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Minnesota Vikings safety Camryn Bynum (24) celebrates with teammates after intercepting a pass during the second half of an NFL football game against the New York Jets, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022, in Minneapolis. The Vikings won 27-22. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)


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Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell watches from the sideline during the second half of an NFL football game against the New York Jets, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)


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Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson celebrates after catching a 10-yard touchdown pass during the second half of an NFL football game against the New York Jets, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King)


DETROIT (AP) The Minnesota Vikings have won enough to be in a position to clinch the NFC North with almost a month left in the regular season.

The Vikings (10-2) have won nine of their last 10 games, a string of success that started in September with a comeback win over Detroit and has been marked by one-possession games to raise questions about how good they are.

The Lions (5-7), meanwhile, have won four of five games and have earned enough respect to be favored to beat Minnesota by 1 1/2 points, per FanDuel Sportsbook. It's the first time in the Super Bowl era that a 5-7 team is favored over a 10-2 team, according to Sportsradar.

Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins certainly isn't apologizing for winning nine games by eight or fewer points.

''If you go back and look at seasons past, most games are coming down to the final minute, final play,'' Cousins said. ''It seems like the oddball game is one that you're in the early fourth quarter and it's already decided. That just doesn't happen much in the NFL.''

If Minnesota beats or ties the Lions it will win a division title for the first time since 2017.

Detroit is playing for something, too.

The Lions have surged into the playoff picture by winning four of five games, putting them in the hunt to potentially be an NFC wild-card team.

''We win, we got a chance,'' quarterback Jared Goff said. ''We don't, we probably don't.''

Fair enough, but having anything at stake in December for a team that started 1-6 after a three-win year in coach Dan Campbell's debut season seems to be a sign of progress.

''It brings a little extra spark to everything, certainly, when you know that you've got a chance,'' Campbell said. ''More importantly, it's the fact that we feel like we're playing pretty good football because we're doing things a certain way and the guys have gained confidence from that.''

LIONS LAMENT

Campbell publicly acknowledged he made a mistake in Week 3 at Minnesota, where he chose to attempt a 54-yard field goal with a three-point lead and 1:14 left against a team with no timeouts.

''Of course, it burns me,'' Campbell said this week. ''I mean, that'll be there until the day I die. That's not going to go away.''

Austin Seibert, who was later released, pushed the kick wide right and Cousins took advantage by completing a pair of 28-yard passes to K.J. Osborn for a 28-24 win.

COUSINS COMING

It's easy to understand why Cousins loves playing for Minnesota in Detroit.

In addition to playing quarterback for Michigan State and at Holland Christian High School on the west side of the state, he has had a lot of success against the Lions.

In four starts at Ford Field with the Vikings, he is 4-0 - thanks in large part to him completing 73% of his passes for an average of 334 yards per game with 12 touchdowns and no interceptions.

Winning again, and earning some NFC North championship gear, is top of mind for him.

''Any time you can play in a T-shirt-and-hat game and get the job done, that's what's special,'' Cousins said. ''I always enjoy going back to the state where I grew up and seeing people in green and white and that kind of a thing.''

Cousins said he asked for 15 sideline passes for family and friends, giving them access to the field before the game.

MOTOR CITY MATCHUP

Vikings star receiver Justin Jefferson was held to a career-low 14 yards and three receptions, a season low, in the last meeting and Lions cornerback Jeff Okudah had a lot to do with that.

If Jefferson is slowed again, Minnesota has a standout it didn't have previously against the Lions - but someone who played in the game. Tight end T.J. Hockenson, acquired from Detroit on Nov. 1, has 30 catches for 225 yards and one touchdown in five games with the Vikings. He had three receptions for 18 yards and a touchdown for Detroit in the teams' last meeting.

HIGH OCTANE

Detroit has scored 30-plus points an NFL-high six times and leads the league in red zone efficiency, scoring touchdowns on nearly three-fourth of its drives deep in opponents' territory.

CLOSE CALLS

If Minnesota wins another game by eight or fewer points, it will join the 2019 Seattle Seahawks and 1978 Houston Oilers teams in the league with 10 victories by that margin.

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Nathaniel Hackett Feb 4 9:40pm ET
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The Denver Broncos are allowing Ejiro Evero out of his contract, according to NFL.com's Ian Rapoport. In simpler terms, the two sides are parting ways. On one hand, this move comes as a surprise considering the Broncos want to form a mega-staff under Sean Payton and Evero, who received several head coaching interviews, is viewed as a defensive mastermind. On the other hand, Evero was a member of Nathaniel Hackett's coaching staff and turned down Denver's interim head coaching job after Hackett was fired. As a result, it became clear that Evero did not see himself remaining with the Broncos long-term. Rapoport notes that the Vikings, who have a vacancy at defensive coordinator, are viewed as a possible landing spot for Evero. The same goes for the Panthers, who interviewed Evero for their head coaching job before hiring Frank Reich.

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Mike McCarthy Feb 4 9:30pm ET
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The Dallas Cowboys have hired Brian Schottenheimer as their offensive coordinator, according to Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News. The team needed to fill the vacancy after firing Kellen Moore. Schottenheimer most recently served as a Cowboys consultant in 2022 but does have experience as an offensive coordinator, filling that same role for the Seahawks from 2018 to 2020. Interestingly, although Schottenheimer will be in charge of the offense, head coach Mike McCarthy intends to call plays next season.

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Josh Jacobs Feb 4 9:30pm ET
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Las Vegas Raiders impending free agent running back Josh Jacobs "wants to be back but won't settle," according to Tashan Reed of The Athletic. There is mutual interest in keeping Jacobs in Las Vegas long-term, but the reigning rushing champion won't come cheap. Jacobs timed everything just right, compiling impressive stats in a contract year. The 24-year-old ultimately finished 2022 with 1,653 rushing yards, 400 receiving yards, and 12 touchdowns, all of which are career-highs. Jacobs' outlook for next season is contingent on where he signs, but if he does return to Vegas, we can consider him a strong RB1 option heading into fantasy football drafts.

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Frank Reich Feb 4 2:50pm ET
Frank Reich

Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero has been a hot commodity in this year's coaching carousel, interviewing for head-coach openings with the Carolina Panthers, Arizona Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Houston Texans. Now that the Panthers have hired Frank Reich, they have requested to interview Evero again, but this time for the team's vacant defensive coordinator position. The Minnesota Vikings would also like to interview Evero for their defensive coordinator job, but Denver has not yet granted either team permission. The 42-year-old Evero remains firmly in the mix as a candidate for Arizona and Indianapolis, but because he is still under contract with the Broncos, it seems that the organization would be reluctant to let him go should he not be hired elsewhere as a head coach.

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Bijan Robinson Feb 4 2:20pm ET
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Zach Wilson Feb 4 12:13pm ET
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Geno Smith Feb 3 9:30pm ET
Geno Smith

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith is fresh off a career-best season and is now in pursuit of a long-term contract as a pending free agent. It has been reported for a few weeks that the Seahawks are expected to bring the 32-year-old back, and the two sides have begun negotiations since falling to the San Francisco 49ers in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. "It's looking very good," Smith said of his contract discussions with Seattle on Pro Bowl Live on SiriusXM NFL Radio. Smith also stated that he has a great relationship with the organization and loves the city. Assuming talks continue trending in a positive direction, a deal is likely to get done before March 15th, when free agency officially begins.

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Lamar Jackson Feb 3 6:40pm ET
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The Baltimore Ravens interviewed Georgia offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Todd Monken for a second time on Friday for their offensive coordinator opening, according to sources. Monken is one of a handful of candidates that have received a second interview with the Ravens, and he also interviewed for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' open offensive coordinator position. Other candidates that the Ravens have been considering include Eric Bieniemy, Dave Canales, Doug Nussmeier, Zac Robinson, Justin Outten, Chad O'Shea, James Urban and George Godsey. Monkey previously served as an offensive coordinator for the Buccaneers and Cleveland Browns. Baltimore's next OC will get to work with one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the league in Lamar Jackson.

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Russell Wilson Feb 3 6:30pm ET
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The Denver Broncos officially signed new head coach Sean Payton to a five-year deal on Friday, tying him to the team through the 2027 season, according to sources. In order to pry Payton away from the New Orleans Saints, who he was still under contract with, the Broncos had to fork over a 2023 first-rounder and a 2024 second-rounder to the Saints. Denver fired first-year head coach Nathaniel Hackett midway through the 2022 season after a disappointing start that saw quarterback Russell Wilson have the worst season of his career. While the Broncos still have some interesting weapons on offense and a solid unit on defense, Payton will have plenty of work to do to get Wilson back on track in 2023 and beyond.

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Brandon Aiyuk Feb 3 6:20pm ET
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Derek Carr Feb 3 6:10pm ET
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The Las Vegas Raiders have already granted quarterback Derek Carr permission to speak with other teams interested in trading for him that have also agreed to compensation with the Raiders, according to sources. It's the same arrangement the Houston Texans had with quarterback Deshaun Watson last offseason before he was dealt to the Cleveland Browns. Carr said on Thursday at the Pro Bowl that he wouldn't be extending the Feb. 15 deadline for $40.4 million in guarantees, so the Raiders would have to outright release him if they can't find a trade partner by that date. Either way, the 31-year-old veteran will draw plenty of interest from a handful of teams seeking upgrades under center heading into 2023. Carr's fantasy value next season will all depend on where he winds up.

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Trey Lance Feb 3 6:10pm ET
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Mecole Hardman Feb 3 5:50pm ET
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Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman (pelvis) didn't practice all week and is listed as doubtful to play in the Super Bowl on Sunday, Feb. 12, against the Philadelphia Eagles. Hardman really wants to play in the big game and has been seeking second opinions after aggravating a core injury in the AFC Championship win over the Cincinnati Bengals last weekend. The AFC Championship contest was Hardman's first game action since initially suffering a core injury in Week 9. All signs are pointing toward him missing the big game next Sunday, but that could change if he's able to return to practice at some point next week. The Chiefs are banged up at the position with JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee) and Kadarius Toney (ankle, hamstring) also questionable to play against the Eagles.

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Josiah Scott Feb 3 5:50pm ET
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Kadarius Toney Feb 3 5:40pm ET
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Kansas City Chiefs wide receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee) and Kadarius Toney (ankle, hamstring) both missed practice all week and are listed as questionable for the Super Bowl against the Philadelphia Eagles on Feb. 12. Smith-Schuster and Toney were both forced out of the AFC Championship early with injuries, but the Chiefs remain optimistic that they will both be available for the Super Bowl after another week to rest up. Mecole Hardman (pelvis) also missed practice all week and is doubtful to play in the big game, so if Smith-Schuster and/or Toney are limited or out for the Super Bowl, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, rookie Skyy Moore and Justin Watson would be asked to step up in the passing game.

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Darrell Henderson Feb 3 1:13pm ET
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Aaron Rodgers Feb 3 1:13pm ET
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Frank Reich Feb 3 12:50pm ET
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New York Giants defensive coordinator Don "Wink" Martindale is considered a a front-runner for the Indianapolis Colts' head-coaching job, according to a source. The Colts are considering a rare third round of interviews with a select few finalist following an extensive second round of interviews that includes nine candidates. The Colts fired Frank Reich in the middle of the 2022 season, and interim head coach Jeff Saturday remains in play for the full-time job despite going 1-7 down the stretch. If the Giants lose Martindale, they could take a look at Lou Anarumo, Steve Wilks, Sean Desai or Jerome Henderson for their defensive coordinator position.

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Brett Maher Feb 3 12:40pm ET
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Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said earlier this week that the team will be starting over at kicker in 2023, meaning they will move on from kicker Brett Maher. The 33-year-old will become a free agent next month, but the Cowboys won't be re-signing him after he famously missed six of his final seven extra-point attempts in the team's final three games. It was a tough way to close out his season after he made 29 of his 32 field-goal tries during the regular season, which was timed for third in the NFL. Maher should get another shot with another team in 2023, but it won't guarantee that he'll be fantasy relevant like he was with the Cowboys before he got the yips to close out the year.

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Demarcus Robinson Feb 3 12:30pm ET
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Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Demarcus Robinson (hernia) underwent sports-hernia surgery earlier this week, he announced on his official Instagram page. Robinson will become an unrestricted free agent next month, but the injury shouldn't limit him much, if at all, for offseason workouts. The 28-year-old was needed to step up for the Ravens in 2022 due to a season-ending injury to No. 1 receiver Rashod Bateman (foot). In 17 regular season games for Baltimore, Robinson recorded a career-high 48 receptions on a career-high 75 targets for 458 yards and two touchdowns. He became fantasy relevant for managers hurting at the receiver position, but Robinson will be more of a long shot for more playing time in 2023, depending on where he lands in free agency.

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