero] too.”

Asked if Kraft has ever told him to make a trade he didn’t want to make, Belichick said: “We’ve never done that. We talk about things organizationally and make organizational decisions.”

Belichick was then asked about a few parts of the ESPN article.

When asked about the line that read, “Belichick, having always subscribed to the philosophy that it’s time to go once an owner gets involved in football decisions, left the impression with some friends that the current dynamic was unsustainable,” Belichick said on WEEI: “Once again, I’m not going to reply to all the individual; none of those statements are attributable to anybody. They’re all just anonymous quotes, and so I’m not even going to give the credibility to those anonymous quotes by replying to them.”

Asked about a different part of the story that noted Belichick “has even become good friends with [Roger] Goodell; the two men had a long and private meeting, which two sources told ESPN occurred during the off week after the regular season, when the commissioner visited Foxborough,” Belichick said on WEEI: “That is absolutely not true. The last time I saw the commissioner was before our game against Oakland in Mexico City. He was on the sideline, I saw him before the game, and we wished each other well. That’s the last time I saw him.”

Asked what his relationship is like with Goodell, Belichick said on WEEI, “Again, he’s the commissioner. Certainly, I’m a coach, he’s a commissioner. I think we know what that kind of relationship is; as far as saying hello to him and talking to him and that kind of thing. But seeing him last week? No.”

As for if he would characterize his relationship with Goodell as “good friends”, Belichick said on WEEI, “I don’t know what that means. I’m not going to reply to each individual anonymous quote. Somebody wants to put their name on something and talk about it? I would consider that. For every anonymous opinion and quote that’s out there, I don’t feel obligated to reply to all those, by any means.”

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Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis

Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis

Some people are mad. Others apathetic. A few supportive. We’ve even reached the burning jerseys in the snow and posting to social media portion of the program.

One aspect we can settle on in the wake of Marvin Lewis’ controversial return on a two-year contract: Everybody has an opinion.

The problem is, these opinions aren’t always based in fact. After 15 years, criticisms shifted both Mike Brown and Marvin Lewis into almost caricatures of themselves. It’s easy to lose sight of what complaints own merit and which are fallacy repeated into relevancy.

So, I asked those of you filling up my mentions to drop your primary gripe with Brown and Lewis on me, so I could find the most stated and dive into whether these are fact or fiction.

This came with the caveat of 0-7 in the playoffs not serving as a viable complaint because it’s the obvious, undeniable failure of the Lewis-Brown partnership.

Over the next five days, I take on the five most mentioned.

Today: Lewis struggles with halftime adjustments?

This showed up the most because it burns vividly into the recent memory of fans. The last two seasons have been filled with prominent games where the Bengals jumped out to leads at the break and were flattened in the second half.

If not for the shocking fourth-and-12 touchdown against Baltimore, the dramatic season finale would have looked like so many disappointments of a double-digit halftime evaporated into a day of what could have been.

Lewis debates the validity of “halftime adjustments.” With 12 minutes to enter the locker room and return to the field, only so many changes in plans can be discussed, to be certain.

“The ‘adjustment,’ that’s more journalism jargon than truth,” he said in a press conference to close the 2016 season.

Whether talking about actual adjustments or evaluating late-game performance, that’s merely semantics.

The truth lies in the numbers, in this case.

Let’s start with the last two seasons before pulling back to the big picture.

In the 14 games where the Bengals led at the half the last two years they went 9-5. The .643 winning percentage ranks 28th in the NFL over that span.

Since the Andy Dalton-A.J. Green Era commenced in 2011, the Bengals led at the half 59 times. They finished 44-14-1 in those games. That .754 record ranks 18th in the NFL over the span.

Now running all the way back to the beginning of the Marvin Lewis Era, the Bengals have gone 88-31-2 in games where they led at halftime. That .736 mark ranks 23rd in the NFL over that time.

Only once in Lewis’ 15 seasons have the Bengals finished in the top 10 of the NFL in protecting halftime leads. On the flip side, seven times they finished in the bottom 10.

No matter the era of which you break down, the Bengals have finished in the bottom half of the league or worse in holding on to a halftime lead.

The New England Patriots, unsurprisingly, lead the NFL in protecting leads over the span with a .913 winning percentage, going 147-14 when leading at the break since 2003.

Perhaps a better comparison would be the Bengals’ direct AFC North rival, Pittsburgh. The Steelers rank third in the NFL over the Lewis Era with a .865 winning percentage.

If the Bengals would have protected halftime leads at the same clip during the Lewis Era, they would have 17 more wins. That equates to more than one win per season and on more than one occasion serve as the difference between winning and losing the division or making the playoffs.

Speaking of the postseason, Cincinnati owned a halftime lead in two of the seven playoff losses. In 2005 against Pittsburgh and 2013 against the Chargers they led at the break by a field goal. They were outscored by a combined 37 points after halftime in those defeats.

Whether all this stems from “adjustments” or that’s truly journalism jargon for teams that don’t make enough plays in defining moments probably doesn’t matter in this case.

Call it what you want, the numbers back up the most common fan complaint.

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New York Jets

New York Jets

If the New York Jets fall in love with a quarterback in the 2018 NFL draft, they would be willing to trade up if they don’t think he’ll last until the sixth pick.

So says general manager Mike Maccagnan.

The question was posed to him Wednesday on the Humpty & Canty Show on ESPN New York 98.7, and he replied “yes” without hesitation.

“The simple answer to that question is yes,” Maccagnan said. “If that was a player we felt strong about, we would have no qualms of potentially trying to go up and get him.”

In three drafts, Maccagnan has yet to trade up in the first round, although he made inquiries in 2016. That’s the year quarterbacks Jared Goff and Carson Wentz were selected one-two.

Maccagnan said he’d be interested in trading up for any position if he felt it was worth it, but we all know it’s apples and oranges when it comes to quarterbacks and other positions. By acknowledging he’s open to going up for a quarterback, Maccagnan is basically saying he’s willing to pay the enormous price it would take to make such a move.

How much are we talking about?

In 2016, the Philadelphia Eagles moved from eighth to second and it cost them their first-round pick in 2017 and their second-rounder in 2018, along with a couple of mid-round picks. They wound up with Wentz, so no one in Philadelphia is complaining.

The Jets probably would have to surrender a similar package to secure the first or second overall pick.

As for the actual players, the quarterback landscape still hasn’t been settled. Of the top prospects, Josh Allen (Wyoming) and Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma) are the only ones we know for sure will be in the draft. Sam Darnold (USC) and Josh Rosen (UCLA) have yet to declare their intentions. The deadline is Jan. 15.

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Vance Joseph will return as the Denver Broncos’ head coach for the 2018 season, team president John Elway announced Monday.

Elway tweeted that he and Joseph talked Monday morning and that the Broncos “believe in Vance as our head coach.”

Joseph, 45, guided the Broncos to a 5-11 record and a last-place finish in the AFC West in his first season as an NFL head coach.

“I think it’s great [that Joseph is returning],” quarterback Trevor Siemian said. “He’s got the locker room. He’s got the respect of the guys. Times like this, it’s easy to point fingers. The thing is, nobody in here has done that, and that’s a credit to Coach Joseph and how he steered this thing.”

Joseph is the 16th head coach in Broncos franchise history and the first African-American to be hired for the job. Assistant head coach Eric Studesville was Denver’s interim head coach for four games in 2010 after Josh McDaniels was fired.

Studesville was one of six assistants fired on Monday. Special teams coordinator Brock Olivo, offensive line coach Jeff Davidson, wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert and assistant defensive backs coach Johnnie Lynn also were let go. In addition, outside linebackers coach Fred Pagac will not have his contract renewed.

Joseph replaced Gary Kubiak a year ago when Kubiak stepped away from coaching because of health concerns. At the time of Joseph’s hiring, Broncos president John Elway called him “a very good football coach and teacher who is ready for this opportunity.” Elway also gave Joseph a show of support in mid-November when he publicly said that all involved with the Broncos had gotten “a little bit soft.”

Elway later said he didn’t believe the Broncos were going to make a coaching change during the season, just before Denver snapped an eight-game losing streak on Dec. 10 with a victory over the Jets.

Stability and consistency at quarterback were among the primary reasons for the Broncos’ last-place finish this season, as Siemian, Paxton Lynch and Brock Osweiler all started games under center.

The Broncos’ eight-game losing streak from Oct. 15 to Dec. 3 was their longest since 1967; six of those losses were by double digits and four by at least 20 points.

“I think it’s on us as players,” running back C.J. Anderson said. “We didn’t hold up our end of the bargain to help [Joseph] and all the coaches. I can promise you, sitting right here — you can put it on record — [when] he gets a second chance, our record won’t be 5-11. We won’t have a losing season.”

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Philadelphia Eagles

Philadelphia Eagles

Philadelphia Eagles faithful received Foles for Christmas. The fanbase couldn’t have asked for more since the Eagles secured home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with Monday’s 19-10 victory over the Oakland Raiders at Lincoln Financial Field

Monday’s performance showed the Eagles’ success doesn’t rely on the quarterback position. Carson Wentz may have been an early MVP favorite, but Philadelphia can compete with Nick Foles under center.

Doug Pederson’s squad has a chance because of its schematic design, offensive weapons and an impressive defensive front. Great quarterback play makes life easier for everyone. It’s not a necessity to secure a Lombardi Trophy, though

However, room for error is far smaller, and this became evident during Monday’s mistake-filled affair. The overall approach does need to change.

A week ago, many believed a Foles renaissance occurred when the sixth-year signal-caller completed 63.2 percent of his passes for 237 yards and four touchdowns against a pitiful New York Giants defense. He didn’t fare nearly as well against an equally awful Raiders D. Foles connected on 50.0 percent of his passes for 163 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Safety Reggie Nelson also dropped a sure pick-six.

Foles is a downgrade from Wentz.

Duh.

The life of a backup quarterback is usually one of inconsistency and just trying to keep an offense afloat. Still, Foles has plenty of help to keep the Eagles flying high well into the playoffs.

What truly makes Philadelphia a dangerous squad moving forward is a coaching staff that is counted among the league’s best and the depth found at numerous positions.

This starts with the running attack and how it’s devised.

Philadelphia features three physical backs, and each can carry the load when called upon to do so. LeGarrette Blount leads the way with 729 rushing yards. Jay Ajayi is the team’s most explosive back, and his 6.4 yards per carry since joining the Eagles tops the league if he had enough carries to qualify. Rookie Corey Clement cemented his status among the rotation, and his four rushing touchdowns lead the group.

Pederson helps his backs by creating natural lanes and giving these punishing backs more room to run. A favorite play is known as “crunch.” Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh described the concept in the video below, courtesy of James Light Football:

The goal is to force defenders into false steps simply by reading their keys, thus creating better angles for the offensive linemen and runners.

This specific play pulls the frontside guard. The defensive tackle is taught to squeeze the gap after the blocker vacates. In doing so, he unwittingly creates more space for the oncoming wham block from the tight end.

Also, the linebacker behind the defensive tackle is reading the back through the guard. Thus, he’ll take a false step or two in the pulling guard’s direction.

Big backs often struggle with lateral movement. They’re downhill runners. These type of play calls create more space in a league where defenders close in the blink of an eye.

The play of the offensive line is crucial. Injuries have taken their toll, particularly on the left side with Halapoulivaati Vaitai at tackle and Chance Warmack at guard. But the staff does a good job playing to the group’s strengths.

Jason Kelce is arguably the game’s best center (and a Pro Bowl snub). His one-of-a-kind athleticism separates him from the rest, as seen below, per The Ringer’s Robert Mays:

Why should a coach try to bang its team’s proverbial head against the wall by trying to be physical and uproot defensive linemen when he can scheme toward his blockers’ strengths?

Kelce can move. Lane Johnson is fantastic in space. Warmack is at his best driving forward. Brandon Brooks is quite nimble at 335 pounds. Give Vaitai some help, and this group can accomplish special things.

A symbiotic relationship then forms between an offensive front and a team’s run game. Eventually, it allows the offense to expand its repertoire. For example, the Eagles scored their only offensive touchdown courtesy of an Ajayi screen pass, per the NFL:

While nothing should be taken away from Ajayi’s first career receiving touchdown, the blocks seen above are beautiful. Kelce raced downfield and led the way, while Warmack obliterated a defender.

Philadelphia claims a talented backfield, and it should be relied upon moving forward, but its success is derived from tremendous blocking schemes and an underrated front.

The passing game is a little more difficult to predict due to Foles’ inconsistency and the weak spot found at left tackle. However, the Eagles feature one of the game’s top mismatches in Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz.

Ertz ranks top three among tight ends in receptions (72) and yardage (800). He may not receive the same recognition as the New England Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski or Kansas City Chiefs’ Travis Kelce, but the Eagles offense simply couldn’t operate without him.

The fifth-year target’s versatility makes him difficult to contain.

Pederson places Ertz in many different spots. Against Oakland, the 27-year-old tight end lined up on the wing, in the slot, in-line, and motioned across the formation. A defense must account for him at all times, even though it doesn’t know where he’s going to be once Philadelphia breaks the huddle.

The Eagles feature numerous other weapons in Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith and Nelson Agholor. But they don’t present the opportunities an athletic 6’5″, 250-pound tight end does.

Even with the talent found on offense, Jim Schwartz’s defense will be Philadelphia’s calling card as it enters the postseason. Monday’s performance showed exactly why the Eagles are still dangerous even when Foles isn’t playing efficient football.

The unit forced five turnovers, sacked Derek Carr once and pressured the Raiders quarterback seven more times.

Sacks are a wonderful stat. Defenders love to bring an opposing quarterback to the ground and do their little dance. Pressure is the key, though. Pressure leads to big plays. Ronald Darby’s last-minute interception was a direct result of pressure applied by Vinny Curry, as seen below:

Curry is one of many defensive linemen the Eagles can bring. Ten-year veteran Chris Long isn’t even a starter, yet he finished with four quarterback hits, a sack and a forced fumble. First-round rookie Derek Barnett sealed the game with a fumble recovery and touchdown. Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox is a monster at the point of attack and regularly controls the line of scrimmage. Timmy Jernigan and Brandon Graham can take over games, too.

Schwartz’s defensive front is filled with war daddies, and the pressure they create allows the entire defense to be more aggressive. Sometimes, the defensive backs can be too aggressive—which leads to plays like Amari Cooper’s 63-yard touchdown reception—but it’s all by design.

The defense can keep Philadelphia afloat. By attacking opposing signal-callers and making them uncomfortable, the advantage they may present over Foles can be neutralized.

The Minnesota Vikings aren’t overwhelming with Case Keenum behind center. The Los Angeles Rams are about to enter the playoffs for the first time since 2004 with an unproven second-year signal-caller. Cam Newton is the former 2015 MVP, but he’s also been sacked 33 times and intercepted 13 times. Matt Ryan hasn’t been nearly as effective with Steve Sarkisian calling the plays.

Really, the New Orleans Saints with Drew Brees is the only team the Eagles should be worried about while holding a home-field advantage.

A first-round bye will certainly help. Also, the weather may play a factor. An outdoor team like the Eagles holds a natural advantage against the three dome teams in the playoff mix. Keenum, for example, didn’t perform well against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on Saturday. Goff hasn’t played a cold-weather game.

As of now, Foles and Co. will await the lowest-remaining seed out of the Wild Card Round.

Whatever the future holds, the Eagles don’t expect to do their best impression of Santa Claus with a one-and-done postseason appearance.

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Indianapolis Colts

Indianapolis Colts

Adam Vinatieri announced after the Indianapolis Colts’ 23-16 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday that he’s planning to return for a 23rd NFL season, according to Colts.com’s Andrew Walker.

Vinatieri, 44, has anchored the Indianapolis Colts’ kicking game since 2006, and he’s proved over the past few years that age is just a number.

The oldest active player in the NFL, Vinatieri has remained effective since turning 40. That much was clear in 2014, when the four-time Super Bowl champion made a career- and league-high 96.8 percent of his field goals.

Vinatieri banged home 92.6 percent of his attempts the following season, and he’s been above 80 percent the ensuing two campaigns.

After posting an 87.1 percent conversion rate in 2016, Vinatieri has successfully booted 84.4 percent of his attempts in 2017, including going 6-of-7 between 40-49 yards and 4-of-5 from at least 50 yards out.

With one game remaining in his 22nd season, Vinatieri ranks second all-time behind Hall of Fame kicker Morten Andersen in total points (2,479) and made field goals (557).

But with a return to the gridiron on deck, Vinatieri appears poised to eclipse Andersen’s marks before he calls it a career.

The question moving forward is where Vinatieri—who was the only unanimous selection to the NFL’s Super Bowl 50 Golden Team—will lace up his cleats in 2018 since he’s scheduled to become a free agent when the new league year begins in March.

“Indianapolis is home to me and my family. I love the Irsay family, but I understand this is a business,” Vinatieri said, per Walker. “I just know I’m going to play another year.”

Despite the uncertainty, Vinatieri’s body of work speaks for itself and should be able to land him a job in Indianapolis or elsewhere as teams across the league look for steadier place-kicking solutions before the start of next season.

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Jonathan Allen

Jonathan Allen

The Washington Redskins won’t bring back their first-round draft pick, Alabama defensive lineman Jonathan Allen, for the final two games of the season, Coach Jay Gruden said Monday. Instead, the team will give the defensive lineman a few more months to recover from the foot surgery that derailed his rookie season in Week 6.

“I think by the time he gets back out to practice and gets in shape, I think the season will be over,” Gruden told reporters Monday, adding that he felt the 6-foot-3, 288-pound Allen was in good shape in general but noted that “football shape” was a different standard.

The plan instead is to point toward Allen’s return for offseason workouts next spring.

Allen, whom the Redskins chose with the 17th pick overall, suffered a Lisfranc injury in the Oct. 15 victory over San Francisco and underwent surgery soon after. Redskins officials said in late November they were hopeful he’d return to the lineup. But, as Gruden indicated Monday, it appears wiser to ensure he is fully recovered before returning to the game.

Allen becomes the team’s second consecutive first-round pick to have an injury-shortened rookie season.

Wide receiver Josh Doctson, whom the Redskins selected 22nd overall in the 2016 NFL draft, appeared in just two games and caught two balls before an Achilles’ ailment sidelined him the remainder of the season.

Asked how he’d grade Allen’s rookie campaign, Gruden said: “It seems like it was so long ago that he played, I can’t really remember. He was off to a good start, really. I think his strength at the point of attack was outstanding, his ability to play the run was good and then we used him in nickel situations also, which he was pushing the pocket extremely well. Sack production didn’t really tell the story about how productive he was. I think he played very well.”

In other injury news, Gruden said that cornerback Bashaud Breeland suffered an AC joint (shoulder) sprain in Sunday’s 20-15 victory over the Arizona Cardinals, and rookie Ryan Anderson, the team’s second-round pick in the 2017 draft, injured his patella tendon (knee). He described both players as “day-to-day.” Safety Montae Nicholson remains in the NFL concussion protocol.

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SEATTLE — The Los Angeles Rams were a broken team the last time they played here, on Dec. 15, 2016. They were without a head coach and without a direction, their season fading to black while uncertainty surrounded both their quarterback and their future.

Sunday, 367 days after an uninspiring defeat from CenturyLink Field on national television, marked the unofficial completion of the Rams’ breathtaking turnaround. Amid gray skies and waning interest, they slayed the mighty Seattle Seahawks with a 42-7 dismantling and all but wrapped up a division title along the way.

Todd Gurley scored four of five Rams touchdowns and Aaron Donald recorded three of seven sacks on elusive Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who was brought down more often than he had been all season. The Rams are 10-4 now, an eternity removed from the 10 straight losing seasons they carried into 2017. They lead the Seahawks by two games in the NFC West with only two games remaining, their chances of at least hosting a playoff game now a probable outcome.

“Everything has changed,” Rodger Saffold, the Rams’ eighth-year offensive lineman, said. “Just the way this team plays; the way they feel.”

Through 14 weeks, the Rams were undoubtedly the best team in their division.

On the 15th week, they needed only the first two quarters to prove that definitively.

Before halftime, Gurley rushed for 144 yards — the most by any player in the first half this season — and Donald recorded six pressures. Thanks to their defense, which held the Seahawks to 59 yards on their first 27 plays, and Pharoh Cooper, who picked up 109 yards on his first four punt returns, the Rams began five first-half drives within enemy territory and went into the locker room with a 34-0 lead that was never threatened.

Rams quarterback Jared Goff said it “seemed like we were on the 50-yard line every time we went out there.”

The Rams lost to the Seahawks at home earlier this year, but they outgained them by 134 yards and were done in by five turnovers, most of which they could’ve easily avoided.

“We felt like we did not play to the capabilities that we thought were possible when we played them the last time, and I think there was a lot of anger between us,” Rams left tackle Andrew Whitworth said. “We really just felt very disappointed in ourselves in how we played the first time we played them, and really had a bunch of opportunities to win that game and just didn’t. I think that meant a lot to us to really have that opportunity and go get it. I think guys felt that all week. There was an emotion behind that all week, and it showed today.”

The Rams started the game by forcing an opening-drive turnover for the seventh time this season, using a Tanner McEvoy fumble to set up a field goal. A Seahawks three-and-out led to a second field goal by Greg Zuerlein, who is on pace for a scoring record. Cooper returned Seattle’s second punt 53 yards to the 1-yard line, paving the way for an easy touchdown run by Gurley. Cooper returned another one 26 yards, sparking a five-play, 36-yard drive that ended in another one-yard run by Gurley.

The Seahawks finally reached Rams territory at the seven-minute mark of the second quarter. But Wilson lost 13 yards on the ensuing play and fumbled the football, setting up another touchdown drive that ended in a 1-yard pass from Goff to Robert Woods, who had missed the previous three games with a sprained left shoulder.

After the Seahawks punted for the fifth time of the first half, Gurley sealed it. He took a handoff to the left and zipped past the entire Seahawks defense, sprinting 57 yards untouched for the 16th of his NFL-leading 17 touchdowns this season.

“We didn’t want to let up,” Gurley said. “These guys have been kicking our ass for the last 10, 15 years. You have to enjoy it. You have to take advantage of the situation.”

Gurley recorded the first four-touchdown game in the NFL since 2015 with a 14-yard reception in the flat with more than 22 minutes remaining.

By the final seconds of the third quarter, CenturyLink Field — a house of horrors for many an NFL team this decade — was half full and stunningly quiet. By the fourth, the Rams had pulled most of their starters from a game that had quickly become more contentious than competitive.

The Seahawks have made five consecutive trips to the playoffs and have won the NFC West three out of the past four seasons. But the Rams, who have yet to lose back-to-back games this season, can now clinch a division title with their next win or Seahawks loss. The Rams were 4-12 in 2016 and last in every important offensive category in what became Jeff Fisher’s final year as their head coach. But now they lead the NFL in point differential and sit as the No. 3 seed in their conference.

It’s been one year since their last trip to Seattle, but everything is different now.

“That definitely feels like a while ago,” Rams safety Lamarcus Joyner said. “Out of sight, out of mind.”