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.
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle and wide receiver Deebo Samuel combined for just three catches for 65 yards in the NFC Championship victory against the Green Bay Packers. Samuel added two rushes for 43 yards. The Niners opened up the game with a dominant running attack and a 27-0 lead, resulting in quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo attempting just eight passes. While the stat sheet was underwhelming, both aerial playmakers made the most of their opportunities, picking up chunk gains on each touch. With the vaunted Kansas City Chiefs offense on deck, the Niners will conceivably need to throw the ball more in the Super Bowl.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders failed to record a catch in the NFC Championship blowout win against the Green Bay Packers. With quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo attempting just eight passes, Sanders saw only a single target. The clear third option in a low-volume passing game behind standout rookie wideout Deebo Samuel and tight end George Kittle, Sanders has just two catches in the playoffs. Hell likely be tasked with more work in the Super Bowl against the Kansas City Chiefs.
San Francisco 49ers running back Raheem Mostert exploded for 220 yards and four touchdowns on 29 carries against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship. He also caught two passes for six yards. Mostert was unstoppable on Sunday, converting three rushing scores of 36, nine and 18 in the first half. He capped his evening with a 22-yard touchdown in the third quarter. The fifth-year breakout player was the star in the Niners easy 37-20 victory and will again lead the backfield into the Super Bowl in two weeks against the Kansas City Chiefs.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo completed just six of eight passes for 77 yards and no scores in the NFC Championship against the Green Bay Packers. Garoppolo had little to do but watch running back Raheem Mostert annihilate the Packers rush defense for 220 yards and four scores. With two consecutive easy victories in the playoffs, Jimmy G has attempted just 27 passes this postseason. Sledding will surely get tougher in the Super Bowl against the red-hot Kansas City Chiefs.
San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said that running back Tevin Coleman (shoulder) suffered a dislocated right shoulder in the NFC Championship win over the Packers on Sunday. Coleman had his shoulder popped back into place and Shanahan thinks that Coleman has a chance to play in the Super Bowl in two weeks. Only time will tell if the 26-year-old will be able to play against Kansas City. He ran the ball six times for 21 yards before his injury and had a season-high 22 totes for 105 yards and two touchdowns in the Divisional win over the Vikings. Even if Coleman plays, he'll be second fiddle to Raheem Mostert, who ran for over 200 yards and four scores against Green Bay. Matt Breida would spell Mostert in the backfield if Coleman doesn't gain clearance.
There has been buzz that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a possible landing spot for Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, who will become a free agent in March. After his worst season since 2007, the aging gunslinger is unlikely to re-sign with the Bolts, and he recently moved his family from San Diego to Florida to be closer to his extended family in Alabama. The 38-year-old might have a year or two left of football in him if he continues to play, but the 2019 season showed that he's near the end of the line. Rivers would only be an option for Tampa if they choose not to bring Jameis Winston back for at least another season after he led all of football in passing yards last season.
Houston Texans defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel has been fired, and defensive line coach Anthony Weaver has been promoted in his place, according to league sources. Houston's defense was a liability for most of the year, especially their leaky secondary. The Texans allowed 51 points and seven straight touchdown drives to the Chiefs in the Divisional Round loss. During the 2019 season, Houston's defense allowed 388.3 yards per game (fifth worst), 267.3 passing yards per game (fourth worst), 121.1 rushing yards a game and 24.1 points per game. Getting J.J. Watt back healthy for a full season will be a start to the Texans rebounding on defense under Weaver.
The Carolina Panthers hired former Baylor defensive coordinator Phil Snow as their new defensive coordinator on Monday. Snow oversaw the defenses for Matt Rhule at both Baylor and Temple. He has 37 years of college coaching experience and has also served as a defensive coordinator at UCLA, Washington, Arizona State and Boise State. Snow coached four seasons in the NFL with the Lions from 2005 to 2008 when he worked with the team's linebackers. Snow will lead a Carolina defense in 2020 that will be without All-Pro linebacker Luke Kuechly, who recently announced his retirement from football.
Houston Texans defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel is not expected back in 2020. Defensive line coach Anthony Weaver is the top candidate to replace him.
Updating a previous report, San Francisco 49ers RB Tevin Coleman (shoulder) has a 'good chance' to be available for the Super Bowl, according to head coach Kyle Shanahan.
Updating a previous report, Green Bay Packers CB Jaire Alexander (thumb) suffered a broken thumb during the team's NFC Championship Game loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Alexander is hopeful he won't need to undergo surgery.
The Green Bay Packers Defense recorded one sack and allowed 37 points in a loss to the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers steamrolled past Green Bay's unit for 285 rushing yards and four rushing scores. To make matters worse, they couldn't generate much pressure or any turnovers. Despite the disappointing end, the Packers defense was much improved from last year, ranking 15th in sacks with 41 as well as third in interceptions with 17. They may not be among the top defenses drafted in 2020, though they should be on every fantasy managers' radar.
Green Bay Packers tight end Jimmy Graham caught four of five targets for 59 yards in a 37-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Graham was a big disappointment this season in a year filled with disappointing tight ends. The 33-year-old put up the lowest numbers since his rookie season and never really put together a good stretch of play until very recently. Graham has one year left on his contract worth about 7.5 million dollars. Given how much of a bust he was, perhaps Green Bay cuts ties with him and goes younger at the position in 2020.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Geronimo Allison caught two of three targets for eight yards in a 37-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. There were big expectations for Allison heading into 2019 in both the real and fantasy football worlds. Unfortunately for him, he lived up to neither, failing to eclipse 50 receiving yards in all but one game all year. Green Bay, who is in desperate need of another receiver behind Davante Adams, will have a decision to make about the 25-year-old, who is an unrestricted free agent. It's hard to see Allison being back in Green Bay in 2020.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Allen Lazard caught three of four targets for 36 yards in a 37-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Lazard may not have made much noise in the two playoff games but flashed some potential in the regular season, including his first career 100-yard game. Rodgers started to develop a little chemistry with the 6-foot-4 wideout late in the season, as he looked his way 17 times in the last two contests. It would be surprising if Lazard were the number-two receiver for the Packers next year, though it still makes sense for them to bring him back in some capacity. Lazard has some sleeper potential if he's catching passes from Rodgers in 2020.
Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes' 87 passing touchdowns in his first 35 games, including playoffs, are the most in NFL history. His 11 passing touchdowns and 142 pass attempts without an interception to begin his playoff career are both the most on record, and he is one of just two players to have at least 250 passing yards, three or more passing touchdowns and at least 50 rushing yards in multiple career playoff games.
San Francisco 49ers RB Raheem Mostert rushed for 220 yards and four touchdowns on 29 carries in a 37-20 win over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game Sunday, Jan. 19, becoming the first player in NFL history to rush for at least 200 yards and four touchdowns in a playoff game.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams caught nine of 10 targets for 138 yards in a 37-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Adams operated as Rodgers' safety blanket yet again, capturing 79 more receiving yards than the Packers' next leading receiver. When healthy, this is what the 26-year-old did all year, as he compiled double-digit targets in all but four games, including the playoffs. Despite missing five games, Adams still almost put up a 1000-year season. It would behoove Green Bay to put together a stronger receiver group behind the star receiver. Even if they don't, a healthy Adams should be back in the discussion as an elite fantasy wideout in 2020.
Green Bay Packers running back Jamaal Williams picked up just six rushing yards on three carries and caught two passes for one receiving yard in a 37-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Williams had a disappointing end to his season, as he failed to register at least 40 rushing yards in his last three games after eclipsing the mark in his previous three. The 24-year-old did show flashes at times of being the perfect complement to Aaron Jones. Still, it will be interesting to see if Green Bay hands the reins to Jones next year or continues to spell him with Williams. For now, consider Williams more of a handcuff option than a complement heading into 2020.
San Francisco 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo completed six of his eight passes for 77 yards in a 37-20 win over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game Sunday, Jan. 19. RB Raheem Mostert rushed 29 times for 220 yards and four touchdowns and caught two passes for six yards, and RB Tevin Coleman rushed six times for 21 yards. WR Deebo Samuel caught two passes for 46 yards and rushed twice for 43 yards, TE George Kittle caught his only target for 19 yards, and WR Emmanuel Sanders was held without a catch on one target. DE Joey Bosa and DL Arik Armstead both recorded a sack.