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Fantastic Philly Foles Finish, Part II? Five Storylines For NFL Week 16

The Philadelphia Eagles have not given up hope. They’ve had a miserable season, certainly in comparison to last year when they won their first Super Bowl. You can’t top that. All you can hope to do is keep the pace.

That hasn’t been the case. At 7-7, injuries have decimated the team since Week 1, particularly its secondary. And last week, they faced a new challenge when quarterback Carson Wentz’s season was essentially ended by a back injury.

Nick Foles

Harry How / Getty

So, the Eagles turned to their demonstrated savior, Nick Foles, who replaced an injured Wentz in 2017 and ended it as the Super Bowl’s MVP. Foles, who started the first two games this season while Wentz was still recovering from his knee injury, took over the team again last week against the Los Angeles Rams.

And the Eagles pulled off an upset, beating the Rams 23-20 to keep its chase of a wildcard alive another week.

So as the Eagles prepared for Sunday’s game against the Houston Texans (10-4), they decided to pay homage to Foles by turning his locker into a shrine.

Defensive end Chris Long was the architect. He began by asking Fletcher Cox to light a few candles in Foles’ locker.

“The big ones,” said Long. “Not the small ones.”

Cox pulled out a grill lighter and got to work.

Long added a copy of Foles’ book and picture of the QB when he played for the St. Louis Rams.

“He’s been there to bail us out when we’ve had injuries before. And this weekend, no different,” said Long.  “I know he’s going to show up big.”

Patriots Give Up On Gordon.

New England has lost two straight and at 10-5, still has not wrapped up the AFC East. On Sunday, it hosts the Buffalo Bills. Home is sweet for the Pats. They are 3-5 on the road this season.

Their preparation for the game was stunted when the organization decided to release receiver Josh Gordon on Thursday for violating terms of his conditional reinstatement under the NFL’s drug policy.

Unfortunately for Gordon, this is not new. The Cleveland Browns have had to take the same action many times over the last four seasons. And now Gordon faces lifetime banishment if he fails another drug test.

“I take my mental health very seriously at this point to ensure I remain able to perform at the highest level. I have recently felt like I could have a better grasp on things mentally. With that said, I will be stepping away from the football field for a bit to focus on my mental health,” Gordon said in his statement.

“Football comes and goes,” said Devin McCourty, a team captain. “We’re all going to compete and we’re all going to work hard as far as our job playing football. We’re used to adversity when it comes to just playing football. Lose a guy to injury. Guy can’t play in a game or whatever that is. Life comes before all of that. So we wish him the best and care about that more than wins and losses.”

The Patriots acquired Gordon from the Browns for a fifth-round pick in 2019 after he missed the start of training camp with anxiety. He participated in 57 plays last Sunday at Pittsburgh, but had only one catch for 19 yards.

In 11 games with the Patriots, Gordon totaled 40 receptions for 720 yards and three touchdowns.

Justin K. Aller / Getty

Jordan Pokes Roethlisberger

Last week, New Orleans defensive end Cam Jordan punked Carolina QB Cam Newton by sending him a broom (with a bottle of wine) to remind him the Saints beat the Panthers all three times they played last season.

This week, Jordan took a verbal swipe at Roethlisberger before the Saints game against the Steelers. He said Big Ben wouldn’t be in the Top Five in his generation.

“In this era? You’d put him at like a top three of this era? You’d put him in the top five of this era?” said Jordan, who then rattled off the names of Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Peyton Manning. “You’re saying he’s better than Philip Rivers?  So you’re giving him the Super Bowl nod?” Jordan said. “You’re putting him at No. 5? OK. … I’d honestly put Eli Manning before I’d put Ben, but OK. Two Super Bowls (for Eli) – if we’re going by those numbers.”

Roethlisberger is sixth in NFL history with 55,527 passing yards and seventh with 359 regular-season touchdown passes.

Leonard Promises Tackle Record

The Colts’ Darius Leonard, who leads the NFL in tackles, was not named to the Pro Bowl. And the rookie linebacker, his coach and teammates could not believe he was only picked as an alternate. That means he could still play, but someone else needs to back out first.

“Just knowing that I put out everything I did on film and still it’s not enough,” said Leonard. “So I’ve got to keep improving. …That means I’ve just got to do more work.”

No player in the league is within 20 tackles of Leonard’s 146. He has 90 solo tackles (11 for losses) and seven sacks. Pro Football Reference says he’s one of three players in league history with at least 140 tackles, seven sacks and one interception.

So what gives? The league also snubbed Andrew Luck. Now the New York Giants may have to pay. Leonard has vowed to make 40 tackles when they play Sunday as the Colts (8-6) continue their fight win the Tennessee Titans and Baltimore Ravens for the final AFC Wild Card.

Titans Go For Four Straight

Tennessee ends its season with two home games against Washington and the Colts, a nice advantage for a team that’s won three in a row. It is 15-3 in Nashville. And the Titans are playing their best football of the season.

If they finish 9-7, the Titans might end up tied with someone. The problem with that is their 5-6 record in the AFC this season.

Behind Tennessee’s rally is former Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry. He ran for 239 yards and four TDs in its 30-9 win over Jacksonville and another 170 yards and two TDs in last week’s 17-0 win over the Giants. That’s the most yards in two games any player in franchise history , including Earl Campbell and Eddie George.

 

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