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FOOTBALL FREAK: Key injuries big story of NFL season

['John Turner']
['John Turner']

A look at some important games this week

The football gods are angry this season as a record number of NFL stars have gone down with season-ending injuries. 
These injuries to elite players put their respective teams in a tough sport both competitively and, in some cases, put their playoff and Super Bowl aspirations in jeopardy. 
So far Houston lost arguably the best pass rusher in the league in JJ Watt to a broken leg, and then lost rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson, who energized the offence and had the Texans in the AFC South race until his non-contact knee injury.
The Giants lost Odell Beckham Jr., their only play-maker on offence, in early October.
Green Bay lost quarterback Aaron Rodgers for half the season, but will make his return from a broken collarbone this week. Hopefully, they aren’t rushing him back too soon. 
The Seahawks lost one half of the “Legion of Boom” in Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman, and Arizona got 11 carries out of stud running back David Johnson. 
Two big-name quarterbacks – Andrew Luck and Ryan Tannehill – didn’t make it out of training camp, and the list goes on.
Then last Sunday, the football gods took out MVP favourite Carson Wentz with a torn ACL, which will hurt the Eagles’ shot at a Super Bowl. It seems very ironic that about a year ago Raiders quarterback Derek Carr broke his leg before last year’s playoffs while Oakland was having a great season and had a chance of going to the Super Bowl. 
Who will get hurt this week, and will that team’s chances for the playoffs go out the window after another week of NFL carnage?
 
Stat of the week
Three of the top teams in the NFC are Philadelphia, Minnesota and the Los Angeles Rams. Coincidently, the other two teams have former Rams quarterbacks starting for their team – the Viking’s Case Keenum and the Eagles’ Nick Foles.
 
Sure thing
The Freak watched Jacksonville for the first time last Sunday, and was impressed with the young defence and running back Leonard Fournette. The Jags lead the division, and host Houston in a must-win game. They don’t disappoint.
The Jets lost quarterback Josh McCown for the season, and now head to New Orleans with Bryce Petty at the helm. The Saints’ D is licking its chops. It will feel like Mardi Gras with all the turnovers they’ll force. The Saints win easily.
Foles will start for the Eagles at the Giants. Philly can win this with Ron Jaworski at quarterback. All the travelling Philly fans will enjoy this Eagle win.
 
Don’t mortgage the house picks
There’s a big Saturday night game for the AFC West Division as the Chiefs host the Chargers. San Diego, sorry Los Angeles, is on fire after starting 0-4 while the Chiefs started 5-0. The Freak is going with the hot team in the Chargers.
This time of the season all the games are big, and the Steelers hosting the Patriots is a game to determine who will host the AFC Championship. Pittsburgh needs this game more than New England as the Steelers cannot win in Foxboro in the playoffs. The Patriots are coming off a bad loss to Miami, and there might be some carry over to this game. Gronk is back, which will help Brady, but the Steelers will play more desperate and beat the Patriots.
Can the young Rams win a huge division game like this on the road against the Seahawks? If they want to prove they are for real, and show Seattle there is a new sheriff in town, they need to win this game. The Rams’ have a front four that is fast enough to contain Russ Wilson, and Seattle’s defence is living off the past. If Blake Bortles can put up 24 on this D, Jared Goff and Todd Gurley can score 30. Rams win on the road.
 
Upset special
The Washington Redskins looked like they quit against the Chargers last week, and they are just ravaged by injuries as they host Arizona. 
Usually The Freak doesn’t like taking a West Coast team coming east, but the Cards will pull off the road upset as the Redskins are dealing with too much on and off the field.
Last week: 4-for-7.
Season: 73-for-96.

John Turner is a teacher at Summerside Intermediate School, and coaches youth football. His column appears every Thursday during the NFL season. Feel free to e-mail questions and comments to ssidespartansfootball@yahoo.ca.

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