OffbeatNFL Week 14 questions: Will Cowboys make statement in NFC East?
The richest player contracts on each NFL team: Who is raking in the biggest bucks?
Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports NFL teams throw around millions and millions - apologies to The Rock - of dollars to players. A look at the player on each team who currently is on the biggest contract. This is for total money, not annual salary. You might be surprised who does not make the list. A nod to Spotrac.com for the intel. Arizona Cardinals: Chandler Jones © File Photo File photo Getty Images The defensive lineman is in the midst of a five-year deal worth $82.5 million. Chandler Jones is 28 and is guaranteed $51 million on this contract, which expires in 2022. Thus far in 2018, Jones has made 32 tackles, 10.
We’re down to the last quarter of the season, when NFL playoff races tighten up, individual player awards are won and lost and coaches could be on notice. In particular, there are two NFC matchups this week with massive playoff implications.
Here are six questions for Week 14:
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Will the Packers offense be better without Mike McCarthy?
In atypical move for the franchise,and have turned to offensive coordinator Joe Philbin to take over. Depth at receiver is still a problem for the offense, and running back Aaron Jones needs more touches. But against the Falcons, Philbin will have his first chance to call plays in a non-exhibition game since 1996, so a learning curve is to be expected. Look for him to rely heavily on Aaron Rodgers – one of the smartest quarterbacks in the NFL – and give his star the kind of plays he's most comfortable executing.
How will James Conner’s absence affect the Steelers?
Pittsburgh lost a key weapon whenwith a sprained ankle. When the Steelers haven't abandoned the run, Conner had been effective. But now it will rely on rookie Jaylen Samuels. The fifth-round pick caught a 10-yard touchdown pass late in after Conner left the game, but he’s not used to a heavy workload. Against Oakland, the Steelers should be fine . But with games against the Patriots and Saints in back-to-back weeks, Pittsburgh might need Conner back soon.
NFL team-by-team report cards: From worst to first after 12 games
32. Oakland Raiders (2-10) Photo by Robert Reiners/Getty Images Jon Gruden has best hope the first year of his second tenure as Raiders coach turns out to be a foundation for the future. At this point, it looks like the team is built on quicksand and sinking by the week. The Raiders can't win for losing. They were wiped out by the San Francisco 49ers, 34-3, in their eighth game. They have the same 2-10 record as the Niners, yet are currently in the No. 2 slot for the draft because SF has a weaker strength of schedule. Grade: F 31. New York Jets (3-9) © Getty File photo Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images Thirty-one and plummeting.
Will the Texans' winning streak reach double digits?
There’s no team hotter in the NFL right now than Houston, which has won nine straight. The schedule hasn’t been onerous, but the Texans are riding a wave of steady and solid play from quarterback Deshaun Watson, a dose of consistent production from running back Lamar Miller and a defense that can get to the quarterback and is tied for fourth with 22 takeaways. Up next is a division battle against a Colts team (6-6) needing a win in order not to fade further from postseason contention after a shutout loss to the Jaguars.
Will Chiefs get more production out of their running backs?
The release of running back Kareem Hunt after footage was published of his physical altercation in February with a woman leaves the Kansas City ground game at a crossroads. Spencer Ware paced the team in carries (14) in a victory against a Raiders team that entered the week ranked dead last in rushing defense, but posted only 47 yards and one touchdown. Kansas City’s leading rusher was quarterback Patrick Mahomes (nine attempts for 52 yards). Backup running back Damien Williams added 38 yards on five carries. While that approach worked against Oakland, the Chiefs will likely need more production out of their backs starting Sunday against a red-hot Ravens team that has won three in a row and ranks third in the NFL in rushing defense (87.2 yards per game).
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How will the NFC East look after the Eagles-Cowboys game?
Over the past three weeks, there has been at least one pivotal matchup in the division. And on Sunday, when the Eagles (6-6) travel to face the first-place Cowboys (7-5), the game essentially amounts to a battle for first. If Philly wins, both teams will still be tied in overall record, so the remaining three games after would be paramount. But if Dallas pulls it out, it would hold a two-game lead over the Eagles as well as the head-to-head tiebreaker after claiming the Week 10 meeting between the two teams. The Cowboys have won three in a row and are surging – especially after– but this matchup is unpredictable. Over the last six, the squads are split 3-3.
Who will emerge in the NFC wild-card hunt?
The Vikings (6-5-1) are currently the NFC’s sixth seed, while the Seahawks (7-5) stand as the fifth seed. They face off in a fascinating matchup Monday night that could set the trajectory of the conference’s final two playoff berths. But the Panthers (6-6) – even amid a four-game losing streak – still aren’t finished, though they need to bounce back against the Browns (4-7-1). And though they current lead in the NFC East, the Cowboys would factor into the wild-card chase even with a loss to the Eagles.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY:
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NFL Week 14 questions: Will Cowboys make statement in NFC East?
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