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Now that Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz is sidelined for the rest of the season with a torn ACL in his knee, are the Los Angeles Rams the team to beat in the NFC?
That was the takeaway from Philadelphia’s 43-35 victory in Los Angeles. The Eagles (11-2) won the game with the help of former Rams Chris Long, who delivered a timely strip sack, and Rodney McLeod, who recovered the Jared Goff fumble.
But the Eagles lost the war when Wentz went down.
Now their title hopes are in the unsteady hands of quarterback Nick Foles, who gravitated back to the City of Brotherly love after getting mixed results in Missouri with the Rams and Kansas City Chiefs.
Wentz was performing at a MVP level when he went down. He elevated the Eagles offense for coach Doug Pederson.
“I felt like we’d gotten better,” tight end Brent Celek told NFL.com. “But the biggest reason, by far? It’s Carson. He’s a monster. He’s doing things that are ridiculous. And when he’s on, we feel like our offense can’t be stopped.”
Now Foles is in charge and it definitely can be stopped, despite his outward confidence.
“I’m absolutely ready. That’s why I’m here,” Foles told reporters. “So I’m ready to go and I prepare every day, work every day — if need be. Coach Pederson showed a lot of confidence with me and I have a long history with him. He knows I can go out and play so we’ll see what happens.”
Meanwhile, the Rams (9-4) figure to bounce back from their defeat and roll on toward postseason play.
“We’re fine, man,” Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald told reporters after the game. “There’s nothing to worry about. We’re still in a good position. We’re going to keep working, keep grinding. We’re still in it.”
SHELDON RICHARDSON AND ANGRY BIRDS
Our Town’s Sheldon Richardson was right in the middle of the Seattle Seahawks’ meltdown against the Jacksonville Jaguars, triggering a brawl that got him ejected.
Teammates Michael Bennett and Quinton Jefferson earned unnecessary roughness penalties during the late-game mayhem. Jefferson also got ejected, then tried to climb into the stands to confront fans throwing stuff at him. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll came onto the field, trying to settle things down.
“We were playing hard today and a guy grabbed me after the whistle blew,” Richardson, the former Mizzou standout, told reporters afterward. “I was protecting myself and things got a little hot. There was some shoving and I was protecting my teammates. That’s the way it goes.”
For the Seahawks, yes, that’s the way it goes.
THE HARD CHARGERS
Over on Missouri’s West Coast, the Kansas City Chiefs stabilized Sunday by holding off the Oakland Raiders. But the AFC West is still up for grabs and the Los Angeles Chargers look ready to seize it.
They blasted the Washington You-Know-Whos 30-13 for their seventh victory in their last nine games. And they are next up for the Chiefs.
“The Chargers are as hot as anybody right now,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid told SI.com, “and we’re going to be working on a short week. My mind is right onto the Chargers right now. I’m going to look at their tape.”
LET IT SNOW, LET IT SNOW
With all these fancy new stadiums with their newfangled roofs, we seldom get to see (or sort of see) games played in blizzard conditions. That’s what made the Bills’ 13-7 victory over the Indianapolis Colts in Buffalo so much fun.
“We kept saying it was like we were on a beach,” wide receiver Deonte Thompson told reporters afterward. “The snow was so high so every time we stepped in it we would sink so it was tough to run a route.
“This is going to be something I tell my grandkids about. … It was a crazy day today.”
THE JARED COOK RECEPTION MACHINE
Rams fans remember the good old days when various quarterbacks would bounce passes off tight end Jared Cook in the STL. But maybe, just maybe, Cook is starting to fulfill his potential.
He caught five passes for 75 yards and a touchdown to give the Oakland Raiders a flicker of hope in Kansas City Sunday. Cook has caught 48 passes for 621 yards this season.
“He’s about every detail,” fellow tight end Clive Walford told Raiders.com. “He doesn’t go into a game not knowing the depth of his route, or not knowing where he needs to be for the quarterback, so that’s something I learned real fast. This was back in OTAs when we first got here. He’s real detailed.”
Can’t say that we ever heard anybody say that at Rams Park . . .
ON THE OTHER HAND
Former Rams receiver Kenny Britt did not last the season in Cleveland. New Browns general manager John Dorsey‘s first move was to waive Britt and undo the blunder committed by predecessor Sashi Brown.
Don’t weep for Britt. He got $10.5 million guaranteed in his four-year, $32.5 million free agent contract. He should have lifetime financial security.
For those large dollars, Britt, 29, caught just 18 passes for 233 yards and two touchdowns for the Browns — who are now 1-28 since last season.
Earlier this season, Britt and teammate Corey Coleman were sent home early from Houston for missing curfew the night before the game. They paid for their own return flight and were also assessed team fines.
Browns coach Hue Jackson also benched Britt in London during the game against the Minnesota Vikings.
A SAVAGE CONCUSSION
The Houston Texans sent quarterback Tom Savage back into the fray, briefly, although he suffered an obvious concussion.
After getting smashed into the turf Sunday in Houston, Savage lay on his back with his arms bracketed and his hands twitching. He looked like he just lost a hammer fight.
Referee John Hussey called attention to Savage’s condition and got him off the field.
But Savage returned to action after somehow passing a concussion test. After playing another series, Savage underwent more testing and was finally sent to the locker room to recover.
Afterward, Texans coach Bill O’Brien said that the medical staff “made the determination that he was OK, Not me, obviously the evaluators made the determination to put him back in the game. He went back in the game and came out and they evaluated him a little bit more just because of what they saw.”
Expect to hear more about this case moving forward. The league still has a long way to go to protect players from permanent brain damage.
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