The Denver Broncos played a professional football game last weekend with a wide receiver off the practice squad as their primary quarterback. If that sounds like the premise of an inspiring Disney sports drama, the actual result was more like a Blumhouse horror flick; Denver got killed by the Saints, losing at home 31-3. Kendall Hinton, the hero of this story, finished 1-of-9 for 13 yards and two picks.
Make no mistake: Kendall Hinton is a hero. He suited up for arguably the most difficult position in all of pro sports with less than 24-hours notice. His last game as a quarterback was in 2018 at Wake Forest, before he switched to receiver. According to Broncos offensive coordinator Pat Schurmur, Hinton was playing defensive back on the scout team at Saturday’s practice before he was notified he’d be the starting quarterback the next day. On Thursday, Hinton got a congratulatory letter from former Baltimore Colts running back Tom Matte, who was the last non-quarterback to start an NFL game when injuries to Johnny Unitas and Gary Cuozzo forced him into action late in the 1965 season.
All of this unfolded because the NFL held the Broncos to a standard they’re not applying to teams like the Ravens, whose inevitable defeat to the still-unbeaten Steelers was thrice postponed after 20-plus members of the organization, including nine starters, were deemed high-risk or placed on the COVID-19 list. Denver played because of the specific case of backup QB Jeff Driskel. After he tested positive on Thursday, Denver’s three other quarterbacks were deemed “high-risk” because they had not worn masks or remained socially distanced while game-planning with Driskel (all four quarterbacks were fined by the league this week for violating protocols).
"Health and medical decisions have and always will take precedence over competitive considerations and business interest," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said on Wednesday, apparently with a straight face.
With COVID cases spiking nationwide, the NFL can expect to see a commensurate increase in their league. Despite playing every game on the schedule through Week 12, the NFL may need to flex into the contingency Week 18 they approved back in October. If cases increase and the NFL continues to barrel ahead with emergency QBs and games on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, they risk further compromising the competitive legitimacy of the season as a whole.
Check out the full Week 13 schedule below, along with three games to look for on RedZone From NFL Network. To get the best deal on RedZone on Sling, use the link at the bottom of this story.
Bye Week: Panthers, Buccaneers
|Date||Time (ET)||Away Team||Home Team||Channel|
|Sun, Dec 6||1:00 PM||(8-3) Cleveland Browns||(8-3) Tennessee Titans||CBS*|
|Sun, Dec 6||1:00 PM||(6-5) Las Vegas Raiders||(0-11) New York Jets||FOX^|
|Sun, Dec 6||1:00 PM||(1-10) Jacksonville Jaguars||(5-6) Minnesota Vikings||CBS*|
|Sun, Dec 6||1:00 PM||(2-8-1) Cincinnati Bengals||(7-4) Miami Dolphins||CBS*|
|Sun, Dec 6||1:00 PM||(7-4) Indianapolis Colts||(4-7) Houston Texans||CBS*|
|Sun, Dec 6||1:00 PM||(4-7) Detroit Lions||(5-6) Chicago Bears||FOX^|
|Sun, Dec 6||1:00 PM||(9-2) New Orleans Saints||(4-7) Atlanta Falcons||FOX^|
|Sun, Dec 6||4:05 PM||(4-7) New York Giants||(8-3) Seattle Seahawks||FOX^|
|Sun, Dec 6||4:05 PM||(7-4) Los Angeles Rams||(6-5) Arizona Cardinals||FOX^|
|Sun, Dec 6||4:25 PM||(5-6) New England Patriots||(3-8) LA Chargers||CBS*|
|Sun, Dec 6||4:25 PM||(3-7-1) Philadelphia Eagles||(8-3) Green Bay Packers||CBS*|
|Sun, Dec 6||8:20 PM||(4-7) Denver Broncos||(10-1) Kansas City Chiefs||NBC^|
|Mon, Dec 7||5:00 PM||(4-7) Washington||(11-0) Pittsburgh Steelers||FOX^|
|Mon, Dec 7||8:15 PM||(8-3) Buffalo Bills||(5-6) San Francisco 49ers||ESPN|
|Tue, Dec 8||8:05 PM||(3-8) Dallas Cowboys||(6-5) Baltimore Ravens||NFLN/ FOX|
* Full game not available on Sling
^Games may be restricted based on market
(8-3) Cleveland Browns at (8-3) Tennessee Titans
Sun., Nov. 6, 1pm ET, CBS
With the Ravens having now lost four of their last five games, the Cleveland Browns are now in the driver’s seat to claim one of the three wild card spots in the playoffs. According to CBS Sports, the Browns currently have a “72.3% chance of making the playoffs, which is the highest percentage in the AFC for a team that's not currently leading its division.” Their last five games should give us an idea of their potential as an actual contender. After playing a tough Titans team on the road, they’ll face the Ravens, followed by back-to-back games against the New York teams, who currently have a collective record of 4-18. They finish the season at home against the Steelers and, depending on what the teams have to play for, a win could springboard them into playoffs with momentum.
(7-4) Indianapolis Colts at (4-7) Houston Texans
Sun., Nov. 6, 1pm ET, CBS
The Indianapolis Colts are another potential wild card team to watch. Although they lost last week’s rematch against the Titans, they have wins over Tennessee and Green Bay. But the big knock against Indy has been their soft schedule, which otherwise has featured games against the Jets, Bengals, and Lions. They have three more divisional games left, including the first of two against the 4-7 Texans this weekend and a season-closer at home against the one-win Jaguars. But sandwiched in between, the Colts face the Raiders and Steelers, two opponents that should give us a better idea if Indianapolis is a legit threat or pretender.
(7-4) Los Angeles Rams at (6-5) Arizona Cardinals
Sun., Nov. 6, 4:05pm ET, FOX
Two weeks ago, the Cardinals, Seahawks, and Rams were all 6-3, and the NFC West looked like a jumbled mess of talented teams. Since then, the Seahawks have rebounded from a mini-slide with back-to-back wins while the Rams and Cardinals have collectively lost 3-of-4. The Rams and Cardinals will play each other twice over the final five games of the year and the results of those games could determine the wild card field in the NFC. If not for the Hail Murray, Arizona would be in the midst of a four-game losing streak, so Sunday’s matchup against an inconsistent Rams team is hugely important to their postseason chances.
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