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Ballin’ on a Budget Week 14 Results

For the second straight week, we won more bets than we lost and we can be happy about that. However, if it weren't for a Chargers strategic blunder, we would've looked even better, going to 4-1 for the second straight week. Nonetheless, it was another week in the black, pushing us ever closer

For the second straight week, we won more bets than we lost and we can be happy about that. However, if it weren’t for a Chargers strategic blunder, we would’ve looked even better, going to 4-1 for the second straight week. Nonetheless, it was another week in the black, pushing us ever closer to our end-of-year goal to have a 60 percent pick percentage and 10 percent return on investment.

WIN: Jets +3.5 at Bills (-115): Jets 27, Bills 23.

New York seemed in big trouble early in this game, but Sam Darnold and the offense turned things around in the second half. We knew this three-and-a-half-point spread was juicy since neither team is very good and it turns out we were right. For the second straight week, the Jets covered for us and this time, they even won the game straight up.

This really goes to pound the point home that if there are two teams you perceive as of equal ability, regardless of one of them being at home, taking 3.5 or more points on a spread is the way to go. Gang Green comes through again. Total payout: $7.48.

LOSS: Patriots-Dolphins UNDER 47 points (-110): Dolphins 34, Patriots 31.

Well, we were way off on this one. We didn’t take into account the weather would be beautiful in Miami and the Patriots struggle historically against the Dolphins in the month of December on the road. Of course, they still would have won if it weren’t for Miami’s miraculous lateral play on their final attempt from scrimmage, but the over/under was gone at half time. Whether you believe in Ryan Tannehill or not, the Dolphins are a different team with him on the field.

Sometimes, with bets like this, which are over before the second half, it’s better to just lick your wounds and move on. That same logic doesn’t hold for our second unsuccessful over/under of the week, which was the biggest heartbreaker you could imagine. Total payout: $0.

LOSS: Chargers-Bengals OVER 47.5 points (-110): Chargers 26, Bengals 21.

So, we lost it by half a point. Oh, by the way, the Bengals screwed up down the stretch. Cincinnati stormed all the way back and was a two-point conversion away from tying the game at 23 after a Joe Mixon one-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. They didn’t get it and it kept us from hitting the over. L.A. eventually drove down and drilled a field goal with less than a minute left to extend the lead to five.

Had Cincy made that field goal, this game would have ended 26-23, with the over hitting and all of us going home happy. If it’s any consolation, the Bengals did help us in another department by keeping things close, so we owe them for that. Total payout: $0.

WIN: Bengals +14.5 vs. Chargers (-120): Chargers 26, Bengals 21.

So, we can be mad at the Bengals for not getting that two-point conversion and helping us with the over, but we can’t be mad at their overall effort in this game. We have a proven track record picking with underdogs of 14 points or more this season, but with Jeff Driskell at quarterback for Cincinnati, we were taking a chance. He actually played fairly well and rewarded our confidence in the team.

That now makes us 3-for-3 this season in picking big-time underdogs, so let’s keep an eye out for those down the stretch. That could be tricky with many good teams clinching playoff spots, but with the the race for home field in the AFC and NFC heating up, we should be able to rely on this method for at least the next couple weeks. Total payout: $7.33.

WIN: Lions -2.5 vs. Cardinals (-115): Lions 17, Cardinals 3.

This was a really gross game, but hey, the Lions covered and that’s all we care about. It was 3-0 Lions at halftime and it barely got more entertaining in the second half. Matthew Stafford had one of the worst games of his career, barely managing 100 yards, but his defense got the job done. Arizona, which looked decent against the Packers, wasn’t able to muster anything against Detroit’s D.

If you didn’t watch this game, but bet it and collected your winnings, good for you. You got the best of both worlds. This was not a game worth watching, but the fact we won some money doing it made it just a little bit easier on the eyes. Total payout: $7.48.

PIGGY BANK: $309.89 (10.7% return on investment)

PICK PERCENTAGE: 59.7% (40-27-3)

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Broncos, Browns on playoff fringe ahead of matchup

Broncos, Browns on playoff fringe ahead of matchup

Broncos, Browns on playoff fringe ahead of matchup

The Denver Broncos were high on quarterback Baker Mayfield long before he was taken first overall in the NFL draft in April.

They plan to keep him from beating them on Saturday night.

Mayfield, the brash, outspoken Cleveland Browns rookie, visits Denver for a Week 15 showdown with both teams clinging to their slim postseason hopes. The Browns (5-7-1) are having their best season in years and are coming off a 26-20 win over Carolina.

The Broncos (6-7) had their three-game winning streak ended at San Francisco on Sunday in a game they desperately needed. Denver was feeling good after getting back to .500 and into the thick of the wild-card race, but as has been the case this season, it struggled against a young quarterback.

The Broncos have lost to rookies Sam Darnold (New York Jets), Nick Mullens (49ers) and second-year star Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City). They did they beat Josh Rosen of Arizona and Jeff Driskel of Cincinnati, and they have another chance against Mayfield on Saturday.

“He’s got a neat personality,” Denver coach Vance Joseph said after practice Tuesday. “It’s kind of a — it’s loose, but it’s tight. Very, very intelligent, but a very, very confident person.”

Mayfield could find success against a banged-up secondary that will be without Pro Bowl cornerback Chris Harris Jr., who suffered a fractured left fibula against the Bengals on Dec. 2. Harris said he is improving, but he won’t be ready for Saturday.

Without him, and the status of Tramaine Brock (ribs) and Isaac Yiadom (separated right shoulder) in question, Denver is vulnerable on the back end. The Broncos signed rookie safety Trey Marshall off the practice squad Tuesday to add to the depth.

The Browns have the weapons to take advantage, with Mayfield showing plenty of poise and wide receiver Jarvis Landry running routes. They can mix things up with running back Nick Chubb.

The biggest turnaround for Cleveland has come after the firings of head coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley. Gregg Williams is now the interim head coach, and Freddie Kitchens was promoted to offensive coordinator.

With Kitchens calling plays, Mayfield has thrown 11 touchdown passes in five games, and his quarterback rating is 114.4 compared to from 78.9 under Haley.

With the short week, both teams practiced Tuesday instead of having a regular day off. For Denver, linebacker Shaquil Barrett (hip), Harris, wide receiver Courtland Sutton (quadriceps), Yiadom and defensive tackle Derek Wolfe (concussion) did not practice.

Joseph said Sutton should play Saturday but didn’t have an update on Wolfe.

Tight end Orson Charles (ankle), tackle Austin Corbett (foot), defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi (biceps), cornerback Denzel Ward (concussion) and center J.C. Tretter (ankle) did not practice for Cleveland. Tretter has been dealing with the ankle injury for two months but has battled through the last seven games. He is normally held out of practice to stay ready for games.

“From a guy who barely practices all week to have the game plan down and then fight through it on Sundays for everybody else, it is great to have,” Mayfield told The Cleveland Plain Dealer after Sunday’s game. “He is a very, very important piece out there to have to be able to make calls and direct guys the right way and lead.”

–Field Level Media

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NFL notebook: Roethlisberger expects to start Sunday

NFL notebook: Roethlisberger expects to start Sunday

Pittsburgh

NFL notebook: Roethlisberger expects to start Sunday

Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is banged up, but sore ribs won’t keep him out of action when the Steelers play host to the New England Patriots on Sunday.

Roethlisberger required a pain-killing injection to deal with a rib injury sustained in the second quarter last week in Pittsburgh’s loss to the Oakland Raiders. He returned to the game late in the fourth quarter.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Roethlisberger is dealing with bruised ribs. Roethlisberger said during his weekly radio spot on Tuesday that he required X-rays in the locker room, but the tests were inconclusive.

–The Minnesota Vikings fired first-year offensive coordinator John DeFilippo.

The move comes after the Vikings’ 21-7 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Monday, the team’s third defeat in its past four games. Minnesota has finished with fewer than 300 yards of total offense four times in the past five games.

Quarterbacks coach Kevin Stefanski has been elevated to interim offensive coordinator and will take over play-calling duties.

–Injured running back Melvin Gordon is not expected to be in uniform Thursday when the Los Angeles Chargers visit the Kansas City Chiefs, the NFL Network reported.

However, Gordon was officially limited in Tuesday’s practice, noteworthy progress considering he was unavailable entirely since the original knee injury.

NFL Network reported that Gordon and his primary backup, Austin Ekeler (neck, concussion), likely would miss the showdown at Arrowhead Stadium. Specifically, coach Anthony Lynn told the network that the team isn’t optimistic either player would suit up.

–The Titans placed right tackle Jack Conklin and tight end Jonnu Smith on injured reserve due to knee injuries. Both starters were hurt during Tennessee’s 30-9 victory against the Jacksonville Jaguars last Thursday.

Veteran Dennis Kelly is expected to replace Conklin, and Anthony Firkser will step in for Smith.

–The Detroit Lions placed veteran defensive end Ziggy Ansah on injured reserve because of a shoulder injury. The team did the same with tight end Michael Roberts, who also has an injured shoulder.

To replace them on the roster, the Lions signed tight end Jerome Cunningham and offensive lineman Leo Koloamatangi from their practice squad.

Ansah, 29, has had a lost season while playing on the franchise tag. He hurt his shoulder after 19 snaps in Week 1 and did not play again until Week 9.

–The Los Angeles Rams placed running back Malcolm Brown and cornerback Dominique Hatfield on injured reserve.

Brown injured his collarbone earlier this month. Hatfield, primarily a special teams player, needs surgery after injuring his left ankle Sunday.

–The Philadelphia Eagles’ pursuit of a playoff spot grew more difficult when they placed running back Corey Clement (knee) and defensive end Josh Sweat (ankle) on injured reserve.

The Eagles signed running back Boston Scott and defensive end Daeshon Hall to fill the voids on the roster, and they added cornerback Josh Hawkins to the practice squad.

–Two years after tearing both patellar tendons on the same play, former Houston Texans offensive tackle Derek Newton is back in the NFL after signing a two-year deal with the New Orleans Saints.

Newton, 31, spent the entire 2017 season on the Texans’ physically unable to perform list and was released by Houston eight months ago after failing a physical. With the Saints, he replaces tackle Michael Ola, who went on injured reserve due to a high ankle sprain.

–The Buffalo Bills placed starting linebacker Matt Milano and rookie cornerback Taron Johnson on season-ending injured reserve. Milano had surgery Monday to repair a broken left fibula. Johnson had surgery last week for a shoulder injury that bothered him most of the season.

–The city of Oakland, Calif., filed a federal lawsuit against the Oakland Raiders, the NFL and all other teams in the league. Oakland City Attorney Barbara J. Parker announced the suit, which alleges antitrust violations and breach of contract.

While the city does not demand that the Raiders be forced to remain in Oakland, the seven-count filing in district court does seek restitution in the form of lost revenue, remaining debt on renovations to the Oakland Coliseum, court costs and fees, plus punitive damages.

The Raiders received league approval to relocate to Las Vegas in March 2017. They are expected to begin playing in Las Vegas when a new stadium opens in 2020. The team still does not know where it will play in 2019.

–The NFL announced that the salary cap will rise to about $190 million in 2019, a jump from $177.2 million this season.

The league informed teams that the projected range is from $187 million to $191.1 million. That marks a 40 percent increase since the 2014 season ($133 million) and the sixth consecutive year the cap has climbed by at least $10 million.

–Field Level Media

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Eagles place RB Clement, DE Sweat on IR

Eagles place RB Clement, DE Sweat on IR

Eagles place RB Clement, DE Sweat on IR

The Philadelphia Eagles’ pursuit of a playoff spot grew more difficult Tuesday when they placed a pair of players on injured reserve, including running back Corey Clement.

Both Clement and defensive end Josh Sweat were injured Sunday in Philadelphia’s 29-23 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. Clement hurt his knee, and Sweat sustained an ankle injury.

The Eagles announced that they signed running back Boston Scott and defensive end Daeshon Hall to fill the voids on the roster, and they signed cornerback Josh Hawkins to the practice squad.

Clement went from undrafted rookie to Super Bowl star last season, picking up 100 receiving yards and a touchdown grab in the title game. He has 259 yards and two touchdowns on 68 carries, along with 22 catches for 192 yards, in 11 games this season.

Sweat was a fourth-round pick in the 2018 draft and has one tackle in nine games as a rookie.

The New Orleans Saints drafted Scott in the sixth round this year but cut him just before the season opener. They signed him to their practice squad the following day.

Hall was a third-round pick by the Carolina Panthers in 2017. He played in one game last season before a knee injury ended his rookie campaign. He was cut before this season began.

The Eagles are 6-7 and two games behind the NFC East-leading Cowboys. The defending champs are still in the thick of the playoff race, however, tied with Carolina and the Washington Redskins, one-half game behind the Minnesota Vikings for the final playoff spot in the conference.

Philadelphia finishes the season with games against the Rams in Los Angeles this weekend, then at home against the Houston Texans and at the Redskins in Week 17.

–Field Level Media

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Chiefs can lock up West with win over Chargers

Chiefs can lock up West with win over Chargers

Chiefs can lock up West with win over Chargers

An unexpected toss with his left hand, a no-look pass to a crossing receiver and — most importantly — a run toward home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs.

All that and so much more has defined record-setting Patrick Mahomes as a first-year starter in the NFL this season. Yet the Kansas City Chiefs quarterback must be on top of his game again Thursday night when the streaking Los Angeles Chargers look to tighten the AFC West division race.

Kansas City (11-2) last weekend qualified for the playoffs for the fifth time under sixth-year coach Andy Reid, using a madcap rally Mahomes engineered Sunday to hold off the Baltimore Ravens 27-24 in overtime. But after burning the NFL’s top defense entering the game for 377 yards passing and two touchdowns, the no-look pass was all the rage.

Hey, it’s always something radical with Mahomes.

“I worked with him real hard on that. I built that right into the offense,” Reid cracked. “He has a knack for that. He is comfortable doing it. This is the NFL and he is doing it. That’s something to do it in practice, but when you start throwing it in a game against the No. 1 defense in the National Football League, that is a little different.”

Confidence oozes from Mahomes, whose plus-32 touchdown-to-interception mark leads the NFL, as do his 43 touchdown passes and 45 completions of 25-plus yards. The Chiefs average 437.5 yards and 36.2 points per game, along with 6.86 yards per play, all of which lead the league.

“I have built that chemistry with guys like D-Rob,” Mahomes said of Demarcus Robinson, recipient of the no-look pass, “through training camp and through last year. I know that the guys are going to know what I’m thinking and trust that they are going to keep running the route the same way. Then, I put the ball out there for them.”

Los Angeles (10-3) will counter with pressure off both edges from defensive ends Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa. Bosa was injured and missed the first matchup, a 38-28 Week 1 win for the Chiefs to account for Kansas City’s one-game lead over the Chargers.

Los Angeles has won nine of its last 10 games, including three straight. Its only road defeat was against the crosstown Rams.

Kansas City, however, has won 20 of its last 21 against AFC West rivals and is looking to secure a third consecutive division title. A better divisional record gives the Chiefs the tiebreaker over the Chargers should Los Angeles win Thursday.

Veteran quarterback Philip Rivers is having an exceptional season for the Chargers but may need to come up even bigger against the Chiefs. Running backs Melvin Gordon (knee) and Austin Ekeler (neck) are dealing with injuries. Two rookies who have combined for 32 carries, Justin Jackson and Detrez Newsome, are next in line.

“It’s important to just get back to being healthy,” said Michael Badgley, a rookie kicker who set a Chargers record with a 59-yard field goal while going 4-for-4 Sunday in a win over Cincinnati. “Get back in there, go through all of our recovery, and it will be a short week, so a big mental week.”

The Chiefs also must deal with injuries to offensive threats.

Speedy receiver Tyreek Hill limped through a heel injury against the Ravens but is expected to be available. Another receiver, Sammy Watkins (foot) is likely out. Running back Spencer Ware (shoulder) is also hobbled.

–Field Level Media

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OL Newton returns to NFL with Saints

OL Newton returns to NFL with Saints

Two years after tearing both patellar

OL Newton returns to NFL with Saints

Two years after tearing both patellar tendons on the same play, former Houston Texans offensive tackle Derek Newton is back in the NFL after signing a two-year deal with the New Orleans Saints on Tuesday.

Newton, 31, suffered the devastating double injury while attempting to block All-Pro pass rusher Von Miller during a game against the Denver Broncos on Oct. 24, 2016.

He spent the entire 2017 season on the Texans’ physically unable to perform list and was released by Houston eight months ago after failing a physical.

The 6-foot-6, 315-pound Newton started 68 of his 82 games with the Texans from 2011-16 after being selected in the seventh round of the 2011 draft out of Arkansas State.

The Saints had a roster vacancy after placing tackle Michael Ola on injured reserve Tuesday with a high-ankle sprain suffered in Sunday’s win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

–Field Level Media

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Bills place LB Milano, CB Johnson on injured reserve

Bills place LB Milano, CB Johnson on injured reserve

Bills place LB Milano, CB Johnson on injured reserve

The Buffalo Bills placed starting linebacker Matt Milano and rookie cornerback Taron Johnson on season-ending injured reserve Tuesday.

Milano had surgery Monday to repair a broken left fibula, suffered in the final minutes of Sunday’s 27-23 loss to the New York Jets.

The second-year player finished the season with 78 tackles, three interceptions, three fumble recoveries and one sack.

Johnson, a fourth-rounder in 2018, had surgery last week for a shoulder injury that bothered him most of the season. He had 42 tackles and one interception in 11 games.

–Field Level Media

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Lions put Ansah (shoulder) on IR

Lions put Ansah (shoulder) on IR

Lions put Ansah (shoulder) on IR

An injury-plagued season is now an injury-shortened season for Ziggy Ansah.

The Detroit Lions on Tuesday announced they have placed the veteran defensive end on injured reserve with a shoulder injury. The team did the same with tight end Michael Roberts and his injured shoulder.

To replace them on the roster, the Lions signed tight end Jerome Cunningham and offensive lineman Leo Koloamatangi from their practice squad.

Ansah, 29, has had a lost season while playing on the franchise tag. He hurt his shoulder after 19 snaps in Week 1 and did not play again until Week 9, though he has been effective (four sacks, seven quarterback hits) during his seven games on the field. Ansah is scheduled to hit free agency in March.

Roberts, 24, has nine catches for 100 yards and three touchdowns in eight games this season, his second since being drafted in the fourth round in 2017 out of Toledo.

The Lions are 5-8 and in last place in the NFC North. They play at Buffalo this Sunday before closing out the season at home against Minnesota on Dec. 23 and at Green Bay on Dec. 30.

–Field Level Media

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NFL hikes salary cap to $190 million in 2019

NFL hikes salary cap to $190 million in 2019

NFL hikes salary cap to $190 million in 2019

The NFL announced Tuesday that the salary cap will rise to about $190 million in 2019, a jump from $177.2 million this season.

The league informed teams that the projected range is from $187.0 to $191.1 million.

That marks a 40-percent increase since the 2014 season ($133.0 million) and the sixth consecutive year the cap has climbed by at least $10 million.

“Total projected player costs, including benefits, will be more than $7.3 billion in 2019,” the league said in a statement.

The exact salary cap figure will be determined before free agency opens on March 13.

–Field Level Media

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Titans place RT Conklin, TE Smith on injured reserve

Titans place RT Conklin, TE Smith on injured reserve

Titans place RT Conklin, TE Smith on injured reserve

The Tennessee Titans placed right tackle Jack Conklin and tight end Jonnu Smith on injured reserve with knee injuries on Tuesday.

Both starters were injured during the Titans’ 30-9 victory against the Jacksonville Jaguars last Thursday.

Smith, who took over for injured three-time Pro Bowl selection Delanie Walker, finishes his second NFL season with 20 catches for 258 yards and three touchdowns in 13 games.

Conklin, the Titans’ first-round pick (eighth overall) in 2016, was limited to nine games this season after starting all 16 games in each of his first two campaigns.

Veteran Dennis Kelly is expected to replace Conklin, and Anthony Firkser will step in for Smith. Tennessee also signed free agent offensive lineman Austin Pasztor and added tight end Cole Wick from the San Francisco 49ers’ practice squad.

With three games remaining, the Titans are one of four AFC teams tied at 7-6 and chasing a wild-card berth in the playoffs.

–Field Level Media

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Oakland sues Raiders, NFL over Vegas move

Oakland sues Raiders, NFL over Vegas move

Oakland sues Raiders, NFL over Vegas move

The city of Oakland, Calif., gave the Raiders a going-away present on Tuesday.

A federal lawsuit.

Oakland City Attorney Barbara J. Parker announced the suit, which alleges antitrust violations and breach of contract, and names the Raiders, the NFL and every other team in the league.

While the city does not demand that the Raiders be forced to remain in Oakland, the seven-count filing in district court does seek restitution in the form of lost revenue, remaining debt on renovations to the Oakland Coliseum, court costs and fees, plus punitive damages.

“The City will seek a resolution for the maximum amount of damages available,” Parker said in a news release shortly before filing the lawsuit. “The lawsuit will not ask the court to prevent the Raiders’ move to Las Vegas or keep the team in Oakland.”

The Raiders received league approval to relocate to Las Vegas in March 2017. They are expected to begin playing in Las Vegas when a new stadium opens in 2020. The team still does not know where it will play in 2019.

One of the main cruxes of the city’s argument is that the NFL’s relocation policy is “skewed” in the favor of cities looking to get a team and biased against current host cities because each team shares a part of the moving team’s relocation fee.

The suit also alleges the NFL uses its relocation policy to in essence strong-arm host cities into ponying up money for a new stadium, threatening to move a team out of that city should the funds not be raised.

“Threats of relocation are a central part of the NFL’s practice of demanding public financing for new stadiums, which significantly increase team revenues and ticket prices,” Parker said in the statement.

“Further, each time an NFL club moves, all NFL teams share in a ‘relocation fee.’ In the last several years, the NFL defendants have shared approximately $1.47 billion in these fees. The Raiders alone have agreed to pay over $370 million to the other NFL defendants for their ‘yes’ vote on the Raiders’ move to Las Vegas.”

The city is seeking a jury trial but makes no specific monetary demand other than amounts to be determined at trial.

–Field Level Media

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Steelers’ Roethlisberger expects to play vs. Patriots

Steelers' Roethlisberger expects to play vs. Patriots

Steelers’ Roethlisberger expects to play vs. Patriots

Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is banged up, but sore ribs won’t keep him from playing when the Steelers play host to the New England Patriots on Sunday.

Roethlisberger required a pain-killing injection to deal with a rib injury sustained in the second quarter last week in Pittsburgh’s loss to the Oakland Raiders. He returned to the game late in the fourth quarter.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Roethlisberger is dealing with bruised ribs.

Roethlisberger said during his weekly radio spot on Tuesday that he required X-rays in the locker room, but the tests were inconclusive. He said he was not confident he would be helping the team by returning but opted to play.

“Let’s see how this plays out,” Roethlisberger said Tuesday of what he told Tomlin to be allowed back in the game.

During the game, Tomlin conferred with the team’s medical staff, which told the coach and general manager Kevin Colbert that the antiquated X-ray machine produced results that couldn’t be read.

Roethlisberger said team doctors cleared him to play anyway, and his performance indicated he was fine. Roethlisberger wound up completing 25 of 29 passes for 282 yards and two touchdowns.

Asked if there’s any reason to think he wouldn’t play against the Patriots, Roethlisberger said, “No, no, I don’t think so.”

The Steelers have lost three consecutive games and at 7-5-1 hold a slim lead over the 7-6 Baltimore Ravens in the AFC North.

–Field Level Media

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Chiefs, Mahomes can lock up West with win over Chargers

An unexpected toss with his left hand, a no-look pass to a crossing receiver and -- most importantly -- a run toward home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs.

 

All that and so much more has defined record-setting Patrick Mahomes as a first-year starter in the NFL this season. Yet the Kansas City Chiefs quarterback

An unexpected toss with his left hand, a no-look pass to a crossing receiver and — most importantly — a run toward home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs.

 

All that and so much more has defined record-setting Patrick Mahomes as a first-year starter in the NFL this season. Yet the Kansas City Chiefs quarterback must be on top of his game again Thursday night when the streaking Los Angeles Chargers look to tighten the West Division race.

 

Kansas City (11-2) last weekend qualified for the playoffs for the fifth time under sixth-year coach Andy Reid, using a madcap rally Mahomes engineered Sunday to hold off the Baltimore Ravens 27-24 in overtime. But after burning the NFL’s top defense entering the game for 377 yards passing and two touchdowns, the no-look pass was all the rage.

 

Hey, it’s always something radical with Mahomes.

 

“I worked with him real hard on that. I built that right into the offense,” Reid cracked. “He has a knack for that. He is comfortable doing it. This is the NFL and he is doing it. That’s something to do it in practice, but when you start throwing it in a game against the No. 1 defense in the National Football League, that is a little different.”

 

Confidence oozes from Mahomes, whose plus-32 touchdown-to-interception mark leads the NFL along, as do his 43 touchdown passes and 45 completions of 25-plus yards. The Chiefs average 437.5 yards and 36.2 points per game, along with 6.86 yards per play, all of which lead the league.

 

“I have built that chemistry with guys like D-Rob,” Mahomes said of Demarcus Robinson, recipient of the no-look pass, “through training camp and through last year. I know that the guys are going to know what I’m thinking and trust that they are going to keep running the route the same way. Then, I put the ball out there for them.”

 

Los Angeles (10-3) will counter with pressure off both edges from defensive ends Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa. Bosa was injured and missed the first matchup, a 38-28 Week 1 win for the Chiefs to account for Kansas City’s one-game lead over the Chargers.

 

Los Angeles has won nine of its last 10 games, including three straight. Its only road defeat was against the crosstown Rams.

 

Kansas City, however, has won 20 of its last 21 against AFC West rivals and is looking to secure a third consecutive division title. A better divisional record gives the Chiefs the tiebreaker over the Chargers should Los Angeles win Thursday.

 

Veteran quarterback Philip Rivers is having an exceptional season for the Chargers but may need to come up even bigger against the Chiefs. Running backs Melvin Gordon (knee) and Austin Ekeler (neck) are dealing with injuries. Two rookies who have combined for 32 carries, Justin Jackson and Detrez Newsome, are next in line.

 

“It’s important to just get back to being healthy,” said Michael Badgley, a rookie kicker who set a Chargers record with a 59-yard field goal while going 4 for 4 Sunday in a win over Cincinnati. “Get back in there, go through all of our recovery, and it will be a short week, so a big mental week.”

 

The Chiefs also must deal with injuries to offensive threats.

 

Speedy receiver Tyreek Hill limped through a heel injury against the Ravens but is expected to be available. Another receiver, Sammy Watkins (foot) is likely out. Running back Spencer Ware (shoulder) is also hobbled.

 

–Field Level Media

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Rams place RB Brown, CB Hatfield on injured reserve

Rams place RB Brown, CB Hatfield on injured reserve

Rams place RB Brown, CB Hatfield on injured reserve

The Los Angeles Rams placed running back Malcolm Brown and cornerback Dominique Hatfield on injured reserve Tuesday.

Brown injured his collarbone during the NFC West champions’ 30-16 win at Detroit earlier this month. He has rushed for 514 yards in four seasons as Todd Gurley’s backup, including 43 carries for 212 yards and five catches for 52 yards and a touchdown in 2018.

Hatfield needs surgery after injuring his left ankle in Sunday’s 15-6 loss at Chicago. The second-year player and Los Angeles native saw most of his action on special teams this season.

The Rams also promoted rookie linebacker Trevon Young from the practice squad. Young, a sixth-round pick out of Louisville, has played in two games this season.

Los Angeles (11-2) hosts Philadelphia (6-7) on Sunday night.

–Field Level Media

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Mahomes’ jersey from Rams classic reportedly fetches $36K for charity

Mahomes' jersey from Rams classic reportedly fetches $36K for charity

Mahomes’ jersey from Rams classic reportedly fetches $36K for charity

Patrick Mahomes may have come out on the losing end in the Kansas Chiefs’ wild shootout with the Los Angeles Rams last month, but one move he made with some memorabilia from that game is certainly a winner.

The second-year quarterback and NFL Most Valuable Player contender sent the jersey he wore Nov. 19 in the 54-51 classic to auction, where it reportedly sold for $36,150. What’s more, according to The Action Network’s Darren Rovell, the proceeds are going to aid in California wildfire relief efforts.

Both the Rams and Chiefs honored first responders to the fires throughout the Week 11 Monday night game, with the Rams handing out more than 3,000 complimentary tickets to first responders. The two biggest November fires, the Camp Fire in Northern California and Woolsey Fire in Ventura and Los Angeles counties, are responsible for nearly 90 deaths and the loss of 100,000 structures.

Mahomes has taken the league by storm in his first season as a full-time starter. His 4,300 yards and 43 touchdowns lead the league, and he also tops the NFL in touchdown percentage (8.9) and yards per attempt (9.7).

The Chiefs are 11-2 and hold a two-game lead in the race for the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs. The biggest threat to Kansas City actually comes from its own division, as the Los Angeles Chargers sit at 10-3. The Chargers visit the Chiefs on Thursday night.

–Field Level Media

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Texans look to bounce back vs. Jets, Darnold

The Houston Texans went from 0-3 to first place in the AFC South Division, a nine-game winning streak making them one of the hottest teams in the NFL.

 

That streak came to a crashing halt in a three-point loss at home to the Indianapolis Colts last weekend.

 

Now Houston gets a chance to

The Houston Texans went from 0-3 to first place in the AFC South Division, a nine-game winning streak making them one of the hottest teams in the NFL.

 

That streak came to a crashing halt in a three-point loss at home to the Indianapolis Colts last weekend.

 

Now Houston gets a chance to rebound from its first loss in two-and-a-half months Saturday afternoon when it visits the New York Jets.

 

The Texans head to East Rutherford still holding a two-game division lead over the Colts and Tennessee Titans with three weeks remaining. While Houston visits the 4-9 Jets, the Colts host the Dallas Cowboys — owners of the NFL’s longest current winning streak at five games — while the Titans visit the New York Giants.

 

During their winning streak, the Texans won five games by a touchdown or less and led at halftime of each game. On Sunday, they spent much of the game trying to rally only to come up short.

 

DeShaun Watson finished 27 of 38 for 267 yards with a touchdown pass, his 7-yard strike to DeAndre Hopkins with 2:37 left moving the Texans to within 24-21. But an offside penalty against Jadeveon Clowney on third-and-1 with two minutes remaining gave the Colts a first down and killed the Texans’ chances at completing the comeback.

 

In reality, the Texans’ inability to protect Watson (five sacks) did them in. Pass protection has been one of Houston’s biggest issues of late with opponents sacking Watson 20 times in his last five games.

 

“We didn’t play well as an offense, it is always going to be the quarterback, the head coach,” Houston coach Bill O’Brien told the media after his team’s first loss since a 27-22 setback against the Giants on Sept. 23. “I totally understand that but it just wasn’t very good as an offense. We were not able to get into a rhythm; our first-down offense was terrible. It was awful.”

 

Now the Texans will hope to correct everything against a team coming off a rare win thanks to some late-game clutch plays by rookie quarterback Sam Darnold.

 

“You let him escape, you let him start making plays, you’re going to be in a bind,” O’Brien said of the Jets’ first-round pick. “You got to stop the run. So, it’s a big challenge, but I know our guys are excited for it and we’ve got to have a good week here.”

 

The Jets were eliminated from the playoffs before taking the field in Buffalo last week but halted a six-game losing streak with a thrilling 27-23 victory thanks to Darnold’s first game-winning, fourth-quarter drive.

 

Darnold missed the previous three games because of foot sprain sustained Nov. 4 in Miami — a 13-6 loss in which he was intercepted four times. He briefly left the game against the Bills in the first half but returned and capped the comeback with a nine-play, 61-yard drive culminating in Elijah McGuire’s 1-yard run on fourth down with 1:17 remaining.

 

“It’s great for his first game back,” Jets coach Todd Bowles said on a conference call Monday. “Obviously, he was confident before the fourth-quarter comeback. But it just helps him, it just helps him be himself a little more, which he’s comfortable with being anyway, but that’s really all it does for him.”

 

Darnold finished 16 of 24 for 170 yards and highlighted by his first game-winning drive with a 37-yard pass to Robby Anderson that put the ball on the Buffalo 5-yard line.

 

“As a kid, you dream of converting two-minute drives and going down there and scoring,” Darnold told the media after the game. “To be able to score a touchdown and put the ball in their hands at the end of the game was awesome.”

 

Darnold actually nicked up his foot again at Buffalo and was limping on the game-winning drive. Bowles said he expects Darnold to play Sunday.

 

The Jets are 5-2 in seven all-time meetings with the Texans.

 

–Field Level Media

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Vikings fire OC DeFilippo

Vikings fire OC DeFilippo

The Minnesota Vikings fired first-year offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, the team announced Tuesday.

Vikings fire OC DeFilippo

The Minnesota Vikings fired first-year offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, the team announced Tuesday.

The move comes after the Vikings’ 21-17 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Monday night, the team’s third defeat in its past four games. The Vikings finished the game with 276 yards of total offense, managing just 61 in the first half. It was the fourth time in the past five games that the Vikings have finished with less than 300 yards total offense.

Quarterbacks coach Kevin Stefanski has been elevated to interim offensive coordinator and will take over play-calling duties for the Vikings.

The Vikings entered November with a top-10 offense but have dropped to 17th after Monday night’s loss.

Head coach Mike Zimmer had been critical of DeFilippo’s play-calling recently, saying that the Vikings have not been committed enough to the running game. Running back Dalvin Cook rushed 13 times for 55 yards against the Seahawks, just the second time this season Cook has had more than 10 carries.

The Vikings (6-6-1) are vying for a wild-card spot and play host to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.

The Vikings hired DeFilippo in February to replace Pat Shurmur, who left to become the head coach of the New York Giants.

DeFilippo spent two seasons as quarterbacks coach with the Philadelphia Eagles and was previously offensive coordinator of the Cleveland Browns.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Chargers RB Gordon unlikely vs. Chiefs

Report: Chargers RB Gordon unlikely vs. Chiefs

Report: Chargers RB Gordon unlikely vs. Chiefs

Injured running back Melvin Gordon is not expected to be in uniform Thursday when the Los Angeles Chargers visit the Kansas City Chiefs in a momentous AFC West matchup, the NFL Network reported.

Gordon sprained his medial collateral ligament on a hit by Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche in Week 13 and remains sidelined.

NFL Network reported Tuesday that Gordon and his primary backup, Austin Ekeler, would likely miss the showdown at Arrowhead Stadium.

Gordon has 802 rushing yards and 44 catches for 453 receiving yards and 13 total touchdowns on the season in 10 games played.

Ekeler (neck, concussion) would be replaced by rookies Justin Jackson and Detrez Newsome if he’s also unable to return.

Chiefs running back Spencer Ware did not practice Monday due to a hamstring injury. Ware replaced Kareem Hunt, who was released by the Chiefs, as Kansas City’s top back two weeks ago.

Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill (ankle) said he plans to play Thursday.

–Field Level Media

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Steelers QB Roethlisberger expects to play vs. Patriots

 

Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is banged up but hurting ribs won't keep him from playing when the Steelers play host to the New England Patriots on Sunday.

 

Roethlisberger required a pain-killing injection to deal with a rib injury suffered in the second quarter last week in Pittsburgh's loss to the Oakland Raiders.

 

Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is banged up but hurting ribs won’t keep him from playing when the Steelers play host to the New England Patriots on Sunday.

 

Roethlisberger required a pain-killing injection to deal with a rib injury suffered in the second quarter last week in Pittsburgh’s loss to the Oakland Raiders. He returned to the game in the third quarter.

 

Roethlisberger said during his weekly radio spot on Tuesday that he required X-rays in the locker room, but the tests were inconclusive. He said he was not confident he would be helping the team by returning, but opted to play.

 

“Let’s see how this plays out,” Roethlisberger said Tuesday of what he told head coach Mike Tomlin to be allowed back in the game.

 

Roethlisberger said team doctors cleared him to play, and his performance indicated he was fine. Roethlisberger completed 25 of 29 passes for 282 yards and two touchdowns.

 

Asked if there’s any reason to think he wouldn’t play against the Patriots, Roethlisberger said, “No, no, I don’t think so.”

 

The Steelers have lost three consecutive games and at 7-5-1 hold a slim lead over the 7-6 Baltimore Ravens in the AFC North.

 

–Field Level Media

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Consumer Electronics Show Will Put Sports Technology Front and Center

Technology continues to be a primary catalyst driving the explosion of interest in sports, and subsequently sports wagering in the U.S., a fact noted by the organizers of the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas Jan. 8-11.

The CES 2018 final audit revealed total attendance of 182,198 from 160 countries, including 6,645 verified media outlets. 

Technology continues to be a primary catalyst driving the explosion of interest in sports, and subsequently sports wagering in the U.S., a fact noted by the organizers of the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas Jan. 8-11.

The CES 2018 final audit revealed total attendance of 182,198 from 160 countries, including 6,645 verified media outlets. 

The Consumer Technology Association (CTA), the group producing CES, says for the second year sports tech will be a major focal point at this year’s event, and CES will again launch its “Sports Zone,” a designated convention space at what is considered the foremost U.S. technology show. As for timing, this year’s CES follows the U.S. Supreme Court decision in May that removed the federal roadblock to individual states establishing and regulating their own sports wagering marketplaces.

 

Read more Consumer Electronics Show Will Put Sports Technology Front and Center on SportsHandle.

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Q&A: Why Im Sticking With My Local Bookie

For some people located in states home to new legal sports betting markets, the post-PASPA era of wagering means business as usual.

One person located in Northern New Jersey, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk candidly, now has new legal sportsbooks in the palm of his hand, but is sticking

For some people located in states home to new legal sports betting markets, the post-PASPA era of wagering means business as usual.

One person located in Northern New Jersey, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk candidly, now has new legal sportsbooks in the palm of his hand, but is sticking with his guy for a variety of reasons.

Some factors that keep this 39-year-old man (we’ll call him “Jeff Bettor”) in the black market, such as a credit line, regulated markets will never be able to match. However there are other reasons that legal sportsbooks can consider as they collectively seek to migrate as much as the estimated $150 billion (some believe as much as $400 billion) wagered annually by U.S.-based bettors to legal markets in their respective jurisdictions.

The local guy over legal sportsbooks

 


Sports Handle (SH): How long have you been betting with your “local bookie”?

Jeff Bettor (JB): This NFL season marks the eighth that I’ve been with my current bookie.  

SH: Is he truly someone local? Is he also an agent of an offshore entity that gets a cut?

JB: Can’t say that I’ve ever used an offshore, online bookmaker. Growing up in Northern NJ, there’s never been a shortage of local bookies. I use a local guy and bet on through a website online that’s connected to my account with him.  

SH: What do you like most about the bookie?

JB: First and foremost, my bookie is good people. Over the last eight years, we’ve spent countless hours together at ball games and playing poker. I like the fact that my bookie is flexible in regards to our collect and payout number. I don’t need to meet him each week for just a few hundred dollars.  We have a preset number and once my account reaches that number, we settle up.

SH: How does the exchange of money and credit line work?

JB: All local bookies that I know offer their players a credit line. The line itself can vary depending on your relationship with the bookie and how long you’ve been a customer.  My credit line with my local bookie provides me with a $5K per game maximum and a $25K weekly credit line. The betting week runs from Monday-Sunday and the credit line resets each Monday.   

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Controversy surrounds Seahawks’ key FG block

Controversy surrounds Seahawks' key FG block

Controversy surrounds Seahawks’ key FG block

The Minnesota Vikings were deprived of three points Monday night when Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner apparently used illegal means to block a fourth-quarter field goal attempt.

Wagner put his hands on two teammates as he leaped over the offensive linemen en route to swatting down a 47-yard field goal try by Minnesota’s Dan Bailey.

Former NFL officiating chief Mike Pereira, now a TV analyst for FOX, tweeted, “Lots of talk about the Wagner block. The wording in the rule book is NEW this year and is clear. The new wording states, ‘May not place a hand or hands on a teammate or opponent in an attempt to jump through a gap to block an opponent’s kick or apparent kick.’ Case closed. Foul.”

Referee Brad Allen tossed a penalty flag on Wagner but subsequent changed his mind and said no foul had been committed.

Had the penalty been enforced, the Vikings could have chosen to take the three points, cutting their deficit to 6-3 with 5:46 remaining, or they could have taken a 15-yard gain on the fourth-and-9 play, giving them a first down at the Seattle 14-yard line.

Wagner didn’t admit to any wrongdoing after the game, which Seattle won 21-7.

“I tried to time it up; I got over it and made the block,” Wagner said, according to ESPN. “I’m an athlete, so I have just got to jump over people. It’s not that big of a deal.”

Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer said, “You’re not supposed to be able to pull guys down, if that’s what they did. Quite honestly, I didn’t see it. I didn’t see what happened. I was told what happened.”

Bailey also didn’t see Wagner’s leverage move.

“Obviously I was kind of out there in the middle of it,” Bailey said, according to the Saint Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press. “From my understanding of that rule, he can jump over, he just can’t use leverage or whatever they call it. Sometimes that’s the way it goes.

“Obviously the most disappointing thing was not getting three points there. That would’ve really helped our team. Just have to try to knock the next one through.”

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll praised special teams coaches Brian Schneider and Larry Izzo for Wagner’s successful block.

“They came to me and said, ‘Hey look, we think we have something,'” he said. “That was a great find by those guys. …

“We practiced all week with Bobby jumping over the guys; never touched anybody. I don’t know what happened in the game, but that’s the way he was doing (it). He was able to clear the line of scrimmage without touching anybody, and that was the plan.

“Very few people could do that, but he had pulled it off beautifully during the week, and that’s what the officials called. But I know that there’s some controversy about that.”

–Field Level Media

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Seahawks stop Vikings in defensive struggle

Seahawks stop Vikings in defensive struggle

Chris Carson rushed for

Seahawks stop Vikings in defensive struggle

Chris Carson rushed for a touchdown and Justin Coleman returned a fumble 29 yards for a score, both in the final three minutes, as the Seattle Seahawks defeated the visiting Minnesota Vikings 21-7 Monday night.

Sebastian Janikowski kicked two field goals as the Seahawks (8-5) won their fourth in a row and extended their lead in the race for the NFC’s first wild card to 1 1/2 games over the Vikings (6-6-1). Minnesota lost for the third time in four games.

The Seahawks rushed for 214 yards, including a 40-yard scamper by quarterback Russell Wilson on Seattle’s lone touchdown drive. Carson’s 2-yard run with 2:53 remaining gave Seattle a 14-0 lead. Carson finished with a game-high 90 rushing yards on 22 attempts.

On the Vikings’ second play from scrimmage after Carson’s touchdown, Jacob Martin sacked Kirk Cousins and the ball popped loose. Coleman recovered it and racing down the sideline for a score.

Minnesota’s only touchdown came on a 6-yard pass from Cousins to Dalvin Cook with 1:10 left.

The Vikings had 276 yards of total offense — 2 more yards than the Seahawks’ total. Cousins completed 20 of 33 passes for 208 yards, and Cook rushed for 55 yards on 13 carries.

Wilson connected on 10 of 20 passes for 72 yards.

After Janikowski kicked his second field goal of the game, a 35-yarder to make it 6-0 with 13:22 remaining in the game, the Vikings used a 48-yard pass from Cousins to Stefon Diggs to finally reach the red zone.

Minnesota got a first down at Seattle’s 4-yard line. Latavius Murray rushed for 2 yards before Cousins’ pass toward the back corner of the end zone was long. Cook rushed for 1 yard on third down, setting up fourth-and-goal. Cousins’ pass over the middle for tight end Kyle Rudolph near the back of the end zone was knocked away by Seattle safety Bradley McDougald.

The Vikings attempted a field goal on their next possession, but Dan Bailey’s 47-yard try was blocked by Bobby Wagner.

After a scoreless first quarter, the Seahawks got a 37-yard field goal from Janikowski with 14:11 left in the second, capping a 13-play, 70-yard drive.

Seattle moved into the red zone again in the final two minutes of the first half but came up empty, as Minnesota linebacker Eric Kendricks intercepted a pass that Wilson was trying to throw away after losing his footing.

The Seahawks played without their top wide receiver, Doug Baldwin, who was sidelined due to a hip injury.

–Field Level Media

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NFL notebook: Raiders fire GM McKenzie

NFL notebook: Raiders fire GM McKenzie

Reggie McKenzie is done as Raiders general

NFL notebook: Raiders fire GM McKenzie

Reggie McKenzie is done as Raiders general manager, reportedly eschewing the opportunity to maintain his role through the end of the regular season in Oakland.

The team said in a statement: “We are grateful for everything Reggie has done for this organization as a player, executive and member of the Raider family. … The Raiders will immediately begin a search for a new front office executive and will have no further comment until that process is complete.”

Coach Jon Gruden, in the first year of a 10-year, $100 million contract, and McKenzie reportedly have differed greatly in player evaluation and their vision for the roster going forward.

ESPN and NFL Network reported that McKenzie held a meeting with the Raiders’ scouting department on Monday morning to inform them he was fired and would not accept the offer to stay in the role until January.

–Journeyman quarterback Josh Johnson unseated Mark Sanchez for the starting job with the Washington Redskins.

Johnson will start this week against the Jacksonville Jaguars as the reeling Redskins look to avoid a fifth consecutive loss.

“We’ll get Josh ready to go,” said coach Jay Gruden, who worked with Johnson in 2008 with Tampa Bay and in 2013 with Cincinnati. “Fortunately he’s been around me for a while and can handle the terminology, and he did a good job moving around.”

–Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy is day-to-day with a hamstring injury, and linebacker Matt Milano had surgery to repair a broken fibula, coach Sean McDermott announced Monday.

McCoy was scheduled to undergo an MRI after getting hurt Sunday early in the Bills’ loss to the New York Jets, but he appears to have a chance to play in Week 15.

–Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill is sore from the ankle injury he sustained just before halftime Sunday but appears to be OK, coach Adam Gase said.

Tannehill missed two plays after being sacked against the New England Patriots but returned in the second half.

–Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche is headed to injured reserve with a knee injury that will require surgery, coach Steve Wilks announced.

Wilks declined to offer more details on Nkemdiche’s injury, and it is unclear how serious the surgery is.

–Redskins tight end Jordan Reed has a toe sprain and might not play again this season.

Jay Gruden said there is “a level of concern” about Reed’s injury, which could keep him out a few weeks, with three games remaining in the regular season.

–Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill avoided serious injury on Sunday and is considered day-to-day, ESPN reported. Also, coach Andy Reid suggested safety Eric Berry (heel) could make his season debut on Thursday against the Los Angeles Chargers but added that the situation is very fluid.

Hill fought through a heel injury in the Chiefs’ win over the Baltimore Ravens, totaling eight catches for 139 yards, including a game-saving, 48-yard gain on fourth-and-9 to set up the tying touchdown in regulation.

–Leonard Fournette’s sideline spat with fans during Jacksonville’s Thursday night loss to the Tennessee Titans in Nashville came after a fan yelled a racial slur at Fournette, Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said.

A video released Monday morning by TMZ showed Fournette yelling at a fan, and Marrone said he asked Fournette about the exchange later Monday. Fournette told him a fan used a racial slur, Marrone said.

Asked if there were witnesses to support Fournette’s claim, Marrone replied, “I trust the player.”

–Field Level Media

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Quinn: Falcons failed to meet expectations

Quinn: Falcons failed to meet expectations

Atlanta Falcons: Coach Dan Quinn isn't

Quinn: Falcons failed to meet expectations

Atlanta Falcons: Coach Dan Quinn isn’t hiding from the fact that the Falcons (4-9) are one of the biggest disappointments in the NFL. “As we’re sitting here at Week 15, we have four wins,” Quinn told reporters. “So you’d better believe we’re evaluating everything and doing anything to get it right.” Atlanta has dropped its past five games. Early-season injuries began the team’s derailment, but mistakes and inconsistent play have continued the decline. “As we’re going through it, from players to staff to everything, we want to make sure we look at the body of work and get clear, concise evaluations on everybody,” Quinn said. “When you’re standing where we’re at, it’s not what you want to do, but that’s part of it and what we’re looking at for sure. If you’re clearly at four wins during this time, then we have not met expectations.”

Carolina Panthers: A once-promising campaign has disintegrated with five consecutive setbacks. Carolina has gone from battling the New Orleans Saints for the NFC West lead to being an outsider in the NFC wild-card chase. “Things happen,” veteran defensive end Julius Peppers said. “Your plans don’t always work out how you want them to.” That is certainly true with the Panthers, but Peppers said the team still has a positive vibe. “To be honest with you, I don’t feel like there is a loss of confidence or anything,” Peppers said. “We’re just not putting a good product on the field.” Meanwhile, widedout Devin Funchess, who is slated for free agency after the season, played in just 32 of 72 snaps Sunday in Carolina’s loss to the Cleveland Browns and has just three catches over the past three games. Rookie DJ Moore played 66 snaps vs. the Browns and second-year pro Curtis Samuel played 58.

New Orleans Saints: The offense came to life by scoring 25 points over the final 19-plus minutes Sunday in the Saints’ 28-14 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after a slump of more than 6 1/2 quarters. New Orleans scored just 13 points during its funk — a stunning development for a team that averaged 41 points over its previous five games while scoring at least 30 in each. “A lot of people expect us to come out and be perfect, but that’s just not reality,” Saints running back Alvin Kamara told reporters. “You know, people make mistakes. We may start slow sometimes. But it’s not when adversity hits, it’s how you respond to it. And I think this team responds well to adversity.”

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Receiver Mike Evans is on pace to break the club’s single-season receiving yardage mark that was set in 1989. Evans has 1,207 yards and needs to average just 72 yards over the final three games to surpass the record set by Mark Carrier (1,422). Evans has three of the team’s nine 1,200-yard campaigns, including his career best of 1,321 yards in 2016. Earlier this season, Evans broke Carrier’s franchise record for most career receiving yards. Carrier had 5,018. Evans, 25, is now at 5,786. Despite Evans’ strong campaign, Tampa Bay has lost eight of its past 11 games after a 2-0 start.

–Field Level Media

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Cardinals giving no thought to sitting Rosen

Cardinals giving no thought to sitting Rosen

Arizona Cardinals: Despite a

Cardinals giving no thought to sitting Rosen

Arizona Cardinals: Despite a completely devastated offensive line and others going down with injuries right and left, the Cardinals do not intend to sit quarterback Josh Rosen. To the contrary, they want him to get as many reps as possible. “To sit him, I don’t think it’d be advantageous to do that,” head coach Steve Wilks said, adding that he doesn’t see Rosen developing bad habits. “(Playing) is an opportunity for him to continue to grow.” Wilks remains optimistic about what he’s seen from the rookie. “You can see the potential and the things he is capable of doing,” he said. “…He has the qualities and the skillset. The inconsistency is there, but a lot of it is not just him, it’s the personnel and that falls back on us as coaches to put those guys in position to be successful.”

Los Angeles Rams: L.A.’s defense wasn’t the problem in a 15-6 loss at Chicago on Sunday night, but NFL sack leader Aaron Donald was kept awfully quiet by the Bears. Donald had just one QB hit (his fewest in a game since Week 6) and went sackless for just the second time since Week 3. According to ESPN Analytics, Donald won on just 18 percent of his pass-rush snaps after entering the week having won on a league-high 43 percent of rushes this season. Despite the quiet night, though, Donald still leads the league in sacks (16.5) by three, tackles for loss (20) by three and quarterback hits (33) by six.

San Francisco 49ers: The much maligned 49ers’ defense shined in Sunday’s win over the Broncos, holding Denver to 3.9 yards per play and stopping the Broncos on 13 of 15 third downs. But San Francisco’s turnover luck remains missing, as the 49ers failed to recover any of the Broncos’ four fumbles. Through 13 games, the Niners still have just five takeaways, five fewer than any other NFL team and a figure that seven teams have totaled in a single game this season. The fewest turnovers forced in NFL history is 11 by the 1982 Baltimore Colts, who played only nine games in a strike-shortened campaign. The 2006 Washington Redskins have the fewest takeaways (12) in a 16-game season.

The Seattle Seahawks are hosting the Minnesota Vikings on Monday Night Football.

–Field Level Media

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Chiefs’ Reid marvels at Mahomes’ no-look pass

Chiefs' Reid marvels at Mahomes' no-look pass

Chiefs’ Reid marvels at Mahomes’ no-look pass

Denver Broncos: After a crushing loss to the 49ers on Sunday, head coach Vance Joseph was critical of quarterback Case Keenum for not attacking downfield more often against San Francisco’s zone-heavy defense. “Yesterday he was a little cautious with the ball,” Joseph said. The bottom line is we got three weeks to play and he’s got to make more plays, and sometimes taking some chances allows you to make more plays. …I want Case to be more aggressive, especially down the seams over those Cover-3 defenses. That’s where the soft spots are, so he’s got to be aggressive down the seams and not worry about making mistakes.”

Kansas City Chiefs: After watching the film, head coach Andy Reid sounded even more impressed by Patrick Mahomes’ no-look pass that had the NFL world buzzing on Sunday. “I’ve worked real hard with him on that,” a deadpan Reid began before cracking a smile. “We build that right into the offense.” Jokes aside, Reid praised Mahomes, noting he froze Ravens safety Chuck Clark with the look-off. “It’s something to do in a practice, but then you start throwing it in a game, and a game against the No. 1 defense in the National Football League, that’s a little different,” Reid said. “You gotta have tremendous confidence in what you’re doing there. … I haven’t seen a lotta guys do that. I was around (Brett) Favre, he did some amazing things that way, Donovan (McNabb) and those guys, but no… that umm… No, not quite like that.”

Los Angeles Chargers: Three days before a showdown at Kansas City, the Chargers’ running back situation is in limbo. Head coach Anthony Lynn told reporters Melvin Gordon is “getting better” but will work off to the side of practice this week as the Chargers are unlikely to go full-speed on a short week. Austin Ekeler, meanwhile, sustained a stinger Sunday but avoided concussion protocol, though his availability for Thursday remains unclear. “He’s a tough kid and he’s been working through these stingers for a while,” Lynn said. “If he can play, he’ll play, but right now I don’t really know.” Seventh-round rookie Justin Jackson is next in line for carries. He had 15 carries for 120 yards and a touchdown in Weeks 12-13 but was held to just 12 yards on seven carries Sunday.

Oakland Raiders: Head coach Jon Gruden distanced himself from the firing of general manager Reggie McKenzie on Monday, despite previous reports that Gruden had taken over personnel decisions from McKenzie and planned to bring in his own front-office leader after the season. Gruden said he does not know yet whether he’ll be involved in the team’s search for a new general manager. “I know (owner) Mark (Davis) is going to accumulate a list of names and candidates, and I’m sure we’ll discuss those people later this week, but right now I don’t have any idea,” Gruden said. He added that he’d like to have influence in personnel matters moving forward. “I think any coach wants input, let’s be honest,” he said. “I’ve had input here. I had input on the draft picks we made when I was here with Al Davis. I had some input on the draft this year. … I would like to be involved for obvious reasons.”

–Field Level Media

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Outlook of Henry’s season changed with epic performance

Outlook of Henry's season changed with epic performance

Outlook of Henry’s season changed with epic performance

Houston Texans: The team’s nine-game winning streak is over and veteran cornerback Johnathan Joseph didn’t necessarily see it as a bad development. “I hate to lose, but probably was the best thing for this team to lose that game,” Joseph said of Sunday’s 24-21 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. The way Joseph sees it, a long string of victories makes players forget the pain and torture of losing. “I think it’s a learning experience,” Joseph said. “Sometimes you think that winning is easy. I’m not saying that. That’s what we were doing as a team, what I think, to go on a nine-game winning streak to make history. Sometimes you get that little lapse going on.”

Indianapolis Colts: Star receiver T.Y. Hilton had a season-best 199 receiving yards against the Texans to post his club-record 11th game of 150 or more receiving yards, snapping a tie with Hall of Fame member Marvin Harrison. Hilton made five first-down catches and caught nine of the 12 passes in which he was targeted by quarterback Andrew Luck. “T.Y. does some things very special. He does some things that not many other people can do,” Luck told reporters. “So we saw some opportunities through film that we thought we could take advantage of. Once we got that first one, it was like ‘Ok, yeah, here we go, let’s get it.'” Hilton is 14 yards away from his fifth career 1,000-yard receiving season.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Leonard Fournette’s underwhelming season continued in last Thursday’s 30-9 loss to the Tennessee Titans when he had just 36 rushing yards on 14 carries — his long gain was 7 — and caught two passes for 5 yards. Fournette has just 350 yards in six games this season while twice injuring a hamstring and also missing a game due to suspension for an incident in a game against the Buffalo Bills. A TMZ-released video displayed Fournette yelling at a fan during the loss to the Titans and coach Doug Marrone said he asked Fournette about it and was told the fan used a racial slur. Fellow running back T.J. Yeldon said he heard the use of the slur.

Tennessee Titans: One game has changed the outlook of Derrick Henry’s season. The stellar contest against the Jaguars in which Henry gained a franchise-record 238 yards and scored four touchdowns — including tying Tony Dorsett’s NFL mark with a 99-yard scamper — is overshadowing the fact he didn’t even reach 60 yards in any of the first 12 games or have a run longer than 16 yards. “I just had to look myself in the mirror and overcome it,” Henry said. “Continue to work, continue to get better. I never made an excuse for myself, but just had to keep chopping down wood.” Titans coach Mike Vrabel indicated Henry (712 yards) can expect a lot of carries in the cold December weather.

–Field Level Media

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Patriots’ Belichick: Loss ‘starts with me’

Patriots' Belichick: Loss 'starts with me'

Buffalo Bills: In Bills'

Patriots’ Belichick: Loss ‘starts with me’

Buffalo Bills: In Bills’ history, just four players have rushed for 95 yards in three consecutive games: Fred Jackson, Hall of Famers Thurman Thomas and O.J. Simpson, and now rookie quarterback Josh Allen, according to The Buffalo News. He’s also the leading rusher on the team this season with 490 after missing a month of the season. And head coach Sean McDermott said that isn’t ideal. “We’ve got to be able to protect the quarterback and run the football,” McDermott said Sunday. “I know when your quarterback is your leading rusher week in, and week out, it’s not a healthy thing.”

Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins (7-6) are in a four-way tie with Baltimore, Indianapolis and Tennessee for the final AFC wild-card berth, and the oddsmakers have chimed in on their chances. The Dolphins’ three remaining games are against Jacksonville at home and on the road against Minnesota and Buffalo. According to the Sun Sentinel, the website FiveThirtyEight put the chance at 20 percent for the Dolphins. The sports betting site Action Network said its simulations show a 13 percent chance. Before beating New England on Sunday, the chances were in the single digits. They still aren’t mathematically eliminated from winning the AFC East: the sites put their chances at 1 percent and 2.3 percent, respectively.

New England Patriots: The final play of the game Sunday that sealed the win for the Dolphins is being called the Miami Miracle. It could be called the Foxborough Failure, too, head coach Bill Belichick implied on Monday. He addressed the decision to put tight end Rob Gronkowski in for safety Devin McCourty on the play, an improbable 69-yard touchdown. “It starts with me. We have to play better situational football. We’ll work to try to achieve that,” Belichick said Monday in his conference call. He said the line of scrimmage was too far for a Hail Mary, and that Gronkowski would have been well suited to catch the “deep, long throw” that was expected. That play wasn’t the only reason for the 34-33 loss, he said. “I think there were a lot of things that could have been better in the entire game. I think the game was a lot more than that play, but certainly that play wasn’t a good one for us.”

New York Jets: The Jets are 4-9 and tied for last place in the AFC East. The Houston Texans are 9-4 and atop the AFC South. But Texans coach Bill O’Brien has a ton of respect for the Jets, their opponent Saturday. “I would say that Jamal Adams is one of the best players we’ve played against all year,” O’Brien told the New York Post on Monday of the safety. “I’ve been watching him now all morning and started watching him last week. He’s a great football player.” And he also had kind words for rookie quarterback Sam Darnold. “I really like Sam. I liked him coming out in the draft. I think he’s got good poise. He’s got a really good arm. He’s accurate. He’s smart. I think he can extend plays. I think he’s an excellent young quarterback. I think the young quarterbacks in the league right now, it’s really an exciting time. Sam’s definitely a part of that.”

–Field Level Media

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Chiefs’ Hill day-to-day; Berry could play Thursday

Chiefs' Hill day-to-day; Berry could play Thursday

Chiefs’ Hill day-to-day; Berry could play Thursday

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill avoided serious injury on Sunday and is considered day-to-day, ESPN reported Monday.

Hill fought through a heel injury in the win over the Baltimore Ravens, totaling eight catches for 139 yards, including a game-saving 48-yard gain on fourth-and-9 to set up the tying touchdown in regulation.

“My foot’s bad,” Hill told NBC’s Peter King afterward. “Our people did a tremendous job wrapping my foot. I was still feeling my heel, but at the same time, I knew that man, if you want the W, if you want to be a great receiver, this is your moment to make plays.”

Head coach Andy Reid did not have any specific injury updates on Monday morning, as players were given time to sleep in on a short week as they prepare for Thursday night’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers, but he did indicate Hill could play Thursday.

“I’m sure he was sore this morning,” Reid said. “If I was a betting man, I’d probably say he’ll play. He loves to play the game, so…”

Meanwhile, Reid suggested safety Eric Berry (heel) could make his season debut on Thursday but added that the situation is very fluid.

“He was getting better as [last] week went on, and we’ll just see how it goes here the next couple days,” Reid said. “There’s a chance. I’m literally taking this day by day and we’ll just see how the thing goes.

“…Trust me, it’s killing him not to be out there.”

Reid also indicated that Berry’s injury is a matter of more than just pain tolerance, as was reported on CBS’s broadcast on Sunday.

Berry has been listed as questionable to play in each of the last two weeks after returning to practice in Week 13 for the first time since August. He has yet to be a full participant in a practice this season.

–Field Level Media

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Pederson defends call not to go for 2

Pederson defends call not to go for 2

Pederson defends call not to go for 2

Dallas Cowboys: National reports Sunday said the Cowboys had tried to lure tight end-turned-broadcaster Jason Witten out of the “Monday Night Football” booth and back to the field at AT&T Stadium. On Monday, Witten said he’s happy what he’s doing and also that the Cowboys just don’t need him. “There’s nothing there,” Witten told The Dallas Morning News. “Look, I’m enjoying where I’m at. Those guys are red-hot. They don’t need to change a thing with the way they’re playing and the way that defense is playing. They’re in good shape and so am I.” Head coach Jason Garrett denied the report Monday, saying, “There is no truth to that story.” Witten retired in April to become the MNF analyst, following Jon Gruden’s return to the NFL.

New York Giants: As the Giants struggled to a 1-7 start this season, there were calls for the team to move on from Eli Manning as the starting quarterback and replace him with rookie Kyle Lauletta. The resurgent Giants, now 5-8, have enjoyed success with Manning the past few weeks, but in a blowout victory over Washington on Sunday, fans got a glimpse at Lauletta when he replaced Manning. He entered the game in the fourth quarter, threw an interception and finished the game 0-for-5 passing. What did head coach Pat Shurmur think? “I don’t think there was enough there to evaluate how he did,” Shurmur told reporters. “Would have liked to see him get a couple more completions and not throw that interception, certainly.” Shurmur added: “I fielded enough questions regarding Kyle Lauletta, that those of you that were interested in seeing him, hopefully you got a chance to see what you were looking for.”

Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles are 5-for-5 on two-point-conversion attempts this season, so why did they kick the extra point to tie rather than go for two and a chance at a regulation-time win against the Cowboys Sunday night? “I got a report on this,” head coach Doug Pederson said in his news conference Monday. “I can’t off the top of my head think of exactly the numbers, but everything was in favor of going for one. And with Dallas having a minute and 39 seconds I think left with two timeouts, it changes.” When prodded by a reporter to further explain his decision in the 29-23 loss that put his team two games behind Dallas in the NFC East, Pederson defended the choice. “I understand what you’re saying,” he said. “Again, with two timeouts and all four downs and we hadn’t really stopped them — we can spin this thing a hundred different ways. I mean, I don’t know. I still stand by my decision.”

Washington Redskins: Don’t tell Josh Johnson — now Washington’s fourth starting quarterback of the season — that nothing good can come from playing video games. According to reports Monday, just eight days ago he was playing in a charity basketball game in Oakland, Calif., when the Redskins called him about assuming the backup duties to Mark Sanchez. As a 32-year-old journeyman quarterback who hadn’t been on an NFL roster since 2014, he didn’t exactly know all he should about his new team. So how did he learn all of their names in a crash course? By playing “Madden” of course. Johnson has this week to get to know them even better. He’ll take the first-team reps after outplaying a benched Sanchez in Sunday’s 40-16 loss to the Giants.

–Field Level Media

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Jaguars’ Marrone: Fan used racial slur at Fournette

Jaguars' Marrone: Fan used racial slur at Fournette

Jaguars’ Marrone: Fan used racial slur at Fournette

Leonard Fournette’s sideline spat with fans during Thursday night’s loss to the Tennessee Titans in Nashville came after a fan yelled a racial slur at Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone said Monday.

A video released Monday morning by TMZ showed Fournette yelling at a fan, and Marrone said he asked Fournette about the exchange later Monday. Fournette told him a fan used a racial slur, Marrone said.

Asked if there were witnesses to support Fournette’s claim, Marrone replied, “I trust the player.”

Fournette declined to address the matter with reporters, citing his agent’s advice, but fellow running back T.J. Yeldon agreed with his teammate’s account and added that there wasn’t just one slur.

“Did I hear it? Yeah,” Yeldon said. “All the running backs and people on the offensive side were hearing the exchange. They were heckling at us all game, at him and all of us all game.

“All night. All night. All day they was calling us racial slurs, all game.”

In the first part of the video, Fournette is standing close to the front row of the seats and can be heard saying, “Listen, you’re too old for that. I will beat your a–.”

Two people then come over and pull him away from the group. Later in a different video clip, Fournette can be heard yelling from the team’s bench, while Yeldon looks on.

“Facts, you’re too old for that,” Fournette yells. “You’re too old for that. Chill out. I’m not worried about you. You want to come down here? I’ll whoop your a–.”

The Titans won the game 30-9 as Fournette finished with 36 yards on 14 carries. It was the running back’s first game back after serving a one-game suspension for leaving the bench and fighting with Buffalo Bills defensive end Shaq Lawson in Week 12 in Buffalo.

–Field Level Media

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Redskins TE Reed’s season could be over

Redskins TE Reed's season could be over

Redskins TE Reed’s season could be over

Washington Redskins tight end Jordan Reed has a toe sprain and might not play again this season, head coach Jay Gruden told reporters Monday.

Gruden said there is “a level of concern” about Reed’s injury, which could keep him out a few weeks, with three games remaining in the regular season.

Multiple outlets reported Reed sustained both a toe injury and a foot sprain in the first quarter of Sunday’s loss to the New York Giants. NFL Network reported Reed was scheduled to have a precautionary MRI on Monday and his injury isn’t believed to be major, but it still could end his season.

Reed has battled injuries throughout his career, particularly to his toes, and he had surgery on both big toes this offseason. He has yet to miss a game this season, though he has started only eight of 13 contests and played just 60.6 percent of the offensive snaps, his lowest mark since 2014.

The 28-year-old has 54 catches for 558 yards and two touchdowns on the year. He has caught a career-low 64.3 percent of his targets after topping 74 percent in each of his first five NFL seasons.

Reed has missed 28 games because of injury in his career, including 10 last year.

–Field Level Media

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Packers’ Philbin ready for challenge camp

Packers' Philbin ready for challenge camp

Chicago Bears: Still only

Packers’ Philbin ready for challenge camp

Chicago Bears: Still only months into their coach-QB relationship, Matt Nagy and Mitchell Trubisky are finding their way through rough patches by learning to identify the same solution to gray areas that emerge during the game. “We talk about things being black, white or gray. When things are gray, making sure our eyes go to the same spots. That’s part of molding our identity into this offense. We’re getting there. There’s so many different variables that go into each play.” Nagy said the play of the defense Sunday night against the Rams showing Trubisky it will have his back if he makes a mistake could be a turning point. “On both sides, when you’re playing well or not playing well … next play,” Nagy said.

Detroit Lions: No update was provided by coach Matt Patricia on Monday’s conference call regarding the status of defensive end Ziggy Ansah. Ansah, who battled shoulder issues all season, left Sunday’s win at Arizona with a recurrence of the injury. Patricia has not been keen on releasing information about injuries, especially as it relates to Ansah, and fell back on his canned reply that there will be an update if Ansah is in position to help the team. It’s likely, if not probable, than Ansah could have played his final snap for the Lions on Sunday. He’ll be a free agent again and after the Lions invested $17.143 million in Ansah with middling results — seven games, 12 tackles, 4.0 sacks — a split is a strong possibility.

Green Bay Packers: Interim coach Joe Philbin won his debut on Sunday but there were a few memorable defeats along the way. In the first 1:04 of the game, Philbin tossed challenge flags on two plays — and lost them both, leaving him without a challenge for the rest of the first half. That opening drive ended with Atlanta scoring a touchdown, and leading to a temporarily deflated Philbin. “We’ll do some challenge education during the course of this week,” Philbin said. “Certainly looks like I need it.” In reality, Philbin had a good record using challenges as head coach of the Dolphins, save for a memorable moment in preseason 2015 when he challenged hoping officials would declare a rushing touchdown. Instead, the replay offered the opportunity to see Miami running back Damien Williams fumbled the ball out of the endzone for a touchback.

Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings were in action at Seattle on Monday.

–Field Level Media

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Raiders fire GM McKenzie

Raiders fire GM McKenzie

Reggie McKenzie is done as Raiders general manager,

Raiders fire GM McKenzie

Reggie McKenzie is done as Raiders general manager, reportedly eschewing the opportunity to maintain his role through the end of the regular season in Oakland.

“We are grateful for everything Reggie has done for this organization as a player, executive and member of the Raider family,” the team said in a statement. “We wish the best for Reggie, June and the entire McKenzie family.

“The Raiders will immediately begin a search for a new front office executive and will have no further comment until that process is complete.”

Head coach Jon Gruden, in the first year of a 10-year, $100 million contract, and McKenzie reportedly have differed greatly in player evaluation and their vision for the roster going forward.

ESPN and NFL Network reported that McKenzie held a meeting with the Raiders’ scouting department on Monday morning to inform them he was fired and would not accept the offer to stay in the role until January.

The writing on the wall was revealed with midseason comments from Raiders owner Mark Davis, who responded to questions about the future structure of the front office by saying Gruden “isn’t going anywhere” but not nailing down McKenzie’s role or status.

Gruden brought in players he favored and traded away two-time Pro Bowl selection Amari Cooper as well as Khalil Mack, the 2016 Defensive Player of the Year and a two-time, first-team All-Pro. McKenzie, named Executive of the Year in 2016, used first-round picks on both players.

In the offseason, there were rumors that Bruce Allen, who previously worked with Gruden in Tampa Bay as well as during his first stint in Oakland, would join him with the Raiders.

Allen is the president of the Washington Redskins, but fans and media have been calling for owner Daniel Snyder to replace Allen when the season ends.

The Raiders won their third game of the season Sunday.

–Field Level Media

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Bills RB McCoy day-to-day, LB Milano to IR

Bills RB McCoy day-to-day, LB Milano to IR

Bills RB McCoy day-to-day, LB Milano to IR

Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy is day-to-day with a hamstring injury, and linebacker Matt Milano had surgery to repair a broken fibula, head coach Sean McDermott announced Monday.

McCoy was scheduled to undergo an MRI after getting hurt early in Sunday’s loss to the New York Jets, but he appears to have a chance to play in Week 15.

The 30-year-old running back left the game after nine plays — he had 1 yard on two carries — on Buffalo’s opening drive and has struggled with leg muscle strains in recent seasons.

Chris Ivory served as the Bills’ primary ballcarrier and finished the game with 42 yards on 12 carries. At 4-9, the Bills might opt to rest McCoy until they’re convinced he’s fully healthy.

Milano, 24, will go on injured reserve, but McDermott said he does not expect the injury to put his availability in doubt for next season. A fifth-round pick in 2017, Milano was having a breakout campaign in his second season with 78 tackles (12 for loss), three interceptions and seven passes defensed while starting all 13 games.

“The good part is Matt’s done a really good job,” McDermott said. “I thought he really grew this year. We’ll miss him.”

–Field Level Media

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Cardinals DT Nkemdiche (knee surgery) to IR

Cardinals DT Nkemdiche (knee surgery) to IR

Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche is headed

Cardinals DT Nkemdiche (knee surgery) to IR

Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche is headed to injured reserve with a knee injury that will require surgery, head coach Steve Wilks announced Monday.

Wilks declined to offer more details on Nkemdiche’s injury, and it is unclear how serious the surgery is.

Nkemdiche was hurt at the end of the third quarter of Sunday’s loss to the Detroit Lions and was initially ruled questionable to return. He finished with 22 snaps, his second fewest in any game this season.

The 24-year-old finishes the campaign with 32 tackles (nine for loss), 4.5 sacks and seven QB hits in 10 games (six starts), far improved from his numbers over his first two seasons: 12 tackles (one for loss), no sacks, three QB hits in 17 games (no starts). Nkemdiche had a career game in Week 12 against the Chargers, posting 2.5 sacks, three QB hits and four tackles for loss.

After taking Nkemdiche 29th overall in the 2016 draft, the Cardinals must decide this offseason if they want to exercise his fifth-year option for 2020, which likely would be worth $10 million to $11 million but guaranteed only for injury.

–Field Level Media

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Ravens expect QB Jackson to be OK

Ravens expect QB Jackson to be OK

Baltimore Ravens: Quarterback Lamar Jackson

Ravens expect QB Jackson to be OK

Baltimore Ravens: Quarterback Lamar Jackson said Sunday his ankle was fine and X-rays showed no structural damage, and head coach John Harbaugh said the same on Monday morning. Harbaugh said Jackson “should be fine. Looks like he’s OK. I think he’s going to be OK,” without seeing Jackson at the facility on Monday. Harbaugh added that quarterback Joe Flacco would be “part of the game plan” this week if Flacco is ready to go. He was inactive on Sunday at Kansas City. The Ravens are also optimistic cornerback Marlon Humphrey will be ready for play Sunday with a groin injury Harbaugh described as being “annoying.”

Cincinnati Bengals: Marvin Lewis said the key for starting quarterback Jeff Driskel, standing in for injured Andy Dalton, in the final three games of the season will be proving he can take care of the football. “That’s the thing. We’re constantly talking about [going] to the next down, continue to play within yourself and we’ll rate his progressions as we go,” Lewis said. “There were some where he was a little quick, and he had opportunity — even on the two-point play — he had the play, and he went away from it. So, those are things that over time he will do better, and he’s got to understand that. Again, he’s doing everything he can. This is great for him and his career. This is career-changing for him to continue to play the way he’s playing.”

Cleveland Browns: Interim head coach Gregg Williams has seen too many rookies fail to make an impact, but it was obvious to him early that No. 1 pick quarterback Baker Mayfield would not be one of them. “Everything that we saw in college on him and the things that we did all of the background searches and all of the background studying that we did on him, it does not shock me (to see his impact this season),” Williams said. “He has worked extremely hard for his success. It is not something that has just happened by happenstance. The amount of work that he puts in does not shock us that he also takes it to the ball game because he works extremely hard to have an overall understanding of every aspect of the game. That does not come easy.”

Pittsburgh Steelers: Unbridled support has ceased for kicker Chris Boswell from head coach Mike Tomlin, who opened his press conference following Sunday’s loss at Oakland with things the team must do better to win, including “make kicks.” Boswell, a 2017 Pro Bowler who signed a four-year extension in August, has missed an NFL-worst six field goals and five extra points this season, and Tomlin sounded as if he might be near a tipping point with his kicking situation following a third consecutive loss. “It’s disappointing here today,” Tomlin said. “That’s all I’m going to say on it.” Boswell, who slipped and had a potential game-tying field goal blocked Sunday, senses the urgency to turn things around. “He’s not the only one disappointed,” Boswell said. “I mean this is a business. You’re evaluated by results and I’m not getting it done right now so whatever happens from here happens.”

–Field Level Media

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Film study: How Ravens bent (but couldn’t break) Mahomes

It was a heavyweight prizefight.

 

The Baltimore Ravens' top-ranked defense and coordinator Wink Martindale threw everything they had at quarterback Patrick Mahomes, and landed several heavy blows. The youngster staggered but somehow stayed off the mat long enough to win the decision and lift the Kansas City Chiefs to an overtime win.

 

Martindale's

It was a heavyweight prizefight.

 

The Baltimore Ravens’ top-ranked defense and coordinator Wink Martindale threw everything they had at quarterback Patrick Mahomes, and landed several heavy blows. The youngster staggered but somehow stayed off the mat long enough to win the decision and lift the Kansas City Chiefs to an overtime win.

 

Martindale’s repertoire is as diverse as any, and he broke out all the tricks, changing up coverages and pass-rush looks almost constantly. He included many of Baltimore’s traditional amoeba fronts and fire zone blitzes, but deployed them at both traditional and untraditional moments, basically on any down at any time. Always well coached, the Ravens held their disguises with excellent discipline despite Mahomes’ hard count, and their post-snap rotations often made him a beat late.

 

At times, Baltimore showed man coverage pre-snap, by traveling with a man in motion, but then played zone after the snap. One such example froze Mahomes as Matt Judon won inside Mitchell Schwartz for a 9-yard sack.

 

The Ravens also routinely brought multiple second-level defenders as part of the rush, breaking down the Chiefs’ protection for huge hits. Judon came clean for one early, and C.J. Mosley and Patrick Onwuasor each hammered Mahomes as well. Mosley’s hit produced an intentional-grounding flag, while Onwuasor forced a fluttering duck as Mahomes heaved downfield, a likely interception if Eric Weddle had turned around. (To be fair, he was frantically chasing Tyreek Hill, not knowing Mahomes had been hit.)

 

When they didn’t get there, the Ravens’ combination of coverage change-ups and exotic rushes forced Mahomes to hold the ball, creating takeaway opportunities. His interception was a wild, ill-advised lob while getting hit after dancing in the pocket. The QB nearly gave the game away with a self-forced fumble while scrambling in the red zone in overtime. (The loose ball somehow evaded the grasp of Terrell Suggs, who early dropped a pick on a screen pass.)

 

Of course, forcing Mahomes to extend plays is a dangerous game. What he lacked in coverage recognition and ball security on Sunday he made up for with pure playmaking.

 

A few came outside the pocket late, but early on, Mahomes created from inside the pocket, waiting for the Ravens’ zones to break down over time. On an incredible third-and-19 conversion to Hill, Mahomes calmly stepped up and inside to avoid Judon and flung it to Hill’s deep crosser, which needed time to develop and come open. Mahomes did this several other times, most notably on his no-look throw to Demarcus Robinson, an unbelievably pinpoint flick left while he froze safety Chuck Clark by looking right.

 

Of course, the arm talent did its part. Mahomes dazzled with a slew of gorgeous touch throws to Travis Kelce, including one over terrific coverage from cornerback Brandon Carr and another (the 15-yard TD) after Mahomes looked off Clark, the deep-half safety.

 

The off-schedule playmaking ultimately saved Kansas City, as Baltimore’s coverage won on a would-be game-clinching fourth-and-9 until Mahomes broke contain and chucked to Hill for 48 yards.

 

As usual, Andy Reid helped his QB with brilliant scheming. He manufactured easy yards throughout the game with misdirection on runs, screens and bootlegs. But the most notable design might have been the game-tying TD, a creative yet gutsy call.

 

On fourth-and-3 from the 5 with 57 seconds left, Reid called for a bunch formation to set picks for running back Damien Williams. But instead of having Williams align right (to the bunch side) of Mahomes — which could alert the defense to the design — Reid had him align left and work THROUGH the line after the snap, moving across to the right to get behind the bunch releases.

 

This wrinkle was risky. It takes longer to develop, and if any of the Ravens’ six rushers got in Williams’ way, an unblocked Weddle would have sacked Mahomes, ending the game. But it worked brilliantly — the Chiefs surely drilled the O-line to block just so, clearing a lane for Williams’ route — and produced a walk-in tying TD.

 

Much like K.C.’s Week 4 comeback in Denver, Mahomes gutted through this one with talent far more than polish… which, frankly, is what we expected in his first year as a starter before he lit the league on fire. The Ravens’ designs and execution did enough to win, but Mahomes conjured a few rabbits from hats and (narrowly) avoided a backbreaking turnover.

 

That’s perfectly OK.

 

The 23-year-old has already shown mental acuity well beyond his years, and he’s proven he can compensate with physical gifts when needed. Mahomes traded haymakers with the NFL’s most complex defense and emerged standing, and he’ll learn a ton from Sunday’s film.

 

Meanwhile, Martindale and the Ravens will be sick about this one. They let the Chiefs escape several long down and distances, narrowly missed a few sacks and takeaways, and came away with nothing despite throwing the kitchen sink at Mahomes.

 

That’s tough to swallow. Then again, I suppose that’s how every fighter feels when watching his opponent leave the ring with the belt.

 

-Shanahan pulls all the right strings

 

Kyle Shanahan said this week he was glad the Denver Broncos didn’t hire him after he interviewed for their head-coaching job in January of 2016, but he must have taken some enjoyment in sticking it to Denver on Sunday.

 

He cruelly toyed with a short-handed defense as the San Francisco 49ers pulled the upset and pushed the Broncos to the brink of elimination.

 

Shanahan is as good as any offensive coach at deciphering a defense’s rules and, in turn, blurring defenders’ responsibilities. With the Broncos missing two of their top three cornerbacks — including Swiss Army knife Chris Harris Jr. — and dime linebacker Brandon Marshall, Shanahan preyed on inexperienced fill-ins with a series of route concepts, intertwined releases, pick routes and double moves.

 

Blossoming star tight end George Kittle was central to many designs, scorching Denver for seven catches and 210 yards — 4 yards shy of the single-game tight-end record — all before halftime. (Kittle also drew three holding penalties, including one nullifying a Broncos fumble recovery.)

 

Shanahan and Kittle exploited Denver’s Cover-3 on the first drive with a flood concept (three routes — shallow, intermediate and deep — to the same side of the field, perfect for attacking zone). With Marquise Goodwin releasing in front of him and drawing rookie cornerback Isaac Yiadom, Kittle faked inside and broke out into the void Yiadom vacated. With linebacker Todd Davis fooled by Kittle’s route, the tight end was so open he picked up 31 yards despite the throw being behind him.

 

Kittle’s next big play also came from a stacked release, this time featuring a double move and a rub element to foil man coverage. Shanahan had wideout Kendrick Bourne release vertically in front of Kittle, who broke outside just 4 yards downfield. Kittle’s man, Darian Stewart, recognized Bourne’s pick and fought over it and outside, only to realize Kittle’s route was a double move as the tight end broke back inside. The pass was again behind, but Kittle — a menace after the catch — broke three tackles and picked up 52 yards.

 

Kittle’s 85-yard touchdown highlighted Shanahan’s ability to dress up the same plays to look different (which we covered in Week 3), as Shanahan disguised his signature Yankee concept: a deep post from one side and deep crosser from the other, off play-action. This time, he used a pistol formation with a jet-sweep fake and Kittle aligned as a wing tight end — off the line of scrimmage but inside tight end Garrett Celek, an uncommon spot for a vertical route to release from.

 

At the snap, Kittle started forward and inside like he was double-teaming the 5-technique defensive end, while Celek blocked out to the edge defender. This action, along with the pistol play-fake and jet sweep, made Davis, linebacker Josey Jewell and safety Justin Simmons bite hard downhill to stop the run. Kittle blew right on his deep crosser completely unmarked. With Dante Pettis’ post route clearing out Yiadom and Stewart, Kittle caught the ball with no one within 10 yards and needed one block from Pettis to coast 70 yards to paydirt.

 

Based on the defensive alignment, Kittle appeared to be Davis’ man, but Davis was left pointing at Simmons as the tight end released behind him. That’s exactly the sort of confusion Shanahan creates by stressing a defense’s weak points, and it wasn’t the last such example.

 

Kittle picked up 18 more yards later in the half as dime safety Su’a Cravens tried to pass off a route to Yiadom, who wasn’t prepared or in position to do so. The same mistake happened between Denver’s other dime safety, Will Parks, and Yiadom on the game’s most critical play, this time with Pettis as the beneficiary.

 

On third-and-7 with 3:41 remaining and the Niners up six, Shanahan called for a pick route from an empty formation with running back Jeff Wilson Jr. split wide. Having already used an almost identical look to get Kyle Juszczyk 17 yards, Shanahan added another wrinkle this time. Wilson ran the same slant Juszczyk did, but Pettis — who simply got in the way the first time — ran a stick-nod (a double move faking a short out route before turning upfield to the post) from the inside slot.

 

Yiadom (aligned over Wilson) and Parks (aligned over Pettis) both took Wilson’s slant, leaving Pettis uncovered for a 31-yard gain to all but seal the game. Had either player taken Pettis, Denver likely would have gotten the ball back, as Von Miller came free on a stunt and clobbered Mullens as he threw.

 

The offense wasn’t pretty all day — it basically took most of the second half off before the key conversion to Pettis — but the bells and whistles were enough to stymie a defense that had quietly been playing like one of the NFL’s best over the last nine weeks.

 

Perhaps most impressive is that Shanahan can manufacture so many big plays with a mostly bare cupboard. Kittle is incredible and hasn’t missed a game, but Jimmy Garoppolo and Jerick McKinnon have barely played, and Goodwin has also missed time. Get everyone healthy and add a receiver or two, and this machine should be whirring week in and week out.

 

–Mayfield keeps silencing doubters

 

Once pegged as the lower-ceiling option among the top 2018 quarterback prospects, Baker Mayfield has proven that label flatly wrong. Week in and week out, he’s delivered more “wow” throws than any of his draft classmates, including a number of doozies on Sunday.

 

On the first play from scrimmage against the Panthers, Mayfield whistled a deep ball 64 yards in the air perfectly to the hands of Breshad Perriman, who couldn’t quite keep his feet, settling for a 66-yard gain instead of a 75-yard touchdown.

 

Mayfield dropped jaws again on third-and-17 midway through the second, as he escaped the pocket left and unleashed a 55-yard rope to Jarvis Landry, who had been covered by two safeties (Mike Adams fell down) and also had cornerback Donte Jackson closing in. Mayfield’s throw was absolutely flawless, threading between Jackson and safety Eric Reid and nestling right into Landry’s chest.

 

Mayfield’s next attempt was another inch-perfect strike, a firm throw with just enough touch to beat linebacker Thomas Davis’ excellent coverage on David Njoku’s corner route for a 28-yard gain. Three plays later, Mayfield whipped a bullet — despite pressure in the six-footer’s face — to Rashard Higgins’ 7-stop route (stem toward the corner before turning around for a deep curl) in a void in Carolina’s zone for 15 yards on third-and-9.

 

There is so much more to get into with Mayfield — who has been playing terrific, despite his three interceptions last week — but for now, suffice it to say he’s put concerns about his arm talent to bed.

 

We’ll take a deeper look later this season at just how great he’s been in other areas.

 

–David DeChant, Field Level Media

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Reports: Raiders GM McKenzie fired

Reggie McKenzie is done as Raiders general manager, reportedly eschewing the opportunity to maintain his role through the end of the regular season in Oakland.

 

Head coach Jon Gruden, in the first year of a 10-year, $100 million contract, and McKenzie reportedly have differed greatly in player evaluation and their vision for the roster

Reggie McKenzie is done as Raiders general manager, reportedly eschewing the opportunity to maintain his role through the end of the regular season in Oakland.

 

Head coach Jon Gruden, in the first year of a 10-year, $100 million contract, and McKenzie reportedly have differed greatly in player evaluation and their vision for the roster going forward.

 

ESPN and NFL Network reported Monday that McKenzie held a meeting with the Raiders’ scouting department on Monday morning to inform them he was fired and would not accept the offer to stay in the role until January.

 

The writing on the wall was revealed with midseason comments from Raiders owner Mark Davis, who responded to questions about the future structure of the front office by saying Gruden “isn’t going anywhere” but not nailing down McKenzie’s role or status.

 

Gruden brought in players he favored and traded away two-time Pro Bowl selection Amari Cooper as well as Khalil Mack, the 2016 Defensive Player of the Year and a two-time, first-team All-Pro. McKenzie used first-round picks on both players.

 

In the offseason, there were rumors that Bruce Allen, who previously worked with Gruden in Tampa Bay as well as during his first stint in Oakland, would join him with the Raiders.

 

Allen is the president of the Washington Redskins, but fans and media have been calling for owner Daniel Snyder to replace Allen when the season ends.

 

The Raiders won their third game of the season Sunday.

 

–Field Level Media

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Bills RB McCoy scheduled for MRI

Bills RB McCoy scheduled for MRI

Buffalo

Bills RB McCoy scheduled for MRI

Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy is scheduled to undergo an MRI on the hamstring he injured early in Sunday’s loss to the New York Jets.

The 30-year-old running back left the game after nine plays — he had one yard on two carries — on Buffalo’s opening drive and has struggled with leg muscle strains in recent seasons.

Chris Ivory served as the Bills’ primary ballcarrier and finished the game with 42 yards on 12 carries.

At 4-9, the Bills might opt to rest McCoy until they’re convinced he’s fully healthy.

–Field Level Media

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Dolphins’ Gase: QB Tannehill sore but OK

Dolphins' Gase: QB Tannehill sore but OK

Miami Dolphins

Dolphins’ Gase: QB Tannehill sore but OK

Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill is sore from the ankle injury he sustained just before halftime Sunday but appears to be OK, coach Adam Gase told reporters Monday.

Tannehill missed two plays after being sacked against the New England Patriots but returned in the second half.

He missed five games earlier this season with a right shoulder injury. In the three games since his return, Tannehill is 47-of-68 for 606 yards, eight touchdowns and an interception.

A last-second 34-33 win over the Patriots on Sunday kept the Dolphins (7-6) in the AFC playoff hunt. Miami will travel to Minnesota to meet the Vikings on Sunday.

“I like where we’re at. We’re alive. One week at a time,” Gase said. “If you’re not excited right now you better find something else to do.”

–Field Level Media

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Redskins sticking with QB Johnson

Redskins sticking with QB Johnson

Journeyman quarterback Josh

Redskins sticking with QB Johnson

Journeyman quarterback Josh Johnson unseated Mark Sanchez for the starting job with the Washington Redskins.

Johnson will start this week against the Jacksonville Jaguars as the reeling Redskins look to avoid a fifth consecutive loss.

“We’ll get Josh ready to go,” said head coach Jay Gruden, who worked with Johnson in 2008 with Tampa Bay and in 2013 with Cincinnati. “Fortunately he’s been around me for a while and can handle the terminology, and he did a good job moving around.”

Washington was in first place four weeks ago but after Sunday’s 40-16 loss to the New York Giants (5-8), the Redskins are in desperation mode. Johnson said he learned the names of most of his teammates by spending last week playing Madden ’19.

Johnson last started a game in 2011. He relieved Sanchez on Sunday and completed 11 of 16 passes for 195 yards, keeping plays alive with his feet with one TD pass and another rushing. Sanchez had a 10.7 passer rating, completing 6 of 14 passes for 38 yards with two interceptions.

“I had to play Madden to learn just the other day,” he said. “You come in on a short week, you learn there’s so many moving parts. For me, I played Madden. I was able to get on the Madden and learn my teammates.”

The Redskins are 6-7 and only faint playoff hope exists with three games to go and an ongoing slide that coincided with the loss of starting quarterback Alex Smith to a broken leg.

Washington’s defense has not been the same in the past month, with five of their past six opponents putting up 400-plus yards.

Gruden said he was pushed into the decision because the game plan for Sanchez did not work.

“What did work?” Gruden said. “There’s nothing that worked. Nothing worked. So everything did not work.”

–Field Level Media

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Seven From Sunday – Week 14

PRESS RELEASE

 

Seven From Sunday - Week 14

A look at seven statistical highlights from games played at 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, December 9, the 14th week of the 2018 season.

  • The NEW ORLEANS SAINTS defeated Tampa Bay, 28-14,

PRESS RELEASE

 

Seven From Sunday – Week 14

A look at seven statistical highlights from games played at 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, December 9, the 14th week of the 2018 season.

  • The NEW ORLEANS SAINTS defeated Tampa Bay, 28-14, and clinched the NFC South division title for the second-consecutive season. New Orleans has won back-to-back division titles for the first time in franchise history.
    The KANSAS CITY CHIEFS clinched a playoff berth with a 27-24 overtime victory over Baltimore. The Chiefs advance to the postseason for the fourth-consecutive season.

    The LOS ANGELES RAMS, who clinched the NFC West division title in Week 13 and play at Chicago tonight (8:20 PM ET, NBC), can clinch a first-round bye with a victory over the Bears.
     

  • The MIAMI DOLPHINS defeated New England, 34-33, on the final play from scrimmage, as running back KENYAN DRAKE took a lateral from wide receiver DE VANTE PARKER 52 yards for a touchdown as time expired.

    The Dolphins’ game-winning 69-yard touchdown was the longest play from scrimmage to win a game with no time remaining in the fourth quarter since the 1970 merger.

    Dolphins running back FRANK GORE recorded 116 scrimmage yards (92 rushing, 24 receiving) in the team’s victory. Gore, who has 18,530 career scrimmage yards, surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer LA DAINIAN TOMLINSON (18,456) for the fifth-most scrimmage yards in NFL history. The four players with more scrimmage yards than Gore are all enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame: JERRY RICE (23,540), EMMITT SMITH (21,579), WALTER PAYTON (21,264) and MARSHALL FAULK (19,154).
     

  • Kansas City quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES completed 35 of 53 passes (66.0 percent) for 377 yards with two touchdowns and one interception for a 91.5 passer rating in the Chiefs’ 27-24 overtime victory over Baltimore.

    Mahomes, who was selected in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, leads the NFL with 4,300 passing yards and 43 touchdown passes this season. Mahomes joined Pro Football Hall of Famers DAN MARINO (1984) and KURT WARNER (1999) as the only first-or-second year quarterbacks in league annals with at least 4,000 passing yards and 40 touchdown passes in a single season.

    Chiefs tight end TRAVIS KELCE had seven catches for 77 yards and one touchdown in the victory. Kelce has 86 catches and 1,159 receiving yards this season and is the first tight end in league annals with at least 80 receptions and 1,000 receiving yards in three consecutive seasons.

    Kansas City defensive lineman CHRIS JONES recorded a sack in the win and has at least one sack in each of the Chiefs’ past nine games. Jones is the first player to record a sack in at least nine consecutive games in a single season since the individual sack became an official statistic in 1982. He is the sixth player since 1982 to record at least one sack in nine consecutive games at any point in time.

  • Green Bay quarterback AARON RODGERS completed 21 of 32 passes (65.6 percent) for 196 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions for a 103.1 passer rating in the Packers’ 34-20 victory over Atlanta.

    Rodgers, who has not thrown an interception in 368 pass attempts dating back to Week 4, surpassed TOM BRADY (358 consecutive attempts from 2010-11) for the most consecutive pass attempts without an interception in NFL history.
                

  • New York Giants quarterback ELI MANNING passed for 197 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions for a 132.0 passer rating and rookie running back SAQUON BARKLEY rushed for 170 yards with one touchdown in the team’s 40-16 victory at Washington.

    Manning has 55,142 career passing yards and became the seventh quarterback in NFL history to throw for at least 55,000 passing yards.        

    Barkley, who scored on a 78-yard touchdown run, has five scrimmage touchdowns of at least 50 yards this season, the most by a rookie in a single season since Pro Football Hall of Famer RANDY MOSS (five touchdowns in 1998). Only BILLY HOWTON of the 1952 Green Bay Packers had more such touchdowns as a rookie in a single season (six).

    Barkley has 12 games with at least 100 scrimmage yards in 2018, tying EDGERRIN JAMES (12 games in 1999) for the second-most games with 100+ scrimmage yards by a rookie in NFL history. Only Pro Football Hall of Famer ERIC DICKERSON (13 games in 1983) has more such games.
     

  • New Orleans wide receiver MICHAEL THOMAS had 11 receptions for 98 yards in the Saints’ 28-14 victory at Tampa Bay.

    Thomas, who has 298 receptions since entering the league in 2016, surpassed ODELL BECKHAM, JR. (288 catches from 2014-16) and JARVIS LANDRY (288 catches from 2014-16) for the most catches by a player in his first three seasons in NFL history.
     

  • Other notable performances from Sunday include:
     

    • New England quarterback TOM BRADY passed for 358 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions for a 112.4 passer rating in the Patriots’ Week 14 loss at Miami.

      Brady has 582 career touchdown passes (including the postseason) and surpassed PEYTON MANNING (579) for the most touchdown passes in NFL history.

      Brady has 47 career games with at least 300 passing yards and three touchdown passes and surpassed Manning (46 games) for the second-most such games in league annals. Only DREW BREES (63) has more such games in NFL history.
       

    • San Francisco tight end GEORGE KITTLE had seven catches for 210 yards, including an 85-yard touchdown catch, in the 49ers’ 20-14 victory over Denver.
       
      Kittle’s 210 receiving yards are the third-most by a tight end in a single game in NFL history, trailing only Pro Football Hall of Famers SHANNON SHARPE (214 receiving yards on October 20, 2002) and JACKIE SMITH (212 on October 13, 1963).

    • Cleveland rookie quarterback BAKER MAYFIELD completed 18 of 22 passes (81.8 percent) for 238 yards with one touchdown and zero interceptions for a 126.9 passer rating in the Browns’ 26-20 victory over Carolina.

      Mayfield has thrown at least one touchdown pass in each of his first 10 career starts and joined Pro Football Hall of Famer KURT WARNER (1999) and BRAD JOHNSON (1996-97) as the only quarterbacks in the Super Bowl era with a touchdown pass in each of his first 10 career starts.
       

    • Atlanta wide receiver JULIO JONES had eight catches for 106 yards and two touchdowns in the Falcons’ loss at Green Bay.

      Jones leads the NFL with 1,429 receiving yards this season and has recorded at least 1,400 receiving yards in each of the past five seasons, the longest streak in NFL history

 

 

Courtesy of NFL Communications

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Missouri’s Latest Sports Betting Bill Gives Royalty To Pro Leagues And NCAA

Missouri lawmakers seem intent on charging licensed sportsbooks some sort of royalty or other fee above and beyond taxes, application fees and other administrative costs.

Representative Cody Smith (R-District 163) became the second lawmaker to pre-file sports betting legislation in Missouri that includes such a fee. And this one would include a full

Missouri lawmakers seem intent on charging licensed sportsbooks some sort of royalty or other fee above and beyond taxes, application fees and other administrative costs.

Representative Cody Smith (R-District 163) became the second lawmaker to pre-file sports betting legislation in Missouri that includes such a fee. And this one would include a full one percent of handle that some professional leagues have been lobbying for since earlier this year, despite leagues lowering their “request” in numerous states to one-quarter of one percent.

HB 119, which was obtained by Sports Handle last week, does have a little bit of a twist – the fee would be broken into two parts, a three-quarters of one percent fee that would be paid to “registered” professional leagues and one-quarter of one percent fee that would be paid to the NCAA for wagers placed on games including at least one FBS football team or one Division I men’s basketball team. Smith’s bill states that “royalties received by public universities under this section shall be used solely for athletics compliance.”

 

Read more Missouri’s Latest Sports Betting Bill Gives Royalty To Pro Leagues And NCAA  on SportsHandle.

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NFL roundup: Bears beat Rams, shake up playoff picture

NFL roundup: Bears beat Rams, shake up playoff picture

In a marquee

NFL roundup: Bears beat Rams, shake up playoff picture

In a marquee matchup of flashy offense against tough defense, it was all defense.

The Chicago Bears held the Los Angeles Rams to 214 total yards and kept them out of the end zone Sunday night, logging a 15-6 win at Soldier Field that might play a major role in shaping the NFC playoffs when they start next month.

Chicago (9-4) moved another step closer to the NFC North title. If Minnesota (6-5-1) loses on Monday night in Seattle, the Bears can wrap up the division crown next week at home against Green Bay.

Los Angeles (11-2), meanwhile, sealed the NFC West last week but fell out of the No. 1 seed in the conference on Sunday. New Orleans (11-2) won earlier Sunday in Tampa Bay, and owns the top seed by virtue of a 45-35 win over the Rams on Nov. 4 in the Superdome.

Dolphins 34, Patriots 33

Kenyan Drake scored to complete a two-lateral miracle final play as host Miami scored from 69 yards out and stunned New England.

With seven seconds left on the clock, Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill completed a 14-yard pass to Kenny Stills, who lateraled to DeVante Parker, who then found Drake. Drake ran the final 51 yards, scooting past stumbling tight end Rob Gronkowski, whom the Patriots had inserted into the game to stop a “Hail Mary” pass.

Tannehill finished 14-of-19 passing for 265 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. He battled a sore ankle after he got stepped on in the second quarter, but returned and kept the Dolphins (7-6) in playoff contention with the win. New England (9-4) had a chance to clinch its division for the 10th straight year but instead lost for the fifth time in its last six trips to Miami.

Chiefs 27, Ravens 24 (OT)

Quarterback Patrick Mahomes converted two fourth downs on a game-tying drive in regulation and kicker Harrison Butker atoned for a missed field goal with a 35-yarder in overtime as host Kansas City edged Baltimore.

Mahomes finished with 377 yards passing, going 35 of 53 with two touchdowns and an interception against the NFL’s top-ranked defense. With the win, the Chiefs (11-2) clinched a berth in the playoffs while retaining the best record in the AFC.

Starting quarterback Lamar Jackson was injured in overtime after getting sacked by Kansas City linebackers Justin Houston and Dee Ford. Faced with two snaps and 22 yards to gain from the Baltimore 41-yard line, backup quarterback Robert Griffin III could not engineer a first down, throwing two incompletions as the Ravens fell to 7-6.

Saints 28, Buccaneers 14

Special teams ace Taysom Hill flipped the momentum with a blocked punt and Drew Brees converted second-half touchdowns with a short pass and a fourth-down leap to lift New Orleans to a comeback victory over host Tampa Bay and claim the Saints’ second consecutive NFC South title.

The Saints (11-2), who won back-to-back division titles for the first time in franchise history, looked sluggish, falling behind 14-3 at halftime, but they scored 25 unanswered points with three second-half touchdown drives and a 36-yard field goal by Will Lutz to put the game away.

The Bucs (5-8) dominated the Saints in the first half, taking a 14-3 lead, and it could have been even more lopsided because kicker Cairo Santos missed a 46-yard field goal after Tampa Bay had driven to a first-and-10 at the New Orleans 22.

Chargers 26, Bengals 21

Darius Philon’s sack on a two-point conversion attempt with less than two minutes remaining sealed Los Angles’ victory over visiting Cincinnati and helped to solidify the Chargers’ playoff chances.

The Chargers (10-3), the top wild-card team in the AFC, remain behind the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC West standings. The Chargers and Chiefs are set for a showdown at Kansas City on Thursday night.

Bengals quarterback Jeff Driskel was 18 of 27 for 170 yards and a touchdown in his second career start as Cincinnati (5-8) lost its fifth consecutive game and dropped to 5-8 after opening the season with a 4-1 record.

Cowboys 29, Eagles 23 (OT)

Quarterback Dak Prescott threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Amari Cooper with 1:55 remaining in overtime to lift Dallas past visiting Philadelphia.

The pass was deflected by Rasul Douglas and into Cooper’s hands before he raced in for the winning score and the fifth straight win for the Cowboys, who never let the Eagles touch the ball in overtime.

Prescott was 42 of 54 for a career-high 455 yards, two interceptions and three touchdowns, all to Cooper, who caught 10 passes for 217 yards. The Cowboys improved to 8-5, two games ahead of the Eagles (6-7) and Washington Redskins (6-7) in the NFC East with three games to play.

Packers 34, Falcons 20

Aaron Rodgers broke Tom Brady’s NFL record for most consecutive passes without an interception in style, setting the mark on a 24-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb that helped Green Bay beat visiting Atlanta.

The pass was Rodgers’ 359th in a row without an interception dating to Week 4 of this season, a twice-deflected pass against Buffalo. Brady went 358 passes without an interception during the 2010 and 2011 seasons. Rodgers’ record-setting play, in the midst of an otherwise subpar season by his historic standards, came in the third quarter to give Green Bay a 27-7 lead.

The outcome made a winner of interim coach Joe Philbin, who replaced Mike McCarthy after the Packers (5-7-1) fired the 13th-year head coach shortly after last week’s loss to the Arizona Cardinals. The Falcons (4-9) lost their fifth in a row.

Raiders 24, Steelers 21

Derek Carr hit Derek Carrier for a 6-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-goal with 21 seconds remaining to give host Oakland an upset of Pittsburgh.

In a seesaw game, Carr was 5 of 7 for 74 yards on the winning drive. For the game, he threw for 322 yards and also had a scoring pass to Lee Smith. Doug Martin ran for a touchdown for the Raiders (3-10).

Chris Boswell slipped and shanked a 40-yard field-goal attempt as time expired, leaving Pittsburgh (7-5-1) with a three-game losing streak. Ben Roethlisberger missed most of the second half, apparently injured on a second-quarter sack, but returned to lead the Steelers to a go-ahead score with 2:55 remaining.

Browns 26, Panthers 20

Jarvis Landry scored two touchdowns and set up another as Cleveland handed visiting Carolina its fifth straight defeat.

Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield completed 18 of 22 throws for 238 yards and one touchdown as Cleveland (5-7-1) won for the third time in four games.

The Panthers (6-7) are now eliminated from NFC South title contention even though two of their three remaining games come against the first-place New Orleans Saints. Christian McCaffrey scored two rushing touchdowns for the Panthers, who are 1-6 in road games.

Colts 24, Texans 21

Andrew Luck threw for 399 yards and two touchdowns as Indianapolis snapped host Houston’s nine-game winning streak with a win at NRG Stadium.

Luck completed 27 of 41 passes for Indianapolis (7-6), which bounced back from a 6-0 upset loss last week at Jacksonville. He found wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, who had been a game-time decision with a shoulder injury, nine times for 199 yards.

Deshaun Watson hit on 27 of 38 passes for 267 yards for the Texans, who dropped to 9-4 but still lead the AFC South by two games over the Colts and Tennessee with three games remaining.

Giants 40, Redskins 16

Rookie Saquon Barkley rushed for a career-high 170 yards, Eli Manning threw three touchdown passes and visiting New York routed Washington. Manning and Barkley both left after three quarters with the score 40-0.

Barkley, who carried the ball 14 times, reeled off a 78-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Manning completed 14 of 22 passes for 197 yards and no interceptions for the Giants (5-8), who have won four of five.

In his first start for Washington (6-7) in place of Colt McCoy, quarterback Mark Sanchez completed 6 of 14 passes for 38 yards and two interceptions. He was sacked five times before being replaced by Josh Johnson in the third quarter.

49ers 20, Broncos 14

George Kittle caught an 85-yard touchdown pass on a record-setting day to help San Francisco build a big lead en route to a win against Denver in Santa Clara, Calif.

Kittle caught seven passes for 210 yards, an all-time record for a 49ers tight end, helping San Francisco (3-10) snap a three-game losing streak while handing the Broncos (6-7) a critical setback in their pursuit of a playoff spot in the AFC.

Phillip Lindsay was held to 30 yards rushing on 14 carries, but did manage a 1-yard touchdown run for the Broncos, who fell a game behind Baltimore, Indianapolis, Tennessee and Miami in the chase for the final playoff berth in the AFC with just three games to play.

Jets 27, Bills 23

Sam Darnold threw for 170 yards and a touchdown and Elijah McGuire scored on fourth-and-goal from the 1 with 1:17 remaining as visiting New York came back to beat Buffalo.

Darnold returned after missing three games with a foot injury to win the duel with fellow rookie quarterback Josh Allen and snap the Jets’ six-game losing streak and lift them to 4-9. It was the first meeting between Darnold, the third-overall selection in the 2018 draft, and No. 7 pick Allen. Both quarterbacks were inactive for Buffalo’s 41-10 win at New York in Week 10.

Allen ran for 101 yards and a touchdown for the Bills (4-9). He was 18 of 36 passing for 206 yards with two interceptions and continued to power the Buffalo offense with his legs.

Lions 17, Cardinals 3

Matthew Stafford completed 15 of 23 passes for 101 yards to lead visiting Detroit to a win in Glendale, Ariz., in a matchup of two struggling teams.

Arizona (3-10) shares the worst record in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders with three games to play as teams look ahead to 2019 and what assets they can get in next spring’s draft.

Arizona entered last in the league in scoring offense behind a patchwork offensive line, while the Lions (5-8) were 23rd.

–Field Level Media

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Bears shut down Rams, close in on NFC North title

Bears shut down Rams, close in on NFC North title

Bears shut down Rams, close in on NFC North title

In a marquee matchup of flashy offense against tough defense, it was all defense.

The Chicago Bears held the Los Angeles Rams to 214 total yards and kept them out of the end zone Sunday night, logging a 15-6 win at Soldier Field that might play a major role in shaping the NFC playoffs when they start next month.

Chicago (9-4) moved another step closer to the NFC North title. If Minnesota (6-5-1) loses on Monday night in Seattle, the Bears can wrap up the division crown next week at home against Green Bay.

Los Angeles (11-2), meanwhile, sealed the NFC West last week but fell out of the No. 1 seed in the conference on Sunday. New Orleans (11-2) won earlier Sunday in Tampa Bay, and owns the top seed by virtue of a 45-35 win over the Rams on Nov. 4 in the Superdome.

With the game tied 6-6 at the half, Chicago took the lead for good when Eddie Goldman sacked Jared Goff in the end zone 42 seconds into the third quarter on the Rams’ second play of the half.

The Bears then scored the game’s only touchdown on the ensuing possession, ripping off an 81-yard, nine-play drive and ending it with a little trickery. Mitchell Trubisky faked a handoff to defensive lineman Akiem Hicks, who scored a rushing touchdown last week, and flipped a 2-yard scoring strike to offensive lineman Bradley Sowell.

That was one of the few highlights for either quarterback. Trubisky completed 16 of 30 passes for just 110 yards, tossing three interceptions and finishing with a passer rating of 33.3. Goff endured his worst game since the end of his rookie season, hitting 20 of 44 attempts with four picks and 180 yards to finish with a 19.1 rating.

Chicago also shut down MVP candidate Todd Gurley, who rushed 11 times for only 28 yards and caught three passes for 30 yards. Los Angeles’ only scoring came on first-half field goals of 27 and 50 yards by Greg Zuerlein.

Cody Parkey booted 39- and 31-yard field goals for the Bears, which got 101 yards on 19 rushes from Jordan Howard.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Chargers RB Ekeler deals with another setback

Report: Chargers RB Ekeler deals with another setback

Report: Chargers RB Ekeler deals with another setback

Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler’s status is uncertain for next week against the Kansas City Chiefs, according to a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Ekeler recently has dealt with stingers and reportedly re-aggravated the injury Sunday during the Chargers’ 26-21 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. He had 15 carries for 66 yards and a touchdown and two catches for 28 yards before his exit.

The 23-year-old has four rushing touchdowns and six receiving touchdowns in 29 games with the Chargers. He has only four days to recover for the Chargers’ next game on Thursday night against the Chiefs.

At 10-3, the Chargers trail the Chiefs by one game in the AFC West playoff race.

–Field Level Media

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Cowboys RG Martin (knee) to have MRI Monday

Cowboys RG Martin (knee) to have MRI Monday

Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys RG Martin (knee) to have MRI Monday

Dallas Cowboys right guard Zack Martin will have an MRI on Monday after leaving Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles with a left knee injury, owner Jerry Jones told reporters after the game.

Jones said the team is concerned about Martin, but added initial tests showed no structural damage.

Martin, who sprained the MCL in the same knee earlier this season, went down early in the fourth quarter and headed straight to the locker room. He did not return and was replaced by Connor Williams.

Williams struggled in pass protection, as Fletcher Cox collected a half-sack, two quarterback hits and an additional sack that was nullified by penalty over the remainder of the game, but the Cowboys won in overtime.

Martin, 28, has yet to miss an NFL game through nearly five full seasons, earning Pro Bowl nods in each of his four campaigns and two first-team All-Pro selections.

Williams, a second-round rookie, began the season as the starter at left guard but did not get his job back after having arthroscopic knee surgery in November. Xavier Su’a-Filo has started the last five games at that spot.

The Cowboys have been without All-Pro center Travis Frederick — who is not expected to return this year — all season as he recovers from Guillain-Barre syndrome. All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith had missed the last two games with stinger issues before returning on Sunday.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Kaepernick would play for Redskins

Report: Kaepernick would play for Redskins

Report: Kaepernick would play for Redskins

Free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick is ready and willing to play for the Washington Redskins if they have interest in signing him, Yahoo Sports reported on Sunday.

Yahoo cited two sources close to Kaepernick saying he is willing to play for any of the league’s teams, including Washington. Asked if Kaepernick would play for the Redskins as soon as Week 15, a source told Yahoo, “He’s a professional Super Bowl-caliber quarterback and in the best shape of his life and he would play if given the opportunity on any NFL team.”

Some have speculated that Kaepernick would not be interested in playing for the team owned by Dan Snyder, both because of Snyder’s opposition to players who have knelt during the national anthem and because of the team’s controversial nickname and logo.

Washington head coach Jay Gruden told reporters this week the team had discussed Kaepernick as an option after losing its top two quarterbacks — Alex Smith and Colt McCoy — to injury, but concluded it would be too difficult to fit Kaepernick into the offense quickly.

“There’s not a lot of time to get a brand-new quarterback and system installed in a couple of days,” Gruden said. “He’s been talked about, but we’ll probably go in a different direction.”

ESPN reported Sunday morning that no NFL teams, including Washington, have reached out to Kaepernick. Yahoo confirmed that the Redskins have not contacted Kaepernick.

Washington signed Mark Sanchez on Nov. 19 after Smith went down, then added Josh Johnson — who hadn’t thrown a pass in an NFL game since 2011 — this week after McCoy was hurt Monday.

Sanchez started Sunday’s 40-16 loss to the New York Giants but was benched in the third quarter after going 6-of-14 passing for 38 yards and two interceptions. Johnson led two scoring drives and was 11-of-16 passing for 195 yards, a touchdown and an interception, while rushing for 45 yards and a score.

Gruden told reporters afterward that the team would get Johnson ready to start next week at the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Kaepernick, who began kneeling during the national anthem in August of 2016 as a form of protest against racial injustice, has an active collusion grievance against the NFL alleging owners conspired to keep him from being signed. He has been a free agent since early in 2017.

–Field Level Media

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