Brady is suddenly showing signs of age; Rodgers under fire in Green Bay; More Bears mania: Just another week in the NFL. We’ll give you all the 2018 NFL news you can handle in under three minutes (Disclaimer: you can stay longer than three minutes. Time is relative). Here’s the bestor worstof the NFL from Week 15.

 

A Bad Day For Brady Or Something More Ominous?

You watched those last few minutes between the Patriots and Steelers on Sunday, right? Like most of America, you had to be wondering who kidnapped Tom Brady and snuck in a look-a-like to replace him.

The guy out there sure didn’t bear even faint resemblance to Brady, who for some 15 years has been the best closer in sports this side of Mariano Rivera. That interception on a ball he meant to throw out of bounds, Those last few end-of-game throws into the end zone…not even close to catchable.

Put it this way: Bill Belichick doing stand-up comedy at his press conference would have been less shocking.

As a result, you could have predicted some sort of strong reaction from football analysts everywhere. The bigger they are, the harder they fall, and all that. Even with that in mind, some of the criticism was stunningly pointed, implying that Brady was hearing footsteps in the pocket, and suddenly no longer so ageless, after all, at 41.

“He’s flinching,” Shannon Sharpe said on FOX. “Anybody can throw with a clean pocket. Tom Brady doesn’t want to stare down the gun barrel anymore.”

Brady’s old college teammate, Charles Woodson, agreed, claiming the legendary QB could have hit Coradelle Patterson in the back of the end zone on the game’s final play “if he just stepped up in the pocket” rather than hurrying a throw while falling away from the rush.

“I think he’s starting to feel all the hits,” Woodson said on ESPN. “At some point, it catches up with you, and you see him trying to get the ball out of his hand to avoid taking those hits.”

Other analysts offered similar takes, as a way of explaining two straight losses by the Pats, capped by Rex Ryan saying on ESPN: “This team doesn’t scare anybody right now.”

Whoa. For a team that has fed off the us-against-the-world mentality that Belichick instills, this sets up some great theater in the coming weeks, the result producing one of two possible titles:

1) Brady’s Revenge

Or,

2) Tom Can’t Outrun Time, Even If He Eats Avocado Ice Cream.

 

Harsh Criticism For Rodgers in Green Bay

Apparently, it was bash-a-legend week in the NFL. If you think the Tom Brady criticism detailed above was brassy, it paled in comparison to the takedown of Aaron Rodgers, courtesy of former Packers star cornerback LeRoy Butler.  Maybe this is a reaction to Rodgers’ perceived role in Mike McCarthy’s firing, but in any case, after the Packers lost to the Bears 24-17, Butler went off on Twitter. 

This on a day when Rodgers’ NFL-record streak of consecutive passes without an interception finally ended at 402. When it rains, it pours.

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Trubisky’s Christmas Sweater Breaks The Internet…Sort Of

You think Chicago isn’t ga-ga over the success of da Bears?

Less than 24 hours after Mitch Trubisky showed up for his post-game press conference wearing a rather gaudy Bears Christmas sweater (complete with blinking lights), fans had bought up every last one of them available at NFLshop.com. Trubisky, who threw two TD passes in the win over the Packers, seemed to thoroughly enjoy getting a wide-eyed reaction from reporters to his attire, even asking if they preferred he turn the sweater lights on or leave them off for his interview.

He obliged when "lights on" was requested, and when the QB mentioned the sweater was available at NFLshop.com, apparently Chicagoans immediately opened their phones. The good news? Presumably, there are still plenty of Ditka sweater-vests in stock.
 

Williams Making A Case He Should Stay As Browns Coach

So is it possible Gregg Williams is more than the survivor of the Hue Jackson-Todd Haley power struggle in Cleveland? Someone had to take over as head coach when Jackson and Haley were fired seven weeks ago, and as defensive coordinator, Williams was in the right place at the right time.

But, with the Browns at 4-3 since then and Baker Mayfield thriving under new offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens, speculation is growing that Williams could get the job on a more permanent basis.

Williams, suspended once for instituting a bounty system on quarterback hits while coaching with the Saints, has a reputation for being outspoken and edgy -- traits that were obvious during the filming of HBO’s Hard Knocks during training camp. But, Mayfield (who can be outspoken himself), to the point of calling Hue Jackson “fake” on an Instagram post after the head coach’s firing, seems to have a connection with Williams.

“What you see is what you get,” Mayfield told reporters this week. “There is no smoke and mirrors. He is trusting Freddie Kitchens to do his job and for us to go execute. I think that is important.”

Unrelated, happy holidays from Browns OL coach, Bob Wylie...

 

 

Saints’ Home-Dome Path To Super Bowl

So it appears the road to the Super Bowl in the NFC will go through New Orleans.

The Saints’ rather ugly 12-9 win on the road over the Panthers Monday night, combined with the Rams upset loss at home to the Eagles on Sunday, makes it likely that Drew Brees will be able to work his QB magic indoors throughout the post-season.

Exactly what he likes. 

Four times this season Brees and the Saints have put up 40 or more points in their home Superdome, including a 45-35 win over the Rams that looms as crucial for them now. Meanwhile, their offense has struggled lately during a rare stretch of three straight road games, including a 13-10 loss in Dallas to the Cowboys. The good news is their defense has suddenly emerged as a force, surrendering an average of 12.3 points over the last six games.

With a 12-2 record, the Saints need only one more win to secure home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.  Their final two games are at home, against the Steelers and then the Panthers (who looked awful offensively on Monday night). So, if all goes well for Brees, he could win the whole enchilada without playing in the elements again, since the Super Bowl also will be indoors in Atlanta.

Is there such a thing as climate-controlled destiny?

 

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