Chiefs can clinch seventh consecutive AFC West title, second-longest streak in NFL history

Pro Football Talk - NBC Sports
December 8, 2022 - 4:49 PM UTC
By Michael David Smith · Original Article
Las Vegas Raiders v Kansas City Chiefs
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The Chiefs are dominating the AFC West like few teams have ever dominated a division.

If the Chiefs beat the Broncos on Sunday and the Chargers lose to the Dolphins, then the Chiefs will clinch the AFC West. That would make this the seventh consecutive season that the Chiefs have won the division.

And that would tie the second-longest streak in NFL history, along with the Los Angeles Rams, who won the NFC West for seven consecutive seasons from 1973 to 1979.

The only team that won its division more times in a row was the Patriots, who won the AFC East 11 years in a row from 2009 to 2019.

Heading into this season, one of the major storylines around the NFL was that the AFC West was getting more competitive: The Chiefs had lost Tyreek Hill, while the Broncos, Chargers and Raiders had all made moves that, on paper, seemed to give them a better chance of contending. But it hasn’t worked out that way. In fact, the Chiefs have widened the gap between themselves and the rest of the division: Last season, the Chiefs clinched the AFC West in Week 16. This year, the Chiefs can clinch the AFC West in Week 14.

Oversight Committee report on Commanders is coming today

Pro Football Talk - NBC Sports
December 8, 2022 - 4:40 PM UTC
By Mike Florio · Original Article
Washington Commanders v Philadelphia Eagles
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As the Republican Party prepares to take over the House of Representatives, power over the House Committee on Oversight & Reform will shift from Democratic control. That will end the investigation of the Washington Commanders.

Before the pendulum swings, current Committee leadership will issue a report. Per multiple reports, it’s coming today.

Indeed, we’re told that the GOP response already has been circulated.

The two documents will contain sharply different characterizations of the evidence, and of the motivation for and legitimacy of the entire probe. That distinction became obvious during the public questioning of Commissioner Roger Goodell in June.

Since then, the Committee conducted extensive depositions behind closed doors of Commanders owner Daniel Snyder and former team president Bruce Allen. Nothing has been released from those sessions, yet.

The report surely will include multiple excerpts from each deposition. And those quotes may spark even more scrutiny of the entire situation.

Calais Campbell, Dalvin Cook among finalists for 2022 Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award

Pro Football Talk - NBC Sports
December 8, 2022 - 4:14 PM UTC
By Josh Alper · Original Article
Denver Broncos v Baltimore Ravens
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The NFL announced 32 nominees for the Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award earlier this year and that group has been pared down to eight finalists.

A panel of former players — Warrick Dunn, Curtis Martin, Leonard Wheeler, and Larry Fitzgerald — selected four finalists from each conference as part of the process.

The award was created in 2014 — Fitzgerald was the first honoree — and goes to the player who best demonstrates the qualities of on-field sportsmanship, including fair play, respect for the game and opponents, and integrity in competition. Patriots special teamer Matthew Slater was the 2021 winner.

This year’s finalists are Ravens defensive end Calais Campbell, Browns running back Nick Chubb, Texans defensive end Jerry Hughes, Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby, Vikings running back Dalvin Cook, Packers running back Aaron Jones, 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk, and Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David.

The winner of the award will be announced at the NFL Honors show ahead of Super Bowl LVII.

Report: Falcons will start Desmond Ridder after bye week

Pro Football Talk - NBC Sports
December 8, 2022 - 3:48 PM UTC
By Josh Alper · Original Article
Atlanta Falcons v Cincinnati Bengals
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Falcons head coach Arthur Smith said after last Sunday’s loss that “everything is on the table” when asked about the possibility of making a quarterback change when the team returns from their bye in Week 15 and it appears he has decided to make a switch.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that the Falcons will turn to rookie Desmond Ridder for their game in New Orleans. Marcus Mariota has started all 13 games for the Falcons this season and the team is 5-8 in those contests.

Ridder was a third-round pick in April after leading Cincinnati to the college football playoffs during the 2021 season. He has yet to take any regular season snaps and the team will be using their extended break to make sure he’s fully prepared for his initial NFL action.

Ridder’s performance over the final four weeks will be an important factor for the Falcons to consider heading into the offseason. They are currently slotted to pick 10th overall and finding an answer at quarterback will be a primary goal if Ridder doesn’t show that he has the potential to be the long-term answer at the position.

Report: Baker Mayfield in line to start for Rams if John Wolford isn’t healthy to play

Pro Football Talk - NBC Sports
December 8, 2022 - 3:31 PM UTC
By Myles Simmons · Original Article
San Francisco 49ers v Carolina Panthers
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Baker Mayfield‘s whirlwind week could see him start on Thursday night for a team he just joined.

Rams head coach Sean McVay told reporters on Wednesday that he was leaning toward having Mayfield being active on Thursday night. That’s in part due to the health of backup quarterback John Wolford, who is questionable with a neck injury.

But according to a Thursday morning report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter, if Wolford is unable to play after going through pregame warmups, Mayfield would be in line to start against the Raiders.

That would mean Mayfield jumped third quarterback Bryce Perkins on the depth chart despite joining the Rams on Tuesday.

With Stafford likely out for the rest of the season after suffering a spinal contusion, the 3-9 Rams don’t have many great options at QB. Wolford has started two games, but Perkins started the Week 12 loss at Kansas City as Wolford was dealing with his neck injury. Perkins finished that game 13-of-23 for 100 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. He also had nine carries for 44 yards.

In seven games with six starts for Carolina this season, Mayfield completed 58 percent of his passes for 1,313 yards with six touchdowns and six interceptions.

We’ll see what quarterbacks will dress for L.A. when inactives are released 90 minutes before kickoff on Thursday evening.

Mike McDaniel: Everything that went wrong against 49ers wasn’t a direct result of Tua Tagovailoa

Pro Football Talk - NBC Sports
December 8, 2022 - 3:07 PM UTC
By Myles Simmons · Original Article
Miami Dolphins v Chicago Bears
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Given his success in 2022, Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa had an uncharacteristically poor performance against the 49ers last week.

He finished 18-of-33 for 295 yards with two touchdowns, a pair of interceptions, and a lost fumble. Tagovialoa hadn’t thrown an interception since September. He hadn’t had a game with multiple giveaways since the Week Two victory over Baltimore.

On Wednesday, head coach Mike McDaniel was asked what Tagovailoa needs to do this week to get back on track against the Chargers on Sunday.

“I think this is such a cool opportunity for each and every player that this is part of the NFL experience, is you can have some hot streaks where you’re doing well more often than not, and then you can have a game that there’s a lot more plays that you’d like to have back,” McDaniel said. “From a football perspective, that’s not — everything that went wrong wasn’t a direct result of the quarterback. It never is exactly like that. However, we all know that he wants to play as well as he can and he thinks that he could have done better in that game.

“So that is life in the NFL and whether you have seven Super Bowl rings or you haven’t been to a playoff game yet or you’re a rookie, you’re a 10-year vet, you’re a five-year vet; you will always — player, coach, anybody involved — be going through that experience, so that it is not something that, hey, it doesn’t happen to the best ones ever to do it. Every person has to go through that and so your objective is to get better from it, and that’s the world we live in.”

San Francisco is the league’s best defense, as the team is No. 1 in yards allowed and points allowed. So if there’s any opponent that would cause Tagovailoa to struggle, it’s the 49ers. McDaniel noted it’s a unit that has been together for a while and good defenses make QBs fit passes into smaller windows.

“I think the way we look at it is you want to be able to do well against good defenses,” McDaniel said. “That’s the objective if you’re trying to be great yourself. And they force you to truly execute and if you’re not on, they make you pay, in which case they did this past game.”

Tagovailoa still leads the league in passer rating (112.0), yards per attempt (9.0), yards per completion (13.2), and touchdown rate (6.6 percent). With the Dolphins taking on a Chargers team that’s No. 26 in yards allowed and No. 30 in points allowed on Sunday, there’s a solid chance Tagovailoa will get back on track.

Time is running out on holiday Playmakers deal

Pro Football Talk - NBC Sports
December 8, 2022 - 3:06 PM UTC
By Mike Florio · Original Article

December is the month for extreme procrastination.

How long can I wait to mail that package? How long can I wait to buy a tree? How long can I wait to go shopping for my spouse?

Are any stores open on Christmas morning?

One specific store is closing soon. If you want to get a free, personalized (up to 10 words), signed bookplate to add inside the front cover of Playmakers as a gift for someone else or yourself before December 25, you’ve got three days left.

The offer goes away on Sunday, December 11. If you buy the book and sign up for the free, signed, personalized bookplate before then, you’ll have it by December 23.

Do it now. Right now.

As an inducement to get you to do it now, we’re posting a Christmas novel, one chapter per day, throughout December. It’s free, whether you buy Playmakers or not. Which probably isn’t the best way to get you to buy Playmakers, since you don’t have to do anything to read it.

But read it anyway. It’s not horrible, in my own inherently objective assessment of the crap I write in my spare time down in the barn.

Dan Campbell: I’ll regret not going for it on fourth down against the Vikings until I die

Pro Football Talk - NBC Sports
December 8, 2022 - 2:59 PM UTC
By Michael David Smith · Original Article
NFL: SEP 25 Lions at Vikings
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Lions coach Dan Campbell ignored the analytics and attempted a field goal late in Detroit’s Week Three loss at Minnesota, and he still regrets it.

In fact, he’ll always regret it.

The Lions were leading 24-21 with 1:14 left in the game when Campbell decided to try a field goal on fourth-and-4. Going for it and getting it would have sealed the win. Instead the Lions missed a 54-yard field goal, the Vikings took over in great field position, and Minnesota drove for a game-winning touchdown. As he prepares to face the Vikings again on Sunday, Campbell said this week that he’s still kicking himself for kicking on fourth down.

“Look, it burns me,” Campbell said. “Of course it burns me. That’ll be there until the day I die. That’s not going to go away.”

Campbell said it’s part of his personality that past failures eat at him, and it’s not going to stop. Beating the Vikings on Sunday, however, might make Campbell feel a bit better.

Ravens’ losing streak vs. Steelers “definitely has been brought up” this week

Pro Football Talk - NBC Sports
December 8, 2022 - 2:56 PM UTC
By Josh Alper · Original Article
Pittsburgh Steelers v Baltimore Ravens
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The Steelers will be hoping that recent history repeats itself when they face the Ravens this weekend.

Pittsburgh swept the season series from their AFC North rivals in each of the last two seasons, which leaves the Ravens trying to avoid the third five-game losing streak against the Steelers in franchise history. That record is something that’s been talked about around the team this week.

Linebacker Patrick Queen has never been part of a win over the Steelers and said “the true mantra around here is that until you beat the Steelers, you’re not a Raven” while safety Chuck Clark said that it is incumbent on this team to stop the bleeding.

“It definitely has been brought up, for sure,” Clark said, via the team’s website. “That’s the truth; you can’t hide from the truth and what the record has been. We have to go out there and change that.”

Tyler Huntley is starting at quarterback in place of Lamar Jackson this weekend and he also started Baltimore’s loss to the Steelers in Week 18 last season. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said he expects to see a “significantly better” Huntley this time and the Ravens’ chances of snapping the streak will look a lot better if he’s right.

Eagles did not slam the door on potential pursuit of OBJ

Pro Football Talk - NBC Sports
December 8, 2022 - 2:37 PM UTC
By Mike Florio · Original Article
NFL: DEC 22 Giants at Eagles
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Last year, when the midseason free-agency adventure of receiver Odell Beckham Jr. languished, we said this: Watch the Rams.

This year, as the midseason free-agency adventure of OBJ languishes, we said on Wednesday, “Watch the Eagles.”

The goal wasn’t to stir the pot and/or the shit. The goal was to analyze a situation and predict potential outcomes based on the available evidence.

Here’s how we got there. OBJ likely won’t be getting the multi-year deal he covets. His best play would be to sign a one-year deal and play now. If he does that, his best option would be to join a contender that is likely to play deep into the postseason, and that has the quarterback, the offense, the coaching staff, and the overall personnel to make it easier for Beckham to make an impact in the standalone postseason games.

If it all works, he sets himself up for a potentially large contract in free agency.

Under that standard, two teams stand out: Chiefs and Eagles.

The Chiefs had already been linked to Beckham. The Eagles hadn’t been. So I said, “Watch the Eagles.”

Some who cover the Eagles took my riffing to be reporting. The idea that we tossed into the ether became the proverbial turd plopped into the punchbowl. Players were asked about it, as if it were an actual report. Coach Nick Sirianni was asked about it, as if it were an actual report.

It wasn’t a report.

That said, Sirianni’s response was significant. In rattling off the virtues of his current receiver room, Sirianni at no pointed slammed the door on signing Beckham.

First of all, it’s not Sirianni’s call. He’s not the G.M. Second, if Beckham’s people contact the Eagles and offer to take a one-year deal for the prorated veteran minimum, how could they say no to that, especially if it means keeping him from the Giants or the Cowboys?

Third, any of the guys currently on the depth chart at receiver can be injured, at any point. Suddenly, a need for Beckham would emerge.

So, again, watch the Eagles. The longer this lasts, the greater the chance that the Eagles will swoop in and grab a guy who currently seems to be destined to land elsewhere.

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