Indianapolis Colts' Adam Vinatieri (4) kicks a field goal from the hold of Rigoberto Sanchez during the second half of the team's NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins in Indianapolis, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich throws the challenge flag during the first half against the Pittsburgh Steelers in an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Brian Hoyer (2) takes a snap against the Pittsburgh Steelers after Jacoby Brissett was injured in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Houston Texans inside linebacker Zach Cunningham (41) tackles Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew (15) during the second half of an NFL football game at Wembley Stadium, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in London. (AP Photo/Ian Walton)
Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone walks the sidelines during the first half of an NFL football game against the Houston Texans at Wembley Stadium, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in London. (AP Photo/Ian Walton)
Jaguars QB Nick Foles holds a ball during a NFL training session of the Jacksonville Jaguars at the at Allianz Park in London, Friday, Nov. 1, 2019. The Jacksonville Jaguars are preparing for an NFL regular season game against the Houston Texans in London on Sunday. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Nick Foles’ long-awaited return will come with all the typical emotions Sunday.
The Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback is excited to play, eager to prove he’s healthy and optimistic about keeping his team in the playoff hunt. And, the most anticipated part for Foles might be his brief reunion with Colts coach Frank Reich, the man who helped revive his career.
“He’s a guy that I admire more than anything,” Foles said. “He’s a guy that has impacted my life so much, and he’s going to be on the opposing sideline, so that’s going to be fun.”
Foles entered the league as a third-round pick, full of promise. But after four seasons and 35 starts in Philadelphia and St. Louis, Foles found himself in the backup role in Kansas City and then Philadelphia, where Reich was in his second season as offensive coordinator.
Then, when MVP front-runner Carson Wentz went down with a late-season injury and the Eagles’ offense started to sputter, Reich made an adjustment for the playoffs and everything changed.
Foles led the Eagles to the Super Bowl title, was named Super Bowl MVP and Reich took the job in Indianapolis.
On Sunday, they’ll be on opposite sidelines in Indianapolis.
“I think it will be emotional seeing him because of what he means to me,” Foles said. “He’s one of the greatest people I’ve ever met, so when he went there, I was so excited for him. But I’m going to go out there and play.”
The Colts (5-4) don’t have much film on Foles.
He took only 11 snaps before breaking his left collarbone then turned the job over to rookie Gardner Minshew who became an instant sensation because of his moustache and his ability to win.
Now with the Jags (4-5) needing a division win, Foles returns - just in time for Reich to help give his defensive coaches a scouting report.
“I sat down and spoke with (defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus) about Nick’s abilities, mindset and that kind of thing - not a whole lot to be honest with you,” Reich said. “I told him what I thought about a few things, in detail about a few things.”
Indy is dealing with its own issues.
For the first time in 13 months, they’ve lost back-to-back games. They’ve fallen out of the AFC South lead and are dealing with their own quarterback situation as Jacoby Brissett tries to play with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee. Brian Hoyer replaced Brissett each of the past two weeks but Brissett was a full participant in practice and is expected to reclaim his starting job Sunday.
But for Foles, this game comes with a personal touch.
“He’d get up in front of the team after a loss or tough time and he just kept it real and he kept it light, he was joyful,” Foles said of Reich. “There was something different in his heart. But seeing him handle his everyday life like he did, with the joy he had, and how he spoke to people and loved everyone, was the most impactful thing and it was really special to be around. And obviously, he’s an amazing coach, he knows football.”
Adam Vinatieri has missed six extra points and five field goals this season, and it was a hot topic all week in Indy.
The Colts brought in free agents for tryouts Tuesday before opting to stick with the 24-year veteran who is the league’s career scoring leader. Reich continues to insist he has full confidence in his kicker.
“I believe whatever we’re going through is just a phase and he is going to help us win games and get to where we want to go,” Reich said.
Indy won 11 of the first 14 games in this series, but lately Jacksonville has had the upper hand.
The Jags have won three of four under coach Doug Marrone and have not allowed a point in the past three halves against the Colts. Indy has only been shut out twice since 2003 - and both came against Jacksonville during Marrone’s tenure.
“We still have to keep developing, we still have to get these guys better,” Marrone said. “We need to get better and better each week.”
While Indy’s offense has languished the past few weeks, the defense has played well.
In the past five games, Indy is allowing an average of 18.2 points - a number that is even lower when an interception return for a touchdown is subtracted. But the difference isn’t just showing up on the scoreboard.
Reich and Eberflus say they see it on tape, play after play.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson tied for the team lead in catches in Week 15, coming down with five catches for 62 yards. He was targeted seven times, good for second on the team. Johnson made some big plays in this one and should be primed for another good game next week against the Jets secondary.
Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Nick Vannett played well in Week 15, catching five passes for 40 yards. He was targeted six times. With Vance McDonald (concussion) forced to miss the game, Vannett was the main tight end for the Steelers offense. His five catches tied for the team lead in catches. He'll be a solid TE2 with a decent floor for as long as McDonald is out.
The Pittsburgh Steelers Defense was okay against the Buffalo Bills in a Week 15 loss. They allowed 17 points, but recorded a sack and an interception. The Steelers defensive unit will have a better matchup in Week 16 against a scuffling New York Jets team. They'll be a solid fantasy option for fantasy championship week.
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Devlin Hodges did not play well in a Week 15 loss to the Buffalo Bills. Hodges completed 23 of his 38 pass attempts for 202 yards and one touchdown. He threw four interceptions, some at critical times in the game. The Steelers take on the Jets next week and should fare slightly better through the air, but Hodges still won't be much of a fantasy option for the fantasy championships.
The Buffalo Bills Defense was excellent in a Week 15 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. They recovered a fumble, collected four interceptions, allowed just 10 points, and got four sacks. It was an all-around impressive performance by Buffalo, who will have a tougher contest next week against the New England Patriots.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner ran the ball just eight times in Week 15, gaining 42 yards. He added four catches for nine yards and a touchdown. Conner's touchdown came on an 11-yard pass from Devlin Hodges. Despite his success on the ground (5.3 ypc), the Steelers kept the ball in the air far too often in this game. Conner will face the Jets next week and should at least get more than eight rushing attempts.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver James Washington caught five passes in Week 15, gaining 83 scoreless yards. Washington was targeted 11 times, which led the Steelers. His five catches tied for the lead on the team with two other players, and his 83 yards were tops on the team as well. It was an overall strong game by Washington against a tough Buffalo Bills Defense. He'll have the Jets Defense to deal with next week.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver John Brown caught seven passes in a Week 15 win, gaining 99 yards. Brown led the team in both catches, targets, and yards, all by a huge margin. Brown had an excellent start to the season but had faded a bit in previous weeks. Given the tough matchup against the Steelers Defense this week, he was not a widely recommended fantasy option. He played very well however, and could surprise again next week despite an incredibly tough matchup against the New England Patriots.
Buffalo Bills tight end Tyler Kroft caught his only target in a Week 15 win over the Steelers, coming down with a 14-yard touchdown. The Bills did very little in the passing game outside of John Brown, but Kroft's touchdown was a critical one, helping to send the Bills to the playoffs for the first time in a while. Kroft won't be a fantasy option next week against the New England Patriots.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley was targeted six times in a Week 15 win, but caught only one pass for just six yards. Beasley was somewhat hyped coming into this one, but did next to nothing. The Bills passing game in general didn't really do anything outside of John Brown, however. Beasley gets an even tougher matchup next week against the New England Patriots.
Arizona Cardinals RB Kenyan Drake rushed 22 times for 137 yards and four touchdowns and caught one pass for nine yards in a 38-24 win over the Cleveland Browns in Week 15.
Fantasy Spin: After a couple of lackluster outings, Drake erupted for the best game of his career. He has become a workhorse since being acquired by Arizona, logging at least 14 touches in all six games. He'll be a fringe RB2 option with upside against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 16.
Buffalo Bills running back Devin Singletary ran the ball 21 times in a Week 15 win, piling up 87 yards. He also caught two passes, but gained just two yards total. Singletary was solid in this one but didn't make any huge plays against a tough Steelers Defense. He was certainly the featured back though, out-touching Frank Gore 23-10. He'll have a tough matchup against the stout Patriots run defense next week on Saturday.
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen was responsible for two touchdowns in Week 15 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He completed 13 of his 25 pass attempts for 139 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. He also ran the ball seven times for 28 yards and a touchdown on the ground. His passing score came on a 14-yard pass to Tyler Kroft and his rushing score came on a one-yard scamper. Allen led his team to a win against a tough Steelers Defense, but it certainly wasn't his best fantasy performance of the season.
Buffalo Bills running back Frank Gore ran the ball 10 times in a Week 15 win, gaining just 15 yards total. Gore was thoroughly out-touched and out-played by Devin Singletary, who gained 89 total yards on 23 touches. It'll be an even tougher matchup next week against the New England Patriots, where Gore shouldn't be much of a fantasy consideration.
Cleveland Browns WR Jarvis Landry caught five of his eight targets for 23 yards in a 38-24 loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 15.
Fantasy Spin: It was Landry's lowest yardage total of the year, and it couldn't have come at a worst time with the fantasy playoffs in full swing. He could be in a for another rough outing in Week 16 when he faces the Baltimore Ravens.
Cleveland Browns WR Odell Beckham Jr. caught eight of his 13 targets for 66 yards in a 38-24 loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 15.
Fantasy Spin: Beckham delivered one of his better games of the year, and while it was encouraging to see him targeted 13 times, he is going to have a hard time backing up this performance in Week 16 when he faces a Baltimore defense that held him to 20 yards earlier in the year.
Cleveland Browns RB Nick Chubb rushed 17 times for 127 yards and a touchdown and caught all three of his targets for 21 yards in a 38-24 loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 15.
Fantasy Spin: Chubb continues to be one of the steadiest backs in the league, and he is up to seven 100-yard rushing efforts on the year, including three in his last four games. He's a plug-and-play RB1.
Cleveland Browns RB Kareem Hunt rushed four times for 14 yards and caught eight of his nine targets for 62 yards in a 38-24 loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 15.
Fantasy Spin: Nick Chubb is the top dog in Cleveland's backfield, but Hunt typically sees about 10-15 touches and has been able to stay in the flex conversation in PPR formats thanks to his involvement in the passing game.
Minnesota Vikings running back Mike Boone had a great game in Week 15's blowout win over the Los Angeles Chargers. The undrafted second-year back out of Cincinnati rushed 13 times for 56 yards and two touchdowns in the win, finding the end zone for the first time in his young career. Boone worked as the lead back in the second half with starter Dalvin Cook (shoulder) out, and he looked just as explosive as he did when he dominated in the preseason this year. Cook was ruled out very quickly and Alexander Mattison (ankle) could be looking at an extended absence, as evidenced by the Vikings signing Tony Brooks-James to their practice squad last Wednesday. Boone is a priority pickup with Cook and Mattison ailing as he would be squarely on the RB2 radar in Week 16 if they are both ruled out. Stay tuned for updates on all three Vikings' backs.
The Minnesota Vikings Defense stepped up in a big way in Week 15's 39-10 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers. They tallied a whopping seven takeaways (three interceptions and four fumble recoveries), three sacks, and a touchdown as the Chargers looked flustered all game long. The most notable play was Danielle Hunter's strip-sack and forced fumble that was scooped by Ifeadi Odenigbo and returned 56 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter. The defense took control of this game from the get-go, but the secondary continued its stretch of subpar play and Xavier Rhodes was replaced by Mike Hughes for a good portion of the game. The Vikings Defense will be a risky option in Week 16's home matchup with the Green Bay Packers.