Indianapolis Colts assistant coach Bruce Arians still in hospital

INDIANAPOLIS — Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians remains hospitalized as doctors try to determine the extent of a health problem that has now forced the cancellation of at least one of his scheduled interviews to be a head coach, The Associated Press has learned.

Doctors are still trying to diagnose exactly what is wrong with Arians, who was expected to spend a fourth consecutive night in a hospital Wednesday, according to a league source familiar with the situation. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because details of Arians’ illness have not been made public by the team.

Arians, a 60-year-old prostate cancer survivor, has been complaining of dizziness and migraine headaches, conditions doctors believe is related to an inner-ear infection, the person told the AP.

Arians was unable to keep a Wednesday morning meeting scheduled with one of five NFL teams looking for a head coach, the person said without identifying the team. The Colts had given at least three teams permission to speak with Arians: the Chicago BearsCleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles.

The San Diego Chargers are also believed to be interested in Arians. They hired Tom Telesco, Indy’s vice president of football operations, as their new general manager on Wednesday.

Arians took over the team after head coach Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia in September. Under Arians, the Colts went 9-3 and clinched their first playoff berth of the post-Peyton Manning era. The nine victories tied the NFL record for most wins after a midseason coaching change and immediately created speculation about Arians’ future plans as well as the possibility of him winning the league’s coach of the year award.

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Taylor Lewan staying at Michigan and putting NFL draft on hold

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan offensive tackle Taylor Lewan is putting millions of dollars on hold to chase a Big Ten championship.

The All-America first-team player and the league’s offensive lineman of the year is staying for his senior season, turning down a chance to be a first-round pick in the NFL draft and to be rich as soon as this spring.

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NFL.com is tracking the underclassmen who have declared their intentions to apply for entry into the 2013 NFL Draft, a list that includes Texas A&M’s Luke JoeckelMore …

“People don’t really understand why I wouldn’t leave for the NFL,” Lewan said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press before making his announcement. “But when I came to the University of Michigan, I didn’t understand the tradition of this place, either. Now, I do. In the NFL, you just come and go. But here at Michigan, it’s not like that. I love these guys – my teammates are my best friends – and I want to stay to win Big Ten championships.”

Lewan said his teammates were very surprised he decided to stay.

“The (NFL) advisory board came back and said that I’d be a high first-round pick,” Lewan told AP. “At first, it was difficult to turn that down. But the most important thing to me is the University of Michigan and winning a Big Ten championship before I leave.”

The Wolverines finished last season 8-5 overall and 6-2 in the Big Ten, extending a conference championship drought that dates to 2004.

Lewan helped the 24th-ranked Wolverines give up a Big Ten-low 15 sacks last season.

Lewan’s decision to stay gives Michigan two returning starters on the offensive line to protect Devin Gardner in his first full year as a quarterback.

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NFL head-coaching search tracker

Black Monday was especially dark this season. Seven NFL head coaches were fired, and five general managers lost their jobs. While a few teams remain in limbo, our focus now turns to coaching searches.

We’ll have all the news covered in Around the League, but come back to our head-coaching search tracker for a one-stop shop of all the latest news.

Here’s what we know:

Arizona Cardinals

» Cardinals executives flew out to Denver and spoke with Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy about the team’s coaching job on Saturday.

» The team confirmed Sunday that they plan to speak with Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinatorJay Gruden about their coaching vacancy this week.

» The Cardinals have requested permission to interview Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinatorTodd Haley for their head-coaching vacancy, a source informed of the team’s request told NFL.com‘s Ian Rapoport on Thursday. That permission was granted, The Arizona Republic reported. Haley was the Cardinals‘ offensive coordinator from 2007 to 2008, then went 19-26 in three seasons as theKansas City Chiefs‘ head coach.

» The Cardinals interviewed defensive coordinator Ray Horton a second time Wednesday, and he told reporters afterward that Arizona is his No. 1 choice as far as a coaching destination. Horton said he likes the franchise and fans and would like to stay, Kent Somers of The Arizona Republic reported.

» Former Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith also has targeted the Cardinals.

» The Cardinals are undecided if they will hire a coach or a general manager first. In-house candidate Steve Keim will be interviewed for the GM job, NFL.com‘s Albert Breer reported Thursday.

Buffalo Bills

» The Buffalo Bills have agreed to terms with Syracuse’s Doug Marrone as their new head coach, NFL.com‘s Ian Rapoport reportedSunday morning. Marrone interviewed with the Bills on Friday and had also drummed up interest from theCleveland Browns, whom reportedly met with Marrone on Thursday.

The Bills formally interviewed formerChicago Bears coach Lovie Smith on Friday. Smith is said to be intrigued by the opportunity with the Bills.

» The Bills also announced that they formally interviewed Oregon coach Chip Kelly late Friday night in Arizona, one day after the Fiesta Bowl. NFL.com‘s Ian Rapoport reported that Kelly is very close to a deal with the Cleveland Browns.

» Bills president/CEO Russ Brandon, general manager Buddy Nix, assistant general manager Doug Whaley and senior vice president of football administration Jim Overdorf all flew to Arizona on Tuesday to interview former Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt. Whisenhunt and Whaley worked together on the Pittsburgh Steelers‘ staff under coach Bill Cowher. “We won some Super Bowls together, so I have high regard for his coaching acumen,” Whaley said.

» Ray Horton, who was Whisenhunt’s defensive coordinator in Arizona, interviewed with the Bills on Wednesday.

»The Bills interviewed Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy on Saturday.

Carolina Panthers

» The Carolina Panthers will retain head coach Ron Rivera. The decision to keep Rivera in his position was announced Saturday after Rivera met with Panthers owner Jerry Richardson to discuss his future.

Chicago Bears

» NFL.com‘s Ian Rapoport reported Sunday that the Bears received permission to interview Houston Texans offensive coordinator Rick Dennison, according to sources close to Dennison.

» The Bears will interview Montreal Alouettes coach Marc Trestman, two people informed of theBears‘ plans told Rapoport. Trestman had 17 years of NFL experience in a variety of roles when he took the Montreal job before the 2008 season.

» FOX Sports insider and NFL Network contibutor Jay Glazer reported the Bears interviewed Dallas Cowboys special teams coach Joe DeCamillis on Saturday.

» The Bears are the first team to put in an interview request for Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, a source with knowledge of the coach’s situation told Rapoport. Arians can’t interview with any teams yet while the Colts prepare for their wild-card playoff game. The Chicago Tribune’s Dan Pompei reported permission has been granted, and the Bears are scheduled to interview Arians next week. The San Diego Chargers also are interested in Arians, according to Rapoport.

NFL Exposure

Coaches, GMs fired on Black Monday

Take a look at the coaches and GMs who have been relieved of their duties following the 2012 regular season.

» New Orleans Saints offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael was set to interview for the Bears‘ head-coaching job Thursday, Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

» The Bears have set up three early interviews. NFL.com‘s Ian Rapoport reported that Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan will interview for the vacancy. NFL.com‘s Albert Breer reported Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy will meet with Bears general manager Phil Emery. McCoy’s interview took place Sunday. Atlanta Falcons special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong also will meet with the Bears, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

» Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Tom Clements told ESPNWisconsin.com’s Jason Wildethat the Packers have granted the Bears permission to interview him.

» Emery apparently wants to watch the Jan. 19 East-West Shrine Game with the Bears‘ new head coach at his side.

Cleveland Browns

» Oregon booster Phil Knight is making a strong push to keep Chip Kelly coaching in Eugene, NFL.com‘s Ian Rapoport reported Sunday. The Browns have been intently pursuing the Ducks head coach but face competition with the Philadelphia Eagles, where Kelly had a marathon interview session Saturday.

» While Kelly met with the Eagles on Saturday, the Browns met with Syracuse’s Doug Marrone for the second time, two sources told NFL.com‘s Ian Rapoport. However, Marrone later agreed to terms of a deal with the Buffalo Bills, Rapoport reported Sunday morning.

» The Browns and Kelly are very close to a deal, Rapoport reported on Friday. On NFL Network’s “Around the League,” NFL.com‘s Albert Breer indicated the Browns are willing to “open the vault” for Kelly. Contrary to other reports, a source with knowledge of Kelly’s thought process told Rapoport that Kelly would not require or ask for total control of football operations if he takes a job as an NFL coach. Kelly’s Ducks beat Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl on Thursday night.

» Penn State coach Bill O’Brienconfirmed Thursday night that he will remain at the school after interviewing for the Browns‘ head-coaching job earlier in the day. “I’m not a one-and-done guy,” O’Brien told Pennlive.com. “I made a commitment to these players at Penn State, and that’s what I am going to do. I’m not gonna cut and run after one year, that’s for sure.” Pennlive.com reported O’Brien received a $1.3 million gift from a prominent donor to bring his total compensation to $3.6 million, according to high-level Penn State sources.

» Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton interviewed with the Browns on Tuesday. He’s also considered a candidate for the Cardinals and Buffalo Bills‘ head-coaching jobs.

» Former Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt interviewed with the Browns on Wednesday, league sources told ESPN.

Kansas City Chiefs

» Andy Reid has signed a contract with the Kansas City Chiefs to become the team’s next head coach. There will be an official news conference Monday.

» The Chiefs announced Friday that they and general manager Scott Pioli “have mutually parted ways,” which could clear the way for the hiring of Tom Heckert, the former Cleveland Browns general manager and a friend of Reid’s. NFL.com‘s Ian Rapoport reported Friday that Reid wants to bring both Heckert and Green Bay Packers director of football operations John Dorsey with him to Kansas City.

Philadelphia Eagles

» Oregon booster Phil Knight is making a strong push to keep Chip Kelly coaching in Eugene, NFL.com‘s Ian Rapoport reported Sunday. The Cleveland Browns have been intently pursuing the Ducks head coach but face competition with the Philadelphia Eagles, where Kelly had a marathon interview session Saturday.

» Rapoport reported Sunday the Eagles are selling Oregon coach Chip Kelly on two major factors: First, a roster already stocked with the type of players Kelly recruited at Oregon, including a handful of short, fast wideouts. Second, a pair of in-house signal-callers that loom as a decent fit to operate Kelly’s up-tempo, spread attack.

» The Eagles have requested permission from the Cincinnati Bengals to interview offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, a source with knowledge of Gruden’s situation told Rapoport. That permission has not yet been given.

» Kelly met with the Eagles on Saturday and had lunch with the team’s brass. Reports said he was then scheduled to have dinner with the Cleveland Browns, but Comcast SportsNet Philadelphiaconfirmed that Kelly’s meeting with the Eagles did not conclude until well after midnight.

» The Eagles announced Friday that they have been granted permission to interview Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley and Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians for their head-coaching vacancy.

» The Eagles interviewed Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy on Sunday.

» The Eagles confirmed Thursday night that they had interviewed Bill O’Brien, who decided to remain Penn State’s coach and won’t further pursue any NFL jobs.

» The Eagles planned to fly to Atlanta on Wednesday night to interviewAtlanta Falcons special teams coach Keith Armstrong and defensive coordinator Mike Nolan for their head-coaching vacancy, team spokesman Derek Boyko told NFL.com‘s Ian Rapoport.

» Reuben Frank of Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia reported the Eagles have no interest in hiring former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher.

San Diego Chargers

» The Chargers are interested in talking to former Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith about their head-coaching vacancy, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

» Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians is the name most tied to the Chargers‘ head-coaching job in the early running, according to NFL Network’s Michael Lombardi. Ex-Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt also is interested in the job, according to U-T San Diego. A lot of coaches will be interested because of quarterback Philip Rivers‘ presence.

» It might take a while for true head-coaching candidates to emerge in San Diego. The team plans to hire a general manager first, then have the GM help search for a coach.

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Mike Shanahan: We wouldn’t risk further injury to RG3

In the final minutes of a season-ending 24-14 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III was alone on the bench, hands clasped, his eyes closed in prayer. The bulky brace had been removed from his right knee and discarded.

One of the most electrifying debut seasons in NFL history had come to an upsetting end, leaving behind questions whether Griffin had been put in harm’s way for the sake of a playoff game.

Afterward, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan faced questions about whether Griffin should’ve been pulled long before the quarterback collapsed to the ground when his right knee buckled in the fourth quarter.

“I think everybody could see after the first quarter that he wasn’t always exactly the same, but I got a lot of players that aren’t exactly the same, there’s not a lot of quarterbacks that are exactly time this time of year,” Shanahan said. “But I still thought he could go in there and make the plays he was capable of making against an excellent defense.”

Shanahan acknowledged it was a difficult situation, saying it required a gut decision. He said he had consulted with team doctors both before and during the game, restating that he wouldn’t have played Griffin if they believed he was at risk of further injuring the LCL in his knee.

“I’ll probably second-guess myself when you take a look at the second half, should have I done it earlier?” he said. “I think you always do that, especially after you don’t win.”

Griffin originally suffered his knee injury on Dec. 9, costing him one game. He had significantly less burst and mobility when he returned, a reality never more apparent then on Sunday. Griffin aggravated the injury on a rollout in the second quarter, leading to a brief trip to the Washington locker room area to get taped up. At halftime, Shanahan asked Griffin if he was healthy enough to continue.


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“Robert said to me, ‘Coach, there’s a difference between injured and being hurt. I can guarantee I’m hurting right now, give me a chance to win this football game because I guarantee I’m not injured.’ That was enough for me.”

NFL.com‘s Jeff Darlington reported that Griffin will have MRI on Monday, but one teammate who spoke to the quarterback said Griffin does not believe he suffered any type of serious tear. Shanahan faced a difficult decision on Sunday. Fair or not, there will be plenty of voices stating Shanahan failed to protect his quarterback.

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NFL fantasy football: Week 16 matchups

This. Is. It. Championship Week. The fantasy Super Bowl. The fake brawl for it all. It’s time to separate the men (and women) from the boys (and girls). So let’s stop screwing around and get right to it. To the matchups!

Saturday, Dec. 22
QB
RB
WR
TE
K
DEF
Falcons fantasy points scored
17.33
16.70
23.85
9.28
9.27
8.27
Lions fantasy points allowed
15.79
16.86
21.71
8.47
8.13
10.50
Lions fantasy points scored
17.11
17.26
24.71
8.35
8.71
4.20
Falcons fantasy points allowed
13.56
18.83
18.02
7.46
6.79
4.57

Analysis: The Falcons need a win to lock up the top seed in the NFC. The Lions have nothing to play for. Translation: start your FalconsJulio JonesRoddy White and Tony Gonzalez should all be playmakers this week. Meanwhile, Michael Turner should post numbers right around his season average. As for Detroit’s offense? There’s Calvin Johnson. And then…well, no one you’d want to trust in a championship game.

Sunday, Dec. 23
QB
RB
WR
TE
K
DEF
Raiders fantasy points scored
14.87
16.33
20.87
7.01
8.07
3.27
Panthers fantasy points allowed
14.19
19.41
18.25
7.92
9.36
7.43
Panthers fantasy points scored
19.55
14.35
18.02
8.10
4.80
7.00
Raiders fantasy points allowed
17.70
21.24
23.12
8.89
10.14
8.21

Analysis: There’s a good chance this could be a pretty high-scoring affair. Carson Palmer should shake off his recent slump with a decent, if not great, outing. Same goes for Darren McFadden, if he can survive four quarters. Cam Newton will continue to be a second-half Superman, benefitting Steve Smith once again. Newton’s recent production has boosted DeAngelo Williams — something that should be in play this weekend as well.

Sunday, Dec. 23
QB
RB
WR
TE
K
DEF
Saints fantasy points scored
19.21
21.50
23.71
10.13
6.47
6.87
Cowboys fantasy points allowed
14.50
17.06
22.47
7.16
8.57
9.07
Cowboys fantasy points scored
16.21
14.47
24.99
8.11
7.93
6.13
Saints fantasy points allowed
19.50
22.86
26.45
8.40
8.21
6.36

Analysis: If you believe in the “start your studs” rule, Drew Brees needs to be in your lineup. However, the return of Morris Claiborne makes Marques Colston a risky play. If you’re feeling bold, you can play Saints WR roulette. Good luck with that. Meanwhile, DeMarco Murray is primed for a big day against New Orleans’ run defense and Dez Bryant will continue to be an explosive option — even with his injured finger.

Sunday, Dec. 23
QB
RB
WR
TE
K
DEF
Titans fantasy points scored
12.99
12.39
21.41
7.27
6.87
6.80
Packers fantasy points allowed
14.89
17.96
22.08
6.61
7.57
5.93
Packers fantasy points scored
18.71
11.63
28.55
6.97
6.13
7.60
Titans fantasy points allowed
16.09
21.39
21.79
10.10
9.43
10.00

Analysis: Chris Johnson has been hit-or-miss (mostly miss) much of the season, but here’s a chance for him to be a fantasy factor. It might not be a 94-yard run, but Johnson could still approach 80 yards with a score this week. Beyond that, any other Titans are a big risk. Tennessee has been fairly good against the pass, but look for Aaron Rodgers to have a quality game nonetheless, taking advantage of having Randall Cobb and James Jones yet again. An opportunistic Packers defense is also a nice play this week.

Sunday, Dec. 23
QB
RB
WR
TE
K
DEF
Vikings fantasy points scored
10.43
19.43
14.09
6.90
8.87
7.33
Texans fantasy points allowed
15.70
11.73
24.64
8.72
6.71
3.79
Texans fantasy points scored
14.29
22.03
17.64
12.96
8.40
9.87
Vikings fantasy points allowed
19.15
16.48
23.08
7.81
6.86
6.29

Analysis: The matchup doesn’t favor Adrian Peterson, but that shouldn’t scare you from starting him. But anyone else in purple? You’re better off staying away. Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson have been hot recently. That should continue against Minnesota’s secondary. Arian Foster‘s numbers haven’t been what fantasy owners have hoped for, but it’s hard to advocate benching him — especially this week.

Sunday, Dec. 23
QB
RB
WR
TE
K
DEF
Patriots fantasy points scored
20.27
24.27
21.41
14.74
9.47
9.93
Jaguars fantasy points allowed
17.00
22.67
21.89
7.51
10.07
9.71
Jaguars fantasy points scored
11.92
11.45
19.23
4.37
5.53
3.53
Patriots fantasy points allowed
17.62
16.21
24.76
9.49
6.64
1.86

Analysis: One week after facing arguably the NFL’s toughest defense, the Pats get to face theJaguars. That’s great news for Tom BradyWes WelkerAaron HernandezStevan Ridley and just about anyone else with red, white and blue on their helmet. Similarly, the Patriots‘ defense deserves consideration as a start this week. Look for Cecil Shorts to post decent numbers as a WR3 or flex play. Any other Jaguars are a risk.

Sunday, Dec. 23
QB
RB
WR
TE
K
DEF
Colts fantasy points scored
16.43
12.87
24.96
6.79
7.40
5.07
Chiefs fantasy points allowed
17.47
19.38
21.72
6.92
9.36
13.29
Chiefs fantasy points scored
7.78
16.75
12.93
4.51
6.33
3.47
Colts fantasy points allowed
16.56
18.96
25.21
6.87
8.71
9.00

Analysis: Here’s another game that has the makings of a track meet. Andrew Luck is poised to spread the ball to Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton, throwing at least a pair of touchdown passes. Vick Ballard should post close to 100 rushing yards. Expect the Chiefs to re-discover Jamaal Charlesagainst a poor rushing defense. Brady Quinn‘s numbers will be better than they have been this season, but not good enough to start him. Same goes for his receivers.

Sunday, Dec. 23
QB
RB
WR
TE
K
DEF
Bills fantasy points scored
12.69
18.74
17.41
6.79
6.40
5.00
Dolphins fantasy points allowed
16.09
15.14
21.93
6.51
8.36
8.36
Dolphins fantasy points scored
11.22
19.35
14.81
4.06
6.40
6.73
Bills fantasy points allowed
19.14
21.96
22.71
7.52
7.14
9.21

Analysis: Ryan Fitzpatrick‘s disappointing season will continue as he’ll post average (at best) totals this week. Stevie Johnson has struggled versus Miami in his career, which will continue this week. Start C.J. Spiller, even if the matchup isn’t in his favor. Look for Ryan Tannehill to throw at least one TD pass this week while Reggie Bush touches the century mark in the absence of Daniel Thomas.

Sunday, Dec. 23
QB
RB
WR
TE
K
DEF
Chargers fantasy points scored
11.97
15.30
17.49
7.61
6.73
8.87
Jets fantasy points allowed
12.94
19.17
17.21
7.33
7.00
11.57
Jets fantasy points scored
8.76
15.77
14.77
6.72
5.67
7.67
Chargers fantasy points allowed
16.89
16.79
23.52
6.41
6.43
10.14

Analysis: This looks like another dip in the Philip Rivers rollercoaster. It won’t help that the Chargers‘ running game is a mess with Ryan Mathews out for the year and Danario Alexander will be locked up with Antonio Cromartie. It’s hard to recommend starting any San Diego players. Then again, I could say the exact same thing for the Jets. However, Shonn Greene might be worth a flex look if you’re needing help.

Sunday, Dec. 23
QB
RB
WR
TE
K
DEF
Redskins fantasy points scored
21.39
14.64
24.67
4.53
7.40
6.73
Eagles fantasy points allowed
18.70
15.86
23.40
6.96
8.64
13.07
Eagles fantasy points scored
14.04
14.46
19.45
6.19
6.47
3.93
Redskins fantasy points allowed
18.15
15.86
27.18
10.71
8.29
4.43

Analysis: With Robert Griffin III expected back in action, he should be in fantasy lineups as well. That means big things for Pierre Garcon, who has been RG3‘s main target this season. Washington’s defense is also a potential playmaker this weekend. The return of LeSean McCoy isn’t necessarily reason for celebration since he has been used so inconsistently this season. Nick Foles isn’t worth starting in a championship game and his receivers will continue to be mostly disappointing.

Sunday, Dec. 23
QB
RB
WR
TE
K
DEF
Bengals fantasy points scored
15.74
14.23
24.99
7.20
7.93
8.73
Steelers fantasy points allowed
12.02
14.70
18.10
6.26
7.79
8.50
Steelers fantasy points scored
15.37
13.23
19.33
9.27
7.33
5.20
Bengals fantasy points allowed
13.06
17.43
18.11
7.52
7.79
8.29

Analysis: This matchup is not a good one for Andy Dalton, but fantasy owners shouldn’t let that discourage them from starting A.J. Green. Yes, Green was disappointing last week, but he’s too much of a playmaker to set aside. The same goes for BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who has been one of the most productive fantasy RBs not named Peterson in recent weeks. Ben Roethlisberger is a low-end starting option this week and should get Mike Wallace heavily involved in the passing game. Wallace andAntonio Brown are both quality No. 2 options this week.

Sunday, Dec. 23
QB
RB
WR
TE
K
DEF
Rams fantasy points scored
13.63
13.42
22.08
4.67
6.53
7.67
Buccaneers fantasy points allowed
19.87
16.24
29.39
8.61
6.79
5.43
Buccaneers fantasy points scored
15.13
18.59
23.33
5.86
7.87
6.33
Rams fantasy points allowed
15.12
18.94
18.36
7.38
8.79
8.29

Analysis: Sam Bradford has played well recently and has big sleeper potential this week against the Bucs. That extends to Brandon Gibson and Chris Givens, who should both make plays in the passing game. Beware of Steven Jackson against one of the NFL’s better run defenses. Josh Freeman won’t be as bad as he was last week, but don’t expect a big bounce back versus St. Louis. Doug Martin has taken you this far, don’t bail on him now against an average run-stopping unit.

Sunday, Dec. 23
QB
RB
WR
TE
K
DEF
Browns fantasy points scored
10.72
16.41
17.89
6.03
7.73
8.00
Broncos fantasy points allowed
14.14
13.98
19.09
10.99
6.43
5.21
Broncos fantasy points scored
17.52
16.61
26.47
8.37
8.07
10.60
Browns fantasy points allowed
15.88
18.83
24.75
5.95
6.29
7.29

Analysis: Beware of Trent Richardson. His rushing totals have been mediocre for most of the season. If the Broncos keep him out of the end zone — which is certainly possible — he’s a Week 16 bust. Looking for a sleeper at tight end? Consider Benjamin Watson this week. It should be business as usual for the Broncos. Start any Denver offensive players as you normall would, especially Knowshon Moreno, who has been red-hot over the past few weeks.

Sunday, Dec. 23
QB
RB
WR
TE
K
DEF
Bears fantasy points scored
11.61
16.06
20.56
3.00
7.13
12.47
Cardinals fantasy points allowed
10.72
18.41
19.53
7.26
7.71
13.21
Cardinals fantasy points scored
8.40
11.61
17.11
4.19
6.00
9.00
Bears fantasy points allowed
11.56
13.75
20.33
6.37
6.14
8.57

Analysis: This has the makings of a low-scoring affair. Jay Cutler is a very risky play against the Arizona secondary, but Brandon Marshall continues to be a must-start. Matt Forte has run the ball well lately and could see critical goal line touches with Michael Bush out. As for the Cardinals offense, can you find someone worthy of starting for you in a fantasy title game? I’ll wait for your response…

Sunday, Dec. 23
QB
RB
WR
TE
K
DEF
Giants fantasy points scored
12.93
18.73
23.15
6.53
9.27
8.80
Ravens fantasy points allowed
13.56
19.59
21.44
6.53
9.64
5.93
Ravens fantasy points scored
14.03
17.78
19.53
7.90
8.00
8.40
Giants fantasy points allowed
16.76
15.76
25.46
7.08
7.42
4.86

Analysis: This is a matchup made for Ahmad Bradshaw (if he’s able to suit up). If Bradshaw doesn’t go, David Wilson isn’t necessarily a lock for your fantasy lineup. Mental mistakes have landed him on the bench, opening chances for Kregg LumpkinJoe Flacco is a risk against a quality defense — even at home. Ray Rice deserves a start…and a little prayer that Jim Caldwell remembers he’s on the roster. Dennis Pitta‘s recent return to fantasy relevance should continue this week.

Sunday, Dec. 23
QB
RB
WR
TE
K
DEF
49ers fantasy points scored
17.49
18.27
17.95
7.71
7.80
9.47
Seahawks fantasy points allowed
10.74
15.64
17.21
5.61
6.07
5.57
Seahawks fantasy points scored
15.24
19.51
18.63
5.90
7.07
10.73
49ers fantasy points allowed
13.09
12.33
17.29
6.93
6.43
6.43

Analysis: Everything about this screams low-scoring, defensive matchup. Nonetheless, Colin Kaepernick found ways to succeed on the road against the Patriots and could do it again this week. Similarly, Russell Wilson has been a revelation at home this season and should be able to make plays, even against the vaunted Niners defense. Oh, and don’t forget about Marshawn Lynch, either.

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NFL fantasy football: Week 15 S.O.S. Report

Week 15 means all fantasy leagues should be in their respective playoffs. And if for some unknown reason you’re not…shame on you. This is when the matchups really start to matter. Sure, you’re starting your studs the rest of the way. But what about those two players vying for your flex spot? A quality matchup in one of the few remaining weeks could be what earns them the starting nod for your team.

Best schedules

1. Kansas City Chiefs (at OAK, vs. IND)

The Chiefs have found the perfect time to re-discover that Jamaal Charles is on their roster. Though it makes you wonder what took so long. Nevertheless, two games upcoming against two of the weaker run defenses in the league is reason to be enthusiastic. Add to it, the loss of Dwayne Bowe for the rest of the year and that’s one more reason for Kansas City to use its main weapons.

2. Miami Dolphins (vs. JAC, vs. BUF)

Reggie Bush has epitomized the recent up-and-down nature of the Dolphins‘ offense, but matchups with the Jaguars and Bills could be the cure for what ails him. It could even be a shot in the arm forRyan Tannehill and his receiving corps. It’s probably not enough to automatically throw any Miami players in your lineup, but if you’re torn between a couple of different guys, this could help you decide.

3. Carolina Panthers (at SD, vs. OAK)

Cam Newton has come alive in the second half of the season, scoring fantasy points with his arm as well as his legs. Now he gets to finish the fantasy season against a pair of defenses that have had their problems slowing quarterbacks at time this year. He’s once again a legitimate dual-threat, deserves serious weekly starting consideration and is bringing Steve Smith with him.

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (at NO, vs. STL)

The Bucs might not make the playoffs, but that doesn’t mean they can’t help you win yours. Tampa Bay’s Week 16 game against the Rams isn’t great, but fantasy owners can certainly make hay with Josh FreemanVincent Jackson and Doug Martinagainst the Saints defense in Week 15. That’s almost like pillaging a spot in the fantasy Super Bowl.

5. New York Jets (at TEN, vs. SD)

A Week 15 game against the Titans could do wonders for the backfield duo of Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell. Gang Green seems to have learned that you can’t put the gam on the arm ofMark Sanchez, which means both backs could see a significant number of carries. That still might not be good enough in the final week against a Chargers team that could still be fighting for a playoff spot as well.

Worst schedules

1. San Francisco 49ers (at NE, at SEA)

Colin Kaepernick‘s added dimension as a runner has made him more of a threat than Alex Smith — and remains in line with San Francisco’s philosophy as a run-first offense. Too bad they finish the season against two teams that have excelled at stopping the run this season. Between Kaepernick, Frank Gore and Michael Crabtree, there could be some fantasy points to be had. There just might not be many. And Vernon Davis? That’s a headache most fantasy owners probably don’t want right now.

2. Buffalo Bills (vs. SEA, at MIA)

Injuries to players are never a good thing. But Fred Jacksonbeing out of the lineup could mean the Bills have to focus more of their efforts on getting the ball to C.J. Spiller. He’ll have his work cut out for him over the next couple of weeks. But he’s still a better option than Ryan Fitzpatrick and his band of merry targets.

3. Seattle Seahawks (at BUF, vs. SF)

This is a good news-bad news situation. It’s good news that Russell Wilson leads an offense against the Bills this week. The bad news is that Wilson has struggled away from home this week and the Billsdefense has started to play a little better. But it’s good news that the ‘Hawks are back home for Week 16. If only that game wasn’t against the 49ers. Choose your matchups wisely — which might mean avoiding some of these altogether.

4. Baltimore Ravens (vs. DEN, vs. NYG)

With a new offensive coordinator in the fold, the Ravens become something of a mystery. Hopefully, it means lots of Ray Rice. Considering the two defenses Baltimore will run up against in the next two weeks, the team’s maddening offensive inconsistency makes just about anyone not named Rice a risky play.

5. Arizona Cardinals (vs. DET, vs. CHI)

Okay, so…Week 14 happened. Let’s just leave it at that. All things considered, the Lions haven’t been great against quarterbacks this season. Fortunately for the Lions, the Cardinals don’t have a quarterback. They don’t have much of a running game either. Then comes a game against a Bearsteam that could be fighting for its playoff life. Fantasy owners don’t want any part of this.

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Demarcus Dobbs heads to San Francisco 49ers’ injured reserve

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Demarcus Dobbs‘ season is over with the San Francisco 49ers after the defensive tackle was placed on injured reserve Tuesday with a right knee problem.

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Dobbs was injured when he landed awkwardly in the first half of Sunday’s 27-13 victory against the Miami Dolphins and he had to be carted off the field before halftime. Coach Jim Harbaugh had remained optimistic in Dobbs’ case, though the coach cautioned he wouldn’t know anything until MRI results came back.

Dobbs returned to the field Sunday after he didn’t travel for the game at St. Louis on Dec. 2 following his arrest Nov. 30 — his 25th birthday — for suspicion of driving under the influence and possession of marijuana. Dobbs expressed afterward how sorry he was and also fortunate considering the situation in Dallas.

The second-year pro had seven tackles in 12 games this year.

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Nick Foles rallies Philadelphia Eagles past Tampa Bay Buccaneers

TAMPA, Fla. — The Philadelphia Eagles went more than two months without a win, and even then they had to wait a few anxious minutes more to be sure they had ended the team’s longest losing streak in 42 years.

Nick Foles threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Maclin as time expired Sunday, but a 23-21 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers remained in doubt until the instant replay official upheld the catch that the jubilant receiver made as he went to his knees in the side of the end zone.


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“Nick put the ball down and away like he was supposed to, I went down and got the ball, made sure I was in bounds, and the rest is history,” Maclin said.

So is the eight-game skid that’s assured the Eagles (4-9) of finishing with a losing record for only the third time in 14 years under coach Andy Reid.

Foles threw for two touchdowns in the final four minutes to overcome an 11-point deficit, finishing with an Eagles‘ rookie-record 32 completions and 381 yards. He was sacked six times, but withstood the punishment to also lead Philadelphia in rushing with three carries for 27 yards and a touchdown that helped build a 10-0 halftime lead.

“Very special. Very humbling,” Foles said of his first victory as an NFL starter. “It’s a great win, too, because we came back. We were winning, then we lost the lead. Guys stuck together.”

And rallied around Foles, who attempted 51 passes in his fourth start in place of the injured Michael Vick, mainly because Tampa Bay completely shut down the Eagles running game.

Bryce Brown, filling in for the injured LeSean McCoy, was held to 6 yards on 12 carries after rushing for 347 yards against the Carolina Panthers and Dallas Cowboys the previous two weeks.

Foles threw an 11-yard TD pass to Clay Harbor with 3:55 remaining, then led the Eagles on a 64-yard game-winning drive after the Philadelphia defense forced a punt by Tampa Bay.

The third-round draft pick from Arizona set up the winning touchdown with a 22-yard completion to Jason Avant on fourth-and-5 to the Bucs 1. The Eagles scrambled up to the line and Foles spiked the ball, stopping the clock with 2 seconds left and giving himself a chance for one more play.

The 6-foot-6 Foles rolled to his right and found Maclin open in the side on the end zone, where the receiver made the catch going to his knees before being pushed out of bounds by cornerback Leonard Johnson.

“All around as a team, we just never quit. You guys are seeing Nick Foles grow into a phenomenal quarterback reight in front of your eyes,” Maclin said. “I think the sky’s the limit for him.”

Rookie Doug Martin rushed for 128 yards and Josh Freeman shrugged off a slow start to throw for two second-half touchdowns to help Tampa Bay overcome its 10-point halftime deficit to go up 21-10 on Martin’s 4-yard TD run midway through the fourth quarter.

That’s when Foles, who scored on a 10-yard run in the first half, took charge.

The Eagles drove 72 yards in eight plays to Harbor’s TD. Foles threw incomplete on a 2-point conversion that would have enabled his team to pull within 3 points, meaning Philadelphia needed a TD when the offense got the ball back with no timeouts and less than three minutes remaining.

Foles kept the final drive alive with a 3-yard run on fourth-and-1 from the Tampa Bay 31. It looked as though the Bucs might hang on before the rookie moved around to buy some time and threw 22 yards to Avant cutting across the middle to keep the Eagles‘ hopes live. Avant had seven receptions for 133 yards.

“They’re gutty. That’s what they are,” Reid said, adding that Foles requested to run the play that produced the winning TD. “Some of the starters made big plays, and then the backups jumped on the bandwagon and joined them. … I’m proud of the whole bunch.”

Martin put together the fourth 100-yard game of his career on 28 carries. Freeman threw TD passes of 1 yard to Mike Williams and 13 yards to Vincent Jackson, who finished with six receptions for 131 yards.

The Bucs (6-7), who honored the franchise’s only Super Bowl championship team at halftime, lost for the third week in a row since using a four-game winning streak to climb into playoff contention.

The Eagles won for the first time since beating the New York Giants 19-17 on Sept. 30. They played a solid first half, but helped the Bucs get back in the game with their only turnover early in the third quarter.

Punt returner Damaris Johnson muffed a fair catch, and Tampa Bay’s Dekoda Watson recovered at theEagles 5 to set up Freeman’s first touchdown pass.

“Any time we lose, it’s frustrating, no matter what the reason is,” Freeman said, who was 14-of-34 passing for 189 yards and no interceptions. “Philly just found a way to make more plays than us. Whether it was at the beginning of the game or down the stretch, it doesn’t matter.”

NOTES:Eagles CB Nnamdi Asomugha was shaken up early in the second quarter when he took a hard fall on a near interceptions. X-rays on his neck were negative and he returned to the game. … The Bucs limited the Eagles to 29 yards rushing on 16 attempts. … All four of Philadelphia’s wins have been two or fewer points.

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NFL fantasy football: Week 14 game recaps

Baltimore Ravens at Washington Redskins

Analysis by Michael Fabiano

Joe Flacco recorded three touchdown passes, but he also threw for just 182 yards and had two turnovers. He finished with a respectable 16.18 fantasy points, but it’s still tough to trust him on road. … Ray Rice was spectacular with 121 rushing yards and one touchdown, though he did suffer a minor hip pointer late. He should be fine for Week 15. … Anquan Boldin scored twice, recorded 19.80 fantasy points and has now posted double-digits in two straight games. He’s back on the radar as a No. 3 fantasy wideout. … On the flip side, Torrey Smith was held to just one catch against one of the league’s worst pass defenses. … Dennis Pitta had a nice game with 46 yards, one touchdown and 10.6 fantasy points. He’s a viable matchup-based option.

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Robert Griffin III left the game late with a right knee sprain and was unable to return, but he still finished with 17.24 fantasy points. Check back with NFL.com on his Week 15 status. Kirk Cousins would get the call if RG3 were unavailable to face theCleveland Browns. … Alfred Morris rushed for 122 yards with one touchdown and scored 16.20 fantasy points, and he would have had more had it not been for a penalty that cost him a long run. Morris did lose a fumble for the second straight week, but it shouldn’t cost him playing time. … Pierre Garcon is back to being a solid No. 2 fantasy option, as he put up 87 yards and one touchdown. He has found the end zone in three straight games. … Josh Morgan scored a touchdown, but his value is limited.

Dallas Cowboys at Cincinnati Bengals

Analysis by Elliot Harrison

Your fantasy playoffs are underway, and I can tell you, playing anyone on the Cowboys‘ offense is a real tough call. Tony Romo did not have a good fantasy performance (12.7 points) in Cincinnati. I realize the matchup versus the Saints looks real attractive, but until the offensive line plays worth a damn, Romo is not worth a start. … Ditto DeMarco Murray, who got nothing going Sunday rushing (although he did have a touchdown to finish in double digits.) Dez Bryant was a non factor most of the afternoon because Romo was running for his life every play of the second half, but got a touchdown late when the Cowboys actually gave Romo 1.6 seconds to cock his arm. … Miles Austin was so-so, but 4.6 fantasy points ain’t good enough. Again, with the problems the Cowboys have up front, I’d recommend sitting Austin. Jason Witten, however, is still a guy I would play. He had 62 yards receiving, which isn’t a bad start. He’s good for about that every week, so you play him and hope for a touchdown.

For the BengalsAndy Dalton (10.24 points) was off all day while being victimized by some big drops. Still, many of his passes were wobbly and off the mark despite having perfect pass protection much of the day. Cincy threw the ball a lot early, which made it look like BenJarvus Green-Ellis would have a bad day. But he surpassed 100 scrimmage yards (again) and, like Jason Witten, is a guy you have to play every week. … A.J. Green didn’t have his best day, dropping some balls he normally catches easily, but you’re not sitting one of the top wideouts in fantasy football no matter what. Just a blah day for a definitely-not-blah player. Meanwhile, Andrew Hawkins is a sneaky flex play (10.4 points). If you are struggling to find the right guy to plug in your lineup in deeper leagues, he’s worth a shot. … TheBengals defense was a disappointment versus the Cowboys, but with the Eagles next up, they might be worth picking up on your waiver wire.

Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings

Analysis by Matt “Money” Smith

There’s not a whole lot to be taken away from the BearsVikings game that you don’t already know.Adrian Peterson is going to be named fantasy football MVP considering his ADP (Average Draft Position) was somewhere in the late second or early third round. Brandon Marshall isn’t too far behind him considering he likely went a couple rounds later in most drafts. Peterson and Marshall owners got their playoff average and then some to help their team advance to the next round, AD posting a 29-spot while Marshall wasn’t too far behind with 22 points himself.

Neither quarterback can be trusted in the postseason regardless of the opponent, so Jay Cutler‘s 11.6 points or Christian Ponder‘s one point shouldn’t get anyone bounced from the playoffs. … With Percy Harvin out, the Vikings have no receivers you would start on a FFL Super Bowl squad, and the tight end Kyle Rudolph has been too hit and miss to be trusted. That means the only wild card against Green Bay next week is Matt Forte. … Forte once again got his yards, 85 rushing and another 34 receiving, but no touchdowns left you with a solid, but not spectacular 11.9 points for the week. Looking forward to the home contest against Green Bay, I would classify Forte as a flex player at best. Meaning if there was a better option sitting on your bench, say Knowshon Moreno or Montell Owens, I would opt for one of them instead.

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Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers

Analysis by Akbar Gbajabiamila

What a difference from the beginning of the season to end of the season. Cam Newton is the offense for the Carolina Panthers, he led the team in rushing. Newton displayed why he was drafted in the first round of the fantasy draft. TheFalcons did not have an answer for the NFC South quarterback and was destroyed with 37 fantasy points. …Steve Smith benefitted from Newton’s ability to make plays outside of the pocket with 11 points. … DeAngelo Williamslooked solid but don’t expect that type of performance when his quarterback can run for 100-plus yards in a game.

The Atlanta Falcons‘ offense in the first half had fantasy owners everywhere concerned. It’s all about how you finish in fantasy and Matt Ryan finished with 19 points — solid performance. Roddy White and Julio Jonesinked out double-digit fantasy points. … The player to watch in the playoffs is Jacquizz Rodgers, it’s clear that the running game is slowly tilting his way and the screen game belongs to him.

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New York Giants dominate Saints, sit atop NFC East

The New York Giants recovered nicely from a tough loss. The New Orleans Saints, meanwhile, can start looking ahead to next season.

Led by three touchdowns from each Eli Manning and David Wilson, the Giants sent the Saints to the edge of elimination with a 52-27 win on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

It was a big win for the Giants, who entered the game knowing theWashington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys already had won. The Giantsmoved to 8-5 on the season, maintaining a one-game lead in the NFC East over both teams with three to play.

This game belonged to Wilson, the 32nd overall pick who set a franchise record with 327 all-purpose yards. He had a 96-yard kickoff return for a score, followed by touchdown runs of 6 and 52 yards. Though we’re sure Tom Coughlin isn’t thrilled with the backflips that followed two of Wilson’s scores, it’s safe to say the rookie is out of the coach’s dog house.

For the Saints (5-8), it was a setback that displayed all the issues that have buried them this season. The defense can’t stop anybody, which puts too much pressure on an offense that lacks balance.


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Drew Brees now has 18 interceptions, tied withIndianapolis Colts rookie Andrew Luck for the most in football. Brees has forced too many throws this season, but he’s been put in far too many difficult situations.

The Saints were so flawed in other areas of their roster that Brees needed to be perfect every week. When he wasn’t, the losses piled up. Time to get Sean Payton back in the fold and try again.

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