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NFL News and Notes: December 21, 2018

Could This Be It For Josh Gordon?

New England Patriots wide receiver Josh Gordon took to Twitter Thursday morning saying that he was stepping away from football to address his mental health. Later Thursday, it was revealed that he had been suspended indefinitely for violating terms of his reinstatement under the substance abuse policy. Josh Gordon’s case has been a sad one. He has all of the talent in the world, but his own demons keep getting in his way. This season, Gordon has played in a combined 12 games and had 41 receptions for 737 yards and 4 touchdowns. After dealing with numerous suspensions before, it remains to be seen if and when Gordon will ever see an NFL field again.

Speaking of suspensions, Raiders wide receiver Martavis Bryant has also been suspended indefinitely for a substance abuse violation. Bryant has been appealing the suspension for months but has lost the appeal. In what has been a questionable season in terms of decision-making for the Oakland Raiders, they would probably love to have the third-round pick that they traded for him back.

Seasons Ending Early For Several Stars

Either due to serious injuries or their teams being eliminated, there are a few players who have played their last games for the 2018-19 schedule. One of those players is Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. For Newton, he has been dealing with a sore shoulder, one that noticeably impacted him in the Panthers loss to the Saints last weekend. Newton had surgery on the shoulder last year, and with the rest of the season basically meaningless, it is probably best moving forward for him to address the problem. While they are technically not mathematically eliminated, their chances are so miniscule that it only makes sense to make this decision.

Another player whose season is done is Philadelphia quarterback Carson Wentz. The Eagles QB has been dealing with back issues, including a stress fracture that was found last week during a CT scan. This is not uncommon ground for the Eagles, though, as Wentz season was cut short last year too. As we all know, that worked out pretty well for the Eagles, as Nick Foles took over en route to an eventual Super Bowl championship. They will need quite a bit of luck to get to that point again this year, but Foles is going to see if he can work his magic.

While no definitive word has come out as of yet, it also appears that Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones may also be out for the rest of the season. Jones hurt his leg in last Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears. According to the running back himself, the injury is supposedly similar to the torn MCL he suffered last season.

Another name to keep an eye on is Todd Gurley. He certainly will not be shelved for the rest of the season, but he may be limited for the rest of the regular season. Gurley struggled during last Sunday’s game as he experienced knee inflammation. With the Rams in good shape for the playoffs and facing the lowly Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers, coach Sean McVay may elect to keep him out the next two weeks. No official decision has been made, but it may be worth monitoring.

This Weekend’s Games Have Major Playoff Implications

Going into this weekend, there are already five teams who have secured their playoff berths. In the AFC, the Los Angeles Chargers and the Kansas City Chiefs are already in. Both have 11-3 records, although Kansas City technically holds the tiebreaker with a better division record. On the NFC side, the Chicago Bears, Los Angeles Rams, and New Orleans Saints all have secured a spot in the playoffs, with each having secured their division titles. On the NFC side, the Saints would lock up home-field advantage throughout if they were able to win this Sunday, while the Rams and Bears are still fighting for the second seed. If the Rams win and Bears lose, they will be second. Any other combination and it would push to the regular season finale to determine the outcome. Mind you, if it comes to it, the Bears won the head to head matchup.

While these teams are already in, there are others who can secure their berths this weekend. Technically, the NFC can be locked up this weekend as the Dallas Cowboys, Seattle Seahawks, and Minnesota Vikings can all wrap up their playoff spots. In the AFC, Houston, Pittsburgh, and New England can take care of business. While some have easy paths, others have much more complicated paths (Steelers would have to win AND have either a loss by the Ravens or by the Titans and the Colts). Regardless, with playoffs at stake, this should be another great weekend for the NFL.

End Of The Road For Joe Flacco

It appears that the Baltimore Ravens have their quarterback, and it is no longer Joe Flacco. With the emergence of rookie Lamar Jackson, the Baltimore Ravens are expected to move on from Flacco this offseason. In his career, Flacco has started 163 games for Baltimore and is 96-67 in those games. This season, he went 4-5 with 2,465 yards, 12 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions. After dealing with a hip injury, Lamar Jackson took over and does not appear to be giving the spot back. Under Jackson, Baltimore is 3-1, and it appears that management has made the decision to stick with him as he adds a whole new dimension to the run game that Flacco never could. It will be interesting to see whether Baltimore is able to recoup some value for Flacco in a trade or whether they will outright cut him this offseason. For now, though, his life in the NFL will be found on the sidelines.

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