In this Jan. 12, 2002, file photo, Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden greets fans in the "Black Hole" after the Raiders beat the New York Jets 38-24 during the AFC Wildcard playoff NFL football game in Oakland, Calif. The Raiders' final scheduled game in Oakland on Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019, will be an emotional one for players and coaches, as well as fans. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)
This Nov. 3, 2019, file photo, shows a general view of RingCentral Coliseum during the first half of an NFL football game between the Oakland Raiders and the Detroit Lions in Oakland, Calif. The Raiders' final scheduled game in Oakland on Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019, will be an emotional one for players and coaches, as well as fans. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew (15) scrambles away from Los Angeles Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa, left, as he looks for a receiver during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Josh Allen (41) celebrates after he and teammates sacked Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Just a few weeks ago it looked as if the final regular-season game in Oakland could be an important one in the playoff chase for the Raiders and Jacksonville.
Recent slumps by both teams have ended all that talk, leaving the farewell to the Coliseum as the only meaningful story line when the Raiders (6-7) host the Jaguars (4-9) on Sunday in their final home game before moving to Las Vegas next season.
''It's hard right now to really think about what it's going to be like stepping in there for the last time ever,'' Raiders coach Jon Gruden said. ''The last time of the season is one thing, the last time ever really hits a tone with me and I'm sure a lot of people.''
The Raiders come into the game having lost three in a row, all by at least 21 points, and are all but eliminated from playoff contention. The Jaguars' skid is even longer; they are the first team in 33 years to lose five straight by at least 17 points.
But for Sunday, the focus will be on the end of an era in Oakland.
The Raiders have been through dress rehearsals for this a couple of times in recent years, with home finales in 2015 that was also Charles Woodson's final home game and last year serving as possible farewell games before the team ended up staying in Oakland just a bit longer.
But with the stadium in Las Vegas on target to open next summer, this time it should be for real.
''I guess you erase those memories and take on these ones I guess because all of the players that have played here, this organization's history, all of those things,'' quarterback Derek Carr said. ''I was here for 'C-Wood's' last game. There was some pretty cool memories that I have just of my own being on the team, but I think this one will rank right up there. I expect it to be crazy and loud and all those kinds of things.''
Jaguars coach Doug Marrone was drafted by the Raiders in 1986 when the team was in Los Angeles but never played for the franchise. But he still enjoyed his visits to Oakland when he was with the Jets and Buffalo, especially when he got to visit with late owner Al Davis.
Marrone remembers being razzed by fans and how intense the environment could be and will make sure his players are prepared.
''We tried to give them a sense of and when I say crazy atmosphere, I mean that in a very positive sense,'' he said. ''We talked about the locker room and we've talked about it. I think it will be an emotional day for a lot of people there. ... There will be a lot of emotion knowing that finally, I know last year they went through it a little bit, but the finality of it being the last game for sure.''
While the Jaguars haven't been to Oakland in six years and many of their players have no experience at the Coliseum, some veterans are looking forward to being part of the celebration on Sunday.
''The fans come early and get all dressed up and they use intimidation tactics and they talk trash. It's definitely fun,'' defensive lineman Calais Campbell said. ''I grew up in Denver so I grew up in the division, so I know a lot about the Black Hole. It's definitely exciting, especially with the history and this being the last game there. You try to play spoiler.''
The Jaguars credit one team with doing the most to land them standout defensive end Josh Allen: the Raiders. The Jags had done countless mock drafts, and just a couple of those netted Allen with the seventh-overall pick. They figured the only chance they had was if the Raiders chose someone off the radar. Oakland went with Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell with the fourth selection, allowing Allen to fall to Jacksonville.
''We wish we could have taken Josh and Clelin,'' Gruden said with a laugh. ''It was a tough decision, and I know Jacksonville's got a good young player there that's a great kid, too.''
Allen leads all rookies with nine sacks and is a defensive cornerstone of the franchise's pending rebuild.
''I could have ended up anywhere,'' Allen said. ''I could have ended up falling. I could have been No. 1, No. 2. I could have been anywhere. I'm glad I'm here and I'm thankful to be here.''
THIRD QUARTER WOES
The Raiders have had major problems coming out of halftime this season. Oakland has been outscored 98-20 in the third quarter for the worst scoring margin in the league, 30 points worse than Cincinnati. The entire second half has been an issue of late for Oakland. The Raiders have scored only one TD on 24 drives in the second half the past four games and are averaging a league-worst 1.14 points per drive in the second half in that span.
''I don't know what we're drinking or what we're eating at halftime or what we're saying, but we've got to do a better job,'' Gruden said.
WEST COAST WOES
Jacksonville has two wins in 14 trips to the West Coast, with both victories coming in Oakland. The Jaguars are winless in Seattle, San Francisco, San Diego and Los Angeles. But they're 2-3 against the Raiders, winning there in 1997 and in the 2004 season finale. Scoring has been an issue with each of Jacksonville's cross-country trips. The Jags have averaged 13.6 points in five games at the Oakland Coliseum.
The Raiders have taken losses at safety with rookie Johnathan Abram going down with a season-ending shoulder injury in the opener and then losing Karl Joseph to a season-ending injury last month. Oakland brought in D.J. Swearinger in to fill the void but that didn't work out and he was released this week. Now the Raiders might move cornerback Daryl Worley to safety, which would create an opportunity to get a better look at younger cornerbacks like Trayvon Mullen, Isaiah Johnson and Nick Nelson.
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Josh McCown spoke with head coach Doug Pederson about a potential role on the coaching staff, but McCown isn't ready to retire just yet. The veteran QB came out of retirement last August to sign a one-year deal with the Eagles. He's currently recovering from a torn hamstring that he suffered in the wild-card loss to the Seahawks. McCown threw only five passes during the regular season and served as a de facto player/coach as Carson Wentz's backup. He has some potential as a future offensive coordinator, but it's unlikely he would immediately be considered as Mike Groh's successor in Philly. Wherever McCown is playing in 2020, he'll strictly be a backup and won't have any fantasy value.
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (knee) was a limited participant in practice on Wednesday. Kelce will be just fine to suit up on Feb. 2 against the 49ers in the Super Bowl. He was the top fantasy tight end in 2019 and hasn't slowed down in the postseason, catching 13 of 16 targets for 164 yards and three touchdowns against the Texans and Titans. Most of that production came in the Divisional Round when he had 10 grabs for 134 yards and three scores, but Kelce can go off at any time and could be the X-factor in the Super Bowl in two weeks.
San Francisco 49ers running back Tevin Coleman (shoulder) was unable to practice on Wednesday, but the team remains hopeful that he will be available for the Super Bowl against the Chiefs. The team didn't practice on Wednesday, but they were required to submit an estimated practice report. Coleman dislocated his right shoulder in the first half of the NFC Championship against the Packers and played just eight snaps. If he's active for the Super Bowl, Coleman will split snaps with Raheem Mostert, who ran for over 200 yards and four touchdowns against the Packers. Matt Breida will be the No. 3 back.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry (hip), who had a career-high 1,174 receiving yards and six touchdowns on his way to his fifth Pro Bowl selection in six years, said he played the entire 2019 season with a hip injury. "I'm good. I'm good," Landry said. "Just in this recovery process, this rehab process to make sure I can get back to my 100 percent self." The good news is that Landry won't require surgery on his hip in the offseason, and he should be fully healthy in 2020 under new head coach Kevin Stefanski. Cleveland's offense struggled to find consistency last season, but Landry was a consistent bright spot next to Odell Beckham Jr. He should once again be a rock-solid WR2 for owners in PPR leagues.
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning will hold a news conference on Friday to announce his retirement, according to sources. The writing has been on the wall for Manning after the Giants replaced him with rookie Daniel Jones during the 2019 season. The 39-year-old former first overall pick played in just four games for the G-Men in his 16th and final NFL season. Manning will finish his career with a 60.3 completion percentage, 57,023 passing yards, 366 touchdowns and 244 interceptions. He'll best be known for besting Tom Brady and the Patriots twice in the Super Bowl. Manning's best season came in 2011 when he threw for 4,933 yards, 29 TDs and 16 picks.
Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones (calf) should have a bigger role in the Super Bowl against the 49ers after playing just 28 of a possible 66 defensive snaps in the AFC Championship due to a strained calf. "I think he feels pretty good," head coach Andy Reid said. "He didnt have a setback so that was good." That's bad news for a 49ers offense that is expected to run the ball often in the big game. Jones had 36 total tackles (23 solo), nine sacks, one forced fumble and a fumble recovery in 13 games played this season. Controlling the line of scrimmage will be paramount if Kansas City hopes to slow San Francisco's ground game.
Baltimore Ravens running back Mark Ingram (calf) said that his calf is "really good." "(I was) trying to be ready for divisional. Felt good but we just werent able to pull it out," Ingram said. Ingram was hurt in Week 16, sat out of Week 17 and had just six carries for 22 yards in the Divisional Round loss to the Titans. He was more than effective for fantasy owners in his first season in Baltimore, going for his third 1,000-yard season while also scoring 15 total touchdowns (10 rushing, five receiving). Gus Edwards and Justice Hill are more than capable of splitting the workload without Ingram, but he'll continue to carry the load in 2020 as a touchdown-dependent RB2.
Miami Dolphins general manager Chris Grier said he "fully expects" quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to return to the team in 2020. The Dolphins are expected to take a quarterback in the first round of this year's draft at No. 5 overall, with Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa the most likely outcome. However, Fitz played so well in 2019 that the Dolphins wouldn't mind having him under center for one more year while a rookie learns behind him. The 37-year-old journeyman gunslinger completed 62 percent of his passes for 3,529 yards, 20 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 15 games in 2019. While he can go off for big games based on the opponent, Fitz won't be anything more than a QB2 streamer if he's starting games for the Dolphins in 2020.
New Orleans Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said the team wants quarterback Drew Brees back as long as he wants to keep playing. "No different than its been the last few years, even though hes technically a free agent. "Its easy to take him for granted yet I dont take him for granted," Loomis said. Despite just turning 41 years old, Brees still has some juice left in the tank. He played in just 11 games due to a freak finger injury in 2019, but he still completed 74.3 percent of his passes for 2,979 yards, 27 touchdowns and four interceptions. The ceiling won't be as high if Brees returns for another season, but he'll still have QB1 upside in the right matchups, mainly at home in the Superdome if he re-signs with the Saints.
Washington Redskins quarterback Case Keenum believes he's still capable of being a starter in the NFL, but he's not expecting to return to Washington in 2020 with Dwayne Haskins in the picture. The Redskins drafted Haskins with the 15th overall pick in 2019 for a reason. The soon-to-be 32-year-old signal-caller was impressed with the progress that Haskins made toward the end of the season. "I think Dwayne did an incredible job towards the end of the season, adapting and getting a lot better," Keenum said. "I think it's his team moving forward." Haskins has some nice weapons in Terry McLaurin, Steven Sims Jr. and Derrius Guice, but he won't be seen as anything more than an upside QB2 in fantasy drafts this fall.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Demarcus Robinson (illness) won't practice on Wednesday, according to head coach Andy Reid. Robinson should have plenty of time to get healthy for the Super Bowl against the 49ers in two weeks. Aside from a huge six-catch, 172-yard, two-touchdown performance against the Raiders back on Sept. 15, Robinson has done very little this year and is buried on the receiver depth chart behind Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins and Mecole Hardman. In the two postseason games against the Texans and Titans, Robinson has only three catches on six targets for 35 yards. He's a long shot to return any kind of value in the Super Bowl.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Shaquil Barrett said that he's hoping to remain with the team moving forward. "I dont know where its going to end up at but Im confident that Im going to be where I should be, which I think is Tampa," Barrett said. Things couldn't have gone any better for Barrett in his first year with the Bucs in 2019, as he led the NFL with 19.5 sacks after never having more than 5.5 sacks in a single season in his four years with the Broncos. He also added 58 total tackles (45 solo), six forced fumbles and one interception during his career year. Barrett is set to become a free agent in March, but it's unlikely that Tampa lets him get away.
New England Patriots safety Devin McCourty, who will be a free agent in March, intends to play in 2020, whether it's in New England or elsewhere. The Patriots project to have $28 million in salary cap space for 2020. Despite being 32 years old, McCourty is still an impact defender and allowed a completion percentage of 54.3 in 2019. His 65 straight starts also marks the third longest active streak by a defensive back, according to ESPN Stats and Information. McCourty had an interception in each of the first four games of the season. Time will tell if the Patriots bring back their eight-time captain, but McCourty could be effective in 2020 if he's forced to play elsewhere.
New England Patriots impending free-agent FS Devin McCourty intends to play in 2020.
Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford (back, hip) is 'pretty much at full health,' according to GM Bob Quinn, who adds that the team is 'totally happy and comfortable' with Stafford as their starting quarterback in 2020.
Fantasy Spin: Stafford was playing very good football prior to getting injured and looking like a borderline QB1. Assuming everything progresses as planned with his recovery he'd make a nice backup fantasy quarterback that can step in as needed.
Impending free-agent TE Hunter Henry is believed to be a candidate for the transition tag if he and the Los Angeles Chargers can't reach a long-term agreement before the start of free agency, according to sources via Pro Football Network's Tony Pauline.
Updating a previous report, former Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden verbally accepted the Jacksonville Jaguars' offer to become their next offensive coordinator Tuesday, Jan. 21.
The Jacksonville Jaguars plan to hire former Redskins head coach Jay Gruden as their next offensive coordinator, according to sources. A deal isn't officially done, but the Jaguars are very close to adding Gruden in the role. The biggest question for Jacksonville's offense heading into the 2020 season will be who is the starter under center, Nick Foles or Gardner Minshew. Leonard Fournette can be an effective bell-cow back in the backfield if he can stay healthy, while the Jags have a nice three-receiver mix in place of D.J. Chark, Dede Westbrook and Chris Conley. The Jaguars finished 2019 with 341.8 yards per game, 235 passing yards per game, 106.8 rushing yards per game and only 18.8 points per game. Gruden's addition is good news for this very mediocre offense across the board.
Free-agent TE Evan Baylis (Packers), OT Cody Conway (Packers), RB Damarea Crockett (Packers), CB Kabion Ento (Packers), TE James Looney (Packers), LB Randy Ramsey (Packers), WR Darrius Shepherd (Packers), QB Manny Wilkins (Packers) and LB Tim Williams (Packers) signed Reserve/Future contracts with the Green Bay Packers Tuesday, Jan. 21. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Jacksonville Jaguars general manager David Caldwell seems confident that the team will re-sign defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, who is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in March. Jacksonville wants Ngakoue back, and Caldwell said something "should be done hopefully relatively easily." He'd become one of the top pass rushers available if he hits the open market after logging 37.5 sacks, 85 quarterback hits and 42 tackles for loss in 63 games since being a third-round pick in 2016. Retaining Ngakoue is the top priority for the Jaguars this offseason as they look to build their defense back up around the ferocious pass rusher.