NFL Standings 2016: Which Teams Can Still Win A Playoff Spot?

The NFL’s 2016 regular season comes to and end this Sunday and the exciting playoff road to the Superbowl in February ensues. Each team has one game remaining and the questions on fans minds are now–what do the standings tell us, who is already in, and who can still win a playoff spot? The 2016 standings and the NFL as we know it are actually the result of a 1970 merger of the National Football League (NFL) with its former competitor, the American Football League (AFL). The NFL, established in 1920, had been home to storied franchises like The Bears, Packers, Cardinals and Giants. In 1960, the AFL was founded with a more offense-oriented philosophy than its predecessor and gave birth to franchises like the Broncos, Patriots, and Raiders. As the popularity of the AFL grew and “raids” of personnel began to skyrocket salaries in both leagues, plans for a merger were announced in 1966 with a window of four years to complete the integration. The new league would create two conferences within the NFL and became official in 1970- the National Football Conference (NFC) would keep the old league intact and the American Conference (AFC) would represent the former AFL teams. The AFC/NFC rivalry remains to this day, and during the merger construct, a match-up between the AFL and NFL champions was first played in 1967 between the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs, who each finished the season number one in their standings. This game, won easily by the Packers 35-10, was the first ever Super Bowl. At the time, the AFL was widely regarded as an inferior league competitively, and again the Packers predictably won Super Bowl II against the Oakland Raiders 33-14. It seemed like the AFL had become a punching bag for the old NFL until the events of Super Bowl III catapulted the game into the echelon it still enjoys in 2016. The NFL’s representative, the Baltimore Colts and their hall of fame quarterback Johnny Unitas were heavily favored to beat the New York Jets in Super Bowl III. It seemed unlikely that an AFL team could ever compete with the National Football League, but three days before the 1969 game, Jets quarterback Joe Namath made an epic guarantee of victory. The promise drove up interest in the game, Namath and the underdog Jets delivered victory 16-7 over the Colts, and since then the Super Bowl has become the most watched event in American television. Sorry for the history lesson, but it’s that time of year. Jets Quarterback Joe Namath, Super Bowl III MVP [Image By Anonymous/AP Images] Nowadays the NFL consists of 32 teams, 16 NFC, 16 AFC, with each conference divided into four divisions, North, South, East and West. Each conference sends six teams to the playoffs, based on the standings. The winner of each division gets a playoff spot, and the next two winning-est teams within each conference get a “wildcard spot”. The league has an elaborate structure for addressing tie-breaker scenarios, and teams are “seeded” going into the playoffs based on win/loss record in the standings for division winners first, then the wildcard teams. The positions determine not only a first round “bye” in the playoffs for the top two seeds of each conference, but another leg-up, as the number one seed in each conference is guaranteed home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Super Bowl is held in a neutral location, featuring the winner of the NFC against the victor of the AFC. Now that we have the ground rules, what does that mean for the standings going into the final week of the regular season in 2016? There are a team in each of the NFC and AFC that have already clinched a playoff spot, their division title and a first round bye–the Dallas Cowboys and the New England Patriots. The Cowboys have also clinched the number one seed in the NFC, rendering their game against the Eagles, who have been eliminated from playoff contention, irrelevant. The Patriots are playing division rival Miami on Sunday and the Pats need a win to guarantee home field advantage. The Dolphins have secured at least a number six seed, but will be playing for momentum, making the match-up potentially competitive. The 2016 AFC is all but locked up, with the Patriots, Raiders, Steelers, Texans, Chiefs and Dolphins having clinched playoff spots. The battle for seeding may play out as the Raiders challenge last year’s Super Bowl champ, the Denver Broncos, who will try to end their disappointing season with an upset. The Steelers will look to “not lose” to the Cleveland Browns, but have little to gain with a victory, and the Texans are in the same boat against Tennessee. The Chiefs, like Miami, have seed position in mind when they battle the Chargers, but the current AFC standings offers few 2016 surprises. The 2016 NFC however, minus the Cowboys, still poses much intrigue, but the complexities of the standings thus far can be more than any of us can fathom without knowing the outcome of Sunday’s games. Aside from Dallas, the Falcons and Seahawks have clinched division titles, and the Giants have earned at least a spot among the NFC’s playoff teams. That leaves one division title open, the NFC North, being fought for directly between the Packers and Lions, in perhaps the most exciting game of the week, a sort of playoff before the playoffs. Winner takes the division, though there are countless scenarios where either losing team could still make the post season. According to Bryan Altman from CBS Baltimore “The Lions-Packers game is the linchpin that either enables dream scenarios for some teams to come to fruition, or unravels them completely. The Lions’ possibilities run the gamut, from possibly clinching a first-round bye with some help, versus being eliminated from the playoffs completely and can- Clinch NFC North and playoff berth with: WIN Clinch first-round bye with: WIN + Seahawks loss + Falcons loss Clinch playoff berth with: WIN/TIE Redskins loss/tie” The Packers and Lions fight for 2016 NFL standings. [Image By Rick Osentoski/AP Images] As confusing as the Lions’ hopes may seem, it doesn’t come close to summarizing the myriad of opportunities in the 2016 NFC playoff picture and there are even two fringe teams, the Buccaneers and Redskins, who can still make the dance with a win on Sunday and some standings “help” from other teams. Specifically, that makes the Giants/Redskins match-up another exciting game to watch, as well as the Buccaneers vs. Panthers. The Seahawks will be playing the 49ers, and the Falcons face the Saints. Both games have potential playoff implications. As the NFL 2016 standings solidify by Sunday evening, we will know exactly which teams earned a right to playoff for a spot in Super Bowl LI (51) in Houston, and just who fell short. [Featured Image BY Charles Krupa/Resized And Cropped/AP Images]

Raiders' QB Backup Matt McGloin Is Thrust Into A Starting Role After Horrific David Carr Injury; But Is He Good Enough?

Raiders’ QB backup Matt McGloin will be forced onto the field this week — as well as for the team’s first playoff run in 13 years — following a terrible broken fibula injury sustained by starting QB Derek Carr. McGloin, Oakland’s 23-year-old backup quarterback, was signed by the Raiders after going unclaimed during the 2013 N.F.L. entry draft. A former walk-on for Penn State, Matt has started just a handful of games during his college and professional career. The QB has, however, been with the Raiders for three years, and has served as an understudy to popular team leader and QB Carr. Surgery couldn’t have gone better! Received great news! Already started the recovery process!Thank you for all of your prayers as I heal up! — Derek Carr (@derekcarrqb) December 27, 2016 More importantly, the Raiders’ QB has managed to secure spots with both the Raiders and the Penn State Nittany Lions, even earning time as a starter on the field. Many feel that this fact proves that McGloin is a survivor who may take that same winning mentality and attitude into the tremendous opportunity that he has been afforded. The Raiders’ QB backup is now “the man” for Oakland heading into the N.F.L. playoffs. Unfortunately, the Raiders’ backup could find Carr’s shoes very tough to fill. Derek Carr injury [Image by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images] In 15 games this season — for which Carr was a strong contender for the league’s “Most Valuable Player” — Carr has taken his Oakland Raiders from the obscurity of 13 unsuccessful seasons, achieving 356 passes for 3,933 yards, with 28 touchdowns and just six interceptions, en route to an overall team record of 12-3, a potential A.F.C. West division title, and a possible first-round playoff bye. By comparison, Raiders’ QB backup Matt McGloin’s most successful season in the N.F.L. came his rookie year, when the QB played in seven games in relief of starter Terrelle Pryor. During that stretch, McGloin threw 118 completions for 1,547 yards, with eight touchdowns and eight interceptions. The Raiders, that year, went 4-12 and came in last in their division. Doubling the backup QB’s numbers for that season — which would give him 14 games for a better comparison to the 15 games that Derek Carr played in his exemplary 2016 campaign — would give Matt 236 completions for more than 3,000 yards, with 16 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. Clearly, Matt McGloin — although he was a rookie at the time and the team was not nearly as talented as this year’s version — as the new Raiders’ QB is no Derek Carr. A lot of people, however, feel that he will not necessarily have to be for Oakland to extend its magical run. “[Losing QB Derek Carr] obviously is a blow,” said Oakland’s head coach Jack Del Rio, speaking with CBS Sports of the uphill battle that the Raiders’ QB backup McGloin will face in the playoffs as he struggles to get better acclimated with his teammates. “That’s what teams do; teams have to find a way to pick up and move on,” continued Del Rio. “We’ll rally around the next guy as best we can. That’s what you do. It will be incumbent on the offensive line and the [running-]backs to do more. The defense to do more. The special teams to do more. As a team, pick it up and do more to fill in. Obviously, it’s a big setback.” Coach Jack Del Rio [Image by Brian Bahr/Getty Images] Despite the Raiders QB backup’s limited experience, he will now be called upon to replace Oakland’s emotional leader and push the team through at least two (potentially three) high-pressure playoff match-ups if the Oakland Raiders have any hope of making their SuperBowl LI aspirations a reality. Even if the new Raiders QB achieves this, there are some who question whether he might actually be forced to compete in the big championship game as well. For his own part, Derek Carr remains hopeful that he can recover from a broken fibula and remain strong enough to play in the 2017 SuperBowl, which takes place February 5 in Houston, Texas. While most Oakland Raiders’ fans do not envision a Derek Carr recovery happening that optimistically fast, not one person could argue the need for QB McGloin to step up in a major way if the Raiders’ have any hope of winning a championship this year. The NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, for example, revealed today that Carr is “an extreme long shot” to return in time for a championship game in February. Given the talent level on the Oakland Raiders, however, any N.F.L. expert would agree that the team’s performance moving forward absolutely hinges on strong — even if albeit imperfect — play by former Raiders’ QB backup McGloin. In other words, Matt McGloin will never be asked to be as good as Derek Carr, but he will have to do his best Matt McGloin imitation of all time. [Featured Image by Jason Miller/Getty Images]

Jonathan Cooper Waived By Cleveland Browns: 7th Overall Pick In 2013 NFL Draft Dropped By Three Teams, Three Years

NFL player Jonathan Cooper has been waived by the Cleveland Browns. Cooper first joined the Cleveland Browns before Week 6 after he was waived by the New England Patriots. The 26-year-old offensive lineman appeared in a total of five games for the Browns. He was featured in the starting right guard position for the last three of those five games. #NFL #Browns News: Browns waive OL Jonathan Cooper – He appeared in five games with the Browns https://t.co/Lk3jEiKosH — Tim Turner (@TNT713) December 28, 2016 According to the team website, offensive lineman Alvin Bailey is returning to the active roster after being suspended for two games earlier this month due to violating the NFL substance abuse policy. Bailey’s roster exemption reportedly expires Wednesday. As mentioned above,this was unfortunately not the first time that Jonathan Cooper has been waived by an NFL team. The North Carolina native has actually been traded once and waived twice – playing for three different teams so far in his three-year career as a professional football player. The Arizona Cardinals more than likely had high hopes for Cooper when they selected him with the seventh overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. Jonathan signed a four-year contract worth $14.55 million in July of 2013. Jonathan Cooper (@TheUnderDog_64) had to fight back tears on draft day. [WATCH] http://t.co/owGpH42zE9#CardsDraft pic.twitter.com/553eq8r1fo — Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) May 8, 2014 Based on his NFL combine profile, Cooper received an overall grade of 86.9 – including his top performance with the bench press. In addition to being voted the player of the year by his high school conference – a rare accomplishment for senior offensive linemen – Cooper’s team worth the Class 4-A state title. “Cooper, an extremely athletic left guard, racked up a number of all-conference awards during his four years starting… He has the athleticism to play in a number of different schemes. Due to his ability to lead the way on runs and outstanding pass protection skills, he projects to be one of the first guards selected in the draft.” Along with his strengths, though, there were several weaknesses highlighted in his combine profile that would apparently speak volumes about his career. “Functional strength is only adequate; stronger tackles get a bit of push against him in pass protection. Will have occasional missed assignments in pass protection.” Even though the bottom line of his analysis acknowledged his improved functional strength during his senior season, it also addressed the need for him to “continue adding bulk and strength.” Fast forward to August 24, 2013 – nearly one month after Jonathan Cooper signed his multi-million dollar contract. In the Cardinals’ third game of the preseason against the San Diego Chargers, Jonathan broke his left fibula – ending up on the IR list six days later. Jonathan Cooper is hoping that in Cleveland, he’ll get a chance to remove the “bust” label https://t.co/cddGdTzdd2 — ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) December 1, 2016 The Cardinals traded Cooper along with a second-round draft pick this past March to the New England Patriots in exchange for defensive end Chandler Jones. During a June 2016 interview with Sirius XM NFL radio, Jonathan Cooper opened up to hosts Alex Marvez and Kirk Morrison about the aftermath of his rookie season leg injury – including the mental challenge of trying to overcome that injury. He stated that “you get a whole different mindset” when you are working hard, staying healthy, and “playing the best ball you can.” “When it goes beyond the field, and when it comes to that mental stuff, that’s when it gets more difficult… Honestly, it’s more of a mental thing than anything else. I feel like the biggest thing is the actual fresh start with a new organization and being able… to rewrite my history and be a better player than I was before.” At the start of his season with the Patriots, Cooper was bumped from the starting line to a backup position. The New England Patriots later waived him in early October. Patriots release guard Jonathan Cooper – Comcast SportsNet New England https://t.co/I9dEHucNvD #Patriots pic.twitter.com/RDZVTzKY7Q — New England Patriots (@NEPatriotsNews4) October 9, 2016 I guess Jonathan Cooper was the one player the Patriots couldn’t take from bust to star. — hippelsportshub (@hippelsportshub) October 8, 2016 Two days later, Jonathan Cooper started what would become a two-month journey with Cleveland Browns. [Featured Image by AP Images]

Michigan Vs. Florida State 2016 Orange Bowl: Odds, Prediction, And How To Watch Live Streaming Online

The 2016 Orange Bowl will feature two of the most popular and highest winning programs in NCAA history when the Michigan Wolverines take on the Florida State Seminoles from Miami, Florida. While both of these teams would rather be playing in the college football playoffs, they still have to be excited to be facing each other in this marquee matchup. In fact, outside of the playoff schedule, this game will feature two of the highest ranking teams this bowl season going at it head-to-head. Head coach Jim Harbaugh looks to lead the Wolverines to win No. 11 on the season. [Image by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images] According to an Mlive report, the No. 6 Michigan Wolverines and the No. 11 Florida State Seminoles both have high powered offenses and great defenses, however, all eyes will be focused on two players in particular – Florida State’s Dalvin Cook and Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers. While neither Cook nor Peppers have officially declared if they will forgo their senior season and head to the NFL next season, both players are most likely playing their final college game when they hit the field at the Orange Bowl on Friday night. NFLDraftScout.com has Cook currently listed as the 12th-best overall NFL draft prospect and second-best running back behind LSU’s Leonard Fournette. Cook has been a flat out beast this season for the Seminoles, rushing for 1,620 yards and 18 touchdowns. Cook was also a finalist for the Doak Walker Award, which goes to the nation’s top running back. Outside of wanting to win a NCAA national championship, Cook has no reason to return to FSU in 2017. Peppers, on the other hand, has been listed anywhere between a late first round to mid-second round selection by many NFL Draft sources. This kid can do it all. Not only is he one of the best defensive backs in the game, he also is a great special teams player as well. No matter when these guys are picked in the NFL Draft next spring, the teams that select them will be getting top notch talent. As for now, all they are thinking about is a win in the Capital One Orange Bowl. Cook and the Florida State offensive line will have their work cut out for them in this year’s Orange Bowl when they go up against the Wolverines defense. Michigan’s defensive unit ranks second nationally in scoring at 12.5 points per game and in total defense as they give up just an average of 252.7 yards per contest. They also have limited opponents to a 3.1 average per carry and allowed just seven rushing touchdowns the entire season. Dalvin Cook will give the Wolverines defense a real challenge in the 2016 Orange Bowl.
[Image by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images] Those Michigan defensive numbers are gaudy, however, the Wolverines know that they will be facing one of the best offenses in FSU they have seen outside of Ohio State this year. Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh knows how big this game is not just for recruiting but Harbaugh wants to join the elite Michigan teams of the past. Only nine times in school history have the Wolverines won 11 games in a season – Coach Harbaugh and his squad want to make it 10. Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight wants to be part of that historical moment. “That’s big,” Wolverines sophomore quarterback Wilton Speight said. “Obviously, every team wants to win every game, and the next benchmark is a 10-win season. That’s solid. It’s cool we got to 10, but 11 would be special and put us in the history books here.” Speight has recovered nicely after his late season injury to his left collarbone and should be 100 percent for the Orange Bowl. He passed for 2,375 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2016 for the Wolverines. Las Vegas odds makers have Michigan listed as a seven-point favorite with the over/under number set at The line seems a bit inflated in this game, especially considering that this is almost like a home game for Florida State. This game could come down to the last team with the ball, and a field goal could be what decides it. Pick – Florida State +7 The Michigan vs Florida State Orange Bowl game will air nationally on ESPN. Fans will also be able to catch all of the action streaming live online through Watch ESPN. If you are on the go you can still see every snap on your tablet, smart phone or any other device by downloading the Watch ESPN App. Game time is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET. [Featured Image by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images]

NFL Week 17 Preview And Prediction: Washington Redskins Vs. New York Giants

The Washington Redskins still have a chance to make the playoffs for a second straight year. The Redskins (8-6-1) received a rare gift from NFC East arch-rival Dallas Cowboys on Monday night. The Cowboys 42-21 win over the Detroit Lions means that if the Skins defeat division rival New York Giants on Sunday they will be headed to playoffs. There is a small caveat, there must be a winner in the Green Bay Packers- Detroit Lions game or the Skins will go home regardless of the outcome of their game. Washington has been inconsistent this year. The Redskins had a tough start to the season, losing two of their first three games though both of those losses were teams that are currently in the playoffs — the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers. The Skins reeled off four straight wins before losing to the Detroit Lions by three and tying the Cincinnati Bengals in London to give them a 4-3-1 mark at the midway point of the season. Since then they have gone 4-3 which includes a huge 41-21 victory over the Chicago Bears on Christmas Eve. Quarterback Kirk Cousins, who was coming off a shaky performance against the Carolina Panthers the previous week, threw for 270 yards along with one touchdown while running for two more scores against the Bears. Cousins completed 18-of-29 passes to mark the 13th time he that he completed at least 60 percent of his passes this season. Cousins is having arguably his best season of his career. The 28-year-old, in his second season as the Skins’ starter, has completed 67.1 percent of his passes for a career-high 308.1 yards a game to go along with 24 touchdowns and 10 interceptions — which is one fewer than last year. Cousins has seven, 300-yard games which includes two games where he has surpassed the 400 yard mark. He also has four fourth quarter comeback wins. Still, there are questions about Cousins future with the team per The Washington Post. Cousins and the Skins couldn’t come to terms on a long term deal this summer, so he took the $19.95 million franchise tag. The Redskins are just 84 yards away from breaking the club-record 6,253 yards of total offense. However, with several of the Skins’ major weapons banged up, they may have to count on others to step up. The good news is that Redskins have plenty of depth at the skill positions. ESPN reports that top running back Robert Kelley (sprained knee) is expected to play. In the meantime the status of wide receiver DeSean Jackson (jaw contusion) and Pro Bowl tight end Jordan Reed (separated shoulder) is up in the air. Kelley was been very good since being inserted into the starting lineup in Week 7, totaling 568 of his team-high 671 rushing yards and hauling in 11 passes for an additional 81 yards. Kelly, who went undrafted out Tulane, has six rushing touchdowns and is averaging 4.3 yards per carry. If Kelly can’t go, third-year back Chris Thompson (5.4 ypg) and youngster Mack Brown, who had 82 yards on eight carries versus the Bears, will likely get the majority of time. Thompson also has 43 receptions. 2015 third round selection Matt Jones hasn’t seen the field since Oct. 30. Jones has two, 100-yard games this season to go along with three touchdowns though fumbling has been a problem. Jackson is the Skins’ primary deep threat, averaging 18.0 yards per catch with 18 receptions going for at least 20 yards. Jackson has caught 54 passes for 971 yards and four touchdowns overall this season. It is hard to imagine that Jackson won’t be out there Sunday. Veteran wide receiver Pierre Garcon leads team with 75 catches and second year pro Jamison Crowder tops the team with seven touchdown receptions. [Image by Ronald Martinez] Reed did not play last week, however, with the Skins needing the win to make playoffs he may suit up against the Giants. Reed (61 receptions, 646 yards) and Vernon Davis (42 receptions, 534 yards) are one of the most lethal pass catching duo tight ends in the league. Football Outsiders rank the Redskins’ offensive line as one of the best in the league. Defense and special teams are the team’s biggest issues. Washington has given up 20 or more points in each of their last 10 games, and is giving up the 22nd most points in the league at 24.3. The Skins’ defense ranks 29th in total defense, 28th in pass defense and 25th against the run. Defensive penalties have also been an issue. They have forced 21 turnovers and recorded 37 sacks. Linebacker is the team’s strongest position on defense with Mason Foster (107 tackles) and Will Compton (103) leading the team in tackles. Outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan has 11 sacks while defensive end Trent Murphy has eight sacks. Josh Norman is a quality cornerback, picking off three passes and being credited with 18 pass defensed. Kicker Dustin Hopkins has missed seven field goals, including two kicks less than 40 yards, and three extra points. Punter Tress Way ranks in the bottom third of the league. The Redskins return game is strong as Crowder is one of the best punt returners in the league. New York (10-5) is in the playoffs for the first time since 2011. The Giants are coming off a disappointing 24-19 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Dec. 22 as Eli Manning threw three interceptions. Manning is having his worst season over the past three years as he is completing 63.0 percent of his passes for 247. 6 yards a game with 26 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. [Image by Al Bello/Getty Images] New York doesn’t run the ball well, averaging 83.4 yards which is 29th in the league and is last with five touchdowns. Odell Beckham is an elite playmaker at wide receiver. Beckham ranks in the top-four of the NFL in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns. Sterling Shepard (62 receptions) is a quality No. 2 receiver and Victor Cruz (37 catches for 15.6 yards per catch) is a big play threat though he has struggled this year. Tight end Will Tye also is a solid option in the passing game as he has 44 catches. The Giants offensive line is ranked fourth in pass blocking. Defense is the Giants strong point. New York has held their opponents to less than 20 points in five of its last nine games. The G-Men are third overall, giving up 18.3 points a game. They also rank 11th in total defense, 22nd against the pass and seventh against the run. New York’s pass rush has taken a hit the past few weeks with defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul out injured since Dec.11. Defensive end Olivier Vernon leads the team with 8.5 sacks though he has recorded just 0.5 sack in the past three games. The Giants real strength is their secondary with safety Landon Collins, who leads the squad with 117 tackles to go along with five sacks and three interceptions. Dominique Rogers-Cromartie and Janoris Jenkins are quality cornerbacks. Rookie corner Eli Apple also has been good. Special teams has been an issue for the Giants. The Giants have made 19-of-20 field goals with the only miss being from beyond 50-yards, however, they have missed four extra points. Punter Brad Wings has done a good job, ranking ninth in yards and 10th in punts inside the 20. Prediction: Giants 20, Redskins 17 New York is expected to play all their starters according to Jordan Roman of ESPN despite being locked into the No. 5 seed. The Giants have won eight of 10 though they are just 3-4 on the road. Manning, who has been picked off six times in the last four games, threw for 350 yards and one touchdown along with two interceptions in their Week 3 loss 29-27 to the Redskins. In the meanwhile, Cousins had 296 yards and two touchdowns in that game. Both teams surpassed 400 yards of total offense and were heavily penalized — the Giants were flagged 11 times for 128 yards and the Giants were penalized eight times for 70 yards. The real difference in the game was that the Giants turned the ball over three times compared to just once by the Redskins. Washington has won the last two meetings between the teams but trails in the all-time series 98-67-4. If the Redskins win, it will mark the first time they have made the playoffs in consecutive years since 1991-92. [Primary image by Charles Rex Arbogast/AP Image]

Dallas Cowboys Thrash Lions, Dak Prescott Shines, Tony Romo Stays Benched

Going into Monday Night Football Dallas Cowboys had already secured home-field advantage for the playoffs. The Cowboys were sitting on a 12 – 2 record when the playoff-hopeful Detroit Lions came to town. Many Cowboys fans thought that their teams secure position might see Dallas owner Jerry Jones give his second string a starting place. Of course, the man that many Cowboys fans want to see in a starting position is legendary quarterback Tony Romo. Those fans were to be disappointed, as rookie Dak Prescott, ensured that Romo kept his seat on the bench warm. Prescott has been a revelation for the Cowboys this season. Dallas fans must have feared the worst when news of Romo’s spinal injury broke, but Romo’s injury gave Prescott an opportunity that he has grabbed with both hands. Prescott has thrown 23 touchdowns and over 3,600 yards in his rookie season. As the Cowboys thrashed the Detroit Lions, Prescott had another steady evening. He threw for three touchdowns and 212 yards against Detroit. (Image by Andy Clayton-King/AP) With an impressive season under his belt, it would have been no surprise to see Dallas turn to Romo for the games against the Lions and the Eagles. The Cowboys do have a few injury worries as we go into the final week of the season, so it would be tempting to rest key players. The Cowboys seemingly decided to stick to a winning formula, Prescott played, and Romo kept the bench warm as they ran out 42 – 21 winners over the Lions. Tony Romo is hailed as one of the greatest ever Dallas Cowboys, so it is interesting to note that, with one game to go in the regular season, Dak Prescott has already surpassed Romo’s stats in his rookie season. According to official NFL stats, Romo finished the 2006 season with 2,903 yards and 19 touchdowns. Will Tony Romo Play For Dallas Cowboys Against The Eagles? With Dallas certain of home field advantage throughout the playoffs, and Philadelphia Eagles out of the playoff picture, Sundays game is something of a dead rubber. The Cowboys would be forgiven for fielding a weakened roster, but according to ESPN, that will not include benching Dak Prescott. Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones says that the only way Prescott will miss lining up against the Eagles is if he is injured. In the circumstances Jones sees little gain in sending out Romo to run a few plays. “We don’t feel like that any gain we’d get for him that him stepping out there running a few plays or series would be worth the risk.” (Image by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) Jones was full of praise for Prescott’s performance against the Lions but was quick to point out that Dak is still learning. “Look at what Dak Prescott learned tonight and what’s now in his computer that wasn’t there before tonight in terms of working with Dez [Bryant] in terms of executing the offense. “With him being a rookie, we really need all these reps he can get, including any reps we get this week and next week, because we want him to be as educated and as well-prepared and have as much as experience as he can when we get in the playoffs.” It seems clear that Jones now sees Prescott as his number one quarterback, but he is keen for the 23-year-old rookie to pack in as much experience as possible. The Cowboys will hope that Prescott stays fit throughout the playoffs, and they clearly want the security of a fit Tony Romo as backup. Jones clearly sees more risk in playing Romo, than he does in having to play the veteran if Prescott gets injured during the critical stage of the season. Having a rusty veteran, who has no game time since September, is better than losing your backup quarterback. Of course, Cowboys fans are desperate to see Romo get some game time, in what will surely be his final season with the Cowboys. It has been widely reported that Romo will not want to stay around if he isn’t playing. Romo has been a Cowboy’s player for his entire professional career but, as reported in the Inquisitr last week, he is likely to move elsewhere if he can secure a starting place for what may prove a final swansong. [Featured Image by Michael Ainsworth/AP Photo]

Black Monday 2017: NFL Rumors & Odds For Coaches To Be Fired Favor Rex Ryan, Marvin Lewis, Ron Rivera & Mike McCoy

Black Monday 2017 is coming, and no, it has nothing to do with online sales and great deals on video games or television sets. Black Monday officially arrives on January 2, 2017 and it is far from a celebratory day. It is the first Monday after the NFL regular season comes to a close, and is usually the day when many NFL coaches on the hot seat receive their walking papers. According to a USA Today report, San Diego’s Mike McCoy may be one of the first to be released from his duties next Monday. McCoy has been on the hot seat for well over a month now, but his final straw may have come last Sunday when the Chargers lost to the 0-14 Cleveland Browns by the final score of 20-17. The loss was San Diego’s fourth in a row and sixth in their last eight overall. Add to that, in McCoy’s four seasons, the Bolts have only one playoff appearance and are 9-22 in their last 31 games. In McCoy’s defense, San Diego did have a tremendous amount of injuries over that span, however, that may not be enough for the Chargers to keep him on for the 2017 season. Other coaches who are toeing the line of becoming jobless are Buffalo’s Rex Ryan, Cincinnati’s Marvin Lewis, and the New York Jets’ head man Todd Bowles. An Oddsshark report indicates that Rex Ryan will be one of the first coaches to be let go when the season ends, or at least he is the odds on favorite to be. Who will be let go this Black Monday in the NFL? Many fans want to see Rex Ryan stay in Buffalo. [Image by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images] Of the top 10 coaches listed by the Vegas odds makers, Ryan is right on top of that list at +225. With a win this Sunday against the New York Jets, Ryan would finish the season at 8-8, the same record he had with Buffalo in 2015. While Ryan was brought to the Bills to obviously improve the team and make them a playoff contender, in his defense two seasons seems to be pretty quick to run him out of town, especially considering Buffalo was the doormat of the AFC East from 2010-2013. Sure, Ryan is the coach so the responsibility of anything going wrong will fall back on him no matter what, but the lack of talent and playing in the same division as Tom Brady and the New England Patriots hasn’t helped Ryan’s cause either. After Ryan, odds makers have Marvin Lewis next in line on the chopping block. Lewis and the Bengals are a hard one to figure out. While Cincinnati has made the postseason multiple times under Lewis, they seemingly have made no progression in Lewis’ 14 seasons as head coach. In seven postseason appearances, Lewis has a 0-7 record. Yep, they have been nothing but a one-and-done team when they make the postseason. Is Marvin Lewis on his way out in Cincinnati? [Image by Tim Warner/Getty Images] 2016 was supposed to be a great year for the Bengals, yet they are 5-9-1 heading into Week 17 as they prepare to play a meaningless game against the Baltimore Ravens. It may be time for a change in Cincinnati. Of all the other coaches who made the list, Ron Rivera and Gary Kubiak are kind of puzzling. Odds are those two aren’t going anywhere unless they choose to do so. Rivera and the Panthers have been rumored to have some in-house problems this season, however, those may have been a bit exaggerated. When you come into a season as the defending NFC champs and the results turn out to be disappointing, the rumors can get out of control mighty fast. Here is a look at the odds for the top coaches rumored to be let go when the season ends on Jan 2. If you happen to be in Las Vegas, those odds on Mike McCoy at +1000 look pretty tempting! Rex Ryan (BUF) +225 Marvin Lewis (CIN) +400 Todd Bowles (NYJ) +450 Chip Kelly (SF) +550 Chuck Pagano (IND) +600 Doug Pederson (PHI) +850 Mike McCoy (SD) +1000 John Fox (CHI) +1000 Ron Rivera (CAR) +1400 Gary Kubiak (DEN) +1400 [Featured Image by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images]

NFL Coaching Rumors: Bills' Rex Ryan And Chargers' Mike McCoy Could Be Next Head Coaching Casualties

The Jacksonville Jaguars and Los Angeles Rams have already made head-coaching moves, and several other coaches could fall following their team’s week 17 games on Sunday. Buffalo Bills coach Rex Ryan’s name has been thrown around recently as someone who may receive the pink slip. In fact, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe believes Ryan’s departure is almost a “sure thing,” as the Bills haven’t taken the leap that ownership expected when they hired Ryan before the 2015 season. Plus, the Bills’ defense has fallen back to the middle of the pack after carrying the team in the early going this year. With their elimination from the playoffs, the Bills’ postseason drought has been extended to 17 years. Buffalo, 7-8 in 2016, has had two winning seasons and three seasons of finishing with a .500 record. Ryan is currently 14-15 in his two seasons with the team. It didn’t help Ryan’s cause that the Bills’ defense got completely eaten up by the Miami Dolphins on Saturday as they missed tackle after tackle. The Dolphins rolled up 496 total yards of offense with 261 yards came on the ground. The Phins’ first three touchdowns occurred after the Bills failed to wrap up tackles. Miami Running back Jay Ajayi finished the game with 206 rushing yards and one touchdown on 32 carries, marking the second time this season he has topped the 200-yard mark against Buffalo and the third time a running back has accomplished the feat against the Bills. Ajayi’s two-yard touchdown plunge came after he slipped through defensive linemen Leger Douzable’s tackle and then stiffed-armed safety Sergio Brown. The second-year back also set up the Dolphins game-winning field goal in overtime with a 57-yard run. Rookie running back Kenyon Drake made the Bills pay dearly for over pursuing. Early in the second quarter on a second-and-three play, Drake took a hand-off from Matt Moore and bounced to the right side after finding no hole up the middle. He then beat linebacker Jerry Hughes to the edge and scampered 45 yards for a score. Miami went up 21-7 in the third when wide receiver DeVante Parker caught a short pass over the middle and bounced off would-be tackle Nickell Robey-Coleman before bolting for the end zone. Ryan made some mistakes individually during the game as well. He waited too long to call a timeout, which was an attempt to ice kicker Andrew Franks on his game 55-yard game-tying field goal as regulation time expired. Ryan also chose to punt with the Bills facing a fourth-and-three from their own 41-yard line with four minutes left in overtime rather than have confidence in his offense that accumulated a franchise-record 589 total yards. The punt ended up reaching the end zone giving Miami the ball back at the 20 yard line. In addition, the Bills had just 10 players on the field on Ajayi’s big overtime run, per ESPN. Buffalo’s defense, Ryan’s specialty, is not better than what it was a year ago despite Ryan’s opinion. The Bills are currently ranked 19th in the league as they are allowing 358.9 yards a game, which is exactly where they finished last season after permitting 356.4 yards a contest. Since the start of the 2015 season, the Bills rank 30th in yards allowed per rush, 21st in yards allowed per play, 20th in opposing third down conversion rate, 24th in opposing red zone TD rate, 29th in sacks per opposing pass attempt, 15th in net yards allowed per pass attempt and 15th in points allowed per game. The Buffalo News is reporting that if Ryan is indeed done as the Bills coach, part of the reason could be due to the power struggle between him and general manager Doug Whaley. According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, Bills offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn would be a candidate to replace Ryan. Former New York Giants and Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Tom Coughlin also could garner some consideration. Ryan doesn’t appear to be the only coach on his way out. Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports is reporting that while the San Diego Chargers haven’t formally relieved head coach Mike McCoy of his duties, they are expected to do so and will commence its search for a new coach in the near future. [Image by Grant Halverson/Getty Images] The Chargers are 5-10 and are coming off a 20-17 loss to the previously winless Cleveland Browns. McCoy, who is signed through 2017, has a 27-36 record in four seasons with the team. Meanwhile, the Jaguars are expected to consider Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Mike Smith along with several college coaches such as Ole Miss’ Hugh Freeze. New England’s offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, Atlanta’s offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, and Coughlin are also possibilities. [Image by Maddie Meyers/ Getty Images] In the meanwhile, the Rams are believed to be interested in ESPN’s John Gruden, McDaniel and New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Peyton, among others. [Featured Image by Jeffrey T. Barnes/AP Images]

Miami Dolphins Rumors: Ryan Tannehill Could Return For Playoff Run

The Miami Dolphins could have quarterback Ryan Tannehill back for their playoff run, according Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald. Miami (10-5) is in the playoffs for the first time since 2008 as a result of the Kansas City Chiefs 33-10 victory over the Denver Broncos on Christmas Day. The Dolphins defeated the Buffalo Bills 34-31 in overtime on Saturday for their third straight win and ninth in their last 10. The Phins, the No. 6 seed in the AFC, will travel to Pittsburgh or Tennessee for a wild card game on January 7 or 8. Tannehill has not played in the Dolphins last two games as he suffered an ACL and MCL sprain in his left knee during the third quarter of their victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Dec. 11. Beasley said that Tannehill had his cast removed on Friday, and is no longer using crutches though he still has a limp. Tannehill was playing his best football of the season prior to the injury, in what is perhaps his best year of his five-year career. In his last eight games, the 28-year-old completed 69.09 percent of his passes for 1,723 yards along with 13 touchdowns and five interceptions. He also has added 106 yards on the ground. Overall, Tannehill is completing a career-high 67.1 percent of his passes for 213.8 yards a game with 19 touchdowns and 12 interceptions along with a career-best 93.5 rating. Backup quarterback Matt Moore has played well in Tannehill’s absence and will likely start against the New England Patriots on New Year’s Day. It is conceivable that the Phins could go with veteran T.J. Yates under center since the game is virtually meaningless, and there is also still a chance that Tannehill will not be ready for the start of the playoffs. [Image by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images] Moore completed 16-of-30 passes for 233 yards and two touchdowns and one interception. The nine-year veteran has completed 58.5 percent of his passes this season (31-of-53) for 172.0 yards a game with six touchdown and two interceptions. He has thrown for over 230 yards in each of his two starts. No matter who is at quarterback, the Dolphins’ postseason success is dependent on how well running back Jay Ajayi runs the ball and how their defense plays. Ajayi recorded his third, 200-yard game against the Buffalo Bills on Saturday as he rushed for 206 yards on 32 carries and one touchdown. The second-year back tied Tikki Barber (2005) and O.J. Simpson (1973) for second most 200 yard games in a season, per ESPN. Ajayi is a big bruising back who is very tough to bring down. He ranks fourth in the league with 86.6 yards a game, and is 10th in the league with eight touchdowns. Miami ranks 22nd in the NFL in total yards with 336.3, though the Phins are ninth in rushing with 116.6 yards a game. The Dolphins are 16th in scoring with 23.3 points a game. They have scored 27 or more points in the four games that Ajayi has ran for at least 100 yards. Wide receiver Jarvis Landry is the Phins most consistent pass catcher with 85 receptions. Fellow wide outs DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills are also dangerous weapons. Defensively, the Dolphins are giving up the third fewest yards in the league with 381.7 yards a game and rank 14th in scoring defense, giving up 23.0 points a game. The Phins are also sixth with 25 takeaways, 16 interceptions and nine fumbles, and 15th in sacks with 33. However, the Dolphins do not defend the run well as they giving up 141.8 yards a game — which ranks third most in the league. [Image by Eric Espada/Getty Images] Defensive end Cameron Wake has registered a-half sack or more in eight of nine games and has a team-high 11.5 for the season. Defensive end Alan Branch has 5.5 sacks and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh has five sacks. Cornerback Tony Lippett leads the team with four interceptions, while linebacker Kiko Alonso, cornerback Byron Maxwell and safety Isa Abdul-Quaddus have two picks a piece. Alonso leads the team with 110 tackles and is followed by Abdul-Quaddus, Lippet and Maxwell. [Featured Image by Wilfredo Lee/AP Images]

NFL Power Rankings Week 17: Packers, Dolphins, Steelers Among Standings Movers And Shakers

The NFL power rankings for Week 17 arrive as many teams competed in games over the holiday weekend. That included a full slate on Christmas Eve and then a doubleheader on Christmas Day itself as teams continued to jockey for playoff position or simply play for the pride of getting a win. The New England Patriots continued their winning ways with an easy victory over the New York Jets this past Saturday, while the Kansas City Chiefs were also in action, playing on Christmas night. Here’s the latest look at who the movers and shakers are in the standings for the top 10 power rankings. According to the Sporting News in their report about this weekend’s NFL action, the top two seeds in the AFC heading into the final week of regular season games are the Patriots and Oakland Raiders. Oakland was able to defeat the Indianapolis Colts this past weekend, while the Patriots routed the Jets 41-3 at Gillette Stadium in Massachusetts. The Chiefs were in action Sunday night taking on the Denver Broncos and defeated them 33-10. As of this report, Kansas City had at least clinched a playoff spot due to the Baltimore Ravens losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers earlier in the day. However, their victory Sunday night also helped Miami clinch a playoff spot and move into this week’s top 10 teams. Brady and the Patriots kept the top spot with a convincing 41-3 win over the Jets. [Image by Billie Weiss/Getty Images] The latest power rankings for the NFL Week 17 edition weren’t affected a whole lot by the latest wins and losses. The exceptions included Green Bay moving up a spot and the Miami Dolphins sliding into the No. 10 spot in the NFC, while Detroit has fallen out due to still needing a win to ensure they make the playoffs. NFL Week 17 Power Rankings: New England Patriots 13-2 (No. 1) Dallas Cowboys 12-2 (No. 2) Kansas City Chiefs 11-4 (No. 3) Oakland Raiders 12-3 (No. 4) Seattle Seahawks 9-5-1 (No. 5) Pittsburgh Steelers 10-5 (No. 8) New York Giants 10-5 (No. 6) Atlanta Falcons 10-5 (No. 9) Green Bay Packers 9-6 (No. 10) Miami Dolphins 10-5 (N/A) Other winners this past weekend included the Green Bay Packers defeating the Minnesota Vikings 38-25 at Lambeau Field. That kept Aaron Rodgers and the Packers at the No. 6 seed for the NFC as they’ll have a huge battle with the Detroit Lions on New Year’s Day to determine the NFC North division winners according to Detroit Free Press. The New York Giants were holding the fifth seed, while Seattle was the fourth seed. Even though both teams lost in their games this past weekend they kept their spots in the rankings. The Detroit Lions, who are the No. 3 seed in the NFC, also still have a Week 16 game remaining against the top overall seed, the Dallas Cowboys. The two teams will meet up during Monday Night Football to complete the latest week’s action. Even if the Cowboys lose that game, they’re still likely to hold onto that No. 2 spot as seen above. A win could help the Lions move back into the rankings, but more importantly, it could help them clinch a playoff spot in the NFC. Matthew Stafford and the Lions can clinch a playoff spot if they can defeat Dallas Monday night. [Image by Al Bello/Getty Images] Basically, five of the six teams in both the AFC and NFC have now been determined already for the postseason. The Miami Dolphins, who captured a win over the Buffalo Bills this past weekend, were holding the No. 6 spot in the AFC and clinched a playoff berth with the Denver loss on Sunday night. In the AFC, the New England Patriots and Oakland Raiders are still fighting to determine the No. 1 overall seed for the NFL postseason. That team gets home field advantage throughout the playoffs. For Week 17, the Patriots take on the Miami Dolphins, while Oakland will play the Denver Broncos. A win by the Pats gives them the home field advantage, while a Patriots loss and Raiders win could give it to Oakland. Stay tuned as the NFL playoffs are right around the corner and teams are starting to find their strides to make a push towards the Super Bowl in 2017! [Featured Image by Joe Robbins/Getty Images]