Tennessee Titans cornerback Roger McCreary (21) takes down Carolina Panthers running back Miles Sanders (6) during their game at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn., Sunday, Nov. 26, 2023.

Week 13 Player Props: Remember Miles Sanders?

Every team took the field over the Thanksgiving holiday but six of the 32 clubs take their bye in Week 13. You’d have to return to Week 7 to find the last time this many teams were on a bye, and the player prop pool was this shallow.

In the penultimate week for byes in the NFL, the final third of the regular season arrives with playoff positioning about to emerge as a plot every week.

The holiday feast of football helped us point to a few get-them-while-you-can bargains outlined below.

–Packers TE Tucker Kraft under 26.5 receiving yards (-120 at BetMGM)
The Packers (5-6) are hunting for a wild card spot (no, seriously) thanks to back-to-back wins over the Chargers and the Lions. Jordan Love might be making a case to remain the starter for the Packers. He has five touchdowns and no interceptions during this recent winning streak.

Through 11 games, Love has a 19-10 touchdown-to-interception ratio in his first year as an NFL starter. One thing that’s clear with Love’s game is that he’s trying to push the ball down the field.

Per Pro-Football-Reference, the Utah State product ranks fourth in intended air yards per pass attempt (9.3). If we look at the target share to tight ends, the Packers rank 22nd (18.1%) in this metric.

Green Bay will face a Chiefs defense that FTN Fantasy ranks seventh in its defense-adjusted value over average metric (DVOA) against opposing tight ends.

One spot above the Chiefs in sixth is the Detroit Lions, who held Kraft to 15 or fewer receiving yards in both meetings this season.

Kraft has only one game this season with more than two targets (3), and given how Love looks to stretch the field vertically, I recommend taking the under with Kraft’s receiving prop at 26.5 yards.

–Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence over 20.5 completions (-120 at BetMGM)
Although TeamRankings has the Jaguars as one of the more balanced teams, ranking eighth with a run rate of 44.32%, they also rank eighth with 65.6 plays per game.

Thus, given the number of plays per game, I’m not shocked to learn that the Jaguars have a positive pass rate over expectation (PROE) at 2.5%. In other words, the Jaguars call more passing plays than the average team in similar situations.

Yet Lawrence ranks ninth in Total QBR (61.7) despite being 20th in touchdowns (12). His completion percentage of 67.3 percentage puts him 11th in the league.

Lawrence, proving to be a very accurate passer, is coming off back-to-back performances with 23-plus completions. In 11 games this season, Lawrence finished with 21 or more completions eight times.

Jacksonville draws a Bengals’ pass defense that ranks 23rd in expected points added (EPA). Given the number of plays we can project for this offense, the completion prop feels a bit short at 20.5.

–Panthers RB Miles Sanders over 8.5 rush attempts (-100 at PointsBet)
Since joining the Panthers on a four-year deal, it hasn’t been a banner year for Sanders, primarily because of injuries. After averaging 4.9 yards per carry on 259 rushing attempts with the Eagles, Sanders is averaging just 3.1 yards on 97 attempts this season.

Sanders hasn’t lost a step at just 26 years of age. After all, it wasn’t like he had a heavy workload during his time with the Eagles. In his first three seasons with the Eagles, Sanders averaged 160 carries per season.

Sanders’ struggles are a microcosm of a Carolina season that’s been forgettable at best. And with just one win on the year, the Panthers fired head coach Frank Reich.

Special teams coordinator Chris Tabor will take over as the interim head coach. Although I’m not expecting Tabor to be a long-term solution, he does allow the Panthers to hit the reset button.

In the 10 games featuring Carolina’s rookie quarterback Bryce Young, he finished with under 30 pass attempts just once (29). While I understand that the Panthers often find themselves behind early in games, they are increasingly likely to be patient trying to achieve better balance offensively.

Per TeamRankings, Carolina ranks fourth in the league with a pass rate of 62.87%.

Tabor is likely to be conservative, trying to protect his quarterback while showing a more significant commitment to running the ball, even against a solid Buccaneers defense.

–Field Level Media

49ers quarterback Brock Purdy lasted only eight minutes in the NFC Championship Game at Philadelphia in January due to an elbow injury. San Francisco returns to Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Week 13 NFL Capsules

Week 13 NFL capsules

Indianapolis Colts (6-5) at Tennessee Titans (4-7)
The Colts presently occupy the seventh and final playoff spot in the AFC. That’s a big credit to the running game, including Zack Moss, who’ll start with Jonathan Taylor (thumb) on the shelf again. Moss has rushed for a team-high 672 yards and five touchdowns on 141 carries — all career highs. His best game came in a 23-16 win against Tennessee on Oct. 8, gashing the Titans for 165 yards and two scores on 23 attempts. The Titans are mathematically alive for a wild-card spot but probably need to win out. The Titans were able to snap a three-game skid last week, edging Carolina 17-10 as Derrick Henry ran for two touchdowns. He’s averaging 107.8 rushing yards in home games this season.

Los Angeles Chargers (4-7) at New England Patriots (2-9)
The Patriots have won the past six meetings with the Chargers, but that might be the only streak New England wants to discuss these days. Mac Jones is being benched in favor of Bailey Zappe (2-0 career as a starter), with the Patriots seeking a spark offensively. New England is putting up 13.5 points per game and has a turnover margin of minus-8. The Chargers’ situation isn’t nearly as dire, but Los Angeles is starting to see its playoff hopes fade. Since back-to-back wins over the Bears and Jets, the Chargers have dropped three straight games, including last Sunday’s 20-10 setback against the Baltimore Ravens.

Detroit Lions (8-3) at New Orleans Saints (5-6)
Quarterback Jared Goff spent part of Wednesday running through ball security drills, and he wasn’t alone. The Lions lost three fumbles with one takeaway in a 29-22 home loss to the Packers on Thanksgiving Day, four days after struggling to a 31-26 victory over Chicago, when Goff was picked off three times. The Saints are tied for fourth in the NFL with 20 takeaways. But New Orleans is trying to move past a 24-15 loss at Atlanta last week and has its own issues in the red zone. The Saints were stifled by the Falcons last week, reaching the red zone five times without scoring a touchdown. While the Saints netted five field goals, two of the possessions inside the 20 ended in turnovers, including a game-changing pick-6 thrown by Derek Carr.

Atlanta Falcons (5-6) at New York Jets (4-7)
All the Jets want for Christmas is their No. 1 QB, but Aaron Rodgers might be weeks — or months — away from taking his next snap. It’s up to Tim Boyle to move the Jets toward the playoffs to keep Rodgers’ return this season in play. Boyle hit RB Breece Hall for a career-high seven catches last week. Atlanta’s record may not look much better than that of the Jets, but the Falcons are leading the NFC South after beating the New Orleans Saints 24-15 last Sunday. Atlanta is 3-0 against division competition and 2-6 against all other teams. Desmond Ridder took back starting quarterback duties last week after a two-week benching and completed 13 of 21 passes for 168 yards, a touchdown and two picks — including one near the Saints’ goal line.

Arizona Cardinals (2-10) at Pittsburgh Steelers (7-4)
Arizona arrives in full rebuilding mode, armed with the second-worst record in the NFL, and brings James Conner for a reunion with his old team after he missed more than a month with injuries. He has rushed for 526 yards on 104 attempts in eight games. The Cardinals were ripped by their own coach for their effort following last week’s 37-14 home loss to the Los Angeles Rams. They’ll need extra effort to contain Steelers pass rusher T.J. Watt, who is tied for the league lead in sacks with 13.5. The Steelers are leaning heavily on Watt and their defense to contend for a wild-card spot in the AFC and are currently second in the North division, 1 1/2 games behind the Baltimore Ravens.

Miami Dolphins (8-3) at Washington Commanders (4-8)
What in the world is Ron Rivera planning to do with the Miami Dolphins’ offensive machine after being blasted for an average of 38 points in the past two games? Dallas whipped Washington 45-10 last week, resulting in Rivera firing defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio. The Dolphins average 30.8 points per game and the Commanders only hope might be matching Miami’s scoring output. Washington can move the ball. Sam Howell leads the NFL in completions (323) and passing yards (3,339) through the first 12 weeks of the season. The issue for the Commanders has been protecting Howell in the pocket. He’s on pace to shatter the NFL single-season record for times sacked.

Denver Broncos (6-5) at Houston Texans (6-5)
Don’t look now, but the Broncos are tied for the NFL’s longest winning streak at five games as they go head-to-head with potential wild-card competition in Houston. QB Russell Wilson’s next TD pass would push him past Dan Marino for second-most in his first 12 seasons (Marino had 328). The Texans are thrilled with the development of their own franchise quarterback, C.J. Stroud. He’s second in the NFL in passing yards and is the only rookie with four consecutive 300-yard games.

Carolina Panthers (1-10) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-7)
For the second December in a row, the Buccaneers play the Panthers with an interim head coach at the helm in Carolina. Chris Tabor jumped into the head-coaching role Monday when Frank Reich was fired. The Buccaneers aren’t exactly in a groove, but they’re still squarely in the hunt for the division title behind a reclamation project well known to the Panthers, Baker Mayfield. The Buccaneers get two swings at the Panthers in the next five weeks, the second one being the Jan. 7 finale. Mayfield began last season with Carolina and lasted seven games, with the team posting a 1-6 record, before he was released.

Cleveland Browns at Los Angeles Rams
If you had Joe Flacco starting for the Browns on your bingo card, we need visual evidence. That’s the potential reality for Cleveland with Dorian Thompson-Robinson (concussion) iffy, setting up a matchup of 38-year-old Flacco and 35-year-old Matthew Stafford in L.A. The Browns (7-4) hold the No. 6 seed in the AFC, one game clear of the seventh-seeded Indianapolis Colts. In last Sunday’s 37-14 win against the Arizona Cardinals, Stafford passed for 229 yards and a season-best four touchdowns — two each to Kyren Williams and tight end Tyler Higbee. Williams has been the team’s top playmaker as a rookie despite missing four games with an ankle injury.

San Francisco 49ers (8-3) at Philadelphia Eagles (10-1)
The Eagles can clinch a playoff berth this weekend, a significant statement considering they are the sole team in position to secure a postseason spot with five weeks remaining in the regular season. In a return to the scene of last season’s NFC Championship Game, the 49ers are back to purring with Brock Purdy at quarterback, logging three consecutive wins to erase a three-game losing streak. Their last visit was marred by an elbow injury to Purdy as the Eagles cruised to the 31-7 win that elevated them into the Super Bowl. Come Sunday, Purdy is healthy and teammate Christian McCaffrey is flourishing, while Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts is once again enjoying a solid season. Philadelphia owns the best record in the NFL after posting four straight comeback wins and recording five consecutive overall wins. San Francisco leads the NFC West after winning its past three games. Purdy was injured eight minutes into the playoff loss last season. He leads the NFL with a 70.2 completion percentage and benefits from McCaffrey, who leads the NFL in rushing yards and touchdowns (16).

Kansas City Chiefs (8-3) at Green Bay Packers (5-6)
Kansas City has put plenty of pressure on opposing teams this season. The Chiefs, who lead the AFC West by two games over the Broncos, won Jordan Love’s debut NFL start in November 2021, 13-7. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes passed for 298 yards and two touchdowns in the win. Running back Isiah Pacheco scored twice on the ground, and Rashee Rice and Justin Watson notched one touchdown reception apiece. TE Travis Kelce has at least six catches in eight of his past nine games. The trip to northern Wisconsin will carry special meaning for Kansas City coach Andy Reid. He started his NFL coaching career in Green Bay, where he worked from 1992-98 as a tight ends coach, an assistant offensive line coach and eventually a quarterbacks coach. Brett Favre and the Packers won the Super Bowl during the 1996 season with Reid on the staff.

Cincinnati Bengals (5-6) at Jacksonville Jaguars (8-3)
It’s reunion week for Cincinnati head coach Zac Taylor, who brings his Bengals into Jacksonville having lost three straight and falling into the cellar of the AFC North. Jacksonville is coached by Doug Pederson, and Taylor’s younger brother, Press, serves as the Jaguars’ offensive coordinator of a unit that has star quarterback Trevor Lawrence. In addition to the losing streak, the Bengals lost QB Joe Burrow to a season-ending hand injury. Jake Browning gets the call for Cincinnati with the Jaguars playing their first Monday night game since Dec. 5, 2011. Jacksonville has won seven of its past eight games and sits atop the AFC South. The Jags have the NFL’s fourth-ranked run defense (87.4 yards allowed per game), while Lawrence leads the offense and is coming off a 364-yard passing performance in their 24-21 win at Houston.

–Field Level Media

Nov 26, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Falcons running back Bijan Robinson (7) celebrates after a touchdown with quarterback Desmond Ridder (9) against the New Orleans Saints in the second quarter at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Week 13 betting preview: No teasing, we like the Rams, Falcons

Success with our picks in recent weeks has caused perhaps a dangerous level of confidence, but you don’t question winning streaks in sports betting.

On the heels of our Week 11 “Love-in” – the emergence of Jordan Love as a useful NFL quarterback – we jumped aboard the train carrying the Atlanta Falcons and Buffalo Bills in Week 12.

Two more winning teaser bets at plus money (ATL +3.5 and the over 36.5; BUF +7.5 and the over 41.5) and we’re ready to rinse and repeat.

(Full disclosure: Our player prop of Stefon Diggs over 79 receiving yards fell 12 doggone feet short of cashing.)

Let’s go hunting.

See our primary play, along with a bonus play and a player prop below.


Falcons at Jets, 1 p.m. ET

The line: Falcons -1.5, total 34 (FanDuel)

The Falcons stepped up and won an ugly NFC South matchup with the New Orleans Saints last week. The division title is right there for the taking.

And Desmond Ridder is the man to lead them … well, about that level of confidence.

Ridder wasn’t great last week, throwing two picks including one at the Saints 1-yard line late in the second quarter.

That said, he doesn’t need to be great because coach Arthur Smith and the offensive staff are finally letting the big dog, Bijan Robinson, eat a little more.

Robinson handled an increased workload like a champ, and he looks ready to flex again in New Jersey.

Atlanta rushed for a season-high 228 yards against New Orleans.

Ridder and Robinson – along with Robinson’s running mate Tyler Allgeier – will put enough points on the board to top New York’s struggling offense.

The Jets need to win two of their next three to even sniff a chance at offering Aaron Rodgers a meaningful snap this season.

And Tim Boyle is the man to lead them …. again, confidence level.

A defense initially heralded as top of the heap (maybe even A-number-one), is not so threatening anymore. Last week, the Miami Dolphins put up 34 points (that included a pick-6, but we digress) at the Jets.

The New York malaise is hardly the fault of the defense, of course.

Fun stat, courtesy of Action Network:

“The NFL average for series success rate is 70% on offense, which means that offenses turn a first-and-10 into another first down or touchdown 70% of the time league-wide.

“The Patriots rank 30th at 65% … the Giants are 31st at 60% and the Jets are all the way down at 58%.”

Jets coach Robert Saleh said he’s hopeful that tackle Mekhi Becton (ankle, knee) will be back Sunday after missing the Dolphins game.

The bet: Same-game parlay, Falcons teased to +3.5 with the over teased to 28.5 (odds of -110 at FanDuel).


“We’re about to go play a really good defense in New York so (the offense) better be ready to go. … I thought the offensive line played the best game since I’ve been here (against New Orleans). We’ve invested heavily in those guys and we’ve just got to stick with our way of doing things.”

– Falcons coach Arthur Smith.


Browns at Rams, 4:25 p.m. ET

The line: Rams -3.5, total 40 (BetMGM).

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford is a Super Bowl champ, and his team is finding its footing as it returns to full health.

LA crushed the Arizona Cardinals last week, and running back Kyren Williams looks every bit a standout. Last week was his first game back from an ankle injury that cost him an entire month.

The Cleveland Browns are decimated. Injuries hit hard, claiming Deshaun Watson and backup Dorian Thompson-Robinson (concussion).

Cleveland might start veteran Joe Flacco, who was signed only 10 days ago.

If not Flacco, PJ Walker will start. He is 38th out of 41 quarterbacks in efficiency.

The Browns’ defense, led by Myles Garrett, is terrific. Unfortunately for Cleveland, Garrett suffered a shoulder injury and, best case if he plays, he will play with pain Sunday.

The play: Same-game parlay, Rams teased to -2.5 with the over teased to 30.5 (at +110 odds, per BetMGM).


This is a great spot for the continued “Bijan Breakout” experience.

The Jets defense is a little overhyped – and vulnerable to the run – while boasting a talented secondary.

Receiver Drake London may be slowed by Sauce Gardner, fine, but who was second last week behind London’s seven targets? Bijan! He caught three of his six targets for 32 yards.

Robinson also carried the ball 16 times for 91 yards, and his usage doesn’t figure to decrease this week.

Prop play: Falcons RB Bijan Robinson over 79.5 rushing+receiving yards. (-145 at DraftKings).

–Field Level Media

Nov 30, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb (88) is tackled by Seattle Seahawks cornerback Tre Brown (22) and safety Quandre Diggs (6) during the first half at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Dak Prescott tosses 3 TDs as Cowboys rally past Seahawks

Dak Prescott threw three touchdown passes, the last a 12-yarder to tight end Jake Ferguson with 4:37 remaining, as the Dallas Cowboys outlasted the Seattle Seahawks 41-35 Thursday night in Arlington, Texas.

CeeDee Lamb made 12 catches for 116 yards and a touchdown, Tony Pollard rushed for 68 yards and a score and Brandon Aubrey kicked four field goals for the Cowboys (9-3), who won for the sixth time in their past seven games and beat a team with a winning record for the first time this season.

Dallas’ defense stiffened late, forcing Seattle to turn over the ball on downs on their final three possessions.

Geno Smith threw three touchdown passes to DK Metcalf for the Seahawks (6-6), who lost their third game in a row.
The go-ahead drive came after Seattle was stopped on fourth-and-1 at the Cowboys’ 46-yard line with 7:04 remaining.

Prescott, who was 29 of 41 for 299 yards, completed three passes to Lamb on the drive and scampered 8 yards to Seattle’s 7. Following a penalty, one of 19 for 257 yards combined for both teams in the game, Prescott found Ferguson to give Dallas a 38-35 lead.

Aubrey added a 32-yard field goal with 1:43 to go to cap the scoring.

After trailing by 10 early in the game, the Seahawks took a 21-20 halftime lead on a 1-yard TD pass with four seconds left in the second quarter.

Smith scored on a 5-yard run on the opening possession of the second half to put Seattle up 28-20.

Dallas pulled within a point on a 6-yard run by Pollard.

The Cowboys had a chance to take the lead as DaRon Bland intercepted a pass at Seattle’s 38-yard line. But Dallas eschewed a potential go-ahead field goal on fourth-and-2 from the 30 and Prescott’s pass for Lamb fell incomplete.

Smith floated a 3-yard TD pass to Metcalf in the back of the end zone with 14:17 remaining to extend Seattle’s lead to 35-27.

Aubrey’s third field goal, from 38 yards, made it 35-30 with 11:23 left.

–Field Level Media

Nov 24, 2023; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers (8) on the sidelines during the first half against the Miami Dolphins at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Rodgers on early return to sinking Jets: ‘Anything is possible’

Dec. 24 was already an incredibly optimistic date for Aaron Rodgers to return from a torn Achilles. But the New York Jets quarterback wouldn’t rule out an even earlier comeback.

“Anything is possible,” Rodgers told Jets beat reporters in his first comments at the team facility since his injury Sept. 11.

Rodgers returned to practice on Wednesday, 11 weeks to the day after surgery to repair his Achilles. Rodgers has continuously said he wants to return this season provided he’s healthy and the team is “alive” in the AFC playoff race.

Christmas Eve is the Jets’ third-to-last regular-season game, at home against the Washington Commanders, so that might not be enough time for Rodgers to singlehandedly resurrect the Jets’ season. New York is 4-7 and mired in a four-game losing streak.

Rodgers — who turns 40 on Saturday — won’t be back for Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons, but the clock is ticking, especially after the Jets activated his 21-day return-from-IR window.

“It feels great to be on the practice field, but I’m not anywhere near ready to play,” Rodgers said.

Specifically, Rodgers is throwing and working on dropbacks, but at this point in his recovery he is not ready to run at game speed.

“I don’t think I can protect myself as well as I want to at this point,” he said.

Rodgers acknowledged the risk in coming back early — Achilles tears usually sideline NFL players 9-12 months — and the fact that the Jets are a playoff race outsider doesn’t help matters.

“I don’t think that would make a ton of sense,” Rodgers said of coming back to an eliminated team. “I don’t know what the team is going to feel about that … it would be a risk for myself, for the team to sign off on. If we’re out of it, I would be surprised if they would OK that, to come back.”

There’s always next year, as Jets fans have been telling themselves since the late 1960s, but Rodgers’ future with the team is no sure thing.

A day after Jets coach Robert Saleh said the team was under the impression that Rodgers would play for them in 2024, Rodgers was asked if his return next season was tied to Saleh, offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett and general manager Joe Douglas returning to New York.

Rodgers called it a “trap question.”

“I want to play and I feel like the Johnsons (team ownership) want me to be here,” Rodgers said. “I feel like it’s a really good organizational structure, I feel like Joe has drafted really well, I feel like Robert is a fantastic coach, so is Nathaniel. Those decisions are out of my hands.”

–Field Level Media

Jan 29, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy (13) throws a pass against the Philadelphia Eagles during the first quarter in the NFC Championship game at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

49ers QB Brock Purdy not looking back at NFC title game injury

Brock Purdy is returning to the scene of his devastating elbow injury on Sunday, but the San Francisco 49ers quarterback insists there are no residual effects.

Purdy said he is focused on this Sunday’s clash with the host Philadelphia Eagles and not dwelling on the injury-marred NFC Championship game from last January.

“I got hurt there and everything, but for me it’s Week 13,” Purdy told reporters Thursday. “We’re going on the road in a hostile environment. We’re late in season, so every game is obviously big for us. And so that’s where I’m at with my mindset. It’s a new year, two new teams, slightly different in different ways. So that’s how I look at it.”

Last season, Purdy injured his passing elbow eight minutes into the 31-7 loss when Philadelphia’s Haason Reddick delivered a blow to Purdy’s right arm.

When fill-in Josh Johnson sustained a concussion later in the contest, Purdy re-entered in the third quarter but could not throw the ball more than a few yards.

Purdy, though, said he won’t be reliving that day when he steps on the same surface at Lincoln Financial Field. He underwent major surgery in the offseason and has bounced back to enjoy a solid second NFL campaign.

“Am I going to go in there and get all sentimental about, ‘I’ve come a long way since?’ It’s not really like that,” Purdy said. “Am I going to go into the game saying I want revenge and all this kind of stuff? It’s not like that (either). So, I’m just going to try to go do my job and be the best Brock that I can be for this team.”

Purdy leads the NFL with a 70.2 completion percentage while throwing for 2,871 yards, 19 touchdowns and six interceptions for the 49ers (8-3).

Philadelphia (10-1) owns the best record in the NFL behind star quarterback Jalen Hurts, who has passed for 18 touchdowns and has run for 11 more.

–Field Level Media

Nov 26, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA;  Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) calls an audible against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Surging Jaguars, skidding Bengals take stage on Monday night

It’ll be a battle of coaching brothers when the Jacksonville Jaguars host a rare Monday night game against the slumping Cincinnati Bengals.

Cincinnati head coach Zac Taylor brings his Bengals (5-6) into Jacksonville having lost three straight and falling into the cellar of the AFC North after winning the division the last two seasons.

Jacksonville (8-3) is coached by Doug Pederson, and Taylor’s younger brother Press serves as the Jaguars’ offensive coordinator of unit that has star quarterback Trevor Lawrence.

“He’s somebody I’m very proud of,” Zac Taylor said of Press. “I’ve watched his journey. He’s earned everything he’s ever gotten. He’s worked really hard for it. He’s really smart and takes care of people.”

The Jaguars are playing their first Monday night game since Dec. 5, 2011, a 38-14 home loss to the San Diego Chargers. The Jaguars played two Monday night games that season, beating the visiting Baltimore Ravens 12-7 for a split.

The Jaguars are 8-7 all-time on Monday night.

Jacksonville has won seven of its last eight games and sits atop the AFC South. The Jags have the NFL’s fourth-ranked run defense (87.4 yards allowed per game), while Lawrence leads the offense and is coming off a 364-yard passing performance in their 24-21 win at Houston.

“What I’ve been most impressed with was how he’s just leading the football team,” Pederson said of Lawrence. “He has been taking care of the football the last couple of weeks.

“Honestly, there’s still some room if you watch the film to grow and improve and really anticipate certain things,” Pederson added. “He’s just continuing to make impressive throws and he continues to grow.”

The Bengals are trying to snap a long dubious streak of their own. With their loss in Baltimore on Nov. 16, they have dropped 15 straight prime-time games on the road and have lost 26 of 27 night road games.

The Bengals have dropped nine straight Monday night road games, including last season’s 32-13 decision in Cleveland on Oct. 31, 2022. Their last win in this category was on Oct. 22, 1990, in Cleveland. The Bengals are 13-26 all-time on Monday night, with a 19-16 home victory against the LA Rams in Week 3.

The Bengals turn to Jake Browning, who is making his second career NFL start after replacing Joe Burrow in Cincinnati’s 34-20 loss at Baltimore on Nov. 16.

In his first career start last Sunday against the Steelers in Cincinnati, Browning completed 19 of 26 passes for 227 yards and one touchdown and a costly third-quarter interception. The Bengals held a 7-3 lead at the half and were driving for another score to open the third quarter when his pass for Ja’Marr Chase was intercepted.

“I thought he handled some things really well for us,” Bengals coach Zac Taylor said. “It’s a tough task to play a divisional game versus a good defense in your first game. There’s going to be plenty of things he can learn from.”

Browning had to make his first start last week without Tee Higgins, who missed his third straight game with a hamstring injury. Higgins returned to practice in a limited capacity on Thursday and is hopeful to start alongside fellow star receiver Chase on Monday night.

“Tee’s one of the top receivers in the NFL,” said Browning, who was a full participant Thursday despite being listed for a right wrist issue. “I don’t think can really put into words how important he is to this offense.

“I think Andrei (Iosivas) has continued to play really well. Trenton Irwin has proven he can do it, but there’s just something that Tee brings the table being as big, as fast and having the experience he does, where it’s always nice to have him and Ja’Marr on the outside.”

–Field Level Media

Nov 26, 2023; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Bailey Zappe (4) throws the ball during the second half against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Bailey Zappe mum on Pats’ starting QB gig, appreciates ‘crazy’ journey

Bailey Zappe said the matter of whether he was the New England Patriots’ new starting quarterback was “a Coach Belichick question,” but the second-year pro did not shy away from the spotlight when speaking with reporters Thursday in Foxborough, Mass.

“Nothing’s set in stone. I’m just taking it day by day, treating every rep that I get in practice like it’s a game rep and just preparing like I do every other week,” Zappe said.

Bill Belichick has not said anything definitive ahead of Sunday’s game against the visiting Los Angeles Chargers. That is similar to last week, when the starting quarterback job was up in the air before the Patriots faced the New York Giants.

Mac Jones started against New York and threw two interceptions before halftime before he was benched in favor of Zappe. In relief, Zappe completed 9 of 14 passes for 54 yards and an interception in a 10-7 loss.

Zappe took the majority of reps that reporters were allowed to see at Wednesday’s practice. He was followed by undrafted rookie Malik Cunningham, while Jones did not take any reps.

Zappe, 24, was a 2022 fourth-round draft pick of the Patriots and appeared in four games as a rookie, making two starts while Jones was injured. He was a surprising cut at the end of training camp and joined New England’s practice squad after going unclaimed on waivers.

“It’s been crazy,” Zappe said with a smile. “Been a lot of talks with both (team captain Matthew) Slater and Coach and everything, but I mean it’s part of the journey. It’s part, I guess everybody says part of your book, part of your chapter, whatever you want to say. But I mean, it’s been fun. It’s been a lot of learning, so I’m excited.”

–Field Level Media

September 18, 2022; Santa Clara, California, USA; Seattle Seahawks offensive tackle Abraham Lucas (72) after the game against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Seahawks activate OT Abraham Lucas, place OG Phil Haynes on IR

Seattle activated right tackle Abraham Lucas from injured reserve before the Seahawks’ game Thursday night at the Dallas Cowboys.

In a corresponding move, Seattle (6-5) placed right guard Phil Haynes (toe) on injured reserve to make room on the 53-man roster.

Lucas went on IR after sustaining a knee injury in the season opener. He returned to practice two weeks ago and was a full participant this week.

“He’s back to where we’re counting on him to be able to help and contribute,” coach Pete Carroll said Tuesday before the team left for Dallas. “… Abe had a good week. Everything’s kind of on schedule as we planned it out quite some time ago aiming for this week. He did his part.”

The Seahawks made Lucas, 25, a third-round selection in the 2022 NFL Draft out of Washington State. He started 16 games last season and this year’s season opener, a 30-13 home loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Sept. 10.

Haynes, 28, missed practice this week because of the toe injury and was ruled out Wednesday for the game against the Cowboys (8-3). He will have to miss at least the next four games.

A fourth-round draft pick by the Seahawks in 2019, Haynes has played in eight games this season (all starts) and 31 total (13 starts) in five seasons.

The Seahawks also elevated wide receiver Cody Thompson from the practice squad on Thursday. Thompson, 27, has appeared in six games this season, primarily on special teams, and has one reception for 10 yards.

–Field Level Media

Nov 19, 2023; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA;  Carolina Panthers wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. (5) with the ball in the second quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Panthers place WR Laviska Shenault Jr. (ankle) on injured reserve

Carolina Panthers wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. is out a minimum of four weeks after being placed on injured reserve Thursday because of an ankle injury.

Shenault had one reception for eight yards last Sunday in a 17-10 loss at the Tennessee Titans before injuring the ankle. He played only two snaps in the game.

Shenault has played in eight games for the Panthers (1-10) this season, missing three games after sustaining a high ankle sprain against the Miami Dolphins on Oct. 15. He has a total of 10 receptions for 60 yards, and 12 rushing attempts for 55 yards.

He also has returned six kickoffs for 167 yards, a 27.8-yard average.

Shenault, 25, was a second-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2020 NFL Draft out of Colorado. He was traded to the Panthers in August 2022. In four seasons, he has 158 receptions for 1,551 yards and six touchdowns, and 50 carries for 252 yards and one score.

In other moves Thursday, the Panthers signed guard Deonte Brown to the practice squad and cut quarterback Jake Luton from the practice squad.

Carolina now has 12 players on IR this season, not including six other players who have been designated to return from IR.

–Field Level Media