With only one week remaining in the regular season schedule, every game has major ramifications for those still jockeying for playoff position. Week 17 was no exception.
For example, with the Commanders loss, they have now been eliminated from playoff contention. The Seahawks have taken their place as the seventh seed, and the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers, who play each other next week, both sit on the bubble.
In the AFC, with their loss to the Patriots, the Dolphins have become a bubble team, while the Patriots are in the seventh seed. Both 8-8, a win by the Dolphins and a loss by the Patriots next week could flip the two again.
With all of the craziness that comes with this time of year, let’s take a look at some of the other stories from around the league.
Fields Close To Rushing Record
At 3-13, this has been a less-than-ideal season for the Chicago Bears. Their 41-10 loss on Sunday extended their losing streak to a franchise high nine games, and they are struggling to find consistency on both sides of the ball.
One shining light in an otherwise dismal season has been the improvement of quarterback Justin Fields. While his passing still has room for improvement, what he can do with his legs leaves fans in shock and awe.
In Sunday’s loss, Fields only threw for 75 yards, but he led the team with 132 yards rushing on just 10 carries. That superb performance on the ground has truly put him in elite company.
Not only did he pass Michael Vick for second all-time in terms of single-season rushing by a quarterback, but he has a chance to set the record in Week 17 against the Minnesota Vikings.
At this point, Fields needs just 63 rushing yards to pass Lamar Jackson’s record of 1,206 yards, set during the 2019 season.
The problem for head coach Matt Eberflus is whether it is worth the injury risk. Even in his performance against the Lions, Fields was seen limping at times due to a hip injury and was also evaluated for a concussion after taking a hard hit.
Still, with no other joy for the Bears’ fans, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Fields out there next weekend, assuming he is healthy enough to. At the bare minimum, he may get the opportunity to pass the record before being lifted in an otherwise meaningless game for Chicago.
In fact, at this point, the Bears would prefer to lose. As it stands, they are in position for the second pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, and if they lose and the Texans find a way to win next week, that could be elevated to the top pick.
Dolphins Backup Injured
As previously mentioned, the Miami Dolphins now find themselves on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoff picture. The chances of the Dolphins being able to get back in have become a bit muddier as backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is believed to have suffered a broken finger, according to Josh Alper of ProFootballTalk.
In the team’s 23-21 loss to the New England Patriots, Bridgewater had thrown for 161 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. It was that interception where Bridgewater was believed to have injured his finger.
In his replacement, Skylar Thompson came in and threw for 104 yards, a touchdown, and an interception in the defeat.
Of course, both of these two replaced Tua Tagovailoa, who is out with his second concussion of the season. While no definitive decision has been made, it remains unlikely that Tagovailoa plays next week.
Next week, the Dolphins face the New York Jets in a must-win game. Even then, they will need help. However, the Patriots have the unenviable task of taking on the Bills on the road, and if they lose and the Dolphins win, then their playoff standings would flip-flop.
49ers Quarterback To Have Second Surgery
At 12-4, the San Francisco 49ers are surging, having won nine straight games after a 37-34 overtime victory over the Raiders on Sunday.
What is remarkable is their success has come despite being on their third quarterback. In Sunday’s win, Brock Purdy threw for 284 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception in the win.
Going back to the beginning of the year, it was Trey Lance under center. Lance’s season was cut short after needing surgery on his ankle and on Sunday, it was reported that he recently had a second surgery on the ankle.
According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the procedure happened this week in order to remove some of the hardware that was inserted during the initial procedure. Despite the second surgery, Lance still appears to be on track to be ready for next season.
Between Jimmy Garoppolo, who suffered his own season injury, and the recent play of Brock Purdy, it will be interesting to see what route the 49ers take under center next season.