This week is a crucial point in the NFL season. With five weeks remaining and the majority of teams still in the playoff hunt, the next few Sundays will feature do-or-die games across the league. Below I will examine the position of all 32 teams through 12 weeks. Panthers (11-0): Through 12 weeks, Cam Newton is the frontrunner for MVP. Even with the weakest receiving corps in the league, I like Carolina’s chances of finishing 16-0.
There is a 100 percent chance that DeMarcus Cousins is arrested for something in the next five years. 100 percent. Write it in stone.” Fox Sports analyst Clay Travis wrote these words in early 2010 when Cousins was a 19-year-old freshman at the University of Kentucky. Travis’ prediction was gratuitous — Cousins had no history of legal trouble — but even so, many agreed. People said Cousins was immature.
On this day in 2008, the Los Angeles Lakers were 5-0. No one was surprised. Five months earlier, the Lakers cruised to the NBA Finals, only to lose to Boston in six games. But Kobe Bryant had silenced his naysayers. Bryant was named league MVP that season, and had proved himself capable of taking the Lakers deep into the playoffs without Shaquille O’Neal by his side.
The replay revolution began on June 2, 2010. On a warm spring evening in Detroit, Armando Galarraga was on the verge of doing something that only 20 players had accomplished in 130 years of Major League Baseball. Galarraga had retired 26 consecutive Cleveland hitters. He was one out away from a perfect game. The ballpark was just 43 percent full that night, but as Indians’ shortstop Jason Donald stepped to the plate, Comerica Park was full of life.
On Nov. 25, 2002, the Boston Red Sox hired 28-year-old Theo Epstein as general manager. The young man who had lived in New England for much of his life — he grew up in Brookline and graduated from Yale University, where he was the sports editor for the Yale Daily News — was the youngest G.M. in baseball history. The last time the Red Sox had won the World Series before Epstein was hired, the season was cut short because of World War I. That was 1918. The next eight decades became a nightmare for Sox fans.
Tom Brady grew up a 49ers fan. The Bay Area-native watched Joe Montana lead his team to four Super Bowl titles. In 1999, the 49ers went 4-12. It was the team’s first losing season since 1982. The 49ers needed to address the quarterback position in the 2000 NFL Draft, as undrafted free agent Jeff Garcia had yet to prove himself a capable starter in the league.
The Eagles escaped MetLife Stadium with a win on Sunday afternoon, defeating the Jets, 24-17, and avoiding the organization’s first 0-3 start since Donovan McNabb’s rookie season. A win is a win — especially on the road — but the Eagles didn’t look much better than they did in the opening two weeks versus Atlanta and Dallas. And beating the Jets — a team missing two key offensive weapons in Chris Ivory and Eric Decker — isn’t exactly awe-inspiring. Philadelphia established an early lead thanks to a punt-return touchdown by Darren Sproles and a boneheaded lateral attempt by Brandon Marshall in Jets’ territory that ultimately resulted in a turnover and an Eagles touchdown. Marshall himself called the play “the worst play in NFL history.”
The Jets finished the game with more first-downs and total yards than the Eagles and Philly didn’t score a point in the second half.