Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury watches the clock during the first half of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) runs against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Arizona Cardinals middle linebacker Jordan Hicks (58) knocks the helmet off Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jaylen Samuels on the tackle during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt, right, scores a 3-yard touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Cleveland. The Browns won 27-19. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield throws during the fist half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
Cleveland Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens answers questions during a news conference after an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) Cleveland's Baker Mayfield might be headed for some relief in his up-and-down second season in the NFL.
Arizona's defense has made a lot of opposing quarterbacks look pretty good.
The Browns (6-7) will try to keep their playoff hopes alive and win for the fifth time in six games when they visit the Cardinals on Sunday. Mayfield hopes to play better than he did last week, when he completed just 11 of 24 passes for 192 yards and two interceptions in Cleveland's 27-19 win over Cincinnati.
''As long as we win, ultimately, that is the main goal, but you have to continue to work on that stuff, get the ball in our guys hands and let them make plays,'' Mayfield said.
Arizona's defense is last in the league in yards allowed and passing yards allowed. The Cardinals have given up at least 21 points in all 13 games this season.
Arizona's Kyler Murray is looking to bounce back from his first three-interception game as an NFL quarterback. Murray has usually avoided big mistakes during his rookie season, but Sunday's three interceptions - all in the second half - were a big reason the Cardinals (3-9-1) lost their sixth game in a row.
''I think as a couple of these losses have stacked up, maybe (he's) trying to do a little too much, trying to win it by himself,'' Arizona coach Kliff Kingsbury said. ''He's got to get back in that rhythm like he was prior to the bye, where, `Hey, you're just doing your job, executing at a high level and not trying to do too much.' We'll work through that.''
The rumors, rumblings and reports of Odell Beckham's unhappiness in Cleveland aren't going away any time soon. And while there's smoke, it's still not clear if there's any fire.
Beckham has not said he wants to leave the Browns, but he hasn't publicly stated that he's planting roots either.
This week, coach Freddie Kitchens and several teammates said Beckham has not given them any indication he wants out. In fact, they claimed he has been engaged, motivated to win and seems to enjoy being part of the team's rebuilding effort.
Mayfield was asked if Beckham, who has been dealing with a sports hernia injury for months, will be back for a second season with the Browns.
''I can't answer that for him,'' he said. ''There are all the rumors going around, but I have had my conversations with him and I know what we talk about so I trust him wholeheartedly.''
Beckham's injury has limited his production, but he has played in all 13 games and 96.4 percent of the snaps.
It has been a mostly disappointing season for Cardinals running back David Johnson, who hasn't had much of a role in the offense since returning from an ankle injury a few weeks ago. He did have a good moment against the Steelers last Sunday, catching a 24-yard touchdown pass to pull the Cardinals within 20-17 in the fourth quarter.
He hopes to have a bigger role in the offense going forward. Johnson has lost time in the running back rotation to Kenyan Drake - who was added by the Cardinals in a midseason trade with the Dolphins - and to a lesser extent Chase Edmonds.
''Any guy who's in the NFL wants to be on the field, so it's tough when you're not out there,'' Johnson said.
BACK ON TOP
Nick Chubb's second season has been impressive. It may also be historic.
The Browns haven't had an NFL rushing leader since 1968, when Hall of Famer Leroy Kelly gained 1,239 yards and scored 16 touchdowns. Chubb enters Sunday's game with a league-leading 1,281 yards, but his only goal remains getting wins - not titles.
The unassuming Chubb said leading the league would be nice, but nothing he planned to do.
''It will mean a lot to me only because how hard I worked and it paid off for me,'' he said. ''That's really the biggest thing for me is just when I work hard, it shows and I get the results that I want.''
Even at the age of 36, Arizona receiver Larry Fitzgerald is having another productive season.
He's leading the team with 64 catches for 669 yards. Fitzgerald hasn't committed to playing a 17th season, but Kingsbury said there's no doubt the team wants him back.
''You see what he's done every week, and that's with a young quarterback and with an offense that's still learning how to play in the system,'' Kingsbury said. ''He's as productive a player as we've had on this offense week-in, week-out, reliability and catching the football. He's still a huge weapon for us, and I don't see that changing.''
Browns defensive coordinator Steve Wilks was fired last year after just one season as the Cardinals coach. As he prepared to return to Arizona, Wilks said he's not seeking revenge - simply a victory.
''To be honest, I don't really have any emotions in regards to this week,'' said Wilks, who was dismissed after going 3-13. ''I want to win this game just like I wanted to win last week's game just like I wanted to win the first game against Tennessee.''
Wilks had numerous challenges during his first head coaching gig, but said they made him better.
''What I learned is just really how to deal with adversity as a head coach trying to prepare each and every week, trying to get your guys up to perform at a high level,'' he said. ''So it was difficult going through the struggles, but I thought the guys performed and played well and they stayed together throughout.''
Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones carried the ball 12 times for 56 yards and a rushing touchdown along with five catches for 27 yards and a receiving score in a 37-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Jones was running well and would have been able to do more damage on the ground if not for the 27-0 deficit at the half. The 24-year-old finished the year tied for the NFL lead in touchdowns with 19, then added four more scores in the playoffs. He (likely) won't score this many times next year, though Jones proved he's more than just a touchdown machine, racking up career-highs in both rushing and receiving yards. He'll be among the best options in 2020 for fantasy backs in all formats.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers completed 31 of 39 passes for 326 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions in a 37-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. At first glance, Rodgers' stat line doesn't look so bad, though the first half was a complete struggle for him and the offense. Down 27-0 at the half, the veteran signal-caller effectively used up garbage time to post these numbers. It's a disappointing end to the season for Rodgers, though he still put up his eighth career 4000-yard season as well as his 10th season with at least 25 touchdown passes. The 36-year-old has plenty of juice left in his arm but will probably need another threat on the outside next year besides Davante Adams if Green Bay wants to make noise.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Demarcus Robinson was not targeted often, but made it count when he was called upon. Robinson hauled in both of his targets for 31 yards during their victory over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. His first reception was a 24-yard catch that helped the Chiefs move upfield for their second quarter comeback. However, Robinson is normally an afterthought with Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, and Travis Kelce on the roster. He could have some cheap DFS value for Super Bowl 54.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman was unable to make much of an impact during the AFC Championship game on Sunday. Hardman finished with one reception for eight yards. His reception was technically a jet sweep play that was a handoff on the second drive of the game. However, he drew a big defensive pass interference call that helped the Chiefs get into scoring position. Hardman is a fantastic special teams player, but won't bring much value to DFS contests for Super Bowl 54.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill was able to find the end zone twice during Sunday's AFC Championship game. Hill caught five of his seven targets for 67 yards and two touchdowns in the victory over the Tennessee Titans. His first score was a 10-yard jet sweep handoff that counted as a reception, but regardless it was a nice way for Hill to show off his ridiculous speed. The performance of Hill in Super Bowl 54 could help make or break plenty of DFS players.
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce was surprisingly held in check by the Tennessee Titans during Sunday's AFC Championship contest. He caught three of his four targets for 30 yards in the win over the Titans. Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins were the players making the splash plays in this game. DFS players shouldn't be worried as Kelce should see plenty of opportunities during Super Bowl 54.
Kansas City Chiefs running back Damien Williams was able to find the end zone three times last week in the Divisional Round battle with the Houston Texans. Williams continued his strong play against the Tennessee Titans in Sunday's AFC Championship game. Williams rushed 17 times for 45 yards and a touchdown. He also caught five passes for 44 yards through the air. Veteran back LeSean McCoy (illness) didn't play and rookie Darwin Thompson saw just one carry in this game. It's clear that the Chiefs trust Williams to be their lead back going forward. Look for him to make a significant impact in Super Bowl 54.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins was able to finally find the end zone for the first time since Week 1. It's been a tough season for Watkins, but at least he was able to do damage when it mattered most. Watkins hauled in seven receptions for 114 yards and a touchdown in the victory over the Tennessee Titans. Watkins caught a 60-yard touchdown that basically sealed the Chiefs ticket to Super Bowl 54. It's been impossible to trust Watkins this season, but maybe he's finally turning the corner.
Kansas City Chiefs running back Darwin Thompson was not able to make much of an impact in the AFC Championship game on Sunday. Thompson had one rushing attempt for seven yards in the victory over the Tennessee Titans. Damien Williams continues to be the workhorse while LeSean McCoy (illness) didn't play in this one. Thompson has only two carries this postseason, so he won't be much of an option for Super Bowl 54.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was phenomenal in the AFC Championship game against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. He completed 23 of 35 passing attempts for 294 yards and three touchdowns. Mahomes also had eight rushing attempts for 53 yards and a touchdown. It was a fantastic performance for Mahomes and DFS players who stuck with him despite the high price are smiling now. The Chiefs are heading to the Super Bowl for the first time in 50 years.
San Francisco 49ers running back Tevin Coleman (shoulder) was forced from the Conference Championship game with an injury in the second quarter, and is questionable to return. After being tackled on the play, it initially looked like Coleman sustained an elbow or arm injury, but it is now being called a shoulder injury. He remained down on the field in pain, and was eventually carted to the locker room. Raheem Mostert has taken over as the lead running back, and Matt Breida will be sprinkled in as well for as long as Coleman remains sidelined.
The San Francisco 49ers have declared TE Daniel Helm, DT Kevin Givens, LB Azeez Al-Shaair, RB Jeff Wilson Jr., CB Dontae Johnson, QB C.J. Beathard and WR Jordan Matthews inactive for NFC Championship.
The Green Bay Packers have declared FB Danny Vitale, WR Ryan Grant, OL Alex Light, RB Dexter Williams, OT John Leglue, CB Ka'dar Hollman and DB Raven Greene inactive for Conference Championships.
Updating a previous report, Tennessee Titans LB Rashaan Evans (foot) has returned to the AFC Championship game after missing time because of a foot injury.
Philadelphia Eagles TE Zach Ertz will be a candidate for a contract extension this offseason.
Fantasy Spin: Ertz has been one of the top tight ends in the NFL over the last few seasons and should be a main option in the passing game for the Eagles again in 2020. He will be a No. 1 tight end in all fantasy leagues next season.
Tennessee Titans LB Rashaan Evans (foot) suffered a foot injury during the AFC Championship game and is considered questionable to return.
Dallas Cowboys impending free-agent TE Jason Witten has not ruled out playing in 2020 and could join the New York Giants because of his connection with offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, according to sources.
Tennessee Titans WR Adam Humphries (ankle) is officially active for the AFC Championship game.
Fantasy Spin: Humphries will return to the lineup for the first time since Week 13, but his role in the passing game is uncertain. He probably will see a few targets during the game but can be avoided in fantasy leagues.
The Tennessee Titans have declared DT Isaiah Mack, OG Kevin Pamphile, WR Rashard Davis, LB Reggie Gilbert, WR Darius Jennings, DT Joey Ivie and WR Cody Hollister inactive for Conference Championships.