In this Jan. 12, 2002, file photo, Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden greets fans in the "Black Hole" after the Raiders beat the New York Jets 38-24 during the AFC Wildcard playoff NFL football game in Oakland, Calif. The Raiders' final scheduled game in Oakland on Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019, will be an emotional one for players and coaches, as well as fans. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)
This Nov. 3, 2019, file photo, shows a general view of RingCentral Coliseum during the first half of an NFL football game between the Oakland Raiders and the Detroit Lions in Oakland, Calif. The Raiders' final scheduled game in Oakland on Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019, will be an emotional one for players and coaches, as well as fans. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew (15) scrambles away from Los Angeles Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa, left, as he looks for a receiver during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Josh Allen (41) celebrates after he and teammates sacked Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Just a few weeks ago it looked as if the final regular-season game in Oakland could be an important one in the playoff chase for the Raiders and Jacksonville.
Recent slumps by both teams have ended all that talk, leaving the farewell to the Coliseum as the only meaningful story line when the Raiders (6-7) host the Jaguars (4-9) on Sunday in their final home game before moving to Las Vegas next season.
''It's hard right now to really think about what it's going to be like stepping in there for the last time ever,'' Raiders coach Jon Gruden said. ''The last time of the season is one thing, the last time ever really hits a tone with me and I'm sure a lot of people.''
The Raiders come into the game having lost three in a row, all by at least 21 points, and are all but eliminated from playoff contention. The Jaguars' skid is even longer; they are the first team in 33 years to lose five straight by at least 17 points.
But for Sunday, the focus will be on the end of an era in Oakland.
The Raiders have been through dress rehearsals for this a couple of times in recent years, with home finales in 2015 that was also Charles Woodson's final home game and last year serving as possible farewell games before the team ended up staying in Oakland just a bit longer.
But with the stadium in Las Vegas on target to open next summer, this time it should be for real.
''I guess you erase those memories and take on these ones I guess because all of the players that have played here, this organization's history, all of those things,'' quarterback Derek Carr said. ''I was here for 'C-Wood's' last game. There was some pretty cool memories that I have just of my own being on the team, but I think this one will rank right up there. I expect it to be crazy and loud and all those kinds of things.''
Jaguars coach Doug Marrone was drafted by the Raiders in 1986 when the team was in Los Angeles but never played for the franchise. But he still enjoyed his visits to Oakland when he was with the Jets and Buffalo, especially when he got to visit with late owner Al Davis.
Marrone remembers being razzed by fans and how intense the environment could be and will make sure his players are prepared.
''We tried to give them a sense of and when I say crazy atmosphere, I mean that in a very positive sense,'' he said. ''We talked about the locker room and we've talked about it. I think it will be an emotional day for a lot of people there. ... There will be a lot of emotion knowing that finally, I know last year they went through it a little bit, but the finality of it being the last game for sure.''
While the Jaguars haven't been to Oakland in six years and many of their players have no experience at the Coliseum, some veterans are looking forward to being part of the celebration on Sunday.
''The fans come early and get all dressed up and they use intimidation tactics and they talk trash. It's definitely fun,'' defensive lineman Calais Campbell said. ''I grew up in Denver so I grew up in the division, so I know a lot about the Black Hole. It's definitely exciting, especially with the history and this being the last game there. You try to play spoiler.''
The Jaguars credit one team with doing the most to land them standout defensive end Josh Allen: the Raiders. The Jags had done countless mock drafts, and just a couple of those netted Allen with the seventh-overall pick. They figured the only chance they had was if the Raiders chose someone off the radar. Oakland went with Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell with the fourth selection, allowing Allen to fall to Jacksonville.
''We wish we could have taken Josh and Clelin,'' Gruden said with a laugh. ''It was a tough decision, and I know Jacksonville's got a good young player there that's a great kid, too.''
Allen leads all rookies with nine sacks and is a defensive cornerstone of the franchise's pending rebuild.
''I could have ended up anywhere,'' Allen said. ''I could have ended up falling. I could have been No. 1, No. 2. I could have been anywhere. I'm glad I'm here and I'm thankful to be here.''
THIRD QUARTER WOES
The Raiders have had major problems coming out of halftime this season. Oakland has been outscored 98-20 in the third quarter for the worst scoring margin in the league, 30 points worse than Cincinnati. The entire second half has been an issue of late for Oakland. The Raiders have scored only one TD on 24 drives in the second half the past four games and are averaging a league-worst 1.14 points per drive in the second half in that span.
''I don't know what we're drinking or what we're eating at halftime or what we're saying, but we've got to do a better job,'' Gruden said.
WEST COAST WOES
Jacksonville has two wins in 14 trips to the West Coast, with both victories coming in Oakland. The Jaguars are winless in Seattle, San Francisco, San Diego and Los Angeles. But they're 2-3 against the Raiders, winning there in 1997 and in the 2004 season finale. Scoring has been an issue with each of Jacksonville's cross-country trips. The Jags have averaged 13.6 points in five games at the Oakland Coliseum.
The Raiders have taken losses at safety with rookie Johnathan Abram going down with a season-ending shoulder injury in the opener and then losing Karl Joseph to a season-ending injury last month. Oakland brought in D.J. Swearinger in to fill the void but that didn't work out and he was released this week. Now the Raiders might move cornerback Daryl Worley to safety, which would create an opportunity to get a better look at younger cornerbacks like Trayvon Mullen, Isaiah Johnson and Nick Nelson.
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.