The Detroit Lions are strong contenders as they close in on the NFL playoffs and Duron Harmon believes his former side are succeeding due to the understanding and relatability of head coach Dan Campbell.

Campbell's Lions lead the NFC North after going 9-3, inspired by an energetic running game and experienced quarterback Jared Goff, who made Super Bowl LII with the defeated Los Angeles Rams.

Only C.J. Stroud (3,540), Sam Howell (3,466) and Tua Tagovailoa (3,457) have passed for more yards than Goff's 3,288, while the Lions' 1,648 rushing yards can only be bettered by the Chicago Bears, the Miami Dolphins and the Baltimore Ravens.

Enjoying a fine season to date, Harmon – a Lion for a season in 2020 – lauded the qualities his former Detroit side have to offer in their quest for a first playoff berth since 2016.

"What I've seen is a team that has taken the approach and the mindset of their head coach," Harmon, now of the Cleveland Browns, told Stats Perform.

"A gritty team, a tough team, a team that will not quit, a team that will fight for all 60 minutes, and a team that is continually going to be on the rise this year and for years to come.

"They have a great thing cooking in Detroit.

"I was privileged enough to sit down with coach Campbell when he got hired. Right then and there, I knew they hired the right guy.

"He said it was going to be a year-to-year thing, it wasn't what happened overnight. He understood that he understood the process that it was going to be."

As the Lions continue in their search for a first Super Bowl triumph, Harmon lauded Campbell for restoring pride among a devoted Detroit faithful.

He added: "I'm happy for what he has done for the city of Detroit because they have one of the most loyal fan bases in sports, not just in the NFL.

"All they've ever wanted was a team to compete and a team that they can be proud of and Dan Campbell has given that to them – so hats off to him.

"We still have a long season, but what they've been able to accomplish this year up to this point, and just over the last two years, it shows that they're heading in the right direction to compete for years to come."

Touching further on Campbell's qualities, Harmon believes more NFL teams should follow suit in appointing former players looking to get into coaching.

Former tight end Campbell played for the New York Giants, the Dallas Cowboys and the New Orleans Saints – as well as a spell with the Lions – in a playing career that ended in 2009.

"It was a brief, probably 20-25 minute conversation, and the energy he gave off to me was, a lot of coaches say, I'll do any and everything for you, but you can just tell he meant it," Harmon continued.

"Not only did he mean it because, obviously it was his chance to be a head coach, but because he could relate. He was in the player's shoes.

"That's one thing that I think the NFL and these owners should start doing more is looking to hire former NFL players because they can relate.

"They understand the grind, not only physically, but mentally. They understand what it means to be an NFL player.

"What better way to have a head coach, who not only can motivate the players, but also relate? So they hired the right guy and we all see it. I wish him nothing but luck."

The defending Super Bowl-champion Kansas City Chiefs open the 2023 NFL season against the Detroit Lions on Thursday, and it's uncertain if All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce will be able to play.

Kelce hyperextended his knee during Tuesday's practice, putting his status in doubt for Week 1.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid did not provide any details about how the injury occurred during Kansas City's final practice ahead of the season opener.

Kelce has not missed a game to injury since his 2013 rookie season and has been indispensable to Kansas City's offense as Patrick Mahomes' favourite target.

Near the goal line, he is Mahomes' go-to receiver, as no player was targeted more in the red zone last season than Kelce with 30.

Widely considered the top tight end in the NFL, the 33-year-old caught a career-high 110 passes for 1,338 yards in 2022, his seventh straight season eclipsing 1,000 yards receiving. He also caught a career-best 12 touchdowns last season, giving him 69 in his career.

In Kansas City's march to the Super Bowl, he caught 27 passes for 257 yards with four touchdowns in three playoff games. He had six receptions for 81 yards with a TD in the Super Bowl.

Should he be forced to sit out, that could spell trouble for Kansas City given his familiarity with Mahomes and the fact the Chiefs are introducing several new receivers this year.

Noah Gray, who is listed as Kelce's backup on the depth chart, had 28 catches for 299 yards with a TD for the Chiefs last season.

The Chiefs are hopeful of having Kadarius Toney available for the opener after the wide receiver missed nearly all of training camp with a torn meniscus in his knee.

The Kansas City defense, however, will likely be without Chris Jones as the All-Pro defensive tackle has been holding out while trying to get a long-term contract.

 

The Kansas City Chiefs will begin defence of their Super Bowl title by hosting the upstart Detroit Lions as the NFL announced a few more select games on its 2023 regular-season schedule Thursday morning.

The league also revealed when and where Aaron Rodgers will make his highly anticipated debut with the New York Jets, who will host the AFC East-rival Buffalo Bills on Monday, Sept. 11 in a nationally televised primetime game on ESPN.

Detroit will visit Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium on Thursday, Sept. 7 to officially start the NFL's 2023 campaign, with the game to be broadcast on NBC beginning at 8:20 p.m. ET.

The Chiefs will also be playing at home on Christmas Day with a matchup against their longtime AFC West foes, the Las Vegas Raiders. The NFL announced on Wednesday that the reigning champions will host the Cincinnati Bengals on New Year's Eve in a rematch of last season's conference championship game, which Kansas City won 23-20 on a late field goal.

Also announced is a clash between two of the NFC's marquee teams in Week 5, when the San Francisco 49ers will host the Dallas Cowboys in prime time on Oct. 8 as part of NBC's "Sunday Night Football" package.

The entire 2023 schedule for all 32 teams will be revealed Thursday at 8 p.m. ET. The NFL announced dates and times for eight games, including five International Series matchups that will take place in either London or Germany, on Wednesday.

In an NFL draft full of early surprises and trades, the Detroit Lions turned some heads Thursday by trading down in the first round and selecting Alabama running back Jahmyr Gibbs with the number 12 pick.

The Lions chose to double down on a team strength as Gibbs lands in a run-focused offense under coach Dan Campbell and joins a backfield that already features D’Andre Swift and former Chicago Bear David Montgomery.

Gibbs was the second running back taken Thursday after Texas' Bijan Robinson went to the Atlanta Falcons in the number eight slot.

The last time two running backs were selected that high in the draft was in 2017, when Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey were both taken in the draft’s first eight picks.

Gibbs began his college career with two seasons at Georgia Tech but broke out as a big-play threat for Alabama in 2022. His draft stock rose after the scouting combine, where he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.36 seconds.

At 5-foot-9 and 199 pounds, Gibbs will likely continue to split time in the backfield after having only 383 total carries in three college seasons.

Detroit started the night with the number six pick – acquired from the Los Angeles Rams in the Matthew Stafford trade – and their own number 18 pick. They continued to defy conventional positional value with pick 18, selecting off-ball linebacker Jack Campbell out of Iowa.

C.J. Moore and Quintez Cephus have been released by the Detroit Lions after the duo and three other NFL players were suspended by the league for gambling violations.

Safety Moore and wide receiver Cephus' releases came after being suspended indefinitely by the NFL, while their now former Lions team-mates Stanley Berryhill and Jameson Williams were handed six-game bans.

Washington Commanders defensive end Shaka Toney was the other player cited by the league, also earning an indefinite suspension.

A statement from the NFL on Friday said: "The NFL confirmed today that three players have been indefinitely suspended for violating the league's gambling policy. Two other players were each suspended six games.

"Quintez Cephus and C.J. Moore of the Detroit Lions and Shaka Toney of the Washington Commanders are suspended indefinitely through at least the conclusion of the 2023 season for betting on NFL games in the 2022 season. These players may petition for reinstatement at the conclusion of the 2023 season.

"Stanley Berryhill and Jameson Williams of the Lions are suspended for the team's first six regular season games of the 2023 season. These players are eligible to participate in all offseason and preseason activities, including preseason games. The suspensions will take effect at the final roster cutdown.

"The gambling policy, which is annually reviewed with all NFL personnel, including players, prohibits anyone in the NFL from engaging in any form of gambling in any club or league facility or venue, including the practice facility.

"A league review uncovered no evidence indicating any inside information was used or that any game was compromised in any way."

Shortly after the announcement from the league, the Lions confirmed they had released Moore and Cephus, who played 11 and four games respectively in the 2022 season.

"As a result of an NFL investigation, it came to our attention that a few of our players had violated the league's gambling policy," Lions executive vice president and general manager Brad Holmes said.

"These players exhibited decision-making that is not consistent with our organisational values and violates league rules. We have made the decision to part ways with Quintez and C.J. immediately.

"We are disappointed by the decision-making demonstrated by Stanley and Jameson and will work with both players to ensure they understand the severity of these violations and have clarity on the league rules moving forward."

The Detroit Lions are moving on from cornerback Jeff Okudah, sending the former first-round draft pick to the Atlanta Falcons for a fifth-round selection in this year's draft.

The trade was reported by multiple sources on Tuesday.

The Lions selected Okudah with the third overall pick of the 2020 draft, but he has had a hard time staying healthy.

In three seasons with Detroit, Okudah has appeared in 25 games while missing 25 games due to injuries.

Heading into the fourth season of his rookie contract, Okudah will make $5.1million and the Falcons have until May 1 to decide on picking up his fifth-year option.

Atlanta will hope a change of scenery will give Okudah a fresh start and help shore up a pass defense that ranked among the worst in the NFL in 2022.

Only five teams had fewer interceptions than the Falcons' 10 last season, while opposing quartebacks posted a 95.7 passer rating – fourth highest in the league.

In 15 games last season, Okudah had one interception, seven pass breakups, 73 tackles – including two for loss – and one forced fumble.

Safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson is leaving the NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles to sign a one-year, $8million contract with the Detroit Lions.

Gardner-Johnson tied for the NFL lead with six interceptions in his lone season with the Eagles, despite missing five games with a lacerated kidney. He returned for the regular-season finale and started each of Philadelphia’s three postseason games to help the franchise to their first Super Bowl appearance since 2017.

The Eagles acquired Gardner-Johnson from New Orleans shortly before the start of the 2022 campaign. The Florida product added 67 tackles, one sack and eight passes defended in 12 regular season games.

A fourth-round pick of the Saints in 2019, Gardner-Johnson made 31 starts in three seasons with New Orleans. He led the Saints with 13 passes defended in 2020 and tied for the team lead with three interceptions in 2021.

Gardner-Johnson is the Lions' second major addition to the secondary this offseason as they attempt to improve the NFL's 32nd-ranked defense in total yards allowed in 2022. Detroit agreed to a three-year, $33m contract with former Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Cameron Sutton last week.

The Eagles, meanwhile, have now lost five defensive starters from their 2022 unit in free agency. Defensive tackle Javon Hargrave signed a four-year, $84m contract with the San Francisco 49ers, linebackers T.J. Edwards and Kyzir White joined the Chicago Bears and Arizona Cardinals, respectively, and safety Marcus Epps agreed to a two-year deal with the Las Vegas Raiders.

The NFC emerged victorious to secure the first edition of the NFL's new Pro Bowl Games, defeating the AFC 35-33 in the final flag football contest.

In a new format, the NFL decided to scrap the traditional Pro Bowl game as the injury risk of a real football game led to a mediocre product in recent years, with players only going at half-speed.

Instead, they replaced it with a series of mini-games – including dodgeball, and a best catch contest utilising a trampoline – spread over multiple days.

The two teams competed in four events on Thursday, with the NFC only securing victory in the dodgeball event. For the AFC, Buffalo Bills safety Jordan Poyer's 320-yard bomb won the long drive competition, Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr guided them to victory in the precision passing, and the team combined to win the three-event lightning round.

That gave the AFC the lead heading into Sunday's finale, although the NFC trimmed into the margin when Detroit Lions receiver Amon Ra St. Brown won the best catch contest.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith delivered the winning touchdown pass to Dallas Cowboys receiver CeeDee Lamb with 12 seconds remaining to take the first of the three flag football games for the NFC, before the AFC won the next to force a decider.

In the second, Bills receiver Stefon Diggs caught the game-winning touchdown, but not before he accidentally threw an earlier interception to his brother, Dallas Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs.

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins was the hero in the final game, throwing passing touchdowns to team-mate Justin Jefferson as well as San Francisco 49ers pair George Kittle and Kyle Juszczyk to secure the victory.

NFC players received $84,000 each for taking part and coming away with the win, while AFC players earned $42,000.

The NFC emerged victorious to secure the first edition of the NFL's new Pro Bowl Games, defeating the AFC 35-33 in the final flag football contest.

In a new format, the NFL decided to scrap the traditional Pro Bowl game as the injury risk of a real football game led to a mediocre product in recent years, with players only going at half-speed.

Instead, they replaced it with a series of mini-games – including dodgeball, and a best catch contest utilising a trampoline – spread over multiple days.

The two teams competed in four events on Thursday, with the NFC only securing victory in the dodgeball event. For the AFC, Buffalo Bills safety Jordan Poyer's 320-yard bomb won the long drive competition, Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr guided them to victory in the precision passing, and the team combined to win the three-event lightning round.

That gave the AFC the lead heading into Sunday's finale, although the NFC trimmed into the margin when Detroit Lions receiver Amon Ra St. Brown won the best catch contest.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith delivered the winning touchdown pass to Dallas Cowboys receiver CeeDee Lamb with 12 seconds remaining to take the first of the three flag football games for the NFC, before the AFC won the next to force a decider.

In the second, Bills receiver Stefon Diggs caught the game-winning touchdown, but not before he accidentally threw an earlier interception to his brother, Dallas Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs.

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins was the hero in the final game, throwing passing touchdowns to team-mate Justin Jefferson as well as San Francisco 49ers pair George Kittle and Kyle Juszczyk to secure the victory.

NFC players received $84,000 each for taking part and coming away with the win, while AFC players earned $42,000.

Detroit Lions general manager Brad Holmes told reporters on Tuesday he is confident in Jared Goff's ability to be the team's starting quarterback going forward.

Goff arrived in Detroit prior to the 2021 season as the Los Angeles Rams attached him to two first-round draft picks and a third-rounder to swap quarterbacks, bringing Matthew Stafford to the Rams where he guided them to a Super Bowl win in his first season.

The Rams were essentially dumping Goff – who has a Super Bowl appearance himself – but he has reinvigorated his career with a stunning bounceback campaign.

Starting all 17 games, Goff threw for 4,438 yards with 29 touchdowns and seven interceptions, setting new franchise-records for lowest interception rate (1.2 per cent) and highest touchdown-to-interception ratio (4.14).

League-wide, Goff finished fifth in QBR (61.2), fifth in touchdown passes, sixth in passing yards, tied for sixth in yards-per-completion, and 27th in sacks taken.

Speaking to the media on Tuesday, Holmes indicated the Lions will not look for a new starting quarterback in the offseason.

"I think it's a lot easier to get worse at quarterback than to get better in this league," he said. 

"So, I think what Jared has done this year, he captained the ship of a top-three offense, and he was top-10 statistically in most of the passing categories.

"Again, you know how we approach the draft, we're never going to turn down a good football player, so if it's a football player we love, we're going to make sure every stone is turned. But I do think that Jared has proven to everybody that he is the starting quarterback for us."

Lions head coach Dan Campbell provided similar commentary after defeating the Green Bay Packers in their season finale on Sunday.

"[Goff has] played great," he said. "He's really a perfect fit for what we do and what we ask.

"I think the true sign of a pro is somebody who can take the coaching. He can look at himself in the mirror, he knows where he needs to improve, he listens to what recommendations you have to get better, and he goes at it now. 

"He doesn't shy from it; he doesn't get sensitive. He just wants to be good. That's our quarterback."

On locker clean-out day Monday, Goff told reporters "I've loved my time here" and that while he has not been approached by the front office about his future with the franchise as he enters the final two years of his deal, he knows he is appreciated internally.

"It feels great, because I've been on the flip side of that," he said. "To be in a place where you are appreciated, it feels good. And again, these people here, it's just a special place and I'm proud to be a part of it."

Quay Walker has apologised for shoving a member of the Detroit Lions' training staff in the Green Bay Packers' season-ending loss on Sunday.

Needing only to win to reach the playoffs, the Packers suffered a surprise 20-16 defeat to the Lions at Lambeau Field.

Walker was disqualified on the Lions' go-ahead scoring drive in the fourth quarter after pushing a trainer as he attempted to tend to Detroit running back D'Andre Swift.

Former Packers running back Jamaal Williams scored his second rushing touchdown three plays later to put the Lions up for good, with Aaron Rodgers then intercepted on the next drive, allowing Detroit to kill the clock and Green Bay's hopes of an unlikely Super Bowl run.

Walker's show of ill-discipline was not his first of his rookie year, the first-round pick having also pushed a member of the Buffalo Bills' practice squad on the sideline after a play in the Packers' Week 8 loss.

In a post on Twitter, Walker wrote: "I want to apologise publicly about what happened Sunday night. I reacted off of my emotions again and take full responsibility of making another stupid decision.

"Since then I've questioned myself on why did I do what I did when the trainer was doing his job!! I was wrong!!

"I understand I have to face everything that comes with the decision I've made and I'm definitely paying for it now.

"Also to explain my frustration in the tunnel. I wasn't upset about being kicked out, I just knew I messed up again and was wrong for what I did and couldn't believe I did it again.

"To the Detroit Lions and to the entire training staff including the person I did that to. I'm sorry."

Four-time NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers will not rush into any decisions on his playing future after the Green Bay Packers missed the playoffs.

The Packers lost 20-16 to the Detroit Lions on Sunday at Lambeau Field.

The Packers had rallied from a 4-8 record by winning four straight games to set up a win-and-in situation against the Lions.

But Rodgers and Green Bay failed to uphold their end of the bargain, with the 39-year-old throwing a fourth-quarter interception on their last drive after the Lions had re-claimed the lead with Jamaal Williams' second rushing TD.

Rodgers is under contract for next season, but given his age and public comments, retirement has been a constant topic of discussion. The quarterback opted against being drawn on it in the immediate aftermath of the season-ending defeat.

"It's a little raw right now," Rodgers told reporters.

"It's just a little bit after the game, so I want to take the emotion out of it and have the conversation and see where the organisation is at and see how I feel after some time has passed.

"At some point, the carousel comes to a stop and it's time to get off, and I think you kind of know when that is.

"That's what needs to be contemplated. Is it time? Also, what’s the organisation doing? That's part of it as well. But the competitive fire is always going to be there. I don’t think that ever goes away."

Green Bay's loss was dotted with miscues including Rodgers' interception, along with a second-quarter Aaron Jones fumble and Quay Walker's inexplicable fourth-quarter ejection for pushing a Lions physician in the lead-up to Williams' game-winning TD.

The Packers missed the playoffs for the first time under head coach Matt LaFleur, who said: "Obviously very disappointed right now.

"To have an opportunity to go to the playoffs at home and not be able to get it done in that fashion is extremely disappointing.

"I do commend our locker room and our guys for their ability to overcome adversity throughout the course of the season.

"Ultimately, we dug ourselves too big of a hole and the margin for error in this league is so small, so if you don't capitalise on opportunities and make mistakes, then you're going to lose, especially against good football teams.

"You've got to give Detroit a tonne of credit, they came here and they beat us tonight. Certainly, like I said, [I am] extremely disappointed, but it's going to be a big offseason for us obviously to make sure we all improve.

"We've got to look inward to figure out what it is we need to do to get better, because the expectations here are very high and they should be. Really disappointed right now."

The Detroit Lions have denied the Green Bay Packers a place in the playoffs as Jamaal Williams broke the franchise rushing touchdowns record in a 20-16 victory at Lambeau Field on Sunday.

The result means the Seattle Seahawks will go into the Wild Card round as the seventh seed in the NFC where they will face the San Francisco 49ers.

Seattle's overtime win over the Los Angeles Rams shortly prior to kickoff meant the Lions were out of postseason contention but the Packers had a simple win-and-in scenario yet they could not complete the job.

The Packers, who had won four straight games coming in, miss the playoffs for the first time under head coach Matt LaFleur.

Veteran Packers QB Aaron Rodgers threw a fourth-quarter interception to Kerby Joseph after the Lions had re-taken the lead from Williams' second rushing TD. Lions quarterback Jared Goff sealed the win on a fourth-and-one with 1:15 remaining when he found D.J. Chark for first down.

Rodgers finished the game with one touchdown pass and one interception, completing 17 of 27 passes for 205 yards, while Goff threw for 224 yards on 23-of-34 passing.

Williams' game-winning touchdown, which was his 17th rushing TD for the season to surpass Barry Sanders' franchise record, came after Quay Walker was inexplicably ejected after pushing a Lions training staff member attending to the injured De'Andre Swift. It was the second time Walker has been ejected this season.

Lions running back Williams, who ran for 72 yards on 16 carries, had put the Lions ahead with a third quarter TD after Goff found Kalif Raymond for 43 yards, before Rodgers found Allen Lazard on a 13-yard TD pass to immediately re-claim the lead. Rodgers had linked up with Christian Watson for a 45-yard pass two plays prior, with the rookie having 104 yards from five receptions for the game.

The Packers were left to rue Rodgers' interception, Walker's disqualification and a second-quarter Aaron Jones' fumble.

Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell is over the moon to be heading on the road next week to take on the Green Bay Packers with a spot in the playoffs potentially up for grabs.

The Lions bounced back from a loss last week to trounce the Chicago Bears 41-10 on Sunday, making it seven wins from their past nine fixtures and improving their record to 8-8.

There was also some history made by the second overall selection from the 2022 NFL Draft, with Lions edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson snagging his third interception to tie the record for the most by a defensive lineman in a season in the Super Bowl era.

Hutchinson also shared a sack with teammate Ifeatu Melifonwu, one of seven total sacks on Bears quarterback Justin Fields.

Speaking to reporters after the game, Campbell pointed to a fully padded practice on Wednesday as the rallying point for his side facing a tricky quarterback matchup with their season on the line.

"We went full pads on Wednesday and said we were going to get our identity back, and we're going to recalibrate, and those guys did that," he said.

"They trusted us, and they came out and it looked like that. It looked like we were ready to go, it looked like we were more physical. I was proud of them.

"Here's the hard thing with playing a guy like [Justin] Fields, man. If you just come barrelling off the edge, and you're out of control, then he's gone.

"So you have to be able to bring a little bit of force and close the pocket in on him, but you can't commit one way or another because he'll break contain again.

"While all this is happening, our back-end is having to cover their rear off for five, six, seven seconds at a time. You give up a couple of holding calls, that's not an easy task there.

"But all-in-all, I thought we snapped back on defense. We were much more physical, we got takeaways, we got sacks, we were disruptive."

Detroit's win keeps their season alive for at least one more week, and Campbell said he feels blessed to get a chance to play a massive January game at the famous Lambeau Field.

"I think it means everything," he said. "I think it's just so special – it's as good as it can get, seriously.

"You get to go to Lambeau – historic Lambeau – where the top of this division has been Green Bay every year for years, with a chance to earn your right to potentially get in.

"Even if we do get the win, it doesn't mean we're guaranteed to get in. But I know this, we're guaranteed to get one more week, and so I just think this is as special as it gets. I don't think you'd want it any other way."

The Lions will be relying on another strong performance from quarterback Jared Goff, who Campbell said is "extremely hot" after his three-touchdown effort.

"He has a ton of confidence right now, and he's had that for a while," he said. "He's played pretty well all year.

"You can just tell he's in this mode right now where you feel like every time you dial up a pass, he's going to find somebody. He's going to find the throw, he's going to get it to the guy that's open.

"That's a great feeling, man. To feel your quarterback is in that mode, and he's been there, that's a great feeling."

Goff himself has played in playoff games and took the Los Angeles Rams to a Super Bowl appearance, but he still acknowledged how meaningful it still is to just have a chance at making the postseason.

"It's huge," he said. "Not every team, players, young guys get an opportunity to play in games like this.

"There are a bunch of guys here who, for the first half of their careers, have not had a chance to play a game in January that means something, and we're going to get that chance next week.

"Whether it gets us in or not, that's not up to us, but we're going in there and trying to win, and see where everything falls at the end."

The Philadelphia Eagles may have already won the NFC East and will enter Week 16 without quarterback Jalen Hurts, but a clash with the Dallas Cowboys remains the standout game on the slate.

While the Cowboys' attempts to stick with the Eagles this year were hampered by their road form, Dallas are strong at home and will hope to send a warning to their division rivals ahead of a playoff campaign in which both teams will hope to feature prominently.

Elsewhere, the Kansas City Chiefs have work to do still as they aim, like the Eagles, to secure a bye with the number one seed in the AFC.

But it is not all about the NFL's leading lights, with the battle for position ahead of the postseason ongoing – with a big game in store in Charlotte.

Stats Perform picks out the key facts ahead of a busy Christmas weekend...
 

Philadelphia Eagles (13-1) @ Dallas Cowboys (10-4)

In beating the Chicago Bears last week, the Eagles secured a 13th win in a single season for only the third time in franchise history. On the two previous occasions, Philly finished with a 13-3 record and reached the Super Bowl, losing to the New England Patriots in the 2004 season and beating the same team in 2017.

The Eagles have never won 14 games in a regular season and will be without injured QB Hurts as they aim to end a four-game losing streak in Dallas.

But the Cowboys are coming into this big home game on a downer, having blown a 17-point lead against the Jacksonville Jaguars last week for their first loss in five.

That game also again showed big QB performances can sometimes prove immaterial, with Dak Prescott throwing for 256 yards and three touchdowns. The Cowboys are 1-2 this season when Prescott has thrown three or more TD passes and only 7-6 since 2020. Prior to that, they were 13-3 in such games.

Seattle Seahawks (7-7) @ Kansas City Chiefs (11-3)

Patrick Mahomes and Geno Smith each earned Pro Bowl selections this week – a fifth for Mahomes but only a first for Smith. Both were well deserved, with the pair third and second respectively for passer rating among qualifying players this year (Smith, 105.3, and Mahomes, 105.0).

However, Mahomes will look to do something he has never done before on Saturday: beat the Seahawks. Having lost 38-31 to Seattle in his only previous such clash in 2018, they are one of just two teams Mahomes has played but never beaten (also 0-2 against the Indianapolis Colts).

Smith, who has never faced the Chiefs, leads the NFC with 26 touchdown passes as he aims to follow Russell Wilson (2017 and 2018) and Matt Hasselbeck (2005) as the only Seahawks to lead the conference across a season. However, with eight interceptions and four fumbles lost by Smith, Seattle are the sole team in the league to have committed a turnover in every game this year.

Detroit Lions (7-7) @ Carolina Panthers (5-9)

The Lions' stunning 6-1 run, including an active three-game winning streak, has them firmly in playoff contention in the NFC. The last time they won six out of seven games in a single season, back in 2016, was also the last time they made the postseason.

However, the Lions have a miserable history against the Panthers. Their 3-7 record in this matchup is their worst against any current NFC franchise, while Detroit are 0-5 on the road against the Panthers since winning on their first trip in 1999.

With Jared Goff in the best form of his career, the Lions will hope to snap that streak. He has gone six games without an interception, which ties the longest such streak by a Lions QB since the statistic was first tracked in 1960. Goff had never previously gone more than three games without throwing a pick.

Elsewhere...

The Bears this week face the Buffalo Bills, the only team in the Super Bowl era to have lost more consecutive games with 125 or more rushing yards in each loss. Chicago have lost seven in a row, but the 1976 Bills were defeated in 10. With 2,616 rushing yards but a 3-11 record, the Bears are on course to become the first team to lead the league in rushing yards yet have one of the worst two records since the 1932 Staten Island Stapletons.

Recent history suggests the Minnesota Vikings will follow up last week's record-breaking comeback against the Colts with another win over the New York Giants. The Vikings' 7-2 record against the Giants since 2005 is their best against NFC opposition and New York's worst.

The Patriots will have to upset the Cincinnati Bengals to get their playoff bid back on track, yet they have won their past seven home games in this matchup, including the last four while scoring at least 35 points. The last team to win five in a row at home to any one team while scoring 35 points or more were the San Francisco 49ers against the Atlanta Falcons between 1992 and 1996.

Tua Tagovailoa will be relieved this week's game against the Green Bay Packers is in Miami and not Wisconsin. Following last week's defeat to Buffalo, the Dolphins QB is 0-4 in starts when the weather is below 50 degrees Fahrenheit; he is 17-7 when the temperature is at least 50 degrees.

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