3) Who am I? Viewed all summer as a failsafe fantasy stud, I enter Week 16 with 832 yards on the ground at 3.9 yards per carry. I’ve crossed 100 yards rushing just once all season. Jonathan Taylor, Ronald Jones II and David Montgomery have all outgained me. My yards-per-rush figure ranks 40th league-wide, while my $19.8 million cash figure ranks second among all runners.
It’s just not Ezekiel Elliott‘s year. He knows it. We know it. The Cowboys can’t do much about it, either. With another $9.6 million in guaranteed loot coming in 2021, Dallas is stuck hoping for a better version of Zeke next September. As for today, a heavier dose of Tony Pollard helps quiet the Furies. Elliott’s understudy played leading man in Sunday’s 41-33 downing of the Niners, piling up 69 yards and two scores on the ground with another 63 yards off six grabs through the air. We’ve seen sparks from Pollard before, but Sunday’s result begs for a longer look over the next two weeks. The Cowboys should ponder a revised model for 2021. Would Dallas benefit from a genuine committee backfield closer to what the Ravens, Niners and Browns employ?
4) This space has regularly been used to throw smelly eggs at the oft-dull Bears, but the narrative no longer fits. The offense is a new creation with Bill Lazor calling plays, crossing the 30-point barrier in three straight clashes for the first time since 2013. Back-from-the-dead QB Mitchell Trubisky has played competent football, while the ground game has sprung to life. Montgomery has plowed for 109 yards per game over the past four weeks, with a career-high 146 coming this past Sunday in Minnesota. Plenty of credit goes to an offensive line that overcame weeks of injuries and CoronaTime absences to bully the Vikings into nothingness.
The Bears have negatively impacted my enjoyment of football for much of Matt Nagy‘s reign, but the embattled coach has Chicago (7-7) notched as the NFC’s eighth seed behind the Cardinals (8-6). With upcoming dates against the Jaguars and Packers — a Green Bay team potentially with nothing to play for in Week 17 — a 9-7 Bears finish is an option. A highly awkward option, too, for a fan base that seemed anxious to part ways with Nagy, Trubisky and all of the above. We once joked that a strong finish would convince Bears management to bring the entire band back for 2021. Another offseason doused in pretty poems about Chicago’s steely belief in Mr. Trubisky! … This can’t possibly be happening. Can it?
5) Speaking of turnarounds, three cheers for Jalen Hurts. In two starts, Philly’s rookie quarterback has turned the ugliest offense in football — a dusty corner of broken-down players and poorly plotted game plans — into a watchable whirlwind. After dashing for 100 yards in his starting debut against a caught-by-surprise Saints team in Week 14, Hurts exploded for four total touchdowns in Arizona on Sunday. Philly fell to a Cardinals team boasting four scores of their own from a white-hot Kyler Murray, but Eagles fanatics have something else to cuddle up against below the tree: hope. Philadelphia has found something unique in Hurts. The fallout is problematic, though, with burning questions springing up over the weighty contract and future status of Carson Wentz. Set to make $25.4 million guaranteed next season, Wentz is more expensive than an unhinged Kardashian daughter blasting her way through Vegas. I’m going to pause here and refrain from digging into these looming decisions: I already sense a tedious offseason doused in endless whispers and false promises out of Philly.