Welcome to week 15 of the NFL, where the playoffs are heating up and things are looking good. Let’s see what’s cooking on ESPN.
If that lineup doesn’t excite you for the end-of-season games, NFL.com has an equally robust docket.
It’s the most wonderful week on the calendar, and with so much joy in the NFL right now, let’s celebrate the happiest aspect of each of these stories (and skip the ones that repeat or are opinions).
Urban Meyer is fired
I know both of these teams are competing for the worst league record, but at least something is at stake. And, good news for Jags fans, Trevor Lawrence will be making his debut after he does girl who looks like him take the snaps while waiting for Meyer’s term of office to end. Wait, was it always Lawrence? Well maybe he’ll play better now that the distraction that was his coach is gone and his opponent is the Texans.
Lions star TE Hockenson is out for the season
This is easy. Every Christmas story centers on homecoming for the holidays, and TJ Hockensen is our proverbial “Tiny Tim” – but in this Christmas Carol, his ailment is about to heal. He survived the better part of a year of Lions football, and that counts as a successful season in Detroit.
The late WR Vincent Jackson had CTE
It is a coincidence that story no. 3 on ESPN had CTE in the title, but “CTE” was nowhere to be found on NFL.com? No, but it’s good that ESPN is covering this story and is just a glorified spokesperson for the league most of the time. Now, if only they could stop Adam Schefter from being … a spokesperson for alleged domestic abusers.
Frank Gore still hopes to “go away with a ring”
What a warrior, what a player, what a competitor. Talk about the toughness of Gore who transitioned to boxing as a post-NFL feat. Going from being hit in the head with a helmet, to being hit in the head without a helmet is commendable and definitely won’t have any long-term side effects, other than that ring. Am I right, Frank?
The state of Lamar goes down the drain
There’s no way that the main matchup of the week – Lamar Jackson on one leg dueling Aaron Rodgers on nine toes – doesn’t live up to the hype. Jackson has improved as a passerby and can now show it off against fellow anti-vaxxer Rodgers. The good news for the league is that both players have already contracted COVID, so football-related injuries are the only barrier to dealing with them.
Fins enter the protocols; Waddle on the COVID list
It’s time to see if Tua Tagovailoa can extend Miami’s winning streak against the Jets without her profound threat. He hasn’t had an offensive line all season, so the degree of difficulty shouldn’t be too different. This also constitutes a break for the Jets which is something that should be celebrated even if it comes in week 15 when they are 3-10.
The WFT COVID list grows
Would you rather watch Tua face the Jets alone or the Washington Football Team training team face the Eagles? When you have an NFC East rivalry with the last wildcard seat on the line and add Taylor Heinicke and Jalen Hurts or Gardner Minshew to the mix, you have to throw the records away, folks. Also, you get those bets before sports betting takes them off the list, because the Eagles getting 9.5 against a team with their own record is ridiculous even with Dan Snyder adapting long snapper for the WFT.
Bear coordinators in the protocols
It’s just your coordinators, Chicago fans, you still have Matt Nagy, and I know how much you love him and his kids. There are also rumors that his son, the one who was mocked at his high school game, will call Monday’s comedies against Vikings so he can see what it feels like to be booed in a real NFL game. This is a great work experience for when his son gets his coordinator position due to nepotism as the son of a real NFL coach.
Hopkins underwent knee surgery, out for the remainder of the regular season
Hey, at least he could be back in the playoffs and Kyler Murray is still playing, right? It wasn’t rhetoric, I’m actually asking if Murray is healthy? Maybe healthy is the right word. How about not being hurt enough to play? Yup? Here it is. Merry Christmas to all.
Brady distributes NIL offers for the new clothing line
Tom Brady started a company to capitalize on the quarter zip fashion, something white guys have always been wearing but, due to their history of terrible fashion choices, have never caught on, until now. I can only imagine the amount of women that will attract these college athletes once they open the quarter zip with that eye-catching TB12 logo.
What a magical time of the year. Brady is handing out the white equivalent of the Air Jordans to poor student athletes, the Jets are taking breaks, a tight end is coming home for the holidays, the Eagles and WFT are competing for the playoffs, the Jaguars and Texans are competing for the draft position, ESPN covers CTE, Frank Gore has no CTE and Kyler Murray is on the pitch.
It’s stories like those that will make you burst into songs (or COVID), sign Christmas carols, burn Christmas logs (?) And sit and watch an NFL chalkboard that will make you fall asleep with images of Taylor Heinicke and Gardner Minshew dancing in your heads and on your screens.
But wait, there’s more: brand new, stricter COVID protocols!
After COVID made its way into the NFL this week, forcing several teams to bench most of their rosters, the league announced it will implement restrictive protocols until the end of week 15 in an effort to curb the current spread. Players and staff will be required to wear masks in all facilities regardless of vaccination status, meals and matches will not be in person, and no visitors will be permitted while teams are on the road, most of which have been player-restricted protocols not vaccinated until now.
The Lions, the Rams, the Browns and the Washington soccer team have been heavily influenced by the current situation, with significant percentages of their rosters being included in the COVID protocol, as has the Browns head coach. The NFL it is not the only major league that has been hit: The NBA and NHL have also had big outbreaks in the past couple of weeks, but so far they have moved on and taken the hit in the best possible way.
This response seems to come at the right time, albeit a bit late, considering the number of players who are out with COVID right now. The league broke its own record for most positive tests on a day earlier this week with 37 and over 90 players are in the COVID protocol right now, which appears to be reaching a point where teams could consider canceling or postponing some games with such a skeletal list available to play.
The intensive protocols will only remain in place until the week 15 matches are concluded on Monday – and I’m no expert, but I’m not sure four days of limited activity will be able to curb the outbreak we’ve seen this week. In the NFL declaration, wrote that they would continue to discuss the changes with the NFLPA, which could mean that some protocols will be extended if the spread is not satisfactorily controlled after this weekend.
The new protocols also facilitate the return to training and matches of vaccinated and asymptomatic players after receiving a positive test, examining the viral load and subsequent contagiousness of the player.