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After three great games, Patriots make a statement

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady celebrates after throwing a touchdown pass during the second quarter of their NFL AFC Divisional playoff football game against the Houston Texans in Foxborough Reuters

We saw three great football games this weekend. And then we saw one great football team.

After a tremendous Saturday in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs, Sunday got started with another phenomenal game as the Falcons jumped out to a big lead, squandered that lead, and then came back to win 30-28. Through three games, this was as good a weekend of football as I can ever remember.

And then came the Patriots against the Texans, which was not a great game, or even a good one. It was just the Patriots beat the Texans 41-28 on the strength of a huge game from Tom Brady, while making a statement that they’re the favorites to win the Super Bowl.

The way the Patriots’ offense is playing right now, I don’t see anyone slowing them down. Brady can spread the ball around to so many different receivers — even with Rob Gronkowski and Danny Woodhead both exiting the game early with injuries, he completed 25 of 40 passes for 344 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions — that the Ravens aren’t going to have much of a chance in the AFC Championship Game.

And at the moment I’d definitely favor the Patriots over the Falcons in the Super Bowl, and I’d probably favor them over the 49ers too. Yes, the 49ers won at New England in December, but I think Bill Belichick with two weeks to game plan would make life very difficult for the young San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

So many crazy things have already happened in these playoffs that it’s way too early to make any definitive declarations about what we’re going to see in the final three games of this NFL season. And Gronkowski being knocked out of the rest of the playoffs is a significant blow. But after watching the divisional round of the playoffs, my best bet is that we’re going to see the Patriots win the AFC Championship Game, and then win the Super Bowl.

Here are my other observations from Sunday’s games:

Icing the kicker didn’t work. As Falcons kicker Matt Bryant was about to try his game-winning field goal, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll called timeout. But the Falcons went ahead and snapped it, held it and kicked it anyway — and Bryant missed. That practice kick apparently helped Bryant, because he made it when it counted. Carroll may make other coaches think twice about icing the kicker.

Why is Tony Gonzalez retiring? I know the soon-to-be 37-year-old Gonzalez says he’s done after the playoffs, but I don’t see why he should be. He caught six of the seven passes thrown to him, for 51 yards, and his one-yard touchdown catch in the back of the end zone was a thing of beauty. He has plenty of football left in him.

Live by Richard Sherman, die by Richard Sherman. Sherman was the best cornerback in the NFL all season and one of the biggest reasons the Seahawks made the playoffs, and he got off to a great start against the Falcons, knocking away two passes on Atlanta’s first drive. Unfortunately, he also got torched on a 47-yard touchdown pass from Matt Ryan to Roddy White. Sherman is an outstanding cornerback, but the Falcons weren’t afraid to go after him.

The Seahawks missed Chris Clemons. Clemons was the Seahawks’ best defensive lineman during the season, but he was out after suffering a torn ACL last week against the Redskins. It was easy to see how much Seattle missed him. Not only did Matt Ryan throw 35 passes without ever getting sacked, but the Falcons often ran directly at Clemons’ replacement, Bruce Irvin, who’s a good young pass rusher but still a liability against the run.

That’s a penalty? Patriots receiver Brandon Lloyd got flagged for something I’ve never seen before: Throwing the ball too hard at the official. I’m all for the players treating the officials with respect, but I think this official was oversensitive. Lloyd didn’t chuck it at the guy’s head or anything, he just threw it quickly and the official didn’t see it coming. I agree with former NFL official Jim Daopoulos, who said it looked like the official who threw the flag had a short fuse.

Matt Schaub has a long way to go. Schaub has his moments when he looks like an elite NFL quarterback, but those moments don’t come consistently enough. Most of the time, Schaub is too skittish in the pocket and too prone to bad decisions. I think my least favorite of all was a third down on which he was pressured, rolled out of the pocket and then just threw the ball out of bounds, giving up on the play. Great quarterbacks don’t give up on plays like that.

Rob Ninkovich was outstanding. I started by praising the player on the Patriots who always gets praise, Tom Brady. So I’ll close by praising a player who doesn’t get nearly enough attention: Ninkovich, the starting linebacker who was all over the field on defense, with an interception, three tackles behind the line of scrimmage, a hit on Matt Schaub that hurried a throw on third down, a very athletic play on which he caught Foster from behind at the end of a 28-yard catch and run, and a recovery of an onside kick. Players like that are the players who help teams win Super Bowls.

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Giants take fourth-quarter lead

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 23:  Eli Manning of the New York Giants in action during the NFL International Series match between New York Giants and Los Angeles Rams at Twickenham Stadium on October 23, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Giants have their first lead of the day in London.

After falling behind 10-0 early, battling back to a 10-10 tie in the second quarter and then fighting to a stalemate for most of the second half, the Giants now lead 17-10.

The lead came thanks to a Rashad Jennings touchdown run set up by a Landon Collins interception, his second of the day. Collins returned the first interception for a touchdown and has been easily the best player on the field in this game.

Now the Rams have nine minutes to try to come back. They’d be wise not to throw in Collins’ direction.

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Joe Flacco active, Muhammad Wilkerson inactive

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 13: Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson #96 of the New York Jets celebrates after sacking quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the fourth quarter during a game at MetLife Stadium on October 13, 2013 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Steelers defeated the Jets 19-6. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images) Getty Images

The Ravens are down a pair of starting offensive linemen for Sunday’s road game against the Jets, but their replacements won’t have to tangle with one of the Jets’ top defensive linemen.

Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson is inactive for the game due to an ankle injury that kept him from practicing a couple of days this week. Wilkerson, who spent most of the offseason rehabbing the leg he broke in the final game of the 2015 season, said that the ankle has been an issue for a few weeks but this is the first game he’ll be missing this season.

Ravens left tackle Ronnie Stanley will miss his fourth straight game with a foot injury despite some hope that he’d return after getting listed as questionable on Friday. Right guard Marshal Yanda will miss his second straight game. The remaining linemen will be tasked with protecting quarterback Joe Flacco, who is active as expected despite dealing with right shoulder soreness during the week.

Linebackers Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil and C.J. Mosley are also out for the Ravens. Wide receiver Steve Smith and cornerback Shareece Wright rounding out the list of banged-up players who will be inactive.

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Week Seven early inactives

Dallas Cowboys v Washington Redskins Getty Images

Every week we bring you all the inactives from the early games in one post, constantly updated with the latest information.

This week got off to an earlier start than usual with the Giants and Rams in London, but eight other games kick off in the traditional early afternoon slot. Check back often to see the full list as it becomes available.

Ravens at Jets

Ravens: LB Elvis Dumervil, LB C.J. Mosley, CB Shareece Wright, LB Terrell Suggs, G Marshal Yanda, T Ronnie Stanley, WR Steve Smith

Jets: LB Darron Lee, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, OL Brent Qvale, DL Muhammad Wilkerson, QB Bryce Petty, QB Christian Hackenberg, WR Jeremy Butler

Browns at Bengals

Browns: WR Corey Coleman, TE Seth DeValve, CB Marcus Burley, QB Josh McCown, CB Joe Haden, FB Dan Vitale, LB Corey Lemonier

Bengals: QB Jeff Driskel, WR Cody Core, CB KeiVarae Russell, CB Chykie Brown, CB Chris Lewis-Harris, G Christian Westerman, DT DeShawn Williams

Redskins at Lions

Redskins: TE Jordan Reed, QB Nate Sudfeld, OL Vinston Painter, WR Rashard Ross, CB Dashaun Phillips, DE Anthony Lanier, S Josh Evans

Lions: TE Eric Ebron, LB DeAndre Levy, DT Haloti Ngata, RB Theo Riddick, T Corey Robinson, RB Dwayne Washington, CB Adarius Barnes

Raiders at Jaguars

Raiders: QB Connor Cook, RB Taiwan Jones, CB Dexter McDonald, S Brynden Trawick, T Menelik Watson, OL Vadal Alexander, TE Ryan O’Malley

Jaguars: QB Brandon Allen, CB Josh Johnson, RB Corey Grant, TE Neal Sterling, WR Bryan Walters, DE Chris Smith, OL Bryce Harris

Saints at Chiefs

Saints: LB Stephone Anthony, CB Delvin Breaux, RB Daniel Lasco, CB Sterling Moore, OL Andrus Peat, LB Dannell Ellerbe, RB Marcus Murphy

Chiefs: QB Tyler Bray, CB Phillip Gaines, CB Terrance Mitchell, LB Sio Moore, OL Jordan Devey, OL Bryan Witzmann, TE Ross Travis

Bills at Dolphins

Bills: T Seantrel Henderson, WR Robert Woods, DT Marcell Dareus, RB Jonathan Williams, T Michael Ola, C Patrick Lewis, QB Cardale Jones

Dolphins: TE Jordan Cameron, TE Dion Sims, CB Xavien Howard, CB Bene Benwikere, DT Terrance Fede, DL Nick Williams, DL Julian Warmsley

Vikings at Eagles

Vikings: DT Sharrif Floyd, TE MyCole Pruitt, WR Jarius Wright, WR Laquon Treadwell, LB Kentrell Brothers, C Nick Easton, OL Willie Beavers

Eagles: DT Bennie Logan, WR Bryce Treggs, S Terrence Brooks, CB C.J. Smith, OL Josh Andrews, OL Dillon Gordon, OL Isaac Seumalo

Colts at Titans

Colts: TE Dwayne Allen, DT Henry Anderson, WR Phillip Dorsett, DT Zach Kerr, WR Donte Moncrief, G Jack Mewhort, LB Curt Maggitt

Titans: TE Jace Amaro, LB Aaron Wallace, CB Cody Riggs, DB Curtis Riley, G Sebastian Tretola, WR Harry Douglas, DL Austin Johnson

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Charles active despite knee swelling

CINCINNATI, OH - OCTOBER 4:  Jamaal Charles #25 of the Kansas City Chiefs runs with the ball during the first quarter of the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on October 4, 2015 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images) Getty Images

Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles is active for Sunday’s game vs. the Saints.

Charles had been listed as questionable due to swelling in his knee. He saw his first extended action of the season last week, and the Chiefs will understandably be cautious with Charles just a year removed from ACL surgery.

Charles carried nine times for 33 yards and a touchdown last week. He had two touches in his season debut Oct. 2 at Pittsburgh.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the Chiefs will have “a limited package” for Charles. Spencer Ware will remain the team’s starting running back.

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Brian Hoyer having surgery on broken arm Sunday

GREENBAY, WI - OCTOBER 20: Quarterback Brian Hoyer #2 of the Chicago Bears walks off of the field after being injured in the second quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on October 20, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) Getty Images

Bears quarterback Brian Hoyer broke his left arm in Thursday night’s loss to the Packers and is taking one of his first steps back to health on Sunday.

Adam Caplan of ESPN reports that Hoyer is having surgery on his arm. Schefter adds that Hoyer is expected to miss at least eight weeks, which would seem to make him a prime candidate for injured reserve whether or not there’s a chance he’ll be able to return to the team in the final weeks of the season.

If Hoyer does go on injured reserve this week, the Bears may be in the market for a quarterback to take his spot on the 53-man roster.

Matt Barkley took over on Thursday night and coach John Fox said after the game that Jay Cutler has not yet been medically cleared from his right thumb injury, which would leave the team without a backup for a Week Eight matchup with a Vikings defense that would be a tough one even if the Bears weren’t on track to take them on with their third-string quarterback.

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Spectacular pick-six by Landon Collins ties the game

New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham (13), left, is tackled by Los Angeles Rams cornerback Troy Hill (32) during an NFL football game at Twickenham stadium in London, Sunday Oct. 23, 2016. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland) AP

After falling behind early this morning in London, the Giants have come back in a big way, thanks to Landon Collins.

Collins, the Giants’ second-year strong safety, made one of the greatest interception returns you’ve ever seen, picking off a deflected pass and weaving back and forth, dodging several Rams tacklers and eventually bowling his way into the end zone. The 44-yard return stands as one of the best plays of this NFL season.

Early in the game it was all Rams, as they forced a fumble on the Giants’ first possession, scored a touchdown on their subsequent possession, and then added a field goal to lead 10-0. But the Giants made a field goal of their own to cut the deficit to 10-3, and the spectacular Collins return tied the score.

The London fans are getting a better game than they’re accustomed to, and there’s still plenty of time to go.

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Antonio Brown hopes for more production with Landry Jones in the lineup

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - OCTOBER 16:  Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers warms up during a game against the Miami Dolphins on October 16, 2016 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) Getty Images

When Landry Jones replaced Ben Roethlisberger a year ago, the numbers weren’t great for receiver Antonio Brown. This year, Brown hopes that he and Jones will connect more often.

“Obviously, it’s frustrating not to have Ben out there, but you have to be positive and poised,” Brown said Friday, via Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “We have to build Landry up. We can’t be getting in his ear every play and saying, ‘I’m open.’ Obviously, I know I’m going to draw a lot of double teams and a lot of different matchups. We have to keep him poised, create separation for him, make plays for him and keep him positive all game.”

It’s almost as if Brown was anticipating the moment in 2016 when Jones would get another chance to play.

“I’ve been working with Landry a lot,” Brown said. “Every pregame we throw routes together, communicate a lot in the film room. We’re just excited to have the opportunity to go out and play together this weekend.”

Jones has every incentive to play well, given that he’s in a contract year. With the NFL’s supply of quarterbacks not close to meeting its demand, Jones could be in position to demand a big contract from someone else if he can get it done for however long Roethlisberger will be out due to a torn meniscus in his knee.

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Hue Jackson decided against chance to succeed Marvin Lewis

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 11: Head coach Hue Jackson of the Cleveland Browns looks on during the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on September 11, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Eagles defeated the Browns 29-10. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) Getty Images

As the Browns and Bengals prepare for the first of their two annual meetings on Sunday, the in-state rivalry has a new layer of intrigue.

Browns coach Hue Jackson had become a valued member of the coaching staff in Cincinnati — so valued that Marvin Lewis wanted to eventually hand the baton to Hue.

Lewis mentioned the possibility of Jackson succeeding Lewis earlier this week. Jackson later confirmed it.

That is Marvin’s football team,” Jackson said, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “He’s been there a long time. It’s hard to ever replace a best friend that way and be there waiting behind. I didn’t think it was the right thing for me to do. I didn’t think it would be right for their team.”

Jackson called the chance to lead the Browns the “right fit” and the “right opportunity.”

“I’m where I’m supposed to be right now,” Jackson said.

Though the Browns have yet to win on Hue’s watch, they’ve been competitive. With Jackson knowing the coaching staff and personnel in Cincinnati intimately, the Browns may have an edge on Sunday to end their annual run of futility, at least for one day.

In time, it won’t be that way, if the fans and ownership remain patient. Although it’s tempting to believe that a generation of frustration will continue indefinitely, Jackson and company could be the franchise’s best shot to turn things around since the franchise previously known as the Browns packed up and left for Baltimore.

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Rams score early in London

Los Angeles Rams running back Chase Reynolds (34) and Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley (30) joke during the warm-up before an NFL football game against New York Giants at Twickenham stadium in London, Sunday Oct. 23, 2016. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland) AP

Fans in Los Angeles who couldn’t get up early enough to watch the start of the Rams’ game in London missed an early touchdown.

The Rams scored just 3:45 into the first quarter with a touchdown pass from Case Keenum to Tavon Austin, capitalizing on a Giants turnover on the first offensive drive.

Giants tight end Larry Donnell caught the first pass of the game but fumbled it, and the Rams recovered. (That fumble was confirmed on replay review and London fans — perhaps more accustomed to soccer, which doesn’t have long replay delays — booed the announcement that the play would be reviewed.)

With good field position, the Rams’ offense moved the ball easily, with Austin also rushing for 10 yards in addition to his 10-yard touchdown catch.

Now we’ll see if the Giants can wake up and make an early morning game of it.

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Trade chatter at a minimum, for now

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 11: Robert Griffin III #10 and Joe Thomas #73 of the Cleveland Browns wait in the tunnel prior to the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on September 11, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Eagles defeated the Browns 29-10. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) Getty Images

The trade deadline is only nine days away. And while plenty of transactions could still happen between now and 4:00 p.m. ET on November 1, it’s hard to currently identify any real chatter regarding specific players.

It’s still a little early for teams to engage in full-blown fire sales. With two more games to be played for most teams between now and the trade deadline, that 1-5 record could be 3-5 by the Tuesday after Week Eight. Or 1-7.

Or, in the case of the Browns, 0-8.

The Browns will be at the center of the speculation, regarding a potential trade of veteran left tackle Joe Thomas. Last year, the Broncos reportedly were talking to the Browns about a trade for Thomas, and this year’s contending teams are only one injury to a starting tackle away from becoming quickly interested.

Other non-contending teams should be looking at players who could be swapped for 2017 draft picks. The 1-6 Bears could be tempted to move receiver Alshon Jeffery; however, his contract status could make it hard to get much value, given that his new team wouldn’t be able to sign him to a new contract until after the regular season ends. The 1-5 Jets could be thinking about a fire sale aimed at stockpiling picks; if there’s any lingering issue between receiver Brandon Marshall and defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson, why not consider moving one or both of them?

The 49ers also could be/should be looking at ways to unload some veterans in exchange for draft picks, if they keep sliding into irrelevance.

Then there are the Patriots, who seem to find ways to bring in contract-year players who either will be re-signed after the season or allowed to leave via free agency, giving the Patriots a better haul of compensatory picks in 2017.

Regardless, it’s still a little early for the trade talk to heat up. Based on what happens with some of the league’s bad teams over the next nine days, plenty could still happen.

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Molly Brown: Giants teammates knew of abuse

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 21:  Steve Weatherford #5 drops the ball during a field goal attempt by Josh Brown #3 of the New York Giants in the second quarter against the Houston Texans at MetLife Stadium on September 21, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

As the Sunday morning talking heads begin the process of talking about the potential reaction by teammates to the knowledge that Giants kicker Josh Brown engaged in abuse of his ex-wife more widespread than grabbing her wrist in May 2015, it’s important to remember one key fact: Brown’s ex-wife contends they already knew.

“Several of Josh’s teammates were aware of the abuse in their relationship,” wrote King County Detective Robin Ostrum, “but it is clear none of them did anything to call it to the attention of the team management or take action to help Molly out. Molly feared that people from the NFL/Giants would pressure her into making all of this go away, so that Josh and the team would not face any negative press. Molly was very upfront that in her experience, the NFL publically [sic] says that they have a no tolerance policy on Domestic Violence, but the reality is that they do more crisis management and look to cover things up.”

Ultimately, the criminal charges did not materialize because Molly Brown decided not to force the issue, possibly due to concerns that she expressed regarding the financial implications arising from the Giants severing ties with Josh. The police report makes it clear that she was torn over worries that, on one hand, the team would abruptly cut him and that, on the other hand, the team would try to brush it all under the rug and to create the impression that she was making things up.

Now that the police report has emerged, the Giants and the NFL have been forced by fan and media reaction to do what they should have done in the first place, based on the apparent extent of the abuse. Regardless, none of this should be news to some of Brown’s teammates, based on the things Molly Brown told the authorities in Seattle.

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Sunday morning one-liners

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 16: Wide receiver Kenny Britt #18 of the Los Angeles Rams breaks the tackle from free safety Glover Quin #27 of the Detroit Lions on his way to scoring a first quarter touch down during an NFL game at Ford Field on October 16, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Bills get LB Shaq Lawson in the lineup for the first time this week.

Can the Dolphins reverse recent history and beat the Bills?

WR Stanley Morgan’s Patriots record for touchdowns is likely to fall to Rob Gronkowski soon.

QB Geno Smith is back in the saddle for the Jets.

The Ravens need to protect a banged-up QB Joe Flacco.

After years of playing for him, the Bengals offense will be trying to beat Hue Jackson this weekend.

The Browns remain an outlier in the Cleveland sports renaissance.

The Steelers defense will be under pressure on Sunday.

Monday is another tough road game for the Texans.

The Titans running game looks like a bad matchup for the Colts.

Remembering Jack Del Rio’s time as Jaguars coach ahead of a matchup with the Raiders.

WR Rishard Matthews has turned it on for the Titans.

Checking in on Broncos LB DeMarcus Ware’s recovery from a broken forearm.

The Chiefs aren’t listening to critics of their offensive style.

Raiders QB Derek Carr still feels a bond with Blake Bortles from their time together before the 2014 draft.

Said Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano, “I’m heading to church right after this. To be able to stop Julio [Jones], we’re going to have to do some serious praying.”

The Cowboys coaching staff has looked good during the team’s 5-1 start.

A critique of Giants owner John Mara’s handling of the Josh Brown matter.

The Eagles will get reacquainted with QB Sam Bradford this Sunday.

TE Derek Carrier is getting closer to returning to the Redskins lineup.

Trying to evaluate Bears coach John Fox’s work is more difficult thanks to injuries all over the roster.

The Lions defense will be tested this weekend.

Getting time at running back takes Packers WR Ty Montgomery down memory lane.

Vikings tight ends coach Pat Shurmur is one of the team’s connections to the Eagles.

LSU sent alums with the Falcons a package this week.

The Panthers need to get their pass rush going after the bye.

S Kenny Vaccaro’s versatility has been put to good use by the Saints.

Will the Buccaneers be able to take advantage of the 49ers’ run defense?

The Cardinals are keeping their eyes on Seahawks TE Jimmy Graham.

Rams WR Kenny Britt will face off with former teammate Janoris Jenkins on Sunday.

WR DeAndre Smelter is trying for a second chance with the 49ers.

Seahawks LB Bobby Wagner has been an effective blitzer this season.

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Odell Beckham active after pregame meeting with trainers

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JANUARY 03:  Odell Beckham #13 of the New York Giants in action against the Philadelphia Eagles during their game at MetLife Stadium on January 3, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Giants didn’t give wide receiver Odell Beckham an injury designation on their final injury report of the week, which means they had no doubt that he would be in the lineup on Sunday.

It seems there are still some concerns about how his hip is feeling, however. Beckham hurt his hip against the Ravens last weekend and missed the opening practice of the week before returning to work on Thursday and Friday. Jordan Raanan of reports that Beckham spent an extended period of time with trainers while the rest of the team’s wide receivers were going through warmups ahead of the Giants’ matchup with the Rams in London.

That hasn’t caused a change in Beckham’s game status as he’s in the lineup for the game. Whether he’s limited by the injury at any point during the game will be something to keep an eye on, especially after Beckham’s big game helped the Giants snap their three-game losing streak last week.

Quarterback Josh Johnson, wide receiver Tavarres King, safety Darian Thompson, safety Nat Berhe, linebacker Deontae Skinner, offensive lineman Marshall Newhouse and defensive tackle Robert Thomas are inactive for the Giants.

Defensive tackle Michael Brockers and cornerback Trumaine Johnson were ruled out by the Rams during the week. They’re joined on the inactive list by guard Jamon Brown, wide receiver Nelson Spruce, wide receiver Pharoh Cooper, offensive lineman Pace Murphy and quarterback Sean Mannion.

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Tyler Eifert, Terrelle Pryor expected to play in Cincinnati

CINCINNATI, OH - NOVEMBER 5:  Tyler Eifert #85 of the Cincinnati Bengals catches a touchdown pass during the fourth quarter of the game against the Cleveland Browns at Paul Brown Stadium on November 5, 2015 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Cincinnati defeated Cleveland 31-10.(Photo by Andrew Weber/Getty Images) Getty Images

Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert declared himself ready to make his 2016 debut this week, although the Bengals stopped short of ruling Eifert into the lineup when they released their final injury report of the week.

Eifert has missed the last couple of games with the back injury he suffered just as it appeared he was ready to get back on the field after offseason ankle surgery. He practiced each day this week, drawing a questionable tag, and Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that he is expected to play limited snaps against the Browns.

It wouldn’t be surprising if some of those snaps come in the red zone. Eifert was tough to stop in that area of the field last season and the Bengals have not been as effective on that front as they were with Eifert in the lineup last season.

The Browns had a key pass catcher of their own listed as questionable. Wide receiver Terrelle Pryor has been dealing with an ankle injuy, but is also expected to play in Cincinnati this Sunday.

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Report: LeSean McCoy to play 25-35 snaps

LeSean McCoy, Marcus Peters AP

Bills running back LeSean McCoy appears ready to contribute today, if not quite as much as usual.

McCoy is expected to play and get about 25-35 snaps against the Dolphins, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports.

That would represent a reduction in the normal workload for McCoy, who has averaged 47.5 snaps a game so far this season. But it would still allow him to contribute to the Bills’ offense.

McCoy left practice Wednesday with hamstring tightness, and initial reports had him out for Sunday. But McCoy made the trip to Miami and now appears good to go, if not for quite his usual role in the offense.

McCoy leads the Bills with 104 carries for 587 yards and six touchdowns this season and is also third on the team with 20 catches. If he sees a reduction in playing time today, Mike Gillislee should be expected to get more carries, and that could be a good thing for the Bills: Gillislee is averaging 6.9 yards a carry in limited work so far this season.

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