Wed Dec 11 4:50pm ET
By DAVID GINSBURG
AP Sports Writer
Baltimore Ravens linebacker Chris Board, center, is helped after being injured during the first half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park, N.Y., Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)
New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (14) walks off the field after the Jets beat the Miami Dolphins 22-21 in an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) carries the ball during the second half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park, N.Y., Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)
New York Jets cornerback Nate Hairston (21) reacts with teammates after intercepting a pass intended for Miami Dolphins wide receiver Allen Hurns (17) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
BALTIMORE (AP) The Ravens have defeated several of the best teams in the NFL during their nine-game winning streak, so it would appear as if the New York Jets shouldn't pose much of a challenge Thursday night when Baltimore seeks to clinch its second straight AFC North title.
That's how the oddsmakers see it, anyway. The Ravens (11-2) are a two-touchdown favorite because, after all, they own the best record in the AFC and the Jets (5-8) haven't beat a team that currently owns a winning record.
Yet, Baltimore coach John Harbaugh isn't quite ready to distribute shirts and caps that read ''2019 AFC NORTH CHAMPIONS.'' As far as he's concerned, New York is every bit as dangerous as New England, Seattle, San Francisco and Buffalo - teams the Ravens defeated during their team-record nine-game run.
''They're playing great. They won four of the last five, that's the bottom line,'' Harbaugh said of the Jets. ''That's what we talked to the guys about. That's all you need to know. Watch the tape. They're playing winning football. We understand that. We know this league. Our guys don't take anybody for granted. You never can, you never should.''
The Ravens come in with the most prolific running attack in the NFL. Led by Lamar Jackson, who's only 23 yards short of setting the single-season record for yards rushing by a quarterback (1,039 by Michael Vick in 2006), Baltimore is grounding out an average of 200.9 yards per game.
The Jets are allowing only 75.6 yards rushing per outing, which might make things interesting.
''All helmets to the ball,'' Jackson said. ''It's going to be a physical game.''
Jackson is nursing a sore quadriceps, but New York's defense will nevertheless be pressed to keep up with the league's highest-scoring team.
''They're playing fast. They're playing aggressive,'' Jets coach Adam Gase said. ''They're full throttle, pedal to the medal the whole game.''
New York dropped from No. 1 to No. 2 in rushing defense after giving up 122 yards to Miami last Sunday, but the Jets have allowed a league-low 3.03 yards per carry. Their 98 tackles for no gain or negative yards - excluding kneeldowns - lead the NFL, according to Radar360.
The Jets have allowed only one individual 100-yard rusher all season: Dallas' Ezekiel Elliott in Week 6. But they'll have a tough task against Jackson, who's topped the 100-yard mark four times.
''He can make you miss in a phone booth,'' Gase said.
Ravens running back Mark Ingram also has four 100-yard games.
Former Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley probably had this game circled on his calendar during training camp. Mosley signed with the Jets as a free agent in March after spending five seasons with Baltimore, earning four Pro Bowl bids in the process.
Mosley won't be participating on Thursday night because he's on injured reserve with a groin injury. The 2014 first-round draft pick will not be missed by his former teammates.
''He's not playing, and that's good for us,'' cornerback Jimmy Smith said. ''He was a good player -- a great player -- for us, but stay on the sideline.''
Jets quarterback Sam Darnold and wide receiver Robby Anderson are establishing a solid connection late in the season for a second straight year.
Anderson has 18 catches for 303 yards and two touchdowns in his past three games. That includes a seven-reception performance against Miami, during which he had 116 yards and a score.
Anderson finished last season with a flourish, too. He had 23 catches for 336 yards and three touchdowns in his last four games.
''Robby's always been a really good asset for us on offense,'' Darnold said. ''He's obviously super, super fast and sometimes teams struggle to guard him. He affects the game even when he's not having as many yards as he has been the last few weeks.''
Ravens left tackle Ronnie Stanley was listed as doubtful on Wednesday because of a concussion and could miss his first game of the season. James Hurst will take his place.
Baltimore will also be without special teams standout Chris Board (concussion), and leading receiver Mark Andrews (knee) is questionable.
The Jets will be without offensive lineman Chuma Edoga (knee), tight end Ryan Griffin (ankle), cornerback Brian Poole (concussion) and running back Bilal Powell (ankle/illness).
Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (hamstring/knee), cornerback Arthur Maulet (calf) and safety Jamal Adams (ankle) are doubtful.
The Jets have used five different starting combinations at cornerback and safety this season because of injuries and ineffectiveness by some players.
Adams sat out for the first time in his three-year NFL career last week, forcing the Jets to place cornerback Darryl Roberts at safety along with Marcus Maye.
Roberts might be needed at cornerback against Baltimore because of Kyron Brown - last Sunday's starter - is out for the year with a quadriceps injury and Maulet could be sidelined for a second straight game.
''The way we prepare throughout the week, we do a good job of cross-training at different spots,'' said Maye, the only member of the secondary to start every game. ''We come prepared.''
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who will be a free agent in March, plans to return to the Saints if he comes back for a 20th season in the NFL. "I have never been in the situation where I was mulling over the thought of [returning]," Brees said. "To me, each one of these contracts, I don't know how many it's been with the Saints, I've played with them 14 years, it's not a matter of if it gets done, it's when. At this stage of my career, it's not a given that I'm coming back every year, but when that time comes, I'll always be a Saint." Despite diminished arm strength, Brees was one of the best quarterbacks when he returned from his thumb injury last season. He may no longer have sky-high QB1 upside for fantasy owners, but Brees will at least be a midrange QB1 target next season if he returns to New Orleans, which is what is expected.
Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt was pulled over and cited during a traffic stop in Rocky River, Ohio on Tuesday. Police pulled Hunt over for going 77 MPH in a 60 MPH zone and found small amounts of marijuana in three different locations in the car. The car was registered in Hunt's mother's name and he told officers that the drugs belonged to his brother. While the running back did not receive a drug charge during the stop, he could still be subject to discipline from the NFL. Hunt is a restricted free agent this offseason and has a chance to land elsewhere as a team's starting running back. This incident is only likely to be an issue in fantasy if the NFL decides to get involved.
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (knee) was back at practice on Friday. The Chiefs played it safe with Kelce and gave him some rest on Thursday, but he should be ready to rock in the Super Bowl against the 49ers on Feb. 2. He had a quiet game in the AFC Championship against the Titans but exploded for three touchdowns in the Divisional Round. Kelce was the top fantasy tight end in 2019 and could put up big numbers in the passing game against San Francisco in the Super Bowl if this game turns into a shootout.
Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst said it's his understanding that tight end Jimmy Graham wants to play in 2020. Graham is under contract for one more year for $8 million, which is the final year of his three-year contract. The 33-year-old has clearly lost a step at this point in his career, catching just 38 passes (60 targets) for 447 yards and three touchdowns in 2019 with the Packers. He's no longer the focal point in the passing game, and he's more of a low-end, touchdown-dependent TE2 in fantasy circles.
Free-agent wide receiver Antonio Brown was granted bail by a Broward County judge on Friday morning at $110,000 for a felony burglary with battery charge. Brown will be monitored by GPS and be required to release his passport and guns, go through drug and alcohol testing and get a mental-health evaluation. He's facing charges of felony burglary with battery, burglary of an unoccupied conveyance and criminal mischief stemming from an alleged assault of a moving-truck driver earlier this week. This isn't Brown's first run-in with the law, and all of his off-field issues virtually assure that no NFL team will take a chance on him moving forward.
Buffalo Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes (wrist) had surgery to fix torn ligaments in his wrist. Hughes revealed the injury after the playoff loss to the Texans in the wild-card round, and the league launched an investigation as to whether the Bills had violated the injury reporting policy since Hughes never appeared on the team's injury report with a wrist injury. Despite his wrist injury, Hughes didn't miss a game in 2019 and hasn't missed a single game since 2012. He recorded 23 total tackles (14 solo), 4.5 sacks and one fumble recovery for Buffalo's stout defense last season. Hughes should be recovered in time for training camp this summer.
Buffalo Bills DE Jerry Hughes (wrist) had surgery to repair torn ligaments in his wrist this week.
Miami Dolphins QB Josh Rosen hasn't been written off, according to general manager Chris Grier, and Grier said he saw improvement in Rosen during practice throughout the year.
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (knee) did not practice on Thursday after being limited on Wednesday. Mid-week downgrades aren't good, but we still have another full week before the Super Bowl on Feb. 2, so Kelce should be just fine to play in the big game against the 49ers. Wide receiver Demarcus Robinson (illness) returned to a full practice after sitting out on Wednesday. Although Kelce had just three catches for 30 yards in the AFC Championship against Tennessee, he busted out for 10 grabs, 134 yards and three touchdowns in the Divisional Round against Houston. Kelce was the top-scoring fantasy tight end in 2019 and could easily have a big game in the Super Bowl against San Francisco.
Free-agent WR Antonio Brown (Patriots) is expected to turn himself in to police but hadn't done so as of the afternoon of Thursday, Jan. 23, according to a public information officer for the Hollywood Police Department in Florida. 'I believe they've given him ample opportunity to turn himself in,'' Christian Lata told USA TODAY Sports. An arrest warrant was issued against Brown following an incident with a moving truck driver Tuesday, Jan. 21. 'I'm sure it's going to be within today or tomorrow, but I'm not sure exactly when,'' Lata said late Thursday afternoon. 'I would assume it would be sooner than later.''
Fantasy Spin: There's less and less reason to hold out hope of Brown finding his way onto an NFL roster and becoming fantasy relevant in 2020. Dynasty owners should be looking to move on.
San Francisco 49ers RB Tevin Coleman (shoulder) didn't participate in practice Thursday, Jan. 23.
Fantasy Spin: Coleman did some solo work as he recovers from a dislocated shoulder. Expect him to play in Super Bowl LIV Sunday, Feb. 2.
Kansas City Chiefs DT Chris Jones (calf) was a limited participant in practice Thursday, Jan. 23. CB Morris Claiborne (shoulder) and C Austin Reiter (wrist) practiced in full. DE Tanoh Kpassagnon (hand) was removed from the injury report. S Jordan Lucas (illness) didn't practice.
San Francisco 49ers WR Dante Pettis (illness) didn't participate in practice Thursday, Jan. 23. LB Kwon Alexander (pectoral), DL Dee Ford (quad, hamstring) and S Jaquiski Tartt (ribs) were limited. LB Dre Greenlaw (ankle) practiced in full.
Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce (knee) didn't participate in practice Thursday, Jan. 23.
Fantasy Spin: Kelce and the Chiefs have a long way to go until Super Bowl LIV Sunday, Feb. 2. He should be fully expected to be on the field.
Kansas City Chiefs WR Demarcus Robinson (illness) returned to a full practice Thursday, Jan. 23.
Fantasy Spin: Robinson has scored just one touchdown since Week 3, and he hasn't recorded 100 or more receiving yards since Week 2. He's a risky flier without a guaranteed role in the offense.
San Francisco 49ers RB Tevin Coleman (shoulder) was seen running on a side field ahead of the team's practice Thursday, Jan. 23.
Fantasy Spin: It appears Coleman will be able to suit up for Super Bowl LIV after dislocating his shoulder in the NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers. He'll continue splitting work with Raheem Mostert and, to a lesser degree, Matt Breida. Any or all of the three could have a big game, but it's Mostert with the hot hand following the NFC Championship.
Houston Texans CB Gareon Conley (ankle) recently underwent a procedure to have a screw removed from his right ankle but is expected to be recovered in full for the beginning of the team's offseason workout program, according to a league source Thursday, Jan. 23.
Oakland Raiders CB Nevin Lawson signed a one-year contract extension Thursday, Jan. 23. Financial terms of the deal weren't disclosed.
San Francisco 49ers running back Tevin Coleman (shoulder) is doing some running on a side field at the team's practice on Thursday. Despite sitting out of practice, Coleman appears very much in play to suit up for the Super Bowl against the Chiefs on Feb. 2. He suffered a dislocated right shoulder in the NFC Championship win over the Packers, but Coleman has an extra week to heal up and should be good to go for the big game. He will continue to serve as a change-of-pace back for Raheem Mostert, who ran for over 200 yards and four touchdowns against the Packers.
The Atlanta Falcons plan to tender a contract to impending exclusive-rights free-agent kicker Younghoe Koo. The 25-year-old place kicker solidified the team's kicking position in the final eight games of the season, making 23 of his 26 field-goal tries and 15 of his 16 extra points. Koo went 7-for-9 on kicks from 40-49 yards and hit his only attempt of 50-plus yards. While he should enter the 2020 season as the favorite to kick for Atlanta, the Falcons will also bring in some competition to push him. With an offense that can be explosive and put up points, Koo will have some fantasy appeal if he sticks around.