NFL Week 14: Jalen Hurts First Career Start and What Else To Watch
Week 14 kicked off Thursday night with the Los Angeles Rams convincing win against the New England Patriots, that has all but eliminated Bill Belichick’s team from the postseason for the first time since 2008.
That’s newsworthy on its own, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything else worth watching this week on Sunday.
Here are three things that I am personally looking at for the rest of the weekend.
Arizona Cardinals Slide Against The New York Giants Rise
It’s not often that a game with two teams that have a combined record of 11-13 is one of the featured games of the day but the Cardinals/Giants game fits that mold.
The game is also heavy on playoff implications, as the Giants are fighting for first place in their division, as they own the tiebreaker currently with the Washington Football Team, both of which are playing better than their record would indicate.
The Giants are winners of four straight in a row, including games against the Seattle Seahawks and Washington. Against Seattle, New York had to turn to Colt McCoy with starter Daniel Jones out with an hamstring injury.
It wasn’t pretty, but New York escaped with a 17-12 win on the road.
Before their bye week, there was a lot of talk of the Cardinals competing for the top spot in the NFC, and Kyler Murray was in a small crowd in the race for the MVP.
Since coming back from their week off, they are a miracle Hail Mary away from being 0-5 and now are on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoffs.
What has changed?
It hasn’t been Murray. Whose TD-INT ratio has drastically improved. He hasn’t been as explosive in the running game but he still finds himself on pace to come close to 900-yards rushing this season.
The defense has actually improved, allowing 40-yards less per game since coming off their bye week.
So, whatever it is that has changed, now is the time to get back on track if they want to make the playoffs. Having the extra seed will help, but if they can’t figure out what’s going wrong it won’t matter.
Jalen Hurts First Career Start
I was a big Hurts fan coming out of college, just like I was a Murray fan the year before, so this has been a long time coming for me.
Was Carson Wentz the only problem in Philadelphia? No, absolutely not. The offensive line has been far from good, and the receivers haven’t been getting open like you would like.
Wentz, though, leads the NFL in turnovers. Something isn’t right, and all though the organization is eating a lot of money by sitting the former second overall pick on the bench, now was as a good a time as ever to make this move.
Maybe it wasn’t there intention to bring this much spotlight on the sport’s most important position, but as soon as they drafted the Heisman runner-up that’s exactly what they did.
Hurts has appeared in each game this season, a snap here and there, but against the Green Bay Packers the former Oklahoma Sooner finally got his first extended look.
He rushed the ball for 29 yards on five carries, and then completed 5-of-12 passes for 109 yards with a touchdown (his first career) and one interception (also his first).
The issue is going to be your throwing a rookie quarterback out there on a team with a weak offensive line and a running game that has struggled lately. Hurts’ himself has been sacked on 16.7% of his drop backs in his very limited action.
Now they go up against the top ranked defense in the NFL, the New Orleans Saints.
Hurts I genuinely believe can be a good quarterback in this league, there’s going to be some growing pains, obviously on a team with a lot going to be working with him.
But after throwing for nearly 4,000 yards and over 1,000 on ground, with over 50-total touchdowns his senior year at Oklahoma, Hurts is certainly a dynamic player that will be fun to watch for the years to come.
Deshaun Watson Plays The Bears
Neither team has much to play for at this point, with both on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoffs.
This game, even if he won’t admit it, is more about pride than anything else for Deshaun Watson. Rated as one of the better quarterbacks in the draft, the Chicago Bears traded up to the second overall pick, to draft Mitch Trubisky.
Watson has certainly turned out to be the better of the quarterbacks, all though the team success hasn’t been there for him - that is far from his fault and more on management for mishandling the organization.
Houston themselves have the second ranked passing game, and Watson has a very impressive 24-6 TD-INT ration this season, while rushing for another 331 yards and three touchdowns.
While it’s well known that the Bears made the wrong decision in the quarterback that they draft, you know, deep down, that Watson would love nothing more than to show them first-hand - in Chicago nonetheless - how bad a decision they made.
What are you watching for during Sunday’s slate of games? Let us know in the comment section below, subscribe to the site at the top of the page, and follow me on Twitter @AJ_Murfy and @SportBlogMurphy.