Thu Dec 3 5:37pm ET
By TIM BOOTH
AP Sports Writer
Philadelphia Eagles' Carson Wentz, left, passes against Seattle Seahawks' Jamal Adams during the first half of an NFL football game, Monday, Nov. 30, 2020, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
New York Giants quarterback Colt McCoy (12) is tackled by Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Carl Lawson (58) during the second half of NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)
SEATTLE (AP) If anyone can relate to the situation currently facing the New York Giants, it's Pete Carroll.
A decade ago, Carroll was in his first season in Seattle. And for the entirety of that season, the NFC West was an ongoing punchline because of its futility that ended with the Seahawks winning the division title with a losing record.
It sounds awfully familiar to the NFC East this year, which the Giants currently lead at 4-7 heading into Sunday's matchup against the NFC West-leading Seahawks.
''There were disparaging comments and people appalled at the thought that a team with a losing record would be in the playoffs, which I thought was hilarious at the time,'' Carroll said. ''But, you're in your own division, you got to win your own division, and that means you got to have a better record than the rest of the guys in your division. Nobody said what the numbers had to be.''
The similarities don't end simply with the expectation that whoever comes out of the NFC East will likely be the third team in the past decade to reach the playoffs with a losing record. Like Carroll in 2010, Joe Judge is in his first season, and has stabilized the Giants following their 0-5 start.
Going 4-2 over the past six games won't be celebrated when the start to the year was so awful, but it is a sign of progress. Still, the Giants validity as a contender or perhaps the favorites for the division title would be boosted with a marquee victory whether against Seattle or in the coming weeks with Arizona, Cleveland and Baltimore on the schedule.
''To be honest, I don't think we care too much about the outside opinion,'' Giants linebacker Blake Martinez said. ''For us in general, we want to go out there and show our own improvement and show ourselves that we can go and finish those types of games.''
Just like the Giants, the Seahawks (8-3) are in the middle of a race for a division title, albeit at the other end of the spectrum from the NFC East. Seattle moved back into first place in the NFC West last week after its win over Philadelphia, combined with the Los Angeles Rams losing.
But it's a tenuous lead and having already fallen to the Rams last month, Seattle can't afford any stumbles to remain in the conversation for the No. 1 seed in the NFC and a coveted playoff bye.
The biggest unknown is whether Giants QB Daniel Jones will be healthy enough to play after suffering a hamstring injury last week against the Bengals.
If Jones can't go, Colt McCoy would make his first start of the season. McCoy attempted just 10 passes and threw for a meager 31 yards after stepping in for Jones last week. He started once last year for Washington and has one start in his career against Seattle, back in 2011 for Cleveland in a forgettable 6-3 victory.
James Bradberry has been the Giants' shutdown cornerback all season and there is a chance he will travel with DK Metcalf on Sunday.
Metcalf has 58 catches for 1,039 yards and nine touchdowns. The Eagles had Darius Slay try to shut down the big receiver on Monday night and Metcalf spoiled the plan by having 10 catches for 177 yards.
Giants defensive coordinator Pat Graham said the Seahawks' offense is scary and deep, starting with quarterback Russell Wilson.
''We are going to try to figure it out and do what we can do and see what we can do to try to limit their effectiveness,'' Graham said. ''We're going to need more than James. We are going to need everyone. It's all hands on deck this weekend.''
BRINGING THE RUSH
Whoever is under center for the Giants, they'll be looking at a Seattle pass rush that in the past five weeks has become among the best in the league. Seattle had six sacks last week against Philadelphia, giving the Seahawks 22 over the past five games.
The turnaround is dramatic from earlier in the season when the Seahawks could barely get any pressure on opposing QBs. The Seahawks had just nine sacks through the first six games, but the arrival of Carlos Dunlap, Jamal Adams returning from injury, and better overall coverage in the secondary have amplified the pass rush. Seattle is uncertain if Dunlap will be available this week due to a foot injury.
The Giants haven't been great at protecting their quarterbacks, tied for fifth worst in the league with 31 sacks allowed.
Two of the better interior linebackers in the league will be on the field with Seattle's Bobby Wagner and Martinez. Both are tied with 101 tackles on the season, two of seven defensive players league-wide to have topped the century mark through Week 12.
It's the fourth straight season Martinez has topped 100 tackles, while Wagner has done it in nine straight seasons, becoming one of three linebackers to accomplish that feat since 2000.
Five Hot Plays: Week 13
San Francisco 49ers tight end Jordan Reed has seen exactly six targets in each of his past two games. He caught five of his six targets for 62 yards in Week 10, but only managed two catches for 18 yards in Week 12. This week, the 49ers have a favorable matchup against the Buffalo Bills, who are allowing 373.1 yards from scrimmage per game on the year. Reed should see around six targets once again, which gives him a chance to deliver a decent PPR game, but his upside is limited. He shouldn't be started in any non-PPR leagues.
New York Giants running backs Alfred Morris and Dion Lewis have split time as the backup to Wayne Gallman and neither has seen enough work to trust in fantasy. Morris has been the change-of-pace runner, but is yet to see double-digit carries in a game and has just one target on the season. Lewis, on the other hand, has been a passing-downs back and has just one game with more than three carries and that was back in Week 2 when Saquon Barkley (knee) left mid-game. Both can be left on waivers in fantasy.
The 49ers Defense had a fantastic outing in Week 13, forcing four turnovers against the Los Angeles Rams. This week, however, they are in a tough spot as they face a Buffalo Bills team that is averaging 27.2 points per game on the year. While they may end up forcing a few Josh Allen turnovers, the 49ers could surrender around 30 or more points this week, which would make for a rough fantasy week. They can remain on the waiver wire this week as you look for other options.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk is set to make his return from the COVID-19/Reserve List in Week 13 against the Buffalo Bills. Aiyuk has tallied at least 75 receiving yards in each of his past three active games. Fellow receiver Deebo Samuel broke out in a big way in Week 12 with 11 catches on 13 targets. This week, Aiyuk and Samuel should split the bulk of the targets from quarterback Nick Mullens. The Bills are extremely vulnerable against the pass, allowing 243.5 passing yards per game, so both Aiyuk and Samuel should produce. Start Aiyuk with confidence as a WR3 this week.
New York Giants running back Wayne Gallman has seen his touches increase in five-straight weeks and has burst into must-start status in fantasy as the lead-back for the G-Men. It's unlikely Gallman will handle more touches than the 27 he had last week, but with starting QB Daniel Jones (hamstring) unlikely to play this week Gallman will still see plenty of work against a middle-of-the-pack run defense in Seattle. Gallman has six touchdowns in his last five games and is the most likely Giant to find pay-dirt this week. Start Gallman as a volume-based RB2 in all formats.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel had his 2020 breakout performance in Week 12, when he caught 11 of his 13 targets for 133 yards. Samuel will likely see his targets go down this week as the team will get Brandon Aiyuk back from a stint on the COVID-19/Reserve List. However, the 49ers have a much better matchup this week against the Buffalo Bills than they did last week against the Los Angeles Rams. The Bills are allowing 243.5 passing yards per game this year. Both Samuel and Aiyuk should be able to do some damage. Start Samuel as a WR3 in all formats this week.
San Francisco 49ers running back Jeff Wilson Jr. carried the ball 12 times for 40 yards in his return to action in Week 12 against the Los Angeles Rams. He was the team's second rusher behind Raheem Mostert, who earned 16 carries in the game. Mostert figures to be the primary back once again in Week 13 as the 49ers face the Buffalo Bills, a team surrendering 129.6 yards per game on the ground. Wilson should see double-digit touches once again this week as long as Tevin Coleman (knee) remains out. He should also see some red zone touches as he's shown a knack for punching the ball into the end zone. Wilson doesn't have tremendous upside, but he's a flex option in deep leagues as the second back on a strong rushing offense against a weak rushing defense.
San Francisco 49ers running back Raheem Mostert received 16 carries and two targets in his return to action in Week 12. His output was a bit underwhelming as he averaged just 2.7 yards per carry and lost a fumble, but it was a tough matchup against the Los Angeles Rams. He at least managed to save his day by scoring a touchdown. This week, Mostert has a better matchup against a Buffalo Bills Defense that is allowing 129.6 rushing yards per game. Mostert should see somewhere between 15 and 20 touches in the game, giving him a good chance to compile around 100 total yards or more with a score. Start him as a high-end RB2 in Week 13.
The Dallas Cowboys Defense is not a good fantasy option in a Week 13 matchup against the Baltimore Ravens. The Cowboys defense has allowed 28 or more points in seven of their 11 games this season and has finished as a top-12 fantasy defense only twice. On the other end, they've finished in the outside of the top-20 seven times. It's just not a defense that you can start with any kind of confidence regardless of matchup. They should remain on the waiver wire in Week 13 and likely throughout the fantasy playoffs.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens is worth consideration as a QB2 this week against the Buffalo Bills. Mullens will have both Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk active in the game and he faces a Bills Defense that has been vulnerable against the pass, allowing 243.5 passing yards per game. In two-quarterback leagues, Mullens can come through as a low-end QB2 starter. He has a good chance to throw for around 250 yards and score two touchdowns, though he might surrender an interception or two. He shouldn't be considered as a starting option in one-quarterback leagues.
The Detroit Lions removed rookie running back D'Andre Swift (concussion) from the injury report on Thursday, meaning that he has cleared the league's concussion protocol. If you were planning on using Adrian Peterson or Kerryon Johnson in your starting lineups in Week 13 against the Bears, you better look for other options. Swift missed the last two games because of his head injury, but the impressive rookie had seen double-digit carries in his last two games and was starting to take hold of this backfield for the stretch run. He had a season-high 16 rushing attempts for 81 yards in the Week 10 win over Washington. As long as Swift doesn't have any setbacks heading into the weekend, he'll have RB2 upside on Sunday, while Peterson and Johnson will be looking for scraps behind him.
Buffalo Bills QB Josh Allen (ankle, knee) fully participated in practice Thursday, Dec. 3.
Fantasy Spin: Allen has recorded eight total touchdowns over the last three games but also has three interceptions during that span. He can still be considered a low-end No. 1 this week against the San Francisco 49ers.
New Orleans Saints WR Marquez Callaway (knee), CB Janoris Jenkins (knee), WR Deonte Harris (neck) and RB Ty Montgomery (hamstring) did not practice for a second consecutive day Thursday, Dec. 3. DE Marcus Davenport (concussion) was added to the injury report Thursday and also did not practice. RB Alvin Kamara (foot) and WR Michael Thomas (ankle) were limited. OL Andrus Peat (concussion) practiced in full.
Philadelphia Eagles DT Fletcher Cox (neck) and S Rudy Ford (hamstring) did not practice for a second straight day Thursday, Dec. 3. LB T.J. Edwards (hamstring), TE Zach Ertz (ankle) were limited. CB Darius Slay (calf) was added to the injury report Thursday and was also limited.
Dallas Cowboys kicker Greg Zuerlein isn't much of a fantasy option for Week 13 against the Baltimore Ravens. Zuerlein has made 21 field goals on 24 tries this season along with 18 extra points. He's been solid on the field, but has finished as a top-12 fantasy kicker four times this season. He's also finished outside of the top-20 five times. About as close as you can get to a boom-or-bust kicker, most waiver wires will have safer bets with similar ceilings.
The Cardinals Defense has a decent matchup in Week 13 against the Los Angeles Rams, who are averaging 23.9 points per game on the year, which ranks them right below league average. The Cardinals offense, however, is averaging 27.6 points per game and they will likely try to up the pace if they're able to move the ball effectively against a tough Rams Defense. The Cardinals Defense is in play as a low-end starting option in Week 13, but don't be surprised if they disappoint and surrender around 30 points without coming up with a turnover. You may be able to find better options on the waiver wire.
Cincinnati Bengals CB Tony Brown (hamstring), DT Christian Covington (illness), LS Clark Harris (illness), OG Alex Redmond (concussion) and S Brandon Wilson (hamstring) did not participate in practice Thursday, Dec. 3. OG B.J. Finney (back), WR Mike Thomas (hamstring) and DT Xavier Williams (back) were limited. DT Geno Atkins (rest), DT Mike Daniels (rest) and WR A.J. Green (rest) practiced in full.
Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones (hamstring), RB Todd Gurley (knee), TE Hayden Hurst (ankle), DB Kendall Sheffield (illness), OG James Carpenter (groin) and C Alex Mack (rest) did not participate in practice Thursday, Dec. 3. WR Calvin Ridley (foot, ankle) and DE Dante Fowler (hamstring) were limited. FB Keith Smith (knee) and PK Younghoe Koo (quad) practiced in full.
Green Bay Packers TE Marcedes Lewis (knee) and C Corey Linsley (knee) did not participate in practice Thursday, Dec. 3. LB Krys Barnes (calf), RB Tyler Ervin (ribs), CB Josh Jackson (concussion), CB Kevin King (Achilles), WR Allen Lazard (core), OG Lucas Patrick (toe), S Darnell Savage (back), P JK Scott (quad), LB Za'Darius Smith (ankle) and WR Equanimeous St. Brown (knee) were limited. CB Jaire Alexander (knee, hand) and S Will Redmond (shoulder, elbow) practiced in full.
Pittsburgh Steelers CB Steven Nelson (knee) underwent an MRI Thursday, Dec. 3, on the knee injury he suffered during the Week 12 game.