2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Texans, Falcons go from top to basement

    2013-12-02 16:17

(Eds: With AP Photos.)
By BARRY WILNER
AP Pro Football Writer

Three-quarters of the way to the NFL playoffs, the Texans and Falcons have taken charge - of the chase for the top overall draft pick.

A year ago, they both were 11-1 and thinking Super Bowl.

For anyone who believes pro football is predictable, citing the presence of the Patriots and the absence of the Bills in the postseason each year, a look at the 2012 standings through 12 games is enlightening.

So let's look.

AFC EAST

The Patriots (9-3) have the same record as in `12, and just as much command of the division. They're aiming higher: home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. If they win out and Denver slips, they'll get it, even with a banged-up team and more weaknesses than usual.

Just as in last December, Miami, the Jets and Buffalo don't have winning records. The Bills will miss the playoffs for a 14th straight season, almost unimaginable in league where year-to-year turnover in the standings is the norm.

AFC NORTH

The Ravens (6-6) were 9-3 and two games up, but about to hit a slump they obviously overcame to win the division and, eventually, the Super Bowl. Cincinnati was tied with Pittsburgh, two games in arrears, but now the Bengals are 8-4 and with a shot at a first-round bye if they can sweep their final four games. The Steelers are 5-7 and struggling to stay relevant, something they couldn't do down the stretch in 2012.

Cleveland is 4-8 again. With QB issues again.

AFC SOUTH

Here's where things get a bit absurd. The Texans were 11-1, had clinched a playoff berth and were headed for the AFC's best record. Then they got routed at New England, won only once more and wound up in the wild-card round.

They can only wish for a similar position now. Instead, the Texans (2-10) have dropped a franchise-record 10 straight games, saw their coach suffer a mini-stroke at halftime of a loss and lost star running back Arian Foster to a back injury.

Indianapolis, 8-4 again, has a three-game lead over Tennessee (5-7), which has actually improved by one win from last year. The Colts can clinch the division this weekend.

Jacksonville (3-9) lost its first eight games this year. It was 2-10 last year in Mike Mularkey's lone season as coach.

AFC WEST

Denver owned the division at 9-3 and was in the midst of an 11-game winning streak to close the season. The offense wasn't nearly as prolific, 464 points to 349 a year ago, but the defense was far better.

Speaking of far better, the Chiefs have gone from 2-10 to 9-3. Yes, they've lost three in a row, but can anyone in Kansas City really complain after the distressing, even tragic 2012 campaign?

Just like last year, San Diego and Oakland are also-rans.

NFC EAST

Washington, already eliminated from playoff contention this year, was 6-6, headed to 10 wins and the division crown. The Giants had the lead at 7-5, opposite of their current record, and were in the middle of a fade out of the postseason picture.

Dallas and Philadelphia are tied for the lead at 7-5, a Texas showdown looming on the final day of the schedule. That's pretty heady for the Eagles, who were 3-9 on the way to 4-12 and seeing coach Andy Reid's 14-season tenure end.

NFC NORTH

Detroit (7-5) has a one-game lead on Chicago in what has been a mediocre division. Every team except the Lions, who were 4-8 at this point in 2012, has gotten worse this season.

Injuries have taken a huge toll on the Bears (6-6) and Packers (5-6-1), who were tied atop the North at 8-4 last year. Both lost their starting quarterbacks, with Aaron Rodgers' absence in Green Bay perhaps the most devastating loss in the entire league.

Minnesota (3-8-1) is playing out the string instead of surging to the playoffs behind Adrian Peterson's 2,097 yards rushing in an MVP season.

NFC SOUTH

No division has seen more flux. Atlanta, ravaged by injuries, with a lack of blocking on offense and little pass rush on defense, already had won this group in 2012. The first team eliminated from contention in the NFC, the Falcons made star tight end Tony Gonzalez's decision to play one more season a waste.

The Saints were 5-7 with coach Sean Payton suspended for the bounty scandal, and now are in the division lead. Carolina, which was 3-9 at the beginning of last December, is 9-3, has won eight in a row, and looks formidable for the stretch run.

Tampa (3-9) had twice as many wins a year ago, and a lot less turmoil.

NFC WEST

All Seattle, which has become even stingier on defense and has a solid lead on San Francisco. The Niners controlled the division at 8-3-1 last year, but already have four losses in 2013 and must play the Seahawks on Sunday.

Arizona, under new coach Bruce Arians - the 2012 NFL Coach of the Year in an interim role in Indianapolis - has gone from 4-8 to 7-5 and in the playoff mix. St. Louis (5-7 after 5-6-1 last year) has been a tough out even minus starting QB Sam Bradford.

---

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

K. Pierre-LouisNov 28 06:52p

The Seattle Seahawks placed LB Kevin Pierre-Louis (shoulder) on Reserve/Injured Friday, Nov. 28.

Jerick McKinnonNov 28 06:02p

Minnesota Vikings RB Jerick McKinnon (back) has officially been listed as doubtful for Week 13. McKinnon has already said that he will not play.

Latavius MurrayNov 28 04:42p

Oakland Raiders RB Latavius Murray (concussion) will not play in Week 13 after failing the final test of the concussion protocol Friday, Nov. 28.

Arian FosterNov 28 04:22p

Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (groin) is probable for Week 13 after being limited in practice Friday, Nov. 28.

Charles ClayNov 28 04:12p

Miami Dolphins TE Charles Clay (knee, hamstring) did not practice Friday, Nov. 28, and could miss Monday night's game versus the New York Jets.

Larry FitzgeraldNov 28 03:32p

Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (knee) was limited during practice Friday, Nov. 28, and will be a game-time decision for Week 13, according to head coach Bruce Arians. Arians [ More ]

Ray RiceNov 28 03:02p

Free-agent RB Ray Rice (Ravens) has won the appeal of his indefinite suspension and is eligible to play immediately, according to a source.

Jordan ReedNov 28 03:02p

Washington Redskins TE Jordan Reed (hamstring) took part in a full practice Friday, Nov. 28, but is questionable for Week 13 against the Indianapolis Colts.

Dwayne AllenNov 28 02:52p

Indianapolis Colts TE Dwayne Allen (ankle) missed practice all week and is officially out in Week 13 against the Washington Redskins.

Jerick McKinnonNov 28 02:22p

Minnesota Vikings RB Jerick McKinnon (back) said he has been ruled out for Week 13.

William MooreNov 28 02:22p

The Atlanta Falcons activated SS William Moore (shoulder) from the Active/Reserve/Injured list Friday, Nov. 28. The team also waived OT Cameron Bradfield.

Julius ThomasNov 28 02:12p

Denver Broncos TE Julius Thomas (ankle) is in attendance for practice Friday, Nov. 28, but is not participating in drills.

Arian FosterNov 28 01:32p

Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (groin) is expected to play in Week 13 against the Tennessee Titans, according to head coach Bill O'Brien. O'Brien has been pleased with the [ More ]

Larry FitzgeraldNov 28 10:02a

Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (knee) said he's highly unlikely to play in Week 13 Sunday, Nov. 30.

Marshawn LynchNov 27 11:52p

Seattle Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch had 20 carries for 104 yards in a 19-3 victory over the San Francisco 49ers Thursday, Nov. 27.

Julius ThomasNov 27 07:52p

Denver Broncos TE Julius Thomas (ankle) was limited during practice Thursday, Nov. 27.

Anthony DavisNov 27 07:23p

The San Francisco 49ers have declared OT Anthony Davis, WR Bruce Ellington, DL Glenn Dorsey, QB Josh X. Johnson, WR Quinton Patton, CB Tramaine Brock, TE Vance McDonald inactive for Week 13.

Arian FosterNov 27 07:12p

Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (groin) was limited during practice Wednesday, Nov. 27.

Allen BradfordNov 27 07:12p

The Seattle Seahawks have declared LB Allen Bradford, TE Cooper Helfet, CB Jeremy Lane, LB Kevin Pierre-Louis, C Max Unger, TE Rashaun Allen, DL Travian Robertson inactive for Week 13.

Jordan CameronNov 27 06:32p

Cleveland Browns TE Jordan Cameron (concussion) was limited during practice Thursday, Nov. 27.

Latavius MurrayNov 27 04:52p

Oakland Raiders RB Latavius Murray (concussion) was limited during practice Thursday, Nov. 27.

Larry FitzgeraldNov 27 04:02p

Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (knee) did not participate in practice Thursday, Nov. 27.

Tony HillsNov 27 03:22p

The Dallas Cowboys have declared LB Dekoda Watson, OG Donald Hawkins, QB Dustin Vaughan, FS Jeff Heath, DL Joshua Brent, OT Tony Hills, CB Tyler Patmon inactive for Week 13.

Taylor HartNov 27 03:12p

The Philadelphia Eagles have declared OT Dennis Kelly, DB Jaylen Watkins, WR Jeff Maehl, OG Julian Vandervelde, QB Nick Foles, CB Rashad Carmichael, DE Taylor Hart inactive for Week 13.

Jordan ReedNov 27 03:02p

Washington Redskins TE Jordan Reed (hamstring) was limited in practice Thursday, Nov. 27.

Dwayne AllenNov 27 02:32p

Indianapolis Colts TE Dwayne Allen (ankle) did not participate in practice Thursday, Nov. 27.

Kyle FullerNov 27 11:32a

Chicago Bears CB Kyle Fuller (knee) will play in the team's Week 13 game against the Detroit Lions. Fuller had been questionable during the week.

Lance BriggsNov 27 11:22a

The Chicago Bears have declared WR Chris X. Williams, LB Darryl Sharpton, OT Eben Britton, DL Jeremiah Ratliff, LB Lance Briggs, CB Terrance Mitchell, DL Trevor Scott inactive for Week Week 13.

Reggie BushNov 27 11:12a

The Detroit Lions have declared QB Kellen Moore, OG Larry Warford, DE Larry Webster, DL Nick Fairley, RB Reggie Bush, OT Riley Reiff, WR Ryan Broyles inactive for Week 13.

Reggie BushNov 27 11:12a

Detroit Lions RB Reggie Bush (ankle) is inactive Thursday, Nov. 27, for Week 13.

Reggie BushNov 27 10:12a

Detroit Lions RB Reggie Bush (ankle) is out for Week 13 Thursday, Nov. 27. His ankle isn't responding well enough, but the hope is to return for Week 14.

R. Griffin IIINov 27 09:53a

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III is highly unlikely to return to the team next season, sources within the organization said. Head coach Jay Gruden convinced owner Daniel Snyder [ More ]

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