Pro Football Focus isn’t handicapping the NFL MVP race, but did provide a quality breakdown of their five best candidates.
It’s probably not a coincidence that four of the five helped lead their teams to the playoffs this season – or that three have (or will) play in the divisional round of playoffs. But how did Ezekiel Elliott (who led the NFL in rushing) or Dak Prescott get snubbed on this list? Further, how did Andrew Luck make his way into the top-5?
You can ponder that and more as you go through Sunday’s Bullets.
- Although it was moderately close through halftime, the Patriots easily dispatched the Texans last night, as expected, in their AFC divisional round matchup. Meanwhile, over in the NFC, the Falcons comfortably beat the Seahawks, despite a valiant effort by long-time Bear Devin Hester, who not only netted 194 return yards on kickoffs, but also had an 80-yard punt return called back by penalty. Hester, 34, indicated to the News Tribune that he may very well retire now, which would conclude the career of the best return man in NFL history: over 11,000 career return yards in the regular season, and an incredible 19 touchdowns in 11 seasons. Hester, of course, spent the first eight years of his career with the Bears, and watching him return punts and kickoffs was a thing of beauty.
- Packers head coach Mike McCarthy ruled wide receiver Jordy Nelson out for this weekend on Friday. Even though the Packers offense didn’t miss a beat after Nelson left the team’s Wild Card round victory against the New York Giants with a rib injury, losing Nelson is a significant blow to the offense. Nelson is a top red-zone target and a threat to score as a deep threat, so we’ll see how Aaron Rodgers adjusts.
- Perhaps the Packers will run more of those Hail Mary plays they seem to be so good at against the Cowboys. Kevin Clark of The Ringer traveled to Green Bay in search of how and why the Packers are so good at this. (Hint: Having Aaron Rodgers helps.)
- Over at FiveThirtyEight, Blythe Terrell provides a reason for fandom I’ve never heard before that features what is described as using the sports equivalent of an online dating algorithm.
- Cornerback Sam Shields, who hasn’t played a down for the Packers since the season opener, faces a pair of drug-related charges according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN. USA Today reported Packers wide receiver Geronimo Allen faced a marijuana charge earlier in the week.
- CBSSports.com has a look at how a Tony Romo injury in 2010 led to the construction of a team that is among the Super Bowl favorites in 2016.
- In the Bears world, Jay Cutler is on vacation this week and TMZ shared a picture with the Bears quarterback (who is still under contract, mind you) flashing a smile. That’s … different.
- Bo Jackson, who is one of the greatest athletes of all-time and excelled on both the baseball diamond and football gridiron, says he would tell his children to play any sport but football. With the benefit of hindsight and information, Jackson told Bob Nightengale of the USA Today that “If I knew back then what I know now, I would have never played football. Never. I wish I had known about all of those head injuries, but no one knew that. And the people that did know that, they wouldn’t tell anybody.” Jackson rushed for 2,782 yards and 16 touchdowns in his brief four-year NFL career from 1987 to 1990 – making the Pro Bowl in his final season. As a baseball player, Jackson slugged 141 home runs in an eight-year big league career, playing his best ball in 1989 when he was an All-Star who hit 32 home runs with 105 runs batted in.
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Brett Taylor contributed to this post.