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Playoff Power Rankings

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The regular season is over, which means that 20 teams are now 0-0. Which means that I have no interest in ranking those teams as the postseason looms.

But I do have interest in ranking the remaining playoff teams. Which I’ll do right now.

1. Patriots (14-2): The No. 1 seed in the postseason will see Matt McGloin, Connor Cook, Brock Osweiler, Tom Savage, Matt Moore, or a banged-up Ryan Tannehill in the divisional round. In other words, the Patriots will be hosting the AFC title game.

2. Cowboys (13-3): They need to root for the Lions to beat the Seahawks. Otherwise, the Giants or Packers will get a chance to beat the Cowboys in their own building in the divisional round.

3. Chiefs (12-4): They can spend the entire bye preparing for the Steelers, not because the Steelers definitely will win on Sunday but because a Dolphins upset would deliver Oakland or Houston to Kansas City.

4. Steelers (11-5): For the first time ever, the Steelers will play a postseason game with Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, and Le’Veon Bell in the lineup.

5. Giants (11-5): “Postseason Eli” isn’t a very flashy name for a superhero who makes rare appearances, but there’s nothing flashy about the Giants quarterback so it works.

6. Falcons (11-5): An upset loss by the Cowboys in the divisional round could mean that the last game in the Georgia Dome would be the NFC title game.

7. Packers (10-6): They managed to win six in a row. They’re capable of winning four more in a row.

8. Dolphins (10-6): Next year at this time, the Dolphins could be sitting pretty with the No. 1 seed.

9. Seahawks (10-5-1): Upset alert in Seattle, where the team isn’t as good as it’s been and the wound is still oozing from the final play of Super Bowl XLIX.

10. Lions (9-7): They’re good enough to earn the right to go back to Dallas and lose by 21.

11. Raiders (12-4): Can Rich Gannon get in game shape by Saturday?

12. Texans (9-7): Can David Carr get in game shape by Saturday?

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Doug Whaley press conference excerpts regarding Rex Ryan and the coaching search

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[Editor’s note: On Monday, Bills G.M. Doug Whaley made himself available to the media for the first time all season. The Bills have circulated a full transcript of the lengthy session. PFT has edited the transcript to include relevant questions and answers relating to the decision to fire coach Rex Ryan and the search for a new coach.]

Q: A press conference of this consequence, why do we not have ownership or the team president here with you and why are you out here on your own?

A: As season-ending review of the football operation department, I speak for the ownership and the team president, and I speak for our football operation department.

Q: Doug, you said that you represent ownership so we haven’t had a chance to hear from Terry or Kim [Pegula] regarding Rex Ryan’s firing. Walk us through. Why was he fired? What was the thought process?

A: We had just finished our weekly phone conversation with Terry, myself, and Rex. Rex asked to speak to him privately. After that, I was informed that Rex would no longer be our coach. I wasn’t privy to the conversation so I cannot get into those details.

Q: Did his not making the playoffs have anything to do with his firing?

A: Again, I was not privy to the details of the conversation.

Q: Doug, you mentioned the last coaching search was done by committee approach. What was your personal recommendation in January of 2015 on Rex Ryan?

A: I will not get into that.

Q: So are you not responsible for the hiring of Rex Ryan? Was that not your guy?

A: It’s a Bills hire, so I’m part of it. Yes.

Q: Along those lines, why do you think they didn’t have faith in you to make that hire yourself? You’re the General Manager, that’s one of the jobs that a General Manager does. What gives you any more credibility now?

A: Back then, we’d have to talk to the Pegulas but we decided, as a group, that we would make it a committee approach and they would have the final say. This time, I have faith – the ownership has faith in me and I have faith in myself. We’ll see where it goes. And I understand the gravity of the situation and I understand that it’s falling square on my shoulders and I accept the challenge.

Q: But you not taking ownership of the previous thing, you know part of that committee — you said you don’t want to get into it. If you agreed with the hire —

A: I did.

Q: You agreed with it?

A: I did. It’s a Bills hire. Correct.

Q: Does that give you even less credibility now, then, considering what happened with the hire?

A: I’ll let you debate that but I would say that it was —

Q: Well, there’s a lot of debate about it.

A: Then we won’t debate it.

Q: Who was part of that committee two years ago?

A: It was myself, [team president] Russ Brandon, Kim and Terry Pegula.

Q: Will Russ be part of the committee this time?

A: With Russ’s expanded responsibilities with [Pegula Sports Entertainment], he will not be.

Q: My follow-up is because you just made a reference to Russ’s expanded role with [Pegula Sports Entertainment]. Is something new or are we just talking about the fact that —

A: Yeah, he’s in charge of all — yeah, I don’t even know what he’s in charge of. I just know he’s in charge of a lot.

Q: The decision to made Rex Ryan was made weeks ago I was told.

A: I’ll answer that one; then you have a lot more information than I did. I wasn’t privy to any part of Rex Ryan being fired until I was told by Terry Pegula.

Q: Really? Not even as the General Manager?

A: We usually have those discussions at the year-end evaluation along with all the players, all the staff, all my staff. So again, I wasn’t privy to that information so I can’t answer that and maybe you can shed some light on that. Now, according to Tyrod [Taylor], we’re still in the playoff hunt and until it’s zero, we’re trying to win every game so we’re trying to put the best team out there to win.

Q: Regarding an explanation to the fans, how can you speak for ownership if you were not privy to the details?

A: I can’t give you the particulars of what happened in that conversation. I can just tell you that I was informed that he would not be our head coach going forward.

Q: How does that happen though? You’re the G.M.

A: Because, again, we usually hold those conversations after the season. Season-end evaluation of not only coaching staff and my staff but players.

Q: You had no input?

A: Again, I was not privy to that conversation.

Q: You said you understand the narrative earlier when Rex was fired and you or ownership didn’t speak. Do you worry about how that makes the organization look when you are trying to appeal to prospective head coaches?

A: I don’t because there was going to be a narrative no matter what we had done that day. That painted us any picture that you guys wanted to paint us.

Q: Did you ever get the sense that Rex was in trouble with the Pegulas? Were you ever moved to maybe come to his defense?

A: I’ll have to say this again, we hold those conversations at the end of the year, usually for the evaluations. So I had no need to go and talk to them about Rex. We were focused on the season. We always focus on the game ahead.

Q: You had no word that he was in trouble though?

A: No.

Q: You didn’t know that he might get fired?

A: No.

Q: Speaking for ownership, have they communicated or given an explanation to you why, with regards to all of this, why they would only put out a statement and do not want to directly address the fans?

A: They haven’t talked to me about it and I don’t need them to talk to me about it.

Q: Just to be clear, you didn’t have full responsibility in the hiring of Rex, you didn’t have responsibility in the firing of Rex, you said you never had a hunch that he was on a hot seat with ownership. So to you as the G.M. of the team, is it frustrating that you don’t have that sort of power, any sort of say in the situation? Because on the outside looking in, it doesn’t look like you have much power here.

A: Everybody has a boss, and the Pegulas, when the hiring of Rex, it was a committee approach, Pegulas had to sign off on it. This one, I will lead the search, the Pegulas still have to sign off on it. The head coach reports to the Pegulas.

Q: As the head of football operations, it seems like you’re not making all of the football decisions. Some of those decisions are coming from the Pegulas and if they want to fire the coach, they’re the owners. Is that the owners job to be making football decisions, or do they have somebody—you—who runs the football department and if they succeed, congratulations. If they fail, you’re in trouble.

A: I mean it doesn’t matter, no matter what. It’s their organization, their franchise. So they’re going to have the ultimate stamp no matter what. If it’s on me in charge over the coach, or the coach and I at the same level, it’s still ultimately their decisions.

Q: Did you agree with the decision to fire Rex?

A: I won’t get — I’ll say this much, I haven’t even thought about it. My focus now is going ahead.

Q: You didn’t have any kind of ‘Well, OK I agree,” or ‘Wait a minute, I’m a football guy and you’re not football people. Maybe we should talk about this?’ Just to have a discussion?

A: That wasn’t in my thought process.

Q: So you have not thought about the decision to fire Rex Ryan?

A: I have not because my job is to go from the decision, and move this organization forward. So that would be wasted time, and I’d rather put that time and effort into going forward.

Q: So whether it was a good call or bad call, that never came up in your mind?

A: No. It’s onward and upward.

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Tracking the 2017 coaching/G.M. searches

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The regular season is over and the coaching carousel is spinning around the league.

The Rams, Jaguars and Bills didn’t wait for the end of the season to fire their coaches and the Chargers and 49ers didn’t wait long after the final whistle to do the same. The Broncos job opened up when Gary Kubiak stepped down, which left six openings before Black Monday even arrived.

We’ll be tracking all the interviews and signs of interest in candidates for head coaching jobs right here. We’ll also have all the people involved in General Manager searches.

Buffalo Bills

Fired Rex Ryan before final game of the season. Expected to interview interim head coach Anthony Lynn. Expected to interview Cardinals offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin. Asked for permission to interview Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott. Have reportedly spoken to Eagles about interviewing offensive coordinator Frank Reich. Interviewed McDermott. Interviewed Lynn. Scheduled to interview Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard. Having a second interview with McDermott, who is expected to get the job. Offered the job to McDermott and announced that he accepted the job on January 11.

Denver Broncos

Gary Kubiak stepped down after the final game of the season. Requested permission to interview Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. Will interview Chiefs special teams coach Dave Toub and Dolphins defensive coordinator Vance Joseph. Hired Joseph as their head coach.

Indianapolis Colts

Fired General Manager Ryan Grigson on January 21 and made Jimmy Raye their interim G.M. Requested permission to interview Seahawks execs Trent Kirchner and Scott Fitterer. Requested interview with Vikings assistant G.M. George Paton. Requested interview with Packers exec Eliot Wolf. Requested interview with Chiefs exec Chris Ballard. Reportedly requested interview with Ravens exec Eric DeCosta, but the Colts announced Ballard, Kirchner, Fitterer, Raye, Paton and Wolf would be the only six people interviewing for the job.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Fired Gus Bradley with two games left in the regular season. Interim coach Doug Marrone is expected to be a candidate. Interviewed Tom Coughlin before final game of regular season. Scheduled for interview with Cardinals offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin. Scheduled interview with Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. Scheduled interview with Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. Expected to interview Buccaneers defensive coordinator Mike Smith. Expected to interview Bills interim coach Anthony Lynn. Hired Marrone on a permanent basis and named Coughlin their executive vice president of football operations.

Los Angeles Rams

Fired Jeff Fisher with three games left in regular season. Will interview interim coach John Fassel. Expected to interview Cardinals offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin. Scheduled interview with Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and would like to talk to Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia. Scheduled interview with Redskins offensive coordinator Sean McVay. Requested permission to talk to Jaguars interim coach Doug Marrone. Reportedly interested in Saints coach Sean Payton, but Payton said he’s staying in New Orleans. Requested permission to speak to Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and Bills interim coach Anthony Lynn. Expected to interview Panthers assistant head coach Steve Wilks. Requested permission to interview Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin. Interviewed McVay and Goodwin. Interviewed Texans linebackers coach Mike Vrabel. Scheduled a second meeting with McVay. Scheduled a second interview with Lynn. Hired McVay on January 12.

San Diego Chargers

Fired Mike McCoy after Week 17 loss. Requested permission to interview Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia. Requested permission to interview Dolphins defensive coordinator Vance Joseph. Requested permission to interview Chiefs special teams coach Dave Toub. Requested permission to interview Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott. Requested permission to interview Mike Smith. Requested permission to interview Chargers defensive coordinator Teryl Austin. Interview with Joseph did not happen as Joseph was hired by the Broncos. Scheduled a second interview with Lynn. Hired Lynn on January 12.

San Francisco 49ers

Fired head coach Chip Kelly after Week 17 loss. Will interview Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. List of candidates also includes Seahawks offensive line coach Tom Cable, Bills interim coach Anthony Lynn, Jaguars interim coach Doug Marrone and Dolphins defensive coordinator Vance Joseph. Scheduled interview with Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. Scheduled interview with Redskins offensive coordinator Sean McVay. Interviewed Lynn. Expected to interview Cable after Seattle’s Wild Card round game. Scheduled an interview with Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott. McDaniels withdrew name from consideration. Shanahan is expected to be the team’s next coach.

Fired General Manager Trent Baalke after Week 17 loss. Requested permission to interview Chiefs exec Chris Ballard, but Ballard reportedly has declined. The 49ers also have interest in speaking with Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio, ESPN analyst Louis Riddick, Vikings assistant general manager George Paton and Seahawks co-player personnel directors Trent Kirchner and Scott Fitterer. Expected to interview Packers execs Eliot Wolf and Brian Gutekunst. Scheduled interview with Riddick. Scheduled interview with Paton. Expected to interview Colts exec Jimmy Raye. Expected to interview Kirchner and Fitterer after Seattle’s Wild Card round game. Scheduled an interview with Panthers exec Brandon Beane. Scheduled an interview with Cardinals VP of player personnel Terry McDonough. Expected to hold second interviews with Gutekunst, Wolf and Paton. Wolf and Gutekunst pulled out of the running and signed new deals with the Packers. McDonough and Paton set to interview a second time on January 28.

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NFL morning after: Tom Brady’s impressive season

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Tom Brady had one of the great regular seasons in NFL history in 2007, throwing for 50 touchdown passes as the Patriots became the only 16-0 team the league has ever seen. It might seem silly to say anything Brady has done in the years since could possibly rate with that season.

And yet as Brady completed his 2016 season on Sunday, it occurred to me that I’m even more impressed with what Brady is doing this year than I was back in 2007.

Brady is 39 years old, ancient by the standards of an NFL player. He began this season by serving a four-game suspension for Deflategate, something that easily could have rattled him mentally. It would have been completely understandable if Brady had taken a huge step backward this year.

And yet Brady’s season was incredible: He threw 28 touchdown passes and only two interceptions, the best touchdown-to-interception ratio in NFL history. His passer rating of 112.2 was the second-best of his career. And he led the Patriots to an NFL-best record of 14-2.

Brady did all that without anything like the receiving corps he had in 2007, when Randy Moss was the NFL’s best deep threat and Wes Welker was the NFL’s best possession receiver. The Patriots’ receivers — Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell, Danny Amendola — are fine as far as they go, but they’re mostly pedestrian players who know their role in the Patriots’ offense. Rob Gronkowski is the NFL’s best tight end when he’s healthy, but Gronk only played with Brady in six games, and got hurt in two of them, with the second injury ending his season. Brady in 2016 didn’t have even close to the weapons that Brady in 2007.

When we talk about Brady’s career, we focus so much on his four Super Bowl rings that I think we may actually underrate how great a player he’s been in the regular season. On Sunday, Brady moved ahead of Dan Marino for fourth place in NFL history for regular-season passing yards. He’s also fourth all-time in regular-season passing touchdowns. He’s also the only player ever to win the regular-season MVP award unanimously.

He may win his third regular-season MVP award this year. If he does, he’ll be the oldest MVP in league history. What he has done this season, a season that started with him sitting at home, is nothing short of remarkable.

Here are my other thoughts from Sunday’s action:

Great on-field audio. The best TV moment of Week 17 was the way CBS got the on-field audio of Steelers defensive back Mike Mitchell yelling at the officials after he was flagged for a facemasking penalty. Mitchell felt that he had been the victim, not the perpetrator, of facemasking on the play, and he begged the officials to reconsider: “He grabbed mine! He grabbed mine! Oh, my god please look at it, sir! Please look at it! He grabbed mine!” Mitchell shouted. The NFL and the networks should work together on audio improvements to bring the fans at home more moments like that. Those are the moments that make the NFL the best show on television.

An ugly injury. It was horrible to see Cardinals running back David Johnson’s knee bend awkwardly underneath him in yesterday’s game against the Rams. Johnson was having one of the all-time great running back seasons: He had gained at least 100 yards from scrimmage in all 15 games heading into yesterday. It’s a terrible way for a season like that to end, with a player getting carted off the field. I can’t help but wonder if we’re going to start seeing teams that have already been eliminated from playoff contention, like the Cardinals, treat Week 17 more like the preseason, and not play their most important players, like Johnson. A serious injury at the end of one season can affect a player into the next season, and for the Cardinals, there was no benefit to having Johnson on the field at all.

Frank Gore did something special. Gore, the Colts’ veteran running back, topped 1,000 yards for the 2016 season — at the age of 33. That’s unheard of in today’s NFL. The only players 33 or older who have gained 1,000 rushing yards in a season previously were John Henry Johnson with Pittsburgh in the 1960s, Franco Harris with Pittsburgh in the 1980s and John Riggins with Washington the 1980s. Nowadays, NFL running backs are usually beaten up so badly that they can’t play at all by age 33. Gore continues not just to play, but to thrive.

The Cleveland Browns are on the clock. The Browns lost to the Steelers in overtime on Sunday, clinching the first overall pick in the process. But I was very impressed with how the Browns played. For all the talk that rebuilding teams could tank at the end of the season to get a high draft pick, the Browns were playing to win, not to clinch the first overall pick. The Steelers had to fight the Browns for 60 minutes, plus overtime, before ultimately getting the win. That’s to the credit of Hue Jackson and his team.

Terrelle Pryor is incredible. My favorite player on that Browns team is Pryor, the former Ohio State quarterback who switched positions to wide receiver and managed to top 1,000 receiving yards this season. That’s a remarkable achievement for a guy who’s still learning a new position. Pryor becomes a free agent this offseason. He could play on my team any time.

Have we seen the last of Sanchez? Mark Sanchez has received a lot of credit in Dallas this year for being a good veteran mentor to Dak Prescott. But the bottom line on Sanchez is that he just isn’t a good quarterback. He didn’t play well for the Eagles last year, looked so bad in the preseason that the Broncos cut him, and yesterday for the Cowboys he looked inept, going just 9-for-17 for 85 yards, with no touchdowns and two interceptions. Realistically, I’m not sure he’s even going to make an NFL roster next season, given the way he has played when given the opportunity in his last three NFL stops. Once a promising young player, Sanchez hasn’t amounted to much, and yesterday may have been his last NFL game.

The reining MVP was a huge disappointment. Last season, Cam Newton was the NFL’s Most Valuable Player. This season he was a disaster. After throwing 35 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions in 2015, Newton managed just 19 touchdown passes and 14 interceptions in 2016. Newton’s stats also included:
— A career-low 75.8 passer rating.
— A career-low 52.9 percent completion rate.
— A career-low 6.88 yards per pass.
— A career-low 359 rushing yards
— A career-low 3.99 yards per carry.
As we saw Brady play his best football, we saw Newton play his worst.

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Times, dates set for first two playoff weekends

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The NFL’s playoff schedule for the first two weeks has been set.

The postseason kicks off next Saturday, Jan. 7 with Oakland at Houston at 4:35 p.m., then Detroit plays at Seattle at 8:15 p.m.

Next Sunday, the Steelers host the Dolphins at 1 p.m., and the Packers host the Giants at 4:40 p.m.

The schedule for the divisional playoffs has also been set. On Saturday Jan. 14, Atlanta will host the 4:35 p.m. game, and New England will host the 8:15 p.m. game. The Falcons play the NFC’s highest-remaining seed; the Patriots will play the AFC’s lowest-remaining seed.

Kansas City will host the early game on Sunday Jan. 15, and Dallas will host the late game.

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Week 17 early inactives

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Every week we bring you all the inactives from the early games in one post, constantly updated with the latest information. Check back to see the full list as it becomes available a little more than an hour ahead of the 1 p.m. ET kickoffs.

Ravens at Bengals

Ravens: WR Keenan Reynolds, WR Vince Mayle, RB Buck Allen, LB Lamar Louis, G Ryan Jensen, T Rick Wagner, TE Crockett Gillmore

Bengals: QB Jeff Driskel, RB Jeremy Hill, LB Vontaze Burfict, G Christian Westerman, DT DeShawn Williams, TE Tyler Kroft, WR Jake Kumerow

Jaguars at Colts

Jaguars: WR Allen Hurns, RB Chris Ivory, DT Jordan Hill, TE Neal Sterling, QB Brandon Allen, RB Daryl Richardson, DE Chris Smith

Colts: WR Donte Moncrief, CB Darius Butler, CB Rashaan Melvin, LB Deiontrez Mount, OL Austin Blythe, DL Kristjan Sokoli, OL Jeremy Vujnovich

Patriots at Dolphins

Patriots: WR Danny Amendola, DB Cyrus Jones, WR Malcolm Mitchell, T LaAdrian Waddle, RB D.J. Foster, QB Jacoby Brissett, S Jordan Richards

Dolphins: QB Ryan Tannehill, CB Byron Maxwell, LB Jelani Jenkins, DE Mario Williams, WR Leonte Carroo, TE Dominique Jones, TE Thomas Duarte

Bears at Vikings

Bears: WR Daniel Braverman, S Deon Bush, DB Bryce Callahan, RB Ka’Deem Carey, LB Leonard Floyd, FB Paul Lasike, LB Pernell McPhee

Vikings: QB Taylor Heinicke, WR Stefon Diggs, WR Laquon Treadwell, RB Adrian Peterson, RB C.J. Ham, G Willie Beavers, G Alex Boone

Bills at Jets

Bills: QB Tyrod Taylor, WR Dez Lewis, CB Stephon Gilmore, T Cordy Glenn, TE Logan Thomas, TE Gerald Christian, DT Adolphus Washington

Jets: WR Brandon Marshall, CB Nick Marshall, LB Lorenzo Mauldin, LB Randell Johnson, OL Donald Hawkins, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, DL Steve McLendon

Cowboys at Eagles

Cowboys: CB Morris Claiborne, LB Justin Durant, T Tyron Smith, DE Demarcus Lawrence, DL Cedric Thornton, DL Terrell McClain, DL Tyrone Crawford.

Eagles: CB Dwayne Gratz, OL Josh Andrews, OL Dillon Gordon, OL Allen Barbre, DL Taylor Hart, WR Jordan Matthews, LB Mychal Kendricks

Browns at Steelers

Browns: QB Kevin Hogan, QB Josh McCown, OL Gabe Ikard, DL Stephen Paea, RB Darius Jackson, LB Cam Johnson, DB Trey Caldwell

Steelers: QB Ben Roethlisberger, S Robert Golden, RB Le’Veon Bell, C Maurkice Pouncey, WR Antonio Brown, TE Ladarius Green, DE Stephon Tuitt

Panthers at Buccaneers

Panthers: QB Derek Anderson, RB Cameron Artis-Payne, LB Jeremy Cash, T Dan France, DE Charles Johnson, LB Luke Kuechly, DT Paul Soliai

Buccaneers: QB Ryan Griffin, WR Bernard Reedy. T Leonard Wester, DT John Hughes, DT Channing Ward, G Caleb Benenoch, DE Will Gholston

Texans at Titans

Texans: CB Johnathan Joseph, RB Lamar Miller, FB Jay Prosch, LB John Simon, LB Brian Cushing, DE Jadeveon Clowney, QB Brandon Weeden

Titans: WR Kendall Wright, CB Jason McCourty, S Curtis Riley, LB David Bass, G Sebastian Tretola, TE Jace Amaro, DL Angelo Blackson

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Week 17 injury report roundup

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On the first day of 2017, the NFL’s regular season will come to an end with all 32 teams in action. Each of those teams submitted injury reports on Friday and we have all the particulars from those reports right here.

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.

Ravens at Bengals

Ravens LB Zach Orr (neck) and T Rick Wagner (concussion) won’t play on Sunday and OL Alex Lewis (ankle) is listed as questionable.

WR A.J. Green (hamstring) will miss his sixth straight game for the Bengals. LB Vontaze Burfict (knee, concussion) and TE Tyler Kroft (knee, ankle) are doubtful to play and RB Jeremy Hill (knee) is listed as questionable.

Jaguars at Colts

Jaguars DT Jordan Hill (calf) is out for Sunday’s game. WR Allen Hurns (hamstring), RB Chris Ivory (hamstring), WR Marqise Lee (hip) and WR Neal Sterling (concussion) are considered questionable to play.

CB Darius Butler (concussion) will miss the finale for the Colts and WR Donte Moncrief (shoulder) will likely join him after getting a doubtful designation. LB Chris Carter (shoulder) and CB Rashaan Melvin (knee) are listed as questionable.

Patriots at Dolphins

The Patriots ruled out WR Danny Amendola (ankle) and CB Cyrus Jones (knee). WR Malcolm Mitchell (knee) should also be out on Sunday after being listed as doubtful. TE Martellus Bennett (ankle, shoulder), QB Tom Brady (thigh), LB Dont’a Hightower (knee) and WR Matt Slater (foot) make up the questionable contingent for the AFC East champs.

QB Ryan Tannehill (knee) remains out for Miami and they don’t expect to have LB Jelani Jenkins (knee) or CB Byron Maxwell (ankle) after listing them as doubtful. RB Jay Ajayi (shoulder), LB Spencer Paysinger (knee) and DE Mario Williams (ankle) are listed as questionable.

Bears at Vikings

The Bears expect LB Leonard Floyd (concussion) to miss another game after listing him as doubtful. S Deon Bush (ankle), CB Bryce Callahan (hamstring, knee), QB David Fales (right thumb), CB Cre’von LeBlanc (knee), T Bobby Massie (toe), LB Pernell McPhee (shoulder), CB Tracy Porter (knee, shoulder) and LB Willie Young (knee) all fell into the questionable category.

RB Adrian Peterson (knee, groin) was ruled out for the second straight week and may have played his final game with the Vikings. S Andrew Sendejo (knee) will also sit out. G Alex Boone (back), WR Stefon Diggs (hip) and WR Laquon Treadwell (ankle) drew doubtful tags on Friday while WR Charles Johnson (knee) is listed as questionable.

Bills at Jets

CB Stephon Gilmore (concussion) and T Cordy Glenn (back) will sit out for the Bills. LB Preston Brown (foot), LB Zach Brown (illness), TE Charles Clay (knee), G John Miller (hip), WR Sammy Watkins (foot) and DT Kyle Williams (back) are the group of questionable players for Buffalo.

The Jets ruled out LB Lorenzo Mauldin (ankle), DT Steve McLendon (hamstring) and TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (hamstring). A doubtful tag leaves CB Nick Marshall (hamstring) likely to miss the game. WR Robby Anderson (hamstring), CB Juston Burris (knee), WR Brandon Marshall (hip, shoulder), RB Bilal Powell (knee), DT Sheldon Richardson (back), RB Brandon Wilds (hamstring) and DE Muhammad Wilkerson (ankle, knee) are questionable to play in the final game of a dismal season.

Cowboys at Eagles

The Cowboys ruled out seven players — CB Morris Claiborne (groin), DT Tyrone Crawford (shoulder, hamstring), LB Justin Durant (elbow), DE Demarcus Lawrence (back), DT Terrell McClain (ankle), T Tyron Smith (knee) and DT Cedric Thornton (ankle) — so they won’t have any tough decisions to make on their inactive list. CB Anthony Brown (concussion), DE Jack Crawford (foot), DE Randy Gregory (abdomen), G Ronald Leary (back), LB Sean Lee (knee) and RB Darren McFadden (illness) drew questionable designations.

Allen Barbre (hamstring) isn’t expected to play after the Eagles listed him as doubtful. LB Jordan Hicks (ankle), LB Mychal Kendricks (quadricep), WR Jordan Matthews (ankle) and G Isaac Seumalo (ankle) fell into the questionable category.

Browns at Steelers

The Browns will go for win No. 2 without the services of CB Trey Caldwell (hamstring). CB Joe Haden (neck, groin), LB Cam Johnson (groin) and RB Duke Johnson (ankle) are listed as questionable.

S Robert Golden (ankle), TE Ladarius Green (concussion) and DE Stephon Tuitt (knee) will get the week off for the Steelers in hopes of returning for playoff action. LB Anthony Chickillo (ankle) and TE Xavier Grimble (ribs) are listed as questionable.

Panthers at Buccaneers

The Panthers ruled out QB Derek Anderson (illness), so Joe Webb will be the option if Cam Newton (shoulder, questionable) doesn’t go the distance. DE Charles Johnson (foot) was also ruled out while TE Greg Olsen (elbow) and RB Jonathan Stewart (foot) were also deemed questionable to play.

DE William Gholston (elbow) is out for the Buccaneers. T Gosder Cherilus (groin, ankle) and CB Vernon Hargreaves (abdomen) are listed as questionable.

Texans at Titans

The Texans will bide their time before their playoff opener without the help of DE Jadeveon Clowney (elbow, wrist), RB Lamar Miller (ankle), RB Jay Prosch (ankle, knee) and LB John Simon (chest). They listed LB Brian Cushing (ankle) and CB Johnathan Joseph (ribs, shoulder, illness) as questionable to play.

CB Jason McCourty (chest) is listed as questionable and was the only Titans player to get an injury designation this week.

Saints at Falcons

Saints CB Ken Crawley (knee) is out after getting hurt in practice this week. Linebackers Dannell Ellerbe (foot) and Craig Robertson (shoulder) are listed as questionable.

The Falcons ruled out WR Taylor Gabriel (foot) and TE Austin Hooper (knee), but everyone else is good to go as they bid for the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs.

Raiders at Broncos

QB Derek Carr (ankle) and T Austin Howard (shoulder) are out as the Raiders try to lock up the AFC West and possibly the first seed in the conference. S Karl Joseph (toe) is doubtful to play while WR Amari Cooper (shoulder), WR Michael Crabtree (ankle), WR Andre Holmes (shoulder), DT Stacy McGee (groin), G Kelechi Osemele (ankle), RB Jalen Richard (shoulder), LB Perry Riley (hamstring) and LB Malcolm Smith (hamstring) have all been listed as questionable.

The Broncos will close out a disappointing season without TE A.J. Derby (concussion), S T.J. Ward (concussion), LB DeMarcus Ware (back), CB Kayvon Webster (concussion) and DE Derek Wolfe (neck). LB Brandon Marshall (hamstring) is listed as questionable.

Cardinals at Rams

D.J. Humphries (concussion) will miss the final game of the Cardinals season. WR John Brown (illness), CB Marcus Cooper (back, calf), LB Sio Moore (ankle) and DT Robert Nkemdiche (ankle) are listed as questionable.

The Rams don’t expect to have WR Kenny Britt (shoulder), T Rob Havenstein (ankle) and CB Lamarcus Joyner (ankle) after listing them as doubtful. WR Mike Thomas (hip) drew a questionable designation.

Chiefs at Chargers

Chiefs LB Justin Houston (knee) is out for the second straight week. CB Phillip Gaines (knee) and RB Spencer Ware (rib) are listed as questionable.

RB Melvin Gordon (hip, knee) and CB Craig Mager (shoulder) will not play for the Chargers and T King Dunlap (knee) is on track to join them on the bench after a doubtful tag. WR Jeremy Butler (ankle), G Orlando Franklin (shoulder), LB Denzel Perryman (knee) and C Matt Slauson (foot) are listed as questionable.

Seahawks at 49ers

Seahawks RB C.J. Prosise (shoulder) is out and the only player on the Friday injury report for the NFC West champs.

C Marcus Martin (ankle) and G Andrew Tiller (ankle) are out for the 49ers. CB Dontae Johnson (groin), CB Rashard Robinson (hamstring) and T Joe Staley (hamstring) drew questionable tags.

Giants at Redskins

S Nat Berhe (concussion) and DE Jason Pierre-Paul (core muscle) are out for the Giants. TE Jerell Adams (shoulder), LB B.J. Goodson (concussion), CB Janoris Jenkins (back) and CB Coty Sensabaugh (ankle) were designated as questionable.

TE Jordan Reed (shoulder) fronts a group of Redskins listed as questionable. DE Chris Baker (ankle), LB Will Compton (knee), RB Rob Kelley (knee), LB Ryan Kerrigan (elbow), G Spencer Long (ankle), LB Trent Murphy (foot) and LB Martrell Spaight (shoulder) join Reed in that group. S Su’a Cravens (upper arm), CB Quinton Dunbar (concussion) and T Vinston Painter (calf) have been ruled out.

Packers at Lions

Packers RB James Starks (concussion) is out again this week. WR Randall Cobb (ankle), LB Jayrone Elliott (hand), CB Damarious Randall (shoulder), LB Joe Thomas (back) and C J.C. Tretter (knee) received questionable designations.

RB Theo Riddick (wrist) will miss his fourth straight for the Lions and it looks like C Travis Swanson (concussion) will miss the NFC North title tilt as well after being listed as doubtful. LB DeAndre Levy (knee), WR Andre Roberts (shoulder) and CB Darius Slay (hamstring) are listed as questionable.

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PFT’s Week 17 picks

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MDS has tripled his lead in the season picks contest, moving from a one-game lead to a three-game lead.

In the final week of the season, we coincidentally disagree on three games. A sweep for me results in a tie. Which would sort of stink. But not as bad as losing would.

Last week, MDS got 10 games right and six wrong. I was a pathetic 8-8.

For all of the picks for the final week of the regular season, you should know what to do by now.

Ravens at Bengals

MDS’s take: With both teams eliminated from playoff contention it’s hard to know how hard either team will be playing, but I’ll pick Cincinnati to win at home in a close one.

MDS’s pick: Bengals 23, Ravens 21.

Florio’s take: A meaningless game has extra meaning for Steve Smith, who’ll “probably” be retiring. That will probably be enough to deliver victory for the Ravens.

Florio’s pick: Ravens 27, Bengals 20.

Jaguars at Colts

MDS’s take: The Jags surprisingly came out strong last week after the firing of Gus Bradley, but this week I think it’s the Colts who will turn in a strong effort and win going away.

MDS’s pick: Colts 24, Jaguars 13.

Florio’s take: The Doug Marrone bump lasts only one week, as the Colts try to ensure that Chuck Pagano will return for another non-winning season.

Florio’s pick: Colts 28, Jaguars 20.

Patriots at Dolphins

MDS’s take: The Patriots are playing to clinch home-field advantage while the Dolphins, with a wild card berth locked up, don’t have a lot to play for. That’s a recipe for New England to win easily.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 28, Dolphins 14.

Florio’s take: Losing at Miami in Week 17 a year ago cost the Patriots the No. 1 seed and, eventually, a Super Bowl berth. Bill Belichick won’t let that happen again.

Florio’s pick: Patriots 31, Dolphins 23.

Bears at Vikings

MDS’s take: The Vikings have been a major disappointment down the stretch after starting 5-0, but they’ll close with a win against an overmatched Bears team.

MDS’s pick: Vikings 28, Bears 17.

Florio’s take: Has-Beens versus Never-Weres in a game that will determine only whether the Vikings finish with a losing record.

Florio’s pick: Vikings 17, Bears 14.

Bills at Jets

MDS’s take: It’s EJ Manuel vs. Ryan Fitzpatrick. Are you excited? I’m not, but I think the Bills can move the ball on the ground enough to win this one.

MDS’s pick: Bills 20, Jets 17.

Florio’s take: Even if the Jets don’t try (again), they should beat a Buffalo franchise that suddenly is one of the NFL’s most dysfunctional.

Florio’s pick: Jets 24, Bills 16.

Cowboys at Eagles

MDS’s take: The Cowboys insist they’re playing to win even though they don’t have to, with home-field advantage wrapped up. They should handle the Eagles.

MDS’s pick: Cowboys 30, Eagles 20.

Florio’s take: The only question in this one is whether any Cowboys players will get injured. The Cowboys, too good to have a lapse and too loose to worry about what could go wrong, finish their perfect record against all teams not named the Giants.

Florio’s pick: Cowboys 30, Eagles 24.

Browns at Steelers

MDS’s take: Even resting their starters, the Steelers should have enough to beat the Browns.

MDS’s pick: Steelers 17, Browns 13.

Florio’s take: The Browns got their one win of the year. Even without Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, and Antonio Brown, the Steelers should be able to keep Cleveland from doubling its win total.

Florio’s pick: Steelers 27, Browns 20.

Panthers at Buccaneers

MDS’s take: The Bucs are effectively eliminated from the playoffs, but they are at least mathematically still alive and will, I think, play hard to finish the season strong.

MDS’s pick: Buccaneers 27, Panthers 20.

Florio’s take: The Bucs hope to finish a season of overachievement on a high note. The Panthers simply hope to finish the season.

Florio’s pick: Buccaneers 23, Panthers 17.

Texans at Titans

MDS’s take: The Texans may rest some players to get ready to host a playoff game next week, but even when doing that they should be able to beat a Matt Cassel-led Titans team.

MDS’s pick: Texans 17, Titans 14.

Florio’s take: The Titans are 1-4 in the division, 7-3 outside of it. Make that 1-5.

Florio’s pick: Texans 23, Titans 20.

Saints at Falcons

MDS’s take: The Falcons’ offense is rolling and the Saints’ defense is struggling. This one should be a beatdown.

MDS’s pick: Falcons 35, Saints 21.

Florio’s take: The Saints kept the Buccaneers out of the playoffs. The Saints won’t keep the Falcons out of the No. 2 seed.

Florio’s pick: Falcons 34, Saints 24.

Raiders at Broncos

MDS’s take: The Raiders are playing without Derek Carr, which is a huge blow, but with the Broncos alternating quarterbacks between Paxton Lynch and Trevor Siemian, I’m not optimistic about their offense. Oakland wins a close one to clinch the AFC West.

MDS’s pick: Raiders 17, Broncos 10.

Florio’s take: The Broncos could screw the Chiefs by laying down for the Raiders. Even if Denver doesn’t try, they’re good enough to overcome Matt McGloin.

Florio’s pick: Broncos 22, Raiders 17.

Cardinals at Rams

MDS’s take: Both of these teams are just playing out the string, but the Cardinals have at least looked like a competent team at times. Arizona shouldn’t have too much trouble here.

MDS’s pick: Cardinals 30, Rams 12.

Florio’s take: Two teams that used to be in St. Louis play before an L.A. crowd that would prefer to see neither.

Florio’s pick: Cardinals 30, Rams 23.

Chiefs at Chargers

MDS’s take: The Chiefs need to win and have the Raiders lose in order to win the AFC West. Kansas City will hold up its end of the bargain.

MDS’s pick: Chiefs 24, Chargers 10.

Florio’s take: San Diego says good riddance to the Chargers.

Florio’s pick: Chiefs 27, Chargers 20.

Seahawks at 49ers

MDS’s take: The Seahawks have been struggling of late, but even a struggling Seattle team shouldn’t have too hard a time with the 49ers.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 31, 49ers 13.

Florio’s take: One last afternoon of Santa Clara traffic problems. That somehow won’t keep Seahawks fans from getting to the stadium.

Florio’s pick: Seahawks 34, 49ers 17.

Giants at Washington

MDS’s take: The Giants say they’re playing to win, but Washington has so much more to play for that I see this one going Washington’s way.

MDS’s pick: Washington 24, Giants 20.

Florio’s take: It’s win and in for Washington. For the Giants, the game means nothing. And while coach Ben McAdoo is trying to create the impression that the Giants will play to win, their best play would be to play to get no one injured.

Florio’s pick: Washington 26, Giants 20.

Packers at Lions

MDS’s take: With the NFC North on the line, Aaron Rodgers will have a big game while Matthew Stafford will struggle.

MDS’s pick: Packers 34, Lions 17.

Florio’s take: The Lions, who have beaten one team that currently has a winning record, realized on Monday night that they don’t belong in the playoff field. Sunday night confirms it.

Florio’s pick: Packers 34, Lions 21.

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Week 17 playoff scenarios

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We know all six teams that will be part of the AFC playoffs, but the final day of the regular season still holds intrigue for four of those teams.

The top seed in the conference remains undecided, the Raiders and Chiefs are still in play for the AFC West title and the Dolphins could move up from the sixth seed. The Patriots will be the top seed with a win or a Raiders loss while the Raiders will be the top seed with a win and a Patriots loss.

A win would also make the Raiders the AFC West champs while the Chiefs will take the title with a win and an Oakland loss. The Chiefs could also fall to the sixth seed with a loss and a Dolphins win.

The NFC has a few more moving parts.


The Falcons will be the second seed in the conference with a win. They could also get the No. 2 spot with a tie and a Seahawks loss or tie, a Seahawks loss coupled with a Lions loss or tie and a Seahawks tie coupled with a Lions loss.


The NFC West champs could leapfrog the Falcons with a win while Atlanta loses or ties against the Saints. They’d also be No. 2 if they tie, the Falcons lose and the Packers/Lions game ends in a tie, which would be an entertaining if highly unlikely combination of events.


The Lions win the NFC North by beating the Packers and they can get a first round bye if the Falcons lose and the Seahawks lose or tie alongside their win. They can lose to the Packers and make the playoffs if the Redskins lose or tie against the Giants.


They’re the division champs with a win or tie and they’re in the playoffs with a Redskins loss. They could also make it if the Redskins tie, the Buccaneers win and at least one of the Eagles, Jaguars, Seahawks or Texans win that would give them the strength of victory tiebreaker over the Buccaneers.


As long as the Lions and Packers don’t tie, the Redskins would be in as a Wild Card with a win. If the Redskins tie, they’d need the Packers to lose and the Bucs to lose or tie so the front door is the best option available.


The only route into the playoffs for the Bucs is a win coupled with a Redskins tie, Packers loss and wins by the Titans, Colts, Cowboys and 49ers so it looks like it will be wait til next year in Tampa.

If both the Falcons and Seahawks win, the Seahawks will be the No. 3 seed and the NFC North winner will be in the fourth spot. If the Seahawks lose, they’ll be the No. 4 seed as they’ll either have fewer wins than the other division winners or lose a head-to-head tiebreaker with the Packers in the event of a tie on Sunday night.

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Week 17 Power Rankings

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1. Patriots (13-2; last week No. 1): Just like last year, the Patriots need to beat the Dolphins to nail down the No. 1 seed. Unlike last year, the Patriots hope to actually win this one.

2. Cowboys (13-2; No. 2): Yes, Dez Bryant has thrown more touchdown passes this year than Tony Romo.

3. Chiefs (11-4; No. 5): Yes, Dontari Poe has thrown more touchdown passes this year than Tony Romo.

4. Steelers (10-5; No. 9): If the Steelers win the Super Bowl, maybe Terry Bradshaw should get a ring.

5. Giants (10-5; No. 3): On Thursday night, Eli Manning was dressed like Phil Simms. And, unfortunately, played like eem.

6. Raiders (12-3; No. 4): “I like quarterbacks who don’t break their legs,” a certain politician possibly would say if commenting on whether Derek Carr is the MVP.

7. Falcons (10-5; No. 8): In the Chiefs, the AFC has a playoff team no one pays much attention to. In the NFC, that team is the Falcons.

8. Dolphins (10-5; No. 10): In the same year that Dak Prescott Drew Bledsoe’d Tony Romo, maybe Matt Moore will Romo Ryan Tannehill.

9. Packers (9-6; No. 14): They’ll be the most dangerous team in the NFC playoff field, if they can avoid losing at Lambeau Field to the Giants in the postseason for the third time in 10 years.

10. Seahawks (9-5-1; No. 6): When the losses over the last five games outnumber the wins, it’s hard to call any defeat an aberration.

11. Lions (9-6; No. 7): With only one win against a team with a non-losing record and a blowout loss against a Dallas team with nothing to play for, it’s possible that the Lions are should be renamed the Lyin’s.

12. Texans (9-6; No. 16): Another year, another ugly loss coming at home in the wild-card round.

13. Washington (8-6-1; No. 17): For the team, the playoffs are riding on Sunday’s game against the Giants. For the quarterback, millions are riding on it.

14. Titans (8-7; No. 11): Before trashing the AFC South, consider this — the Titans are 1-4 in the division this year and 7-3 outside of it.

15. Buccaneers (8-7; No. 12): The Bucs are still alive, but they have a better chance of catching lightning in a milk bottle in one hand and holding the winning Powerball ticket in the other.

16. Broncos (8-7; No. 13): Maybe Peyton Manning will finally get the credit he deserves for last year’s Super Bowl run.

17. Ravens (8-7; No. 15): Making their playoff exit even more painful is the fact that the Ravens could have made it to the Super Bowl.

18. Saints (7-8; No. 22): The role of spoiler is suiting them well; they can next knock the Falcons out of the No. 2 seed.

19. Colts (7-8; No. 18): Chuck Pagano deserves full responsibility for another lost season only if he also has been secretly working as the team’s G.M.

20. Vikings (7-8; No. 19): The mutiny-unless-it-wasn’t that lasted a full half unless it didn’t becomes one of the weirdest moments in one of the weirdest seasons the Vikings have ever had.

21. Eagles (6-9; No. 25): Carson Wentz has a degree of elusiveness and escapability that we’ve rarely seen at the quarterback position. If his passing skills ever match that, he’ll be headed for the Hall of Fame.

22. Cardinals (6-8-1; No. 24): How bad would this team be if it didn’t have David Johnson?

23. Bills (7-8; No. 20): The over-under on ugly sniping and unsavory leaks in the firing of Rex and Rob Ryan is Thursday at 1:30 p.m. ET.

24. Panthers (6-9; No. 21): Write it down now — the Panthers will be back in contention for a Super Bowl next season.

25. Bengals (5-9-1; No. 23): Write it down now — the Bengals will be back in contention to lose in the wild-card round next season.

26. Jaguars (3-12; No. 30): Blake Bortles is on notice, which coincidentally caused him to have one of the best games of his career.

27. Chargers (5-10; No. 26): Losing to the Browns is the final nail in a coffin that was already nailed shut.

28. Jets (4-11; No. 27): At least they don’t have to worry about losing to Rex Ryan in Week 17 again.

29. Bears (3-12; No. 29): Counting the days until Jim Harbaugh is the coach.

30. 49ers (2-13; No. 31): Counting the days since Jim Harbaugh was the coach.

31. Browns (1-14; No. 32): Counting the days since Jim Harbaugh nearly was the coach.

32. Rams (4-11; No. 28): Counting the amount of money it would take to make Jim Harbaugh the coach.

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NFC playoff picture: All eyes on Detroit, Washington

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Though Lions-Packers Sunday night will decide the NFC North title, it is not the only Week 17 game that matters.

Washington can apply extra pressure to that Sunday night game with a win over the Giants. The Falcons can clinch the No. 2 seed with a win, but what else might happen requires a lot of calculating.

Here is how the NFC playoff race looks heading into the final week of the season:


1. Cowboys (13-2): Clinched home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

2. Falcons (10-5): Clinched the NFC South. Can clinch the No. 2 seed with a win Sunday vs. the Saints, or a Seahawks loss or tie and a Lions loss or tie.

3. Seahawks (9-5-1): Clinched the NFC West. The Seahawks will be the No. 2 seed if they beat the 49ers Sunday and the Falcons lose to or tie the Saints.

4. Packers (9-6): They win the NFC North with a win at Detroit. The Packers would be eliminated from the playoffs if they lose and if Washington beats the Giants.

5. Giants (10-5): The Giants are in, and locked into the No. 5 slot. Their opponent might not be known until late next Sunday.

6. Lions (9-6): Like the Packers, the Lions win the division with a win and are eliminated from the playoffs if they lose and if Washington beats the Giants. The Lions could still be the No. 2 seed if they win and the Falcons and the Seahawks both lose.


7. Washington (8-6-1): Makes the playoffs with a win against the Giants Sunday unless Lions/Packers ends in a tie. If the Giants win Sunday, Washington is eliminated.

8. Buccaneers (8-7): The longest of longshots. The Bucs need to win next week and need seven games to go their way. In addition to beating the Panthers Sunday, the Bucs would need the Colts, Cowboys, Titans, 49ers and Lions to win, and for the Redskins-Giants game to end in a tie. Stranger things have not happened.

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AFC playoff picture: All six teams decided, only seeds to play for

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There’s not a lot of suspense in the AFC playoff picture heading into Week 17.

The six playoff teams will be the Patriots, Raiders, Steelers, Texans, Chiefs and Dolphins. All that’s left to be determined is the seeding of those six teams.

Here’s how it looks right now:

1. Patriots (13-2): Have clinched a first-round bye and will clinch home-field advantage with a win or a Raiders loss.

2. Raiders (12-3): Need to win or have the Chiefs lose next week to clinch the AFC West.

3. Steelers: (10-5): Locked into the No. 3 seed, based on the strength of victory tiebreaker over the Texans.

4. Texans (9-6): Locked into the No. 4 seed.

5. Chiefs (11-4): Can still catch the Raiders in the AFC West, with a win and an Oakland loss.

6. Dolphins (10-5): Would move up to the No. 5 seed with a win and a Chiefs loss. Otherwise Miami is the No. 6 seed.

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Packers-Lions flexed to Sunday night


The NFL has officially moved the NFC North championship game to prime time.

Green Bay’s visit to Detroit in Week 17 will be on NBC’s Sunday Night Football on January 1, the league announced today. As we previously noted, that was really the only game that made sense for the time slot, as it’s the one game that is guaranteed to have playoff implications for both teams, regardless of the outcome of any other games.

The NFL has also announced that Saints at Falcons and Giants at Washington will both kick off at 4:25 p.m. ET, and Patriots at Dolphins will move to 4:25 as well unless both the Steelers and Chiefs win today. If the Steelers and Chiefs both win, Patriots-Dolphins will remain at 1 p.m. ET.

Here’s the full Week 17 schedule, with all 32 teams playing on Sunday, January 1, 2017:

Ravens at Bengals, 1 p.m., CBS;
Jaguars at Colts, 1 p.m., CBS;
Bears at Vikings, 1 p.m., FOX;
Bills at Jets, 1 p.m., CBS;
Cowboys at Eagles, 1 p.m., FOX;
Browns at Steelers, 1 p.m., CBS;
Panthers at Buccaneers, 1 p.m., FOX;
Texans at Titans, 1 p.m., CBS;
Patriots at Dolphins, 1 p.m. or 4:25 p.m., CBS;
Saints at Falcons, 4:25 p.m., FOX;
Raiders at Broncos, 4:25 p.m., CBS;
Cardinals at Rams, 4:25 p.m., FOX;
Chiefs at Chargers, 4:25 p.m., CBS;
Seahawks at 49ers, 4:25 p.m., FOX;
Giants at Washington, 4:25 p.m., FOX;
Packers at Lions, 8:30 p.m., NBC.

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Vikings’ DBs defied Zimmer, ignored plan for covering Jordy Nelson

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Packers receiver Jordy Nelson had a huge first half against the Vikings today, catching seven passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns before halftime. And he did it against a Minnesota secondary that was defying the orders of head coach Mike Zimmer to have cornerback Xavier Rhodes shadow Nelson.

At halftime, Zimmer ordered the players to go back to the game plan of Rhodes shadowing Nelson, and it worked: Nelson managed just two catches for nine yards in the second half. But the damage was done in the first half. After the game, Zimmer acknowledged that the players hadn’t followed the game plan until he told them they had to at halftime.

“That’s what he was supposed to do the whole game,” Zimmer said, via the Star-Tribune. “Someone decided they wouldn’t do that.”

So who decided to go against the coach’s orders?

“To be honest, I really don’t want to answer that,” Rhodes said.

But as reporters asked him to explain, Rhodes did: He said the defensive backs decided on their own that he shouldn’t shadow Nelson because he hadn’t shadowed Nelson when they had faced the Packers in the past.

“We felt as a team, as players, we came together and we felt like we’d never done that when we played against the Packers,” Rhodes said. “Us as DBs felt like we could handle him. That’s how we felt as DBs that we could stay on our side and cover him. In the beginning, we’d always played against them and played our sides, so that’s what we as DBs went with.”

Zimmer confirmed that he exchanged words with cornerback Terence Newman about it in the first half.

“In the first half when Terence Newman came over and said something to me like ‘I can cover this guy, let me have him,’” Zimmer said. “I said, ‘do what you’re supposed to do.’”

It wasn’t until the second half that the Vikings’ defensive backs did what they were supposed to do. By that point, Nelson had done his damage. For the players to defy their coach like that is stunning.

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Week 16 early inactives

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Every week we bring you all the inactives from the early games in one post, constantly updated with the latest information. That usually happens on Sunday, but Christmas has caused a schedule change and Saturday will be the busiest day of the football week. Check back to see the full list as it becomes available a little more than an hour ahead of the 1 p.m. ET kickoffs.

Dolphins at Bills

Dolphins: QB Ryan Tannehill, CB Byron Maxwell, LB Jelani Jenkins, WR Leonte Carroo, DB Jordan Lucas, TE Thomas Duarte, TE Dominique Jones

Bills: LB Lerentee McCray, QB Cardale Jones, WR Dez Lewis, T Cordy Glenn, TE Logan Thomas, TE Gerald Christian, DT Jerel Worthy

Falcons at Panthers

Falcons: LB De’Vondre Campbell, TE Austin Hooper, WR Nick Williams, RB Terron Ward, CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson, S Dashon Goldson, OL Wes Schweitzer

Panthers: DE Ryan Delaire, LB Luke Kuechly, LB Jeremy Cash, RB Cameron Artis-Payne, DT Kyle Love, WR Brenton Bersin, T Dan France

Redskins at Bears

Redskins: S Su’a Cravens, CB Quinton Dunbar, QB Nate Sudfeld, RB Matt Jones, C Kory Lichtensteiger, OL Vinston Painter, TE Jordan Reed

Bears: G Eric Kush, CB Cre’von LeBlanc, RB Ka’Deem Carey, S DeAndre Houston-Carson, FB Paul Lasike, LB Jonathan Anderson, WR Daniel Braverman

Chargers at Browns

Chargers: RB Melvin Gordon, T King Dunlap, CB Craig Mager, C Max Tuerk, TE Asante Cleveland, WR Jeremy Butler, DL Kaleb Eulls

Browns: QB Kevin Hogan, QB Josh McCown, RB Darius Jackson, OL Gabe Ikard, DL Tyrone Holmes, DL Stephen Paea, DL Gabe Wright

Vikings at Packers

Vikings: RB Adrian Peterson, FB Zach Line, G Brandon Fusco, WR Laquon Treadwell, QB Taylor Heinicke, G Willie Beavers, DE Stephen Weatherly

Packers: LB Jayrone Elliott, RB James Starks, WR Randall Cobb, QB Joe Callahan, CB Josh Hawkins, C J.C. Tretter, T Kyle Murphy

Titans at Jaguars

Titans: CB Jason McCourty, WR Tre McBride, CB D’Joun Smith, DB Curtis Riley, LB David Bass, G Sebastian Tretola, TE Jace Amaro

Jaguars: WR Allen Hurns, DT Jordan Hill, WR Arrelious Benn, RB Denard Robinson, LB Sean Porter, WR Neal Sterling

Jets at Patriots

Jets: LB Lorenzo Mauldin, DT Steve McLendon, QB Christian Hackenberg, RB Matt Forte, T Donald Hawkins, WR Jalin Marshall, DT Brandin Bryant

Patriots: WR Danny Amendola, LB Dont’a Hightower, RB D.J. Foster, WR Matthew Slater, QB Jacoby Brissett, T LaAdrian Waddle, CB Justin Coleman

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