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Matchup of division leaders: Seahawks vs Giants. The Giants?

Sat Dec 5 11:09am ET
By BARRY WILNER
AP Pro Football Writer

Cincinnati Bengals safety Brandon Wilson (40) rushes for a 103-yard touchdown during the first half of NFL football game against the New York Giants, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)


Atlanta Falcons linebacker Deion Jones (45) runs toward the end zone for a touchdown against the Las Vegas Raiders after his interception during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)


Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, left, reacts with down judge Danny Short during the first half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Monday, Nov. 30, 2020, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)


Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen (13) catches a touchdown pass against Buffalo Bills cornerback Taron Johnson (24) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus )


Green Bay Packers' Davante Adams catches a touchdown pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)


New York Giants quarterback Colt McCoy (12) looks to throw during the second half of NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)


In this strangest of NFL seasons in this weirdest of years, here's a matchup of division leaders you wouldn't expect: Seattle hosting the New York Giants.

Certainly the Seahawks on top of the tough NFC West is no stretch. They are 8-3, have a dynamic offense and improving defense, and plenty of pedigree under coach Pete Carroll. It's their opponent that makes little sense - except in 2020.

New York is 4-7, has yet to beat a team with a winning record, and enters the most difficult portion of its schedule. Yet the Giants are tied atop the awful NFC East with Washington, which it has beaten twice.

''If you win your division, you win your division,'' Carroll says, and he knows: Seattle went 7-9 in 2010 and won the NFC West, then beat New Orleans in a playoff game. ''That's the way it was then, that's the way it is now, and I don't think there's any problem with it. Whoever comes out of that division, the division champ, whoever plays them better look out. There's a lot going on that side of it in what you want to prove and how you want to go about it.''

The Giants' defense has played well during a three-game win streak, but starting quarterback Daniel Jones has a hamstring issue and might sit in favor of Colt McCoy.

''Just being prepared, that's the name of the game,'' McCoy says. ''That's why the Giants brought me here. I think that's the expectation. If your number is called, whether it's quarterback, receiver, on the other side of the ball on defense, when you have to step up, you have to step up. I just have to be mentally prepared for whatever happens.''

Off this week with the final byes for the season, are Tampa Bay (7-5) and Carolina (4-8).

Cleveland (8-3) at Tennessee (8-3)

While Cleveland is chasing a wild-card playoff berth thanks to Pittsburgh's dominance - and it is odd to be mentioning the Browns and the postseason together - the Titans are atop the AFC South. They come off impressive away victories against Baltimore and Indianapolis and can establish themselves as true contenders with another strong showing.

The Browns have benefited like no one else from a weak schedule. Teams they have beaten are a combined 17-47-2 right now. They should get back star defensive end Myles Garrett after missing the past two games with COVID-19. Garrett is tied for second in the NFL with 9+ sacks. He certainly will be tested by the league's leading rusher, Derrick Henry.

Los Angeles Rams (7-4) at Arizona (6-5)

Think the Rams like playing the Cardinals? LA has won six straight in the series and five straight in Arizona. Rams coach Sean McVay is 6-0 against the Cards; LA has outscored Arizona 195-56 in McVay's tenure.

''What's occurred in the past has nothing to do with this game,'' McVay predictably says. ''There is continuity at the coordinator spots, but these guys are playing really well. They have great playmakers in all three phases.''

The Rams top the league with 17 points allowed per game, and second with 297 yards allowed a game, with an NFL-low 11 touchdown passes allowed.

Arizona has lost three of its past four games, the only win coming on the desperation heave from Kyler Murray to DeAndre Hopkins with 2 seconds left against Buffalo.

Cincinnati (2-8-1) at Miami (7-4)

As bad as things have been for the Bengals, Brandon Wilson returned a first-quarter kickoff 103 yards for a touchdown, the longest scoring play in team history, against the Giants. Wilson is tied for first in the NFL with five kickoff returns of at least 40 yards.

Miami knocked off the Jets with Ryan Fitzpatrick subbing for Tua Tagovailoa (thumb) and now FitzMagic gets a shot at another of his many former teams. He got top wideout DeVante Parker going again: Parker had a season-high 119 yards receiving against the Jets, more than in Tagovailoa's four starts combined.

Washington (4-7) at Pittsburgh (11-0), Monday

The Steelers stand on the verge of a playoff spot. They can wrap up the AFC North with a win and a Browns loss. And they get a playoff spot with a win or losses by the Raiders, Dolphins or Colts. But they probably need to keep winning with Kansas City right behind in the conference standings and only one bye available this postseason.

Washington has won two straight to remain in the muddled mix of the NFC East.

Dallas (3-8) at Baltimore (6-5), Tuesday

After playing the Steelers tough if not artistically in a loss on Wednesday, the Ravens hope to be far less undermanned because of COVID-19 issues when they host the Cowboys. Baltimore should have starting quarterback Lamar Jackson and several other regulars back, but remains almost as injury-ravaged as Dallas, which has dropped five of six.

Las Vegas (6-5) at New York Jets (0-11)

The Raiders need a rebound after that fiasco in Atlanta, and the Jets might be just the tonic. Sure, the Raiders tend to struggle in the East, but the Jets, as their record indicates, struggle everywhere.

Still, Las Vegas has lost six straight road games against the Jets since a 34-13 win in 1996. The Jets' 11-game losing streak is their longest in a single season. Another loss would tie the team mark for longest overall skid, which spanned the 1995 and '96 seasons under Rich Kotite.

Indianapolis (7-4) at Houston (4-7)

Indy has not lost consecutive games this season, but was routed at home by Tennessee last week. The Texans have won two straight for the first time this season, but had receiver Will Fuller and cornerback Bradley Roby suspended for six games each this week for violating the league's policy on performance enhancers drugs.

The Colts have won five of the past seven in this series. Philip Rivers is expected to make his 236th consecutive start, breaking a tie with Charles Woodson for ninth overall starts in league history.

Denver (4-7) at Kansas City (10-1)

Denver is expected to have all its quarterbacks after COVID-19 issues forced the Broncos to use rookie wideout Kendall Hinton at QB last week against New Orleans. Hinton was 1 of 9 for 13 yards with two interceptions, and the Broncos gained 112 yards in the loss.

Kansas City clinches the AFC West with a win and a Las Vegas defeat. The Chiefs are trying to go 11-1 for the second time in franchise history (2003). Patrick Mahomes has thrown for at least 300 yards seven times this season and has 22 straight games with at least one TD passing.

New Orleans (9-2) at Atlanta (4-7)

Simply put, a win for the Saints and a loss by the Bears clinches a playoff berth for New Orleans. There are other scenarios involving ties.

New Orleans has won five of the past six in this heated rivalry, getting to Matt Ryan often. The Saints have sacked Ryan a total of 17 times in their past two meetings, and Cameron Jordan has 21 career sacks of Ryan, an NFL record by one defender against a single QB.

Though Atlanta's defense is susceptible to the pass, there is danger lurking. Linebacker Deion Jones has returned five interceptions for touchdowns, the most by any player since Jones entered the league in 2016, and the most by any linebacker since 2006. His latest was a 67-yard pick-6 against the Raiders.

Philadelphia (3-7-1) at Green Bay (8-3)

While Philadelphia's offense has become dysfunctional with slumping quarterback Carson Wentz, a sievelike line and mediocre receivers, the defense has kept the Eagles competitive in three straight losses.

Things are much brighter in Titletown. Aaron Rodgers is playing at the highest level and, despite no top-line wideout to join him, Davante Adams has 11 TD receptions, behind only Kansas City's Tyreek Hill (13). Adams has the most touchdown catches by a Packer through 11 games since Billy Howton had 12 in 1956.

''Aaron obviously has a great command of the offense and everything runs through him and how he controls things,'' says Eagles coach Doug Pederson, ''and that's kind of what you see in games and on tape - just how smooth things are operating and Aaron really kind of thinking the same way the play caller's thinking.''

Buffalo (8-3) at San Francisco (5-6), Monday

The game is being played at the Cardinals' stadium in Arizona after COVID-19 rules prohibited games at San Francisco's home stadium. The Niners also practiced this week in Arizona and will spend about three weeks there.

Buffalo is on track for its first AFC East crown since 1995. The defense is coming on: the Bills have 19 sacks and 10 takeaways in the past five games after 11 sacks and seven takeaways in the first six outings.

New England (5-6) at Los Angeles Chargers (3-8)

Strangely, this is the Patriots' first trip to Los Angeles in 28 years, and it's a doubleheader. They are at SoFi Stadium again on Thursday night to play the Rams.

New England has won the past five meetings, including a 2018 divisional playoff game. The Patriots are getting a boost from placekicker Nick Folk. With his 50-yard, game-winning kick as time expired last week against Arizona, Folk became the first kicker in one NFL season to convert multiple such field goals of 50-plus yards as time expired.

Chargers WR Keenan Allen leads the NFL with 85 receptions and has a TD catch in five straight games.

Jacksonville (1-10) at Minnesota (5-6)

Over the past five games, four of them wins, Vikings QB Kirk Cousins leads the NFL with a 124.3 passer rating and is third with 12 passing touchdowns.

The Jaguars have lost 10 straight, the longest single-season streak in team history, and fired general manager Dave Caldwell. They lost 13 consecutive games from Dec. 2, 2012, through Oct. 27, 2013, for the longest overall slide.

Detroit (4-7) at Chicago (5-6)

Could the Bears go from 5-1 and in playoff contention to last place in the NFC North? With the way the offense is sputtering and the defense no longer so fearsome, why not?

Darrell Bevell makes his interim head coach debut after Matt Patricia (and general manager Bob Quinn) were fired following an ugly home loss to Houston on Thanksgiving.

Top Headlines

Five Hot Plays: Week 13

The Paur Report
Player Notes
Anthony Firkser Dec 5 12:10pm ET

Tennessee Titans tight end Anthony Firkser will fill in for injured Jonnu Smith this week against the Browns. Fantasy players should have all the confidence in the world in firing up Anthony Firkser, who accrued a team-high 21.9% target share with 29 routes on Ryan Tannehill's 46 dropbacks in his only spot-start for Smith this year. Smith wasn't able to practice at all this week after his egg in the box score from Sunday, so Firkser should play quite nicely in DFS and should be spot started if you are looking for help at tight end.

From RotoBaller

Stephon Tuitt Dec 5 12:10pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Stephon Tuitt (COVID-19 list) was activated off of the COVID-19/reserve list Saturday, paving the way for a potential return to action in Week 13 for Monday's game versus Washington. Having landed on the list prior to last week's game versus Baltimore, Tuitt has now cleared protocols and is eligible to return to practice. Tuitt has started all 10 games that he has appeared in this season, having compiled a career-high seven sacks to this point in 2020. His addition to the Steelers Defense solidifies the group as one of the top defensive units in fantasy, one that should undoubtedly be rostered in a favorable matchup against Washington this week.

From RotoBaller

A.J. Brown Dec 5 12:00pm ET

Tennessee Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown has put his explosive ability on display with eight receiving touchdowns in his last eight games, and Tennessee's top option in the passing game will look to get back into the end zone in Week 13 against a Browns team that has allowed 13 touchdowns to wide receivers this season. The team leader in target share could be in for a monster day against weaker Browns Defense. He's a low-end WR1 this week, though his range of outcomes is probably wider than most WR1 options. He could very well see top 5 value if the game script falls in his favor.

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Corey Davis Dec 5 12:00pm ET

Tennessee Titans wide receiver Corey Davis has racked up at least 67 yards in six of his nine appearances for the Titans this season, and he'll continue to serve as the team's No. 2 receivers behind A.J. Brown when the Browns come to town in Week 13. Davis has quietly established something of a decent fantasy floor as the team's secondary option behind Brown. He should be in the high-end WR3 conversation next week against the Browns.

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Ryan Tannehill Dec 5 11:50am ET

Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill picked up his 23rd passing touchdown and second rushing touchdown last week, and he'll be relied upon to lead Tennessee's offense in Week 13 against a Browns Defense that's right around league average against the pass while ranking a bit tougher against the run. Tannehill has a sneaky great matchup as the passing attack should be more heavily featured. The Browns will likely try to shut down Derrick Henry first. He'll be a borderline QB1 and a solid play in DFS.

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Derrick Henry Dec 5 11:50am ET

Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry exploded for three touchdowns in last week's blowout win. He's been running as a man possessed. The Titans host a Browns team that's limiting opponents to 108 yards per game on the ground, but that should be no issues for Henry who is in mid-season stride. Titans coach Mike Vrabel has also said the team has to "be able to throw the ball" to Derrick Henry more. If he's to see more targets via the passing attack, this could bode well for Henry's owners who already have been enjoying an amazing season from him. He's a locked and loaded RB1, and should see 25+ touches again in week 13.

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Cincinnati Bengals Dec 5 11:20am ET

The Cincinnati Bengals Defense is not worth starting this week against a Dolphins squad that has a capable QB in Ryan Fitzpatrick. In nine of 11 games this season, this unit has allowed at least 20 points and features no elite names. Add in the fact that this unit ranks near the bottom of the league in many defensive categories, and it means the Cincy defense is best left on waivers.

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Randy Bullock Dec 5 11:20am ET

Cincinnati Bengals kicker Randy Bullock is better left on the bench this week. The kicker is coming off a miserable performance just a couple of weeks ago with two missed field goals and a missed extra point. On the season, Bullock has gone for 21-for-25 in field goals and 23-for-24 in extra points. The Dolphins allow the fewest points to fantasy kickers, making Bullock a risky choice this week.

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Drew Sample Dec 5 11:10am ET

Cincinnati Bengals tight end Drew Sample is not a starting option this week. Sample has gotten 40 and 29 yards along with nine total targets the past two weeks, but his role has been inconsistent all season. Look no further than several games where he posted little to no yards. Add in a backup QB and a generally small role in this offense, and Sample is best left on waivers.

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Tee Higgins Dec 5 11:00am ET

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins is a solid flex play this week against the Dolphins. Higgins has seen at least five targets in all 10 games played this season. He has also gotten at least 60 yards in six of 10 games. In the past two games, Higgins hasn't eclipsed more than 44 yards, so it still shows a bit of inconsistency. Nevertheless, the rookie's role in this offense is growing, so he's worth a flex versus a Miami team that is middle-tier against fantasy wideouts.

From RotoBaller

Isaiah Coulter Dec 5 11:00am ET

While the matchup isn't great against the Indianapolis Colts, Houston Texans wide receiver Isaiah Coulter has appeal in some formats this week under the assumption that he'll take over as the team's second outside receiver now that Will Fuller V is suspended. Coulter -- who had been on the IR with a neck injury -- has never appeared in an NFL game, but necessity will get him on the field this week barring an injury setback. If you need to take a big swing in a 16-team league or want to get weird with things in DFS, Coulter's got intrigue.

From RotoBaller

A.J. Green Dec 5 11:00am ET

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green is a very risky play this week. After a couple of solid games in October, Green has regressed. The WR has seen 17 targets in the past three games but has only managed four receptions for 41 yards total in those three games. In two of the past three games, the veteran has no yards receiving at all. With a backup QB now starting along with the fact that Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins have risen above him on the depth chart, Green is better left on the bench this week.

From RotoBaller

Giovani Bernard Dec 5 10:50am ET

Cincinnati Bengals running back Giovani Bernard is worth RB3 consideration this week. Bernard has been the lead back on the Bengals for a bit now but has only gotten more than 40 rushing yards once in the past five games. The RB provides modest value in the passing game too and he has seen at least five targets in three of the past five games but only more than 40 receiving yards in one of those last five games. The Dolphins are middle-of-the-pack against fantasy backs, so Bernard is certainly worth considering this week given his larger role.

From RotoBaller

Mark Andrews Dec 5 10:50am ET

We still don't know the status of Baltimore Ravens tight end Mark Andrews for Tuesday's contest against the Dallas Cowboys, as he remains on the COVID list. It's possible if Andrews will be able to play Tuesday if he was asymptomatic and is cleared to return, though if he showed COVID symptoms, the return window is extended and he'd be unable to play. Dallas struggles defensively, so if Andrews plays, you should treat him as a TE1, but with so much uncertainty about his status, you might want to have a backup option, whether that be a Ravens backup tight end or someone on the Cowboys.

From RotoBaller

Tyler Boyd Dec 5 10:50am ET

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd is a WR3 this week against Miami. Boyd has seen at least seven targets in nine of 11 games but has been a bit inconsistent in terms of weekly yardage. It's worth noting Boyd has over 50 yards in seven of 11 games, so this makes him a solid start this week against a Dolphins squad that is middle-tier against fantasy wideouts.

From RotoBaller

Brandon Allen Dec 5 10:40am ET

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Brandon Allen is not a viable starter this week against the Dolphins. The new backup QB had 136 yards with one touchdown and one interception last week in his first game as a starter and with only one game's worth of sample size, it would be hard to trust him this week. Keep Allen on waivers.

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Marquise Brown Dec 5 10:40am ET

Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Marquise Brown had gone through weeks of struggle heading into Week 12's meeting with the Steelers, averaging 1.5 catch for 13.8 yards per game over a four game stretch. Yikes. But with backup quarterbacks playing, Brown finally looked like the player he was drafted to be, catching four passes for 85 yards and a touchdown. He might be back to being irrelevant in Week 13, especially if Lamar Jackson is back at quarterback, but the Cowboys Defense has struggled against the pass, giving Brown some solid upside. You shouldn't trust him as more than a WR4 play, but there is a decently high ceiling here.

From RotoBaller

Logan Thomas Dec 5 10:40am ET

Washington Football Team tight end Logan Thomas has been better for fantasy in recent weeks but has a brutal matchup in Pittsburgh for Week 13. The Steelers allow the fewest fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends and Thomas has struggled to put up fantasy points when he doesn't find the end zone. Thomas has eclipsed 60 yards in a game just twice this season as he's been very touchdown-dependant. Thomas is a risky play for this matchup and most fantasy managers should be able to find a better streaming tight end on waivers.

From RotoBaller

Gus Edwards Dec 5 10:30am ET

Baltimore Ravens running back Gus Edwards got a crack at the lead back role in Week 12 with J.K. Dobbins and Mark Ingram II on the COVID list. He responded with 10 yards on nine carries, though he did find the end zone once. Edwards has finished with two yards per carry or fewer in four of the last six games, and while he continues to get some red zone work, the fact that Justice Hill had the same number of carries as him last week shows just how limited his upside is. Even against a Cowboys Defense allowing the second-most rushing yards in the league, Edwards is a touchdown-dependent RB4.

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Alex Smith Dec 5 10:30am ET

Washington Football Team quarterback Alex Smith has been held under 200 passing yards two straight weeks and now faces a brutal matchup with the Steelers. Pittsburgh allows the fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season meaning Smith will have an uphill battle to finish as a start-worthy QB in fantasy. Smith has just three touchdown passes in four starts this season and offers no rushing upside. Smith should be avoided in fantasy this week if at all possible.

From RotoBaller