Seven From Sunday - Week 13

FANTASY PLAYS: Time to handcuff your RBs for playoffs

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

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

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

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

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

Rams: Todd Gurley (Malcolm Brown)

Giants: Saquon Barkley (Wayne Gallman)

Chiefs: Kareem Hunt (Spencer Ware)

Cowboys: Ezekiel Elliott (Rod Smith)

Panthers: Christian McCaffrey (Cameron Artis-Payne)

Steelers: James Conner (Jaylen Samuels)

Bengals: Joe Mixon (Giovani Bernard)

Broncos: Phillip Lindsay (Royce Freeman)

Patriots: James White/Sony Michel (Rex Burkhead)

Cardinals: David Johnson (Chase Edmonds)

Packers: Aaron Jones (Jamaal Williams)

Texans: Lamar Miller (Alfred Blue)

Seahawks: Chris Carson (Mike Davis)

Redskins: Adrian Peterson (Kapri Bibbs)

Falcons: Tevin Coleman (Ito Smith)

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Injuries leave Colts short-handed for possible playoff push

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not enough?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Von Miller chose to channel Bill Belichick

Von Miller chose to channel Bill Belichick

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Browns winning, thinking playoffs possible after shaky start

Browns winning, thinking playoffs possible after shaky start

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

They’ve disappeared. Maybe gone for good.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Skidding Packers face steep climb to reach playoffs

Skidding Packers face steep climb to reach playoffs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shurmur answers Odell Beckham Jr.'s play calling complaint

Shurmur answers Odell Beckham Jr.'s play calling complaint

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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What to Look For - Week 13 Quarterbacks

Seven From Sunday – Week 12



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Other notable performances from Sunday include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Courtesy of NFL Communications

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

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

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

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

Not so much this time around.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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


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