Sun Dec 8 11:38pm ET
By GREG BEACHAM
AP Sports Writer
Los Angeles Rams cornerback Troy Hill, left, celebrates after his interception with Marqui Christian, right, and Jalen Ramsey during the second half of an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley, right, scores past Seattle Seahawks cornerback Tre Flowers during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Kyusung Gong)
Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley, left, runs past Seattle Seahawks strong safety Bradley McDougald during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Los Angeles.(AP Photo/Kyusung Gong)
Los Angeles Rams cornerback Troy Hill breaks up a pass intended for Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson passes against the Los Angeles Rams during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff passes against the Seattle Seahawks during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
LOS ANGELES (AP) Jared Goff passed for 293 yards and two touchdowns, Todd Gurley ran for 79 yards and a fourth-quarter TD and the Los Angeles Rams prevented the Seattle Seahawks from clinching a playoff berth with a 28-12 victory Sunday night.
Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp caught TD passes while the Rams (8-5) kept their playoff hopes burning and ended the Seahawks' five-game winning streak.
With an aggressive, inventive game plan on both sides of the ball, Los Angeles recaptured a measure of the excitement from its previous two seasons on offense while also playing superb defense against Russell Wilson, who was sacked five times.
The Rams won for the fifth time in seven games, while the Seahawks (10-3) fell out of first place in the NFC West with just their second loss since Sept. 22 and their first road defeat of the season.
Wilson passed for 245 yards amid constant pressure from the Rams. Quandre Diggs returned an interception 55 yards for a touchdown early in the third quarter, but it was the Seahawks' only touchdown.
Woods had seven catches for 98 yards and his first touchdown of the season, and tight end Tyler Higbee had seven catches for a career-high 116 yards as the Rams looked like the thrilling offensive unit that dazzled the NFL during coach Sean McVay's first two seasons.
McVay called an inventive game full of jet sweeps and tricky plays, and he continued to give more late-season action to Gurley, who responded with a big game.
Los Angeles still trails Minnesota (9-4) by a game for the second wild card spot, but its chances improved with this critical division win.
Seattle dropped a game behind San Francisco atop the NFC West, tied with New Orleans and Green Bay at 10-3 in the jumbled conference playoff picture. The Seahawks host the Niners in the regular-season finale Dec. 29.
These NFC West rivals' first meeting of the season was decided by the Rams' missed field goal with 11 seconds left two months ago in Seattle. Los Angeles didn't let it get nearly that close this time.
After the Seahawks' opening drive ended with a field goal, the Rams' offense started off with two touchdown drives, showing the same improved form from its blowout win at Arizona last week. Malcolm Brown punched in the opening TD after Higbee's 33-yard reception put Los Angeles on the goal line.
Woods then caught a short TD pass to cap an 85-yard drive, extending his torrid performance since returning from a one-game absence for undisclosed personal reasons. The veteran wideout has 26 catches for 367 yards in the ensuing three games.
Goff led another TD drive late in the first half, connecting with Kupp from 10 yards out with 51 seconds left, while Wilson was left frustrated by the Rams' defense and his own receivers' drops.
But Goff and Woods miscommunicated at midfield on the opening drive of the second half, and Diggs returned it untouched for his second career touchdown and his second interception in his first four games with Seattle.
Diggs grabbed his third interception for the Seahawks on the next series, catching an overthrown pass by Goff. Former USC star Rasheem Green then blocked a field goal attempt by the Rams, but Seattle's offense was unable to capitalize, with Wilson repeatedly getting rocked by blitzing Rams.
The Rams seized control with a 95-yard TD drive to open the fourth quarter, capped by Gurley's 7-yard TD run with 11:07 to play.
This was likely the final NFL night game at the venerable Coliseum. The Rams move into their multibillion-dollar palace in Inglewood next year after four post-relocation seasons at the 96-year-old stadium, which staged the first Super Bowl and also housed the Rams and the Raiders at different times.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll also might have made his final coaching appearance at the stadium where he led USC to a decade of excellence.
Seahawks: RB Rashaad Penny injured his knee during the opening drive and was ruled out for the rest of the night. The busy backup running back had 203 yards rushing and two touchdowns in Seattle's previous two games. ... Two defensive starters - DE Ziggy Ansah and LB Mychal Kendricks - didn't play.
Rams: Gerald Everett missed another game with a knee injury, and the absence of Goff's top tight end target has led to more chances for Higbee, who surpassed his career high in yards receiving for the second straight game.
Seahawks: Visit the Carolina Panthers on Sunday for their final road game of the regular season.
Rams: Visit the well-rested Dallas Cowboys, who still lead the NFC East despite losing three straight, on Sunday.
The Cleveland Browns Defense was instrumental in the team's upset playoff win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Wild Card round as they scored a touchdown and forced five turnovers. They are likely to struggle to repeat that performance in a tough matchup against an explosive Kansas City Chiefs offense in the Divisional Round. Kansas City's offense only had 16 giveaways during the regular season and is led by All-World quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Cleveland will be bolstered by the return of top cornerback Denzel Ward and starting slot corner Kevin Johnson but they are still in a tough spot as 10-point road dogs against the Chiefs. The Browns defense is not a unit to target in daily fantasy contests this weekend.
Cleveland Browns tight end Austin Hooper found the end zone in his team's playoff win over the Pittsburgh Steelers last week and it could have been a bigger game for him but he dropped a second touchdown in the end zone. Hooper sets up as an excellent DFS play against the Kansas City Chiefs in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. Kansas City struggled to defend the tight end position during the regular season, allowing the eighth-most fantasy points per game. Hooper has emerged as a main piece of the Cleveland passing attack over the final portion of the season and should be heavily involved in a game where Cleveland is installed as 10-point road underdogs. If you can't find the necessary space to fit top tight end Travis Kelce into those daily fantasy lineups, Hooper is an excellent, money-saving pivot.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry made several clutch catches and scored a touchdown for his team in their Wild-Card round win over the Pittsburgh Steelers last week. Landry will look to keep it going in the Divisional Round against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. Kansas City represents a tough matchup for Landry as they allowed the third-fewest fantasy points per game to the wide receiver position during the regular season. That being said, Landry should still get several chances to do damage in a game where the Browns project to throw frequently. Treat him as a solid WR2 for DFS contests, especially in cash games.
Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt scored a pair of rushing touchdowns to help power his team to an upset win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round of the NFL playoffs. He will look for an encore against the Kansas City Chiefs in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. Kansas City struggled to stop the run during the regular season, ranking 31st in run-defense DVOA. The Chiefs are set as 10-point home favorites, so Hunt could be called upon in the passing game, especially if Cleveland falls behind. Treat Hunt as a quality second running back in playoff DFS contests this weekend.
Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb draws a favorable matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs in the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs. Chubb came up big against the Pittsburgh Steelers last week and will look to continue that success this Sunday. The Chiefs struggled to contain the run during the regular season, ranking 31st in run-defense DVOA and allowing the 11th-most fantasy points per game to the running back position. The only concern here is that the Browns are 10-point underdogs and Chubb faces negative game script, but Cleveland's offense has proven to be proficient enough that they could keep this game closer than Vegas expects. If that happens, expect Chubb to play a major role in helping Cleveland keep up with the explosive Chiefs on the scoreboard. Chubb is an excellent anchor running back for DFS lineups this weekend.
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield engineered an upset victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the opening round of the playoffs last weekend. He now travels to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs in the Divisional Round. Mayfield played very well against a tough Pittsburgh defense last week and should find it easier to move the ball against a less fearsome Kansas City defense on Sunday. The Chiefs allowed the 11th-most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks during the regular season and ranked 16th in pass-defense DVOA. The Browns are 10-point road underdogs so they could be forced to throw more often than usual. Mayfield is an excellent value option in DFS contests this weekend.
The Carolina Panthers are expected to hire Seattle Seahawks vice president of football operations Scott Fitterer as their new general manager, according to sources. Fitterer was a late addition to the interview process but made a quick impression on the Carolina decision-makers. He was one of 15 candidates to interview for the position when the team fired veteran Marty Hurney on Dec. 21. The other finalists for the job included Tennessee's Monti Ossenfort, San Francisco's Adam Peters and Kansas City's Ryan Poles. Fitterer had been with Seattle since 2001 and worked alongside Seattle GM John Schneider since 2010. He'll be paired with second-year head coach Matt Rhule with the team coming off a 5-11 season with the eighth overall pick in the upcoming draft. Locating a franchise quarterback will be priority No. 1.
Denver Broncos running back Melvin Gordon III pleaded not guilty in his DUI case on Thursday. His next hearing is scheduled for Feb. 24, with a potential jury trial on April 8 if the case isn't resolved before then. Gordon could still face league discipline in 2021 after being arrested on Oct. 3 in downtown Denver and charged with driving under the influence. Safety Kareem Jackson was suspended for the final two games of the 2019 season after a DUI charge. Gordon led the Broncos in carries (215), rushing yards (986) and rushing touchdowns (nine) in his first season in Denver while sharing the backfield with Phillip Lindsay for much of the year. There's a possibility that new general manager George Paton could move on from Gordon if he's suspended, but he should be a midrange RB2 if he sticks around for another season in Denver.
Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard thinks that impending free-agent quarterback Philip Rivers can still play in the NFL, but the team must decide if bringing the 39-year-old back for another season is the right course for the franchise. If Rivers does decide to come back for another year, he only wants to play for the Colts. Head coach Frank Reich also recently said that he thinks Rivers can continue his career and would love to have him back in 2021. Rivers rebounded from a rough season in his final year with the Chargers, but it remains to be seen if the Colts want an upgrade. The eight-time Pro Bowler threw for 4,169 yards, 24 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 2020 and would merely be a middling QB2 in a run-first offense if he were to return for an 18th NFL season in 2021.
Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay has ruled quarterback John Wolford (neck) out for the Divisional Round game against the Packers on Saturday. Wolford hasn't practiced this week after suffering a stinger in the wild-card game against the Seahawks and having to be taken to the hospital. Jared Goff (thumb) will make the start against Green Bay, with Blake Bortles backing him up. Goff didn't start last weekend after having surgery to fix a broken and dislocated thumb that he suffered in Week 16. The Rams didn't ask too much of him, as he went just 9-for-19 for 155 yards and a touchdown after he replaced Wolford in the first quarter. Goff has been practicing in full this week but is unlikely to be 100 percent against a Packers Defense that allowed the third-fewest fantasy points per game to QBs during the regular season. Goff will be the shakiest fantasy signal-caller this weekend.
Denver Broncos RB Melvin Gordon's attorneys on Thursday, Jan. 14, in virtual court entered a not guilty plea to a DUI charge last Oct. 14 in Denver. Gordon's next hearing is a disposition on Feb 24.
Fantasy Spin: Something to keep an eye on this offseason as Gordon could wind up opening the 2021 season on a league-issued suspension, depending on how things play out.
Los Angeles Rams QB Jared Goff (thumb) will start Saturday, Jan. 16, in the divisional playoff game against the Green Bay Packers, Rams head coach Sean McVay said Thursday. Blake Bortles will serve as the backup.
Fantasy Spin: Goff came in early for injured starter John Wolford (neck) in last Saturday's wild-card win over the Seahawks, but completed only 9-of-19 passes for 155 yards and a TD while playing with his surgically repaired thumb.
Indianapolis Colts RB Marlon Mack (Achilles) 'deserves a good contract,' Colts general manager Chris Ballard said Thursday, Jan. 14, but added that he doesn't know if the team will be in position to offer the pending free agent one this offseason.
Fantasy Spin: The Colts certainly aren't in need after second-round rookie Jonathan Taylor's late-season emergence, leaving Mack in tough spot as a free agent running back coming off a season-ending Achilles injury. The clock, though, is on Mack's side as he'll only turn 25 in March.
Indianapolis Colts QB Philip Rivers met with the general manager Chris Ballard for an hour earlier this week, Ballard said Thursday, Jan. 14, as Rivers heads into the offseason pondering his future. 'Do I think Philip can still play? Absolutely,' Ballard said. 'He's going to take some time, and we're going to take some time. We'll meet again in about a month.'
Fantasy Spin: Rivers will turn 40 before the end of next season, but can still sling it as evidenced by his eight straight seasons with at least 4,000 passing yards and 23 TD tosses. Fantasy-wise, though, he's now at the low end of the QB2 scale after residing in the high-end QB2/low-end QB1 range.
Cleveland Browns TE David Njoku (hamstring) won't practice Thursday, Jan. 14, but is making progress, head coach Kevin Stefanski said.
Fantasy Spin: Njoku caught his only target for seven yards Sunday in the Browns' wild-card win over the Steelers, but only played 21 offensive snaps (31 percent). It sounds like Njoku has a chance to ramp things up in time to play this Sunday in Kansas City, but Austin Hooper (7 catches for 46 yards and a TD) is the Cleveland tight end to be trusted.
Dallas Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith (wrist) on Thursday, Jan. 14, underwent surgery on his left wrist.
Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith (wrist) will undergo left wrist surgery on Thursday, according to multiple sources. Smith led the team with 154 tackles and didn't miss a single game in 2020, but he was on the injury report in Week 16 with a wrist injury. He should be ready for the beginning of the offseason program. Smith is scheduled to make a base salary of $7.2 million next season, which becomes fully guaranteed on the fifth day of the new league year, and he carries a $9.8 million cap figure. Because of that, there are some questions about his future with the team. The 25-year-old is signed through the 2025 season and has posted at least 120 tackles in three of his four seasons. He has 498 career tackles and nine sacks in 64 career games and should be considered a top-10 fantasy linebacker in IDP leagues.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Ronald Jones (quadriceps, thumb) was spotted at practice Thursday, Jan. 14. He was wearing a brace on his surgically repaired thumb.
Fantasy Spin: It's unknown whether he was a full-go, but if he returns this weekend, he'll be an RB2 option. It would also move Leonard Fournette to the flex area.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have decided to part ways with offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner, according to a source. Fichtner's contract was due to expire at the start of the new league year, so the club will not renew his deal. He joined the Steelers in 2007, head coach Mike Tomlin's first year with the team. Offensive line coach Shaun Sarrett and defensive backs coach Tom Bradley also won't have their contracts renewed. Fichtner started as the team's wide receivers coach, a title he held for three seasons before moving to quarterbacks coach and working with Ben Roethlisberger. He was in that role for eight seasons before becoming offensive coordinator in 2018. Big Ben threw for 5,129 yards in 2018, but he was hurt all of last year and declined throughout the year in 2020.
Cleveland Browns offensive line coach Bill Callahan cleared the NFL's COVID-19 protocols and returned to the team on Wednesday, Jan. 13.