The Latest: Houston’s QB Watson doesn’t start vs. Tennessee


The Latest on Week 17 in the NFL (all times EST):

4:45 p.m.

Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson was active for Sunday’s game against the Titans, but didn’t start with the Texans’ playoff spot already set.

Backup AJ McCarron started in his place. Watson was listed as questionable on the injury report with a back injury this week but said that he was OK. He also said that if it was up to him he would have preferred to play this week.

Tennessee can clinch the final playoff spot in the AFC by beating the Texans.

– Kristie Rieken reporting from Houston


4:20 p.m.

Kansas City earned the No. 2 seed in the AFC playoff race and clinched a first-round bye after beating the Los Angeles Chargers. The Chiefs jumped over the New England Patriots, who lost 27-24 at home to the Miami Dolphins.

Kansas City fell behind 14-10 early in the third quarter but rallied with two consecutive touchdowns to take control of the game. Damien Williams ran for 124 yards and a two touchdowns, including an 84-yard score in the third quarter.

The Patriots will have to play in the opening week of the postseason for the first time since 2009. Miami’s Ryan Fitzpatrick threw a 5-yard touchdown pass with 24 seconds left to put the Dolphins ahead for the win.


3:45 p.m.

The Green Bay Packers need a late turnaround to secure a first-round bye.

The Packers haven’t led in their game against the last-place Lions, and Detroit took a 20-13 lead on Matt Prater’s 56-yard field goal with 11:08 remaining.

If Green Bay loses and New Orleans wins – and the Saints are up big – the Packers would have to play in the first group of playoff games this coming week.

– Noah Trister reporting from Detroit


3:35 p.m.

Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey has become the third running back in NFL history to record 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in the same season.

McCaffrey joins Roger Craig (49ers in 1985) and Marshall Faulk (Rams in 1999) as the only running backs in that elite club.

The third-year running back needed 67 yards receiving coming in and reached that mark with a 17-yard reception from Kyle Allen late in the third quarter against the Saints.

After it was announced at the stadium that McCaffrey had reached the mark, the crowd stood and applauded and teammates lined up to hug the running back on the sideline.

– Steve Reed reporting from Charlotte, North Carolina.


3 p.m.

Terrell Suggs has his first sack with the Kansas City Chiefs, one that not only forced the Los Angeles Chargers to punt in the third quarter of a close game but moved the longtime Baltimore pass rusher past Demarcus Ware for eighth on the NFL career list. Suggs now has 139 career sacks.

Suggs was claimed by Kansas City after the Arizona Cardinals waived him earlier this month. It wound up being a marriage of both convenience and necessity: The Chiefs had lost Alex Okafor and Emmanual Ogbah to season-ending torn pectoral muscles, and Suggs was considering whether to finish out the season and potentially his career.

There was some speculation Suggs would play with nobody else but the Ravens, but he was convinced to report to Kansas City for a chance to make a playoff run with Patrick Mahomes and the four-time AFC West champions.

– Dave Skretta reporting from Kansas City.


2:40 p.m.

Buffalo Bills running back Frank Gore is playing his 226th career regular-season game, tying Emmitt Smith for most by a running back in NFL history.

Gore also got the start ahead of Devin Singletary, with playoff-bound Buffalo resting most of its starters in its season finale against the New York Jets. The Bills are locked in as the No. 5 seed no matter what happens against the Jets. Gore is coming off his first career game in which he had no yards from scrimmage.

Against the Jets, he has six carries for 26 yards, and also a team-best three catches for 16 yards.

New York leads 3-0 at halftime after Jets kicker Sam Ficken missed his second of three field goal attempts as time expired. Ficken has missed from 51 yards wide left and from 34 yards wide right.

The game is being played in a persistent drizzle.

— John Wawrow reporting from Orchard Park, New York.


2:15 p.m.

Panthers rookie quarterback Will Grier has been carted to the locker room after taking a sack early in the second quarter.

The Panthers say Grier injured his foot and his return is doubtful.

Kyle Allen has replaced Grier, who left the game with a 0.0 passer rating. He was 1 of 8 for 4 yards with an interception that was returned for a touchdown by A.J. Klein.

The Saints are cruising toward another win, leading the Panthers 35-0 late in the second quarter.


2:05 p.m.

The 4-11 Dolphins aren’t going to allow the Patriots to easily earn another first-round playoff bye.

Miami is leading New England 10-3 in the second quarter, leaving the Gillette Stadium crowd mostly silent. The Patriots can earn their 10th consecutive opening round bye with a win or Kansas City loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.

Facing second-and-10 on the Patriots 31, Tom Brady’s pass attempt to Julian Edelman was intercepted by Eric Rowe and returned 35 yards for a touchdown. It was Brady’s first career pick-6 against the Dolphins.

In the first quarter the Dolphins drove all the way to the Patriots 9 on their second drive of the game before the 12-play, 80-yard drive ended with a 27-yard field goal by Jason Sanders that put Miami in front 3-0.

– Kyle Hightower, reporting from Foxborough, Massachusetts.


2:05 p.m.

The Chiefs have lost safety Juan Thornhill to a knee injury and cornerback Bashaud Breeland to an illness in the first half of what is shaping up to be a crucial regular-season finale against the Chargers.

The Chiefs need to beat the Chargers and have the Patriots lose to Miami – an upset that was brewing in Foxborough – to secure the No. 2 seed in the AFC and a first-round playoff bye.

Thornhill went down at the line of scrimmage when Los Angeles scored early in the second quarter. Earlier in the drive, Breeland ran off the field after Mike Williams hauled in a long reception over top of him.

The Chargers are also down a defensive back after Desmond King hurt his ankle.

– Dave Skretta reporting from Kansas City


1:55 p.m.

The Panthers still can’t stop anyone on the ground and it’s helped the Saints build an early 14-0 lead.

Carolina allowed two first-quarter touchdown runs by New Orleans running back Alvin Kamara, bringing the Panthers’ season total to 31 touchdowns allowed on the ground.

That ties the most given up by an NFL team since the AFL-NFL merger, joining the 1980 Giants, 1986 Buccaneers and the 2008 Lions.


1:55 p.m.

The Chargers have ended the Chiefs’ streak of 10 consecutive quarters without allowing a touchdown.

Kansas City had not allowed anybody to reach the end zone since New England in the third quarter of their game three weeks ago, holding the Broncos and Bears to only field goals the past two games. The Chiefs stretched the streak to 10 quarters when they forced Philip Rivers and Co. to punt on their opening possession Sunday.

The stretch finally ended when Rivers threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Keenan Allen with 11:44 left in the second quarter to give Los Angels a 7-3 lead. The scoring drive covered 74 yards in 11 plays and included a key third-down conversion.

The Chiefs need to win and hope New England loses to Miami to earn the No. 2 seed and a first-round playoff bye.


1:50 p.m.

Buffalo Bills starter Josh Allen completed 3 of 5 passes for 5 yards over two series against the New York Jets before being replaced by backup Matt Barkley.

Coach Sean McDermott said he wanted to be cautious in playing his starters, with the Bills already locked in as the AFC’s fifth-seeded team. Five starters, including receivers Cole Beasley and John Brown, were among Buffalo’s inactives.

The Bills did lose a player to injury with starting cornerback Levi Wallace being carted off the sideline after hurting his right ankle late in the first quarter.

Wallace’s foot appeared to get caught in the turf when he intercepted Sam Darnold’s pass that caromed off the back of Bills teammate Taron Johnson’s helmet.

The Bills announced Wallace is doubtful to return.

– John Wawrow reporting from Orchard Park, New York.


1:30 p.m.

The Detroit Lions will apparently be pulling out all the stops in their season finale against playoff-bound Green Bay.

Quarterback David Blough caught a 19-yard touchdown pass from receiver Danny Amendola on a trick play that gave the Lions an early 7-0 lead. Blough took a shotgun snap and gave the ball to Amendola on what looked like an end-around – but then Blough slipped into the secondary on the left side and was wide open when Amendola threw to him.

Last season, the Lions beat the Packers in a largely meaningless finale. Detroit kicker Matt Prater threw a touchdown pass in that game.

– Noah Trister reporting from Detroit


1:20 p.m.

With their spot in the playoffs secured, the Minnesota Vikings are giving Kirk Cousins the game off.

Sean Mannion started the opening series at quarterback against Chicago, ending Cousins’ streak of 79 straight starts. The Vikings also had both starting tackles, both starting wide receivers and their top two running backs on the sideline against the Bears.

Cousins has not missed a game since becoming a full-time starter in 2015 with Washington.

The Vikings also sent a backup-heavy lineup onto the field on defense, with their top two linebackers, top two cornerbacks, top two safeties and top two defensive tackles on the sideline.

– Dave Campbell reporting from Minneapolis.


1:10 p.m.

The Panthers held a moment of silence before their game against the New Orleans Saints to honor the memory of Carly McCord, who died in a plane crash on Saturday in Lafayette, Louisiana.

McCord had served as an in-game reporter for the Saints.

She was on a small plane en route to Atlanta for the college football game between LSU and Oklahoma. Her father-in-law is Steve Ensminger, who works as an offensive coordinator for LSU.

The Lions also held a moment of silence before their game for receiver Marvin Jones’ six-month old son, who recently died.


A handful of teams are still fighting for a spot in the NFL playoffs on Sunday during the final week of the regular season.

The Philadelphia Eagles have the edge for the NFC East title after beating Dallas last weekend. If the Eagles can beat the Giants on Sunday, they’re in. If the Eagles lose, the Cowboys could still make the playoffs and partially salvage their disappointing season by beating Washington.

In the AFC, the Tennessee Titans can clinch the final wild-card spot with a win over the Houston Texans. Pittsburgh and Oakland are still alive, but need Tennessee to lose to have a chance. Oakland’s situation is particularly dire, with several results needing to go its way.

Other teams that have already made the playoffs are fighting for positioning, including the right to have a first-round bye or host playoff games. San Francisco travels to Seattle with the NFC West on the line. The 49ers could clinch home-field advantage until the Super Bowl with a win.


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Houston Texans quarterback AJ McCarron (2) throws a pass against the Tennessee Titans during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)