Melvin Gordon says critics of his ability have given him fuel to prove he is "not an average running back" after joining the Denver Broncos in free agency.

The two-time Pro Bowler signed a two-year, $16million contract in Denver after leaving the Los Angeles Chargers, who he will now meet twice a season in the AFC West.

Gordon did not start his 2019 season until Week 5 after a tense contract holdout failed to land him the lucrative long-term extension he was looking for, not helped by Austin Ekeler's fine displays in his absence.

If he had his time again, Gordon would not hold out, but his focus is on proving people wrong in the 2020 season and bouncing back from a year that saw him average 3.8 yards per carry.

"Oh, it's huge," Gordon said of the chip on his shoulder in a conference call with reporters.

"I just feel like a lot of people just doubt my talent as a back. During the holdout, a lot of people were saying, 'Oh, he's an average back, he's not this, he's not that’.

"Just this year, people are like, 'Well, he's not the back that he was’. No one takes into account that I didn't have my center, or I didn't have my left tackle. We had guys that were hurt and just in and out.

"I didn't have really my starting linemen, my best linemen. No one cares about that, and nor should they, but some players they give that excuse for.

"Some players they give them an excuse - 'Well, they didn't have their line, but he's still a great player'.

"Then you have some players that are in my position where they don't care if you have a good line, or if your line is hurt or not. You're not what you are. You're an average player.

"I'm going to take that and I'm going to use it as fuel, because I know what type of player I am. I want to show that and I am going to show that. I'm going to show everybody that I'm better than just average."

Asked if he would hold out again, Gordon said: "I probably would come back.

"Just because my legacy of what I'm trying to do as a player and the mark that I'm trying to leave. Obviously, those are games I can't get back.

"I started out slow and being able to catch my stride toward the end of the season, but then it's too late.

"It was tough [after coming back], I definitely felt like I ruined some relationships. At times it definitely was difficult.

"I kind of felt some tension walking around, but I just tried my best to keep a smile on my face and just show up for work every day. Obviously, I can't take back what I did, it was done. And now I'm here."

The Denver Broncos and Atlanta Falcons each invested in the running back position during free agency with the signings of Melvin Gordon and Todd Gurley.

Denver reportedly gave Gordon a two-year, $16million deal after five seasons with the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers.

Atlanta did not use as much of their salary cap space on Gurley, signing him to a reported one-year, $6m contract.

Both marquee names, Denver and Atlanta will each be hoping the acquisitions can provide an injection of quality into their respective ground games.

However, both were well short of their best in 2019 and their numbers reflect that.


DENVER BACKS IN DECLINE

Gordon held out in search of a new contract from the Chargers last season and missed the first four games of 2019.

His output only served to further vindicate the Chargers' decision not to bow to his demands.

After averaging 5.06 yards per rush in 2018, Gordon ran at 3.78 yards per attempt in 2019.

According to Stats Perform data, his drop-off was the biggest dip in yards per rush from a running back to have had at least 150 carries in each of those seasons.

Worryingly for the Broncos, Phillip Lindsay - an undrafted free agent gem who starred in 2018 - was fourth on that list. His average dropped from 5.40 yards to 4.51.


TODD'S DOWNWARD TRAJECTORY

A knee issue derailed the back end of a 2018 season in which Gurley reached the Super Bowl with the Los Angeles Rams.

By the postseason Gurley was scarcely on the field and looked a shadow of his former self when he did earn playing time.

There was no sign of a revival in 2019 as the Rams missed the playoffs.

Indeed, Gurley was second on the list for the largest dip in yards per attempt from 2018 to 2019. His average went from 4.89 yards to 3.84.

He did not have a single 100-yard rushing game in 2019, with his longest run a mere 25 yards.

Could a return to familiar scenery bring about a revival?


A GLORIOUS HOMECOMING?

Gurley came into the NFL in 2015 after a stellar collegiate career at Georgia.

By joining the Falcons, he will be going back to the state where he made his name and his history suggests he will be an upgrade on what the Falcons have had at the position in the past.

He has 70 touchdowns in his pro career. The second-most in NFL history for a player aged 25 or younger behind the great Emmitt Smith (75).

Having played 73 games in his career, Gurley's rate of 0.96 touchdowns per game is the second-best all-time, for those who have played at least 50 games, behind Jim Brown's average of 1.07.

The Falcons running backs - which included the likes of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, though both have now moved on - have not come close to matching his production in recent years.

Gurley has three seasons with 1,000+ rushing yards (2015, 2017, 2018).  The Falcons have only had two such seasons from their running backs since 2012, both coming from Freeman (2015, 2016).

Additionally, since 2017, Gurley has averaged more yards per carry than the Falcons backs - 4.5 to 4.2, scored more rushing touchdowns - 42 to 29, and ran for nearly 82 per cent of their total rushing yardage by himself. Gurley has 3,413 yards in the last three seasons while the Falcons backs have 4,166.

Gurley also has 24 rushing plays of 20 yards or more since 2017. The Falcons have just 31 as a team.

All those signs point to Gurley being an improvement on what the Falcons have had at running back in recent years. For him to realise that possibility, however, he will need to reverse a trend that makes his signing look a very questionable one.

Melvin Gordon will be staying in the AFC West after signing for the Denver Broncos.

According to widespread reports, the former Los Angeles Chargers running back has agreed a two-year deal worth $16million, with $13.5m guaranteed.

Gordon will join Phillip Lindsay in the Broncos’ backfield as part of an offense now led by second-year pro Drew Lock at quarterback.

Having been selected in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, Gordon made two Pro Bowls before a tense contract holdout backfired during his last season with the Chargers.

The 26-year-old missed training camp and sat out the first four games in search of a lucrative long-term extension.

But Gordon returned to the team empty handed and then saw Austin Ekeler, who has just signed a new four-year deal, shine for much of the campaign.

The form of Ekeler gave the Chargers comfort to move on from Gordon and he will now look to prove his old team wrong as he faces them twice a year as divisional rivals.

Gordon scored 47 total touchdowns for the Chargers across five seasons, contributing 4,240 rushing yards and another 1,873 receiving.

His move to the Broncos came as the Pittsburgh Steelers struck a two-year deal with tight end Eric Ebron that is worth around $12m.

The Denver Broncos have released Super Bowl-winning quarterback Joe Flacco after just one season with the NFL franchise.

It is one and done for Flacco, who will leave the Broncos with a failed physical designation following Thursday's announcement.

Flacco was named the Super Bowl MVP as he led the Baltimore Ravens to glory in Super Bowl XLVII before being traded in 2019.

However, Flacco endured a forgettable season with the Broncos – a herniated disc in his neck ruining the 35-year-old's campaign.

Flacco started eight games for Denver, throwing for 1,822 yards and six touchdowns with five interceptions while completing 65.3 per cent of his passes.

Drafted by the Ravens in the first round in 2008, Flacco has compiled a 98-73 record, passing for 40,067 yards, 218 touchdowns and 141 interceptions.

A day after Tom Brady's exit from the New England Patriots was confirmed, a deal was struck to send the last quarterback to defeat him in a Super Bowl to pastures new.

Brady is expected to be announced as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer after deciding to end his 20-season association with the Patriots.

However, his change of scenery is far from the only transaction affecting the NFL landscape. Here, we wrap up the significant moves reported to have been agreed as the new league year began on Wednesday.

 

Nick Foles, who got the better of Brady in Super Bowl LII, is reportedly headed to the Chicago Bears after the Jacksonville Jaguars agreed to trade him in exchange for a fourth-round pick.

The Jags are parting with Foles just a year after signing the former Philadelphia Eagle to a four-year, $88million contract. He will now provide competition for Mitchell Trubisky, whose role as the Bears' starter is under threat after a disappointing 2019.

Foles' departure allows Gardner Minshew to step in as the starter in Jacksonville. Sixth-round pick Minshew outplayed Foles, who was limited to four games because of injury, last year and will now get the chance to prove he is the Jaguars' franchise quarterback.

Brady's last game as a Patriot came in a playoff defeat to the Tennessee Titans, who made the surprising decision to deal defensive lineman Jurrell Casey to the Denver Broncos in exchange for a seventh-round pick. Casey has at least five sacks in each of the last seven seasons.

The Detroit Lions were also involved in the trade market, acquiring safety Duron Harmon from the Patriots. Detroit agreed to a two-year deal with defensive linemen Danny Shelton. Both players have a connection with Lions head coach Matt Patricia from his time as New England's defensive coordinator.

Another former Patriot, center Ted Karras, is staying in the division, signing a one-year deal with the Miami Dolphins.

The New Orleans Saints are said to have agreed a deal to bring back safety Malcolm Jenkins after he was let go by the Eagles. Jenkins was drafted by the Saints in 2009 before leaving for the Eagles in 2014.

Their NFC South rivals the Carolina Panthers released safety Eric Reid, while the Atlanta Falcons inked edge rusher Dante Fowler to a three-year contract.

Leonard Floyd will fill the void Fowler's exit left for the Los Angeles Rams, who have re-signed guard Austin Blythe and veteran left tackle Andrew Whitworth.

Elsewhere in the NFC West, the Seattle Seahawks have brought back former first-round pick Bruce Irvin, the pass rusher who played a key role in their Super Bowl-winning 2013 season. Reigning NFC champions the San Francisco 49ers re-signed center Ben Garland to a one-year deal.

The Los Angeles Chargers may have missed out on Brady, but they have bolstered their defense with the signing of defensive tackle Linval Joseph. Cornerback Chris Harris also intends to sign with the Chargers.

Cornerback Eli Apple will play a part in the Raiders' first season in Las Vegas, while safety Sean Davis is headed to the Washington Redskins on a one-year deal.

The previously unthinkable is to become a reality: Tom Brady has confirmed that his "football journey will take place elsewhere".

Brady will not be a New England Patriot when he starts his 21st NFL season, but where he lands in free agency remains unclear.

The Tennessee Titans are ruled out after re-signing Ryan Tannehill while the Las Vegas Raiders' reported acquisition of Marcus Mariota means Sin City is unlikely to be Brady's next destination.

So where is his most likely landing spot? We assess the options.

 

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

A sporting icon moving to the City of Stars late in his career? See LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers for evidence that can happen.

The Chargers, who would welcome a star acquisition to help sell season tickets for their new stadium, have a lot in the 'pros' column. They have a vacancy following Philip Rivers' departure, the cap space (over $50 million for 2020) and a plethora of offensive weapons such as Keenan Allen, Hunter Henry and Austin Ekeler.

Los Angeles is also geographically appealing for a man who recently launched his own production company. Yet would Brady really want to challenge Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the reigning Super Bowl champions for supremacy in the AFC West?

 

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Another team heavily linked to Brady has been Tampa Bay, who are letting Jameis Winston hit free agency after he led the league in passing yards in 2019.

Winston also threw more interceptions than anyone else, and that is why a player of Brady's calibre - even at 42 years old - would be appealing to head coach Bruce Arians.

Brady's eyes would light up at the possibility of playing with a receiving duo of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, and the Florida weather is a plus point too. Are the Bucs close enough to contending for a Super Bowl, though? 

 

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

The aforementioned Rivers seems a logical fit here given his familiarity with the coaching staff and reports suggest the two sides have a mutual interest.

However, if Brady really wanted to stick it to New England and Bill Belichick, what better way than signing for one of their rivals? The Colts are a team still seething at Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels' U-turn when he seemed set to become Indy's head coach in 2018.

The Colts have plenty of cap space, a fine roster and could offer Brady the sanctuary of their dome for home games. Yet, it is hard to see Brady winding up at Lucas Oil Stadium given it was the Colts' complaint in the 2014 'Deflategate' scandal that led to the quarterback being suspended.

 

MIAMI DOLPHINS

Fans of the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills are sure to be among the happiest that Brady is finally leaving the AFC East.

Only what if he does not and Brady takes his talents to South Beach ala LeBron 10 years ago? The Dolphins, awash with cap space, could sign Brady and draft his long-term replacement Tua Tagovailoa to sit behind him and return to fitness.

Brian Flores, the former Patriots defensive coordinator, is the head coach in Miami, but his team are still in the early years of a rebuild - not the type of situation for a 40-something starting QB. Unless he really wants to stick it to Belichick and the Pats....

 

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

How about this for a Hollywood ending: The boyhood 49ers fan moves back home and rides off into the sunset after winning a seventh Super Bowl ring.

San Francisco came agonisingly close to winning it all last month only to fall short against the Chiefs, leading to Jimmy Garoppolo's naysayers to raise their concerns about his suitability as a franchise quarterback.

It would be some twist given Garoppolo once backed Brady up and was seen as his heir apparent, though Jimmy G's 2019 performances suggested he should be the present and future for Kyle Shanahan's team.

 

DENVER BRONCOS

Could Brady follow in Peyton Manning's footsteps and head to Mile High? Manning won a second ring as a Bronco in a perfect example of a veteran quarterback taking a talented team over the line, even if he was far from his best in Super Bowl 50.

John Elway drafted Drew Lock last year and though he produced some encouraging signs as a rookie, the Broncos head honcho said they would "always talk" to Brady if he became available. Consider them among the wildcards.

Yannick Ngakoue has been franchise tagged by the Jacksonville Jaguars, while the Denver Broncos have extended the contracts of three players, including seven-time All-Pro Von Miller.

The Broncos confirmed they had picked up their team options on the contracts of Miller, linebacker Todd Davis and kicker Brandon McManus on Friday.

The extension ensures Miller reaches the fifth season of the six-year, $114million deal he signed ahead of the 2016 season.

The 30-year-old, who recorded eight sacks in 2019, will enter a 10th season with Denver.

Those expected moves came as the Jaguars retained control of one of the NFL's other prominent pass-rushers in Ngakoue.

Ngakoue, 24, expressed his wish to leave the Jags earlier this month, tweeting he had no interest in signing a long-term contract in Jacksonville.

But the team were expected to tag him and have now officially done so in a move that will lock him up for one season at a cost of more than $19m.

Had he reached the open market, Ngakoue was likely to have drawn considerable interest, having racked up 37.5 sacks in four seasons.

Hunter Henry has had the franchise tag placed on him by the Los Angeles Chargers, while the Denver Broncos have taken the same step with safety Justin Simmons.

Tight end Henry was set to become one of the top offensive players on the open market but will now remain under the control of the Chargers, who released Thomas Davis and Brandon Mebane on Friday.

The 25-year-old's one-year tag is expected to be worth just over $11million as he remains on a team in transition after they moved on from quarterback Philip Rivers.

Henry has overcome two serious injuries in his first four seasons after being drafted in the second round in 2016.

He missed the entire 2018 regular season but bounced back with 652 yards and five touchdowns in 2019.

The Broncos made the same move by applying the franchise tag to Simmons, who was an All-Pro last year after racking up four interceptions and 15 passes defensed, playing every defensive snap.

"We remain focused on reaching a long-term contract agreement with Justin, and he's a big priority for us," general manager John Elway said of the 2016 third-round pick, whose tag will cost around $12.75m.

"This is a placeholder in that process and our goal is the same - to make sure that Justin is a Bronco for a long time."

Earlier, the Baltimore Ravens franchise tagged Matthew Judon, as teams make their intentions clear with free agency set to begin on March 18.

Former New York Giants head coach Pat Shurmur has been appointed offensive co-ordinator at the Denver Broncos.

Shurmur was sacked by the Giants in December after two seasons in charge of the NFL franchise, where he managed a 9-23 record.

The 54-year-old, however, has landed on his feet after joining the Broncos for the 2020 season.

"Pat is an established play-caller with significant experience leading an offense as both a co-ordinator and head coach," head coach Vic Fangio said on Tuesday.

"Having coached against Pat for a number of years, he's always impressed me. His track record of developing younger players is outstanding.

"Pat brings a collaborative approach to working with the staff as well as a flexibility to adjust the offense to our players and opponents. We're excited to add someone of his calibre to our coaching staff."

Prior to his role as head coach of the Giants, Shurmur spent two years as offensive co-ordinator with the Minnesota Vikings.

The San Francisco 49ers edged the Seattle Seahawks 26-21 in a wild clash to clinch the NFC's number one seed and a first-round bye in the NFL playoffs.

San Francisco emerged as NFC West champions and the top seeds thanks to Sunday's incredible victory in Seattle.

The Philadelphia Eagles and Tennessee Titans booked their postseason berths with wins on the final day of the regular season.

Meanwhile, AFC top seeds the Baltimore Ravens head into the bye on the back of an impressive 28-10 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

 

NINERS DOWN SEAHAWKS IN THRILLER 

The Seahawks appeared dead and buried against the 49ers, trailing 26-14 with less than four minutes remaining.

However, the final minutes were unbelievable as the 49ers somehow denied the Seahawks a first-round bye and top spot in the NFC.

Down 26-21 in the final seconds, Seahawks tight end Jacob Hollister charged towards the endzone and fell just inches short of the goal-line on a fourth-down play. It came after a delay of game penalty when Seattle had the ball at the one-yard line.

Dre Greenlaw made the tackle to hold out Hollister with nine seconds remaining as the 49ers earned homefield advantage throughout the postseason after sealing their first division crown since 2012, while the Seahawks will face the Eagles in the wildcard game.

49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was 18 of 22 for 285 yards and no touchdowns, while Raheem Mostert (two) and Deebo Samuel (one) both rushed for TDs.

Seahawks QB Russell Wilson completed 25 of his 40 throws for 233 yards and two touchdowns.

 

EAGLES SOAR INTO PLAYOFFS, TITANS JOIN THEM

The Eagles moved through to the wildcard round after capturing the NFC East championship by beating the New York Giants 34-17.

Philadelphia (9-7) finished ahead of rivals the Dallas Cowboys (8-8), who eased past the Washington Redskins 47-16.

Failing to reach the playoffs thrust the future of out-of-contract Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett further into the spotlight but owner and general manager Jerry Jones said: "I'm not going to get into it at all, an evaluation or an assessment. I'm not. I'm going to do exactly what I always do and get up, go forward and do the best job that I can. We'll make those decisions accordingly."

The Titans, meanwhile, used a 35-14 victory against the Houston Texans to advance to the playoffs and set up a wildcard showdown with defending Super Bowl champions the New England Patriots.

The Oakland Raiders missed out on the playoffs following a narrow 16-15 defeat to the Denver Broncos.

 

RAVENS CAP SEASON WITH 12TH STRAIGHT WIN

Despite the absence of their star starters, the Ravens ended the regular season with another victory, this time against the Steelers.

The Ravens extended their winning streak to 12 as they improved to 14-2 for the season without Lamar Jackson, Mark Ingram, Marshal Yanda and Earl Thomas.

"That puts an exclamation point on an excellent season," said Ravens head coach John Harbaugh.

Pittsburgh required a Tennessee loss to have any chance of becoming only the seventh team since 1970 to reach the playoffs following a 0-3 start.

 

RAMS SAY GOODBYE TO COLISEUM

The Los Angeles Rams farewelled LA Memorial Coliseum with a 31-24 triumph against the Arizona Cardinals.

As the Rams prepare to relocate to SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, they celebrated one last victory at the historic 96-year-old venue.

"I will miss playing in the Coliseum," said quarterback Jared Goff said. "I'm really excited for SoFi. What Mr. [Stan] Kroenke has done there is going to be something that I don't think the world has ever seen, honestly. It'll be a lot of fun, but I will miss the Coliseum and will miss the history of it, the lighting of the torch, the fireworks, the whole thing. The fanbase we've built here, how much louder it was this year compared to my first year, and just seeing it grow, is really cool."

 

Week 17 results

New York Jets 13-6 Buffalo Bills
Cincinnati Bengals 33-23 Cleveland Browns
Green Bay Packers 23-20 Detroit Lions
Kansas City Chiefs 31-21 Los Angeles Chargers
Chicago Bears 21-19 Minnesota Vikings
Miami Dolphins 27-24 New England Patriots
Atlanta Falcons 28-22 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (OT)
New Orleans Saints 42-10 Carolina Panthers
Dallas Cowboys 47-16 Washington Redskins
Denver Broncos 16-15 Oakland Raiders
Los Angeles Rams 31-24 Arizona Cardinals
Philadelphia Eagles 34-17 New York Giants
San Francisco 49ers 26-21 Seattle Seahawks
Jacksonville Jaguars 38-20 Indianapolis Colts
Baltimore Ravens 28-10 Pittsburgh Steelers
Tennessee Titans 35-14 Houston Texans

The NFL regular season comes to a close this week, with plenty still on the line.

Defending Super Bowl champions, the New England Patriots, need a win against the Miami Dolphins to lock up the second seed in the AFC playoffs, though they are guaranteed a spot in the postseason.

The Tennessee Titans' postseason hopes are in their own hands – a win against the Houston Texans will see them through. Meanwhile, a victory over the Seattle Seahawks for NFC West leaders the San Francisco 49ers will ensure their place in the playoffs as the top seed and give them home advantage throughout.

However, the 49ers know that if they slip up then Seattle will win the division and the Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints or Seahawks will take top spot in the conference.

The Philadelphia Eagles will clinch a playoff berth and the NFC East title if they win against the New York Giants. A shock defeat would give the Dallas Cowboys the opportunity to atone for last week's loss in Philadelphia and reach the postseason ahead of them by beating the Washington Redskins.

Using data from Stats Perform, we take a closer look at all the Week 17 fixtures.

SUNDAY (all times Eastern)

Chargers (5-10) at Chiefs (11-4) 1pm

- The Chiefs have won 10 of the last 11 meetings with the Chargers, but the last time these teams met at Arrowhead Stadium, 2018 Week 15, the Los Angeles triumphed 29-28.

- With Keenan Allen at 1,117 receiving yards and Mike Williams (963) and Austin Ekeler (950) within striking distance of 1000 receiving yards, the Chargers have a realistic chance of becoming the sixth team in NFL history with three players with 1,000+ yards receiving.

- The Chargers have already suffered their third 10+ loss season in the last five years, after going 11 seasons (from 2004-14) without a single 10-loss season.

 

Bears (7-8) at Vikings (10-5) 1pm

- The Bears have won three successive games against the Vikings, their longest streak since winning six straight over Minnesota from 2009-12.

- Entering 2019, Kirk Cousins had four straight seasons of at least 4000 passing yards, trailing only Matt Ryan and Philip Rivers for the longest active streaks in the NFL. Cousins needs 397 passing yards for a 4000-yard season in 2019, something he's never done in a home game in his career.

- Minnesota's 139 total net yards against the Packers last week were the fourth-fewest by any team in any game this season – only the Jets (twice) and Broncos have had fewer.

 

Jets (6-9) at Bills (10-5) 1pm

- Josh Allen has accounted for 29 total touchdowns this season (20 passing, nine rushing). Jim Kelly in 1991 is the only Buffalo player ever to account for at least 30 total touchdowns in a season (33 passing, one rushing).

- The Bills are 5-2 at home versus the Jets since 2012, with a +81 point differential over these seven games.

- The Jets have the second-fewest rushing yards in the NFL and have allowed the second-fewest rushing yards. They would be the first team since the 1954 Eagles to rank bottom two and top two in rushing yards and opponent rushing yards, respectively.

 

Saints (12-3) at Panthers (5-10) 1pm

- The Saints defeated the Panthers at home in Week 12. New Orleans have also won the last two meetings in Carolina.

- New Orleans have never had back-to-back 13+ win seasons and the 25 wins over the past two seasons are already the most by the Saints in a two-season span all-time.

- Having won the division title for the third straight season, the Saints have tied the longest NFC South title streak that was set by the Panthers from 2013 to 2015.

 

Browns (6-9) at Bengals (1-14) 1pm

- The Browns' home win over the Bengals in Week 14 was a third straight win over their in-state rivals. Cleveland have not managed four consecutive wins over Cincinnati since a seven-game streak from 1992 to 1995.

- Cleveland were eliminated from playoff contention with a loss to the Ravens. Their streak of 17 seasons without a playoff berth is tied for the fifth-longest in NFL history.

- The Bengals locked up the first pick in the 2020 NFL draft after a 38-35 overtime loss to the Dolphins in Miami last week. Cincinnati has drafted first overall three times in its history, taking defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson in 1994, running back Ki-Jana Carter in 1995 and quarterback Carson Palmer in 2003.

 

Packers (12-3) at Lions (3-11-1) 1pm

- The Packers clinched the division title with their win over the Vikings in Week 16. Green Bay has won the NFC North title six times this decade, the most division titles by any NFC team.

- Davante Adams hauled in 13 receptions for 116 yards in that triumph, bringing his career receiving yards to 5,101.

- Green Bay holds a 99-72-7 advantage in the all-time series against the Lions and could become the third franchise to win 100 games against another franchise.

 

Dolphins (4-11) at Patriots (12-3) 1pm

- New England will be trying to earn a first-round bye for the 10th consecutive season. Since the playoffs expanded to 12 teams in 1990, no other team has earned a first-round bye in more than four straight seasons.

- Tom Brady has 3,836 passing yards this season. If he can reach 4,000 passing yards, it would be the third time he has thrown for 4,000 yards in a season at age 40 or older.

- Ryan Fitzpatrick leads the Dolphins with 228 rushing yards this season. No team has finished a 16-game season without a player having at least 300 rushing yards.

 

Falcons (6-9) at Buccaneers (7-8) 1pm

- Since 2015, the Falcons and Buccaneers have combined for 55.1 points per game against one another, the highest-scoring matchup between divisional opponents in the NFL.

- The Buccaneers rank third in the NFL in points (436) and third-worst in the NFL in points allowed (421).

- The Falcons have 19 touchdowns in the fourth quarter, tied with the Titans for most in the NFL.

 

Cardinals (5-9-1) at Rams (8-7) 4:25pm

- The Rams won 34-7 when these teams met in Week 13 and have outscored the Cardinals 164-32 during their five-game winning streak against Arizona.

- Tyler Higbee had his first career game with at least 100 receiving yards in Week 13 against Arizona, and has now had at least 100 yards in each of the three games since.

- Arizona beat the Seahawks 27-13 in Week 16, their second straight win following six consecutive losses. Both wins came by 14 points – the first time they have won back-to-back games by at least 14 since December 2015.

 

Raiders (7-8) at Broncos (6-9) 4:25pm

- The Broncos have won six of the last seven home games against the Raiders.

- Oakland has gone 17 straight seasons without winning the AFC West, tied for the fourth-longest streak not winning their division.

- The Broncos will finish with a losing record for the third consecutive season, the second-longest streak of losing seasons in franchise history (10 straight from 1963-1972).

 

Redskins (3-12) at Dallas Cowboys (7-8) 4:25pm

- The Cowboys have won six of their last seven over the Redskins, including three straight in Dallas.

- Last week, the Redskins became the third team in the NFL this season to allow 300+ passing yards and 200+ rushing yards in a game.

- Dallas have had at least 400 total net yards in all seven home games. No team since at least 1950 has had eight home games with 400+ total net yards in a season.

 

Titans (8-7) at Texans (10-5) 4:25pm

- Following their 24-21 win at Tennessee two weeks ago, the Texans look to secure the first season sweep by either team since 2015, and to square the all-time series at 18 wins each.

- The Texans clinched their second straight AFC South title with a 23-20 win at Tampa Bay – Houston's fifth victory this season by three points or fewer.

- Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson did not throw a touchdown pass last week; his season total sits at 26, matching the number he threw one season ago.

 

Steelers (8-7) at Ravens (13-2) 4:25pm

- Since John Harbaugh became head coach in 2008, the Ravens are 12-11 against the Steelers, and 14 of the 23 meetings have been decided by three points or fewer.

- Pittsburgh has lost back-to-back games after winning seven of its previous eight games. The Steelers have failed to score a fourth-quarter touchdown in eight straight games.

- The Ravens have clinched home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs, and they have tied a franchise record with 13 wins.

 

Colts (7-8) at Jaguars (5-10) 4:25pm

- Jacksonville have won four straight home games against Indianapolis, tied for its third-longest home winning streak against any opponent in the team's history.

- The Jaguars lead the NFL with a 96.8 field-goal percentage this season (30-for-31), all attempted by Josh Lambo.

- Chris Conley had 56 receiving yards and a touchdown catch in Jacksonville's Week 16 loss to the Falcons, his third touchdown reception in the last two games.

 

Eagles (8-7) at Giants (4-11) 4:25pm

- The Eagles got a 23-17 overtime win at home when these teams met in Week 14, their sixth straight win over the Giants and 10th in the last 11.

- Philadelphia has converted 57.1 percent of its red zone third downs this season, the highest mark in the league.

- The Eagles' six-game winning streak is tied for their second-longest all-time against New York – they won 12 straight between 1975 and 1981.


49ers (12-3) at Seahawks (11-4) 8:20pm

- Seattle got a 27-24 overtime win in San Francisco when these teams met in Week 10. Including their win in the 2014 NFC Championship Game, the Seahawks have won 13 of their last 15 games against the 49ers.

- Indeed, San Francisco have not won in Seattle since Week 16 in 2011.

- The 49ers beat the Rams on Saturday, reaching 12 wins for the first time since 2013. With another victory, they will clinch the NFC's top seed for the first time since 1997.

The Philadelphia Eagles denied the Dallas Cowboys the NFC East title as they boosted their postseason chances, while the Seattle Seahawks endured a forgettable outing against the Arizona Cardinals.

Philadelphia used a 17-9 victory over NFL rivals the Cowboys on Sunday to take a big step towards the playoffs.

The injury-hit Seahawks were left licking their wounds after a damaging 27-13 defeat to the Cardinals in Seattle in the race for the number one seed in the NFC.

 

EAGLES FLYING TOWARDS PLAYOFFS

The Eagles are one game away from a trip to the playoffs after topping the Cowboys in Philadelphia.

Sidney Jones sealed a vital win when he broke up Dak Prescott's fourth-down pass to wide receiver Michael Gallup with just over a minute remaining.

A victory would have sealed back-to-back NFC East titles for the Cowboys (7-8), instead the Eagles (8-7) are in the box seat heading into their final regular-season game against the New York Giants.

"You can see the sense of belief that each of these guys have," said Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, who was 31 of 40 for 319 yards and a touchdown as his team celebrated a third straight win.

Cowboys QB Prescott – who carried a shoulder issue into the contest – was 25 of 44 for 265 yards, with Dallas needing to beat the Washington Redskins and hope the Eagles lose.

 

SEAHAWKS' TOP SEED HOPES FADE AS INJURIES MOUNT

Already playoff bound, the Seahawks' hopes of clinching the top seed in the NFC potentially vanished after going down to the Cardinals.

The Seahawks dropped to 11-4 for the season, behind leaders the San Francisco 49ers (12-3), New Orleans Saints (12-3) and Green Bay Packers (11-3).

Seattle, who entered the week as the top seed, can seal the NFC West with victory over the 49ers. But they are set to be without running back Chris Carson (hip) and backup C.J. Prosise (broken arm), for the rest of the season.

Kenyan Drake led the Cardinals, rushing for 166 yards and two touchdowns, while Kyler Murray left in the third quarter due to a hamstring injury.

 

MAHOMES PUTS ON A SHOW

Reigning MVP and Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes inspired a 26-3 rout of the Chicago Bears with three scores on the road.

Mahomes – who was 23 of 33 for 251 yards – threw for two touchdowns and ran for another as the Chiefs (11-4) stayed in contention for a first-round playoff bye. He also became the first player in NFL history to record 9,000 passing yards and 75 passing touchdowns in his first 30 games.

The streaking Chiefs, coming off a fifth consecutive win, are a game behind the New England Patriots for the AFC's second seed.

Elsewhere, the Oakland Raiders kept their postseason hopes alive by trumping the Los Angeles Chargers 24-17, while the Detroit Lions fell to an eighth consecutive defeat after losing 27-17 to the Denver Broncos.

 

HARBAUGH REVELS IN RAVENS SUCCESS

The Baltimore Ravens clinched the top seed in the AFC playoffs for the first time thanks to an 11th successive win – a 31-15 victory over the Cleveland Browns.

"It feels good," Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said after locking up homefield advantage.

"The players deserve a tremendous amount of credit for it. It's hard to win any game in the NFL. When you put together this kind of season, it's quite an accomplishment."

 

Week 16 scores:

Atlanta Falcons 24-12 Jacksonville Jaguars
Baltimore Ravens 31-15 Cleveland Browns
Indianapolis Colts 38-6 Carolina Panthers
Miami Dolphins 38-35 Cincinnati Bengals (OT)
New York Jets 16-10 Pittsburgh Steelers
New Orleans Saints 38-28 Tennessee Titans
New York Giants 41-35 Washington Redskins (OT)
Denver Broncos 27-17 Detroit Lions
Oakland Raiders 24-17 Los Angeles Chargers
Philadelphia Eagles 17-9 Dallas Cowboys
Arizona Cardinals 27-13 Seattle Seahawks
Kansas City Chiefs 26-3 Chicago Bears

The Houston Texans can seal the AFC South title with a win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Saturday before the New Orleans Saints face a huge battle with the Tennessee Titans in the penultimate week of the regular season.

Houston won a crunch clash with the Titans last weekend to give themselves the edge in the division and could get the job done this weekend, with another showdown against Tennessee to come in Week 17.

The Titans host NFC South winners the Saints on Sunday, while the New England Patriots and the San Francisco 49ers have home advantage in the other two Saturday encounters.

Using data from Stats Perform, we take a closer look at all the Week 16 fixtures.

 


SATURDAY (all times Eastern)

Texans (9-5) at Buccaneers (7-7) 1pm

- The Texans have won all three meetings with the Buccaneers since losing the first one in 2003. Tampa Bay have averaged just 12.0 points in those matchups – the lowest all-time average against any opponent other than the Patriots (11.9).

- Houston need four touchdowns to tie the single-season franchise record of 46, set in 2009 and matched in 2012. 

- The Bucs are looking to match their longest winning streak of the past 15 years – a five-game run in 2016. They have scored at least 28 points in every game during the current winning sequence.

 

Bills (10-4) at Patriots (11-3) 4:30pm

- Of teams to square off at least 10 times since 2000, the Patriots-Bills series is the most lopsided in the NFL, with New England owning a 34-5 record.

- The Patriots are seeking a 13th season with a least 12 wins, which would tie Dallas and San Francisco for the most in NFL history.

- Josh Allen needs 50 passing yards to reach 5000 for his career in what would be his 27th NFL game. He would join Robert Griffin III (22) and Cam Newton (23) as the only players to reach that mark and 1000 rushing yards in fewer than 30 games.

 

Rams (8-6) at 49ers (11-3) 8:15pm

- The Rams have won their last two matches in San Francisco, totalling 80 points, after going 2-9-1 in their previous 12 visits and scoring no more than 25 points in any of them.

- The 49ers have allowed more than 20 points in five of their last seven games after not doing so once through their first seven outings of the season. 

- Jared Goff is two passing yards shy of becoming the first Rams quarterback to throw for 4000 yards in back-to-back seasons. 

 

SUNDAY

Bengals (1-13) at Dolphins (3-11) 1pm

- Miami are 15-7 all-time against Cincinnati, including 6-2 at home. Cincinnati could tie a franchise record of 14 losses, which they also suffered in 2002.

- The Dolphins have not scored a touchdown in any of their last eight red-zone drives – only the Redskins (10) have had a longer streak this season.

- Cincinnati have failed to score a touchdown in the second half of seven consecutive games. The last team to have a longer such run was also the Bengals, in eight straight spanning the 1999-00 seasons. 

 

Steelers (8-6) at Jets (5-9) 1pm

- The Steelers are 20-5 (.800) against the Jets all-time, tied for the best winning percentage between any current franchises that have played at least 20 times. 

- The Jets allowed a season-high 42 points in last week's loss at Baltimore and were undone by five touchdown passes for only the second time in the last 30 years.

- Devlin Hodges is on pace to have the highest completion percentage by a rookie all-time at 67.8 percent (minimum 100 attempts), but 28.8 per cent of his completions have been behind the line of scrimmage. 

 

Giants (3-11) at Redskins (3-11) 1pm

- The Giants are 9-4 in their last 13 games in Washington, dating back to the 2006 season. They have scored at least 17 points in all nine of their wins, and 16 or fewer in each of their four losses. 

- New York beat the Dolphins 36-20 at home last week, snapping a nine-game losing streak, which was the longest in franchise history.

- The Redskins went down 37-27 to the Eagles on Sunday, the most points they have allowed this season. 

 

Panthers (5-9) at Colts (6-8) 1pm

- The Panthers are 5-1 all-time versus the Colts and Carolina have never lost at Indianapolis (3-0). All five of Carolina's victories have come by eight points or fewer, including two in overtime.

- The Colts were 5-2 after seven games, but have lost six of their last seven. Indianapolis have lost four straight games and have allowed 31 or more points in each of the last three.

- Indianapolis have allowed an NFL-high 34.3 points per game this month, while the Panthers have conceded 33.0 points per game, third-most in the competition.

 

Ravens (12-2) at Browns (6-8) 1pm

- The Ravens' last loss came at the hands of the Browns, a 40-25 defeat in Week 4. Cleveland have not swept Baltimore in a season, or won consecutive games against the Ravens, since 2007.

- Baltimore's 10-game winning streak is the longest in the team's history; no team has won 11 straight games in a single season since the 2016 Cowboys.

- The Browns have won four consecutive home games for the first time since they won seven in succession in 2007.

 

Jaguars (5-9) at Falcons (5-9) 1pm

- This will be just the seventh meeting between the Jaguars and Falcons, with both winning three so far. The Jaguars have lost in their last two visits to Atlanta, winning in Georgia only once in 1999.

- Jacksonville snapped a five-game losing streak with a 20-16 win last week in the Raiders' final home game in Oakland. The Jaguars have scored 20 points or fewer in six consecutive games, the longest ongoing streak in the NFL.

- The Jaguars have not turned the ball over or forced a turnover in their last two games. No NFL team in the Super Bowl era have done this in three consecutive games.

 

Saints (11-3) at Titans (8-6) 1pm

- The Titans have won five of their last six games against the Saints, including a 34-28 overtime win in their most recent meeting in Week 9 of 2015.

- The Saints defeated the Colts 34-7 at home on Monday. That was New Orleans' ninth game scoring 30 or more points this season, which is tied for the third-most 30-point games in a season in team history and one short of their single-season high (2011 and 2018).

- Since Week 10, the Titans are scoring 34.2 per game, the second-highest average in the NFL. Over that same period, the Saints are averaging 30.5 points per game.

 

Raiders (6-8) at Chargers (5-9) 4:05pm

- Either the Chargers or Raiders have swept the season series between these teams in every campaign since 2014. The Raiders won the first meeting this year.

- The Chargers have scored at least 10 points in 65 straight games, the longest active streak in the NFL and the second-longest in franchise history (98 straight from 2006-12).

- Philip Rivers has thrown a TD pass in 24 consecutive games against the Raiders, tied for the second-longest run all-time against a single opponent behind Brett Favre's 26 versus the Bears.

 

Lions (3-10) at Broncos (5-9) 4:05pm

- The Lions have lost seven in a row after starting the season 3-3-1. Detroit have had seven seven-game losing streaks since 2000.

- Danny Amendola had eight catches for 102 yards in the Lions' loss to the Bucs last time out. It was his third 100-yard receiving game of the season, the most he has had in a campaign since matching that feat in 2013.

- Courtland Sutton surpassed 1000 receiving yards for the season in a Week 15 loss to the Chiefs. He is the first Broncos player with 1000-plus receiving yards in a season since 2016.

 

Cardinals (4-9) at Seahawks (11-3) 4:25pm

- Seattle have won three in a row versus Arizona. The Seahawks have only won four on the bounce against the Cardinals once, a streak that spanned from 2004 to 2006.

- The Cardinals beat the Browns 38-24 last week, snapping a six-game losing streak. It was their first victory by more than six points this season.

- Kenyan Drake ran for 137 yards on 22 carries against Cleveland, scoring four rushing touchdowns in Arizona's win. He became the fourth player in franchise history to score at least four rushing touchdowns in a game and the first since Ronald Moore in 1993.

 

Cowboys (7-7) at Eagles (7-7) 4:25pm

- Dallas have won four straight games against Philadelphia, its longest streak versus the Eagles since a six-game winning run that stretched from November 1992 to November 1995. 

- Carson Wentz was 11-for-11 in the fourth quarter in a defeat of the Redskins last week, just the second time in his career he's had a perfect quarter with at least 10 attempts.

- The Cowboys defense have allowed just 10 broken tackles this season, tied with Tennessee for second fewest in the league behind Washington (nine).

 

Chiefs (10-4) at Bears (7-7) 8:20pm

- These teams last met in Week 5, 2015, when the Bears trailed 17-6 late in the game but scored two touchdowns in the final 3:05 to win 18-17.

- The Chiefs beat the Broncos 23-3 at home last week, their fourth consecutive win. They have conceded 17 or fewer points in each of those four games.

- Kansas City are averaging 6.4 yards per first down this season, third most in the league – only San Francisco and New Orleans (6.5 each) have averaged more. 

 

MONDAY

Packers (11-3) at Vikings (10-4) 8:15pm

- The Vikings have won the last three contests played in Minneapolis and hold a 29-28 lead in home contests against Green Bay.

- The Packers were 21-13 winners at home to the Bears last week, improving their record against NFC North teams to 4-0 this season. Green Bay have not gone undefeated against all division rivals since 2011.

- Aaron Jones had two more rushing touchdowns against the Bears, giving him 17 scrimmage TDs this season. That is the third-most scrimmage touchdowns in a single season by a Packers running back behind Ahman Green in 2003 (20) and Jim Taylor in 1962 (19).

It is advantage the Houston Texans in the AFC South after they held on for a 24-21 win over the Tennessee Titans, while the New England Patriots sealed a playoff spot with victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. 

The Texans and the Titans were locked at 8-5 before doing battle in Week 15 on Sunday, but Houston now have the edge with two rounds of the regular season remaining.

New England responded to back-to-back defeats with a 34-13 success over the Bengals, while the Seattle Seahawks stood on the brink of joining the reigning Super Bowl champions in the postseason following a 30-24 win over the Carolina Panthers.

NFC North leaders the Green Bay Packers were also poised to seal a playoff spot after Aaron Jones scored two touchdowns in a 21-13 defeat of the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field.

Travis Kelce became the first tight end in NFL history to record 1,000 receiving yards in four consecutive seasons as the Kansas City Chiefs beat the Denver Broncos 23-3 in the snow.

Eli Manning guided the New York Giants past the Miami Dolphins, throwing 20-of-28 for 283 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.

Meanwhile, it was a mixed day for Adrian Peterson, another veteran, who tied Walter Payton for the fourth-most rushing touchdowns (110) in NFL history as the Washington Redskins' loss at the hands of the Philadelphia Eagles.


TEXANS HALT TITANS RUN IN BLOCKBUSTER SHOWDOWN

Tennessee had won four in a row to join the Texans at the summit of the AFC South, but they were beaten in their own backyard in a titanic battle.

Deshaun Watson threw two touchdown passes for Kenny Stills in the second quarter to give Houston a 14-0 halftime advantage.

But Ryan Tannehill went in for a touchdown on a fourth-and-goal play in the third quarter and then picked out AJ Brown for another to level it up.

Ka'imi Fairbairn's 29-yard field goal with just over three minutes to go ultimately proved the difference after a TD from Carlos Hyde, with the response from Dion Lewis not enough.
 

NORMAL SERVICE RESUMED AS BELICHICK BREAKS ANOTHER RECORD

The Patriots were reeling from defeats to the Texans and the Chiefs, but normal service was resumed as they marched into the playoffs yet again.

Head coach Bill Belichick can add another unprecedented achievement to his list, with his record of masterminding 11 consecutive postseason spots taking him beyond a tally he shared with Tony Dungy.

Tom Brady threw for a season-low 128 yards but laid on two scores in an emphatic victory against the 1-13 Bengals, with the Patriots now 11-3.
 

PACKERS SWEEP BEARS

The Packers beat the Bears again in the 200th meeting between the old rivals. 

Green Bay started the season by defeating Chicago, and they pulled off a repeat to go 11-3 at the top of the NFC North.

Two rushing TDs from Jones in the third quarter left the Bears with a mountain to climb and, although they fought all the way, with Anthony Miller scoring in the final quarter, Chicago fell short and are now 7-7.
 

Week 15 scores:

New England Patriots 34-13 Cincinnati Bengals
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 38-17 Detroit Lions
Houston Texans 24-21 Tennessee Titans
Denver Broncos 3-23 Kansas City Chiefs
Miami Dolphins 20-36 New York Giants
Philadelphia Eagles 37-27 Washington Redskins
Seattle Seahawks 30-24 Carolina Panthers
Chicago Bears 13-21 Green Bay Packers

The Tennessee Titans take on AFC South rivals the Houston Texans in the stand-out match of the NFL schedule in Week 15.

With both teams holding an 8-5 record, there are huge playoff implications to Sunday's meeting with just three matches left of the regular season.

But that is far from the only game to keep an eye on in the coming days, with the under-pressure Dallas Cowboys hosting the Los Angeles Rams and the Buffalo Bills on the road against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The New England Patriots are also looking to bounce back after suffering back-to-back defeats when they play the Cincinnati Bengals.

Using data from Stats Perform, we take a closer look at all the Week 15 fixtures.

 

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