NFL Articles

NFL Articles

NFL Conference Championship Weekend: Over and Under 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

Take the

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

Take the over: New England Patriots at Kansas City Chiefs

Total: 56.5

The Chiefs remain vulnerable against the run. The Colts averaged 6.2 yards per rush against them but weren’t able to establish the run consistently due to the score.

Meanwhile, the Patriots have really discovered a strong running game thanks to the emergence of Sony Michel. Look for them to keep it on the ground and set things up for the passing game to take advantage of a secondary that is also beatable. 

You know Tom Brady will get some shots in, and there’s little doubt Patrick Mahomes will do the same. New England’s run defense is also vulnerable — only the Rams surrendered more yards per carry than the Pats and Chiefs this season — and Damien Williams and Spencer Ware should have plenty of success setting up the passing game. Kansas City could also get a shot in the arm from the return of injured guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif. 

These teams combined for 83 points in their first meeting, and this should be another track meet. After initial weather concerns, the latest forecast indicates this game won’t be played in sub-zero temperatures after all, and I think both teams will have just enough in them on offense to push this one into the 60s. 

Predicted score: Chiefs 34, Patriots 28

Take the under: Los Angeles Rams at New Orleans Saints

Total: 56

Dating back to Week 13, the Saints have averaged fewer than 20 points per game. And while they scored 45 points the last time they faced Los Angeles, Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips is too smart to let that happen again. Look for Aqib Talib — who didn’t play in that first meeting — to do a better job against productive star Saints receiver Michael Thomas, and don’t be surprised if underrated Rams linebacker Cory Littleton limits Alvin Kamara’s damage. 

That could make life real tough against a defensive front featuring defensive player of the year shoo-in Aaron Donald as well as Ndamukong Suh, who looks inspired thus far in January. 

And while the Rams also scored 35 points in that Week 9 meeting, that offense has also been less stable and consistent without Cooper Kupp down the stretch. 

The Saints defense is certainly beatable, but keep in mind that New Orleans completely shut down the Eagles for three and a half quarters on Sunday and has surrendered 17 or fewer points in seven of its last nine games.

Not even sure this one will hit 50. 

Predicted score: Rams 24, Saints 23

Good luck, we’re all counting on you. 

Previous results
Last week: 2-0
2018 season: 23-14-1

Read More 417 Words

What To Look For – Divisional Playoffs

PRESS RELEASE

WHAT TO LOOK FOR – DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS

LOWER SEED SUCCESS: The INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (11-6) and PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (10-7) both earned victories on Wild Card Weekend as the No. 6 seed in their respective conferences.​

The Colts, who travel to Kansas City on Saturday (4:35 PM ET, NBC), and the Eagles, who

PRESS RELEASE

WHAT TO LOOK FOR – DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS

LOWER SEED SUCCESS: The INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (11-6) and PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (10-7) both earned victories on Wild Card Weekend as the No. 6 seed in their respective conferences.​

The Colts, who travel to Kansas City on Saturday (4:35 PM ET, NBC), and the Eagles, who play at New Orleans on Sunday (4:40 PM ET, FOX), look to become the first No. 6 seeds to reach the Conference Championship since 2010, when both the Green Bay Packers and New York Jets accomplished the feat.​​​​

The No. 6 seeds to reach the Conference Championship since the 12-team playoff format began in 1990:

SEASON

TEAM

CONFERENCE

ADVANCED TO

2010

Green Bay

NFC

Won Super Bowl XLV

2010

New York Jets

AFC

Conference Championship

2008

Baltimore

AFC

Conference Championship

2008

Philadelphia

NFC

Conference Championship

2005

Pittsburgh

AFC

Won Super Bowl XL

 

 

 

 

2018

Indianapolis

AFC

???

2018

Philadelphia

NFC

???

 

In the AFC, the LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (13-4, No. 5 seed), who face New England on Sunday (1:05 PM ET, CBS), and the sixth-seeded Colts are both still alive. With victories by both teams in the Divisional Playoffs, it would mark the first Conference Championship game featuring a No. 5 and No. 6 seed since the 12-team playoff format began in 1990.

 

WINNING WAYS: The DALLAS COWBOYS, who defeated Seattle 24-22 on Wild Card Weekend, and the NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS, who had a bye last week, will each be playing in the Divisional Playoffs.

Dallas, who plays at the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday night (8:15 PM ET, FOX), has 35 playoff wins and can tie the PITTSBURGH STEELERS (36) for the most postseason victories all-time. New England, who hosts the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday (1:05 PM ET, CBS), has 34 postseason victories and can surpass the GREEN BAY PACKERS (34) for the third-most playoff wins all-time.

The teams with the most postseason wins in NFL history:

TEAM

WINS

LOSSES

WIN PCT.

SUPER BOWL WINS

Pittsburgh

36

25

.590

6

Dallas

35

27

.565

5

Green Bay

34

22

.607

4

New England

34

20

.630

5

San Francisco

30

20

.600

5​

 

TOUCHDOWN LEADERS: Kansas City quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES and the Chiefs are s​et to face off against Indianapolis quarterback ANDREW LUCK and the Colts in the Divisional Playoffs on Saturday (4:35 PM ET, NBC).

Mahomes, who led the NFL with 50 touchdown passes, and Luck, who ranked second with 39 touchdown passes in 2018, have the most combined regular-season passing touchdowns (89) among any opposing quarterbacks in a playoff game in the Super Bowl era.

With Mahomes and Luck ranking first and second in regular-season touchdown passes, Saturday will mark the fifth time since 2002 that the top two passing touchdown leaders from the regular season will face off in the postseason.

The postseason games between the top two regular-season passing touchdown leaders since 2002:

SEASON

PLAYER (TEAM)

TD PASSES

PLAYER (TEAM)

TD PASSES

PLAYOFF ROUND

2016

Aaron Rodgers (GB)

40

Matt Ryan (Atl.)

38

NFC Championship

2014

Andrew Luck (Ind.)

40

Peyton Manning (Den.)

39

AFC Divisional

2009

Drew Brees (NO)

34

Peyton Manning (Ind.)

33*

Super Bowl XLIV

2009

Drew Brees (NO)

34

Brett Favre^ (Min.)

33*

NFC Championship

 

 

 

 

 

 

2018

Patrick Mahomes (KC)

50

Andrew Luck (Ind.)

39

AFC Divisional

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

*Tied for 2nd

 

AGE IS JUST A NUMBER: New England quarterback TOM BRADY and the Patriots welcome quarterback PHILIP RIVERS and the Los Angeles Chargers to Gillette Stadium on Sunday (1:05 PM ET, CBS).

Brady, who will be 41 years and 163 days old on Sunday, and Rivers, at 37 years and 36 days old, combine for a total of 28,688 days old, the oldest combined age by opposing starting quarterbacks in a postseason game in NFL history.

The oldest combined age by opposing starting quarterbacks in a postseason game in NFL history:

DATE

QUARTERBACK

TEAM

QUARTERBACK

TEAM

COMBINED DAYS OLD

1/13/19

Tom Brady

New England

Philip Rivers

Los Angeles Chargers

28,688*

1/24/16

Peyton Manning

Denver

Tom Brady

New England

28,603

1/9/99

John Elway^

Denver

Dan Marino^

Miami

27,704

1/16/94

Warren Moon^

Houston Oilers

Joe Montana^

Kansas City

27,306

1/22/17

Tom Brady

New England

Ben Roethlisberger

Pittsburgh

27,162

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

*Total days as of Sunday, January 13

 

 

RATED WELL: Philadelphia quarterback NICK FOLES and the Eagles head to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday (4:40 PM ET, FOX) to face New Orleans quarterback DREW BREES and the Saints.

Foles, who has the highest postseason passer rating (105.2) in NFL history, and Brees, who ranks fifth with a 100.7 passer rating, are two of five quarterbacks to have a passer rating of 100 or higher in the postseason (minimum 150 attempts).

The quarterbacks with the highest career postseason passer rating (minimum 150 attempts):

QUARTERBACK

COMP.

ATT.

YARDS

TDS

INTS

RATING

Nick Foles

125

179

1,432

10

3

105.2

Bart Starr^

130

213

1,753

15

3

104.8

Kurt Warner^

307

462

3,952

31

14

102.8

Matt Ryan

237

351

2,672

20

7

100.8

Drew Brees

354

537

4,209

29

9

100.7

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

Foles (69.8 percent) has the highest postseason completion percentage in league annals (minimum 150 attempts) and Brees (65.9 percent) ranks fifth.

The quarterbacks with the highest career postseason completion percentage (minimum 150 attempts):

QUARTERBACK

COMP.

ATT.

PCT.

Nick Foles

125

179

69.8

Matt Ryan

237

351

67.5

Kurt Warner^

307

462

66.5

Ken Anderson

110

166

66.3

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

 

SHOWDOWN IN SO CAL: Dallas running back EZEKIEL ELLIOTT and the Cowboys head to Southern California to take on defensive tackle AARON DONALD and the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday night (8:15 PM ET, FOX).

Elliott, who led the NFL with 1,434 rushing yards in 2018, rushed for 137 yards and a touchdown in Dallas’ Wild Card Weekend victory over Seattle. Elliott has recorded at least 125 rushing yards in each of his first two playoff appearances and can become the fourth player in NFL history to record three consecutive postseason games with at least 125 rushing yards.

The players with the most consecutive postseason games with at least 125 rushing yards in NFL history:

PLAYER

TEAM

DATES

CONSECUTIVE GAMES WITH 125+ RUSH YARDS

Terrell Davis^

Denver

1/11/98-1/17/99

4

Arian Foster

Houston

1/7/12-1/5/13

3

John Riggins^

Washington

1/15/83-1/30/83

3

 

 

 

 

Ezekiel Elliott

Dallas

1/15/17-1/5/19

2*

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

*Active Streak

 

 

Donald, who led the league with 20.5 sacks and earned the 2018 Deacon Jones Award as the NFL’s sack leader, became the 11th different player since 1982 to record at least 20 sacks in a single season.

With a Rams win on Saturday, Donald would join Pro Football Hall of Famer LAWRENCE TAYLOR (1986) as the only players to record at least 20 sacks and advance to the Conference Championship in the same season since 1982.

The players to record at least 20 sacks and advance to the Conference Championship in the same season since 1982:

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASON

SACKS

ADVANCED TO

Lawrence Taylor^

New York Giants

1986

20.5

Won Super Bowl XXI

 

 

 

 

 

Aaron Donald

Los Angeles Rams

2018

20.5

???

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

Courtesy of NFL Communications

Read More 997 Words

NFL Divisional Playoff Weekend: 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: Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams

Total: 49

The Cowboys offense has come alive. Dak Prescott is playing well, Ezekiel Elliott has picked up steam and the offensive line is healthier than it was during much of the regular season. As a result, Dallas has averaged 32.3 points per game the last three weeks.

Meanwhile, the Rams might not be projected to load up on points considering the way they finished the regular season — they averaged “just” 27.0 points per game during the final four weeks of the year — but they still averaged a league-high 37.1 points per game at home this season, and star running back Todd Gurley is now healthier than he’s been in weeks.

Both defenses have stellar playmakers, but the Rams have the league’s worst run D in terms of rushing yards allowed per attempt. That bodes well for Elliott. The Dallas D is excellent against the run but remains vulnerable through the air and struggled when defending running backs in the passing game. And that, of course, bodes well for Gurley and the rest of L.A.’s high-powered, innovative offense.

It’d be a huge surprise if the Cowboys and Rams didn’t combine for 50-plus points Saturday night in front of a split crowd at the L.A. Coliseum.

Predicted score: Cowboys 30, Rams 27

Under of the week: Indianapolis Colts at Kansas City Chiefs

Total: 57.5

Whaaaat?

OK, the Chiefs have one of the worst defenses in the NFL, and that unit was at its worst when it gave up 35.6 points per game between Week 11 and Week 16 before recovering in finale against Raiders. But let’s not forget that Indy’s shockingly strong defense has surrendered a league-low 15.5 points per game dating back to Week 7.

Both offenses will undoubtedly move the ball and find the end zone, but I get the feeling oddsmakers have given too much credit to NFL touchdown pass leaders Patrick Mahomes and Andrew Luck and not enough credit to Indy’s all-around stellar D and Kansas City’s under-the-radar pass-rush.

The Chiefs can be had on the ground and in the secondary, but don’t be surprised if Bob Sutton dials up some stops with his sneaky-good pass-rush, and be less surprised if the still-mistake-prone Mahomes experiences some growing pains in his first career playoff start.

After all, the same thing happened to Lamar Jackson, Deshaun Watson and Mitchell Trubisky last week, as well as Jared Goff in his maiden playoff voyage last January.

This game won’t be low-scoring by any stretch, but I doubt these teams combine for more than 50 points.

Predicted score: Colts 27, Chiefs 24

Good luck, we’re all counting on you. 

Previous results
Last week: 2-0
2018 season: 21-14-1

Read More 445 Words

Super Bowl 53 Future Book Odds: Start To Finish

Wildcard weekend is out of the way and Super Bowl 53 coming up fast.  Here are the current odds for teams in the playoffs. We've also put together a visualization of the odds for teams throughout the season below. The Saints have been the consistent favorite throughout 2018, with the Chiefs following close behind.

Wildcard weekend is out of the way and Super Bowl 53 coming up fast.  Here are the current odds for teams in the playoffs. We’ve also put together a visualization of the odds for teams throughout the season below. The Saints have been the consistent favorite throughout 2018, with the Chiefs following close behind.

NFL Odds

Super Bowl LIII Line

AFC                  +3

NFC                  -3

 

Who will win Super Bowl LIII?

AFC Team         +130     (13/10)

NFC Team         -150     (2/3)

 

Odds to Win Super Bowl 53       

New Orleans Saints                                      5/2

Kansas City Chiefs                                        4/1

Los Angeles Rams                                        9/2

New England Patriots                                   6/1                   

Los Angeles Chargers                                  9/1

Indianapolis Colts                                        10/1

Dallas Cowboys                                           12/1

Philadelphia Eagles                                     12/1

 

Exact Super Bowl Matchups (Most likely to least likely)

New Orleans Saints vs. Kansas City Chiefs                    4/1

New Orleans Saints vs. New England Patriots                 5/1

Los Angeles Rams vs. Kansas City Chiefs                      6/1

Los Angeles Rams vs. New England Patriots                  8/1

New Orleans Saints vs. Los Angeles Chargers                8/1

New Orleans Saints vs. Indianapolis Colts                      10/1

Los Angeles Rams vs. Los Angeles Chargers                  12/1

Los Angeles Rams vs. Indianapolis Colts                        14/1

Dallas Cowboys vs. Kansas City Chiefs                          16/1

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Kansas City Chiefs                     16/1

Dallas Cowboys vs. New England Patriots                       20/1

Philadelphia Eagles vs. New England Patriots                 20/1

Dallas Cowboys vs. Los Angeles Chargers                      28/1

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Los Angeles Chargers                28/1

Dallas Cowboys vs. Indianapolis Colts                            33/1     

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Indianapolis Colts                      33/1

 

Here you can select a team and see what the probability of them winning the Super Bowl was throughout each week of the season.



Read More 177 Words

NFL Wild Card Weekend: 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 Dallas Cowboys

Total: 42.5

Just 34 percent of games involving the Seahawks or Cowboys fell short of the total this season, and Saturday’s over/under of 42.5 indicates we’re still under-estimating both teams’ ability to score points.

The Cowboys put up 63 points in their final two games of the regular season and averaged 25.0 points per game at home this season, while Seattle scored 65 points in its last two games and averaged 26.8 points per game overall.

That made the Seahawks offense the sixth-highest-scoring unit in football, thanks partly to the league’s highest-ranked running game and a suddenly-respectable offensive line. Plus, Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett have been crushing it in that receiving corps,

Meanwhile Amari Cooper has teamed up with Ezekiel Elliott to give Dallas one of the most dangerous offenses in the game. The Cowboys scored at least 27 points in five of their last eight games with Cooper, and Elliott once again gained steam during the second half of the season.

That doesn’t bode well for a Seahawks run defense that surrendered 4.9 yards per carry during the regular season, especially as the Dallas offensive line gets healthier.

Predicted score: Cowboys 26, Seahawks 23

Under of the week: Los Angeles Chargers at Baltimore Ravens

Total: 42

I can’t comprehend why this total is above 40. After all, the Los Angeles Chargers offense has gone a little cold, scoring just 33 points in their last two regular-season games. Just 10 of those points came in Week 16 against these Ravens, who scored just 16 offensive points of their own in that prime-time matchup.

Baltimore’s top-rated defense surrendered just 17.9 points per game during the regular season, while the Chargers ranked in the top 10 with just 20.6 points per game allowed.

Look for Baltimore’s D — which has been known to rise to occasions in the playoffs — to be just as strong at home as it was in that road victory over the Chargers. And look for L.A. to do an even better job at limiting the Ravens’ unique rushing attack, now that it has more tape and experience to work from.

It’s a lot easier to trust these defenses than these offenses, especially considering the Chargers’ history with big-game duds and L.A.’s turnover-filled final few games of the 2018 regular season.

Predicted score: Ravens 20, Chargers 17

Good luck, we’re all counting on you. 

Previous results
Last week: 0-2
2018 season: 19-14-1

Read More 393 Words

Seven From Sunday – Week 17

PRESS RELEASE

 

SEVEN FROM SUNDAY – WEEK 17

A look at seven statistical highlights from games played at 1:00 p.m. and 4:25 p.m. ET on Sunday, December 30, the 17th week of the 2018 season.

  • NEW PLAYOFF TEAMS: Six of the 11 teams to have qualified for the playoffs are new

PRESS RELEASE

 

SEVEN FROM SUNDAY – WEEK 17

A look at seven statistical highlights from games played at 1:00 p.m. and 4:25 p.m. ET on Sunday, December 30, the 17th week of the 2018 season.

  • NEW PLAYOFF TEAMS: Six of the 11 teams to have qualified for the playoffs are new to the postseason in 2018: Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, the Los Angeles Chargers and Seattle. Should Indianapolis defeat Tennessee on Sunday Night Football, that number would increase to seven.

    Since 1990 – a streak of 29 consecutive seasons – at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before.

    WORST-TO-FIRST: Both the Chicago Bears (NFC North) and Houston Texans (AFC South) completed “worst-to-first” turnarounds and at least one team has won its division the season after finishing in or tied for last place in 15 of the past 16 seasons.

    PLAYOFF SEEDING: The NEW ORLEANS SAINTS won the NFC South and finished as the NFC’s No. 1 seed. The Saints will have home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

    The LOS ANGELES RAMS, who defeated San Francisco 48-32 and won the NFC West, are the No. 2 seed and clinched a first-round bye in the NFC playoffs.

    The CHICAGO BEARS, who defeated Minnesota 24-10 and won the NFC North, are the No. 3 seed and will host Philadelphia in the Wild Card round. The PHILADELPHIA EAGLES defeated Washington, 24-0, and combined with Minnesota’s loss to Chicago, clinched a playoff berth for the second consecutive season.

    The DALLAS COWBOYS, who defeated the New York Giants 36-35 and won the NFC East, are the No. 4 seed and will host Seattle in the Wild Card round.

    In the AFC, the KANSAS CITY CHIEFS defeated Oakland, 35-3, and clinched the AFC West division title and home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.

    The NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS, who defeated the New York Jets, 38-3, are the AFC’s No. 2 seed and clinched a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs.

    The HOUSTON TEXANS, who defeated Jacksonville 20-3 and are the No. 3 seed, clinched the AFC South division title and will host a game on Wild Card weekend.

    The Texans completed a “worst-to-first” turnaround after finishing tied for last place in the division in 2017. Houston is the sixth team in NFL history to make the postseason after beginning the season 0-3 and joined the 1992 SAN DIEGO CHARGERS as the only teams in league annals to win their division following an 0-3 start to a season.

    The BALTIMORE RAVENS defeated Cleveland, 26-24, and clinched the AFC North division title for the first time since 2012. Baltimore, the AFC’s No. 4 seed, will host the Los Angeles Chargers in the Wild Card round.

  • Kansas City quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES passed for 281 yards and two touchdowns with one interception for a 109.9 rating in the Chiefs’ Week 17 win over Oakland.

    Mahomes has 50 touchdown passes this season and joined PEYTON MANNING (55 touchdown passes in 2013) and TOM BRADY (50 in 2007) as the only quarterbacks with at least 50 touchdown passes in a single season in NFL history. ​​

    Chiefs wide receiver TYREEK HILL had five receptions for 101 yards and two touchdowns, including a 67-yard touchdown reception, against Oakland and had a 15-yard touchdown run.

    Hill has 16 career touchdowns of at least 50 yards and tied Pro Football Hall of Famer GALE SAYERS (16) for the most touchdowns of at least 50 yards by a player in his first three seasons.

    Hill has 1,479 receiving yards in 2018 and surpassed DERRICK ALEXANDER (1,391 receiving yards in 2000) for the most receiving yards in a single season in franchise history.

  • New England quarterback TOM BRADY completed 24 of 33 attempts (72.7 percent) for 250 yards and four touchdowns with zero interceptions for a 133.8 passer rating in the Patriots’ Week 17 win against the New York Jets.

    Brady has 6,004 career regular-season completions and is the fourth player in NFL history with at least 6,000 career regular-season completions, joining DREW BREES (6,586), Pro Football Hall of Famer BRETT FAVRE (6,300) and PEYTON MANNING (6,125).

  • Cleveland rookie quarterback BAKER MAYFIELD passed for 376 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions in the Browns’ Week 17 loss at Baltimore.

    Mayfield has 27 touchdown passes this season, surpassing PEYTON MANNING (26 touchdown passes in 1998) and RUSSELL WILSON (26 in 2012) for the most touchdown passes by a rookie quarterback in the common draft era.

  • San Francisco tight end GEORGE KITTLE had nine receptions for 149 yards and one touchdown in the 49ers’ Week 17 loss.

    Kittle, who has 1,377 receiving yards this season, and Kansas City tight end TRAVIS KELCE (1,336 receiving yards in 2018) both surpassed ROB GRONKOWSKI (1,327 in 2011) for the most receiving yards by a tight end in a single season in NFL history.

  • Houston defensive end J.J. WATT had 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble in the Texans’ Week 17 win over Jacksonville.

    Watt has 16 sacks in 2018 and joins Pro Football Hall of Famer REGGIE WHITE (five seasons) as the only players since 1982 with four seasons of at least 15 sacks.

  • Three non-quarterbacks – Atlanta wide receiver MOHAMED SANU, Detroit kicker MATT PRATER and Miami wide receiver KENNY STILLS – threw touchdown passes in Week 17.

    In total, there have been 13 touchdown passes thrown by non-quarterbacks in 2018, the most in a single-season since 1983 (15 touchdowns).

    Quarterbacks RYAN TANNEHILL of the Dolphins and MATT RYAN of the Falcons both had touchdown catches in Week 17, marking the first week in the Super Bowl era in which multiple quarterbacks recorded a touchdown reception.

  • Other notable performances from Sunday include:
     

    • Eagles quarterback NICK FOLES recorded 25 consecutive completions against Washington, tied with Chargers quarterback PHILIP RIVERS (Week 12 vs. Arizona) for the most by a quarterback in a single game in NFL history.
    • New York Giants rookie running back SAQUON BARKLEY had 142 scrimmage yards (109 rushing, 33 receiving) and one rushing touchdown in the Giants’ Week 17 loss.

      Barkley has 2,028 scrimmage yards and joins Pro Football Hall of Famer ERIC DICKERSON (2,212 scrimmage yards in 1983) and EDGERRIN JAMES (2,139 in 1999) as the only rookies with at least 2,000 scrimmage yards in NFL history.

​​Barkley, who had four catches against the Cowboys, has 91 receptions this season and surpassed REGGIE BUSH (88 catches in 2006) for the most receptions by a rookie running back in league annals.

    • Buffalo rookie quarterback JOSH ALLEN passed for 224 yards with three touchdowns and rushed for 95 yards and two touchdowns in the Bills’ 42-17 win against Miami.

      Allen is the second rookie quarterback in NFL history to record three touchdowns passes and two rushing touchdowns in the same game, joining Miami’s DAVID WOODLEY, who had three touchdown passes and two rushing touchdowns against the Los Angeles Rams on November 9, 1980.

      Allen has eight rushing touchdowns this season and joins CAM NEWTON, who had 14 rushing touchdowns in 2011, as the only rookie quarterbacks in the Super Bowl era with at least eight rushing touchdowns.

 

 

Courtesy of NFL Communications

Read More 1040 Words

What To Look For – Week 17

PRESS RELEASE

HISTORY IN THE MAKING: Kansas City quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES leads the NFL with 48 touchdown passes this season.

With two touchdown passes on Sunday against Oakland (4:25 PM ET, CBS), Mahomes can join PEYTON MANNING (55 touchdown passes in 2013) and TOM BRADY (50 in 2007) as the only quarterbacks with

PRESS RELEASE

HISTORY IN THE MAKING: Kansas City quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES leads the NFL with 48 touchdown passes this season.

With two touchdown passes on Sunday against Oakland (4:25 PM ET, CBS), Mahomes can join PEYTON MANNING (55 touchdown passes in 2013) and TOM BRADY (50 in 2007) as the only quarterbacks with at least 50 touchdown passes in a single season in NFL history.​​

The players with the most touchdown passes in a single season in NFL history:​

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASON

TOUCHDOWN PASSES

Peyton Manning#

Denver

2013

55

Tom Brady#

New England

2007

50

Peyton Manning#

Indianapolis

2004

49

Patrick Mahomes

Kansas City

2018

48*

Dan Marino^#

Miami

1984

48

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

#Named Associate​d Press Most Valuable Player

*Entering Week 17

 

RIDICULOUS ROOKIE: New York Giants rookie running back SAQUON BARKLEY ranks third in the NFL with 1,886 scrimmage yards this season.

With 114 scrimmage yards against Dallas (1:00 PM ET, FOX), Barkley would join Pro Football Hall of Famer ERIC DICKERSON (2,212 scrimmage yards in 1983) and EDGERRIN JAMES (2,139 in 1999) as the only rookies with at least 2,000 scrimmage yards in NFL history.

The rookies with at least 2,000 scrimmage yards in NFL history:

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASON

SCRIMMAGE YARDS

Eric Dickerson^#

Los Angeles Rams

1983

2,212

Edgerrin James#

Indianapolis

1999

2,139

 

 

 

 

Saquon Barkley

New York Giants

2018

1,886*

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

#Named Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year

*Entering Week 17

Barkley has 87 receptions this season and needs two catches against the Cowboys to surpass REGGIE BUSH (88 receptions in 2006) for the most catches by a rookie running back in league annals.

 

RUN & CATCH CMC: Carolina running back CHRISTIAN MC CAFFREY ranks second in the league with 1,925 scrimmage yards (1,080 rushing, 845 receiving) this season. McCaffrey has 106 catches in 2018 and surpassed MATT FORTÉ (102 receptions in 2014) for the most receptions by a running back in a single season in league annals.

With 55 receiving yards at New Orleans (1:00 PM ET, FOX), McCaffrey would join Pro Football Hall of Famer MARSHALL FAULK (1998& 1999) and ROGER CRAIG (1985) as the only players in NFL history with at least 1,000 rushing yards and 900 receiving yards in a single season.

The players with at least 1,000 rushing yards and 900 receiving yards in a single season in NFL history:

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASON

RUSHING YARDS

RECEIVING YARDS

Marshall Faulk^

St. Louis

1999

1,381

1,048

Marshall Faulk^

Indianapolis

1998

1,319

908

Roger Craig

San Francisco

1985

1,050

1,016

 

 

 

 

 

Christian McCaffrey

Carolina

2018

1,080*

845*

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

*Entering Week 17

 

HISTORY FOR AB: Pittsburgh wide receiver ANTONIO BROWN has 104 receptions for 1,297 yards and leads the league with a franchise-record 15 touchdown catches this season.

With three receiving yards against Cincinnati (4:25 PM ET, CBS), Brown would become the first player in league annals with five seasons of at least 100 receptions and 1,300 receiving yards.

The players with the most seasons of at least 100 receptions and 1,300 receiving yards in NFL history:

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASONS WITH 100+ CATCHES & 1,300+ REC. YARDS

Antonio Brown

Pittsburgh

4*

Marvin Harrison^

Indianapolis

4

Andre Johnson

Houston

4

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

*Has 104 receptions & 1,297 receiving yards in 2018

Brown and teammate JUJU SMITH-SCHUSTER, who has 106 receptions and became the youngest player in league history with at least 100 receptions in a single season, can become the first pair of teammates in league annals to each record at least 110 receptions in the same season.

 

DOMINANT DONALD: Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle AARON DONALD leads the NFL with a career-high 19.5 sacks this season.

With three sacks against San Francisco (4:25 PM ET, FOX), Donald would tie Pro Football Hall of Famer MICHAEL STRAHAN (22.5 sacks in 2001) for the most sacks in a single season since 1982 when the individual sack became an official statistic.

The players with the most sacks in a single season since 1982:

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASON

SACKS

Michael Strahan^

New York Giants

2001

22.5

Jared Allen

Minnesota

2011

22

Mark Gastineau

New York Jets

1984

22

Justin Houston

Kansas City

2014

22

 

 

 

 

Aaron Donald

Los Angeles Rams

2018

19.5*

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

*Entering Week 17

Donald, who has recorded at least two sacks in seven games this season, can become the second player since 1982 to record at least eight games with two-or-more sacks in a single season, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers REGGIE WHITE (eight games in 1987).​

The players with the most games with two-or-more sacks in a single season since 1982:​​

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASON

GAMES WITH 2+ SACKS

Reggie White^#

Philadelphia

1987

8

Chris Doleman^

Minnesota

1989

7

Aaron Donald

Los Angeles Rams

2018

7*

Bruce Smith^#

Buffalo

1990

7

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

#Named Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year

*Entering Week 17

 

 

 

Courtesy of NFL Communications

Read More 665 Words

NFL Week 17: 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: Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings

Total: 40

The Minnesota offense has exploded for 68 points in its first two games under interim offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski. The Vikings also play extremely well in Sunday matinees at home, and they’re fighting to keep their season alive in this case.

Against a Bears team that may go into auto-pilot mode as soon as it becomes obvious that a win won’t help them, look for Minnesota to light up the scoreboard with 30-plus points all on its own.

The Chicago defense is stellar, but it has surrendered 30-plus on the road twice this season. That’ll likely happen a third time, meaning the Bears just need an early score or two out of their regular offense, maybe a garbage-time score or two for good measure.

Regardless, this one should be closer to 50 than 40.

Predicted score: Vikings 31, Bears 17

Under of the week: Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens

Total: 41

Baker Mayfield is on fire and the Browns offense has become legitimately good, which might explain why the total for Sunday’s matchup between the Browns and the Baltimore Ravens is up above the 40 mark.

But that’s an overreaction. These teams combined for just 21 points when they met earlier this year, the Baltimore defense is the best in the NFL, and Mayfield and the Browns offense haven’t been the same on the road.

Mayfield has more interceptions (four) than touchdown passes (three) and a mere 78.9 passer rating on the road this month (and the Browns have averaged just 15.0 points per game), compared to four touchdowns and no interceptions and a 125.1 rating at home (where the Browns have averaged 26.0 points per game).

The Cleveland defense has also performed well and should have the playmaking ability to limit mistake-prone Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson.The Browns have an AFC-high 30 takeaways (Jackson has fumbled 10 times), and they recently shut down mobile quarterbacks Cam Newton and Jeff Driskel on the ground (Jackson sorta likes to run).

Predicted score: Ravens 16, Browns 13

Good luck, we’re all counting on you. 

Previous results
Last week: 0-2
2018 season: 19-12-1

Read More 340 Words

Seven From Sunday – Week 16

PRESS RELEASE

SEVEN FROM SUNDAY – WEEK 16

A look at seven statistical highlights from games played at 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, December 23, the 16th week of the 2018 season.

  • The NEW ORLEANS SAINTS defeated Pittsburgh, 31-28, and clinched home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. With the

PRESS RELEASE

SEVEN FROM SUNDAY – WEEK 16

A look at seven statistical highlights from games played at 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, December 23, the 16th week of the 2018 season.

  • The NEW ORLEANS SAINTS defeated Pittsburgh, 31-28, and clinched home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. With the Steelers’ loss, the HOUSTON TEXANS clinched a playoff berth.

The NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS defeated Buffalo, 24-12, and clinched the AFC East division title for the 10th consecutive season.

The Patriots have advanced to the postseason in 10 consecutive seasons (2009-18), surpassing Dallas (nine from 1975-1983) and Indianapolis (nine from 2002-2010) for the most consecutive seasons in NFL history with a playoff berth.

With their 10th win of the season, New England (16 seasons from 2003-2018) tied San Francisco (16 from 1983-98) for the most consecutive seasons with at least 10 victories in NFL history.

New England quarterback TOM BRADY, who has 4,105 passing yards this season, joins PEYTON MANNING (14 seasons), DREW BREES (12) and PHILIP RIVERS (10) as the only quarterbacks in NFL history with 10 seasons of at least 4,000 passing yards.

The DALLAS COWBOYS defeated Tampa Bay, 27-20, and clinched the NFC East division title for the second time in the past three seasons.

Dallas running back EZEKIEL ELLIOTT had 109 scrimmage yards (85 rushing, 24 receiving) in the Cowboys’ Week 16 victory.

Elliott, who has 4,048 rushing yards and 1,199 receiving yards in his three-year NFL career, is the fifth player in NFL history with at least 4,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards in his first three NFL seasons, joining OTTIS ANDERSON, CHRIS JOHNSON, and Pro Football Hall of Famers BARRY SANDERS and LA DAINIAN TOMLINSON.

Elliott, who had 1,994 scrimmage yards in 2016, leads the NFL with 2,001 scrimmage yards this season and joins Pro Football Hall of Famers ERIC DICKERSON and LA DAINIAN TOMLINSON, and EDGERRIN JAMES as the only players in league annals with at least 1,900 scrimmage yards in two of their first three career seasons.

  • Cleveland rookie quarterback BAKER MAYFIELD completed 27 of 37 pass attempts (73.0 percent) for 284 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions for a 121.9 passer rating in the Browns’ 26-18 win against Cincinnati.

Mayfield, who has 24 touchdown passes in 2018, surpassed ANDREW LUCK (23 touchdown passes in 2012) for the second-most touchdown passes by a rookie quarterback selected No. 1 overall in the common draft era. Only PEYTON MANNING (26 in 1998) had more passing touchdowns as a rookie quarterback selected No. 1 overall in the common draft era.

  • Green Bay quarterback AARON RODGERS completed 37 of 55 pass attempts (67.3 percent) for 442 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions for a 103.8 passer rating and had two rushing touchdowns in the Packers’ 44-38 overtime win at the New York Jets.

Rodgers is the only player in NFL history with at least 400 passing yards, two passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns. He also previously accomplished the feat on October 2, 2011 against Denver (408 passing yards, four touchdown passes and two rushing touchdowns).

  • Philadelphia quarterback NICK FOLES passed for 471 yards and four touchdowns while tight end ZACH ERTZ had 12 receptions for 110 yards and two touchdowns in the Eagles’ 32-30 victory against Houston.

Foles is the first quarterback in franchise history with multiple career games of at least 400 passing yards and four touchdown passes (406 passing yards and seven touchdown passes on November 3, 2013 at Oakland). His 471 passing yards are the most in a single game in franchise history, surpassing DONOVAN MC NABB, who passed for 464 yards against Green Bay on December 5, 2004.

Ertz, who has a franchise-record 113 catches in 2018, surpassed JASON WITTEN (110 receptions in 2012) for the most receptions by a tight end in a single season in NFL history.

  • Minnesota wide receiver ADAM THIELEN had five receptions for 80 yards in the Vikings’ 27-9 victory at Detroit.

Thielen, who signed as an undrafted free agent with Minnesota in 2013, has 110 catches and 1,335 receiving yards in 2018 and joins ROD SMITH (2000 & 2001) & WES WELKER (2009, 2011 & 2012) as the only undrafted players in the common draft era with at least 100 receptions and 1,300 receiving yards in a single season.

  • Carolina running back CHRISTIAN MC CAFFREY had 178 scrimmage yards (101 rushing, 77 receiving) and 12 receptions in the Panthers’ Week 16 loss against Atlanta.

McCaffrey, who leads all running backs with 106 receptions this season, surpassed MATT FORTÉ (102 receptions in 2014) for the most receptions by a running back in a single season in NFL history.

McCaffrey, who has 1,080 rushing yards in 2018, joins Pro Football Hall of Famer LA DAINIAN TOMLINSON (2003) and MATT FORTÉ (2014) as the only players in NFL history with at least 1,000 rushing yards and 100 receptions in a single season.

  • Pittsburgh wide receiver JUJU SMITH-SCHUSTER had 11 receptions for 115 yards in the Steelers’ Week 16 loss against New Orleans.

Smith-Schuster, who is 22 years and 31 days old, has 106 catches this season and surpassed LARRY FITZGERALD (22 years, 123 days) as the youngest player to reach 100 receptions in a single season in NFL history.

 

Courtesy of NFL Communications

Read More 722 Words

What To Look For – Week 16

PRESS RELEASE

WORST TO FIRST: As the NFL enters Week 16, five postseason berths have been clinched and seven remain up for grabs. Nineteen of the league’s 32 teams remain in contention for a trip to Super Bowl LIII and 14 of the 16 games on this week’s schedule feature at least one

PRESS RELEASE

WORST TO FIRST: As the NFL enters Week 16, five postseason berths have been clinched and seven remain up for grabs. Nineteen of the league’s 32 teams remain in contention for a trip to Super Bowl LIII and 14 of the 16 games on this week’s schedule feature at least one team still alive in the race to Atlanta.

Two teams – the Chicago Bears (NFC North) and Los Angeles Chargers (playoff berth) – clinched a berth in the 2018 NFL postseason last week. The Bears, who finished in fourth place in the NFC North last season, completed a “worst-to-first” turnaround in 2018. The Houston Texans (10-4), who finished in last in the AFC South in 2017, can clinch the division title at Philadelphia (1:00 PM ET, CBS) with a win or tie or if both the Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans lose or tie.

In 15 of the past 16 seasons, at least one team has finished in first place in its division the season after finishing in last or tied for last place. Since the 12-team playoff format began in 1990, at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before.

HISTORY IN THE MAKING: Kansas City quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES leads the NFL with 45 touchdown passes this season.

On Sunday night at Seattle (8:20 PM ET, NBC), Mahomes can continue his climb up the NFL’s single season touchdown pass leaderboard.

The players with the most touchdown passes in a single season in NFL history:

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASON

TOUCHDOWN PASSES

Peyton Manning#

Denver

2013

55

Tom Brady#

New England

2007

50

Peyton Manning#

Indianapolis

2004

49

Dan Marino^#

Miami

1984

48

Drew Brees

New Orleans

2011

46

Patrick Mahomes

Kansas City

2018

45*

Aaron Rodgers#

Green Bay

2011

45

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

#Named Associated Press Most Valuable Player

*Entering Week 16

 

4,000 in 10: New England quarterback TOM BRADY ranks fifth in the league in passing yards (3,979) while Los Angeles Chargers quarterback PHILIP RIVERS ties for seventh  in the league with 3,951 passing yards this season. Both quarterbacks have eclipsed 4,000 passing yards in nine different seasons during their careers.

In Week 16, Brady, who faces Buffalo on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS), and Rivers, who faces Baltimore on Saturday night (8:20 PM ET, NFL Network), can join PEYTON MANNING (14 seasons) and DREW BREES (12) as the only quarterbacks in NFL history to record at least 10 seasons with at least 4,000 passing yards. Brees has 3,666 passing yards in 2018.

The quarterbacks with the most seasons with at least 4,000 passing yards in NFL history:

PLAYER

TEAM(S)

SEASONS WITH 4,000+ PASSING YARDS

Peyton Manning

Indianapolis, Denver

14

Drew Brees

New Orleans

12

Tom Brady

New England

9*

Philip Rivers

Los Angeles Chargers

9#

*Has 3,979 passing yards entering Week 16

#Has 3,951 passing yards entering Week 16

 

SHAKE& BAKER: Cleveland quarterback BAKER MAYFIELD, selected first overall by the Browns in the 2018 NFL Draft, leads all rookies with 21 touchdown passes this season.

With three touchdown passes on Sunday against Cincinnati (1:00 PM ET, CBS), Mayfield would surpass ANDREW LUCK (23 touchdown passes in 2012) for the second-most touchdown passes by a rookie quarterback selected No. 1 overall in the common draft era.

The most touchdown passes by a rookie selected No. 1 overall in the common draft era:

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASON

PASSING TOUCHDOWNS

Peyton Manning

Indianapolis

1998

26

Andrew Luck

Indianapolis

2012

23

Jameis Winston

Tampa Bay

2015

22

Baker Mayfield

Cleveland

2018

21*

Cam Newton#

Carolina

2011

21

#Named Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year

*Entering Week 16

 

RUN & CATCH: Carolina running back CHRISTIAN MC CAFFREY leads all running backs with 94 receptions in 2018.

With nine receptions on Sunday against Atlanta (1:00 PM ET, FOX), McCaffrey would surpass MATT FORTÉ (102 receptions in 2014) for the most receptions by a running back in a single season in NFL history.

The running backs with the most receptions in a single season in NFL history:

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASON

RECEPTIONS

Matt Forté

Chicago

2014

102

Larry Centers

Arizona

1995

101

LaDainian Tomlinson^

San Diego

2003

100

Larry Centers

Arizona

1996

99

Chrstian McCaffrey

Carolina

2018

94*

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

*Entering Week 16

 

New York Giants rookie running back SAQUON BARKLEY leads all rookies with 82 receptions and needs seven catches at Indianapolis (1:00 PM ET, CBS) to surpass REGGIE BUSH (88 in 2006) for the most receptions by a rookie running back in league annals.

The rookie running backs with the most receptions in league annals:

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASON

RECEPTIONS

Reggie Bush

New Orleans

2006

88

Earl Cooper

San Francisco

1980

83

Saquon Barkley

New York Giants

2018

82*

*Entering Week 16

 

RECORD-SETTING TIGHT ENDS: Kansas City tight end TRAVIS KELCE leads all tight ends with a career-high 1,220 receiving yards in 2018.

With 108 receiving yards against Seattle on Sunday night (8:20 PM ET, NBC), Kelce would surpass ROB GRONKOWSKI (1,327 receiving yards in 2011) for the most receiving yards by a tight end in a single season in NFL history.

The tight ends with the most receiving yards in a single season in NFL history:

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASON

RECEIVING YARDS

Rob Gronkowski

New England

2011

1,327

Jimmy Graham

New Orleans

2011

1,310

Kellen Winslow^

San Diego

1980

1,290

Tony Gonzalez

Kansas City

2004

1,258

Todd Christensen

Los Angeles Raiders

1983

1,247

 

 

 

 

Travis Kelce

Kansas City

2018

1,220*

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

*Entering Week 16

 

Philadelphia tight end ZACH ERTZ, who ranks third in the NFL with 101 receptions, needs 10 catches against Houston on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS) to surpass JASON WITTEN (110 receptions in 2012) for the most receptions by a tight end in a single season in league annals.

The tight ends with the most receptions in a single season in league annals:

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASON

RECEPTIONS

Jason Witten

Dallas

2012

110

Tony Gonzalez

Kansas City

2004

102

Zach Ertz

Philadelphia

2018

101*

*Entering Week 16

 

KEEP IT 100: Five players – New Orleans wide receiver MICHAEL THOMAS (109 receptions), Minnesota wide receiver ADAM THIELEN (105), Philadelphia tight end ZACH ERTZ (101), Atlanta wide receiver JULIO JONES (100) and Green Bay wide receiver DAVANTE ADAMS (100) – have recorded at least 100 receptions this season.

Entering Week 16, six additional players – Pittsburgh wide receivers JUJU SMITH-SCHUSTER (95 receptions) and ANTONIO BROWN (90), Houston wide receiver DE ANDRE HOPKINS (94), Carolina running back CHRISTIAN MC CAFFREY (94), Kansas City tight end TRAVIS KELCE (93) and Minnesota wide receiver STEFON DIGGS (92) – currently have at least 90 receptions.

With 10 players recording at least 100 catches this season, the 2018 season would surpass the 1995 season (nine) for the most players with at least 100 catches in a single season.

The seasons with the most players with at least 100 receptions in NFL history:

SEASON

PLAYERS WITH 100+ RECEPTIONS

1995

9

2015

7

Many tied

6

 

 

2018

5*

*Entering Week 16

 

 

Courtesy of NFL Communications

Read More 971 Words

NFL Week 16: 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 Rams at Arizona Cardinals

Total: 46.5

Not going to lie — it wasn’t easy to find a clear-cut over this week. Far too many offenses are shorthanded or struggling and far too many defenses have emerged.

But it was still surprising to see the Rams and Cardinals with a sub-47 total for their matchup Sunday in Glendale, simply because Los Angeles has made a habit of crushing weak opponents this season.

Look for the Rams, frustrated following a shocking home loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, to bounce back with a strong offensive performance against an opponent that gave up 40 points to the previously-sleeping Atlanta Falcons in Week 15.

Los Angeles should easily generate more than 30 points on its own here, while Arizona should at least have a touchdown or two in it. After all, the Cards might want to avoid embarrassment in their home finale, and the Rams have surrendered a season-high 30.8 points per game over the course of the last eight weeks.

Predicted score: Rams 38, Cardinals 17

Under of the week: New York Giants at Indianapolis Colts

Total: 46.5

The Colts offense has really bounced back with Andrew Luck under center this season, but three consecutive Indianapolis games have fallen short of the Las Vegas total. And I think Vegas is once again too high with an over/under of 46.5 for Indy’s Week 16 matchup with the New York Giants.

This Colts defense is for real. It has surrendered 10 or fewer points in three of the team’s last five games and is giving up an AFC-low 12.2 points per game during that stretch.

Darius Leonard might be the defensive rookie of the year, Margus Hunt has been a revelation, and Anthony Walker, Jabaal Sheard and Quincy Wilson have also shined under the tutelage of Matt Eberflus.

Now they’re going up against a Giants team that was shut out on Sunday by the Tennessee Titans and has given up just 33 points total the last two weeks.

Saquon Barkley went cold against Tennessee and now faces an even better run defense, and Odell Beckham Jr. is dealing with a pesky quad injury. But the Indy offense also hasn’t been as crisp as it was earlier this season, so New York might hang around with a strong defensive effort from Olivier Vernon, Dalvin Tomlinson, B.J. Hill and Janoris Jenkins, all of whom are playing well.

Predicted score: Colts 20, Giants 17

Good luck, we’re all counting on you. 

Previous results
Last week: 1-1
2018 season: 19-10-1

Read More 408 Words

Seven From Sunday – Week 15

Press Release

Seven From Sunday - Week 15

A look at seven statistical highlights from games played at 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, December 16, the 15th week of the 2018 season.

  • The CHICAGO BEARS defeated Green Bay,

Press Release

Seven From Sunday – Week 15

A look at seven statistical highlights from games played at 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, December 16, the 15th week of the 2018 season.

  • The CHICAGO BEARS defeated Green Bay, 24-17, and clinched the NFC North division title for the first time since 2010.

    The Bears, who finished in fourth place in the NFC North last season, completed a “worst-to-first” turnaround in 2018. In 15 of the past 16 seasons, at least one team has finished in first place in its division the season after finishing in last or tied for last place.
     
    The LOS ANGELES CHARGERS, who defeated Kansas City 29-28 on Thursday night, clinched a playoff berth for the first time since 2013.
     

  • Tennessee running back DERRICK HENRY rushed for 170 yards and two touchdowns in the Titans’ 17-0 victory over the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium.

    Henry, who rushed for 238 yards and four touchdowns in Week 14, is the fifth player since 2002 to record at least 170 rushing yards and two touchdown runs in consecutive games, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer LA DAINIAN TOMLINSON (2006), DEUCE MC ALLISTER (2003), CLINTON PORTIS (2003) and RICKY WILLIAMS (2002).

    Henry’s 408 rushing yards since Week 14 are the most by a player over a two-game span in franchise history, surpassing the previous high of 405 yards set by Pro Football Hall of Famer EARL CAMPBELL in Weeks 7-8 for the 1980 Houston Oilers. His six rushing touchdowns are the most by a player in team history over any two-game span.
     

  • Chicago quarterback MITCHELL TRUBISKY completed 20 of 28 passes (71.4 percent) for 235 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions for a 120.4 passer rating in the Bears’ 24-17 victory over Green Bay.
     
    Trubisky has recorded a passer rating of at least 120 (minimum 15 attempts) in four games this season, surpassing Pro Football Hall of Famer SID LUCKMAN (three games in 1943), RUDY BUKICH (three in 1965) and ERIK KRAMER (three in 1995) for the most such games by a quarterback in a single season in franchise history.
     
  • Atlanta wide receiver JULIO JONES had 82 receiving yards and a touchdown in the Falcons’ 40-14 victory over Arizona.

    Jones, who leads the NFL with 1,511 receiving yards, is the fifth player in NFL history with at least three career seasons with 1,500+ receiving yards, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers JERRY RICE (four seasons) and MARVIN HARRISON (three), and ANTONIO BROWN (three) and ANDRE JOHNSON (three).

    Jones, who also has 100 receptions this season, joined Harrison (three), Brown (three) and Johnson (three) as the only players in NFL history with at least 100 catches and 1,500 receiving yards in three career seasons.
                                                      

  • The BALTIMORE RAVENS, led by rookie running back GUS EDWARDS (104 rushing yards) and rookie quarterback LAMAR JACKSON (95 rushing yards), recorded 242 rushing yards in the Ravens’ 20-12 victory over Tampa Bay.

    Baltimore has rushed for at least 190 yards in five consecutive games and is the first team to accomplish the feat since the 1976 PITTSBURGH STEELERS (five consecutive games from October 17 to November 14).
     

  • Indianapolis running back MARLON MACK rushed for 139 yards and two touchdowns in the Colts’ 23-0 victory over Dallas. 

    Mack, who also rushed for 132 yards and two scores in the Colts’ Week 8 victory over Oakland, is the third player in franchise history to record multiple games with at least 125 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns in a single season, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer ERIC DICKERSON (two games in 1987) and EDGERRIN JAMES (two games in both 1999 and 2005).
     

  • The MINNESOTA VIKINGS recorded nine sacks, including two sacks each from defensive end DANIELLE HUNTER and linebacker ANTHONY BARR, in the team’s 41-17 victory over Miami. 

    Minnesota, which recorded 10 sacks in the team’s Week 9 victory over Detroit, are the second team since 1990 to register at least nine sacks in multiple games in a single season, joining the 2017 JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (two games). The Vikings are the seventh team since the 1970 merger to record multiple such games in a single season.

 

 

Courtesy of NFL Communications

Read More 586 Words

NFL Week 15: 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: Tennessee Titans at New York Giants

Total: 43.5

The Titans and Giants don’t scream OFFENSE, which is why this total remains below the season average. But look closely.

The Titans have scored 56 points in their last two games, and they’re well-rested following a Thursday Night Football romp in Week 14. Those two high-scoring performances came at home, but if we’re considering sites it should be noted that Tennessee has also allowed 72 points on defense in its last two road games.

Meanwhile, the Giants offense has exploded since their Week 9 bye. Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham Jr. have often been unstoppable for a team that has averaged 31.4 points per game dating back to Week 10. Sure, they surrendered just 16 points last Sunday in Washington, but that was more about the Redskins’ problems than New York’s defensive prowess. The Giants have still allowed 25.1 points per game during that post-bye run.

And they scored 40 in D.C. despite not having Beckham, who should be good to return from a quad injury on Sunday.

Look for both teams to easily hit the 20-point mark in Week 15.

Predicted score: Giants 30, Titans 27

Under of the week: Dallas Cowboys at Indianapolis Colts

Total: 47

Why in the world do oddsmakers think the Cowboys and Colts will combine for 47 points Sunday in Indianapolis? Both defenses have been stout, while both offenses have lacked consistency.

The Dallas D hasn’t surrendered more than 23 points in five consecutive weeks, and that’s a stretch that includes matchups with talented offenses like Philadelphia, New Orleans and Atlanta.

Meanwhile, the Colts D has allowed just 17.1 points per game in their last seven outings, with Jabaal Sheard, Darius Leonard and Margus Hunt killing it.

It’s true that both offenses have the ability to explode at any moment, but this doesn’t look like the time or place. Both teams should be tight for an important game, the Colts are two weeks removed from a zero-point performance in Jacksonville, and the Cowboys’ bread-and-butter offensive line is dealing with multiple injuries to key players.

This should be a tense, low-scoring battle.

Predicted score: Colts 20, Cowboys 17

Good luck, we’re all counting on you. 

Previous results
Last week: 1-1
2018 season: 18-9-1

Read More 360 Words

Seven From Sunday – Week 14

PRESS RELEASE

 

Seven From Sunday - Week 14

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

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

PRESS RELEASE

 

Seven From Sunday – Week 14

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Other notable performances from Sunday include:
     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Courtesy of NFL Communications

Read More 943 Words

What to Look For – Week 14

PRESS RELEASE

WHAT TO LOOK FOR – WEEK 14

WORST TO FIRST: Entering Week 14, one team – the LOS ANGELES RAMS (11-1) – has clinched a playoff berth as the battle for the remaining spots forges ahead. Three ​​additional teams – the HOUSTON TEXANS (9-3), NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (9-3) and

PRESS RELEASE

WHAT TO LOOK FOR – WEEK 14

WORST TO FIRST: Entering Week 14, one team – the LOS ANGELES RAMS (11-1) – has clinched a playoff berth as the battle for the remaining spots forges ahead. Three ​​additional teams – the HOUSTON TEXANS (9-3), NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (9-3) and NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (10-2) – can clinch a division title this week.

Two teams that finished in or tied for last place in their division in 2017 – the CHICAGO BEARS (NFC North) and Houston Texans (AFC South) – are currently in first place in their respective divisions this season. In 14 of the past 15 seasons, at least one team finished in first place in its division the season after finishing in last or tied for last place. Of the 46 teams in league history to go from “worst-to-first,” 23 of them have done so in the past 15 years (2003-17), including an NFL-record three such teams in 2005 and 2006.

STAT PATTING: Kansas City quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES leads the NFL with 41 touchdown passes and ranks second in passing yards (3,923).

With 77 passing yards on Sunday against Baltimore (1:00 PM ET, CBS), Mahomes would join Pro Football Hall of Famers DAN MARINO (1984) and KURT WARNER (1999) as the only first-or-second year quarterbacks in NFL history to pass for at least 4,000 yards and 40 touchdowns in a single season. Both Marino and Warner were named Associated Press MVP in those seasons.

The first-or-second year quarterbacks to pass for at least 4,000 yards and 40 touchdowns in a single season in NFL history:

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASON

PASSING YARDS

TOUCHDOWNS

Dan Marino^#

Miami

1984

5,084

48

Kurt Warner^#

St. Louis

1999

4,353

41

 

 

 

 

 

Patrick Mahomes

Kansas City

2018

3,923*

41*

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

#Named Associated Press MVP

*Entering Week 14

 

RAISING ARIZONA: Arizona wide receiver LARRY FITZGERALD has 1,281 receptions for 16,053 yards and 115 touchdowns during his 15-year NFL career, all with the Cardinals.

With one reception on Sunday against Detroit (4:25 PM ET, FOX), Fitzgerald would surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer JERRY RICE (1,281 receptions with San Francisco) for the most receptions by a player with one team in NFL history.

The players with the most receptions for one team in NFL history:

PLAYER

TEAM

RECEPTIONS

Larry Fitzgerald

Arizona

1,281

Jerry Rice^

San Francisco

1,281

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

 

FIFTH FOR FRANK: Miami running back FRANK GORE has 18,414 scrimmage yards in his 14-year NFL career.

With 43 scrimmage yards on Sunday against New England (1:00 PM ET, CBS), Gore would surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer LA DAINIAN TOMLINSON (18,456 scrimmage yards) for the fifth-most scrimmage yards in league annals.

The players with the most scrimmage yards in NFL history:

PLAYER

TEAM(S)

SCRIMMAGE YARDS

Jerry Rice^

San Francisco, Oakland, Seattle

23,540

Emmitt Smith^

Dallas, Arizona

21,579

Walter Payton^

Chicago

21,264

Marshall Faulk^

Indianapolis, St. Louis

19,154

LaDainian Tomlinson^

San Diego, New York Jets

18,456

Frank Gore

San Francisco, Indianapolis, Miami

18,414

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

 

TOUCHDOWN STREAK: Cleveland rookie quarterback BAKER MAYFIELD has thrown at least one touchdown pass in each of his first nine NFL starts.

With a touchdown pass against Carolina (1:00 PM ET, FOX), Mayfield would become the third quarterback in the Super Bowl era to record at least one touchdown pass in each of his first 10 career starts.

The players with a touchdown pass in each of their first 10 career starts since 1966:

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASON(S)

Kurt Warner^

St. Louis

1999

Brad Johnson

Minnesota

1996-97

 

 

 

Baker Mayfield

Cleveland

2018*

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

*Has TD pass in each of first nine starts

 

SAQUON FROM SCRIMMAGE: New York Giants rookie running back SAQUON BARKLEY had 146 scrimmage yards (125 rushing, 21 receiving) in the Giants’ Week 13 overtime victory against Chicago. Barkley leads the NFL with 11 games of at least 100 scrimmage yards in 2018.

With 100 scrimmage yards on Sunday at Washington (1:00 PM ET, FOX), Barkley would tie EDGERRIN JAMES (12 games in 1999) for the second-most games with at least 100 scrimmage yards by a rookie in NFL history. Only Pro Football Hall of Famer ERIC DICKERSON (13 games in 1983) has more such games.

The rookies with the most games with at least 100 scrimmage yards in NFL history:

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASON

GAMES WITH 100+ SCRIMMAGE YARDS

Eric Dickerson^#

Los Angeles Rams

1983

13

Edgerrin James#

Indianapolis

1999

12

 

 

 

 

Saquon Barkley

New York Giants

2018

11*

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

#Named Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year

*Entering Week 14

 

RECORD-SETTING RECEIVER: Pittsburgh wide receiver ANTONIO BROWN has 81 receptions for 1,028 yards and leads the NFL with 12 touchdown receptions this season.

With 10 receptions on Sunday at Oakland (4:25 PM ET, FOX), Brown, who has 663 receptions since 2013, can surpass WES WELKER (672 from 2007-12) for the most catches by a player over any six-year span in NFL history.

The most receptions by a player over any six-year span in NFL history:

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASONS

RECEPTIONS

Wes Welker

New England

2007-12

672

Antonio Brown

Pittsburgh

2013-18

663*

Marvin Harrison^

Indianapolis

1999-2004

649

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

*In sixth year of span

 

Brown, who had 154 receiving yards in Week 13, has 8,876 receiving yards since 2013 and surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer JERRY RICE (8,759 from 1990-1995) for the most receiving yards by a player over any six-year span in NFL history.

The most receiving yards by a player over any six-year span in NFL history:

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASONS

RECEIVING YARDS

Antonio Brown

Pittsburgh

2013-18

8,876*

Jerry Rice^

San Francisco

1990-95

8,759

Marvin Harrison^

Indianapolis

1999-2004

8,707

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

*In sixth year of span

 

ZACH ATTACK: Philadelphia tight end ZACH ERTZ ranks second in the NFL with 93 receptions and second among tight ends with 978 receiving yards this season.

With seven receptions and 22 receiving yards on Sunday at Dallas (4:25 PM ET, FOX), Ertz can become the fourth tight end in NFL history to record at least 100 receptions and 1,000 receiving yards in a single season.

The tight ends with at least 100 receptions and 1,000 receiving yards in a single season in NFL history:

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASON

RECEPTIONS

RECEIVING YARDS

Jason Witten

Dallas

2012

110#

1,039

Dallas Clark

Indianapolis

2009

100

1,106

Tony Gonzalez

Kansas City

2004

102

1,258

 

 

 

 

 

Zach Ertz

Philadelphia

2018

93*

978*

*Entering Week 14

#Single-season record by a tight end

 

DOMINANT DONALD: Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle AARON DONALD leads the NFL with 16.5 sacks this season and has recorded at least two sacks in each of his past three games.

With two sacks on Sunday Night Football at Chicago (8:20 PM ET, NBC), Donald can become the fourth player since 1982, when the individual sack became an official statistic, to record at least two sacks in four consecutive games in a single season, joining SIMEON RICE (five games in 2002) and Pro Football Hall of Famers KEVIN GREENE (four games in 1998) and REGGIE WHITE (four games in 1987).

The players with the most consecutive games with at least two sacks in a single season since 1982:

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASON

CONSECUTIVE GAMES WITH 2+ SACKS

Simeon Rice

Tampa Bay

2002

5

Kevin Greene^

Carolina

1998

4

Reggie White^

Philadelphia

1987

4

 

 

 

 

Aaron Donald

Los Angeles Rams

2018

3*

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

*Active streak

 

Donald, who has recorded at least two sacks in six games this season, can become the fourth player since 1982 to record at least seven games with two-or-more sacks in a single season, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers REGGIE WHITE (eight games in 1987), CHRIS DOLEMAN (seven games in 1989) and BRUCE SMITH (seven games in 1990).

The players with the most games with two-or-more sacks in a single season since 1982:

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASON

GAMES WITH 2+ SACKS

Reggie White^#

Philadelphia

1987

8

Chris Doleman^

Minnesota

1989

7

Bruce Smith^#

Buffalo

1990

7

 

 

 

 

Aaron Donald

Los Angeles Rams

2018

6*

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

#Named Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year

*Entering Week 14

 

JONES-ING FOR MORE: Kansas City defensive lineman CHRIS JONES ties for fifth in the AFC with 10 sacks this season and has recorded at least one sack in eight consecutive games.

With a sack on Sunday against Baltimore (1:00 PM ET, CBS), Jones would become the sixth player since 1982 to record at least one sack in nine consecutive games and the first player since 1982 to record nine consecutive games with at least one sack within a single season.

The players with the most consecutive games with at least one sack since 1982:

PLAYER

TEAM(S)

SEASON(S)

CONSECUTIVE GAMES WITH A SACK

DeMarcus Ware

Dallas

2007-08

10

Simon Fletcher

Denver

1992-93

10

Dwight Freeney

Indianapolis

2008-09

9

Kevin Greene^

San Francisco, Carolina

1997-98

9

Bruce Smith^

Buffalo

1986-87

9

 

 

 

 

Chris Jones

Kansas City

2018

8*

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

*Active streak

 

 

Courtesy of NFL Communications

Read More 1319 Words

NFL Week 14: 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: New York Jets at Buffalo Bills

Total: 38

The Bills have played a lot of low-scoring games this season, mainly because they’ve dealt with issues at quarterback and running back while battling weak opponents in a weak division.

But the Buffalo offense has turned a corner since getting rookie quarterback Josh Allen back from a midseason injury. They scored just 17 points last week in Miami, but they had 415 yards of total offense in that game, and that was a week from removed from a two-game stretch in which they scored a combined 65 points with zero turnovers and 778 net yards.

With running back LeSean McCoy also coming around, don’t be surprised if that offense finally explodes Sunday at home against a Jets D that has just one takeaway since Week 6 and has surrendered at least 26 points in five of their last seven games.

Buffalo could cover this total on its own, just as it did when the Bills hammered the Jets 41-10 on the road last month.

Predicted score: Bills 41, Jets 16

Under of the week: Atlanta Falcons at Green Bay Packers

Total: 49

It’s time to give up on both of these offenses. The Falcons have been held to fewer than 20 points in four consecutive games, while the Packers have been limited to 17 or fewer in three of their last five.

Sure, neither team is great defensively either, but Green Bay has given up just 15.5 points per game in their last four outings at Lambeau Field.

It’s possible Matt Ryan and Co. could suddenly explode, and it’s just as possible a fire has been lit under Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay offense following Mike McCarthy’s firing. But it’s unlikely that both of those developments have taken place for two teams that are out of contention and playing out the string.

This one might not hit 40, and almost certainly won’t hit 50.

Predicted score: Packers 24, Falcons 17

Good luck, we’re all counting on you. 

Previous results
Last week: 2-0
2018 season: 17-8-1

Read More 329 Words

Back to back: Rams sight bigger goals after winning NFC West

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) — The Los Angeles Rams seemed to come out of nowhere last season to win their first NFC West championship in 14 years.

When the Rams clinched their second straight division title Sunday, everybody in the NFL had seen it coming all year long.

The league-leading Rams (11-1) haven't surprised anybody

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) — The Los Angeles Rams seemed to come out of nowhere last season to win their first NFC West championship in 14 years.

When the Rams clinched their second straight division title Sunday, everybody in the NFL had seen it coming all year long.

The league-leading Rams (11-1) haven’t surprised anybody this season, not after their remarkable 2017 transformation under rookie head coach Sean McVay.

They’re still the division champs again, this time with four games to spare and plenty of opportunities to climb even higher before the postseason.

The Rams became the first team to clinch a postseason berth by beating the Lions 30-16 last weekend, guaranteeing themselves at least one home playoff game. This franchise hadn’t won back-to-back NFC West championships since 1979, when the Rams completed a run of seven straight.

“It’s a blessing,” McVay said Monday after returning from Detroit with a raging winter cold. “You don’t take anything for granted. It’s nice to be able to still have an opportunity to accomplish some things as you continue to progress through this season, but it still feels great either way to be able to accomplish something special with people that you care about and that you love.”

The Rams put on celebratory hats at Ford Field, but the muted party was mostly forgotten Monday when they got home.

According to left tackle Andrew Whitworth, the Rams have greater expectations after they built on last season’s 11-5 record with an even more impressive campaign this fall.

“With all of us coming together for the first time (last year), it felt like you responded and rose to the occasion and achieved something,” Whitworth said. “I think this year, it feels like we expected to be a good football team. We expected to have an opportunity to win this division again, and we went out and did it. So I think you more see it as a checklist item. … You’re happy you won it, but it’s not the end goal, and it’s not really something we didn’t think or expect that we could do.”

Two straight division titles still are a notable achievement in the up-and-down history of the Rams, who have won only one NFL championship since 1951.

Los Angeles’ string of solid playoff teams in the 1980s won just one division title. The Greatest Show on Turf and its descendants in St. Louis won three division titles in five years, but never two in a row.

The Rams had missed the playoffs in 12 consecutive seasons before McVay and Wade Phillips led them back last year, only to lose an opening-round home game to Atlanta.

The Rams are playoff-bound again, but they still have plenty to do in December — starting with the chance to clinch a first-round bye during their trip to Chicago on Sunday night.

A win over the Bears (8-4), who have the NFC’s third-best record behind LA and New Orleans (10-2), would guarantee an extra week of rest for the Rams in January.

The Rams also control their destiny for home-field advantage in a potential NFC championship game with the Saints, but that race could go deep into December.

“It’s a big deal,” McVay said. “To be able to earn the opportunity in your 13th game of the season to be able to, at the worst, clinch a No. 2 seed, it would mean that you’ll be able to watch that first week of the wild card round (at home). It’s a huge deal to us, so that’s certainly going to be a great challenge. That’s the next step.”

NOTES: Backup running back Malcolm Brown injured his collarbone in Detroit, and he was expected to have “a procedure that’s not necessarily a surgery” on Monday, McVay said without elaborating. The Rams didn’t know the severity of the injury. … McVay confirmed he spoke with former Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury about potentially being “an extra set of eyes” for the Rams down the stretch. The offense-minded coaches are good friends, and Kingsbury spent time with the Rams during the summer. “He’s got a lot of opportunities that he’s figuring out now, so there’s really no news on that front,” McVay said. … McVay hopes to kick his cold in time for the Rams’ trip to wintry Chicago. “Even if I’m not healthy, that’s not going to hold me back,” McVay said. “I’m not out there playing, so as long as my brain isn’t too slow, then I’m going to do the best I can to get as healthy as possible and ready to go for these guys.”

___

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

Read More 711 Words

Barkley 46 yards shy of rushing for 1,000 yards as rookie

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — There seems to be no limit to Saquon Barkley's upside.

Just when it seems the New York Giants' rookie running back has shown just about everything he can do on the football field, the second pick overall in the NFL draft finds another way to impress people.

Take a look

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — There seems to be no limit to Saquon Barkley’s upside.

Just when it seems the New York Giants’ rookie running back has shown just about everything he can do on the football field, the second pick overall in the NFL draft finds another way to impress people.

Take a look at Sunday’s’ 30-27 overtime win over the NFC North-leading Chicago Bears.

While Barkley failed to score for only the fourth time 12 games, he rushed for 125 yards on 24 carries and helped set up 13 points.

His 22-yard run on a third-and-23 draw play set up a team-record 57-yard field goal by Aldrick Rosas on the final play of the half. The play that had everyone talking was his 17-yard catch and run that ended with his hurdle over former Penn State teammate Adrian Amos. It led to a 1-yard touchdown pass from Eli Manning to Odell Beckham Jr .

Finally, there was his 29-yard run on the first play from scrimmage in the overtime. Rosas capped the drive with a 44-yard field goal that provided the winning margin when the Giants’ defense stopped Chicago on the final series.

“I said it early and I really believe it, he’s got a generational spirit in terms of how he competes, and I have not been — WE have not been — disappointed in (any) way,” coach Pat Shurmur said of Barkley on Monday. “He’s extremely talented running the ball, catching the ball, he blocks well, we’re doing what we can to give him the football so he has an impact on the game, and I think he has.”

Barkley’s statistics are impressive.

His 954 yards rushing are third in the NFL behind Todd Gurley (1,175) of the Rams and Ezekiel Elliott (1,150) of the Cowboys. He has exceeded 100 yards from scrimmage in 11 of 12 games and his 100-yard game rushing Sunday was his third in a row and fifth of the season.

Catching three passes for 21 yards also gave Barkley 74 catches, tying tight end Jeremy Shockey (2002) for the second-highest total by a Giants rookie. Beckham holds the franchise rookie record with 91 in 2014.

Barkley has downplayed his statistics all season, but he knows the significance of running for 1,000 yards. He would need 46 yards Sunday against Washington to hit the mark.

“It would be special because obviously one, it’s the NFL, and two, when you get 1,000 yards, it’s not just yourself getting 1,000 yards, it’s your team getting 1,000 yards. It’s the offense and especially the offensive line,” Barkley said.

The biggest adjustment Barkley has had to make this season is dealing with losing. New York was 1-7. It has now won three of four since its bye week, including Sunday’s game in which it blew a 10-point lead in the final 1:13 of the fourth quarter.

However, the Giants found a way to win in overtime.

“It just put everything in perspective from all the hard work that we’ve been putting in all season to go out there and beat a really good team and who was playing lights out up to that game or even in that game, they played really well, too,” Barkley said. “Definitely gives you confidence, and even though the season hasn’t been going how we want it to go.

Barkley now has 1,556 yards from scrimmage, so he needs 444 yards to become the third rookie in league history to reach 2,000 yards from scrimmage. Eric Dickerson set the record of 2,212 in 1983, while Edgerrin James had 2,139 in 1981.

Barkley said it’s hard to describe some of the things he does on the field. The jump over Amos was on instinct.

“Some things you can’t explain and I give a lot of credit to God in a situation like that, my genetics, my mom and dad,” the 21-year-old Barkley said. “But a lot of that is also hard work, training my body to when you’re put in those positions to be able to make those cuts and make those moves.”

NOTES: Giants starting LB Tae Davis had a walking boot on his left foot (ankle). … WR Sterling Shepard (ribs) said an MRI showed tissue damage. He expects to play Sunday. … Shurmur had his doubts either TE Evan Engram (hamstring) or LB Lorenzo Carter (hip) would return this week. … Rookie Kyle Lauletta was the backup Sunday and veteran Alex Tanney was inactive. Shurmur said that probably will be the same order this week. … Lauletta had been inactive for the first 11 games. Shurmur reiterated Manning is his starter.

___

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

Read More 690 Words

Steelers blame themselves, not officials, for losing skid

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The excuses aren't hard to find if the Pittsburgh Steelers were in the mood to look for them.

The false start that wasn't called on a play that ended with a Los Angeles Chargers touchdown . The apparent block in the back that helped spring Chargers punt returner Desmond King for the

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The excuses aren’t hard to find if the Pittsburgh Steelers were in the mood to look for them.

The false start that wasn’t called on a play that ended with a Los Angeles Chargers touchdown . The apparent block in the back that helped spring Chargers punt returner Desmond King for the game-tying score.

The weird floater by Ben Roethlisberger on a pass that slipped out of his hand and landed into the awaiting arms of Los Angeles rookie safety Derwin James.

Yet the Steelers understand it’s pointless and expensive to complain, one of the reasons coach Mike Tomlin opted not to vent — publicly anyway — after his team let a 16-point lead slip away in a 33-30 loss to the Chargers on Sunday night that reduced Pittsburgh’s once comfortable cushion in the AFC North to mere percentage points over second-place Baltimore heading into the final month of the season.

“I am going to keep my mouth shut,” Tomlin said after his team dropped its second straight to fall to 7-4-1, just ahead of the Ravens at 7-5. “I am going to do that because I send enough money (in fines to NFL headquarters) in New York.”

Tomlin understands the calls the officials do or don’t make are out of his hands. His team’s ability to avoid losing with a 16-point advantage at home — something the Steelers had been able to do 174 out of the previous 175 times it happened in franchise history — is another matter entirely. One that is far more troubling than a handful of questionable decisions by referee Bill Vinovich’s crew.

“We didn’t establish rhythm in the beginning of the second half,” Tomlin said. “We had a couple drives killed by penalties, holding penalties, it’s catastrophic.”

Pittsburgh took the second-half kickoff and moved into Los Angeles territory only to see a 22-yard gain by James Conner wiped out when officials flagged left guard Ramon Foster for holding. The Steelers punted three plays later.

Pittsburgh’s second possession of the third quarter appeared to be picking up steam when left tackle Alejandro Villanueva was called for holding. The drive stalled and Jordan Berry punted yet again.

King fielded it at the Chargers 27, slipped past a couple of tacklers — including Pittsburgh’s Brian Allen, who may have been helped to the ground thanks to a shove on the back of his right shoulder by Los Angeles gunner Rayshawn Jenkins — and raced down the right sideline for a touchdown that helped tie the game at 23.

The Chargers didn’t need any assistance, however, in taking control in the fourth quarter. Philip Rivers led Los Angeles on scoring drives of 79 and 64 yards on the Chargers’ final two drives, facing just two third downs in the process.

The Steelers did not get called for a defensive penalty on either of the drives. Instead, Los Angeles simply did whatever it wanted against a defense that couldn’t seem to get in the right position.

“You can’t say anything about our offense, our offense scored 30 points,” defensive end Cam Heyward said. “As a defense, we’re not getting the job done. I don’t look for anybody else to say that the officials did this or anything else, we didn’t get the job done as a defense.”

And now Pittsburgh faces a daunting stretch if it wants to lock up a fifth straight playoff berth. The Steelers visit hapless Oakland next Sunday, a meeting that looks like a mismatch. Yet the Raiders have always been trouble for Pittsburgh, particularly on the road.

The Steelers haven’t won in Oakland since 1995. They fell to the Raiders at the Coliseum in 2012 and 2013 to teams that finished 4-12 both seasons.

In 2006 Pittsburgh headed west as the reigning Super Bowl champions and somehow lost to a squad that went 2-14.

After that it’s a visit by the New England Patriots then a visit to New Orleans two days before Christmas before wrapping up the regular season at Heinz Field against Cincinnati.

A shot at earning one of the two seeds — a position the Steelers were in the mix for after a six-game winning streak had them at 7-2-1 — appears gone. At this point, holding off the resurgent Ravens is no given.

“We can’t seem to win it at home right now,” Foster said. “So maybe we’ll be great playoff road warriors.”

NOTES: WR Ryan Switzer is in the concussion protocol after taking an illegal hit from Los Angeles linebacker Jatavis Brown in the fourth quarter. … RB James Conner is dealing with a left leg contusion.

___

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

Read More 704 Words

Seven From Sunday – Week 13

PRESS RELEASE

Seven From Sunday - Week 13

​A look at seven statistical highlights from games played at 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, December 2, the 13th week of the 2018 season.

  • The LOS ANGELES RAMS improved to 11-1

PRESS RELEASE

Seven From Sunday – Week 13

​A look at seven statistical highlights from games played at 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, December 2, the 13th week of the 2018 season.

  • The LOS ANGELES RAMS improved to 11-1 and clinched the NFC West division with a 30-16 victory over Detroit at Ford Field. The Rams have won consecutive division titles for the first time since the 1978-79 seasons.

    Los Angeles running back TODD GURLEY rushed for 132 yards and two touchdowns in the Rams’ victory. Gurley has 1,649 scrimmage yards and 19 touchdowns in his team’s first 12 games this season and is the eighth different player in league history to record at least 1,600 scrimmage yards and 18 touchdowns in his team’s first 12 games of a season. Six of the previous seven players to accomplish the feat are enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame – JIM BROWN (1958 and 1965), TERRELL DAVIS (1998), ERIC DICKERSON (1983), O.J. SIMPSON (1975), EMMITT SMITH (1995) and LA DAINIAN TOMLINSON (2006)
     
    Rams wide receiver BRANDIN COOKS had four catches for 62 yards in the win and has 1,026 receiving yards this season, his fourth consecutive season with at least 1,000 receiving yards. Cooks, who had 1,173 receiving yards with the Saints in 2016 and 1,082 yards with the Patriots in 2017, is the first player in NFL history to record 1,000+ receiving yards with three different teams in three consecutive seasons.

    Cooks is the sixth player in league annals to record at least 1,000 receiving yards in a single season for three or more teams at any point in his career.
     

  • New England quarterback TOM BRADY completed 24 of 32 passes (75 percent) for 311 yards with one touchdown and one interception for a 102.5 passer rating in the Patriots’ 24-10 victory over Minnesota.

    With his third-quarter touchdown pass, Brady tied PEYTON MANNING (579 touchdown passes) for the most touchdown passes in NFL history, including the postseason. Brady also tied Pro Football Hall of Famer BRETT FAVRE (508) for the third-most regular-season touchdown passes in league annals.

  • Kansas City quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES passed for 295 yards with four touchdowns and zero interceptions for a 120 passer rating and tight end TRAVIS KELCE recorded 12 catches for 168 yards and two touchdowns in the Chiefs’ 40-33 win at Oakland.

    Mahomes leads the NFL with 41 touchdown passes this season and joined PEYTON MANNING (44 touchdown passes in 2004 and 41 in 2013) and TOM BRADY (41 in 2007) as the only quarterbacks in league history with at least 40 touchdown passes in their team’s first 12 games of a season. Manning and Brady each were named Associated Press Most Valuable Players in those campaigns.
     
    Mahomes has seven games with at least four touchdown passes this season, the second-most in a single season in league annals, trailing only Manning (nine games in 2013).

    Kelce, who has 1,082 receiving yards this season and has 1,000+ receiving yards in each of the past two seasons, joined Carolina’s GREG OLSEN (three consecutive seasons from 2014-16) as the only tight ends in NFL history with at least 1,000 receiving yards in three consecutive seasons.

  • New York Giants rookie running back SAQUON BARKLEY rushed for 125 yards and wide receiver ODELL BECKHAM, JR. threw a 49-yard touchdown pass and had a touchdown catch in the team’s 30-27 overtime victory over Chicago.

    Beckham, who also threw a 57-yard touchdown pass and had a 33-yard touchdown catch against Carolina in Week 5, is the first player since 1924 to record multiple games with a touchdown pass and a receiving touchdown in a single season. EDDIE KAW and BENNY BOYNTON of the 1924 Buffalo Bisons are the only players to previously accomplish the feat.

    Beckham, who leads the Giants with 1,052 receiving yards in 2018, is the only player in league history with at least 1,000 receiving yards and multiple touchdown passes in a single season.

    Barkley has 954 rushing yards this season and surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer TUFFY LEEMANS (830 rushing yards in 1936) for the most rushing yards by a rookie in franchise history.

  • The HOUSTON TEXANS defeated Cleveland, 29-13, and have won nine consecutive games, the longest active streak in the NFL. The Texans are the first team in league history to win nine consecutive games immediately following an 0-3 start to the season.
     
    Texans quarterback DESHAUN WATSON passed for 224 yards and one touchdown in the victory. Watson, who appeared in his 19th career game today, threw a first-quarter touchdown pass to rookie tight end JORDAN THOMAS, marking the 40th touchdown pass of his career. Watson is the fourth-fastest player in NFL history to reach 40 career touchdown passes, trailing only Pro Football Hall of Famers KURT WARNER (17 games) and DAN MARINO (18) and the Chiefs’ PATRICK MAHOMES, who threw his 40th career touchdown pass in his 13th career game today.
     
  • Denver rookie running back PHILLIP LINDSAY rushed for 157 yards and two touchdowns, including a 65-yard touchdown run, in the Broncos’ 24-10 victory at Cincinnati.  

    Lindsay, who has 1,126 scrimmage yards (937 rushing, 189 receiving) this season, is the fourth undrafted rookie since 1970 to record at least 1,000 scrimmage yards in a single season, joining DOMINIC RHODES (1,328 scrimmage yards in 2001), CLARK GAINES (1,124 in 1976) and LE GARRETTE BLOUNT (1,021 in 2010).

  • Other notable performances from Sunday include: 

    • Tampa Bay safety ANDREW ADAMS tied a franchise record with three interceptions in the Buccaneers’ 24-17 victory over Carolina.

      Adams joined RONDE BARBER, who had three interceptions on both December 23, 2001 and December 4, 2005 against New Orleans, and AQIB TALIB (three interceptions on October 4, 2009 against Washington) as the only players in franchise history with three interceptions in a single game.

      Adams is the fifth NFL player since 2010 to record at least three interceptions in a single game and the first since Tennessee’s KEVIN BYARD on October 22, 2017 against Cleveland.
       

    • Chicago defensive tackle AKIEM HICKS recorded one sack and rushed for a one-yard score in the Bears’ overtime loss at the New York Giants.

      Hicks is the second Bears defensive lineman to rush for a touchdown in the regular season, joining WILLIAM “THE REFRIGERATOR” PERRY who accomplished the feat twice in 1985 (October 21 vs. Green Bay and November 24 vs. Atlanta).
       

    • Buffalo rookie quarterback JOSH ALLEN threw for 231 yards with two touchdowns and rushed for 135 yards in the Bills’ loss at Miami.

      Allen is the fourth player in league history with at least two touchdown passes and 125+ rushing yards in a single game, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer WALTER PAYTON (September 18, 1983 at New Orleans), TOBIN ROTE (November 22, 1951 at Detroit) and MICHAEL VICK (December 19, 2010 at the New York Giants).
       

    • Carolina running back CHRISTIAN MC CAFFREY rushed for 106 yards on 10 carries (10.6 average) and had nine catches for 55 yards with a touchdown in the Panthers’ loss at Tampa Bay. 

McCaffrey is the first player in NFL history to recor​d at least 50 rushing yards and 50 receiving yards in five consecutive games.

Courtesy of NFL Communications

Read More 1034 Words

Steelers lose biggest lead ever at home in loss to Chargers

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh Steelers let another one slip away.

For the second straight week, the Steelers held a second-half lead and lost. This time, Pittsburgh blew its biggest lead ever at home, as Michael Badgley kicked a 29-yard field goal on the final play, lifting the Los Angeles Chargers to a 33-30 victory

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh Steelers let another one slip away.

For the second straight week, the Steelers held a second-half lead and lost. This time, Pittsburgh blew its biggest lead ever at home, as Michael Badgley kicked a 29-yard field goal on the final play, lifting the Los Angeles Chargers to a 33-30 victory over the Steelers on Sunday night.

“It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish, and they finished the game,” Steelers defensive tackle Cameron Heyward said.

The Steelers (7-4-1) were on a six-game winning streak before losing last week at Denver and again on Sunday. It’s their first two-game losing streak of the season.

The Steelers, who held a 23-7 lead to start the second half, blew a 16-point lead at home for the first time in franchise history. The Steelers were previously 174-0-1 all-time when ahead by 16 points at home. It was the first time the Steelers blew a 16-point lead overall since Nov. 8, 1981, against Seattle.

“The game was 23-7 and as a defense, we can’t surrender points,” Heyward said. “We just gotta play better. I don’t care who it is, it’s unacceptable.”

Ben Roethlisberger threw for 281 yards and two scores for the Steelers, who are clinging to the AFC North lead over surging Baltimore. Antonio Brown caught 10 passes for a season-high 154 yards and a touchdown. James Conner added 60 yards rushing and two touchdowns before leaving in the fourth quarter with a lower leg contusion.

“It’s a bad loss,” Roethlisberger said. “You just can’t play bad football against a good football team.”

Things looked good in the first half when Pittsburgh scored on four of six possessions. Conner scored on a pair of 1-yard runs, giving the Steelers an early 13-0 lead following a missed extra point. The Steelers, who won four of the previous five meetings against Los Angeles, continued to surge, and pushed the lead to 16-6.

Pittsburgh, which came into the game 18-3 in December since 2013 – the best mark in the NFL over that span – seemed poised for another masterful December performance with an end-of-half score, nearly driving the length of the field in just 1:18. Roethlisberger capped the six-play, 91-yard series by threading a 28-yard touchdown pass between three defenders to Brown for the score.

But, Philip Rivers and Los Angeles recovered in the second half.

Rivers completed 26 of 36 passes for 299 yards and two touchdowns. Keenan Allen caught 14 passes for 148 yards and a score, while Justin Jackson ran for 63 yards and a touchdown in place of injured starter Melvin Gordon. Pittsburgh limited Los Angeles to just two yards rushing in the first half, tying the third-fewest allowed by the Steelers since Heinz Field opened in 2001.

“We just didn’t tackle better in the second half,” Heyward said. “We didn’t stop the run as much. We have to be better as a defense.”

Los Angeles opened the second half with 23 unanswered points, turning a 23-7 halftime deficit into a 30-23 lead.

Allen caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from Rivers late in the third quarter on a play in which Pittsburgh defensive backs Sean Davis and Joe Haden collided going for the ball, which popped up in the air and landed squarely in Allen’s hands.

Desmond King added a 73-yard punt return, and Allen pulled in the 2-point conversion to tie the game at 23. Jackson’s 18-yard burst up the middle gave the Chargers a 30-23 lead.

Rookie Jaylen Samuels replaced Conner and caught a 10-yard touchdown pass for Pittsburgh with 4:10 to play to tie the game at 30. That left Rivers ample time to one-up Roethlisberger, a fellow member of the vaunted 2004 draft class that includes New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning.

Rivers calmly led the Chargers 64 yards in 11 plays, including a 12-yard pass to Allen on third-and-4 at the Pittsburgh 34 that pushed Los Angeles close enough to bring on Badgley for the win.

Badgley initially missed a 39-yard kick, but Pittsburgh was called for offsides.

“It looked like all of us jumped off at the same time,” Haden said. “Sometimes when you get a good jump, it looks like you jumped offsides. I would have to look at it again, but I didn’t feel like we were offsides.”

Badgley’s ensuing 34-yard attempt was blocked, but the Steelers were flagged again for jumping across the line of scrimmage before the snap. Badgley drilled his third attempt at the game-winner, as the Chargers completed the biggest opposing comeback in Heinz Field history with just their fourth win in Pittsburgh in 19 tries.

“You can’t say anything about our offense, our offense put up 30 points,” Heyward said. “We didn’t get the job done as a defense.”

___

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

Read More 725 Words

Christian McCaffrey’s durability keying Panthers’ offense

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — When Carolina's Christian McCaffrey ripped off a 59-yard run against the Seattle Seahawks, there was no tapping his helmet.

He wasn't coming out of the game.

The second-year running back told Cam Newton in the huddle before the next play "I'm ready to go," then took a handoff on the next

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — When Carolina’s Christian McCaffrey ripped off a 59-yard run against the Seattle Seahawks, there was no tapping his helmet.

He wasn’t coming out of the game.

The second-year running back told Cam Newton in the huddle before the next play “I’m ready to go,” then took a handoff on the next play and picked up another 15 yards.

“Any other average running back would’ve tapped his head and said, ‘I need a blow,'” Newton said.

McCaffrey has been the Energizer Bunny of the Panthers’ offense, playing in 97 percent of the team’s offensive plays through 11 games — the most in the NFL.

And he’s showing no signs of letting up.

He became the first Carolina player in franchise history to eclipse 100 yards rushing and 100 yards receiving in the same game last Sunday. Despite the loss to the Seahawks, his 237 total yards set a franchise record.

Entering Sunday’s game at Tampa Bay, McCaffrey is fourth in the NFL in total yards from scrimmage with 1,365. He has 757 yards rushing and five touchdowns, 608 yards receiving yards on 71 catches and five more TDs.

McCaffrey said he never really gets tired — and if he does, he just ignores it.

“I don’t think of it,” McCaffrey said. “When I’m in the game there is so much adrenaline. I never really feel like I’m gasping. You have to push through that.”

“He doesn’t look like it is wearing on him,” said Panthers coach Ron Rivera, whose team is looking to snap a three-game losing streak. “He works hard at everything he does and takes care of himself the way you expect a pro to do. Our other young guys can learn from that example.”

The 5-foot-11, 205-pound McCaffrey is proving to everyone he’s not too small to be an every-down — and basically every-play — running back.

Newton said McCaffrey is always out to prove something and bristles when someone calls him a “small” running back.

“When they take you at the eighth pick, you have a lot of people counting on you,” McCaffrey said. “So I knew it was going to be a pivotal (role). But at the same time, you still have to earn everything. And that’s kind of my mindset, how it’s always been.”

Said Newton: “C-Mac has defied all odds. The thing that has always put me at comfort with C-Mac is he’s always been a workhorse. He’s always been a playmaker. There’s no denying that. C-Mac was everything (we thought he could be), and a bag of chips.”

McCaffrey believes that players like McCaffrey, Le’Veon Bell, Todd Gurley and Alvin Kamara are changing the running back position in the NFL.

“Those guys are all-down backs,” Newton said. “And they can take a screen pass, score. They can take a trap, score. They can block in the pass game. They’re everything. And they’re changing the game. My hat goes off to all of those guys knowing that they’re a part of the evolving of the game, just like dual-threat quarterbacks.”

___

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

Read More 450 Words

Big time: Browns playing rare significant late-season game

BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Other than trying to save a coach's job, secure the No. 1 overall draft pick or simply survive, the Browns haven't played many meaningful games in December or January.

Sunday is an exception.

With a chance to further legitimize themselves as no longer being the "same 'ol Browns," and with their

BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Other than trying to save a coach’s job, secure the No. 1 overall draft pick or simply survive, the Browns haven’t played many meaningful games in December or January.

Sunday is an exception.

With a chance to further legitimize themselves as no longer being the “same ‘ol Browns,” and with their playoff pulse accelerating, the Browns go on the road to play the Houston Texans, who have won eight straight games and have perhaps the NFL’s best defensive front seven.

It’s a daunting challenge for the Browns (4-6-1), but they feel up to it.

With back-to-back wins for the first time since 2014, Cleveland’s players are brimming with confidence. They’re following brash rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield’s lead and believe they can not only play with any team, but they can beat any team.

Wide receiver Jarvis Landry isn’t quite ready to say the Browns have arrived. But after so many miserable seasons, they’re headed in the right direction.

“Listen, we’re on our way,” Landry said in a lively locker room earlier this week. “We’re still not there. We’re on our way. We’ve put complete games together, these last two have definitely been complete. But I believe that you never really, truly arrive. You’re always trying to look for ways to get better. You’re always trying to find things individually, as a team, as an offense to get better. But I’ll say we’re on our way. We’re definitely on our way.”

The Browns avoided infamy last week by snapping their 25-game road losing streak with a resounding 35-20 win at Cincinnati, a victory punctuated by Mayfield’s chilly handshake with former coach Hue Jackson afterward.

The Mayfield-Jackson affair created some big headlines and debate, and also overshadowed the bigger story surrounding the Browns, who haven’t been to the postseason since 2002.

With a win on Sunday, Cleveland, which went 0-16 last season and went 1-31 under Jackson, would move deeper into the AFC playoff picture, though still behind several teams.

Imagine that.

The fact the Browns are even playing a significant game in December is an accomplishment, and they’d like to be in a few more.

“If we want to have any postseason dreams, we got to keep this little streak going,” defensive end Myles Garrett said.

Cleveland hasn’t fared well in late-season games, going 2-21 since 2013 in December and January, and 9-38 over the past 10 seasons. But those are past Browns teams, not this one, and after ending several losing streaks this season, Landry said he and his teammates understand what’s in front of them.

“This game,” said Landry, one of the few current Browns who has been to the playoffs — with Miami in 2016. “Win this game. That’s the next step for us.”

If they’re to be taken seriously, and if they intend to become consistent winners, the Browns must beat a quality team and the Texans certainly qualify. Houston is clicking following on 0-3 start. Quarterback Deshaun Watson looks fully recovered following knee surgery that ended his rookie season, and star defensive end J.J. Watt is healthy and terrorizing quarterbacks.

“We don’t care about what they’re doing,” Landry said. “Obviously, we understand that they’re on an eight-game winning streak. But for us, we know it’s going to come down to us executing and doing the things that we do to put us in place to win the game. We’re not really worried about what they’re going to do. Obviously, we understand that they are a good football team, a great football team and we have to play our best game.”

If they can pull off the upset, the playoff talk in Cleveland might be heard from coast to coast. Mayfield, who has thrown seven TD passes and just 10 incompletions in his past two games, knows better than to look too far ahead.

“It is always great to have a big picture mindset, but for us right now, we have to take it one week at a time,” he said. “If we do not take care of business, then it does not really matter. We have to win and focus each week for everything else to fall into place.”

NOTES: S Damarious Randall was added to the injury report with a hamstring issue and his questionable for Sunday. Interim coach Gregg Williams doesn’t think Randall will miss the game.

___

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

Read More 673 Words

Cowboys have reason to think big after ending Saints’ streak

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Leighton Vander Esch howled through the open retractable roof after a booming tackle on a huge third-down stop negated by a potentially crushing roughing-the-punter penalty.

Jourdan Lewis answered an ominous fumble by quarterback Dak Prescott that gave Drew Brees another chance by intercepting the MVP contender , putting the Dallas Cowboys

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Leighton Vander Esch howled through the open retractable roof after a booming tackle on a huge third-down stop negated by a potentially crushing roughing-the-punter penalty.

Jourdan Lewis answered an ominous fumble by quarterback Dak Prescott that gave Drew Brees another chance by intercepting the MVP contender , putting the Dallas Cowboys in position to finish off a victory that stopped New Orleans’ 10-game winning streak.

When owner and general manager Jerry Jones talked of the season changing in a 13-10 win over the NFC’s hottest team Thursday, he had the rookie linebacker whose nickname is “Wolf Hunter” and a confident backup second-year cornerback in mind.

That’s just to name a couple of players on a team that might now dare to think an NFC East title is just the beginning. The Cowboys (7-5) will have another important game in pursuit of that division crown Dec. 9 against Philadelphia, the last of three straight home games.

“When you win a game like this, it changes you,” Jones said after Dallas’ fourth straight victory guaranteed at least a share of the division lead and the inside track to a home wild-card playoff game going into the final quarter of the season.

“This is a young, impressionable bunch. And so they know now that they can go out there and play our game and play it in a way to beat an offensive machine. I just am so proud for them because they are not going to be the same kids that looked in the mirror this morning.”

The defense kept the Cowboys in games, and ultimately in the playoff hunt, while the offense mostly struggled through the first half of the season.

While the score against the Saints indicated a similar formula, Prescott had 194 yards passing at halftime and finished 24 of 28 without an interception. The third-year pro led a nearly seven-minute drive in the fourth quarter before his fumble with the Cowboys in position for a field goal.

The Cowboys held the ball for more than 21 minutes in the first half and had 100 yards rushing against the NFL’s No. 1 run defense. Making Brees a spectator fit the signature of the Dallas offense, and the same objective will be in play when Carson Wentz visits.

“We didn’t make enough plays on offense,” Prescott said. “We left plays out there. But when we have the defense that we have versus an offense like that, how can you not be confident?”

Vander Esch shared credit for the tackle with Daniel Ross when Mark Ingram was dropped for a 1-yard loss on third-and-2 late in the third quarter. But Randy Gregory ran into punter Thomas Morstead, and Brees threw his only touchdown pass two plays later.

The Cowboys forced a punt on the next New Orleans possession, and Brees didn’t get another chance after Lewis’ interception with 2:08 remaining.

“The battle is won, but the war has just begun,” said defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, who forced two fumbles by Brees on sacks but only got credit for one because of an offside penalty. “The rest of the league sees how we are playing football and they will want a piece of us. We have to stay focused and get to work every week.”

Dallas doesn’t have off-the-charts numbers on defense, but the most impressive one just got better. The NFL’s third-best scoring defense held the league’s highest-scoring offense 27 points under that average. The Saints had their fewest yards by nearly 100.

The Cowboys’ season was on the brink less than a month ago at 3-5. Now it would be hard to find a more confident team.

“We have a lot of talent, a lot of young talent, a lot of great players with very bright futures,” said 23-year-old NFL rushing leader Ezekiel Elliott. “But we’re 100 percent not in a place where we can get comfortable. Division up for grabs. We’ve just to make sure we finish this season off the right way.”

___

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

Read More 608 Words

What to Look For – Week 13 Quarterbacks

PRESS RELEASE

TOUCHDOWN TOM: New England quarterback TOM BRADY has 578 touchdown passes (507 regular-season touchdowns and a league-record 71 postseason touchdowns) in his 19-year NFL career.

With two touchdown passes against Minnesota (4:25 PM ET, FOX) on Sunday, Brady would surpass PEYTON MANNING (579 touchdowns) for the most passing touchdowns in

PRESS RELEASE

TOUCHDOWN TOM: New England quarterback TOM BRADY has 578 touchdown passes (507 regular-season touchdowns and a league-record 71 postseason touchdowns) in his 19-year NFL career.

With two touchdown passes against Minnesota (4:25 PM ET, FOX) on Sunday, Brady would surpass PEYTON MANNING (579 touchdowns) for the most passing touchdowns in NFL history (including the postseason) and Pro Football Hall of Famer BRETT FAVRE (508) for the third-most regular-season touchdown passes in league annals.

 

The players with the most passing yards and touchdown passes, including the postseason, in NFL history:

PLAYER

TEAM(S)

PASSING TOUCHDOWNS

Peyton Manning

Indianapolis, Denver

579

Tom Brady

New England

578

 

The players with the most regular-season touchdown passes in NFL history:

PLAYER

TEAM(S)

PASSING TOUCHDOWNS

Peyton Manning

Indianapolis, Denver

539

Drew Brees

San Diego, New Orleans

517

Brett Favre^

Green Bay, New York Jets, Minnesota

508

Tom Brady

New England

507

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

 

KEEP IT BREESY: New Orleans quarterback DREW BREES leads the NFC with 29 touchdown passes this season.

With a touchdown pass on Thursday at Dallas (8:20 PM ET, FOX/NFL Network/Amazon), Brees can become the first player in NFL history to record at least 30 touchdown passes in 10 different seasons.

The players with the most seasons with at least 30 touchdown passes in NFL history:

PLAYER

TEAM(S)

SEASONS WITH 30+ TOUCHDOWN PASSES

Drew Brees

New Orleans

9*

Brett Favre^

Green Bay, Minnesota

9

Peyton Manning

Indianapolis, Denver

9

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

*Has 29 touchdown passes in 2018

 

KANSAS CITY SHUFFLE: Kansas City quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES ranks third in the league with 3,628 passing yards, while wide receiver TYREEK HILL ranks third in the NFL with 1,106 receiving yards and running back KAREEM HUNT ranks fifth in rushing yards (824) this season.

With 176 rushing yards by Hunt, the Chiefs would join the 1996 New England Patriots as the only teams to have a 3,000-yard passer, 1,000-yard rusher and 1,000-yard receiver all at the age of 24 or younger in a single season since 1970.

The teams with a 3,000-yard passer, 1,000-yard rusher and 1000-yard receiver all at the age of 24 or younger in a single season since 1970:

TEAM

SEASON

PLAYER (POSITION)

AGE

YARDS

New England

1996

Drew Bledsoe (QB)

24

4,086 passing yards

 

 

Curtis Martin^ (RB)

23

1,152 rushing yards

 

 

Terry Glenn (WR)

22

1,132 receiving yards

 

 

 

 

 

Kansas City

2018*

Patrick Mahomes (QB)

23

3,628 passing yards

 

 

Kareem Hunt (RB)

23

824 rushing yards

 

 

Tyreek Hill (WR)

24

1,106 receiving yards

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

*Entering Week 13

 

BAKING WITH MAYFIELD: 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 last week. Mayfield recorded a 151.2 passer rating in Week 10 and had a bye in Week 11.

Mayfield, who plays at Houston (1:00 PM ET, CBS) on Sunday, can join AARON RODGERS (Weeks 7, 9-10 in 2011) and Pro Football Hall of Famer KURT WARNER (Weeks 3-5 in 1999) as the only quarterbacks in NFL history to record a passer rating of 140 or higher in three consecutive games (minimum 20 attempts). Both Rodgers and Warner were named Associated Press MVP in those seasons.

The players with the most consecutive games with a passer rating of 140 or higher (minimum 20 attempts) in NFL history:

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASON

CONSECUTIVE GAMES WITH 140+ PASSER RATING

Aaron Rodgers#

Green Bay

2011

3

Kurt Warner^#

St. Louis

1999

3

 

 

 

 

Baker Mayfield

Cleveland

2018

2*

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

#Named Associated Press MVP

*Active streak

 

RYAN’S 11: Atlanta quarterback MATT RYAN leads the NFL with 3,683 passing yards this season and has passed for 45,479 yards in 11 NFL seasons.

With 150 passing yards on Sunday against Baltimore (1:00 PM ET, CBS), Ryan can surpass PEYTON MANNING (45,628) for the most passing yards by a player in their first 11 seasons in NFL history.

The players with the most passing yards in their first 11 seasons in NFL history:

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASONS

PASSING YARDS

Peyton Manning

Indianapolis

1998-2008

45,628

Matt Ryan

Atlanta

2008-2018

45,479*

*In 11th season

 

Courtesy of NFL Communications

Read More 584 Words

QBs looking to elevate Panthers, Buccaneers down stretch

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Cam Newton and Jameis Winston know there's no surefire way for a quarterback to lead a team out of a funk.

What works in one situation may not necessarily be the answer in another.

Newton's second-place Carolina Panthers (6-5) have lost three straight games following a 6-2 start, moving closer to

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Cam Newton and Jameis Winston know there’s no surefire way for a quarterback to lead a team out of a funk.

What works in one situation may not necessarily be the answer in another.

Newton’s second-place Carolina Panthers (6-5) have lost three straight games following a 6-2 start, moving closer to the bottom of the NFC South than the top.

Winston’s getting another chance to lead the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-7) out of the division cellar after spending a month on the bench because of his propensity for making costly mistakes.

“In the NFL, part of winning is not losing, not beating yourself,” Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said, reflecting on Winston delivering his best performance of the season to help Tampa Bay stop a four-game skid last week.

“You have to just keep it simple,” said Winston, who lost his starting job after turning the ball over 11 times in 14 quarters.

The fourth-year pro said the difference during last week’s 27-9 rout of San Francisco was his decisiveness with the football.

“I’m thinking about one play at a time, one completion at a time, one game at a time,” Winston said. “It’s easier to keep it simple when you’re decisive, making quick decisions and getting the ball out of your hands.”

The Panthers haven’t won since beating the Bucs 42-28 at home on Nov. 4. Kicking woes factored in narrow losses the past two weeks to Detroit and Seattle, however, and Newton said he’s focused on the next opportunity to get back on track.

Win or lose, he has learned you give yourself 24 hours to get over the excitement or disappointment.

“You can either celebrate or sulk and sob,” the Carolina quarterback said. “After that 24 hours is up, let it go. That has been so helpful for me in my growth as a man.”

For Winston, Sunday’s game against the Panthers represents the next test in what amounts to an audition to determine if he’s Tampa Bay’s quarterback of the future.

The 24-year-old didn’t face the Panthers last time. He was benched after throwing four interceptions the previous week at Cincinnati.

Some things to watch when the NFC South rivals meet:

NEWTON LIKES WHERE HE’S AT

Newton said this week he’s playing the best football of his career, despite a three-game losing streak.

Newton has thrown at least two TD passes in 10 straight games and seems to be thriving in Norv Turner’s offensive scheme.

“I’m just feeling in control,” Newton said. “There are no question marks. My assuredness of every single play I know exactly what I’m supposed to do.”

McCAFFREY ON THE RUN

Christian McCaffrey last week became the first Panthers running back to eclipse 100 yards rushing and 100 yards receiving in the same game. His 237 yards from scrimmage against the Seahawks were the most in franchise history.

McCaffrey had 157 yards from scrimmage and two TDs rushing in the last meeting with the Bucs.

Newton joked that you shouldn’t call the 5-foot-10, 205-pound McCaffrey “small,” because he hates being labeled a small back.

“C-Mac has defied all odds,” Newton said. “With C-Mac, he has always been a workhorse. He’s always been a playmaker. There’s no denying that. My thing is when you draft a person, is he comfortable with the game on the line?”

WHERE ARE THE TURNOVERS

Carolina’s defense has thrived on takeaways over the years, but they have been struggling in that area of late. The Panthers haven’t forced a turnover in the three games since they last played the Buccaneers. In that game they intercepted Ryan Fitzpatrick twice.

EVANS VS. BRADBERRY

In the last meeting, Carolina cornerback James Bradberry put the clamps on Bucs receiver Mike Evans, holding Tampa Bay’s top receiver to one catch for 16 yards on 10 targets in a 42-28 victory at home.

However, Bradberry has struggled in three games since giving up big plays in each of those games in losses to Pittsburgh, Detroit and Seattle.

Bradberry is expected to draw Evans again.

“They game-planned really well,” Evans said. “Even though they’re a one-high team, it felt like Eric Reid was just coming to me no matter what. And then Bradberry was underneath just pressing. So, I’ve got to be better, more physical, faster and stronger, and I think I will be this time around.”

___

AP Sports Writer Steve Reed in Charlotte contributed to this report.

___

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

Read More 676 Words

Inconsistent offense has plagued Eagles all season

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Carson Wentz led an offense that steamrolled opponents last season with perhaps less talent surrounding him than he has now.

He's certain the Philadelphia Eagles will regain their production.

The defending Super Bowl champions are averaging slightly more than a touchdown less than they scored in 2017, down to 20.9 points per

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Carson Wentz led an offense that steamrolled opponents last season with perhaps less talent surrounding him than he has now.

He’s certain the Philadelphia Eagles will regain their production.

The defending Super Bowl champions are averaging slightly more than a touchdown less than they scored in 2017, down to 20.9 points per game from 28.6.

But the Eagles (5-6) are right in the mix in a mediocre NFC East despite the slide.

“Some of the plays that we just miss, it’s usually just one little thing on each play,” Wentz said Thursday. “If this just changes, this little detail of this play, that’s a big play, that’s a touchdown. Instead of degrading guys, we just say, ‘hey, this can be the difference.’ Guys can just focus on the little details and stay encouraged.”

The Eagles parted with four players on offense after winning their first championship since 1960. Tight end Trey Burton and running back LeGarrette Blount were allowed to sign elsewhere in free agency. Tight end Brent Celek was released and wide receiver Torrey Smith was traded.

They were replaced by veteran wideout Mike Wallace, rookie tight end Dallas Goedert, veteran tight end Reggie Rodgers and undrafted rookie running back Josh Adams.

Tight end Zach Ertz is having an exceptional season, but wideouts Alshon Jeffery — he missed the first three games — and Nelson Agholor haven’t had similar success.

Losing running back Jay Ajayi to a season-ending knee injury in Week 5 hurt the offense, but he wasn’t even part of the team until a trade midway through last season. Wallace only played two games and Rodgers recently came off injured reserve.

The Eagles added wideout Golden Tate last month, but he hasn’t made much of an impact and the offense has regressed since he was inserted into the lineup.

“We know we’ve got guys that we want to get involved in the game, and the more they’re involved, the better our chances are to win,” offensive coordinator Mike Groh said.

“In the passing game, coverage dictates and sometimes rush dictates where the ball goes. Even though you have certain plays that are set up for a primary guy, it ends up down the line and just things that are beyond your control.”

A major issue for the offense has been slow starts. The Eagles are scoreless in the first quarter in nine of 11 games. They have only 21 points in the opening quarter, fewest in the NFL. Fourteen of those 21 came in the only game they surpassed 30 points this season.

“We have to be better with that,” Wentz said.

Notes: RB Darren Sproles returned to practice Thursday in a limited role. He hasn’t played since Week 1 because of a hamstring injury. He returned to the field earlier this month, but re-injured his leg in the first practice. “He’s such a competitor and a leader of this football team, and he wants to be out there, really, really bad,” Pederson said.

___

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

Read More 441 Words

Mitchell Trubisky works on sliding technique, not passing

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky found a flaw in his game while trying to be patient and sit out with an injured right shoulder.

Trubisky discovered he needs to slide better.

It was while sliding late in a 25-20 win Nov. 18 over the Minnesota Vikings that Trubisky suffered the

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky found a flaw in his game while trying to be patient and sit out with an injured right shoulder.

Trubisky discovered he needs to slide better.

It was while sliding late in a 25-20 win Nov. 18 over the Minnesota Vikings that Trubisky suffered the injury threatening to cost him a second straight start Sunday against the New York Giants.

“I’ve been told I’ve got to work on my slides a little bit, maybe pick one or stick to one,” Trubisky said.

Trubisky slid awkwardly and was hit by Minnesota’s Harrison Smith on the left side, resulting in the shoulder injury to his right side that led to Chase Daniel’s start against the Detroit Lions in a 23-16 Bears win on Thanksgiving.

“Throughout a play I never know whether I’m going to slide forward, get down sideways or just go straight and give myself up early,” Trubisky said in his first comments to reporters since the injury occurred. “That’s something that I’ve just got to continue to be better with, and it also makes it hard for the defense because they don’t know if I’m going to continue to pick up yards or I’m going to go down.

“That’s why defenses are continuing to be aggressive. That’s just me practicing that, being smart and taking care of myself.”

Trubisky called the play when he was injured an awkward one. Smith was fined and penalized for the hit.

“It was just an awkward landing, and then I got hit, and my arm got caught underneath me the wrong way,” Trubisky said. “It was really just a freak play and I didn’t know what happened at the time. Luckily, I was able to finish out the game and, more importantly, we won.”

Trubisky is considered “day to day” by coach Matt Nagy and practiced Thursday for the second straight day, but only on a limited basis. Daniel continued to work with the first team.

“I feel good,” Trubisky said. “I’m definitely not worried about it, and the good news is it’s not something that’s going to prevent me in the long term. So, we’re just making sure it’s right, 110 percent, and when I can come back I’ll be what this offense and what this team needs me to be.”

Caution and safety are the key words the Bears are using in regards to Trubisky’s possible return. No one is suggesting he’ll be able to play this week and an NFL.com report said they’ve already made a decision to sit him.

“I’m going to do as much as they’ll let me,” Trubisky said. “So I’m just trusting what they tell me to do out on the field and then come in and do what I’ve got to do, and then just be out there and make this team better any way we can. And make sure everyone’s locked in during practice and we take care of business.”

Nagy said Trubisky hasn’t thrown yet in practices, but wouldn’t necessarily call this critical to starting this week.

“For us, we feel like timing-wise with the guys, with where he’s at, he’s good there,” Nagy said. “Mentally, just staying in the playbook, he’s good there.

“It’s just the fact that he’s not throwing.”

Trubisky’s frustration with not preparing like he’s going to play is obvious.

“He’s a competitor, he wants to be out there,’ Nagy said. “And so, again, just our communication with every player that we have we’ve always been upfront and said, ‘OK, here’s the plan.’ And so, I think it’s very natural for any player to want to have that competitive nature and be out there, and he’s definitely like that.”

When Trubisky does return, he anticipates running like he had in earlier games. He led the NFL in rushing yards by quarterbacks before his injury and has 363 such yards.

“I would say I’ve done a real good job of getting yardage for this team, creating positive plays and causing trouble for the defenses while also protecting myself,” Trubisky said. “Nothing’s going to change when I get back.”

The one exception is he might make more defined slides to end his runs.

NOTES: DE Akiem Hicks missed a second straight practice due to Achilles tendon soreness. Nagy said he considers it a precaution. Hicks has been a vital part of a defense ranked second against the run. He first mentioned the injury on Wednesday morning before practice.

___

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

Read More 698 Words

Sherman returns with 49ers as Seahawks surge toward playoffs

SEATTLE (AP) — The decision to part with Richard Sherman — along with several other impact veterans — was supposed to be part of the cumulative reason the Seattle Seahawks would finally take a step back. This was going to be the rebuild season, even if no one with the Seahawks ever wanted to use

SEATTLE (AP) — The decision to part with Richard Sherman — along with several other impact veterans — was supposed to be part of the cumulative reason the Seattle Seahawks would finally take a step back. This was going to be the rebuild season, even if no one with the Seahawks ever wanted to use that word.

Sherman will see his former team up close Sunday when the San Francisco 49ers face the Seahawks. He will find a Seattle team that’s not backsliding. Instead, Seattle (6-5) has won two straight and has a direct path to an NFC playoff berth in a season no one really expected the Seahawks to be in the conversation at the beginning of December.

The players who stepped in for the likes of Sherman and other veterans who departed after last season have brought a youthful exuberance. That has created a fun environment in Seattle only amplified by the Seahawks’ success.

“This game is too crazy to not have fun and it’s definitely a point of emphasis for me, just for the guys that came in and were stepping into a lot of key positions, to not worry about who they were replacing or who you were coming behind, ” Seattle star linebacker Bobby Wagner said, “but just to have the fun you’ve been having all your life and everything else will figure out itself.”

Fun has come around sparingly in San Francisco this season. The 49ers (2-9) were supposed to be in Seattle’s position of competing for a playoff spot. But injuries — namely the loss of QB Jimmy Garoppolo — derailed those hopes early in the season. They looked great in thumping Oakland on Nov. 1, only to turn around and drop their next two against the weak Giants and Buccaneers.

“I do think we’re going through this for a reason. I do think it can make us better,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “A lot of guys have gotten to play a lot that normally wouldn’t be able to play, and I hope that helps us find some things out about people this year and helps us build this team better next year.”

Welcoming Sherman back to Seattle starts a stretch of four of the final five games at home for the Seahawks. They’ve been a notoriously good team in the final month of the calendar, and getting to play at home is adding to the belief this season could end in an unexpected playoff berth.

Here’s what else to watch as the Seahawks and 49ers meet for the first of two games in 14 days:

RISING RUSSELL

Seattle QB Russell Wilson is coming off his best performance of the season against Carolina. With Seattle’s running game shut down by the Panthers, Wilson threw for a season-high 339 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the 30-27 win, showing that Seattle’s offense can function just fine when its ground game is stymied. The Seahawks have been the best run team in the NFL for most of the season, but Wilson’s performance was a reminder he can be an elite passer when needed.

MAN IN THE MIDDLE

The 49ers handed Fred Warner big responsibility when they inserted him at middle linebacker and made him the defensive play caller as a rookie. Warner’s role will only get bigger after San Francisco released second-year linebacker Reuben Foster following his arrest last weekend on domestic violence charges. Warner has been one of the bright spots with his ability to get the defense in the right calls and thrive against both the run and pass. He will have a tough test this week against Wilson.

“He’s a mobile quarterback, so being able to escape the pocket and make big plays with his legs, that’s what he’s known for,” Warner said. “We have to be aware of that.”

TURNOVER TIME

Seattle got its first turnover in three-plus games last week when Bradley McDougald made an acrobatic end zone interception of Cam Newton. The Seahawks also forced five fumbles against the Panthers, but failed to recover any. It was a long drought that saw Seattle drop to 11th in the league with 17 turnovers forced.

That’s nothing compared to the 49ers. San Francisco is last in the NFL with just five takeaways. The Niners have just two interceptions and haven’t forced a turnover in the last three games.

HOUSE OF HORRORS

Playing in Seattle has led only to disappointment for the 49ers in recent years. The Niners have lost their last seven trips, including the 2013 NFC title game, getting outscored by more than 15 points per game. San Francisco’s last win here came in 2011 with Alex Smith at quarterback. Since then, Colin Kaepernick, Blaine Gabbert and Brian Hoyer have combined for 10 turnovers, 16 sacks, three TD passes and a 61.4 passer rating in Seattle.

First-year QB Nick Mullens will try to reverse that trend and bounce back from two rough starts following a sterling debut. Mullens has thrown four interceptions the past two games in losses to the Giants and Tampa Bay and faces a much tougher defense this week.

___

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

Read More 791 Words

Gruden praises Mahomes before Chiefs-Raiders game

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Jon Gruden knows he sometimes went over the top in his praise of quarterbacks in his old job as an analyst at ESPN.

It seemed like any time a quarterback went to "Gruden's QB Camp" or was picked in the draft, Gruden was always full of compliments. The praise for

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Jon Gruden knows he sometimes went over the top in his praise of quarterbacks in his old job as an analyst at ESPN.

It seemed like any time a quarterback went to “Gruden’s QB Camp” or was picked in the draft, Gruden was always full of compliments. The praise for Kansas City’s second-year star Patrick Mahomes is on an even different level.

“His overall skill set is sickening. It really is,” Gruden said. “He’s double-jointed. He can throw the ball from any platform possible. Running to his left, fading backward. He can get out of trouble. I compliment everybody, I’ve been accused of that, but this guy has off-the-chart arm talent. Skill level is unbelievable.

“He has a playing style that reminds me of (Brett) Favre. He’s a young Favre. I think that’s why Andy Reid went and got him. He won’t quit on any play. He makes a lot of plays when there’s nothing there. I don’t have time to talk about him anymore.”

Gruden now must devise a plan to slow Mahomes when his Oakland Raiders (2-9) host the Chiefs (9-2) on Sunday in what appears to be a major mismatch.

Led by Mahomes’ 37 touchdown passes — the third most ever through 11 games — the Chiefs have been a nearly unstoppable force on offense. Coach Andy Reid’s squad ranks second in the NFL with 404 points and is on pace to become the first team since at least 1960 to average more than 7.0 yards per play.

But everything hasn’t been perfect for Mahomes, who committed five turnovers in Kansas City’s last game, a 54-51 loss to the Rams on Nov. 19.

“Every experience, bad or good, you have to learn from,” Mahomes said. “You take the positives. We had a lot of successful plays and successful things happen in that game, but you have to find ways to win them in the end.”

Here are some other things to watch:

EB’S BACK, MAYBE

Chiefs safety Eric Berry returned to the practice field this week for the first time since the early weeks of training camp, when he became sidelined by a heel injury. But considering Berry has not played at all since August, it is unlikely he will be available for Kansas City’s trip to Oakland.

“It’s a great thing to see him back healthy,” Reid said. “This is killing him to watch. He loves to play. It tears him up not to be out there, but at the same time we have to do it smart.”

FAST START, SLOW FINISH

One thing the Raiders have done well this year is start games fast. Their 34 points on the opening drive rank fifth best in the NFL this season. What’s happened after that has been the problem. Oakland has the third-worst offense the rest of the game, averaging just 1.32 points per drive after that.

STREAKING JONES

Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones was the AFC’s defensive player of the month, another line to a resume that could land him a big contract extension this offseason. Jones has nine sacks this season, including at least one each of the past seven weeks. He had a pair of sacks against the Cardinals and the Rams prior to the bye week, and he had a season-high three tackles for loss in Los Angeles.

DANGEROUS RETURNS

Oakland was burned last week by a poorly placed punt by rookie Johnny Townsend that led to a 70-yard touchdown return by Baltimore’s Cyrus Jones. Townsend, a fifth-round pick, has struggled this year, ranking 30th out of 32 qualifying punters in net average (37.7 yards), last in gross average (43.5 yards), and last in percentage of punts downed inside the 20-yard line (18.4 percent). That could be an issue against Tyreek Hill, who leads the NFL with four punt return TDs since entering the league in 2016.

“We have to do a better job than we did last week,” Gruden said. “The one punt return we’ve given up, we didn’t hit our landmark. We gave them a low hanging punt that gave him a two-way go, and that’s hard to defend. If we do that against this guy, we’ll have very little chance to win this game. This guy is really unique. Tyreek Hill, he’s a unique skill set. You have to limit his opportunities every way you can.”

REUNION WEEK

The relationship between Gruden and Reid goes back decades to when they spent three years together as offensive assistants on Mike Holmgren’s staff in Green Bay from 1992-94. That’s where the two really started to build the foundation of the offenses they’d eventually run for years as successful head coaches in the NFL.

“We were both young and we were able to learn a ton from a great head coach,” Reid recalled. “Jon and I spent a lot of time together, along with Steve Mariucci, we were the youngest guys on the staff. We all kind of bonded and did our thing. We did a lot of the go-fer work, which we loved. Great learning experience and great foundation to build on.”

___

AP Sports Writer Dave Skretta contributed to this report

___

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

Read More 802 Words

Chiefs’ Mahomes learning from (rare) first-year mistakes

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Patrick Mahomes walked out of Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum two weeks ago with his jersey stained, his pride no doubt wounded and an uncharacteristic five turnovers blighting his box score.

The only thing he stewed about during the Kansas City Chiefs' bye week was the final score.

The three interceptions

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Patrick Mahomes walked out of Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum two weeks ago with his jersey stained, his pride no doubt wounded and an uncharacteristic five turnovers blighting his box score.

The only thing he stewed about during the Kansas City Chiefs’ bye week was the final score.

The three interceptions that he’d tossed in the 54-51 loss to the Rams, and the two fumbles he lost trying to escape trouble, were merely learning opportunities. Mahomes went to work on the Chiefs’ bye week dissecting what went wrong, where he can improve and how he can avoid making the same mistakes.

“Some of those came in crucial moments, knowing when and not to take a chance,” he said. “But every experience, bad and good, you have to take the positive from. We had a lot of good things happen in that game, but at the same time you have to find a way to win.”

Spoken like a seasoned veteran rather than a first-year starter.

There were indeed plenty of good things for Mahomes to think about. He set career highs with 33 completions and 478 yards passing, and he matched a career high with six touchdown passes, all while the Chiefs rallied time and again in a back-and-forth game that came down to the wire.

Yet it was the turnovers that were the first topic tossed at Mahomes when he returned to work.

The big knock on him coming out of Texas Tech — besides the fact that he was a product of the much-maligned “Air Raid” system — was that he was prone to turnovers.

And while it was a largely unfounded knock, considering Mahomes never threw all that many interceptions with the Red Raiders, it continued to follow him through his rookie season and right into his first training camp as starter.

Mahomes answered those critics with a turnover-free opener against the Los Angeles Chargers.

He has continued to value possessions all season, throwing only 10 interceptions total through the first 11 weeks, even though Mahomes has a gunslinger reputation. He also has lost seven fumbles, and that may ultimately be where experience will make the biggest difference.

Mahomes is still learning how to feel the pressure of an NFL pass rush, escape the pocket when the time comes and make sure two hands are on the football when somebody takes a slap at it.

“Those guys made great plays. They swatted directly on the ball both times,” Mahomes said, thinking back to his two fumbles against the Rams. “You have to be secure with the ball. … Two hands on the ball, even when I’m trying to break the pocket.”

Offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy made it clear Thursday turnovers are a team problem, not one that Mahomes must shoulder alone. Wide receivers can do a better job with route-running and fighting for the ball while the offensive line can provide better protection.

“One thing that we’ve learned together as a unit,” Bieniemy said, “is that if we eliminate the self-inflicted wounds we’ll have a chance.”

Besides, even the best quarterbacks can have turnover troubles.

The Patriots’ Tom Brady has six games with four interceptions during a career that will likely land him in the Hall of Fame. Ben Roethlisberger once tossed five for Pittsburgh against Jacksonville.

And the player to whom Mahomes is constantly compared, Brett Favre, had a game with three fumbles and two picks and concluded his career with an NFL-record 336 interceptions.

Hall of Fame quarterback Len Dawson, whose Chiefs record for touchdown throws in a season Mahomes has already shattered, once fumbled seven times in a game against the Chargers.

The difference in some of those dismal days by some of the NFL’s best quarterbacks? They didn’t also throw for nearly 500 yards with six touchdown passes in a game that they nearly won.

“You don’t hide it,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said, when asked how he approached the performance by his young quarterback. “You go back and evaluate it. How did those things happen and how do you fix them so they don’t happen again? We’ve done that. The one thing about Pat is he doesn’t make the same mistake twice. That’s been his M.O. here. I’m not worried about that.

“I want him to keep firing,” Reid said. “Learn from his mistakes but keep firing.”

NOTES: DL Chris Jones was voted AFC defensive player of the month. He has nine sacks total, and at least one in each of the past seven games. … WR Sammy Watkins (foot) remained out of practice Thursday. Safety Eric Berry (heel) and C Mitch Morse (concussion) continued to work on a limited basis.

___

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

Read More 727 Words

What to Look For – Week 13 Wide Receivers

PRESS RELEASE

1,400 FOR JULIO: Atlanta wide receiver JULIO JONES leads the league with 1,305 receiving yards and has recorded at least 1,400 receiving yards in each of the past four seasons.

With 95 receiving yards on Sunday against Baltimore (1:00 PM ET, CBS), Jones can become the first player in NFL history

PRESS RELEASE

1,400 FOR JULIO: Atlanta wide receiver JULIO JONES leads the league with 1,305 receiving yards and has recorded at least 1,400 receiving yards in each of the past four seasons.

With 95 receiving yards on Sunday against Baltimore (1:00 PM ET, CBS), Jones can become the first player in NFL history to record at least 1,400 receiving yards in five consecutive seasons.

The players with the most consecutive seasons with at least 1,400 receiving yards in NFL history:

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASONS

CONSECUTIVE SEASONS WITH 1,400+ RECEIVING YARDS

Marvin Harrison^

Indianapolis

1999-2002

4

Julio Jones

Atlanta

2014-17

4*

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

*Has 1,305 receiving yards in 2018

 

THIELEN MIGHTY FINE: Minnesota wide receiver ADAM THIELEN leads the league with 93 receptions this season.

With seven catches at New England (4:25 PM ET, FOX), Thielen can join ROD SMITH and WES WELKER as the only undrafted players to record at least 100 receptions in a single season in the common draft era.

The undrafted players with at least 100 receptions in a single season since 1966:

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASON

RECEPTIONS

Wes Welker

New England

2009

123

Wes Welker

New England

2011

122

Wes Welker

New England

2012

118

Rod Smith

Denver

2001

113

Wes Welker

New England

2007

112

Wes Welker

New England

2008

111

Rod Smith

Denver

2000

100

 

 

 

 

Adam Thielen

Minnesota

2018

93*

*Entering Week 13

 

COOKING WITH BRANDIN: Los Angeles Rams wide receiver BRANDIN COOKS leads the team with 964 receiving yards this season.

Cooks, who had 1,173 receiving yards with New Orleans in 2016 and 1,082 receiving yards with New England in 2017, needs 36 yards on Sunday at Detroit (1:00 PM ET, FOX) to become the first player in NFL history to have at least 1,000 receiving yards with three different teams in three consecutive seasons.

With 36 receiving yards, Cooks can also become the sixth player in league annals to record at least 1,000 receiving yards in a single season for three different franchises during their career.

The players to record 1,000-yard receiving seasons for three-or-more teams in NFL history:

PLAYER

TEAMS

Brandon Marshall

4 (Denver, Miami, Chicago, New York Jets)

Irving Fryar

3 (New England, Miami, Philadelphia)

Tony Martin

3 (San Diego, Atlanta, Miami)

Randy Moss^

3 (Minnesota, Oakland, New England)

Terrell Owens^

3 (San Francisco, Philadelphia, Dallas)

 

 

Brandin Cooks

2* (New Orleans, New England)

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

*Has 964 receiving yards with the Los Angeles Rams in 2018

 

Courtesy of NFL Communications

Read More 311 Words

FANTASY PLAYS: Players to start and sit in NFL Week 13

This is a defining week for many fantasy football teams, especially in leagues where it's the last week of the regular season.

There is little margin for error at this point, although fantasy owners with their backs against the wall should be open to high-risk, high-reward shots in their lineups.

There are a handful of

This is a defining week for many fantasy football teams, especially in leagues where it’s the last week of the regular season.

There is little margin for error at this point, although fantasy owners with their backs against the wall should be open to high-risk, high-reward shots in their lineups.

There are a handful of games (Rams-Lions, Chargers-Steelers, Redskins-Eagles) that could turn into free-for-alls, but there aren’t any locks for explosive fantasy numbers across the board. In fact, there are several games (Bears-Giants, Browns-Texans, Jets-Titans) that could temper scoring.

START: Kenny Golladay, WR, Lions: Golladay has been targeted 36 times in the last three games. The Rams have given up 25 touchdown passes and are 29th in average yards allowed per catch (12.3), numbers that play right into the hands of Matthew Stafford in what could be a high-scoring affair. Golladay is a solid WR2 who should put up WR1-caliber totals.

SIT: Eli Manning, QB, Giants: Facing a Bears defense that leads the league with 20 interceptions doesn’t play well for Manning despite his six touchdown passes over his last three games. Chicago is also sixth in the league with 34 sacks, which will greatly reduce the time Manning will have to throw. A poor game from Manning will have a ripple effect that will also impact Odell Beckham Jr. and Saquon Barkley, so owners of those players have serious risk of a letdown.

START: Kirk Cousins, QB, Vikings: He’s attempted at least 38 passes in four of his last five games and can make it five of six as he takes on a suspect Patriots defense that is 25th in fantasy points per game allowed to opposing quarterbacks. Cousins has thrown at least two touchdowns in four of his last five as well and will be in line for a huge afternoon, especially if Tom Brady helps turn this into a shootout.

SIT: Baker Mayfield, QB, Browns: The rookie has a 13-2 TD to interception margin in his last five games and has completed 78.2 percent of his throws over the past two games. However, he must hit the road and contend with a Texans defense that is fourth in fewest fantasy points per game allowed to opposing quarterbacks while also dealing with a pass rush tied for sixth with 34 sacks. Reality will hit both Mayfield and those who start him in brutal fashion on Sunday.

START: Aaron Jones, RB, Packers: Coming off a season-best 17 carries in last week’s loss to the Vikings, Jones has a great matchup against a Cardinals defense that sits 30th in the league in rushing yards allowed. No defense has allowed more rushing touchdowns than the 16 Arizona has given up, bolstering the chances of Jones crossing the goal line for a fourth straight game. He has four touchdowns in his last three games. With Jamaal Williams an afterthought these days, Jones is now a borderline RB1 with room to grow.

SIT: Adrian Peterson, RB, Redskins: Since gouging the Giants for 149 yards in Week 8, Peterson has sputtered, failing to reach 70 yards in each of his last four games. His fantasy numbers would be worse if he hadn’t scored two short yardage touchdowns against the Texans in Week 11. Although the Eagles run defense has struggled against Ezekiel Elliott and Barkley in recent weeks, they are still 12th in stopping opposing ground games and Washington will be more focused on attacking Philly’s banged up secondary.

START: Cameron Brate, TE, Buccaneers: With O.J. Howard done for the season, Brate will see an increase in targets, especially on Sunday against a Panthers defense that is the worst in fantasy when it comes to stopping opposing tight ends. Brate scored his first touchdown since Week 6 last week against the 49ers, and while he has yet to exceed 34 receiving yards in a game this season, his track record shows he can be more than just a presence at the goal line. Look for Jameis Winston to make him a staple of the Tampa Bay passing attack.

SIT: Marquise Goodwin, WR, 49ers: Goodwin averages 19.9 yards per catch but has yet to have more than five targets in a game this season. The Seahawks would make for a good matchup for Goodwin, as they have given up at least 89 yards to six different receivers in the last five games, but his lack of volume, paired with this being a road game for San Francisco, makes him far too risky to consider even in deeper leagues.

START: Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions: The Rams defense makes for a good slump-buster for Stafford, who has just three touchdown passes in his last four games. Los Angeles is tied for 27th with 25 touchdowns passes allowed and tied for 29th in average yards per catch allowed with 12.3. Those who own both Stafford and Golladay will have a great pairing that can put up huge numbers in what should be a fantasy gold mine.

SIT: Marlon Mack, RB, Colts: Even if Mack clears the league’s concussion protocol, he’s facing a Jaguars defense that allows the fewest fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. He’s also cooled off after racking up 258 yards and three touchdowns in Weeks 7 and 8, rushing for a combined 175 yards and a score on 43 carries in his last three outings. There is little upside to plugging Mack into a lineup, especially for teams that must win.

___

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

Read More 838 Words

Seattle talking about return of Richard Sherman with 49ers

RENTON, Wash. (AP) — Pete Carroll looked to a Seahawks staffer with a bemused expression as he continued to field questions about a player who is no longer part of Seattle's locker room.

"Pretty good love-fest for Sherm," Carroll quipped.

Richard Sherman's impending return to Seattle this week has dominated the conversation and will dominate

RENTON, Wash. (AP) — Pete Carroll looked to a Seahawks staffer with a bemused expression as he continued to field questions about a player who is no longer part of Seattle’s locker room.

“Pretty good love-fest for Sherm,” Carroll quipped.

Richard Sherman’s impending return to Seattle this week has dominated the conversation and will dominate the attention leading into Sunday’s game between the Seahawks and Sherman’s new team in San Francisco. For good reason, too. Sherman remains one of the central figures in Seattle’s success during Carroll’s tenure that included the franchise’s only Super Bowl title.

Yet, his time in Seattle ended with a messy separation this past offseason. It was a business decision that ultimately led to Sherman finding a new home in San Francisco. And while the relationship between Sherman and the Seahawks was at times contentious, there was respect for what he helped the franchise accomplish.

“We had tremendous conversations all the way through the stages of what happened at the end,” Carroll said. “Sherm and I were sitting in my office eye-to-eye talking through everything and it was really straightforward and clear and he was handling his own business and he had to be really on top of it, which he was, and did a fantastic job for himself, too. But our communication was great.”

Sherman was a three-time All-Pro during his seven seasons in Seattle. He developed from a lightly regarded fifth-round pick into one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, an anchor for Seattle’s “Legion of Boom” secondary that’s now been completely taken apart due to departures and injuries. Sherman seemed to always find his way into the center of attention, whether it was talking smack to Tom Brady after beating the Patriots in a 2012 regular-season game, antics directed toward Michael Crabtree after the 2013 NFC championship game, or barking at coaches on the sideline.

It was clearly time for a change and it included some critical comments Sherman had for Carroll on his way out. Carroll said he wasn’t bothered.

“I know who Sherm is. I know him way differently than you guys probably think I do. I think the world of him,” Carroll said. “There was times (when) he was here where he might have said something that I didn’t agree with and had to work through it and all that. He is his own man. He was a stud of a guy when he was here and whatever came out in the transition came out. I could care less about that.”

Cornerback Shaquill Griffin thinks of Sherman as a mentor. When Griffin arrived last year as a rookie, Sherman became a guide to Griffin on how to be a pro.

“I didn’t expect him to take me under his wing the way he did. That was all a surprise to me but I’m grateful that he did,” Griffin said. “I came in, he had open arms for me and whatever it took. I remember he told me, ‘I won’t give you so much you can’t handle unless I know you can.’ I remember after the first couple of games he was like, ‘You know what, I see you’re ready. I’m going to give you everything I know and we’re going to go from there.’ It’s not like he got paid to do stuff like that. He doesn’t. So you can tell he’s really a genuine guy.”

Bobby Wagner joked there will likely be a lot of trash talking and that he won’t let Sherman get an interception even if that means coming off the sideline to make sure it doesn’t happen. Wagner became serious when asked about what kind of reception Sherman should receive. Sports radio has been filled with questions about whether Sherman should be lauded or booed upon his return.

“He should be received with the loudest cheer they could possibly cheer and the warmest of welcomes. It’s not like he said, ‘I hate this team, I want to leave.’ There is a business side of everything,” Wagner said. “I would be surprised if anybody booed. If they did boo him they weren’t a Richard Sherman fan in the first place. I think he deserves the applause. He was part of the team that helped bring the city the first football championship. I wouldn’t expect anything other than respect.”

NOTES: LB K.J. Wright is “away from the team” this week doing rehab on his troublesome knee that has caused him to miss the past two games, Carroll said. Wright will not play this week. … Seattle activated RB J.D. McKissic to the 53-man roster. McKissic had been out all season after suffering a foot injury in the preseason and was placed on injured reserve. He returned to practice last week.

___

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

Read More 747 Words

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.”

___

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

___

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

Read More 763 Words

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.”

___

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

Read More 104 Words

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.

___

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

Read More 512 Words

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. 

Previous results
Last week: 1-0-1
2018 season: 15-8-1

Read More 347 Words

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.”

___

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

___

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

Read More 690 Words

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.

___

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

___

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

Read More 475 Words

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.

___

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

Read More 641 Words

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.

___

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

Read More 457 Words

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.”

___

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

Read More 585 Words

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.

___

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

___

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

Read More 895 Words

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.”

___

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

Read More 531 Words

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.

___

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

Read More 766 Words

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.”

Read More 439 Words

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.”

___

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

Read More 752 Words

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

Read More 962 Words

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.

___

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

Read More 799 Words