With just three weeks left in the season and the playoff races in full swing around the NFL, I figured we’d bump things up a notch on the NFL front here at BN and return to thrice-weekly Around the NFL columns like we did last season.
So, here’s a mid-week spin around the league to get you through this gloomy and cold hump day.
Nick Foles Replaces Matt Ryan in Indianapolis
After coughing up the largest lead in NFL history against the Minnesota Vikings last week and losing RB Jonathan Taylor for the season, the Indianapolis Colts are making a change at quarterback. Instead of sticking with Matt Ryan, they will turn to a familiar face for Bears fans under center this week when Nick Foles starts at quarterback against the Los Angeles Chargers:
Foles has played only two offensive snaps this season for the Colts, making a brief appearance in Indianapolis’ blowout loss to the Jaguars in Week 2. Even still … Ryan leads the NFL in interceptions (13) and fumbles (15) in his 12 starts for Indy.
This will be the second time that Indianapolis has benched Ryan this season. Former head coach Frank Reich (who was fired earlier this season) benched Ryan in favor of Sam Ehlinger for Weeks 8 and 9. Foles was under center for last week’s embarrassment in Minneapolis and the 54-19 primetime beatdown in Dallas the week before.
Saturday said today: “Ultimately, I feel like Nick will give us a better chance to go win these last three games.”
The second benching likely spells the end of Ryan’s time in Indianapolis, and perhaps his NFL career. As for the Colts, going to Foles over Ehlinger probably means they’re in the market for a quarterback this offseason.
As it stands today, Indianapolis has the sixth pick in the NFL draft, which will likely exclude them from a shot at drafting either Bryce Young or C.J. Stroud, making Will Levis a potential fit for the Colts at No. 6.
(Luis: I hope Ryan Poles sees this and is rubbing his hands in a devious, C. Montgomery Burns-ish fashion)
Zach Wilson Gets Another Start for New York
With the New York Jets playoff hopes on life support, they will turn to Zach Wilson for a second straight week with Mike White still unable to be cleared medically for contact. Wilson will start for the Jets on Thursday night when they take on the Jacksonville Jaguars, who are also fighting for a playoff spot:
Wilson started for the Jets in their loss to the Detroit Lions last week and completed 18-of-35 passes (51.4 percent) and threw two touchdowns. Despite throwing for 317 yards, Wilson did not look good in his first start since his benching.
Wilson has completed just 54.9 percent of his pass attempts this season and has only six touchdowns to six interceptions for the Jets. Couple the mediocre production with some locker room strife and the performance of Mike White in three starts this season, and you can understand why Wilson starting on Thursday night makes the Jets’ 25 percent chance at making the playoffs look even slimmer.
It’s also worth noting that Jacksonville is dealing with some concerns under center for this week’s game, with Trevor Lawrence listed as questionable:
NFL Sunday Ticket
The way we watch sports is ever-evolving. And the NFL is one of the sports at the forefront of that landscape. Not just now but historically. We’ve seen the NFL sell the rights to their Thursday Night Football broadcasts to Amazon’s steaming-only service. Plus, we’ve seen games streamed live within betting partner’s apps this season.
Long before Amazon Prime and sportsbooks entered the landscape, the NFL revolutionized how fans can consume the product. Both with the wildly popular NFL RedZone and with the NFL Sunday Ticket subscription service.
DirecTV has had a nearly 30-year run as the exclusive home of NFL Sunday Ticket. But we’re on the verge of seeing another digital streaming service pull up a seat at the big boy table. YouTube’s YouTube TV steaming service is in line to become the next home of NFL Sunday Ticket:
YouTube and YouTube TV have emerged as the new front-runners, with a deal potentially imminent, per The Athletic. This comes after months of the NFL and Apple TV negotiating for the California tech monster to become Sunday Ticket’s home. Instead, Apple backed out of the negotiations recently after the two sides couldn’t agree on contract language. And it appears that YouTube TV will swoop in and get a deal done. More on that here from The Athletic’s Daniel Kaplan.
For many, this means that a switch from DirecTV might be in the cards for their homes. I don’t subscribe to DirecTV, but anytime I’ve ever considered it, it was solely because of the opportunity to have Sunday Ticket access.
DirecTV was paying $1.5 billion annually to the NFL for the rights to the Sunday Ticket package. And reports had the NFL looking for upwards of $2.5 billion annually in a new deal. YouTube TV will boost its subscriber base drastically if and when the deal becomes official, taking NFL die-hards from DirecTV and other cable and streaming services.
Exciting stuff, at the least. Let’s see how it unfolds.
- Pittsburgh Steelers legend Franco Harris passed away, according to the AP and multiple other outlets this morning. Luis wrote about Harris, The Immaculate Reception, and his impact on the NFL this morning:
- More Harris from The Athletic:
- One more on Harris:
- From a Steelers legend to a rookie, Kenny Pickett is back for this week’s game against the Raiders:
- The Eagles get tight end Dallas Goedert back this week. In his return, Goedert was talking up backup quarterback Gardner Minshew at practice: