NFL and NCAA Football News

Breaking down the historically high total for Chiefs-Rams

The total for Monday night's highly-touted matchup between the 9-1 Kansas City Chiefs and the 9-1 Los Angeles Rams is making history as a result of its astronomically high total. 

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The over/under has even moved to 64 in some spots, and it's entirely possible it'll move higher as hype builds and folks continue to

The total for Monday night’s highly-touted matchup between the 9-1 Kansas City Chiefs and the 9-1 Los Angeles Rams is making history as a result of its astronomically high total. 

The over/under has even moved to 64 in some spots, and it’s entirely possible it’ll move higher as hype builds and folks continue to take the over regardless of where sportsbooks set it. 

For what it’s worth, it’s hard to imagine this game won’t contain at least 30 points per side. After all, the Chiefs and Rams are averaging a combined 68.8 points per game this season. Eight of Kansas City’s 10 games have contained at least 50 points, while four of L.A.’s 10 outings have contained at least 64. 

Also for what it’s worth, Pro Football Reference’s super-awesome database indicates that all five games this century with totals north of 58 have gone over. 

My primary note on this one? The Rams defense has been particularly vulnerable against strong NFC foes this season. In five matchups with the Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints, Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers, they’ve surrendered an average of 33.0 points per game. Considering that this game is now back in Los Angeles and the Rams have scored at least 29 points in every home game they’ve played this year, it’s easy to wonder if a 63.5-point total is actually a little low for this one.

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Super Bowl 53 Odds: Updated for Week 11

Key takeaways from week 10:

  • Rams Saints and Chiefs are favorites to win Super Bowl 53
  • Patriots fall from the top 3
  • Raiders have the lowest odds at 2500/1
  • Biggest jump: Cleveland Browns (+50%)
  • Biggest drop: Arizona Cardinals (-150%)
  • No change: Broncos, Bills, 49ers (0%)

Super Bowl 53 Odds

Key takeaways from week 10:

  • Rams Saints and Chiefs are favorites to win Super Bowl 53
  • Patriots fall from the top 3
  • Raiders have the lowest odds at 2500/1
  • Biggest jump: Cleveland Browns (+50%)
  • Biggest drop: Arizona Cardinals (-150%)
  • No change: Broncos, Bills, 49ers (0%)

Super Bowl 53 Odds

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Ballin’ on a Budget Week 11 Picks

We're starting to pick games with some swagger now. Being well in the black is nice, so let's keep the good times rolling. The lines are set pretty well this week, which makes our jobs a little tougher. There aren't a ton of spreads to like, but we picked out the three you

We’re starting to pick games with some swagger now. Being well in the black is nice, so let’s keep the good times rolling. The lines are set pretty well this week, which makes our jobs a little tougher. There aren’t a ton of spreads to like, but we picked out the three you should be able to bank on the most. As far as over/unders, we have one over and one under for you.

Panthers -4.5 at Lions (-110)

Carolina has never burned us before, right? Just kidding, we took them +4 against the Steelers in a game they lost 52-21 last week. That was the only pick we got wrong in Week 10. Even though they’re on the road, there’s plenty of reason to believe they’re a prime bounceback candidate, just like another team we’ll talk about in a minute.

The Panthers have everything to play for with an NFC Wild Card berth well within their grasp. Detroit, meanwhile, has spiraled into free fall and it seems like head coach Matt Patricia may already have lost that locker room. They waved the white flag the moment they traded Golden Tate and there’s no reason to believe they should be competitive. Detroit is 3-6, but two of those wins have come against the Patriots and Packers, so who knows, but the percentages tell us Carolina wins this game handily. The bet: $4 for total payout of $7.60.

Falcons -3 vs. Cowboys (-120)

This is our biggest lock of the week. Atlanta is another prime bounceback candidate after randomly getting blown out by the Browns last week. They’re in desperation mode and at home. Yes, the Cowboys’ defense presents some issues for the offense, but Dak Prescott simply isn’t going to outgun Matt Ryan on his home field. It’s not happening.

If the Falcons hope to have any prayer of sneaking into the playoffs, they basically need to win every single one from here on out. Unless Dallas comes out with a crazy effort like they did against the Jaguars several weeks ago, it just doesn’t seem plausible for them to grab this road win. If you’re going to bank on any one of these picks this week, make it this one. The bet: $8 for total payout of $14.66.

Broncos +7.5 at Chargers (-120)

Even as I’m typing this, I don’t feel great about this pick, but the Broncos are a competent enough team to cover a multiple-score spread. Of course, that’s what this is. If Denver loses by a touchdown, they cover. The Chargers have been great this season and have flown under the radar, but they generally don’t score points in bunches.

Expect the Broncos to hang around at least for a bit and then we can hope they keep the game within a touchdown. It might be wishful thinking, but it’s our best bet amongst a group of other less promising spreads this week. The bet: $2 for total payout of $3.67.

Packers-Seahawks OVER 49.5 (-110)

This is a matchup of desperate teams. The Packers are 4-4-1, the Seahawks 4-5. The loser will start to slip out of the playoff picture entirely. Since the game is in Seattle, expect that to level the playing field a bit. These aren’t your older brother’s Seahawks, whose defense struck fear into their opponents. Green Bay’s defense, especially without Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the secondary is vulnerable as well.

When betting over/unders, you essentially need to guess what the game flow is going to be. This certainly seems like it will be a close game that is relatively high scoring. A 30-20 final score would get us our over and that seems perfectly reasonable for how we expect this game to go. It’s not our most confident pick, but it’s a pretty decent bet. The bet: $2 for total payout of $3.80.

Titans-Colts UNDER 49 (-110)

This one is dangerous with the Colts’ offense able to go off at any time, but hey, if the Titans can hold the Patriots defense at bay, they can do the same with the Colts. It’s actually looking more and more like Tennessee has a legit defense, capable of shutting an opponent down. Their offense, while it looked its best all season against New England, is still a work in progress.

All that adds up to a relatively low scoring game, one that keeps us under that 49-point mark. Would anyone be surprised if this game ended 20-17 or somewhere right around there? This over/under seems set really high, so jump on the under in anticipation of a low-scoring game. The bet: $4 for total payout of $7.60.

As always, our pipe dream of 5-0 is on the table. We’ve had two 4-1 weeks in our last four, so we’re getting closer. If we nailed all these picks, our parlay payout would be $467.49. We’re going to ride our current hot streak and hope we can get a clean sweep for you this week. Best of luck in Week 11 and we will debrief after the weekend’s action is over. 

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NFL notebook: Flacco doubtful vs. Bengals

NFL notebook: Flacco doubtful vs. Bengals

Joe Flacco was listed as

NFL notebook: Flacco doubtful vs. Bengals

Joe Flacco was listed as doubtful on Friday’s injury report as the Baltimore Ravens’ quarterback mystery continues, two days prior to Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Flacco didn’t practice all week because of a hip injury, while rookie Lamar Jackson returned to practice on Friday after sitting out a day due to illness. Robert Griffin III took all the practice snaps on Thursday.

“There will be a quarterback starting. I can guarantee that,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh told reporters, partly in jest. “And, every play, there will be at least one quarterback on the field.”

Harbaugh said Flacco could play despite not practicing.

–Green Bay Packers tight end Jimmy Graham has a broken thumb, multiple outlets reported.

Graham had the thumb examined on Friday to determine the extent of his injury. The 31-year-old left Thursday’s 27-24 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in the second half after making one catch for 13 yards.

The Packers haven’t confirmed the injury or released a timetable for his return.

–Los Angeles Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa is expected to be a game-day decision on Sunday against the Denver Broncos.

Bosa, who has missed the entire season with a foot injury, was listed as questionable on Friday’s injury report. He returned to practice on Wednesday for the first time since training camp.

Tight end Antonio Gates (knee) also is listed as questionable. Cornerback Trevor Williams (knee) will miss the game.

–Denver Broncos left guard Max Garcia will miss the rest of the season after tearing his ACL in Thursday’s practice, head coach Vance Joseph confirmed.

Garcia didn’t miss a rep Thursday, but he was taken for an MRI after feeling discomfort in the knee afterward.

“It was really weird,” Joseph said. “I watched practice from the last play back to the first play, and he didn’t miss a down. The play he was injured on, I saw it. It was kind of a slip. It was no big deal.”

–Suspended linebacker Mychal Kendricks has rejoined the Seattle Seahawks, coach Pete Carroll told reporters.

Kendricks, 28, will practice next week but cannot play until Dec. 10 against Minnesota.

As a result of his guilty plea to federal insider trading changes, the league suspended Kendricks for eight games for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. He faces up to 25 years in prison when he is sentenced Jan. 24.

–Philadelphia defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan could play for the first time this season on Sunday when the Eagles take on the New Orleans Saints.

“Still optimistic, we’ve got to get through today and tomorrow obviously with him and see where he’s at,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. “It’s just a matter of day-by-day and getting through the practice and seeing where he’s at.”

Jernigan returned to practice last week for the first time since having surgery in April to repair a herniated disc in his back.

–Atlanta Falcons linebacker Deion Jones (foot) will not play Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys, despite being activated from injured reserve earlier this week.

Head coach Dan Quinn said Jones, who hasn’t played since Week 1, is close but not yet ready to play. Kicker Matt Bryant (hamstring) will play for the first time since Week 6.

–The Detroit Lions will be without wideout Marvin Jones (knee) and tight end Michael Roberts (shoulder) against the Carolina Panthers.

Jones did not practice this week after sustaining a bone bruise in his knee on Sunday. Cornerback Darius Slay (knee) is expected to play.

–Washington Redskins left tackle Trent Williams is questionable to face the Houston Texans as he recovers from surgery to repair a dislocated thumb.

Also questionable is kicker Dustin Hopkins (groin). Running back Chris Thompson (ribs) and wideout Jamison Crowder (ankle) remain out after not practicing all week.

–The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be without linebacker Lavonte David (knee), defensive end Vinny Curry (ankle), running back Ronald Jones (hamstring) and defensive backs Justin Evans (toe) and M.J. Stewart (foot) against the New York Giants.

Curry and Jones practiced on a limited basis Thursday and Friday, while none of the others practiced this week.

–The Cincinnati Bengals placed tight end Tyler Kroft on injured reserve and signed linebacker Brandon Bell off the practice squad.

Kroft, who has four catches for 36 yards in five games (two starts) this year, hasn’t played since hurting his foot in Week 5. Cincinnati is already without Tyler Eifert for the season.

–Field Level Media

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Packers’ McCarthy discusses job status with Packers struggling

Packers' McCarthy discusses job status with Packers struggling

Packers’ McCarthy discusses job status with Packers struggling

One day after the Green Bay Packers lost a crucial road game to the Seattle Seahawks to fall under .500 with just six games left in the regular season, head coach Mike McCarthy was forced to publicly address his job security.

McCarthy faced the local media Friday on the heels of the Packers dropping to 4-5-1 by losing 27-24 at Seattle, hurting Green Bay’s playoff hopes in a competitive NFC.

McCarthy, who turned 55 last week, is in his 13th season leading the Packers’ sideline. During his tenure, Green Bay has made the playoffs nine times and won a Super Bowl. But McCarthy’s Packers have never missed the postseason two years in a row, something that could happen unless the team immediately gets hot.

For McCarthy, tied with New Orleans’ Sean Payton as the longest-tenured head coaches in the conference, facing late-season questions about his employment status is new territory.

“That’s the job,” McCarthy told reporters. “That’s the way this business has gone. I’m not going to get into comparables, but at the end of the day that’s part of the job responsibility of the head coach.

“We set a standard here the past 12 years, and it’s our responsibility to play to that standard. That’s the way we approach it, but that’s a blanket, general evaluation. There’s obviously more that goes into that. But at the end of the day, there’s so much that goes into each and every game throughout a seven-day period — obviously we’re on a 10-day stretch here — and that’s really where the energy has to focus.”

Green Bay is 0-5 on the road this season and must next take on their NFC North rival Minnesota Vikings next Sunday — again away from Lambeau Field. If the Packers lose in Week 12, the noise will get louder.

“I don’t think you can tune it out. That’s the old days. That’s when you had newspapers,” McCarthy said of hearing surrounding speculation on whether his job may be in jeopardy. “But I think today’s world, everything is accessible, everything is instant. I’m sure they’re all aware. I think the bigger challenge is when you’re having a lot of success.

“I think negativity is an unfortunate part of this business driven by the externals, but that’s the business we’re in.”

–Field Level Media

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Rams take in fresh air, mountains ahead of game vs. Chiefs

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — This was a respite for the Los Angeles Rams but certainly no vacation.

The team kept its plans to train at the Air Force Academy and stay at the posh Broadmoor Hotel in the Rocky Mountain foothills even after the NFL moved their Monday night showdown with the

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — This was a respite for the Los Angeles Rams but certainly no vacation.

The team kept its plans to train at the Air Force Academy and stay at the posh Broadmoor Hotel in the Rocky Mountain foothills even after the NFL moved their Monday night showdown with the Kansas City Chiefs to the Los Angeles Coliseum because of a frayed football field at Mexico City’s Azteca Stadium.

The primary benefit shifted from altitude acclimation to getting away from the wildfires back home and doing some midseason team bonding.

“It’s been a little bit wild for sure, but with that being said, there’s a lot more people dealing with a lot worse than what we’re dealing with right now,” quarterback Jared Goff said. “We’re the lucky ones and we’re having a good time out here in Colorado.”

The deadly wildfires that are surrounding the Rams’ training complex back home affected some players and coaches directly and some indirectly.

“I personally wasn’t affected, but I look at my teammates as family,” Ndamukong Suh said. “So, we all have to deal with it in some form or fashion.”

The trip to Colorado also allowed the Rams (9-1) to do some midseason bonding, something tight end Rob Gronkowski said helped the Patriots refocus down the stretch last season after they spent a week at the academy ahead of their game against the Raiders in Mexico City.

Rams coach Sean McVay said he reached out to Patriots coach Bill Belichick for some tips about how they handled the week away in the Rocky Mountains.

“Anybody like a Bill Belichick, if they’re able to give you a perspective, it’d be silly not to listen and try to apply it,” McVay said.

The Rams will fly home Saturday after what was actually a business trip.

“The Broadmoor’s great. I haven’t played any golf,” defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said. “I’ve got a lot of friends here, but I haven’t really seen anybody because we’ve been working. It’s a work trip … we’re getting ready to play a game.”

McVay said training in Colorado won’t be a waste even though the game now will be played at sea level.

“With all the things going on right now, I think there’s some guys that, at the time, wouldn’t have been able to get back into their houses,” McVay said. “There’s a lot of things that we were doing here. One of them was, obviously, to get ready for playing in the elevation and different things like that. It does still serve you well to train in these environments.

“So, it’ll help us out. Then really, we looked at it as another chance to kind of get away before the bye week, continue to connect as a team where there’s not any real distractions.”

That bonding may be the ultimate benefit of their brief trip.

“If anything, the last week has really made you appreciate the perspective that this gives you,” McVay said. “What’s so special about football is the brotherhood that you share with the teammates, the coaches, the rapport and just the camaraderie. There’s nothing like it.

“To be able to go through some of these things, to also know that when you’re going through real life adversity outside of football, that you have a support system, you have people that care about you unconditionally — that’s what’s real.”

McVay said he took in the picturesque mountains, the fresh air and the amenities of the Broadmoor, but “I really haven’t had a chance to get out and explore. We’re in the midst of game planning and things like that, but I know our players have enjoyed it.

“They got a chance to go to the Nuggets-Rockets game the other night. I think it’s been a great getaway for the team to be together and kind of bond.”

Notes: WR Cooper Kupp underwent knee surgery this week. “It went really well,” McVay said. “He called right afterward and he was in great spirits and I know if anybody’s going to attack the rehab process the right way it’s going to be Cooper Kupp.”

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Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton

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Suspended Kendricks rejoins Seahawks

Suspended Kendricks rejoins Seahawks

Suspended linebacker Mychal Kendricks has rejoined the Seattle Seahawks, coach Pete Carroll told

Suspended Kendricks rejoins Seahawks

Suspended linebacker Mychal Kendricks has rejoined the Seattle Seahawks, coach Pete Carroll told reporters on Friday.

Kendricks, 28, will practice next week but cannot play until Dec. 10 against Minnesota.

As a result of his guilty plea to federal insider trading changes, the league suspended Kendricks for eight games for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy.

Kendricks went to training camp with the Cleveland Browns but was released after the team learned he had been accused of illegally profiting more than $1.2 million through insider training. The Seahawks later picked him up, and in three games with Seattle before his suspension, he made 15 tackles to go with two sacks and a pass breakup.

Kendricks faces up to 25 years in jail when he is sentenced Jan. 24.

–Field Level Media

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Chargers DE Bosa is questionable for Broncos

Chargers DE Bosa is questionable for Broncos

Los Angeles Chargers defensive end

Chargers DE Bosa is questionable for Broncos

Los Angeles Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa is expected to be a game-day decision for the team’s game against the Denver Broncos on Sunday.

Bosa, who has missed the entire season with a foot injury, was listed as questionable on Friday’s injury report. He returned to practice on Wednesday for the first time since training camp.

Tight end Antonio Gates (knee) also is listed as questionable. Cornerback Trevor Williams (knee) will miss the game.

Receiver Keenan Allen (hip, finger) was a limited practice participant on Friday and was removed from the injury report.

Bosa, 23, injured his left foot during a practice on Aug. 7, and it has been slow to heal. He later suffered a setback and was placed in a cast before advancing to a walking boot.

Bosa posted a career-best 12.5 sacks and forced four fumbles while earning Pro Bowl honors last season.

He was the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2016 when he had 10.5 sacks in 12 games.

–Field Level Media

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Broncos OL Garcia (ACL) out for season

Broncos OL Garcia (ACL) out for season

Denver Broncos

Broncos OL Garcia (ACL) out for season

Denver Broncos left guard Max Garcia will miss the rest of the season after tearing his ACL in Thursday’s practice, head coach Vance Joseph confirmed Friday.

Garcia didn’t miss a rep Thursday, but was taken for an MRI after feeling discomfort in the knee afterward.

“It was really weird,” Joseph said. “I watched practice from the last play back to the first play, and he didn’t miss a down. The play he was injured on, I saw it. It was kind of a slip. It was no big deal.”

Garcia was already filling in for starter Ron Leary, who was lost for the season in October with an Achilles injury.

Center Matt Paradis is also out for the year with a broken leg, leaving the Broncos thin along the offensive line.

Billy Turner figures to replace Garcia at left guard, as Elijah Wilkinson steps in at right guard with Connor McGovern moving to center.

Linebacker Brandon Marshall missed Friday’s practice with a knee injury and was ruled out for Sunday’s game at the Los Angeles Chargers. Safety Dymonte Thomas (ankle) is the only other Bronco ruled out, with running back Royce Freeman, wideout DaeSean Hamilton, cornerback Bradley Roby and safety Darian Stewart expected to return.

–Field Level Media

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Bengals hold out hope WR Green could play vs Ravens

CINCINNATI (AP) — The Bengals are leaving a slight possibility that receiver A.J. Green could play Sunday at Baltimore even though he hasn't practiced the last two weeks because of a toe injury.

Green initially was listed Friday as out for the game, as anticipated. Cincinnati later did an about-face and listed him

CINCINNATI (AP) — The Bengals are leaving a slight possibility that receiver A.J. Green could play Sunday at Baltimore even though he hasn’t practiced the last two weeks because of a toe injury.

Green initially was listed Friday as out for the game, as anticipated. Cincinnati later did an about-face and listed him as doubtful, giving him a slight chance to play. The offense struggled without him during a 51-14 loss to the Saints last week.

The Bengals (5-4) need a win against the Ravens (4-5) to stay in the playoff chase.

Cincinnati ruled out linebacker Preston Brown with an injured right knee. Linebacker Brandon Bell was signed off the practice squad, and tight end Tyler Kroft went on injured reserve with a foot injury.

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Smoke from wildfire forces Raiders indoors for second day

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) — The Oakland Raiders practiced at an off-site facility for a second consecutive day Friday as thick smoke from California's deadly wildfires blanketed the Bay Area.

Much like they did a year ago when similar conditions arose due to fires in Northern California, players and coaches were bused to an

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) — The Oakland Raiders practiced at an off-site facility for a second consecutive day Friday as thick smoke from California’s deadly wildfires blanketed the Bay Area.

Much like they did a year ago when similar conditions arose due to fires in Northern California, players and coaches were bused to an indoor gym at the former Alameda Naval Air Station for practices Thursday and Friday.

Although the Raiders were forced to scale back their workouts as a result, coach Jon Gruden was mostly pleased with how things went under the circumstances.

“It’s like an indoor ice rink that was transformed into a soccer field,” Gruden said. “We didn’t have much room to get the splits and get the routes but I’m not going to make any excuses. We’re not the only people dealing with adversity right now. It was either that or get nothing so I’m really pleased with the players, the coaches and the preparation that we were able to get in.”

Smoke has filled the sky in Northern California for more than a week and the air quality has been at dangerously unhealthy levels in recent days.

The Raiders will get a break from the conditions with road games each of the next two weeks. They play Sunday in Arizona and are in Baltimore to face the Ravens on Nov. 25.

“We have to deal with what we have to deal with,” Gruden said. “We got a lot of reps in. We are confident that they know what to do. We just have to trust that they’ll go out there and perform at the highest level possible.”

The Raiders have lost five straight games and are 1-8 overall. Offensive coordinator Greg Olson said that the fires have helped keep things in perspective.

“Our hearts go out to all the people who lost lives and property, and certainly to all the first responders.” Olson said. “For us, yeah, we are missing a practice. We are missing the ability to go outside, but for other people it’s changing their lives or has changed their lives. Nobody here on this team has lost lives or property, so we are fortunate in that regard.”

Right guard Gabe Jackson has tried to remain indoors as much as possible to avoid the smoke-filled air.

“From being here to going home I haven’t spent much time outside,” Jackson said. “You’re always concerned about what’s going on around you, especially the people that’s affected, but at the same time you have to do what you have to do.”

Notes: Wide receivers Jordy Nelson (knee) and Martavis Bryant (knee) did not practice and are out for Sunday’s game. . Cornerback Gareon Conley (groin) is questionable.

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Steelers have capable fill-ins for injured linemen

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh Steelers will be without key starters on their offensive and defensive lines when they face the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.

Right tackle Marcus Gilbert will miss his fourth straight game with a knee injury, while defensive end Stephon Tuitt has been ruled out with an elbow injury. Second-year

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh Steelers will be without key starters on their offensive and defensive lines when they face the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.

Right tackle Marcus Gilbert will miss his fourth straight game with a knee injury, while defensive end Stephon Tuitt has been ruled out with an elbow injury. Second-year player Matt Feiler will fill in for Gilbert as he has the past three weeks, while nine-year veteran Tyson Alualu is set to replace Tuitt.

“I think you just always have to be ready and be prepared when you do get opportunities to play more,” Alualu said. “You just have to make sure there’s no drop-off when someone goes out, especially with it being Tuitt because we all know what he’s capable of and what he’s done.”

Gilbert has only played 13 of the team’s last 25 games after missing just three games the previous two seasons.

It will be Feiler’s fifth start of the season and sixth of his career. He has already started four games this season. The first came in Week 3 against Tampa Bay, the Steelers’ first win of the season, when Gilbert sat with a hamstring injury.

“I’m just trying to stay ready because you never know when they’re going to need me,” Feiler said. “I’ve just been preparing like I have been every week like I’m going to be playing.”

The Steelers have won all four times Feiler has started at right tackle, including the last three games. Those wins were part of a five-game winning streak that has helped the Steelers climb atop the AFC North after a 1-2-1 start.

The Steelers have averaged 424 yards of total offense the previous three weeks, including 140 on the ground. James Conner, third in the league with 771 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns, has rushed for more than 100 yards in two of the last three weeks. Conner will play Sunday after leaving last week’s win against Carolina with a concussion.

“Every lineman wants to run-block and kind of push other guys around,” Feiler said. “We’ve been clicking. We’ve been staying on the field longer and keeping our momentum. It’s a lot of fun.”

Alualu will get the start against Jacksonville, a city where he spent his first seven seasons before signing with the Steelers.

The Jaguars shocked the Steelers on the road, 30-9, last season and did it again in the playoffs, winning 45-42 in Pittsburgh before falling to New England in the AFC Championship game.

Leonard Fournette rushed for 290 yards and five touchdowns in those two games against the Steelers. He missed six games because of injury this season before returning last week during a loss at Indianapolis. The Jaguars have lost five of those six and are 3-6, last in the AFC South.

“Their record doesn’t show how hard they’re playing,” said Alualu, who has exchanged texts with former teammates. “The guys in the locker room are still fighting. We have to understand that we’re going to get their best.”

During the win streak, the Steelers’ defense has allowed an average of 269 yards of total offense, including 70 on the ground. In their first four games, they gave up an average of 418 yards, including 115 rushing.

Tuitt, who has appeared in all nine games, is key part of Pittsburgh’s pass rush, which is tied for second in the league with 31 sacks. Tuitt has 32 tackles, three sacks, four tackles for loss and 11 quarterback hits.

Alualu hasn’t reached the quarterback yet this season, but he finished with a career-high four sacks mainly in a reserve role in 2017.

“It’s a good problem to have when you have good depth,” Alualu said. “That’s always helpful.”

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Lions rule out Jones for game against Carolina

ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) — The Detroit Lions have ruled wide receiver Marvin Jones out of Sunday's game against Carolina because of a knee injury.

It will be only the second missed game for Jones in the past three-plus seasons. Panthers receiver Torrey Smith will also miss the game with a knee injury.

ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) — The Detroit Lions have ruled wide receiver Marvin Jones out of Sunday’s game against Carolina because of a knee injury.

It will be only the second missed game for Jones in the past three-plus seasons. Panthers receiver Torrey Smith will also miss the game with a knee injury.

Detroit tight end Michael Roberts (shoulder) and defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson (ankle) are also out. Defensive linemen Ziggy Ansah (shoulder) and Damon Harrison (shoulder) are questionable.

Jones has 35 catches for 508 yards and five touchdowns this season. He became even more important to the Lions when they traded receiver Golden Tate last month.

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Seahawks get crucial win to stay in NFC playoff conversation

RENTON, Wash. (AP) — For the Seattle Seahawks to have a say in the NFC playoff picture, they had to get past Green Bay. A loss would have likely proved too much to overcome with games remaining against Carolina, Minnesota and Kansas City.

So Pete Carroll celebrated Thursday's win in the way everyone would have

RENTON, Wash. (AP) — For the Seattle Seahawks to have a say in the NFC playoff picture, they had to get past Green Bay. A loss would have likely proved too much to overcome with games remaining against Carolina, Minnesota and Kansas City.

So Pete Carroll celebrated Thursday’s win in the way everyone would have expected. He rode Seattle’s waterfront Ferris wheel.

“It’s a wonderful ride. Everyone should do it,” Carroll said Friday.

The Seahawks’ 27-24 win over Green Bay snapped a two-game losing streak and created a path to where the postseason is now at least a realistic opportunity for Seattle. There are still challenges ahead, but Seattle is now in the conversation.

“To be in it right now, we’re not where we want to be record-wise, but we’re fighting,” said tight end Ed Dickson, who caught the winning touchdown pass from Russell Wilson with 5:08 remaining.

Seattle’s path to the postseason is relatively straightforward because of the way its schedule is structured. Five of the Seahawks’ final six games are against NFC teams. Three of those are against San Francisco, twice, and Arizona, who have combined records of 4-15 going into this week. The other two NFC opponents are Carolina next week and Minnesota in Week 14, the two teams directly in front of the Seahawks in the wild-card race.

So while Seattle doesn’t have complete control of its playoff fortunes, it will have a say in whether it can stay in the race into the final weeks of the regular season. And it’s why knocking off the Packers was so crucial.

“Doug (Baldwin) and I were talking about going back to 2015. We were 4-5, I think it was, and we got on a hot streak,” Wilson said. “This is one game, we have a lot of games to go. We have a tough game ahead of us. Just a reminder of where we’ve been and where we’ve gone and how we’ve done it before.”

That run Wilson referenced from 2015 was based largely on a passing offense that erupted in the final two months of the season. Seattle won six of its final seven games that season, scoring 29 or more points in each victory with Wilson throwing 24 touchdown passes and one interception during the seven-game span.

A passing explosion like that isn’t likely to happen this time. But something could happen on the ground as Seattle continued to show it can run the ball with any of its three running backs.

The Seahawks rushed for 173 yards against the Packers, their eighth straight game running for at least 100 yards as a team and the seventh straight game topping 150 yards. Last week against the Rams, Seattle used a healthy dose of Wilson’s legs when he rushed for a season-high 92 yards to complement the first 100-yard game of Rashaad Penny’s rookie season.

Against the Packers, it was a combo of Penny, Chris Carson and Mike Davis as the closer. Carson had 83 yards on 17 carries; Penny had 46 yards, including a highlight 30-yard run in the first half; and Davis had just one carry until Seattle’s final drive when he had three carries for 16 yards as Seattle picked up two first downs to close out the game.

“It might frustrate some people like we can’t make up our mind but I feel really comfortable with how we’re doing this,” Carroll said. “Some games it will go in a different direction like we’ve seen, but it’s great to have that kind of flexibility. They all have characteristics and attributes that help us.”

NOTES: Carroll was unclear about the status of LB K.J. Wright and his lingering knee problems. Wright couldn’t finish last week’s game against the Rams due to issues stemming from surgery he had in August. He was inactive Thursday. “We’re trying to get his knee confident to where he can get back and stay back. We’re going to take our time, whatever time it takes to check that out,” Carroll said. … LB Mychal Kendricks will be able to rejoin the team in practice next week, but won’t be eligible to play until Week 14 against Minnesota. Kendricks was originally suspended indefinitely after pleading guilty to federal insider trading chargers, but had the suspension reduced to eight games.

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Pair of Titans’ starters in Conklin, Morgan back vs. Colts

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans are getting a pair of starters back for their trip to Indianapolis on Sunday.

Right tackle Jack Conklin has been cleared from the concussion protocol after missing last week's win over the Patriots, while outside linebacker Derrick Morgan is set to return after practicing fully the

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans are getting a pair of starters back for their trip to Indianapolis on Sunday.

Right tackle Jack Conklin has been cleared from the concussion protocol after missing last week’s win over the Patriots, while outside linebacker Derrick Morgan is set to return after practicing fully the past two days after missing the last three games with an injured shoulder.

Wide receiver Taywan Taylor will be a game-time decision after missing last week’s game with a left foot hurt in Dallas. Taylor said he did some different mobility exercises and feels a lot better.

Only running back David Fluellen (knee) is ruled out against the Colts (4-5). Left guard Quinton Spain (ankle) and wide receiver Tajae Sharpe (ankle) also are questionable for the Titans (5-4).

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On hot seat? Packers’ McCarthy focuses on getting road win

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Mike McCarthy knows his job is on the line.

The Green Bay Packers' 13th-year head coach acknowledged he is aware that the team's 4-5-1 record has led to questions about his future.

But he insisted he and the team are focused on next week's pivotal NFC North matchup

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Mike McCarthy knows his job is on the line.

The Green Bay Packers’ 13th-year head coach acknowledged he is aware that the team’s 4-5-1 record has led to questions about his future.

But he insisted he and the team are focused on next week’s pivotal NFC North matchup with the Vikings in Minnesota, and not the uncertainty surrounding his job security.

“That’s the job. That’s the way this business has gone,” McCarthy said Friday. “We set a standard here the past 12 years, and it’s our responsibility to play to that standard. That’s the way we approach it.”

The 27-24 loss in Seattle on Thursday left the Packers 0-5 on the road and third in the division behind the Chicago Bears (6-3) and the Vikings (5-3-1). A seemingly softer portion of the schedule follows next week’s showdown with Minnesota, but a loss in that game could put the Packers in a hole too deep to climb out of.

McCarthy has had teams rally late in seasons past, including in 2016, when quarterback Aaron Rodgers famously said the team could “run the table” over the final six weeks. After starting 4-6, the Packers won eight straight games to win the NFC North and advance to conference title game, in which they fell to the Atlanta Falcons.

That was Green Bay’s fourth NFC championship game under McCarthy, who led the 2010 team to the Super Bowl title. His Packers made the playoffs in eight consecutive seasons before missing the postseason last year, when Rodgers missed nine-plus games with a broken right collarbone.

“I have great confidence. I’ve been in this position before, so I have confidence in how we do things,” McCarthy said. “You have to react — there’s no doubt about that — but you can’t overreact. So, you’ve just got to stay in tune with the specifics and the details of why we’re not getting it done in those situations.”

The Packers have lost three of their last four games, despite being in position in the fourth quarter to win on the road against the Rams, Patriots and Seahawks.

“We’re not going to turn on each other or nothing. We love each other and we stick together as a team,” defensive back Tramon Williams said. “Is it frustrating? Yes, it’s very frustrating to come out on these types of losses when you know you should be winning these games.”

Against the Seahawks, the Packers had a 21-20 lead with 9 minutes left and were facing third-and-5 at Seattle’s 12-yard line when Rodgers was sacked, forcing them to settle for a field goal to make it 24-20.

Seattle responded with a 75-yard touchdown drive. When Rodgers missed an easy third-down throw on the ensuing possession, McCarthy opted to punt on fourth-and-2 with 4:20 to go. Green Bay never got the ball back.

“It’s tough losing on the road. It’s tough losing by one possession. Obviously, I’m frustrated, not just by the last throw but some other stuff that we could’ve done better out there,” Rodgers said. “This is an important, obviously, six-game stretch left. I still believe we have a lot to play for.”

McCarthy said Friday that he still felt it was a “solid decision” to punt in that situation, and that his decision not to challenge a 34-yard Russell Wilson-to-Tyler Lockett completion that set up the go-ahead touchdown was based on not having a clear replay to look at in the coaches’ booth. But he acknowledged both calls were open to second-guessing.

“Frankly, those are the kind of decisions that keep all of us up,” McCarthy said. “Now that I’m standing here and I know what the result is of them running out the clock, you go, ‘Oh, yeah, I wish I would’ve went for it on fourth-and-2.'”

“My first reaction was to go for it,” he added. “But we talked it over game management-wise and that’s the decision I made.”

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Chargers list Bosa as questionable for Sunday vs. Broncos

COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) — Los Angeles Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa and tight end Antonio Gates are listed as questionable for Sunday's game.

Coach Anthony Lynn said Friday that Bosa remains a game-time decision but that he looked good in team and individual drills after missing two months due to a bone

COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) — Los Angeles Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa and tight end Antonio Gates are listed as questionable for Sunday’s game.

Coach Anthony Lynn said Friday that Bosa remains a game-time decision but that he looked good in team and individual drills after missing two months due to a bone bruise to his left foot. Bosa has been listed as limited on the practice report this week.

Gates did not practice Wednesday or Thursday due to a knee injury but was a limited participant Friday.

Wide receiver Keenan Allen (finger/hip) is expected to play after being listed as limited the past two days. Mike Williams was a full participant Friday after being limited on Thursday.

Cornerback Trevor Williams (knee) is out for Sunday’s game.

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FANTASY PLAYS: Key fantasy questions for NFL Week 11

A look at some key fantasy football questions going into Week 11:

WHICH UNDER-THE-RADAR PLAYERS HAVE THE BEST CHANCE FOR A BIG GAME THIS WEEK?

Giants QB Eli Manning has a juicy Week 11 matchup against the Buccaneers, who have given up multiple TDs to QBs in seven of nine games. Other Giants you should

A look at some key fantasy football questions going into Week 11:

WHICH UNDER-THE-RADAR PLAYERS HAVE THE BEST CHANCE FOR A BIG GAME THIS WEEK?

Giants QB Eli Manning has a juicy Week 11 matchup against the Buccaneers, who have given up multiple TDs to QBs in seven of nine games. Other Giants you should consider starting this week include wideout Sterling Shepard and tight end Evan Engram. The Bucs can’t stop WRs and TEs, and have yielded the second-most fantasy Points Per Game (FPPG) to both positions.

You can stick a fork in the Raiders. They’re done and should be targeted in fantasy football every week. The Cardinals, their Week 11 opponent, have a rookie and veteran that have the potential of having a big game against them.

Christian Kirk is averaging just under seven targets per game over the past four weeks. Despite his quiet Week 10 against the Chiefs, he had averaged just over 65 receiving yards in his previous four games. He’s an excellent route runner with good hands and should be considered a trade target in dynasty leagues.

Larry Fitzgerald slumped badly earlier this season but he’s averaging just under 10 targets over the past four weeks and has 23 receptions and two TDs during that time frame.

The Raiders have surrendered multiple TDs to the WR position in seven straight games. Tight end Ricky Seals-Jones has a good matchup against the silver and black. Tight ends have caught 18 passes and scored four TDs against Oakland over the past three weeks.

Ravens RB Alex Collins could be a sneaky play against the Bengals, who’ve given up 13 total TDs to RBs this season. QB Joe Flacco’s Week 11 status is not known (hip) and if either Lamar Jackson or Robert Griffin III start in his place, the Ravens might lean on their running game a bit more.

ANY GOOD BUY LOW OPTIONS TO FOCUS ON AS TRADE DEADLINES APPROACH?

Corey Davis, WR, Titans: The Titans averaged just over 15 points per game for the first seven weeks of their season. They’ve averaged 31 points over the past two weeks and Davis has averaged 10 targets and 90.5 receiving yards during that time. Davis is fourth with eight targets inside the 10 this season. With the Titans offense finally showing some life, look for Davis to continue to have some upside.

Sony Michel, RB, Patriots: For many fantasy owners the bloom may be off the rose when it comes to Michel, but the Patriots have shown that when he’s healthy they’re going to give him the ball. He averaged just over 22 carries, 4.72 yards per carry and scored four TDs from Week 4 to Week 6. Fantasy football playoffs take place from Week 14 to Week 16 in most leagues and he faces the Dolphins in Week 14 and the Bills in Week 16. Both have been very friendly to the run.

ANY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR TRADE TARGETS BASED ON REST OF SEASON SCHEDULES?

Cam Newton, QB, Panthers: Newton has scored the eighth-most fantasy points among QBs this season and has future matchups against the Buccaneers, Browns, Saints and Falcons. The Browns are 17th in FPPG allowed to QBs, but the other three teams are in the top 4 in points allowed to the position.

Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Broncos: Sanders has scored the 11th most fantasy points among WRs. With the Broncos trade of Demaryius Thomas to the Texans, Sanders will continue to be heavily targeted in the passing game. He still has favorable matchups against the 49ers, who’ve yielded 14 TDs to WRs and the Browns, who’ve allowed the seventh most FPPG to WRs this season. In Week 16, which is usually championship week in fantasy football, Sanders will have a very favorable matchup against the Raiders. In addition, Phillip Lindsay, RB for the Broncos, should also take advantage of Denver’s soft schedule down the stretch and should also be considered a trade target.

WITH COOPER KUPP OUT FOR THE REST OF THE SEASON IS THERE A RAMS WR THAT COULD TAKE ADVANTAGE OF HIS ABSENCE?

His target share is tough to predict, but look for Josh Reynolds, who has big-play potential, to play some of his reps out of the slot, where he’ll absorb some of Kupp’s targets. In his last game with Kupp on the sidelines he caught three passes for 42 yards, but two of those catches were for TDs.

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Falcons’ Deion Jones out, Matt Bryant active for Dallas

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — Falcons middle linebacker Deion Jones is still not ready to play and will be inactive Sunday against Dallas.

Kicker Matt Bryant had a good week of practice and will be on Atlanta's game-day roster after missing the last three games with a sore right hamstring.

Coach Dan Quinn

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — Falcons middle linebacker Deion Jones is still not ready to play and will be inactive Sunday against Dallas.

Kicker Matt Bryant had a good week of practice and will be on Atlanta’s game-day roster after missing the last three games with a sore right hamstring.

Coach Dan Quinn ruled Jones out after Friday’s practice but hopes he will be ready when Atlanta plays Thursday at New Orleans. Jones returned to the active roster this week after spending two months on injured reserve with a broken right foot.

“He’s certainly close,” Quinn said. “We were able to give him more reps as the week went on. He’s been working in the pass game for a while. This week he got really involved in the run game and taking guys on and the power that goes with it.”

The Falcons (4-5) will face the Cowboys (4-5) with a defense that ranks third worst in yards allowed and fourth worst in scoring. Strong safety Keanu Neal’s season ended in the opener, and free safety Ricardo Allen was lost for the season two weeks later.

Bryant, the franchise career scoring leader, was a full participant in practice for the second straight day. Quinn said the Falcons have no immediate plans to cut Giorgio Tavecchio, who is 5-for-5 on field-goal attempts with a pair of 50-yarders. Tavecchio will not be active Sunday but will stay on the roster in case the 43-year-old Bryant has a setback.

Friday’s injury report listed receivers Calvin Ridley (elbow) and Mohamed Sanu (hip), linebackers De’Vondre Campbell (calf), Foyesade Oluokun (elbow) and Bruce Carter (knee) and safety Damontae Kazee (shoulder) as full participants. Defensive end Derrick Shelby was limited with a sore groin.

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Ravens QB Flacco doubtful for Bengals

Ravens QB Flacco doubtful for Bengals

Joe Flacco was listed

Ravens QB Flacco doubtful for Bengals

Joe Flacco was listed as doubtful on Friday’s injury report as the Baltimore Ravens’ quarterback mystery continues, two days prior to Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Flacco didn’t practice all week because of a hip injury, while rookie Lamar Jackson returned to practice on Friday after sitting out a day due to illness. Robert Griffin III took all the practice snaps on Thursday.

“There will be a quarterback starting. I can guarantee that,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh told reporters, partly in jest. “And, every play, there will be at least one quarterback on the field.”

Harbaugh said Flacco could play despite not practicing.

Flacco has passed for 2,465 yards and 12 touchdowns against six interceptions this season.

The quarterback drama comes at a time when the Ravens (4-5) have lost three straight games and four of their last five.

Jackson, the Ravens’ first-round pick, was removed from the injury report after practicing on Friday. He is 7-of-12 passing for 87 yards and one touchdown and could be in line for his first NFL start.

“Very diligent, very smart, very aware quarterback,” Harbaugh said of Jackson. “He sees the game well, and then now all the process that goes into just training that eye has been valuable. So, we have seen improvement, and in practice, he looks good.”

Griffin has started 40 regular-season games but his most recent one was the season finale for the 2016 Cleveland Browns. He has been inactive for all nine games this season.

“They brought me here to be a pro. They brought me here to help this team if need be,” Griffin told reporters. “If my number is called, I’ll be able to go out there and lead this team.”

Offensive lineman James Hurst (back) and outside linebacker Tim Williams (ankle) have been ruled out. Listed as questionable are safety Tony Jefferson (thigh), offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley (ankle) and cornerback Tavon Young (ankle).

–Field Level Media

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Reports: Broncos OL Garcia out for season

Reports: Broncos OL Garcia out for season

Denver Broncos

Reports: Broncos OL Garcia out for season

Denver Broncos left guard Max Garcia will miss the rest of the season after the team discovered he had suffered a torn ACL, according to multiple reports.

Garcia practiced Thursday, but was taken for an MRI after feeling discomfort in the knee afterward.

Garcia was already filling in for starter Ron Leary, who was lost for the season with an Achilles injury.

Center Matt Paradis is also out for the year with a broken leg, leaving the Broncos thin along the offensive line.

Billy Turner figures to replace Garcia at left guard.

Linebacker Brandon Marshall missed Friday’s practice with a knee injury, putting his availability for Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers in doubt.

–Field Level Media

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Packers TE Graham suffers broken thumb

Packers TE Graham suffers broken thumb

Green Bay Packers tight end

Packers TE Graham suffers broken thumb

Green Bay Packers tight end Jimmy Graham has a broken thumb, multiple outlets reported Friday.

Graham had the thumb examined on Friday to determine the extent of his injury.

The Packers haven’t confirmed the injury and haven’t released a timetable for his return.

Graham, 31, left Thursday’s 27-24 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in the second half after making one catch for 13 yards.

The five-time Pro Bowl selection has 34 catches for 452 yards and two touchdowns this season, but he has been limited to one catch in three of the last four games.

Lance Kendricks, Marcedes Lewis and Robert Tonyan figure to see more time if Graham is sidelined. Tonyan, a rookie from Indiana State, caught his first career pass Thursday night — a 54-yard reception from Aaron Rodgers for a touchdown.

–Field Level Media

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Packers TE Graham having thumb examined

Packers TE Graham having thumb examined

The Green Bay Packers are

Packers TE Graham having thumb examined

The Green Bay Packers are concerned tight end Jimmy Graham might have a broken thumb, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

Graham will have the thumb examined on Friday to determine the extent of his injury.

Graham, 31, left Thursday’s 27-24 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in the second half after making one catch for 13 yards.

The five-time Pro Bowl selection has 34 catches for 452 yards and two touchdowns this season, but has been limited to one catch in three of the last four games.

Lance Kendricks, Marcedes Lewis and Robert Tonyan figure to see more time if Graham is sidelined. Tonyan, a rookie out of Indiana State, caught his first career pass Thursday night – a 54-yard touchdown reception from Aaron Rodgers.

–Field Level Media

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Jamon Brown is giving a big lift to Giants’ offensive line

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — A reclamation project off the waiver wire is galvanizing the New York Giants' beleaguered offensive line.

Just two weeks ago, Jamon Brown thought he was without a job. He was released by the Los Angeles Rams on Oct. 31 after spending the better part of four years with

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — A reclamation project off the waiver wire is galvanizing the New York Giants’ beleaguered offensive line.

Just two weeks ago, Jamon Brown thought he was without a job. He was released by the Los Angeles Rams on Oct. 31 after spending the better part of four years with the team. Brown, a guard for the Rams who started all 16 games and a playoff game in 2017, was on the waiver wire.

“That was definitely disappointing,” Brown said. “I didn’t see it coming.”

Brown had signed a $2.5 million, four-year contract with the Rams after being selected in the third round by the team out of Louisville in 2015. He earned a starting spot as a right guard with the Rams in 2017 after missing most of his rookie season with a fractured right leg.

In July, however, Brown was suspended for the first two games of the 2018 season after violating the NFL’s policy for substance abuse. He would not comment on what banned substance he used.

When the season began, Brown was replaced by Austin Blythe as the starter at right guard for the Rams and he never regained his spot.

“It was all very disappointing, the way it went down,” Brown said. “I never got the opportunity to make things right.”

As part of a numbers crunch, after the Rams acquired defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. in a trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brown was released.

At the same time, the Giants’ offensive line was in turmoil. The problems began when former first-round pick Ereck Flowers was released after a move to right tackle from left tackle didn’t pan out.

One free-agent signing, tackle Nate Solder, hasn’t lived up to the four-year, $62 million contract he signed in the offseason. Center Jon Halapio broke his right ankle and lower leg in the second week of the season. Free agent Patrick Omameh didn’t perform well and was released.

Amid the upheaval, the Giants took a chance on Brown, a 6-foot, 340-pounder.

“We knew that he was a starter on a team that won 11 games last year,” Giants coach Pat Shurmur said. “He’s a big man, a really big man. We liked what we saw in Jamon.”

When the claim on Brown became official, the Giants were on their bye week. So Brown flew to New Jersey and met with Shurmur and team officials. He worked out for a couple of days, then headed back to Los Angeles to clean out his apartment.

“I got a lot of frequent flier miles,” Brown said.

The Giants resumed practice last week and Brown was learning the offense. He practiced as if he were going to play.

Sure enough, on Saturday before the game with the San Francisco 49ers, Omameh was let go. Brown slid in as the starter in the game in California. That meant Brown flew back and forth across the country four times in two weeks.

“It’s really crazy how that all turned out,” Brown said. “I’m still learning the Giants’ way. I’m learning everything I can. This is definitely a great opportunity for me.”

Brown was part of the line that gave Eli Manning time to throw, allowed only one sack provided room for sensational rookie Saquon Barkley to run. More important, the Giants won 27-23 on Monday night for their second win in nine games.

“I thought he did a good job,” Shurmur said of Brown. “I thought he did some of the things that we thought he could do. I think that’s a settling force for the quarterback when he’s pretty certain that the interior of the pocket’s going to be firm.”

Brown will start at right guard when the Giants host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. He tweaked his ankle during Friday’s practice, but the team did not list him on the injury report.

“I’m going to bring energy,” Brown said. “I think I can be reliable because I’ve been doing this awhile. I’ve experienced my times of success.”

NOTES: The Giants listed no injuries after Friday’s practice. Brown (ankle), LB Alec Ogletree (ribs), CB Antonio Hamilton (hip), FB Eli Penny (back) and S Curtis Riley (shoulder) all practiced fully, so the team is 100 percent healthy for a second straight week. … Another reclamation project, WR Corey Coleman, whom the Giants picked up after he was waived by three teams this season, will more than likely remain the main kickoff return specialist. Coleman had three returns for 92 yards, including a 51-yarder, against the Niners.

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Broncos lose guard Max Garcia to knee injury

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Left guard Max Garcia showed up at the Denver Broncos' headquarters Friday with a sore left knee, something that initially seemed like a minor annoyance for a team preparing for two big offensive line changes already.

With right guard Connor McGovern preparing for his first NFL start at center

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Left guard Max Garcia showed up at the Denver Broncos’ headquarters Friday with a sore left knee, something that initially seemed like a minor annoyance for a team preparing for two big offensive line changes already.

With right guard Connor McGovern preparing for his first NFL start at center and Elijah Wilkinson set to make his first pro start at right guard, Garcia went for an MRI.

The result was devastating: a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

Garcia is the third starting offensive lineman the Broncos have lost this season, joining guard Ronald Leary (Achilles) and center Matt Paradis, who had surgery on his broken right leg earlier this week.

“It’s been a tough year for us O-linemen,” left tackle Garett Bolles said. “It’s a shame to see three guys that are really close to me go down, but at the same time I know that we have guys behind them that have stepped up to the plate and are going to smack a home run.”

Garcia’s injury further staggered a team that’s trying to salvage a season featuring four one-score losses, including to the league’s two 9-1 teams the Rams and Chiefs, by a combined seven points.

“It was really weird, I watched (Thursday’s) practice from the last play back to the first play and he didn’t miss a down,” coach Vance Joseph said. “So, the play he was injured on, I saw it, it was kind of a slip. It was no big deal. He finished up practice.”

Joseph said Billy Turner, who started four games at right tackle when Jared Veldheer was out with a knee injury, will start at left guard Sunday when the Broncos (3-6) visit the Los Angeles Chargers (7-2).

This will mark the Broncos’ sixth different lineup on the O-line this season, but Joseph said it won’t affect the game plan.

“I thought leaving camp that we had the best line that we’ve had around here in a while as far as depth and as far as guys who can play” multiple positions, Joseph said. “It happens. It’s football. We’ve got Billy Turner playing the left guard with Eli playing the right guard along with Mac playing the center, so I’m comfortable. Let’s go play.”

He said recently signed seven-year veteran center Gino Gradkowski will be active Sunday along with rookie swing guard Sam Jones.

“Ain’t too many guys left ,” he said.

Through every combination the Broncos have run the ball with success as rookies Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman have rushed for 900 yards and seven touchdowns with veteran Devontae Booker adding 144 yards, a touchdown and a team-high 5.8-yard average.

What they’ve had trouble doing is protecting quarterback Case Keenum, who has 11 touchdowns and 11 turnovers and has been sacked two dozen times.

Still, offensive coordinator Billy Musgrave has been reluctant to reduce his use of three-receiver sets that put more pressure on the thinning O-line.

The turnstile hasn’t helped Bolles, a 2017 first-rounder, refine his raw game after playing just one season of major college football.

“It’s been hard having different lineups. I’ve had five different lineups, so it’s been frustrating,” Bolles said. “But it doesn’t matter who’s next to me, they’re going to make me better, I’m going to make them better and you’ve just got to roll with the punches and work out the kinks.”

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Get a Grip: The Week in Sports Betting and Sports: PA Launch Has Arrived

The post Get a Grip: The Week in Sports Betting and Sports: PA Launch Has Arrived appeared first on SportsHandle.

It’s information overload everywhere, and there’s not time enough to sleep and eat and stay fully apprised of what’s happening on this crazy blue dot of ours (two out of three

The post Get a Grip: The Week in Sports Betting and Sports: PA Launch Has Arrived appeared first on SportsHandle.

It’s information overload everywhere, and there’s not time enough to sleep and eat and stay fully apprised of what’s happening on this crazy blue dot of ours (two out of three ain’t bad).

Here’s the weekend Sports Handle item, “Get a Grip,” recapping the week’s top stories, and rounding up key stories in sports betting, gaming, and the world of sports at large. You may have missed them, and they are worth reading.

12 Billion Reasons There Is So Much Hype Around Pennsylvania Sports Betting; Launch Pad Readies at Hollywood Penn 

The Hollywood Casino in Pennsylvania will make history on Saturday when it fully opens the first legal sportsbook in PA to the public. More than a year after legalizing sports betting, Pennsylvanians will finally be able to legally place a bet — and the state will begin to reap expected financial gains from sports betting. They already have, actually, in the form of $10 million application fee apiece from the six properties so far to apply for a sports wagering license.

Of the eight states that have legalized sports betting, Pennsylvania is the only that that has just about two of everything — NFL teams, MLB teams and NHL teams. The only pro sport with only one Pennsylvania franchise is the NBA.

 
 

Read more Get a Grip: The Week in Sports Betting and Sports: PA Launch Has Arrived on SportsHandle.

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Jags turn to former Giants starting OT Flowers vs Steelers

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Jacksonville Jaguars are down to their fourth left tackle, starting a player they signed off the streets against Pittsburgh on Sunday.

Coach Doug Marrone says former New York Giants first-round draft pick Ereck Flowers will start in place of Josh Walker, who missed practice all week because of

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Jacksonville Jaguars are down to their fourth left tackle, starting a player they signed off the streets against Pittsburgh on Sunday.

Coach Doug Marrone says former New York Giants first-round draft pick Ereck Flowers will start in place of Josh Walker, who missed practice all week because of a foot/ankle injury. Walker was listed as doubtful on the injury report Friday. Flowers and Walker alternated series last week at Indianapolis.

Walker was filling in for Josh Wells, who started four games after Cam Robinson tore a knee ligament in Week 2.

The Jaguars (3-6) also could be without another starting offensive lineman. Right guard A.J. Cann (hamstring) is listed as questionable. Nose tackle Marcell Dareus (triceps) also is questionable. Dareus has started all nine games.

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AP source: Broncos lose guard Max Garcia to knee injury

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Denver Broncos left guard Max Garcia is out for the season because of a torn knee ligament, a person with knowledge of the injury said.

The person spoke on the condition of anonymity to The Associated Press because coach Vance Joseph was at practice and wouldn't be addressing the

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Denver Broncos left guard Max Garcia is out for the season because of a torn knee ligament, a person with knowledge of the injury said.

The person spoke on the condition of anonymity to The Associated Press because coach Vance Joseph was at practice and wouldn’t be addressing the media until later. An MRI Friday revealed a tear of the anterior cruciate ligament.

Garcia apparently was injured during Thursday’s practice, although he finished the workout and wasn’t listed on the team’s injury report.

The Broncos (3-6) travel to Los Angeles on Sunday to face the Chargers (7-2). Denver already was down two starters on the offensive line after losing left guard Ronald Leary (Achilles) last month and center Matt Paradis (broken ankle) in the last game.

Now, Billy Turner will move over to left guard, between scuffling left tackle Garett Bolles, who leads the league in holding calls for the second straight season, and Connor McGovern, who will make his first start at center Sunday.

Second-year pro Elijah Wilksinson is also making his first NFL start, at right guard next to right tackle Jared Veldheer, who missed a month with a knee injury before returning to action in Denver’s last game, against Houston on Nov. 4.

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Michigan Could Become First State to Pay Leagues Sports Betting ‘Integrity Fee’

So far the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball and PGA Tour are 0-for-7 in persuading state lawmakers to mandate payment of an off-the-top “integrity fee” or “royalty,” putting a percentage of legal sports bets into league coffers.

Now, a key lawmaker in Michigan sponsoring a bill that would legalize

So far the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball and PGA Tour are 0-for-7 in persuading state lawmakers to mandate payment of an off-the-top “integrity fee” or “royalty,” putting a percentage of legal sports bets into league coffers.

Now, a key lawmaker in Michigan sponsoring a bill that would legalize sports betting and iGaming in the state could give a win to the leagues.

According to a report from Reuters, following a U.S. Sports Betting Policy Summit in Washington D.C. this week, Michigan state representative Brandt Iden (R-District 61) changed his mind on the fees after “spending significant time with the leagues.”

 

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Eagles DT Jernigan could return vs. Saints

Eagles DT Jernigan could return vs. Saints

Eagles DT Jernigan could return vs. Saints

Philadelphia defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan could play for the first time this season on Sunday when the Eagles take on the New Orleans Saints.

“Still optimistic, we’ve got to get through today and tomorrow obviously with him and see where he’s at,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said before Friday’s practice. “It’s just a matter of day-by-day and getting through the practice and seeing where he’s at.”

Jernigan returned to practice last week for the first time since having surgery in April to repair a herniated disc in his back.

The Eagles must decide by Nov. 26 whether to activate Jernigan from the non-football injury list and add him to the 53-man roster. If they do not, he will not be allowed to play this season.

Jernigan, 26, tallied 29 tackles and 2.5 sacks and started 15 games in his first season in Philadelphia in 2017. He added two tackles during the postseason for the Super Bowl LII champions.

He spent the previous three seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, who selected the Florida State product in the second round in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Pederson also said tight end Richard Rogers, who was also recently returned from injured reserve, is in the same boat as Jernigan.

Adding either or both would require the Eagles to make room on the roster. Cornerback Ronald Darby, who suffered a season-ending ACL injury recently, would be an obvious candidate.

Pederson was more confident in the return of right tackle Lane Johnson, who sat out last week with an MCL sprain, and cornerback Sidney Jones, who has missed three games with a hamstring injury.

“He’s a lot closer, he’s had a really good week of practice, feels a lot better health-wise,” Pederson said regarding Johnson’s status. “I would expect him to (play), yes.”

–Field Level Media

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When things go sour in the NFL, QBs often are changed

When things go sour, an NFL team's fan base often points to two people: the guy calling plays on the sideline, and the man behind center trying to execute them.

As we get deeper into the 2018 schedule, the futures of some coaches could be tied to how their quarterbacks have struggled —

When things go sour, an NFL team’s fan base often points to two people: the guy calling plays on the sideline, and the man behind center trying to execute them.

As we get deeper into the 2018 schedule, the futures of some coaches could be tied to how their quarterbacks have struggled — or outright flopped.

Doug Marrone and Blake Bortles in Jacksonville? Perhaps.

Vance Joseph and Case Keenum in Denver? Possibly.

John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco? Could be.

Then again, each of those coaches could keep their jobs and have new QBs in 2019. And we know Jon Gruden isn’t going anywhere in Oakland, though Derek Carr might head elsewhere.

Nor is Pat Shurmur, despite a discouraging first year in the Jersey Meadowlands, likely to leave the Big Apple. But the status of a 37-year-old Eli Manning is in more doubt.

It would be a surprise to see Adam Gase out in Miami. Considering how much he has been out of the lineup in his seven-year career, it would not be a stunner to see Ryan Tannehill depart the Dolphins.

Let’s take a look:

NEW YORK

Manning is not a washed-up has-been. His arm remains strong, his knowledge of the game is irreplaceable, and he has three enviable options in Odell Beckham Jr., Saquon Barkley and Evan Engram.

What he doesn’t have is anyone who can block with any regularity. Manning is about as mobile as Shurmur, maybe less so, and when he doesn’t get the necessary time to set himself, he’s not likely to find a comfortable place to throw.

Yes, it’s time for the Giants to look for a replacement, but not necessarily someone to take over next year. How about finally improving perhaps the worst offensive line in the league and seeing what Manning can do behind it?

Otherwise, Carr could wind up an option as Gruden keeps wheeling and dealing.

DENVER

Keenum has another year to go on the deal he parlayed his best career season (in Minnesota) to get with QB-desperate Denver. Cutting him will cost a $10 million cap hit, so unless John Elway can work a trade for that prohibitive contract, Keenum figures to be back with the Broncos.

The cupboard is bare behind him, especially after Chad Kelly got himself arrested and then released. Plus, Keenum once again has had to learn a new offense, and he’s had some knee issues.

Elway could be enticed to add a veteran who has won a Super Bowl, as he did with Peyton Manning (did someone say Flacco?), but only if he can deal Keenum.

BALTIMORE

Flacco, who’s had a better (but not great) season than in recent years, is bothered by a hip injury. And his eventual replacement, Lamar Jackson, was chosen in the first round of April’s draft.

The massive contract Flacco earned after winning the 2012 championship as Super Bowl MVP was extended in 2016 and he is signed through 2021. But the Ravens can open up $10.5 million in salary cap space by releasing Flacco, 33, after the season, with a potential savings of $18.5 million if they designate him as cut after June 1, which would damage his value elsewhere.

He won’t command the same kind of money on the open market, but he will command attention for his strong arm, solid leadership, willingness to play hurt, and, well, a pedigree that rarely reaches free agency with a few good years left.

Gase in Miami certainly would like a QB who can get on the field regularly.

MIAMI

Brock Osweiler is the 19th starter since Dan Marino ended his Hall of Fame career. None has been a star, though Chad Pennington could have been had his shoulder not been so brittle.

Gase would seem to be tied to Tannehill, who has played in five games this year, none last season, because of injuries. When healthy, Tannehill helped get the Dolphins to the playoffs as a wild card in 2016, Gase’s first year in Miami. Then he was hurt for the postseason.

Gase has been something of a QB guru in other stops, so a young guy who can stay in the lineup might be appealing. Or maybe a 20-something needing a change of scenery such as Jameis Winston or Bortles.

TAMPA BAY

Perhaps the most puzzling case of all because Winston, the top pick in the 2015 draft, should be a slam dunk as the future. He isn’t.

Winston is due $20.9 million next season, the final year of his rookie deal. That’s way more than he is worth, and though the Bucs picked up his fifth-year option, they could release him in ’19 and not owe him anything; 2019 is guaranteed only in case of injury, which is why some speculate Winston may not play again this year.

He comes with lots of talent, but still lacks maturity. He has had off-field issues and was suspended for the first three games this season.

Do the Bucs want to start over at the position, knowing Winston’s potential remains sky high?

JACKSONVILLE

Convinced after coming oh-so-close to making the Super Bowl that Bortles could be their franchise guy, the Jaguars signed him to a three-year, $54 million contract that includes a $16 million salary in 2019. So there would be $16.5 million in dead money if he is cut.

And, like Keenum, the numbers for a trade likely are prohibitive.

But folks in Jacksonville believe, despite the current 3-6 mark, that the Jags are built to win soon. Maybe not with the struggling Bortles, however.

This history team boss Tom Coughlin has with Manning adds some intrigue, but a move for a veteran to replace Bortles might target someone younger and more mobile.

OAKLAND

Gruden has publicly backed Carr, but it’s difficult to gauge if that support is strong or even real. Given his maneuvers to redo the Raiders, it appears with Gruden no one is safe.

Gruden would love to find a Rich Gannon clone, maybe a Flacco or even a Nick Foles. And cutting Carr would create only $7.5 million in dead money, hardly prohibitive.

Then again, Gruden has three first-round selections in the 2019 draft. Using one on a quarterback makes a lot of sense.

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AP Pro Football Writers Josh Dubow and Arnie Stapleton, and Sports Writers Tom Canavan, Steven Wine, Mark Long, Fred Goodall and David Ginsburg contributed.

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Ramsey expresses loyalty to Jaguars

 

Outspoken defensive back Jalen Ramsey offended some Jacksonville Jaguars fans

 

Outspoken defensive back Jalen Ramsey offended some Jacksonville Jaguars fans with a tweet earlier this week suggesting he was looking ahead to playing for a different team down the road.

 

On Thursday, he addressed the comments and insisted he hopes to stay in Jacksonville for the long haul.

 

“When I’m gone from here, y’all gone miss me. I ain’t even trippin lol,” he tweeted Monday.

 

 

 

Ramsey said that comment was meant for “fake fans” and said his position with the team and his future hadn’t changed.

 

“I’ve said multiple times, over and over and over and over and over and over and over again that I want to play for one team my whole career,” he said, per the team’s website.

 

Ramsey is in the final year of his rookie contract and the Jaguars hold a fifth-year option.

 

“If they wanted, they could extend me,” said Ramsey. “And if it’s right, then we’ll get that done and I’ll be here for a number of years. If not, I have a fifth-year option they can pick up and they can franchise me. I mean, I could be here for a while.”

 

The Jaguars (3-6) have lost five straight games and face the 6-2-1 Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.

 

–Field Level Media

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How ‘Bout Them Cowboys? New book examines America’s Team

Gary Myers has covered Jerry Jones longer than any pro football writer, so it seemed logical and natural to write a book about the owner of the most valuable franchise in the world.

"How 'Bout Them Cowboys?" (Grand Central Publishing) is an in-depth look at America's Team, still the most popular in the

Gary Myers has covered Jerry Jones longer than any pro football writer, so it seemed logical and natural to write a book about the owner of the most valuable franchise in the world.

“How ‘Bout Them Cowboys?” (Grand Central Publishing) is an in-depth look at America’s Team, still the most popular in the NFL even though it hasn’t reached a Super Bowl in 23 years and isn’t likely to this season.

Myers was with the Dallas Morning News when Jones bought the team in 1989 and cleaned house. Now a radio host at WFAN in New York, Myers remembers it well — and tells it entertainingly and informatively in his book.

“I was taken aback when he got weepy —real tears — when he started talking about how he put himself at risk financially to buy the Cowboys in 1989,” Myers says. “He said he asked his doctor why recalling that period of his life made him so emotional and was told it was a traumatic experience for him. Even so, seeing this multi-billionaire in tears caught me by surprise, to say the least.”

There’s a lot in Myers’ book that could catch readers by surprise. Such as:

—Jones admits he’s still bitter about the circumstances that led to his divorce with Jimmy Johnson, who coached the Cowboys to the 1992 and ’93 NFL titles. And Myers reveals “Troy Aikman has still not forgiven Johnson for leaving him. A few years ago, they were having a beer together, when Aikman said to Johnson, ‘We could have been Brady and Belichick.'”

—The Hall of Fame party Jones threw for himself in Canton, Ohio in 2017 cost $8 million and included a two-hour concert by Justin Timberlake. One of the invited guests was Roger Goodell.

“I have a picture in my book of Jones having a drink with Goodell and Jon Bon Jovi at the party,” Myers says. “Five days later, Goodell called Jones to tell him he was suspending Ezekiel Elliott for six games. Jones is convinced Goodell showed up at the party knowing he was going to suspend Elliott (who was also at the party), but did not want to ruin Jones’ weekend. Instead, he ruined his season.”

Jones has said Goodell previously told him he would not suspend Elliott and to this day he feels betrayed. Goodell has emphatically said he did not tell Jones that.

There are dozens more such intriguing and often-unrevealed stories in “How ‘Bout Them Cowboys?” Myers had five hours of one-on-one interviews with Jones and, he jokes, actually got in at least seven questions.

ALABAMA REUNION

Julio Jones, Amari Cooper and Calvin Ridley cover most of a decade’s worth of leading receivers at Alabama. They’ll be on the field as players together for the first time when Cooper and the Dallas Cowboys visit the Atlanta Falcons and the veteran/rookie duo of Jones and Ridley.

Jones is a two-time All-Pro, Cooper made the Pro Bowl his first two seasons, and Ridley leads all rookies with 500 yards receiving. Oh, and they each won a national championship at Alabama. In fact, Ridley won two.

“A lot to like about them,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “Certainly they were trained very well at Alabama, probably really good players going there, developed to become great players coming out of there. And they’ve definitely shown that at this level.”

Cooper wasn’t supposed to make this Alabama connection when the season started: Oakland wasn’t on Atlanta’s schedule. But the Cowboys traded next year’s first-round draft pick for him in hopes of having a new No. 1 receiver after letting Dez Bryant go in a cost-cutting move during the offseason.

“I’m cool with both of those guys,” Cooper said. “None of us played together, so none of us have been on the field together. So that’ll be really cool to go out there and be on the same field.”

CAM’S WINE

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton said if wasn’t an NFL quarterback he’d want to be a sommelier. Newton has recently developed a love for wine— and cigars — although he said his recognition of most wines is “terrible.”

“I picked up a hobby that I really enjoy,” said Newton. “I think I’m on sauvignon blanc right now, really light wine, and a good mild smoke.”

Rudy Patino, who works as a food service provider for the Panthers, is a resident wine expert and Newton said he’s learned some things from him about the hobby.

“I feel like if I had a gift of a hidden talent, outside of playing an instrument, I would want to be a sommelier,” Newton said. “Those senses that you have. … For those who don’t know it, it’s being able to distinctively tell what type of wine it is, where it’s from and everything about wine by just the taste, the look and pretty much the feel of the wine. It’s just pretty cool to come across a person on a day-to-day basis that knows what they’re talking about. It’s just like playing football. It’s an ongoing thing that you have to constantly keep taking your nose and taste buds through.”

Newton said he if was to create his own wine he would call it “Boogie Down.”

“As in boogie down your esophagus,” Newton said with a smile.

BRITISH TRAINING

USA Football will lead the training of more than 1,000 football coaches across Britain in 2019. USA Football, a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee and the sport’s national governing body, will drive education for British American Football Coaches Association members, spanning school-based to adult programs.

British coaches will receive USA Football in-person training and online course work. More than 10,000 U.S. school districts and youth programs combined enrolled in USA Football-developed coach education this season, including nine of the country’s 10 largest school districts.

“Our sport’s community is truly a global family,” said BAFCA President Wayne Hill of Birmingham, England. “We love the game as much as Americans do, and teaming up with USA Football is a historic point for the sport here. Much like in the States, what’s taught and played today is not your father’s gridiron — it’s done a lot smarter, but is just as much fun. This partnership enables us to deliver a smarter, safer game for our athletes through coach education.”

Organized football is played on six continents spanning approximately 70 countries, a figure that has nearly doubled in the past 10 years.

GREEN EAGLES IN BIG EASY

The Philadelphia Eagles will be wearing their home green jerseys at New Orleans on Sunday. What’s that all about?

A bet.

In March, coaches Doug Pederson of the Super Bowl champion Eagles and Sean Payton of the Saints made the wager, which was revealed during the summer for the American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament at Lake Tahoe, Nevada. Pederson has a much better golf game than Payton and finished 32nd at the tournament, while Payton was 77th. Pederson had offered strokes or points in the Modified Stableford scoring format, but Payton turned them down.

Payton made a $5,000 donation to Autism Challenge in Philadelphia as part of the bet.

“Well, it is our home jersey. It is our home color,” Pederson says. “And so we are excited to wear that. We’ve done it a lot this year on the road, wearing our home greens on the road. So you know it’s something that our guys enjoy.”

When Pederson made that bet, did Payton say the Saints would go with their color rush, or a white jersey?

“He didn’t say one way or the other,” Pederson adds. “I would imagine it would be the whites, but he did not say.”

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AP Pro Football Writers Barry Wilner, Schuyler Dixon and Rob Maaddi, and Sports Writers Brett Martel and Steve Reed contributed.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

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Ravens hope to take what Bengals’ defense keeps giving

Ravens hope to take what Bengals' defense keeps giving

The Cincinnati

Ravens hope to take what Bengals’ defense keeps giving

The Cincinnati Bengals are playing historically bad pass defense.

The Baltimore Ravens aren’t sure which one of their quarterbacks will try to take advantage of that when they host their AFC North rivals Sunday.

The Bengals rank last in the NFL in passing yards allowed and have yielded more than 500 total yards in each of their last three games, which had never been done before in the Super Bowl era.

They have allowed 158 points over the last four games, including a 51-14 drubbing at the hands of the New Orleans Saints last week.

That led Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis to fire defensive coordinator Teryl Austin this week and take over the defensive play calling himself.

Baltimore’s quarterback situation has been shaken up by injuries.

The Ravens rank ninth in the NFL in passing offense, but starting quarterback Joe Flacco might not be available because of a hip injury. Making matters cloudier is that rookie No. 1 draft choice Lamar Jackson, next in line behind Flacco, joined him on the sideline at practice Thursday because of illness.

That left just Robert Griffin III as a healthy quarterback. Griffin, who was out of the NFL last season, hasn’t started a game since 2016 when he was with the Cleveland Browns.

Ravens head coach Jim Harbaugh said Flacco could play Sunday even if he doesn’t practice, as long as he’s healthy enough by game time.

“He’s got experience. He’s a smart guy. He knows how to prepare,” Ravens offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg told the Baltimore Sun. “I don’t see any reason why he wouldn’t play really well without any practice.”

Both teams are in desperate need of a win. Baltimore (4-5) is coming off a bye, and Cincinnati (5-4) has lost three of four.

The Bengals won the first meeting, 34-23, in Cincinnati in the second week of the season.

In that game, Flacco completed 32-of-55 passes for a season-high 376 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He was sacked four times and lost a fumble.

Jackson has seen limited action as a change of pace to Flacco’s traditional pocket passing. The rookie has completed 7 of 12 passes for 87 yards and one touchdown, and he has rushed for 139 yards and one touchdown on 28 carries.

In the first meeting, Jackson played six snaps – three at quarterback and three at wide receiver. He rushed two times for 6 yards.

“We know when Joe’s in there he’s going to stand in that pocket and try to do deep passes down the field and checkdowns,” Bengals linebacker Preston Brown told Cincinnati.com.

“That’s all you’ve really got to worry about: deep passes, checkdowns and crossing routes. But with Lamar in, you never know what you’re going to get,” Brown said.

Lewis said he has more on his mind than who winds up playing quarterback for the Ravens.

“Lamar is going to be a good, young player in the NFL,” Lewis told Cincinnati.com. “We spent a lot of time with Lamar (before the draft), but right now it’s about us, and that’s important.”

The Bengals have injury issues of their own. Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green, who had three touchdown catches in the first meeting, could miss his second consecutive game because of a toe injury. Running back Joe Mixon (knee) was limited in practice Thursday.

–Field Level Media

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Wilson, Seahawks drive past Packers

 

Russell Wilson hit tight end Ed Dickson

 

Russell Wilson hit tight end Ed Dickson for a 15-yard touchdown pass with 5:08 remaining as the Seattle Seahawks rallied from an early double-digit deficit to defeat the visiting Green Bay Packers 27-24 Thursday night.

 

The Seahawks (5-5) snapped a two-game losing streak. The Packers (4-5-1) remained winless in five road games this season.

 

Wilson completed 21 of 31 passes for 225 yards and two touchdowns. The Seahawks, who have the best rushing offense in the NFL, added 173 yards on the ground. Chris Carson, who missed the previous game due to a hip injury, led the way with 17 carries for 83 yards and a touchdown.

 

Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers amassed 332 yards and two touchdowns on 21-of-30 passing. However, Rodgers was sacked four times on third down in the second half as the Packers managed just three points after the intermission.

 

Packers receiver Davante Adams made 10 receptions for 166 yards.

 

Dickson’s TD catch capped a seven-play, 75-yard drive.

 

The Seahawks’ defense forced Green Bay into a three-and-out on its next possession, and Seattle was able to run out the clock.

 

The Packers took a 21-17 halftime lead, jumping on top when Rodgers hit running back Aaron Jones on a 24-yard scoring strike with 44 seconds left in the second quarter. It was the first time the Seahawks allowed points in the final two minutes of a half this season. Jones had three receptions for 61 yards on the drive.

 

The Seahawks scored two touchdowns in a span of 4:41 in the second quarter to overcome a 14-3 deficit. Wilson found Doug Baldwin in the back corner of the end zone for a 6-yard touchdown pass and Carson then ran for a score from 1 yard out. The first drive covered 77 yards in 14 plays and took 7:31 off the clock. The second march was three plays for 70 yards in 1:25.

 

The Packers dominated the first quarter, taking a 14-3 lead.

 

Carson fumbled on the Seahawks’ first play from scrimmage, giving the Packers the ball at the Seattle 29-yard line. Jones capped the three-play drive with an 8-yard touchdown run.

 

A 39-yard field goal by Sebastian Janikowski cut the margin to 7-3 before Rodgers scrambled to his right to avoid a sack and found fourth-string tight end Robert Tonyan for a 54-yard touchdown pass. It was the rookie’s first career catch.

 

–Field Level Media

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Bears, Vikings to battle for NFC North control

Bears, Vikings to battle for NFC North control

Bears, Vikings to battle for NFC North control

Six years have passed since the Chicago Bears enjoyed first place this late in the season.

Now, Chicago (6-3) wants to stay there. But a tough test awaits Sunday night against the visiting Minnesota Vikings (5-3-1), who are looking to win their second straight NFC North title with a strong second half.

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer is busy as he plans for an opposing offense led by first-year Bears coach Matt Nagy.

“There’s no way you can practice every one of their plays — they’ve got 800 of them for every game,” Zimmer said in comments published by the Chicago Sun-Times.

Nagy replied with a tongue-in-cheek denial.

“It’s more like 750,” he joked, according to the Sun-Times.

The matchup pits strength against strength: Chicago’s offense against Minnesota’s defense.

Chicago ranks No. 5 in the NFL with 29.9 points per game thanks in large part to a significant improvement by quarterback Mitchell Trubisky in his second season.

Trubisky is the NFC Offensive Player of the Week after completing 23 of 30 passes for a career-high 355 yards and three touchdowns last week in a 34-22 win over Detroit.

Meanwhile, Minnesota’s defense ranks No. 5 in the NFL in fewest yards allowed. The Vikings have 20 sacks in their last five games, and defensive end Danielle Hunter is second in the league with 11 1/2 sacks this season.

“Danielle is a great athlete,” Zimmer told reporters this week. “Great length, strong, physical, but he’s improved on just being reactive. He just lets it rip now, and that’s what makes him good.”

Vikings defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson takes pride in his team’s tenacity on defense.

“TV-wise, it’s probably boring,” Richardson said in comments posted on the Vikings’ website. “Guys don’t want to sit there and watch an 8-7 game, but those games (are) fun for us.”

The opposite matchup also will be intriguing as the Vikings’ offense takes on the Bears’ defense.

Minnesota ranks 12th in the league with 374.3 total yards per game. Quarterback Kirk Cousins has steered the offense with 2,685 passing yards (seventh in the NFL) and a passer rating of 102.2 (ninth in the NFL). His top target, Adam Thielen, needs only 53 receiving yards to crack the 1,000-yard barrier on the season.

The Bears also have star power on defense in the form of pass-rushing linebacker Khalil Mack. He is coming off his second multi-sack performance of the season and has excelled in seven games this season with seven sacks, four forced fumbles and an interception returned for a touchdown.

Chicago is 4-1 at home. Minnesota is 2-1-1 on the road.

–Field Level Media

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Justin Tucker repeats as AP’s best kicker

Justin Tucker stunned everyone with a miss.

The Baltimore Ravens' two-time All-Pro kicker is so good that nobody could believe it when he sliced a game-tying extra point wide right in a 24-23 loss to the Saints last month.

It was Tucker's first career miss after nailing 222 straight.

Despite the shank, Tucker

Justin Tucker stunned everyone with a miss.

The Baltimore Ravens’ two-time All-Pro kicker is so good that nobody could believe it when he sliced a game-tying extra point wide right in a 24-23 loss to the Saints last month.

It was Tucker’s first career miss after nailing 222 straight.

Despite the shank, Tucker was voted the top player in the league at his position for the second straight year by a panel of 10 football writers for The Associated Press.

“With the best numbers in NFL history despite kicking in the Northeast and outdoors, is there any question Tucker tops this list?” said New York-based writer Barry Wilner.

Tucker, the most accurate kicker in league history at 90.1 percent, received 92 points in a 10-points-to-one-point system with six of 10 first-place votes.

The next three were the same as last year’s rankings. New England’s Stephen Gostkowski, Greg Zuerlein of the Los Angeles Rams and Indianapolis’ Adam Vinatieri finished in that order.

Gostkowski received 79 points, including one first-place vote, and appeared on every ballot along with Tucker and Vinatieri.

“Gostkowski is consistent, clutch and deadly accurate,” said New York-based Dennis Waszak Jr. “He replaced Adam Vinatieri in 2006 and the Patriots’ kicking game never missed a beat.”

Zuerlein, who received 63 points, has a powerful leg and is 26 of 45 (57.7 percent) from beyond 50 yards in his career, though the Rams don’t need to call him much any longer because they find the end zone quite often.

“‘Greg the Leg’ can deliver from long range with the best of them,” San Francisco-based Josh Dubow said.

Vinatieri set a pair of NFL records this season, surpassing Hall of Famer Morten Anderson for most points and most field goals. The GOAT turns 46 on Dec. 28 and is in his 13th season with Indianapolis after 10 years in New England, where he helped the Patriots win three Super Bowls by making game-winning kicks in the final seconds in two of the wins.

Vinatieri received 55 points and a first-place vote from Simmi Buttar.

“Doesn’t matter how old he is. He’s got the most points ever in NFL history. Case closed,” said Buttar, who is based in New York.

Wil Lutz finished fifth, one point behind Vinatieri. He is 19 of 20 on field goals for the Saints. Lutz got a pair of first-place votes.

“He’s come through when called upon for a field goal, and he’s limiting opponents in the return game by consistently sending kicks into the end zone,” Nashville-based Teresa Walker said.

Carolina’s Graham Gano was sixth with 39 points. Kansas City’s Harrison Butker was seventh with 35 points. Jason Myers of the New York Jets was eighth with 25 points. Buffalo’s Stephen Hauschka came in ninth with 22 points. San Francisco’s Robbie Gould edged Pittsburgh’s Chris Boswell for 10th. Boswell is second behind Tucker on the all-time accuracy list at 87.7 percent.

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The rankings:

1. Justin Tucker, Ravens

2. Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots

3. Greg Zuerlein, Rams

4. Adam Vinatieri, Colts

5. Wil Lutz, Saints

6. Graham Gano, Panthers

7. Harrison Butker, Chiefs

8. Jason Myers, Jets

9. Stephen Hauschka, Bills

10. Robbie Gould, 49ers

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More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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After huge 1st half, Packers go silent in loss to Seahawks

SEATTLE (AP) — Aaron Rodgers did what he liked for the first 30 minutes. He threw a pair of touchdowns, including a 54-yarder on the run to an unknown tight end for his first NFL catch. His passer rating was nearly perfect. Green Bay looked like it could score on every drive.

And

SEATTLE (AP) — Aaron Rodgers did what he liked for the first 30 minutes. He threw a pair of touchdowns, including a 54-yarder on the run to an unknown tight end for his first NFL catch. His passer rating was nearly perfect. Green Bay looked like it could score on every drive.

And then it almost completely stopped. Rodgers was unable to solve Seattle in the second half, and was left to watch Russell Wilson lead another late touchdown drive and send the Packers back home with a loss.

“It’s tough losing on the road. It’s tough losing by one possession,” Rodgers said. “Obviously I’m frustrated, and not just by the last throw, but some other stuff that we could have done better out there. I still believe we have a lot to play for.”

Green Bay’s road woes continued in a 27-24 loss to the Seahawks on Thursday night. The Packers (4-5-1) had leads of 14-3 and 21-17, only to see Wilson throw a 15-yard TD pass to Ed Dickson with 5:08 remaining to give Seattle the lead for good.

The Packers still had a chance to get out of Seattle with its first win here since 2008, yet their final possession lasted all of three plays. And it was the last pass by Rodgers that seemed to baffle everyone.

Facing third-and-2 at its own 33, Rodgers called a quick pass to the flat for Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Except the pass never got there. It hopped in front of the intended receiver, and instead of going for it on fourth down, Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy opted to punt with more than 4 minutes remaining and the Packers still having one timeout.

The decision backfired. Green Bay never saw the ball again, instead forced to watch Wilson kneel three times to run out the clock.

Rodgers said the pass for Valdes-Scantling “stuck” in his hand and guessed he could make that throw 100 times and that wouldn’t happen again.

“We beat ourselves in the second half,” Rodgers said. “We kind of moved the ball at will in the first half.”

Green Bay’s problems went well beyond that one bad throw by Rodgers and the decision to punt. Rodgers was sacked five times, four of those in the second half. Twice in the third quarter Green Bay was forced to punt after drives stalled at midfield. The Packers were 3 of 11 on third downs, 2 of 7 in the second half. A week after Aaron Jones rushed for a career-high 145 yards, the Packers had just 48 yards rushing and Jones finished with 40.

Green Bay is 0-5 on the road this season and has lost seven straight road games dating to last year.

“I think it kind of went the way we thought it would go. When you’re playing in this environment, particularly when you’re on the road up here. There’s a high tendency for big-momentum plays, big swings, and I think that definitely held true,” McCarthy said. “They made more big plays than we did. … We’ve got to finish games better, especially in the fourth quarter, and especially on the road.”

Rodgers finished with 332 yards passing and his TD throw to Robert Tonyan in the first quarter, and his 57-yard strike to Davante Adams in the fourth quarter showed again the greatness of his arm. But Rodgers had 214 yards at halftime and Seattle was able to pressure Rodgers enough in the second half to disrupt Green Bay’s passing attack.

Injuries certainly didn’t help either. Green Bay was already down four starters before the first snaps with cornerback Kevin King, safety Kentrell Brice, linebacker Nick Perry and wide receiver Randall Cobb all out due to injuries. They lost two more in the first half when Bashaud Breeland — starting for King — aggravated a groin injury and Jimmy Graham injured his thumb. Graham had a 13-yard reception on Green Bay’s first offensive play in his return to Seattle, but that was his only catch.

Mike Daniels suffered a foot injury early in the second half and backup safety Raven Greene suffered an ankle injury. Neither returned. If there’s an upside to the loss, it’s Green Bay getting extra rest before facing Minnesota in a must-win game next week.

“We have a number of opportunities where our record would be very different right now, unfortunately, that’s the way it’s played out,” Clay Matthews said. “We’ve set ourselves up for a pretty good second half, we just have to get back to work. We have no other option. On to Minnesota after a couple days rest.”

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Potential classic on Monday night in Chiefs-Rams, now in LA

What some are calling the NFL's Game of the Year already has made huge headlines by being moved out of Mexico City because of poor playing conditions. Chiefs-Rams is back in Los Angeles, in prime time and, if it lives up to its billing, could be a wild, high-scoring affair.

Regardless of who

What some are calling the NFL’s Game of the Year already has made huge headlines by being moved out of Mexico City because of poor playing conditions. Chiefs-Rams is back in Los Angeles, in prime time and, if it lives up to its billing, could be a wild, high-scoring affair.

Regardless of who wins, both clubs figure to be in the Super Bowl mix. And because of the extracurriculars associated with Monday night’s meeting, perhaps it won’t be a fair measurement which is the superior team.

Who cares?

For a mid-November match, fans can’t ask for much better than a pair of 9-1 teams with powerhouse offenses and stars galore — leading MVP contenders Todd Gurley of Los Angeles and Patrick Mahomes of Kansas City for starters — going at it as the only show in town. No matter which town.

It’s the first meeting in NFL history this late in a season between two teams averaging 33 points per game.

“He’s made some plays that you sit back and you can’t help but just say, ‘Wow, what a great play,'” Rams coach Sean McVay says of Mahomes, who leads the NFL in yards passing (3,150). Rams QB Jared Goff is second (3,134).

Mahomes set a Chiefs record with an NFL-best 31st TD pass of the season last week. Len Dawson had held that KC record since 1964.

Gurley paces the NFL in scoring (108 points), yards rushing (988), carries (198), yards from scrimmage (1,390) and touchdowns (17). He has scored a touchdown in 13 consecutive games, extending his own franchise record.

“He is a heck of a player. A great player,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid says when asked how to slow Gurley. “You have to be disciplined. They’re a disciplined offense, so you have to be disciplined from a defensive standpoint. Then practice that way and then you go play.”

OK, guys, go play. Let America watch what could be a classic.

The weekend began Thursday night with Seattle’s 27-24 home victory over Green Bay. Russell Wilson threw for 225 yards and his 15-yard touchdown pass to Ed Dickson with 5:08 left was the difference. Seattle (5-5) snapped a two-game losing streak. Green Bay dropped to 4-5-1.

Off this week are New England (7-3), the New York Jets (3-7), Miami (5-5), Cleveland (3-6-1), San Francisco (2-8) and Buffalo (3-7).

MINNESOTA (5-3-1) at CHICAGO (6-3)

We soon will find out if the Bears are for real. They are on top of the NFC North, now face the defending division winners, then in a ridiculously short turnaround from Sunday night, they play the early Thanksgiving Day game at Detroit. They also have the Rams and Packers on the road in December.

Two of the NFL’s stingiest and most physical defenses should be main factors Sunday.

Minnesota has allowed an average of only 252.5 yards over last four games, winning three. It did so missing some starters. Safety Harrison Smith likes seeing the Bears: Smith has four interceptions and six passes defended in 10 career games vs. Chicago.

Chicago dropped 10 in a row against the NFC North before beating Detroit last Sunday. It leads the NFL with 16 interceptions, and ranks second with 24 takeaways.

HOUSTON (6-3) at WASHINGTON (6-3)

Two also-rans of 2017 now leading their divisions.

The Texans have won six in a row and come off a bye. Key personnel such as DE J.J. Watt and QB Deshaun Watson were injured last year and are now playing at peak efficiency.

If Watson gets time to throw — Houston has surrendered 30 sacks — DeAndre Hopkins will be the biggest challenge to cover. He has four games with 10-plus catches, 100-plus yards and a touchdown through the air. That’s most in the league since the start of 2017, and Hopkins has five TD catches over the past four games. .

Washington has showed some balance on offense, but the defense has been a major factor in its strong year. It has forced a turnover in 13 consecutive games, the NFL’s longest active streak.

TENNESSEE (5-4) at INDIANAPOLIS (4-5)

Suddenly, there’s a race in the AFC South, and the Colts could get even more involved with a fourth consecutive victory. But the Titans, coming off their best game by far in an upset of the Patriots, have won six straight within the division.

Of course, Andrew Luck was not in the lineup for any of those; Luck is 9-0 in starts against Tennessee.

“I’m aware of it,” Luck says. “But what’s happened has happened, and good, bad or ugly, it doesn’t really matter.”

The Titans have the league’s No. 1 scoring defense, allowing 16.8 points a game, and have yielded a league-low 16 touchdowns.

PHILADELPHIA (4-5) at NEW ORLEANS (8-1)

New Orleans looks like the NFL’s top team right now, and the Eagles don’t resemble their title-winning squad of last season.

Injuries are damaging Philly’s defense at a really bad time. A banged-up secondary takes on Drew Brees and his assortment of helpers. The Saints have scored at least 40 points in five games this season, the third team in NFL history to score 40 in five of the first nine. Brees is completing 77.1 percent of his passes, has thrown for 21 TDs with one interception, and has a 123.8 passer rating.

Michael Thomas is tied for the NFL lead with 78 catches, ranks second with 950 yards, while Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram form a formidable and versatile backfield.

PITTSBURGH (6-2-1) at JACKSONVILLE (3-6)

The Steelers will be wise to look forward and not back at their last encounter with the Jaguars. Jacksonville beat Pittsburgh twice last season, including a 45-42 playoff shocker at Heinz Field.

Thinking revenge would be foolish because the Steelers are on a roll. Well, so are the Jags: Pittsburgh has won five in a row, Jacksonville has dropped that many consecutively.

Steelers running back James Conner has not allowed the team to regret the contract impasse that has led to Le’Veon Bell sitting out the season. Conner is the eighth player in team history with at least 10 rushing touchdowns, leads the AFC in rushing, and is expected to play after being placed in concussion protocol following last week’s win over Carolina.

CINCINNATI (5-4) at BALTIMORE (4-5)

Cincinnati brings an historically leaky defense to Baltimore, which might be without regular quarterback Joe Flacco (hip). That would mean either first-round pick Lamar Jackson or veteran Robert Griffin III will try to further expose that Bengals unit.

The Bengals have won eight of the last 10 in the series, but they fired first-year defensive coordinator Teryl Austin after a 51-14 loss to the Saints, the second-most points allowed in franchise history. They became the first team in the Super Bowl era to give up 500 yards in three straight games and are on pace to give up an NFL-record 7,273 yards.

Head coach Marvin Lewis takes over defensive coordinator duties, too.

DALLAS (4-5) at ATLANTA (4-5)

The Falcons appeared ready to take a role in the playoff race with three successive wins. Then, they put forth a stinker at Cleveland.

Meanwhile, the Cowboys seemed headed toward irrelevance before they went into Philadelphia and outplayed the Super Bowl champions.

Dallas will want to run with Zeke Elliott, who’s second in the NFL in rushing behind Gurley after gaining 151 yards against the Eagles. Atlanta will want to throw: Matt Ryan has seven games with a QB rating over 100 and six games with more than 300 yards passing, while Julio Jones became the fastest player in NFL history with more than 10,000 yards receiving.

CAROLINA (6-3) at DETROIT (3-6)

Both teams would like to forget last week’s poor performances.

Carolina leads this infrequent series 6-2 and remains in good position in the wild-card race with a victory. Detroit needs an immediate turnaround to get into contention.

If this is close, expect Cam Newton and Co. to win. Since 2013, the Panthers are 26-14 in games decided by seven points or fewer. They have won five straight games decided by three or fewer.

Newton has thrown at least two TD passes in eight straight games, the longest streak in franchise history.

DENVER (3-6) at LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (7-2)

While the Rams grab the headlines in LA, the Chargers keep grabbing victories. They could get help in the AFC West if their neighbors knock off KC, too.

The Chargers are a league-best 13-3 since Week 9 of last season. Their six-game winning streak marks the 11th time since the merger they had a streak of six or more. Philip Rivers has thrown for two or more TDs in nine straight games. Only five quarterbacks in league history have a string of 10 or more games.

TAMPA BAY (3-6) at NEW YORK GIANTS (2-7)

Saturday’s Notre Dame-Syracuse matchup in the New York area figures to be more fun than this, although the Bucs usually pile up the yards in passing offense and the Giants come off a stirring Eli Manning-led comeback win.

Tampa has lost three in row and six of seven, while New York broke a five-game slide on Monday night. Bucs wideouts Mike Evans (13 catches for 217 yards and a TD in two games) and DeSean Jackson (five touchdowns in the last six games) have feasted on the Giants’ defense.

OAKLAND (1-8) at ARIZONA (2-7)

The lowest-ranked teams in the AP Pro32 face off with the Cardinals coming off a solid effort at Kansas City. The Raiders? They seem to have fallen into the Black Hole, outscored 54-9 in the last two games.

Cardinals star Larry Fitzgerald needs eight receptions to surpass Jerry Rice for the most catches for one team.

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Packers-Seahawks Stats

Green Bay 14 7 0 3—24
Seattle 3 14 0 10—27
First Quarter

GB_A.Jones 8 run (Crosby kick), 13:46.

Sea_FG Janikowski 39, 6:00.

GB_Tonyan 54 pass from Rodgers (Crosby kick), 3:10.

Second Quarter

Sea_Baldwin 6 pass from Wilson (Janikowski kick), 8:03.

Green Bay 14 7 0 3—24
Seattle 3 14 0 10—27
First Quarter

GB_A.Jones 8 run (Crosby kick), 13:46.

Sea_FG Janikowski 39, 6:00.

GB_Tonyan 54 pass from Rodgers (Crosby kick), 3:10.

Second Quarter

Sea_Baldwin 6 pass from Wilson (Janikowski kick), 8:03.

Sea_C.Carson 1 run (Janikowski kick), 3:22.

GB_A.Jones 24 pass from Rodgers (Crosby kick), :44.

Fourth Quarter

Sea_FG Janikowski 43, 12:14.

GB_FG Crosby 36, 8:23.

Sea_E.Dickson 15 pass from Wilson (Janikowski kick), 5:08.

A_69,007.

___

GB Sea
First downs 14 23
Total Net Yards 359 378
Rushes-yards 13-48 35-173
Passing 311 205
Punt Returns 3-31 0-0
Kickoff Returns 1-20 2-47
Interceptions Ret. 0-0 0-0
Comp-Att-Int 21-30-0 21-31-0
Sacked-Yards Lost 5-21 3-20
Punts 6-47.3 4-52.0
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 2-1
Penalties-Yards 5-80 6-30
Time of Possession 25:42 34:18

___

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING_Green Bay, A.Jones 11-40, J.Williams 1-5, Rodgers 1-3. Seattle, C.Carson 17-83, Penny 8-46, M.Davis 4-26, Wilson 5-17, Lockett 1-1.

PASSING_Green Bay, Rodgers 21-30-0-332. Seattle, Wilson 21-31-0-225.

RECEIVING_Green Bay, D.Adams 10-166, A.Jones 5-63, Kendricks 2-12, Tonyan 1-54, St. Brown 1-16, Graham 1-13, Valdes-Scantling 1-8. Seattle, Baldwin 7-52, Lockett 5-71, D.Moore 4-57, M.Davis 2-24, Vannett 1-17, E.Dickson 1-15, Wilson 1-(minus 11).

MISSED FIELD GOALS_Green Bay, Crosby 47.

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Wilson caps Seattle’s rally past Green Bay for 27-24 win

SEATTLE (AP) — After a shaky beginning, Russell Wilson got hot in the fourth quarter and kept the Seattle Seahawks in the middle of the NFC playoff race.

Wilson threw for 225 yards and his 15-yard touchdown pass to Ed Dickson with 5:08 left was the difference in the Seahawks' 27-24 victory over

SEATTLE (AP) — After a shaky beginning, Russell Wilson got hot in the fourth quarter and kept the Seattle Seahawks in the middle of the NFC playoff race.

Wilson threw for 225 yards and his 15-yard touchdown pass to Ed Dickson with 5:08 left was the difference in the Seahawks’ 27-24 victory over the Green Bay Packers on Thursday night.

In a key matchup in the battle for the two NFC wild-card spots, Seattle (5-5) snapped a two-game losing streak by overcoming an early 14-3 deficit. Wilson was shaky at times early game, but was outstanding in the fourth quarter, capping the winning drive by recognizing a blitz and hitting Dickson quickly for his second TD pass of the night. Seattle still has not lost three straight games since the middle of the 2011 season.

Aaron Rodgers had a huge first half for Green Bay (4-5-1) and threw for 332 yards, but the Packers had just one scoring drive in the second half, helped by a 57-yard strike from Rodgers to Davante Adams. Rodgers threw a pair of touchdown passes in the first half, but never got the ball back after Green Bay punted with 4:20 left.

Seattle ran out the clock thanks to a pair of runs from Mike Davis.

Chris Carson rushed for 83 yards and a touchdown, overcoming the mistake of fumbling on the first play of the game and setting up Green Bay’s opening score. Tyler Lockett had two key receptions late in the fourth quarter and Doug Baldwin had his first TD catch of the season for Seattle.

Rodgers was 21-of-30 passing with 10 of those going to Adams for 166 yards receiving. Backup tight end Robert Tonyan had the first catch of his career go for a 54-yard touchdown to give Green Bay an early 14-3 lead. The Packers led 21-17 at halftime after Jones caught a 24-yard TD pass from Rodgers in the final minute of the half, but Green Bay’s offense was stymied in the second half.

The Packers gained just 114 yards in the second half, half coming on the one throw from Rodgers to Adams. That pass set up Mason Crosby’s 36-yard field goal with 8:23 left, but Wilson had one more answer.

Wilson hit Lockett on consecutive plays for 18 yards — to convert a third-down — and 34 yards to the Green Bay 16. Two plays later, facing another third-and-long, Wilson recognized the blitz and hit Dickson quickly over the middle to put Seattle in front.

That proved to be enough. On Green Bay’s next drive, Rodgers short-hopped a pass on third-and-2. Rather than going for it on fourth-down, Mike McCarthy opted to punt despite having just one time out. Seattle never gave the ball back.

INJURIES

Green Bay was down four starters with CB Kevin King, S Kentrell Brice, LB Nick Perry and WR Randall Cobb all out due to injuries. They lost two more in the first half when Bashaud Breeland — starting for King — aggravated a groin injury and Jimmy Graham injured his thumb. Graham had a 13-yard reception on Green Bay’s first offensive play in his return to Seattle, but that was his only catch.

Mike Daniels suffered a foot injury early in the second half and backup safety Raven Greene suffered an ankle injury. Neither returned.

UP NEXT

Packers: At Minnesota on Nov. 25.

Seahawks: At Carolina on Nov. 25.

___

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Giants seek rare win streak as Bucs visit

Giants seek rare win streak as Bucs visit

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Giants seek rare win streak as Bucs visit

There’s plenty of string to be played out for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New York Giants, and they’ll use up another week of it Sunday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

Tampa Bay is 3-6, losers of six of the past seven. New York is 2-7, and it needed a fourth-quarter comeback to earn its second win Monday night at San Francisco. Both teams are a lot closer to being on the clock for next spring’s NFL draft than they are of being in any kind of playoff race.

However, even bad teams still have things for which to play. In the Buccaneers’ case, it’s another week of trying to save the job of embattled coach Dirk Koetter. For the Giants, it’s a chance to win consecutive games for the first time this year.

“The thing is, we got to keep getting better, and I think we have gotten better,” New York left tackle Nate Solder said. “This has got to be another (positive) week. We can’t stay stagnant, we can’t get worse. We got to keep continuing to improve.”

The Sunday contest has the potential of being a high-scoring game. Coming off a three-TD game Monday night, Giants quarterback Eli Manning gets an opportunity to pick on a Tampa Bay pass defense that has been a blinking green light all year. What’s more, the Buccaneers might not have their best linebacker, Lavonte David.

A knee injury kept David off the practice field both Wednesday and Thursday.

Tampa Bay has an explosive offense with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing to the likes of Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson and emerging tight end O.J. Howard. However, the Buccaneers have been plagued by a failure to convert in the red zone and a league-worst minus-19 turnover ratio.

In a 16-3 home loss to the Washington Redskins last week, Tampa Bay accomplished the wondrous feat of gaining 501 yards yet managing just a field goal. Fitzpatrick completed 29 of 41 passes for 406 yards but mixed in two interceptions and a lost fumble.

“Turnovers are killing us right now,” Koetter said. “We’re last in the league with 13 in the last four games. Thirteen turnovers and no takeaways. That’s by far the No. 1 thing that’s hurting our team. We’ve talked about it many times.”

The game marks the return of Buccaneers defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul to the Meadowlands. Pierre-Paul notched 58 1/2 sacks in eight years for New York before being traded to Tampa Bay in March.

He sent a message Thursday to Manning: “I’m coming, Eli. … The new rules, you’ve got to lay him down, so I’ll lay him down if I get there. … I know one thing, if (Manning) is hot, he’s on, he’s going to continue to be hot. We’ve got to get after them early.”

–Field Level Media

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Rams, Chiefs set to light up scoreboard in L.A.

Rams, Chiefs set to light up scoreboard in L.A.

Rams, Chiefs set to light up scoreboard in L.A.

The biggest storyline going into one of the biggest NFL clashes to date this season is that the game will actually be played in the United States.

Concerns over field conditions prompted league office to pull the matchup between the Los Angeles Rams and Kansas City Chiefs (sporting matching 9-1 records) out of Mexico City. The Rams now get a Monday night home game in what promises to be an offensive showcase.

“We were excited about the opportunity to play in Mexico City,” Rams coach Sean McVay said, “but I think it’s a great demonstration of the league’s consideration for our players.”

Defensive prowess will be measured in punts forced in a game featuring quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes and Jared Goff, who rank 1-2 in the NFL in passing yards, and running backs Kareem Hunt (the reigning NFL rushing champion) and Todd Gurley (the current leader in rushing yards).

“You want to compete against these teams because they are going to be the teams that are there at the end of the season,” Mahomes said.

The competition has seemed alarmingly easy for Mahomes to solve thus far. The Chiefs’ only defeat came in a last-second loss at New England. Their first-year starting quarterback leads the NFL in passing yards (3,150) and touchdowns (31) while showing off improvisational skills that accentuate dangerous targets such as tight end Travis Kelce and wide receiver Tyreek Hill.

“Opponents are going to present something that you have to work on and get answered there pretty quick during a game and make your adjustments,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “That normally goes on for a couple years (with a young quarterback). He has done a nice job of working through it.”

The 34.5 passes the Chiefs attempt on average could spell trouble for Mahomes if the Rams’ defense generates pressure against a battered Kansas City offensive front. One counter against Rams standout Aaron Donald and his teammates along the Los Angeles defensive front could be to get Hunt rolling since the Rams are allowing 5.2 yards per carry.

Gurley is averaging 98.8 yards rushing with 17 total touchdowns and will look to do plenty of running for the Rams, who practiced in Colorado Springs while expecting to play in the Mexico City altitude.

Goff has thrown for 3,134 yards and 22 touchdowns.

The matchup could also factor into Most Valuable Player voting, as well — though more than month remains in the regular season and both teams still face strong challenges in their pursuits to become top playoff seeds in their respective conferences.

Adding to the intrigue is the presence of Rams cornerback Marcus Peters, who played in Kansas City the three previous seasons and was Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2015 and first-team All-Pro in 2016.

“You don’t ignore the fact that this is his former team,” McVay said of Peters, whom the Rams acquired via a trade in the offseason, “and that naturally comes with some other feelings just based on the history and relationships that you have.”

Mahomes was listed with a foot injury on the Chiefs injury report but fully participated in practice. Wide receiver Sammy Watkins (foot) and linebacker Anthony Hitchens (ribs) should play.

Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp will miss the remainder of the season with a torn ACL suffered last week against Seattle. Another receiver, Josh Reynolds (knee) is expected to play.

–Field Level Media

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NFL notebook: Steelers actually secured Bell’s belongings

NFL notebook: Steelers actually secured Bell's belongings

NFL notebook: Steelers actually secured Bell’s belongings

Unable to lock up Le’Veon Bell to a new contract, the Pittsburgh Steelers are making sure they at least lock up his belongings. Even if it is a day too late.

A day after video surfaced showing Steelers players purportedly raiding their former teammate’s locker, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported Thursday that most of Bell’s items were actually “packed up and placed in the back of team headquarters, with former teammates scoring a few pairs of cleats and not much more during Wednesday’s raid.”

Bell did not sign his $14.5 million tender before Tuesday’s deadline and will sit out the remainder of the season. On Wednesday, teammates reportedly removed Bell’s nameplate from his locker and treated themselves to numerous items in his locker, including cleats, CDs, shirts and a suit.

But center and team captain Maurkice Pouncey told Fowler that Bell’s items will likely be shipped directly to Bell, which is customary when a player is no longer with a team.

–Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins returned to practice and there’s a “pretty good chance” he will play against the Los Angeles Rams on Monday night, coach Andy Reid said.

Watkins, who played with the Rams last season, missed last Sunday’s win against the Arizona Cardinals with a foot injury.

Watkins has 39 receptions for 515 yards and three touchdowns this season, including 100-yard games against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 2 and the Denver Broncos in Week 8.

Linebacker Anthony Hitchens (ribs) also returned to practice. Center Mitch Morse (concussion) did not participate.

–Former Atlanta Falcons defensive end Tim Green, later a broadcaster for Fox Sports, was diagnosed with ALS.

“While the football field is far away, I find myself in a formidable struggle,” Green wrote in a Facebook post Wednesday. “For the past five years I’ve been coping with some neurological problems in my hands. At first the doctors thought the damage I’d done to my elbows in football was the culprit, so they operated to release the nerves, but the issue persisted and my voice began to weaken as well. That’s the only reason I’ve had to stop visiting schools to talk with kids. Finally, I was diagnosed with ALS.”

Green started 71 games in the NFL and retired in 1993. He worked for Fox and on Good Morning America, penned a book, “The Dark Side of the Game: My Life in the NFL,” and earned his law degree. Green was a two-time All-American at Syracuse and the 17th overall draft pick in 1986.

–The Indianapolis Colts signed former Atlanta Falcons cornerback Jalen Collins to their practice squad.

Collins, 25, has served multiple league suspensions since the Falcons drafted him in the second round out of LSU in 2015. Atlanta released him last November and he was suspended for the first 10 games in 2018. Collins has played in 24 games (eight starts) and registered 43 tackles and two interceptions.

In a corresponding move, the Colts released quarterback Phillip Walker from the practice squad.

–Dallas Cowboys center Travis Frederick, diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome before the start of the season, said he has regained feeling in his hands for the first time in months.

“It’s starting to come back in my hands a little bit here, which is good,” the four-time Pro Bowl player told the Dallas Morning News. “Now it’s more just numbness, no tingling, and it’s more in the tips.”

Frederick, 27, said he still has no sensation in his feet, but he remains optimistic about a full recovery. He has been with the Cowboys since they drafted him in the first round out of Wisconsin in 2013. He started all 80 regular season games and three playoff games in his first five seasons.

–Field Level Media

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Defensive adjustments have fueled recent surge by Vikings

EAGAN, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota's fumble gave Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions a fresh set of downs early in the fourth quarter two weeks ago, another opportunity to start climbing back into the game.

Though they held an 11-point lead, the Vikings had been unable to pull away. On the first play

EAGAN, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota’s fumble gave Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions a fresh set of downs early in the fourth quarter two weeks ago, another opportunity to start climbing back into the game.

Though they held an 11-point lead, the Vikings had been unable to pull away. On the first play after the change of possession, Stafford faked a handoff to Kerryon Johnson and rolled out to his right.

With a hard stop, Stafford pivoted and threw back to his left where Johnson was waiting for the screen pass with four blockers within 5 yards of him. Vikings defensive tackle Tom Johnson wasn’t fooled, though.

He kept his eyes on the running back the entire time, closing in to make the tackle for a 6-yard loss as soon as the ball was caught. Five plays later, with the Lions still in their own territory, defensive end Danielle Hunter scooped up a fumble and returned it for a victory-sealing touchdown.

When the Vikings beat the Lions 24-9 that afternoon, the most encouraging development entering their week off was the start-to-finish dominance by a defense that didn’t look like its usual self in the first quarter of the season. That rollout screen play that Johnson blew up went for big gains against the Vikings a few times earlier in the fall. Coach Mike Zimmer and his staff put plenty of work into adjusting the scheme and the calls after in light of the vulnerabilities that arose in September.

The Vikings allowed a season-low 209 yards to the Lions. Their next three lowest totals all came over the three previous games.

“There’s a lot of teams now that are playing a style of defense similar to us. Now, all these offenses are attacking these defenses pretty much the same way. So we’ve had to adjust and change coverages,” Zimmer said, adding: “Luckily, our players have been able to execute it.”

The 4-3 system that Zimmer largely used throughout his time as defensive coordinator for Dallas and Cincinnati gained fame by the novel use of the double A-gap blitz that send the inside linebackers as pass rushers on both sides of the center.

As more and more teams began to integrate that concept, the added exposure around the league gave opponents more opportunities to strategize about how to block it. Zimmer estimated that 10 or 12 other teams around the NFL now use a form of what his original base defense was.

As for the Double-A gap blitz, Zimmer has rarely called one of those this season. One alternative that has worked well has been to overload one side of the line and use a defensive back to rush like Harrison Smith or Mackensie Alexander, who had the only one of 10 sacks of Stafford what wasn’t from a defensive lineman.

“Everybody copies if you’ve been good,” Zimmer said, adding: “You see a gradual thing. I’ve had many coaches say they watch our blitz tape every week to see what we’re doing. That’s kind of how it starts.”

General manager Rick Spielman will often join Zimmer for his 5:30 a.m. film review of the previous game on Monday mornings, and this season he’s been witness to perhaps more scheming than usual.

“It’s pretty incredible to see how they evolve things and why they evolve it,” Spielman said.

The Vikings (5-3-1) play at Chicago (6-3) on Sunday night for control of the NFC North, and they’ll need the defense to keep this up.

“We’re recognizing the plays and understanding the downs and distances, getting to the ball, getting to the quarterback,” cornerback Xavier Rhodes said. “We’re in great coverage. We’re aggressive. Once we call a blitz, we’re aggressive all the way around. We’re just being us. We’re finding our identity. We had it, but we were making errors in the beginning of the season and now we’re trying to minimize those.”

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Surging Saints brace for desperate Eagles

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — If the Philadelphia Eagles are to snap out of their Super Bowl hangover and re-establish a measure of credibility to their title defense, this would be the week to do it.

The Eagles (4-5) visit the Superdome on Sunday to take on the Saints (8-1), whose eight straight victories

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — If the Philadelphia Eagles are to snap out of their Super Bowl hangover and re-establish a measure of credibility to their title defense, this would be the week to do it.

The Eagles (4-5) visit the Superdome on Sunday to take on the Saints (8-1), whose eight straight victories represent the longest active winning streak in the NFL.

When the season began, the Eagles’ visit looked like one of the tougher games on New Orleans’ schedule. Now, odds makers are listing the surging Saints, who lead the NFL in scoring with 36.7 points per game, as favorites by more than a touchdown.

Still, the Saints sound wary of underestimating the team that upended the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl just nine months ago.

“They’re still a good team no matter what their record is,” Saints running back Alvin Kamara insisted. “They wouldn’t have won last year if they didn’t have the talent.”

Kamara’s take is no surprise to Philadelphia coach Doug Pederson, who asserted that when you’re the defending champs, “you get everybody’s best each week.”

Pederson even recalled pep-talks he gave his team last season in which he said, “Listen, if you want to be one of the best teams in the league, we have to beat the best. And I know teams are saying that about us, and we just haven’t lived up to how we’re capable of playing in a couple of situations this year.”

They need to start living up to their capabilities now. A loss in New Orleans, combined with a Washington win, would put the Eagles three games down in the NFC East with six games left.

That makes Philadelphia the more desperate team in this game, and in the NFL, a combination of talent and desperation can be dangerous.

“They are a prideful group. They know how to win,” Saints quarterback Drew Brees said. “They have a ton of playmakers over there. We have our work cut out for us and we know what type of game it’s going to be. We know they’re coming in hungry for a win. Both teams have a lot to play for.”

Some other key story lines in the Eagles-Saints matchup:

SLOW STARTS

The Eagles have scored only 21 points in the first quarter, including 14 against the Giants after a turnover set up a short field. Pederson scripts the first 15 plays and they have often resulted in more negative yards than positive.

Pederson said he bases his script on watching film of the opponent and tries to avoid repeating play calls and giving away indicators. It’s not working.

“In the case of some of our struggles, it has just been our execution,” Pederson said. “How we start games, that’s where the urgency, I think, coaches, players, everybody involved really needs to sort of heighten, so that we can stay on the field and go down and score points.”

BREES APPRECIATION

Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz didn’t have to spend a lot of time watching highlights of Brees throwing interceptions or getting sacked. Brees has one pick and he’s been sacked nine times, none in the past three games.

“He’s playing at an insane level right now,” Schwartz said. “Extremely accurate quarterback, smart, knows where to go with the ball. Still has good mobility, can buy time.”

It doesn’t help Philadelphia’s case that starting cornerback Ronald Darby went down with a torn ACL last week. Jalen Mills, the starter opposite Darby, has been limited by a foot injury. Starting nickel cornerback Sidney Jones has missed the past three games because of a hamstring injury. Also, starting safety Rodney McLeod already was lost for the season with a knee injury.

“We’ve got some young players that need to fill in and make their way in the league,” Schwartz said. “Our job as players and coaches is work to find a formula that works for the guys that we have.”

LINE ITEMS

The Saints enter the game without starting left tackle Terron Armstead, who left last week’s victory in Cincinnati with an unspecified shoulder injury. Coach Sean Payton declined to update Armstead’s condition this week, but he did not practice and reportedly could miss several weeks. Filling in is Jermon Bushrod, who was a first-year starter at left tackle on the Saints 2009 Super Bowl team. He left in free agency several years ago, only to return this season as a reserve.

“For him to step in, he’s ready for that,” Brees said. “We’re used to that and we’re ready to go.”

INGRAM’S INFLUENCE

The Saints are rushing for more than 140 yards per game since veteran running back Mark Ingram returned from a four-game suspension to start the season. His return has eased the workload on Alvin Kamara, leaving both players relatively fresh during games. In a 51-14 victory at Cincinnati last week, Ingram gained 104 yards on 13 carries to go with three catches for 58 yards, including a 28-yard TD.

“I feel like we’re getting in a groove,” Ingram said. “We have a great team, we have great players, and I just want to be on point so I can help us win.”

MARSHALL PLAN

The Saints have given 34-year-old free agent receiver Brandon Marshall a chance to join their prolific passing game . The 6-foot-5 Marshall has had eight 1,000-yard seasons, but he didn’t fit in with Seattle, which released him seven games into the season. Time will tell how he meshes with the record-setting Brees.

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AP Pro Football Writer Rob Maaddi contributed to this report.

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Steelers have reason to overlook Jaguars now

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Even if the memory is still fresh, the temptation is there for Pittsburgh to overlook the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Steelers might have been guilty of that in January in the AFC divisional playoffs. Mike Mitchell and Le'Veon Bell talked more about a rematch in the conference title game against

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Even if the memory is still fresh, the temptation is there for Pittsburgh to overlook the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Steelers might have been guilty of that in January in the AFC divisional playoffs. Mike Mitchell and Le’Veon Bell talked more about a rematch in the conference title game against New England than the Jaguars, who had beaten them soundly at home earlier in the year. The Jaguars beat them again, 45-42.

Never mind that both players are not gone, Mitchell signing with the Colts and Bell not signing his $14.5 million franchise tender and sitting out the season.

“Hopefully, people get the memo on that and respect these guys, because all they’ve done is kick our butt the last two times we’ve played them,” Steelers guard David DeCastro said. “I don’t know that there’s much to talk about, playing at their place. It’s going to be a tough game. They’re a really good defense, especially for us.”

But there is much to talk about.

The Steelers are soaring. After a sluggish start, they have won five straight games, including a 52-21 victory a week ago Thursday against the Carolina Panthers when Ben Roethlisberger had a perfect quarterbacking rating for the first time in nearly 11 years.

“They’re going to come in with a chip on their shoulder,” Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette said.

The Jaguars more closely resemble the team that went nine straight seasons without reaching the playoffs than a team that was one quarter away from beating New England and reaching its first Super Bowl.

From a 3-1 start, the Jaguars have lost five in a row. And while they still have the top-rated pass defense in the league, they looked bumbling at times last week in a 29-26 loss at Indianapolis thanks to busted coverages and confusion.

Jacksonville can’t afford another loss if it wants to return to the playoffs. And it can’t afford to live in the past, whether it’s the 30-9 victory at Heinz Field last year when it intercepted Roethlisberger five times and Fournette ran for 181 yards, or the postseason win.

“Our margin for error is zero,” Jacksonville defensive tackle Calais Campbell said. “But we have the ability to do something special. We have to bury the past and just look forward. With our team, our coaches and the way we prepare, I don’t see why we can’t make it happen.”

The Steelers are favored to win, just like the last two times. No one is talking about that on either side.

MOVING ON

The Steelers no longer have the absence of Bell hanging over them. He won’t play this season after declining to sign his one-year, $14.5 million franchise tag. They’ve managed just fine with second-year running back James Conner, second in the NFL in yards from scrimmage. His 10 rushing touchdowns are more than Bell ever had in a single season.

Conner’s rise put him in a bit of an awkward spot. He considers Bell a friend and wanted no part of the narrative that he and Bell would be at odds if Bell opted to return. Now that the possibility of them reuniting is out of the way, Conner feels free to just go about his business.

“I’m excited we’ve got more football to play,” Conner said. “I earn everything. Nothing was given to me. I’m going to be doing the same thing I’ve been doing every week.”

FOURNETTE FORGES AHEAD

One reason for the Jaguars’ sluggish start has been the absence of Fournette, not only a bruising runner but an explosive one. He broke off a 90-yard score last year against the Steelers in that 30-9 victory.

Fournette played parts of two games this year and had 20 carries. He returned last week and rushed 24 times and caught five passes.

“There no pitch count,” Fournette said, adding that his hamstring felt strong.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin says the Jaguars’ turnover margin — minus 11 — is one reason for the 3-6 start. Another was the absence of Fournette.

“When you lose your feature runner, particularly one of his caliber, it affects you and it affects you in negative ways,” Tomlin said.

ON THE ROPES

The Jaguars are three games behind Houston in the AFC South and have lost to every team in the division, putting their playoff hopes in serious jeopardy.

“We put a lot of stuff in a lot of other people’s hands,” linebacker Tevin Smith said.

Quarterback Blake Bortles said Jacksonville needs a winning streak, but it has to start with one win first.

“We continue to let opportunities pass us by and eventually we’re going to have to change that and win a football game,” Bortles said. “That’s the only way to get hot and get a win streak going. You have to start with one. No better week to start than this week. … It’s a perfect game for us to get fired up.”

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AP Sports Writer Will Graves contributed.

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Cowboys C Frederick regains sensation in hands

Cowboys C Frederick regains sensation in hands

Dallas Cowboys center Travis Frederick,

Cowboys C Frederick regains sensation in hands

Dallas Cowboys center Travis Frederick, diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome before the start of the regular season, said he has regained feeling in his hands for the first time in months.

“It’s starting to come back in my hands a little bit here, which is good,” the four-time Pro Bowl selection told the Dallas Morning News. “Now it’s more just numbness, no tingling, and it’s more in the tips.”

Frederick said he still has no sensation in his feet, but he remains optimistic about a full recovery.

“I mean the fact there is some light at the end of the tunnel is definitely a positive,” Frederick said.

Frederick, 27, has been with the Cowboys since they drafted him in the first round out of Wisconsin in 2013. He started all 80 regular season games and three playoff games in his first five seasons.

Guillain-Barre syndrome is an autoimmune disease that causes the body to attack a network of nerves around the brain and spinal cord, according to the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

–Field Level Media

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Vander Esch showing 1st-round talent as rookie for Cowboys

FRISCO, Texas (AP) — Leighton Vander Esch said it almost felt weird to have the ball in his hands again on the first NFL interception for the Dallas Cowboys linebacker.

The rookie from Boise State who used to play every down — offense and defense — for his eight-man high school team never

FRISCO, Texas (AP) — Leighton Vander Esch said it almost felt weird to have the ball in his hands again on the first NFL interception for the Dallas Cowboys linebacker.

The rookie from Boise State who used to play every down — offense and defense — for his eight-man high school team never said anything about it feeling strange to diagnose a screen pass before it was in the air, slip past a pair of blockers and make a critical open-field tackle for loss.

That defensive play of the game in a season-saving win at Philadelphia was a signature moment weeks in the making, through preparation and focus that Vander Esch said should be expected of any team’s first-round draft pick. At least that’s how he sees it.

“I’ve never really thought that I’ve been caught off-guard with anything,” said Vander Esch, taken 19th overall last spring . “I’m confident in my abilities and my athleticism, in my preparation. It’s going to put me in position to make plays on the field on game day.”

Vander Esch established a Cowboys rookie record with 19 tackles against the Eagles, according to the coaches’ count. He’s the first rookie Dallas linebacker with an interception since injured teammate and mentor Sean Lee had two in the same game eight years ago.

Barring a surge from Jaylon Smith, who figures to be his linebacking partner for years to come in Dallas, Vander Esch could become the first rookie to lead the Cowboys (4-5) in tackles since coaches starting tracking the stat in 1977.

Vander Esch has 96 through nine games going into Sunday’s trip to Atlanta (4-5), and Smith is second with 82.

“He’s going to be around here a long time,” Smith said. “He’s developing into a great player. He’s the best tackler on the team. I joke to him all the time. He’s finding ways to learn from his 96-inch arms.”

Smith, a first-round talent relegated to the second round in 2016 because of a knee injury in his final game at Notre Dame, watched as a rookie while recovering from the injury, so his second season was really his first.

Because of injuries to Anthony Hitchens and Lee, Smith had to play more than expected and struggled at times. More hamstring issues for Lee have forced the 6-foot-4 Vander Esch into essentially a full-time role — he and Smith played all 62 defensive snaps against the Eagles.

Vander Esch hasn’t struggled nearly as much, perhaps in part because he’s had Smith out there with him. And he’s had Lee in his ear on the sidelines — and in the meeting rooms all week. The Cowboys have raved about Lee’s preparation for years.

“He’s lucky to have a guy like Sean Lee in that room with him,” coach Jason Garrett said. “To see that example really each and every day in your room, up close, seeing how a guy like that does it, how he approaches it, I think that’s been really good for him.”

Apparently so.

“I wouldn’t have been able to do it without him,” Vander Esch said. “He’s right there to give us tips and to be on us right as we come on the sideline after being on the field. I love the guy. I feel like I’ve known him for my whole life.”

Lee has already missed four games with separate hamstring injuries and likely won’t be back until the final month because of the second one. Injuries have defined his career, and several times brought the Dallas defense down with them.

Smith’s improvement in his first year without a foot brace that he needed because of nerve damage from the knee injury is part of the reason the Cowboys, ranked seventh in the NFL in total defense, are in their best shape in several years to survive without Lee.

The rapid rise of the Vander Esch is the other reason, and perhaps isn’t that surprising considering he went from tiny Riggins, Idaho, to a Boise State walk-on who developed fast enough through a redshirt year and three seasons to enter the draft early.

“For a guy as big as he is, the things that we saw from him on tape in college that led him to be really intriguing prospect, it is showing up,” passing game coordinator Kris Richard said. “And it’s translating into this league.”

Vander Esch has a signature play to show for it.

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Streaking Chargers face challenge hosting Broncos on Sunday

CARSON, Calif. (AP) — Philip Rivers and the Los Angeles Chargers offense have been sensational during their six-game winning streak. The veteran quarterback noted this week as they prepare for Sunday's game against the Denver Broncos that things can turn south quickly.

"We haven't won six in a row in a while, but

CARSON, Calif. (AP) — Philip Rivers and the Los Angeles Chargers offense have been sensational during their six-game winning streak. The veteran quarterback noted this week as they prepare for Sunday’s game against the Denver Broncos that things can turn south quickly.

“We haven’t won six in a row in a while, but it can be a one-game losing streak just like that. So I think, again, it’s week to week,” Rivers said. “Again, now we’ve reset and get ready for the Broncos on Sunday.”

The Chargers (7-2) have one of the league’s most-balanced offenses. Rivers is third in the league with a 115.4 passer rating and running back Melvin Gordon is third in yards from scrimmage (1,033).

Rivers has been sacked only 12 times, third least among quarterbacks who have started nine or more games. But the Broncos have one of the NFL’s best pass-rushing duos in Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, who have combined for a league-high 17 sacks.

Miller, who has nine sacks this season, has sacked Rivers 15 times since entering the league as the second overall pick in 2011. That is the most by an active player against an active QB.

“I’m a big Philip Rivers fan. I feel like he’s always played great, but the difference this year is he doesn’t have as many interceptions,” Miller said. “He can make all the throws but he don’t take all the shots. He is still accurate as hell, the running game is lights out, and he has a pretty good team.”

Miller added that the biggest difference with the Chargers this season is they are relying more on the running game with Gordon and Austin Ekeler, which has allowed Rivers to take fewer risks.

Chubb, the fifth overall pick in last April’s draft, has 6 1-2 of his eight sacks over the past four games. Chubb said he got to meet Rivers last season at North Carolina State when he came in to talk to the team.

“He throws the ball out quick. It’s making sure that when I get there, I make sure I try to get the ball out,” Chubb said. “He’s kind of a bigger guy, he’s not going to try to move around too much. But a lot of guys slip off of him. If I get to him, just make sure I secure it and get the ball up.”

Rivers is tied for fourth in the league with 21 touchdown passes and has thrown two or more in nine straight games. Only five quarterbacks have done it in 10 or more straight games. He has thrown two or more TDs the past three times the Chargers have faced the Broncos.

Denver (3-6) is rested after having its bye last week, while the Chargers return to StubHub Center for the first time in six weeks. Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said he sees a lot of similarities between this year’s Broncos and his team last year, which was 3-6 before winning six of its last seven.

“This team (Denver) has lost four of the six games to division leaders, and they were close games. So this is a good football team,” Lynn said. “So, you know, I think it’s a matter of time that this team gets going on a streak, but we’re just trying to prevent that from being this week.”

Here are other things to watch in the meeting of AFC West rivals:

GORDON’S STREAK

Gordon has five straight games of at least 120 scrimmage yards and a touchdown. Only four players in NFL history have done it in six straight games or more. Coincidentally, the last to do it was the Chargers’ LaDainian Tomlinson in 2006.

FREEMAN’S RETURN

Broncos RB Royce Freeman, who has missed the last two games due to an ankle injury, is likely to be back for this week. Freeman is part of a prolific rookie trio that also features RB Phillip Lindsay and WR Courtland Sutton. They have combined for 1,462 yards from scrimmage, sixth-most yards by a rookie trio through nine games since the 1970 merger.

CHALLENGING CORNERBACK

Broncos star Chris Harris Jr. is hardly being challenged by quarterbacks this season. In his last game, he locked down on Texans No. 1 receiver DeAndre Hopkins and was only thrown at twice. But he knows that will change Sunday.

“Against Rivers, I’m excited this week because he always gives me a chance. I know Rivers is going to let me play ball.”

CENTER OF ATTENTION

With Matt Paradis on IR with a broken right leg, Connor McGovern will get his first start at center Sunday after moving over from right guard. QB Case Keenum said losing Paradis puts a lot more on everyone’s plate.

“Everyone needs to step their game up,” Keenum said. “What’s great is that nobody has to be anybody but themselves. Everybody’s confident in what their ability is and everybody’s confident in what their job is. I think everybody is going to step up on the offensive line, including me, too. I definitely can help out with those guys.”

KEEP AN EYE ON

Chargers DE Joey Bosa is back practicing and could he see action. Bosa has missed the first 10 games due to a bone bruise to his left foot, but will be a game-time decision. The Chargers struggled with their pass rush early this season, yet have 15 sacks over the past four games.

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AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Stapleton contributed to this report.

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Beckham not backing off Giants winning final 7 games

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Odell Beckham Jr. says more than a couple of people scoffed last week when he said the New York Giants could win their final eight games and make the playoffs.

The NFL's highest-paid receiver knew it was a long shot when he made the statement and little has changed since

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Odell Beckham Jr. says more than a couple of people scoffed last week when he said the New York Giants could win their final eight games and make the playoffs.

The NFL’s highest-paid receiver knew it was a long shot when he made the statement and little has changed since the Giants beat the San Francisco 49ers 27-23 on Monday night. It’s just seven games now.

Still, Beckham was not backing off the idea Thursday before the Giants (2-7) practiced for Sunday’s game at MetLife Stadium against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-6).

“I don’t know what makes me not believe it,” Beckham said. “That’s just the goal. Same thing I said before the season, the goal is to win a Super Bowl. It’s always going to win a Super Bowl. If you’re just here to have fun or whatever else, I don’t think you should be here. The goal is to win every game. I’m trying to win. If we play 16, I’m trying to win 16. Win the four in the playoffs, and win the Super Bowl. You never want to lose.

“My mentality is going to be win these last seven games, no matter who believes it or what’s said, or anything like that,” Beckham added. “That’s going to be my goal.”

Coach Pat Shurmur doesn’t mind his players talking about running the table.

“I think he is just giving you his long-range approach,” Shurmur said. “If you ask him, he will tell you he is putting all his energy into playing Tampa. That’s the challenge. We have to stay in the moment. We have to keep the noise out, and that’s the same whether you win or lose a game.”

The Giants have done a lot of losing the past 1½ seasons. They have won five of 25 games and not won two straight since December 2016.

Still, the upcoming schedule is not horrible. The Giants don’t have games against any of the NFL’s dominant teams: the Rams, Chiefs, Saints, Chargers, Patriots or Steelers.

Of the seven games left, Chicago (6-3), Washington (6-3) and Tennessee (5-4) have winning records. Indianapolis, Philadelphia and Dallas are 4-5, although the Eagles and Cowboys beat the Giants this season.

So there is a chance, slim as it may be.

“I don’t think it’s crazy to think that way at all,” rookie running back Saquon Barkley said. “I think that’s what we all feel in this locker room, we all feel on this team. We’re more than capable of doing that, but we’re not naïve to the fact that it’s a long season and you can’t really think, oh, we got to win eight games, because that’s not the mindset. That’s what we want to do, but the mindset is taking care of every single day and every single game, one day at a time.”

NOTES: Running back Jonathan Stewart, who has been on injured reserve since Sept. 28 with a foot injury, has been designated for return/returned to practice. The Giants have until Dec. 6 to decide to either activate him or keep him on injured reserve for the remainder of the season. He is not eligible to return to the active roster until Nov. 26.

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Blake Martinez, Bashaud Breeland active for Packers

SEATTLE (AP) — The Green Bay Packers will have linebacker Blake Martinez and cornerback Bashaud Breeland available Thursday night against the Seattle Seahawks.

Martinez had been listed as questionable on the final injury report with an ankle injury and Breeland was questionable with a groin injury. Breeland's availability was especially important after the

SEATTLE (AP) — The Green Bay Packers will have linebacker Blake Martinez and cornerback Bashaud Breeland available Thursday night against the Seattle Seahawks.

Martinez had been listed as questionable on the final injury report with an ankle injury and Breeland was questionable with a groin injury. Breeland’s availability was especially important after the Packers ruled out four starters on Wednesday including cornerback Kevin King and safety Kentrell Brice. Also ruled out were linebacker Nick Perry and wide receiver Randall Cobb.

Seattle is without linebacker K.J. Wright due to a knee injury that knocked him out of last week’s game against the Rams. Wright was listed as doubtful. Defensive end Dion Jordan (knee) and safety Delano Hill (quadriceps) were also inactive.

Green Bay also activated wide receiver Trevor Davis from injured reserve. Davis had been out since early September and could take over duties on kick returns for the Packers.

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