1. Teams around the league are handing the reins to their back-ups down the final stretch of the season. The Browns are playing Johnny Manziel ovr Josh McCown, the Rams are starting Case Keenum over Nick Foles, the 49ers have placed Colin Kaepernick on the injured reserve to give Blaine Gabbert the lead role, and even the Broncos are letting Brock Osweiler play over Peyton Manning- possibly permanently.
It's week 11. The time where I said the trade deadline actually should be put into effect. Teams aren't committing to their future when they still have a chance to make the playoffs in the first half of the season, but this seems to be the sweet spot and moving the trade deadline to week 11 would align the NFL with the deadlines of the rest of the major sports leagues.
2. ESPN's Adam Schefter noted that there are only 11 teams with winning records entering week 11, which is the lowest mark since 1990, and there were four fewer teams in the league at that time (Ravens, Jaguars, Panthers, Texans). 1990 also had two 9-0 teams in the 49ers and Bill Belichick's Super Bowl Champion Giants, just like the Panthers and Bill Belichick's future Super Bowl Champion Patriots.
Better competition != better product. While the Patriots and Giants game drew 28.3 million viewers as the most-watched game on CBS this season, and games have been closer than ever before, the bad teams are really bad and the mediocre teams are also bad. This isn't a case of better teams providing better competition. It's just a drop in quality across the board.
3. Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning has been benched with a foot injury, halfway through the game where he set the NFL record in passing yards. But while Manning collected the stats, he didn't leave with the victory, keeping him tied with Brett Favre for most regular season wins in NFL history, with 186. Tom Brady is third with 169, just 17 back.
Of course, when you factor in playoff wins (and why shouldn't you?) Favre has the overall victory mark with 199. Manning has 197. Brady has 190. So it's actually possible for Brady to set the NFL win record with 200 if he finishes the year undefeated and Manning remains sidelined. No pressure.
4. No one should expect the Patriots to go undefeated for the rest of the season, but here are the odds according to smart people around the world:
Football Outsiders: 8.1%
It's difficult to find other places because the Brock Osweiler experiment in Denver is a huge wrench in the forecast. Denver is the only team on the schedule with a greater than 25% chance of beating the Patriots (roughly 40%), and that percentage is based upon historical performances.
Let's say that the Brock Lobster isn't very good- worse than Worst Quarterback in the League Peyton Manning in a 2012 Cardinals Kevin Kolb to John Skelton to Ryan Lindley descent- and that vaults the Patriots chances of beating Denver from 60% to 75%. The Patriots would then have a rough 25% chance of finishing the season undefeated.
16-0 is a ridiculously difficult path, especially with the added injuries across the roster, and shouldn't seriously be considered until the Patriots get past Denver. The next two games- Buffalo and at Denver- are the most difficult on the remaining schedule, and that doesn't account for the Jets and possibly the Dolphins playing for their playoff lives in the final two weeks of the season.
I would probably say that I'm not qualified to run any other NFL team, but I think I'm qualified to run this one...
That made the rounds, although the full quote is actually "I would probably say that I'm not qualified to run any other NFL team, but I think I'm qualified to run this one because of the connection to the Ford family and understanding the business for the last eight years working for them."
That makes some sense. He's trying to say that he's not a traditional football mind, but his experience with the Lions makes him qualified to operate the Lions, and the Lions alone. Wood says that he will use one of the league provided consultants to help his search for a new general manager.
The NFL's Career Development Advisory Panel consists of former general managers and head coaches, such as Ron Wolf, Charley Casserly, Bill Polian, Ernie Accorsi, Carl Peterson, Tony Dungy, John Madden, and Dennis Green.
This is a great first decision by Wood. The Jets used Wolf and Casserly as consultants before picking Mike McCagnan as their GM, who has done a pretty good job of restocking the team with talent on both sides of the ball. The Panthers used Accorsi to find GM Dave Gettleman in 2013, and the Bears used Accorsi to find GM Ryan Pace.
A decision maker with zero football background should absolutely leverage those that have much to share, and the Panel is a wealth of information.
6. Julian Edelman joins a long list of NFL receivers with screws in their feet for various types of fractures, alongside Julio Jones, Dez Bryant, Aaron Dobson, Santonio Holmes, Marvin Jones, Hakeem Nicks, and Eric Decker. Receivers don't seem to lose much of their ability when returning from the surgery.
Hopefully Edelman can return at 100%, similar to Dez Bryant earlier this season after seven weeks on the sideline. Seven weeks of rest for Edelman would bring the Patriots through the week 17 finale, so it's possible (and probable) that the Patriots will hold him out until the playoffs start.