Ray Lewis may not be the only player potentially playing their final game this weekend. Erik Kuselias, Mike Florio and Amani Toomer give their insight and more leading up to the AFC Championship game.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
ProFootballTalk: AFC Championship storylines
Rams coach Jeff Fisher took some criticism yesterday when he said, “We’re on a record-setting pace with our punt team.” For the coach of one of the worst teams in the league to boast about punting doesn’t sit well with some football fans.
But here’s the thing: Rams punter Johnny Hekker really is having a great season. He’s having perhaps the greatest season of any punter in NFL history.
Net punting average is the single most important stat to use to evaluate a punter, and by that measure Hekker is having the best season ever, and it’s not even close. Hekker is already the only punter in NFL history to finish a season with a net average of over 44 yards, setting the league record for net punting average at 44.2 yards in 2013,. But this year Hekker isn’t just over 44 yards, he’s over 45 yards: If he stays at his current pace of 45.8 yards, he’ll obliterate his own record.
And Hekker is consistently putting opposing teams in bad field position: He already has 40 punts inside the 20-yard line this season, by far the most in the league and within striking distance of the NFL record of 46. At his current pace, Hekker will finish the season with 53 punts inside the 20-yard line.
Perhaps most amazingly, Hekker is nailing all those punts inside the 20 without kicking any too far: He has just one touchback this season. A ratio of 40 punts inside the 20 to one touchback is preposterous.
So laugh if you must at Fisher propping up his punting team. But know this: Fisher’s punter is having the best punting season ever.
Jets head coach Todd Bowles said that Bryce Petty will start the final four games of the season after another dismal showing for Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Jets’ offense Monday night against the Indianapolis Colts.
Bowles claimed that the decision to start Petty for the final four games of the season had already been decided prior to Monday night’s outing.
“Well the plan was for us to start him the last four games anyway so we just started a half early,” Bowles said. “We could have won 45-0, he was going to start the last four games.”
If there was any doubt about making a change, Fitzpatrick did little to make a case for himself. Fitzpatrick completed just 5 of 12 passes for 81 yards with an interception as the Colts smacked the Jets 41-10. The Jets have now lost four straight games and were officially eliminated from playoff contention on Monday night.
“We weren’t doing much in the first half so put the kid in and try to get a spark,” Bowles said.
The Jets were already trailing 31-3 before Petty entered the game in the third quarter. He completed 11 of 25 passes for 135 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.
“I didn’t get it done,” Fitzpatrick said.
Andrew Luck threw four touchdown passes, two on the game’s first two drives, and there was never a doubt about Monday night’s result.
The Colts cruised to a 41-10 victory. Tight end Dwayne Allen caught those first two touchdown passes and a third later in the first half.
The Jets had three personal foul penalties in the first 20 minutes — and it really didn’t get much better from there. Down 31-3 by the time they got the ball in the third quarter, Jets coach Todd Bowles inserted young quarterback Bryce Petty and removed Ryan Fitzpatrick, probably for the last time.
The Colts improve to 6-6 and are in a three-way tie atop the AFC South with the Texans and Titans.
It was a night of milestones for the Colts. Frank Gore passed Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett for eighth on the NFL’s all-time rushing list, T.Y. Hilton passed Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison for the most 100-yard receiving games (22) in the first five years of a career, and Allen became just the third tight end in franchise history to post a three-touchdown game.
It was Luck’s eighth career game with at least four touchdown passes.
The Colts thought they had another touchdown late in the first half but tight end Jack Doyle was ruled to have fumbled into the end zone for a touchback. That was about the only thing that went wrong for the Colts until veteran linebacker D’Qwell Jackson walked to the locker room after suffering a neck injury in the fourth quarter.
In addition being generally defenseless — the Colts rolled up more than 400 yards of offense — the Jets turned the ball over three times and didn’t get into the end zone until Petty threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to rookie Robby Anderson in the fourth quarter. They managed 116 yards and five first downs in the first half.
The Jets fall to 3-9 and figure to stick with Petty the rest of the way as they point towards 2017.
For every good team in the NFL, there’s necessarily a bad team. And for every really good team, there’s usually a really bad team.
So which of the really bad teams is in the best position to become really good? Or at least good enough to contend?
That’s the PFT Live question of the day for Tuesday. Cast a vote, drop a comment, and then tune in at 6:00 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Radio. We migrate to NBCSN at 7:00 a.m. ET for the final two hours of the show.
The Seattle Seahawks are expected to sign former Oakland Raiders fullback Marcel Reece.
Reece played his college football at the University of Washington in Seattle where he was a wide receiver for the Huskies. After going undrafted, Reece spent eight seasons with the Raiders and was selected to the Pro Bowl in each of the last four seasons.
The expected signing – first reported by Adam Schefter of ESPN.com – was confirmed to PFT by a team spokesman.
Reece caught 205 passes for 2,015 yards and 12 touchdowns and has rushed for 844 yards and three touchdowns during his career with the Raiders.
Seattle fullback Will Tukuafu has a concussion after a collision on a kickoff with Panthers linebacker David Mayo, who also suffered a concussion on the play. The Seahawks could place Tukuafu on injured reserve to make room for Reece on their roster. However, Earl Thomas is likely IR bound as well after fracturing his left tibia in Sunday’s win over Carolina and could also free up a spot.
Fitzpatrick is on a one-year deal, and his career with the Jets is probably over, too. The Jets will be 3-9 when this game is over. They trailed the Colts, 31-3, when the change was made.
What was left of the crowd at MetLife Stadium cheered when Petty was inserted into the game. Petty completed his first pass to Austin Seferian-Jenkins and also had a third-down completion to Brandon Marshall, but the Jets punted soon after.
Petty made his first career start last month when Fitzpatrick was injured. The Jets lost that game, 9-6.
The Jets managed just 116 total yards and five first downs in the first half Monday night with Fitzpatrick at quarterback.
The Jets were no match for Colts in the first half Monday night.
Luck and Allen connected for touchdowns on the Colts’ first two drives. The Colts thought they had another touchdown late in the half but tight end Jack Doyle was ruled to have fumbled into and through the end zone for a touchback.
That is about all that went right for the Jets, who had three personal foul penalties in the first 20 minutes.
At halftime, Luck has 179 yards passing. Allen has three catches for 51 yards and T.Y. Hilton has six catches for 98 yards. The Jets have managed just 116 total yards and five first downs.
Colts running back Frank Gore has passed Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett for eighth place on the NFL’s all-time rushing list.
Dorsett posted 12,739 rushing yards in his career. Gore surpassed that in the second quarter Monday night vs. the Jets when he got loose into the Jets’ secondary for a 19-yard run that led to a field goal.
Gore, 33, has played in 176 games over his 12-year career. He’s in his second year with the Colts.
Gore went over 1,000 yards rushing in seven of his 10 seasons with the 49ers, who drafted him in the third round of the 2005 NFL Draft. He has 74 career rushing touchdowns, which ties him for 24th in league history.
On Sunday, Rams coach Jeff Fisher celebrated a new contract. As soon as next Sunday, he could be celebrating a new record.
Fisher, will one more loss, ties the record for the most in NFL history. He’ll match Dan Reeves with 165.
Is it tough to be one game away from the record?
“No, I actually don’t look at that,” Fisher told reporters on Monday. “I’ve had a few wins in my career, as well. I’ve also been able to be very, very fortunate and have a long career. You can look at it as is the glass half full or half empty – I look at it as half full. I’m just honored that I still have an opportunity to coach in this league.”
His opportunity will continue for a couple more years, if he is permitted to work the full extent of his extension.
“The players were, by and large, really, really excited,” Fisher said regarding the news of the new deal. “But I think a lot of players knew that this had been done previously. So, it didn’t appear to be a big deal. I spoke candidly about it yesterday. I don’t think I need to go into it again. We’re moving on.”
As the franchise moves on, Fisher was asked to explain where the franchise currently is.
“Coaches, we don’t like making excuses, we just move on from week to week to week,” Fisher said. “We didn’t have [defensive end] Rob Quinn yesterday, we didn’t have [receiver] Tavon Austin, we didn’t have [offensive lineman] Rodger Saffold yesterday and we played the New England Patriots. If you’re going to have a chance to beat them, you need to go in there with all hands on deck. We’re building this team, we’ve extended players, we’re building this team for the future, we’ve made a commitment to our young quarterback and he’s playing now. In my opinion, I think there’s a lot of things to be excited about.”
Fans may disagree, especially those who are following a certain pied piper named Eric Dickerson.
Dwayne Allen was wide open. Again.
The Jets can’t cover Allen — or anyone else in a Colts jersey — and the Colts are out to a 14-0 lead on a pair of Andrew Luck touchdown passes to Allen.
Luck is 6-of-6 passing for 93 yards and two touchdowns on two drives. Not many Jets fans showed up to MetLife Stadium, but the ones who did aren’t happy. And there’s a lot of game left.
If the Colts win they’ll move to 6-6 and force a three-way tie with the Texans and Titans atop the AFC South.
The Jets provided little resistance as the Colts took their first possession Monday night for a touchdown and a quick 7-0 lead.
The Jets went three and out on their first two possessions to start the game. The few fans at MetLife Stadium aren’t happy.
If the Colts win they’ll move to 6-6 and force a three-way tie with the Texans and Titans atop the AFC South.
After Sunday night’s 40-7 win over the Panthers, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson learned that safety Earl Thomas had broken his leg during the game. Wilson also learned that Thomas already had mused on Twitter about retiring.
Wilson brushed off the retirement talk as Thomas reacting in the heat of the moment. A day later, however, Thomas is singing the same tune.
“I’m taking it one day at a time,” Thomas told Ed Werder of ESPN. “I still feel the same way I felt last night.”
Thomas also said that he doesn’t plan to have surgery, and that he doesn’t want to take away from what his team is trying to do.
“You have to remember my team is still fighting I don’t want to become a distraction,” Thomas said.
Thomas may feel differently as days become weeks and weeks become months. By the time the offseason program begins, he may be itching for more action.
If Thomas retires, he’d owe the Seahawks $3.8 million in bonus money previously paid, if they’d be inclined to pursue it.
The Bears on Monday officially placed quarterback Jay Cutler on the season-ending injured-reserve list.
The Bears also waived linebacker Lamin Barrow from IR and made a practice squad swap, adding wide receiver Bralon Addison and releasing quarterback Josh Woodrum from the practice squad.
Miles replaces Calvin Pryor, who has a concussion, and Catapano replaces Lorenzo Mauldin, who is out with an ankle injury. The Jets had also previously listed wide receiver and return man Jalin Marshall as out with a concussion. Jeremy Ross, who just signed with the Jets last week, is expected to handle the return duties.
The Colts had previously listed three defensive starters — defensive end Robert Mathis, safety Clayton Geathers and cornerback Patrick Robinson — as out. The Jets had also previously ruled nose tackle Steve McLendon out.
Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham proposed that referee Terry McAulay and his crew be banned from ever working games played by the Giants after Sunday’s loss to the Steelers, which you probably won’t be surprised to learn was not the approach head coach Ben McAdoo endorsed on Monday.
McAdoo seemed to agree with Beckham that Sunday’s crew missed some calls on the Steelers, who still wound up with 12 accepted penalties against them to four for the Giants, but said he planned to use the usual avenue of requesting clarification from the league office about them.
“I would say that I thought there were a few times yesterday where he may have been interfered with,” McAdoo said on a conference call. “But that’s part of the process. We’re going to send it in to New York and to the officials, and let them take a look at it, and get some feedback from it, some clarification.”
While the Giants are trying to get more information from the league, Beckham’s quarterback offered his thoughts on another avenue that the wideout might take. Eli Manning believes a spoonful of sugar would be a good route.
“He’s got to be careful. With officials, you want to kill them with kindness,” Manning said with Mike Francesa on WFAN, via Tom Rock of Newsday. “He’s gotta learn to be a good guy and warm up to those guys to get some calls.”
We’ll see if Beckham decides to use a smile as an umbrella the next time he feels caught in an officiating storm.