New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (14) reacts during the second half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) looks to pass, during the first half at an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) - Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Miami Dolphins are in a much different spot than they were the last time they faced the New York Jets.
Last month, they were one of the league's midseason laughingstocks, still looking for their first victory of the season. Then they went out and embarrassed the Jets 26-18.
The Dolphins (3-9) could sweep the season series with a win Sunday at MetLife Stadium, adding another chapter to an AFC East rivalry that has lacked juice in recent seasons as both teams have struggled.
"We're really trying to find ourselves and improve, and we've only won three games this year, so there's a lot of things internally that we're just trying to focus on and fix and get better at," Fitzpatrick said. "Some of those questions and then historically and in the past, some things that have happened, that is not really our focus right now. We're kind of hyper-focused on the now and getting ourselves better."
The Dolphins have plenty of motivation in the season's final month, even though they've been out of the playoff race for weeks, and each win hurts their chances of landing a franchise quarterback in next year's draft.
After an 0-7 start, Miami has won three of five games, including victories over playoff contenders Indianapolis and Philadelphia.
"It just shows that we can compete with anybody and we can beat really good teams," first-round draft pick Christian Wilkins said. "We will keep building. I know that this might not be the season that we wanted, or the fans wanted, but winning gives us a little extra sense of motivation."
Meanwhile, the Jets (4-8) are in a similar spot as the Dolphins in what has been a season marked by inconsistency, injuries and humiliating losses.
New York had its three-game winning streak stopped last week with a 22-6 loss to previously winless Cincinnati. If the loss to Miami on Nov. 3 was tough to swallow, that one was even worse. The Jets became the first team in NFL history to lose to two teams that were 0-7 or worse in the same season.
"It's frustrating, obviously," running back Le'Veon Bell said, "but we have to find a way to get better."
The Jets had scored 34 points in each of their previous three games - all wins - but couldn't get anything going against the Bengals. They were called for 10 penalties, including seven on the offensive line, and quarterback Sam Darnold was hurt by several drops.
"I think, for us, it was too many penalties," Darnold said. "For me, I have to hit my guys, I have to be more accurate. I felt like we couldn't get into a rhythm and it hurt us. ... We didn't come out flat, that wasn't an issue for us. It was really just a matter of executing, which was the issue."
Jets safety Jamal Adams appears likely to miss the first game of his three-year NFL career because of a sprained left ankle.
Adams was hurt early in the game at Cincinnati, but pushed through it and wasn't his usual playmaking self. He has been one of New York's bright spots this season and his absence would have a big impact on the defense.
Marcus Maye would likely slide into Adams' strong safety spot, with defensive coordinator Gregg Williams trying to use a combination of Blake Countess, Bennett Jackson and Matthias Farley, if he's healthy, in the other spot.
Fitzpatrick threw last week for a season-high 365 yards, and in the past five games has passed for 902 yards and five scores.
Fitzpatrick said despite the Dolphins' record, his first season in Miami has been a positive experience.
"I feel like I'm better now than I've ever been," said Fitzpatrick, who turned 37 last month. "In terms of what I'm doing and my focus and preparation and going out there with the group I have, my confidence is at an all-time high in terms of all that stuff."
The Dolphins still rank last in the NFL in yards per play. But lately, when they do get a chance to score, they're taking advantage.
Miami is third in the league with a red zone touchdown conversion rate of 68%. In the first four games, the Dolphins were at 17%. Since Week 6, they're at 80%, which ranks first in the league during that span.
"It's practice and execution, and players making plays in those situations," coach Brian Flores said. "Look, in the red zone in this league, the field is condensed so you have to make good throws, you have to make good catches in tight coverage. Players have to go up and make plays. We've had that."
The Jets remain the toughest defense to run against, allowing an NFL-low 75.3 yards rushing per game and just 2.89 yards per carry.
New York is also leading the league with 98 tackles for no gain or negative yardage, excluding kneel-downs, according to Radar360. The next closest is Tampa Bay with 71.
Only one player has rushed for 100 yards or more against the Jets this season: Dallas' Ezekiel Elliott, who had 105 in Week 6.
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.