Report: Le’Veon Bell to Receive Franchise Tag, Negotiate New Steelers Contract
The Pittsburgh Steelers are planning to use the franchise tag on running back Le’Veon Bell before Tuesday’s deadline with hopes of agreeing to a long-term contract as the offseason progresses.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported the news.
Bell, 26, will carry a $14.54 million cap hold for the 2018 season unless the two sides can agree to a new contract. He played under the franchise tag in 2017 but has been publicly displeased with how the contract negotiations process has played out.
Bell held out into September before reporting to camp last season and said he’d consider retirement if tagged again.
“Just get the numbers straight, exactly where we want them. I’m not going to settle for anything,” Bell told reporters in January. “I know what I do and what I bring to the table. I’m not going out here getting the ball 400 times if I’m not getting what I feel I’m valued at.”
Bell is both a three-time Pro Bowler and All-Pro selection who rushed for 1,291 yards and added 655 yards on 85 receptions, scoring 11 total touchdowns. He’s rushed for at least 1,200 yards and caught no fewer than 75 passes in three of the last four seasons.
“Le’Veon has been a great player for us,” Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert told reporters last month. “We think he can still be a great player from this point forward, and we’d love for him to be a Pittsburgh Steeler for the rest of his career.”
The Steelers and Bell have until July 15 to come to terms on a long-term contract. If they are unable to, Bell will have to play out the 2018 season on the tag or sit out. Like last season, the Steelers do not have the ability to punish Bell for skipping offseason activities until after he has signed the franchise tag.
2018 NFL Mock Draft: Jets trade up for Sam Darnold, Christian Kirk lands with Patriots
The trade up for USC’s star signal-caller makes it quarterbacks off the board in the first three selections
Regarding its top five or six quarterbacks, this draft class has a legitimate argument to be the most hyped signal-caller class since … the famed 1983 group that featured a trio of future Hall of Famers.
Seriously. At the very least, this class will likely feature something that has happened since 1999 — either three quarterbacks going in the first three picks or six signal-callers going in the first round. Heck, with this group, both might happen.
Let’s examine a scenario in which the desire to grab a quarterback in this draft so high that three passers are grabbed at No. 1, No. 2, and No. 3 overall.
Below is the current draft order, which is just a mere coin-flip away from being 100 percent set.
1. Cleveland Browns
Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma. Yes, this would be a little outside the box for noted “old-school football guy” John Dorsey, but beyond Mayfield’s lack of height, he seems like someone who would’ve been referred to as a “blue-collar, high-IQ, hates-to-lose” player by Jon Gruden if he were still in the Monday Night Football booth.
2. New York Giants
Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA. When the dust settles on the 2018 iteration of “mass quarterback speculation” during the pre-draft process, Dave Gettleman settles on the most polished quarterback in this class.
3. New York Jets (via mock trade)
Sam Darnold, QB, USC. The Jets have loads of money to spend in free agency so they’re unafraid to send a few draft picks to Indianapolis for the ability to draft Darnold.
4. Cleveland Browns (from Texans)
Connor Williams, OT, Texas. John Dorsey’s first pick as Chiefs GM in 2013 was Eric Fisher … when Kansas City was set at left tackle with Branden Albert. Like Fisher did, Williams can man the ever-important right tackle spot to begin his career then shift to left tackle after Joe Thomas retires.
5. Denver Broncos Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama. The Broncos are in the midst of turnover at the cornerback spot, with Aqib Talib a prime cut or trade candidate. Fitzpatrick isn’t a press man corner but will help Denver’s pass-rush with his blitzing capabilities and can make plays at safety too.
6. Indianapolis Colts
Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State. Home-run draft management by the Colts here, as they slide back a few spots, get a No. 1 edge-rusher in Chubb and grab the Jets’ first of two second-round picks (No. 37 overall), and a seventh-rounder in the process.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa. The Buccaneers have a glaring need at cornerback, and a player with Jackson’s length and athleticism is precisely the type of player who’d improve Tampa Bay’s secondary.
8. Chicago Bears
Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech. In this scenario, the Bears land Allen Robinson in free agency, despite the initial consensus being that he’ll return to the Jaguars. Chicago’s new running backs coach Charles London was at Penn State with Robinson in 2012 and 2013. With Edmunds, the Bears get a super-versatile, freakishly long off-ball linebacker to range from sideline-to-sideline at the second level.
9. San Francisco 49ers Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State. Love this fit. The Jets are the wild-card team to pick Barkley if he gets past the Browns at No. 4, but with Gang Green moving up to pick Sam Darnold, Barkley “falls” to the 49ers. Suddenly, San Francisco is really fun on offense.
10. Oakland Raiders
Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia. Jon Gruden will love Smith. He’s got too, right? Not Derrick Brooks exactly. Similar traits … particularly the speed element. Oakland’s defense is in dire need of an impactful off-ball linebacker.
11. Miami Dolphins
Derwin James, S, Florida State. The future of Miami’s safety spot is somewhat uncertain given the age of Reshad Jones. James has similar size to that of Dolphins other safety T.J. McDonald but is more versatile and explosive to the football.
12. Cincinnati Bengals
Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame. It’s simple. The Bengals need to rebuild their offensive line. Nelson would be a huge upgrade on the inside of Cincinnati’s front and provide Andy Dalton much-needed protection against interior pass rushes.
14. Green Bay Packers
Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU. Believe it or not, the Packers receiver spot is in the state of flux with Jordy Nelson set to be a $12.5 million cap hit, Randall Cobb on the books for $12.7 million and the recently extended Davante Adams. Sutton’s game is Nelson-like and could be a double-digit touchdown wideout with Aaron Rodgers.
15. Arizona Cardinals
Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming. Arizona will be in the veteran quarterback market — someone like Tyrod Taylor, A.J. McCarron or one of the Vikings signal-callers would be reasonable acquisitions — which would keep Allen from being forced into the starting lineup right away. Yes, he’s super talented. But he’s not ready.
16. Baltimore Ravens
Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma. The Ravens lost right tackle Ricky Wagner in free agency a year ago and need to fortify that side of their offensive line. Brown is a prime candidate to be a power-blocking right tackle in Baltimore.
Vita Vea, DT, Washington. With Vea devouring blockers on the inside, Melvin Ingramand Joey Bosa will see more one-on-ones on the outside, which is a scary proposition.
18. Seattle Seahawks
Billy Price, G/C, Ohio State. Russell Wilson can deal with outside pass-rushers. It’s the interior pressures that leads to problems for Wilson — and all quarterbacks, really. Seattle’s guard spot was an abomination in 2017, and Price comes in as a clean prospect ready to start right away.
19. Dallas Cowboys
Calvin Ridley, WR, Oklahoma State. The Cowboys are thrilled with Ridley still being available. While he’s not the biggest wideout and has a skinny frame, he’s a dynamic route runner and has the deep speed Dallas has to inject into its offense.
20. Detroit Lions
Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan. The Lions are tempted to grab a running back here — or maybe Marcus Davenport — instead they opt for the elite inside pass-rusher to replace Haloti Ngata.
Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State. The Bills will likely explore a variety of trade-up options. Ultimately, the price will be too steep to move somewhere around 20 spots in this draft to pick a quarterback. They stay put, pick Rudolph and start to build around him with their glut of early-round picks.
22. Buffalo Bills from Chiefs
James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State. If you pick Rudolph, why not pair him with his ultra-productive downfield wideout? Washington has outstanding ball skills, body control, and some of the most electric deep speed in the class.
23. Los Angeles Rams
Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA. Robert Quinn is a likely cap casualty, so the Rams pick an edge-rusher with a comparable body type in Davenport. He’ll help to keep Los Angeles dangerous up front on defense.
24. Carolina Panthers
Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State. Greg Olsen is the guy who makes the Panthers passing game click. And at his age, it’s time Carolina looks for his replacement to be mentored for a season or two. Goedert is the quintessential “matchup nightmare.”
Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State. If Avery Williams isn’t retained in free agency, Tennessee will have a glaring need at off-ball linebacker, and Vander Esch is a new-age type at that spot who can range all over the field.
26. Atlanta Falcons
Tim Settle, DT, Virginia Tech. A big rise could be coming for Settle over the next few months. At 335 pounds, he moves like he’s about 30 pounds lighter and has an impressive first step. He’d be another fun inside pass-rusher in Atlanta.
27. New Orleans Saints
Harold Landry, DE, Boston College. Cameron Jordan is a cornerstone defender, and 2017 pleasant surprise Alex Okafor will be returning from a season-ending injury. Landry isn’t ready to be a No. 1 edge-rusher, and he won’t have to be in New Orleans. He’ll be perfect in pass-rushing sub-packages.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers
Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama. The Steelers must rebuild at the linebacker spot, and Evans seems like the hard-hitting, NFL-ready type Pittsburgh loves at that position.
Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame. The Jaguars made it clear … they want to run the football a lot. McGlinchey is a tremendous run-blocker who’s calm and effective at the second level and has enough pass-rushing proficiency to be a starter immediately.
30. Minnesota Vikings
Will Hernandez, G, UTEP. Minnesota did well with a mediocre-at-best offensive line in 2017. Hernandez is a power blocker with impressive skills on pulls. He’d be a huge addition for Vikings as they continue to build toward a Super Bowl.
31. New England Patriots
Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M. Kirk is the type of make-you-miss, downfield threat the Patriots seem to love at the wideout spot and would fill in for Danny Amendola immediately if he leaves in free agency. Even if Amendola is re-signed, Kirk would bring youth to New England’s pass-catcher group.
32. Philadelphia Eagles
Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA. Miller is tall, long, and athletic tackle who blocked well for Josen at UCLA. He really came into his own in 2017 and with more strength can be the heir apparent to Jason Peters.
NFL Rumors: ‘Perfect Storm Of Issues’ Led To Malcolm Butler’s Benching
The greatest mystery surrounding the New England Patriots at present is head coach Bill Belichick’s decision to bench Malcolm Butler for Super Bowl LII. Butler, who was one of the Patriots’ best defenders throughout the 2017 season, saw just one snap on special teams in the Patriots’ 41-33 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. But as is customary with New England, we’ve been given next to nothing as far as the reasoning behind Butler’s benching. While Belichick insists it was a football decision, there might be more to it. In a report Monday, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport uncovered a few new details surrounding the Butler saga that would make the cornerback’s benching more reasonable.
As Rapoport notes, Butler battled an illness early last week, which prevented him from attending Super Bowl LII Opening Night last Monday. However, he was removed from the Patriots’ injury report in the days leading up to Super Sunday. In terms of the rule violation, a few former Patriots also are of the belief that Butler might have violated a curfew violation. Although Belichick runs a tight ship, benching one of your best defensive players in the biggest game of the year because he got home late seems a tad extreme. Ultimately, we’ll probably never discover the true reason why Butler wasn’t a part of New England’s game plan against Philadelphia. And with unrestricted free agency looming, Butler likely has worn a Patriots uniform for the last time.
Super Bowl 2018: Is Brady better than Jordan? NFL players split on the answer
The question stumped many of the Pro Bowl players last week in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., bringing contemplative thought to the minds of others. Most grew up in the Michael Jordan era, the “Be Like Mike” Air Jordan icon that many wanted to be as kids.
Who didn’t want to fly through the air in the coolest sneakers around as you won championships and staked the claim as the world’s biggest celebrity athlete?
So when posed with the question as to whether Tom Brady has now surpassed Jordan as the greatest individual in a team sport, it seemed to bring on some sort of torment for many of the players.
“Better than Mike?” Los Angeles Chargers cornerback Casey Hayward said. “Better than Mike?”
“Man, that’s a tough one,” Baltimore Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley said. “Comparing anybody to Mike is tough. It’s hard, too, because they play different sports. Let’s keep Brady in football and Jordan in basketball.”Brady has the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl this week for the eighth time in his career. He’s won it five times, and if he beats the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday in Super Bowl LII, it will tie him with Jordan with six championships each.
Neither will push Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell in terms of titles since he won 11 in 13 years, but he did it with an all-time great team in an era where it didn’t take much to win a title.
Hockey purists will make a case for Wayne Gretzky as the greatest of all time in any sport, but he won only four titles.
That’s why the debate for me as the GOAT in any team sport comes down to Jordan vs. Brady, and if Brady wins this week, which he is favored to do, then he will pass Jordan in my book.
“It’s way harder,” Baltimore Ravens safety Eric Weddle said. “There’s so much parity in the NFL. In the NBA, a player like Jordan could take over a game. In the NFL, you can nullify a guy and he has to have 10 others on offense and 11 on defense playing well to win. It’s a lot tougher in the NFL.”
Jordan won six titles and never lost in the Finals. Brady is 5-2, with two close losses, but all of his Super Bowl victories have been close as well.
Jordan won six championships, but he missed two years when he abruptly retired to try baseball. He won three, missed two years, and then won three more. If he didn’t leave the game for a few seasons, would he have eight in a row? If so, the debate between Jordan and Brady wouldn’t exist, but it didn’t happen, and it does.
Brady will be making his eighth Super Bowl appearance in his 18 seasons in the league. But take out his rookie year when he barely played and the 2008 season when he missed all but one game with an ACL tear, and it’s really eight in 16 – so half his seasons starting at quarterback.
In an era of free agency, where rosters change every year, that is simply amazing. Think about this: The Patriots won one of their titles after the 2004 season by beating the Eagles. That day Brady threw a touchdown pass to linebacker Mike Vrabel, who just became the coach of the Tennessee Titans.
Yet here’s Brady still going strong at the age of 40.
The amazing thing is that Brady still keeps going with a ton of roster turnover every year. Consider this: There are 14 players left from the team that beat Seattle in 2015, and only five will be starters in this Super Bowl. The teammates change, but the success doesn’t.
“Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback to play,” Arizona Cardinals corner Patrick Peterson said. “But to see some of the things he’s been able to do, and still having new pieces all the time, it’s hard not to put him in that conversation as the greatest in a team sport. They change guys every year, and they find a way to make it work. Is he better than Michael? That’s a great question.”
As Peterson talked, Minnesota Vikings corner Xavier Rhodes stopped by and jumped into the conversation.
“That’s a great question,” Rhodes said. “In my era, Tom is the king. I pick Tom. If he wins this one, I would say he is for sure.”
Others were not so sure, citing the difference in the sports.
“I don’t think you can compare the two,” Vikings safety Harrison Smith said. “It’s two different sports. Let’s just say they’re both great.”
For years, I’ve been Team Jordan, his high-flying, no-prisoners style being the best I’ve seen in any sport. His assassin-like mentality was always there in the big games, in the big moments.
Brady is the same way. He is clutch at the right times, starring in the big moments, which is why he has four Super Bowl MVPs. Jordan has six Finals MVPs, so the edge there goes to Jordan.
“If he gets his sixth ring, those two are neck and neck,” Jaguars cornerback A.J. Bouye said. “Tom is doing it in football. That makes it even harder. He’s on the Mount Rushmore for sure.”
Brady is playing at the same level now as he was a decade ago.
“I believe him when he says he can play to 45,” Peterson said. “He can do it. He’s the same Brady right now as he’s been for a long time.”
For a long time, I used to think Hall of Fame receiver Jerry Rice was the greatest football player ever. That’s manly because I think he was that much better than any player at his position.
“Let’s rank them No. 1 and No. 1 in their sports,” Hayward said. “It’s hard to win in football, but Tom has made it look so easy. But Mike went there six times and never lost. That’s going to be tough to do in any sport. Right now, I am going Mike. But Tom is right underneath him.”
Come late Sunday night, it might not be that way anymore.
NFL mock draft 2018: NFL Draft order (01/09/2018)
NFL Draft 2018 is nearing, as the 2018 College Football Playoff is over with Alabama winning the national title. Find a 2018 NFL mock draft below. The narrative around the 2018 NFL Draft is focused at quarterback.
2018 NFL Draft: First round order
Pick Nos. 1 through 20 are set now that the regular season is finished.
1. Cleveland Browns
2. New York Giants
3. Indianapolis Colts
4. Cleveland Browns
5. Denver Broncos
6. New York Jets
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
8. Chicago Bears
9. San Francisco 49ers OR Oakland Raiders (coin flip)
11. Miami Dolphins
12. Cincinnati Bengals
13. Green Bay Packers OR Washington Redskins (coin flip)
15. Arizona Cardinals
16. Baltimore Ravens
17. Los Angeles Chargers
18. Seattle Seahawks
19. Dallas Cowboys
20. Detroit Lions
Patriots vs. Dolphins RECAP| NFL Week 14
The New England Patriots (10-2), led by quarterback Tom Brady, met the Miami Dolphins (5-7), led by quarterback Jay Cutler, in an AFC East matchup in NFL Week 14 on Monday Night Football on December 11, 2017 (12/11/17) at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida.
Here’s the AP recap:
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — The Miami Dolphins wore their perfect season uniforms, and for at least one game in 2017, they looked the part.Tom Brady was intercepted twice by Xavien Howard and held without a third-down conversion Monday night, and Miami snapped the New England Patriots’ eight-game winning streak with a surprising 27-20 victory. The Dolphins (6-7) were 11-point underdogs at home, but they kept the Patriots (10-3) from clinching their ninth consecutive AFC East title — at least for another week. “It was a bad night,” Brady said. “We’ve had a lot of good nights this year. This was a bad night. “Brady went 24 for 43 for 233 yards and one touchdown. Miami sacked him twice and hit him five times, and held the Patriots to 25 yards rushing. New England was 0 for 11 on third down.
“Our focus every game is to hit the quarterback as hard as we can and make him uncomfortable,” defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh said. “I think we did a pretty good job of it.” The Dolphins’ Jay Cutler threw for 263 yards and three scores, including two to Jarvis Landry. Kenyan Drake had 114 yards rushing and 79 receiving. A Brady touchdown pass cut the deficit to 10 points with 13 minutes left, but the Patriots’ next three possessions netted 5 yards. After a New England field goal, Miami sealed the victory by recovering an onside kick with 53 seconds to go. “This gives us a boost,” Cutler said. “Winning is what keeps you in this game. The locker room after a game, there’s nothing like it.” The Dolphins wore their 1972 uniforms, and for the first time in four prime-time appearances this season, they rose to the occasion. Miami tried to turn the game into a laugher in the third quarter when Landry caught a touchdown pass and then set the ball down in the end zone and pumped it repeatedly — a reference to the Patriots’ Deflategate scandal. “It’s all about taking the air out of the ball,” Landry said. Coach Adam Gase beat New England for the first time in four tries. His team snapped the Patriots’ 14-game road winning streak, second-best ever behind San Francisco’s 18 in a row from 1988-90.
Gase threw a lot of wrinkles at the Patriots early, with tight end MarQueis Gray and receivers Landry and Jakeem Grant taking turns lining up in the backfield. “We used a lot of guys,” Cutler said. “We were mixing it up. Adam was dialing it up well.” Cutler spun out of the grasp of blitzing safety Jordan Richards to throw a completion that kept Miami’s first touchdown drive going. The 5-foot-7 Grant made a leaping catch against Malcolm Butler for his first career touchdown reception, a 25-yarder. Meanwhile, the Patriots sputtered without tight end Rob Gronkowski, who served a one-game suspension for a late hit to the head of an opponent. “We got beat in all three areas of the game,” coach Bill Belichick said.
The Dolphins’ Kenny Stills, Michael Thomas, and Julius Thomas knelt in protest during the national anthem, as they’ve done for most of the season. Stills was nominated by his teammates last week for the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.
Patriots DT Alan Branch left the game with a knee injury. Starting S Patrick Chung limped off in the final minute.
The Patriots visit AFC North champion Pittsburgh on Sunday in a possible playoff preview.
The Dolphins play the Bills in two of their final three games, including Sunday at Buffalo.
N.F.L. Picks Week 14: N.F.C. Offers a Playoff Preview
It should be a wild week in the NFL.’s National Football Conference: Six of the conference’s top seven teams will be facing one another in three games. Few playoff clinchings are on the table, but with a glut at the top of the standings, the week will serve as a preview of what the N.F.C. playoffs may look like. Here are our picks against the spread.
Last week’s record against the spread: 9-7
Overall record: 96-90-6
Vikings at Panthers, 1 p.m., CBS
Line: Vikings by 2.5
The Vikings (10-2) have a greater than 99 percent chance of making the playoffs, according to The Upshot’s playoff simulator, and faith in them is high: This weekend, they are road favorites against one of the league’s 10 best teams. The defense has continued to punish opponents, Case Keenum has continued to lead a surprisingly efficient offense and last season’s collapse is a distant memory.
Currently in the top spot in the N.F.C. playoff standings by way of a tiebreaker with Philadelphia (and on the verge of an N.F.C. North title, which they would clinch with a win or a tie), the Vikings could become the first team to have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and then play at home in the Super Bowl.
Coach Mike Zimmer is not ready to make plans that far ahead.
“We’ve got four games left,” he told reporters. “My only thoughts are on the Carolina Panthers and trying to get a win this week. All that stuff is nice to talk about, but for us, we’ll go about our business.”
The Panthers (8-4, 68 percent) have numbers that are similar to Minnesota’s, but they have been less consistent. Cam Newton is capable of having a more electric game than Keenum, but he is also more prone to errors and mixes in bad performances with great ones.
Picking against the Vikings does not seem wise. They are clicking in a way that few teams are. But should Newton have one of his better days, this one can go either way. Pick: Vikings
Eagles at Rams, 4:25 p.m., Fox
Line: Rams by 2
The Eagles (10-2, > 99 percent) went into last weekend with a wide path cleared for them to clinch their first division title since 2013. All they needed was to beat or tie the Seahawks, or for the Cowboys to lose to or tie the Redskins. Somehow, none of that happened. Philadelphia went from the cusp of clinching a division title to being knocked out of the top spot in the N.F.C. playoff bracket, thanks to its blowout loss to Seattle and Minnesota’s win over Atlanta. The Eagles and the Vikings have 10-2 records, but Minnesota holds the tiebreaker between them, so if the Eagles want that top spot in the conference and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, they need to keep winning, regardless of when they clinch the N.F.C. East.
Getting back to winning could be difficult for the Eagles when they travel to Los Angeles to face the Rams (9-3, 95 percent). The teams have eerily similar statistics, with both averaging 30.1 points a game. Philadelphia allows 17.9, and the Rams allow 18.5. They are close to each other in total yardage and yardage allowed, and they even have similar defensive styles, with a fantastic defensive line setting up everything by putting consistent pressure on the opposing quarterback.
This game is strength against strength: Both teams are among the top all-around teams in the NFL But with the Eagles potentially playing without their top red zone scoring threat in Zach Ertz, who has yet to clear the NFL’s concussion protocol, and the Rams playing at home, the scale tips to Los Angeles. Pick: Rams
Saints at Falcons, 8:25 p.m. (Thursday), NBC and NFL Network
Line: Saints by 1
The Saints (9-3, 97 percent) and the Falcons (7-5, 41 percent) play each other twice in the next three weeks. If one team sweeps the season series, it will go a long way toward determining the N.F.C. South (Carolina is in the mix as well). Last season, Atlanta beat New Orleans twice on its way to a division title and a Super Bowl appearance, but the Saints rebuilt through the draft, with Marshon Lattimore revamping the team’s secondary and Alvin Kamara teaming with Mark Ingram to form a devastating running back duo. At full strength, the Saints would be credible favorites on the road, but with Lattimore expected to be limited by an ankle injury, if he plays at all, the scale tips to Atlanta. Pick: Falcons
Seahawks at Jaguars, 4:25 p.m., Fox
Line: Jaguars by 2.5
It is a bit convoluted, but the Jaguars (8-4, 98 percent) could clinch a playoff berth provided they win, Buffalo loses, Miami loses or ties, the Jets lose or tie and the Oakland-Kansas City game doesn’t end in a tie. For Jacksonville fans, who last saw the playoffs in 2007 and only five other times in the franchise’s 22 full seasons, that concept might be just tantalizing enough to keep a cheat sheet of all of those playoff scenarios handy. The Seahawks (8-4, 76 percent) surprised a lot of people with a tremendous performance against Philadelphia last Sunday, but they will have a hard time scoring against Jacksonville on the road. Pick: Jaguars
Ravens at Steelers, 8:30 p.m., NBC
Line: Steelers by 5
The loss of Ryan Shazier to a back injury, the extent of which has not been revealed, will have an impact on the Steelers (10-2, > 99 percent) in many ways. Emotionally, they will be thinking about their team leader and wondering about his future. On the field, they will be without their most important defensive player, while also missing his backup, Tyler Matakevich, who injured his shoulder on Monday. They were able to come back to win against Cincinnati despite the injuries, with multiple players saying they rallied together for Shazier. But the reality of playing the Ravens (7-5, 82 percent) with a third-string inside linebacker and without JuJu Smith-Schuster, the rookie wide receiver who was suspended over an illegal block he delivered Monday, could delay the Steelers’ clinching of the A.F.C. North, which would happen with a win or a tie. Pick: Ravens
Raiders at Chiefs, 1 p.m., CBS
Line: Chiefs by 4
A win for the Raiders (6-6, 21 percent) and a loss by the Chargers would put Oakland in sole possession of the top spot in the A.F.C. West. The Raiders would still have a tough road to the playoffs, closing out their season with games against Dallas, Philadelphia and the Chargers, but the fact that they can mostly control what happens is shocking after that four-game losing streak from Weeks 3 through 6. Pick: Raiders
Cowboys at Giants, 1 p.m., Fox
Line: Cowboys by 4
The Cowboys (6-6, 6 percent) have two more games before Ezekiel Elliott is eligible to return from a suspension, and if they continue to play the way they did last week against Washington, then the star running back could be coming back to a team with an 8-6 record. Standing in the way of that is a hypermotivated Giants team (2-10, 0 percent) that fired its unpopular head coach, reinstalled Eli Manning at quarterback and will do everything possible to come away with a win at home. Dallas has a huge advantage in talent, and is rightfully the favorite, even on the road, but the Giants might want this one a little more. Pick: Giants
Titans at Cardinals, 4:05 p.m., CBS
Line: Titans by 3
Of the five wins the Cardinals (5-7, < 1 percent) have this season, only one came against a good team. The other four were against Indianapolis, Tampa Bay and San Francisco (twice). Even the resurgence of Adrian Peterson is not as good upon close inspection. He has 448 rushing yards in six games, but over the last three games, he has averaged 2.44 yards a carry. He and Drew Stanton are questionable against the Titans (8-4, 92 percent), and a home loss seems inevitable. Pick: Titans
Redskins at Chargers, 4:05 p.m., CBS
Line: Chargers by 6
The Chargers (6-6, 33 percent) started the season 0-4, but it was clear even then that they were not as bad as the Clevelands and San Franciscos of the world. They have proved that fact emphatically in the eight games since, going 6-2, with the losses coming on the road against two of the best teams in the American Football Conference (New England and Jacksonville). The Redskins (5-7, < 1 percent), despite showing signs of life during the season, have almost nothing to show for it, and will have a difficult decision this off-season in the way they approach contract negotiations with quarterback Kirk Cousins. Pick: Chargers
Lions at Buccaneers, 1 p.m., Fox
It was easy to write off a close loss to division-leading Minnesota two weeks ago as the Lions’ (6-6, 10 percent) having some bad luck in a game in which their margin for error was tiny. Last Sunday’s blowout loss to Baltimore was harder to justify. This road game against the Buccaneers (4-8) is certainly winnable for Detroit, but it will be interesting to see how bad Matthew Stafford’s hand looks after he injured it against Baltimore. When he was asked during the week to show the hand to reporters, he said, “I would rather not.” Pick: Lions
Jerry Jones is reportedly hiring a lawyer to block Roger Goodell’s contract extension, and it’s setting up a war among NFL owners
Latest In the NFL – Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has reportedly hired powerful lawyer David Boies and threatened to sue the NFL and some fellow team owners to block commissioner Roger Goodell’s contract extension.
The move reportedly stemmed from Jones’ anger over Ezekiel Elliott’s pending six-game suspension over domestic violence allegations and disappointment with league leadership over matters like the protests during national anthems over social injustice.
According to Belson, Jones informed six owners of his hiring of Boies, a high-profile lawyer currently involved in the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment case.
Jones reportedly told the six owners on a conference call that legal papers would be served if the NFL‘s competition committee did not halt talks on a contract extension for Goodell.
Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank, who is the “point man” for a Goodell extension and is on the competition committee, invited Jones as an “ad hoc committee advisor.” Belson reported on Wednesday that after Jones’ call, the six owners revoked Jones’ status as an ad hoc advisor. The other owners then reportedly told the remaining 25 NFL team owners of what Jones had said.
That Jones was the leading voice of a group of owners who wanted to delay Goodell’s contract extension. ESPN reported in September that Jones was delaying contract extension negotiations, with one source telling ESPN that it would be done if not for Jones. ESPN reported in September that some felt Jones was not trying to oust Goodell as much as decrease his annual salary and his contract incentives.
It’s unclear where the situation could go from here, but it could set up a war between NFL owners. As Belson noted, Jones is potentially taking on the league, Goodell, and fellow owners. Jones is considered one of the most powerful and influential owners in the league, a borderline unprecedented situation.
It’s been reported that Goodell has the support of some owners who believe he has done a good job as commissioner at taking hits to the league. While it’s been reported multiple owners have expressed frustration that the league has not done anything to make players stand for the national anthem, some also felt the talks between the league and the players were beneficial.
Jones has been one of the most active voices in the NFL in calling for players to stand for the anthem.