Wednesday Morning QB (Week 13)

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The NFL playoff race is underway with only four weeks left in the season and one playoff spot gone after Week 13.

The Carolina Panthers remained undefeated this week after a tight game with the New Orleans Saints and clinched their playoff spot.

They are the only undefeated team in the league and they remain the team to beat as every other team begins their run to join them.

The playoff race is wide open in the majority of the league as division races are only getting more difficult to predict as the weeks go on.

Almost every team is still in the race, at least mathematically, with only some short weeks left.

The same cannot be said about the Cleveland Browns though as they were officially eliminated from the playoffs once again.

The Browns have been a disaster since they returned to the NFL in 1999 as instability has wrecked-havoc on a franchise that was once considered one of the best in the league.

Long ago the Browns were consistent world champions with legends like Paul Brown, the basis of the team’s name, and Jim Brown leading the charge.

Since returning in ’99 the Browns have never truly committed to a rebuild hiring and firing coaches and general managers more often than any other team.

They have remained at the bottom of the league as a result of that indecision but their biggest issue has always been under centre.

The Browns have seen 24 starting quarterbacks since their expansion season with young drafted players and free agent signings filling in every year.

It even continued in the last few years when they drafted the most exciting NCAA prospect, if not the most sound fundamentally, in Johnny Manziel.

His mechanics were not great but he was athletic and all he did was win in college but some believed he needed some time to truly develop into an NFL quarterback and to mature.

That is what the Browns did as they started Brian Hoyer over Manziel to start the season and it began fairly successfully.

Then the pressure built, like it often does at the first sign of struggle with a young quarterback on the bench, and the Browns folded.

They put Manziel in before he was ready and he struggled in his first two games.

This year they brought in Josh McCown to compete for the starting role, a competition he won over Manziel.

The whole season has been a bad one even by Browns’ standards as McCown began the season well but was injured bringing Manziel into the starting role.

Manziel did well but was moved to third string when video surfaced of him partying after he had attended rehab for alcoholism.

McCown was hurt again and this week Austin Davis started ahead of the now third string Manziel.football-sidebar

After their latest loss and with nothing left to play for Manziel was announced as the starter for the rest of the season.

The indecision throughout this year has been more than usual and it is do no favours to any of the quarterbacks.

Some of it can’t be helped as McCown’s injuries are a part of football but playing the constant shuffle of quarterbacks from week to week without knowing who the starter is will help nobody, least of all the entire team.

There are issues with Manziel both on and off of the field but the real issue lies in the way that the team is being run.

The decision to start Manziel for the rest of the year is not necessarily coming from the coaches as Mike Pettine has stated that Manziel is starting because of pressure from up top.

Owner Jim Haslam is a very impatient man and he has shown it since he bought the team. He clearly thinks that Manziel can do something for this team and seems to have put pressure on the coaching staff to start the young quarterback.

It is a sign of what has been the issue with the Browns since returning as nobody seems to be given the power to make decisions that impact the team.

All of the real football minds are undermined by ownership and in the end it seems like a coach can’t be a coach while the GM has to refer to someone with less experience.

The problems are many in Cleveland and the latest quarterback carousel has only made things worse for the franchise as they sit eliminated from the playoffs for another year without any of their issues being solved.

Fifth Quarter:
(Thoughts on Week 13 in the NFL)

Increasing Cap
The NFL is doing well with very few teams struggling anymore and as a result the league is set to increase the salary cap by $10-million for next season giving teams more room to work with and likely increasing the salaries of some of the best players in the game

Witten in the Record Books
Jason Witten is closer to the end than the beginning of his career which puts him in a position to start finding his way to the record books which he did this week when he caught his 1,000th ball becoming only the second tight end to make 1,000 receptions

Vikings Rift
Adrian Peterson is not one to speak out about a lot of things but this week it was different as he claimed the Vikings were “outcoached” in their 38-7 loss against the Seahawks, a game that Peterson only touched the ball eight times

Lacy’s Lesson
The Green Bay Packers are struggling but Eddie Lacy seems to be a bright spot in the offence until this week when he touched the ball five times and was sat most of the game after he missed curfew earlier in the week

standings-w13.fw

Key Scores:
Green Bay Packers 27 – 23 Detroit Lions
– Detroit was getting ready to achieve their first sweep of the Packers for the better part of two decades until a controversial facemask gave Aaron Rodgers one last play that he took advantage of throwing a 61-yard Hail Mary for the winning touchdown with no time left

New York Jets 23 – 20 New York Giants (OT)
– The battle of New York was another tight one as both teams were technically playing at home in front of a home crowd and both teams fought it out into overtime where the Giants weren’t able to match the Jets’ field goal

Philadelphia Eagles 35 – 28 New England Patriots
– The Patriots dropped their first game of the year a week ago and this week looked worse than that first loss as Tom Brady threw two interceptions including one that went 99-yards for a touchdown to get their second loss of the season

Carolina Panthers 41 – 38 New Orleans Saints (OT)
– The Panthers came into the week as the only undefeated team in the league and were not expected to be challenged by an easy schedule the rest of the way but the Saints weren’t ready to lay down as they pushed the Panthers to overtime but came up short

Next Week:
San Francisco 49ers vs. Cleveland Browns (Sunday December 13th; 1:00 pm ET)
– The Browns and the Niners have had quarterback issues all year and now they face-off trying to figure things out with Blaine Gabbert and Johnny Manziel under centre for their respective teams trying to get a win in a bad season

Atlanta Falcons vs. Carolina Panthers (Sunday December 13th; 1:00 pm ET)
– A great start became a forgettable midseason for the Falcons but they are still fighting for a chance to play in the playoffs and they are hoping that leads to a big win against their division leaders as the Panthers try to keep their undefeated streak going

Dallas Cowboys vs. Green Bay Packers (Sunday December 13th; 4:25 pm ET)
– The Cowboys are surprisingly still in the fight for their division but they need every win they can get and they will need to beat the Packers who have been up and down since their 6-0 start to the season and are in their own division battle

New England Patriots vs. Houston Texans (Sunday December 13th; 8:30 pm ET)
– The Patriots looked unstoppable only a few weeks ago but now they look far from that as they try to get back on the winning side of things against Houston who is trying to keep their playoff hopes alive in near the end of the season

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