Cleveland Browns running backs Nick Chubb (24) and Kareem Hunt (27) walk off the field after an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020, in Cleveland. Cleveland's dynamic duo of backs combined for 230 yards and helped the Browns (6-3) chew up the final five minutes in a 10-7 win over the Texans. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
Cleveland Browns defensive back Ronnie Harrison (33) and linebacker Mack Wilson (51) tackle Houston Texans wide receiver Randall Cobb (18) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield, right, congratulates running back Nick Chubb, left, after Chubb rushed for a 9-yard touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Houston Texans, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (11) looks to throw a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the New York Giants, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
CLEVELAND (AP) Before he ever soared - or, in the case of this season, sputtered - for the Eagles, quarterback Carson Wentz was connected to the Browns. They passed on the chance to draft him.
On Sunday, their paths cross again.
Wentz has been inconsistent, turnover prone and barely looked like himself for much of this season. Still, he's got the Eagles (3-5-1) leading the pathetic NFC East and they won't be an easy matchup for the Browns (6-3), who just may be a legitimate playoff contender.
Rewind to 2016. The Browns were desperate for a franchise quarterback, and their front office at the time was not enthralled with Wentz. So they traded the No. 2 overall pick and a fourth-round selection to the Eagles for five picks, including first-rounders in 2016 and 2017.
Philly took Wentz, and never looked back.
''Heck, yeah, I'd do it all over again,'' said Eagles coach Doug Pederson, who has stood by his QB through thick and thin. ''He's the guy we wanted back then, he's still the guy we want today. And I love everything about Carson Wentz, and he's a great leader for our team and our city.''
Wentz's stats in 2020 are alarming for a player of his stature.
His 12 interceptions lead the NFL. He's 32nd in completion percentage (58.2). His 73.1 rating is a career worst and he's been sacked a league-high 35 times.
One of the knocks on Wentz is that he holds the ball far too long, waiting to make a play. That's risky behavior, but at least this week Wentz won't have to worry about Browns defensive star and league sacks leader Myles Garrett, who will miss the game after testing positive for COVID-19.
Losing Garrett is a tough blow for the Browns, who are in playoff contention for the first time in years.
But despite what Wentz's numbers may show, Browns coach Kevin Stefanski respects his ability as a playmaker.
''It is not hard to see what he is capable of,'' Stefanski said. ''This year, he is making plays. You go back previous years, he is making plays. He is a unique talent in his size and his ability to move. He can make every single throw, so he presents a very, very real challenge for our defense.''
The Browns are coming off an ugly-yet-impressive win over the Houston Texans. With 60 mph wind gusts making it nearly impossible to throw, Cleveland turned to Nick Chubb (126) and Kareem Hunt (104) and both went over 100 yards rushing in the 10-7 victory.
With rain in the forecast, the Browns figure to stay grounded with their Chubb-Hunt punching combination again.
Eagles safety Rodney McLeod said it's the kind of game where everyone needs to buckle their chin straps a little tighter.
''It's gonna be a battle,'' McLeod said. ''Those are two good running backs and you know exactly what run plays that are coming - and it's can you stop it? They're dynamic, they run hard. Everybody has to play their part and we have to get a lot of hats to the ball.''
Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield may have played at Oklahoma, ''where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain.'' But he's never experienced anything like the blustery conditions Cleveland faced in its past two home games.
''The two windiest games I have ever been a part of,'' he said.
With gusts over 50 mph in both games, Mayfield went a combined 24 of 45 for 254 yards in a loss to Las Vegas and win over Houston, but he acknowledged missing some throws because he didn't play the wind correctly. He needs to fix that.
''Just learning that on some of these throws, you really had to put some mustard behind them and try and judge the wind as best as possible,'' he said.
ONCE UPON A TIME
Pederson won three games as a starting quarterback, one with Cleveland.
In 2000, Pederson replaced injured starter Tim Couch and went 1-7 with the Browns, who knocked off New England and former Cleveland coach Bill Belichick.
''That was obviously one of the high points of that season,'' he said. ''We ended up 3-13 that year, but that was definitely a high point.''
Pederson enjoyed his brief time in Cleveland.
''A great sports town,'' he said. ''It is an exciting place to play any kind of professional sports, whether it is basketball, baseball or football. I loved living there. I know the team was not as good, but at the same time, it was a great experience for me.''
Cleveland's running game is both unique and unmatched. Chubb finished second to Tennessee's Derrick Henry for the rushing title a year ago, and Hunt led the NFL as a rookie with Kansas City in 2017.
Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz knows his unit will be facing its most daunting challenge this season.
''They know what they want to do in the run game,'' Schwartz said. ''Nothing sort of takes them out of it. There's not a whole lot you can do scheme-wise that forces them to do something else. They are going to run it.''
Wentz's struggles can be attributed to a number of things: inaccuracy, injuries, lineup changes. Calling plays has been a problem, too.
Pederson acknowledged that he needs to do a better job of moving Wentz outside the pocket. On the two plays he called last week to slide Wentz to the edge, the Eagles gained 40 yards.
''I think I can do more,'' Pederson said. ''We did a couple in the game the other day and they worked. I think I can dial some more up and get him out, because he is dynamic out there.''
Five Waiver Wire Adds: Week 13
The New York Giants placed starting outside linebacker Kyle Fackrell (calf) on Injured Reserve on Tuesday with a calf injury. Fackrell will miss at least the next three games, leaving the Giants very short-handed at the position. He was tied for second on the team with three sacks and was playing close to 100 percent of the defensive snaps before suffering the injury in the Week 12 win over the Bengals. No outside linebacker on the active roster has more than one sack this year. Linebackers Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines are also on IR. Jamaal Sheard and rookies Carter Coughlin and Cam Brown could start in Week 13 against the Seahawks, making the New York defense one to avoid for fantasy managers after they were a popular streaming defense against Cincy.
The Denver Broncos activated quarterbacks Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles from the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday after all three had PCR tests come back negative on Monday. They will all be eligible to play in Week 13 against the Chiefs. So barring additional team discipline, the Broncos won't be forced to use a practice-squad wide receiver under center against their division rivals. If Lock returns as the starter for this offense, it'll be excellent news for receivers Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick and K.J. Hamler and tight end Noah Fant. Denver will likely be forced to throw often to keep up with the Chiefs high-octane offense, too, but Lock's inconsistency this season keeps him as a low-end QB2. The 24-year-old was 24-for-40 for 254 yards and two interceptions in the first meeting against KC back in Week 7.
The Atlanta Falcons placed wide receiver Olamide Zaccheaus (toe) on Injured Reserve on Tuesday after he left the Week 12 win over the Raiders with a toe injury. In a corresponding move, the team activated receiver Laquon Treadwell from the Reserve/COVID-19 list and added him to the 53-man roster. Zaccheaus popped up for a couple decent games this year, but it his production was inconsistent on a weekly basis and he was too far down the team's receiving depth chart to be a viable fantasy option in most leagues. The second-year wideout's best game came in Week 9 against the Broncos when he had four receptions for 103 yards and his first touchdown of the season. If he doesn't make it back this year, he'll finish with 20 receptions (32 targets) for 274 yards and the one touchdown. Christian Blake and Brandon Powell could see some more playing time as the No. 4 wideout with Zaccheaus out.
Baltimore Ravens running backs J.K. Dobbins and Mark Ingram II are both eligible to be activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list prior to the Week 12 game against the Steelers on Wednesday, but it's not a given that either will play. Both players have been isolated since testing positive for the virus on Nov. 22 and aren't allowed to fly on the team plane on Tuesday night. At this point, if you have Dobbins or Ingram on your roster, you've likely benched them for other running backs that already played in Week 12. Even if they both play, Gus Edwards could see the majority of backfield touches and will be the best fantasy play of the trio. Those that picked up Edwards in order to start him this week are hoping that neither Dobbins nor Ingram suit up in the tough matchup against the undefeated Steelers.
The Baltimore Ravens activated defensive tackle Brandon Williams, quarterback Trace McSorley, nickelback Tavon Young and cornerback Khalil Dorsey from the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday. They could activate more players from the list before kickoff against the Steelers on Wednesday. McSorley should be the backup to Robert Griffin III on Wednesday with Lamar Jackson testing positive for COVID-19 and being unavailable this week. The return of Williams will be good news for Baltimore's defensive line, who will again be without Pro Bowl defensive lineman Calais Campbell. The Ravens Defense is more of a gamble in DFS and season-long leagues against the undefeated Steelers, but inclement weather is expected and could make things tougher on both offenses.
Minnesota Vikings RB Dalvin Cook (ankle) is 'just kind of beat up,' according to offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Fantasy Spin: Cook briefly left the Week 12 game against the Carolina Panthers but returned to finish with 83 total yards and 22 touches. He leads the league with 1,385 yards from scrimmage and 14 total touchdowns on the season. The Vikings' schedule gets much tougher following the Week 13 home date against the Jacksonville Jaguars, but he'll remain a matchup-proof RB1 due to his heavy usage.
San Francisco 49ers DT D.J. Jones, DE Jordan Willis and practice squad TE Daniel Helm will be activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list and practice Thursday, Dec. 3, according to head coach Kyle Shanahan Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Los Angeles Chargers TE Matt Sokol and DB Jaylen Watkins were designated as protected practice squad players for Week 13 Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Las Vegas Raiders LB Vic Beasley, PK Dominik Eberle, DE David Irving and DE Chris Smith were designated as protected practice squad players for Week 13 Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Houston Texans WR Chad Hansen, DT Corey Liuget, WR Steven Mitchell Jr. and WR Damion Ratley were designated as protected practice squad players for Week 13 Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Jacksonville Jaguars WR Terry Godwin, DB Josh Nurse, DT Caraun Reid and PK Aldrick Rosas were designated as protected practice squad players for Week 13 Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Dallas Cowboys DB Deante Burton, OT Jordan Mills, DB Rashard Robinson and OT William Sweet were named protected practice squad players for Week 13 Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Denver Broncos RB LeVante Bellamy, TE Troy Fumagalli, DB Alijah Holder and LB Josh Watson were made protected practice squad players for Week 13 Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Cleveland Browns OT Michael Dunn, QB Kyle Lauletta, PK Matthew McCrane and OT Alex Taylor were designated as protected practice squad players for Week 13 Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Free-agent WR Joe Webb (Lions) is visiting the New York Giants Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Chicago Bears QB Tyler Bray was designated as a protected practice squad player for Week 13 Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Cincinnati Bengals QB Kevin Hogan, WR Stanley Morgan, RB Jacques Patrick and TE Mitchell Wilcox were named as protected practice squad players for Week 13 Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Buffalo Bills DE Bryan Cox Jr., C Jordan Devey, C Jonotthan Harrison and LB Darron Lee were chosen as protected practice squad players for Week 13 on Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Houston Texans WR Will Fuller and CB Bradley Roby were officially placed on the Reserve/Suspended list Tuesday, Dec. 1. The Texans also activated DT Andrew Brown from the Exempt/Commissioner Permission list.
Arizona Cardinals TE Seth DeValve, DE Michael Dogbe, RB D.J. Foster and WR A.J. Richardson were chosen as protected practice squad players for Week 13 on Tuesday, Dec. 1.