Deion Sanders is the new head coach of the Colorado Buffaloes, the NFL Hall of Famer leaving Jackson State to take charge of a moribund Power 5 program.

Sanders' profile and coaching acumen has transformed Jackson State, turning the HBCU (Historically black colleges and universities) into a powerhouse in the FCS. 

He helped Jackson State land the top recruit in the 2022 class, cornerback Travis Hunter, who flipped his commitment from Florida State and had offers from Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Georgia, Michigan and Oklahoma. Hunter became the highest-ranked prospect to ever commit to a HBCU or an FCS program

On the field, Sanders went 4-3 in a 2020 season that was moved to the spring of 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but led Jackson State to an 11-2 record in his second season and leaves the Tigers having guided them to a 12-0 record in 2022 and a place in the Celebration Bowl for the second successive campaign.

Now the man known as 'Coach Prime', in a take on the 'Prime Time' nickname he earned during his stellar playing career, turns his focus to revitalising a Colorado team that went 1-11 in 2022, finishing last in the Pac-12. The Buffaloes have just one winning season in 17 years.

"There were a number of highly qualified and impressive candidates interested in becoming the next head football coach at Colorado, but none of them had the pedigree, the knowledge and the ability to connect with student-athletes like Deion Sanders," athletic director Rick George said.

"Not only will Coach Prime energise our fanbase, I'm confident that he will lead our program back to national prominence while leading a team of high quality and high character."

The Philadelphia Eagles have the best scoring offense in the NFL, but their strength in that area will be sternly tested by the Tennessee Titans in Week 13.

Philadelphia can clinch a playoff berth this week, though the 10-1 Eagles would require a lot of help to do so at this stage.

Should they prevail against the 7-4 Titans, the Eagles will punch their ticket to the postseason if the Washington Commanders lose and the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks both either lose or tie, providing San Francisco and Seattle both don't tie.

While that scenario may be unlikely, a win for the Eagles over a gritty Titans team would serve as further demonstration of the Super Bowl credentials they have established throughout a superb campaign.

No team in their conference has scored more points than Philadelphia's 303, while they lead the NFL in red-zone efficiency.

In last week's 40-33 win over the Green Bay Packers, the Eagles scored on four of their five trips inside the opposing 20-yard line.

For the season, the Eagles have scored on 29 of 40 trips (72.5 per cent).

Yet this week they face a dogged Titan defense that has allowed the fifth-fewest points in the NFL (198).

The Titans have permitted the sixth-fewest red-zone drives in the league (31, tied with the Minnesota Vikings) and their defense has allowed a touchdown on only 16 of those, that rate of 51.7 per cent the seventh-best in the NFL.

Philadelphia quarterback Jalen Hurts is an X-factor for the Eagles in the congested area of the field, though.

The dual-threat signal-caller has scored eight rushing touchdowns this season, seven of which have come in the red zone. Running back Miles Sanders has eight rushing scores from inside the 20, with defenses struggling to cope when both he and Hurts are in the backfield as threats to run.

Only the 49ers (3.32) have allowed fewer yards per rush than the Titans (3.86) this season, however, with Tennessee one of the teams best-equipped to slow down Hurts and Co.

Should they do so and spring an upset, it will give hope to the chasing pack that Philadelphia can still be caught in the race for the NFC's number one seed.

The New York Jets will undergo a fierce test of their playoff credentials on Sunday as they face the Vikings in Minnesota, where they will be hoping Mike White can deliver another inspiring performance at the quarterback position.

At 7-4, the Jets occupy the final Wild Card spot in the AFC playoffs, but a victory over the Vikings would move them just a game behind the Buffalo Bills (9-3) in the race for the AFC East title. The 9-2 Vikings can clinch the NFC North crown if they win and the Detroit Lions lose at home to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Having replaced 2021 second overall pick Zach Wilson as the starter following Wilson's dismal performance in the Week 11 loss to the New England Patriots, White led an outstanding offensive performance from the Jets in their 31-10 win over the Chicago Bears in Week 12.

White threw for 315 yards and three touchdowns in the win over Chicago, his second career game with 300+ passing yards and at least three TD passes (in five career appearances).

The last Jets quarterback with multiple career such games prior to White for the team was Ken O'Brien with seven (last occurrence was in 1991).

White produced that display against a Chicago defense that has seen much of its top talent traded away and ranks 29th in the NFL by yards per play allowed (5.92).

But the Vikings have been far from impressive on defense this season and are the second-worst on that side of the ball by yards per play given up (6.05), appearing to suggest this matchup is another excellent opportunity for White to build his case for being the long-term starter.

And New York's defense is well-equipped to slow down the Minnesota attack. The Jets' win over Chicago marked the team's fourth time this season holding an opponent to 10 or fewer points, tied for the most such games in the NFL (with Dallas and San Francisco).

The last time the Jets had at least that many games in a season was 2010 (five), their last campaign in which they made the playoffs.

Minnesota's offense is powered largely by the continually superb exploits of wide receiver Justin Jefferson. 

Jefferson and Adam Thielen each caught touchdown passes in the Vikings' Thanksgiving Day win over the New England Patriots. It was the ninth time each player has had a receiving TD in the same game, the most of any NFL team-mates since Jefferson debuted at the beginning of the 2020 season.

The Jets have the talent in the secondary to potentially limit the Vikings' receivers, and the matchup between Jefferson and New York's rookie cornerback Ahmad 'Sauce' Gardner is an extremely intriguing one. Gardner has allowed receivers to get open on just 19.45 per cent of his matchups across man and zone coverage, the best rate of all cornerbacks, according to Stats Perform data.

Yet if the game remains close, the edge appears to be with the Vikings.

The Vikings are 8-0 in games decided by eight or fewer points this season after the 33-26 win over the Patriots on Thanksgiving. The only team in NFL history to finish a season 8-0 or better in such contests was the 2009 Indianapolis Colts (8-0).

If Minnesota improve that tally to 9-0, rookie head coach Kevin O'Connell would join Jim Caldwell and Jim Harbaugh as the only head coaches this century to earn 10 wins in 12 or fewer games to start their career as an NFL head coach.

This is the kind of week you dream of as an NFL fan.

Week 13 is set to serve up a plethora of compelling matchups that will have big implications on how the playoff picture takes shape.

The NFC favourites the Philadelphia Eagles face a real test of their credentials as they take on the Tennessee Titans.

Last season's AFC Super Bowl representative, the Cincinnati Bengals, host the Kansas City Chiefs in a rematch of the AFC Championship Game they stunningly won in Kansas City, and there's a highly anticipated reunion of former colleagues at Levi's Stadium, where the San Francisco 49ers welcome the Miami Dolphins.

Not all of those aforementioned games are seen as the best by SmartRatings.

SmartRatings is an AI-based platform that provides excitement ratings for sporting events, teams and players. The excitement scale, ranging from 0-100, is powered by complex algorithms that are predicated upon six primary variables: pace, parity, novelty, momentum, context and social buzz.

The weight of each variable is dynamic and adapts as a season progresses. The excitement scale translates to the following general sub-ranges: 0-39 (Dull Game), 40-64 (OK Game), 65-84 (Good Game) and 85-100 (Great Game).

Here, Stats Perform picks out three games from the top five with the most significant playoff implications and looks at the battles that could decide them.

New Orleans Saints (4-8) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-6), Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET

SmartRating : 60
Win Probability : Buccaneers 68.6%
Key Matchup : Marcus Davenport vs. Josh Wells

The Buccaneers suffered a massive blow when right tackle Tristan Wirfs sustained a high ankle sprain in their loss to the Cleveland Browns last week.

Wirfs is expected to be out three to four weeks, meaning he will miss a critical stretch for Tampa Bay as the Bucs seek to win an extremely underwhelming NFC South.

That stretch starts with a rivalry game against the Saints on Monday Night Football, with New Orleans still only a game back in the win column of the Bucs despite their 4-8 record.

New Orleans' defense has not been the force of years past but the return of Cameron Jordan and Marcus Davenport saw the Saints perform extremely well on that side of the ball in their 13-0 loss to the 49ers in Week 12.

When he has been healthy, Davenport has been extremely impressive. He has a pass-rush win rate of 49.03 per cent and a 66.67 per cent win rate on run defense. His aggregate of 48.03 per cent is the fourth-highest among edge rushers. 

Now he gets to go against Wirfs' backup in the form of Josh Wells. If Wells cannot find a way to slow him down, Tom Brady and the Bucs may struggle to move the ball on offense and give hope to a Saints attack needing life after being shutout by San Francisco.

Miami Dolphins (8-3) at San Francisco 49ers (7-4) Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET

SmartRating : 62
Win Probability : 49ers 53.5%
Key Matchup : Mike McDaniel vs. DeMeco Ryans

It's arguably the NFL's most distinguished offensive play-calling professor against his star pupil as Kyle Shanahan's 49ers host Mike McDaniel's Miami Dolphins in a mouth-watering contest teeming with narratives.

McDaniel has spent much of his coaching career at the hip of Shanahan, following him to almost all of his NFL stops, including San Francisco, where he was run-game coordinator and then offensive coordinator last season before departing for Miami.

Yet McDaniel, who has turned the Dolphins' offense into one of the most explosive in the NFL and the most efficient in the league by yards per play, will not be focusing on outcoaching his former boss, but instead outwitting San Francisco's defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans.

Ryans will likely become a head coach in the coming offseason, having so far overseen another dominant season from the 49er defense.

San Francisco's defense has allowed the fewest plays of 10+ yards (106) in the NFL and is also the top unit by yards per play allowed (4.69) and success rate (34.5%).

The Miami offense leads the league in big plays of at least 10 yards with 174 and has a receiver in Tyreek Hill who has an open percentage of 68.18 against man coverage, that figure trailing only Stefon Diggs (68.57) as of Week 12, and a combined open percentage across man and zone of 51.67.

The 49ers will hope to use the edge they have up front against a banged-up Miami offensive line to their advantage and boast the edge rusher with the highest aggregate win rate (52.42%) across pass rush and run defense for his position in the league in Nick Bosa.

It is a true strength-on-strength matchup, and the clash between McDaniel's varied and high-powered attack against Ryans' versatile and ferocious defense figures to be fascinating to watch.

Kansas City Chiefs (9-2) at Cincinnati Bengals (7-4)

SmartRating : 68
Win Probability : Chiefs 66.4%
Key Matchup : Ja'Marr Chase vs. Chiefs' pass defense

The Cincinnati passing game saw its hot streak tempered a little by the Tennessee defense in the Bengals' narrow win over the Titans last week, but a meeting with the Chiefs represents a favourable matchup for Zac Taylor's offense.

Cincinnati's offense has averaged 293.3 net passing yards per game in the NFL since Week 6, the third-most in the NFL, and has done much of that damage without top wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase.

Chase is due to return from a hip injury on Sunday, having recorded three 100-yard games in his first seven appearances of the season.

He gets the opportunity to add to that against a Kansas City defense that ranks 21st in open percentage allowed to opposing receivers.

That suggests he should have no difficulty returning to top form right off the bat in this conference title game rematch against a defense that is ninth-worst in the NFL by success rate against the pass.

Though the Bengals had joy shackling Patrick Mahomes and Co. in the second half of that championship game, it is more likely the duel between he and Joe Burrow quickly becomes a shootout.

How successful Chase is in taking advantage of a very vulnerable Chiefs secondary may dictate whether the Bengals can keep up and pull off the upset once more.

Although quarterback Matthew Stafford has been cleared from the league’s concussion protocol, Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay said he will not play Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks.

Stafford has missed two of the Rams' last three games because of concussion protocols and a neck injury. While he’s cleared for the concussion, the team is still gathering information about the neck injury.

"I think there’s so many layers [to that decision]," McVay said. "There’s so much thought and dialogue that goes into it, but I think first and foremost it’s got to get cleared from the medical experts.

"I’m not the expert in that area, but if there’s any sort of sense of, this is something that’ll be better served in the long term or it’s going to be a few more week, things like that, I think that’ll end up taking care of itself."

John Wolford will start Sunday against Seattle and Bryce Perkins, who started last week’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, will serve as his backup.

The Rams may be extra careful with Stafford because he felt numbness in his legs after taking a hit against the New Orleans Saints on November 20. That was just two days after he cleared the concussion protocol for the first time.

McVay didn’t rule out that Stafford could be shut down for the season.

"If there’s any inkling that he can play, this guy is going to want to play. Now [there is] a possibility that we say, 'based on what we’re gathering, the doctors, those types of things, the smart thing is not to play you' – and he could be upset with me.

"But I think he knows that I have his best interest and we have his best interest. If that’s the case, then that’s definitely a possibility."

The injury-depleted Rams are enduing a dismal season after winning the Super Bowl last season. They have lost five straight, and at 3-8 are among the worst teams in the league.

With just six weeks left of the regular season schedule, the drama in the NFL continues to ramp up.

The playoff picture is wide open and Week 13 action presents clashes between a number of sides who each boast a winning record this season.

Victories this week would provide a considerable boost for those teams' hopes of continuing beyond the regular campaign.

A huge divisional rivalry between the Washington Commanders and New York Giants is the pick of the action, while there is also a rematch from last season's AFC Championship game with the Kansas City Chiefs seeking redemption against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Stats Perform has delved into the numbers for those matchups along with some of Sunday's other big games.

New York Jets (7-4) @ Minnesota Vikings (9-2)

The Jets head to Minnesota with an 8-3 record against the Vikings, though have lost the last two meetings – including a 37-17 loss in the last meeting in 2018, which marked the most ever points scored by the Vikings in this series.

Defensive strength has been key for the Jets this season, with last week's 31-10 victory over the Chicago Bears being the fourth time this year where they have held their opponents to 10 or fewer points – the last time they had such a sequence was five games in 2010, which was also their last season with a trip to the playoffs.

The Jets defense will be tested against the Vikings' aerial threat, however, with Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen each catching touchdown passes in the Thanksgiving win over the New England Patriots – the ninth time each player has had a receiving TD in the same game, which marks the most of any NFL teammates since Jefferson's 2020 debut.

A win against the Jets would see head coach Kevin O'Connell join Jim Caldwell and Jim Harbaugh as the only men this century to earn 10 wins in 12 or fewer games to start their career as an NFL head coach.

Washington Commanders (7-5) @ New York Giants (7-4)

A series sweep for Washington last season was the franchise's first against the Giants since 2011, leaving the Commanders looking for their first win streak of at least three games against New York since a four-game streak that ended in 2000.

Four consecutive wins on the road have seen Washington hold their opponents to 54 points total in those contests, marking the first time they have won four straight road games while allowing fewer than 60 points since 2001.

The Giants head into the contest having lost their last five against divisional opponents, standing just 1-7 in that regard over the past two seasons. That makes them just one of two teams without multiple wins in divisional games over that span (also Denver Broncos, 1-8).

Saquon Barkley remains the biggest threat for the Giants and sits just eight rushing yards short of his third 1000-yard season, where he would join Tiki Barber (6), Rodney Hampton (5) and Joe Morris (3) as the only Giants with at least three such seasons for the team.

Tennessee Titans (7-4) @ Philadelphia Eagles (10-1)

Philadelphia host the Titans on the back of a six-game winning run against AFC opponents dating back to last season, matching the Eagles' longest such streak in franchise history.

Last time out against the Green Bay Packers, the Eagles scored a touchdown in four of their five trips to the red zone – with Philadelphia leading the NFL in touchdown efficiency in the red zone this season, scoring in 29 of 40 trips (72.5 per cent).

Tennessee, meanwhile, have rushed for fewer than 100 yards in each of their last three games, matching their longest streak since Mike Vrabel became head coach in 2018.

In the 20-16 loss to the Bengals last time out, Derrick Henry fumbled but was it was recovered. Of the 39 players with at least 200 offensive touches since the beginning of last season, Henry, Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey are the only three to have not lost a fumble.

Kansas City Chiefs (9-2) @ Cincinnati Bengals (7-4)

Two meetings last season saw the Bengals win by three points in both contests, including in the AFC Championship game in Kansas City, with the Chiefs' last road win against the Bengals coming in 1984 – losing six straight since.

A 26-10 home victory against the Los Angeles Rams last week saw Travis Kelce catch his 12th touchdown pass of the season, with no other tight end having more than five this term. The largest all-time gap between a league leader and second place stands at six (Rob Gronkowski in 2011 and Antonio Gates in 2004).

The Bengals overcame the Titans 20-16 on the road last week, giving Cincinnati their first three-game winning streak of the season. Since 2018, they stand 3-34 when scoring 20 or fewer points in a game, but two of those wins have come against Tennessee.

Cincinnati have converted 78.1 per cent (25-for-32) of their third downs this season when needing fewer than four yards, the best mark in the league. However, they've also allowed opponents to convert such third downs at a 76.5 per cent rate (26-for-34), the worst record in the league.

Elsewhere…

The Miami Dolphins head to San Francisco with a 4-3 record on the road against the 49ers, the second-best such record by any team behind the Carolina Panthers (7-4).

The Los Angeles Rams host the Seattle Seahawks having won eight of the last 10 clashes between the two divisional rivals, with Seattle's last victory on the road in this matchup coming in Week 5, 2017.

An overtime victory over the Seahawks last week was the second in a row for the Las Vegas Raiders, having beaten the Denver Broncos in OT in Week 11. No NFL team has ever won three consecutive games in overtime going into the Raiders' latest battle with the Los Angeles Chargers.

The Dallas Cowboys host the Indianapolis Colts on the back of a four-game spell with at least 400 net yards, with only one longer streak in team history – running eight games in that regard in 2016.

Mac Jones said he let emotions get the better of him but was not aiming his frustration at anyone in particular in the New England Patriots' 24-10 defeat to the Buffalo Bills.

After a promising rookie season in 2021, quarterback Jones and the offense in general has struggled for a Patriots side who are now 6-6 and facing a struggle to make the playoffs.

During the game, Jones appeared to be caught saying "throw the f*****g ball! The quick game sucks!" during the broadcast of the game on Amazon Prime Video.

"Obviously, I just kind of let my emotions get to me," Jones said. "What I said was about throwing it deeper within the short game. I got to execute that part better. 

"But it's the short game that we kept going to, which is working. But I felt like we needed chunk plays. I shouted that out to kind of get everyone going. That's emotional. That's football. I'm passionate about this game.

"Obviously, you don't want to let your emotions get the best of you. I think that's pretty much it. It wasn't directed at anybody. Just emotion coming out. We kind of needed a spark."

Jones added that the coaching team, including Matt Patricia who makes the calls in the plays to him, were aligned with his thinking.

"It was just [saying], 'let's go for it, let's be aggressive, let's take those shots. Just go down fighting,'" Jones added.

"Matty P was on the same page. We kind of did it there at the end and moved it a little bit more."

Jones was 22-of-36 for 195 yards and a touchdown against the Bills.

Overall the Patriots rank 31st for time in the red zone, 25th for third-down conversion, and 27th for first downs gained per game this season.

"When you're playing from behind against a pretty good team and a good offense, you need to go out there and make better plays," Jones said. 

"That starts with me. Definitely wasn't good enough by me. I didn't do a good enough job of getting ahead early, making it work. It's tough to watch the defense play a great game, not being able to give them anything back."

Josh Allen told reporters after Thursday's 24-10 win against the New England Patriots that this year's Buffalo Bills are playing with an added 'sense of urgency' after narrowly missing out on last year's AFC Championship game.

The Bills were too strong for the Patriots, allowing no touchdowns after the first quarter in what turned into a relatively smooth outing on the road in Foxborough.

With the win, the Bills improved their record to an AFC East-leading 9-3, while the 8-3 Miami Dolphins will get a chance to join them if they can defeat the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.

Despite their strong record, it was only their first win against a divisional opponent this season after previous losses to the Dolphins and New York Jets.

Following three consecutive games away from home, the Bills will now host both the Jets and the Dolphins in back-to-back fixtures, and Allen said the whole squad is itching to get back to Buffalo.

"It's going to be awesome," he said. "We missed out on a home game because we had to leave [due to a snowstorm in Week 11], so I know Bills mafia is chomping at the bit to get back in the stadium with us.

"We're going to need them, this stretch that we've got coming up, we understand it means a lot moving forward. We’ve got to find ways to go win some football games."

He went on to talk about how the Bills are no longer content just being a playoff team, and with the roster they have, they know this season is a golden opportunity to bring home the franchise's first ever Super Bowl.

"I think [what's different] is the sense of urgency we have," he said. "We're 9-3, and everything we want is in front of us.

"Every time we step out onto the field we're trying to be the best version of ourselves, and coach McDermott does a great job of letting us be ourselves.

"We've got a great locker room, guys with a lot of leadership, there's been no panic. Von [Miller] says it all the time – we're not blinking.

"We're just trying to find ways to win football games, no matter what it takes to win a game, that's what we're trying to do." 

The former MVP favourite is no longer considered one of the top contenders for the league's most prestigious individual honour after a month-long battle with a lingering elbow injury, but he is not using it as an excuse.

"A lot of time in the training room making sure I'm ready to go, but come game time, that goes to the back of my mind," he said.

"I'm just focused on trying to make plays for this team, whichever way that I can, whether it's running or throwing, and getting it to our guys on the outside.

"We've got some of the best guys in the league, and the more times we can get them the ball, the better it's going to be for us.

"I appreciate who we have in our training room, they've done a tremendous job… they really put in a lot of hours."

With one more win this season, the Bills will have posted four consecutive campaigns of at least 10 victories. The only other time in franchise history that has occurred was from 1990-1993, where they lost four Super Bowls in a row.

The Buffalo Bills were not rattled by an early explosive touchdown, going on to ultimately dominate the New England Patriots 24-10 in Thursday's AFC East showdown.

New England threatened to put up a strong fight against one of the Super Bowl favourites, jumping ahead 7-3 in the first quarter after rookie Marcus Jones took a wide receiver screen 48 yards to the house. 

It was just Jones' first offensive snap of his career, with the former college cornerback making a name for himself after his game-winning punt return touchdown against the New York Jets in Week 11.

But that would be the only points the Patriots would put on the board until a consolation field goal with under two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

The middle stages of the contest were entirely one-sided, with Josh Allen connecting on two touchdown passes in the second period to jump out to a 17-7 halftime lead, never looking back.

Allen's first touchdown was a simple one from the eight-yard line, identifying top receiver Stefon Diggs in man coverage before finding him in the back corner of the endzone. 

His second was more spectacular, as he left his feet for a jump-pass near the sideline, rifling it back across his body to find Gabriel Davis for another eight-yard touchdown.

Allen completed 22 of his 33 passes for 223 yards and two touchdowns, with his only turnovers coming from a strip-sack by Josh Uche. Diggs caught seven of his nine targets for 92 yards and a score, while Devin Singletary carried 13 times for 51 yards and the game's final touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Buffalo are now 9-3, which their division rivals the Miami Dolphins can match with a win over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.

The Buffalo Bills will be without Von Miller for at least a month after placing the star pass rusher on injured reserve shortly before Thursday’s game against the New England Patriots.

Miller, who injured his right knee in Buffalo’s Thanksgiving Day win at Detroit, will be sidelined for a minimum of four games, though Bills general manager Brandon Beane told reporters the team is optimistic the eight-time Pro Bowler will return before the end of the regular season.

The 33-year-old Miller sustained the injury when his knee bent awkwardly as he was stepped on by a Lions lineman last week, but avoided any torn ligaments and said on Tuesday he was hoping to return after missing only one game.

"He's a competitor, that’s why we love him. That's why he’s so great," Beane said. "The competitor in him – if he could wheel it out there tonight, he would do it.

"We just think in talking to the medical people that the best decision right now is to give this time, and that gives him the best opportunity to help us down the stretch."

Miller will be eligible to return for Buffalo’s final two regular-season games, a Monday-night clash with the Bengals in Cincinnati on January 2 and a rematch with the Patriots in Buffalo six days later.

The NFL’s active leader with 123.5 sacks, Miller leads the Bills in that category with eight in 11 games in 2022. It is the eighth consecutive season the 11-year veteran has registered eight or more sacks.

Miller, who signed a six-year, $120million contract with the Bills in March after helping the Los Angeles Rams win the Super Bowl, also has been quite durable over the course of his career.

A torn ACL did limit him to nine games with the Denver Broncos in 2013, but he has missed three games in seven-plus seasons since.

Deshaun Watson vowed to focus on football after deflecting questions on his suspension as he prepares for his first game with the Cleveland Browns.

Watson was handed an 11-game suspension and a $5million fine following sexual assault and misconduct allegations. The 27-year-old has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and is facing no criminal charges.

He has now completed that ban, meaning he is set to play for the first time in 700 days on Sunday.

The quarterback will be taking on the Houston Texans, the team he represented at the time of his last NFL game.

Speaking on Thursday, Watson made clear he was focusing on the game, rather than facing questions relating to his suspension.

"I understand that you guys have a lot of questions. But with my legal team and my clinical team, there's only football questions I can really address at this time," he told reporters.

Asked why he agreed to the suspension, he replied: "I was just trying whatever I could do to play football in 2022.

"Most of the settlement stuff with the NFL was mostly my agency and legal team. I had no control. My main focus was doing everything I needed to do to play this year."

A return to action in Houston could provide a fierce atmosphere for Watson to cope with, but that is not something he is thinking about.

"Like I said, I'm focusing on just being the starting quarterback and executing the game plan," he said. "That's my main focus."

The Browns traded for Watson in March before signing him to a fully guaranteed $230m five-year deal.

LeBron James has questioned why the media have not asked him about the controversial photo of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

The Washington Post published a photograph last month of Jones, as a 14-year-old, amid a crowd of white pupils attempting to block black students from North Little Rock High School in 1957.

The now-80-year-old says he was merely an observer and did not engage in discrimination, during a period where US schools were undergoing desegregation.

Speaking after the Los Angeles Lakers' 128-109 win over the Portland Trail Blazers however, James asked why reporters had not asked for his opinion on the matter, in contrast to the Kyrie Irving scandal earlier this season.

"I got one question for you guys before you guys leave," he said. "I was thinking when I was on my way over here, I was wondering why I haven't [had] a question from you guys about the Jerry Jones photo.

"But when the Kyrie [Irving] thing was going on, you guys were quick to ask us questions about that."

Irving was suspended by the Brooklyn Nets in early November after posting links to material containing anti-Semitic depictions, including a documentary.

"When I watch Kyrie talk and he says, 'I know who I am, but I want to keep the same energy when we're talking about my people and the things that we've been through,' and that Jerry Jones photo is one of those moments that our people, black people, have been through in America," James continued.

"I feel like as a black man, as a black athlete, as someone with power and a platform, when we do something wrong, or something that people don't agree with, it's on every single tabloid, every single news coverage, it's on the bottom ticker. It's asked about every single day.

"But it seems like to me that the whole Jerry Jones situation, it's just been buried under 'Oh, it happened. Okay, we just move on.'

"I was just kind of disappointed that I haven't received that question from you guys."

Kyler Murray has fired back at criticism from former Arizona Cardinals team-mate Patrick Peterson, accusing him of using his name to grow podcast numbers.

It has been a tough season for quarterback Murray and the Cardinals who are now 4-8 for the season following a dramatic 25-24 defeat to the Los Angeles Chargers last weekend.

Following that loss, Murray drew more attention to the reported tensions between himself and head coach Kliff Kingsbury when he said the Cardinals were "schematically f****d". Earlier this season, the two were involved in a heated exchange during a win over the New Orleans Saints.

Cornerback Peterson, who played with Murray for two seasons and is now with the Minnesota Vikings, said on the 'All Things Covered' podcast: "Kyler Murray don't care about nobody but Kyler Murray. That's just a matter of fact."

He added that Kingsbury will wind up as a scapegoat for the Cardinals' struggles, saying: "Ain't no maybe, he will. He will be. He will be. And the crazy thing about it, the guy who hired him will still have a job."

Murray took exception to Peterson's jibes and issued a blunt riposte on social media.

He wrote: "This isn't true…you on some weird s***, you got my number, if you really felt like this as a 'big bro' or 'mentor' you supposed to call me and tell me, not drag me so your podcast can grow…"

DeShaun Watson has shown a lack of remorse and should have been suspended by the NFL for at least a year, according to the president of anti-sexual assault organisation RAINN.

Scott Berkowitz spoke to Stats Perform as Watson prepares to make his Cleveland Browns debut.

Watson was handed an 11-game suspension and a $5million fine following sexual assault and misconduct allegations. The 27-year-old has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and is facing no criminal charges.

The ban has meant the star quarterback has yet to debut for the Browns after his March trade from the Houston Texans, which was followed by a lucrative new contract in Cleveland.

The NFL had initially hit Watson with a six-game ban before the punishment was extended. Berkowitz was happy to see that decision taken but says there is still work to be done.

"There's no length of suspension that would make up for the damage that he did to all those women. We initially advocated for a year suspension, which I think would have been appropriate," Berkowitz told Stats Perform.

"But 11's a whole lot better than six. So, it is what it is, and he'll be back on the field. And hopefully, with some different behaviour going forward.

"It [Watson's return] was bound to come eventually. But I certainly wished this suspension had been a little longer.

"But I just appreciate that the NFL added to the initial recommendation, at least, and made it longer than it initially looked like it was going to be."

Berkowitz said he can appreciate the need for second chances, but he claims Watson has not truly accepted any wrongdoing.

Watson has settled 23 of the 24 lawsuits against him.

"I understand second chances, I think that is something as a society we need to offer folks. But usually, there's a requirement that there's remorse and that they make things better," Berkowitz said.

"I think in this case, the day the suspension was announced, I recall he first put out a quote that had been written by the team that said the right things and then he immediately followed that up with what he really thought, which is that he doesn't think he did anything wrong.

"I don't know how you talk about forgiveness to someone who doesn't feel any remorse."

Browns owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam said on August 1 that "Deshaun is remorseful that this situation has caused much heartache to many and he will continue the work needed to show who he is on and off the field".

In a remarkable coincidence, Watson – who has a fully guaranteed $230million five-year deal with Cleveland – is set to make his Browns bow against the Texans on Sunday.

During five years in Houston (the last of which in the 2021 season Watson did not make a single appearance), he twice helped the Texans to the playoffs and was a three-time Pro-Bowler.

Berkowitz does not expect Watson to receive an overly enthusiastic reaction from the home crowd.

"I suspect it won't be a hero's greeting, or I hope it won't. You never know when a star comes back to their hometown," Berkowitz said.

"But, you know, I hope that the reaction takes into account the terrible things he's done. It's hard to be enthusiastic for rooting for a guy who's done the things that he was accused of doing."

However, Berkowitz did acknowledge the reception from Browns fans moving forward will likely depend on Watson's performances on the field.

"I'd like it to be taken into account, his actions, but I'm realistic, that's once he gets going if he plays well, that the memory of that, unfortunately, is going to fade pretty quickly," he said.

"Most fans of most teams have learned to put personalities aside and put that behaviour aside, unfortunately, and, once they're playing well, they start cheering for the guy.

"And we're all guilty of that. So, there's always that tension, when your team is putting up people who you need to win but you don't feel comfortable rooting for personally."

Four-time NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers will keep an "open mind" to the Green Bay Packers shutting him down this season.

Rodgers picked up a rib injury in Sunday's 40-33 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles and has been playing with a broken thumb on his throwing arm.

The Packers are third in the NFC North with a 4-8 record and given Rodgers' injuries, there has been talk of shutting him down for the season to recover and give young backup Jordan Love an opportunity.

Rodgers and Packers head coach Matt LaFleur have dismissed that notion this week with the quarterback determined to face the Chicago Bears on Sunday.

But the 38-year-old offered a hint that he may be open to consider being shut down in the right circumstances, when speaking to reporters on Wednesday.

"I'd love to finish the season out, but I understand this is a business and there's a lot of us kind of older guys who play a decent amount and they might want to see some younger guys play," Rodgers said.

"Hopefully we don't have to have that conversation. But if that conversation comes up, I'll approach that with an open mind and without any bitterness or resentment.

"Obviously, I want to win out and we don't have to have those conversations. I understand if we don't that's a possibility to have that conversation."

Rodgers was dismissive when asked about the benefit of being shut down with a view to next season.

"That's an assumption that this place won't look any different next year," Rodgers said. "Again, that's part of the conversation."

When asked why he wants to keep playing, Rodgers said: "Pride for one. Love of the game. They're paying me to play. A lot of different issues but I love to compete and want to be out there with my guys."

Rodgers has thrown 21 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 12 starts this season, with a 64.8 per cent completion rate. His nine interceptions are his most in a season since 2010.

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