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.
Green Bay Packers tight end Jimmy Graham gets a tough matchup against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game. Graham has back-to-back 49-year receiving performances, but those games came against teams that struggle to defend the tight end position. The 49ers are not one of those teams. They allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to tight ends all season and were the league's stingiest pass defense. Maybe Graham makes a play in the red zone. Still, he's a cheaper DFS play but by no means a comfortable one.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Geronimo Allison (illness) is trending in the right direction to play in the NFC Championship game this weekend against the San Francisco 49ers. Even if available, Allison isn't an option in any fantasy format. The 25-year-old hasn't caught more than four passes in a game this season. It sure doesn't seem like he'll eclipse that mark against the league's best defense with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Allen Lazard (ankle) is currently questionable for the NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers. There's certainly a risk for injury, considering he re-aggravated the ankle in last week's playoff game. Still, it's hard to ignore the two-game stretch Lazard had to end the season, where he saw 17 targets. That alone makes him worth a gamble, particularly in a must-win game for a Packers team in desperate need of another threat at receiver. Just beware, the matchup isn't ideal. The 49ers allowed only 172 passing yards to the Vikings last week.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams gets a tough matchup against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game this weekend. Adams produced only 43 receiving yards and a score against San Francisco in the regular season but still had 12 targets. The star receiver has seen double-digit targets in nine of 13 games played this year. There's not many receivers that you can virtually pencil in for double-digit targets- but Adams is one of them. If fellow receivers Geronimo Allison (illness) and Allen Lazard (ankle) suit up, they may be limited. Adams could be looking at more work than usual, even in a matchup this difficult.
The San Francisco 49ers Defense enter Championship weekend as the highest-priced fantasy defense. The Niners face the Green Bay Packers, who they demolished 37-8 in Week 12. In that previous contest, the Niners relentlessly harassed future Hall of Famer quarterback Aaron Rodgers, dropping him five times and forcing a fumble. The Packers were a meager one for 15 on third down conversions. The 49ers will need to follow that blueprint again in the critical NFC Championship to emerge victorious. With a higher-intensity contest expected, it could be difficult to splurge on a defense in fantasy compared to other addressable positions.
San Francisco 49ers wide receivers Deebo Samuel and Emmanuel Sanders both offer solid fantasy value in the NFC Championship against the Green Bay Packers. Both players were limited to under 45 yards apiece in last weekends Divisional Round blowout but were featured early on when the game was still in question. The rookie Samuel has emerged as a consistent dual threat in the latter half of 2019 and is likelier the safer floor. Sanders, the savvy vet has proven himself as a reliable chain-mover with big-play potential. Against the Packers 10th-best pass defense by DVOA, either option seem primed to pop in Sundays winner-take-all battle.
Green Bay Packers running back Jamaal Williams will face off with the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game this weekend. Williams has been playing second fiddle to Aaron Jones quite a lot recently, as he hasn't seen double-digit carries since Week 13 against the Giants. It's worth noting that Williams played a large role in the regular-season game against the 49ers, which saw him rack up 18 touches. Green Bay very well could utilize Williams in spurts to keep San Francisco guessing, though his recent downtrend in usage makes him hard to trust.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is a reasonable DFS bet for Sundays NFC Championship matchup against the Green Bay Packers. Priced as the third-best quarterback, Jimmy G squares off against a strong Packers defensive line that ranked 12th-best in adjusted sack rate during the regular season. Garoppolo was not pressed into service in the Divisional Round blowout win, but will likely be tasked with a tougher test on Sunday. While the Niners have mostly ridden its dominant running game throughout the year, Garoppolo has answered the bell in multiple occasions with three four-touchdown games. With dangerous weapons surrounding him, Garoppolo shouldnt be ruled out in the biggest game of his career to-date.
Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones will take on the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game this weekend. The 49ers Defense held Jones to just 38 rushing yards in their regular-season meeting. However, the star back has been playing some seriously good football in his last five games, with 501 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns. He's also had 20-plus carries in three straight contests. Expect Green Bay to utilize Jones early and often in screens and runs to combat the 49ers mighty pass rush. Even if Jones doesn't pile up over 100 yards, his propensity to find the end zone and role in the passing game make him a safer play this weekend.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers will take on the San Francisco 49ers this weekend with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. The 49ers Defense held Rodgers to just 104 passing yards and one touchdown in their regular-season meeting. However, there are a couple things that are different ahead of this matchup. First, tackle Bryan Bulaga will play in this game after being injured in the first quarter against the 49ers previously. Rodgers should have better protection than he had when these teams met. Secondly, Rodgers himself is playing better football than he was during the regular season before this matchup. He has 566 passing yards and four touchdowns in his last two contests. There is also the added motivation of denying a Super Bowl berth to the team that could have drafted him. Play Rodgers on Sunday, despite the tough matchup.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Kendrick Bourne is worth a gamble for Sundays NFC Championship against the Green Bay Packers. Bourne scored the only receiving touchdown for the Niners in the Divisional Round, adding to his 2019 resume as a legitimate red-zone threat. The third-year pro has just 33 catches this year, including the playoffs, but collected six scores. Despite his risks as a zero-floor fantasy option, Bourne has emerged as a trustworthy target in clutch situations.
San Francisco 49ers running backs Tevin Coleman and Raheem Mostert are both bankable DFS options in Sundays NFC Championship against the Green Bay Packers. The two backs combined for 163 rushing yards in the Divisional Round, with Coleman riding a hot hand to two touchdowns. Considered a backup for the latter half of the regular season, Coleman played 46 percent of snaps last Sunday compared to Mosterts 34 percent. While the touch forecast for either back is cloudy, the Niners draw one of the worst run defenses in the NFL. The Packers ranked 23rd in rushing DVOA during the regular season with the second-worst defensive line in the league, yielding 4.96 adjusted yards per carry. With a likely floor of 10 touches for each Coleman and Mostert, both runners have great opportunities to make a splash.
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (ankle) was a full participant in Thursdays practice and should be fine for Sundays NFC Championship against the Green Bay Packers. Kittle scared Niner Nation with soreness on the left ankle he chipped earlier this year, but confirms he feels fabulous. Kittle factored more as a blocker in last Sundays Divisional Round blowout but the Niners passed just 19 times. The All-Pro is an integral piece in all facets of the offense so is worth his premium TE1 price in DFS on Sunday.
Detroit Lions WR Danny Amendola is set to become an unrestricted free agent, but he's a 'prime candidate' to be re-signed, in the opinion of The Detroit Free Press' Dave Birkett.
Free-agent WR Antonio Callaway (Browns) signed with the Tampa Bay Vipers of the XFL Thursday, Jan. 16.
Kansas City Chiefs RB LeSean McCoy (illness) remained out of practice Thursday, Jan. 16.
Fantasy Spin: McCoy played just one offensive snap in last week's Divisional Round game against the Houston Texans. He's clearly behind RB Damien Williams and is no longer worth starting.
Kansas City Chiefs QB Matt Moore (illness) and DT Chris Jones (calf) didn't participate in practice Thursday, Jan. 16. DT Khalen Saunders (knee), CB Morris Claiborne (shoulder), CB Kendall Fuller (knee), DE Tanoh Kpassagnon (neck), C Austin Reiter (wrist) and G Andrew Wylie (ankle) practiced in full.
Green Bay Packers DL Kenny Clark (back), TE Marcedes Lewis (non-injury), LB Preston Smith (ankle), FB Danny Vitale (knee) and CB Tramon Williams (non-injury) were limited participants in practice Thursday, Jan. 16. S Adrian Amos (chest), OT Bryan Bulaga (non-injury), WR Ryan Grant (non-injury), LB Blake Martinez (hand) and OL Billy Turner (ankle) practiced in full.
Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce (knee) remained limited at practice Thursday, Jan. 16.
Fantasy Spin: Kelce earned a light practice week while catching 10 of 12 targets for 134 yards and three touchdowns against the Houston Texans in the Divisional Round. He's the week's top tight end option once against this week so long as he takes the field.
Tennessee Titans LB Jayon Brown (shoulder), LB Rashaan Evans (foot), WR Adam Humphries (ankle), CB Adoree' Jackson (foot), WR Cody Hollister (ankle) and OT Jack Conklin (shoulder) were limited in practice Thursday, Jan. 16. CB Logan Ryan (illness) and LB David Long Jr. (knee) participated in full.