Packers’ Philbin: Moss fired for more than tweet

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 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

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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‘Cover City’: NFL Week 14 Picks, Preview With Steve Hytner

Sports Handle is pleased to present Cover City: A Pro Football Betting Podcast, hosted by Eric Rosenthal (@ericcports), brought to you by PropSwap.com. Rosenthal is a professional sports bettor who focuses on NFL and college football. He’s wagered more than $25 million in the last nine years, getting banned from many sportsbooks along the way.

Sports Handle is pleased to present Cover City: A Pro Football Betting Podcast, hosted by Eric Rosenthal (@ericcports), brought to you by PropSwap.com. Rosenthal is a professional sports bettor who focuses on NFL and college football. He’s wagered more than $25 million in the last nine years, getting banned from many sportsbooks along the way.

Week 14 is here and it’s GOLD. Steve Hytner (@hytner), podcaster, sports bettor and comedian also known as Kenny Bania of Seinfeld, joins Rosenthal to discuss this week’s matchups. Listen below for the one team Hytner refuses to take on the road, and did Rosenthal get engaged this week? 

Listen and subscribe on Spotify here. Download the PropSwap app for iOS systems here and Android here. Time codes for the episode follow below.

7:06 — Baltimore Ravens +6.5 at Kansas City Chiefs

9:32 — Indianapolis Colts +4.5 at Texas Houstons

12:09 — Carolina Panthers -1.5 at Cleveland Browns

14:23 — Atlanta Falcons +5 at Green Bay Packers

20:03 — New Orleans Saints -8 at Tampa Buccaneers

20:56 — N.Y Jets -3.5 at Buffalo Bills

23:48 — New England Patriots -7.5 at Miami Dolphins

25:04 —  L.A. Rams -3 at Chicago Bears

26:36 —  A bundled trio of second- and third-string QBs: N.Y. Giants -3.5 at Washington Redskins, Denver Broncos -4 at San Francisco 49ers, Cincinnati Bengals +14 at L.A. Chargers.

36:09 —  Detroit Lions -2.5 at Arizona Cardinals.

37:23 — Philadelphia Eagles +3.5 at Dallas Cowboys.

39:51 — Pittsburgh Steelers -10.5 at Oakland Raiders.

41:40 — Minnesota Vikings +3 at Seattle Seahawks.

47:55 — Additional thoughts on Week 14.

53:23 — PropSwap.com opportunities.

55:50 — Rosenthal’s SuperContest picks.


Also check out this week’s Pro Football Handle podcast!

 

Hear more ‘Cover City’: NFL Week 14 Picks, Preview With Steve Hytner on SportsHandle.

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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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Ballin’ on a Budget Week 14 Picks

We're nearing the finish line as we enter Week 14. There is still plenty to be decided throughout the NFL, but it's betting weeks down the stretch like this that separate the men from the boys. You have to take things like motivation into account this late in the season. When neither team

We’re nearing the finish line as we enter Week 14. There is still plenty to be decided throughout the NFL, but it’s betting weeks down the stretch like this that separate the men from the boys. You have to take things like motivation into account this late in the season. When neither team has anything to play for, how do you properly predict an outcome? We’re mostly staying away from games like that and keeping our tried and true formula of three game picks and two over/unders as we try to build on our 4-1 Week 13 result.

Jets +3.5 at Bills (-115)

Neither of these teams is any good. Buffalo is surging, but the Jets defense is no slouch, so Josh Allen will be challenged. When teams as inept as these two get together, it’s generally a pretty close game. In fact, my money would be on the Bills winning this game by a field goal. Guess what? That means the extra half point on the spread will get us the betting win.

Last week, the Jets came through as 7.5-point underdogs against the Titans. They blew a late lead, but still covered. I’m really liking that extra half point again, because it all but guarantees a betting win as long as this game stays close late. The bet: $4 for total payout of $7.48.

Bengals +14.5 at Chargers (-120)

We’re sticking with our tried and true method of picking any team that is favored by more than two touchdowns. We’re 3-for-3 on the season in games like this and now hoping to make it 4-for-4. Make no mistake about it, the Bengals are in free fall and have the worst defense in football. Los Angeles is one of the hottest teams in football, whose offense looked unstoppable against the Steelers in the second half on Sunday Night Football.

Despite all that, we need to remember that at the end of the day, these are two NFL teams and the odds are in our favor that the game will be within two touchdowns. I don’t care if it’s Jeff Driskell starting at QB for Cincinnati, most teams still find a way to keep it closer than two scores. Maybe our time has finally run out on bets like this or maybe the good times keep rolling. I guess we’ll have to wait until Sunday to find out. The bet: $4 for total payout of $7.33.

Lions -2.5 at Cardinals (-115)

This point spread is the one that most caught my eye this week. The Lions hung with the Rams for three quarters and now are barely favored against the Cardinals? I know Arizona just went to Lambeau and beat the Packers, but this year’s Pack isn’t your older brother’s Pack. Green Bay just isn’t good this season. Now, neither are the Lions, but they are perfectly capable of going into Phoenix and coming out with a win.

Arizona’s defense is its strong suit, so maybe they pressure Matthew Stafford into some mistakes. If he turns the ball over a few times, the Lions are in trouble. However, Detroit’s offense has shown more consistency and Stafford puts up huge numbers against inferior teams. Look for them to right the ship after a close call against the Rams and easily cover this spread, winning the game by at least a field goal. The bet: $4 for total payout of $7.33.

Bengals-Chargers OVER 47.5 (-110)

It is dangerous to bet the point spread and over/under in the same game, because sometimes they work against each other, but in this case, I think it’s worth it. As we said, the Bengals have a terrible defense and the Chargers have a great offense. L.A. is feeling some swagger after a statement win over the Steelers. They’re going to put points on the board, it’s just a matter of if Cincy can hold up it’s end of the bargain.

Let’s imagine a world in which the Bengals cover 14.5 and the over hits. At the minimum it would look something like this: Chargers 31, Bengals 17. That’s a perfectly easy final score to imagine. If the bar for the Bengals is 17 points, I like our chances. It’s a rare move for us to take action twice in the same game, but this seems like a good opportunity to do so. The bet: $4 for total payout of $7.60.

Patriots-Dolphins UNDER 47 (-110)

This seems like a weird AFC East game where the Patriots let the Dolphins stick around for most of the game only to pull away late. It also seems like in these types of games, there are a lot of field goals. As we know, field goals are the best friend of the under. Again, let’s think about a 30-17 score. Certainly, we could see the Patriots winning by that margin.

However, with Tom Brady less than stellar this season, it might be a little lower scoring than that. New England’s defense has also stepped up in recent weeks, making us believe the Dolphins might struggle to get two touchdowns on the board. New England has been less predictable this year than in past years, but 47 still seems high for a game we expect to be relatively close and relatively low scoring. The bet: $4 for total payout of $7.60.

What would be our total payout for this five-team parlay you ask? Well, we’ve come close three times with 4-1 weeks, but have never put together that perfect 5-0 week. If we were to do that this week, we would come away with a cool $467.18.

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

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Super Bowl 53 Odds: Updated for Week 14

Key takeaways from week 13:

  • Rams are the favorites to win Super Bowl 53 following the loss by New Orleans
  • Raiders have the lowest odds at 5000/1
  • Biggest jump: New York Giants (+80%)
  • Biggest drop: Green Bay Packers (-150%)
  • No change: Eagles, Titans, Redskins, Jets, Cardinals, 49ers (0%)

Super

Key takeaways from week 13:

  • Rams are the favorites to win Super Bowl 53 following the loss by New Orleans
  • Raiders have the lowest odds at 5000/1
  • Biggest jump: New York Giants (+80%)
  • Biggest drop: Green Bay Packers (-150%)
  • No change: Eagles, Titans, Redskins, Jets, Cardinals, 49ers (0%)

Super Bowl 53 Odds


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

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

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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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Redskins’ Gruden: Kaepernick not right fit

 

 

On the day when the Redskins had a second quarterback undergo surgery to repair a broken right leg, Washington coach Jay Gruden said that free agent Colin Kaepernick would not be the right option for the team as it looks for signal-calling reinforcements.

 

Colt McCoy broke his fibula Monday in the Redskins’ 28-13 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, and he underwent surgery Tuesday. The team won’t place him on injured reserve, as there is a chance he could return this season.

 

Regarding the timetable for McCoy’s recovery, Gruden said, “Two to three weeks would be wishful thinking — four weeks possibly, but we’ll see how it goes. (If) we’re still alive in this thing, I’d like to keep him up if he can get back for the last game of the year against Philadelphia, it would be great, or possibly the playoffs.”

 

Mark Sanchez, signed as a free agent Nov. 19, took over for McCoy in the second quarter Monday, and he will remain the starter during McCoy’s absence. Before Monday, Sanchez hadn’t played in the NFL since 2016.

 

McCoy was filling in for Alex Smith, who sustained a compound fracture in his right leg on Nov. 18 against the Houston Texans.

 

As for who will back up Sanchez, it won’t be Kaepernick. The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, the first NFL player to take a knee during the national anthem in protest of police brutality and racism, remains unemployed.

 

Gruden said Tuesday of Kaepernick, “Oh, he’s been discussed for sure, and right now at this point, we already had a workout last week for a few guys. We had a couple other guys come in today, and then it’s just going to be a matter of which way we want to go.

 

“Do we want to go with a guy that’s familiar with my terminology who we worked out last week, or with a new guy to back up Sanchez with a similar skill set, or go with a guy and teach basically a whole new kind of offense with a new offensive line and with a lot of those zone reads and all that stuff.

 

“Not a lot of time to really get a brand new quarterback and new system installed and taught in a couple of days of practice. He’s been talked about and discussed, but we’ll probably go a different direction.”

 

Despite losing their past three games, the Redskins (6-6) are tied with the Eagles (6-6) for second place in the NFC East, a game behind the Dallas Cowboys (7-5).

 

“We’re not out of anything right now,” Gruden said. “It’s not like we’re 0-12 and we’re just playing for whatever; we’re actually playing to try to get into the playoffs, possibly win the division. Heck, we still have a lot out in front of us. Defensively, we’re fairly healthy, there is a silver lining there. We just have to play better. We have to play more physical.”

 

–Field Level Media

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