The divisional spherical is right here! This is a busy, busy time of the NFL calendar the place the playoffs are heating up concurrently the offseason for all of the non-playoff groups. The Philadelphia Eagles are about to make their entrance into the fray, there are a handful of rookies already contributing, and one playoff staff has a captivating resolution to make at quarterback this offseason.
Eagles are tremendous duper good
The Eagles are getting into the ring, kicking off their potential Super Bowl run with a recreation towards the New York Giants within the divisional spherical. The Eagles personal the NFC’s high seed for the playoffs with a 14-3 report, they usually earned that report by being the highest all-around staff within the NFL. Led by Jalen Hurts, a fantastic offensive line and a number of proficient talent gamers, the Eagles have firmly cemented their declare to be the staff to beat within the NFC — and maybe your complete playoffs. If the Eagles are on their “A” recreation, they need to run the Giants off of the sector.
At nearly each place group, the Eagles have a leg up on their opposition, significantly this week. An offensive line that includes Jordan Mailata, Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson is a greater trio than the overwhelming majority of groups have. DeVonta Smith and A.J. Brown are each able to taking up video games. Miles Sanders is a top-tier working again. The complete offense is tied collectively by MVP candidate Jalen Hurts, who has developed to the purpose the place the Eagles can connect a authentic passing recreation to a punishing and numerous dashing recreation. There haven’t been many defenses capable of get a deal with on this offense and it ought to result in this staff internet hosting the NFC championship recreation after this weekend is over.
On protection, the one spot that may be thought-about a weak spot is their linebacker scenario, which did price them a recreation towards the Commanders earlier this yr. The Eagles may be run on, however they’ve sufficient defensive position expertise to generate explosive, damaging performs and hold groups in lengthy downs and distances. That’s the place the Eagles’ protection can actually shine. They have a deep, proficient line and Darius Slay and James Bradberry have been lockdown at cornerback this yr. As lengthy because the Eagles can power their opposition to throw, they’ll be capable to unleash the canines on them. That could be a bit tough going towards Saquon Barkley this weekend, however the Eagles didn’t have any issues stomping the Giants when Jalen Hurts was wholesome for the primary recreation.
Jalen Hurts and the Eagles are actually, actually good. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
Hurts’ well being issues loads for the Eagles, but when he’s able to go for this recreation, they’ve a fantastic probability not solely to win, however to additionally run the desk. The San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys can be high quality opponents within the subsequent spherical, however the Eagles are on a unique airplane of existence than the Giants. That’s no slight to New York, the Eagles are only a juggernaut prepared so as to add a second Super Bowl title to their assortment.
And if the Eagles lose, simply neglect any of this column existed in any respect. Its existence won’t be acknowledged.
Rookies nonetheless enjoying an enormous function within the playoff race
The NFL playoffs are often determined by the gamers which have performed on this league for a very long time, however there are a handful of rookies which are going to be key of their groups’ probabilities to advance to the subsequent spherical. Here are just a few younger weapons which are going to matter for his or her staff as they attempt to advance to the Super Bowl this postseason.
Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Giants
Thibodeaux has instantly change into one of many higher all-around defensive ends within the NFL. Thibodeaux completed his rookie season with 4 sacks, however that doesn’t fairly seize his affect on the Giants’ protection. He makes each side of their protection a bit higher with this means to disrupt offensive traces and get into the backfield. Thibodeaux tasks to be a big-time participant for a very long time, and the Giants are going to wish him to indicate off that expertise to get previous the Eagles and doubtlessly make it to the Super Bowl.
George Karlaftis, EDGE, Chiefs
Karlaftis has been a key a part of the Chiefs’ defensive position rotation this season, ending second on the staff in sacks with six in his first season. Karlaftis has been as impactful as any rookie edge rusher this season, and like Thibodeaux tasks to be a long-term starter.
Brock Purdy, QB, 49ers
Brock Purdy has accomplished what’s been requested of him to this point and he’s been capable of steer the 49ers’ offense into some explosive outings, together with a 41-point outburst towards the Seahawks. Playing with head coach Kyle Shanahan and a number of Pro Bowl-caliber offensive weapons has positively made his job simpler, however Mr. Irrelevant has been something however irrelevant since taking up the beginning quarterback spot on this staff.
Luke Fortner, C, Jaguars
Fortner goes to be essential for the Jaguars within the Divisional Round in the event that they need to get previous Kansas City. The sixty fifth decide within the 2022 NFL draft, Fortner has performed each single offensive snap this season, the one Jaguars participant to take action. Jacksonville will dwell and die by the arm of Trevor Lawrence, so he’s going to wish a while to get these throws off. Fortner has the tall job of retaining Chiefs star Chris Jones at bay this weekend, and his efficiency very properly might determine this recreation.
What’s subsequent for the 49ers at quarterback?
Brock Purdy (13) has the 49ers buzzing and among the many Super Bowl favorites — and but there are two different QBs on the roster they may select to begin over him subsequent season. (AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn)
The largest wild card for the upcoming offseason would possibly simply be what the 49ers determine to do with quarterback Trey Lance. They all of a sudden have a quarterback controversy with three quarterbacks that seem like able to working the offense. Lance, Jimmy Garoppolo and Brock Purdy all have viable arguments towards being the starter subsequent season. It actually simply will depend on what avenue the 49ers need to take so far as their roster-building is worried.
Purdy is the most affordable possibility that the 49ers can roll with. Purdy signed a four-year, $3.7 million contract with the 49ers after being the final decide within the draft. He’s been capable of run this offense to a level that has them scoring 40 factors within the playoffs, nevertheless it’s honest to surprise what his ceiling is within the NFL and if he can truly proceed being this man transferring ahead. Garoppolo is the regular hand and the quarterback they’ve had essentially the most success with throughout Shanahan’s run as the pinnacle coach. Lance has the very best bodily upside of the three, however he hasn’t performed vital snaps since he was a sophomore at North Dakota State. The 49ers did commerce three first-round picks for the fitting to pick out Lance, however to this point he’s nonetheless an entire unknown.
It’s an attention-grabbing downside that the 49ers discover themselves in. They don’t want essentially the most proficient quarterback on their roster to swimsuit up for them. Kyle Shanahan has primarily made the 49ers offense QB-proof they usually’re loaded with playmakers at each place on offense. If the 49ers need to try to recoup a few of their picks from the Lance commerce, he may nonetheless have sufficient intrigue across the league that they might get a first-round decide in alternate for him.
However, if Lance may be the man that lets the 49ers really raze defenses for the last decade, perhaps they need to give him one other probability to see if he could be a franchise quarterback for the staff. Everyone is aware of what this offense seems to be like with Garoppolo and Purdy working it — ok to be a Super Bowl contender. However, Lance at his finest would possibly give them a good bigger margin for error on offense simply on account of his personal bodily talents. It’s a very good downside to have, as a result of presence of Shanahan, however an issue nonetheless.
At the very, very least, they’ve probably the greatest backup quarterbacks within the league with Purdy. The expectations for the 49ers regardless of who’s underneath middle are all the time going to be sky excessive, however the opportunity of them actualizing these expectations could be simpler if Lance is the starter.
Lance, Garoppolo, Purdy. That’s the query for the 49ers. It doesn’t really feel like there’s a totally incorrect query right here, it simply will depend on how dangerous the 49ers are keen to be with an important place on the staff. They’re in a uncommon place of having the ability to take a giant swing at quarterback (Lance), stick with what they know (Garoppolo), or experience the recent hand (Purdy). This is a quarterback scenario that may doubtlessly change the panorama of the NFL.
Mike Tomlin loves enjoying on All-Madden
The Steelers have determined to retain the companies of Matt Canada, which drew the ire of Steelers followers throughout the nation this week. Canada hasn’t had a lot success within the NFL, however Pittsburgh isn’t actually a staff that makes large shakeups, so he’s going to get one other probability to imprint his philosophy on the Steelers and Kenny Pickett, their potential franchise quarterback.
Head coach Mike Tomlin is hooked on the grind, apparently. You don’t must dwell like this, Mike! You can discover an offensive coordinator that’s going to make life simpler for you! There’s actually just one method to interpret this resolution: Mike Tomlin loves enjoying video games with the issue cranked as much as see what he can accomplish alongside the best way. Tomlin has but to endure a shedding season within the NFL and now simply seems to be seeing if he can hold that streak alive amidst inconceivable odds.
Is it attainable? Of course, it is a Tomlin staff. They can end 10-7 with a -1000 level differential, nevertheless it simply doesn’t must be this tough. Canada is a serviceable school offensive coordinator, however his success with the Steelers has been borderline nonexistent. Tomlin simply must play this recreation on All-Madden.
Having Pickett with one other yr within the offense would possibly assist issues, however there actually is extra to chunk off than the Steelers are getting proper now underneath Canada. Turn the issue down, Mike. That’s all.