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NFL morning after: The best day of the NFL year, and then the worst

John Fox, Romeo Crennel AP

Is there a better day of the year than the final Sunday of the NFL season?

If you love football, I don’t know if there is. The season’s final Sunday is the only day of the year in which all 32 NFL teams are playing, and it’s a day when so much is happening, all at once. The Bears are holding on to win narrowly at Detroit, briefly keeping their playoff hopes alive, while the Giants are blowing out the Eagles but getting eliminated anyway. The Colts are making a statement that they’re for real in the AFC, while the Texans are reeling and limping into the playoffs. The Vikings are furiously battling the Packers to reach the playoffs, while the Broncos are clinching home-field advantage by beating the Chiefs. The 49ers are clinching the NFC West by beating the Cardinals, while the Seahawks are facing a surprisingly stiff challenge from the Rams.

And to top it off, the night ended up with the Redskins reaching the playoffs by winning the NFC East championship game in Washington.

You might prefer Super Bowl Sunday, but that’s a day when the hype to actual football ratio is about 50:1. Or you might prefer Conference Championship Sunday, but if you’re a fan of one of the 28 teams that have already been eliminated, that day isn’t quite as fun. Or maybe you love NFL draft day, or the first Sunday of the season. If that’s your preference, I won’t tell you you’re wrong. But for my money, it doesn’t get any better than the Sunday of Week 17.

And then comes the Monday after Week 17, which is the worst day of the NFL year. Some people call it Black Monday. The day when a handful of head coaches, dozens of assistant coaches and quite a few team executives find out they’re fired.

Eagles coach Andy Reid, Chargers coach Norv Turner, Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel and Browns coach Pat Shurmur are almost certain to get fired today, and several other head coaches are in danger of losing their jobs. When you’re an assistant on a team whose head coach gets fired you’re almost always fired along with him, and there are plenty of assistants on other teams who get fired as well. General managers get fired, too. And although most of them don’t know it yet, there are hundreds of NFL players who were on active rosters yesterday and will never play in an NFL game again. It’s part of the business, but it’s depressing thinking about all these people going into a year in which they won’t have jobs.

At this time of year I’m always reminded of the end of the 1998 season, when then-Dolphins coach Jimmy Johnson addressed the media on Black Monday. Johnson’s job was safe, and he was preparing to coach in a playoff game, but he could hardly contain his fury for the carnage in the coaching profession that took place that year, when five coaches were fired on the morning after the end of the season.

“I think it’s disgusting. Some of the better coaches in the NFL got fired today,” Johnson said on the Monday after the ’98 season ended. “I know we’re highly paid, but it’s a shame when coaches’ jobs are dependent on injuries, skyboxes, people in the stands and officiating calls. It doesn’t give me a good feeling about our profession when I see things like I saw this morning.”

These coaches are human beings, after all. They’re men with wives who relocated for their husbands’ jobs — usually men with wives who have already relocated several times, and know they’ll have to do it several more times. They’re men with kids who will go to school and hear taunts about their dads getting fired — kids who will wonder which city they’ll live in, which school they’ll go to, which taunts they’ll hear next year.

Yes, they all make a lot of money, and they’re living their dreams. I’m not playing a violin, taking up a collection or telling a sob story. But I do think that, as we reflect on how much we’ve enjoyed this 2012 season, we ought to reflect a little bit on how many of the men we watched on Sundays this year are losing their job on Monday. This game we love is a cruel, unforgiving business.

All those people losing their jobs are the ones I’m thinking about today. Here’s what else is on my mind:

Calvin Johnson is great — and so is Charles Tillman. I want to say a bit about what an amazing season Johnson had, but first this about Tillman, the Bears cornerback who deserves some consideration for Defensive Player of the Year: Tillman faced Johnson twice this season, and in those two games Johnson had 34 yards (his season-low, in October) and 72 yards (on Sunday). So in the two games when he was covered by Tillman, Johnson averaged 53 yards a game. In his other 14 games, Johnson averaged 133 yards a game.

Johnson fell short of 2,000 receiving yards this season, but he still finished the season with 1,964 yards, blowing away Jerry Rice’s old single-season record of 1,848. And Johnson outdistanced the rest of the NFL by a margin unseen in more than 60 years: Johnson ended up leading the league by a whopping 366 yards; the No. 2 receiver in the NFL, Houston’s Andre Johnson, had 1,598. The last time a player led the league by more yards than Johnson this year, it was Hall of Famer Elroy “Crazylegs” Hirsch in 1951, gaining 1,495 receiving yards in a year when the No. 2 spot was held by San Francisco’s Gordie Soltau, who gained 826 receiving yards. Johnson is nothing short of amazing.

The Falcons should have rested their starters. Atlanta had home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs locked up, so they had nothing to play for on Sunday against the Buccaneers. But the Falcons didn’t rest their starters, instead trying to keep the momentum going with a season-ending win over the Buccaneers. That didn’t go as planned. The Falcons lost to the Bucs, looked bad doing it, and can’t feel good about themselves heading into the playoffs. I sure don’t feel good about the Falcons going into the playoffs: The road to the Super Bowl may go through Atlanta, but I’ll be very surprised if this Falcons team gets to the Super Bowl.

Michael Vick was rusty. Vick, the Eagles quarterback who had been sidelined for the last six games, returned to the Eagles’ starting lineup on Sunday for what is presumed to be his final game with the team. He looked lousy. A Vick interception ended the first Eagles drive and set up the first Giants touchdown, and Vick completed just 19 of 35 passes for 197 yards in the Eagles’ 42-7 loss. It’s widely expected that the Eagles will release Vick after the season, and if Vick was hoping to showcase himself for some other team, he didn’t do a very good job of that on Sunday.

The AFC is coming down to Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady, again. Seven of the last nine seasons, the AFC leader in passer rating has been either Peyton Manning or Tom Brady. Eleven of the last 14 seasons, the AFC leader in passing touchdowns has been either Peyton Manning or Tom Brady. Ten of the last 15 seasons, the AFC leader in passing yards has been either Peyton Manning or Tom Brady. And seven of the last 11 seasons, the AFC Super Bowl team has been quarterbacked by either Tom Brady or Peyton Manning. With Manning’s Broncos having the No. 1 seed and Brady’s Patriots having the No. 2 seed, it appears that it’s going to be eight of the last 12 years with either Manning or Brady in the Super Bowl.

I’m ready for the playoffs. Today will be distasteful in the NFL, as we’ll spend most of the day talking about people losing their jobs. But tomorrow comes a New Year and a new NFL postseason. After binging on 16 NFL games yesterday, we only have 11 more games to enjoy until September. Let’s savor the playoffs.

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Irsay: Luck needs to protect himself like Peyton did

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 18:  Outside linebacker Von Miller #58 of the Denver Broncos strips the ball from quarterback Andrew Luck #12 of the Indianapolis Colts in the fourth quarter of the game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 18, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) Getty Images

Andrew Luck will always be compared to the man he succeeded as the Colts’ franchise quarterback, Peyton Manning. And in one respect, Colts owner Jim Irsay says Luck still has some work to do.

Irsay said today that Luck is fully healthy, contrary to some concerns that he had suffered a shoulder injury while trying to make a tackle after an interception. But Irsay acknowledged that he’d prefer not to see Luck making tackles at all.

“He can throw it 70 yards. He’s ready to play,” Irsay said, via Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star. “I’m more concerned about him – and him and I have talked – about he has to protect the football and protect himself. Look, he throws the interception, it’s tough, he’s mad. I know. But no Ray Lewis tackles. Do what Peyton did. You do a little foxtrot, you don’t embarrass yourself, you push a few guys but you stay out of the fray. You don’t see Aaron Rodgers [and] you didn’t see Peyton get involved in those type of frays. That’s when tough things happen.”

Irsay wants to see Luck change his approach.

“He has to change the way he plays only because he is not a 22-year old kid at Stanford who could play tight end or quarterback,” Irsay said. “He has to understand – and he learned from the Denver game – the importance of what it means to stay on the field. Honing his game is the key. There isn’t some kind of chronic shoulder injury or anything like that. I promise you. There are no surgeries planned. He is fine and the shoulder is something that just disappears into the woodwork when he wins his next MVP or when we win a Super Bowl.”

Those are comments you’d usually expect to hear from a coach, not an owner. But Irsay never hesitates to give his opinions, and in his opinion Luck has to get better at avoiding hits.

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NFL fines Willie Young for roughing Dak Prescott

Miami Dolphins v Chicago Bears Getty Images

Bears defensive end Willie Young has been hit by the league office for his hit on Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott on Sunday.

Young, who was flagged for roughing the passer, was fined $18,231.

It was a costly penalty on the field: The Cowboys would have been facing third down outside field goal range after Prescott threw incomplete, but with help from Young’s penalty the Cowboys would end up scoring a touchdown on the drive.

Young is a longtime critic of the league’s roughing the passer rules, saying they’re unfair to defensive players. But those rules aren’t going away, and as long as Young keeps doing it, he’ll keep getting fined.

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Saturday one-liners

gl_g_mrrts_57611 Getty Images

Jets coach Todd Bowles provided a Micheal Ray Richardson-style assessment of the team and its quarterback, with far less pizazz: “[Ryan Fitzpatrick] can’t play any worse, and we can’t coach it any worse. There’s nowhere to go but up.”

Bills fans are concerned that efforts by coach Rex Ryan to tweak Bill Belichick and company will backfire.

Dolphins CB Tony Lippett will continue to be a starter, despite a rough night against A.J. Green.

Patriots WR Chris Hogan doesn’t view Sunday’s game against his former team from Buffalo as a matter of revenge.

Ravens LB C.J. Mosley is improving in pass coverage.

The latest sign of the apocalypse: An assessment of the Bengals’ Thursday night win not in grades or numbers but in emojis.

Browns RT Austin Pasztor is trying to put a bad game in Miami behind him.

The Steelers’ defense is on track to shatter a record set a year ago, and it’s not a good record.

Texans WR Will Fuller keeps a detailed notebook of every tip and piece of advice he gets.

Colts RB Robert Turbin says he’d be a pro basketball player if he wasn’t a pro football player. (Pro basketball is always the better career choice, if a guy truly has that option.)

Jaguars QB Blake Bortles on the team’s urgency to win: “Guys are kind of taking it upon themselves. Not in the sense of pressing and, ‘We need to win now,’ but just in a sense of, ‘What we’ve done hasn’t worked or been successful so let’s figure it out rather than point fingers — let’s try and come up with different ideas and solve what’s going on.'”

Titans RB DeMarco Murray has re-established himself as one of the best tailbacks in football.

Broncos RB C.J. Anderson isn’t sweating the fact that an ineffective running game forced the team to win in Cincinnati through the air; “We can win either way,” Anderson said. “Run, pass, fullback dive — we can win. It’s just wonderful.”

Chiefs coach Andy Reid calls retiring Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully “a tribute to all the redheads out there.”

S Karl Joseph picked up positive reviews in his first start with the Raiders.

Chargers DE Joey Bosa says he’s “getting close” to making his NFL debut.

Cowboys LT Chaz Green is ready to go, again, if Tyron Smith can’t, again.

Giants WR Victor Cruz believes the offense is close to having a “game where we all click and everything is good on all cylinders.”

Eagles QB Carson Wentz could be the team’s first AP offensive rookie of the year, ever.

Washington players are happy that the team ditched gold pants for burgundy.

Bears rookie RB Jordan Howard knows he has a big opportunity on Sunday.

Former Lions RB Joique Bell, now with Chicago, has no ill will toward his former team.

For the Packers, the special teams have avoided a run of bad luck.

Vikings P Jeff Locke had a great game at Carolina, thanks in large part to the efforts of gunners Cordarrelle Patterson and Marcus Sherels.

Falcons RB Devonta Freeman returned to practice on Friday after missing Thursday’s session due to illness.

With LT Michael Oher (concussion) out on Sunday, the Panthers are expected to move Mike Remmers to the left side.

Good news/bad news for the Buccaneers: The Denver defense isn’t hard to figure out.

The 0-3 Saints know their margin for error is slim, and shrinking.

When the Cardinals spent a week in West Virginia last season, coach Bruce Arians dined with Arnold Palmer.

Sergio Galvez is the man responsible for keeping the Rams loose at practice with music.

With four of the next five games at home, the 49ers have a chance to build some momentum. (Or to thoroughly depress their paying customers.)

Seahawks rookie OL Germain Ifedi is “real excited” for his first NFL game.

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Doug Baldwin says he’s received death threats

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 25:  Quarterback Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers talks with wide receiver Doug Baldwin #89 of the Seattle Seahawks after the game at CenturyLink Field on September 25, 2016 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) Getty Images

The efforts to use the national anthem as a vehicle for shedding light on serious societal issues entails various types of risk. One specific type of risk is fairly significant.

In an interview with 60 Minutes Sports, Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin says that he has gotten “a few” death threats based on his involvement in the matter.

“A couple of people told me to watch my back,” Baldwin tells Jon Wertheim in a partial transcript circulated by Showtime.

“How do you respond to that?” Wertheim asks.

“The same way Colin [Kaepernick] did,” Baldwin said. “You know, there’s issues going on in our society that people feel compelled to talk about and I’m not going to be quiet about. And if something was to happen to me, I think that would just further prove my point that there are issues in our culture, in our society that need to be changed.”

Regardless of whether the threats are real and credible (and the vast majority of death threats aren’t), death threats always should be taken seriously by the authorities — regardless of whether they’re made on (anti)social media, by phone, or in person.

The transcript of the interview doesn’t contain many/any specifics beyond Baldwin saying he’s been told to “watch his back,” which may not have even been an actual death threat. Whatever the details may be, if Baldwin truly feels threatened, he should report the threats, the threats should be investigated, and action should be taken against those who made them.

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What did you miss this week on PFT Live?

PFTLive

The week is over, which means that 15 more hours of PFT Live have been created. It also means that, if you missed any of it live, you can download the podcasts.

If you do, you’ll be informed, entertained, and hopefully from time to time amused. Sometimes by design, sometimes perhaps not.

Guests for the week included Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph, Broncos safety T.J. Ward, Falcons running back Devonta Freeman, Dolphins safety Reshad Jones, Hall of Famer Kevin Greene, and more.

The podcasts are available at iTunes and audioBoom. The live show returns on Monday at 6:00 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Radio (Sirius 213/XM 202), with a two-hour daily simulcast at NBCSN.

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NFL rules prevent effort by Tom Benson to resolve ownership fight

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 28:  New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson walks on the field before a game against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field Field at Mile High on October 28, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Saints 34-14. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) Getty Images

A new front has emerged in the Benson Family Feud.

As Saints owner Tom Benson tries to resolve a fight with estranged heirs arising from his decision to prevent them from acquiring ownership of his NFL and NBA teams, the NFL will not allow Benson to follow through on a proposal to swap non-voting shares of the Saints with personally-guaranteed promissory notes in trust funds previously created for his daughter and her children.

Via Katherine Sayre of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, recent court filings in a lawsuit sparked by the issue “show that the NFL’s finance rules won’t allow Benson to use his personal wealth . . . to back the proposed promissory notes.” The league’s position derailed a settlement that had previously been reached between Benson and trustees regarding his desire to strip Saints equity from the family members’ trust funds.

The problem comes from the possibility that, if Benson defaults on the 30-year promissory notes, the estranged heirs could attempt to seize his personal assets — including the controlling shares of the Saints franchise.

Per the report, Benson recently made a revised offer in the aftermath of the NFL’s ruling. The trustees have argued that the proposal, based on a January 2015 valuation of the team, should be based on the value of the team as of September 8, 2016, which would result in an even greater dollar value.

That’s the biggest problem Benson faces as he tries to fix this; as NFL franchise values continue to climb, the 60-percent chunk of the team held in trust continues to climb, too, making it costlier for Benson to replace those shares with comparable assets.

Until these issues are fully and finally resolved, it’s unclear whether the estranged family members will be frozen out completely of an ownership stake in the Saints. Even though they wouldn’t have power over the affairs of the team, they’d own the majority of it — which would be a very awkward outcome to an already messy situation.

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Jim Irsay wants to find the right owner for a team in London

Jim Irsay AP

If there are any London-based billionaires with an interest in American football reading this, please give Jim Irsay a call.

Irsay, the Colts owner whose team plays in London tomorrow, said at an appearance there today that he’s hoping the NFL will have a franchise in London. And Irsay thinks the key is getting the right owner in place, someone who understands both American football and the European market.

“That’s my goal as an owner, to find the right owner and the right team to come here,” Irsay said, via George Bremer of the Herald Bulletin.

The NFL is serious about building the sport in London, with many owners believing the league is as popular as it’s going to get in the United States and will need to grow overseas if it’s going to keep growing. But there are many logistical challenges to putting a team in London permanently, as opposed to just playing a few games a year there. The right owner will have to work through those challenges to make it work.

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Report: Jimmy Garoppolo will start Sunday

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 18:  Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the New England Patriots looks to pass the ball during the first half against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium on September 18, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images) Getty Images

As Tom Brady concludes his four-game suspension on Sunday, Jimmy Garoppolo will return to the helm of the Patriots’ offense.

Garoppolo will start Sunday against the Bills, WEEI reports.

After playing very well in the first game and a half of the season, Garoppolo suffered an injury to his throwing shoulder during the Week Two game against the Dolphins and sat out Week Three against the Texans. Jacoby Brissett started against Houston but suffered an injury of his own, to his throwing thumb.

Both Garoppolo and Brissett are officially listed as questionable for the game. Brady will return to the team when his suspension ends on Monday.

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Donte Whitner to work out for the Giants

Cleveland Browns v Cincinnati Bengals Getty Images

Donte Whitner has rapidly fallen from perennial Pro Bowl safety to a guy looking for a job. He’s hoping to find that job with the Giants.

Whitner will work out for the Giants this weekend, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports.

The Giants are ailing at safety, with Mykkele Thompson on injured reserve and Nat Berhe and Darian Thompson both expected to miss Monday night’s game against the Vikings with injuries.

The Bills made Whitner the No. 8 overall pick in the 2006 NFL draft and he played five years in Buffalo. He then played three years for the 49ers and two for the Browns. Cleveland cut him in April and he hasn’t signed anywhere since.

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Eli Harold was flagged, fined for tackle that injured Russell Wilson

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, top, is pulled down by San Francisco 49ers' Eli Harold in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren) AP

The sack that resulted in an MCL sprain for Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson didn’t amount to a classic horse-collar tackle. But it fell within the scope of the recently-expanded definition of the rule.

As a result, 49ers linebacker Eli Harold was flagged for the hit — and fined $18,231.

NFL senior V.P. of officiating Dean Blandino explained in his weekly media officiating video that a violation occurred even though Harold didn’t have his hand inside Wilson’s jersey, and even though Harold didn’t pull Wilson to the ground from behind.

“The left hand will be in the front of the jersey but the right hand will be on the back at the nameplate,” Blandino said. “He’s gonna pull the runner toward the ground. The key is where does he grab the runner? He’s gonna grab on the nameplate. And remember the new rule this year is nameplate or above. . . . And if he pulls the runner toward the ground in any direction it’s a foul.”

The league expanded the protection earlier this year to limit injuries, and Wilson was indeed injured on the play.

Horse-collar tackles remain legal as to quarterbacks in the pocket. When the quarterback exits the pocket, the back of his jersey can’t be grabbed and pulled to the ground at the nameplate or above.

Which probably means that the term “horse-collar tackle” should be revised into something that better reflects what is prohibited, if for no reason other than to limit fan and media confusion.

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Week Four injury report roundup

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 25:  Dez Bryant #88 of the Dallas Cowboys looks on before a game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Chicago Bears at AT&T Stadium on September 25, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) Getty Images

Week Four kicked off on Thursday night with a Bengals win and it continues with 13 more games on Sunday, which means that the 26 teams in those games submitted their final injury reports of the week on Friday.

Questionable players are uncertain to play, doubtful players are unlikely to play and out should be self-explanatory. Players who are on active rosters and don’t appear below should be considered in the lineup barring any announcements on Saturday. The teams playing on Monday night won’t release their injury reports until Saturday and are not listed here.

With that housekeeping out of the way, here are all the injury reports for Sunday.

Colts vs. Jaguars (in London)

The Colts ruled out WR Donte Moncrief (shoulder), CB Darius Butler (hamstring) and C Jonotthan Harrison (illness). Tackles Denzelle Good and Joe Reitz are both questionable due to back injuries.

Jaguars DE Jared Odrick (tricep) and TE Ben Koyack (knee) will not play in the United Kingdom. TE Julius Thomas (elbow) and LB Dan Skuta (hip) are listed as questionable.

Seahawks at Jets

RB Thomas Rawls (fibula) remains out for the Seahawks. TE Jimmy Graham (knee/back), TE Nick Vannett (ankle), LB Mike Morgan (hip), DT Jarran Reed (hip) and RB C.J. Prosise (wrist) are all questionable. QB Russell Wilson (knee/ankle) has no injury designation at all.

The Jets won’t have WR Eric Decker (shoulder), WR Jalin Marshall (shoulder) or QB Bryce Petty (shoulder) in the lineup this Sunday. LT Ryan Clady also has a shoulder injury, but is listed as questionable.

Panthers at Falcons

The Panthers will play without RB Jonathan Stewart (hamstring) and DT Vernon Butler (knee) again this weekend. DE Charles Johnson (quad) drew a questionable tag.

Falcons linebackers Paul Worrilow (groin) and De’Vondre Campbell are both out for Sunday.

Raiders at Ravens

The Raiders have ruled out S Nate Allen (quad), T Austin Howard (ankle) and T Menelik Watson (calf). C Rodney Hudson (knee), RB Taiwan Jones (knee) and T Matt McCants (knee) are all questionable.

RB Kenneth Dixon (knee), LT Ronnie Stanley (foot) and CB Sheldon Price (thigh) are all doubtful for the Ravens. WR Kamar Aiken (thigh), LB Elvis Dumervil (foot), KR Devin Hester (thigh), DT Timmy Jernigan (knee), G Alex Lewis (concussion) and OL John Urschel (shoulder) all drew questionable tags.

Lions at Bears

The Lions are without DE Ziggy Ansah (ankle) and LB DeAndre Levy (quad) again this week. DE Wallace Gilberry (abdomen), LB Antwione Williams (hamstring), WR Marvin Jones (hamstring), TE Eric Ebron (ankle), S Tavon Wilson (neck), CB Adairius Barnes (ankle), T Riley Reiff (ankle) and DE Devin Taylor (ankle) are all questionable to play.

A long Bears injury report finds RB Ka’Deem Carey (hamstring), QB Jay Cutler (thumb), DT Eddie Goldman (ankle), RB Jeremy Langford (ankle) and LB Danny Trevathan (thumb) all doubtful to play. S Harold Jones-Quartey (concussion), DE Jonathan Bullard (toe), WR Alshon Jeffery (hamstring), DB Sherrick McManis (hamstring), CB Tracy Porter (knee), G Josh Sitton (shoulder) and LB Willie Young (knee) drew questionable tags.

Titans at Texans

Titans CB Cody Riggs (hamstring) and S Da’Norris Searcy (ankle) have been ruled out for the AFC South clash. TE Delanie Walker (hamstring) is questionable.

The Texans ruled out LT Duane Brown (knee), TE Stephen Anderson (hamstring), RB Jonathan Grimes (ankle) and WR Braxton Miller (hamstring). LB Brian Cushing (knee) and S Quintin Demps (hamstring) are listed as questionable.

Bills at Patriots

The Bills initially ruled out WR Sammy Watkins (foot), but later placed him on injured reserve. T Cyrus Kouandjio (ankle), C Patrick Lewis (knee) and WR Greg Salas (groin) remain on the active roster, but won’t play this weekend. S Colt Anderson (foot), TE Charles Clay (knee), CB Ronald Darby (hamstring), T Cordy Glenn (ankle), QB Cardale Jones (right shoulder), S Jonathan Meeks (foot) and S Aaron Williams (ankle) are all questionable.

The question of the Patriots starting quarterback is up in the air with Jacoby Brissett (thumb) and Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder) listed as questionable to play. T Marcus Cannon (calf), G Jonathan Cooper (foot), LB Jonathan Freeny (shoulder), TE Rob Gronkowski (hamstring), LB Dont’a Hightower (knee) and CB Eric Rowe (ankle) are also questionable.

Browns at Redskins

The Browns head to Washington without WR Corey Coleman (hand), TE Seth DeValve (knee), C Cameron Erving (chest, lung), QB Josh McCown (left shoulder), DE Carl Nassib (hand) and LB Nate Orchard (ankle) in the lineup. CB Tramon Williams (shoulder) is listed as doubtful, leaving him unlikely to play. S Ibraheim Campbell (hamstring) and CB Joe Haden (groin) are both listed as questionable.

CB Bashaud Breeland (ankle), WR Josh Doctson (achilles), G Shawn Lauvao (ankle) and CB Dashaun Phillips (hamstring) are all out for the Redskins. LB Trent Murphy (elbow, shoulder) and DE Kendall Reyes (groin) are both questionable.

Broncos at Buccaneers

TE Virgil Green (calf), T Donald Stephenson (calf) and LB DeMarcus Ware (forearm) remain out for the Broncos. Safeties Shiloh Keo (knee) and Justin Simmons (hand) both drew questionable designations.

The Buccaneers ruled out DE Robert Ayers (ankle), RB Doug Martin (hamstring), WR Cecil Shorts (hamstring) and TE Luke Stocker (ankle). C Joe Hawley (ankle) is listed as questionable.

Rams at Cardinals

Cardinals P Drew Butler (calf) and DT Frostee Rucker (knee) will not play this weekend.

Rams DE William Hayes (ankle) is doubtful after missing practice all week. WR Tavon Austin (shoulder), WR Kenny Britt (thigh), DT Dominique Easley (illness) and CB Lamarcus Joyner (toe) are all listed as questionable.

Saints at Chargers

T Terron Armstead (knee), CB Delvin Breaux (fibula), TE Josh Hill (ankle) and G Senio Kelemete (hamstring) are out for the Saints. DT Tyeler Davison (shoulder, foot), LB Dannell Ellerbe (quadricep), LB James Laurinaitis (quadricep), WR Willie Snead (toe) and S Kenny Vaccaro (ankle) are all listed as questionable.

The Chargers will play without S Jahleel Addae (collarbone), DE Joey Bosa (hamstring) and CB Brandon Flowers (concussion). Doubtful tags leave T King Dunlap (illness) and TE Antonio Gates (hamstring) unlikely to play. T Joe Barksdale (foot), LB Jatavis Brown (hamstring) and G Orlando Franklin (back) are all questionable.

Cowboys at 49ers

Cowboys WR Dez Bryant (knee) is questionable, but he didn’t practice all week and said the team will play it safe. LT Tyron Smith (back) is also questionable and also didn’t practice. CB Orlando Scandrick (hamstring), DE Jack Crawford (shoulder), RT Doug Free (quadriceps), LB Andrew Gachkar (neck), S Jeff Heath (knee), and LB Mark Nzeocha (Achilles) round out the list of questionable Cowboys. QB Tony Romo (back) is out.

The 49ers ruled out CB Jimmie Ward (quadricep). Tight ends Vance McDonald (hip) and Garrett Celek (back) are questionable.

Chiefs at Steelers

RB Jamaal Charles (knee) may play for the first time this season after being listed as questionable. The Chiefs definitely won’t have T Jah Reid (knee, ankle) and RB Charcandrick West (ankle), however. CB Phillip Gaines (knee) and LB Tamba Hali (knee, hand) are both questionable.

The Steelers will be missing G Ramon Foster (chest), S Robert Golden (hamstring), CB Senquez Golson (foot), RB Roosevelt Nix (back), WR Eli Rogers (toe), LB Ryan Shazier (knee) and C Cody Wallace (knee) on Sunday night.

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Sammy Watkins to IR, Bills claim Justin Hunter

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 13:  Sammy Watkins #14 of the Buffalo Bills makes the catch for a 16 yard gain in the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on December 13, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

When Bills coach Rex Ryan spoke to the media on Friday, there was “major concern” about Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins‘ ability to return to the lineup in the near future because of continued problems with his surgically repaired foot.

Ryan may have a penchant for hyperbole, but this wasn’t one of those times. The concern about Watkins was great enough that the Bills placed him on injured reserve on Friday afternoon.

Watkins will be eligible to return to the team in eight weeks if his foot is feeling better and the Bills opt to use their one designated return spot for him, but there’s obviously some doubt about when Watkins might be well enough to return to the Bills lineup.

The Bills filled Watkins’ roster spot by claiming wide receiver Justin Hunter off of waivers from the Dolphins. A 2013 second-round pick of the Titans, Hunter has not made good on the potential he showed coming out of college. With Watkins out of the lineup, he should get plenty of chances to do so in Buffalo in the coming weeks.

Robert Woods, Marquise Goodwin, Greg Salas, Brandon Tate and Walter Powell are the other wideouts on Buffalo’s active roster.

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Marvin Jones, Eric Ebron questionable for Lions

GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 25: Marvin Jones #11 of the Detroit Lions catches a touchdown pass in the 4th quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on September 25, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Lions 34-27. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Getty Images

As the Lions try to move to 2-2 on the year, they’ll definitely not have two key players. They possibly won’t have two others.

As expected, defensive end Ziggy Ansah and linebacker DeAndre Levy are out for Sunday’s game, with ankle and quad injuries, respectively.

Receiver Marvin Jones (hamstring) and tight end Eric Ebron (ankle) are questionable. Both fully participated in practice on Friday after being limited on Thursday.

Also questionable for the Lions are cornerback Adairius Barnes (ankle), defensive end Wallace Gilberry (abdomen), tackle Riley Reiff (ankle), defensive end Devin Taylor (ankle), linebacker Antwione Williams  (hamstring), and safety Tavon Wilson (neck).

Jones leads the league in receiving yards through three games, with 408 total yards.

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Evan Mathis, Michael Floyd set to play this Sunday

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 01:  Guard Evan Mathis #69 of the Arizona Cardinals prepares to take the field for the preseaon NFL game against the Denver Broncos at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 1, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Cardinals defeated the Broncos 38-17.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Cardinals missed right guard Evan Mathis in the lineup in Buffalo last Sunday, but they’ll have him back as they try to improve their record to 2-2 against the Rams this weekend.

Mathis missed last Sunday with a toe injury, but got in a full practice Friday. He was not given a designation on the team’s injury report, which means he’s expected to play barring a downgrade at some point on Saturday.

Wide receiver Michael Floyd also went without a designation on the injury report and practiced in full the last two days after being cleared through the league’s concussion protocol. Floyd was diagnosed with a concussion on Monday after reporting headaches a day after doctors gave him the green light to return to the game following an evaluation in Buffalo.

Punter Drew Butler is out for Sunday with a calf injury, leaving Ryan Quigley to handle the punting and holding duties. Defensive tackle Frostee Rucker remains out with a knee injury.

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Josh Norman fined $48,620 for hit on Sterling Shepard

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 25:  Josh Norman #24 of the Washington Redskins discusses a penalty against one of his teammates in the second half against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on September 25, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.The Washington Redskins defeated the New York Giants 29-27.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

Washington cornerback Josh Norman didn’t draw any penalties for hits on his rival, Giants receiver Odell Beckham, during their much-anticipated meeting on Sunday. But Norman was penalized and fined for a hit on another Giants receiver.

Norman was fined $48,620 for a hit on Giants receiver Sterling Shepard, the NFL confirmed today.

The hit drew an unnecessary roughness flag against Norman. The fine is more than players usually get for unnecessary roughness, but Norman is considered a repeat offender after two fines for his actions when he played against the Giants last year.

Norman will see the Giants again on New Year’s Day, in Week 17.

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