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FFL: Offseason | NFL: Superbowl

Pivotal game could have key playoff impact for Colts, Titans

Wed Nov 27 4:38pm ET
By MICHAEL MAROT
AP Sports Writer

Players: Ryan Tannehill, Russell Wilson, Kirk Cousins, Andrew Luck, T Y Hilton, Jack Doyle, Eric Ebron, Jacoby Brissett, Marcus Mariota, Jonathan Williams, Derrick Henry, Marlon Mack, Lamar Jackson

Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) jumps over Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Tre Herndon (37) as Tannehil scores a touchdown on a 21-yard run in the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)


Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) gets past Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Quincy Williams (56) in the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/James Kenney)


Tennessee Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown (11) scores a touchdown on a 65-yard pass reception against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)


INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Forget the big picture,

Sure, the Indianapolis Colts understand it's a pivotal division game and the long-term ramification of Sunday's outcome every bit as much as does Tennessee.

But with the hype building and the potential of a season-changing moment increasing, the Colts are reverting to what they do best: tune it all out.

''It's hard to do that,'' linebacker Anthony Walker said. ''You want to stay the course, but I'm pretty sure it (the playoff picture) comes across everybody's television screens when you're watching. We know what we've got to do. We've got to focus on us and we've got to keep getting better.''

In less than two seasons under coach Frank Reich, Indy (6-5) has repeatedly demonstrated it can cast aside the outside noise.

When just about everyone wrote off the Colts following a 1-5 start last season, they rallied to win eight of nine before clinching a playoff spot with a 33-17 victory in Nashville that also eliminated the Titans.

After Andrew Luck retired during the preseason, the doubters discounted Indy's ability to rebound. Instead, Jacoby Brissett took over and led the Colts to a 5-2 mark.

Now, with three losses in four games knocking them out of the AFC South lead, injuries mounting and their playoff hopes in peril, the Colts are getting back to basics.

''We have a tough challenge every week,'' tight end Jack Doyle said. ''So to be looking at anything other than this week really is a disaster.''

Tennessee (6-5) understands.

The Titans played their way back into playoff position last year by winning four straight December games before losing to the Colts yet again. They have replicated that strong run by winning four of five games since benching quarterback Marcus Mariota and going with Ryan Tannehill.

They've moved into a tie for second with Indy.

And though Tannehill hasn't been much more successful against the Colts than the Titans, who have lost 14 of 16 in the series, a win Sunday would change everything.

The Colts know it and the Titans know it, despite downplaying down the significance of it.

''We definitely have to prove to ourselves that ... we can be a team that can win this division,'' Titans safety Kevin Byard said. ''I think it starts with going through the Indianapolis Colts because we haven't had much success against these guys lately.''

TANNEHILL EFFECT

The Titans scored four touchdowns in the span of six offensive plays last week. Better yet, the Titans seem to have found the offensive spark they needed in Tannehill. They have produced 842 total yards over the past two games and are averaging 29.4 points over the last five - third in the NFL during that span behind only Baltimore (39.3) and San Francisco (30.8).

Tannehill also is tied for third in the NFL with Lamar Jackson in passer rating (111.4), behind only Minnesota's Kirk Cousins (114.8) and Seattle's Russell Wilson (112.1).

DOWN, NOT OUT

The Colts will play their second straight game without running back Marlon Mack (broken right hand) and their first without Pro Bowl tight end Eric Ebron (ankle).

But Indy has been incredibly resilient under Reich.

Jonathan Williams got his first 100-yard game after the injured Mack left the Jacksonville game, and followed that with a second 100-yard game last Thursday at Houston, his first career start.

This week, without Ebron, Doyle is expected to get more looks and four-time Pro Bowl receiver T.Y. Hilton appears to be healthier than last week after getting some extra rest.

HENRY TIME

Titans running back Derrick Henry is 9 yards away from his second straight 1,000-yard season. He heads into this weekend ranked No. 4 in yards rushing and he's run for 1,616 yards over his last 16 games.

Last week, he rushed for 159 yards and scored two TDs just 16 seconds apart. That made him the first player to score that quickly since LaDainian Tomlinson scored twice in 16 seconds on Nov. 12, 2006, for the Chargers.

This week, he faces a defense that hasn't allowed a 100-yard rusher in 29 games, dating to late in the 2017 season.

Player Notes
Philip Rivers Jan 28 4:40pm ET

Updating a previous story from Monday, the Los Angeles Chargers haven't officially moved on from quarterback Philip Rivers, as FOX Sports' Jay Glazer alluded to. All options remain available with the veteran gunslinger, including the franchise tag. However, the fact that Rivers moved his family 2,000 miles away from Los Angeles to Florida could factor into the decision on both sides. The writing seems to be on the wall for the Bolts to cut ties with Rivers when he becomes a free agent this March. The 38-year-old had one of the worst seasons of his career in 2019 in his 16th and likely final season with the Chargers. Rivers can still put up numbers as he gets closer to retirement, but fantasy owners will likely be drafting him as a backup for the 2020 season, no matter where he winds up.

From RotoBaller

Patrick Mahomes Jan 28 2:50pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said the team could wait until next year to sign quarterback Patrick Mahomes to a long-term contract extension. "I don't want to say necessarily it has to be this offseason, but I will say that it's a priority to get him done," Hunt said. A first-round pick in 2017, Mahomes is eligible for a contract extension now that he's finished his third year in the NFL, but it sounds like the Chiefs aren't exactly in a hurry to get something done. The 24-year-old didn't post the gaudy numbers he had in 2018 -- 5,097 yards, 50 touchdowns -- but he was still more than adequate with 4,031 yards, 26 touchdowns and only five interceptions in 14 games. Mahomes is an elite signal-caller with exceptional athleticism with both his arm and legs. He's here to stay as a high-end QB1 and will take on the 49ers in the Super Bowl this Sunday.

From RotoBaller

Alex Collins Jan 28 12:43pm ET

Free-agent RB Alex Collins (Ravens) and QB Chris Streveler (CFL) worked out for the Miami Dolphins recently.

From TheHuddle

Dee Ford Jan 28 12:13pm ET

San Francisco 49ers DE Dee Ford (knee, hamstring) said he's not 100 percent and will play through pain of knee tendonitis and a hamstring injury in the Super Bowl.

From TheHuddle

LeSean McCoy Jan 27 10:10pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs running back LeSean McCoy, who hasn't had a touch since Week 15 and who was inactive for the AFC Championship against the Titans, said he's not ready to retire after this season. "Nah, I'm not ready to retire, yet," McCoy said. "I still can play. So, I'm not going to retire yet, but that day is coming. That day is definitely coming." The 31-year-old has taken a back seat to running backs Damien Williams and rookie Darwin Thompson down the stretch, and he's unlikely to have much of a role, if any, in the Super Bowl against the 49ers. Shady has become more of a mentor in the running back room than an on-field performer for fantasy owners.

From RotoBaller

Tevin Coleman Jan 27 10:03pm ET

San Francisco 49ers RB Tevin Coleman (shoulder) said his injured shoulder is feeling good but wants to see how his range of motion is and how he will be able to manage the pain in his shoulder.

Fantasy Spin: Fantasy players will need to monitor Coleman's practice participation this week to see if he will be in any danger of missing the Super Bowl. He will be part of a committee if he plays and can be a flex option.

From TheHuddle

Philip Rivers Jan 27 7:23pm ET

Los Angeles Chargers impending free-agent QB Philip Rivers' status with the Chargers is uncertain at this time, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. The team may consider placing the franchise tag on him or let him leave in free agency.

Fantasy Spin: Fantasy players will need to monitor the situation to see where Rivers will be playing in 2020. He likely will find a starting job this offseason but may only be a No. 2 quarterback in fantasy leagues.

From TheHuddle

George Kittle Jan 27 6:23pm ET

San Francisco 49ers TE George Kittle (shoulder) said he has been playing the last two seasons with a torn labrum in his right shoulder and does not plan to have surgery on the shoulder.

Fantasy Spin: Kittle seems to be playing fine despite the injury and continues to be an important part of the running and passing game. He continues to be one of the top tight ends in the NFL and is a must-start fantasy option.

From TheHuddle

George Kittle Jan 27 6:00pm ET

San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (shoulder) said that he's been playing through a torn labrum in his right shoulder since the start of the 2018 season. "So I dislocated my shoulder last year," Kittle said Sunday on the Pardon My Take podcast, "and my labrum is completely torn. So I don't get surgery on it -- [The protective sleeve] basically helps me, so it doesn't hurt all the time." He didn't miss any games in 2018 and set the single-season record for receiving yards by a tight end with 1,377. Kittle said there's "no chance" he has surgery in the future. The 26-year-old has been quiet in the postseason with four catches for 35 yards in two games, but the Niners haven't really needed him with their ground game humming. That could change in the Super Bowl against the Chiefs on Feb. 2.

From RotoBaller

Tommylee Lewis Jan 27 5:43pm ET

Free-agent WR Tommylee Lewis (Lions) signed a Reserve/Future contract with the New Orleans Saints Monday, Jan. 27. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

From TheHuddle

Taylor Gabriel Jan 27 5:13pm ET

Chicago Bears WR Taylor Gabriel could be released this offseason since the team could save $4.5 million in salary cap space.

Fantasy Spin: Gabriel struggled with concussions this season but can be a role in an offense because of his playmaking abilities. He probably will be avoided in most fantasy leagues no matter where he plays in 2020.

From TheHuddle

Kareem Hunt Jan 27 3:20pm ET

Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt, who will be a free agent in March, emotionally admitted that he would fail a drug test to a police officer during a traffic stop recently. This was caught on video of the police officer's dash cam during the traffic stop. Hunt also admitted that the small amounts of marijuana found in the car were his, but the officer let Hunt off with just the speeding ticket. It remains to be seen if the NFL will consider a suspension for the 24-year-old from this incident. Hunt was released by the Chiefs during the 2018 season due to a domestic-violence incident, and he served a suspension before making his Browns debut in 2019. If he signs with another team this offseason and is given bell-cow duties in the backfield, Hunt could have RB1 upside.

From RotoBaller

Philip Rivers Jan 27 3:00pm ET

The Los Angeles Chargers have "moved on from Philip Rivers," according to FOX Sports' Jay Glazer. Rivers is set to become a free agent in March, and the writing was on the wall when he recently moved his entire family from San Diego to Florida. Rivers will end a 16-year run with the Chargers, but it remains to be seen where he'll land on the free-agent market this offseason. The Buccaneers are a popular expected destination, but that'll only be if they move on from Jameis Winston. Rivers completed 66 percent of his passes for 4,615 yards, 23 touchdowns and 20 interceptions in 2019 for a QB rating of 88.5. He might have a few more seasons left in him, but at 38 years old his arm strength is clearly deteriorating, and he'll probably be more of a QB2 in 2020, depending on where he winds up.

From RotoBaller

Jerry Hughes Jan 27 11:13am ET

The Buffalo Bills were cleared of violating policy over the reporting of DE Jerry Hughes' (wrist) wrist injury in 2019. Hughes posted to social media that he was undergoing surgery after playing the season with torn ligaments, but he was not listed on the injury report.

From TheHuddle

Fletcher Cox Jan 26 6:43pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles DT Fletcher Cox was credited with a 61-yard interception return for touchdown at the Pro Bowl on Sunday, Jan. 26.

From TheHuddle

Jack Doyle Jan 26 6:33pm ET

Indianapolis Colts TE Jack Doyle posted three catches for 63 yards and a touchdown on four targets for the AFC at the Pro Bowl Sunday, Jan. 26.

From TheHuddle

T.J. Watt Jan 26 6:33pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers DE T.J. Watt posted an 82-yard fumble return for touchdown in the fourth quarter for the AFC at the Pro Bowl in Orlando on Sunday, Jan. 26.

From TheHuddle

Mark Andrews Jan 26 6:23pm ET

Baltimore Ravens TE Mark Andrews ended up with a game-high nine receptions for an AFC-best 73 yards and a touchdown on 10 targets at the Pro Bowl on Sunday, Jan. 26.

From TheHuddle

D.J. Chark Jan 26 6:23pm ET

Jacksonville Jaguars WR DJ Chark Jr. registered two grabs for 67 yards, including a 60-yard touchdown in the third quarter, for the AFC at the Pro Bowl on Sunday, Jan. 26.

From TheHuddle

Davante Adams Jan 26 6:13pm ET

Green Bay Packers WR Davante Adams ended up with a team-high six receptions for 61 yards and two touchdowns on seven targets for the NFC at the Pro Bowl Sunday, Jan. 26.

From TheHuddle