Though age is the better predictor of a player’s decline than years in the league or mileage, there is some evidence that a heavier load of minutes can accelerate the aging process. Nobody has faced a heavier load than James. Having already passed Jordan’s career total, he recently jumped Shaquille O’Neal to move into 24th in career minutes played during the regular season. Only Tim Duncan has played more minutes than James in the playoffs.
The Saints have Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. The Falcons have Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. At this point, it’s easier to trust the dominant dynamic backfield duo of 2017 over the one from ’16. Drew Brees also has been playing better than Matt Ryan all season, and, for some reason, Atlanta doesn’t have much of an advantage in its new home. New Orleans can smell the NFC South title and will keep up the divisional momentum after ripping Carolina.
Trubisky not a fan of being embarrassed: If Garoppolo plays next week, it will be against the Bears, who were crushed, 31-3, by the 10-1 Eagles, a blowout that rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky is looking to use as motivation. “Hopefully we just bounce back from that,” he said. “I know I don’t like getting embarrassed, and hopefully everyone else feels that same way.”
McVay gets Kroenke’s vote: There are plenty of strong candidates, but it’s no surprise who would get Rams owner Stan Kroenke’s Coach of the Year vote after they moved to 8-3 with a 26-20 win over the Saints. “I don’t know how you could keep him out of the conversation,” Kroenke said. “[Philadelphia’s Doug Pederson] has done a great job, but they did better than we did last year.”