Welcome to Week 18, the whole week of the 2021 NFL commonplace season. There are a selection of key matchups Saturday and Sunday, and we asked insiders Dan Graziano and Jeremy Fowler for belief on the freshest topics of the week and for their possible choices on the video video games with playoff implications.
They first communicate in regards to the coaching carousel and which jobs are most likely to go back open. Everyone knows Jacksonville and Las Vegas already are open, alternatively might simply Rich Bisaccia keep the Raiders’ instructor given what they have accomplished down the stretch?
Graziano and Fowler then deal with the winner-is-in game between the AFC West rival Raiders and Chargers forward of opting for video video games that have now not the rest on the line alternatively nevertheless clutch intrigue for them. There are also a few newsy nuggets and notes at the bottom. Proper right here we pass:
Coaching carousel | Upset possible choices
Raiders-Chargers | Video video games to look at
Pocket guide: The whole lot we’re taking note of
What’s the latest you could have heard on imaginable head-coach openings?
Graziano: If I have been making odds, I may say we have now 5 openings next week. Raiders and Jaguars are already open (though if Rich Bisaccia gets the Raiders into the playoffs, are we 100% certain he can not keep the duty?). My crystal ball projection says there are likely to be openings in Chicago, Denver and Minnesota. If I had to bet on the situations 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, though, and I do not consider it’ll qualify as an important ponder whether each or both probably the most ones organizations decided to make a metamorphosis. How’s that line up with what you’re taking note of/thinking about, Jeremy?
Fowler: This is about right kind at the ones 5, Dan. I’m within the identical spot. The feeling from early inside the season used to be as soon as that Joe Judge would get a third season in New York, and barring an sudden plot twist, that are supposed to keep the case. That roster is relatively bad, so it isn’t all on him. In Carolina, Matt Rhule turns out safe in response to my conversations with folks around the league, alternatively body of workers owner David Tepper hasn’t exactly tipped his hand, each, so this one to me is additional of a wild card. Every other folks inside the league believe Rhule would now not ideas going once more to school. The transition hasn’t been easy. On the other hand Rhule, like Judge, has lacked enough healthy playmakers to place together a just right offense. And Rhule’s third seasons at Temple and Baylor marked breakthroughs, so would most likely as correctly see if he can follow his non-public gadget inside the NFL. In Las Vegas, Bisaccia is, at the very least, inside the mix there.
Curious where you could be on Denver as a result of the layers that deepen the intrigue: I’m knowledgeable Vic Fangio’s long term is simply commonplace manager George Paton’s title, and Paton has had a good enjoy working with Fangio. On the other hand is that enough to overcome 3 losing seasons?
Graziano: That’s the think about Denver. I do not consider it’s that Paton does now not like Fangio. My sense is that possibly there’s a instructor, or an inventory of coaching candidates, he had in ideas when he took the duty a year up to now and he decided to supply Fangio twelve months to show what he might do just. If that’s the case, possibly the new GM wants to get on along side his non-public vision for the future of the franchise. Paton is probably the only one this is acutely aware of it seems that what’s going to happen next week. I merely would now not be surprised to appear that one open, is all.
Fowler: There could also be typically one wild card. I once concept Houston will also be one, alternatively folks there are giving off the vibe that David Culley is in very good shape. I nevertheless have a difficult time believing Seattle would segment with Pete Carroll after one bad year in on the subject of a decade. Even if Carroll probably will have to make some changes operationally.
Graziano: The oldsters I be in contact to in Seattle definitely are not expecting seismic trade there, so we will see. My understanding is Carroll is underneath contract for numerous additional seasons, and I consider when his time there may be achieved, he’ll have a large number of say in that. The huge question there may be what happens at quarterback, whether or not or now not Russell Wilson wants to go away and whether or not or now not that may signal enough of a metamorphosis to prompt Carroll to rethink how massive a rebuild he wants to undertake. On the other hand so far, everyone has made very good on their word to stick offseason issues to the side and keep their focus on the season. Which isn’t a big surprise, given the track knowledge there.
What’s your height upset make a selection for Week 18?
Fowler: 49ers (+4) over Rams. This spread is surprising, taking into account San Francisco’s dominance over a five-game stretch vs. Los Angeles. The 49ers have outscored the Rams 132-84 all over that successful streak. There’s something about this matchup that brings out the best in Kyle Shanahan’s body of workers, which needs a win to strengthen playoff positioning.
Graziano: I truly like yours such a lot, alternatively give me the other NFC West matchup: Seahawks (+6.5) over Cardinals. Arizona gave the impression great taking apart the Cowboys on Sunday, alternatively I’m loathe to believe all of their problems are solved, and Seattle does seem to have found out a gadget on offense proper right here late inside the season with Rashaad Penny operating the best way through which he is. I’m banking on Russell Wilson to finish strong in what might simply — might simply — be his final game as a Seahawk.
Fowler: The Seahawks won’t pass out with a whimper, in particular as Wilson recognizes the symbolism that this could be it. And Arizona could be susceptible after an emotional win over Dallas. On the other hand the Cardinals are determined to disprove the conclusion 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 different spots — Ben Roethlisberger participating within the go back and forth, Lamar Jackson searching for to get once more inside of it.
Graziano: Gonna take the Steelers proper right here. The Ravens are out of dudes, and Pittsburgh nevertheless has something to play for in conjunction with sending Roethlisberger off with a win. T.J. Watt turns out like he’ll set the single-season sack document. In most cases is an important day for Pittsburgh in Baltimore, even if the Ravens always do seem to be right kind in it at the end of their video video games.
Which body of workers are you taking inside the Chargers-Raiders winner-gets-in matchup?
Graziano: Raiders. I’m in, man. I believed this used to be as soon as a dull body of workers a month up to now once I watched it get annihilated in Kansas The city, however it has gained 3 difficult video video games in a row since then, and going into Indy and beating that red-hot bunch used to be as soon as a real eye-opener. The Raiders are difficult, they have strong control, they’re playing hard for an duration in-between instructor they truly like, they’re at area — I’m just a believer.
The Chargers look like the simpler body of workers on paper, alternatively they have laid more than their percentage of eggs this season, and I do not know, I merely suppose the Raiders have something happening that can be merely enough to lug them into the postseason.
Fowler: Chargers. Los Angeles had a strenuous two weeks, with a thrilling overtime loss to Kansas The city with the dep. at stake, losing 9 starters to COVID-19/injuries and an ugly loss at Houston. On the other hand the Chargers got earlier all that and looked like themselves in a commanding win over Denver. If each and every rosters are fairly intact, the Chargers have additional firepower. They believe they possess the game’s best quarterback, Justin Herbert, whose instincts and talent will have to command massive video video games. They are able to win with the run, with the short passing game or with the vertical passing game.
On the other hand, then again, so can Las Vegas. It’s hard to chop worth what QB Derek Carr and the Raiders are doing. Turns out like their 2nd, no?
Graziano: Yeah, this is kind of my stage. I’m certain I’m supposed to be doing some kind of deeper analysis on the matchup, and I consider such analysis would most likely stage to a Chargers victory. I truly do suppose there’s a lot to the best way through which a body of workers feels about itself this time of year. And the Raiders have this us-against-the-world issue going at the tail end of a season in which the whole lot imaginable (and a couple of inconceivable) has gone improper and they’re someway nevertheless standing. Don’t give Carr the ball once more with a possibility to get Daniel Carlson in field-goal range to win it at the end is all I’m announcing.
Fowler: Carr quietly assists in keeping strengthening his place inside the quarterback pantheon. Over the summer time, numerous well-respected team of workers evaluators labeled Carr as a top-10 quarterback, and he’s at least making his case. He is not very best imaginable, alternatively he has made some impressive throws in massive moments all year. Carr vs. Herbert is a better matchup than advertised.
What’s the other Week 18 game you’re most thinking about?
Fowler: Bengals at Browns. Cleveland is eliminated from the playoffs, Baker Mayfield is done for the year and the once-high-powered Browns offense seems battered and perplexed. A response is past due. With Mayfield due for shoulder surgical process each and every week earlier than expected, turning to Case Keenum will have to refocus the operating game, which pumped 153 yards on Cincinnati in a 41-16 early-November win. Sweeping the dep.’s most up to date body of workers with the freshest quarterback is an ideal option to prevent a three-game slide.
Graziano: Colts at Jaguars. I know, this is a abnormal one. The Colts are favored by the use of 15.5 problems, and the Jaguars have now not the rest. There is not one single very good reasons why to expect this game to be competitive, and the Colts will have to 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 gained in Jacksonville since 2014. They play there in fact once a year. They have out of place the former six events they have achieved so. I may problem to say with a point of stroll within the park that they’ve been the simpler body of workers in at least 5 of those years. Unusual problems happen inside the final week of the year, there could be something inside the water down there in Jacksonville, and the Colts are coming off a surprise loss to the Raiders at area. I’m merely announcing I have my eye on this one until it kind of feels just like the Colts have it put away.
Fowler: That may be a wild stat, and a bit of bit shocking taking into account Indy’s ascension aligning with Jacksonville’s decline. On the other hand this Jaguars body of workers does now not appear ready to tap into any form of mental edge. Avid players look checked out. I’m hoping for purposes of playoff theatrics that I’m improper.
Jeff Saturday says that even if Baker Mayfield has now not lived up to expectations, the Browns would most likely now not have every other chance at quarterback.
Speaking of lack of inspiration, Bears at Vikings choices coaches limping to the presumed finish lines of their tenures. Which teams will if truth be told play inspired football? Matt Nagy’s locker room has continued to play hard for him, resulting in back-to-back wins. Let’s read about if Minnesota does the identical for Mike Zimmer, who seems bored stiff along side his unvaccinated quarterback room.
Graziano: I just about went with Bears-Vikings. Minnesota has the feel of a body of workers that is cooked, and you’ve got Bears players playing for jobs. And anyone who’s acutely aware of their history has to have at least 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 segment up there, alternatively I’m very intrigued to appear what kinds of changes happen with that roster and/or workforce within the tournament that they end the season on a two-game losing streak after failing to cash in on that sizzling streak they would.
Fowler empties his pocket guide: What he’s taking note of this week
The consensus among a few NFL team of workers evaluators I talked to is that WR Antonio Brown would possibly not get every other NFL process inside the fast period of time. His immense talent would most likely seduce a body of workers in the end, alternatively as one exec recognized, he had a limited market forward of signing with Tampa Bay two instances — once all over the 2020 season, then again in free corporate — and that’s the reason largely as a result of the off-field issues. Without reference to his body protecting up correctly at age 33, he is not the identical player. … The feeling out of Tampa Bay is the Bucs won’t aggressively tap into the free corporate pool to interchange Brown, relying on numerous serve as players (along side Cyril Grayson, who has complicated rapidly of late) to play opposite Mike Evans. The Bucs have Tyler Johnson, Scotty Miller and a talented workforce of tight ends.
As Trey Lance remains the perhaps 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 remaining week: complicated mastery of body of workers 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 sought in any case 3 phases to go back together in Weeks 17-18, and Lance largely delivered Sunday hostile to Houston, completing 16 of 23 passes for 249 yards, two touchdown and one interception along side 31 dashing yards. I’m knowledgeable Lance’s improvements in footwork and command/process on account of upper confidence has confirmed up all over the remaining month behind the scenes. The 49ers need that to pay off in a big approach Sunday vs. the Rams.
With the great vibes coming out of Green Bay — dialog between Aaron Rodgers and the doorway place of job 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 year comes into focus. If — and this can be a huge if — Rodgers wants to return, the body of workers will probably need to deal with his deal, which voids seven days forward of the 2023 new league year. I asked a few NFL salary-cap folks about it, they normally mentioned a very simple option to cut back the hit will also be to become numerous his $26.5 million salary (let’s believe $16 million) proper right into a signing bonus, together with dummy/voidable years to reduce the cap hit by the use of at least $12 million. The Packers wouldn’t have to take a look at this, alternatively they have possible choices if each side decide to stick the celebration going. Or, they’ll merely give him every other mega-extension.
The Vikings are fairly certain QB Kirk Cousins could be activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list for the Bears game. If now not, it’s unclear if rookie Kellen Mond would get a shot, even if some inside the building would now not ideas seeing it. The Vikings internally discussed the merits of playing Mond remaining week in Green Bay, with veteran Sean Mannion ultimately getting the start with Cousins out. On the other hand two subjects prevailed: Mannion has additional enjoy inside the offense, and the Vikings don’t want to disrupt the long-term plan for Mond. Minnesota is keenly conscious about the struggles of rookie quarterbacks all over the place the league. So an actual redshirt year would most likely nevertheless be in order.
The Titans keep certain 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 typhoon and play its brand of football in January, with Henry for the reason that catalyst.