Mon Dec 24 4:02pm ET
By KRISTIE RIEKEN
AP Sports Writer
Houston Texans' Deshaun Watson (4) and Demaryius Thomas (87) celebrate after Watson's touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Houston Texans' Deshaun Watson warms up before an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
HOUSTON (AP) The Houston Texans were on a plane returning from their loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday when they learned that Pittsburgh's loss to New Orleans had clinched their spot in the playoffs.
And according to coach Bill O'Brien the team did nothing to celebrate the moment.
''We were all watching the film, and just trying to be as honest as I can with you, there's was no reaction,'' O'Brien said.
Despite this, O'Brien knows that advancing to the postseason after how his team opened the season is something to be proud of.
''From 0-3 to where we are now there's definitely a sense that there were some things accomplished,'' he said. ''But there's a lot left out there. We didn't win (Sunday). We had a chance to really do something (Sunday) and we didn't get it done.''
A win against the Eagles would have given Houston (10-5) the AFC South title. After the 32-30 loss to Philadelphia on a last-second field goal, the Texans need a victory over Jacksonville to win their division, and a win and a loss or tie by New England to get a first-round bye.
They'll try and do that with a team riddled with injuries. Running back Lamar Miller missed Sunday's game and remains a question mark for the Jacksonville game with an ankle injury. His absence led to another day of struggles in the running game. Alfred Blue and D'Onta Foreman, who made his 2018 debut after tearing an Achilles tendon in November 2017, combined to rush for just 13 yards.
''We just haven't gotten it done,'' O'Brien said. ''I don't know what else to tell you. We just have to keep trying to get better.''
Star receiver DeAndre Hopkins played despite a gimpy ankle and O'Brien hopes he'll feel better by Sunday. But Houston will be without receiver Demaryius Thomas after he sustained what O'Brien indicated is a season-ending Achilles tendon injury against the Eagles.
The injury to Thomas is a blow to an already thin group of receivers. Houston traded for the four-time Pro Bowler on Oct. 30 after receiver Will Fuller tore a knee ligament. O'Brien wouldn't provide details on Thomas' injury, but his comments indicated he wouldn't play again this season.
''Demaryius is a great player, excellent pro, but I feel good about the guys that we have and some of the moves that we may make to help that position,'' O'Brien said. ''I think we can do some things to take up the slack there a little bit. It will be a loss because he was such a good pro and a mentor - all of those things - but we have to move forward.''
One player who could help fill in for Thomas is Keke Coutee. The rookie has played well when healthy, but has missed nine games, including the last four, with hamstring problems. O'Brien didn't rule out that Coutee could return against the Jaguars.
''He's a really good player,'' he said. ''We like him. We'll just have to see how it goes this week.''
On Sunday, the Texans got a big play from undrafted rookie receiver Vyncint Smith, who had just one reception this season entering the game. Deshaun Watson connected with Smith on a 35-yard touchdown pass that gave Houston the lead before Philadelphia's late field goal.
The Texans like Smith's speed and O'Brien said he's improved a lot since the beginning of the season. He added that Smith and Watson have already developed a good rapport, despite his limited action.
''You don't make that throw unless you have faith in the guy to make that play,'' O'Brien said. ''I know D4 (Watson) has faith in the guy to make plays, and that's big - the trust.''
Whoever the Texans have at receiver Sunday, the team remains confident in its passing game because of the continued development of Watson in his second year. Watson has eight touchdown passes with no interceptions in the last five games and has added three rushing touchdowns in that span.
O'Brien loves the way Watson has played this season and the leadership role he's taken on this team.
''He makes a lot of great decisions. He's got good poise,'' O'Brien said. ''He's obviously extremely talented. He made so many plays (Sunday) with his feet, he made plays from the pocket. He made plays outside the pocket. He ran. He did everything he could to help his team win.''
Some good news on the injury front for Houston is that cornerback/safety Kareem Jackson, who left early in Sunday's game with a knee injury, should be ready against Jacksonville.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas finished with a season-low five receptions (seven targets) for 54 yards and a touchdown during the win over Seattle on Sunday. After compiling 20 catches on 26 looks coming into this one, his decline in attention from quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was somewhat troubling, to say the least. Nonetheless, he is expected to bounce back as he continues to build a rapport with Bridgewater, so now is not the time to sell-low. Keep him rolling against the Cowboys in Week 4 in a Sunday Night Football showdown.
New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara had a day on Sunday, finishing the win over with Seahawks with 69 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries to go along with 92 yards and a touchdown off of nine receptions. After failing to find the end zone through the first two weeks of 2019, this was easily the most impressive outing for the 24-year-old as he was a favorite of quarterback Teddy Bridgewater throughout the contest. Look for Kamara to stay on track in Week 4 against the Cowboys, with Kamara likely getting the same amount of attention from Bridgewater.
New York Giants star running back Saquon Barkley was diagnosed with a high ankle sprain, and there is speculation that the team could hold him out through the Week 11 bye. This would obviously be a deadly blow for both the Giants and fantasy teams. If this were to come true, it would put Barkley back in time for the fantasy playoffs, but the Giants would face the Bears in Week 12, Packers in Week 13 and Eagles in Week 14 before getting much easier matchups against the Dolphins and Redskins. Due to the speculative nature of the recovery time, you can't drop Barkley. However, holding him for eight weeks if you're not already 3-0 could also be tough. If you can find a confident owner in your re-draft league who is willing to give start-able players to acquire Saquon, it might not be a bad idea to make a move. Wayne Gallman will take over as the Giants lead back, but the team figures to throw far more, making Gallman just a RB3 or FLEX, depending on the matchup.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Teddy Bridgewater finished with 177 yards and two touchdowns on 19-for-27 passing in the win over the Seahawks on Sunday. The Stellar play of the Saints' offensive line kept pressure off of the 26-year-old, allowing Bridgewater to connect with Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas throughout the contest while walking away with a 70 percent completion percentage. With rumblings of Taysom Hill being involved to some degree coming into this one, Bridgewater made his case to remain the starter moving forward. Bridgewater isn't as mobile as he used to be, but with so many weapons at his disposal on the offensive end of the ball, he could be a useful starter in deeper fantasy leagues until Drew Brees (hand) is able to return.
New York Giants LB Alec Ogletree (hamstring), LB Tae Davis (concussion) and WR Russell Shepard (foot) were injured in Week 3 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Philadelphia Eagles WR Alshon Jeffery (calf) stands a good chance of playing in Week 4 after missing Week 3 with a calf injury, according to comments made by head coach Doug Pederson.
Fantasy Spin: Before his fantasy owners celebrate, the Eagles play Thursday night on the road against the Green Bay Packers, meaning he has less time to heal up and a difficult matchup. Nevertheless, Philadelphia needs the playmaking ability he provides, especially after losing the last two weeks. Consider him a WR3 this week if he can go.
Indianapolis Colts S Malik Hooker (knee) is expected to miss four to six weeks with a torn meniscus in his knee, according to a source via ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Updating a previous report, New York Giants RB Saquon Barkley (ankle) is expected to be sidelined anywhere from four to eight weeks - with the longer timeline being the more likely of the two outcomes - with the high-ankle sprain he suffered in Week 3 versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Fantasy Spin: ESPN's Adam Schefter speculates Barkley could return after the team's Week 11 bye in order to play the last six games of the season. Wayne Gallman is the only running back on the roster at the moment, meaning he will likely see the bulk of the workload for the immediate future even in the likely event New York adds a running back in the near future. However, he'll likely be little more than a flex option most weeks.
Detroit Lions CB Darius Slay (hamstring) left the game for good early in the third quarter with a hamstring injury in Week 3 against the Philadelphia Eagles. He offered only a 'we'll see' when asked if he'll be able to play in Week 4 versus the Kansas City Chiefs, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.
Updating previous reports, Jacksonville Jaguars CB Jalen Ramsey (illness) will not practice due to an illness Monday, Sept. 23. A source told ESPN's Josina Anderson that Ramsey is actually sick and not trying to force the team's hand in regards to his recent trade demands.
Detroit Lions DT Mike Daniels (foot) was spotted in a walking boot following the team's Week 3 game versus the Philadelphia Eagles.
Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton (foot) will not play in Week 4 against the Houston Texans. 'What Cam needs right now is time and rest for his foot. We want him at 100 percent when he's ready, so there's no exact timetable for his return. At this point, we're going to go forward with Kyle (Allen) as our starter,' head coach Ron Rivera said.
Fantasy Spin: Allen was brilliant in his place in Week 3, throwing for four touchdowns against the Arizona Cardinals. Rivera immediately shot down any speculation Newton will not remain the starter when he's healthy, although the jury remains out on when that will be. Allen will remain on the streaming radar in Week 4.
Updating previous reports, Atlanta Falcons S Keanu Neal (Achilles) will miss the remainder of the 2019 season after tearing his Achilles tendon in Week 3 against the Indianapolis Colts.
Updating previous reports, New York Giants RB Saquon Barkley (ankle) is expected to miss several weeks due to his high-ankle sprain, according to sources.
Fantasy Spin: It's not a surprise, and it's going to sting all Barkley owners. Wayne Gallman is expected to take over for Barkley, but he is not the answer in fantasy and won't be much more than a flex option in good matchups. Look for the Giants to find someone to bring in from the outside to at least share the work.
Updating an earlier report, Jacksonville Jaguars CB Jalen Ramsey (illness) will be examined by team doctors Monday, Sept. 23.
New England Patriots WR Julian Edelman (ribs) will have more tests done, and he may have an MRI Monday, Sept. 23.
Fantasy Spin: Edelman has a positive outlook for Week 4 unless something more severe is found. He's a good WR2 universally.
Jacksonville Jaguars CB Jalen Ramsey (illness) will not practice Monday, Sept. 23, or maybe all week, due to illness.
Updating previous reports, Indianapolis Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (quadriceps) aggravated the quadriceps injury he had coming into the game Sunday, Sept. 22. Hilton re-injured it a couple of plays before he scored a touchdown, but he didn't want to leave the game before the drive was over because he knew he wasn't coming back. He'll have tests done for re-evaluation.
Fantasy Spin: If he's able to recover in time for Week 4, he'll have a great matchup against the Oakland Raiders. More will be known later in the day after tests are done.
San Francisco 49ers WR Dante Pettis caught four of his five targets for 20 yards and a touchdown in Week 3 versus the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Fantasy Spin: Sadly, all of those marks are season highs. Pettis was quiet for most of the game, but his TD catch with 1:15 remaining was the game-winner and very much a "trust throw" from Jimmy Garoppolo as he split two defenders from about five yards away. It seems likely Pettis will eventually find his way back into head coach Kyle Shanahan's good graces and be fantasy relevant again soon, but he should be on waivers in most normal-sized leagues now. He'll have a chance to prove himself again after the team's Week 4 bye.
San Francisco 49ers RB Matt Breida ran 14 times for 68 yards and hauled in two of his three targets for 20 yards in Week 3 versus the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Fantasy Spin: Breida's 16 touches are a season high, but his upside is capped by sharing touches with Raheem Mostert outside the red zone and losing goal-line work to Jeff Wilson. The frustrating thing for fantasy owners is San Francisco is averaging nearly 40 rushing attempts and unable to make any one of its three backs anything more than a flex option. Breida has the most consistent role of the bunch, and he figures to remain a high-end flex when the 49ers return from their bye to meet the Cleveland Browns in Week 5.