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NFL Week 14: Cowboys, Eagles try to clarify NFC East picture; Odell Beckham Jr. out; Plus, injury news, ATS picks, fantasy football tips

NFL Week 14

Top story lines | Injury news
Fantasy football | ATS betting tips/ picks

Follow along here for frequent updates and developments from all of Sunday’s NFL games. Check back after “Sunday Night Football” for a look at the biggest moments and trends to watch.

No one can say that Joe Philbin wasn’t aggressive in his first head coaching gig since being fired by the Dolphins in the middle of the 2015 season.

Taking over for Mike McCarthy, who was fired last weekend as the Packers’ head coach, Philbin boldly dropped the challenge flag twice in his first 83 seconds back as the head coach. And both times the rulings stood as the Falcons drove for a 7-0 lead. That is the fastest instance of a team using both challenges since teams got the freedom to challenge in 1999, according to NFL Research. The Packers now cannot challenge another play.

However, Aaron Rodgers and the offense covered for that, replying for a touchdown of their own. Philbin, by the way, hadn’t called plays since he was the offensive coordinator for Northeastern in 1996. Back then, Rodgers was 12.

NFC East showdowns: Two games will lend clarity to the NFC East standings, and one team was surprised to learn that it will be without its star receiver.

Odell Beckham Jr. was a surprise scratch for the New York Giants Sunday and did not make the trip to Washington for the game against the Redskins. The Giants disclosed Friday that Beckham has a bruised quadriceps, but didn’t believe at that time it would keep him out. In his Facebook series “I Am More: OBJ,” he revealed that he was originally hurt on the final play of the Nov. 25 game against the Eagles when he was leg-whipped. (In the same episode, he revealed that he spends “over $300,000″ on his body in the offseason.) This appeared to be the perfect game for OBJ to miss, though, with the Giants jumping out to a 34-0 halftime lead.

Later Sunday, the game between the Eagles and Cowboys will take us a step closer to knowing who will win the NFC East and the Cowboys, who haven’t played since riding their defense to a 13-10 victory over the Saints on Nov. 29, face a tantalizing problem.

With Sean Lee getting closer to playing after missing the last four games and seven overall with hamstring problems, rookie linebacker Leighton Vander Esch has performed more than capably in his place, leading the Cowboys (and ranking fourth in the NFL) with 102 tackles.

Do the Cowboys play the hot hand or return to Lee when he’s ready to play? There’s no debate, according to Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. “Sean Lee, make no mistake about it, when he’s right, there’s nobody better,” he said Tuesday. “He’s such an integral part of adjusting on the field and making the big play.”

The Cowboys will punt on the issue this week, with Lee already declared out. For what it’s worth, the Cowboys are 6-1 when he’s out (including the Nov. 11 victory in Philadelphia). Whatever the team decides, Jones admitted that “it’s a great problem to have.”

An angry Winston: Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston and center Ryan Jensen are not getting along on the sideline.

The Bucs are, however, leading the New Orleans Saints, 14-3, at the half. Tampa took down New Orleans in the season-opener as well.

A playoff peek: Here’s how the playoffs would shake out heading into the day’s action.


1. Chiefs (10-2), 2. Patriots (9-3), 3. Texans (9-3), 4. Steelers (7-4-1), 5. Chargers (9-3 wild card), 6. Ravens (7-5 wild card)

Hanging in there: 
Tennessee Titans (7-6)
Miami Dolphins (6-6)
Indianapolis Colts (6-6)
Denver Broncos (6-6)
Cincinnati Bengals (5-7)
Cleveland Browns (4-7-1)
Buffalo Bills (4-8)

The Jaguars, Jets and Raiders have been eliminated.


1. Rams (11-1), 2. Saints (10-2), 3. Bears (8-4), 4. Cowboys (7-5), 5. Seahawks (7-5 wild card), 6. Vikings (6-5-1 wild card)

Hanging in there:
Carolina Panthers (6-6)
Philadelphia Eagles (6-6)
Washington Redskins (6-6)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-7)
Green Bay Packers (4-7-1)
Atlanta Falcons (4-8)
New York Giants (4-8)
Detroit Lions (4-8)
Arizona Cardinals (3-9)

The 49ers have been eliminated.

Beware the Dolphins: Weird things happen when the Patriots play in Miami. Over the years, only one quarterback has beaten Tom Brady (in a manner of speaking) three or more times in 40 road losses. That man? Ryan Tannehill, who is 3-1 in Miami against Brady (via the NFL Network’s Mike Giardi).

Top story lines

What lies ahead for Kareem Hunt? The former Chiefs running back faces an uncertain football future after going unclaimed on waivers. (Read more.)

NFL coaching news and buzz: The losses pile up, the season draws nearer to an end and change is imminent. Who’s staying, who’s going? (Read more.)

Is change coming? Some owners want to revisit how the league conducts investigations. (Read more.)

Skins’ path to a new stadium may go through Capitol Hill: The Redskins and D.C. are working with Congress to slip a provision for a new stadium into a spending bill. (Read more.)

There’s life in Philly: The Eagles reminded everyone that they’re not dead yet. (Read more.)

Guess who’s No. 1: There’s a change atop the power rankings, with the Rams on the rise. (Read more.)

Injury news

Conner out: The Steelers got bad news early in the week, when running back James Conner was declared out against the Raiders because of an ankle injury.

No Lee: Sean Lee (hamstring), defensive tackle David Irving (ankle), tight end Geoff Swaim (wrist) and receiver Tavon Austin (groin) will not play against the Eagles. Philly linebacker Jordan Hicks (calf), cornerback Jalen Mills (foot) are out.

Watkins on ice: Sammy Watkins is likely out until the postseason after he “tweaked” his foot, according to Coach Andy Reid, in practice last week. That’s why the team signed Kelvin Benjamin last week.

Cam’s status: Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (right shoulder) practiced fully Friday and was removed from the injury report. Kicker Graham Gano was ruled out with a knee injury. Browns cornerback Denzel Ward is out with a concussion.

Check back on Hilton: Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton will be a game-time decision because of a shoulder injury.

Gordon out again: Chargers running back Melvin Gordon (knee) and cornerback Trevor Williams (knee) will miss the game against the Bengals. Defensive tackle Brandon Mebane is doubtful after missing time last week because of the premature birth of his daughter, who also has a heart defect that will require surgery in a few months, in Nebraska. The surgeon best suited to helping his daughter is in Omaha, so he has been commuting to see his wife, son and another daughter there.

Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict (concussion), tackle Cordy Glenn (back), cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (ankle) and cornerback Tony McRae (concussion) will not play.

Green Bay line update: Packers offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga is doubtful to play against the Falcons and guard Lane Taylor (foot) is questionable, as is cornerback Bashaud Breeland (groin).

Titans tackle out a while: Titans offensive tackle Jack Conklin is expected to miss a few weeks after injuring his knee in Thursday’s victory over the Jaguars. He is not expected to need surgery.

Redskins get another bad break: Colt McCoy, the Redskins’ backup quarterback who stepped up when Alex Smith suffered a broken leg Nov. 18, was lost for the rest of  the season Monday night. McCoy, who broke his right fibula, was replaced by Mark Sanchez. Meanwhile, concerns grow as Alex Smith’s recovery and future as he battles an infection stemming from the compound fracture of his leg.

Berry gets closer: The Chiefs will be without safety Eric Berry against the Ravens, but believe he will be ready for their big AFC West game Thursday night against the Chargers. Berry has been out since August with a heel injury.

Giants without OBJ: The Redskins caught at least one favorable break when their Week 14 foes ruled out Odell Beckham Jr. for Sunday with a bruised quad.

Fantasy football

Week 14 cheat sheet: For some, this marks the first weekend of the playoffs. Here’s what you need to know. (Read more.)

Start/Sit: Trust Kirk Cousins over Andrew Luck and Cam Newton. (Read more.)

Week 14 waiver wire tips: A pass-catching back, defense with weak schedule are available. (Read more.)

Week 14 player rankings: How the stars who are still healthy stack up. (Read more.)

Betting tips: The Cowboys’ potential surges while the Packers’ sinks. (Read more.)

ATS betting tips/picks

Broncos and Texans will keep their winning streaks alive. (Read more.)

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