Marc's Mailbag - Week 13

Marc Sessler is a writer for NFL.com's Around the League blog and each Friday he will answer your NFL questions, right up until the Super Bowl.

The fine folks at NFLUK.com were kind enough to extend the deadline for last week's mailbag because of a certain American holiday.

We'll do a two-part Q&A this week. Part I below and Part II on Friday. Let's get right to it:

Is this the end of the Michael Vick era in Philadelphia? Will the Eagles go with Nick Foles at quarterback next year or will they try to find a new solution altogether? - Shannon in London

Thanks for the question, Shannon. Vick's time in Philly appears over.

If they keep him around next season, his price tag balloons to $15.5 million, and nobody is paying that kind of money for a brittle, declining quarterback. Vick can be cut for a price that doesn't hijack the team's salary cap, and that's what I expect to happen. This team is preparing for major changes.

It's no sure thing Andy Reid sticks around. If he goes, expect a new coach with divergent philosophies on scheme and personnel to take over. Vick isn't the type of player who works well from system to system. In days of old, his gifts were so remarkable, any coach worth his salt would build an offense around Vick, but that's not the case anymore.

When it comes to Foles, the Eagles are smart to take a look at him now, because not enough is known about what he brings to the team. Philly figures to be a player in April’s draft, and might wind up courting a variety of quarterbacks through free agency, depending on who takes control. I can’t fathom a new coach landing here and starting his run with Vick under center.

Despite Alex Smith leading the 49ers to 13-3 and the NFC championship in 2011, Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers still courted Peyton Manning this offseason. This year, before suffering a concussion, Smith led the 49ers to six wins and first place in the NFC West. Why would Harbaugh risk chaos by not fully supporting Smith as the starting quarterback in favor of Colin Kaepernick? - Ed K., Manchester

To be clear, Ed sent this in prior to Kaepernick beating the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. It’s still a good question. Kaepernick looked solid in the win and it appears Harbaugh is sold on the second-year passer. I wouldn't be stunned to see Smith find his way back into the lineup, but the switch under center tells us more about Harbaugh than anything else.

The 49ers coach clearly doesn't buy into Smith as a Super Bowl-caliber quarterback. Harbaugh is taking a risk with the locker room, because there's significant loyalty to Smith among the veterans, but that shouldn't be an issue if San Francisco keeps winning. And if they keep winning with Kaepernick, it’s very likely Smith won’t be here a year from now.

One more item: We haven't seen much from Kaepernick, but this coaching staff has. They've been working with him in practice for two seasons and he was groomed for this job. Harbaugh has given Smith a chance to play and grow after years of chaos in San Francisco, but the championship window is only open for a brief time in any coach's career -- and Harbaugh is going to play the guy he believes will get them there. Not entirely fair to Smith, in some people's eyes, but this is a business.

Which 5-6 team in the NFC has the best chance of making the playoffs? - Anonymous

I hope this isn't the “Anonymous Jet” chiming in, because your flailing team will not be a factor in the AFC.

The NFC's group of five-win teams is more intriguing. The Redskins, Cowboys and Saints sit at 5-6 and I don't truly expect any of them to make the postseason. The Redskins have a nasty schedule down the stretch with games against the Giants, Ravens, Browns, Eagles and Cowboys. It doesn't get any easier for New Orleans, with the Falcons, Giants and Bucs coming up.

With a gun to my head, I’ll side with the Redskins, because we're watching their rookie running back, Alfred Morris, and their phenomenal quarterback, Robert Griffin III, keep Washington in games until the end. RG3 has matured so quickly into a bona fide star, but we haven't even begun to see his full capabilities.

The Saints have massive issues on defense. Besides, if New Orleans and Washington wind up with identical records, the Redskins win the tie-breaker based on their Week 1 victory.

The Redskins also dropped a bomb on the Cowboys, a game I watched in the Los Angeles airport on Thanksgiving Day. A game that sapped any remaining faith I had in Dallas getting it done in 2012.

That’s a rap for today. Check back Friday for Part II of the mailbag.

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.