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.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Alameda Ta'amuDec 21 07:42p

The Arizona Cardinals have declared DL Alameda Ta'amu, OG Anthony Steen, WR Brittan Golden, SS Chris D. Clemons, QB Drew Stanton, OG Jonathan Cooper, DL Kareem Martin inactive for Week 16.

Chris MatthewsDec 21 07:32p

The Seattle Seahawks have declared WR Chris Matthews, DL Demarcus Dobbs, WR Kevin Norwood, C Max Unger, OT Russell Okung, TE Tony Moeaki, DL Travian Robertson inactive for Week 16.

Ahmad DixonDec 21 11:52a

The Minnesota Vikings have declared SS Ahmad Dixon, LB Anthony Barr, OT Carter Bykowski, OG Charlie Johnson, TE Kyle Rudolph, CB Shaun Prater, FB Zach Line inactive for Week 16.

Devier PoseyDec 21 11:52a

The Houston Texans have declared WR DeVier Posey, TE Garrett Graham, LB Jason Ankrah, S Josh Aubrey, LB Mike Mohamed, QB Tom Savage, OG Xavier Su'a-Filo inactive for Week 16.

A.J. KleinDec 21 11:52a

The Carolina Panthers have declared LB A.J. Klein, OG Amini Silatolu, CB Carrington Byndom, OT David Foucault, RB DeAngelo Williams, DL Kyle Love, SS Robert Lester inactive for Week 16.

Charles GodfreyDec 21 11:52a

The Atlanta Falcons have declared CB Charles Godfrey, LB James Anderson, OG Jon Asamoah, CB Ricardo Allen, QB Sean Renfree, DL Stansly Maponga, LB Tyler Starr inactive for Week 16.

Jamarca SanfordDec 21 11:52a

The New Orleans Saints have declared SS Jamarca Sanford, DL Lawrence Virgil, LB Moise Fokou, WR Seantavius Jones, CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste, OT Terron Armstead, RB Travaris Cadet inactive for Week 16.

Justin BrownDec 21 11:52a

The Pittsburgh Steelers have declared OG Chris Hubbard, DL Clifton Geathers, CB Ike Taylor, WR Justin Brown, QB Landry Jones, TE Matt Spaeth, SS Troy Polamalu inactive for Week 16.

Clifton GeathersDec 21 11:52a

The Pittsburgh Steelers have declared OG Chris Hubbard, DL Clifton Geathers, CB Ike Taylor, WR Justin Brown, QB Landry Jones, TE Matt Spaeth, SS Troy Polamalu inactive for Week 16.

Carl BradfordDec 21 11:42a

The Green Bay Packers have declared DL Bruce Gaston, LB Carl Bradford, CB Davon House, C Garth Gerhart, WR Jeff Janis, TE Justin Perillo, QB Scott Tolzien inactive for Week 16.

Chris McCainDec 21 11:42a

The Miami Dolphins have declared LB Chris McCain, OT Dallas Thomas, RB Daniel Thomas, CB Don Jones, WR Matt Hazel, OG Nate Garner, WR Rishard Matthews inactive for Week 16.

Arthur BrownDec 21 11:42a

The Baltimore Ravens have declared LB Arthur Brown, DL Casey Walker, CB Chris Greenwood, C Gino Gradkowski, WR Michael Campanaro, OG Ryan Jensen, DL Terrence Cody inactive for Week 16.

Aaron MurrayDec 21 11:42a

The Kansas City Chiefs have declared QB Aaron Murray, RB Charcandrick West, WR Donnie Avery, C Eric Kush, OT Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, CB Marcus Cooper, DL Nick X. Williams inactive for Week 16.

Gary BarnidgeDec 21 11:42a

The Cleveland Browns have declared OT Andrew McDonald, TE Gary Barnidge, RB Glenn Winston, CB Joe Haden, DB K'Waun Williams, WR Rodney Smith, OT Vinston Painter inactive for Week 16.

Chris ConteDec 21 11:42a

The Chicago Bears have declared FS Chris Conte, QB David Fales, OG Kyle Long, PK Robbie Gould, CB Terrance Mitchell, DL Trevor Scott, DL Will Sutton inactive for Week 16.

Dakota DozierDec 21 11:33a

The New York Jets have declared OL Dakota Dozier, SS Jaiquawn Jarrett, QB Matt Simms, FS Rontez Miles, DL T.J. Barnes, WR Walter Powell, OG Wesley Johnson inactive for Week 16.

Alfonzo DennardDec 21 11:33a

The New England Patriots have declared CB Alfonzo Dennard, OG Dan Connolly, RB James White, OT Jordan Devey, WR Julian Edelman, CB Kyle Arrington, RB LeGarrette Blount inactive for Week 16.

Anthony CollinsDec 21 11:32a

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have declared OT Anthony Collins, FB Evan Rodriguez, CB Isaiah Frey, DL Lawrence Sidbury, RB Mike James, WR Robert Herron, WR Solomon Patton inactive for Week 16.

Kelvin BenjaminDec 21 11:22a

Carolina Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin won't face Cleveland Browns CB Joe Haden (shoulder) Sunday, Dec. 21, who is out with a shoulder injury.

Joe HadenDec 21 11:22a

Cleveland Browns CB Joe Haden (shoulder) is out Sunday, Dec. 21.

Julio JonesDec 21 11:22a

Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones (hip) is active Sunday, Dec. 21.

Jay CutlerDec 21 10:22a

Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler is receiving trade interest from the Tennessee Titans. If the Titans landed him, it would alter the 2015 NFL Draft board dramatically.

T Y HiltonDec 21 10:22a

Indianapolis Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (hamstring) is a long shot to play Sunday, Dec. 21. However, he's going to try to suit up.

DeMarco MurrayDec 21 10:12a

Dallas Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray (hand) will play Sunday, Dec. 21, but the team is nervous how well he'll hold up in pass protection. If the team qualifies for [ More ]

Zach ErtzDec 20 07:42p

Philadelphia Eagles TE Zach Ertz had 15 catches for 115 yards Saturday, Dec. 20. Both of which are career highs.

Philip RiversDec 20 07:22p

San Diego Chargers QB Philip Rivers (back) is active Saturday, Dec. 20, for Week 16.

Ryan MathewsDec 20 07:22p

San Diego Chargers RB Ryan Mathews (ankle) is inactive Saturday, Dec. 20, for Week 16.

Ryan MathewsDec 20 07:12p

The San Diego Chargers have declared LB Cordarro Law, DL Damion Square, CB Greg Ducre, WR Keenan Allen, P Mike Scifres, DL Ryan Carrethers, RB Ryan Mathews inactive for Week 16.

Carlos HydeDec 20 07:12p

San Francisco 49ers RB Carlos Hyde (ankle) is inactive Saturday, Dec. 20.

Ahmad BrooksDec 20 07:02p

The San Francisco 49ers have declared LB Ahmad Brooks, OG Andrew Tiller, RB Carlos Hyde, OG Joe Looney, QB Josh X. Johnson, WR Stevie Johnson, CB Tramaine Brock inactive for Week 16.

DeAndre HopkinsDec 20 06:42p

Houston Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins (ankle) will be a game-time decision Sunday, Dec. 21, after not practicing all week.

Julian EdelmanDec 20 06:02p

New England Patriots WR Julian Edelman (concussion) has been ruled out for Week 16. Edelman didn't receive final clearance from the concussion protocol to play Sunday, Dec. 21.

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