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Welcome to Week 18, the whole week of the 2021 NFL commonplace season. There are a variety of key matchups Saturday and Sunday, and we asked insiders Dan Graziano and Jeremy Fowler for belief on the hottest topics of the week and for their alternatives on the video video games with playoff implications.

They first talk concerning the coaching carousel and which jobs are in all probability to go back open. Everyone knows Jacksonville and Las Vegas already are open, alternatively would possibly Rich Bisaccia keep the Raiders’ instructor given what they have got completed down the stretch?

Graziano and Fowler then handle the winner-is-in sport between the AFC West rival Raiders and Chargers previous than opting for video video games that have now not anything else on the line alternatively however grab intrigue for them. There are also a few newsy nuggets and notes at the bottom. Proper right here we go:

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Coaching carousel | Upset alternatives
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Pocket e book: The whole lot we’re being attentive to

What’s the latest you may have heard on imaginable head-coach openings?

Graziano: If I’ve been making odds, I may say we’ve got 5 openings next week. Raiders and Jaguars are already open (even if if Rich Bisaccia gets the Raiders into the playoffs, are we 100% sure he can’t keep the process?). My crystal ball projection says there are likely to be openings in Chicago, Denver and Minnesota. If I had to wager on the scenarios with the Panthers and Giants, I may say their coaches keep in place for 2022. It’s not that i am 100% certain on each one, even if, and I don’t imagine it would qualify as a large wonder whether each or both one of the crucial ones organizations decided to make a transformation. How’s that line up with what you may well be being attentive to/taking into account, Jeremy?

Fowler: This is about correct at the ones 5, Dan. I’m within the an identical spot. The feeling from early inside the season was once that Joe Judge would get a third season in New York, and barring an surprising plot twist, that are supposed to keep the case. That roster is rather dangerous, so it isn’t all on him. In Carolina, Matt Rhule turns out secure consistent with my conversations with people around the league, alternatively staff owner David Tepper hasn’t exactly tipped his hand, each, so this one to me is further of a wild card. Every other other folks inside the league consider Rhule would now not ideas going once more to college. The transition hasn’t been easy. On the other hand Rhule, like Judge, has lacked enough healthy playmakers to position together a excellent offense. And Rhule’s third seasons at Temple and Baylor marked breakthroughs, so would perhaps as successfully see if he can follow his private machine inside the NFL. In Las Vegas, Bisaccia is, at the very least, inside the mix there.

Curious where you may well be on Denver because of the layers that deepen the intrigue: I’m urged Vic Fangio’s long term is solely commonplace manager George Paton’s title, and Paton has had a good experience operating with Fangio. On the other hand is that enough to conquer 3 losing seasons?

Graziano: That’s the consider Denver. I don’t imagine it’s that Paton does now not like Fangio. My sense is that perhaps there’s a instructor, or a list of coaching candidates, he had in ideas when he took the process a twelve months previously and he decided to supply Fangio 300 and sixty 5 days to show what he would possibly do. If that’s the case, perhaps the new GM wants to get on in conjunction with his private vision for the future of the franchise. Paton is most certainly the only one this is acutely aware of remember that what’s going to happen next week. I merely would now not be surprised to appear that one open, is all.

Fowler: There’s maximum ceaselessly one wild card. I once concept Houston will also be one, alternatively people there are giving off the vibe that David Culley is in good shape. I however have a hard time believing Seattle would section with Pete Carroll after one dangerous twelve months in almost about a decade. Although Carroll most certainly should make some changes operationally.

Graziano: The parents I keep up a correspondence to in Seattle for sure aren’t expecting seismic business there, so we will see. My figuring out is Carroll is beneath contract for quite a lot of further seasons, and I imagine when his time there could also be achieved, he’ll have a lot of say in that. The huge question there could also be what happens at quarterback, whether or not or now not Russell Wilson wants to leave and whether or not or now not that can signal enough of a transformation to urged Carroll to rethink how massive a rebuild he wants to undertake. On the other hand thus far, everyone has made good on their word to stick offseason issues to the aspect and keep their focus on the season. Which isn’t a big marvel, given the follow knowledge there.

What’s your height upset choose for Week 18?

Fowler: 49ers (+4) over Rams. This spread is surprising, taking into consideration San Francisco’s dominance over a five-game stretch vs. Los Angeles. The 49ers have outscored the Rams 132-84 throughout that winning streak. There’s something about this matchup that brings out the most productive in Kyle Shanahan’s team of workers, which needs a win to fortify playoff positioning.

Graziano: I really like yours such a lot, alternatively give me the other NFC West matchup: Seahawks (+6.5) over Cardinals. Arizona seemed great taking apart the Cowboys on Sunday, alternatively I’m loathe to consider all of their problems are solved, and Seattle does seem to have found out a machine on offense proper right here late inside the season with Rashaad Penny operating the easiest way he is. I’m banking on Russell Wilson to finish tough in what would possibly — would possibly — be his final sport as a Seahawk.

Fowler: The Seahawks won’t go out with a whimper, in particular as Wilson recognizes the symbolism that this may well be it. And Arizona may well be susceptible after an emotional win over Dallas. On the other hand the Cardinals are determined to disprove the realization they are relaxed when problems get difficult late inside the season, so I’m expecting an inspired potency.

Where are you at with Ravens-Steelers? Two teams with narrow playoff hopes and quarterbacks in numerous spots — Ben Roethlisberger participating within the adventure, Lamar Jackson in the hunt for to get once more inside of it.

Graziano: Gonna take the Steelers proper right here. The Ravens are out of dudes, and Pittsburgh however has something to play for in conjunction with sending Roethlisberger off with a win. T.J. Watt seems like he’ll set the single-season sack report. Generally is a special day for Pittsburgh in Baltimore, although the Ravens at all times do seem to be correct in it at the end of their video video games.

Which staff are you taking inside the Chargers-Raiders winner-gets-in matchup?

Graziano: Raiders. I’m in, man. I thought this was once a dull staff a month previously when I watched it get annihilated in Kansas The city, but it surely has won 3 difficult video video games in a row since then, and going into Indy and beating that red-hot bunch was once a real eye-opener. The Raiders are difficult, they have tough control, they’re taking part in exhausting for an length in-between instructor they in truth like, they’re at space — I’m just a believer.

The Chargers seem to be the simpler staff on paper, alternatively they have got laid more than their share of eggs this season, and I have no idea, I merely suppose the Raiders have something going on that may be merely enough to lug them into the postseason.

Fowler: Chargers. Los Angeles had a strenuous two weeks, with an exciting additional time loss to Kansas The city with the dept at stake, losing 9 starters to COVID-19/injuries and an uncongenial loss at Houston. On the other hand the Chargers got earlier all that and gave the impression of themselves in a commanding win over Denver. If each and every rosters are reasonably intact, the Chargers have further firepower. They consider they possess the game’s perfect quarterback, Justin Herbert, whose instincts and skill must command massive video video games. They are able to win with the run, with the fast passing sport or with the vertical passing sport.

On the other hand, alternatively, so can Las Vegas. It’s exhausting to cut price what QB Derek Carr and the Raiders are doing. Turns out like their 2d, no?

Graziano: Yeah, this is more or less my stage. I’m sure I’m supposed to be doing slightly more or less deeper analysis on the matchup, and I imagine such analysis would perhaps stage to a Chargers victory. I in truth do suppose there’s a lot to the easiest way a staff feels about itself this time of twelve months. And the Raiders have this us-against-the-world issue going at the tail end of a season all over which the entire thing imaginable (and a couple of not possible) has long gone incorrect and they’re one way or the other however standing. Don’t give Carr the ball once more with an opportunity to get Daniel Carlson in field-goal range to win it at the end is all I’m pronouncing.

Fowler: Carr quietly keeps strengthening his place inside the quarterback pantheon. Over the summer season, quite a lot of well-respected body of workers evaluators categorized Carr as a top-10 quarterback, and he’s no less than making his case. He is not perfect imaginable, alternatively he has made some impressive throws in massive moments all twelve months. Carr vs. Herbert is a better matchup than advertised.

What’s the other Week 18 sport you may well be most enthusiastic about?

Fowler: Bengals at Browns. Cleveland is eliminated from the playoffs, Baker Mayfield is finished for the twelve months and the once-high-powered Browns offense turns out battered and confused. A response is overdue. With Mayfield due for shoulder surgical treatment each week earlier than expected, turning to Case Keenum must refocus the operating sport, which pumped 153 yards on Cincinnati in a 41-16 early-November win. Sweeping the dept’s most up to date staff with the hottest quarterback is an ideal strategy to save you a three-game slide.

Graziano: Colts at Jaguars. I know, this is a ordinary one. The Colts are preferred thru 15.5 problems, and the Jaguars have now not anything else. There is not one single good reason to expect this sport to be competitive, and the Colts must get the win they need to get them into the postseason without breaking a sweat. On the other hand there could also be this one troubling little products: The Colts have now not won in Jacksonville since 2014. They play there in reality yearly. They have got out of place the former six cases they have got achieved so. I would venture to say with some degree of certain wager that they’ve been the simpler staff in no less than 5 of those years. Atypical problems happen inside the final week of the twelve months, there may well be something inside the water down there in Jacksonville, and the Colts are coming off a marvel loss to the Raiders at space. I’m merely pronouncing I have my eye on this one until it seems like the Colts have it put away.

Fowler: That may be a wild stat, and just a bit sudden taking into consideration Indy’s ascension aligning with Jacksonville’s decline. On the other hand this Jaguars staff does now not appear able to tap into any form of mental edge. Avid players look checked out. I am hoping for purposes of playoff theatrics that I’m incorrect.



Jeff Saturday says that although Baker Mayfield has not lived up to expectations, the Browns would perhaps not have each different selection at quarterback.

Speaking of lack of inspiration, Bears at Vikings choices coaches limping to the presumed finish lines of their tenures. Which teams will in truth play inspired football? Matt Nagy’s locker room has endured to play exhausting for him, resulting in back-to-back wins. Let’s take a look at if Minnesota does the an identical for Mike Zimmer, who seems bored stiff in conjunction with his unvaccinated quarterback room.

Graziano: I nearly went with Bears-Vikings. Minnesota has the feel of a staff that is cooked, and you have Bears players taking part in for jobs. And anyone who’s acutely aware of their history has to have no less than one eye on a Patriots finale in Miami. Some wild late-season stuff has came about to Belichick down there. We didn’t indicate Miami inside the first section up there, alternatively I’m very intrigued to appear what sorts of changes happen with that roster and/or team within the tournament that they end the season on a two-game losing streak after failing to cash in on that sizzling streak that that they had.

Fowler empties his pocket e book: What he’s being attentive to this week

  • The consensus among a few NFL body of workers evaluators I talked to is that WR Antonio Brown would possibly not get any other NFL process inside the fast period of time. His immense talent would perhaps seduce a staff in the future, alternatively as one exec recognized, he had a limited market previous than signing with Tampa Bay two instances — once throughout the 2020 season, alternatively in free corporate — and that’s the reason largely because of the off-field issues. Despite his body maintaining up successfully at age 33, he is not the an identical player. … The feeling out of Tampa Bay is the Bucs won’t aggressively tap into the free corporate pool to replace Brown, relying on quite a lot of place players (along side Cyril Grayson, who has stepped ahead hastily of late) to play opposite Mike Evans. The Bucs have Tyler Johnson, Scotty Miller and a talented staff of tight ends.

  • As Trey Lance remains the most certainly starter for Week 18 — barring a swift recovery of Jimmy Garoppolo‘s sprained thumb — San Francisco’s goal for the rookie is the same as final week: stepped ahead mastery of staff passing concepts and accuracy. The 49ers acclimated Lance in waves, tweaking throwing mechanics inside the offseason, implementing offensive packages in camp, and refining nuances of the location all over. They have got sought in the end 3 ranges to go back together in Weeks 17-18, and Lance largely delivered Sunday antagonistic to Houston, completing 16 of 23 passes for 249 yards, two touchdown and one interception along with 31 speeding yards. I’m urged Lance’s improvements in footwork and command/procedure as a result of larger self trust has confirmed up all over the ultimate month at the back of the scenes. The 49ers need that to pay off in a big means Sunday vs. the Rams.

  • With the nice vibes coming out of Green Bay — verbal trade between Aaron Rodgers and the doorway office has been cast, with the locker room feeling a renewed spirit as soon as he reported to camp — Rodgers’ $46 million cap hit for next twelve months comes into focus. If — and this is a massive if — Rodgers wants to return, the staff will most certainly need to handle his deal, which voids seven days previous than the 2023 new league twelve months. I asked a few NFL salary-cap people about it, they typically discussed a very easy strategy to scale back the hit will also be to change into a large number of his $26.5 million salary (let’s assume $16 million) proper right into a signing bonus, together with dummy/voidable years to scale back the cap hit thru no less than $12 million. The Packers do not need to try this, alternatively they have possible choices if each and every facet make a decision to stick the celebration going. Or, they could merely give him any other mega-extension.

  • The Vikings are fairly optimistic QB Kirk Cousins can be activated from the reserve/COVID-19 record for the Bears sport. If not, it’s unclear if rookie Kellen Mond would get a shot, even if some inside the construction would now not ideas seeing it. The Vikings internally discussed the merits of taking part in Mond final week in Green Bay, with veteran Sean Mannion ultimately getting the start with Cousins out. On the other hand two matter issues prevailed: Mannion has further experience inside the offense, and the Vikings don’t wish to disrupt the long-term plan for Mond. Minnesota is keenly conscious about the struggles of rookie quarterbacks in all places the league. So an actual redshirt twelve months would perhaps however be in order.

  • The Titans keep optimistic that RB Derrick Henry can get once more for the playoffs — in particular if Tennessee lands a first-round bye. Tennessee’s plan all along has been to keep an eye on the wear storm and play its logo of football in January, with Henry since the catalyst.

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