Sunday’s date with the Giants begins a very easy late-season schedule for the Chiefs

Getty Images

The Chiefs have lost three of their last four games after starting the season 5-0, but there’s good news in Kansas City: The schedule is ridiculously easy the rest of the way.

On Sunday the Chiefs play the 1-8 Giants, and the schedule is only a little bit harder after that: The Chiefs’ next game is at home against the Bills, who are reeling and just benched their quarterback, and the Buffalo game is Kansas City’s only game remaining against a team with a winning record.

According to, the Chiefs have the easiest schedule in the NFL over the final seven weeks of the season. And even that probably understates how easy the Chiefs’ schedule is, because those ratings are based only on the quality of future opponents, not on home-field advantage, and the Chiefs play more home games than road games the rest of the way.

Given that the Chiefs have a two-game lead over the Raiders and a three-game lead over the Chargers and Broncos, it’s almost impossible to envision them failing to win the AFC West. The Chiefs’ recent swoon doesn’t change the fact that they’re going to win the division.

Mike Mularkey: Media criticize Marcus Mariota’s interceptions, ignore the throws he makes

Getty Images

Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota took the blame for Thursday night’s loss to the Steelers, but coach Mike Mularkey is defending Mariota from reporters who are also giving Mariota the blame.

Mularkey said that reporters are focusing too much on Mariota’s four interceptions and not enough on several good throws he made.

“Nobody ever talks about how accurate [Mariota] is with some of the throws that he does make,” Mularkey said. “All [the media] keeps asking are about the throws he doesn’t. There’s a lot of good throws that he makes every Sunday in very, very tight window throws.”

It’s fine for Mularkey to stick up for his quarterback, but the point is, Mariota’s job is to make those throws. When he throws four interceptions, it’s the media’s job to point out that he didn’t play well. When Mariota plays well, the media will say so. But on Thursday night, he did not play well.

Elway on Broncos: “We got a little bit soft”

Getty Images

Earlier this week, we dubbed first-year Broncos coach Vance Joseph this year’s potential surprise firing. It may not be a surprise, based on comments made Friday night by his boss, John Elway.

“I will tell you, I think we got a little bit soft,” Elway said Friday at the Ring of Fame ceremony for late Broncos coach Red Miller and Hall of Fame Broncos running back Terrell Davis, via Mike Klis of “To be dead honest with you, we got a little bit soft. We went 4-0 in the preseason, we started 3-1 we get a bye week and if you exhale in this league? You’re in trouble.

“And you know what, to be dead honest with you, I think we exhaled, and it’s hard to recover from that. It will be a lesson that hopefully we all learned and can prevent it from happening in the future.”

Elway seems to be particularly troubled about the fact not that they’re losing, but that they’re getting blown out, most recently by the Patriots.

“You’re going to lose football games in this league, but the way it’s gone about it, not being competitive is probably the thing that concerns me the most,” Elway said. “I think we have it on our football team. We’ve got to learn to be able to battle through those. Obviously, they’ve come in clumps and we haven’t been able to overcome it. But until we do overcome that, you know, it’s going to tough to win football games.”

It’s also going to be tough for the head coach to remain employed, if the G.M. and the president of football operations believes the team became soft and non-competive. Elway already has moved on from John Fox a year after the team made it to the Super Bowl, and it’s not as uncommon as believe for coaches to have one and done experiences.

Philip Rivers cleared to play Sunday

Getty Images

Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers will play Sunday, the team announced Friday.

An independent neurological consultant cleared Rivers from concussion protocol. He self-reported concussion symptoms Monday, a day after the Chargers’ loss to Jacksonville.

Rivers practiced on a limited basis Wednesday before fully participating Thursday and Friday. The team had listed him as questionable on the status report, but coach Anthony Lynn expressed optimism the Chargers would have their starter against the Bills.

Rivers has started 185 consecutive regular-season games, the second-longest streak of any current quarterback after Eli Manning (208).

Clearing the air on Goodell’s jet request

Getty Images

A recent report from ESPN claimed that Commissioner Roger Goodell has asked for the use of a private jet for life, as part of his new contract. That’s generally accurate, but it’s missing one key fact: Goodell is willing to pay for it.

Per a league source, Goodell has asked for access to the NFL’s private plane arrangements through NetJets, with an understanding that he would reimburse the league in full for all costs incurred.

The benefit for Goodell comes from the reduced rate that the league pays, due to its extended use of the service. So Goodell basically would continue to utilize the service, and he’d pay whatever his flights cost the NFL. Which would be less than what it would cost him directly.

It’s unclear why ESPN has omitted this fairly important fact from it’s reporting. The practical impact is that it tends to make Goodell look unreasonably greedy. Which is likely what those opposing Goodell’s extension want to accomplish.

Sheldon Richardson calls fine for low hit on Drew Stanton “extortion”

Getty Images

Seahawks defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson is adamant his hit on Drew Stanton was not illegal, calling the NFL fine he received for it “extortion.”

He has appealed the $18,231 fine for what the league deemed a low hit on the Cardinals quarterback. Richardson said he lost his balance when he was pushed by Arizona left tackle Jared Veldheer.

“It’s kind of just extortion really,’’ Richardson said Friday, via Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times. “Guy pushes you in the back and trips you on the play and you are catching your balance the whole time and then you just happen, I don’t know. They said ‘avoid him,’ but he still has the ball. It’s like what do you do?’’

Officials penalized Richardson for roughing the passer. Stanton sprained a knee on the play but stayed in the game. He will miss Sunday’s game because of the injury.

“There is no way you should be taking any of my money because it wasn’t a dirty hit,’’ Richardson said. “I didn’t try to hit him in the legs or nothing, and once again, people fail to realize it’s still football. Pretty sure they are just fining guys for every personal foul and not even looking at the film and not even making the consideration of did I try to avoid the guy.’’

Jerry Jones: “I have the NFL’s best interest in mind”

Getty Images

Even at a time when the NFL seems to be embroiled in its most contentious and public bout of dysfunction in decades, the guy at the center of it continues to be willingly to speak publicly about it.

In the second of his two-per-week appearances on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones received a blank check to add anything he wants to share about the issue of Commissioner Roger Goodell’s proposed contract extension. And despite allegations from some of his colleagues that he is engaged in conduct detrimental to the league, Jones said he’s acting in the best interests of the NFL.

“[J]ust assure that everything I’m doing, it would be madness to think that everything I’m doing isn’t in the best short- and long-term interest of the NFL,” Jones said. “I love this league and I love this game. And the men that are involved, the [Compensation] Committee and the owners, really are good men. And they’ve been in it almost as long as I have. But I’ve been knowing some of these people for going on 30 years. And they know I have the NFL’s best interest in mind. And so goes the NFL, so go the Cowboys.”

Jones’ mindset makes talk of the other owners kicking him out of the club even more confounding.

“It’s really amusing to me when I hear someone say that Jerry may not — they may do something to make him not have the Cowboys,” Jones said. “That is absolutely ridiculous.”

Jones continues to insist he’s simply providing a check against the power of the Commissioner, regardless of who it is.

“The one great time, because we give our Commissioner such power, the one great time the owners have their biggest input is when you are either first-time hiring him or extending him,” Jones said. “And when you do it in such a way as you don’t have any input over the issues, you disenfranchised them from what you want them to do. Now, I was put there. There were things of concern. I saw it. And that’s why we’re having this conversation right now.”

There’s no clear idea as to when the conversation end, or what the outcome will be. Regardless, a league that so desperately wants to get back to football currently can’t get out of its own way on the path back to football.

Jerry Jones apologizes for “inappropriate” comment

Getty Images

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has apologized for a racially insensitive comment from four years ago that surfaced this week.

“That comment was inappropriate,” Jones said, via Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “It’s not who I am, and I’m sorry.”

Gossip website posted the 2013 video of Jones at the Warwick Melrose Hotel in Dallas after a man with a smart phone asked the Cowboys owner to offer congratulations to his fiancee.

“Jennifer, congratulations on the wedding. Now, you know he’s with a black girl tonight, don’t you?” Jones said, looking into the camera and laughing.

Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders defended Jones.

“I won’t cast judgment on one moment when a joke went south, to capture who this man represents in a lifetime commitment of love and compassion to all ethnicities,” Sanders said, via Hill. “He has gone beyond the call of duty of being an NFL owner for people of all ethnicities and backgrounds, and I know this to be a fact. A joke that was intended to add humor at the request of a fan in a light-hearted moment was taken totally out of intent. I’m sorry we’re in this state of mind as a country, but if you’re looking for a racist, Jerry Jones is not that guy.”

Week 11 injury report roundup

Getty Images

Week 11 kicked off on Thursday with a Steelers win and it continues with 12 more games on Sunday, which means that the 24 teams in those games submitted their final injury reports of the week on Friday.

Questionable players are uncertain to play, doubtful players are unlikely to play and out should be self-explanatory. Players who are on active rosters and don’t appear below should be considered healthy enough to play 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.

Buccaneers at Dolphins

Three players are out for the Buccaneers and DE William Gholston (neck), CB Vernon Hargreaves (hamstring) and QB Jameis Winston (right shoulder) make up the whole injury report.

Dolphins DE William Hayes (knee), RB Senorise Perry (knee), WR Kenny Stills (back) and S Michael Thomas (knee) are listed as questionable, although Stills said Friday that he’ll be in the lineup.

Lions at Bears

Lions DE Ziggy Ansah (back) is out for the second game in a row. RB Dwayne Washington (hip) won’t play either. S Don Carey (knee) and LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin (ankle) are listed as questionable.

CB Bryce Callahan (knee), T Tom Compton (ankle), S DeAndre Houston-Carson (illness), TE Dion Sims (illness) and LB Danny Trevathan (calf) all drew questionable tags on the final Bears injury report of the week.

Jaguars at Browns

RB Leonard Fournette (ankle) is questionable for the Jaguars, who will definitely be playing without wide receivers Arrelious Benn (knee) and Allen Hurns (ankle). LB Blair Brown (hamstring), G Patrick Omameh (quadricep) and T Jermey Parnell (knee) are listed as questionable.

The Browns have three players — T Shon Coleman (concussion), CB Jamar Taylor (ankle), C J.C. Tretter (shoulder, knee) — listed as questionable on a short injury report.

Ravens at Packers

Ravens LT Ronnie Stanley (concussion) is unlikely to play after getting a doubtful designation. TE Nick Boyle (toe), WR Michael Campanaro (shoulder), S Chuck Clark (thigh), CB Jimmy Smith (achilles), RB Terrance West (calf) and LB Tim Williams (thigh) are all listed as questionable for Baltimore.

T Bryan Bulaga (knee), S Morgan Burnett (groin), RB Aaron Jones (knee) and RB Ty Montgomery (ribs) are all going to miss the game for the Packers. LB Ahmad Brooks (back), DT Quinton Dial (chest), CB Kevin King (shoulder) and G Lucas Patrick (back) are listed as questionable.

Cardinals at Texans

The Cardinals listed QB Drew Stanton (knee) as questionable, but Blaine Gabbert will be starting whether Stanton suits up or not. WR John Brown (back), C A.Q. Shipley (shoulder) and T John Wetzel (back) are also questionable while DL Corey Peters (ankle) has been ruled out.

LB Dylan Cole (hamstring), T Julien Davenport (shoulder) and WR Will Fuller (ribs) will not play for the Texans. RB Alfred Blue (hamstring), DE Joel Heath (knee), C Greg Mancz (knee, chest) and WR Chris Thompson (knee) are all set for game-time calls after drawing questionable tags.

Redskins at Saints

The Redskins continue to have the league’s lengthiest injury report. C Spencer Long (knee, knee), WR Terrelle Pryor (ankle) and TE Jordan Reed (hamstring) will not play. LB Zach Brown (achilles), CB Quinton Dunbar (illness), WR Ryan Grant (concussion), S DeAngelo Hall (knee), DE Matt Ioannidis (hand), DE Anthony Lanier (knee), G Shawn Lauvao (stinger), S Montae Nicholson (shoulder), T Ty Nsekhe (core muscle), TE Niles Paul (concussion), WR Brian Quick (concussion), G Brandon Scherff (knee) and T Trent Williams (knee) make up a baker’s dozen of questionable players.

The Saints have just two players on their report. LB A.J. Klein (ankle) and S Kenny Vaccaro (groin) are both listed as questionable.

Rams at Vikings

RB Malcolm Brown (knee) won’t play for the Rams in Minnesota. TE Derek Carrier (hamstring) and CB Troy Hill (hamstring) are questionable to play.

The Vikings expect DE Everson Griffen (foot) to play after listing him as questionable. T Mike Remmers (concussion) and S Andrew Sendejo (groin, hamstring) are out for the home team and DE Brian Robison (back) joins Griffen in the questionable ranks.

Chiefs at Giants

The Chiefs won’t have DE Allen Bailey (knee), LB Dee Ford (back), LB Tamba Hali (knee) or WR Albert Wilson (hamstring) in the lineup this weekend, but everyone else is off the injury report.

LB B.J. Goodson (ankle) and G/T Justin Pugh (back) have been ruled out by the Giants. LB Kelvin Sheppard (groin) is likely to be inactive after getting a doubtful tag while there’s more hope for DT Damon Harrison (ankle) and LB Devon Kennard (quadricep) after they were listed as questionable.

Bills at Chargers

The Bills remain without T Cordy Glenn (foot, ankle) and they’ll also be missing G John Miller (ankle) and RB Mike Tolbert (hamstring) this Sunday. TE Charles Clay (knee), DE Jerry Hughes (shin, calf) and WR Jordan Matthews (knee) got questionable designations on Friday.

T Joe Barksdale (foot) is out for the Chargers with linebackers James Onwualu (quadricep) and Hayes Pullard (neck) set to join him after being listed as doubtful. DE Chris McCain (quadricep) and QB Philip Rivers (concussion) are questionable with coach Anthony Lynn saying this week that he expects Rivers to play.

Bengals at Broncos

The Bengals won’t have CB Adam Jones (concussion), LB Kevin Minter (elbow) or DT Pat Sims (calf) available in Denver. CB William Jackson (toe) and WR Brandon LaFell (knee) will have their status determined this weekend after being listed as questionable.

Tight ends A.J. Derby (shoulder) and Jeff Heuerman (knee) have been ruled out for Denver while WR Cody Latimer (knee, achilles) and T Donald Stephenson (calf) are considered questionable.

Patriots vs. Raiders (in Mexico City)

The Patriots will be crossing the border without C David Andrews (illness), T Marcus Cannon (ankle), WR Chris Hogan (shoulder) and WR Matt Slater (hamstring). WR Danny Amendola (knee), TE Martellus Bennett (shoulder, hamstring), DT Malcom Brown (ankle), DE Cassius Marsh (shoulder) and CB Eric Rowe (groin) are on hand, but their status for Sunday remains up in the air given their questionable designations.

The Raiders don’t expect CB David Amerson (foot) to play and listed him as doubtful. G Gabe Jackson (ankle), LB Cory James (knee), T Marshall Newhouse (hip, quadricep) and RB Jamize Olawale (hamstring) are the players tagged as questionable.

Eagles at Cowboys

The Eagles return from their bye in good health. WR Alshon Jeffery (ankle) is listed as questionable, but said he’s playing.

Things aren’t as good for the Cowboys.  T Tyron Smith (back, groin) is listed as questionable, but his presence in the lineup seems doubtful after missing practice all week. K Dan Bailey (right groin) and LB Sean Lee (hamstring) have been ruled out for Dallas while DT Maliek Collins (foot), S Jeff Heath (concussion) and TE Geoff Swaim (knee) are also listed as questionable.

Daryl Worley fined for unnecessary roughness

Getty Images

The NFL fined Panthers cornerback Daryl Worley for unnecessary roughness in Monday night’s 45-21 victory over the Dolphins. Worley saw his paycheck docked $9,115.

Officials flagged Worley in the second quarter, with the half-the-distance penalty costing his team 2 yards. The Dolphins scored a touchdown two plays later on Julius Thomas‘ 2-yard catch from Jay Cutler.

Worley played 36 defensive snaps and made one tackle as the Panthers limited the Dolphins to 213 passing yards and 313 total yards.

Giants S Darian Thompson fined for late hit on first play against 49ers

Getty Images

The tone for last Sunday’s game between the 49ers and Giants was set on the first play from scrimmage.

49ers running back Carlos Hyde ran through and around the listless Giants defense for a 28-yard gain that marked the first of several big plays by the Niners on their way to a 31-21 win that forced Giants ownership to issue a vote of confidence in coach Ben McAdoo during the week.

Hyde’s run turned into a 43-yard gain when safety Darian Thompson hit him after he was out of bounds and earned a flag from the officials. On Friday, PFT confirmed with the league that Thompson has been fined $9,115 as a result of the play.

The Giants avoided other finable offenses over the remaining 59-plus minutes, but their reluctance to tackle legally or illegally didn’t work out for them on the scoreboard.

Buster Skrine fined $48,620 for unnecessary roughness

Getty Images

Jets cornerback Buster Skrine has been penalized more often than any other defensive player in the league this season and a penalty he picked up against the Buccaneers will be a costly one.

Skrine was flagged for unnecessary roughness for a hit on Bucs wide receiver DeSean Jackson on an eight-yard catch in the third quarter of last Sunday’s 15-10 Tampa victory. PFT confirmed with the league on Friday that Skrine has been fined $48,260 as a result of the hit.

That’s the minimum fine for a second violation of rules barring hits on defenseless receivers over the course of the 2017 season. He was previously fined for a hit on Raiders running back DeAndre Washington in the second week of the season.

Skrine has been flagged 11 times overall this season, putting him behind only Seahawks tackle Germain Ifedi among the most penalized players in the league.

Marqise Lee, Ben Koyack fined for actions in Chargers game

Getty Images

Marqise Lee received a fine for taunting, a penalty that could have proved more costly than money. The NFL docked the Jaguars wide receiver $9,115 for his ill-timed “celebration” directed at Chargers safety Tre Boston.

The Jaguars trailed 17-14 with 1:38 remaining and faced a second-and-10 from the Chargers 22. Blake Bortles threw incomplete to Lee in the end zone, and after contact between Lee and Boston, Lee began dancing after seeing a flag. Obviously believing officials had thrown a flag on Boston, Lee turned and directed his dance at Boston.

Officials picked up the initial flag and penalized the Jaguars 15 yards for Lee’s taunt. Bortles threw an interception to Boston on the next play. Lee was saved from feeling worse about the penalty, though, when Josh Lambo kicked a field goal with three seconds left in regulation to tie it before winning it in overtime.

The NFL also fined Jaguars tight end Ben Koyack. He lost $9,115 for an illegal crackback block in the second quarter on a Leonard Fournette run.

Although the teams combined for 16 penalties, none of the other actions warranted fines.


Karlos Dansby fined $18,231 for roughing Russell Wilson

Getty Images

The NFL hasn’t announced the results of their look into whether the Seahawks failed to follow proper procedures for quarterback Russell Wilson‘s concussion evaluation during last Thursday’s game against the Cardinals, but they have decided on discipline for the hit that led referee Walt Anderson to send Wilson to the sideline in the first place.

PFT has confirmed with the league that Cardinals linebacker Karlos Dansby has been fined $18,231 for the hit, which occurred in the third quarter of Seattle’s 22-16 win. Dansby was penalized for roughing the passer at the time.

Wilson said that he was fine in terms of a brain injury, but revealed on Friday that he spent a few days living on a liquid diet because his jaw was injured by the hit.

Seahawks defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson was also fined $18,231 for a roughing the passer penalty during the game.

Dez Bryant will play; Tyron Smith officially questionable

Getty Images

Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant will play Sunday, as he said he would, despite a knee injury that kept him out of Wednesday’s practice. Bryant practiced in full both Thursday and Friday, and the Cowboys did not list him on the status report, meaning they expect him to play.

Officially, Dallas lists starting left tackle Tyron Smith (groin) and starting safety Jeff Heath (concussion) as questionable, but neither is expected to play.

Byron Bell is expected to start in Smith’s spot, and rookie Xavier Woods will make his first career start at safety.

The Cowboys will see the return of defensive back Chidobe Awuzie, who has played only three games this season because of a hamstring injury. Awuzie can play safety as well as corner.

Linebacker Sean Lee (hamstring) and kicker Dan Bailey (right groin) were ruled out even before Friday. Defensive tackle Maliek Collins (foot) and tight end Geoff Swaim (knee) were limited in practice all week, and both are questionable.