Nick Foles will start for Eagles vs Falcons in season opener

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Eagles coach Doug Pederson says Nick Foles will start against the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday night.

Pederson made the announcement on Monday, one day after a testy exchange with reporters in which he insisted he wanted to wait.

“In the best interest of everything about the football team and this decision, Nick Foles is the starter Week 1,” said Pederson, who wasn’t scheduled to speak to the media and plans to answer questions at his regular news conference on Tuesday.

Wentz still hasn’t been medically cleared for contact as he comes back from surgery last December to repair two torn ligaments in his left knee. Foles was the Super Bowl MVP in Philadelphia’s 41-33 win over New England.

Wentz didn’t play in the preseason and only recently returned to full practice.

___

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

Report: Kubiak will not join new Denver staff

Report: Kubiak will not join new Denver staff

Gary

Report: Kubiak will not join new Denver staff

Gary Kubiak apparently will not move from the front office to the field to serve as offensive coordinator for new coach Vic Fangio.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Friday afternoon that Kubiak will not work on Fangio’s staff.

“After lengthy discussions, Denver and Kubiak had different ideas on staffing and offensive philosophies,” Schefter tweeted. “Both sides going in different directions.”

When Fangio was hired Wednesday, it was widely reported that Kubiak, who was head coach when the Broncos won the Super Bowl in 2016, would assume the role. Fangio declined to confirm that at his introductory news conference Thursday.

Kubiak stepped down as Denver coach after the 2016 season, citing health reasons, and was elevated to a personnel role.

NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport tweeted that Denver appears to have turned its attention to Mike Munchak, the Pittsburgh offensive line coach and former NFL head coach who was a finalist for the head coaching job.

“OL coach Mike Munchak is among the best at what he does, and Denver had him in the final 2 for their HC interviews. Possibly adding both Munchak and Vic Fangio would be quite a coup for the #Broncos,” he wrote.

–Field Level Media

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Report: NFL could move AFC title game from Chargers’ stadium

Report: NFL could move AFC title game from Chargers' stadium

Report: NFL could move AFC title game from Chargers’ stadium

If the Los Angeles Chargers beat the Kansas City Chiefs this weekend, and the Indianapolis Colts top the New England Patriots, the NFL will have a decision to make.

Will the Chargers be allowed to host the AFC championship game at their temporary home, the 30,000-seat Dignity Health Sports Park in suburban Carson, Calif., or will it be played elsewhere in a stadium with larger capacity?

CBS Sports reported Friday that the NFL league office will be discussing contingency plans should the fifth-seeded Chargers and sixth-seeded Colts advance. That would give the Chargers home-field advantage in the championship game.

The league discussed the possibility of where the Chargers would host a potential title game when they were vying with the Chiefs for the No. 1 seed, but that talk died down when the Chargers landed as a wild-card team, CBS’ Jason LaCanfora reported.

He said that last month, officials had discussed the potential of moving the game to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, home of the Rams. That could still be a Plan B, LaCanfora said, but if the Rams host the championship game, both games could not be played on Sunday. Instead, one of the conference championship games could be played on Monday night under that scenario, he said.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Dolphins zero in on Pats’ Flores for HC

Report: Dolphins zero in on Pats' Flores for HC

The Miami Dolphins appear

Report: Dolphins zero in on Pats’ Flores for HC

The Miami Dolphins appear set to continue the AFC East’s game of musical chairs, as the team has zeroed in on New England assistant Brian Flores for its head-coaching vacancy, multiple outlets reported Friday.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweeted the Dolphins “have narrowed the focus of their search to #Patriots defensive play-caller Brian Flores as their new head coach. No deal yet, nothing official. But that’s their target.”

But The MMQB’s Albert Breer took it a step further, stating, “The Dolphins are expected to hire Patriots LBs coach Brian Flores as head coach after New England’s season ends.”

Flores, 37, joined the Patriots in 2004 as a scouting assistant and has been with the franchise since. This is his third season as New England’s linebackers coach and his first as the defensive play-caller. He assumed those duties after defensive coordinator Matt Patricia left to be the head coach in Detroit last offseason.

The Patriots (11-5) host the Los Angeles Chargers this Sunday in the divisional round of the AFC playoffs. The Patriots rank 21st in the NFL in yards allowed in the regular season, up from 29th last season. And while the team gave up 29 more points than last season, it still ranked seventh in the league.

Miami fired head coach Adam Gase after three seasons following the end of the regular season. Also on Friday, another AFC East team — the New York Jets — introduced Gase as their new head coach.

–Field Level Media

Read More 193 Words

Cardinals hire ex-Broncos coach Joseph as DC

Cardinals hire ex-Broncos coach Joseph as DC

Former Denver Broncos head coach Vance Joseph will

Cardinals hire ex-Broncos coach Joseph as DC

Former Denver Broncos head coach Vance Joseph will serve as the Arizona Cardinals’ defensive coordinator, the team announced Friday.

Joseph, the first significant hire for new coach Kliff Kingsbury, is expected to transition the Cardinals to a 3-4 defense from the 4-3 defense the team ran last season under then-coach Steve Wilks.

It had been speculated the Cardinals would follow the Los Angeles Rams’ lead of pairing a young, offensive-minded head coach with a coordinator with head coaching experience, as the Rams did with Sean McVay and Wade Phillips.

And that’s just what they got with Joseph, 46, who compiled an 11-21 record in two seasons with the Broncos. He had extensive experience as a defensive backs coach before the Miami Dolphins named him defensive coordinator in 2016.

The Cardinals also announced the return of former defensive coordinator Bill Davis (2009-10), who will coach the linebackers. He held that position the past two seasons at Ohio State, but new head coach Ryan Day chose not to retain him.

In addition, the Cardinals said special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers will stay in that position under Kingsbury.

–Field Level Media

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Ravens name Roman offensive coordinator

Ravens name Roman offensive coordinator

Ravens name Roman offensive coordinator

Greg Roman will replace Marty Mornhinweg as offensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens.

New general manager Eric DeCosta, introduced Friday in the official changing of the guard with retiring GM Ozzie Newsome, made the announcement. Mornhinweg is expected to be offered another role on the offensive staff, and additional changes are expected.

Roman’s star pupil will be Lamar Jackson. Jackson guided the Ravens to the playoffs after displacing Joe Flacco as Baltimore’s starter.

Roman spent last season as the assistant head coach and tight ends coach in Baltimore.

Roman has worked with run-first quarterbacks in the past. He was offensive coordinator of the San Francisco 49ers when the team switched in-season from Alex Smith to Colin Kaepernick. That team lost to the Ravens in the Super Bowl.

Roman also was offensive coordinator of the Buffalo Bills, who made Tyrod Taylor a starting quarterback under Roman’s direction.

–Field Level Media

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What To Look For – Divisional Playoffs

PRESS RELEASE

WHAT TO LOOK FOR – DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS

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

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

PRESS RELEASE

WHAT TO LOOK FOR – DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS

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

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

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

SEASON

TEAM

CONFERENCE

ADVANCED TO

2010

Green Bay

NFC

Won Super Bowl XLV

2010

New York Jets

AFC

Conference Championship

2008

Baltimore

AFC

Conference Championship

2008

Philadelphia

NFC

Conference Championship

2005

Pittsburgh

AFC

Won Super Bowl XL

 

 

 

 

2018

Indianapolis

AFC

???

2018

Philadelphia

NFC

???

 

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

 

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

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

The teams with the most postseason wins in NFL history:

TEAM

WINS

LOSSES

WIN PCT.

SUPER BOWL WINS

Pittsburgh

36

25

.590

6

Dallas

35

27

.565

5

Green Bay

34

22

.607

4

New England

34

20

.630

5

San Francisco

30

20

.600

5​

 

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

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

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

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

SEASON

PLAYER (TEAM)

TD PASSES

PLAYER (TEAM)

TD PASSES

PLAYOFF ROUND

2016

Aaron Rodgers (GB)

40

Matt Ryan (Atl.)

38

NFC Championship

2014

Andrew Luck (Ind.)

40

Peyton Manning (Den.)

39

AFC Divisional

2009

Drew Brees (NO)

34

Peyton Manning (Ind.)

33*

Super Bowl XLIV

2009

Drew Brees (NO)

34

Brett Favre^ (Min.)

33*

NFC Championship

 

 

 

 

 

 

2018

Patrick Mahomes (KC)

50

Andrew Luck (Ind.)

39

AFC Divisional

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

*Tied for 2nd

 

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

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

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

DATE

QUARTERBACK

TEAM

QUARTERBACK

TEAM

COMBINED DAYS OLD

1/13/19

Tom Brady

New England

Philip Rivers

Los Angeles Chargers

28,688*

1/24/16

Peyton Manning

Denver

Tom Brady

New England

28,603

1/9/99

John Elway^

Denver

Dan Marino^

Miami

27,704

1/16/94

Warren Moon^

Houston Oilers

Joe Montana^

Kansas City

27,306

1/22/17

Tom Brady

New England

Ben Roethlisberger

Pittsburgh

27,162

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

*Total days as of Sunday, January 13

 

 

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

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

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

QUARTERBACK

COMP.

ATT.

YARDS

TDS

INTS

RATING

Nick Foles

125

179

1,432

10

3

105.2

Bart Starr^

130

213

1,753

15

3

104.8

Kurt Warner^

307

462

3,952

31

14

102.8

Matt Ryan

237

351

2,672

20

7

100.8

Drew Brees

354

537

4,209

29

9

100.7

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

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

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

QUARTERBACK

COMP.

ATT.

PCT.

Nick Foles

125

179

69.8

Matt Ryan

237

351

67.5

Kurt Warner^

307

462

66.5

Ken Anderson

110

166

66.3

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

 

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

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

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

PLAYER

TEAM

DATES

CONSECUTIVE GAMES WITH 125+ RUSH YARDS

Terrell Davis^

Denver

1/11/98-1/17/99

4

Arian Foster

Houston

1/7/12-1/5/13

3

John Riggins^

Washington

1/15/83-1/30/83

3

 

 

 

 

Ezekiel Elliott

Dallas

1/15/17-1/5/19

2*

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

*Active Streak

 

 

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

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

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

PLAYER

TEAM

SEASON

SACKS

ADVANCED TO

Lawrence Taylor^

New York Giants

1986

20.5

Won Super Bowl XXI

 

 

 

 

 

Aaron Donald

Los Angeles Rams

2018

20.5

???

^Pro Football Hall of Famer

Courtesy of NFL Communications

Read More 997 Words

Svensson shoots career-low 61 to lead Sony Open

Svensson shoots career-low 61 to lead Sony Open

Svensson shoots career-low 61 to lead Sony Open

Canada’s Adam Svensson shot a career-best round of 9-under-par 61 on Thursday to claim the lead after the first round of the Sony Open in Hawaii.

Svensson, 25, put his second shot on the par-5 18th hole in the rough to the right of the green, but he was able to get up and down for birdie to move out of a tie for the lead with American Andrew Putnam. The 61 marked Svensson’s lowest career round on the PGA or Web.com Tours.

The Surrey, British Columbia, native turned pro in 2015 and is ranked 444th in the world. Svensson finished eighth in the Web.com Tour Championship, but he failed to finish better than a tie for 39th in five PGA events in the fall swing, including missing the cut in his final three.

The scoring on the short, par-70 Waialae Country Club course in Honolulu was particularly low in the afternoon wave when the winds died down, and Svensson will have plenty of challengers over the final three rounds.

Matt Kuchar is in solo third place after a 7-under 63 on Thursday, tying the lowest opening round of the 40-year-old’s career.

“I feel like I’ve just evolved into a better player,” Kuchar said. “This course is unique, we don’t play many like it. Reminds me a little bit of Hilton Head, a little bit of Colonial. It’s tight, it’s narrow, it’s flat, but man, it’s tricky.”

Fellow Americans Chez Reavie and Hudson Swafford along with Japan’s Shugo Imahira are tied for fourth place at 5 under.

Patton Kizzire and Justin Thomas, the past two event champions, are both at 3 under after posting 67s on Thursday. Thomas has now shot 68 or lower in nine consecutive rounds at Waialae.

Jordan Spieth, making his 2019 debut after failing to qualify for last week’s Tournament of Champions, struggled to a 3-over 73 and will need a strong Friday to avoid missing his second consecutive cut. Spieth made just 33 feet of putts while carding a lone birdie against four bogeys.

“It was kind of a test, I guess,” Spieth told reporters after the round. “It’s very unusual, I don’t feel like I’ve been in this situation before. But it’s OK … I felt like I was patient out there, and I still am.

“Like I said, it could take a while. I got pretty far off (my game), so I’m trying to backtrack significantly, but I need to get some tournament rounds to do it … even though it’s pretty humbling at the same time.”

He is tied with Australia’s Adam Scott, who is also making his 2019 debut.

By comparison, Putnam made 174 feet of putts, gaining 6.844 strokes on the field on the greens, according to PGATour.com.

“The putter was hot … it was getting a little ridiculous out there,” Putnam said. “The hole was very large and the ball was going in. It was fun.”

Peter Jung, the 16-year-old amateur who qualified for his first PGA Tour event by winning the Hawaiian qualifier, is last in the field by eight strokes after struggling to a 14-over 84.

–Field Level Media

Read More 454 Words

Panthers S Reid’s lawyers reject report findings, request info

Panthers S Reid's lawyers reject report findings, request info

Panthers S Reid’s lawyers reject report findings, request info

The legal team for Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid rejected the findings in a report released Wednesday by NFL/NFLPA that there was no evidence he was targeted for drug testing and are demanding a response on the matter, according to a report by CBSsports.com.

In a letter to the NFL and NFLPA, Reid’s legal team also requested more information as to how these findings were made, as well as a public correction of several dates the NFL used in its report that Reid’s team says are incorrect. The lawyers have asked for access to all evidence, records, electronic messages and information sources used to determine the report’s findings.

On Wednesday, the league and union released the results of its joint investigation into Reid’s claim that he was targeted by the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug testing program. Reid, a close friend and supporter of former teammate of Colin Kaepernick, believes he was being tested more than normal.

After the Panthers’ game on Dec. 17, Reid said he’d undergone his seventh drug test since joining the team as a free agent in September. He suggested the tests weren’t random and that he was tested repeatedly because of a collusion grievance he’d filed against the league.

A joint statement Wednesday from the NFL and players association said their investigation showed no evidence of his claims: “Mr. Reid’s tests were randomly generated via computer algorithm and that his selection for testing was normal when compared with the number of tests players were randomly selected for throughout the league during the time that he was on an active roster. There is no evidence of targeting or any other impropriety with respect to his selection for testing.”

Based on the collective bargaining agreement, drug testing is conducted by an independent laboratory — without the NFL or NFLPA’s involvement — with players’ names chosen at random by a computer.

Reid also said he has never failed a test. Failed tests warrant more frequent testing tied to tiered penalties for further failed tests.

The San Francisco 49ers selected Reid with the No. 18 overall pick of the 2013 NFL Draft. Reid, 27, became the first player to join Kaepernick in kneeling during the national anthem to protest social injustice.

The NFLPA filed a collusion grievance on Reid’s behalf in May alleging that NFL owners colluded to keep Reid from being signed, in response to his protests during the national anthem.

Reid, a 2013 Pro Bowler, was an unrestricted free agent from March until Sept. 28, when the Panthers signed him after an injury to Da’Norris Searcy. Reid has not dropped the grievance, which is expected to be heard during the offseason.

–Field Level Media

Read More 390 Words

Reports: Bengals hope to hire Rams QB coach Taylor

Reports: Bengals hope to hire Rams QB coach Taylor

The Cincinnati Bengals would like to

Reports: Bengals hope to hire Rams QB coach Taylor

The Cincinnati Bengals would like to hire Los Angeles Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor to be their next head coach, multiple media outlets reported Thursday.

No team can hire Taylor until the Rams’ season is over, but Taylor reportedly is the Bengals’ top choice. ESPN reported that Taylor also wants to be in Cincinnati, where he coached as the Cincinnati Bearcats’ offensive coordinator in 2016.

Taylor, 35, would become the second-youngest active head coach in the NFL, behind only his current boss, Rams head coach Sean McVay, who turns 33 on Jan. 24. He interviewed for the Denver Broncos’ and Arizona Cardinals’ head-coaching vacancies before those teams hired Vic Fangio and Kliff Kingsbury, respectively.

A former Nebraska quarterback, Taylor is in his first year as QBs coach with the Rams after spending 2017 as assistant wide receivers coach. He also coached for the Miami Dolphins, one year as assistant quarterbacks coach (2012), three as quarterbacks coach (2013-15) and part of the 2015 season as interim offensive coordinator.

NFL Network earlier Thursday that the Bengals told several assistant coaches they would not be returning, as the team’s next head coach has other assistants in mind to replace them. That indicated the hire would come from outside the organization.

Other candidates for Cincinnati job include Hue Jackson — who joined the Bengals midseason after being fired as the Cleveland Browns’ head coach — former Broncos head coach Vance Joseph, Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy and former Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Todd Monken.

Taylor would be the third head coach hired during this cycle who has ties to McVay.

New Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur spent 2017 as the Rams’ offensive coordinator under McVay.

Meanwhile, McVay offered Kingsbury a job on L.A.’s staff for the remainder of the 2018 season after the latter was fired by Texas Tech. Kingsbury instead joined the University of Southern California as offensive coordinator before getting the Cardinals’ job a month later.

Taylor’s brother, Press Taylor, is in his first season as the Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterbacks coach.

–Field Level Media

Read More 289 Words

NFL notebook: Bengals hope to hire Rams QB coach Taylor

NFL notebook: Bengals hope to hire Rams QB coach Taylor

The Cincinnati Bengals would

NFL notebook: Bengals hope to hire Rams QB coach Taylor

The Cincinnati Bengals would like to hire Los Angeles Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor to be their next head coach, multiple media outlets reported Thursday.

No team can hire Taylor until the Rams’ season is over, but Taylor reportedly is the Bengals’ top choice. ESPN reported that Taylor also wants to be in Cincinnati, where he coached as the Cincinnati Bearcats’ offensive coordinator in 2016.

Taylor, 35, would become the second-youngest active head coach in the NFL, behind only his current boss, Rams head coach Sean McVay, who turns 33 on Jan. 24. He interviewed for the Denver Broncos’ and Arizona Cardinals’ head-coaching vacancies before those teams hired Vic Fangio and Kliff Kingsbury, respectively.

A former Nebraska quarterback, Taylor is in his first year as QBs coach with the Rams after spending 2017 as assistant wide receivers coach.

–Pittsburgh Steelers president Art Rooney II cast serious doubt about the future of wide receiver Antonio Brown with the team, in an interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

“As we sit here today, it’s hard to envision that,” Rooney said when asked if Brown would be with the Steelers when they open training camp in July. “But there’s no sense on closing the door on anything today.”

–Arizona interviewed Steve Sarkisian for their offensive coordinator vacancy and Joseph for their defensive coordinator vacancy, according to ESPN.

Sirius XM NFL reported that Sarkisian, who was fired last week after two seasons with Atlanta, and former Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett are also contenders for the coordinator vacancy in Detroit.

Multiple outlets also reported that former New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo would interview for a job on head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s staff.

–The Cleveland Browns have yet to officially announce Freddie Kitchens as their new head coach, but they are moving to fill out his staff.

NFL Network reported that former Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter and former Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Todd Monken will interview for the same position in Cleveland. ESPN reported that Vance Joseph, the ex-Denver Broncos head coach, will interview for the defensive vacancy.

–The Broncos agreed to terms with longtime defensive coordinator Vic Fangio to become the 17th head coach in franchise history, general manager John Elway announced. Fangio, boasting 32 years of NFL coaching experience, succeeds Joseph for his first stint as an NFL head coach.

“Vic really impressed us with his attention to detail — his focus is on teaching the fundamentals, technique and playing disciplined football,” Elway said.

Former Houston Texans and Broncos coach Gary Kubiak will come down from the Denver front office to oversee the offense of the Broncos.

–The New York Jets’ hiring of Adam Gase as head coach has received a major vote of approval from at least one important voice on the team — starting quarterback Sam Darnold.

“It was a tough decision, but I think Gase and the things he’s able to do, the way he’s able to lead, I think is the best thing for our team,” Darnold told ESPN during a phone interview on Thursday.

“I’m really, really excited about this opportunity and all the things Adam can bring this team,” said Darnold, who spoke with Gase on FaceTime for 10 minutes on Monday. “For us, it’s about winning. How do you do that? You score more points than the other team.”

–Running back Leonard Fournette met with Jacksonville vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin and the rest of the team’s brass to clear the air, NFL Network reported. The meeting apparently went well on both sides, and Fournette should be part of the team’s 2019 plans.

Fournette and fellow running back T.J. Yeldon drew Coughlin’s ire for sitting on the team’s bench for the duration of the season finale, prompting Coughlin to say both players were “disrespectful, selfish and their behavior was unbecoming that of a professional football player.”

–The legal team for Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid rejected the findings in a report released Wednesday by NFL/NFLPA that there was no evidence he was targeted for drug testing and are demanding a response on the matter, according to a report by CBSsports.com.

–Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Ryan Grant has been ruled out of Saturday’s divisional playoff game at Kansas City due to a toe injury. Safety Malik Hooker was also listed as questionable with a foot injury.

–Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Cole Beasley and tight end Blake Jarwin missed practice again with ankle injuries and are listed as questionable for Saturday’s divisional playoff game against the Rams.

–Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry (heel), wideout Sammy Watkins (foot) and running back Spencer Ware (hamstring) are all questionable for Saturday’s playoff game against Indianapolis.

–Cleveland announced that guard Joel Bitonio has been added to the 2019 AFC Pro Bowl roster, replacing injured Steelers guard David DeCastro.

–The Jets are considering three former head coaches to fill their defensive coordinator position under Gase, according to multiple reports. The list includes Gregg Williams, who was let go by Cleveland earlier this week.

NFL.com reported that Joseph is also under consideration, and CBSSports.com reported that former Indianapolis coach Chuck Pagano is on the list.

–Field Level Media

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Reports: Browns interview OC Cooter, DC Joseph

Reports: Browns interview OC Cooter, DC Joseph

The Cleveland Browns have yet to officially announce

Reports: Browns interview OC Cooter, DC Joseph

The Cleveland Browns have yet to officially announce Freddie Kitchens as their new head coach, but they are taking steps to fill out his staff.

NFL Network reports former Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter will interview for the same position in, and ESPN reports former Denver Broncos head coach Vance Joseph will interview for the defensive vacancy.

ESPN’s report added that Joseph interviewed for the same position with the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday.

The Lions chose not to renew Cooter’s contract last week, ending his three-plus-year tenure as the team’s coordinator. After joining Detroit as a quarterbacks coach in 2014, Cooter was promoted to interim offensive coordinator midway through 2015.

He helped Matthew Stafford have a career season in 2017, as the Lions finished seventh in points and 13th in yards that season. However, Detroit finished 25th in points and 24th in yards in 2018, more in line with its rankings in 2015 and 2016.

Joseph was fired by the Broncos last week after two seasons. He is considered a contender for the Cincinnati Bengals’ head-coaching job and the New York Jets’ coordinator job. He worked previously in Cincinnati and has familiarity with new Jets head coach Adam Gase after they worked together in Miami.

News broke Wednesday that Kitchens would be the Browns’ next head coach, but the team has yet to make it official. Kitchens is expected to keep his offense and call his own plays after quarterback Baker Mayfield thrived following Kitchens’ promotion to offensive coordinator midseason.

The team moved on from interim head coach and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who released a statement Wednesday thanking Browns fans for their support.

–Field Level Media

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Reports: Browns interview Cooter, Monken, Joseph

Reports: Browns interview Cooter, Monken, Joseph

The Cleveland Browns have yet to officially announce Freddie

Reports: Browns interview Cooter, Monken, Joseph

The Cleveland Browns have yet to officially announce Freddie Kitchens as their new head coach, but they are taking steps to fill out his staff.

NFL Network reports former Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter and former Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Todd Monken will interview for the same position in Cleveland.

ESPN reports former Denver Broncos head coach Vance Joseph will interview for the Browns’ defensive vacancy, adding that Joseph interviewed for the same position with the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday.

The Lions chose not to renew Cooter’s contract last week, ending his three-plus-year tenure as the team’s coordinator. After joining Detroit as a quarterbacks coach in 2014, Cooter was promoted to interim offensive coordinator midway through 2015.

He helped Matthew Stafford have a career season in 2017, as the Lions finished seventh in points and 13th in yards that season. However, Detroit finished 25th in points and 24th in yards in 2018, more in line with its rankings in 2015 and 2016.

Monken interviewed for head-coaching vacancies with the New York Jets — who hired Adam Gase — and the Cincinnati Bengals, who reportedly hope to hire Los Angeles Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor for the job.

Monken helped the Bucs’ offense finish third in yards and 12th in points this season, but he won’t return to Tampa after the team hired Bruce Arians, whose offensive coordinator will be Byron Leftwich.

Joseph was fired by the Broncos last week after two seasons. He was considered a contender for the Bengals’ head-coaching job, and could still be in the mix for the Jets’ coordinator job. He worked previously in Cincinnati and has familiarity with Gase after they worked together in Miami.

News broke Wednesday that Kitchens would be the Browns’ next head coach, but the team has yet to make it official. Kitchens is expected to keep his offense and call his own plays after quarterback Baker Mayfield thrived following Kitchens’ promotion to offensive coordinator midseason.

The team moved on from interim head coach and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who released a statement Wednesday thanking Browns fans for their support.

–Field Level Media

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Jets QB Darnold strongly supports hiring of Gase

Jets QB Darnold strongly supports hiring of Gase

Jets QB Darnold strongly supports hiring of Gase

The New York Jets’ hiring of Adam Gase as head coach has received a major vote of approval from at least one important voice on the team — starting quarterback Sam Darnold.

“It was a tough decision, but I think Gase and the things he’s able to do, the way he’s able to lead, I think is the best thing for our team,” Darnold told ESPN during a phone interview on Thursday.

Darnold had an up-and-down 2018 rookie season (17 touchdown passes, 15 interceptions) with the Jets, who finished 4-12 and ranked 29th in total offense. He also supported former Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Todd Monken, but said he thought the team made the right choice with Gase, the former Miami Dolphins head coach who was fired on Dec. 31 after they finished 7-9 and ranked 31st in total offense.

“I’m really, really excited about this opportunity and all the things Adam can bring this team,” said Darnold, who spoke with Gase on FaceTime for 10 minutes on Monday. “For us, it’s about winning. How do you do that? You score more points than the other team. I’m really excited about the opportunity to get to work with him, and score a load of points. I think it’s going to be really fun.”

If there was a backlash by fans about the Jets’ decision to hire Gase, Darnold expects it to subside, saying, “I don’t think they’ll be upset when we start winning games.”

Eight known candidates interviewed for the position, including former Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy. It came down to a final four: Gase, Monken, McCarthy and Baylor coach Matt Rhule.

“Adam is an awesome dude. First of all, a really trustworthy guy,” Darnold said of Gase, who previously worked with Peyton Manning, Jay Cutler and Ryan Tannehill. “He just knows ball. He knows football. He’s very, very passionate about it. I think that’s what’s going to be awesome about this whole thing.”

Manning reached out to Jets CEO Christopher Johnson on Tuesday night to throw his support Gase’s way.

“His passion is going to be super, super contagious,” Darnold added about his new coach. “Guys are going to want to go out there and play the game all the time. I think that’s kind of his leadership style, and I think that’s really where he’s going to thrive. I think our guys are going to take on that kind of attitude.”

–Field Level Media

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Reports: Sarkisian, Joseph interview with Cardinals

Reports: Sarkisian, Joseph interview with Cardinals

The

Reports: Sarkisian, Joseph interview with Cardinals

The Arizona Cardinals interviewed Steve Sarkisian for their offensive-coordinator vacancy and Vance Joseph for their defensive-coordinator vacancy on Thursday, according to various ESPN reports.

New Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury is expected to call plays and run his own offense in Arizona, but the team appears set on hiring an offensive coordinator to assist him.

Sarkisian, who was fired last week after two seasons leading the Atlanta Falcons’ offense, had spent all but one year of his coaching career in college prior to 2017, the lone exception being a stint as the Oakland Raiders quarterbacks coach in 2004. Atlanta finished 11th in points and seventh in yards in 2017 before slipping to 17th in both categories this season.

Sirius XM NFL reports Sarkisian and former Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett are contenders for the coordinator vacancy in Detroit.

Meanwhile, Joseph is considered a contender for the Cincinnati Bengals’ head-coaching job and the New York Jets’ coordinator job, after being fired by the Denver Broncos last week. He worked previously in Cincinnati and has familiarity with new Jets head coach Adam Gase after they worked together in Miami.

An ESPN report Wednesday added that Joseph will interview next with the Cleveland Browns’ for their defensive opening.

Cardinals general manager Steve Keim said at Wednesday’s news conference that the Cardinals will move back to a 3-4 defensive scheme after shifting to a 4-3 during Steve Wilks’ one season as head coach.

Joseph’s Broncos ran a 3-4 scheme that was carried over from Wade Phillips in previous seasons, but Joseph’s defenses in Miami and Cincinnati were 4-3 based.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Panthers sticking with Washington as DC

Report: Panthers sticking with Washington as DC

The Carolina Panthers will reportedly retain Eric Washington as defensive

Report: Panthers sticking with Washington as DC

The Carolina Panthers will reportedly retain Eric Washington as defensive coordinator, although head coach Ron Rivera will continue to call the defensive plays in 2019.

There was some speculation about Washington’s job status this week as the team held interviews with former Indianapolis head coach Chuck Pagano and former Jacksonville defensive backs coach Perry Fewell.

However, those interviews were not for the role of defensive coordinator, according to The Charlotte Observer. The Panthers are trying to hire a new secondary/cornerbacks coach, the newspaper reported on Thursday, citing league sources.

The Panthers played the final four games of 2018 with Washington as the DC and “front seven” coach, with Rivera calling the defensive plays.

–Field Level Media

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Browns G Bitonio replacing DeCastro in Pro Bowl

Browns G Bitonio replacing DeCastro in Pro Bowl

The Cleveland

Browns G Bitonio replacing DeCastro in Pro Bowl

The Cleveland Browns announced Thursday that guard Joel Bitonio has been added to the 2019 AFC Pro Bowl roster, replacing injured Pittsburgh Steelers guard David DeCastro. Bitonio, initially named a first-team alternate, joins defensive end Myles Garrett and rookie cornerback Denzel Ward as Browns representatives.

“I am so honored to be able to represent the city of Cleveland and all the great Browns fans at the Pro Bowl,” Bitonio said in a press release. “It’s good to be recognized by the players, coaches and fans for your hard work. What’s really cool, though, is that I can share this honor with Myles and Denzel, but I wish all our offensive linemen could come, too, because it’s a group effort.”

Bitonio’s Pro Bowl selection marks the first in his five-year NFL career. The 27-year-old team captain is currently the longest-tenured team member. In 2018, he started all 16 games at left guard and did not miss an offensive snap for the second consecutive season. Bitonio was voted a second-team Associated Press All-Pro selection.

The 2019 Pro Bowl is set for Jan. 27 in Orlando, Fla.

–Field Level Media

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Giants’ Vernon replaces Bears’ Mack in Pro Bowl

Giants' Vernon replaces Bears' Mack in Pro Bowl

Giants’ Vernon replaces Bears’ Mack in Pro Bowl

New York Giants outside linebacker Olivier Vernon is headed to his first Pro Bowl as an injury replacement for Chicago Bears linebacker Khalil Mack.

Mack was not listed on any Bears injury reports after Week 10, but he dealt with an ankle issue during the season and will now pass on the game in Orlando.

Vernon missed five games to injury had just seven sacks this season, which tied for 21st in the NFC, but only six players topped his 21 QB hits. He also chipped in 30 tackles (five for loss).

Vernon, 28, has 22 sacks and 56 QB hits in three years with the Giants, whom he joined on a five-year, $85 million deal as a free agent in 2016. He has 51 sacks and 130 QB hits in his seven-year career, including his first four seasons with the Miami Dolphins.

A native of Miami who attended the University of Miami, Vernon was selected by his hometown team in the third round of the 2012 draft.

Mack, 27, was acquired by the Bears from the Oakland Raiders in an early-September trade. In 14 games (13 starts) for Chicago, he had 12.5 sacks, six forced fumbles and an interception that he returned for a touchdown.

The Pro Bowl will be held Jan. 27.

–Field Level Media

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Chargers sign K Rose; RB Gordon practices

Chargers sign K Rose; RB Gordon practices

Chargers sign K Rose; RB Gordon practices

The Los Angeles Chargers will sign kicker Nick Rose, according to multiple reports Thursday, to handle kickoffs in their Sunday playoff game against the New England Patriots.

The team has yet to announce the move.

Michael Badgley has proven reliable as the Chargers’ placekicker, making 5 of 6 field-goal attempts last week and 15 of 16 during the regular season. However, he has just nine touchbacks on 60 kickoffs (including playoffs) this season, easily the worst rate among qualified kickers.

Rose, who missed 2 of 3 field goal attempts with the Chargers in 2017, has 32 touchbacks on 47 career kickoffs since going undrafted out of Texas in 2016. He also converted on 10 of 11 field goal tries for the Washington Redskins in the first part of the 2017 season.

Patriots kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson averaged 28.8 yards per return in the regular season, scoring once.

“They have one of the best kick returners that I’ve seen in a long time,” Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said earlier this week. “So that’s going to be a heck of a challenge for our special teams. It’s a good thing we have one of the better cover units in the league right now, but that’s going to be a heck of a challenge.”

Meanwhile, Chargers running back Melvin Gordon was back at practice on a limited basis Thursday and vowed to play through his left knee sprain.

“Just hurt it a little bit,” Gordon said. “Throw a little dirt on it, I’ll be all right.”

Gordon reportedly has a light sprain in his left knee after missing three games late in the year with a similar injury to his right knee. All indications are that he will play Sunday.

Center Mike Pouncey returned to a full practice Thursday after missing Wednesday’s session with a thumb injury.

–Field Level Media

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NFL Divisional Playoff Weekend: Over and Under Best Bets

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

Over and Under Best Bets

Over of

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

Over and Under Best Bets

Over of the week: Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams

Total: 49

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

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

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

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

Predicted score: Cowboys 30, Rams 27

Under of the week: Indianapolis Colts at Kansas City Chiefs

Total: 57.5

Whaaaat?

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

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

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

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

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

Predicted score: Colts 27, Chiefs 24

Good luck, we’re all counting on you. 

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

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

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Cowboys WR Beasley, TE Jarwin questionable

Cowboys WR Beasley, TE Jarwin questionable

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver

Cowboys WR Beasley, TE Jarwin questionable

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Cole Beasley and tight end Blake Jarwin both missed practice again Thursday with ankle injuries and are listed as questionable for Saturday night’s divisional playoff game against the Los Angeles Rams.

Neither player practiced this week. The Cowboys are already at less than full strength in the passing game after losing wide receiver Allen Hurns to a dislocated left ankle in last weekend’s wild-card win against Seattle.

Beasley caught 65 passes for 672 yards and three touchdowns in 16 games this season. The seventh-year wideout tweaked the ankle — which had already been bugging him — early in the game against the Seahawks, finishing with three catches for 28 yards.

Jarwin had 27 receptions for 307 yards in 16 games this season, including 119 yards and three TDs in a Week 17 win against the New York Giants. He had three grabs for 15 yards last week against Seattle.

Defensive tackle Maliek Collins (illness, ankle), guard Xavier Su’a-Filo (ankle) and safety Darian Thompson (groin) were also listed as questionable on Thursday’s injury report. Defensive lineman David Irving (ankle) remains out.

The good news for Dallas is that left tackle Tyron Smith (neck), right guard Zack Martin (knee), linebacker Sean Lee (hamstring), defensive end Tyrone Crawford (neck) and wide receivers Tavon Austin (groin) and Noah Brown (illness) were all full participants in Thursday’s session and are expected to play.

–Field Level Media

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