Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor reacts during the second half of NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Frank Victores)
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Ryan Finley (5) calls a play during the first half of NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) celebrates after the Raiders defeated the Los Angeles Chargers 26-24 in an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/D. Ross Cameron)
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) is sacked by Oakland Raiders defensive end Clelin Ferrell during the second half of an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Derek Carr knows full well what the Cincinnati Bengals are enduring this season: nine straight losses to open the year.
Carr began his rookie season as starting quarterback for the Oakland Raiders with 10 consecutive defeats before finally breaking through with a win.
''You feel like everything is against you because for the fans, sometimes for older players, they don't see any light at the end of the tunnel,'' he said. ''They just see what's in front of them at the moment and it's hard man. It's tough and one thing I'll say though is, if you can grind through those moments, work really hard, stick to your process, when the good moments come around it makes you thankful for those other moments.''
Carr bounced back from the rough debut campaign to win 12 games and lead the Raiders to the playoffs in 2016. Two more down seasons followed, but Carr has Oakland (5-4) back in contention again this year heading into Sunday's home game against Cincinnati (0-9).
After two straight wins to open a homestand, Carr wants to make sure his team doesn't let up in the third game and squander a chance.
''I don't care about records, man,'' he said. ''I prepare every game as if this is the game and so there is no, 'They haven't won a game.' I don't care how many games they have or haven't won, they got Pro Bowlers all over their football team and they are going to bring it, that's for sure.''
The Bengals are trying to avoid falling to 0-10 for the second time after also doing it in 1993. First-year coach Zac Taylor believes things will get better soon even if it doesn't seem that way right now.
''There'll be a time - I can't wait to look back on it - and say, 'Remember when all that stuff happened?''' Taylor said. ''We'll get there. This is one of the things we have to go through right now, unfortunately. We're going to fight through it, and there are going to be some positive things as this season comes to an end.''
Rookie Ryan Finley made his debut and had two huge turnovers against the Ravens. His sideline pass was picked off and returned 89 yards for a touchdown, and he had a fumble also returned for a score. Finley finished 16 of 30 for 167 yards with a touchdown, one interception and a passer rating of 66.9. The Bengals expect him to be better now that he's experienced a game.
''He's getting used to playing NFL-caliber football and not preseason football, real starting football against a good defense,'' offensive coordinator Brian Callahan said. ''And so, his timing was a little bit off. I think you'll see a pretty dramatic leap for him in game two, understanding what it's like to play at that speed.''
The Raiders must replace a safety again after Karl Joseph went down with a season-ending foot injury last week while making the game-sealing interception against the Chargers. Oakland already lost rookie Johnathan Abram to a season-ending shoulder injury in the opener and now may need to turn to Curtis Riley, who got benched earlier this year, special teams player Dallin Leavitt and newly acquired D.J. Swearinger, who was cut earlier this year by Arizona.
''These last weeks have been great for me,'' Swearinger said. ''I needed this time off, to get myself together. I couldn't be more ready for this opportunity to get here and work hard.''
OH THAT DEFENSE
The Bengals began looking to next year when they benched Andy Dalton and went with Finley at quarterback. They started overhauling the defense this week by waiving linebacker Preston Brown, who had lost his starting job. The linebackers have been the biggest sore spot in the league's lowest-ranked defense.
The Raiders' much-maligned pass rush delivered in a big way last week with five sacks in a win over the Chargers. No. 4 overall draft pick Clelin Ferrell had by far his best game as a pro with 2 1/2 sacks after recording none since the season opener. Fellow rookie Maxx Crosby provided consistent pressure and a half-sack of his own and Benson Mayowa had 1 1/2 sacks, giving him a career-high seven this season.
Taylor signed with Oakland coach Jon Gruden's Tampa Bay team as an undrafted quarterback out of Nebraska in 2007. He was waived before the start of training camp, a move that surprised him then but makes sense now. Taylor was familiar with Tampa Bay's system because his college coach, Bill Callahan, was a close friend of Gruden's.
''I think they probably just brought me in because I could call the plays in the rookie minicamp,'' Taylor said. ''In hindsight, those are the things you start to figure out as you start coaching. That made a little bit of sense. They could evaluate the other players while I got out there and called the plays correctly. It's all good.''
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Nelson Agholor has been ruled out for Monday Night Football due to a knee injury. Agholor being out means the Eagles will rely even more on tight ends Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert. The only fantasy-relevant wide receiver on the Eagles will be Alshon Jeffery, who has played well in the past against the Giants and is coming off his best game of the season. Rookie J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and Greg Ward will fill out the rest of the wide receiver depth chart in Agholor's place.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Jordan Howard won't play on Monday Night Football due to a shoulder injury. This was expected, as Howard still has not been cleared for contact since originally suffering the injury. Miles Sanders will be on the field a whole lot more than most Eagles running backs have been this season, with Jay Ajayi and Boston Scott backing him up.
Chicago Bears LB Roquan Smith (pectoral) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Monday, Dec. 9. The team also signed free-agent LB Devante Bond (Buccaneers). Terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Jacksonville Jaguars LB Jake Ryan (hamstring) will miss some playing time because of a hamstring injury he suffered in Week 14, according to head coach Doug Marrone.
Seattle Seahawks RB Rashaad Penny (knee) will miss the rest of the 2019 season because of the knee injury he suffered in Week 14. Head coach Pete Carroll said Penny is dealing with a significant injury, but he is still waiting for the MRI results.
Fantasy Spin: Chris Carson will be the main option in the running game with Penny out and should receive plenty of carries each week. Carson is a must-start option in all fantasy leagues no matter the opponent. C.J. Prosise likely will receive a bigger role in the offense and could be a flex option in some deeper leagues.
Indianapolis Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (calf) still has a chance to play this season even if the team is eliminated from playoff contention, according to head coach Frank Reich.
Fantasy Spin: Hilton has missed the last several games because of the calf injury and is uncertain for the final three games of the season. Fantasy players can monitor the situation but probably should look for other options and keep Hilton on the bench.
Cincinnati Bengals WR A.J. Green (ankle) is still considered day-to-day, according to head coach Zac Taylor.
Fantasy Spin: Green has not played this season and suffered a setback a few weeks ago. Fantasy players should avoid Green until he is able to return to the practice field.
Updating a previous report, Indianapolis Colts PK Adam Vinatieri (knee) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Monday, Dec. 9.
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett had a good matchup in Week 14, and he took advantage of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He finished the day 19-of-36 for 251 yards and two touchdowns. He also added four carries for 26 yards. Brissett has been without a number of receiving weapons this year due to injuries, but he was able to utilize the weapons he did have on Sunday afternoon. Brissett's matchups get difficult down the stretch, and he'll be trending downward with the Colts playoff hopes taking a major hit with the latest loss.
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Marcus Johnson took advantage of a great matchup and opportunity in Week 14 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With a number of other pass catchers out, Johnson was quarterback Jacoby Brissett's second-favorite target on the day. He caught three of his seven targets for 105 yards and a touchdown. As long as wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (calf) remains out, Johnson will likely continue to see work while the Colts' coaching staff looks to determine their key pieces for the future.
Indianapolis Colts running back Marlon Mack, in his return from a hand injury, was inefficient in Week 14 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but he was able to get into the end zone to salvage his day. He finished with 13 carries for 38 yards and a touchdown. He didn't add anything in the passing game, but, in a big shootout, he wasn't utilized a ton. In the final weeks of the season, Mack won't be counted on for a ton of production, but he's still giving you an RB2 level of play on an every week basis.
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Zach Pascal has shown the ability to be a great player this season, and he showed that again in Week 14. Against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he caught five his nine targets for 74 yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Jacoby Brissett consistently relies on Pascal as his top wideout option every week, and it's just a matter of him completing the catches to be a good play in fantasy. His matchups are less-than-stellar down the stretch, but he still has the volume every week to give him consistent upside.
Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle exploded in Week 13, but he struggled in a big way in Week 14 despite a great matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He caught two of his six targets for 27 yards, and he failed to get into the end zone. Doyle gets the volume to be a consistent fantasy tight end, but he didn't convert on it this week. He'll be a consistent option down the stretch, but he'll never be a high-ceiling player like some of the other guys at the position.
Washington Redskins LB Ryan Kerrigan (calf) will not play in Week 15 against the Philadelphia Eagles due to the calf injury he suffered in Week 14 versus the Green Bay Packers, according to interim head coach Bill Callahan.
Washington Redskins RB Derrius Guice (knee) will not play in Week 15 against the Philadelphia Eagles due to the knee he suffered in Week 14 versus the Green Bay Packers, according to interim head coach Bill Callahan.
Indianapolis Colts PK Adam Vinatieri (knee, leg) is scheduled to undergo surgery to address issues with his meniscus and patellar tendon Wednesday, Dec. 11. He is expected to need between four and six months of rehab.
Atlanta Falcons WR Calvin Ridley (abdominal) announced on social media he will miss the rest of the season due to an abdominal injury he suffered in Week 14 against the Carolina Panthers.
Fantasy Spin: Ridley's second pro season will end with 63 catches for 866 yards and a team-high seven touchdown receptions - almost an exact replica of his production over 16 games as a rookie. There's no indication yet whether or not this injury will be a concern for him in 2020. The Falcons will move forward with Julio Jones and Russell Gage as their starting receivers for the remainder of this season. Jones will remain his usual WR1 self, while Gage is now worthy of flex consideration in shallow leagues.
Updating a previous report, Jacksonville Jaguars DJ Chark (ankle) will be 'week-to-week or day-to-day' with an ankle injury, according to head coach Doug Marrone.
Fantasy Spin: The always-popular non-update from the head coach, as there is a pretty significant difference between "week-to-week" and "day-to-day." At any rate, owners probably should not expect to have Chark available to them in Week 15 and perhaps the rest of the season. His absence would leave Dede Westbrook and Chris Conley as Gardner Minshew's top targets, and both receivers would be worth considering as low-end starters in fantasy if Chark's injury does sideline him the rest of the way.
Updating a previous report, Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes (hand) did not suffer a broken bone in his hand in Week 14 and is expected to be fine for Week 15 against the Denver Broncos, according to head coach Andy Reid.
Fantasy Spin: Reid did admit to changing up his play-calling in the second half of Week 14 to account for his quarterback's injury, so owners should keep an eye on his practice participation throughout the week. Assuming he gets something close to regular work during the week, Mahomes should be trusted as a high-end QB1 in Week 15.