NFL Nation: Final Word 2010 Week 16

Final Word: AFC East

December, 24, 2010
12/24/10
4:05
PM ET
NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 16:

Notable Miami Dolphins could experience their final games at Sun Life Stadium. Teams never remain exactly the same from year to year, but the Dolphins might experience more turnover than most organizations before next season. Thanks to a 1-6 home record entering Sunday's game against the Detroit Lions, head coach Tony Sparano's job carries no guarantees. Offensive coordinator Dan Henning likely will be gone. Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan should be considered for head coaching vacancies. Running backs Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams also will leave the field not knowing if they'll be back.

[+] EnlargeRicky William and Ronnie Brown
AP Photo/Wilfredo LeeSunday could be the final Dolphins home game for Ricky Williams, 34, and Ronnie Brown.
Mark Sanchez's shoulder injury is disconcerting. Reports out of New York indicate Sanchez will play Sunday against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field, but the mere idea his status is in question reminds us who the Jets' backup quarterback is. Mark Brunell is 40 years old. Since 2006, he has started one game and attempted 31 passes. The Jets are on the cusp of clinching a playoff berth. Although Sanchez is rated 28th among all NFL passers, he makes improvisational plays with his legs a rusty quadragenarian cannot. The Jets' chances would diminish substantially if Brunell were forced to take over.

The New England Patriots are in a "hat and T-shirt game." ESPN analyst and former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi emphasized the importance of donning division championship regalia, which the Patriots can do with a victory or tie against the Buffalo Bills in Ralph Wilson Stadium (or if the Jets don't win in Chicago).

"Those hats and T-shirts mean something. It means you've accomplished something," he said in the latest "Bruschi's Breakdown" at ESPNBoston.com. "There have been plenty of teams that have been wild-card teams and gone to the AFC or NFC Championships and have nothing to show for it -- no division title or anything. When you win your division, it says something, right there on the hat and T-shirt: 'Division Champs.' I was always proud to put those T-shirts on, and you want a set of three -- division, conference and you all know what the last one is. It starts with that first one, though."

Buffalo's defense deserves some credit. The Bills' defense has been ranked at or near the bottom of the league all season. But it has quietly put together some impressive performances. The Bills have allowed more than 16 points in regulation time just once since Thanksgiving and have given up only 20 points over their past two games. Encompassing the entire season, Buffalo still has the NFL's worst run defense. But take away Cleveland Browns bulldozer Peyton Hillis' first five carries on the opening drive in Week 14, and the Bills have held Hillis, Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown to 118 yards on 31 carries.

AFC East players are approaching some milestones. With two games left, it's appropriate to take a look at some season stats. Bills receiver Steve Johnson needs two touchdown receptions to set the team record. Bills running back Fred Jackson needs 189 yards to hit 1,000 in back-to-back seasons. Ryan Fitzpatrick is seven touchdown passes away from 30, which would trigger a promise from Buffalo News columnist Jerry Sullivan to run down Hertel Avenue in his underwear. Dolphins receivers Brandon Marshall and Davone Bess need three catches to break the team record for two receivers set by Mark Duper and Mark Clayton in 1984. Cameron Wake needs 4.5 sacks to tie the Dolphins record of 18.5 held by Bill Stanfill and Jason Taylor. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady must average 219.5 passing yards to hit 4,000 for the fourth time. Patriots running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis is 176 yards from hitting quadruple digits. Wes Welker needs 17 receptions to get 100 a fourth straight season. Jets running back LaDainian Tomlinson is 114 yards from reaching 1,000 for the first time in three seasons.

Final Word: AFC West

December, 24, 2010
12/24/10
4:05
PM ET
NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 16:

No 2008 AFC West repeat: Heading into Week 15, many fans wondered if the Kansas City Chiefs would duplicate the Denver Broncos' disaster of 2008. Who could forget that Denver went from 8-5 to 8-8 and fell out of the playoffs -- ending the 14-year Mike Shanahan era? All the Broncos had to do was win one game. The Chiefs entered the week 8-5 and although Kansas City could not clinch the division in Week 15, many AFC West fans saw similarities. The Chiefs showed they were not going to collapse as they won in St. Louis by 14 points. Kansas City can now take the division with home wins against the Tennessee Titans and Oakland Raiders -- among other scenarios. While they can still lose the division title, the Chiefs pull a 2008 Broncos with three straight losses to end the season.

[+] EnlargeSan Diego defense
Robert Benson/US PresswireSan Diego sacked Alex Smith six times and limited San Francisco to only 192 yards of total offense.
San Diego Chargers’ defense is on a roll: San Diego’s defense is heading into Sunday’s game at Cincinnati playing well. San Diego has allowed just seven points in the past two games, against Kansas City and San Francisco. The Chargers nearly pulled off two straight shutouts, but the 49ers scored a touchdown late in the game in Week 15. San Diego has allowed a total of 259 yards in the past two games. The Chargers also lead the NFL in total defense, allowing an average of just 259.8 yards per game. Another big defensive performance could be on the horizon as they face the Bengals and their 21st-ranked offense in the NFL.

Raiders have to snap streak: If Oakland wants to stay alive in the AFC playoff picture, the Raiders have to show they are capable of beating a playoff-caliber team. They get their chance when Indianapolis visits Sunday. They could even be knocked out of playoff contention by the time they kick off, if the Chiefs beat the Titans at home. The Raiders are 5-0 against AFC West competition, but 0-5 against the rest of the AFC. The closest Oakland has come in any of those games has been two seven-point losses. A win over the Colts would give Oakland much-needed confidence if it advances to the playoffs.

Homecoming rehearsal for Kubiak? There has been speculation that Texans coach Gary Kubiak could be a candidate for the Denver head-coaching job if Houston fires him. If the Broncos really want Kubiak, they should beat the visiting Texans on Sunday. A loss to the Broncos could be the nail in the coffin for Kubiak. In five seasons in Houston, Kubiak has not led the Texans to the playoffs. Still, there’s reason why Denver could be interested in its former backup quarterback and offensive coordinator. He knows how to be successful in Denver and may have the support of his former teammate, John Elway, who is expected to join the front office. I wouldn’t say Kubiak is a front-runner in Denver, but if he becomes available, I could see the Broncos being interested.

Sharing the load in San Diego: Chargers running backs Ryan Mathews and Mike Tolbert are splitting carries even closer these days. In Week 14 against Kansas City, Mathews and Tolbert each had 16 carries. In Week 15 against San Francisco, both players had 17 carries. Mathews has a total of 121 yards while Tolbert has a total of 112 yards in the two games. The rookie Mathews, has been hampered by several injuries, is averaging 4.2 yards per carry on 120 attempts this season. Tolbert is averaging 4.1 yards on 178 carries this season. Because both players have been effective and both players give the offense a different dimension, I’d expect the even split to continue for the rest of the season.

Final Word: AFC South

December, 24, 2010
12/24/10
4:04
PM ET
NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 16:

Can Maurice Jones-Drew play through it? He didn’t practice all week with a knee injury and he’s listed as doubtful for the game Sunday against the Washington Redskins. If he doesn’t play, it might not be the death blow many imagine, however. Rashad Jennings has shown he’s got some excellent run skills. I’ll bet the Jaguars are quite confident in Jennings as a lead back. This game is crucial to keeping Jacksonville’s playoff chances alive.

[+] EnlargeMaurice Jones-Drew
AP Photo/Michael ConroyThe Indianapolis defense bottled up Jacksonville running back Maurice Jones-Drew.
Will the Colts stack the box? In Week 15, the Colts limited Jones-Drew to 46 rushing yards and beat Jacksonville. The success came largely out of Indianapolis’ willingness to bring extra defenders to the line of scrimmage. ESPN Stats & Info says the Colts stacked the box more frequently than usual. Will they do the same to stop Oakland's Darren McFadden? I’d think they’d be less wary of Jason Campbell than they were of David Garrard. But the Raiders saw what the Colts did a week ago and should have some countermoves ready if they see it themselves.

Will Kerry Collins have to throw on the move? He’s significantly better when he has time to set and step into his throws, but Kansas City's Tamba Hali and Wallace Gilberry have been quite effective as pass-rushers. If they can force Collins to shift, look for plays from Kansas City’s secondary. How much time will Collins even get on the field? The Titans have had defensive issues on third down and in time of possession, and the Chiefs’ top-ranked run game is equipped to take advantage.

Is there still life in the Texans? It didn’t look like it last week in Nashville, but division games can be different. They are more talented than the Broncos. So in many ways their game in Denver could boil down to desire. Are they fired up for another shot at a rookie quarterback (Tim Tebow)? Is their pulse barely detectable with the playoff dream dead and a game on the road in the cold a day after Christmas? It’s the first time Gary Kubiak works the sidelines as a head coach in Denver. He was a Broncos quarterback from 1983 to 1991 and was their offensive coordinator for 11 seasons.

Will the Titans spread out for Chris Johnson? They should. ESPN Stats & Information says over the past two seasons, Johnson averages 7.6 yards when three or more receivers are on the field, versus 4.0 yards with two or more tight ends and 4.5 out of two-back formations. Kansas City counterpart Jamaal Charles actually has better production balance rushing the ball -- he averages 5.8 yards in three wide, 7.0 in two tight and 5.9 in two-back.

Final Word: AFC North

December, 24, 2010
12/24/10
4:04
PM ET
NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Here are five nuggets of knowledge about Week 16:

[+] EnlargeJoe Flacco
Bob Donnan/US PresswireRavens quarterback Joe Flacco is growing into a leadership role in his third season.
Fiery Joe: What's gotten into Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco lately? Flacco, who earned the nickname "Joe Cool" to describe his temperament, has been very fiery. In the past few weeks, Flacco has argued with officials and gotten into a heated exchange with veteran receiver Derrick Mason on the sidelines. In his third season, Flacco is playing well and showing more emotion than ever, and it's part of his evolution as an offensive leader in Baltimore. Is this a good thing? "I think so," Ravens defensive end/linebacker Terrell Suggs said in a conference call this week. "We have a very loose locker room, and it's good to see Joe have a little bit of fire to him."

Stopping the run: Ravens running back Ray Rice is coming off his most complete game of the season with 233 total yards and two touchdowns. He will present a stiff challenge for the Cleveland Browns' run defense, which has struggled. The Browns have been pushed around at the line of scrimmage the past two weeks, allowing 380 rushing yards in losses to the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals. Cleveland has been a tough team all season, but you have to wonder if that toughness is starting to fade down the stretch.

Third-down woes: Another reason Cleveland's defense is wearing down: The offense can't move the chains. In the past three games, the Browns are an abysmal 6-for-32 (18.7 percent) on third-down conversions. Cleveland cannot sustain long drives and, even after getting turnovers, usually settles for a field goal or quickly gives the ball back to the other team. Browns offensive coordinator Brian Daboll is on the hot seat after not being able to get his group going all year.

Young receivers: With Terrell Owens (knee) on injured reserve and Chad Ochocinco (ankle) ailing, expect to see a lot more from third-year Bengals receivers Jerome Simpson and Andre Caldwell. They were taken in the second and third rounds, respectively, in 2008 and projected to be major contributors by now. But opportunities and production have been sparse. Simpson and Caldwell got extended playing time last week against the Browns, combining for six receptions for 129 yards. Both are auditioning for bigger roles in 2011.

Extended rest: After picking up a 27-3 victory against the Carolina Panthers, the Steelers get 10 days to rest for their regular-season finale against Cleveland on Jan. 2. Pittsburgh will look to avenge last year's 13-6 loss in Cleveland, which helped keep the Steelers out of the playoffs. The game will be meaningful for Pittsburgh in the standings if Baltimore beats the Browns on Sunday.

Final Word: NFC West

December, 24, 2010
12/24/10
4:01
PM ET
NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 16:

[+] EnlargeMatt Hasselbeck
Otto Greule Jr./Getty ImagesWill Matt Hasselbeck have a better performance than his Week 15 showing against the Falcons?
1. Calling all quarterbacks. NFC West starting quarterbacks Matt Hasselbeck, Sam Bradford, Alex Smith and John Skelton combined for two touchdown passes, eight interceptions and an 0-4 record in Week 15. All but Smith will be back in the lineup for his team in Week 16. Which one, if any, will rise to the occasion? Arizona faces a Dallas defense that has allowed 31 scoring passes, tied with Houston for most in the league. But the Cardinals have only eight touchdown passes all season. No team has finished a season with fewer since Oakland had seven during the 2006 season. Something has to give when Dallas visits Arizona on Saturday.

2. Watch out for the tight ends. The San Francisco 49ers' Vernon Davis scored on a 73-yard reception the last time he played a game in the Edward Jones Dome. Davis isn't the only tight end to watch during NFC West games this weekend. The Cardinals will presumably be keeping close watch on the Dallas Cowboys' Jason Witten, who has four touchdowns over the team's past three games. Arizona has surrendered scoring passes to five tight ends this season: San Diego's Antonio Gates, Carolina's Jeff King, Oakland's Zach Miller, Minnesota's Visanthe Shiancoe and New Orleans' Jeremy Shockey. Seattle's Chris Baker had a 44-yard reception against the Cardinals, although he did not score on the play.

3. Troy Smith and the deep ball. The Rams have had increasing problems defending the deep ball. Opponents' passer ratings have risen from 32.8 in the first eight games to 100.0 in the past six games on passes traveling at least 15 yards in the air, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The 49ers' Troy Smith completed 6 of 10 such passes for 193 yards and a touchdown against the Rams earlier this season.

4. End of the road for Alex Smith? The 49ers' decision to start Troy Smith instead of Alex Smith does not prevent the latter from getting on the field Sunday or even in Week 17. But with Alex Smith's contract set to expire and the team already assured of a losing record, the 49ers appear closer to cutting their losses with the 2005 first-round draft choice. A year ago at this time, the 49ers were going out of their way to make sure Alex Smith got as much playing time as possible. "I want Alex to get all the playing time he can," coach Mike Singletary said then. "It's important for us and him. Every situation he can possibly be in, I want him to learn every lesson he possibly can. I want to see every drop of everything he has." This December? Not so much.

5. Keep those playoff scenarios handy. Remember, the Seahawks' game at Tampa Bay means nothing in the division race if the Rams defeat the 49ers earlier Sunday. In that case, the 49ers would be out and the Week 17 winner between Seattle and St. Louis would advance to the playoffs. The 49ers will win the division if they win their final two and Seattle fails to reach 8-8. If the Rams lose to the 49ers, they'll need a victory at Seattle and a 49ers home loss to Arizona for a playoff berth. Got it?

Final Word: NFC South

December, 24, 2010
12/24/10
4:00
PM ET
NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 16.

The no-show bowl. I think it’s safe to say that next week’s Outback Bowl between Penn State and Florida will draw this season’s biggest crowd to Raymond James Stadium. Penn State fans are known for traveling and Tampa isn’t far for most Florida fans to travel to say farewell to coach Urban Meyer. It’s a good matchup. But, even though I’m wearing a Penn State hat as I type this, I don’t see how the Gators and Nittany Lions are that much better of a matchup than Sunday’s game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Seahawks are very much in the hunt for the NFC West title and the Bucs still can get to the playoffs if they win this one and next week at New Orleans. This game won’t be aired on local television in the Tampa Bay market, and it’s probably going to draw about 35,000 fans. Blame it on the economy, the day after Christmas or whatever. But it seems pretty strange that every other game in the league with playoff implications sold out with ease.

[+] EnlargeMatt Ryan
Mike Nelson/US PresswireQuarterback Matt Ryan has led Atlanta to the NFC's best record this season at 12-2.
Brees or Ryan? We talked about this the other day. Is Drew Brees still the NFC South’s best quarterback or has Matt Ryan surpassed him this season? I believe it’s a real close call and I think we’ll know the verdict immediately after Monday night’s game. In other words, the winner takes all -- at least for this season.

Running on empty. The Bucs have been one of the great success stories of the league this season after going 3-13 last season. They’ve turned the corner and the future looks bright. But last week’s embarrassing home loss to Detroit tells me the Bucs might have finally hit the wall this season. Coach Raheem Morris has squeezed every drop of talent out of his young team, but a ton of injuries appear to have finally caught up to the Bucs. Only a few weeks ago, I would have said the Bucs were headed for 10 or 11 wins. Now, the eight wins they already have is looking like a pretty realistic measure. This season has been a success in many ways. But winning against the Seahawks or next week in New Orleans would be nice, because it would allow the Bucs to close the season with momentum that can be carried over to next season.

Special rivalry. I don’t think I’m the only one who feels this way, and it’s really nothing more than a hunch. But I think Monday's game between New Orleans and Atlanta will come down to special teams. My reason is simple. In their previous meeting in the Superdome in September, the Falcons won largely because Garrett Hartley missed a field goal. Atlanta fans like to remind New Orleans fans of that miss. And New Orleans fans like to remind Atlanta fans that the NFC South standings and the overall playoff picture might look a lot different if the Falcons hadn’t been “lucky.’’ Lucky or good, I think a special-teams play will make the difference in this one. Maybe it’s a made or missed field goal attempt, a long return of a kickoff or punt or something else on special teams. It just seems like special teams are becoming a natural part of the NFC South’s best rivalry.

High-stakes game. This game has huge meaning for both teams. But let’s boil it down to simple terms. If the Falcons win, they are the NFC South champion and will hold the No. 1 seed in the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. If the Saints win, they still have a shot at grabbing those two things from the Falcons. New Orleans also would have to win its finale against Tampa Bay and the Falcons would have to lose their finale against Carolina. If that happens, New Orleans would claim the No. 1 seed. Oh, by the way, I haven’t been able to confirm it yet, but there are rumblings that Atlanta receiver Roddy White has invited Trent Dilfer to hang out on the Falcons’ sideline -- or maybe not. (Here's what Dilfer said about the Falcons earlier this week.)

Final Word: NFC North

December, 24, 2010
12/24/10
4:00
PM ET
NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 16:

[+] EnlargeGreg Jennings
Andrew Weber/US PresswireGreg Jennings and the Packers may be best served going to the spread offense against the Giants.
Crunch time: This is it for the Green Bay Packers, who entered the season as preseason favorites to win the NFC North and have fought through an avalanche of injuries to put themselves in this position: Win Sunday against the New York Giants and next week against the Chicago Bears to guarantee themselves a playoff spot. If they lose Sunday, they're eliminated from contention. That scenario has made for a playoff-type week at Packers practices, where quarterback Aaron Rodgers has returned from a concussion and linebacker Clay Matthews (shin) was cleared to practice in pads for the first time in nearly two months. It's all-or-nothing time for the Packers.

Tempting: The Packers' run game looked better than ever in last Sunday's game at Gillette Stadium, and it's natural to suggest they try to control this game in a similar manner -- especially considering the Giants' fearsome pass rush. But here's a thought: With Rodgers now back in the lineup, why not return to the spread scheme they used with great success earlier this season? We'll define the spread as using four or more wide receivers at the same time. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Giants have seen that alignment on only 13 plays this season. The Packers have used it 134 times, third most in the NFL, and averaged 6.2 yards per play in it. The danger is leaving the Giants' pass-rushers in mostly one-on-one situations. But if Rodgers can release the ball quickly enough, he can neutralize that rush and have another option for controlling the clock on a wintry day at Lambeau Field.

Matchups at Soldier Field: Based on the way the Chicago Bears' defense has played against every quarterback except presumptive MVP Tom Brady, chances are it will hold its own against the New York Jets' Mark Sanchez. That's assuming Sanchez plays with a shoulder injury that limited him in practice this week. Sanchez has thrown five touchdowns and nine interceptions against defenses that keep seven or more players in coverage, a scheme the Bears play better than anyone in the NFL. Meanwhile, the Jets' defense plays so well against the short passing game -- opponents are completing an NFL-low 58.9 percent of passes thrown 10 yards or fewer -- that Bears quarterback Jay Cutler might be tempted to look more downfield. He probably has some confidence after last Monday's 67-yard touchdown pass to receiver Johnny Knox, but generally speaking, the smart play is not to challenge the Jets' defense.

Bad history: There are many reasons to question whether the Minnesota Vikings have a chance to win Sunday night against the Philadelphia Eagles. One is Michael Vick. Another is Joe Webb. And there is also the pesky little issue of the Vikings, over an extended period of time, being unable to overcome tough weather conditions when pushed outside of the Metrodome. You saw an inkling of that tendency last Monday at TCF Bank Stadium, and here is the updated statistic, according to ESPN Stats & Information: Over the past 20 years, the Vikings have won exactly one prime-time game when the temperature at kickoff was below 40 degrees. That came in a 2005 Monday night game at Lambeau Field. Otherwise, they are 1-6 in those games over that span.

More history: Can the Detroit Lions win consecutive road games for the first time since 2004? It's not as crazy as it might sound. When they travel to Sun Life Stadium this weekend, the Lions will face a Miami Dolphins team that is 1-6 at home this season. The Lions played it coy this week about the identity of their starting quarterback. It could be Drew Stanton for the fourth consecutive game, or it could be Shaun Hill. But no matter who is behind center, the Lions are hoping to continue their late-season momentum and escape the cellar of the NFC North for the first time since 2007.

Final Word: NFC East

December, 24, 2010
12/24/10
4:00
PM ET
NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 16 games:

Can the Giants shake off last Sunday's devastating loss to the Eagles? Giants quarterback Eli Manning requested time alone with his teammates Monday, and coach Tom Coughlin was happy to oblige. His speech was short, but it grabbed everyone's attention. Defensive tackle Barry Cofield told me Thursday that he couldn't believe how much energy he saw in the locker room this week. The Giants have done a nice job of recognizing their obvious failure late in last Sunday's game and then moving on to Green Bay. Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride has tried to get his unit to come out with a sense of urgency in recent weeks, and I think you'll see that against the Packers on Sunday afternoon. New York will want to take the crowd out of the game as soon as possible.

[+] EnlargeEli Manning
AP Photo/Evan PinkusEli Manning held a players-only meeting on Monday to address the failures of Sunday's loss to Philadelphia and to get the team focused on Green Bay.
Can Eagles cornerback Dimitri Patterson bounce back from an embarrassing performance against the Giants? Patterson has played well at times this season, but the Giants' wide receivers made him look silly in the first half. The Vikings still have firepower at receiver, so it will be interesting to see what happens if Patterson gets matched up with Sidney Rice. "I'm looking forward to it," Patterson said Friday. "As far as I'm concerned, that was two quarters, three plays, however you want to look at it. I finished that game, I came back in the second half. And I will finish the rest of the season." I think Patterson will do a lot better this week because the Eagles will likely have a better pass rush against the Vikings' offensive line.

Jason Garrett needs this win to finalize his campaign to become permanent head coach. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones admitted last week that a loss to the Washington Redskins would've given him pause about Garrett's future. But the Cowboys pulled out a 33-30 win with a late field goal, so Jones didn't have to worry about that. Dallas should dominate the Cardinals, who are playing with a rookie quarterback. If the Cardinals somehow pull off a Christmas miracle and beat the Cowboys, fans will call for Jon Gruden and Jeff Fisher as the next head coach. But I'd be really surprised if the Cowboys found a way to lose this game.

Eli Manning needs to have a big-time game in Green Bay. As I wrote in Thursday's column, Manning has struggled in December throughout much of his career (14-16). He played well against the Eagles last week, but still has a good shot at leading the league in interceptions. The good news for Giants fans is that Manning has wonderful memories of Lambeau Field. He's said that he actually enjoyed winning the '07 NFC Championship Game (played in Jan. '08) more than the Super Bowl. Those wins helped define his career, and I think he'll draw on that experience from three seasons ago in beating the Packers on Sunday.

Can Mike Shanahan get something accomplished in Jacksonville? We learned Friday that Pro Bowl outside linebacker Brian Orakpo (hamstring, groin) will miss a game for the first time in his NFL career. Orakpo will be replaced by Rob Jackson, who will make the first start of his career. And there's also a chance that Kevin Barnes and Macho Harris could be the starting safeties. Reed Doughty is out with a concussion and Kareem Moore will be a game-time decision. I don't know if the Skins have much hope of winning, but Shanahan will have a chance to evaluate some young players. And it will be interesting to see how Rex Grossman performs following his excellent second half against the Dallas Cowboys. Shanahan will make massive roster changes this offseason, but a few players could help their cause with strong performances against Jacksonville.

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