2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Patriots at Dolphins opens 3 weeks of showdowns

By JOE KAY - AP Sports Writer
    2013-12-10 14:15

Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Adam ''Pacman'' Jones knows how it goes this time of the season, with so much at stake for so many teams.

Division titles. Wild card berths. Home field advantage. All those wacky games decided in downpours, blizzards and domes have set the stage for deciding the NFL playoff field in the next three weeks. And right now, that field is about as clear as a wintery afternoon in Philadelphia.

Denver, Indianapolis and Seattle are the only teams that have clinched playoff berths with three weeks left.

And the conferences' playoff seeds are still wide open.

''If we just win out, we'll be OK,'' said Jones, whose Bengals are closing in on the AFC North title. ''That's all we've got to do. Win out and let everything else take care of itself.''

Every other contender is saying the same thing. Easy to say, tough to do. Given the league's unpredictable nature, there are going to be a lot of upsets and unforeseen plot twists in the next three weeks.

Six games with extra significance in the closing weeks:

PATRIOTS AT DOLPHINS, Sunday, Dec. 15: New England (10-3) leads the AFC East and currently has the No. 2 seed, a game ahead of Cincinnati (9-3). But the Bengals beat them during the season, so Cincinnati would be No. 2 if they end tied. It'll be New England's first game since losing tight end Rob Gronkowski again, this time to a knee injury. The Patriots went 5-1 without him at the start of the season, but their offense picked up measurably when he returned. Gronkowski had 37 catches for 560 yards in six games, the most by an NFL tight end. They're back to trying to reach the playoffs without him, facing a Miami (7-6) team tied with Baltimore (7-6) for the final wild card slot. The Ravens beat the Dolphins 26-23 on Oct. 6 for the head-to-head tiebreaker.

BEARS AT EAGLES, Sunday, Dec. 22: The game has been flexed to Sunday night because of its significance. Philadelphia (8-5) has won five in a row, including that snowy 34-20 victory over Detroit last Sunday, to take sole possession of first place in the NFC East, a game ahead of Dallas. Chicago's 45-28 win over Dallas on Monday night left the Bears and Lions tied at 7-6 atop the NFC North. Many playoff implications all around in this one.

SAINTS AT PANTHERS, Sunday, Dec.22: The NFC South title could be decided. The Saints (10-3) took a one-game lead with a 31-13 win over the Panthers in New Orleans on Sunday, with Drew Brees throwing for four touchdowns against the NFL's stingiest defense. The Panthers (9-4) are currently in line with San Francisco (9-4) for the two wild card spots.

PATRIOTS AT RAVENS, Sunday, Dec.22: The defending Super Bowl champions have struggled on offense all season, but have managed to hang in there in the playoff chase. The Ravens are 6-1 at home but have a tough closing stretch: at Detroit on Monday night, New England, at Cincinnati. The Patriots also have a tough go, playing at Miami and Baltimore before hosting Buffalo.

49ERS AT CARDINALS, Sunday, Dec. 29: San Francisco (9-4) trails Seattle (11-2) by two games for the NFC West lead, so a wild card seems the more likely route for a team that came up just short in last season's Super Bowl. Arizona (8-5) is a game behind the 49ers and Panthers for the two wild cards. The 49ers play at Tampa Bay and host Atlanta on Monday night before finishing at Arizona. Seattle plays at the Giants before hosting the Cardinals and Rams.

TEXANS AT TITANS, Sunday, Dec. 29: A showdown of sorts - for the top pick in next year's draft. Also, it's open season for coaching changes. Houston started it by firing Gary Kubiak last Friday, a day after the Texans suffered their 11th straight loss. The Texans are at the bottom of the league and the top of the draft list with a 2-11 mark. Washington and Atlanta are a game behind at 3-10, followed by Minnesota at 3-9-1. Houston will have a tough time climbing out of the bottom spot. The Texas finish at Indianapolis, which has clinched the AFC South, and at home against Denver, which leads the AFC, before playing at Tennessee (5-8).

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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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