Cincinnati Bengals center-back Joe Burrow (9) leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos on Sunday, December 19, 2021, in Denver.  The Bengals won 15-10.  (AP Photo / David Zalubowski)

Cincinnati Bengals center-back Joe Burrow (9) leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos on Sunday, December 19, 2021, in Denver. The Bengals won 15-10. (AP Photo / David Zalubowski)


Soon, who is the reserve quarterback of your favorite team? Or backing up? Who is their best representative of fast crossing? Back corner of stuffed lid? What about the replacement clip or the blind side protector?

Who is, as the coaches want to say, the next man?

Now is a good time to get to know the bottom of your list and even the coaching staff.

With the omicron wave of COVID-19 wreaking havoc on the roster and a natural increase in illness and injury from the new 17-game NFL program, there’s a good chance that your team hopes to go far in the play-offs – or even to reach the next season – will sit down. one or more of these men, whose uniforms are rarely dyed or sold in Sunday gift shops.

Many teams stumbled in the 16th week while missing key players in key positions.

The Broncos saw their play-off chances plunge to less than 1 percent with their 17-13 loss in Las Vegas when Albert Okwuegbunam, Jerry Jeudy and Tim Patrick all threw crucial passes from Drew Lock, the former starter their that was making its first start of the season. instead of a shocked Teddy Bridgewater.

Without starting center Lloyd Cushenberry III, who was placed on the reserve list / COVID-19, the Broncos reached just 18 yards rushing to 16 balls, including minus-4 by Melvin Gordon, the worst performance of his 96-game career .

The Lions, Giants and Ravens also lost to reserve quarterbacks on Sunday, and on Monday night, the Dolphins (8-7) became the first NFL team to win seven in a row after losing seven in a row to a 20-3 win over the Saints. who started QB rookie Ian Book due to a COVID-19 blast that took 16 players, including QB starter Taysom Hill and reserve veteran Trevor Siemian.

Tim Boyle started for Detroit, with Jared Goff on COVID-19 protocols. He almost reversed the upset in Atlanta, but telegraphed his shot towards Calif Raymond at the last minute and saw Falcons line defender Foye Oluokun choose to pass to Atlanta 1, maintaining the Falcons 20-16 victory.

The Eagles moved into the NFC playoff position with a 34-10 New York Giants itinerary, which closed Daniel Jones for the season with a sprained neck, without Jake Fromm swaying in his first start in the NFL and beyond after seeing Mike Glennon throw a pick-6 during Philadelphia’s 31-7 increase in the second half.

The Ravens, who were fleeing AFC North a month ago 8-3, lost their fourth game in a row on Sunday in Cincinnati, where the QBs of both teams made history.

Joe Burrow’s exclusivity record at 525 yards clearly meant something to the Bengalis, who continued to make deep shots for him at the end of the fourth quarter with a 20-point lead over their division rivals, until secured the result.

Only three QBs in NFL history have thrown for more yards in a game. But Burrow was more interested in what the final score – 41-21 – would mean for his team, which finished first in the AFC North with two games left.

“We control our destiny,” Burrow said. “Win these next two games and we have the division closed.”

Burrow broke Boomer Esiason’s team record of 522 yards. Only Norm Van Brocklin (554 yards), Warren Moon (527) and Matt Schaub (527) have thrown for more yards in a match.

With Lamar Jackson out with an ankle injury and Tyler Huntley spare on the COVID-19 roster, Josh Johnson – signed as a free agent 10 days ago – started at center-back for the Ravens (8-7) and threw for 304 yard and two TD. .

Although Johnson became the first player since 2016 to throw a pass for multiple teams in the same season – he had three TD shots for the Jets earlier this year – the Ravens found themselves in the AFC playoff bubble hoping to get back key players from injuries. and the COVID-19 roster for their last two games, against the Rams and Steelers.

“It’s just challenging circumstances all the way,” said Ravens coach John Harbaugh. “… You want to be complete. You always try to be complete with what you have, but the world does not work that way. “This is not the world we live in all the time.”

The Vikings missed Dalvin Cook’s star for their game against the Rams and reached just 66 yards rushing into their 30-23 loss that seriously damaged their playoff hopes.

COVID-19 threw grief into Chargers playoff plans in a game with formations that looked more like an exhibition game in August than a post-Christmas match.

The Chargers (8-7) had more than a dozen players excluded due to COVID-19, including runner Joey Bosa, run Austin Ekeler and receiver Mike Williams.

The Texas were missing 16 players, including top receiver Brandin Cooks and striker Ka’imi Fairbairn, but defeated the Chargers 41-29 in the biggest blow of the weekend.

Although the other teams overcame the gaps to win their matches, the omicron variant appears ominously with the dawn of each new day as 2021 ends.

The Chiefs were without close star Travis Kelce and striker Harrison Butker last weekend, and the Bills were without right-back Jon Feliciano and receivers Cole Beasley and Gabriel Davis.

Both Kansas City and Buffalo managed to win with a host of reserves, but the playoffs are fast approaching and teams and fan bases can only pray that infections and injuries do not undermine their championship aspirations.


AP Pro Football writer Rob Maaddi and AP Sports writer Mitch Stacy contributed to this report.


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