New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning speaks to the media after an NFL football practice in East Rutherford, N.J., Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Tom Canavan)
Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) is tackled by New York Jets defensive end Nathan Shepherd (97) during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
New York Jets defensive end Henry Anderson (96) tackles Miami Dolphins wide receiver Allen Hurns (17) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) The 2019 season isn't ending the way Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores or New York Giants counterpart Pat Shurmur had hoped months ago.
Both knew they were taking young teams into the season, and they were hoping to find a way to contend for a playoff spot in December.
So much for that idea. The Dolphins dropped their first seven games, and the Giants headed south after a 2-2 start highlighted by rookie Daniel Jones replacing 38-year-old Eli Manning as the starting quarterback.
When the Dolphins (3-10) visit the Giants (2-11) on Sunday the outcome only will help decide the selection order in the draft next spring and give one team a rare chance to celebrate.
The Giants are trying to stop a nine-game slide, matching a franchise record, that has put Shurmur's job in jeopardy. New York has won seven of 29 games in his tenure.
Shurmur insists he sees improvement. It might not help his future.
''I understand the numbers. I get it. I get all that,'' he said. ''But you just try to keep inspiring the players to play.''
The Dolphins will be playing their second straight game at MetLife Stadium. They were a little upset last weekend after the Jets posted a 22-21 win on a last-second field goal set up by a video replay that overturned a non-call and awarded a pass interference penalty.
''It was a tough one last week, but in this league you have to deal with adversity, move on and move onto the next challenge, which we've got a big one this week,'' Flores said. ''I don't necessarily think about going back to MetLife as - whatever stadium it is - to me, it's the idea and the goal is always to try and get a win.''
Here's five things to watch Sunday:
NON CENTURY MARK
Giants running back Saquon Barkley has struggled since returning from a high ankle sprain that caused him to miss three games. The No. 2 pick overall in the 2018 draft has gone seven straight games without running for 100 yards.
In his rookie season, Barkley had seven 100-yard games, including five in the final seven games. He had 100-yard games in the opening two games of the season and then got hurt just before halftime in the third game.
The streak has a shot at ending. The Dolphins are tied for 30th in run defense, allowing an average of 141.1 yards.
IN WAKE OF DEMOTIONS
Dolphins defensive end Taco Charlton and rookie guard Michael Deiter are eager to bounce back from recent demotions.
Charlton leads Miami with five sacks, twice the total of any teammate, but was inactive last week.
''It made me hungrier,'' Charlton said. ''I want to be a player that no matter what, the game plan is you can't sit me.''
Deiter had started every game until last week, when he played briefly off the bench.
''I just need to play better,'' Deiter said. ''I'm confident that I can go out there and help us win, but I need to do it more consistently.''
GO TO GUY
Despite having Sterling Shepard and Golden Tate III on the roster, Jones and Manning have a new go-to guy for their passes.
Rookie Darius Slayton is putting up unexpected numbers this season for the Giants. The fifth-round draft pick from Auburn is second on the team with 42 receptions, two behind tight end Evan Engram. His 659 yards receiving and seven touchdown catches lead the team, along with his 15.7 yard average. He had two TD catches Monday night against the Eagles.
What makes the performance more surprising is Slayton was hampered by a hamstring problem in training camp and was inactive for the first two regular-season games.
The Dolphins rookie known as the intern may get a heavier workload after playing well in his first NFL start last week.
Patrick Laird contributed 48 yards rushing and 38 receiving. He has climbed from the bottom of the depth chart to become Miami's fourth starter at running back this year.
The 6-foot, 205-pound Laird tends to get overlooked. He was a walk-on at California and went undrafted out of college.
Shortly after joining the Dolphins as a free agent, Laird had lunch with team interns who assumed he was part of their group rather than a player. That earned him a nickname that stuck: the intern.
Because of injuries, the Dolphins' secondary is a work in progress.
The nine defensive backs on the roster have a combined total of nine career interceptions. They're in a scramble to become part of rebuilding Miami's long-term plans.
''You've got to take full advantage,'' cornerback Nik Needham said. ''We're all trying to do that.''
Denver Broncos general manager John Elway said that outside linebacker Bradley Chubb (knee), who tore his ACL on Sept. 30 against the Jaguars, is making "really good (progress)." "He looks great. I (jokingly) asked with about five weeks left in the season if he was ready to go. He should be ready to go for OTAs (in May) or even the offseason program (in April)," Elway said. Losing the pass rusher for most of the 2019 season was a big loss for Denver's defense. The 23-year-old was a force in his rookie season with 60 total tackles (41 solo), 12 sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. He should be able to bounce back across from Von Miller in 2020 and give Denver a formidable pass rush once again.
The Minnesota Vikings are turning to Gary Kubiak, who has been an assistant head coach and offensive advisor, as their next offensive coordinator, according to sources. Minnesota's previous offensive coordinator, Kevin Stefanski, has left to become the Browns head coach. Not much will change in Minnesota with Kubiak at the helm of the offense, but it is mostly good news for running back Dalvin Cook, who will continue to be the focal point of this offense moving forward. Quarterback Kirk Cousins also benefited from plenty of play-action passing plays while Kubiak was an offensive advisor.
Green Bay Packers TE Jimmy Graham is expected to be released during the offseason, in the opinion of The Green Bay Press-Gazette's Pete Dougherty, who called the prospective move a 'given.' Graham has one year remaining on his deal. Releasing him would free up $8 million in cap room.
Fantasy Spin: Graham posted a 38-447-3 line in his age-33 season, and despite playing well in the playoffs he has been a disappointment since signing with the Packers. Wherever he plays (if he does) in 2020, Graham's days as a TE1 seem far in the rear view.
Green Bay Packers S Adrian Amos (pectoral) is unlikely to require surgery on his injured pec, according to head coach Matt LaFleur. Amos suffered the injury during the NFC Championship Game.
Updating a previous report, impending free-agent Austin Hooper (Falcons) is expected to receive overtures from the Arizona Cardinals, Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks and Washington Redskins if he is allowed to reach the open market, according to sources via Pro Football Network's Tony Pauline.
Impending free-agent DE Robert Quinn (Cowboys) would prefer to remain with the Dallas Cowboys, and sources have told Pro Football Network's Tony Pauline that team owner/general manager Jerry Jones has been 'aggressive' in letting Quinn know he wants him to return.
Atlanta Falcons TE Austin Hooper is not close to a contract extension with the team, according to general manager Thomas Dimitroff Tuesday, Jan. 21. 'The reality right now is that we are trudging along,' Dimitroff said. 'Once we get back from the Super Bowl, after the Super Bowl week we'll continue to look and see how we are moving forward. But at this point there are no updates on Austin.'
Fantasy Spin: Hooper is coming off a career year in which he caught 75 passes for 787 yards and six touchdowns. He's an excellent third option behind WRs Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley in Atlanta, but his play this year may have priced him out of the Falcons' budget for 2020 and beyond. His potential free-agent destination would have a big impact on his 2020 draft stock.
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Josh McCown spoke with head coach Doug Pederson about a potential role on the coaching staff, but McCown isn't ready to retire just yet. The veteran QB came out of retirement last August to sign a one-year deal with the Eagles. He's currently recovering from a torn hamstring that he suffered in the wild-card loss to the Seahawks. McCown threw only five passes during the regular season and served as a de facto player/coach as Carson Wentz's backup. He has some potential as a future offensive coordinator, but it's unlikely he would immediately be considered as Mike Groh's successor in Philly. Wherever McCown is playing in 2020, he'll strictly be a backup and won't have any fantasy value.
Free-agent WR Antonio Brown (Patriots) had an arrest warrant on a felony charge of burglary and battery issued against him Wednesday, Jan. 22, by Hollywood, Fla. police. A moving truck driver claimed he was assaulted by Brown and his trainer. Brown also was charged with one count of burglary of an occupied conveyance and one count of criminal mischief.
Fantasy Spin: Dynasty owners should be preparing to move on from Brown before finalizing their rosters ahead of 2020 drafts.
Cleveland Browns WR Odell Beckham Jr. will sit down with new head coach Kevin Stefanski Thursday, Jan. 23, to discuss Stefanski's plan for personal conduct. 'I'm looking forward to sitting down with Odell face to face,' Stefanski said. 'I haven't had the chance to do that yet and I get the chance to do that (Thursday). And at that point, that's when I can start laying out my expectations for Odell and all of our players.' Beckham was caught on video at the College Football Playoff Championship Game earlier this month appearing to hand out cash to LSU Tigers players, as well as appearing to slap a security officer on the butt in the locker room. Charges had been filed against Beckham for the latter incident, but they were later dropped.
Fantasy Spin: Beckham totaled 1,035 receiving yards and four touchdowns in his first season in Cleveland. Bigger things were expected, and the hiring of Stefanski should help lead to improvements for 2020. He remains a top-end WR1.
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (knee) was a limited participant in practice on Wednesday. Kelce will be just fine to suit up on Feb. 2 against the 49ers in the Super Bowl. He was the top fantasy tight end in 2019 and hasn't slowed down in the postseason, catching 13 of 16 targets for 164 yards and three touchdowns against the Texans and Titans. Most of that production came in the Divisional Round when he had 10 grabs for 134 yards and three scores, but Kelce can go off at any time and could be the X-factor in the Super Bowl in two weeks.
San Francisco 49ers running back Tevin Coleman (shoulder) was unable to practice on Wednesday, but the team remains hopeful that he will be available for the Super Bowl against the Chiefs. The team didn't practice on Wednesday, but they were required to submit an estimated practice report. Coleman dislocated his right shoulder in the first half of the NFC Championship against the Packers and played just eight snaps. If he's active for the Super Bowl, Coleman will split snaps with Raheem Mostert, who ran for over 200 yards and four touchdowns against the Packers. Matt Breida will be the No. 3 back.
Minnesota Vikings RB Dalvin Cook (shoulder) indicated that he will be ready for the start of offseason workouts. Cook is entering the final year of his contract and is a candidate for an extension this offseason.
Fantasy Spin: Cook was one of the top running backs in the NFL this season with 1,135 yards and 13 touchdowns during the regular season. He will continue to be a focal point on offense for the Vikings next season and will be an early round pick in fantasy leagues.
San Francisco 49ers LB Kwon Alexander (pectoral), DE Dee Ford (hamstring, quadriceps) and S Jaquiski Tartt (ribs) were limited during practice Wednesday, Jan. 22. LB Dre Greenlaw (ankle) fully participated in practice. The 49ers did not hold a practice Wednesday, so the injury report is an estimation.
San Francisco 49ers RB Tevin Coleman (shoulder) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Jan. 22. The 49ers did not hold a practice Wednesday, so this is an estimation.
Fantasy Spin: The 49ers are optimistic about Coleman's status for Super Bowl LIV, but he may be a game-time decision. He will share snaps with Raheem Mostert and Matt Breida if he plays and could be a flex option in fantasy leagues.
New Orleans Saints impending free-agent QB Drew Brees is a player that the Saints want to keep as long as he wants to keep playing, according to general manager Mickey Loomis.
Fantasy Spin: Brees will be a free agent this offseason, but the Saints will try to re-sign him. He finished with 2,979 yards and 27 touchdowns in the regular season and can be considered a No. 1 quarterback in most fantasy leagues in 2020.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry (hip), who had a career-high 1,174 receiving yards and six touchdowns on his way to his fifth Pro Bowl selection in six years, said he played the entire 2019 season with a hip injury. "I'm good. I'm good," Landry said. "Just in this recovery process, this rehab process to make sure I can get back to my 100 percent self." The good news is that Landry won't require surgery on his hip in the offseason, and he should be fully healthy in 2020 under new head coach Kevin Stefanski. Cleveland's offense struggled to find consistency last season, but Landry was a consistent bright spot next to Odell Beckham Jr. He should once again be a rock-solid WR2 for owners in PPR leagues.
Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce (knee) was limited during practice Wednesday, Jan. 22.
Fantasy Spin: Kelce probably will be limited over the next two weeks but will be ready to play in Super Bowl LIV. He is a must-start fantasy option in all leagues as long as he is healthy.
Kansas City Chiefs DT Chris D. Jones (calf) was limited during practice Wednesday, Jan. 22. WR Mecole Hardman (back), CB Morris Claiborne (shoulder), DE Tanoh Kpassagnon (hand) and C Austin Reiter (wrist) fully participated in practice.
Cincinnati Bengals impending free-agent WR A.J. Green is a player the Bengals plan to have on their roster next season, according to director of player personnel Duke Tobin.
Fantasy Spin: Green did not play during the 2019 season because of an ankle injury but could still receive the franchise tag this offseason. Green is a weekly starting option when healthy, but fantasy players should monitor his situation during the offseason.