Kyle Allen stars in the Carolina Panthers 33-14 win over the New Orleans Saints. Proving there’s other options on the table besides Cam Newton:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

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The Carolina Panthers beat the New Orleans Saints convincingly 33-14 in the final game of the season and the most compelling story line was hands down Kyle Allen’s performance. Allen had decent stats in college but he was on another level in his first NFL start. The undrafted free agent signee threw for 228 yards, 2 touchdowns, and no interceptions. Maybe the most impressive thing was how well Allen passed the ball downfield. Cam Newton has decent arm strength but he doesn’t take those shots very often. Now there’s aspects of Newton’s game that Allen will never be able to do. However this was a great start for the former University of Houston quarterback. Most spectators were blown away by how well Kyle Allen managed the Panthers offense and that should secure the backup role for him. Who knows if Allen keeps airing it out for multiple touchdowns and limits his turnovers maybe he’ll be the starter someday? Newton was rooting for Allen during the game but you know if there’s a quarterback controversy things will change very quickly. This could end up being a huge challenge for Cam Newton and because of that it should motivate him to be a better version of himself. Competition brings out the best in everyone and it’s a good sign for the Panthers. Every training camp each player has to earn their job and everyone should keep an eye on the quarterback position. It’s a little too soon to completely anoint Allen but things could’ve been a lot worse Sunday. Moving forward it’s all about consistency and that can be very tough to achieve in such a competitive league. Carolina wasn’t very good this year either so the surroundings aren’t too favorable. Having good quarterback play can mask a lot of those problems though and that’s exactly what Ron Rivera got in week 17. Between Nick Mullens in San Francisco and Allen in Carolina there’s a couple of diamond in the rough quarterbacks who’ve shown a lot of promise.

Charity of the day: National Audubon Society

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Defying the odds! Philadelphia wins their third straight game and secure a wild card match-up against the Chicago Bears:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

If Philadelphia Eagles fans were looking for a Christmas miracle they definitely got it. A little less than a month ago the Eagles had lost to the Cowboys and then Carson Wentz was sidelined with a fractured back. That should’ve spelt disaster for this organization but Nick Foles stepped in and won three straight games for Philly. Their latest victory was a 24-0 shutout against the Washington Redskins. Foles threw for 221 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception but he also got a big night from his defense. Washington couldn’t muster up a single point and it was a convincing performance before heading to the playoffs. Yea the Eagles limped in but they’re finding their stride at the perfect time. Now Doug Pederson’s team will take on Chicago in what will be a showdown for the ages. The Bears defense is known for clamping down on their opponents but they’re going against the defending champs next weekend. If Alshon Jeffery and Foles can continue to play at the level they have during this win streak then anything is possible. The other factor is whether or not Jim Schwartz’s defense can put together a solid outing of their own? When both sides keep it a low scoring game it’s very possible that the Eagles can outscore the Bears. Especially if Mitchell Trubisky has an off night and produces less than 20 points. The biggest challenge will be Philadelphia’s offense line and how well they fair against Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks, and Leonard Floyd? Pederson needs to go back and watch how other teams had success against that pass rush. The coaching staff will also have to call screen plays and swing passes to cause those defensive linemen and linebackers to play cautious. By limiting the Bears strengths it will significantly improve the Eagles chances of winning.

Charity of the day: Earth Island Institute

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Defying the odds. The Eagles won three straight games to make it back to the playoffs.

A bad general manager is just as much to blame for a team’s failures as the head coach. Yet they’re rarely held accountable for their poor decisions:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

Hilton Hotels

You see it all the time around the National Football League. A coach is fired because his team didn’t perform up to expectations and he’s often scapegoated for everything that’s wrong with the organization. Very often though it’s the general manager who is truly to blame for the lack of talent they’ve put on the field. Two perfect examples of this are the Arizona Cardinals and the New York Jets. Steve Wilks and Todd Bowles are both on the chopping block but how fair of a chance did they have of succeeding? Steve Keim has been perhaps the worst GM in all of football both on and off the field but we haven’t heard anything about whether or not he’ll be relieved of his duties? Keim had mediocre draft picks (Robert Nkemdiche, D.J Humphries, etc.), awful free agent signings (one year $20M dollar Sam Bradford contract), and got a D.U.I during a 4th of July celebration. Yet Wilks is the person that is being cast in a negative of light and it’s truly a lack of justice. Have the Cardinals performed well? Absolutely not but that team is completely depleted of offensive talent and nobody could’ve won in those circumstances. Then you look at the Jets and yea Mike Maccagnan drafted Sam Darnold but he basically cut of his arm to trade up and get the former USC quarterback. Mccagnan essentially gave up four draft picks (2018 1st round, 2018 2nd round, 2018 2nd round acquired via trade, and a 2019 2nd rounder) to move up three spots in the draft. That’s a lot of draft capital to give up for one player whether it’s Sam Darnold or not and then Todd Bowles gets fired when the team doesn’t have the talent to compete. Mccagnan also selected two safeties with his first two picks in the 2017 draft and that position may have the least impact in all of football. So it’s another example of how a bad GM can destroy a team but we rarely hear about these guys losing their jobs once we get near the end of the season. It’s absurd and these owners need to do a better job of holding their decision makers accountable.

Charity of the day: Seva Foundation

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Bad general manager is rarely held accountable but they’re a big reason coaches fail.

Larry Fitzgerald is entering his last game with the Arizona Cardinals and he has two options on the table. Either retire or sign with someone else in free agency:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

Hilton Hotels

Everyone is wondering if Larry Fitzgerald is going to retire at the end of the season? While that’s a real possibility considering Fitzgerald is 35 years old it doesn’t necessary mean that’s the route the future Hall of Famer will take. Fitzgerald is a free agent this off-season and he’ll be able to sign with any team he’d like. Some people will suggest that the veteran receiver could return to Arizona. However that’s very unlikely with how bad the team has been recently. When you have the opportunity to sign with anyone than the Cardinals aren’t looking very appealing at all. One of the Los Angeles teams would be a much better fit or how about a co-starring role opposite of Amari Cooper in Dallas? You can begin to see that Larry Fitzgerald could play a couple more seasons with a true contender. Those situations would also help the former 1st round pick (2004) improve his stats. Fitzgerald failed to go over the 1,000 yards receiving mark with Sam Bradford and Josh Rosen throwing him the football. A lot of that was because Arizona’s offense has been anemic. The Chargers, Rams, and Cowboys all would be a better fit and defense’s won’t won’t be able to double team Fitz like they could when he was the only receiving threat. Obviously after 15 seasons in the NFL he’s starting to get a little bit tired of the grind but it’s not like Fitzgerald is washed up. You also know he’d like to win a Super Bowl before his playing days are over and that could compel him to sign with someone this Spring. Would it be nice to spend your entire career with one team? Absolutely but Larry Fitzgerald hasn’t really been able to enjoy football with the Cardinals being so bad. Why not go somewhere else and reignite that passion which has been missing for so long? Especially with all those promising offers out there.

Charity of the day: Salk Institute for Biological Studies

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Larry Fitzgerald has two options on the table. Retire or sign with someone else. There’s no way he’s going back to Arizona.

Kirk Cousins’ legacy will depend on the outcome of the Vikings and Bears game. If Minnesota doesn’t win then everyone will think Cousins is a fraud:

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Author: Jon Kuzma

“Win and you get it in.” That’s the motto for the Minnesota Vikings this weekend because if they beat the Chicago Bears they’re going to the playoffs. Clearly this isn’t the easiest match-up for the Vikings because Khalil Mack and the rest of Chicago’s defense are a force to be reckoned with. These guys are so good at rushing the passer and that will present a lot of challenges for Kirk Cousins. Minnesota signed Cousins to a three year $84M dollar contract and so far the former Washington Redskin hasn’t held up his end of the bargain. Everyone thought the Vikings solved their quarterback problems but Cousins has struggled against elite competition. So this is certainly a crossroads moment for the 30 year old quarterback. With how well Case Keenum did last year everyone expects this franchise to at least make the postseason. To make matters even worse other positions on this roster are lacking the necessary upgrades because all of the extra funds went towards acquiring Cousins. It’s completely unacceptable for the Vikings to lose this game because in theory they should be better with a quarterback who makes $28M dollars annually. The problem is the Bears are a superior team and it’s unlikely that Mike Zimmer can pull this victory out. Minnesota’s offensive line is going to be breaking down on most of the snaps and Cousins will be under constant pressure. Those aren’t exactly ideal circumstances and it doesn’t seem like the 7th year veteran (Cousins) is very good at responding to adversity. Who knows though maybe Cousins can put it all together for one game and lay a foundation for the future. The Vikings won’t be Super Bowl champions this season but it’s possible they can rebound next year and be a legitimate contender. That’s why Sunday is so crucial because a win will give the other players in that locker room confidence in Kirk Cousins moving forward.

Charity of the day: Salk Institute for Biological Studies

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