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Harris has gone from roster bubble to key cog in Denver

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — After the Broncos' stirring win over the Steelers, Vance Joseph held a game ball up high and called for the man he once wanted to cut.

"Shelby Harris!" Joseph hollered . "What a great week. He had a new baby girl on Friday. And a game-winning interception" in Denver's 24-17 victory

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — After the Broncos’ stirring win over the Steelers, Vance Joseph held a game ball up high and called for the man he once wanted to cut.

“Shelby Harris!” Joseph hollered . “What a great week. He had a new baby girl on Friday. And a game-winning interception” in Denver’s 24-17 victory that shook up the AFC playoff picture.

In between, he had a shared sack, a pass breakup and three hard hits on Ben Roethlisberger, one of which led to a second interception and another that was tantalizingly close to a safety after he bowled over center Maurkice Pouncey and dropped Roethlisberger on his back in the end zone.

Cut a half-dozen times by the Raiders, Jets and Cowboys, Harris signed a futures contract in Denver two weeks after Joseph was hired as head coach in January 2017.

Having missed most of the 2016 season after getting cut in camp by the Jets and signing with Dallas just before Christmas, Harris said, “I felt like Denver was my last chance.”

That didn’t translate to making a good first impression, though.

“He’s got about a week before we cut him,” Joseph said he told defensive line coach Bill Kollar then.

“He was just that bad that spring,” Joseph recalled earlier this week. “I guess the light came on, and the guy’s been playing really good football for a year and a-half since.”

Harris heeded his coach’s admonition to start hustling on every single down every single day.

“They might have thought that he’s a week away from cutting, but the next thing you know he’s leading our defensive tackles in sacks last year,” linebacker Shane Ray said. “And he’s made huge plays this year. That says a lot about his character.”

In 2017, Harris played in all 16 games for the first time in his career and was second on the team with 5½ sacks. This year, he’s been especially stout in the run game but can still make his mark in the pass rush.

Kollar said it all began with a heart-to-heart talk with Harris.

“What happens when you get up here, everybody’s good, everybody’s tough. So, to me, you’ve got to take it to next level. When you’re a guy who’s just never made it, dude, you’ve got to change your (stuff),” Kollar said Wednesday. “So, that’s what I told him: ‘You’ve got to work your butt off or you’re not going to make it. I want you working harder than those guys you’re playing across from.'”

Kollar said it was a classic case of pairing determination with natural ability.

“My job is to get it out of them, to do it all the time,” Kollar said. “But I ride everybody’s (behind) on the D-line.”

It turns out Kollar was the perfect headmaster for Harris.

“Bill got me in better shape, I’ll say that,” Harris said. “But really, we do a lot of reps and then he goes and explains it and it kind of opens your eyes a little bit the way he explains it, the certain blocks and the way you’re supposed to take them on. And the technique that he teaches is kind of natural for me. And so, everything’s kind of just fallen into place with Bill.”

Harris also credited his teammates for helping bring out his best.

“The players on the D-line have really helped me out to just become a better player, a better person,” Harris said. “The whole D-line and Coach Kollar have helped turn my game into what it is today.”

Harris said he’s taken tidbits from Derek Wolfe, Domata Peko, Adam Gotsis and Zach Kerr: “I try to take little pieces from all of them and add them into my game, and it’s kind of worked out perfectly.”

Harris’ only other career interception came for Illinois State against Indiana State in 2013.

The only other time he got a game ball came in 2015, when he made a touchdown-saving tackle against the Chargers, when he was also running on adrenalin from sleep deprivation.

“You want to know something crazy? The first time was after I had my son,” Harris said. “And I missed the Thursday practice that time and half of Friday and came back Friday night.”

He missed practice last Friday for the birth of his daughter .

“It was funny. I was joking around with Zach: ‘You know, every time I have a kid, something good happens,” Harris recounted. “It was just like a joke we had going on — and then you saw what happened.”

Harris insists, however, that it won’t go down as his best game in the pros.

“There’s a lot of room to improve,” Harris said. “I want to put together a complete game where I’m going out there and being dominant in the run and dominant in the pass.”

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Follow Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton

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Mayfield doesn’t regret actions, says not ‘cookie-cutter’ QB

BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Baker Mayfield won't change for anyone and refuses to be a "cookie-cutter quarterback."

Cleveland's outspoken rookie said Wednesday that he doesn't regret calling former Browns coach Hue Jackson "fake" and he has no intention of changing his behavior. Following the Browns' 35-20 win on Sunday in Cincinnati, Mayfield was cold toward

BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Baker Mayfield won’t change for anyone and refuses to be a “cookie-cutter quarterback.”

Cleveland’s outspoken rookie said Wednesday that he doesn’t regret calling former Browns coach Hue Jackson “fake” and he has no intention of changing his behavior. Following the Browns’ 35-20 win on Sunday in Cincinnati, Mayfield was cold toward Jackson and then said he was unhappy his first NFL coach accepted a job with the Bengals, a division rival.

Mayfield’s comments drew criticism and he fired back with a post on Instagram assailing Jackson. Mayfield declined to elaborate about their relationship.

The No. 1 overall draft pick said he’s entitled to his opinion, and “although I’m an athlete, I’m not a cookie-cutter quarterback, never have been, never will be. I speak my mind. That’s just how I am, so I didn’t like the (Jackson) move and people don’t have to care. I’m not looking for anybody’s approval.”

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FANTASY PLAYS: NFL crunch time creates shifts in daily game

The crescendo of the fantasy football season also marks a shift across the NFL landscape that starts this week.

Teams learn they'll be in or out of the playoffs, others manage injuries with an eye toward January or next season, while some teams battle for playoff positions.

Understanding those dynamics and how they relate to

The crescendo of the fantasy football season also marks a shift across the NFL landscape that starts this week.

Teams learn they’ll be in or out of the playoffs, others manage injuries with an eye toward January or next season, while some teams battle for playoff positions.

Understanding those dynamics and how they relate to daily fantasy can help separate you from the crowd. Here are a few spots for fantasy players to exploit during Week 13:

JAGS RUNNING BACKS

Leonard Fournette’s suspension opens up value in the Jacksonville Jaguars backfield for Week 13 with T.J. Yeldon and Carlos Hyde both becoming intriguing options. Both running backs cost less than $5,000 on FanDuel, while Yeldon is $4,400 and Hyde is just $3,300 on DraftKings. The Jaguars have a 21-point implied team total this week and both backs could have value.

Yeldon is a target on DraftKings with its point-per-reception format and should maintain his third down role at minimum with upside of receiving 50 percent of the snaps. Yeldon has a floor of four to six targets, with upside for more in a game where the Jaguars will start QB Cody Kessler and are projected to be playing from behind.

At $3,300 Hyde is still in consideration on DraftKings and could be the better play on FanDuel with the more TD-heavy scoring settings. In Week 8, his first game with Jacksonville, Hyde stepped in for Fournette and received the majority of the team’s carries and the first crack as the goal-line back. Now more familiar with the playbook, Hyde could see 15 to 20 carries and should again be featured at the goal. At near minimum price on both sites Hyde doesn’t need to do much to pay off his cheap price tag.

SPOILERY BUCS

While the Buccaneers are all but eliminated from contention, they will look to spoil things for divisional foe Carolina. The Tampa Bay QB position, whether occupied by Ryan Fitzpatrick or Jameis Winston, is a QB1 in seasonal leagues and has produced top 5 numbers at the position.

Winston will lead the Bucs offense and there could be value at the wide receiver position. DeSean Jackson is seeking a second opinion on his thumb and was ineffective in Week 12, playing less than 50 percent of snaps and catching just three of his eight targets. If Jackson misses time, it will lead to an elevated snap count and target share for both Chris Godwin and Adam Humphries. Both receivers have produced 20-plus point fantasy outputs and can be considered as secondary options for lineups pairing up Winston with top target Mike Evans.

Godwin and Humphries can also be considered as contrarian elements of Carolina Panthers stacks that feature Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey, knowing that Carolina should be able to put up points with a projected team total above 29. The Buccaneers will be forced to throw and one of Godwin or Humphries is likely to pay off their low daily price tag. Users building multiple DFS lineups would be wise to exploit this injury situation.

NOTES FOR WEEK 13

Indianapolis tight end Jack Doyle is out for the season and Eric Ebron will see an increased target share in addition to his high red zone usage. Running back Rex Burkhead returns for New England which could impact Sony Michel and James White. Melvin Gordon’s injury will create value from Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson in the Chargers offense.

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For more Week 13 daily fantasy advice and tips, visit DailyRoto: https://dailyroto.com

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NFL Week 13: Over and Under Best Bets

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we're making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we're offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over and Under Best Bets

Over of

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we’re making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we’re offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over and Under Best Bets

Over of the week: Los Angeles Chargers at Pittsburgh Steelers

Total: 51

It’s not as though 51 isn’t a high number, but I wonder if the total for Sunday night’s Chargers-Steelers game would be significantly higher if the Bolts weren’t without star running back Melvin Gordon.

If indeed the total has fallen as a result of Gordon’s injury, that could be a mistake. Because Gordon’s backup, Austin Ekeler, has been fantastic. The versatile second-year back is averaging 5.8 yards per carry (more than half a yard better than Gordon) and he’s coming off a 10-catch performance in a blowout victory over the Cardinals.

The Chargers might not score 45 points in Pittsburgh like they did against Arizona, but they should be good for at least 24. They have a better offense than Denver, and the Broncos put up 24 on the Steelers a week ago.

Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh offense will be hungry to bounce back following a tough road loss to the Broncos. The Steelers are averaging 36.0 points per game at home this season, and they should make a run at that number in what is a huge prime-time game.

Predicted score: Steelers 34, Broncos 26

Under of the week: Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Total: 56.5

Carolina and Tampa Bay combined for 70 points when they met last month, which explains why the total is up above 56 for their meeting Sunday in Florida. But expect a correction in this matchup, especially now that…

1. The Bucs defense has straightened out at home, surrendering just 16.0 points per game in their last three outings at Raymond James Stadium.

2. Jameis Winston looks to be back on track at quarterback for the Bucs, which could mean fewer turnovers and thus fewer short fields for Tampa’s opponent.

3. The Carolina offense has come back to earth after a hot streak and is averaging a so-so 22.3 points per game in the last three weeks.

4. The Panthers haven’t scored more than 24 points in a road game this season.

This one might not even come close.

Predicted score: Panthers 27, Buccaneers 13

Good luck, we’re all counting on you. 

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Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL since 2007 and is a member of the Professional Football Writers of America, despite the fact he actually lives in Canada. The Toronto-based sports journalist’s work can also be seen at Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, Awful Announcing and The Guardian. He can be found on Twitter @brad_gagnon

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Cowboys, Saints both thriving defensively lately

METAIRIE, La. (AP) — Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan doesn't sound interested in reviewing how the Saints gave up 48 points in Week 1 or 37 points in Week 3.

"Early in the year, they gave up some points and yards and things like that, but you just really look at them in their

METAIRIE, La. (AP) — Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan doesn’t sound interested in reviewing how the Saints gave up 48 points in Week 1 or 37 points in Week 3.

“Early in the year, they gave up some points and yards and things like that, but you just really look at them in their last I guess three or four ballgames,” Linehan said.

The more recent version of New Orleans’ defense hasn’t allowed more than 17 points in any of its past three games.

“They’re just really doing a good job of getting stops and creating negative plays for the other team, whether it be sacks or turnovers,” Linehan said. “We’ve got a big challenge.”

Indeed, for all the offensive star power in Thursday night’s Saints-Cowboys clash — from New Orleans’ Drew Brees, Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara to Dallas’ Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and Amari Cooper — it is also about defenses that have played well lately. Or in the Cowboys’ case, most of the season.

Dallas has not allowed an opponent to score more than 23 in any of its past three games, has not allowed 30 points in a game all season and ranks third in the NFL in points allowed per game at 19.4.

“They’re playing extremely well,” Saints coach Sean Payton said of the Dallas defense. “Their front gets after the quarterback. I think that their back end is really good relative to their scheme. … They’re well-coached and I think that they’re playing with real good passion. It’s one of the better defenses we’ve seen.”

Saints quarterback Drew Brees was similarly effusive in his praise.

“Defensively, they fly around. They’re very well-coached, disciplined,” Brees said. “They are just doing all the things that the great defenses do — getting pressure on the quarterback, good against the run. So really in every facet of what you would say is winning football, championship-caliber football, these guys are doing it right now.”

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett cited coordinator Rod Marinelli’s work and an infusion of “some good young pieces on all three levels of our defense over the last couple of years” as reasons why Dallas has played well on that side of the ball this season.

“The guys have a good understanding of what we want them to do and I think we play hard,” Garrett said. “We’re physical, we run to the ball and take great pride in being a great defensive unit.”

Both defenses feature relatively young players in prominent roles, such as defensive end Taco Charlton, linebacker Jaylon Smith and safety Xavier Woods in Dallas, and defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins, linebacker Alex Anzalone and cornerback Marshon Lattimore in New Orleans.

Meanwhile, each team has a playmaking defensive end in his prime: Cameron Jordan for the Saints and Demarcus Lawrence for the Cowboys. Their linebackers also are led by accomplished veterans in New Orleans’ Demario Davis and Dallas’ Sean Lee.

New Orleans ranks No. 1 in the NFL against the run, which creates a compelling matchup against Elliott, the NFL’s leading rusher.

Some of the Saints’ success against the run stems from the fact they’ve played with large leads, which leaves opponents little choice but to try to come back through the air.

“At the same time, you see the first, opening, couple drives — three-and-outs — limited success in (opponents’) run game,'” Jordan said. “There’s also been games where we had to play all four quarters, all 60 minutes and even beyond that, and we still come out with the same result.”

Dallas is tied for fourth against the run as it prepares to face Kamara and Mark Ingram, and ranks 12th against the pass.

The Saints have a less flattering No. 30 ranking against the pass, but have been able to counter that with turnovers, such as three in the red zone against Atlanta last week. And they’ve gotten good pressure on quarterbacks, with 13 sacks in the past three games.

“I don’t think quarterbacks are getting comfortable back there,” Saints defensive tackle Tyeler Davison said. “There’s not space for them to step up. You can’t escape on the edges. I feel like when quarterbacks play against us now, they have to have that clock in their head. They know that, ‘If I don’t get this ball out, something’s going to happen to me.’ Especially with our offense doing so well, it allows us to pin our ears back and go attack the quarterback.”

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AP Football Writer Schuyler Dixon in Dallas contributed to this report.

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Not that simple: Titans focus on trying to win a game

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Titans' playoff hopes are slim at best after losing five of their last seven games. So Tennessee's focus for December is simple. And desperate.

"Try to find a way to win a game. Put our full focus on the Jets," first-year head coach Mike Vrabel said Tuesday.

The Titans (5-6)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Titans’ playoff hopes are slim at best after losing five of their last seven games. So Tennessee’s focus for December is simple. And desperate.

“Try to find a way to win a game. Put our full focus on the Jets,” first-year head coach Mike Vrabel said Tuesday.

The Titans (5-6) had a chance to stay in the AFC South race, but disappointing performances resulted in a 38-10 thumping at Indianapolis last week and then a 34-17 loss in Houston on Monday night.

The back-to-back losses have dropped Tennessee three games behind Houston. Now five teams stand between the Titans and the second AFC wild-card slot that they squeezed into last season with a 9-7 record.

If that’s not bad enough, Baltimore, Indianapolis and Miami all hold a crucial tiebreaker having beaten the Titans head-to-head.

“We can’t think about no playoffs, no nothing, anything about health,” safety Kevin Byard said after the loss in Houston. “The only thing in front of us is the New York Jets.”

The Titans, who have lost five of their last seven, wrap up the regular season playing four of five at home. Three opponents currently are 3-8, starting with the Jets and followed by a matchup against the Jaguars on Dec. 5. Their lone road trip is a trip to New York against the Giants (3-8) on Dec. 16.

Sunday’s game with the Jets will be only the Titans’ third home game since the end of September.

“We got to give our fans something to cheer about,” Vrabel said.

First, Tennessee needs to figure out how to give Mariota more time. No team has allowed more sacks this season than the Titans, and they gave up six to the Texans for a total of 39 through 11 games. Mariota has been sacked 35 times through 10 games and easily is on pace to top the 38 sacks in 12 games in his rookie season when Tennessee went 3-13.

The Titans wasted a franchise record performance by Mariota as the quarterback completed his first 19 passes and finished 22 of 23 for 303 yards with a 95.7 percent completion rate that was second only in NFL history to Phillip Rivers’ mark of 96.6 percent set a day earlier.

Mariota said he can do a better job of helping his teammates.

“I was holding onto the ball a little too long,” Mariota said. “I got us into negative situations taking some of these sacks. I’ll look back at the film, I’ll get better from it, and improve.”

The Titans also gave up a season-worst 281 yards rushing. And a team that went to Houston with the second-fewest accepted penalties in the NFL racked up seven flags for 50 yards.

Now they face playing two games in the span of five days, their third in 11 days.

“It’s all about us,” Mariota said. “It’s all about us taking care of our business and just focusing on what we can control.”

Notes: Vrabel said CB Malcolm Butler (stinger) is in the concussion protocol. He said they hope to get WR Taywan Taylor (left foot) back this week, though S Dane Cruikshank should miss another week.

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Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker

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FANTASY PLAYS: Time to handcuff your RBs for playoffs

With the fantasy playoffs coming and the byes over, it's time for your waiver wire approach to change.

No longer are you stashing players for future impact. If you have a chance at the playoffs, you know your established starters. Unless injuries strike, you don't want to take a player off of waivers and slide

With the fantasy playoffs coming and the byes over, it’s time for your waiver wire approach to change.

No longer are you stashing players for future impact. If you have a chance at the playoffs, you know your established starters. Unless injuries strike, you don’t want to take a player off of waivers and slide him right into your lineup.

It’s also time to clear out guys you won’t ever start in favor of depth. If you are not going to use mediocre or unreliable players like Frank Gore or Michael Crabtree, cut them loose. What you need now is insurance at the all-important running back position. It’s the only position where your top player can suffer an injury and the backup becomes immediately relevant. You should be rostering the top NFL backups of your starting running backs if they are available. If your starting running back gets injured, you will not have to fight for his services on the waiver wire If you add him now.

This approach, however, does not work at other positions. Backup NFL QBs are usually not the types you will want to start at all in fantasy, and the position is deep in one-QB leagues anyway. When a No. 1 NFL WR is injured, the No. 2 guy on the team is often already rostered if he is fantasy relevant. So focus on the preventative measures at RB for your playoff push.

In some cases, such as New Orleans or the Chargers, two RBs are already useful and widely owned. Otherwise, here is a quick rundown of who you need to add or own as the handcuffs to your starting RBs if applicable. The backup to add is in parentheses. We list situations where the handcuff is clear, possibly unowned and the starter is usually or often a regular and important part of your lineup, even as a flex. Even if the backup is nowhere near as talented or productive as the current starter, an opportunity for adequate statistical output will be there if the starter gets injured.

Rams: Todd Gurley (Malcolm Brown)

Giants: Saquon Barkley (Wayne Gallman)

Chiefs: Kareem Hunt (Spencer Ware)

Cowboys: Ezekiel Elliott (Rod Smith)

Panthers: Christian McCaffrey (Cameron Artis-Payne)

Steelers: James Conner (Jaylen Samuels)

Bengals: Joe Mixon (Giovani Bernard)

Broncos: Phillip Lindsay (Royce Freeman)

Patriots: James White/Sony Michel (Rex Burkhead)

Cardinals: David Johnson (Chase Edmonds)

Packers: Aaron Jones (Jamaal Williams)

Texans: Lamar Miller (Alfred Blue)

Seahawks: Chris Carson (Mike Davis)

Redskins: Adrian Peterson (Kapri Bibbs)

Falcons: Tevin Coleman (Ito Smith)

Of course, that does not mean there are not any other adds to be made off waivers this week. There are indeed a few who have become relevant mostly because of injuries. Of the backup RBs listed above, Burkhead, who just came off injured reserve for New England, could fill in as either a runner if Sony Michel gets hurt again or as a receiver if James White goes down. Burkhead is only owned in 8.8 percent of leagues.

Lions RB LeGarrette Blount (18.5) rushed for 88 yards and two TDs on Thanksgiving against the Bears defense, one of the best units against the run in the league. It is unclear when Kerryon Johnson may return from a knee injury and Blount has proven he is not quite done yet.

Jaguars RB Carlos Hyde (38.8) could get significant work this week against the Colts with Leonard Fournette suspended for a week. In the same game, versatile Colts rookie RB Nyheim Hines (29.9) will be in line for quality duty if Marlon Mack is out with a concussion. He’ll be a respectable flex play in point-per-reception leagues.

Tampa Bay WR Adam Humphries (28.2) is somehow being ignored in many leagues despite 26 catches and four touchdowns in his past five games. With some other WRs like Marques Valdes-Scantling and Golden Tate disappointing recently, Humphries can plug a hole if you need it.

At tight end, Jonnu Smith (5.5) had a 61-yard TD reception on Monday night and has scored in three of his past four games. Jets rookie Chris Herndon (9.9) has double figure PPR totals in four of his past six games and is deserving of regular starting consideration.

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For more Week 13 and fantasy playoff tips, visit RotoExperts: https://rotoexperts.com

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Saints, Rams, Chiefs repeat as top 3 in AP Pro32 poll

NEW YORK (AP) — For the past 2½ months, one thing has been clear in the NFL: Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints are hard to stop.

The Saints' winning streak reached 10 games with their 31-17 victory over Atlanta on Thanksgiving night.

The Saints will play their second consecutive Thursday night game when

NEW YORK (AP) — For the past 2½ months, one thing has been clear in the NFL: Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints are hard to stop.

The Saints’ winning streak reached 10 games with their 31-17 victory over Atlanta on Thanksgiving night.

The Saints will play their second consecutive Thursday night game when they open Week 13 by facing the Dallas Cowboys.

And it’s not the least bit surprising that the surging Saints kept the No. 1 spot in the latest AP Pro32 poll. They received all 12 first-place votes and 384 points in balloting Tuesday by media members who regularly cover the NFL.

“Right here, right now, Drew Brees is this year’s MVP in a very crowded field of contenders,” Newsday’s Bob Glauber said. “At almost 40 years old, he’s playing perhaps his best football, with 29 touchdown passes and just two interceptions.”

The league’s other 10-1 team, the Los Angeles Rams, stayed at No. 2 after its bye week. And the Kansas City Chiefs, who also were on a bye last week, remained No. 3.

Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are still No. 4 after disposing of the New York Jets 27-13.

The only change in the top five was the Chicago Bears, who inched up a spot to No. 5 after topping the Lions 23-16 on Thanksgiving as backup quarterback Chase Daniel threw for 230 yards and two touchdowns in place of the injured Mitchell Trubisky.

The Los Angeles Chargers jumped two places to No. 6 after dominating Arizona 45-10 as Philip Rivers tied the NFL mark for consecutive completions at 25 and the broke record for the most to start a game.

And the Houston Texans, who have won eight in a row after a 0-3 start, remained No. 7 after topping the Tennessee Titans 34-17 on Monday night.

“The surging Texans honored late owner Bob McNair with an eighth consecutive victory behind a powerful ground game and the usual stingy defense,” said Ira Kaufman of Fox 13 in Tampa, Florida.

The Pittsburgh Steelers dropped three spots to No. 8 after their 24-17 loss at Denver.

“Big Ben blows the game in Denver,” Fox Sports’ John Czarnecki said of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who threw for 462 yards but had two interceptions and now has 12 for the season.

They will look to rebound Sunday night when they host the Chargers, who are expected to be without running back Melvin Gordon, who sprained the medial collateral ligament in his right knee during the rout of the Cardinals.

The Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks, who are both in contention for wild-card spots in the NFC, each moved up a spot to Nos. 9 and 10.

Among the teams making the biggest drop was the Cincinnati Bengals, who plummeted five spots to No. 24. They have lost five of six after a 4-1 start and will finish the season without quarterback Andy Dalton, who went on injured reserve with a thumb injury to his throwing hand.

“The record may not show it, but this could very well be the NFL’s worst team by year’s end,” said Alex Marvez of Sirius XM.

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Injuries leave Colts short-handed for possible playoff push

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Andrew Luck might be playing the best football of his career.

He's still going to need help reaching the playoffs with mounting injuries threatening to derail the Indianapolis Colts' late postseason push.

One week after starting center Ryan Kelly went down with a left knee injury and one day after coach Frank

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Andrew Luck might be playing the best football of his career.

He’s still going to need help reaching the playoffs with mounting injuries threatening to derail the Indianapolis Colts’ late postseason push.

One week after starting center Ryan Kelly went down with a left knee injury and one day after coach Frank Reich announced tight end Jack Doyle would miss the rest of the season with an injured kidney, Luck and his teammates started preparing for the closing five-game stretch that will determine whether they end a three-year playoff drought.

“We’ve done it before,” tight end Eric Ebron said Tuesday said when asked about the adjustments. “Everybody has to take on a heavier workload.”

Doyle was injured late in the third quarter or early in the fourth, returned for two plays before leaving for good and then wound up in the hospital Sunday night for what Reich called a “procedure.”

The team provided no immediate update on whether Doyle had been released from the hospital during Tuesday’s availability.

The adaptations start with Ebron, the lone remaining healthy tight end among the five listed on last week’s depth chart. He’s already caught 11 touchdown passes this season, matching his previous four-year total and tying Dallas Clark’s single-season franchise record by a tight end and has played the way Detroit envisioned when it made Ebron a first-round draft pick in 2014.

It’s unclear whether Mo Alie-Cox, Ryan Hewitt or Erik Swoope could return from injuries this week. All three were inactive last weekend, and Reich’s offense has benefited from creating mismatches among the tight ends.

“We are hopeful and optimistic that some of those guys — one or two or all three of those guys — will be ready,” Reich said Monday. “They have been making good progress.”

But the hits have come hard and fast for Indy (6-5), which has won five straight to jump back into the playoff conversation.

Kelly missed last week’s game with a sprained medial collateral ligament and without him, the Colts allowed their first sack in six games. Luck went 249 consecutive drop-backs without being sacked, the longest streak of his pro career.

Kelly’s status for this week is still to be determined though he said Tuesday he felt much better and was running on the treadmill.

“It’s been progressing pretty well,” said Kelly, who was replaced in the lineup by midseason signee Evan Boehm. “The brace has helped.”

Not enough?

Running back Marlon Mack entered the concussion protocol during the fourth quarter Sunday, did not return and now his status also is in doubt this weekend.

If he can’t go, the Colts will be down to their two rookies — Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins — and possibly Jonathan Williams, presuming nobody else is signed. Williams hasn’t played since Indy signed him to the practice squad Oct. 2. He was promoted to the active roster last week.

One saving grace for Indy: Rookie linebacker Darius Leonard escaped a serious knee injury that briefly knocked him out of Sunday’s game after the first offensive play. Leonard returned and finished the game and continues to lead the NFL with 114 tackles despite missing one game in October.

But losing Doyle may create the most damaging impact for Indy.

He followed his first Pro Bowl selection with 26 receptions for 245 yards and two touchdowns in six games. The Colts went 1-4 when he missed five games earlier this season with a bad hip and they had won all four since his Week 8 return against Oakland.

Doyle’s absence leaves a big hole on the field — and in the locker room.

“It hurts,” Ebron said. “I’m more hurt because of the type of player he is and what he means to the team and to me. But we’ve done it before. We just have to adjust a few things.”

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Von Miller chose to channel Bill Belichick

DENVER (AP) — Von Miller declared earlier this season that his job was to "sack quarterbacks and tell jokes."

With a half-a-sack to show for chasing around Ben Roethlisberger all afternoon, Denver's superstar chose not to talk about the Broncos grappling their way back to relevance but instead channeled Bill Belichick and his "We're onto

DENVER (AP) — Von Miller declared earlier this season that his job was to “sack quarterbacks and tell jokes.”

With a half-a-sack to show for chasing around Ben Roethlisberger all afternoon, Denver’s superstar chose not to talk about the Broncos grappling their way back to relevance but instead channeled Bill Belichick and his “We’re onto Cincinnati” credo following a stirring 27-17 win over the Steelers.

With the Bengals up next, Miller figured a stand-up routine was in order as he donned a hoodie and a poker face as he stepped up to the microphone, staring ahead, seemingly emotionless.

Miller could have used his postgame news conference to shower praise on a resilient team that has scratched and clawed its way back into the AFC playoff picture by beating the Chargers (8-3) and Steelers (7-3-1) in consecutive weeks.

Although he mentioned Shelby Harris and Will Parks had “incredible games,” every question generated short, clipped, monotone answers that ended with “We’re onto Cincinnati.”

While Belichick uttered the phrase over and over to show he wasn’t going to let his team harp on an embarrassing loss to the Chiefs in 2014, Miller either hoped to highlight the Broncos’ one-game-at-a-time approach or he wanted to be funny.

Seven times Miller answered, “We’re onto Cincinnati” — cutting off the last question mid-sentence to reiterate his point — before the Broncos’ public relations staff put a merciful end to it and Miller walked off the stage, sticking out his tongue in a mischievous manner as he left.

The Broncos’ captain missed a chance to heap praise on Parks for a never-say-die play in which the safety chased down a tight end about to score on a 24-yard catch-and-run and popped the ball loose an inch from the goal line and out of bounds by the pylon for a touchback.

He didn’t really highlight the game-sealing interception by Harris, the nose tackle who has found a home in Denver after getting cut seven times by the Raiders, Cowboys and Jets — and who coach Vance Joseph revealed Monday came within a week of getting waived by the Broncos in 2017, too.

Miller didn’t talk at all about the Broncos’ other star, cornerback Chris Harris Jr., who had one of Denver’s four takeaways and helped quiet Antonio Brown, who had piled up 189 yards and two touchdowns on Harris the last time the All-Pros squared off.

Miller didn’t laud cornerback Bradley Roby for bouncing back from surrendering a long touchdown pass to force a key fumble in the fourth quarter that ignited the Broncos’ comeback.

He didn’t say anything about Case Keenum’s third straight game without an interception, Emmanuel Sanders’ big day against his former team, tight end Matt LaCosse’s first career touchdown or Phillip Lindsay’s 110-yard rushing performance.

He didn’t mention safety Justin Simmons’ second blocked field goal of the season, something nobody thought would be possible anymore when the NFL tightened the rule book in the offseason, eliminating the running starts, which are something Simmons proved he doesn’t need in order to leap linemen.

And he didn’t really say anything about Joseph following the second-year coach’s signature win.

Miller often pulls stunts like tripping on the podium to lighten the mood at his mid-week news conferences but on Sunday night, he never broke character to laugh off his corny jokes or schtick to answer honest questions with honest answers like he normally does.

“It’s on to Cincinnati,” he said one last time to crickets before exiting, at which point he might as well have added, “Is this mic on?”

Week 12 was chock full of other curious, even costly, calls, including Melvin Gordon running a reverse with the Chargers comfortably ahead only to get leg-whipped and injured in the third quarter of a 45-10 win over Arizona, and Hue Jackson getting emotionally stiff-armed by Baker Mayfield when he went in for the hug with his old QB.

NO REVERSE REMORSE

Gordon will miss the Chargers’ game at Pittsburgh this weekend and maybe many more. But Chargers coach Anthony Lynn didn’t second-guess his call like so many fans are doing because he figured he had to stay aggressive even with a 28-10 lead.

Gordon rushed for 61 yards and two touchdowns before getting leg-whipped on the reverse.

“That’s a play we’ve had in for a long time, and we’ve been trying to get it called in a game,” Lynn said. “It’s a play that if we get around the perimeter, he would still be running. They made a heck of a play and hit us in the backfield.”

Gordon has already scored a career-high 13 times and is a major reason the Chargers are 8-3 for the first time since 2009.

HANDSHAKE BUT NO HUG

Mayfield and his former head coach didn’t hug it out but they did shake hands after the Browns quarterback led Cleveland to a 35-20 win over the Bengals, whom Jackson joined as a special defensive assistant following his firing by the Browns.

“I didn’t feel like talking,” Mayfield said, adding he was motivated by Jackson leaving for the Bengals. “Left Cleveland, goes down to Cincinnati, I don’t know. It’s just somebody that was in our locker room, asking for us to play for him, and then goes to a different team we play twice a year.”

Mayfield has nine touchdowns and one interception in the three games since Gregg Williams replaced Jackson, who started the season with Tyrod Taylor as his quarterback before an injury opened an opportunity for Mayfield, who had eight TDs and six interceptions before Williams took over.

“We have people that we believe in calling the plays now,” Mayfield said.

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Failed 4th down turns tide in Titans’ 34-17 loss to Texans

HOUSTON (AP) — The Tennessee Titans were down by four with the ball on the 3-yard line in the second quarter Monday night against the Houston Texans when coach Mike Vrabel chose to go for it on fourth-and-inches.

Tight end Luke Stocker took the handoff and was immediately met by Zach Cunningham and Bernardrick McKinney

HOUSTON (AP) — The Tennessee Titans were down by four with the ball on the 3-yard line in the second quarter Monday night against the Houston Texans when coach Mike Vrabel chose to go for it on fourth-and-inches.

Tight end Luke Stocker took the handoff and was immediately met by Zach Cunningham and Bernardrick McKinney and stopped for no gain. Lamar Miller ran 97 yards for a touchdown on the next play to make it 21-10, and the Texans went on to a 34-17 win.

“If you look at their goal-line defense and having a lot of good knowledge of what they do on the goal line, that’s one play that had worked,” Vrabel said. “It didn’t work tonight and that’s not the reason that we lost. That’s a bad play.”

Vrabel spent a good part of his postgame news conference fielding questions about the play and why he chose to hand the ball to Stocker, an eight-year veteran who had zero carries entering the game. In fact, Stocker said after the game that the last time he remembered carrying the ball was in high school.

“I’d like to have that back and have a chance to go lower or dive or reach the ball out or something,” he said. “That’s on me. I’ve got to figure out a way to convert that.”

Some wondered why Vrabel didn’t give the ball to 6-foot-3, 247-pound running back Derrick Henry in that situation.

“That’s something we’ve repped in practice,” Vrabel said about using Stocker. “Just having watched that play be successful against their goal-line look, we felt good about it.”

The fact that Tennessee’s defense allowed the huge run by Miller seconds after the failed fourth-down attempt was just another disappointment for the Titans.

“Runs like that can’t happen,” cornerback Logan Ryan said. “They shouldn’t happen, but it did. We’ve got to learn from it.”

Marcus Mariota, who missed the second half of last week’s game with a stinger, was 22 of 23 for 303 yards and two touchdowns. He completed his first 19 passes before an incompletion with just more than a minute remaining.

Vrabel couldn’t celebrate Mariota’s effectiveness on a night when the Titans allowed the Texans to set a franchise record with 281 yards rushing, led by 162 from Miller.

“The stats are the stats,” Vrabel said when asked about Mariota’s completion percentage. “The loss is really what I’m going to try to focus on. We’ve got to stop the run. There’s a lot of things other than guys’ individual stats that we’re trying to concentrate on.”

The Titans (5-6) have lost two straight to drop into third place in the AFC South behind first-place Houston (8-3) and Indianapolis (6-5).

“We’ve got to stick together and we’ve got to go win,” Vrabel said. “We’re going to get as prepared as we can and we’ve got to go out and play. We just didn’t get it done tonight.”

The Titans jumped out to a 10-0 lead before Houston scored 27 straight points to take control. Tennessee finally scored again on a 48-yard reception by Corey Davis late in the third quarter, but a 10-yard TD by Demaryius Thomas made it 34-17 with just more than eight minutes left.

“We did a good job of coming out, but we got flat and couldn’t pick it back up,” Tennessee left tackle Taylor Lewan said. “We’ve got the guys to do it, but we’ve just got to figure out a way to stop the bleeding and get it going.”

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Browns winning, thinking playoffs possible after shaky start

CLEVELAND (AP) — Something shocking has happened to the Browns, those bumbling, fumbling, quarterback-searching, coach-firing, draft-busting losers.

They've disappeared. Maybe gone for good.

"This is a new team," said center JC Tretter. "We had goals we came into the season with, and we're starting to show what we're capable of. Obviously, it's been a rough

CLEVELAND (AP) — Something shocking has happened to the Browns, those bumbling, fumbling, quarterback-searching, coach-firing, draft-busting losers.

They’ve disappeared. Maybe gone for good.

“This is a new team,” said center JC Tretter. “We had goals we came into the season with, and we’re starting to show what we’re capable of. Obviously, it’s been a rough couple seasons for the Browns, but this team is a totally different team.”

Totally.

With an impressive 35-20 victory at Cincinnati on Sunday, the Browns (4-6-1) not only ended their 25-game road losing streak — one shy of the NFL record, but they posted consecutive wins for the first time since 2014. Cleveland also broke a seven-game skid against the Bengals, exacted some revenge on former coach Hue Jackson for rejoining a division rival, and pushed itself into the AFC playoff conversation, albeit as a long shot.

As November fades, the Browns feel they’re getting stronger.

“Being in the hunt in December is all you can really ask for when you start the season,” linebacker Joe Schobert said Monday. “Just to have meaningful games is big for the morale in the whole building, and as well as the fans and fan base that has been kind of starving for wins the last couple of years.

“To be able to put ourselves in position for that is just a sign of a step forward as this organization.”

The surge didn’t seem possible a few weeks ago after Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley were fired following an Oct. 28 loss in Pittsburgh. The same ol’ Browns were still sinking.

But under interim coach Gregg Williams, and with running backs coach Freddie Kitchens calling plays better suited for Mayfield’s strengths, the Browns have turned around their season. They’re 2-1 since Williams took over and there has been a noticeable change in the team’s temperament. Penalties are down, the Browns are playing with a crispness and purpose, and they’re backing up big talk with bigger actions.

Tretter, who has played the past month despite a severely sprained ankle, said Williams’ influence has been dramatic and decisive.

“Discipline has been great,” he said. “It is something that we desperately needed. He has really reined everybody in and gotten everybody focused on one single goal. His leadership has been very strong. He fires up the team. He has that personality. Everybody knows that. He has just done a great job of really rallying the troops to one cause. You see that on Sundays.”

Tretter said Williams has placed a premium on attention to detail. He’s holding players accountable for their mistakes and giving everyone clear expectations.

“They’re spelled out for you, there’s no confusion about what’s going on,” Tretter said. “Every meeting hits on the same points over and over again, where there’s really no gray area of what’s expected of each player on this team. That has really helped us take that next step.

“Obviously you always worry about that with a midseason transition, but Gregg’s done a great job of rallying the troops and getting everybody on the same page.”

Williams will interview for Cleveland’s full-time job when the season ends, and while his resume gets a boost every time the Browns play well, his chances of being hired seem remote.

However, as long as the Browns keep winning and Mayfield continues progressing, Williams’ stock will rise.

The 60-year-old’s powerful personality has also rubbed off on his players, who didn’t miss a chance Sunday to get in their shots at Jackson, whether it was safety Damarious Randall handing the former coach the ball after an interception, or Mayfield giving him a cold shoulder following Cleveland’s win.

Williams said he’s just being himself, and downplayed his impact as a disciplinarian.

“I do not want to overblow it at all — I say what I mean and I mean what I say,” Williams said. “It is about being on time, doing things the right way, not doing things halfway and doing things all of the way. Ability alone does not win at this level. You have to go above and beyond.”

Williams had been reluctant to mention any playoff possibilities, but last week used the postseason prize as a motivator to reinforce a bigger message: The Browns can make this season special.

“You are starting to see a team that everybody in this building knew was here,” Tretter said. “We do understand that if we do take it one game at a time and everything goes our way, there is an opportunity to keep playing football games into January and into February, but that is something that we can’t look too far ahead on right now.”

NOTES: Williams reported no major injuries from Sunday’s win. … Williams said he “can’t keep up with my texts and my voicemails” from friends and colleagues around the league who are impressed with the Browns. “It is not going unnoticed,” he said.

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Skidding Packers face steep climb to reach playoffs

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Another close loss on the road left the Green Bay Packers in a huge hole when it comes to their flickering postseason hopes.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers laid out the grim scenario left behind after a 24-1 loss in Minnesota.

"We're going to need some help from some teams and then

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Another close loss on the road left the Green Bay Packers in a huge hole when it comes to their flickering postseason hopes.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers laid out the grim scenario left behind after a 24-1 loss in Minnesota.

“We’re going to need some help from some teams and then we’ve got to take care of our own business, you know?” he said. “We’re going to have to find a way to win a game on the road. We’re 0-6 on the road. We’ve got to beat Arizona, and then come back and beat Atlanta, then go to Chicago — a place we’ve won a number of times — beat them, go to New York around Christmas (and) beat them, and then come home against Detroit (and) beat them. Get a little help.”

Green Bay limped home from its fourth defeat in five games with a 4-6-1 record. The Packers are in 10th place in the NFC playoff race. Washington (6-5) leads the chase for the final postseason berth. Seattle and Carolina also are 6-5 and Philadelphia is 5-6. It all adds up to long odds for the Packers, who haven’t won back-to-back games all season.

Green Bay does have the easiest remaining schedule, which starts with home games against Arizona (2-9) and Atlanta (4-7).

“I think our team has done a really good job keeping their eye on the target,” coach Mike McCarthy said Monday. “They’re playing hard. They’re giving us everything they’ve got. As their coaching staff, we’re just going to keep giving them everything we’ve got. We need to coach better and we need to play better.”

Green Bay’s offense has been startlingly bad on third downs. The Packers converted only 2 of 10 opportunities against the Vikings. For the season, they’re 24th in the league with a conversion rate of 37 percent. Over the previous 10 seasons, the Packers were fifth with a conversion rate of 43.4 percent.

“If our third down improves, we’re clearly a touchdown or so better per game,” McCarthy said.

That touchdown per game would make a huge difference for a team that has lost games at the Rams, Seahawks and Vikings over the past month by a combined 12 points.

Beyond the third-down woes, McCarthy has injury concerns.

Four starters — cornerbacks Kevin King (hamstring) and Bashaud Breeland (groin), defensive tackle Mike Daniels (foot) and receiver Randall Cobb (hamstring) — were inactive on Sunday night. Left tackle David Bakhtiari (knee), left guard Lane Taylor (quad) and safety Kentrell Brice (ankle, concussion) were unable to finish the game.

McCarthy cut some of the meetings out of Monday’s schedule and the team won’t practice in pads on Thursday.

“I think these Sunday night games are taxing, no doubt,” he said. “Obviously, the game last night was a very physical football game. We have a lot of guys that are beat up. There’s going to be extra time sorting through exactly what we need to get done over the next 48 hours to really set our plan for Wednesday.”

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Shurmur answers Odell Beckham Jr.’s play calling complaint

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Things are back to normal for the New York Giants.

They lost a tough one to the Eagles after building an early 12-point lead. Odell Beckham's Jr., who had spoken of running the table and making the playoffs for weeks, got frustrated after the setback and questioned coach Pat Shurmur's

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Things are back to normal for the New York Giants.

They lost a tough one to the Eagles after building an early 12-point lead. Odell Beckham’s Jr., who had spoken of running the table and making the playoffs for weeks, got frustrated after the setback and questioned coach Pat Shurmur’s play calling against a banged-up Philadelphia secondary.

It ended with the coach fending off questions Monday about his decisions; his limited use of halfback Saquon Barkley in the second half; Eli Manning’s status as the starting quarterback; and his refusal to rebuke Beckham, saying his star receiver was venting after an emotional, last-minute 25-22 loss.

Really, it was what one would expect with the Giants (3-8) heading into the final five weeks of the season with one of the worst records in the NFL and virtually no hope of getting to the playoffs. They are frustrated after winning six of 27 games over the last two seasons.

With that, Shurmur has to get the team ready to play the Chicago Bears (8-3) at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.

“You go into every week with giving your team the best opportunity to win the football game each week,” Shurmur said. “That’s how you do this thing. This isn’t player tryouts, this is do everything in your power to win the next game. Today’s Monday, so we’re in the Monday phase of that process.”

As far as looking back on Sunday, Shurmur downplayed Beckham’s questioning the play calling, noting the Giants threw 37 times and ran 18. He noted the passing game had seven plays of 18 yards or better, one off the team’s high for the season.

“You’ll have to ask him to define it after he watches the tape, but I felt like we were trying to do the things necessary to win the game,” Shurmur said. “We still got production in the running game, had a couple third-down calls in the red zone that were close. If it goes in, that’s a different story.”

Beckham only speaks to the media on Thursday, so he was not available for comment.

The big difference Sunday was the second half. The Giants had five possessions, including a three-play drive in the waning seconds, and gained three first downs. They ran 22 plays as opposed to 38 in the first half, when they scored on their first four possessions in taking a 19-12 lead. They were in position to try a late field goal, but Manning was intercepted on an ill-advised toss.

Shurmur did not hesitate to say the 37-year-old Manning will remain the starting quarterback because he gives the Giants the best chance to win. He did not seem interested in questions suggesting the team should start rookie Kyle Lauletta or backup Alex Tanney with the season going nowhere.

Manning also wasn’t interested in a change, saying he wants to play. He also believes the team will fight.

“We’ve got a good group of guys,” he said. “It’s important to the guys. We feel like we’re going to keep fighting, we’re going to keep preparing, and going out there and still chase that feeling of that locker room after a win. That’s a good feeling. It makes the week go easier.”

The Giants have had trouble finishing the past two seasons, with Sunday the latest example.

“I think we need to learn how to win again here,” Shurmur said. “The last two weeks, we won one by coming back. A week ago, we won one by playing from the front. This week, we got ahead on a team and didn’t hold the lead, so there’s things to be learned in all three of those as you learn to win a game. We’re doing it with a lot of very young players, and a lot of really backup-type players from our initial roster, so it’s a great opportunity for them to help us win.”

NOTES: TE Evan Engram felt his hamstring grab during warmups. He says his status is day to day. … WR-return man Quadree Henderson fractured a shoulder and probably will be put on injured reserve. … The Giants felt Walt Anderson’s officiating crew missed two late calls, both involving Beckham. There was no call when Beckham was clearly held on a third-and-4 play from the Eagles 11 before Aldrick Rosas’ tying 29-yard field goal with 5:52 to play. Beckham also was tackled by Eagles linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill with a trip on the final play of the game, a 10-yard unsportsmanlike penalty. It also could have been a leg whip, which is 15 yards. It would have set up a 62 or 67-yard field-goal attempt with the wind. “Anywhere from 70 and in I would’ve had to go out there,” Rosas said. “I would’ve been pretty confident. Just get it up there, hit it nice and let it carry.”

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Seven From Sunday – Week 12

PRESS RELEASE

SEVEN FROM SUNDAY – WEEK 12​ 

A look at seven statistical highlights from games played at 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, November 25, the 12th week of the 2018 season. 

  • New England quarterback TOM BRADY completed 20 of 31 passes (64.5 percent) for 283 yards with two

PRESS RELEASE

SEVEN FROM SUNDAY – WEEK 12​ 

A look at seven statistical highlights from games played at 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, November 25, the 12th week of the 2018 season. 

  • New England quarterback TOM BRADY completed 20 of 31 passes (64.5 percent) for 283 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions for a 115.4 passer rating in the Patriots’ 27-13 victory at the New York Jets. 

    Brady has 79,416 career passing yards (including the postseason) and surpassed PEYTON MANNING (79,279) for the most passing yards in NFL history, including the playoffs.  

    Patriots tight end ROB GRONKOWSKI had 56 receiving yards and a touchdown catch in the team’s Week 12 win. Gronkowski, who is 29 years old, has 78 career touchdown receptions, tying Pro Football Hall of Famer TERRELL OWENS (78) for the third-most touchdown catches by a player prior to turning 30 years old in league annals. Only Pro Football Hall of Famers RANDY MOSS (101) and JERRY RICE (95) had more career touchdowns prior to the age of 30.
     

  • Los Angeles Chargers quarterback PHILIP RIVERS completed 28 of 29 passes (96.6 percent), including his first 25 pass attempts, for 259 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions for a 138.4 passer rating in the Chargers’ 45-10 victory over Arizona. 

    Rivers’ 25 consecutive completions are the most by a quarterback in a single game in NFL history and are tied with RYAN TANNEHILL (25 consecutive completions from Weeks 6-7 in 2015) for the most consecutive passes completed at any point in league history. Washington’s MARK BRUNELL previously held the record for the most consecutive completions to begin a game, completing his first 22 passes against Houston on September 24, 2006. 

    Rivers’ 96.6 completion percentage is the highest by a quarterback in a single game in league annals (minimum 20 attempts), surpassing the previous high of 92.3 percent (24 of 26 passing) set by Pro Football Hall of Famer KURT WARNER against Jacksonville on September 20, 2009.
     

  • Cleveland rookie quarterback BAKER MAYFIELD completed 19 of 26 passes (73.1 percent) for 258 yards with four touchdowns and zero interceptions for a 143.9 passer rating in the Browns’ 35-20 victory at Cincinnati. 

    Mayfield, who recorded a 151.2 passer rating in Week 10 and had a bye in Week 11, is the first rookie quarterback in NFL history to record a 140+ passer rating in consecutive games (minimum 20 attempts).  

    Browns rookie running back NICK CHUBB rushed for 84 yards with a touchdown and had three catches for 44 yards and a score in the victory. 

    Chubb, who rushed for 176 yards with a touchdown and had a touchdown catch in Week 10, is one of four rookies in NFL history with both a rushing and receiving touchdown in consecutive games, joining KINK RICHARDS of the 1933 New York Giants, RODNEY CULVER of the 1992 Indianapolis Colts and SAQUON BARKLEY of the 2018 New York Giants.  

    Barkley, who scored both a rushing touchdown and receiving touchdown in Week 11, rushed for 101 yards with a score and had a touchdown catch in the Giants’ loss at Philadelphia in Week 12.
     

  • Baltimore rookie running back GUS EDWARDS rushed for 118 yards, rookie quarterback LAMAR JACKSON had 178 passing yards and 71 rushing yards and linebacker TERRELL SUGGS scored on a 43-yard fumble-return touchdown in the Ravens’ 34-17 victory over Oakland. 

    Edwards, who rushed for 115 yards last week, is the sixth undrafted rookie in the common draft era to record at least 100 rushing yards in consecutive games, joining BRANDEN OLIVER (2014), LE GARRETTE BLOUNT (2010), DOMINIC RHODES (2001), FRED LANE (1997) and CLARK GAINES (1976). 

    Jackson, who rushed for 119 yards in his first-career start in Week 11, has 190 rushing yards in his first two NFL starts, the most by a quarterback in his first two career starts in the Super Bowl era. 

    At 36 years, 45 days old, Suggs is the second-oldest player in league history with a fumble-return touchdown of at least 40 yards, trailing only Carolina’s SAM MILLS who returned a fumble 41 yards for a touchdown against the Houston Oilers on November 24,1996 at 37 years, 174 days old.
     

  • Tampa Bay wide receiver MIKE EVANS had six catches for 116 yards in the Buccaneers’ 27-9 victory over San Francisco. 

    Evans has 1,073 receiving yards this season and joined Pro Football Hall of Famer RANDY MOSS (six consecutive seasons from 1998-2003) and A.J. GREEN (five consecutive seasons from 2011-15) as the only players in NFL history with at least 1,000 receiving yards in each of their first five seasons.
     

  • Philadelphia tight end ZACH ERTZ had seven catches for 91 yards and a touchdown in the Eagles’ 25-22 victory over the New York Giants.  

    Ertz has 84 catches this season, the most by a tight end in franchise history, surpassing the previous record of 81 set by KEITH JACKSON in 1988.  

    Ertz has 405 career catches since entering the league in 2013 and joined JIMMY GRAHAM (434 catches), JASON WITTEN (429) and ANTONIO GATES (400) as the only tight ends in NFL history with at least 400 catches in their first six career seasons.
     

  • Other notable performances from Sunday include:
     

    • Indianapolis quarterback ANDREW LUCK completed 30 of 37 passes (81.1 percent) for 343 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions for a 109.8 passer rating in the Colts’ 27-24 win over Miami. 

      Luck has thrown at least three touchdown passes in eight consecutive games, tying PEYTON MANNING (eight consecutive games in 2004) for the second-longest streak of consecutive games with at least three touchdown passes in a single season in NFL history. Only TOM BRADY (10 consecutive games in 2011) had a longer such streak in a single season.
       

    • Seattle quarterback RUSSELL WILSON completed 22 of 31 passes (71 percent) for 339 yards with two touchdowns, including a game-tying 35-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver DAVID MOORE with 3:26 remaining in the fourth quarter in the Seahawks’ 30-27 victory at Carolina.

      Wilson, who completed a 43-yard pass to wide receiver TYLER LOCKETT to set up the game-winning 31-yard field goal by SEBASTIAN JANIKOWSKI as time expired in the fourth quarter, has led 22 game-winning drives in the fo​urth quarter or overtime in his career, the most in franchise history. 

    • Panthers running back CHRISTIAN MC CAFFREY rushed for 125 yards with a touchdown and had 11 catches for 112 yards with a score in the Panthers’ loss to Seattle. 

​McCaffrey is the fifth different player since 2000 to have both 100 rushing and receiving yards and score both a rushing and receiving touchdown, joining ARIAN FOSTER (October 23, 2011), BRIAN WESTBROOK (September 23, 2007), STEVEN JACKSON (December 24, 2006) and PRIEST HOLMES (December 9, 2001 and November 24, 2002). He is the first player in franchise history to accomplish the feat. 

Courtesy of NFL Communications

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Ballin’ on a Budget Week 12 Results

It was bound to happen at some point. We had our worst week in months and were the victim of a number of bad beats this week. We went 1-4, but could have easily gone 3-2. It wasn't pretty, but let's recap exactly what went wrong and how we can learn from it

It was bound to happen at some point. We had our worst week in months and were the victim of a number of bad beats this week. We went 1-4, but could have easily gone 3-2. It wasn’t pretty, but let’s recap exactly what went wrong and how we can learn from it going into the last five weeks of the season.

LOSS: Redskins +7.5 vs. Cowboys (-110): Cowboys 31, Redskins 23.

Our first bad beat of the week came just as Thanksgiving dinner was settling. Despite a poor showing from Colt McCoy, the Redskins actually gave themselves a chance late in this game. If it weren’t for a missed extra point early in the game, they would have lost by just seven points, helping us get the win.

Of course, our luck ran out and we lost the bet by half a point. This really set the stage for the rest of our bets, because boy, was it a rough weekend. Game after game ended in heartbreak, so one terrible game down, three to go. Total payout: $0.

LOSS: Jaguars -3 at Bills (-120): Bills 24, Jaguars 21.

This game was weird and that strangeness did not work in our favor. Down 14-0, the Jags battled all the way back and scored to go up 21-14. However, the call on the field was changed, giving Jacksonville the ball on the one-yard line. In the aftermath of that play, there was an all-out brawl in which star running back Leonard Fournette was ejected from the game. Fournette had been running the Bills over and the bet was essentially dead after that.

With first and goal from the one, the Jaguars had a penalty, Blake Bortles took a sack, and then Josh Lambo missed a 26-yard field goal. It was as excruciating as it gets. Just one year removed from the AFC Championship Game, the Jaguars have now lost seven straight games and are 3-8. Just like our betting from this week, they have plenty to fix. Total payout: $0.

LOSS: Patriots-Jets OVER 46 points (-110): Patriots 27, Jets 13.

Oh, yet another gut punch. With the Patriots up 27-13 with two minutes left in the game, the Jets had third and two from the three-yard line. Instead of running the ball, knowing you should probably be able to get two yards in two tries, they had 39-year-old Josh McCown attempt two low-percentage passes to the corner of the end zone. To call the play calling in that situation infuriating would be an understatement.

Of course, a touchdown in that situation would have pushed the game total to 47, giving us the over, but the betting gods didn’t want us to have nice things this week. New England took over and sat on the ball and no more points were scored. Total payout: $0.

WIN: 49ers-Buccaneers UNDER 55 (-110): Buccaneers 27, 49ers 9.

Our only win of the weekend was probably the least exciting game as well. When you’re rooting for the under, sometimes you have to root for a bland game and that’s exactly what we got with Bucs-49ers. There was some scoring early, but San Francisco flatlined by the second quarter. It turns out Nick Mullens may not be the answer at quarterback.

By the fourth, this one was a lock, the Buccaneers already firmly in control. The best thing this game did for us was save us the potential embarrassment of an 0-5 week. In a week where everything went wrong, we’ll take it. Total payout: $5.70.

LOSS: Steelers -3 vs. Broncos (-115): Broncos 24, Steelers 17.

Okay, back to the heartbreak. Denver has been frisky lately, but with the Steelers possessing many more offensive weapons, this seemed like an easy pick. However, Denver made it hard on Big Ben and Co. all day long. Two interceptions helped key the win. First, with Pittsburgh up 17-10, the Broncos picked him off near midfield. Had the Steelers scored on that possession, it would have been the nail in the coffin.

Instead, Denver scored to tie it and then scored again to take the lead. This game seemed destined for overtime with the Steelers looking to punch the ball in from the two-yard line. Instead, Big Ben threw a backbreaking interception that sealed the deal and helped the Broncos to their second straight upset win. Last week, that upset helped us. This week, it hurt us. Total payout: $0.

PIGGY BANK: $257.20 (7.2% return on investment)

PICK PERCENTAGE: 57.9% (33-24-3)

Jacob Kornhauser is a sports reporter in Southern Oregon covering all sports, including Oregon and Oregon State athletics. He has been a national baseball writer for Bleacher Report and Rant Sports and has written two baseball books. He also specializes in sports betting analysis. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri Journalism School.

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Short on buzz, but Patriots-Jets usually close at MetLife

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The buzz that once surrounded the AFC East rivalry between the New England Patriots and New York Jets isn't quite what it was.

There always seemed to be a little extra something about the week leading up to the teams' two meetings every regular season, with some bold trash talk

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The buzz that once surrounded the AFC East rivalry between the New England Patriots and New York Jets isn’t quite what it was.

There always seemed to be a little extra something about the week leading up to the teams’ two meetings every regular season, with some bold trash talk and colorful Boston-New York comparisons spicing things up.

Not so much this time around.

It doesn’t help, of course, that the Jets (3-7) are struggling mightily while the Patriots (7-3) appear headed to their 10th straight division title and 15th in 16 years. But New England is hitting the road, where it’s 2-3 this season, and knows to not expect a cakewalk Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

“Throughout all sports history, it’s always that rivalry there,” Patriots defensive back Devin McCourty said of Boston vs. New York. “When we go down there, it’s not many Patriots fans in there. If they are in there, you probably don’t want to be too loud in that stadium because the Jets fans will get rowdy. It’s a lot of fun.”

Coming off a 34-10 loss to Tennessee two weeks ago , the Patriots are looking to avoid their second two-game losing streak of the season — something the franchise hasn’t experienced since 2015.

This might be as good a week as any to get things back on track for New England, which has won four straight in the series against New York and seven of the last eight.

“I think the rest kind of came at a good time for us to evaluate ourselves, get some rest, recover up, just come back and get ready to go for this last six-game stretch,” running back James White said. “Lot of division games, big, tough one against the Jets this week, so we’ve just got to come out ready to go from the start to the finish. It’s tough every time we play those guys. It’s never easy.”

That’s true on the road, despite the lopsided results in the Patriots’ favor.

In the last five games between the teams at MetLife Stadium, all have been decided by seven points or less — including a 26-20 overtime win by the Jets in coach Todd Bowles’ first season.

These are tough times, though, for Bowles. His future beyond this year is in serious doubt, with the Jets’ four-game losing streak — capped by an embarrassing 41-10 loss to Buffalo two weeks ago — making matters worse.

New York is hoping to turn things around at home and avoid its first five-game losing streak since dropping eight straight during Rex Ryan’s final season as coach in 2014.

“There’s some things that we can exploit,” wide receiver Quincy Enunwa said, “but we just have to be smart.”

Here are some other things to know about the latest Patriots-Jets showdown:

OLD GUYS

With Jets rookie Sam Darnold out with a foot strain , 39-year-old backup Josh McCown will get his second straight start.

That means this game will likely feature the NFL’s second-oldest QB combo at 80 years, 258 days with 41-year-old Tom Brady expected to go up against McCown. Brady was limited during the week with a sore knee, and didn’t practice Friday and was listed as questionable.

Only Carolina’s Vinny Testaverde (44) and Green Bay’s Brett Favre (38) in 2007 are an older combination at 82 years, 44 days old.

“Our careers, other than the age, there’s probably not a lot of similarities,” McCown said. “But I can respect what he’s gone through year in and year out to get himself ready to play, physically, mentally, and then the focus that it takes to do that is remarkable.”

GRONK’S BACK

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is expected to return from back and ankle injuries after sitting out the last two games. He was listed as questionable after being limited at practice all week.

“When he plays, he’s Gronk,” Bowles said. “Obviously, he’s been nicked up a little bit, but he’s a great player. You can’t say enough about the guy. And he shows it every time he’s out there.”

CHART TOPPER

Brady needs four touchdown passes to top Peyton Manning (579) for the most in NFL history, including postseason games.

The Patriots QB could make some more history. He needs 147 yards passing to top Manning (79,279) for No. 1 on the career list.

With 252 yards passing, Brady would reach 3,000 for the 16th straight season to tie Manning for second most behind only Brett Favre (18).

SAFETY DANCE

Jets second-year safety Jamal Adams has been a bright spot for New York. He leads NFL safeties with eight tackles for loss and is tied for second with nine passes defensed, four QB hits and two forced fumbles. Adams also is the early leader in Pro Bowl voting among all safeties.

“Jamal is having a great season, in my opinion,” said Bowles, who rarely dishes praise on his players. “His eyes are better from a study standpoint.”

MARK OF CONSISTENCY

With a win, the Patriots would clinch their 18th straight season with a .500 record or better. That would rank second in NFL history to only Dallas, which had 21 in a row from 1965-85.

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Seahawks, Panthers chasing same wild-card possibilities

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The good news for the Carolina Panthers is they return home Sunday to face the Seattle Seahawks where they've won 10 straight games.

The bad news is it's highly unlikely the Panthers will play a playoff game in Charlotte, North Carolina, if they reach the postseason.

The Seahawks (5-5) can relate.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The good news for the Carolina Panthers is they return home Sunday to face the Seattle Seahawks where they’ve won 10 straight games.

The bad news is it’s highly unlikely the Panthers will play a playoff game in Charlotte, North Carolina, if they reach the postseason.

The Seahawks (5-5) can relate.

They and the Panthers (6-4) essentially find themselves competing for wild-card spots in the NFC with six games remaining given their chances of winning a division title and hosting a postseason game appear remote. Carolina has lost two straight on the road and fallen 3 ½ games behind New Orleans in the NFC South, while the Seahawks trail the Los Angeles Rams by 4 ½ games in the NFC West.

“Right now, we can’t worry about what New Orleans is doing. We can’t worry about the playoff picture. We just have to win a game,” Panthers tight end Greg Olsen said. “In this league, it’s so easy to get caught up in, ‘If this team wins, if this team loses, (then) we can have home-field (advantage). … Hey, if we don’t win some games, we’re not going to be in the playoffs.”

In terms of wild-card implications, this game looms as large as any in the NFC.

Currently, the Panthers would be one wild-card team, while the Minnesota Vikings would be the other. But that could all change if the Seahawks continue their recent dominance over the Panthers.

Russell Wilson is 5-2 against Cam Newton and Carolina.

He has averaged 270.3 yards passing per game with 11 touchdown passes and six interceptions. Newton, on the other hand, has struggled mightily against the Seahawks with nine turnovers and only five TD passes.

“They get after the quarterback,” Newton said when asked of his struggles against the Seahawks. “That’s what they do extremely well, and they’re very opportunistic in that. You know what they’re going to be in (defensively), they know you know what they’re going to be in, but they just play so fast and rally around the football.”

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll wasn’t giving any hints as to how his team intends to slow one of the game’s most dangerous QBs.

“If I tell you, then that would help them, huh?” Carroll said.

MORE OF MOORE

D.J. Moore has been looking increasingly more like Carolina’s top receiver — and this week he may need to take on the role of No. 1 receiver with Devin Funchess listed as doubtful with a back injury that has kept him out of practice this week.

Moore, the team’s first-round draft pick, caught seven passes for 157 yards and a touchdown in Carolina’s 20-19 loss to the Lions last week, including an 82-yard catch and run. Meanwhile, Funchess had a miserable game with five drops, including one in the end zone.

If Funchess is out, the Seahawks can expect to see more of second-year wide receiver Curtis Samuel, who has been explosive in his limited playing time.

SACK ATTACK

Frank Clark is having a standout year in a contract season for the Seahawks. Clark has already tied his career high with 10 sacks with another six games to go. He has been a consistent threat off the edge and has seven sacks in the past five games.

While Clark has been a menace, Seattle is still seeking a complementary pass rusher to work with Clark. Defensive tackle Jarran Reed is second on the team with 5 ½ sacks, but no other player has more than two.

Seattle had five sacks of Aaron Rodgers, but Carroll warned Newton is a completely different challenge.

“I’m hoping that that will be a part again because if you noticed, we broke the pocket down and that’s important to do with Cam as well because he can get out and really scorch you too,” Carroll said.

PRESSURING WILSON

The Panthers realize they need to get some pressure on Wilson and make him uncomfortable in the pocket.

That hasn’t been Carolina’s strength this season as it ranks 23rd in the league in sacks entering the week with 23. Carolina isn’t getting much penetration inside, where defensive tackle Kawann Short has gone nine straight games without a sack after registering two in the season opener against Dallas.

Wilson is expecting a close game.

“We know these games against Carolina have always come down to the wire,” Wilson said. “We have a lot of respect for how they play the game. They play the game the right way, they play the game fast and physical, they play the game smart.”

THREE-HEADED ATTACK

Seattle has the top running game in the NFL and it continues to be a collaborative effort. Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny and Mike Davis all have had 100-yard games this season.

Carson is clearly the primary ball carrier and had 17 carries for 83 yards in Seattle’s win over Green Bay last week. But Penny has been earning more opportunities as his rookie year has progressed, and Davis was the closer for Seattle against the Packers as the one getting carries on the final drive.

Seattle has rushed for at least 150 yards as a team in seven straight games.

GOTTA GANO

Panthers kicker Graham Gano missed an extra point and a field goal in Carolina’s 20-19 loss to the Lions last week. So when coach Ron Rivera opted to go for 2 in the game’s final seconds instead of tying the game, it appeared to show a lack of confidence in his veteran kicker.

However, Gano returns home this week where he has made 39 straight field goals.

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AP Sports Writer Tim Booth in Seattle contributed to this report.

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Giants, Eagles heading in opposite directions

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Giants and Eagles are heading in opposite directions in an up-for-grabs division.

At the season's midpoint, Eli Manning's starting job was in jeopardy and New York seemingly was primed for a run at the No. 1 overall pick in next year's draft.

But the Giants (3-7) have won two straight after

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Giants and Eagles are heading in opposite directions in an up-for-grabs division.

At the season’s midpoint, Eli Manning’s starting job was in jeopardy and New York seemingly was primed for a run at the No. 1 overall pick in next year’s draft.

But the Giants (3-7) have won two straight after a dismal first half and the offense has put up 65 points in those games. Manning is coming off an excellent performance and he’s not hearing any more questions about getting benched.

That’s not the case for Carson Wentz.

The defending champion Eagles (4-6) have lost two in a row and some misguided fans were even calling for Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles to replace Wentz in the starting lineup following his career-worst effort in a 48-7 loss to New Orleans.’

Despite losing records, both teams are still in the mix in the NFC East entering Sunday’s game in Philadelphia. Dallas and Washington are tied for first place at 6-5.

“You always want to have the momentum and I think that’s kind of what the two games gave us, and we just got to keep preparing the way that we’ve been preparing and hopefully we keep it on the roll,” Giants wideout Sterling Shepard said.

The Eagles played their best game of the season in a 34-13 victory against New York in October. It was the only game they’ve scored more than 24 points.

“That was a fun game,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. “I felt like the offense was in sync, in rhythm. I think you just have to, as a play caller. kind of get back to who we are.”

Much has changed since that game as Philadelphia has lost three of four.

“Last time we played them, I know exactly why they beat us,” Giants coach Pat Shurmur said. “We didn’t do anything that you need to do against any type of team to win. We turned the ball over, we gave them big plays. We just didn’t play well enough to beat any team, so we have to fix that. That’s more about us and less about them.”

Here are things to know about the Giants-Eagles matchup:

BANGED-UP SECONDARY

The Eagles are missing three-fourths of their starting secondary, their starting nickel cornerback and their top backup. The fifth cornerback could be out, too. Cornerback Ronald Darby and safety Rodney McLeod are out for the season and cornerback Jalen Mills has a foot injury. Cornerbacks Sidney Jones and Avonte Maddox are also sidelined and Rasul Douglas is questionable. The Eagles will have to count on three guys who have limited experience: Cre’Von LeBlanc, De’Vante Bausby and Chandon Sullivan. It could mean a big day for Shepard and Odell Beckham Jr.

“The biggest challenge is the rhythm, the continuity, communication sometimes, just body language, understanding the defense,” Pederson said. “All those things that kind of come with part of being around in OTAs and being around in training camp. The fact is everything matters now, everything counts. It’s a real game. They have to obviously understand that, step their game up, focus — laser focus — like we talk about, and be prepared.”

STOPPING SAQUON

Rookie Saquon Barkley had 130 yards rushing and caught nine passes for 99 yards last month vs. the Eagles. The team’s run defense, which ranked first last year and was tops through the early part of this season, has steadily declined. Ezekiel Elliott had 151 yards rushing against Philadelphia two weeks ago, and Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara combined for 174 last week.

“I think he’s improved every week and I think he’s a guy who wants to be great, wants to get better,” Manning said of Barkley.

GET GOLDEN INVOLVED

Receiver Golden Tate has only seven catches for 67 yards in two games since the Eagles traded a third-round pick to Detroit to get him. Offensive coordinator Mike Groh said this week it’s been difficult trying to integrate him into the offense.

STRONG UPFRONT

The Giants’ much-maligned offensive line is coming off its two best games and faces a difficult challenge against Fletcher Cox and Philadelphia’s defensive line that adds Tim Jernigan this week. The Eagles will need to get plenty of pressure from their front four to help the inexperienced secondary.

“The thing that stirs the drink for them is their front,” Shurmur said. “It’s going to be important that we do a good job first off blocking them, and then when we choose to throw the ball outside, being really good about what we try to do.”

PHILLY DOMINANCE

The Eagles are 16-4 against the Giants since 2008, including 8-1 since 2014.

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Broncos face Steelers, out to snap another 6-game win streak

DENVER (AP) — The Pittsburgh Steelers can unnerve plenty of defenses with the NFL's best pair of pass catchers and the league's top tight end tandem.

Not Denver's.

"We've had a tough game every week," Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said. "We haven't had any easy games. So, this is just another top offense that

DENVER (AP) — The Pittsburgh Steelers can unnerve plenty of defenses with the NFL’s best pair of pass catchers and the league’s top tight end tandem.

Not Denver’s.

“We’ve had a tough game every week,” Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said. “We haven’t had any easy games. So, this is just another top offense that we get to see, another great challenge and we’re up for it.”

The Steelers (7-2-1), bursting with playmakers in wide receivers Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster, tight ends Vance McDonald and Jesse James and running back James Connor, are the third consecutive opponent to bring a winning streak of at least five games into their matchup against the Broncos (4-6).

The 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers were the last team to face that sort of gantlet, wrapping up an 0-14 season with losses to the Raiders, Steelers and Patriots by an average of 40-10.

The Broncos snapped the Chargers’ six-game roll with a stirring comeback last week capped by Brandon McManus’ field goal as time expired — one game after his errant kick as time expired allowed the Texans to escape with their sixth straight win.

“We’ve seen it all already,” Harris said. “Now, it’s just another challenge, another great offense, another great quarterback and receivers. We’ve had some success this year playing the top offenses.”

In addition to letting Deshaun Watson and the Texans duck out of Denver with a win, the Broncos had their chances against Jared Goff and the Rams and twice against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. They lost those four games by a combined 12 points.

“Close calls against really good football teams,” Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. “This is definitely a team that is much better than their record shows. They’re a team that’s kind of sitting there.”

Ready to pounce.

“They got a big win last week and need to get this win,” Roethlisberger said. “We don’t look at records. We look at going on the road to a tough place to play against a really good football team.”

Other subplots in the Steelers’ first trip to Denver since the playoffs following the 2015 season:

ORANGE CRUNCH

The Broncos counter Pittsburgh’s dynamite duos with the league’s most prolific pass-rushing pair in Von Miller and rookie Bradley Chubb, both of whom are riding five-game sack streaks.

Miller and Chubb have combined for 19 sacks, 21 tackles for loss, 29 QB hits, five forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and one interception.

“It’s unbelievable, maybe the best one in the game right now, those two guys,” Roethlisberger said.

MAD SCIENCE

Miller is coming off his 100th sack and a key interception that was a game-changer and maybe a season-turner, and he certainly has the attention of the Steelers.

“I’ve got nothing but crazy respect for him,” Roethlisberger said. “Such a good football player and he really takes pride in his craft. He’s almost scientific about it.”

Miller was the MVP of the Pro Bowl last year, where he was coached by Mike Tomlin in the Steelers staff.

“I thought he was an alien,” Tomlin said. “He was a special player among a group of special players. He went by me in the fourth quarter and said, ‘Coach, I got this.’ I watched him take over a Pro Bowl and change the climate inside that stadium.”

“An alien?” replied Miller. “Like, which one? There’s Martians with the big head or is it like ‘Alien’ the movie?”

ROAD WARRIORS

The Steelers are 15-1-1 in their last 17 road games, though the going has typically been difficult in Denver. Pittsburgh has dropped four of its last five visits to the Mile High City, including a pair of playoff setbacks in 2012 and 2016.

“We know it’s a tough place to play,” defensive end Cam Heyward said. “I know I’ve never won a game there and I’ve been around a while. It’s one of those places where, no matter how hot you might think you are, things can change in a minute.”

JUJU’S MOJO

While Brown has caught at least one touchdown in eight consecutive games, it’s the development of Smith-Schuster that’s helped keep Pittsburgh’s offense humming even with running back Le’Veon Bell sitting out the season.

Smith-Schuster has 64 receptions for 866 yards and has developed a rapport with Roethlisberger that is paying off in the clutch. He caught four passes in Pittsburgh’s final frenetic two drives last week against Jacksonville, including a leaping 35-yard grab that helped set up the winning touchdown.

REPLAY OR REDEMPTION

“It’s the best of the best,” Harris said of his matchup with Brown, who got the best of him the last time they lined up against each other three years ago.

Brown caught 16 passes for 189 yards and two touchdowns, snapping Harris’ streak of 35 games without allowing a score.

“I didn’t play well that night,” Harris said. “But I’m ready for Sunday.”

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AP Sports Writer Will Graves contributed.

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Patriots QB Brady missing from start of Friday practice

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was absent at the start of practice on Friday, the team's last before its game against the New York Jets.

The 41-year-old three-time NFL MVP hurt his knee when he slipped after receiving a pass in last week's game against Tennessee. He was listed on

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was absent at the start of practice on Friday, the team’s last before its game against the New York Jets.

The 41-year-old three-time NFL MVP hurt his knee when he slipped after receiving a pass in last week’s game against Tennessee. He was listed on the injury report as limited for Wednesday’s workout; the team did not practice on Thanksgiving Day.

Since taking over as the starter when Drew Bledsoe was injured in the second game of the 2001 season, only once has Brady missed games for injury, when he tore apart his knee in the 2008 opener. He also missed the first four games of the 2016 season to serve a suspension for his role in the team’s illegal football deflation scheme.

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Hue reunion: Browns try to beat former head coach, Bengals

CINCINNATI (AP) — A jogging Hue Jackson didn't break stride as he left the practice field. The recently fired Browns head coach was trying to outrun questions about what it's like being on the opposite sideline this week.

Jackson left Cincinnati after the 2015 season and spent two-plus seasons trying — futilely — to get

CINCINNATI (AP) — A jogging Hue Jackson didn’t break stride as he left the practice field. The recently fired Browns head coach was trying to outrun questions about what it’s like being on the opposite sideline this week.

Jackson left Cincinnati after the 2015 season and spent two-plus seasons trying — futilely — to get the Browns to win. Now he’s back in town , trying to beat them in a pivotal game.

He’s hoping his insights give the Bengals (5-5) an edge Sunday in the intrastate rivalry. The stakes are high for Cincinnati, which has dominated the series lately and wants to keep it that way.

“Everybody wants to count us out right now,” center Billy Price said. “Everybody wants to put us in the dumpster and light us on fire, but we still have a lot to accomplish. We have a lot of things going on. We have a lot of winnable games coming up here.”

The Browns (3-6-1) merely would like a victory away from the shore of Lake Erie.

Cleveland has lost 25 consecutive road games, one shy of the NFL mark held by the Detroit Lions from 2007-10. The Browns’ last win on the road came at Baltimore, where Josh McCown led them to a 33-30 overtime victory on Oct. 11, 2015 — back when Jackson was the Bengals’ offensive coordinator.

Whether the streak endures or ends will come down to whether the Bengals figure out a way to stop Cleveland’s rookie duo on offense.

Last week, Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson and running back Gus Edwards became the first rookie QB/RB duo to run for at least 100 yards in the same game, leading Baltimore to a 24-21 victory over Cincinnati. The Bengals have given up more than 200 yards rushing in each of the last two games.

By contrast, Cleveland beat Kansas City 28-16 before heading into its bye week. Rookie Baker Mayfield tied a club rookie record with three touchdown passes, and rookie Nick Chubb ran for a career-high 176 yards, including a 92-yard touchdown that was the second-longest by a rookie in NFL history.

“I think it is our guys believing in it, knowing that we do not need anything else besides what we have in this locker room, blocking out the distractions and coming together,” Mayfield said. “Things happen, and you can use it for good. We did.”

Can they do it again against their former head coach?

Some things to watch at Paul Brown Stadium:

HUE KNOWS

How much can Hue Jackson tip the outcome? Sure, he knows the Browns’ systems intimately and the players personally, but having the bye week allowed Cleveland to change some things.

“In all honesty, there are no secrets anymore in the league with how all the film is out there to show everybody exactly what you’re doing,” Brown interim coach Gregg Williams said.

OH THAT DEFENSE

The Bengals fired defensive coordinator Teryl Austin after becoming the first team in the Super Bowl era to allow 500 yards in three straight games. Coach Marvin Lewis assumed the job of defensive coordinator as well as hiring Jackson as a special assistant on defense. The change didn’t make enough of a difference as the Bengals got run over in Baltimore. Their main focus this week is stopping Chubb.

“We know that’s their emphasis right now and that’s what they’re going to try to attack us with because that’s our perceived weakness right now,” defensive end Carlos Dunlap said.

SERIES-LY ONE-SIDED

The Bengals have won seven in a row against the Browns, the longest winning streak by either team in the intrastate series. The Bengals have won the last seven by 30, 21, 34, 14, 13, 24 and 24 points. The Bengals are 7-1 against Browns rookie quarterbacks under Lewis, who is in his 16th season. The only loss was 34-24 at Cleveland in 2012 behind Brandon Weeden.

ONE, TWO

Not only are the Browns hoping to avoid infamy with their 26th straight road loss, they’re trying to start a winning “streak.”

Cleveland hasn’t won two straight games since 2014, when the Browns reeled off three in a row while improving to 6-3 under then-coach Mike Pettine. That seems like an eternity ago for the Browns, who have gone 8-56-1 since that modest run.

“Any time a team (starts) to win a couple in a row, it builds momentum, it builds belief and that can have a positive impact on your team,” right guard Kevin Zeitler said. “It’d be real nice if we can get that going.”

PLAYOFFS?

While the game has significance for Cincinnati’s playoff hopes, the Browns aren’t yet finished ruminating about the postseason. They’d likely have to win their last six games to end a playoff drought dating to 2002.

“If you can’t and don’t believe that we can make a playoff run, then you’re on the wrong team,” cornerback T.J. Carrie said. “And I feel like from that standpoint we all have that feeling and that emotion about we can definitely do something very special and we’re capable of doing it.”

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AP Sports Writer Tom Withers in Cleveland contributed to this report.

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Chiefs head into much-needed bye in search of a breather

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — It has been a whirlwind first 11 weeks for the Kansas City Chiefs, filled with record-setting performances, high-scoring losses and the emergence of first-year starter Patrick Mahomes as one of the brightest young quarterbacks in the NFL.

It's also been an exhausting 11 weeks. And a pause is coming at

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — It has been a whirlwind first 11 weeks for the Kansas City Chiefs, filled with record-setting performances, high-scoring losses and the emergence of first-year starter Patrick Mahomes as one of the brightest young quarterbacks in the NFL.

It’s also been an exhausting 11 weeks. And a pause is coming at a good time.

The Chiefs headed home from Los Angeles on Monday night still feeling the sting of a 54-51 loss to the Rams in what was arguably the most entertaining regular-season game in years. They headed right into their bye week with an opportunity to refocus and get healthy for the stretch run.

One that Mahomes and Co. still think will involve a deep playoff run.

“It’s kind of like a reset,” Mahomes said, “get your body right and come back with that mentality that we’re going to win and we can still get home-field advantage, hopefully.”

Indeed, the Chiefs (9-2) aren’t in much worse shape regarding the playoffs after the weekend than they were before it. The Chargers, their closest pursuers in the division, lost to the Broncos, while the Patriots were unable to make up much ground on the No. 1 seed because they were on a bye.

After the week off, the Chiefs have two of their final five games against the moribund Raiders, two others are at home against the Ravens and Chargers, and a trip to Seattle rounds out things.

In other words, the Chiefs believe they’re well-positioned heading into December.

“We’re going to heal up here and get ourselves ready to go,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said.

Wide receiver Sammy Watkins will no doubt use the week off to rest his ailing foot, which kept him out of practice last week and limited him to a couple early snaps against the Rams. Mitch Morse could be back at center after dealing with a concussion for several weeks, and a series of more minor injuries have affected nearly everybody on the roster.

But the big question mark, at least in terms of health, revolved around Eric Berry.

The Chiefs’ highly paid star safety, who missed most of last season with a torn Achilles tendon, returned to the practice field over the summer and appeared ready for the year. But his heel began to bother him early in training camp, and even though Reid has insisted that Berry is “day to day,” the injury has turned out to be more “month to month.”

The five-time Pro Bowl pick still hasn’t been on the practice field, even though he was never put on injured reserve, and time is running out if Berry is going to play at all this season.

“If he feels comfortable and the docs are good with it and he’s good with it, then we’ll start easing him in,” Reid said, when asked whether that could happen after the bye.

The Chiefs certainly could have used their hard-hitting safety on Monday night.

Jared Goff threw for 413 yards and four touchdowns without an interception, and the Rams piled up more than 450 yards in a game that came down to the wire. Most importantly, the Chiefs couldn’t make a stop after taking the lead in the fourth quarter, allowing the Rams a go-ahead answer.

“I think we showed a lot of heart,” Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston said. “We took several punches. Everybody’s got a game plan until you get hit in the mouth. We got hit in the mouth several times, but for us to keep fighting as a whole, I think that shows what kind of team we are.”

Or what kind of team the Chiefs can ultimately become.

Both of their losses have come on the road against teams that figure to be in the playoffs; they also lost a shootout in New England, when Tom Brady rallied the Patriots to a go-ahead field goal in the final seconds. And in both cases, the Chiefs would have walked away victors had their defense been able to make one more stop when it counted.

So along with getting healthy during their bye week, the Chiefs will no doubt look at tweaking their defense, trying to figure out on the fly how they can improve down the stretch.

Health is a good place start. But the Chiefs think there are other issues to iron out.

“We all look at it that way,” Reid insisted, “every guy on this team will do that. That’s the way these guys are wired and that’s what’s going to make us a great football team down the stretch.”

Yes, even the Chiefs’ record-setting offense can smooth over some things.

The Chiefs remain one of the NFL’s most-penalized teams, and many of those flags have come on offense. Mahomes also threw three picks and lost two fumbles against the Rams, though that may have been an aberration — he’s been good at protecting the ball all season.

There’s work to be done. And the Chiefs finally have a week off to do it.

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Ballin’ on a Budget Week 12 Picks

Our picks continue to hit week after week and we'll try to avoid a slump in Week 12. Thanksgiving unders are always a solid bet, but oddsmakers have been catching up to that in recent years, so we will stay away. As we have in past weeks, we will split our money between

Our picks continue to hit week after week and we’ll try to avoid a slump in Week 12. Thanksgiving unders are always a solid bet, but oddsmakers have been catching up to that in recent years, so we will stay away. As we have in past weeks, we will split our money between point spreads and over/unders. For five weeks in a row, we’ve gone at least 3-2, let’s make it six in a row, what do you say?

Redskins +7.5 at Cowboys (-110)

This is the only pick we will have from Thanksgiving and I think it’s a good one. QB Alex Smith being out for the year is a big loss for Washington and it will likely end their playoff hopes (although they do play in the NFC East after all). However, backup Colt McCoy has the confidence of the coaching staff, because he knows this offense as well as anybody. He doesn’t have the same capability that Smith does, the Washington’s strength is its defense anyway.

In a rivalry game, even with the Redskins starting a backup quarterback, getting more than a touchdown spread is too good to pass up. We’ve had good luck betting both against and on the Redskins, so let’s keep the good times rolling. The bet: $4 for total payout of $7.60.

Jaguars -3 at Bills (-120)

Have the Jaguars majorly disappointed this season? Of course they have. Are they on the same level as the Bills? No, they are not. Jacksonville’s defense reminded us how good they can be after shutting down the Steelers for most of last week. If they have a similar performance Sunday, Buffalo isn’t going to score more than 10 points.

The Jaguars are in the middle of an identity crisis right now and their offense is completely out of sorts, but they should be able to score enough to cover a three-point spread. This might not be the most fun game to watch, but it’ll be a lot more fun if it wins you this bet. The bet: $5 for total payout of $9.17.

Steelers -3 at Broncos (-115)

We bet on the Broncos to cover +7.5 against the Chargers last week and they won straight up. Against a Steelers team that just got a scare from the Jaguars, they’re primed for a letdown game. Pittsburgh is pushing for a first-round bye in the playoffs and is the much more talented team. The Le’Veon Bell saga behind them, now the Steelers can focus on this year’s playoff push.

Big Ben and the offense finally got going at the end of their game last week and should be able to pick back up where they left off. If past Broncos games are any indication, this should be a close game, but it’s one Pittsburgh should be able to take care of business in. The bet: $5 for total payout of $9.35.

Patriots-Jets OVER 46 (-110)

While the Patriots might blow New York out, the New England defense isn’t very good either. Something like a 30-17 game would push this game over. Tom Brady and Co. haven’t been as prolific as of late, so this looks like a potential bounce-back game for them. Let’s say it ends up 37-20, or something along those lines; we’d be completely fine as far as the over goes.

This bet definitely only works if the Patriots contribute to most of the point total. If they stall out in the 20’s, we’re in trouble. However, if they go up over the 30-point mark as a team, this over is almost a sure thing. The bet: $3 for total payout of $5.70.

49ers-Buccaneers UNDER 55 (-110)

Yes, both these teams have put up pretty good offensive numbers lately, but neither is very good overall and I just can’t believe they’re going to combine for 56 points or more. I mean, c’mon, Jameis Winston is starting at quarterback for Tampa Bay. He’s going to turn it over in a few key spots. Nick Mullens has been really solid in the first two starts of his career, but will that continue?

We’ll see if he can impress us again, but I’m not buying it. This over would require both teams outplaying projections of where I see them finishing. It should be a competitive game, but it will be in the 20’s, not the 30’s. After going 2-for-2 in over/unders last week, let’s try to duplicate the feat in Week 12. The bet: $3 for total payout of $5.70.

Our dream of a 5-for-5 parlay hit would make us a lot of money on a $20 bet. In fact, it would make us a cool $476.93. Keep daring to dream. We’ll check in on these picks early next week.

Jacob Kornhauser is a sports reporter in Southern Oregon covering all sports, including Oregon and Oregon State athletics. He has been a national baseball writer for Bleacher Report and Rant Sports and has written two baseball books. He also specializes in sports betting analysis. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri Journalism School.

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Denver pass-rushing partners Miller and Chubb best in NFL

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — The Pittsburgh Steelers bring the best wide receiving combo and top tight end twosome into Denver this weekend. Countering all that is the league's most prolific pass-rushing pair in Von Miller and rookie Bradley Chubb .

"It's unbelievable, maybe the best one in the game right now, those two guys," Steelers

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — The Pittsburgh Steelers bring the best wide receiving combo and top tight end twosome into Denver this weekend. Countering all that is the league’s most prolific pass-rushing pair in Von Miller and rookie Bradley Chubb .

“It’s unbelievable, maybe the best one in the game right now, those two guys,” Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said Wednesday. “We’re trying to figure out a way to block them so we can make some plays.”

Miller, coming off his 100th career sack, and Chubb, the fifth-overall pick in the draft last April, have combined for 19 sacks, 21 tackles for loss, 29 QB hits, five forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and one interception.

That takeaway last week in Los Angeles, when Miller picked off Philip Rivers , was a game-changer and maybe even a season-turner for the Broncos (4-6).

They had lost four games to the league’s heavyweights by a combined 12 points before eking out a 23-22 win on Brandon McManus’ field goal as time expired in Los Angeles, ending the Chargers’ six-game winning streak.

McManus had missed in a similar situation against Houston in the Broncos’ previous game, allowing the Texans to escape with a 19-17 win for their sixth straight victory.

“This is definitely a team that is much better than their record shows,” said Roethlisberger, whose Steelers (7-2-1) also face the Broncos riding a six-game winning streak .

The Steelers present a huge challenge with wide receivers Antonio Brown and Ju-Ju Smith-Schuster — who have a combined 126 catches for 1,673 yards and 14 touchdowns — and in tight ends Vance McDonald and Jesse James, who have combined for 761 yards and five TDs on 43 receptions.

With cornerback Chris Harris losing play-making partner Aqib Talib to a trade last spring and Bradley Roby going through concussion protocol this week, the Broncos will try to counter those duos with their own in Miller and Chubb, the NFL’s most productive pass-rushing pair heading into Week 12.

Both have a five-game sack streak going, and their 19 combined sacks are one more than Dee Ford and Chris Jones, each of whom have nine sacks for the Chiefs, and the Rams’ Aaron Donald (14½) and Ndamukong Suh (3½).

Even though he holds on to the ball longer than most, Roethlisberger has long been one of the toughest QBs to take down because of his size and strength. He’s only been sacked 14 times this year.

Miller has sacked Roethlisberger three times in four meetings, but he was held without a sack in their last two matchups, the last one coming in the 2015 playoffs that preceded Miller’s monster games against Tom Brady in the AFC championship and against Cam Newton when he won the Super Bowl 50 MVP award.

“I’ve got nothing but crazy respect for him,” Roethlisberger said. “Such a good football player and he really takes pride in his craft. He’s almost scientific about it. His work ethic, his studying and all the stuff that he does, he is an incredible football player.”

He’s only seen Chubb on video but Roethlisberger said he also has a deep respect for the rookie.

“It’s high motor. He just goes. He seems to be very strong. At times, he’ll just go right down the middle of a tackle and there’s times that he’s able to get around the outside with a little bit of speed,” Roethlisberger said. “Maybe the quarterback steps up and then he throws a spin move in there. It’s just never quitting.

“I feel like he’s watched Von and maybe learned from the best to do it.”

Miller, who was named the AFC’s Defensive Player of the Week on Wednesday, won’t take any credit, saying Chubb “is just one of those guys who’s way past his years.”

And in the spirit of Thanksgiving, “I told Chubb today I was grateful and I’m appreciative to be able to play with a top-5 pick like that because he’s come in, he’s definitely lived up to the hype,” Miller said. “He’s definitely more than advertised and it’s a true blessing to be able to play with a guy like that.”

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Titans QB Mariota limited, playing status remains unclear

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans are back in wait-and-see mode with Marcus Mariota.

The quarterback is trying to recover from a stinger that knocked him out of their last game. Mariota said Wednesday that the stinger, which came from a hit to his head in last week's 38-10 loss to the Colts, left

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans are back in wait-and-see mode with Marcus Mariota.

The quarterback is trying to recover from a stinger that knocked him out of their last game. Mariota said Wednesday that the stinger, which came from a hit to his head in last week’s 38-10 loss to the Colts, left him with some numbness in his throwing arm. But Mariota said the injury is not related to the nerve issue in his elbow that cost him playing time in September.

Mariota also said his grip holding a ball is fine. He wore a partial glove for five games to help him grab the ball better when recovering from the injured elbow.

“Basically one of those deals again with the nerves,” Mariota said. “Just feeling down my right arm wasn’t totally there, so it’s just one of those deals you just kind of got to wait and see for the nerve to calm down and things should be good.”

Mariota took part in individual drills Wednesday. The Titans will not issue an injury report until Thursday with their next game Monday night in Houston (7-3), though coach Mike Vrabel said Mariota was limited.

“We’re hopeful that he’ll progress as the week goes on,” Vrabel said.

The elbow injury kept Mariota out of the second game this season, a 20-17 victory over Houston. The Titans (5-5) desperately need a victory to pull within a game in the AFC South going into the final month of the season for a team looking for a second straight playoff berth.

The No. 2 pick overall in 2015 out of Oregon has missed eight starts in his Tennessee career, though Mariota came off the bench in Week 3 in Jacksonville after backup Blaine Gabbert was knocked out of the game with a concussion.

The quarterback needs only 10 more passing attempts to qualify for career completion marks in both the NFL and franchise history with at least 1,500 attempts. Once he throws his 10th pass, Mariota will top the late Steve McNair in both the highest career completion percentage in team history at 62.6 percent and passer rating at 88.5.

Mariota still has his doubters on whether he’s the quarterback for this franchise long-term. The Titans picked up his fifth-year option for 2019 at a price of $20.9 million, but the offense in the first season with coordinator Matt LaFleur has struggled mightily. Tennessee ranks 30th in both total offense and yards passing (183.7 yards per game). The Titans rank 28th in points scored.

He’s already been sacked 29 times this season — more than each of the past two seasons when he played 15 games apiece. Mariota was sacked 38 times in 12 times as a rookie playing 12 games.

The Titans have an extra day of preparation and healing with the Monday night game. Mariota says he doesn’t believe he needs a “whole lot” of practice to be able to play.

“I feel like I’ve played enough ball that if it comes down to it, I’m feeling good enough to go out there and play I’ll be ready,” Mariota said.

Vrabel said they believe practice is important.

“Certainly there’s a fine line between trying to get a guy back and practicing,” Vrabel said.

Notes: Titans defensive coordinator Dean Pees, who spent Sunday night in a hospital, returned to work Tuesday. He was on the field Wednesday at practice. “He is back, and we are thankful to have him back here, and I would say healthy,” Vrabel said.

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Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker

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Hue Jackson trying to help Bengals beat his former team

CINCINNATI (AP) — Bengals coach Marvin Lewis shut down the question immediately, making it clear he won't be talking about the latest addition to his staff — one who's in an unusual position to influence the next game.

Only last month, Hue Jackson was Cleveland's head coach, intimately involved in the Browns' game planning. Now

CINCINNATI (AP) — Bengals coach Marvin Lewis shut down the question immediately, making it clear he won’t be talking about the latest addition to his staff — one who’s in an unusual position to influence the next game.

Only last month, Hue Jackson was Cleveland’s head coach, intimately involved in the Browns’ game planning. Now he’s on the Bengals sideline with Lewis, trying to beat the Browns — a sensitive subject that the head coach is trying to put off limits.

“I think I’ve answered enough Hue questions, OK?” Lewis said Wednesday with an edge to his tone. “We’re done. We’re over.”

Oh, no. The intrigue is just getting started.

The Bengals (5-5) desperately need to beat the Browns (3-6-1) at Paul Brown Stadium to remain relevant in the playoff chase. They’ve lost four of five , fired their defensive coordinator and installed Lewis as leader of a historically bad unit.

As part of the shuffle, he brought back a close friend at an opportune time.

Jackson was fired by the Browns on Oct. 29 after winning only three games in three seasons. Lewis brought him back to Cincinnati for the third time , creating a role of special assistant. Jackson helps develop the weekly game plan on defense and provides tips on the sideline during games.

His input will be especially useful this week. Jackson knows the Browns’ tendencies and the players’ strengths and weaknesses.

“That was very unique,” defensive end Carlos Dunlap said. “He knows the players, he knows the staff. They just got a new (offensive coordinator), so they’re probably calling things differently than when (Jackson) left. So you have your advantages there.”

It’s not unusual for a team to pick up a player who was released by an upcoming opponent, but it’s highly unusual to get the other team’s former head coach.

One more unique feature to this intrastate matchup: Both head coaches will be calling the defensive plays. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was elevated to interim coach after Jackson was fired. Lewis took over the defensive coordinator duties after Teryl Austin was fired on Nov. 12.

“It brings a smile to my face,” Williams said Wednesday during a conference call. “It’s kind of unique.”

It’s challenging to analyze what the opposing offense is doing and adjust defensively while also running the overall game. That’s where Jackson’s presence could be especially helpful on Sunday.

The Browns are coming off a bye week that gave them a chance to add a few things that Jackson won’t anticipate.

“He’s not there (in Cleveland) anymore, so they could have changed a lot of those things,” Dunlap said. “So you don’t want to get caught guessing. But it’s good to know what they like to do and what they’re built and set up for, so it’s great to have that understanding.”

Jackson jogged off the practice field on Wednesday and declined to stop and talk about his reunion with Cleveland, referring questions to the closed-lipped Lewis.

A.J. GETTING CLOSER

Receiver A.J. Green could return against Cleveland. He’s missed the past two games with an injured toe on his right foot, and the offense struggled in losses to the Saints and Ravens . Green didn’t practice Wednesday, but Lewis said he will work out the rest of the week, aiming to be ready by Sunday.

Left tackle Cordy Glenn (back) and cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (shoulder) also missed practice. Defensive end Michael Johnson (calf) and safety Shawn Williams (hamstring) were limited.

BROWN’S DISAPPOINTMENT

The Bengals figured they’d upgraded their linebacker group when they signed durable Preston Brown from Buffalo in the offseason. He was limited by a right ankle injury that he suffered the first game, and he injured his right knee during a 51-14 loss to the Saints. The Bengals put him on injured reserve Tuesday and signed defensive end/linebacker Kasim Edebali, a college free agent who has played with the Saints, Broncos, Lions and Rams. Lewis said Brown might have surgery on his ankle now that he can’t return this season.

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Streaking Saints, Brees seek to ground sagging Falcons

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The latest chance for Saints fans to show Drew Brees their gratitude for the many memorable, triumphant moments he's brought them comes on Thanksgiving night.

The Saints (9-1) are riding an NFL-high, nine-game winning streak as the rival Atlanta Falcons (4-6) land in New Orleans, so don't expect a sleepy crowd

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The latest chance for Saints fans to show Drew Brees their gratitude for the many memorable, triumphant moments he’s brought them comes on Thanksgiving night.

The Saints (9-1) are riding an NFL-high, nine-game winning streak as the rival Atlanta Falcons (4-6) land in New Orleans, so don’t expect a sleepy crowd in the Superdome, no matter how well-fed.

Some 13 seasons after Brees embraced the challenge of resurrecting a downtrodden franchise in a disaster-ravaged city, his level of play, at age 39, appears as high as ever.

He is on pace to break his own single-season record completion rate of 72 percent. His touchdown-to-interception ratio is 25-1. And the Saints, averaging 37.9 points per game, are threatening to score more points in a season than any team in NFL history.

“He’s been as challenging a guy to go against over the years as you can imagine,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said, adding that he’s been particularly struck by Brees’ accuracy and decisiveness. “To say he’s doing it better than ever — he’s been doing it pretty well for a long time, but I’d say he’s certainly doing it as well.”

With the luxury of a strong offensive line and running game — not to mention playing with a lot of leads — Brees has been able to throw selectively and efficiently. He has also benefited from receiver Michael Thomas’ monster year, but demonstrated in a 48-7 win over Philadelphia on Sunday that he can connect, to prolific effect, with younger, lesser-known targets as well.

“There’s a lot to be said for experience,” a grinning Brees said as he reprised an old expression about wisdom trumping youth and skill.

“When we step on the field, I feel like I can see it before it happens, and it takes a lot of work to get to that point. That doesn’t mean there’s not surprises. … but I feel good playing the game right now.”

The Falcons aren’t feeling so good about their season so far. Their last-second loss to Dallas last Sunday dropped them five games behind the NFC South-leading Saints with six games left.

“We’ve got to get the bad taste out of our mouth,” Atlanta receiver Julio Jones said. “It’s going to be a great game. We’re going to have fun. People are going to fly around. People are going to get up. You don’t have to worry about people not being ready to play this game. … We’re just going to be out there swinging.”

Some other prominent story lines surrounding the 100th meeting between the Falcons and Saints:

COMPETITIVE BALANCE

While the teams are spread apart in the standings, they played each other pretty close the previous time they met in Week 3 in Atlanta. New Orleans needed a late TD to force overtime and won in the extra period. The Saints are nearly two-TD favorites in the rematch, which would seem appropriate given New Orleans has outscored its past two opponents 99-21 combined. But Brees’ experience against Atlanta tells him otherwise.

“These are always hard-fought games,” Brees said. “They’re games that typically come down to the last possession.”

Added Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan: “They have a potential high-ceiling offense. … This is something we have to be aware of.”

BEASLEY’S REVIVAL

Vic Beasley Jr., the 2016 NFL leader with 15½ sacks, finally showed a return to his form with two sacks against the Cowboys last week. Beasley had five sacks in 2017 and only one sack in Atlanta’s first nine games this year. The Falcons hope Beasley’s resurgence continues this week against Brees. “You have to find ways to pressure,” coach Dan Quinn said. “His efficiency without getting hit or without getting moved is so high.”

RUNNING SAINTS

If Alvin Kamara fails to match the 190 yards from scrimmage he had against Atlanta in Week 3, it might have less to do with Atlanta’s defense than with fellow Saints running back Mark Ingram’s resurgence. Ingram did not play in the previous meeting because of a four-game suspension stemming from his positive test for a banned substance. In their past two games, the Saints have averaged 208.5 yards rushing, with Ingram have rushed for 100-plus yards in each.

NO. 1 RECEIVER

Jones’ touchdown drought is over. He has TD catches in three straight games after having none in Atlanta’s first seven. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t productive all along. Jones leads the NFL with 1,158 yards receiving.

“He’s been playing so well for us all year and has been so consistent,” Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan said.

COMPELLING MATCHUP

While Brees has not thrown an interception at home this season, the Falcons counter with safety Damontae Kazee, who leads the NFL with five interceptions, a career high. He is the first Atlanta player with as many as five interceptions in a season since 2012, when Thomas DeCoud had six and Asante Samuel had five.

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AP Sports Writer Charles Odum contributed from Atlanta.

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FANTASY PLAYS: Players to start and sit for NFL Week 12

With three games on Thursday, fantasy football players need to get their lineups in place before scarfing on turkey and pie.

This week looks to have less potential than previous weeks for scoring, with the Falcons-Saints game on Thursday night shaping up to have the most fantasy upside.

Playoff time in most fantasy leagues is

With three games on Thursday, fantasy football players need to get their lineups in place before scarfing on turkey and pie.

This week looks to have less potential than previous weeks for scoring, with the Falcons-Saints game on Thursday night shaping up to have the most fantasy upside.

Playoff time in most fantasy leagues is looming, which makes this a make-or-break week for many teams.

START: T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts: Questions about his hamstrings were emphatically put to rest when he torched the Titans with nine receptions for 138 yards and two scores last week. After recording just 15 targets in a three-game span, Hilton has 16 in his last two games and faces a Dolphins pass defense that is 29th in the league in average yards allowed per reception. A dialed-in Andrew Luck (seven straight games with at least three touchdown passes) will have no problem finding his featured pass catcher.

SIT: Deshaun Watson, QB, Texans: Take away his five-TD performance against the Dolphins in Week 8, and Watson has just six touchdown passes in his past five games. That doesn’t bode well against a Titans defense that still ranks fourth in fewest fantasy points allowed per game despite being lit up by the Colts last week. Watson no longer offers the bonus of running the ball, which makes him sideline material for fantasy players this week.

START: Duke Johnson Jr., RB, Browns: He’s once again RB2/flex viable in PPR formats after catching all 13 of his targets for 109 yards and three touchdowns in his last two games. Expect the good times to continue for Johnson and his fantasy owners, who get a plum matchup against the Bengals, who are 31st in fantasy points allowed per game to opposing running backs. Cincinnati is also 31st in receiving yards allowed and rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield is improving.

SIT: Alex Collins, RB, Ravens: Collins is too touchdown-dependent to garner much value and has seen his touches decline since getting 19 carries in Week 6, falling to just seven last week against the Bengals. The unexpected rise of Gus Edwards makes an already-crowded Baltimore backfield more cramped, which means Collins will see limited touches against a Raiders defense that is 31st in rushing yards allowed.

START: Carson Wentz, QB, Eagles: Don’t be discouraged by Wentz’s poor effort in the loss at the Saints. With the Eagles ranked 25th in rushing and their chances of defending their Super Bowl crown beginning to slip away, expect Wentz to throw at will against a Giants defense that he lit up for three touchdowns in Week 6. There’s little chance of Zach Ertz catching just two passes or Golden Tate being a nonfactor in consecutive weeks, so bank on Wentz rebounding.

SIT: Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Broncos: After consecutive 100-yard games in Weeks 6 and 7, Sanders has flattened to a combined 160 yards in his last three games. He has suffered without having Demaryius Thomas taking coverage away. And with rookie Courtland Sutton starting to see more targets in his direction, Sanders has fallen from a solid WR2 to a borderline flex. Although the Steelers are 28th in receiving yards allowed, Sanders’ recent struggles aren’t encouraging enough to take the gamble.

START: Tre’Quan Smith, WR, Saints: The 13 targets he had in the win over the Eagles was the same number he had in his previous three games combined. Smith won’t have to wait long to exploit a vulnerable secondary, as the Falcons defense he’ll see Thanksgiving night is 29th in fantasy points allowed per game to opposing receivers while giving up 21 touchdown passes. He’s a strong flex option who is another good game or two away from being a legit WR2.

SIT: Aaron Jones, RB, Packers: There’s little debate that Jones is now Green Bay’s lead back. However, he has yet to record more than 15 carries in a game this season and his matchup against the Vikings appears to be the splash of cold water that stalls him after scoring four times in the last two games. Minnesota is fourth overall against the run and has allowed only five touchdowns on the ground, meaning Jones will need to deliver as a pass catcher to justify having him in the lineup.

START: Jordan Reed, TE, Redskins: His production perked up once Colt McCoy replaced the injured Alex Smith at quarterback, resulting in Reed catching his first touchdown since Week 1. The Cowboys are middle of the pack when it comes to stopping tight ends, although the memory of Ertz pulling in 15 catches for Philadelphia against Dallas two weeks ago should be a good reason why Reed’s fantasy numbers will continue to swing upward.

SIT: Anthony Miller, WR, Bears: With Mitchell Trubisky (shoulder) unlikely to play against the Lions on Thanksgiving, Miller’s run of two straight games with a touchdown catch has a strong chance to end, especially if Chicago focuses its attention toward Detroit’s 22nd-ranked run defense.

START: Eli Manning, QB, Giants: The Eagles secondary is in worse shape than when Manning passed for 281 yards against them in the first meeting this season. With Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham Jr putting up solid numbers of late, Manning should have a field day on a Philly defense that is 27th in fantasy points allowed per game.

SIT: LeSean McCoy, RB, Bills: Don’t count on McCoy putting up 110 yards and two scores against the Jaguars, whose run defense is stouter than the Jets run D that McCoy ripped up in Week 10. Even with a big workload, that’s a matchup fantasy owners should avoid.

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Super Bowl 53 Odds: Updated for Week 12

Key takeaways from week 11:

  • Rams Saints and Chiefs are still favorites to win Super Bowl 53
  • Raiders have the lowest odds at 2500/1
  • Biggest jump: New York Giants (+60%)
  • Biggest drop: Arizona Cardinals (-100%)
  • No change: Raiders, Bills, 49ers, Jets, Browns, Patriots, Rams (0%)

Super Bowl 53 Odds

Key takeaways from week 11:

  • Rams Saints and Chiefs are still favorites to win Super Bowl 53
  • Raiders have the lowest odds at 2500/1
  • Biggest jump: New York Giants (+60%)
  • Biggest drop: Arizona Cardinals (-100%)
  • No change: Raiders, Bills, 49ers, Jets, Browns, Patriots, Rams (0%)

Super Bowl 53 Odds


Martin is a data analyst that has been applauded for his ability to make the complex simple. He grew up on a farm in northern Vermont and spent his summers helping his mom lead llama treks at Smugglers’ Notch Resort.

Martin graduated from University of Vermont with a degree in Mathematics. After graduation he left Vermont to work for an educational nonprofit called City Year for two years, and followed that up by attending the data science immersive program at Galvanize in Denver. He is an avid Green Bay Packer fan, and spends his free time playing football and soccer.

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NFL Week 12: Over and Under Best Bets

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we're making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we're offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over and Under Best Bets

Over of

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we’re making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we’re offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over and Under Best Bets

Over of the week: Seattle Seahawks at Carolina Panthers

Total: 47

The Seahawks offense has come alive with 27 or more points in five of its last six games, while a still-vulnerable defense has surrendered 85 points in the last three weeks.

Sunday in Carolina, Russell Wilson and Co. should have plenty of opportunities to roast a Panthers defense that earlier this month allowed 28 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and 52 to the Pittsburgh Steelers, while a run defense that has struggled could have trouble with Christian McCaffrey and Cam Newton.

We might still be getting used to the reality that both of these teams are offensively driven, which could also explain why the total for Sunday’s potential shootout is only 47.

The key here is that both teams should have plenty of opportunities to move the ball down the field. The Seahawks haven’t registered a takeaway since October, while the Panthers have gone back-to-back games since causing a turnover.

Predicted score: Panthers 30, Seahawks 27

Under of the week: Miami Dolphins at Indianapolis Colts

Total: 51

Indianapolis Colts games have been going over like crazy as Indy’s offense has broken out in recent weeks, but a total of 51 is still too high for a matchup between the Colts and Miami Dolphins.

After all, the Dolphins have been held to 13 or fewer points in back-to-back games and quarterback Ryan Tannehill remains a question mark with a shoulder injury. That could make things extremely difficult on the road against a young and emerging Indianapolis defense that has surrendered 10 or fewer points in two of its last three home games.

Could a toothless Miami defense be in trouble against the red-hot Andrew Luck? Sure, but the Dolphins are only a couple games removed from a superb performance on D against the New York Jets, and Indy’s offense could be due for a down week with center Ryan Kelly now dealing with a knee injury.

The Colts might need well over 35 points to get this game over the total, and that’s simply unlikely.

Predicted score: Colts 27, Dolphins 13

Good luck, we’re all counting on you. 

Previous results
Last week: 0-2
2018 season: 14-8

Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL since 2007 and is a member of the Professional Football Writers of America, despite the fact he actually lives in Canada. The Toronto-based sports journalist’s work can also be seen at Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, Awful Announcing and The Guardian. He can be found on Twitter @brad_gagnon

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51-45: The Big 12 has come to the NFL

The Big 12 conference has come to the NFL.

Without a doubt, the Monday-night scoring extravaganza between the Rams and Chiefs was entertaining. It had more spectacular plays and head-spinning twists than a game of Madden or a matchup of teams from college football's defense-challenged conference.

As for it being a pro football classic, no

The Big 12 conference has come to the NFL.

Without a doubt, the Monday-night scoring extravaganza between the Rams and Chiefs was entertaining. It had more spectacular plays and head-spinning twists than a game of Madden or a matchup of teams from college football’s defense-challenged conference.

As for it being a pro football classic, no way.

And for those yearning to see a rematch in the Super Bowl, don’t count on it — unless each team finds a consistent defense.

Yeah, we know, there were several big defensive plays that produced points in Los Angeles’ 54-51 victory, the highest-scoring Monday night contest ever and the only time two teams have each exceeded 50 points in the same game. Aaron Donald might have cemented a second straight NFL Defensive Player of the Year award with his strip-sacks of Patrick Mahomes.

There were three picks, though two came when Mahomes was in desperation mode. There were four lost fumbles as each defensive line made its present felt — for a few seconds.

The box score looks as long as one of Andy Reid’s play sheets.

What America saw was Madden 19 at its most frenetic. And that’s exactly what much of the current sporting public covets. Give them receivers running free like deer in a meadow ; light shows of points on the scoreboard; announcers fawning over the action while ignoring the quality of performance; and offensive records galore.

This was a home run derby with major league sluggers in a Little League park. It was a hockey shootout with NHL skaters facing amateur goalies. A dunk contest on 9-foot rims.

Fantastic fun? For sure.

But it can also be seen as an indictment of how the NFL — helped along by college football’s evolution — has headed toward flag football.

How did we get to a point where the third-highest scoring game in NFL history, chock full of flying flags (21 accepted penalties for 195 yards), terrible coverage and some overzealous coaching is labeled a masterpiece?

“A couple of things are contributing,” says Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy, now an analyst for NBC. “The skills of the players on offense and the way the coaches are designing things is one. And the practice schedule that has been reduced really favors the offense now.

“You can’t do as much work in the offseason and at training camp, and that hurts the defenses. Quarterbacks take their groups and they can get together and throw and work on their timing for two or three weeks. Defenses can’t do that, so they are behind the eight ball from the outset.”

And the rules and officials have evolved to favor receivers and quarterbacks.

It comes to fruition weekly. Consider that the NFL has had the most points scored (7,791), most touchdowns (895) and most touchdown passes (570) through 11 weeks in its history. The 54-51 frenzy is the punctuation mark.

At least so far.

Dungy and his NBC studio partner, former safety Rodney Harrison, bemoan the lack of fundamentals on defense. We saw as many examples of that on Monday night as we did tight spirals from Mahomes and Rams quarterback Jared Goff.

“A lot of coaches in general go over scheme so much and designing things and how you play your responsibility and all the things offensive teams can do,” Dungy says. “We have lost sight of the basics, you see the poor fundamentals.”

Adds Harrison, one of the best tacklers and cover guys at his position:

“One thing I have learned weekly and has become a lot more prevalent because of all the emphasis on the changing of the rules is that they don’t teach a lot of technique in college anymore. It’s all about a scheme and all these different formations and you try to trick people and do all this misdirection. Coaches spend so much time on plays they forget about teaching technique.

“Cornerback don’t have technique, they panic when they are down the field. The ball is in the air, they don’t look back, can’t make a play.”

It was something we saw plenty of Monday night. Of course, receivers such as Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods can make any defenders look bad. But when skill players are uncovered so often, it makes you wonder if the offense is on a power play.

“As old school guys, we appreciate and we respect defense,” Harrison adds. “I said something (Sunday) night: If I was a general manager, I would never hire a defensive-minded coach as a head coach. The league is about scoring points and developing young quarterbacks; see Andy Reid and the Chiefs, Sean McVay and the Rams, Matt Nagy and the Bears. You have these coordinators that have a very creative mind for offense. But look at their defenses, they don’t have great defenses.

“The league has really changed.”

51-45 bears witness to that. With more likely to come.

___

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

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Seven From Sunday – Week 11

PRESS RELEASE

SEVEN FROM SUNDAY – WEEK 11

A look at seven statistical highlights from games played at 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, November 18, the 11th week of the 2018 season.

  • ​Baltimore rookie quarterback LAMAR JACKSON, who was selected with the 32nd overall pick in the

PRESS RELEASE

SEVEN FROM SUNDAY – WEEK 11

A look at seven statistical highlights from games played at 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, November 18, the 11th week of the 2018 season.

  • ​Baltimore rookie quarterback LAMAR JACKSON, who was selected with the 32nd overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, made his first-career start on Sunday and is the fifth rookie quarterback selected in the first round of the 2018 Draft to start a game this season, joining Arizona’s JOSH ROSEN, Buffalo’s JOSH ALLEN, Cleveland’s BAKER MAYFIELD and the New York Jets’ SAM DARNOLD.

    This is the first season in NFL history in which five rookie quarterbacks selected in the first round of the same NFL Draft have started at least one game.
     

  • New Orleans quarterback DREW BREES completed 22 of 30 passes (73.3 percent) for 363 yards with four touchdowns and zero interceptions for a 153.2 passer rating in the Saints’ 48-7 victory over Philadelphia.

    Brees has 23 career games with at least four touchdown passes and zero interceptions, including two this season, surpassing New England’s TOM BRADY (22) for the most such games by a quarterback in NFL history.
     

  • The HOUSTON TEXANS, led by rookie safety JUSTIN REID’s 101-yard interception-return touchdown in the second quarter, defeated Washington, 23-21, at FedExField.

​The Texans are the first team since 1970 to win seven consecutive games immediately following an 0-3 start to a season.

Reid’s 101-yard interception-return touchdown is tied for the second-longest interception-return touchdown by a rookie in NFL history, trailing only PETE BARNUM’s 103-yard return for the Columbus Tigers in the team’s victory over the Canton Bulldogs on September 26, 1926.

Reid is the third player in franchise history with a 100+ yard touchdown, joining ANDRE DAVIS (104-yard kickoff-return touchdown vs. Jacksonville on December 30, 2007) and MARCUS COLEMAN (102-yard interception-return touchdown at Kansas City on September 26, 2004).

  • New York Giants quarterback ELI MANNING completed 17 of 18 passes (94.4 percent) for 231 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions for a 155.8 passer rating and rookie running back SAQUON BARKLEY had 142 rushing yards and three touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving) in the team’s 38-35 victory over Tampa Bay.

    Manning’s 94.4 completion percentage ties Pro Football Hall of Famer FRAN TARKENTON (94.4 percent on November 13, 1977) and CRAIG MORTON (94.4 percent on September 27, 1981) for the third-highest in a single game in NFL history (minimum 15 attempts). Only ALEX SMITH (94.7 percent on October 29, 2012) and RYAN TANNEHILL (94.7 percent on October 25, 2015) have recorded higher completion percentages in a single game (minimum 15 attempts).

    Barkley has 1,268 scrimmage yards (728 rushing, 540 receiving) and 10 touchdowns (seven rushing, three receiving) in his first 10 career games. Barkley is the sixth player in NFL history to record at least 1,200 scrimmage yards and 10 touchdowns in their first 10 games, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers ERIC DICKERSON and MARSHALL FAULK and EZEKIEL ELLIOTT, ADRIAN PETERSON and BILLY SIMS.
     

  • Indianapolis quarterback ANDREW LUCK completed 23 of 29 passes (79.3 percent) for 297 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions for a 143.8 passer rating in the Colts’ 38-10 victory over Tennessee.

    Luck has thrown at least three touchdown passes in seven consecutive games, the third-longest streak in a single season in NFL history. Only TOM BRADY (10 consecutive games in 2007) and PEYTON MANNING (eight consecutive games in 2004) have longer such streaks in a single season. Both Brady and Manning were named Associated Press Most Valuable Players in those seasons.

    Luck has 161 touchdown passes in 80 career games and joined Pro Football Hall of Famer DAN MARINO (182 touchdown passes) and AARON RODGERS (160) as the only players in league history with at least 160 touchdown passes in their first 80 career games.
     

  • Baltimore rookie quarterback LAMAR JACKSON recorded 267 total yards (150 passing, 117 rushing) in his first-career start and rookie running back GUS EDWARDS rushed for 115 yards and a touchdown in the Ravens’ 24-21 victory over Cincinnati.

    Jackson and Edwards, who each recorded their first-career games with 100+ rushing yards, are the first pair of rookie quarterback and rookie running back teammates to rush for at least 100 yards each in a single game in NFL history.

    On the team’s opening drive, Baltimore rushed 11 times without attempting a pass, punctuated by a seven-yard touchdown run by running back ALEX COLLINS. The Ravens became the third team since 1999 to score a touchdown on an opening drive that featured at least 10 rushing plays without a pass attempt, joining the ST. LOUIS RAMS (December 27, 2004 vs. Philadelphia) and the OAKLAND RAIDERS (November 9, 2003 vs. New York Jets).
     

  • Other notable performances from Sunday include:
     

    • Washington running back ADRIAN PETERSON rushed for two touchdowns in the Redskins’ loss to Houston.

      Peterson has 105 career rushing touchdowns and surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer JOHN RIGGINS (104) for the sixth-most rushing touchdowns in NFL history. The five players with more career rushing touchdowns are all enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame: EMMITT SMITH (164), LA DAINIAN TOMLINSON (145), MARCUS ALLEN (123), WALTER PAYTON (110) and JIM BROWN (106).

      Peterson has 26 career games with two or more rushing touchdowns, the fourth-most such games in league annals, trailing only Tomlinson (38), Smith (36) and Brown (27).
       

    • Dallas running back EZEKIEL ELLIOTT had 201 scrimmage yards (122 rushing, 79 receiving) and a rushing touchdown in the Cowboys’ 22-19 victory at Atlanta.

      Elliott, who has 4,540 scrimmage yards and 32 touchdowns in 35 career games, joined Pro Football Hall of Famer ERIC DICKERSON (4,731 scrimmage yards, 38 touchdowns) and EDGERRIN JAMES (4,842 scrimmage yards, 38 touchdowns) as the only players in NFL history with at least 4,500 scrimmage yards and 30 touchdowns in their first 35 career games in NFL history.
       

    • Los Angeles Chargers quarterback PHILIP RIVERS passed for 401 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions for a 91.3 passer rating in the Chargers’ loss against Denver.

      Rivers has thrown at least two touchdown passes in each of the Chargers’ first 10 games of the season and is the sixth quarterback in league history with two or more touchdown passes in each of his team’s first 10 games to start a season, joining AARON RODGERS (13 consecutive games in 2011), PEYTON MANNING (13 in 2004), Pro Football Hall of Famer JOHNNY UNITAS (12 in 1959), TOM BRADY (10 in 2007) and Pro Football Hall of Famer DAN MARINO (10 in 1984). Four of the previous five quarterbacks to accomplish the feat – Brady, Manning, Marino and Rodgers – were named Associated Press Most Valuable Player in those seasons.

Courtesy of NFL Communications

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FANTASY PLAYS: Players to add with Chiefs, Rams on break

This is the final time you will have to deal with byes this season — but the most challenging. The Rams and Chiefs have a break after their historic Monday night shootout, two prolific teams with numerous fantasy stars.

Tough timing, with many owners vying for key victories to strengthen playoff positioning. Some other key

This is the final time you will have to deal with byes this season — but the most challenging. The Rams and Chiefs have a break after their historic Monday night shootout, two prolific teams with numerous fantasy stars.

Tough timing, with many owners vying for key victories to strengthen playoff positioning. Some other key injuries also make this a crucial waiver run with only two weeks left in many fantasy regular-season schedules.

RUNNING BACKS

GUS EDWARDS, Ravens (0.2 percent owned): The undrafted rookie surprisingly took hold of the lead role in the Baltimore backfield in Week 11, rushing for 115 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries, and now he has an apparent opportunity to continue as the No. 1 RB as the Ravens take on the Raiders. It’s a fine matchup for Edwards to continue to build on his momentum. John Harbaugh does not seem to trust Alex Collins and there aren’t really other competitors for the carries. You have to take the flier on Edwards, but keep in mind the Ravens have not leaned heavily on any one RB this season yet.

JOSH ADAMS, Eagles (28.1): We have recommended this other undrafted rookie previously, and 22.1 percent of fantasy players added him last week, but he remains underowned. Adams has yet to reach double digit carries or 65 rushing yards in a game, but he was on his way to officially seizing the lead RB role last week before the Eagles were blown out by the Saints. He provided Philadelphia’s only score on a 28-yard TD run, flashing his upside, and we could see his best production this week in a much friendlier matchup with the Giants.

LEGARRETTE BLOUNT, Lions (9.8): The well-traveled veteran has rushed for only 16 yards in his last four games, as he became a complete afterthought with Kerryon Johnson moving into clear lead back and Fantasy RB1 territory. But Johnson is expected to miss Thursday’s game against Chicago with a knee injury and Blount should be the top ball carrier for the Lions. It’s not a good matchup against Chicago’s elite run defense and Theo Riddick is a better add in PPR leagues if available, but Blount will start for Detroit and may have to be the alternative option if you need a one-week play and cannot acquire Edwards or Adams.

WIDE RECEIVERS

KEKE COUTEE, Texans (14.3): Most rookie receivers are unreliable, but Coutee seems to have a safer floor than others when he has been healthy. He also seems to be a preferred target over recently acquired veteran Demaryius Thomas, who seems to be fading into the twilight of his career. Coutee already has three double figure PPR performances in four relatively healthy appearances this year.

D.J. MOORE, Panthers (32.0): He previously showed some glimpses of his considerable promise before breaking out with seven catches for 157 yards and a TD in Week 11 against Detroit. Like many first year wideouts, Moore is a risky play and can follow up a big game with a quiet one. But he has the most pure talent and potential of any Carolina WR and the opportunity to take the lead role in the Panthers pass-catching corps if he can continue to trend upward.

TRE’QUAN SMITH (13.4): Because he plays in such an explosive offense, Smith could be the top add of the week, especially after registering 10 catches for 157 yards and a TD in the destruction of the Eagles. Smith seems set to be the Saints’ top pure deep playmaker for some time to come. There may be a quiet outing here and there, but it’s unlikely in Week 12 against Atlanta.

QUARTERBACKS

JAMEIS WINSTON, Buccaneers (9.4): He Is back as the starter again, but just like the guy he replaced, Ryan Fitzpatrick, he has a lot of upside with big risk. Winston threw four TD passes against the Falcons in Week 6 and was intercepted four times by the Bengals in Week 8. The matchup vs. the 49ers this week can inspire confidence, but he’s a roller coaster ride vs. any opponent. Taking Winston is advised if you need to replace Patrick Mahomes or Jared Goff and the waiver wire is very thin at QB, If you have a backup with a safer floor, you may want to stick with that.

BAKER MAYFIELD, Browns (37.5): Mayfield is a very good replacement for Mahomes or Goff, and may not melt like Winston when you need him to be stable. Mayfield has thrown nine TD passes in his past four games, with two TD passes in three of them and three vs. Atlanta before last week’s bye. He has a friendly matchup vs. Cincinnati this week.

TIGHT ENDS

CAMERON BRATE, Buccaneers (8.9): Brate has faded into the background recently with the ascension of O.J. Howard, but a knee injury has clouded Howard’s outlook for Week 12. If Howard is out or limited against the 49ers, Brate could re-emerge as a prime TD threat for Winston, who has favored him often in scoring situations in the past.

CHRIS HERNDON, Jets (6.6): This rookie does not have much upside, but he caught TD passes in three consecutive games from Weeks 6 to 8 and then caught four passes for 62 yards in Week 9. Herndon may not hurt you this week and is obviously a threat to score. The Jets passing game has looked bad lately, but if they can show respectability against New England, Herndon should be involved somehow.

___

For more in-depth Week 12 analysis and tips, visit RotoExperts: https://rotoexperts.com

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NFL Week 11 Stat Recap Table: QB, RB and WR

Big Ben leads a comeback over the Jaguars. The Saints continue to roll. Monday night featured an action-packed offensive showing between the Rams and the Chiefs

  • Patrick Mahomes and Jared Goff combine for 64 completions, 893 yards, and 10 touchdowns.
  • 4 quarterbacks threw 3 interceptions
  • Tyreek Hill made 10 receptions for 215 yards and

Big Ben leads a comeback over the Jaguars. The Saints continue to roll. Monday night featured an action-packed offensive showing between the Rams and the Chiefs

  • Patrick Mahomes and Jared Goff combine for 64 completions, 893 yards, and 10 touchdowns.
  • 4 quarterbacks threw 3 interceptions
  • Tyreek Hill made 10 receptions for 215 yards and 2 touchdowns
  • 6 Players with 100+ rushing yards
  • Saquon Barkley, Mark Ingram II, Adrian Peterson, and Phillip Lindsay all rush for 2 touchdowns

Martin is a data analyst that has been applauded for his ability to make the complex simple. He grew up on a farm in northern Vermont and spent his summers helping his mom lead llama treks at Smugglers’ Notch Resort.

Martin graduated from University of Vermont with a degree in Mathematics. After graduation he left Vermont to work for an educational nonprofit called City Year for two years, and followed that up by attending the data science immersive program at Galvanize in Denver. He is an avid Green Bay Packer fan, and spends his free time playing football and soccer.

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Rams outlast Chiefs 54-51 in record Monday night showdown

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Even before the fourth lead change of the fourth quarter, well before the 1,001st yard of combined offense was tallied, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Rams already knew this was a classic.

Two powerhouse NFL teams at the peak of their brilliance dueled deep into the night at

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Even before the fourth lead change of the fourth quarter, well before the 1,001st yard of combined offense was tallied, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Rams already knew this was a classic.

Two powerhouse NFL teams at the peak of their brilliance dueled deep into the night at an ecstatic Coliseum, racking up eye-popping numbers that stretched the box score and credulity.

There were 14 touchdowns, including three by defensive players. There were 56 first downs. There were 105 points, with 50 from each team — the first time that’s ever happened in an NFL game.

In the final moments, the Rams did just enough to leave with a win they’ll savor for years.

And if these teams meet again at the Super Bowl in 2 1/2 months, the Chiefs will remember the sting from coming up just short.

Jared Goff threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Gerald Everett for the go-ahead score with 1:49 to play, and the Rams outlasted the Chiefs for a 54-51 victory Monday night in a showdown that somehow surpassed the hype.

“It was a crazy game, crazy game,” said Goff, who passed for 413 yards and four touchdowns and even ran for another score . “It seemed like whoever had the ball at the end was going to win the game. There was times where we felt like we were going to put the knife in and finish them, and there were times where it was the other way around, where we had to claw back into it.”

Patrick Mahomes passed for a career-high 478 yards with six touchdown passes in his latest jaw-dropping effort for the Chiefs (9-2), but he also threw two interceptions in the final 1:18 as the Rams (10-1) claimed the highest-scoring Monday night game ever played.

The highest-scoring game in the league this season was an offensive fantasia of ingenious scheming from mastermind coaches Andy Reid and Sean McVay — along with 21 combined penalties to keep things interesting. The second half was an extended thriller featuring 59 combined points.

Both teams scratched out fourth-quarter leads, only to see them evaporate. Mahomes hit Tyreek Hill with a 73-yard TD pass just when the Rams appeared to be pulling away early in the fourth, and Goff replied with two late TD passes to Everett , a backup tight end with 31 career catches before this game.

“It was a whirlwind,” McVay said. “I feel like I might need a couple of beverages to relax tonight, but it was great. This is what you love so much about the game.”

And this game was ultimately decided by defense: Marcus Peters and Lamarcus Joyner came up with late interceptions as the Rams stopped Mahomes’ final efforts.

“It’s always fun to play against real good teams,” Mahomes said. “You get to go out there and have fun … (but) it’s the same as when we played New England. You can’t make mistakes against great teams. You need to limit your mistakes, but be aggressive.”

The Coliseum’s first Monday night game since 1985 was staged on short notice after the NFL moved the matchup from Mexico City to Los Angeles six days ago due to poor field conditions at Azteca Stadium. The Rams used the opportunity to give free tickets to thousands of first responders and families recovering from the dual tragedies of nearby wildfires and a mass shooting in Thousand Oaks.

Those fans got an incredible treat for their reward — and if the video-game-like spectacle they saw turns out to be a Super Bowl preview, Atlanta will get an All-Madden-level show as well.

“It was just cool,” said Todd Gurley, whose 13-game touchdown streak somehow ended in this offensive showcase. “It was a last-minute game and everybody (came) out in support. Had the families here, had the responders, so it was just a great overall crowd and it was good for the city.”

This game has loomed in capital letters on the NFL’s regular-season schedule ever since these teams confirmed their status as offensive powerhouses in September. The Rams and Chiefs are the league’s biggest favorites along with New Orleans and New England — the teams responsible for the only other losses by Los Angeles and Kansas City this season.

Mahomes had the most prolific passing game in the NFL this year, but he and Goff both made key mistakes.

Rams linebacker Samson Ebukam returned Mahomes’ fumble and a one-armed interception for the first two TDs of his NFL career, while Kansas City’s Allen Bailey returned Goff’s fumble for a go-ahead touchdown early in the fourth quarter.

“It was electric,” Ebukam said. “It’s hard to describe, because I’m still like in a game mode right now. I haven’t calmed down yet, so it hasn’t really all sunk in yet.”

BIG FINISH

The final seven minutes were particularly frantic and sweet: After Chris Conley caught his second TD pass from Mahomes for a 51-47 lead with 2:47 to play, Goff replied with a 75-yard TD drive in 58 seconds, hitting Everett down the Rams’ frenzied sideline.

Peters — the former Pro Bowl cornerback traded by Kansas City to Los Angeles last winter — then intercepted Mahomes’ underthrown ball near midfield with 1:18 to play, but the Rams only managed to take 14 seconds off the clock on their next three plays.

The Coliseum roiled in anticipation of a big finish by Mahomes, but the Chiefs were pushed back to their 13 with 50 seconds left thanks to a booming punt by Johnny Hekker. Joyner intercepted Mahomes’ final desperate heave with 13 seconds left.

“We can learn from this,” Reid said. “We can’t give up 21 points on turnovers. Have to take care of the football. We created some turnovers and points, (but had) too many penalties. We’ll heal up and get set to go for the stretch run.”

TIMELY DEFENSE

For all the offensive brilliance on display, both defenses made game-changing plays as well.

Aaron Donald forced two fumbles while sacking Mahomes, and Ebukam returned the first for a TD in the second quarter. The Rams’ unsung outside linebacker then made a spectacular one-armed interception at the line of scrimmage in the third quarter before returning it 25 yards for a score, powering over Mahomes to reach the end zone.

INJURIES

Chiefs: WR Sammy Watkins had one catch for 4 yards against his former team after missing last week’s game with a foot injury.

Rams: CB Troy Hill, WR Brandin Cooks and Peters all went to the locker room early in the second half with cramps. They all returned.

UP NEXT

Chiefs: Bye week, followed by a trip to Oakland on Dec. 2.

Rams: Bye week, followed by a trip to Detroit on Dec. 2.

___

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

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Raiders coach Gruden downplays sideline argument with Carr

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) — Derek Carr missed Jalen Richard on a third-down pass in the second quarter and immediately heard all about it from coach Jon Gruden as he walked to the Oakland Raiders sideline.

Carr was caught on television yelling right back at his coach in an exchange that repeated itself again in the

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) — Derek Carr missed Jalen Richard on a third-down pass in the second quarter and immediately heard all about it from coach Jon Gruden as he walked to the Oakland Raiders sideline.

Carr was caught on television yelling right back at his coach in an exchange that repeated itself again in the fourth quarter and prompted many outsiders to point to it as a symbol of how bad things have gotten in this lost season for the Raiders.

To Carr and Gruden, it’s just a regular occurrence between two passionate people that just happened to be caught on camera during a 23-21 win for Oakland (2-8) over Arizona on Sunday.

“I don’t have a ‘no yelling’ sign on the sideline,” Gruden said Monday. “Things happen. We get excited down there. I get excited when we get a first down. Get excited when you work on something all week and it doesn’t work out. I get excited when he makes big plays, too. That’s just part of football. I think cameras can catch things sometimes that maybe make things look a little bit peculiar, but that happens.”

The first run-in between Carr and Gruden happened late in the second quarter when the Raiders went three-and-out after the missed throw down the sideline to Richard. Tight end Lee Smith ended up trying to play peacemaker, grabbing Gruden at one point in what he later acknowledged was a mistake.

Carr was surprised the whole situation became such a big deal.

“It’s not the first time him and I have been that way. We’re both very fiery,” Carr said Sunday. “A lot of people don’t see that in me, right? All the time. We’re both very fiery, we’re both very competitive. Minor disagreement on something and the beautiful thing is that when we do that, it’s never like a demeaning thing, or pointing a finger. It’s just, we’re both yelling the same kind of thing almost. It’s us both saying let’s fix it kind of deal. Again, it’s not the first time, I doubt it’ll be the last time, but everything’s good, I promise.”

There was only more frustration later in the quarter when Carr called back-to-back timeouts, leading to a delay of game penalty that helped thwart a drive.

The bickering continued in the fourth quarter after a third-down pass to Seth Roberts came a yard short of a first down, leading to another punt.

Gruden said he can be outwardly supportive or critical depending on the situation.

“I’m a big cheerleader sometimes,” he said. “I’m very positive a lot of the time. Every once in a while, I think you have to make your points in some different ways. Sometimes raising your voice. I look ridiculous to some people, but I want urgency. I want to have some urgency to get things right. It doesn’t mean I’m always right, either. Derek pointed that out to me yesterday. So be it.”

The Cardinals then took the lead on the ensuing drive and the Raiders failed to generate a first down on two straight possessions, leading to rare punts in the final four minutes by a trailing team.

But thanks to some poor penalties by Arizona and botched clock management, the Raiders got one last chance and made it pay off by driving 63 yards in the final 1:53 thanks to a 32-yard pass to rookie Marcell Ateman and a 20-yarder to Roberts that set up Daniel Carlson’s game-winning 35-yard kick.

NOTES: The Raiders placed WR Brandon LaFell (Achilles) on IR and signed WR Keon Hatcher off Green Bay’s practice squad. Hatcher had three TD catches for Oakland in the preseason finale. … WR Saeed Blacknall was released Monday. … WR Jordy Nelson could return to practice this week after missing a game with a knee injury. … RB Doug Martin should be OK this week after missing the second half with an ankle injury.

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Humbled Vikings running out of time to catch Bears

EAGAN, Minn. (AP) — The NBC camera on Minnesota's pregame huddle in Chicago captured Kirk Cousins delivering the customary pep talk to his teammates, a full-throated reminder by the quarterback that the Vikings reached the NFC championship game last season, not the Bears.

"They're not the reason this game moved to prime time," Cousins shouted.

EAGAN, Minn. (AP) — The NBC camera on Minnesota’s pregame huddle in Chicago captured Kirk Cousins delivering the customary pep talk to his teammates, a full-throated reminder by the quarterback that the Vikings reached the NFC championship game last season, not the Bears.

“They’re not the reason this game moved to prime time,” Cousins shouted. “We are.”

Soon after the opening kickoff, though, the Vikings (5-4-1) wilted in the spotlight of the NFL’s showcase Sunday night game. The offense didn’t score until 7 seconds were left in the third quarter, and the defense gave up a season-high 148 rushing yards, leading to a 25-20 loss that wasn’t as close as the score.

The Vikings fell 1½ games behind the Bears (7-3) in the NFC North, meaning they’ll have to win once more than the surprise division leader over the next five games to make the rematch on Dec. 30 count toward the race.

Chicago plays the Los Angeles Rams (9-1) on Dec. 2, but that’s at home. Every other opponent has a losing record. Minnesota has back-to-back road games against the New England Patriots (7-3) and Seattle Seahawks (5-5) looming.

“The schedule’s the schedule. I’m not worried about that,” coach Mike Zimmer said.

What most troubled Zimmer were the three turnovers, a failure to reach the end zone on the first three trips inside the 20-yard line, and a total of 22 rushing yards on 14 attempts . His message to the offense in meetings throughout the week was that those three areas would determine the outcome.

“Either they’re not listening or they’re not paying attention or they don’t really care,” Zimmer said. “So we’ll have to find out which one of the three it is.”

The defense also had a 15-yard penalty on two of Chicago’s three drives for field goals.

Cousins said the defeat “certainly humbles you,” a potential positive to take in preparation for the next game against the rival Green Bay Packers (4-5-1). The Vikings have already had several of those sobering defeats this year, from the lopsided loss at home against the lowly Buffalo Bills to the 556 total yards allowed to the Rams to the gaffes that precipitated their fall against the New Orleans Saints.

Whether there’s some natural regression in the works after their 13-3 regular-season record in 2017, a few flaws they haven’t yet fixed or a little bit of bad luck, the Vikings have been a hair off and a step behind from the start this year despite adding Cousins to one of the league’s deepest rosters.

In facing the Rams, Saints and Bears in nationally televised night games, the top three teams in the NFC, the Vikings have performed like a wild-card team at best.

“We’re a good team. We know that. It’s just about going out there and doing it. Quit talking about it,” linebacker Eric Kendricks said. “Just getting back to work, putting our hard hats on and no excuses. We’ve got to point the finger at ourselves, so we’ve just got to get the job done, period.”

The Vikings have 16 turnovers, seventh most in the NFL after producing at least one in all but one game. That’s already two more than last season, when they had the third fewest in the league.

“That’s what we talk about every single day since OTAs, talk about protecting the football,” wide receiver Adam Thielen said. “The percentage of you winning a football game when you lose a turnover battle is pretty low. We know that. We have to go back to work and figure it out.”

The Vikings finished in the top seven in the NFL in fewest turnovers in each of Zimmer’s first four years.

“It’s been frustrating at times,” Zimmer said, noting the unlikelihood of some of the giveaways like Thielen’s fumble against the Saints that turned that game around: He added: “I guess stuff happens sometimes.”

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Eagles are reeling after worst loss by defending champs

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The defending champs are reeling and seem on the verge of receiving a knockout punch.

An embarrassing 48-7 loss to the New Orleans Saints — the most lopsided defeat for a Super Bowl champion — left the Philadelphia Eagles (4-6) one loss from last place. They're optimistic because they are in control

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The defending champs are reeling and seem on the verge of receiving a knockout punch.

An embarrassing 48-7 loss to the New Orleans Saints — the most lopsided defeat for a Super Bowl champion — left the Philadelphia Eagles (4-6) one loss from last place. They’re optimistic because they are in control of their fading playoff hopes in a mediocre NFC East. But there’s nothing positive to point at following a dismal loss to the Saints (9-1).

“You can’t hang your head,” coach Doug Pederson said Monday. “If anybody does, and if anybody begins to sort of doubt, you don’t need them. Because we believe, and I believe in those players, I believe in those coaches. It’s a group that is hurting. It’s a group that will pick themselves up this week. They’re not going to feel sorry for themselves and we’ll get ready for the Giants.”

The Redskins (6-4) lead the division but just lost quarterback Alex Smith for the rest of the season. They’ll face the Cowboys (5-5) for first place on Thursday. The Giants (3-7) visit Philadelphia on Sunday. If the Eagles win the last six games, they’ll secure the East. But they look more like a team that can lose out than win six in a row.

Carson Wentz played the worst game of his career in New Orleans, tossing three interceptions with a 31.9 passer rating. The offense managed only one touchdown, went three-and-out six times and continued spiraling downward. It barely resembles the group that outperformed the Patriots 41-33 in the Super Bowl.

Running backs Jay Ajayi (torn ACL) and LeGarrette Blount (left in free agency), wide receiver Torrey Smith (traded to Carolina) and tight ends Trey Burton (left in free agency) and Brent Celek (released) are the skill players missing from that unit, along with Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles, who is Wentz’s backup. Undrafted rookie Josh Adams is the lead running back but the receiver corps was upgraded with the addition of wideout Golden Tate and rookie tight end Dallas Goedert.

Yet, the offense has been out of sync all season. The Eagles have scored more than 24 points only once.

Pederson was bothered more by the offense’s performance against the Saints because Drew Brees and Co. have run through defenses all season.

“We had more plays out on the field that we left, so that’s the disappointing thing, that we didn’t do a better job offensively and score more points,” Pederson said. “The 48, they’re a good football team. Let’s not kid ourselves there. That’s a good football team, and we knew we were going to have to score points.”

The offense’s biggest problem has been slow starts. The Eagles have scored only 21 points in the first quarter, including 14 in one game. Against the Saints, their three first-quarter possession were two three-and-outs and an interception thrown into double coverage.

“We keep preaching. We keep talking. We keep practicing. We put our players in those positions to execute,” Pederson said. “Sometimes I think because there’s been so much made about the way we’ve started games differently than a year ago that sometimes you want to make the play. Players just need to make the plays that come to them and don’t go looking for plays. There’s enough out there that when the play comes, you make it, and it starts with the first play of the game.”

NOTES: Pederson said CB Rasul Douglas (leg) and DB Avonte Maddox (knee) and C Jason Kelce (elbow) are fine. CB Sidney Jones (ankle) and LB Jordan Hicks (calf) are week to week. LS Rick Lovato is in concussion protocol.

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Heisman Trophy Winner Props: Updated through Week 12

Tua Tagovailoa's odds decreased, but he's still the heavy favorite to win the Heisman Trophy. Kyler Murray closes the gap.

Note: The change column indicates the percentage change in the odds of each player. Positive change labeled in green means the player is getting bet and his odds are lower, while the negative

Tua Tagovailoa’s odds decreased, but he’s still the heavy favorite to win the Heisman Trophy. Kyler Murray closes the gap.

Note: The change column indicates the percentage change in the odds of each player. Positive change labeled in green means the player is getting bet and his odds are lower, while the negative change in red means the player’s odds have regressed.

Heisman Trophy Winner Props


Martin is a data analyst that has been applauded for his ability to make the complex simple. He grew up on a farm in northern Vermont and spent his summers helping his mom lead llama treks at Smugglers’ Notch Resort.

Martin graduated from University of Vermont with a degree in Mathematics. After graduation he left Vermont to work for an educational nonprofit called City Year for two years, and followed that up by attending the data science immersive program at Galvanize in Denver. He is an avid Green Bay Packer fan, and spends his free time playing football and soccer.

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Miami’s Tannehill on schedule for possible return this week

DAVIE, Fla. (AP) — Ryan Tannehill is throwing the ball 50 yards in side sessions, and the Miami Dolphins would love to see those passes in a game.

Maybe this week.

Tannehill made progress during the team's bye week in his rehabilitation from a throwing shoulder injury, and remains on schedule to meet his goal

DAVIE, Fla. (AP) — Ryan Tannehill is throwing the ball 50 yards in side sessions, and the Miami Dolphins would love to see those passes in a game.

Maybe this week.

Tannehill made progress during the team’s bye week in his rehabilitation from a throwing shoulder injury, and remains on schedule to meet his goal of returning Sunday at Indianapolis.

There are significant hurdles yet to be cleared. Coach Adam Gase said Monday he didn’t even know whether Tannehill will participate fully in practice this week, but sounded upbeat about his quarterback’s recent progress.

“I feel like it is forever since I’ve seen him throw,” Gase said. “To me he looks like what he once looked like.”

Brock Osweiler has gone 2-3 starting for Tannehill. The injury-plagued Dolphins are 5-5 and tied for sixth place in the AFC with the Colts and three other teams.

The Dolphins’ eagerness to get Tannehill back in the lineup is magnified because their offense has gone nine quarters without a touchdown. Osweiler’s most recent scoring pass came four games ago.

Tannehill has said he’s resigned to throwing with pain the rest of the year because of an injury to his shoulder capsule in Week 5. He’s now targeting receivers on the move, but his shoulder stamina remains a concern and needs to be tested by the intensity of practice, Gase said.

“He can throw it down the field now,” Gase said. “It looks good. It’s just all about how many times.”

Gase is wary of a setback and said he wants to decide soon on a starter for Sunday.

“I’m running out of time,” he said. “We can’t be wrong and start the week one way, and then flip when we get to Friday.”

Miami’s first practice of the week — and first since Nov. 9 — will be Tuesday.

While Tannehill’s progress was encouraging, the Dolphins took another hit on the health front when they decided to place receiver-returner Jakeem Grant on injured reserve with a lower leg injury that required surgery. Grant ranks second in the NFL in both kickoff returns and punt returns.

He was hurt in the loss at Green Bay a week ago, and initially the team hoped he might return this year. Miami lost another dynamic receiver, Albert Wilson, to a season-ending hip injury in Week 7.

Receiver DeVante Parker might return this week from a shoulder injury, Gase said. He said the status this week of starting offensive tackles Laremy Tunsil (knee) and Ja’Wuan James (knee) was uncertain. Cornerback Bobby McCain remained in the concussion protocol.

The AFC race tightened Sunday with the Dolphins idle. They have a chance to make the playoffs for only the third time in the past 17 seasons even though they’ve been outgained by 787 yards and outscored by 57 points.

“It’s who can have the best six-game season,” Gase said. “To give ourselves a chance in December to create our own destiny — that’s what we wanted when we started this thing.”

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Jets QB Sam Darnold sits out team’s first practice after bye

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold is sitting out the team's first practice after its bye-week break while he continues to recover from a foot strain.

The rookie wore a green Jets cap and sweats as practice began Monday, and he mostly watched from the side while Josh McCown and

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold is sitting out the team’s first practice after its bye-week break while he continues to recover from a foot strain.

The rookie wore a green Jets cap and sweats as practice began Monday, and he mostly watched from the side while Josh McCown and Davis Webb threw passes in individual drills. He is no longer wearing a boot on his right foot.

Darnold was injured during the Jets’ 13-6 loss at Miami on Nov. 4. McCown started in his place the following week, a 41-10 defeat at home to Buffalo.

It’s uncertain if Darnold will be able to start against New England on Sunday. Coach Todd Bowles is scheduled to speak to the media later Monday. The Jets don’t need to submit an injury report until Wednesday.

Darnold, the No. 3 overall draft pick this year, leads the NFL with 14 interceptions and struggled in his past three games before the injury.

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Ballin’ on a Budget Week 11 Results

Well, for the fifth straight week and for the ninth time in 11 tries this season, we won more than we lost out of our five betting picks. Last week, we had the point spreads down and floundered on game picks. This week, we had it the other way around. Either way, another

Well, for the fifth straight week and for the ninth time in 11 tries this season, we won more than we lost out of our five betting picks. Last week, we had the point spreads down and floundered on game picks. This week, we had it the other way around. Either way, another 3-2 week keeps our pick percentage right around 60 percent.

Unfortunately, the Falcons were our most confident pick this week and they couldn’t come through, so we didn’t build on our recent gains.

WIN: Packers-Seahawks OVER 49.5 (-110): Seahawks 27, Packers 24.

Wow, this one was close. As the over/unders so often are, Vegas was spot on here. The Packers and Seahawks battled into a tie in the 20’s, making this a nailbiter for bettors on both sides of the equation. Luckily for us, Russell Wilson came up with some magic down the stretch and despite Aaron Rodgers’ inability to answer, we were primed for the over to hit at the next score.

When Seattle kicked the go-ahead field goal to win it, that’s what pushed it over the edge. We got it by the slimmest of margins, but we’re certainly not complaining. Total payout: $3.80.

LOSS: Falcons -3 vs. Cowboys (-120): Cowboys 22, Falcons 19.

It continues to amaze me how bad the Falcons can be with as much talent as they have on the offensive side of the ball. Steve Sarkisian’s offense just refuses to get off the ground and this entire game was frustrating to watch. Time and time again, Atlanta’s defense got stops to give the offense a chance. Time and time again, the offense sputtered and either had to settle for a field goal or were kept out of field-goal range entirely.

They made things interesting by tying things up at 19 via a 34-yard strike from Matt Ryan to Julio Jones, but then Dallas drove right down the field in the closing minutes. We had to root for a missed chip shot field goal to send things to overtime and give us a chance, but it wasn’t to be. Atlanta screwed us over, but we can take solace in the fact the loss likely ended their playoff hopes. Total payout: $0.

LOSS: Panthers -4.5 vs. Lions (-110): Lions 20, Panthers 19.

Speaking of frustrating, wow, it was hard to watch how this one went down. Carolina kicker Graham Gano missed an easy field goal and an extra point, which not only cost us four points on the spread, but it ended up guaranteeing we couldn’t win this bet at the end of the game. The Panthers scored with just a minute left and an extra point would have likely sent the game to overtime.

However, with so little faith in their kicker, they sent the offense back out there to go for two and the win. That created a lose-lose situation for us, because the only way for us to win would be Carolina to send it to overtime and have a walk-off touchdown. With this decision, they would either win by one or lose by one, and neither did us any good. Since they didn’t cover, they didn’t deserve to win anyway and Carolina fell to the previously 3-6 Lions to make our day a little worse. Total payout: $0.

WIN: Titans-Colts UNDER 49 (-110): Colts 38, Titans 10.

God almighty, this one was close. When Marcus Mariota went down, it seemed all but locked up until Tennessee’s once feared defense became inept. Andrew Luck and Co. were scoring at will and it got more and more tense as the total approached 49. Indy scored to go up 38-3 and everything still felt pretty good until the Titans found the end zone for the first time, leaving us one fluke play away from losing the bet.

Luckily, with the point total sitting at 48, one below the line, the Titans kicked off to the Colts and they were happy to take knees and run out the clock. This one made us sweat, but in the end, it went our way making us 2-for-2 in over/under picks this week. Total payout: $7.60.

WIN: Broncos +7.5 at Chargers (-120): Broncos 23, Chargers 22.

We should’ve bet the money line! Denver somehow found a way to pull this game out with a field goal as time expired and we would’ve been a lot richer had we had enough confidence in them to win the game outright. Of course, hindsight is 20/20 and we won our bet, so we should stop complaining.

While they haven’t been super successful this season, the Broncos have been feisty at times and that’s what we were relying on in this game. They came through and because of that, we finished above .500 for the fifth consecutive week. Total payout: $3.67.

PIGGY BANK: $251.50 (14.3% return on investment)

PICK SELECTION: 61.5% (32-20-3)

Jacob Kornhauser is a sports reporter in Southern Oregon covering all sports, including Oregon and Oregon State athletics. He has been a national baseball writer for Bleacher Report and Rant Sports and has written two baseball books. He also specializes in sports betting analysis. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri Journalism School.

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Seahawks get crucial win to stay in NFC playoff conversation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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FANTASY PLAYS: Key fantasy questions for NFL Week 11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Breaking down the historically high total for Chiefs-Rams

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

https://twitter.com/RJinVegas/status/1061994554788732928

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL since 2007 and is a member of the Professional Football Writers of America, despite the fact he actually lives in Canada. The Toronto-based sports journalist’s work can also be seen at Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, Awful Announcing and The Guardian. He can be found on Twitter @brad_gagnon

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Ramsey expresses loyalty to Jaguars

 

Outspoken defensive back Jalen Ramsey offended some Jacksonville Jaguars fans

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

–Field Level Media

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Wilson, Seahawks drive past Packers

 

Russell Wilson hit tight end Ed Dickson

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Packers receiver Davante Adams made 10 receptions for 166 yards.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

–Field Level Media

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Beckham not backing off Giants winning final 7 games

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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After taxing stretch, Brady to use bye to recharge, improve

BOSTON (AP) — If his 19th NFL season has been at all more taxing than any of the previous 18, Tom Brady isn't willing to say so.

Even if his play on the field through the Patriots' first 10 games this season might suggest otherwise.

Last season, at age 40 Brady became the oldest player

BOSTON (AP) — If his 19th NFL season has been at all more taxing than any of the previous 18, Tom Brady isn’t willing to say so.

Even if his play on the field through the Patriots’ first 10 games this season might suggest otherwise.

Last season, at age 40 Brady became the oldest player in NFL history to earn regular-season MVP honors.

A year later, he finds himself in the throes of some his worst passing numbers in three seasons as the Patriots head into their bye week. What’s unclear is whether it’s an aberration or perhaps the first subtle signs of decline for the 41-year-old quarterback.

It’s not as if Brady is having a disastrous year. Despite coming off a humbling 34-10 loss to Tennessee , New England still enters its bye with a 7-3 record and is on its way to capturing its 10th straight AFC East title.

Brady is still completing 65 percent of his passes and has 17 touchdowns. He’s done it despite having to break in new players in the receiving group, dealing with injuries at running back and seeing tight end Rob Gronkowski battle ankle and back injuries.

“We just haven’t had that, I would say, overall consistency and the ability to practice together,” Brady said. “That’s not an excuse. … A lot of teams deal with injuries and moving parts and bringing different people in. That’s just part of football. But we’re trying to adjust and adapt like everyone else. Some weeks it’s been better than others.”

In recent years Brady has typically shrugged off questions about his health or any injuries he might be dealing with. It included him famously wearing a glove during the playoffs last season to shield the extent of a cut he sustained on his throwing hand prior to the AFC championship game.

That same, guarded posture has extended to all inquiries about whether any of the hits he’s taken this season have affected his performance.

Asked Wednesday about how he was feeling physically heading into the bye week, Brady smiled before saying, “Pretty good, pretty good.”

“Some bumps and bruises, but I think that’s part of football season and I feel pretty good,” he added.

There’s definitely been more hiccups that usual in the passing game for the Patriots.

In his first seven games this season, Brady had a passer rating of 100 or greater five times, while completing 67 percent of his passes and throwing for 16 touchdowns. He did it despite being sacked nine times during those games and tossing seven interceptions.

He hasn’t thrown any picks over the Patriots’ past three games, but he’s been sacked seven additional times. He’s also thrown just one TD pass and seen his completion rate drop to 59 percent with a passer rating of 85.1.

Brady is also being asked to do more outside of the pocket, serving as a blocker on trick plays and even catching a pass during the loss to the Titans. And because of New England’s injury issues at running back, Brady’s number has been called more often for quarterback sneaks.

“I think we’re certainly aware of that, but there’s certain things that I think you have to do sometimes to win the game,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said.

Belichick said he doesn’t believe they are putting more of a load on Brady than they think he can handle.

“We’ll just have to evaluate those things going forward. Not looking to do an excessive amount of them, that’s for sure, but if there’s a situational play or something that comes up, then I think we’d consider it,” Belichick said. “Quarterbacks get hit in the pocket and quarterbacks scramble and a lot of people converge on them in a hurry. So, nobody knows that better than Tom does.”

Running back James White said the onus on protecting Brady extends across the entire offense. That includes better blitz pickup by everyone.

“Definitely need to be better just communicating and when we do — when we are on the same page — do a better job of getting Tom enough time to read the coverage out and if he decides to hold the ball, still give him enough time to do that, too,” White said.

Brady said he’ll be using the time off to recharge going into the stretch run of the regular season.

“We’ve had a lot of weeks of football and we’ve got some really important ones coming up,” he said. “So hopefully we can learn from the things that have happened over the course of the season and use them to our advantage moving forward.”

He said improvement must come across the board.

“The reality is for the quarterback, I can do what I can do and I need to shore things up with what I can do,” Brady said. “I don’t think any player’s really satisfied. I think we’re all looking to get better and improve and we have some opportunity to do that.”

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