How the Bears, Cowboys saved their season and entered the playoff hunt

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There are so many interesting playoff possibilities this morning. But two stand above all:

• Dallas. The Cowboys got a quarter-season out of Dak Prescott before a grotesque injury sidelined him. They started Ben DiNucci and Garrett Gilbert at quarterback. Andy Dalton has had to be uncharacteristically bombs-away Dan Fouts at times. They’ve given up 5.0 yards per rush and 30 points per game. They had one of the game’s most beloved assistant coaches, Markus Paul, collapse in the team’s weight room in front of players and die a day later. Just a horrible season. But football does not stop.

Today, the Cowboys are better than the Giants, and Washington is a mess. Much stranger things have happened in the NFL than a seesaw Dallas team making the postseason. The Cowboys could be a 7-9 playoff team and enter the postseason hot. “By far the biggest challenge emotionally and as a football coach that I’ve been through,” McCarthy said. “I’m a new coach here, trying to make a first impression, the pandemic hits, no offseason, the Dak injury, the bad start, just one thing after another . . . and then the reality of it, those were tiny things compared to what was coming.” He meant the death of Paul, a team strength coach, on Nov. 25, then having to play a game the next day.

• Chicago. In the midst of a fast start, fourth-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky was benched for indecision and inaccuracy. Nick Foles came in and won a couple of games, and then the losing streak. Foles got yanked, and in his last four starts, Trubisky actually has stoked an ember of thought that maybe, just maybe . . . No. No. Stop right there. It’s still unlikely Trubisky, a free-agent after the season because Chicago didn’t exercise his fifth-year option, is the long-term answer in Chicago, but the future doesn’t matter now. What matters is Trubisky’s got a little mojo going (72.3 percent passing in his last four games, with seven TDs and two picks), and the odds are in Chicago’s favor: PFF has the Bears’ playoff odds at 70.2 percent, obviously counting more on the Rams beating Arizona than Chicago beating Aaron Rodgers.

“I believe in my heart of hearts that being benched [in Week 4] put him on a mission,” said Nagy. “I told him that day that what feels like the worst day of your life could turn out to be the best day.” If Trubisky makes it to Wild-Card Weekend, Nagy might be right.

Two cornerstone franchises of the NFL, two proud franchises, trying to sneak in with embattled coaches and quarterbacks out for redemption.

Dallas went to Minnesota four days before Thanksgiving and began to get on the right track with a 31-28 win. McCarthy said flying home that evening, he felt that, even though the team was 3-7, they still had time to win the division and this was the start of their move. Two mornings later, McCarthy got to work at 6, just about the time Markus Paul was pulling into the parking lot. “We walked in together,” McCarthy said. “He had a workout with the younger guys, I think at 6:30. I went back to my office and [special teams coach] John Fassel ran in and says, ‘Hey, we gotta get downstairs.’ That’s when Markus collapsed. I was there right after it happened. The tragedy is obviously unspeakable to see one of your guys go down like that, but the whole team was there. It’s five minutes after 7. Everybody was either in the weight room or outside the weight room. It was tough, really tough on the guys. They’re talking about it a little more now. It’s clearly the point of our season where I was just like, what’s gonna happen next?”

Paul was rushed to a hospital. McCarthy sent the team home Tuesday. No practice on Wednesday either—just supporting each other. Paul was pronounced dead on Wednesday. On Thursday, there was a football game against Washington.

“When I walked on the field on Thanksgiving, and I shouldn’t even admit this, as a head coach, you usually have a general idea how the game’s going to go. But that day, I had no idea. There was sort of a numb feeling that day.” Washington 41, Dallas 16. And the loss at Baltimore 12 days later. And a very short week with another road game, at Cincinnati.

What’s happened is Dalton (last three games: 117.0 passer rating) and his receivers are bonding. Dallas beat the Bengals by 23, eked by San Francisco thanks to Niner turnovers, and roasted the Jalen Hurts-sparkplugged Eagles by 20 Sunday. CeeDee LambAmari Cooper and Michael Gallup combined for 307 receiving yards and three TDs Sunday. A win at the Meadowlands next Sunday afternoon would at least keep Dallas on the right track headed into 2021, and it might send Tampa Bay to JerryWorld for a playoff game no one saw coming.

“I’m gonna say it reminds me a little of 2013 in Green Bay,” McCarthy said. “We got in at 8-7-1. Aaron [Rodgers] broke his collarbone for the first time, and we were just scratching and clawing. We played four quarterbacks that year: Scott Tolzien, Seneca Wallace, Aaron and Matt Flynn. That’s probably the closest experience from that perspective that I could relate to this. But it’s been tough in this division this year. Three new coaches, and Doug [Pederson] had injuries and the quarterback change. Just an odd year. In the end, you gotta stay the course and just be who you are.”

Nagy said the culture in his locker room was solid, and helped withstand the six-game losing streak. Trubisky began playing better after an eminently forgettable game at Lambeau Field, a 41-25 loss that wasn’t that close. Since then, the Bears have averaged 35 points a game. It’s helped that the last four teams Chicago’s played are 31st, 30th, 27th and 32nd in the league in yards allowed per game. Green Bay is eighth. The Bears are 1-8 against the Pack in the last five seasons, and what hurts Chicago is the Packers will be motivated to win and not rest their players Sunday. A win Sunday would give the Packers a second straight 13-3 regular-season record under Matt LaFleur, and would mean Green Bay would win the lone NFC bye. What helps Chicago? Arizona is ice-cold, losers of four of six, with Kyler Murray slumping since the Hail Murray beat Buffalo in November.

This could be Trubisky’s last game as a Bear. Who will we see dueling Rodgers? Trubisky’s 1-4 in his career against Rodgers, and after seeing Rodgers’ consistent dissections of recent foes (he was masterful Sunday night in a 40-14 rout of the Titans), it seems clear Trubisky’s going to have to score in the thirties to give the Bears a good shot. “Mitchell’s always been a pleaser,” Nagy said from Chicago. “He wanted to please his teammates, his coaches, the fans. But now he’s more about organic leadership. He’s not trying to please everybody—he’s trying to lead.”

The supporting cast is solid too—with a running back, David Montgomery (1,001 yards) and number one receiver, Allen Robinson (100 catches), and two tight ends with 69 catches and 10 TDs between them, Jimmy Graham and rookie Cole Kmet. On a good day, this offense can light it up. It may have to for a 2020 playoff berth.

Read more from Peter King’s Football Morning in America column here

What to know about the 2023 Pro Bowl: Dates, how to watch/live stream info, AFC, NFC coaches, competition schedule, and more

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The 2023 NFL Pro Bowl will take place over the course of two days at Allegiant Stadium–home of the Las Vegas Raiders–in Paradise, Nevada. The excitement begins on Thursday, February 2 as NFL fan-favorites compete in a brand-new skills challenge featuring the following events: Epic Pro Bowl Dodgeball, Lightning Round, Longest Drive, Precision Passion, and Best Catch.

Sunday, February 5 will feature the following: the Best Catch Finale, Gridiron Gauntlet, Kick Tack Toe, Move the Chains, and three seven-on-seven non-contact Flag football games between the league’s best players.

See below for additional information on how to watch the 2023 Pro Bowl as well as answers to all of your frequently asked questions.

RELATED: What to know about Super Bowl 2023 – Date, location, halftime performance info, and much more

Who are the coaches for the 2023 Pro Bowl?

AFC Coaches:

  • Peyton Manning – Head Coach
  • Ray Lewis – Defensive Coordinator
  • Diana Flores – Offensive Coordinator

NFC Coaches:

  • Eli Manning – Head Coach
  • Demarcus Ware – Defensive Coordinator
  • Vanita Krouch – Offensive Coordinator

How will the 2023 Pro Bowl be different from previous editions of the event?

Rather than the traditional tackle football game, this year’s Pro Bowl will debut a skills competition and a non-contact flag football game.

How will scoring work?

According to the NFL, points will be calculated in the following way:

  • The winning conference of each skill competition earns three points towards their team’s overall score, with 24 total points available across the eight skills events.
  • The winning conference from each of the first two Flag football games on Sunday will earn six points for their team, for a total of 12 available points.
  • Points from the skills competitions and first two Flag games will be added together and will be the score at the beginning of the third and final Flag game, which will determine the winning conference for The Pro Bowl Games.

How to watch the 2023 Pro Bowl:

  • Where: Allegiant Stadium in Paradise, Nevada
  • When: Thursday, February 2 (7:00 PM ET) and Sunday, February 5 (3:00 PM ET)
  • TV Channel: ESPN, ABC, and Disney XD

When is Super Bowl 2023?

Super Bowl 2023 takes place on Sunday, February 12 at 6:30 p.m. ET on Fox.

Where is Super Bowl 2023?

Super Bowl 2023 will be contested at State Farm Stadium–home of the Arizona Cardinals– in Glendale, Arizona.

What teams are playing in Super Bowl 2023?

The Philadelphia Eagles will face the Kansas City Chiefs marking the first time since 2017 that both top seeds qualified for the Super Bowl.


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Super Bowl food 2023: Appetizer, entrée, and dessert ideas for Super Bowl LVII inspired by the Eagles and Chiefs

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As the countdown continues toward Super Bowl LVII, the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs are getting their game plans set. But while they go over their plays, the rest of America goes over their menus in preparation for the big day. When it comes to the Super Bowl, everything is always the best — the best teams, the best performers and, of course, the best food.

But how can you impress your party in the kitchen while showing support for your favorite team? Let’s take a look at some iconic food from each of the Super Bowl team cities to prepare for Super Bowl LVII.

RELATED: What to know about Super Bowl LVII: Date, location, how to watch

Philadelphia Super Bowl food

Crabfries

Why have plain old fries when you could have crabfries? That’s exactly what Pete Ciarrocchi, the CEO of the legendary Philadelphia restaurant Chickie and Pete’s, said one day when creating this intriguing concoction.

While the name may be misleading, crabfries do not contain any actual crab, but rather a blend of spices and Old Bay seasoning that allow the dish to take on a subtle seafood flavor. Topped with a creamy, cheesy dipping sauce, the crinkle-cut fries are sure to take your taste buds to the next level.

Cheesesteak sloppy joes

It simply isn’t Philly without a cheesesteak. Keep it casual in your kitchen on Super Bowl Sunday with Katie Lee Biegel’s Philly Cheesesteak sloppy joes, an easy way to rep the Birds.

Can’t get enough of the cheesesteak? Bring some more Philly specials to the table with this cheesesteak dip, the perfect way to amp up your appetizer game and leave party guests feeling like they just took a trip to the City of Brotherly Love.

RELATED: Rob Gronkowski predicts Eagles to win Super Bowl LVII

Water ice

Is the action of the game heating up? Cool down with a classic Philly treat, water ice. First originating in Bensalem, Pennsylvania in 1984, the icy dessert is now sold in over 600 stores nationwide. The original Rita’s Water Ice shop, however, still remains open for business.

You can even show a little extra passion for the Birds by whipping up this green apple variation, sure to leave you refreshed and ready for the Lombardi.

Kansas City Super Bowl food

Cheese slippers

If you’re looking for a classy, yet authentic appetizer to bring to the table, there’s no better fit than the cheese slipper. This ciabatta loaf baked with melty cheeses and topped with seasonal vegetables and herbs has Kansas City natives hooked.

While the bread is typically baked to perfection by local shops, test your own skill level with this gourmet slipper bread recipe that you can complete with the mouth-watering toppings of your choice.

RELATED: How many Super Bowls have the Chiefs been to, won?

BBQ burnt ends

It’s rare to hear the words Kansas City without barbeque following short after. If you’re looking to impress your guests with your Super Bowl food spread, get out to the grill and start showing off.

While many cities in America know how to cook up some excellent BBQ, the combination of the sweet flavors and mouth-watering sauce has made Kansas City a hub for barbeque lovers for decades.

BBQ burnt ends, while a bit time-consuming, are  well worth a little elbow grease. The dish is also one of the few in Kansas City with a distinct origin story. The meal first found its creation at Arthur Bryant’s Barbeque, a legendary African American restaurant in KC. Bryant originally made the burnt ends from the trimmings of pork belly, but since then, BBQ lovers have made incredible bites out of many styles of meat.

And if you’re feeling extra ambitious, try fixing up some classic Kansas City sides to pair with your entrée to perfection.

RELATED: What to know about Rihanna, the Super Bowl LVII halftime performer

Chiefs chocolate chip cookies

While there is no specific dessert that defines the Heart of America, you can still show your Kansas City pride with these ever-colorful Chiefs chocolate chip cookies.

Make sure to have your food dye handy, because the red and yellow hue of these cookies are sure to show everyone whose side you are on.

Or, if you’re feeling artistic, design an eye-catching Chiefs jersey out of the fan-favorite rice krispie treats. Whether you make Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce or Chris Jones, you’ll have the tastiest Super Bowl jerseys around.

How to watch the Super Bowl 2023 – Philadelphia Eagles vs Kansas City Chiefs:

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