Thu Dec 6 4:58pm ET
By STEVEN WINE
AP Sports Writer
In this Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018 file photo, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick watches from the sideline in the first half of an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans in Nashville, Tenn. Although the New England Patriots have dominated the AFC East for the past decade, theyve lost four of their past five games in Miami heading into the matchup on Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018. The Patriots can clinch their 10th straight division title with a win. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski, File)
In this Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018 file photo, Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) looks to pass, during the second half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills in Miami Gardens, Fla. Although the New England Patriots have dominated the AFC East for the past decade, theyve lost four of their past five games in Miami heading into the matchup on Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018. The Patriots can clinch their 10th straight division title with a win.(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)
In this Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018 file photo, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady charges onto the field before an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings in Foxborough, Mass. Although the New England Patriots have dominated the AFC East for the past decade, theyve lost four of their past five games in Miami heading into Sundays matchup. The Patriots can clinch their 10th straight division title with a win. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)
MIAMI (AP) Ryan Tannehill was heading out the door when someone noted the predicted high temperature of 83 for Sunday's game between the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots.
''Not quite hot enough,'' Tannehill responded with a smile.
Turn up the heat. That's what the Dolphins tend to do when the Patriots play in Miami.
While New England has dominated Miami - and everyone else - in the AFC East over the past decade, the reverse has been true lately when the teams meet in South Florida.
The Dolphins have won four of the past five home meetings, including 27-20 last December when Jay Cutler outplayed Tom Brady.
Oddsmakers expect the trend to end, with New England (9-3) a touchdown favorite over Miami (6-6).
Here are things to know as the Patriots attempt to clinch their 10th consecutive division title:
TOUGH PLACE TO PLAY
In recent years the Patriots have had worse results in Miami than anywhere else, and New England coach Bill Belichick blames the Dolphins.
''They've got a good football team,'' he said. ''They've got a lot of good players.''
That's fine, coach, except that in Foxborough, your team has won 10 in a row against Miami by an average score of 33-13. That includes a 38-7 victory earlier this season. And in the standings, the Dolphins have been perennial also-rans to your dynasty.
Belichick and his players discount the South Florida climate as a factor, but it does favor the Dolphins, with teams from the north tending to wilt in the warm weather.
''Sometimes it hits some of these teams pretty hard,'' Miami coach Adam Gase said.
The bad news for the Dolphins is that forecasters don't anticipate the heavily favored Patriots will take the game lightly - not with the annoyance this week of constant questions about their recent results in Miami.
''The last few times we've played them down there, we haven't played very well,'' running back James White acknowledged, ''so I think that's enough motivation.''
After a quiet day when the teams met in September, Miami receiver Danny Amendola is itching for another crack at his former team, but he has been nursing a knee injury and missed last week's win over Buffalo.
Amendola became one of Brady's favorite targets during his five seasons in New England. He is in his first year with Miami after signing a $12 million, two-year contract and leads the team in catches and yards receiving.
Patriots safety Patrick Chung said Amendola was always a handful in practice.
''Danny's the man,'' Chung said. ''He's a small dude, but he's stronger than you think and he's feisty. He's going to be ready for us.''
Early this season, opponents took advantage of a New England defense that struggled to get pressure up front and was susceptible in the secondary to big plays.
The Patriots appear to be tightening up at the right time. They haven't allowed a 300-yard passer in five consecutive games, or a 100-yard rusher in nine consecutive games.
That's a vast improvement for a unit that gave up 30 or more points three times in the first seven games, including a season-high 40 in narrow win over Kansas City.
Belichick said the improvement is part of an evolving identity in the first season with linebackers coach Brian Flores making defensive calls.
Tannehill has a passer rating of 112.7 with five touchdowns and one interception in two games since returning from an injury to his throwing shoulder. The performances come amid growing speculation about whether the Dolphins will bring him back next season.
''I have a long way to go to get where I want to be,'' he said. ''I think I'm doing all right, but a lot of plays I'd like to be better at. I think we have a lot better football in front of us as an offense.''
Brady enters Sunday tied with Peyton Manning for the most touchdown passes in NFL history, including playoffs.
Manning and Brady both have 579 TD tosses, followed by Brett Favre (552) and Drew Brees (547). The 508 regular-season touchdown passes by Brady and Favre trail Manning (539) and Brees (518) on the career list.
The San Francisco 49ers agreed to terms on a three-year, $8.7 million deal with running back Raheem Mostert on Saturday, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. The deal will include $3 million guaranteed. Mostert spent the last two years with San Fran, compiling 40 rushing attempts, 291 yards and a touchdown in 20 games. He'll be buried on the depth chart behind Jerick McKinnon, Matt Breida and newly-signed Tevin Coleman, so Mostert is unlikely to have any fantasy value.
The Tennessee Titans released quarterback Blaine Gabbert after they traded for Ryan Tannehill on Friday. Gabbert's only season in Tennessee in 2018 saw him make three starts while filling in for an injured Marcus Mariota. Gabbert spent 2017 with the Cardinals, three in San Francisco before that and three years in Jacksonville after being drafted 10th overall in 2010. He'll only attract backup work on the open market.
The Jacksonville Jaguars signed free-agent wide receiver Chris Conley to an undisclosed deal on Saturday, according to NFL Network's Mike Garafolo. The team also signed offensive tackle Cedric Ogbuehi and linebacker Jake Ryan. Conley spent the first four years of his career with the Chiefs and started 34 of 53 games while catching 104 passes for 1,238 yards and six touchdowns. The 26-year-old will likely compete for a role with the Jags and won't be fantasy relevant.
The Atlanta Falcons agreed to terms on an undisclosed one-year deal with free-agent tight end Logan Paulsen on Saturday. Paulsen returns to Atlanta, where he had only nine catches for 91 yards and one touchdown in 15 games in his first season with the Falcons last year. He should not be on anyone's fantasy radar as mostly a blocking tight end behind pass-catcher Austin Hooper and Luke Stocker.
The Cincinnati Bengals re-signed tight end Tyler Eifert to an undisclosed one-year deal on Saturday, a source told NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. The 28-year-old former first-rounder has been hurt by injuries over the course of his six-year career in the NFL and has played in more than eight games in just two seasons. He missed the final 12 games in 2018 with a broken ankle, although he's expected to be ready for organized team activities this spring. Eifert played in only 14 games since his Pro Bowl season in 2015, and fantasy owners are now staying away from him altogether most likely. With C.J. Uzomah also re-signing, Eifert will have to prove to both the Bengals and fantasy owners that he can stay on the field.
The Washington Redskins are expected to sign free-agent cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to an undisclosed deal, a source informed of the situation told NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. DRC announced his retirement just five months ago but has decided to give it another go. He'll be reunited with former Giants teammate Landon Collins, so signed a six-year deal this week. Rodgers-Cromartie will turn 33 on April 7, and it's fair to wonder how much he has left physically. He has plenty of experience and is expected to offer cornerback depth on a team that also has Josh Norman.
The Oakland Raiders signed free-agent wide receiver J.J. Nelson to an undisclosed deal on Friday. Nelson spent the last four seasons with the Cardinals and caught 81 passes for 1,439 yards in 56 career games. The former fifth-rounder had his worst season in 2018, though, catching just seven passes for 64 yards and no scores in 14 games in Arizona's inept offense. The speedster does boast 17.8 yards per catch in his career and will provide another deep threat in Oakland alongside Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams after the team released veteran Jordy Nelson.
The Tennessee Titans acquired quarterback Ryan Tannehill from the Miami Dolphins on Friday and signed him to a one-year deal worth $7 million guaranteed and worth up to $12 million with incentives. The Dolphins will receive a seventh-round pick in this year's draft and a 2020 fourth-round pick in exchange. Tennessee will also get a 2019 sixth-rounder. Tannehill, a former eighth overall pick in 2012, never lived up to his draft status while going 42-46 over six seasons in Miami. He has a career 62.8 completion percentage and an 87 passer rating and will have zero fantasy appeal as Marcus Mariota's backup in his new digs. The rebuilding Dolphins are likely to look to the draft for their next signal-caller, especially after Teddy Bridgewater elected to re-sign with the Saints this week.
The Denver Broncos re-signed tight end Jeff Heuerman to a two-year deal worth up to $9 million on Friday, a source told NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. The former third-round pick in 2015 played in just 11 games due to injury last year and caught a career-high 31 passes for 281 yards and two touchdowns in his third NFL season. Unless the Broncos add to the position in the draft or free agency, Heuerman will likely be the starter at the position. New quarterback Joe Flacco has targeted tight ends often in his career, so Heuerman could be a TE2 deep sleeper this year.
The Cincinnati Bengals signed free-agent offensive guard John Miller to a three-year, $16.5 million deal on Friday, according to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero. Miller started 47 games the last four years at right guard with the Bills and will likely be viewed as an upgrade over Alex Redmond at the spot in 2019. Cincy also re-signed right tackle Brian Hart to a three-year deal earlier in the week to shore up their offensive line. Quarterbacks Andy Dalton and Jeff Driskel were sacked a combined 37 times last year.
The Jacksonville Jaguars signed free-agent tight end Geoff Swaim to an undisclosed deal on Friday. Ben Koyack and Pharoah McKever are the only other tight ends on roster as of now, so Swaim could become a big part of the offense in 2019. A seventh-round pick by the Cowboys in 2015, Swaim has 35 career catches for 336 yards and one touchdown in four seasons. He caught a career-high 26 passes for 242 yards and a score last year. Quarterback Nick Foles and offensive coordinator John DeFilippo have leaned on the tight end in the past, but Swaim is still likely to be more of a fantasy afterthought.
The New York Jets signed free-agent kicker Chandler Catanzaro to an undisclosed deal on Friday. Catanzaro spent the 2017 season with Gang Green before spending time with the Panthers and Buccaneers last year. He made a career-low 73 percent of his field-goal tries in 13 games in 2018, including going 2-for-2 from 50-plus yards. He represents a downgrade from Pro Bowler Jason Myers a year ago and can be avoided for fantasy purposes.
Updating an immediate report, Cleveland Browns RB Kareem Hunt will not appeal his eight-game suspension.
The NFL has suspended Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt for eight games for violating its personal conduct policy. Hunt violated the personal conduct policy while he was a member of the Kansas City Chiefs, which led to his release in November. The Browns took a chance on the running back, signing him to a one-year contract in February. While Hunt is suspended, running backs Nick Chubb and Duke Johnson will be asked to lead the backfield, although there have been persistent rumors that the team would like to trade Johnson. When he does return from suspension, Hunt's role in the team's backfield is unclear.
Cleveland Browns RB Kareem Hunt was suspended eight games Friday, March 15, for violating the personal conduct policy, according to a source.
Fantasy Spin: Hunt can still appeal the ruling, but he's gone for 75 percent of the fantasy season in a lot of leagues. You're really going to have to be lucky avoiding the injury bug if you're going to carry him as an RB5 all season. There is obvious risk of rust and obvious reward for the latter part of the season and playoffs. Nick Chubb will be an RB2 or RB3 in Hunt's stead.
Free-agent PK Chandler Catanzaro (Panthers) signed an undisclosed deal with the New York Jets Friday, March 15.
Free-agent DT Steve McLendon re-signed with the New York Jets on Thursday, March 14, agreeing to an undisclosed contract.
Free-agent WR Chris Hogan (Patriots) and his representatives have been in contact with the New York Giants, according to a source.
Free-agent S Eric Berry has reportedly been told he should be able to play through the ankle problems that plagued him in 2018, according to NFL Network's Mike Garafolo.
Free-agent LB Shaquil Barrett (Broncos) visited with the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday, March 14.