Thu Dec 5 10:04am ET
By ANDREW SELIGMAN
AP Sports Writer
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, rear, sit on the bench late in the second half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills in Arlington, Texas, Thursday, Nov. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)
Chicago Bears wide receiver Anthony Miller (17), defended by Detroit Lions cornerback Justin Coleman (27), catches during the second half of an NFL football game, Thursday, Nov. 28, 2019, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) Dak Prescott saw no need for strong words or fiery speeches.
The Dallas Cowboys have lost six of nine since a 3-0 start, and all their star quarterback cares about is finding a way to win consistently again.
They will try to get headed back in the right direction when they visit the Chicago Bears on Thursday night in a matchup between disappointing 6-6 teams that made the playoffs last season.
''Talk is cheap right? We've talked a lot,'' Prescott said. ''We've talked a bunch and got ourselves right to where we are. In a moment like this I say hell with the talking and I'm going to do more. I'm going to work harder and if you're a young guy looking for somebody to figure it out, how to do it, yeah, look at me and some of these other guys because that's exactly what we're doing - putting our head down focusing and doubling down on ourselves.''
The Cowboys came into the season with high expectations after winning the NFC East, and they looked like they were ready to deliver in the early going. Dallas averaged 32 points and 481 yards in its first 3-0 start since 2008, winning each of those games by at least 10 points. But in recent weeks, the team with the NFL's leading passer and No. 1 offense is having trouble scoring.
The Cowboys were kept out of the end zone in a 13-9 loss at New England two weeks ago, then managed two touchdowns in falling 26-15 to Buffalo on Thanksgiving. Despite all that, they still hold a one-game lead over Philadelphia in the division. But they will be facing a top 10 defense for the third straight week when they meet Khalil Mack and the Bears.
Chicago has won three of four after losing four in a row, though two of those victories were against the Lions and the other was over the Giants. Detroit and New York are a combined 5-18-1, and the Lions started backup quarterbacks Jeff Driskel and David Blough with Matthew Stafford injured.
''It speaks to the direction of where we could've went in that four-game slide,'' Bears coach Matt Nagy said. ''I thought it revealed a lot of who we were as a team and who we are as people. No one not one time started pointing fingers. ... That's a credit to our players for battling through that. It makes you proud to be their coach.''
COOPER'S ROAD WOES
Amari Cooper's strong production since joining the Cowboys in a midseason trade last year hasn't translated on the road in his first full season with Dallas. The receiver has 47 catches, 758 yards and five touchdowns in six home games, and 17 catches for 213 yards and two scores on the road.
For Cooper, the more important numbers are 60 and 32. That's the difference in targets between home and road games. Cooper isn't one to complain, and isn't doing so by pointing out those numbers.
''It's just like basketball,'' said Cooper, who is still fifth in the league in yards receiving (971) and tied for fifth in TD catches (seven). ''You shoot the ball more, you're going to have more points. If you only have two shots, then you only score four points.''
Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky is on a bit of a roll the past four games after struggling for most of the season. He was 29 of 38 for a season-high 338 yards with three touchdowns - one in the closing minutes - to lead the Bears to a 24-20 win at Detroit on Thanksgiving. Trubisky is 94 of 145 for 979 yards, eight touchdowns, four interceptions and a 91.1 rating in the past four games. The three wins came against last-place teams, and he will be going against a top 10 defense this week.
The Cowboys finally brought in kickers for tryouts after Brett Maher had two big misses in the loss to Buffalo, pushing his NFL-leading total to nine misses. Dallas decided against signing a replacement, for now.
Maher has been one of the most interesting riddles in a season full of them for the Cowboys. He's the only kicker in NFL history with three kicks of at least 60 yards - all three from at least 62. But he has the second-lowest success rate from 30-49 yards at 55% (6 of 11).
Bears receiver Anthony Miller looks as if he is starting to emerge.
The second-year pro set career highs with nine catches and 140 yards against Detroit last week. He has 21 receptions for 271 yards past three games, compared to 17 for 218 in first nine.
The Memphis product had 423 yards last season.
Silly penalties continue to be an issue for the Bears.
They had 10 for 89 yards last week and seemed in disarray at times, with not enough players on the field at one point and an illegal formation at another. At important times, Roquan Smith got called for unnecessary roughness and Leonard Floyd was flagged for roughing the passer.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Seattle Seahawks LB Bobby Wagner (ankle, knee) will not need surgery on his ankle or knee this offseason, according to head coach Pete Carroll.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
San Francisco 49ers S Jaquiski Tartt (ribs) aggravated his injured ribs during the NFC Championship game but should be available for Super Bowl LIV.
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.