By Danny Cox
The NFL Playoffs are quickly approaching and teams like the New York Jets and New England Patriots are both competing for playoff positioning. The Jets are still fighting to make sure they get in, and a win over their divisional rival would be a crucial step in landing a postseason berth.
CBS Sports’ Boomer Esiason took some time to talk about that game and another important one as well. All of the talk is on whether the Chargers or Raiders will move to Los Angeles or not, but Esiason focuses on the players and how they are simply focused on winning and moving forward.
San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders – NFL Network, Dec. 24 at 8:25p ET
Philip Rivers is giving everything he has to the Chargers, but he has no help. What’s one key change that needs to be made in the offseason?
Boomer Esiason: “Help is most important with any team. Sure, there has been talk about changes coming to the coaching staff and things of that nature, but Philip Rivers is that team. As the season goes on, you look at many teams like the Chargers and their rosters, and see back-up players or players on special teams being asked to be the stars.
I give immense credit to Philip Rivers. If it wasn’t for him, I don’t believe the Chargers would have won any games.”
The Raiders looked like a totally different team this year, what has caused their big turn-around?
BE: “The quarterback. The hope and confidence that Derek Carr brings to this organization. Look all around the NFL, you have young quarterbacks like Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota and then Carr; as a franchise, as a fan base, they give you hope.
Sure, Carr has had his second year quarterback moments where he has made some poor throws, but he’s also had moments of brilliance and the future of the Raiders is very bright.”
Derek Carr or Amari Cooper, who will be the bigger star in Oakland?
BE: “I’m going to have to say Derek Carr. He’s always making the decisions and always has the ball in his hands so there is a lot of leadership that comes with that. He raises the hopes of everyone on that team.”
New England Patriots at New York Jets – CBS, Dec. 27 at 1p ET
The Patriots are still playing for playoff seeding, but is there any chance they will rest any players?
BE: “No chance they rest any players. The only chance is if they knew they were locked into a certain seed, then, I could see them resting Tom Brady or Rob Gronkowski or maybe even Danny Amendola. Bill Belichick is all in and one thing we know is that with him, it’s a fight to the finish. He won’t have any players take their foot off the pedal.
Let me tell you what I know from covering Bill Belichick: To him, there is nothing better than beating the Jets.”
The New York Jets have won four in a row after a back-and-forth season before that, what have they changed?
BE: “Two things, health on defense is one. They’ve just gotten Calvin Pryor back from an ankle injury. The defensive line has put a lot of pressure on teams they have played.
Another thing is playing all teams with losing records, except for the Patriots. They’ve beaten up on a lot of bad teams with bad quarterbacks and caught them at the right moment in the last four weeks. The Patriots are going to be a good test to see where this Jets team really is.”
How much of an impact will Steven Jackson have with the Patriots?
BE: “It will be minimal. The Patriots, I think, just needed somebody. With James White and Brandon Bolden, they’ve got it covered. The Patriots bring in players like Jackson or Montee Ball just in case. They’re always thinking ahead and these veteran players won’t make much of an impact unless the other guys aren’t healthy.”
It now seems like the Jets are Ryan Fitzpatrick’s team. Do you think Geno Smith could be traded after the season?
BE: “I would not be surprised if he is no longer with the Jets next year. The Jets already want to extend Fitzpatrick another two years at least, which is smart. The problem is their alternative, which is not very good yet and that’s Bryce Petty. The Jets will likely look to draft another quarterback in the middle round but go forward with Fitzpatrick from this point on.”
Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. Danny is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.