2015 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

Tom BradyJul 27 02:02p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady's appeal of his four-game suspension still has not been announced, and the NFL is now open to talking with the NFL Players Association [ More ]

Doug MartinJul 27 12:02p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Doug Martin could be in line for a big, bounce-back year, in the opinion of beat writer Roy Cummings.

Casey MatthewsJul 27 09:12a

Minnesota Vikings LB Casey Matthews (hip) was placed on season-ending Injured Reserve due to a hip injury Sunday, July 26.

Casey MatthewsJul 26 02:52p

Minnesota Vikings LB Casey Matthews (hip) has been placed on injured reserve due to a hip injury that occurred during the team's offseason program.

Blair WalshJul 26 02:32p

Minnesota Vikings PK Blair Walsh signed a four-year contract extension Sunday, July 26, worth $14 million. The deal includes $5.25 million in guaranteed money.

Gosder CherilusJul 26 12:32p

Indianapolis Colts OT Gosder Cherilus was released Sunday, July 26.

Percy HarvinJul 25 09:22p

Buffalo Bills WR Percy Harvin required detailed instruction on how to run routes during OTAs, and Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News believes Harvin will open the year as [ More ]

DeAngelo WilliamsJul 25 08:12p

Pittsburgh Steelers RB DeAngelo Williams is not receiving any first-team reps despite RB Le'Veon Bell facing a three-game suspension, head coach Mike Tomlin said. Tomlin also said he is [ More ]

Jermaine GreshamJul 24 07:22p

Free-agent TE Jermaine Gresham (Bengals) agreed to a one-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals Friday, July 24, according to a source. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Isaiah CrowellJul 24 07:02p

Cleveland Browns RB Duke Johnson will play a prominent role in Cleveland's offense in his rookie year, but RB Isaiah Crowell is still the favorite to start. Johnson is [ More ]

Benjamin WatsonJul 24 06:22p

New Orleans Saints TE Benjamin Watson is slated to start at tight end over TE Josh Hill, according to Mike Triplett of ESPN.com.

Josh FreemanJul 24 04:52p

Miami Dolphins QB Josh Freeman was released Friday, July 24.

Nate WashingtonJul 24 03:52p

Houston Texans WR Nate Washington is projected to be the No. 2 wide receiver behind WR DeAndre Hopkins and ahead of WR Cecil Shorts, according to Tania Ganguli of ESPN.com.

Kelvin BenjaminJul 24 02:32p

Carolina Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin said he is currently at his playing weight a week before training camp begins. Benjamin said he has changed his conditioning and diet in order to stay in shape.

Junior GaletteJul 24 02:32p

New Orleans Saints LB Junior Galette was released Friday, July 24, according to a source.

Jabari PriceJul 24 02:22p

Minnesota Vikings CB Jabari Price was suspended two games for violating the personal conduct policy.

Derek WolfeJul 24 01:52p

Denver Broncos DE Derek Wolfe was suspended four games by the NFL for testing positive for a performance enhancing drug. Wolfe said he took a medication he didn't know was banned.

Sean SmithJul 24 10:02a

Kansas City Chiefs CB Sean Smith was suspended three games for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.

Michael HillJul 23 05:42p

Washington Redskins RB Michael Hill was waived Thursday, July 23.

Earl ThomasJul 23 12:32p

Seattle Seahawks FS Earl Thomas (shoulder) isn't expected to be cleared for training camp, and his status is questionable for Week 1.

Letroy GuionJul 23 12:02p

Green Bay Packers DT Letroy Guion has been suspended three games Thursday, July 23, for his Feb. 3 arrest. Guion plans to appeal.

Tom BradyJul 23 11:32a

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady was the subject of a settlement offer from the NFL Players Association to the league last week, but the offer was met with [ More ]

Mike TomlinJul 23 10:22a

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin agreed to an extension Thursday, July 23, through the 2018 season.

Jadeveon ClowneyJul 22 05:12p

Houston Texans LB Jadeveon Clowney (knee) looks spectacular, according to a team doctor. Clowney is seven months removed from microfracture surgery on his knee. It was previously reported that [ More ]

Marqise LeeJul 22 04:42p

Jacksonville Jaguars WR Marqise Lee (knee) is expected to be ready for training camp, according to wide receivers coach Jerry Sullivan. Sullivan added that Lee will be managed in order to preserve his health.

Sam BradfordJul 22 03:32p

Philadelphia Eagles QB Sam Bradford (knee) is expected to be ready to participate once training camp begins. Bradford has been rehabilitating his knee after suffering a second anterior cruciate [ More ]

Tyler EifertJul 22 03:22p

Cincinnati Bengals TE Tyler Eifert could be primed for a breakout season, in the opinion of Paul Dehner Jr. of The Cincinnati Enquirer.

L. TaliaferroJul 22 01:22p

Baltimore Ravens RB Lorenzo Taliaferro is expected to be pushed by RB Javorius Allen for the No. 2 running back job, but he likely will enter training camp as [ More ]

Jermaine GreshamJul 22 12:32p

Free-agent TE Jermaine Gresham (back) met with the Arizona Cardinals Tuesday, July 21, but the two sides have not agreed to a deal at this point. Gresham underwent back [ More ]

Odell Beckham Jr.Jul 22 12:12p

New York Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring) said his hamstring is feeling a lot better than it did earlier this offseason. Beckham missed some of the offseason workouts because of a hamstring problem.

Bishop SankeyJul 22 08:32a

Tennessee Titans RB Bishop Sankey is the odds-on favorite to start in Week 1 because he has a year of experience and a full offseason under his belt.

Justin HunterJul 22 02:02a

Tennessee Titans WR Justin Hunter is expected to take part in training camp when it opens, as the team will let the legal process play out, according to a [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group