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FFL: Offseason | NFL: Superbowl

Pivotal game could have key playoff impact for Colts, Titans

Wed Nov 27 4:38pm ET
By MICHAEL MAROT
AP Sports Writer

Players: Ryan Tannehill, Russell Wilson, Kirk Cousins, Andrew Luck, T Y Hilton, Jack Doyle, Eric Ebron, Jacoby Brissett, Marcus Mariota, Jonathan Williams, Derrick Henry, Marlon Mack, Lamar Jackson

Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) jumps over Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Tre Herndon (37) as Tannehil scores a touchdown on a 21-yard run in the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)


Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) gets past Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Quincy Williams (56) in the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/James Kenney)


Tennessee Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown (11) scores a touchdown on a 65-yard pass reception against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)


INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Forget the big picture,

Sure, the Indianapolis Colts understand it's a pivotal division game and the long-term ramification of Sunday's outcome every bit as much as does Tennessee.

But with the hype building and the potential of a season-changing moment increasing, the Colts are reverting to what they do best: tune it all out.

''It's hard to do that,'' linebacker Anthony Walker said. ''You want to stay the course, but I'm pretty sure it (the playoff picture) comes across everybody's television screens when you're watching. We know what we've got to do. We've got to focus on us and we've got to keep getting better.''

In less than two seasons under coach Frank Reich, Indy (6-5) has repeatedly demonstrated it can cast aside the outside noise.

When just about everyone wrote off the Colts following a 1-5 start last season, they rallied to win eight of nine before clinching a playoff spot with a 33-17 victory in Nashville that also eliminated the Titans.

After Andrew Luck retired during the preseason, the doubters discounted Indy's ability to rebound. Instead, Jacoby Brissett took over and led the Colts to a 5-2 mark.

Now, with three losses in four games knocking them out of the AFC South lead, injuries mounting and their playoff hopes in peril, the Colts are getting back to basics.

''We have a tough challenge every week,'' tight end Jack Doyle said. ''So to be looking at anything other than this week really is a disaster.''

Tennessee (6-5) understands.

The Titans played their way back into playoff position last year by winning four straight December games before losing to the Colts yet again. They have replicated that strong run by winning four of five games since benching quarterback Marcus Mariota and going with Ryan Tannehill.

They've moved into a tie for second with Indy.

And though Tannehill hasn't been much more successful against the Colts than the Titans, who have lost 14 of 16 in the series, a win Sunday would change everything.

The Colts know it and the Titans know it, despite downplaying down the significance of it.

''We definitely have to prove to ourselves that ... we can be a team that can win this division,'' Titans safety Kevin Byard said. ''I think it starts with going through the Indianapolis Colts because we haven't had much success against these guys lately.''

TANNEHILL EFFECT

The Titans scored four touchdowns in the span of six offensive plays last week. Better yet, the Titans seem to have found the offensive spark they needed in Tannehill. They have produced 842 total yards over the past two games and are averaging 29.4 points over the last five - third in the NFL during that span behind only Baltimore (39.3) and San Francisco (30.8).

Tannehill also is tied for third in the NFL with Lamar Jackson in passer rating (111.4), behind only Minnesota's Kirk Cousins (114.8) and Seattle's Russell Wilson (112.1).

DOWN, NOT OUT

The Colts will play their second straight game without running back Marlon Mack (broken right hand) and their first without Pro Bowl tight end Eric Ebron (ankle).

But Indy has been incredibly resilient under Reich.

Jonathan Williams got his first 100-yard game after the injured Mack left the Jacksonville game, and followed that with a second 100-yard game last Thursday at Houston, his first career start.

This week, without Ebron, Doyle is expected to get more looks and four-time Pro Bowl receiver T.Y. Hilton appears to be healthier than last week after getting some extra rest.

HENRY TIME

Titans running back Derrick Henry is 9 yards away from his second straight 1,000-yard season. He heads into this weekend ranked No. 4 in yards rushing and he's run for 1,616 yards over his last 16 games.

Last week, he rushed for 159 yards and scored two TDs just 16 seconds apart. That made him the first player to score that quickly since LaDainian Tomlinson scored twice in 16 seconds on Nov. 12, 2006, for the Chargers.

This week, he faces a defense that hasn't allowed a 100-yard rusher in 29 games, dating to late in the 2017 season.

Player Notes
Nick Foles Jan 21 10:30pm ET

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.

From RotoBaller

James Looney Jan 21 9:13pm ET

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.

From TheHuddle

Yannick Ngakoue Jan 21 9:00pm ET

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.

From RotoBaller

Yannick Ngakoue Jan 21 8:03pm ET

Jacksonville Jaguars impending free-agent DE Yannick Ngakoue is the top priority for the Jaguars this offseason, and general manager David Caldwell said he hopes the two sides will be able to reach an agreement relatively easily.

From TheHuddle

Bobby Wagner Jan 21 6:23pm ET

Seattle Seahawks LB Bobby Wagner (ankle, knee) will not need surgery on his ankle or knee this offseason, according to head coach Pete Carroll.

From TheHuddle

Leighton Vander Esch Jan 21 4:40pm ET

Dallas Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones said that linebacker Leighton Vander Esch's (neck) surgery "went well." "I feel really good about it. I feel really good about him making a full recovery and being ready to participate in everything," Jones said. The second-year linebacker should be good to go for the team's offseason workouts after missing the final five games of the 2019 season. He recorded a total of 72 tackles (43 solo), half a sack and one forced fumble in his nine games played. LVE was a beast his rookie season with 140 total tackles, and he could return to being an IDP force again in 2020 if he can just stay on the field.

From RotoBaller

Dak Prescott Jan 21 4:30pm ET

Dallas Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones said that quarterback Dak Prescott is the team's "No. 1 priority as we go into the offseason." Despite the Cowboys missing the playoffs in 2019, Prescott wasn't the problem. He had his best season with 4,902 passing yards, 30 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in his fourth year in the NFL. The Cowboys continue to reiterate that Prescott is their QB of the future, so expect a contract extension to come soon. If that doesn't happen, the franchise tag is another option to retain him for 2020. Prescott finished as the No. 3 fantasy signal-caller last season, and he'll head into the 2020 campaign as a strong high-end QB1.

From RotoBaller

Julian Edelman Jan 21 1:40pm ET

New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman (shoulder) underwent a shoulder procedure last week that is said to involve "not a lengthy rehab," and Edelman is expected to be ready for the team's offseason program, according to a league source. The 33-year-old was noticeably hindered by his shoulder to close out the year, but overall it was a very successful 2019 season. Edelman had 100 receptions for a career-high 1,117 yards and six touchdowns over a full season. It was the second time in his career that he reached the 100-catch mark as quarterback Tom Brady's only real trusted receiving option. Edelman's outlook may change if Brady isn't under center in 2020, but he should at least be a solid WR2 in PPR leagues.

From RotoBaller

Julian Edelman Jan 21 1:23pm ET

New England Patriots WR Julian Edelman (shoulder) had a minor shoulder surgery last week, but he's expected to be ready for the offseason program.

Fantasy Spin: Edelman's fantasy value will hinge largely on whether Tom Brady returns to the team. Edelman should be a low-end WR2 in PPR formats.

From TheHuddle

Chris Godwin Jan 21 1:03pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Chris Godwin (hamstring) will be unable to participate in the Pro Bowl due to a lingering hamstring injury. He'll be replaced by Detroit Lions WR Kenny Golladay.

From TheHuddle

Jarvis Landry Jan 21 12:43pm ET

Cleveland Browns WR Jarvis Landry (hip) isn't expected to have surgery this offseason and will play in the Pro Bowl.

Fantasy Spin: Landry had a career-high 1,174 receiving yards to go with 83 grabs and six scores. The 27-year-old played in all 16 games for the sixth straight year and will be a low-end WR2 option in drafts next year.

From TheHuddle

Odell Beckham Jr. Jan 21 12:20pm ET

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (abdomen) underwent successful surgery on Tuesday to fix a core muscle injury. A full recovery is expected. OBJ didn't miss a game in his first season with Cleveland despite fighting through injuries. He caught 74 passes for 1,035 yards and only four touchdowns in what was a very disappointing first year with the Browns. Quarterback Baker Mayfield was extremely inconsistent behind a terrible offensive line, which didn't help matters for Beckham's fantasy owners. Another offseason to gain chemistry with Mayfield should help Beckham rebound in 2020, and he could be a nice value pick as a low-end WR1/high-end WR2.

From RotoBaller

Jarvis Landry Jan 21 12:20pm ET

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry (hip) is not expected to undergo surgery, and he will play in the Pro Bowl. It's great news for a Browns offense that will be looking to shake off the disappointment of the 2019 season heading into 2020. Landry was the team's most consistent wideout last year, catching 83 passes for a career-high 1,174 yards and six touchdowns over a full season. In his six NFL seasons, Landry has had at least 81 receptions and four touchdowns and has never missed a game. He's a very consistent WR2/3 in PPR leagues, and the presence of Odell Beckham Jr. should continue to take attention away from him.

From RotoBaller

Odell Beckham Jr. Jan 21 11:43am ET

Cleveland Browns WR Odell Beckham Jr. (abdomen) underwent surgery to repair his core muscle Tuesday, Jan. 21, in Philadelphia. He dealt with the injury for multiple weeks during the season.

Fantasy Spin: OBJ had a miserable season by his standards after most likely being a top-five pick. It's not a lock that he returns to the Browns after considerable drama that comes along with his immense talent. He's a risky fantasy asset because of that, but he'll be a WR1 in drafts again next year.

From TheHuddle

Deebo Samuel Jan 20 10:40pm ET

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.

From RotoBaller

Emmanuel Sanders Jan 20 10:40pm ET

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.

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Raheem Mostert Jan 20 10:30pm ET

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.

From RotoBaller

Jimmy Garoppolo Jan 20 10:30pm ET

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.

From RotoBaller

Jaquiski Tartt Jan 20 8:13pm ET

San Francisco 49ers S Jaquiski Tartt (ribs) aggravated his injured ribs during the NFC Championship game but should be available for Super Bowl LIV.

From TheHuddle

Tevin Coleman Jan 20 7:50pm ET

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.

From RotoBaller