If the Colts are for real, they will knock off the Cowboys and stamp themselves as true contenders for the AFC playoffs.With three games remaining, Dallas (8-5) is in control of its division, thanks to a staunch defense and a revived air game with the addition of Amari Cooper. Has any veteran been more worth a first-round draft pick in a midseason trade?“I didn’t know we were going to get all that, honestly,'” says NFL rushing leader Ezekiel Elliott about Cooper, acquired from Oakland. “But when I finally saw him in person, when I saw him catch the ball, I saw him run around and run after the catch, that’s when I really realized he’s truly special.”A Cowboys win does the trick in the NFC East, as would losses by Philadelphia and Washington. Dallas has almost no chance at a first-round playoff bye, though.So what? The Cowboys were 3-5 and sinking and now look where they are.Talking about sinking, Indianapolis was 1-5 two months ago. Then the Colts (7-6) won five straight before that string ended with an awful performance at Jacksonville. So they went to AFC South leader Houston, winner of nine in a row, and won.In his comeback from a 2017 season lost to a shoulder injury, Andrew Luck has been sensational, working behind an offensive line that has gone from sieve to sturdy. Luck has been sacked 16 times, second fewest in the league.Indy is in a four-way tie for the second AFC wild-card slot with Baltimore, Tennessee and Miami.“Most people call this the dash for cash,” Colts tight end Eric Ebron says. “So you just try to win.”Two road teams won Saturday, with Cleveland edging Denver 17-16, and Houston beating the New York Jets 29-22, and.Baker Mayfield’s 2-yard TD toss to Antonio Calloway with just under 12minutes left provided the winning margin for the Browns (6-7-1). They snapped an 11-game losing streak to the Broncos (6-8).Houston’s Deshaun Watson threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to DeAndre Hopkins with 2:15 left. The Texans are 10-4, and the Jets 4-10.The weekend began Thursday night with the Los Angeles Chargers‘ 29-28 comeback victory at Kansas City.Philip Rivers led the Chargers to a pair of touchdowns in the final minutes, then hit Mike Williams for the go-ahead 2-point conversion with 4 seconds remaining. The Chargers (11-3) trailed 28-14 before Justin Jackson scored with 3:49 to go.Not only did the Chargers clinch a playoff berth, they forged a first-place tie with the Chiefs (11-3) in the AFC West while ending a nine-game losing streak to their longtime division rivals.New England (9-4) at Pittsburgh (7-5-1)Tampa Bay (5-8) at Baltimore (7-6)The AFC North has become a jumble with Pittsburgh’s slump (three successive defeats) and Baltimore’s resurgence.These matchups don’t bode well for the Steelers, especially if Ben Roethlisberger’s rib and James Conner’s ankle are factors.The Patriots have won the past five meetings. Of course, the 2017 version is unforgettable: Roethlisberger threw an interception in the end zone with 5 seconds remaining after tight end Jesse James‘ apparent go-ahead touchdown with 29 seconds left was overturned on review. Officials ruled the catch did not “survive the ground;” James jostled it after stretching across the goal line.So the league amended the rule in the offseason to allow some movement by the ball if a receiver maintains possession.New England can clinch its 10th straight AFC East title with a win or tie and a Miami loss or tie.Baltimore, meanwhile, will sit the now-healthy Joe Flacco behind first-round pick Lamar Jackson, who has won three of his four starts with Flacco (hip) sidelined. The Ravens‘ ground game has been sensational with the rookie behind center:Jackson has 336 yards rushing over the past four games, the most by any NFL quarterback in his first four starts during the Super Bowl era. Baltimore also is allowing an NFL-low 18.5 points per game.Philadelphia (6-7) at Los Angeles Rams (11-2)New Orleans (11-2) at Carolina (6-7), MondayTop seed in the NFC is what it’s all about for the Saints and Rams, who lost to New Orleans this season.The Rams and Saints each clinch a first-round bye with a win and a Chicago loss or tie, or a tie and a Chicago loss.New Orleans has struggled offensively the past two weeks, but this is a matchup Drew Brees enjoys. The Saints beat the Panthers three times last season, including the playoffs. Brees has completed 76.7 percent of his passes for 2 http://www.vikingsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-dru-samia-jersey
,714 yards with 21 touchdowns and four interceptions in the past 10 NFC South games and has 46 TDs and 20 INTs vs. the Panthers, who have lost their past five overall. But Carolina is 5-1 at home.With the Rams coming off the lowest-scoring performance under Sean McVay, a 15-6 loss to the Bears, they try to avoid falling in consecutive games with McVay in charge. Indeed, he has won at least two straight after all seven of his career defeats.Eagles QB Carson Wentz is battling a back injury. He tore up his knee at LA last year and missed his team’s run to the championship.Tennessee (7-6) at New York Giants (5-8)The other weekend game at MetLife Stadium; notice the neutral end zones.New York once was 1-7, yet has a very long shot at making the playoffs. A retooled offensive line has provided time for Eli Manning to show he isn’t over the hill, and for rookie running back Saquon Barkley to go wild.Tennessee has had at least 400 yards in each of the past two games, and hasn’t managed three straight since Oct. 1-16, 2000. It has allowed the fewest touchdowns in the league this season, 27.Green Bay (5-7-1) at Chicago (9-4)Miami (7-6) at Minnesota (6-6-1)Chicago’s last-to-first climb in the NFC North could be finalized against its biggest rival. A win over Green Bay, which leads the NFL’s longest series 97-94-6, gets it done. So does a Minnesota loss or tie.The Bears lead the NFL in turnover differential (plus 13) and interceptions (25).Green Bay, under interim coach Joe Philbin, must win out for any chance to play in January. The Packers have won eight in a row at Soldier Field and nine of the past 10 meetings overall. But with a win, Chicago would finish 7-1 at home for the first time since 2005.Miami’s stunning “Drake Escape” victory against New England kept it viable in the AFC playoff chase. The Dolphins are second in the NFL with 19 interceptions and tied for third with 25 takeaways.Minnesota was overwhelmed last Monday night at Seattle, and fired offensive coordinator John DeFilippo. In their past three losses, all on the road, the Vikings have averaged just 274 yards and 12 points per game. But they’re at home and the Dolphins are 0-5 on the road since beating the Jets in Week 2.Seattle (8-5) at San Francisco (3-10)Surging Seattle has won four straight and its defeats are to opponents who are a combined 36-16, with two of losses to the 11-2 Rams. The Seahawks have the league’s top rushing team and have become as stingy as anybody on defense despite being in a rebuild.A win gets them into the postseason, and they have won 10 straight in this NFC West rivalry, starting with the conference title game in January 2014. Linebacker Bobby Wagner , making a hefty statement for NFL Defensive Player of the Year, seeks his eighth straight game with at least eight tackles. Wagner had 12 tackles, one sack, one forced fumble, two passes defensed and a 98-yard interception return for a TD in the Week 13 win over San Francisco.Detroit (5-8) at Buffalo (4-9)Don’t look for much scoring here.With 3,187 yards passing, Detroit QB Matthew Stafford is in jeopardy of ending his seven-season streak of topping 4,000 yards. His counterpart, first-round pick Josh Allen, has a combined 335 yards rushing in the past three games. He’s the second NFL QB to top 90 yards rushing in three consecutive games, joining Green Bay’s Tobin Rote in 1951.Arizona (3-10) at Atlanta (4-9)Atlanta might do some scoring here, while Arizona ranks at the bottom in most offensive categories. Its pitiful 178 points are 23 lower than the next-worst team, Buffalo. The Cardinals started five rookies on offense last week.After being held without a TD catch in the first seven games, Atlanta WR Julio Jones has five in the past six games. Jones leads the NFL with 1,429 yards receiving and has topped 100 yards in nine games.Oakland (3-10) at Cincinnati (5-8)Banged-up Cincinnati has been in freefall, dropping five in a row and seven of eight. This is its final home game. The Bengals have averaged 51 Daniel Jones Jersey ,673, the second-smallest attendance since Paul Brown Stadium opened in 2000. They’re 3-4 at home.The Raiders fired GM Reggie McKenzie on Monday, one day after a stunning upset of Pittsburgh.Washington (6-7) at Jacksonville (4-9)What does a team do when its top two QBs have broken legs and the third guy has a broken career? In Washington’s case, it turns to someone who hasn’t started since 2011, is 0-5 in the NFL and recently had a contract with the startup Alliance of American Football, Josh Johnson.Redskins RB Adrian Peterson needs 112 yards rushing to pass Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson (13,259) for eighth most in NFL history. Hey, Kyler, this is for real.Sort of.Kyler Murray, April’s top overall draft pick, will make his preseason debut for Arizona on Thursday night when the Cardinals host the Chargers.The quarterback won’t be on the field very long against Los Angeles, but he should get a chance to show some of the skills that so enamored the Cardinals. He also could wind up on the ground a few times — for the first time as a pro considering QBs don’t get hit in practice.“I’m looking forward to having fun,” Murray says. “It’s going to be different suiting up in a Cardinals jersey. Not playing for a school, you’re representing a state.”That state saw its team have the worst record in the NFL in 2018, fire coach Steve Wilks and hire Kliff Kingsbury, an offensive guru who had recently been fired as head coach at Texas Tech.“To be kind of pushed in as the guy, there’s no kind of grace period of leading him in with any veteran presence at that position,” Kingsbury said. “He’s remained humble. He’s remained diligent in his work habits, so I’ve been proud of that for him.”With running back Melvin Gordon’s holdout, Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson will get plenty of carries for the Chargers. Defensive tackle and first-round pick Jerry Tillery has gotten some time with the first team.There are 11 games on the first full night of preseason play; the Broncos beat the Falcons last week in the Hall of Fame game.Patriots at LionsFormer Patriots with injuries are of interest here.Trey Flowers, the defensive end who went from New England to Detroit as a free agent and was the Lions’ big offseason acquisition, is on the physically unable to perform list.Coach Matt Patricia, a former defensive assistant for the Patriots in his second season with Detroit, has been recovering from a surgically repaired left leg that’s caused him to move around the practice facility on a vehicle.“I’m working with our doctors here to try to figure out what’s best for myself to be safe on the sideline from that standpoint,” he said. “I don’t think I’ll be riding the ATV around unfortunately on the sideline.”The receivers watch begins for the Patriots.Super Bowl MVP Julian Edelman (thumb) is sidelined and Phillip Dorsett is the only other returning receiver from last season. First-round draft pick N’Keal Harry has had a strong camp and undrafted free agent Jakobi Meyers has been a standout, even earning reps with the first team.Titans at EaglesIf Eagles QB Carson Wentz plays, it’ll be his first action since a back injury ended his season early for the second straight year and forced him to watch Nick Foles lead the team to a playoff victory in his absence. Foles, the Super Bowl MVP two years ago, is gone now and Nate Sudfeld is trying to solidify the backup spot.Tennessee gives new offensive coordinator Arthur Smith his first chance to call plays in a game. Smith was promoted from tight ends coach to coordinator when Matt LaFleur took the head coaching job with Green Bay.Redskins at BrownsFirst-round quarterback Dwayne Haskins is expected to make his Redskins debut. The 15th overall pick out of Ohio State is competing with veterans Case Keenum and Colt McCoy for the starting job. Haskins has flashed a strong arm, but made a lot of rookie mistakes in camp.“We’ll see how he does in a game,” coach Jay Gruden said. “We’ll see how he’s taken what he’s done on the practice field to see how it transitions into a real game situation. And how he handles the huddles and cadence, anticipation, accuracy — all that good stuff.”There’s much anticipation about Cleveland — QB Baker Mayfield, new WR Odell Beckham Jr., Myles Garrett — but it’s unlikely any will play much if at all. Garrett missed two days of practice with an unspecified injury.Jets at GiantsAdam Gase gets started as Jets head coach. He was hired in January after New York fired Todd Bowles after four seasons without making the playoffs. He isn’t likely to use prized addition running back Le’Veon Bell.Gregg Williams’ defense will also be on display for the first time with new inside linebacker C.J. Mosley and first-round pick Quinnen Williams, who has looked good in camp on the D-line.Eli Manning is starting a team-record 16th season, but is in the final year of his contract. Though he is the starter Ed Oliver Jersey , Daniel Jones, the No. 6 pick overall draft pick, is the heir apparent and will get plenty of preseason work, including against the Jets.Falcons at DolphinsBrian Flores’ first game as Miami’s coach.“I’m very excited,” he says. “I’m excited to see all the hard work we’ve put in from April 1 until now, to go out and try to perform and execute at a good level.”One player to watch: Preston Williams, an undrafted receiver out of Colorado State, who has been the most impressive rookie for the Dolphins in camp.The Falcons placed quarterback Kurt Benkert on injured reserve with a toe injury. He was pushing Matt Schaub as Matt Ryan’s top backup. Matt Simms, who last played with Atlanta in 2017, was re-signed and is expected to play against the Dolphins.Colts at BillsThough Buffalo’s new-look offensive line has been beset by injuries, the Bills will get their first glimpse at a retooled offense featuring receivers John Brown and Cole Beasley. Center Mitch Morse (concussion) missed the past 10 days. Tackle LaAdrian Waddle will miss the season after tearing his right quadriceps on Sunday.With Andrew Luck out and Jacoby Brissett taking limited snaps, Bills fans might get to watch Chad Kelly try to resuscitate his QB career. The nephew of Hall of Famer Jim Kelly signed with the Colts in May, but has had an uneven camp.Jaguars at RavensThe Ravens are expected to use quarterback Lamar Jackson briefly to see how he handles first-year offensive coordinator Greg Roman’s revamped playbook. It will also mark the debut of former Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley, who will see extended time because backup Robert Griffin III is out with a broken right thumb.Jacksonville will rest nearly all of its potential starters after working out together with the Ravens this week. That includes new quarterback Nick Foles.Panthers at BearsPanthers star linebacker Luke Kuechly has no qualms about playing in exhibition games. Kuechly returned to full practice this week after missing time last week, noting he got hit on the side during practice, but added that “everything is fine.” The seven-year NFL veteran jokes playing in the preseason “it helps me remember how to play football.”“You can’t tackle people out here (at practice) and there is a big difference between running by a guy and tagging off and actually tackling someone,” Kuechly says.With very few position battles, the Bears have one goal in the preseason opener: find a kicker. Elliott Fry and Eddy Pineiro will see their first game action in pursuit of the job Cody Parkey had last year.“There’s pressure on every kick in Chicago right now, so every chance you get, do your best to make it. And if you miss one, come back the next time and make the next one,” Bears coach Matt Nagy says.Texans at PackersCoach Bill O’Brien said that many Texans starters should get some playing time, though it’s unlikely star defensive end J.J. Watt will be one of them. Watt left a joint practice with Green Bay early on Monday after experiencing tightness in his groin and sat out Tuesday as a precaution.Watt, who grew up a Packers fan, is disappointed he won’t get to play at Lambeau Field, but knows being careful this early in the preseason is more important than getting on the field.“Groin tightened up just a little bit, so rather than try and push through it and try and do some damage to it, we just shut it down,” he said. “I’ve gotten smarter as I got older, so I started listening to the trainers a little bit more than just listening to my own brain.”O’Brien said rookie Lonnie Johnson Jr. will play three days after causing a stir with a hard hit during the first joint practice on Monday. The cornerback hit Green Bay tight end Jace Sternberger on a pass over the middle, causing Sternberger’s helmet to pop off, and then taunted him. The incident upset several Packers and caused O’Brien to pull him from practice early on Monday and hold him out on Tuesday.Broncos at SeahawksQB Joe Flacco makes his Denver debut at Seattle.“At this point, it doesn’t really feel any different than it’s been the last 10 years,” Flacco says. “I think your rookie year is obviously a little different than any of the others. But at this point I am used to being here. I am used to being in this uniform. These are my teammates and I am just excited about doing it.”Seattle will get its first chance to see Geno Smith and Paxton Lynch in a game situation in the competition to back up Russell Wilson. Smith has been the better of the two overall during the first couple of weeks of training camp.The Seahawks could see rookie wide receiver DK Metcalf in his first game action and get a better idea of what he can bring to Seattle’s offense.