Detroit Lions cornerback Justin Coleman (27) celebrates an interception against the Green Bay Packers with teammates Darius Slay (23) and Will Harris (25) during the second half of an NFL football game Monday, Oct. 14, 2019, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)
Detroit Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay (19) makes a leaping catch while covered by Green Bay Packers cornerback Kevin King, right, during the second half of an NFL football game Monday, Oct. 14, 2019, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford throws a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers, Monday, Oct. 14, 2019, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, left, throws a pass as he is pressured by Minnesota Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter (99) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)
Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook scores on a 1-yard touchdown run ahead of Philadelphia Eagles inside linebacker Zach Brown, left, during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) runs from Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Rasul Douglas (32) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
DETROIT (AP) The Detroit Lions are thankful they have a short week to prepare to play Minnesota in a possibly pivotal NFC North matchup.
A quick turnaround gave the Lions less time to lament critical calls that didn't go their way on Monday night in a loss at Green Bay.
''It's kind of a blessing in disguise because we don't have time to think about anything but Minnesota,'' Lions center Frank Ragnow said. ''And, the Vikings are really good - especially on defense.''
The Vikings (4-2) have won two in a row, leaning on one of the NFL's best defenses and an offense that is starting to perform up to its potential.
Minnesota has averaged 33 points the past two weeks with a grinding running game led by Dalvin Cook that helps Kirk Cousins make big plays through the air. After a slow start, Cousins had six touchdown passes and one interception in wins over Philadelphia and the New York Giants.
''That team is on fire right now,'' Lions coach Matt Patricia said.
Detroit (2-2-1) has dropped two straight after an unbeaten, three-game start because it failed to keep double-digit leads against the Packers and Kansas City Chiefs.
''You can't let it stick around in your head because there's a long season left,'' Flowers said.
If the Lions don't win Sunday at home, though, their chances to contend in the competitive division will take a hit.
Minnesota, meanwhile, wants to avoid starting 0-3 in the NFC North after playing its first three division games as visitors.
''We get them all at home at the end, so it all evens out,'' Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said.
Here are some things to watch when the Lions face the Vikings:
STACKS OF SACKS
Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter leads the league with eight tackles for losses. He set an NFL record with a sack against the Eagles that gave him 46 for his career, the most in history by a player younger than 25. Hunter has two more games before his birthday, and the Lions have provided him plenty of pass-rushing opportunities in the past. Hunter has seven sacks in six games against them, plus three fumble recoveries and one he returned for a 32-yard touchdown.
The Lions lost to the Packers at least in part because they scored only one touchdown and had to settle for Matt Prater's five field goals. That followed a trend.
In goal-to-go situations, Detroit ranks 30th in the NFL with four touchdowns in nine chances.
''That's not good enough,'' quarterback Matthew Stafford acknowledged.
Inside the 20, Detroit has gotten into the end zone on half of its 16 opportunities to rank among the bottom third of the league.
The problem may be ominous for the Lions because they were relegated to scoring only on field goals in two losses to Minnesota last year.
Stafford is 87 yards passing from setting a record for the fewest games to reach the 40,000-yard mark. Matt Ryan reached that number in 151 games, five more than Stafford has played.
''When you step back and look at stuff like that, I think it's just pretty amazing,'' Patricia said.
Stafford has bounced back from a lackluster year with a solid season so far as the league's ninth-ranked passer. He has thrown nine touchdown passes and two interceptions, both coming in a Week 2 win over the Los Angeles Chargers.
''Stafford is playing outstanding, maybe the best I've ever seen him,'' Zimmer said. ''He's throwing the ball into a lot of tight windows. He's pulling the trigger. He's still scrambling.''
Though Minnesota hasn't been stung by questionable late-game calls quite like Detroit was at Green Bay, penalties have been an uncharacteristic problem for the team.
The Vikings had four penalties for 30 yards against them in their win over the Eagles last week, both season lows for a team that has been charged with the third-most penalty yardage in the league (456) and irritated its discipline-driven coach in the process.
The Detroit Lions plan to release defensive tackle Damon Harrison in the coming days, according to a source. The move will free up around $6.7 million in salary cap space but will leave the team with a hole on their defensive line up the middle. Even though Snacks Harrison had a down year in 2019 due to knee and groin injuries, he was their best defensive player in the second half of 2018 after he was acquired from the Giants. Harrison finished with 49 tackles last year, his lowest total since his rookie year in 2012, and he only had two sacks in 15 games. He will consider retirement this offseason while seeing what materializes in free agency. In his prime, Harrison was one of the best run-stuffing nose tackles in the game.
The Tennessee Titans aren't expected to pick up wide receiver Corey Davis' fifth-year team option for the 2021 season. If the Titans were to pick it up, Davis would be owed around $15.8 million in 2021. The 25-year-old former fifth overall pick in 2017 had 65 catches for 891 yards in his sophomore season in 2018, but he regressed in 2019 when he had only 43 receptions for 601 yards and two touchdowns. Rookie A.J. Brown became the Titans go-to No. 1 receiver last year. Tennessee envisioned Davis becoming that guy when they drafted him, but he's failed to live up to expectations in his three seasons. Heading into 2020, he'll be a WR4/5 without much upside in this run-first offense.
Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor said on Thursday that wide receiver A.J. Green is "a guy we want to be around." Green hasn't played in a game since December of 2018 and hasn't been a Pro Bowler since 2017 in his last full season. He's due to become a free agent next month and has played in just nine games the last two years, but the Bengals could still use him. If Cincinnati can't reach a long-term extension with the veteran, they're likely to use the franchise tag on him. Turning 32 this summer, Green has had 1,000 yards receiving in six of his eight seasons, but his fantasy stock will be way down since he hasn't been able to stay healthy of late. If he remains with the Bengals, as is expected, he'll likely have LSU quarterback Joe Burrow throwing him passes in 2020.
The Washington Redskins released tight end Jordan Reed on Thursday. The move was expected and will save the team $8.5 million in salary cap space. Reed missed all of the 2019 season with a concussion, his seventh documented one in his seven seasons. He was just cleared from the league's concussion protocol on Wednesday and has never played a full season in the NFL due to head and other injuries. Despite the lingering concussion concerns, a source close to Reed said he wants to continue playing. In a career-high 14 games in 2015, Reed had 87 catches for 952 yards and 11 touchdowns. Without Reed in the picture, Washington's top tight end is Jeremy Sprinkle, who had 26 catches in 2019. However, he's considered more of a blocker, so the 'Skins will surely look to bolster the position in free agency or the draft. If Reed continues his career and lands elsewhere, he'll strictly be a low-end injury risk as a TE2.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry (hip) is expected to be sidelined six to eight months after having surgery to shave down some cartilage and remove two pieces of bone embedded in the labrum of his left hip on Feb. 4. The Browns expect Landry to make a full recovery for the 2020 season, but he might be limited in training camp and could be questionable for the Week 1. He will be on crutches for two weeks and then can continue with physical therapy and riding a stationary bike. Despite dealing with the hip injury in 2019, Landry didn't miss a game for the sixth straight year and had career highs in yards (1,174) and yards per catch (14.1). His six touchdowns were the second-best total of his career. With a new coaching staff in place, losing repetitions in training camp could be problematic. Landry will have some added risk as a WR2 in PPR leagues in 2020.
Minnesota Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen met two figures that voided the final three years of his contract by securing six or more sacks and playing 57 percent or more of the defensive snaps in 2019. As such, Griffen has exercised his right to opt out of his deal, according to a source. That will free up roughly $13 million in salary cap space for the Vikings, with $800,000 in dead money. The 32-year-old was already at risk of being cut with a $13.9 million cap hit in 2020. The Vikings might try to keep him around at a reduced price, as Griffen had eight sacks and 24 QB knockdowns last season. He's been a great complement to Danielle Hunter on the other side of the line, so losing Griffen would be a blow to the Vikes pass rush.
Cleveland Browns WR Odell Beckham Jr. (core) should be completely recovered from his core muscle surgery in about a month, according to a source.
Fantasy Spin: It appears like Beckham should be ready of offseason workouts as long as he does not suffer a setback. He will be working under a new offensive scheme next season but is still one of the top receivers in the NFL. He will be a weekly starting option in fantasy leagues in 2020.
Washington Redskins TE Jordan Reed was released Thursday, Feb. 20, according to a source.
Fantasy Spin: Reed wants to play next season, so fantasy players can keep an eye on the situation. He probably will receive interest from teams but is a risky option because of his injury history. Reed could be a No. 2 tight end in fantasy leagues if he starts for a team.
Free-agent WR Antonio Brown (Patriots) is scheduled to have his grievance against the Oakland Raiders heard by an arbitrator in May, according to a source.
Las Vegas Raiders QB Derek Carr recently posted an photo on Instagram of himself talking with Chicago Bears DL Khalil Mack following a game last season, and the post is part of speculation that Carr could be traded to the Bears this offseason and reunited with Mack.
Fantasy Spin: The Bears have said they expect Mitchell Trubisky to be their 2020 starter, but they also said he could have competition in the QB room, and Carr would certainly provide as much. Stay tuned ...
Washington Redskins cornerback Quinton Dunbar said that he reached out to the team to discuss a reasonable contract restructure, but the team declined to have conversations, according to sources close to Dunbar. Despite denying that he requested a trade, Dunbar remains adamant in his desire to be traded or released. The 27-year-old was one of the better cover corners in the league last season, but it's looking like the new regime in Washington isn't falling for his contract demands. There's a good chance that they'll look to trade Dunbar this offseason if they can't work something out with him. He had 37 tackles (31 solo) and a career-high four interceptions in 11 games played in 2019.
Washington Redskins CB Quinton Dunbar recently reached out to the team to discuss a possible contract restructure, but the club declined to engage in a conversation, according to sources, and he remains 'resolute' in his desire to be released or traded.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Jameis Winston, a pending free agent, could be offered a two-year deal by the Buccaneers with the first year guaranteed and the second year being a team option, according to sources. The first year would pay Winston roughly the same as a franchise tag ($27 million).
Fantasy Spin: Winston threw for a career-high 5,109 yards, 33 TDs last season -- and yes, 30 interceptions -- to finish as a top-five fantasy QB for the first time in five seasons. A return to the Bucs would definitely keep him in the QB1 conversation, but a move to another team would necessitate a full re-evaluation of his fantasy status.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry had surgery on his hip on February 4, according to a post from his personal Instagram account. The surgery comes as somewhat of a surprise as Landry had previously stated that he would not need surgery on his hip, which bothered him throughout the 2019 season. Landry is expected to make a full recovery and should return to the team at some point in training camp, which begins in late July. According to reports, Landry had visited with multiple hip specialists since the end of the season and eventually decided that surgery was the proper route to take. He will remain a solid WR2 for fantasy in 2020.
Minnesota Vikings DE Everson Griffen met two milestones with six sacks and playing 57 percent of the snaps that voided the final three years of his deal. The move freed up $13 million in salary cap space.
Cleveland Browns WR Jarvis Landry (hip) changed his mind and underwent hip surgery this week. He's expected to be back at some time in training camp.
Fantasy Spin: Landry's 83-1174-6 showing was one of the better showings of his career, and his 14.1 yards per catch was a career high. He's a low-end WR2 or a high-end WR3 in PPR leagues.
Impending free-agent S Nate Ebner (Patriots) is one of 19 New England Patriots set to hit free agency this spring, but he is hopeful the two sides will be able to come together on a contract that will keep him with the team that drafted him in the sixth round of the 2012 draft.
Minnesota Vikings WR Stefon Diggs may be the subject of some trade calls this offseason, but he faces 'plenty long' odds of getting traded, according to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero. Diggs recently prompted discussion about potential unhappiness with his situation when he removed Vikings photos from his social media accounts.
The Chicago Bears agreed to terms on a one-year deal with tight end Demetrius Harris on Wednesday, according to sources. Harris was cut by the Browns recently and spent time with head coach Matt Nagy when they were both with the Chiefs. The 28-year-old caught just 15 passes for 149 yards and three touchdowns in 2019 despite David Njoku missing most of the year with an injury in Cleveland. Chicago was looking to upgrade their tight end room after both Trey Burton and Adam Shaheen missed large chunks of last season due to injuries. Harris will have an opportunity with his new team, but it's still unlikely he has a huge pass-catching role is Burton and Shaheen are on the field.