DETROIT (AP) - Jameis Winston has plenty to play for and Darius Slay does, too.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Detroit Lions have been eliminated from the playoff picture, putting their team goals out of reach.
But Winston and Slay are among a group of players who will have something at stake Sunday at Ford Field and over the last two games of the season.
Winston, who intends to play in Detroit with a small fracture in his right thumb, is in the final year of the contract he signed as the No. 1 pick overall in 2015.
The injury didn't stop him from throwing for a career-high 456 yards along with four touchdowns in last week's win against the Indianapolis Colts. But he also tossed three more interceptions to increase his NFL-high total to 23.
Even though his future is up in the air, Winston insisted he's not thinking about next season.
"I got an opponent to focus on and it's bigger than me," he said. "It's about this team, so we got to focus on how we are going to try to beat the Detroit Lions and whoever our opponent is next week."
Slay has one more season worth about $10 million on his deal, and there's a chance the standout cornerback may end up on another team next season. He publicly questioned the decision to trade safety Quandre Diggs to Seattle for a fifth-round pick earlier this season.
Here are some other things to watch when Tampa Bay (6-7) meets the Lions (3-9-1) in the Motor City:
Buccaneers receiver Mike Evans might miss the rest of the season after he pulled a hamstring during a 61-yard TD reception last weekend. He is among the NFL leaders with 1,157 yards receiving and eight touchdown catches.
The absence of the star receiver doesn't necessarily mean Detroit's secondary will catch a break. Chris Godwin ranks second in the league with 1,212 yards receiving. With nine receiving touchdowns, he trails only Detroit's Kenny Gollday in the NFL.
Tight ends O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate, who scored last week, may get more targets without Evans on the field. Receivers Breshad Perriman and Justin Watson each caught a touchdown pass last weekend and could get an opportunity to score again against the league's 30th-ranked defense against the pass.
"Nobody is going to be Mike, but just be yourself," coach Bruce Arians told the receiving corps. "Whoever is playing the position, be yourself, do your job, and catch the damn ball when it's thrown to you."
The Lions also lost a key receiver last weekend. Marvin Jones was placed on injured reserve after he hurt his ankle in a loss at Minnesota. He caught 62 passes for 779 yards and nine touchdowns this season.
Detroit signed Travis Fulgham off its practice squad to bolster its depth at the position. Veteran receiver Danny Amendola may play a larger role, and running back J.D. McKissic likely becomes an option at slot receiver.
"We'll be ready to go with whatever we got and work to move forward," said rookie quarterback David Blough, who will make his third straight start for the injured Matthew Stafford.
For the second year in a row with a second team, Ndamukong Suh is set to face the franchise that drafted him No. 2 overall in 2011. He played with the Los Angeles Rams last year in Detroit before helping them reach the Super Bowl. Now he's back with the Buccaneers.
The 10th-year pro spent five seasons with the Lions before signing with Miami and spending three seasons with the Dolphins. The five-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle still has friends and fond memories in Detroit.
"Great people there, always showed me love, even when I'm there during the offseason," Suh said.
He signed with Tampa Bay as a free agent last May and has 1½ sacks and 13 quarterback hits. He also has recovered four fumbles, returning two of them for touchdowns.
"He has been playing lights out," Arians said.
The Lions have lost six straight, five without Stafford, and nine of 10. The tough stretch has increased the heat on coach Matt Patricia.
The former New England defensive coordinator has a 9-19-1 record overall in Detroit. His mentor, Patriots coach Bill Belichick, lost 19 games over his first two years as an NFL head coach in Cleveland and has become one of the game's greats on the sideline.
"Certainly, there's inspiration like that I think all the way across the board with a lot of great coaches," Patricia said.
Even though Tampa Bay will miss the playoffs for a 12th straight season, it can reach .500 in Detroit with a fourth straight win. The Buccaneers can finish the season with a winning record by closing the season with six wins in a row.
Arians, in his first season, is seeing a shift in the team's culture.
"Just watching our guys and how hard they practiced, in December, really can't ask for more as a coach," he said.---
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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.
There has been buzz that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a possible landing spot for Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, who will become a free agent in March. After his worst season since 2007, the aging gunslinger is unlikely to re-sign with the Bolts, and he recently moved his family from San Diego to Florida to be closer to his extended family in Alabama. The 38-year-old might have a year or two left of football in him if he continues to play, but the 2019 season showed that he's near the end of the line. Rivers would only be an option for Tampa if they choose not to bring Jameis Winston back for at least another season after he led all of football in passing yards last season.
Houston Texans defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel has been fired, and defensive line coach Anthony Weaver has been promoted in his place, according to league sources. Houston's defense was a liability for most of the year, especially their leaky secondary. The Texans allowed 51 points and seven straight touchdown drives to the Chiefs in the Divisional Round loss. During the 2019 season, Houston's defense allowed 388.3 yards per game (fifth worst), 267.3 passing yards per game (fourth worst), 121.1 rushing yards a game and 24.1 points per game. Getting J.J. Watt back healthy for a full season will be a start to the Texans rebounding on defense under Weaver.
The Carolina Panthers hired former Baylor defensive coordinator Phil Snow as their new defensive coordinator on Monday. Snow oversaw the defenses for Matt Rhule at both Baylor and Temple. He has 37 years of college coaching experience and has also served as a defensive coordinator at UCLA, Washington, Arizona State and Boise State. Snow coached four seasons in the NFL with the Lions from 2005 to 2008 when he worked with the team's linebackers. Snow will lead a Carolina defense in 2020 that will be without All-Pro linebacker Luke Kuechly, who recently announced his retirement from football.
Houston Texans defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel is not expected back in 2020. Defensive line coach Anthony Weaver is the top candidate to replace him.
Updating a previous report, San Francisco 49ers RB Tevin Coleman (shoulder) has a 'good chance' to be available for the Super Bowl, according to head coach Kyle Shanahan.
Updating a previous report, Green Bay Packers CB Jaire Alexander (thumb) suffered a broken thumb during the team's NFC Championship Game loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Alexander is hopeful he won't need to undergo surgery.
The Green Bay Packers Defense recorded one sack and allowed 37 points in a loss to the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers steamrolled past Green Bay's unit for 285 rushing yards and four rushing scores. To make matters worse, they couldn't generate much pressure or any turnovers. Despite the disappointing end, the Packers defense was much improved from last year, ranking 15th in sacks with 41 as well as third in interceptions with 17. They may not be among the top defenses drafted in 2020, though they should be on every fantasy managers' radar.
Green Bay Packers tight end Jimmy Graham caught four of five targets for 59 yards in a 37-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Graham was a big disappointment this season in a year filled with disappointing tight ends. The 33-year-old put up the lowest numbers since his rookie season and never really put together a good stretch of play until very recently. Graham has one year left on his contract worth about 7.5 million dollars. Given how much of a bust he was, perhaps Green Bay cuts ties with him and goes younger at the position in 2020.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Geronimo Allison caught two of three targets for eight yards in a 37-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. There were big expectations for Allison heading into 2019 in both the real and fantasy football worlds. Unfortunately for him, he lived up to neither, failing to eclipse 50 receiving yards in all but one game all year. Green Bay, who is in desperate need of another receiver behind Davante Adams, will have a decision to make about the 25-year-old, who is an unrestricted free agent. It's hard to see Allison being back in Green Bay in 2020.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Allen Lazard caught three of four targets for 36 yards in a 37-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Lazard may not have made much noise in the two playoff games but flashed some potential in the regular season, including his first career 100-yard game. Rodgers started to develop a little chemistry with the 6-foot-4 wideout late in the season, as he looked his way 17 times in the last two contests. It would be surprising if Lazard were the number-two receiver for the Packers next year, though it still makes sense for them to bring him back in some capacity. Lazard has some sleeper potential if he's catching passes from Rodgers in 2020.
Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes' 87 passing touchdowns in his first 35 games, including playoffs, are the most in NFL history. His 11 passing touchdowns and 142 pass attempts without an interception to begin his playoff career are both the most on record, and he is one of just two players to have at least 250 passing yards, three or more passing touchdowns and at least 50 rushing yards in multiple career playoff games.
San Francisco 49ers RB Raheem Mostert rushed for 220 yards and four touchdowns on 29 carries in a 37-20 win over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game Sunday, Jan. 19, becoming the first player in NFL history to rush for at least 200 yards and four touchdowns in a playoff game.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams caught nine of 10 targets for 138 yards in a 37-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Adams operated as Rodgers' safety blanket yet again, capturing 79 more receiving yards than the Packers' next leading receiver. When healthy, this is what the 26-year-old did all year, as he compiled double-digit targets in all but four games, including the playoffs. Despite missing five games, Adams still almost put up a 1000-year season. It would behoove Green Bay to put together a stronger receiver group behind the star receiver. Even if they don't, a healthy Adams should be back in the discussion as an elite fantasy wideout in 2020.
Green Bay Packers running back Jamaal Williams picked up just six rushing yards on three carries and caught two passes for one receiving yard in a 37-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Williams had a disappointing end to his season, as he failed to register at least 40 rushing yards in his last three games after eclipsing the mark in his previous three. The 24-year-old did show flashes at times of being the perfect complement to Aaron Jones. Still, it will be interesting to see if Green Bay hands the reins to Jones next year or continues to spell him with Williams. For now, consider Williams more of a handcuff option than a complement heading into 2020.
San Francisco 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo completed six of his eight passes for 77 yards in a 37-20 win over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game Sunday, Jan. 19. RB Raheem Mostert rushed 29 times for 220 yards and four touchdowns and caught two passes for six yards, and RB Tevin Coleman rushed six times for 21 yards. WR Deebo Samuel caught two passes for 46 yards and rushed twice for 43 yards, TE George Kittle caught his only target for 19 yards, and WR Emmanuel Sanders was held without a catch on one target. DE Joey Bosa and DL Arik Armstead both recorded a sack.
Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones carried the ball 12 times for 56 yards and a rushing touchdown along with five catches for 27 yards and a receiving score in a 37-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Jones was running well and would have been able to do more damage on the ground if not for the 27-0 deficit at the half. The 24-year-old finished the year tied for the NFL lead in touchdowns with 19, then added four more scores in the playoffs. He (likely) won't score this many times next year, though Jones proved he's more than just a touchdown machine, racking up career-highs in both rushing and receiving yards. He'll be among the best options in 2020 for fantasy backs in all formats.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers completed 31 of 39 passes for 326 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions in a 37-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. At first glance, Rodgers' stat line doesn't look so bad, though the first half was a complete struggle for him and the offense. Down 27-0 at the half, the veteran signal-caller effectively used up garbage time to post these numbers. It's a disappointing end to the season for Rodgers, though he still put up his eighth career 4000-yard season as well as his 10th season with at least 25 touchdown passes. The 36-year-old has plenty of juice left in his arm but will probably need another threat on the outside next year besides Davante Adams if Green Bay wants to make noise.
Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers completed 31 of his 39 passes for 326 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions and lost one of his three fumbles in a 37-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game Sunday, Jan. 19. RB Aaron Jones rushed 12 times for 56 yards and a touchdown and caught five passes for 27 yards and a score. WR Davante Adams caught nine of his 10 targets for 138 yards, TE Jimmy Graham hauled in four of his five targets for 59 yards, WR Allen Lazard added three catches for 36 yards, and TE Jace Sternberger caught two passes for 13 yards and a touchdown. LB Blake Martinez led the team with nine tackles, including six solo stops.
Green Bay Packers CB Jaire Alexander (thumb) has been ruled out for the remainder of the NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers Sunday, Jan. 19.