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Mailbag: Possibility Of An NFL Week 18?


Garrett Gilbert had a great game against Pittsburgh and showed better mobility than Andy Dalton. With our depleted pass rush blocking, why doesn't he get the start? He showed he's a better quarterback and might provide the spark the offense needs to win the game. – CHARLES RUSHING / MEAD, OK

Rob: Sorry, I disagree. After rookie Ben DiNucci's struggles in that Eagles game, yes, Garrett Gilbert was a clear upgrade against the Steelers. Don't forget the Cowboys also kicked four field goals in that game, though. Dalton did a better job finishing drives against the Vikings. The offense did struggle against Washington after Zack Martin and Cam Erving got hurt, so how the line responds will be a huge factor the next couple weeks. But Dalton is a lot more mobile than he gets credit for.

David: I'll say this: I was intrigued by your point about Gilbert's mobility perhaps being a positive – especially behind a depleted offensive line. But I can't go there with you about Gilbert being a better quarterback than Dalton. It's easy to hate on NFL quarterbacks, but don't underestimate how much easier it is to gameplan for a quarterback who hasn't played much at this level, and who doesn't see the field as well as a veteran. This is going to be a tough stretch for Dalton, mainly because his protection is compromised. I still think he gives the Cowboys the best chance to win games.

Do you think the NFL is doing all this schedule change craziness because they want to keep a Week 18 as a final catch all? – CODY BROADHEAD / HEBER, UT

Rob: Seems they're hoping to avoid a Week 18 if possible. Not sure exactly why. One reason kicked around is that a Week 18 would force the top playoff seeds to sit around for three weeks before their first playoff game. Rust could override rest in that scenario. Regardless, the league seems confident that their testing and tracing protocols can help them get each week completed, give or take a few days (like Ravens-Steelers last week). Hopefully the rest of the way we don't see another team have a rise in cases like the Ravens did.

David: I have a couple of thoughts. For starters, I think maybe the league is holding off on creating a Week 18 – perhaps as a "break glass in case of emergency" option? It sounds plausible to move these games to Week 18 now, but what if this keeps happening and there are multiple games that need to be played at the end of the season? That could create some real headaches for playoff scheduling. The other thing is what Rob pointed out, which is that the league probably doesn't want to draw out the playoff schedule any longer than it needs to. I'm not necessarily saying I agree, but maybe that's their reasoning.

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