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NFL Articles

Ravens’ Weddle set to share $1M bonus with team

 

Safety Eric Weddle has plenty of reason to celebrate after

 

Safety Eric Weddle has plenty of reason to celebrate after the Baltimore Ravens qualified for the NFL postseason on Sunday. One million bucks worth of reasons in fact. And he wants to share those dollars with his teammates and coaches.

 

For making the Pro Bowl and playoffs in the same season, Weddle has finally earned the seven-figure incentive that has been part of his contract for three seasons in Baltimore.

 

The 12-year veteran, who earlier found more value in making the playoffs than earning the extra cash, said after Sunday’s 26-24 nail-biting victory over the Cleveland Browns: “I’ve been thinking about it all week that if it happened, I’m going to do something nice for all my teammates and my coaches because I’m nothing without my team. As much as it’s for me and my play, my defense helped me get to where I’m at.”

 

How he’ll divvy up the bonus is still unknown as Weddle offered, “I’ve got something brewing, but I am not going to tell. You’ll find out when I make it happen.”

 

But fellow Ravens safety Tony Jefferson is already in line, saying that he needs $75,000, while adding with a smile, “Now, we’re going to be in his pockets.”

 

Weddle, who was selected to his sixth Pro Bowl earlier this month, missed out on the $1 million incentive in 2017 when Tyler Boyd’s game-winning touchdown catch and run on 4th-and-12 for the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 17 ended the Ravens’ playoff hopes.

 

“I would trade one million bucks for a chance at the playoffs any second,” ESPN reported Weddle saying before Sunday’s season finale. “That’s just where I’m at. It’s not that I don’t appreciate money or how much money it is, but that’s not my incentive to try to go to win.”

 

The AFC North champion Ravens will meet the Los Angeles Chargers in an AFC wild-card matchup in Baltimore on Sunday.

 

Weddle has made the Pro Bowl in each of his three seasons with Baltimore and also made it in 2011, 2013 and 2014 with the San Diego Chargers. In 16 games this season, he has recorded one sack, three passes defensed and 68 tackles (54 solo).

 

–Field Level Media

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NFL coaching tracker: Every head coach fired in 2018

 

With the regular season complete, the NFL's

 

With the regular season complete, the NFL’s annual Black Monday purge of head coaches is well underway. In fact, some teams got a head start and handed out pink slips by Sunday’s end.

 

Add Cleveland and Green Bay, which fired their coaches during the season, and eight NFL franchises — 25 percent of the 32 teams — are in the market for a new head coach. Here’s a look at each coach let go since the start of the 2018 season, with their season and career records.

 

Source: Pro Football Reference

 

* — Fired during the regular season

 

Steve Wilks, Arizona

Age: 49

Seasons with team: 1

Record with team: 3-13

Playoff appearances with team: 0

2018 record: 3-13

Career NFL head coaching record: 3-13 (all with Arizona)

 

Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati

Age: 60

Seasons with team: 16

Record with team: 131-122-3

Playoff appearances with team: 7 (0-7 record)

2018 record: 6-10

Career NFL head coaching record: 131-122-3 (all with Cincinnati)

 

*Hue Jackson, Cleveland

Age: 53

Seasons with team: 3

Record with team: 3-36-1

Playoff appearances with team: 0

2018 record: 2-5-1

Career NFL head coaching record: 11-44-1 (3 seasons with Cleveland, 1 season with Oakland)

 

Vance Joseph, Denver

Age: 46

Seasons with team: 2

Record with team: 11-21

Playoff appearances with team: 0

2018 record: 6-10

Career NFL head coaching record: 11-21 (all with Denver)

 

*Mike McCarthy, Green Bay

Age: 55

Seasons with team: 13

Record with team: 125-77-2

Playoff appearances with team: 9 (10-8 record; won Super Bowl in 2010 season)

2018 record: 4-7-1

Career NFL head coaching record: 125-77-2 (all with Green Bay)

 

Adam Gase, Miami

Age: 40

Seasons with team: 3

Record with team: 23-25

Playoff appearances with team: 1 (0-1 record)

2018 record: 7-9

Career NFL head coaching record: 23-25 (all with Miami)

 

Todd Bowles, New York Jets

Age: 55

Seasons with team: 4

Record with team: 24-40

Playoff appearances with team: 0

2018 record: 4-12

Career NFL head coaching record: 26-41 (4 seasons with New York, coached 3 games with Miami in 2011)

 

Dirk Koetter, Tampa Bay

Age: 59

Seasons with team: 3

Record with team: 19-29

Playoff appearances with team: 0

2018 record: 5-11

Career NFL head coaching record: 19-29 (all with Tampa Bay)

 

–Field Level Media

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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

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NFL roundup: Colts top Titans, lock down playoff spot

NFL roundup: Colts top Titans, lock down playoff spot

Andrew Luck threw

NFL roundup: Colts top Titans, lock down playoff spot

Andrew Luck threw for 285 yards and three touchdowns Sunday night as the Indianapolis Colts claimed the AFC’s final playoff spot with a 33-17 win over the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium in Nashville.

Luck, who completed 24 of 35 passes, finished the regular season with 39 touchdown passes, the most for a player who missed the previous season. He also enabled Indianapolis (10-6) to cap a comeback from a 1-5 start and earn a trip to AFC South champion and divisional foe Houston for a wild-card round game on Saturday.

Tennessee (9-7) snapped a nine-year playoff drought last year with a home win over Jacksonville in Week 17, but wasn’t able to repeat the feat this time. The short-handed Titans played without quarterback Marcus Mariota (stinger, plantar fascia) and Pro Bowl defensive tackle Jurrell Casey (knee), and their absences were clearly felt.

Casey’s injury left a massive gap in the interior defense that Indianapolis exploited with consistency. Besides Luck’s passing, the Colts also pounded out 158 yards on 36 carries, enabling them to possess the ball for more than 40 minutes.

Patriots 38, Jets 3

Tom Brady tossed a season-high four touchdowns and became the fourth quarterback in NFL history to complete 6,000 career passes as New England clinched the No. 2 seed in the AFC by cruising past visiting New York.

New England (11-5) clinched a bye for the 13th time in the Bill Belichick-Brady era since 2001 and the ninth straight season. The Kansas City Chiefs beat the Oakland Raiders later Sunday to clinch the top seed in the AFC playoffs and lock the Patriots in to the No. 2 seed.

The Jets (4-12) finished the season by losing nine of their last 10 games and fired coach Todd Bowles with two years remaining on his contract. The Jets were 24-40 under Bowles, who took over in 2015 following Rex Ryan.

Eagles 24, Redskins 0

Nick Foles tied an NFL single-game record with 25 straight pass completions and visiting Philadelphia found a way into the NFC playoffs with a blowout win at Washington.

The Eagles (9-7) clinched the second wild card spot when the Minnesota Vikings lost to the Chicago Bears 24-10. Philadelphia will visit Chicago, the NFC’s third seed, Saturday afternoon.

After throwing an interception on the opening drive, Foles recovered to finish 28 of 33 for 221 yards, two touchdowns and the pick before leaving with a chest injury in the fourth quarter. He was perfect in a stretch that began in the first quarter and ended late in the third. Washington (7-9) lost six of its final seven games as it was forced to use four different starting quarterbacks.

Bears 24, Vikings 10

Jordan Howard had 21 carries for 109 yards and two touchdowns and Chicago held on to eliminate host Minnesota from playoff contention.

Tarik Cohen also had a rushing touchdown for Chicago (12-4), which finished with its best regular-season record since 2006. The Bears locked up the No. 3 seed in the NFC playoffs and will host the Philadelphia Eagles next Sunday afternoon.

Stefon Diggs scored the lone touchdown for Minnesota (8-7-1). The Vikings could have earned a wild-card playoff berth with a victory — which would have created a rematch in Chicago next week — but instead will go home early for the third time in five seasons under head coach Mike Zimmer.

Ravens 26, Browns 24

Lamar Jackson rushed for two touchdowns and accounted for 269 all-purpose yards as Baltimore clinched the AFC North title with a narrow win over visiting Cleveland.

The Ravens (10-6), who went 6-1 with Jackson at quarterback after veteran Joe Flacco was injured midseason, will host the Los Angeles Chargers next Sunday at 1 p.m. ET in the wild-card round. Baltimore dumped Los Angeles 22-10 on Dec. 22 in Carson, Calif.

Jackson completed 14 of 24 passes for 179 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions while rushing 20 times for 90 yards. Kenneth Dixon piled up 117 yards on 12 carries and Gus Edwards chipped in 76 yards on 12 attempts as the Ravens finished with 296 yards on the ground against the Browns (7-8-1). Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield set a new NFL record for rookie touchdown passes with his 27th.

Steelers 16, Bengals 13

Rookie kicker Matt McCrane’s third field goal, from 35 yards with 1:56 left, gave Pittsburgh a win over visiting Cincinnati, but it was not enough to ensure the Steelers’ season would continue.

With Baltimore beating Cleveland, the only way Pittsburgh (9-6-1) could make the playoffs was if the Tennessee-Indianapolis game Sunday night ended in a tie. The Colts won 33-17.

The Steelers played without receiver Antonio Brown, who has a knee injury. Without a double threat, JuJu Smith-Schuster faced stiff coverage, with five catches for 37 yards and a tying touchdown against the Bengals (6-10).

Chiefs 35, Raiders 3

Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes became the second quarterback in NFL history to pass for 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns in a season as the Chiefs bashed visiting Oakland to lock up the top seed in the AFC playoffs.

An 89-yard scoring bomb to Demarcus Robinson with 8:33 left in the third quarter was Mahomes’ 50th TD strike of the season and pushed the first-year starter past the 5,000-yard plateau. The only other quarterback to reach both milestones in the same season was Denver’s Peyton Manning in 2013, when he set records for touchdown passes (55) and passing yardage (5,477) in a season.

Mahomes punctuated his MVP candidacy with 281 yards against the Raiders (4-12), going 14 of 24 with two touchdowns and one interception. Tyreek Hill led the Chiefs (12-4) with five receptions for 101 yards and scored touchdowns on a 67-yard reception and 15-yard rush.

Chargers 23, Broncos 9

Philip Rivers passed for 176 yards and a touchdown, linebacker Kyle Emanuel returned a fumble for another score and Los Angeles beat host Denver Broncos to end the regular season.

With Kansas City’s win over Oakland on Sunday, the Chargers (12-4) are locked into the No. 5 seed and will play at Baltimore next Sunday at 1:05 ET on CBS.

Mike Williams had 65 yards receiving and a score and Austin Ekeler ran for 58 yards and a touchdown for Los Angeles, while Case Keenum was 31-for-48 passing for 292 yards, a touchdown and an interception for Denver (6-10).

Rams 48, 49ers 32

The Los Angeles defense set the tone with four first-half turnovers and a touchdown on the way to a victory over visiting San Francisco that earned L.A. a first-round bye in the playoffs.

The Rams (13-3) clinched the No. 2 seed in the NFC with the victory over their longtime rival and finished undefeated against the NFC West in the process. The opening-round bye is the first for the Rams since the 2003 season when the team was in St. Louis.

Jarred Goff passed for 199 yards and four touchdowns and C.J. Anderson rushed for 132 yards and a score against the 49ers (4-12) as the Rams were without starting running back Todd Gurley for a second consecutive week as he works his way through knee inflammation.

Seahawks 27, Cardinals 24

Sebastian Janikowski kicked a 33-yard field goal as time expired to give Seattle a win against visiting Arizona.

Chris Carson rushed 19 times for 122 yards and a touchdown for the Seahawks (10-6), who had already clinched an NFC wild-card berth but cemented the No. 5 seed. Seattle will play at Dallas on Saturday night.

Arizona (3-13) clinched the league’s worst record and the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft.

Texans 20, Jaguars 3

Deshaun Watson capped his second season with a unique statistical accomplishment and host Houston claimed its third AFC South title in four seasons with a victory over woeful Jacksonville, becoming the second team to earn a division title after starting a season 0-3.

With 234 passing yards plus another 66 yards on the ground with a touchdown, Watson is the first quarterback in NFL history to total 4,000 yards (4,165) and at least 25 touchdowns (26) passing while rushing for 500 yards (551) with another five touchdowns on the ground.

Led by defensive end J.J. Watt, the Texans (11-5) harassed Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles throughout what likely was his last appearance with the Jaguars (5-11). Watt recorded 1 1/2 of the three sacks of Bortles, closing his season with 16. Watt and Hall of Fame member Reggie White are the only players in NFL history with four 15-plus sack seasons.

Cowboys 36, Giants 35

Dak Prescott threw four touchdowns passes and completed a two-point conversion to Michael Gallup with 1:12 left to lift Dallas Cowboys past host New York.

Prescott, who threw for 387 yards, completed a 32-yard touchdown pass in the back of the end zone to Cole Beasley on fourth-and-15 to set up the two-point conversion. Originally, Beasley was called out of bounds on the field, but after review was ruled to have gotten his knee down before his elbows landed out of bounds.

Though running back Ezekiel Elliott sat out the game, Dallas played most of its starters and heads into the postseason having won seven of eight games. The Cowboys (10-6) earned the fourth seed in the playoffs and will host Seattle at AT&T Stadium next weekend. The Giants finish the season 5-11.

Lions 31, Packers 0

Detroit blasted listless Green Bay, ending the season on a positive note and earning back-to-back victories at Lambeau Field for the first time since the 1990-91 seasons.

Matthew Stafford, throwing passes to the likes of Brandon Powell, Andy Jones and T.J. Jones instead of Kenny Golladay (inactive), Marvin Jones (injured reserve) and Golden Tate (traded), threw for 266 yards and a pair of touchdowns to T.J. Jones for the Lions (6-10).

His counterpart, Aaron Rodgers, exited following the third series with a concussion. A week after rallying three times from two-touchdown deficits to beat the New York Jets, interim coach Joe Philbin’s Packers (6-9-1) showed no fight against the Lions.

Bills 42, Dolphins 17

Josh Allen passed for three touchdowns and ran for two more as Buffalo defeated Miami in Orchard Park, N.Y.

Zay Jones caught two touchdowns from Allen, who completed 17 of 26 passes for 224 yards with an interception. Allen also ran nine times for 95 yards. Buffalo forced four turnovers and enjoyed its highest-scoring game of the season.

The game was the season finale for two teams out of playoff contention. Buffalo (6-10) finished 4-3 in its final seven games. Miami (7-9) concluded its season on a three-game losing streak, dropping nine of its final 13.

Panthers 33, Saints 14

Undrafted rookie quarterback Kyle Allen threw two touchdowns passes before leaving the game with a fourth-quarter shoulder injury as visiting Carolina won in New Orleans.

With the Saints (13-3) secure in their No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs, they rested several starters. Drew Brees missed only his third start since coming to the Saints in 2006. He finished the season with an NFL-record 74.4 completion percentage (364 of 489) with 3,992 yards, 32 touchdowns and just five interceptions.

Carolina (7-9) scored touchdowns on its first three possessions, with Allen driving the Panthers 75, 89 and 90 yards — mostly against the Saints’ starting defense — to forge a 20-0 lead, and it climbed to 30-0 late in the third quarter.

Falcons 34, Buccaneers 32

Matt Bryant made a 37-yard field goal as time expired to give visiting Atlanta a victory in what turned out to be Dirk Koetter’s final game as Tampa Bay’s head coach.

The field goal was Bryant’s second of the game after a 49-yarder in the third quarter and gave the Falcons (7-9) a three-game winning streak to end the season despite trailing 17-0 late in the first half.

The Bucs (5-11) lost eight of their last 10 games, including the final four, and fell to 19-29 under Koetter, whom the team fired shortly after the game. Jameis Winston had four touchdown passes for the Bucs, including a score with five minutes remaining, and was 22 of 35 for 345 yards and an interception.

–Field Level Media

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Steelers drop Bengals but fail to make playoffs

Steelers drop Bengals but fail to make playoffs

Steelers drop Bengals but fail to make playoffs

Rookie kicker Matt McCrane’s third field goal Sunday, from 35 yards with 1:56 left, gave Pittsburgh a 16-13 win over the visiting Cincinnati Bengals, but it was not enough to continue the Steelers’ season.

Pittsburgh (9-6-1) also needed Cleveland to win at Baltimore, but the Ravens prevailed 26-24. The only way the Steelers could make the playoffs was if the Tennessee-Indianapolis game Sunday night ended in a tie. But the Colts ended those hopes with a 33-17 win.

Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger passed for 287 yards with a touchdown and an interception by Cincinnati’s Shawn Williams that was returned for a touchdown.

The Steelers played without receiver Antonio Brown, who has a knee injury. Without a double threat, JuJu Smith-Schuster faced stiff coverage, with five catches for 37 yards and a tying touchdown.

The Bengals’ Jeff Driskel passed for 95 yards. Joe Mixon rushed for 105 yards.

Cincinnati finished 6-10 in a season marked by numerous injuries.

The first quarter was a punt fest, with the most significant moment coming when Cincinnati receiver Cody Core left with an air cast on his left elbow after an awkward, gruesome-looking fall.

At 12:37 of the second quarter, Williams picked off Roethlisberger and returned the ball 58 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 Cincinnati lead.

Randy Bullock increased the Bengals’ lead to 10 with a 49-yard field goal with 2:12 left in the first half.

Pittsburgh’s first points came as the first half ended. McCrane hit from 39 yards to cut the deficit to 10-3. It was his first field-goal attempt for Pittsburgh after he was signed this week. The Steelers put struggling kicker Chris Boswell on injured reserve.

The Steelers finally got the big play they needed when Roethlisberger hit rookie James Washington in stride for 47 yards to the Bengals 27. It put Roethlisberger over 5,000 yards for the first time in his career.

After a James Conner run for another first down, Roethlisberger threw an 11-yard screen pass to Smith-Schuster for a touchdown to tie the game at 10 with 3:50 left in the third quarter.

McCrane gave the Steelers their first lead, 13-10, with 8:35 left in the game on a 47-yard field goal that bounced off the right upright and through.

Bullock tied it 13-13 with a 32-yard field goal with 6:17 left, in part set up by Joe Mixon’s 51-yard run.

–Field Level Media

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Bucs fall to Falcons, fire Koetter after game

Bucs fall to Falcons, fire Koetter after game

Matt

Bucs fall to Falcons, fire Koetter after game

Matt Bryant made a 37-yard field goal as time expired to give the visiting Atlanta Falcons a 34-32 victory Sunday in what turned out to be Dirk Koetter’s final game as Buccaneers head coach Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.

The field goal was Bryant’s second of the game after a 49-yarder in the third quarter and gave the Falcons (7-9) a three-game winning streak to end the season despite trailing 17-0 late in the first half.

The Bucs (5-11) lost eight of their last 10 games, including the final four, and fell to 19-29 under Koetter, whom the club fired shortly after the game.

The Falcons’ Matt Ryan completed 31 of 44 passes for 378 yards and two touchdowns, and also caught a score on a trick play.

Jameis Winston had four touchdown passes for the Bucs, including a score with five minutes remaining, and was 22 of 35 for 345 yards and an interception.

Atlanta’s Julio Jones had nine catches for 138 yards and a touchdown, while Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans had six grabs for 106 yards and two scores.

The Falcons, scoring on their fifth straight possession, went up 31-20 early in the fourth quarter as Ryan passed 7 yards to Calvin Ridley for the rookie’s 10th TD on the season.

Evans scored on a 10-yard pass from Winston shortly thereafter, though, and the Bucs regained the lead on a 19-yard connection from Winston to Chris Godwin after Ryan was picked off by Andrew Adams.

The Bucs went for two points after both scores and failed each time.

Wide receiver Mohamed Sanu hit Ryan with a 5-yard pass to start the second half and the Falcons took their first lead at 24-20 late in the third quarter on a 23-yard run by Tevin Coleman.

That touchdown came after the game’s first turnover as Damontae Kazee got his seventh interception, picking off Winston’s deflected pass.

Tampa Bay went up 17-0 on Winston’s 30-yard strike to Godwin with 46 seconds remaining in the second quarter, but the Falcons finally got going on a 19-yard score from Ryan to Jones with 20 seconds left before halftime.

Winston completed 15 of 23 first-half passes for 210 yards and two scores, while the Falcons sputtered until their quick-strike 75-yard TD drive.

Evans, who finished the season with 1,524 yards, broke the Tampa Bay career record for receiving yardage with a 16-yard catch early on the Bucs’ second possession and then capped the 93-yard drive with a 19-yard TD grab.

Evans, 25, is the youngest of six players to reach 6,000 career receiving yards in their first five NFL seasons, joining Torry Holt, Randy Moss, Jerry Rice, Julio Jones and A.J. Green.

–Field Level Media

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NFL roundup: Brady dominates, Pats lock up bye

NFL roundup: Brady dominates, Pats lock up bye

Tom Brady tossed a

NFL roundup: Brady dominates, Pats lock up bye

Tom Brady tossed a season-high four touchdowns and became the fourth quarterback in NFL history to complete 6,000 career passes as the New England Patriots clinched at least the No. 2 seed by cruising to a 38-3 victory over the visiting New York Jets on Sunday.

New England (11-5) clinched a bye for the 13th time in the Bill Belichick-Brady era since 2001 and the ninth straight season. The Kansas City Chiefs beat the Oakland Raiders later Sunday to clinch the top seed in the AFC playoffs and lock the Patriots in to the No. 2 seed.

Brady reached his 6,000th career completion on a 5-yard pass to Chris Hogan with 11:40 remaining. He joined Drew Brees (6,586), Brett Favre (6,300) and Peyton Manning (6,125) as the only players in NFL history to reach that milestone.

The Jets (4-12) finished the season by losing nine of their last 10 games and likely will fire coach Todd Bowles with two years remaining on his contract. The Jets are 24-40 under Bowles, who took over in 2015 following Rex Ryan.

Texans 20, Jaguars 3

Deshaun Watson capped his second season with a unique statistical accomplishment and host Houston claimed its third AFC South title in four seasons with a victory over woeful Jacksonville, becoming the second team to earn a division title after starting a season 0-3.

With 234 passing yards plus another 66 yards on the ground with a touchdown, Watson is the first quarterback in NFL history to total 4,000 yards (4,165) and at least 25 touchdowns (26) passing while rushing for 500 yards (551) with another five touchdowns on the ground.

Led by defensive end J.J. Watt, the Texans (11-5) harassed Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles throughout what likely was his last appearance with the Jaguars (5-11). Watt recorded 1 1/2 of the three sacks of Bortles, closing his season with 16. Watt and Hall of Fame member Reggie White are the only players in NFL history with four 15-plus sack seasons.

Cowboys 36, Giants 35

Dak Prescott threw four touchdowns passes and completed a two-point conversion to Michael Gallup with 1:12 left to lift Dallas Cowboys past host New York.

Prescott, who threw for 387 yards, completed a 32-yard touchdown pass in the back of the end zone to Cole Beasley on fourth-and-15 to set up the two-point conversion. Originally, Beasley was called out of bounds on the field, but after review was ruled to have gotten his knee down before his elbows landed out of bounds.

Though running back Ezekiel Elliott sat out the game, Dallas played most of its starters and heads into the postseason having won seven of eight games. The Cowboys (10-6) earned the fourth seed in the playoffs and will host Seattle at AT&T Stadium next weekend. The Giants finish the season 5-11.

Lions 31, Packers 0

Detroit blasted listless Green Bay, ending the season on a positive note and earning back-to-back victories at Lambeau Field for the first time since the 1990-91 seasons.

Matthew Stafford, throwing passes to the likes of Brandon Powell, Andy Jones and T.J. Jones instead of Kenny Golladay (inactive), Marvin Jones (injured reserve) and Golden Tate (traded), threw for 266 yards and a pair of touchdowns to T.J. Jones for the Lions (6-10).

His counterpart, Aaron Rodgers, exited following the third series with a concussion. A week after rallying three times from two-touchdown deficits to beat the New York Jets, interim coach Joe Philbin’s Packers (6-9-1) showed no fight against the Lions.

Bills 42, Dolphins 17

Josh Allen passed for three touchdowns and ran for two more as Buffalo defeated Miami in Orchard Park, N.Y.

Zay Jones caught two touchdowns from Allen, who completed 17 of 26 passes for 224 yards with an interception. Allen also ran nine times for 95 yards. Buffalo forced four turnovers and enjoyed its highest-scoring game of the season.

The game was the season finale for two teams out of playoff contention. Buffalo (6-10) finished 4-3 in its final seven games. Miami (7-9) concluded its season on a three-game losing streak, dropping nine of its final 13.

Panthers 33, Saints 14

Undrafted rookie quarterback Kyle Allen threw two touchdowns passes before leaving the game with a fourth-quarter shoulder injury as visiting Carolina won in New Orleans.

With the Saints (13-3) secure in their No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs, they rested several starters. Drew Brees missed only his third start since coming to the Saints in 2006. He finished the season with an NFL-record 74.4 completion percentage (364 of 489) with 3,992 yards, 32 touchdowns and just five interceptions.

Carolina (7-9) scored touchdowns on its first three possessions, with Allen driving the Panthers 75, 89 and 90 yards — mostly against the Saints’ starting defense — to forge a 20-0 lead, and it climbed to 30-0 late in the third quarter.

Falcons 34, Buccaneers 32

Matt Bryant made a 37-yard field goal as time expired to give visiting Atlanta a victory in what turned out to be Dirk Koetter’s final game as Tampa Bay’s head coach.

The field goal was Bryant’s second of the game after a 49-yarder in the third quarter and gave the Falcons (7-9) a three-game winning streak to end the season despite trailing 17-0 late in the first half.

The Bucs (5-11) lost eight of their last 10 games, including the final four, and fell to 19-29 under Koetter, whom the team fired shortly after the game. Jameis Winston had four touchdown passes for the Bucs, including a score with five minutes remaining, and was 22 of 35 for 345 yards and an interception.

–Field Level Media

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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

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Pats TE Gronkowski not thinking retirement

Pats TE Gronkowski not thinking retirement

New

Pats TE Gronkowski not thinking retirement

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski told reporters Thursday he is not thinking about retirement after first broaching the subject following last season’s Super Bowl.

“I haven’t been thinking about that at all,” Gronkowski said ahead of the Patriots’ regular-season finale against the New York Jets. “We’re on the last game. Going into Week 17, we’ve got the Jets. That’s all I’m really worried about as of now.”

Following New England’s Super Bowl LII loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, Gronkowski would not commit to playing the 2018 season. The ensuing offseason was tumultuous for the 29-year-old, who was the subject of numerous trade rumors and skipped OTAs.

Gronkowski reported to Patriots training camp, and the team restructured his contract to boost his potential 2018 earnings by $4.3 million. The star tight end is under contract at a base salary of $9 million in 2019 before becoming a free agent.

The oft-injured Gronkowski has struggled to stay on the field yet again this season, catching 45 passes for 658 yards and three touchdowns in 12 games. He has battled back and ankle injuries.

“I would say every season presents a different challenge,” Gronkowski said. “You go through things, you get dinged up a little bit. It’s a different challenge. … Every season brings it’s own little challenges. You’ve just gotta keep on grinding, keep on staying positive. Stay focused. That’s all you got to really do. You can’t ever get too down and then you dig yourself a bigger hole.”

The Patriots (10-5) enter their season finale against the Jets this weekend with the AFC East clinched and a chance at winning the top seed in the AFC.

“We got this big game Sunday, still, and the playoffs after, so that’s the last thing on my mind right now,” Gronkowski said of calling it quits. “I love the grind. I’m all in. I’ve been all-in all season — no matter if it’s been up, if it’s been down. And I’m going to tell you this right now, I’m going to be all-in for the rest of the year no matter what it is. That’s my main focus, no matter how it goes.”

–Field Level Media

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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

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

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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

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Pederson stands by Wentz as Eagles’ QB of future

 

While quarterback Nick Foles tries to guide the Philadelphia Eagles back to the playoffs, coach

 

While quarterback Nick Foles tries to guide the Philadelphia Eagles back to the playoffs, coach Doug Pederson assured reporters on Friday that injured starter Carson Wentz remains the franchise quarterback.

 

“I can stand here and say that Carson is our quarterback,” Pederson said. “He’s our quarterback in the future. That’s why we drafted him. It’s also why we have Nick here as a backup, as a veteran player to – I don’t want to say bail us out, but to come in and execute the offense. I think we just continue to reconfirm that with Carson and let him know that.”

 

Wentz, who turns 26 next week, remains out with a fractured vertebra that might require three months of rest to fully heal, though he has not yet been placed on injured reserve.

 

Foles, who replaced Wentz late last season and led the Eagles to the Super Bowl championship, finished 24 of 31 for 270 yards and an interception as the Eagles put up 30 points in a game for just the second time this season in an upset of the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday night.

 

He will start again this week against the Houston Texans.

 

Foles, 30, could play his way into a healthy salary bonus and steer the Eagles into the playoffs, which seemed improbable sitting at 6-7 before beating the Rams.

 

The Super Bowl MVP’s restructured contract includes a clause that pays him an extra $250,000 for every game in which he plays at least 33 percent of the snaps, and another $250,000 if the Eagles win that game.

 

The Eagles (7-7) trail the Dallas Cowboys (8-6) in the NFC East race as they prepare to host the Texans (10-4) on Sunday.

 

–Field Level Media

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WR Bryant vows to return in 2019

 

New Orleans Saints receiver Dez Bryant says the torn

 

New Orleans Saints receiver Dez Bryant says the torn Achilles tendon that ended his 2018 season won’t end his career.

 

“I have to (play again). I got business and I got ball,” said Bryant on KRLD-FM, per the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

 

“I can’t end like this. I have to throw the X up.”

 

Bryant, 30, suffered the injury on the final play of his second practice with the team.

 

The three-time Pro Bowl selection agreed to a one-year, $600,000 contract with New Orleans in November after being cut by the Dallas Cowboys before the season.

 

Bryant has 531 catches for 7,459 yards and 73 touchdowns in his career, but hasn’t posted a 1,000 yard season since 2014.

 

–Field Level Media

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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

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NFL suspends Patriots WR Gordon indefinitely

 

The NFL on Thursday officially suspended New England Patriots wide

 

The NFL on Thursday officially suspended New England Patriots wide receiver Josh Gordon, hours after Gordon announced that he planned to step away from football indefinitely to address his mental health.

 

Gordon has been returned to the Reserve/Commissioner Suspended list indefinitely for violating terms of his reinstatement from a yearlong ban for substance abuse.

 

Gordon, 27, was suspended the entire 2015 season, one year after serving a two-game suspension, all for drug violations, and has been banned a total of 56 games in his career.

 

Gordon earlier in the day released a statement saying he was taking another leave.

 

“I take my mental health very seriously at this point to ensure I remain able to perform at the highest level. I have recently felt like I could have a better grasp on things mentally. With that said, I will be stepping away from the football field for a bit to focus on my mental health. I would like to thank Coach Belichick, Mr. Kraft, as well as countless others within the Patriots organization for their continued support. I want to thank my fans for their support as well as I continue down the path of getting back to 100 (percent).”

 

“We support Josh Gordon in his continued efforts to focus on his health,” the Patriots said in a statement released 45 minutes after Gordon posted his message to Twitter. “His attempt to do so is a private matter, which we intend to respect.”

 

Gordon took a leave from the Cleveland Browns lasting more than three weeks in August. The Patriots acquired him from the Browns via trade in September. Gordon had 40 receptions and three touchdowns — averaging 18 yards per catch — in 11 games played with the Patriots. He was inactive Sept. 23 at Detroit.

 

Without Gordon, the Patriots’ receiving corps has no legitimate lead receiver.

 

Tight end Rob Gronkowski has not been his All-Pro self because of injuries, but is still third on the team with 45 catches and three scores.

 

The news comes as the Patriots make a push for another playoff run while sitting at 9-5 and coming off of a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in which the New England offense managed only 10 points.

 

In three of the team’s five losses this season, the Patriots scored just 10 points (Pittsburgh, Detroit, Tennessee).

 

–Field Level Media

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Jets’ Darnold eager to battle Rodgers, Packers

 

New York finishes the season against the Green Bay Packers

 

New York finishes the season against the Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots, giving Jets rookie Sam Darnold the chance to watch two of the best quarterbacks in NFL history — Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady — up close and personal.

 

“Just the way he’s able to see the field so fast, it’s almost like he knows what the defense is going to do before the snap. For him it looks so easy and effortless,” Darnold said of Rodgers.

 

“And he has probably the best arm talent that I’ve ever seen — debatably in the NFL’s entire history. He’s just really gifted throwing the football, but on top of that, he’s super smart, so we’ve got our hands full with him.”

 

The Jets (4-10) host the Packers (5-8-1) on Sunday. Green Bay is 0-7 on the road.

 

Bothered all season by a knee injury and now dealing with a groin injury, Rodgers only ranks 14th in the NFL this season in passer rating.

 

“We have a guy coming in that to me is the best quarterback in the league when he’s healthy, and he’s going to be ready to play,” Pro Bowl Jets safety Jamal Adams said. “He’s a hell of a competitor and I’m definitely looking forward to going up against him for the first time. I used to watch him as a little boy, and I’m definitely looking forward to the matchup.”

 

Rodgers expects to be in the starting lineup, even with last week’s loss at Chicago officially ending Green Bay’s playoff hopes.

 

“I think it’s a lot about leadership,” he said of not sitting out the final two games to begin the healing process. “If I want to be listened to and followed and looked up to, how could I stand here and say that these games that don’t matter for playoffs, I’m going to cash it in? That’s just not the way I lead, and I’m super-competitive, and I want to be out there with the guys, and I look forward to being out there.”

 

Both teams have been riddled by injuries in the backfield, and that means both quarterbacks could be throwing it around Met Life Stadium.

 

Green Bay has 14 players on injured reserve, most recently running back Aaron Jones, who leads the NFL in yards per attempt. The Jets’ leading rushers, Isaiah Crowell and Bilal Powell, are both on IR. New York listed 19 players on Wednesday’s injury report before putting right tackle Brandon Shell on IR.

 

With Rodgers struggling, Jones out and Darnold going through rookie growing pains, the best offensive player on the field will be Packers receiver Davante Adams.

 

With 100 receptions for 1,315 yards and 12 touchdowns, Adams has a chance to break the franchise records for catches (112) and yards (1,519). Rodgers intends to give his Pro Bowl receiver every chance.

 

“He’s been a lot of fun to throw to this year,” Rodgers said. “He’s a fantastic wide receiver. The great thing about Davante is the way that he practices. He’s a fantastic professional. He’s got a great approach to the game.

 

“I would love for him to break some records. The fact that he’s put up these numbers already … is fantastic. I’d love to get him over those records because we’ve been around for a long time.”

 

–Field Level Media

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Rams (11-3) ready to restore dominance in desert

 

The Los Angeles Rams can

 

The Los Angeles Rams can only hope a game slot out of primetime can settle recent woes that have put a wrinkle into what had previously been a dominating season.

 

When the Arizona Cardinals play host to the Rams (11-3) on Sunday, Los Angeles will be coming off nationally televised defeats to the Chicago Bears and Philadelphia Eagles.

 

And while the focus all around will be on Sunday’s NFC West matchup, much of the attention will also be paid to veteran wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who could be playing the final home game of his accomplished career.

 

There is a chance Fitzgerald could retire after completing his 15th NFL season. And since he will become a free agent after playing in two more games for the Cardinals, there is also a chance he could move on to a contender next season. As of now, Fitzgerald is keeping his future plans to himself.

 

“It may. It may not,” Fitzgerald said, according to nfl.com, when asked if Sunday will be his last game in front of Cardinals fans.

 

Fitzgerald says that one thing is certain: He will be ready and focused to match up against a Rams team that had just one loss before the Bears and Eagles found a way to diffuse a high-scoring team.

 

While the Rams offense was churning out points with ease in compiling an 11-1 record, the defense showed a tendency to be a bit porous. Suddenly it is the Rams offense that is in a rut, while the defense has given up just 20.3 points per game over the last three weeks after the team’s thrilling 54-51 Monday night victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.

 

“It’s just us, turning the ball over, mental mistakes, stuff like that,” Rams Pro Bowl running back Todd Gurley said after Sunday night’s defeat to the Eagles. “We know that’s not us. We’ll go watch the film. I’m not worried though. We have a great group of guys. I think we all know where we need to get better.”

 

Quarterback Jarred Goff also was selected for the Pro Bowl, but he has been a mere mortal of late, throwing six interceptions with one touchdown pass over the last three games. He had 26 TD passes in the first 11 games.

 

Cardinals rookie quarterback Josh Rosen has just 10 TD passes and none in the past three weeks. But he is getting valuable experience, with some rewards mixed in, like his two victories over the San Francisco 49ers and his three TD passes against the Raiders on Nov 18.

 

“They’re really good and they have talent all around the field,” Rosen said about the Rams, a team he did not play against in Week 2 but got an up-close look at from the sideline as L.A. cruised to a 34-0 victory. “They have really good players top to bottom. Some of them play certain ways that we think we can take advantage of them, but a really good defense.”

 

Sunday’s game will also pit new Cardinals kick returner/wide receiver Pharoh Cooper against a Rams team that waived him this week. An ankle injury during the first game of the season limited Cooper to five contests this season and he was cut Tuesday so that the Rams could make roster room for the addition of running back C.J. Anderson.

 

The Rams will enter the game knowing that a win or a tie, coupled with a Bears defeat at San Francisco will clinch a top-two record in the NFC and a first-round playoff bye.

 

Gurley did not participate in a walk-through Wednesday after fighting through a tender knee against the Eagles, but head coach Sean McVay said he expects his starting running back to play against the Cardinals. Running back Justin Davis (shoulder) and linebacker Samson Ebukam (illness) also did not participate in the walk-through.

 

Cardinals offensive tackle Joe Barksdale and cornerback David Amerson should play Sunday after concussion issues. Wide receiver Trent Sherfield (ankle) and wide receiver Chad Williams (hamstring) were limited in practice. Safety Rudy Ford (ribs) was a full participant. Not practicing Wednesday: safety Budda Baker (knee), defensive end Markus Golden (ankle), defensive tackle Rodney Gunter (foot), wide receiver J.J. Nelson (illness) and tight end Ricky Seals-Jones (illness). Fitzgerald did not practice, but it was not injury related.

 

 

–Field Level Media

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Patriots hunt for playoff position, host Bills

 

 

The second meeting this season between the Buffalo Bills and the New England Patriots looks awfully different from the first.

 

That’s clear simply from the point spread, where the Patriots (9-5) are huge-but-not-mammoth 12.5-point favorites at home. That’s a far cry from Week 8 in Buffalo, when the Bills were the second-largest home underdogs (13.5 points) in franchise history.

 

That Monday night battle was just the second start for veteran quarterback Derek Anderson — signed off the street 20 days earlier — since 2016, as rookie Josh Allen was still sidelined by an elbow injury. New England coasted through a defensive slog, ultimately winning 25-6 to drop Buffalo to 2-7.

 

But since Allen returned in Week 12, the Bills have gone 2-2 to get to 5-9, with narrow losses to the division-rival Miami Dolphins and New York Jets. While Allen’s passing numbers have been inconsistent, he’s created with his legs (351 rushing yards, three TDs since in that span) and found receivers like undrafted rookie Robert Foster (19 catches, 468 yards, two touchdowns this year) for huge gains.

 

“Offensively, they’ve got a lot of explosive weapons,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said. “We didn’t see Allen. He’s been impressive. Foster — they have a lot of big plays.

 

“…The quarterback is a big difference. That’s a big difference right there. But the receivers — no [Kelvin] Benjamin, Foster has emerged — they’re much different.”

 

Buffalo head coach Sean McDermott has seen significant changes in his team too, particularly in Allen’s development since returning from injury.

 

“I went back and watched the Miami game a few days ago and he looks like a different player than he did from two or three games ago, which is important and good for him,” McDermott said of Allen. “The way the game is slowing down for him is encouraging.”

 

The Patriots, meanwhile, are just 3-3 since beating the Bills, and they’re riding their first losing streak in December since 2002. New England remains undefeated (6-0) at home this season, with four of the six victories coming by at least 14 points, but there have been chinks in the armor.

 

Tom Brady’s touchdown (4.7) and interception rates (1.8) are on pace for his worst marks since the 2013 season. After finishing in the top five in passing yards, yards per attempt, touchdowns, completion percentage and passer rating last year, Brady ranks fifth, 10th, T-10th, 17th and 12th, respectively, in those categories this year, meaning he could miss out on $4-5 million in incentives on his contract.

 

But McDermott doesn’t see any decline in the 41-year-old QB, who is 29-3 against the Bills in his career and was just named to his record-tying 14th Pro Bowl.

 

“To me, he looks even better than he has in years past, believe it or not,” McDermott said. “I know that the numbers may not support that, but I think his game is strong, he doesn’t turn the ball over. I think he’s as good as ever.”

 

Last week’s loss to Pittsburgh leaves New England two games back of Kansas City and the Los Angeles Chargers in the race for a first-round bye in the AFC. The Patriots are also a game back of the Texans (10-4), though they hold the tiebreaker after beating Houston in Week 1.

 

New England enters Sunday in great health, with only linebacker Brandon King (knee, limited) on Wednesday’s injury report.

 

McDermott sounded optimistic about the availability of running back LeSean McCoy (hamstring, limited), while the status of defensive tackle Kyle Williams (back, did not participate) remains unclear.

 

–Field Level Media

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Packers QB Rodgers says he’s playing vs. Jets

 

 

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers told reporters Wednesday he plans to play through his groin injury Sunday against the New York Jets.

 

“It’s about leadership,” said Rodgers, who hurt the groin in Sunday’s loss to the Bears but played through the issue. “How can I stand here and say these games don’t matter? … That’s not the way I lead. I’m super competitive.”

 

Hours earlier, interim coach Joe Philbin declined to say definitively whether or not Rodgers would play.

 

“I’m hopeful he’s going to practice, and I’m hopeful he’s going to play,” Philbin told reporters. “But certainly, yeah it’s a little early to say exactly where everybody’s at.”

 

Rodgers did practice and took all the reps, avoiding the limited designation on the team’s injury report.

 

Many have wondered if Rodgers would not play the final two weeks, given the groin injury, the knee injury he played through earlier this season and the Packers officially being eliminated from playoff contention on Sunday.

 

Elsewhere, multiple outlets reported Tuesday that defensive tackle Kenny Clark would be placed on injured reserve after injuring his elbow in Sunday’s loss, but Philbin said he was not aware of any plans to shut down Clark “at this point in time.”

 

Clark, a 2016 first-round pick, has six sacks in 13 games this season. The team must decide this offseason whether or not to pick up his fifth-year option for 2020, which would be guaranteed only for injury.

 

Clark’s elbow injury is not considered serious and he isn’t expected to need surgery.

 

–Field Level Media

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Report: Raiders to sign former Bills QB Peterman

 

The Oakland Raiders are signing

 

The Oakland Raiders are signing former Buffalo Bills quarterback Nathan Peterman to their practice squad, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday.

 

The move came as Raiders backup AJ McCarron was at the hospital with his wife, who gave birth to a baby boy on Tuesday night.

 

Peterman will work with Oakland’s scout team, according to Rapoport.

 

The Bills cut Peterman last month. The 2017 fifth-round pick appeared in eight games in two seasons in Buffalo, completing 52.3 percent of his passes for 548 yards, three touchdowns, 12 interceptions and a 32.5 quarterback rating.

 

Working as an ESPN analyst at the time, Raiders head coach Jon Gruden raved about Peterman before the 2017 draft.

 

“Peterman is ready to walk in and be a contributor from day one,” Gruden wrote at the time. “He just looks like a pro quarterback.”

 

–Field Level Media

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Report: Wentz had back fracture before college

Report: Wentz had back fracture before college

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz was

Report: Wentz had back fracture before college

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his back when he was a redshirt freshman at North Dakota State, ESPN reported Wednesday.

The injury occurred during his childhood and was completely healed before he got to college, a league source told ESPN. The source also said that injury is not related to Wentz’s current malady, a fractured vertebra that could sideline him for the rest of the season.

The Philadelphia Daily News reported that Wentz’s medical report, given to teams at the NFL Scouting Combine before the 2016 NFL Draft, referred to a healed stress fracture in his back. It did not affect his draft status, as the Eagles selected him No. 2 overall.

Wentz has been characterized as “week-to-week” by Eagles coach Doug Pederson after a CT scan last week revealed the current fracture.

He has started 11 games this season, completing a career-high 69.6 percent of his passes for 3,074 yards with 21 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles will make his second straight start (fourth of the season) when Philadelphia (7-7) plays host to the Houston Texans (10-4) on Sunday.

–Field Level Media

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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

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

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McVay: Peters must ‘be better’ after confronting fan

 

Los Angeles cornerback Marcus Peters

 

Los Angeles cornerback Marcus Peters let frustration spill over during the Rams’ 30-23 home loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday night, and coach Sean McVay said Monday that Peters knows “we’ve got to be better.”

 

In a video posted on social media after the contest, Peters is seen confronting a heckler behind the Rams bench. Peters walks over to the individual, repeatedly asking where the person was from and directing several profanities toward the fan.

 

“I saw the video. I got a chance to talk to Marcus,” McVay said during his press conference. “He knows that we’ve got to be better in those situations and can’t allow whatever is going on in terms of that dialogue to affect our ability to be focused on what is going on during the game and on the field. … We had a good discussion, and he knows that.”

 

McVay said the incident was being handled internally by the Rams and that he wasn’t sure how the NFL might view the matter.

 

While McVay did not say what he and Peters talked about specifically, he added, “I wanted to have an understanding of what was going on because all I saw was that video — not exclusive to everything else that might have taken place.

 

“He and I were able to have that (talk). I like the way that he was able to communicate to me, and I trust that when those situations, if they do arise in the future, that we’ll handle it differently.”

 

Peters downplayed the incident Monday.

 

“It wasn’t nothin’, man,” he told reporters. “Just makin’ a little bit of fun with the people out there that be hecklin’ and stuff. It wasn’t nothing. Don’t take it too personal.”

 

Former “Saturday Night Live” star Taran Killam, who was at the game, said he witnessed the incident and posted his take on social media: “Saw the whole thing go down. Despite 8-10 security members and Rams personnel stepping in to diffuse the situation, Peters couldn’t let it go. Guy he was talking to was escorted out. Friend sitting closer said he overheard it had to do with old high school beef.”

 

The NFL has come down on Peters already once this season, fining him $13,000 for a lewd touchdown celebration during a Week 1 win over the Oakland Raiders. In 2017, Peters was suspended one game by his team at the time, the Chiefs, for throwing an official’s flag into the stands and arguing with a Kansas City assistant coach. He was fined $24,309 by the NFL for throwing the flag.

 

–Field Level Media

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Panthers S Reid, QB Newton use cleats to send their message

 

Carolina safety Eric Reid took advantage of the NFL's "my cause, my

 

Carolina safety Eric Reid took advantage of the NFL’s “my cause, my cleats” campaign during the Panthers’ Monday night matchup against the New Orleans Saints to promote continued awareness of social injustice.

 

Reid collaborated with activist and artist Brandan “B-mike” Odums to create the cleats, which Reid said were a “tribute to the history of protest” while promoting former teammate Colin Kaepernick’s “Know Your Rights Camp.”

 

The design features images of protesters holding signs that read, “I know my rights,” “If not us, who?” and “If not now, when?” The cleats also spell out the 10 points of Kaepernick’s camp platform:

 

1. You have the right to be free.

2. You have the right to be healthy.

3. You have the right to be brilliant.

4. You have the right to be safe.

5. You have the right to be loved.

6. You have the right to be courageous.

7. You have the right to be alive.

8. You have the right to be trusted.

9. You have the right to be educated.

10. You have the right to know your rights.

 

The 27-year-old Pro Bowler posted pictures of the cleats on Twitter, thanking the artist and praising Kaepernick, writing: “We all benefit and stand on … the shoulders of those giants who decided their moment was best used for the sake of the people. And it’s always the right time to do what’s right. No different from you using your moment to take a knee.”

 

Reid, Kaepernick’s former San Francisco 49ers teammate, was the first player to join Kaepernick in 2016 in kneeling during the national anthem as a protest to social injustice and police brutality.

 

Earlier this year, both players filed a collusion grievance against the NFL claiming the league and team owners colluded to keep them from playing. Reid had trouble finding work before Carolina signed him in September when starting free safety Da’Norris Searcy was placed on injured reserve. Kaepernick remains unemployed.

 

Reid has not withdrawn his grievance.

 

Also Monday night, Carolina quarterback Cam Newton had a picture of a broken broom on the side of his right cleat — a reference to the broom he was sent after the Saints swept the Panthers in three games last season.

 

Earlier in the week, Newton called the gesture “disrespectful” and said if the Panthers beat the Saints twice in the final three games this season, he would send the broom back to the person who sent it. The broom has been hanging in his locker all season.

 

On Newton’s left cleat was nod to Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan, who sent the quarterback a bottle of wine after the sweep. The message on the shoe read, “Get Back, Vineyards of N.C. #1 Reserve.”

 

The Panthers posted pictures of Newton’s cleats on Twitter with the message, “Our QB has spoken #KeepPounding.”

 

The Saints beat the Panthers 12-9.

 

–Field Level Media

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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

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NFL roundup: Steelers knock off Brady, Patriots

 

 

Ben Roethlisberger threw two touchdown passes, and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense stopped Tom Brady and the visiting New England Patriots twice in the red zone in the fourth quarter to seal a 17-10 win Sunday.

 

The Steelers (8-5-1) ended a three-game losing streak. New England (9-5) lost its second straight and missed a chance to clinch the AFC East title. It was Pittsburgh’s first win against New England since October of 2011, with the Patriots winning the previous five meetings (including playoffs).

 

Roethlisberger threw for 235 yards, with scoring passes to Vance McDonald and Antonio Brown, and was intercepted twice by Duron Harmon. Rookie Jaylen Samuels ran for 142 yards on 19 carries (7.5 average).

 

Brady threw for 279 yards, including a touchdown to Chris Hogan, and one interception. Rob Gronkowski, who has been a Steelers-killer, was held to two catches for 21 yards.

 

Bears 24, Packers 17

 

Mitchell Trubisky completed 20 of 28 passes for 235 yards and two touchdowns, and Chicago clinched its first NFC North division title since 2010 with a win over visiting Green Bay.

 

Tarik Cohen and Trey Burton each hauled in touchdowns for the Bears, and Jordan Howard scored on the ground. Chicago (10-4) snapped a five-game skid against Green Bay and clinched its first division crown at home since 2006.

 

Aaron Rodgers completed 25 of 42 passes for 274 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. Jamaal Williams scored the lone touchdown for Green Bay (5-8-1), which dropped to 1-1 under interim head coach Joe Philbin and was eliminated from postseason contention.

 

Colts 23, Cowboys 0

 

Marlon Mack rushed 27 times for 139 yards and two touchdowns as host Indianapolis ended Dallas’ five-game winning streak in emphatic fashion with a shutout at Lucas Oil Stadium.

 

Adam Vinatieri added three field goals for Indianapolis (8-6), which remains in contention for the AFC’s second wild-card spot. The Colts, Baltimore Ravens and Tennessee Titans are tied at 8-6.

 

Dallas (8-6) could have wrapped up the NFC East title with a win but will have to wait for a Week 16 home game with Tampa Bay. The Cowboys were shut out for the first time since Nov. 16, 2003, when they fell 12-0 at New England.

 

Ravens 20, Buccaneers 12

 

Gus Edwards rushed for 104 yards and a touchdown as Baltimore topped Tampa Bay on a cold and rainy afternoon in Baltimore.

 

The Ravens (8-6) remain in control of the second AFC wild-card spot and in contention for the AFC North crown, rushing for 242 yards to become the first team since the 1976 Steelers with five straight games with 190 or more rushing yards.

 

Jameis Winston completed 13 of 25 passes for 157 yards and one interception for Tampa Bay (5-9). Peyton Barber rushed for 85 yards and a touchdown. Mike Evans had four catches for 121 yards.

 

49ers 26, Seahawks 23 (OT)

 

Robbie Gould’s fourth field goal of the day, a 36-yard kick with 3:06 remaining in overtime, gave San Francisco the victory over Seattle in rainy Santa Clara, Calif., denying the Seahawks an opportunity to clinch a playoff spot.

 

Doug Baldwin caught two touchdown passes for Seattle (8-6), which can clinch a playoff spot with a win against Kansas City or Arizona in the next two weeks. It would be the Seahawks’ sixth playoff berth in the last seven seasons.

 

The win was the first for the 49ers (4-10) over their NFC West rival since December of 2013, snapping a nine-game, regular-season losing streak against Seattle. San Francisco, which surprised Denver 20-14 last week, won its second straight.

 

Titans 17, Giants 0

 

Derrick Henry followed up a record-setting performance with 170 yards and a pair of short touchdown runs as Tennessee eliminated New York from postseason contention with a shutout in East Rutherford, N.J.

 

A week after setting a franchise record with 238 yards in a Thursday night game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Henry recorded his second 100-yard game of the season and fourth of his career as the Titans (8-6) are tied for the sixth seed along with Baltimore and Indianapolis.

 

The Giants (5-9) had won four of their last five games but could never develop a consistent rhythm while playing without Odell Beckham Jr., who missed his second straight game with a quadriceps injury. New York was shut out at home for the first time since Dec. 15, 2013, against Seattle.

 

Vikings 41, Dolphins 17

 

Minnesota set the tone in the first quarter with a three-touchdown outburst on the way to an easy win over visiting Miami.

 

Quarterback Kirk Cousins threw touchdown passes to Stefon Diggs and Aldrick Robinson, and Dalvin Cook rushed for two scores and Latavius Murray ran for another as the Vikings (7-6-1) set a season high in points scored.

 

Minkah Fitzpatrick and Kalen Ballage scored touchdowns, and Jason Sanders added a 25-yard field goal for Miami (7-7), which lost for the sixth time in seven road games.

 

Redskins 16, Jaguars 13

 

In a game lacking offense, visiting Washington put together two late scoring drives and got a Dustin Hopkins field goal as time expired to earn a win over disappointing Jacksonville.

 

The win ended a four-game losing streak for Washington (7-7) and keeps the Redskins alive in the NFC playoff picture.

 

In his first NFL start since 2011, Redskins quarterback Josh Johnson was 16-of-25 passing for 151 yards and a touchdown. Cody Kessler had just 57 yards passing as the Jaguars (4-10) lost for the ninth time in the past 10 games.

 

Falcons 40, Cardinals 14

 

Linebacker Deion Jones began a 26-point first-half outburst with a 41-yard interception return for a touchdown and Atlanta ended its five-game losing streak with a blowout over visiting Arizona.

 

Atlanta (5-9) was led by quarterback Matt Ryan, who was 22 for 36 for 231 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran three times for 18 yards and one touchdown. Tailback Tevin Coleman rushed 11 times for a career-best 145 yards and one touchdown. He had a career-long 65-yard run.

 

Rookie Josh Rosen suffered a long afternoon for the Cardinals (3-11). He was 13 for 22 for 132 yards and two interceptions, getting lifted midway in the fourth quarter for backup Mike Glennon.

 

Bills 14, Lions 13

 

Josh Allen threw for 204 yards and accounted for a touchdown with his arm and another with his legs to help Buffalo squeak by Detroit in Orchard Park, N.Y.

 

The Bills rookie quarterback completed 13 of 26 passes without a turnover and notched his second fourth-quarter comeback. He gained 16 yards on nine carries, giving him 351 rushing yards over his past four games as the Bills (5-9) snapped a two-game losing streak.

 

Matt Stafford threw for 208 yards and a touchdown, Kenny Golladay caught seven passes for a career-high 146 yards, Theo Riddick rushed for 47 yards and Zach Zenner contributed for 45 yards and a rushing touchdown, but Detroit (5-9) still lost for the third time in four games and was officially eliminated from playoff contention.

 

Bengals 30, Raiders 16

 

Joe Mixon ran for two touchdowns, Cincinnati converted two fourth-down conversions that led to two first-half touchdowns, and the Bengals defeated Oakland in the Bengals’ final home game of the season, and perhaps Marvin Lewis’ final home game as head coach.

 

Rumors have circulated for weeks that Lewis’ 16th season as head coach of the Bengals will be his last. Cincinnati (6-8) has been hurt by injuries, with 14 players — including Andy Dalton and A.J. Green — on injured reserve.

 

The Raiders (3-11) couldn’t get their offense on track. In their first five possessions, they punted three times and fumbled twice. Not having starting guards Kelechi Osemele and Gabe Jackson didn’t help quarterback Derek Carr, as Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins had three sacks.

 

–Field Level Media

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Eagles QB Wentz won’t practice Wednesday, could miss Rams matchup

The Philadelphia Eagles could be without quarterback Carson Wentz on Sunday when they travel to face the Los Angeles Rams.

 

Head coach Doug Pederson announced Wednesday morning that Wentz would miss practice due to back soreness.

 

"Sometimes he just gets a little sore, a little tight, so we're just going to rest him

The Philadelphia Eagles could be without quarterback Carson Wentz on Sunday when they travel to face the Los Angeles Rams.

 

Head coach Doug Pederson announced Wednesday morning that Wentz would miss practice due to back soreness.

 

“Sometimes he just gets a little sore, a little tight, so we’re just going to rest him today and evaluate him further,” said Pederson. “Nothing game-related. He’s dealt with it so we’re just going to evaluate him further.”

 

Pederson did not confirm if Wentz would play Sunday at Los Angeles.

 

“Again, we’re going to focus on today, get through today, and see where he’s at at the end of the day,” he said.

 

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Wentz is not likely to play Sunday and may not play again in 2018 as the team continues to gather information on his health.

 

Without Wentz, Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles would take over for the 6-7 Eagles. Foles started the first two games of the season as Wentz recovered from ACL surgery. He completed 65 percent of his passes with one touchdown and one interception in the Eagles’ 1-1 start.

 

–Field Level Media

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Raiders owner responds to city’s lawsuit

Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis called a lawsuit filed against the team by the city of Oakland, Calif., "meritless and malicious" at the NFL owners meetings on Tuesday night, according to ESPN.

 

The federal lawsuit, announced by Oakland City Attorney Barbara J. Parker, alleges antitrust violations and breach of contract, and names the Raiders,

Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis called a lawsuit filed against the team by the city of Oakland, Calif., “meritless and malicious” at the NFL owners meetings on Tuesday night, according to ESPN.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Davis told ESPN he’d leave further comment to lawyers.

 

“My feeling is we’re 3-10 and we’re still relevant,” said Davis. “It’s a legal issue, and I’ll let the attorneys make any further comment.”

 

The Raiders received league approval to relocate to Las Vegas in March 2017. They are expected to begin playing in Las Vegas when a new stadium opens in 2020. The team still does not know where it will play in 2019, though it has proposed a lease to remain in the Oakland Coliseum for one more season.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

–Field Level Media

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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

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

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Chiefs can lock up West with win over Chargers

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

Hey, it’s always something radical with Mahomes.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

The Chiefs also must deal with injuries to offensive threats.

 

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

 

–Field Level Media

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Chiefs, Mahomes can lock up West with win over Chargers

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

Hey, it’s always something radical with Mahomes.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

The Chiefs also must deal with injuries to offensive threats.

 

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

 

–Field Level Media

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Texans look to bounce back vs. Jets, Darnold

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

 

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

 

Now Houston gets a chance to

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

–Field Level Media

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Steelers QB Roethlisberger expects to play vs. Patriots

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

–Field Level Media

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

It was a heavyweight prizefight.

 

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

 

Martindale's

It was a heavyweight prizefight.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

That’s perfectly OK.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

-Shanahan pulls all the right strings

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

–Mayfield keeps silencing doubters

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

–David DeChant, Field Level Media

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Reports: Raiders GM McKenzie fired

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

The Raiders won their third game of the season Sunday.

 

–Field Level Media

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Seven From Sunday – Week 14

PRESS RELEASE

 

Seven From Sunday - Week 14

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

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

PRESS RELEASE

 

Seven From Sunday – Week 14

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Other notable performances from Sunday include:
     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Courtesy of NFL Communications

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NFL Notebook: Ravens QB situation gets a little cloudier

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson missed the final two plays of his team's 27-24 overtime loss in Kansas City on Sunday after he was hit but appears to have avoided major injury. However it looks like the Ravens now have a decision to make behind center.

 

Jackson, who was seen going into the

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson missed the final two plays of his team’s 27-24 overtime loss in Kansas City on Sunday after he was hit but appears to have avoided major injury. However it looks like the Ravens now have a decision to make behind center.

 

Jackson, who was seen going into the X-ray room in the locker room after the game, met reporters a few minutes later and downplayed the injury. “They just wanted to see what happened, but I’m good,” Jackson said.

 

Robert Griffin III replaced Jackson and threw two incompletions to turn the ball over on downs to end the game. As for next week, Baltimore coach John Harbaugh revealed after the game that Joe Flacco was medically cleared from his hip injury earlier this weekend and could have played.

 

Harbaugh has repeatedly declined to answer questions about who will start moving forward, though he has not ruled out the possibility of Flacco and Jackson playing for stretches.

 

–In more quarterback shuffling, Washington head coach Jay Gruden strongly implied after the Redskins’ 40-16 loss to the New York Giants that Josh Johnson, not Mark Sanchez, will take the reins next weekend when the Redskins travel to Jacksonville to face the Jaguars.

 

The Redskins signed Sanchez on Nov. 19, the day after starting quarterback Alex Smith was lost for the season with a broken tibia and fibula on his right leg. Backup Colt McCoy started four days later on Thanksgiving but broke his leg in a loss to Philadelphia on Dec. 3. Enter Johnson, signed by the Redskins to back up Sanchez despite having last thrown an NFL pass in 2011.

 

Sanchez completed 6 of 14 attempts for 38 yards and was intercepted twice by the Giants before being benched. Johnson led two scoring drives and was 11-of-16 passing for 195 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

 

–New England quarterback Tom Brady broke one record and lost another.

 

In the second quarter against Miami, Brady found Julian Edelman for a 2-yard touchdown, the 580th of Brady’s career (including playoffs). That surpasses the career mark set by Peyton Manning. The latter remains the NFL’s regular-season leader in touchdown passes with 539.

 

In Green Bay, Aaron Rodgers broke Brady’s NFL record of 358 consecutive passes without an interception, which Brady set during the 2010 and 2011 seasons.

 

–The Baltimore Ravens are calling racist and homophobic tweets that appeared to be sent more than five years ago from the Twitter account of second-year fullback-defensive lineman Patrick Ricard “totally unacceptable.”

 

An undrafted second-year player from Maine, Ricard has played 10 games this season after appearing in all 16 last season. He has made four tackles and played 90 snaps on offense.

 

–Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett has tried multiple times to convince retired tight end Jason Witten to return to the team but continues to be rebuffed, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

 

Garrett had attempted to persuade the 15-year veteran to play another year before the 2018 NFL Draft and apparently renewed those efforts as the Cowboys have remained in playoff contention this season, despite a lack of production from tight ends.

 

–CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora reported there is mounting speculation that should the Jacksonville Jaguars fire head coach Doug Marrone, current Jags executive vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin will fill the role himself next season.

 

The 72-year-old Coughlin was the first head coach in Jaguars’ history, from 1995-2002. He then coached the New York Giants to two Super Bowl championships during his tenure from 2004-15.

 

–While the NFL mulls further punishment for Kareem Hunt, the former Kansas City Chiefs running back is seeking counseling for alcohol and anger issues, according to multiple reports.

 

The NFL placed Hunt on the commissioner’s exempt list while it investigates a trio of incidents, meaning Hunt is unable to play for any team that might sign him. The Chiefs released Hunt after the video surfaced of him kicking then-19-year-old Abigail Ottinger from Berea, Ohio.

 

–The Oakland Raiders and general manager Reggie McKenzie will part ways after the season ends, according to a CBS Sports report.

 

Head coach Jon Gruden, in the first year of a 10-year $100 million contract, and McKenzie apparently haven’t viewed players the same way this season as the Raiders have stumbled to a 2-10 record.

 

–Field Level Media

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Flacco practices, status vs. Chiefs uncertain

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco was a full participant in Friday's practice, the first time he's done that since injuring his hip in Week 9.

 

Whether he starts on Sunday versus the Kansas City Chiefs remains in question.

 

Rookie Lamar Jackson has started three games since Flacco went down, winning all three.

 

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco was a full participant in Friday’s practice, the first time he’s done that since injuring his hip in Week 9.

 

Whether he starts on Sunday versus the Kansas City Chiefs remains in question.

 

Rookie Lamar Jackson has started three games since Flacco went down, winning all three.

 

Flacco has been dealing with a right hip injury since Nov. 4. He was limited in practice on Wednesday and Thursday, although Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Flacco was “almost full” in Thursday’s session.

 

Harbaugh said last week that doctors will need to clear Flacco before he can play. He declined to say who the starter will be once Flacco is fully healthy.

 

Jackson has completed 46 of 77 passes for 540 yards and two scores this season. He’s also rushed 80 times for 404 yards and three touchdowns.

 

Flacco, the Ravens starter since 2008, is 4-5 this season and has thrown for 2,465 yards and 12 touchdowns.

 

–Field Level Media

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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

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Titans RB Henry ties Dorsett with 99-yard rushing TD

Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry took a handoff behind his team's 1-yard line and sprinted directly into the record books.

 

Henry tied Tony Dorsett's NFL record with a 99-yard rushing touchdown in the first half of Thursday night's game between the Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars. Dorsett had held sole possession of the record

Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry took a handoff behind his team’s 1-yard line and sprinted directly into the record books.

 

Henry tied Tony Dorsett’s NFL record with a 99-yard rushing touchdown in the first half of Thursday night’s game between the Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars. Dorsett had held sole possession of the record since Jan. 3, 1983, when he scored on a 99-yard run for the Dallas Cowboys against the Minnesota Vikings.

 

A series of stiff arms helped Henry make history. He took the handoff in the end zone, stepped over traffic at the line of scrimmage and cut left.

 

Jaguars cornerback A.J. Bouye was the first defender with a clear shot at a tackle. Henry extended his right arm and knocked Bouye off balance.

 

Linebacker Leon Jacobs was next. He attempted to chase down Henry from behind, only to fall over as the running back pushed him aside with his right arm.

 

Myles Jack had the final opportunity to prevent the historic touchdown, but Henry quickly shed the linebacker on his way to the end zone.

 

Before the big play, Henry’s longest run of the season was 16 yards. His previous career long was 75.

 

–Field Level Media

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Eagles attempting to catch first-place Cowboys

The Philadelphia Eagles will be attempting to pull into a tie for first place in the NFC East with a win at Dallas on Sunday afternoon.

 

After their 28-13 victory over Washington on Monday night, the Eagles pulled into a two-way tie for second place with the Redskins at 6-6 and just one game

The Philadelphia Eagles will be attempting to pull into a tie for first place in the NFC East with a win at Dallas on Sunday afternoon.

 

After their 28-13 victory over Washington on Monday night, the Eagles pulled into a two-way tie for second place with the Redskins at 6-6 and just one game behind the Cowboys at 7-5.

 

The Eagles hadn’t won two straight games since last year’s postseason which culminated with the franchise’s first career Super Bowl title.

 

“I think this group, first of all, is a resilient group, as you know,” Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said. “I’ve said that a lot. This group doesn’t let a lot bother them. I think what you’ve seen now these last couple weeks, we’ve started getting some guys back healthy a little bit. We’re not there yet, but we’re getting close.”

 

Philadelphia received a huge boost with the return of running back Darren Sproles, who had missed the previous 10 games with a hamstring injury. Sproles scored on a 14-yard touchdown run and sparked the team.

 

“It just felt so good, man, just to get in there,” Sproles said. “To have a knee (injury) last year, then have a hamstring this year, it just felt great. It felt great to get in there.”

 

Defensive tackle Tim Jernigan (back) and left tackle Jason Peters (biceps) are expected to play against the Cowboys while cornerback Jalen Mills (foot) is unlikely to return.

 

The Cowboys pulled off a stunning 13-10 victory over New Orleans in their last game, ending the Saints’ 10-game winning streak. The Cowboys will be in search of their fifth straight win after beginning the season 3-5.

 

“You’ve got to understand, there’s no more room for error for us,” Cowboys cornerback Byron Jones told ESPN.com. “… This is the time you got to win. You can’t look back. You can’t go back.”

 

The Cowboys’ defense was stingy and the offense was efficient enough to produce another win against the Saints. Running back Ezekiel Elliott compiled 136 total yards — 23 carries for 76 yards and six receptions for 60 yards. He also scored on a 16-yard screen pass.

 

“I think they understand where we are,” Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett told reporters. “Our backs continue to be against the wall. We have to continue to fight, continue to battle. We’ve done some good things the last few weeks, but that doesn’t matter now.”

 

Wide receiver Cole Beasley (foot) and left tackle Tyron Smith (stinger) are both considered questionable to play.

 

The Cowboys beat the Eagles 27-20 in Philadelphia in Week 10.

 

–Field Level Media

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Ex-NFL star Williams behind new Freedom Football League

Another football league is in the works and former NFL players such as Ricky Williams and Terrell Owens are behind it.

 

The Freedom Football League doesn't have a launch season but Williams said it would begin with 10 teams and would play games in spring and summer.

 

"The purpose of this league ...

Another football league is in the works and former NFL players such as Ricky Williams and Terrell Owens are behind it.

 

The Freedom Football League doesn’t have a launch season but Williams said it would begin with 10 teams and would play games in spring and summer.

 

“The purpose of this league … is about community and the development of players,” Williams told ESPN’s Outside The Lines. “… In thinking about creating this league, I wanted to create a league that I could have stayed in and been comfortable and really thrived.

 

“The NFL started a long time ago, and since then a lot of things have changed. And we want to create a league that’s ready for that change and invite some more of it.”

 

The FFL said in a press release that players will be encouraged to “address society’s challenges relating to social justice, wealth disparity, health and wellness and more hot-button issues they are passionate about.”

 

The league said players will also receive “permanent and reliable holistic health and wellness support on and off the field.”

 

“We’re trying to develop young men,” Williams said on OTL. “You can’t take away their voice and expect them to develop. … When I grew up watching football, I really wanted to be like Jim Brown, not because of what he did on a field, but because he could take that platform and have a voice.

 

“And so, when I got to the NFL, expecting that to be the case, anytime a big social issue came up, we were told, ‘Be quiet. … It’s a distraction.’ And so, really, (we’re) changing the conversation.”

 

The league’s first 10 teams will be the Birmingham Kings, Connecticut Underground, Florida Strong, Oakland Panthers, Ohio Players, Oklahoma City Power, Portland Progress, St. Louis Independence, San Diego Warriors and Texas Revolution.

 

Among the other former NFL players involved in the FFL are Simeon Rice, Jeff Garcia, Byron Chamberlain and Dexter Jackson.

 

Williams won the Heisman Trophy for Texas in 1998 and rushed for 10,009 yards for three NFL teams from 1999-2011. He is one of 31 players to surpass 10,000 career yards.

 

Two other professional leagues are in the works. The Alliance of American Football begins play on Feb. 9 while the XFL is slated to begin play in Feb. 2020.

 

–Field Level Media

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Packers allow fired McCarthy to address players

 

 

Mike McCarthy was back in front of the Green Bay Packers' players on Wednesday.

 

Three days after being fired, McCarthy was given the opportunity to address his now former players after making a request to do so.

 

"He wanted an opportunity to speak with the team. I was 100 percent, fully

 

 

Mike McCarthy was back in front of the Green Bay Packers’ players on Wednesday.

 

Three days after being fired, McCarthy was given the opportunity to address his now former players after making a request to do so.

 

“He wanted an opportunity to speak with the team. I was 100 percent, fully supportive of, and he did a fantastic job talking to the team,” interim coach Joe Philbin told reporters on Thursday. “Not just about football and winning football games, but his passion. His passion for the game, his love for the players was clearly evident.

 

“I’m sure it was emotional for him and everybody in the room. It was awesome. I thought he did a great job.”

 

McCarthy paid a visit to team headquarters on Tuesday to make the request and chief executive officer Mark Murphy and others in upper management agreed to it.

 

Murphy felt it was a good idea as McCarthy didn’t have a chance to address the team after being fired hours after Sunday’s 20-17 home loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

 

“He spoke to the team yesterday and that was good,” Murphy told WTMJ radio on Thursday. “I think Mike wanted some closure with the players and some of the other coaches to be able to thank them and say goodbye to them as well.”

 

Philbin said he has spoken with McCarthy multiple times since Sunday’s firing. He said allowing the former coach back in the building — which is not the norm in NFL circles — is indicative of how the Packers do business.

 

“That’s the Green Bay Packer way, right?” Philbin said. “This is a first-class organization all the way around. I think it’s been that way for 100 seasons, I would guess. I’m not that old, but I’m guessing it’s been like that for a long time. We do things the right way around here.”

 

McCarthy, who turned 55 last month, was in his 13th season at the helm in Green Bay. He finishes with a 125-77-2 regular-season record while going 10-8 in the postseason, leading the team to a Super Bowl XLV victory following the 2010 season.

 

Philbin had a 24-28 record as a head coach in parts of four seasons with the Miami Dolphins (2012-15).

 

The Packers are 4-7-1 entering Sunday’s home game against the Atlanta Falcons.

 

–Field Level Media

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Buccaneers out to solve Saints for third time in two seasons

It seems like it's been forever since the Tampa Bay Bucs won a video-game shootout against the New Orleans Saints, 48-40, in the regular-season opener.

 

When the two teams square off Sunday at Raymond James Stadium, the Saints (10-2) will be trying to clinch the NFC South while the Bucs (5-7) will be trying

It seems like it’s been forever since the Tampa Bay Bucs won a video-game shootout against the New Orleans Saints, 48-40, in the regular-season opener.

 

When the two teams square off Sunday at Raymond James Stadium, the Saints (10-2) will be trying to clinch the NFC South while the Bucs (5-7) will be trying to keep their recent streak of good play, which resulted in consecutive victories, rolling.

 

“It feels like it’s been a long (time) ago,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. “Obviously, a lot’s taken place since then. We’ll be seeing a different quarterback in this game (Jameis Winston has replaced Ryan Fitzpatrick). I think there are some similarities relative to what the teams do scheme-wise, and yet, through the course of the season there’s been injury, new players playing at different positions for both sides. And a big enough gap to where you’re watching a lot of other tape, not just the tape of your past game.”

 

Winston was serving the first game of a three-game suspension for conduct detrimental to the league when the Saints and Bucs met in the shootout Sept. 9 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

 

Given loads of time to survey the field, Fitzpatrick, often tagged as a journeyman quarterback, carved up the Saints secondary, completing 21 of 28 passes for 417 yards and four touchdowns without an interception. He was not sacked.

 

The Saints’ defense is playing at a much higher level than it was in Week 1. In the last four games, the Saints have recorded 20 sacks. In the first eight games, New Orleans had only 17 sacks.

 

“Week to week, we’ve seen improvement,” Saints coach Sean Payton said of his defense. “And I think those guys up front are doing a good job. All 11 guys are getting to the football. They’re looking for turnover opportunities on every play. And just as we go down the stretch, with one quarter left in our season, those are encouraging numbers.”

 

After the opening loss, the Saints reeled off 10 consecutive victories – the longest streak in the NFL this season – before losing 13-10 on the road to Dallas last Thursday. The Saints have a four-game lead in the NFC South over the 4-4 Carolina Panthers and could wrap up the division title with a victory or a Panthers’ loss.

 

The Saints also want to keep in touch with the Los Angeles Rams (11-1), who currently own the No. 1 seed in the NFC.

 

“We’re coming off a tough loss, and we’ve got a lot we’re playing for,” Payton said. “When the season starts, one of the first goals is win your division. So we’re playing for that. Then you look past that. You’re looking to give yourself every opportunity to get the best possible position if you’re a playoff team.”

 

The Saints could be buoyed by the return of starting left tackle Terron Armstead, who has missed the last three games with a pectoral injury. But receiver Michael Thomas (ankle) did not practice on Wednesday.

 

Bucs receiver DeSean Jackson (thumb) and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (knee) did not practice Wednesday.

 

–Field Level Media

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Rivers, Chargers continue playoff march, slumping Cincy braces for impact

 

 

If there is an antithesis to the Los Angeles Chargers and their turnaround season, a contradiction to a team that started slow and has come on like gangbusters, it is a Cincinnati Bengals team that will limp into Southern California this week looking lost and bewildered.

 

While the Chargers opened with a

 

 

If there is an antithesis to the Los Angeles Chargers and their turnaround season, a contradiction to a team that started slow and has come on like gangbusters, it is a Cincinnati Bengals team that will limp into Southern California this week looking lost and bewildered.

 

While the Chargers opened with a 1-2 record and had belief in themselves tested, the Bengals opened the year 4-1 and were overflowing with optimism. The Charges are 9-3; the Bengals have slipped to 5-7.

 

When the teams meet Sunday at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., it will be the Chargers who will not only be a heavy favorite, they will have a chance to send another message to the top teams in the NFL that a playoff menace awaits.

 

A Bengals team that has lost six of its last seven games will be guided by a backup quarterback in Jeff Driskel, who has taken over for an injured Andy Dalton, with a gameplan being drawn up by a coach in Marvin Lewis who could be wrapping up his tenure in Cincinnati.

 

“The least of my worries,” Lewis said about job security this week. “… My job is to coach the football team.”

 

The Chargers can expect a Bengals team this weekend that will play with nothing to lose, especially with Cincinnati coming off four double-digit defeats in its last six games. The most recent came Sunday at home in an uninspired 24-10 loss to the Denver Broncos. In addition to the result, the Bengals took another hit with the loss of wide receiver A.J. Green. He’s on injured reserve awaiting season-ending toe surgery.

 

The Bengals committed 12 penalties Sunday, eight in the first half (two others were declined in the opening two quarters). Going back another week, the Bengals have committed 25 penalties in consecutive games.

 

“(The Chargers) have good players and it starts with those two guys off the edge (Melvin) Ingram and (Joey) Bosa,” said Driskel, as he prepares for his second career start. “They’re not a very complicated defense but they are good at what they do. We have some stuff to attack what they do, but you have to take what the defense gives you and they are kind of a bend-don’t-break defense.”

 

Coincidentally enough, it was a defeat to the Broncos that seems to have resurrected a sense of urgency in the Chargers.

 

When the Broncos pulled off a 23-22 victory in Los Angeles on Nov. 18 with a field goal as time expired, it ended the Chargers’ six-game winning streak. The Chargers not only rebounded to beat a heavy underdog Arizona Cardinals team 45-10, they won at Pittsburgh 33-30 last weekend while overcoming a 17-point deficit.

 

Sunday’s game against the Bengals will be the Chargers’ final tuneup before a Dec. 13 clash with the AFC West-leading Kansas City Chiefs on national television.

 

Sunday also figures to be the second consecutive game the Chargers will play without running back Melvin Gordon, who came away with a sprained knee ligament in the defeat to the Cardinals. Gordon has not officially been ruled out for Sunday, but his return is expected for the showdown with the Chiefs.

 

In falling behind 23-7 at halftime to the Steelers, the Chargers had just two yards rushing on nine attempts without Gordon.

 

“When you don’t have a run game that’s the kind of game you get yourself into,” Chargers center Mike Pouncey said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “You can’t win many games like that. It wasn’t anything with the play-calling. It was us up front.”

 

Don’t expect the Chargers to have the same issues again, not against a Bengals run defense that is dead last in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game at 153.3. Only one team has given up more rushing touchdowns than the Bengals’ 16.

 

Outside of Gordon, who did not practice Wednesday, the Chargers looked relatively healthy. Tight end Sean Cuklin (back) also did not practice. Those limited at practice included cornerback Trevor Williams (knee) and nose tackle Brandon Mebane (not injury related). Full participants included running back Austin Ekeler (ankle) and center Pouncey (ankle).

 

Bengals players who did not participate in practice Wednesday included linebacker Vontaze Burfict (concussion), offensive tackle Cordy Glenn (back), cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (ankle) and cornerback Tony McRae (concussion). Limited in practice were defensive end Carlos Dunlap (hip), defensive end Michael Johnson (pectoral), wide receiver Josh Malone (hamstring) and running back Joe Mixon (foot).

 

–Field Level Media

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QBs Darnold, Allen meet in matchup of top rookies

When the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets matched up in Week 10, the starting quarterbacks were Matt Barkley and Josh McCown.

 

This time around, the all-journeyman affair is out and will likely feature the first matchup between first-round picks Josh Allen and Sam Darnold.

 

Allen is a go for Sunday's contest in

When the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets matched up in Week 10, the starting quarterbacks were Matt Barkley and Josh McCown.

 

This time around, the all-journeyman affair is out and will likely feature the first matchup between first-round picks Josh Allen and Sam Darnold.

 

Allen is a go for Sunday’s contest in Orchard Park, N.Y., while Darnold is expected to be cleared later in the week as the Jets (3-9) aim to snap a six-game losing streak when they visit the Bills (4-8).

 

Darnold has missed the past three games with a right foot injury but optimism over his return increased when he was a full practice participant on Wednesday for the first time since being injured against the Miami Dolphins in Week 9.

 

“I’m really excited about how I felt,” Darnold told reporters, “so as of right now I’m really excited about hopefully getting a chance to play on Sunday.”

 

Darnold, the No. 3 overall pick of this year’s draft, has passed for 1,934 yards and 11 touchdowns but also has a low completion rate of 55 percent and an NFL-worst 14 interceptions.

 

Allen, the No. 7 selection, missed the first meeting due to an elbow injury that sidelined him four games. He has passed for 1,223 yards and five touchdowns against seven interceptions with a league-low 52.9 percent completion rate.

 

Allen suddenly has become a threat as a runner with back-to-back outings of 99 and 135 yard. He passed for two touchdowns for the first time as well in last week’s 21-17 loss to the Miami Dolphins.

 

“I’ve done a really good job on protecting myself, whether it’s getting down, sliding, or getting out of bounds,” Allen told reporters of his running. “Obviously, sometimes hits are going to happen. That’s football, whether it’s in the pocket or outside the pocket.

 

 

“But I definitely don’t want to be the leading rusher.”

 

The loss to Miami halted a modest two-game winning streak for the Bills that began with a 41-10 rout of the Jets.

 

Barkley passed for 232 yards and two touchdowns and LeSean McCoy rushed for 113 yards for the lone time he has topped 100 this season.

 

The Buffalo defense intercepted McCown twice and limited him to 135 yards. That performance is one of four straight games in which the Bills have allowed 130 or fewer net passing yards, the first time an NFL team had done that since the New York Giants in 2009.

 

Buffalo leads the NFL in pass defense at 187.2 yards per game and ranks second in total defense at 294.2.

 

Those fine marks have been needed with the Bills struggling on the offensive end. The Bills rank 31st in both scoring offense (14.8 points per game) and total offense (285.7).

 

New York’s offense also is near the bottom of the league in both categories, ranking 30th in total offense (301.0) and 26th in scoring offense (20.3).

 

The Jets failed to score an offensive touchdown in last week’s 26-22 loss to the Tennessee Titans. New York built a 16-0 advantage before wilting in a performance that left coach Todd Bowles fuming.

 

“It’s one of those games you’ll remember for the rest of your life as a player or a coach. You’ll never forget about it,” Bowles told reporters. “It can propel you to be better at your job or it can make you go in a shell.

 

“I don’t think we have those kinds of guys, but of course everybody is frustrated and (ticked) off.”

 

While Bowles’ employment status gets shakier by each defeat, Buffalo cut its losses by releasing receiver Kelvin Benjamin, a former 1,000-yard receiver with the Carolina Panthers who caught just 39 passes for 571 yards and two touchdowns in 18 games with the Bills.

 

“It obviously didn’t work,” Buffalo coach Sean McDermott told reporters of the acquisition made during the 2017 season. “The important thing for us is that we continue to take swings. Some of those are going to work and some of those aren’t. The only way you can get a hit is if you take a swing.”

 

–Field Level Media

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Packers’ Philbin: Moss fired for more than tweet

Green Bay Packers interim head coach Joe Philbin said Wednesday that longtime assistant coach Winston Moss was fired for more than his critical tweet suggesting quarterback Aaron Rogers be held accountable by the team's next coach.

 

"It's never about one thing," said Philbin, who took over after Mike McCarthy was fired Sunday. "Again, I

Green Bay Packers interim head coach Joe Philbin said Wednesday that longtime assistant coach Winston Moss was fired for more than his critical tweet suggesting quarterback Aaron Rogers be held accountable by the team’s next coach.

 

“It’s never about one thing,” said Philbin, who took over after Mike McCarthy was fired Sunday. “Again, I think it’s important, as I said to the team, we’ve got to be professional, accountable, respectful and punctual. Those are the four things that we’ve got to do the next four weeks. And if we do all those things, we’ll be in good shape. It wasn’t about — again, you’re talking to a guy who’s never tweeted in his life, doesn’t even know what Twitter is — so again, it’s not about a tweet or anything like that. I just think the fit right now isn’t where it needs to be.”

 

Moss, a longtime assistant coach under McCarthy with Green Bay whose official title was associate head coach/linebackers coach, was fired Tuesday in the aftermath of the tweet.

 

“Ponder this… what Championship teams have are great leadership! Period! It’s not the offensive guru trend, it’s not the safe trend. Find somebody that is going to hold #12 and everybody in this building to a #LombardiStandard! Period! #losingsucks!” Moss wrote.

 

 

 

Philbin, who had been the team’s offensive coordinator before McCarthy was fired, refused to comment further on the tweet and noted defensive assistant Scott McCurley will take over Moss’ duties as outside linebackers coach. He did not say if anyone will take over Moss’ title of associate head coach.

 

“I think it’s important obviously that everybody’s on the same page, that we’re all moving forward in the same direction,” Philbin said. “As you know, Winston’s an excellent football coach. I’ve known him a long time. Respect him; outstanding family man. So it wasn’t an easy decision, but I just didn’t feel like the fit right now was where it needs to be. So … came to that decision.”

 

In a news conference Monday, team president Mark Murphy and general manager Brian Gutekunst called Philbin a “legitimate candidate” for the head coach position. He’ll have four games to prove it starting Dec. 9 when the Packers host the Atlanta Falcons.

 

–Field Level Media

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XFL unveils where its eight teams will play

The XFL has revealed which eight cities will host teams when play begins in 2020.

 

The cities and stadiums are Dallas (Globe Life Park), Houston (TDECU Stadium), Los Angeles (StubHub Center), St. Louis (The Dome at America's Center), Seattle (CenturyLink Field), Tampa (Raymond James Stadium), New York (MetLife Stadium) and Washington, D.C. (Audi Field).

The XFL has revealed which eight cities will host teams when play begins in 2020.

 

The cities and stadiums are Dallas (Globe Life Park), Houston (TDECU Stadium), Los Angeles (StubHub Center), St. Louis (The Dome at America’s Center), Seattle (CenturyLink Field), Tampa (Raymond James Stadium), New York (MetLife Stadium) and Washington, D.C. (Audi Field). XFL domain names for several other cities have reportedly been registered, hinting at possible future expansion.

 

Oliver Luck, CEO and league commissioner, said about 30 cities had been in the running. Luck says team nicknames and coaches should be decided during the first quarter of 2019 and that teams will begin finding quarterbacks by the summer.

 

The XFL is a relaunch of the rival league started by Vince McMahon, the founder of WWE, back in 2001. Though named the same, the current iteration of the XFL is expected to have fewer gimmicks than the short-lived original.

 

The league will begin with eight 40-man teams playing a 10-week schedule starting in February 2020, providing years since its inception to prepare for on-field action. The original XFL, which lasted just one season, played games a year after it was announced. According to McMahon, the new iteration will be focused on being faster-paced, easier to understand and family friendly, not relying on flashy cheerleaders and antics like the original XFL.

 

Broadcast and streaming partnerships have yet to be finalized.

 

Luck resigned his post as NCAA vice president to join the alternative football league. He was formerly president of NFL Europe and later athletic director at West Virginia.

 

His son is Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck.

 

–Field Level Media

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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

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

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Suspended 49ers long snapper blames tainted supplement

 

San Francisco 49ers long snapper Kyle Nelson, handed a 10-game

 

San Francisco 49ers long snapper Kyle Nelson, handed a 10-game suspension from the NFL on Tuesday for a violation of the league’s policy prohibiting performance-enhancing drugs, blamed his positive test on a tainted supplement.

 

The punishment — the longest in 49ers history — reflects the fact that Nelson received a previous PED suspension as a rookie in 2011 after being released from the Kansas City Chiefs’ practice squad.

 

Nelson issued a statement Tuesday: “I have been taking the same supplements for my entire time with the 49ers, while undergoing often simultaneous testing by the NFL with no issues. I do not deviate from my nutrition routine, and I would never knowingly take a banned substance.

 

“I am currently having the supplements tested, and I hope to uncover the cause of the positive test. When the product is identified I fully intend to seek legal action against the manufacturer to protect against this happening to other players in the future.”

 

San Francisco general manager John Lynch said, “We are certainly disappointed to be losing Kyle for 10 games. Hopefully, this serves as a reminder to all of our players that they need to take the proper steps to know exactly what they are putting in their bodies.”

 

Nelson’s suspension will cover the final four games of this season and the first six games of the 2019 regular season.

 

Nelson, 32, has started 76 consecutive games since joining the 49ers in 2014. Before that, he was with New Orleans Saints and the Chiefs in 2011 but didn’t get in a game, then spent one season each with the then-San Diego Chargers (2012) and the Washington Redskins (2013).

 

San Francisco worked out several long snappers last week, according to multiple media reports.

 

Nelson is in the final year of a four-year extension signed in 2015 and will be an unrestricted free agent after this season.

 

–Field Level Media

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