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Doug Pederson defends decision to bench Hurts in Eagles’ loss

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PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia Eagles chose to give a third-string quarterback playing time in a game with playoff implications for other teams.

Coach Doug Pederson benched Jalen Hurts for Nate Sudfeld in the fourth quarter of a 20-14 loss to Washington on Sunday night. The victory gave Washington (7-9) the NFC East title. The New York Giants (6-10) would’ve won the division crown if Philadelphia (4-11-1) had won.

The decision didn’t go over well with Giants players posting their reaction on Twitter. Sudfeld hadn’t thrown a pass since 2018 and was picked on his second attempt. He also lost a fumble.

“Yes, I was coaching to win,” Pederson said. “Yes, that was my decision solely. Nate has been here four years and I felt he deserved an opportunity to get some snaps.”

The loss gave the Eagles the sixth pick in the NFL draft. A victory would’ve dropped them to the ninth spot.

“Nobody who stepped on that field wanted to lose,” said running back Boston Scott, who had 65 yards rushing. “Nobody lacked energy.”

Hurts had a pair of 6-yard touchdown runs to help the Eagles overcome a 10-0 deficit but he misfired on his last pass, a 4-yard toss into the end zone that would’ve given them a lead late in the third quarter.

Hurts, who took over for Carson Wentz last month, finished 7 of 20 for 72 yards with one interception. His passer rating of 25.4 was the lowest by an Eagles starting quarterback since Nick Foles posted a 9.3 rating in the final regular season game in 2017. Foles finished that season as Super Bowl MVP.

“As a competitor, I play to win,” Hurts said about getting pulled. “Just trust Coach with that.”

Hurts said he knew Pederson had planned to give Sudfeld some snaps.

“I know Coach had a plan to go about it the way he did and stuck to his plan,” Hurts said.

The Eagles missed the playoffs for the first time since Pederson’s first season in 2016. They face several important decisions in the off-season, starting with their quarterback dilemma. Wentz’s $128 million, four-year contract extension kicks in next season. The team would have to absorb a significant cap hit by trading him.

“I was granted the opportunity to lead the team,” Hurts said. “I had every intention of making it to the post-season. … That will sit on my chest all off-season.”

Source: – Sportsnet.ca

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Bills-Ravens: 10 matchups that could decide the playoff game – The Athletic

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The Bills were able to do just enough last week against the Colts to win their first playoff game since 1995. Now, they have a more difficult opponent coming to town for the divisional round. The Ravens’ offense specializes in running the ball, and that’s been the Bills’ biggest weakness on defense this season.

The Ravens’ defense has just as difficult a matchup against the Bills’ offense, which has delivered one of the most explosive passing attacks in the NFL. The Bills are also coming into the game with momentum, having won their last seven games.

In preparation for the matchup, The Athletic Buffalo dug into the film to identify each team’s strengths and weaknesses when pitted against each other. Here are the 10 potential game-defining matchups when the Bills and Ravens meet on Saturday.

1) OC Brian Daboll and QB Josh Allen vs. DC Wink Martindale

The chess match between Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll…

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Randall the Handle's divisional round picks – Toronto Sun

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Browns (12-5) at Chiefs (14-2)
LINE: KANSAS CITY by 10
Suddenly, the Browns are a hot ticket for bettors. According to sources that track betting information, it is Cleveland receiving the majority of wagers placed on this contest. It seems that a lot of weight is being put on last week’s 48-37 win over Pittsburgh. While it is a huge monkey off of Cleveland’s back, having won a playoff game for the first time in a quarter-century, it was against a team that was reeling in the final quarter of the season and one that offered up five turnovers to their division rival. The same won’t happen here. Kansas City is well-rested after sitting a bunch of front liners in a meaningless Week 17 of the regular season and then having last week off as the AFC’s top seed. Now, the defending Super Bowl champs return to the field with added time to study the 22nd ranked pass defence in the NFL. Somewhat surprisingly, Cleveland ranked even lower with its passing game when placing 24th overall. Should the Browns fall behind, as most expect they will, their strong running tandem of Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb is suddenly negated. We also can’t ignore that the Browns were -11 in point differential this season while the Chiefs were +111. Reigning MVP, Patrick Mahomes threw for 4,740 yards, 38 touchdowns and just six interceptions this season when guiding the league’s top offence in both yardage and passing yards. The Chiefs also expected elusive rookie RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire back in action after missing a couple of weeks with an ankle injury. A big number, yes. But a big discrepancy in capability as well.
TAKING: CHIEFS –10

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KOSHAN: Maple Leafs fall with ugly effort against Senators – Toronto Sun

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Morgan Rielly was on the ice for all three of those Ottawa goals. Auston Matthews, Joe Thornton and Brodie were on for two.

“I just sensed that we stopped playing,” Keefe said. “Scoring that (Kerfoot) goal, for us, if we want to be a team that’s going to accomplish anything, the game should be over from there.”

Some 11 months ago, Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas used the words “Jekyll and Hyde” to describe the team’s inconsistencies. The term continues to ring true, even after the off-season additions and belief that the core would grow.

Oh, two games is a small sample size, sure. Still, it shouldn’t be happening.

“Being hard on pucks,” was Zach Hyman’s answer to a question about the strides the team can make defensively.

“We have all the tools. We just need to do it every shift. I don’t think that we’re good enough to take shifts off and that goes for all lines. I think everyone can be better defensively.”

The first period featured a goal from both sides, and the Leafs were bitten after taking a bench minor for the second time in as many games.

Ottawa’s young stud defenceman, Thomas Chabot, tied the game in the final minute of the opening period on a two-man Sens advantage, the second Toronto penalty coming for too many men.

Hyman, whose wife Alannah recently gave birth to the couple’s first child, son Theo, got the Leafs on the board at 9:59. Hyman’s goal came on a Toronto power play and resulted when Hyman bunted the puck out of the air and past Murray. After a review for a possible high stick, the goal stood.

Keefe indicated on Friday morning that Jack Campbell will be in goal on Saturday.

tkoshan@postmedia.com

twitter.com/koshtorontosun

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