1. There was no Tony Romo Chernobyl moment to point at and taunt this week, but there were plenty of other prospective playoff-bound quarterbacks rolling around in garbage this weekend. Which one stunk it up worse?
JAMES CARR: Gotta throw the homie Matt Stafford under the bus. It might be hard to find someone with as much talent as Stafford but couldn't lead his team out of a brown paper bag with a lighter in his hand. Been that way since his days at UGA. Surround the kid with all the talent in the world; it won't matter. Stafford will only win if everything's going right or has an opportunity to flex his ridiculous arm. Other than that, he's just playing football for a living. And Detroit just gave him a massive extension. No wonder the city's bankrupt.
RICHARD BOADU: Drew Brees. In back to back games, he's thrown two interceptions. I know the Panthers defense is one of the best in the league, but this is a quarterback's football league. The Saints could have taken control of their playoff destiny and they dropped the ball. Now they are in danger of not making the playoffs at all.
DJ DUNSON: The Saints offense has a history of breaking down on the road, and Drew Brees consistently comes bearing gifts for opposing defenses away from New Orleans. New Orleans averages 17.8 points per game on the road, 5th worst in the NFL. The Panthers have given every quarterback they’ve faced fits. That was bound to happen.
Ryan Tannehill went to Buffalo and practiced autocannibalism. Seven sacks, 82 yards and zero scoring drives with a chance to secure a playoff bid is atrocious. He should be forced to hitchhike back to Miami after that one if he’s going to have a performance like that on the eve of Rex Ryan’s visit to town.
2. Which team battling it out for the final AFC Wild Card slot could cause the most postseason ruckus?
CARR: Gotta give respect to the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers. Both teams have been there, done that. But I'm gonna go with the San Diego Chargers. If they beat KC, who is sure to be resting starters as they've already clinched, the Chargers will come in with four straight wins, including one over Denver on a Thursday night. The emergence of Keenan Allen gives them an added dimension and possibility of an offensive explosion surprise someone in the AFC.
BOADU: I want to say the Dolphins because no one would expect them to make much noise in the playoffs, but they'll likely be on the road playing somewhere cold. With that said, it'd have to be the Steelers. They are slowly getting into their groove. Like James said, they've been there and done that. They maybe old and not able sustain a 16 game season, but they are battle tested enough to maneuver their way in the playoffs.
DUNSON: If the Steelers defy the odds of playoff impossibilities, the AFC’s elite better have their heads on a swivel. Mike Tomlin’s 12-man defense revolutioned special teams, Big Ben is the best quarterback sitting outside the playoff bubble. All he needs is a Kansas City victory over San Diego, a Jets win at Miami and a Baltimore loss at Cincy. This is a kamakazi team. They’re running out of time to win another title. That’s why Mike Tomlin is out there trying to make tackles. They want this more than anyone else.
3. After his dreadful showing against Philadelphia on Sunday night should the Bears consider benching Cutler and starting Josh McCown next week against Green Bay?
CARR: Most definitely. In fact, I'd be concerned if he didn't at least consider it. I'm a big believer in the hot hand, but Chicago is in a bit of a tougher spot here. Cutler's leadership ability rivals that of Stafford, and there might not be a less inspirational player in the league. But he's got talent and he's led Chicago to the playoffs before. Now he's in a contract year and the Bears have one more game to make the playoffs. So, even though the Bears should probably give McGowan a shot, they'll likely stick with Cutler. If he shows up and drops another deuce on the field, he'll probably be updating his resume and preparing his agent for negotiations. If he balls out and wins, Chicago will probably feel inspired to hand him a Stafford-like contract. My guess? They'll regret it just as much as Detroit. I'd start McGowan and begin the moving-on process now.
BOADU: The loss wasn't Cutler's fault. The Eagles are good and got on top of the Bears 21-0 in the first quarter. They didn't have a chance. Josh McCown was due up for a bad game and come back down to earth sooner or later. It just didn't happen because Jay Cutler got healthy. Let's not kid ourselves, McCown is 34 and has had plenty of time showcase whether he's a star or not. He got on a hot streak against some mediocre teams.
DUNSON: The Eagles are a bend, but don’t break defense, but Cutler made them look like gridiron predators. He was throwing high, low, missing receivers in every way possible, held onto the ball too long and even threw in a touchdown that went the other way.
Besides, Cutler needs to take a motivational speaking and body language course this summer. The offensive pulse is just so dismal when he’s out there. It’s almost like he’s channeling Moe Szylak in the huddle. Besides, I trust McCown in the clutch during Week 17. They’ve got history.